Sweet #TuesdayTea treats served with #LOVE!

February 22nd, 2017

Chocolate brownie LOVE hearts. What a treat!

Welcome to my very late sweet Valentine’s Day Tea! Since we’ve been traveling, this is a short post….filled with goodies I saw while on vacation. Please help yourself to some of these delicious and festive morsels.

How to choose from this collection of treats?

Raspberry cupcakes for a teatime treat.

Red Velvet cake…PERFECT!

Yes, sweet heart-shaped cookies!

As we enjoy the treats, please consider this Bible verse which speaks to my heart: Our Lord tells us,

 

This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have love you. John 15:12 (KJV)

 

In honor of Valentine’s Day, here is a picture of my sweetheart:

Hiking with my husband…a treasured blessing!

My prayer for you: May you always appreciate your walk in God’s love…a treasured blessing!

Sherida Stewart

SERVING #TreasuredBlessings with my #OneWord2017

February 1st, 2017

In mid-December, as I was praying about my One Word for 2017, God gave me the word SERVING. I whined. “Really, God? I don’t want that word. This has been an emotionally exhausting year. I need a word that’s easy. Can’t I have RELAX, QUIET, RESTORE, something restful?” Yes, I was reluctant to accept the word God placed on my heart.

2016 was a stressful year…my husband needed to finish and defend a PhD dissertation, I faced contest deadlines for writing a manuscript in four months, and amid winter storms, we were moving from our apartment in Colorado back to our home in New Mexico. Toward the end of the year when we felt all our challenges had been completed, my father suffered a stroke and passed away a week later. I was overwhelmed. But the spiritual theme I’d used in the manuscript I had completed echoed in my mind…

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31 (KJV)

Yes, God gave me the strength to accomplish a great deal during the past year. I wrote THE END on a 73,000 word book and received encouraging feedback from a top New York editor. My husband successfully completed his ten-year education project and is now “Doctor Engineer.” Our move was delayed by icy roads, but we arrived safely home. Most importantly, my father, a man of strong faith, lived independently as he wished up until the stroke. As God’s compassionate plan, my dad didn’t suffer long and joined my mother in heaven. During all this, God blessed me with the treasured blessings of strength and comfort, along with the faith and hope of eternal life, provided by our Lord’s grace.

My dad

I’m abundantly blessed with love, faith and forgiveness. Then as I continued to contemplate my One Word, I found myself reflecting on the wise thought in the Bible: of those given much, much is required. God knows me so well….my fears, my weaknesses, my talents. While I was still delaying my One Word declaration for 2017, God placed this Scripture on my heart:

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10 (NIV)

So with grateful acknowledgement of all my #TreasuredBlessings, my One Word for 2017 is SERVING. I anticipate with joy what God will do with my servant attitude.

Were you given a #OneWord2017?

May you always walk with God’s treasured blessings!

Sherida

#TuesdayTea with #COFFEE and Rocky Mountain Cowboy

January 24th, 2017

 

Rocky Mountain Cowboy by Tina Radcliffe

Welcome to my Tuesday TEA …make that COFFEE blog. (In just a bit, I’ll explain about the switch in drinks.) We’re chatting about Tina Radcliffe’s newest Love Inspired book, Rocky Mountain Cowboy. To enjoy with the coffee, I brought blueberry muffins from Patti Jo’s Café and Bakery….Rocky Mountain Cowboy hero Joe Gallagher’s favorite.

Not only is Tina Radcliffe an amazing author, she is also the queen of coffee. Caffeine fuels her production of quality inspirational romance stories, so I’m pouring large mugs of quality Seattle coffee in Tina’s honor. I was fortunate to read Rocky Mountain Cowboy as I flew to Seattle to visit family. When I arrived, I savored amazing coffee selections from the City of Caffeine. Seattle knows how to roast coffee! Now on to this amazing book….with a personal note at the end of the review.

MY REVIEW

Rocky Mountain CowboyRocky Mountain Cowboy by Tina Radcliffe
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What an excellent romance…..set in Paradise Valley, Colorado!

I simply LOVED Rocky Mountain Cowboy, a perfect romance of forgiveness and second chances…of putting the past behind. I smiled from the first page until the end, delighting in all the characters who sparkled with heart-felt emotion. What a treat to spend time with therapist Rebecca and cowboy Joe on his ranch in Paradise Valley, Colorado. Through this book, I experienced life on the beautiful Gallagher Ranch while Rebecca helps Joe adapt to a different routine using his new prosthetic hand. Joe’s gentle encouragement helps Rebecca move beyond her complex past. I particularly delighted in the engaging conversations between the characters. Tina Radcliffe, one of my favorite authors, knows how to write fast-paced, engaging dialogue…some witty and some quite touching. The various friends and family members were fun additions, as well as the mention of treats from Patti Jo’s Cafe and Bakery. Life just can’t get any sweeter than a romance in beautiful Paradise Valley!

Favorite quotes:
“Not worried. I’ve tried to banish that word from my vocabulary and turn things over to God.”
“You can’t be afraid to ask for help and you can’t be afraid to accept it.”
“The Lord brought you back here for a reason, Rebecca. Don’t throw away your second chance.”

*I was given a copy of this book. I’m delighted to provide my honest review.

PERSONAL NOTE

In this book, hero Joe Gallagher is an amputee adjusting to his prosthetic hand. Author Tina Radcliffe presents this situation very realistically. My father, a forward observer in the Army during World War II, was injured during fighting in Europe and was captured by the German Army. While he was a prisoner of war, his left leg was amputated. He was twenty years old at the time, so he spent most of his life with an artificial leg. As his daughter, I saw the various improvements in the technology of prosthetics to help amputees live active lives. As Tina reflects in Rocky Mountain Cowboy, amputees are not defined by their injuries, but by the lives they live. Though Rocky Mountain Cowboy is based on valuable research dealing with the situation of losing a limb, Tina’s story really focuses on the romance between the hero and heroine. I’m thankful for authors who include disabled characters in their books. My father was not defined by his amputation, but by the very loving and faith-filled life he enjoyed for 92 years.

TREATS
To celebrate Tina and her book, I’m serving large mugs of coffee today instead of our usual tea. Our sons know my husband and I enjoy coffee as well as tea, so take a look at these intriguing coffees we received as gifts from our sons and their families.

Bean Box coffee

Our older son introduced us to Bean Box Coffee which provides a selection of coffees from various Seattle roasters. If you’re interest in trying some special coffee, check out this link:  BEAN BOX

Our younger son traveled to Nicaragua a couple of times as part of a health mission with H.O.L.A. He enjoyed the coffee grown in that country and gave us a bag of Vermont roasted and Nicaraguan grown coffee.

Coffee from Nicaragua and roasted in Vermont

AUTHOR TINA RADCLIFFE

Get to know Tina at her website:  TINA RADCLIFFE  (TIP: sign up for her newsletter)

For writers of all levels, she contributes to the Seekerville blog:  SEEKERVILLE     (I highly recommend you stop by for a visit. Readers have fun as well.)

BIBLE VERSE

Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.   Isaiah 43:18-19 (KJV)

PRAYER

Dear Lord,

Today we lift up author Tina Radcliffe. Thank you for blessing her with amazing talent as a writer of inspiring stories filled the message of Your grace. She blesses others as she encourages other writers with uplifting advice. Please continue to grant her great success in all areas of her life.

We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thank you for joining me for coffee today as we talked about Rocky Mountain Cowboy. I hope you enjoy the book and another visit to Paradise, Colorado, as much as I did. Do you have a drink of choice at Starbucks? Or do you have another favorite coffee? Please leave a comment. I’ll end with a couple of photos of beautiful Seattle.

May your life be filled with God’s treasured blessings.

Sherida

View as we flew into Seattle.

Mount Rainier glowing in the afternoon sun.

Treasured blessings of a #MerryChristmas!

December 24th, 2016

For my husband and me, this year is a different kind of holiday season….some joyful celebrations and some sad goodbyes. As we prepared for the holidays, we heeded the advice to simplify…to focus on the true gift of Christmas.

Our downsized tree is decorated with only a few of our special ornaments.

The mantle is adorned with precious memories…..a few of the many Santas my mother lovingly painted, only one of our nativity collections (this set my father made from repurposed wood), and the clock which was our first Christmas present to each other after our wedding.

At my husband’s suggestion, I even purchased our traditional Jesus’ birthday cake at the bakery. Yes, we did simplify our decorations and traditions this year, as we prepared our hearts to celebrate the ultimate gift from God.

Christmas Day will be quiet, with church and reflecting on the miracle of Christ’s birth and all the blessings received during 2016. All will be calm and bright!

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. Luke 2:10 (KJV)

My prayer for you is that your Christmas be filled with our Lord’s treasured blessings….the LOVE of family and friends, the HOPE of our faith in Christ, and the warmth of PEACE in your heart.

Blessings and merry Christmas,

Sherida

#TuesdayTea review of HOME on the RANGE by @RuthLoganHerne

October 25th, 2016
Maple bar and HOME on the RANGE

Maple bar and HOME on the RANGE at the Cle Elum Bakery in Cle Elum, Washington.

Welcome to my celebration of the release of Ruth Logan Herne’s newest….and very awesome…..book, Home on the Range.

GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED…….LAURA WON……Congratulations! Thank you, Ruth Logan Herne! 🙂

THIS JUST IN! GIVEAWAY!!!!!! Ruth Logan Herne is offering a giveaway of her book!!! So you can be contacted, leave a comment below with your email (use AT and DOT to avoid spam)–standard rules apply. US addresses only. Name will be picked from a hat….really! Must comment by noon on Wednesday, October 26 MDT. Thanks!!!

We’re meeting today at the charming bakery in Cle Elum, Washington, which serves delicious maple bars…along with many sumptuous treats. So make a selection from their bakery case….yes, I know how difficult it is to choose…then grab a mug of coffee or tea and come sit awhile as we chat about Home on the Range.

So many treats!

Hard decisions with so many treats!

ABOUT HOME ON THE RANGE

Can the brother left behind and a woman without hope work together for the good of two precious children?

Nick Stafford stayed in central Washington, working his family’s large ranch after his brothers left to pursue other passions—but his toughest job is being a single dad. As a child he watched his father fail at marriage and parenting, so Nick was determined to show him up. He’d be a better husband, father, and ranch manager than Sam Stafford ever was. Despite that commitment, three years after Nick’s wife left him, he has a daughter in trouble at school and both of his girls are facing issues that force him to rethink his stubborn plans.

For Dr. Elsa Andreas, life fell apart when tragedy caused her to abandon her family therapy practice and retreat to the backwoods of Gray’s Glen. Her school principal sister believes Elsa can guide the Stafford girls and that working with kids will draw Elsa out of her protective bubble.

Summer on the Double S teems with life and adventure. Amid the bounty of God and land, will Nick and Elsa find the courage to build futures based on faith rather than fear?

MY REVIEW

Home on the RangeHome on the Range by Ruth Logan Herne
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A story of healing encouraged by the love and support of a strong family!

My heart smiled at the precious children and adorable puppies in this story….not to mention the cowboys and beautiful scenery of central Washington. Home on the Range is the second book in the Double S Ranch series, featuring the dysfunctional Stafford family. Colt and Angelina, the characters in the first book, Back in the Saddle, were engaging, drawing me into this second book about the lives of Elsa, Nick, and his two young daughters.

I was emotionally touched by the painful childhood suffering caused by self-centered adults and by Elsa’s emotional upheaval caused by self-doubt. Thankfully author Ruth Logan Herne weaves a thread of compassion and hope as the characters heal from the past with the wisdom and kindness of others. The developing romance between Elsa and Nick is so tender….with some mighty sweet kissing scenes….but faces some issues with trust and forgiveness. This is a story of flawed people who make mistakes, but are healed through love and the support of others.

I loved this book! Ruth Logan Herne writes amazing books filled with the love shown in strong families, with the redemption granted by second chances, and with the grace provided by faith. If you enjoy a sweet romance and being immersed in a modern-day family story of healing and hope, I highly recommend Home on the Range.

Favorite quotes:
“Maybe people didn’t get to choose what experiences molded and melded them into contributing members of society, but they did get to choose how to handle those experiences.”
“It means that embracing the joys in life is healthier than letting the sorrows drag us down. If we can learn to shrug off our frailties and foibles, the world becomes a much better place.”

*I received a complimentary copy of this book. I’m honored to write an honest review.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Author Ruth Logan Herne has more than a million books in print. Ruth is a founding member of SEEKERVILLE, a popular writing collective blog. A country girl who loves the big city, Ruth and her husband live on a farm in upstate New York.

Home on the Range received a TOP PICK 4 1/2 star review from Romantic Times Review….(very impressive!) You can read that review and sign up for her newsletter…and find out more about her other wonderful books at her website by clicking: RUTH LOGAN HERNE WEBSITE

BIBLE SCRIPTURE

Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. Isaiah 41:10 (KJV)

PRAYER

Dear Lord,

Thank you for the amazing talent You have given author Ruth Logan Herne…both her writing abilities and her spirit of service. Her heart-felt stories and compassionate actions touch so many, giving hope and comfort to hurting souls.

Please continue to bless all her efforts and the work of all Christian authors as they spread the message of Your Word through their writing.

We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen

TREATS

The characters in the Double S Ranch series mention enjoying maple bars from a nearby bakery. As heroine Elsa says, “Add in a trip to Cle Elum for maple bars, and I’m all in.” (page 222) Since we recently drove through beautiful central Washington to visit our grandsweeties in Seattle, we just had to make a stop at the Cle Elum Bakery where we sampled many of their baked goods. (I’m embarrassed to tell you how many we HAD to try, but I’ll just say…I’m still exercising those bites away…but SO worth every crumb.) I’ll leave you with pictures of a few of the treats we sampled during our two stops….coming and going….at this charming shop, along with some of central Washington’s scenery.

Cle Elum Bakery on Main Street.

The charming Cle Elum Bakery on Main Street.

Bakery selection board. We bought Dutch Crunch bread....yum!

Bakery selection board. We bought Dutch Crunch bread….yum!

Candied fruit bakery treat

Candied fruit bakery treat….taste of Christmas!

Crunchy maple twist...mmmm!

Crunchy maple twist…mmmm!

Coffee or tea for you?

Coffee or tea for you?

Fields of central Washington with mountains in the distance.

Fields of central Washington with mountains in the distance.

Love this old barn....and this beautiful story.

Love this old barn….and this beautiful story.

Thank you for joining me for #TuesdayTea! May your life be touched by God’s treasured blessing of healing!

With warm blessings,

Sherida

 

#TUESDAYTEA Review of LOVE EVERLASTING by Julie Lessman!

October 11th, 2016

Welcome to my release celebration for Julie Lessman’s newest contemporary romance novel, Love Everlasting!

FIREWORKS!

I’m delighted to have you join me for my #TuesdayTea review. Please come sit by the FIRE, with a HOT mug of STEAMING tea, as we chat about this faith-filled, SIZZLING emotional story…..accompanied with WARM, just-from-the-oven cookies. Yep, you get the idea…..this is a fiery story of finding love….and realizing the power of God. Congratulations, Julie Lessman, on the release of your powerful new book, Love Everlasting!

LOVE EVERLASTING by Julie Lessman

ABOUT LOVE EVERLASTING (ISLE OF HOPE series, BOOK 2)

He sets hearts on fire.
She’s been burned by love.
Can hope survive the flames of the past?

School teacher by day, ghostwriter by night, sweet and shy Shannon O’Bryen doesn’t mind writing romance on the sly, but to live it? No, thank you, not since the man she loved turned out to be a player who broke both her heart and her spirit. Now focused more on her faith and her fiction, she vows the next time she falls in love, it will be safely—through the pages of a book.

Dr. Sam Cunningham is a charismatic player who breaks hearts as regularly as he washes his pearl-white Corvette. Abandoned as a baby, Sam was an orphan shuffled through the foster-care system, bitterly driven to prove he is worthy of love—the kind that lasts forever. Once he learns Shannon is a romance writer, he enlists her help in winning back his ex-girlfriend. She teaches him about faith and the true definition of love, and he soon discovers he’s been seeking it in the wrong place all along—and with the wrong girl. But can he convince a woman who’s been burned by love to open her eyes—and her heart—to a love everlasting?

MY REVIEW

Love Everlasting (Isle of Hope, #2)Love Everlasting by Julie Lessman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A story filled with emotional FIREWORKS!
I’ve come to anticipate fireworks in author Julie Lessman’s stories. She’s known for her books of “Passion with a Purpose.” Her second book in the Isle of Hope series, Love Everlasting, does not disappoint….in the passionate and purposeful departments! The pages sizzle with intense feelings and faith-filled romance…..with the twist of a powerful emotional explosion I didn’t expect.
I’ve read the prequel (A Glimmer of Hope) and the award-winning first book in the Isle of Hope series (Isle of Hope: Unfailing Love), so I enjoyed reconnecting with the characters in this story. The focus in this second book is the romance between sweet Shannon O’Bryen and handsome Sam Cunningham, fittingly known as Dr. Love. Wounded by past loves, these two face barriers to finding happiness. Lessons learned about facing fears, learning to forgive, and the true meaning of everlasting love are laced throughout this beautiful story. Also, I liked the development of the romance between the mature couple, Tess O’Bryen and Ben Carmichael. Their love story is touchingly poignant with its combination of human weakness and lingering desire.
Julie Lessman’s passionate writing always touches my heart….and my soul. The intensity of emotions felt while reading her stories always lifts me to a greater place, reminding me of the true significance of faithful love. I highly recommend this passionate and faith-filled book. If you want to read an emotional book filled with hope and heart-touching love, I believe you will enjoy LOVE EVERLASTING!
Favorite quotes:
“But the truth is, it’s that very weakness—that futility and failure, that utter despair—that brings us to the bottom line.” Her smile quirked. “Finally letting go and letting God carry us through.”
“…there is no greater guarantee than God’s love, and although His timing is not always in sync with ours, He will provide…”
*I was given an e-copy of this book.

ABOUT JULIE LESSMAN

Julie Lessman is an award-winning author whose tagline of “Passion With a Purpose” underscores her intense passion for both God and romance. Winner of the 2009 ACFW Debut Author of the Year and Holt Medallion Awards of Merit for Best First Book and Long Inspirational, Julie is also the recipient of 14 Romance Writers of America awards and was voted by readers as “Borders Best of 2009 So Far: Your Favorite Fiction.”

Chosen as the #1 Romance Fiction Author of the Year in the Family Fiction magazine 2012 and 2011 Readers Choice Awards, Julie was also awarded #1 Historical Fiction Author of the Year in that same poll and #3 Author of the Year, #4 Novel of the Year and #3 Series of the year. She resides in Missouri with her husband, daughter, son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter and is the author of “The Daughters of Boston” series—A Passion Most Pure, A Passion Redeemed, and A Passion Denied. Book 1 in her “Winds of Change” series A Hope Undaunted ranked #5 on Booklist’s Top 10 Inspirational Fiction for 2010.

You can find out more about Julie on her website: Julie Lessman

I recommend signing up for notifications of her blog posts, Journal Jots. She sends out informative updates and often has contests. Julie’s Journal Jots

TREATS

Cookies, cookies and more cookies!

Cookies, especially Monster Cookies, are a favorite treat for many of the characters in Love Everlasting, so I’m putting out a big tray of Monster Cookies. I used the basic recipe for chocolate chip cookies, but added three kinds of chips, milk, semi-sweet and dark chips…with the addition of pecans. Next time I’ll add toffee pieces and walnuts. And since it’s a party, I didn’t forget the colorful sprinkles! Extra sprinkles for everyone!

Monster Cookies with sprinkles

 

BIBLE SCRIPTURE

The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee. Jeremiah 31:3 (KJV)

PRAYER

Dear Lord,

We lift up author Julie Lessman and her strong family for everlasting blessings. She walks so passionately with You…..her example and her stories inspiring others to draw close to You. Please continue to strengthen her as she writes for Your glory.

In Jesus name,

Amen

THANK YOU, dear friends, for stopping by my #TuesdayTea review blog. Since my website is focused on “God’s treasured blessings,” this quote from Love Everlasting is particularly perfect: “Now your faith has been forged in fire to produce a gleaming treasure of truth.” May your life be filled with God’s treasured blessings!

Blessings,

Sherida

#TuesdayTea Review of Make-Believe Beau by @KeliGwyn

August 30th, 2016

Thank you for stopping by to sip tea, enjoy a treat and chat about Make-Believe Beau by Keli Gwyn. I found this August Love Inspired Historical release to be an entertaining visit to Placerville, California, during an interesting time period. The romance is sweet and the faith element provides an important reminder of forgiveness.

Today I’m serving Lemon Bars as served by the Gold Country Confections shop in this story. So please help yourself to a lemon bar, while I pour your choice of iced or hot lemon tea. We’re ready for a celebration of the end of summer as we review Make-Believe Beau.

Lemon Bars

End-of-Summer Lemon Bars

MY REVIEW:

Make-Believe BeauMake-Believe Beau by Keli Gwyn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What an entertaining story with an intriguing mix of history and romance!

In 1874, draftswoman Jessica Sinclair is a self-sufficient lady with a challenging new position in a male-dominated workplace. Determined engineer Flynt Kavanaugh is her hardworking and fair-minded boss. Both have secrets concerning their earlier situations, providing an interesting story as they try to keep the past hidden and try to be convincing in their pretend courtship.

Jessica warmed my heart with her attitude of believing the best of others and with her cheerful, courageous personality. I found myself sympathizing with Flynt as he struggles with his convictions and his attraction to Jessica. He thought he had his life well-planned until he becomes Jessica’s boss and pretend beau. It’s great fun to watch this couple navigate the awkward situation imposed on them as they try to understand each other and overcome past issues.

Author Keli Gwyn brings the historical setting of Placerville, California, to life as details of constructing the actual El Dorado Canal and of life in the charming town are sprinkled throughout the book. One of my favorite nostalgic scenes is of the couple during a roller-skating activity…very realistic. Most importantly, the romance builds with sweetness and the faith thread is touching, with many takeaways expressed perfectly. If you enjoy history mixed with the romance of an interesting couple, I think you’ll truly enjoy Make-Believe Beau.

Favorite quotes:
“The Lord’s gifted you with a remarkable voice. It’s my belief that when He gifts us, He does so in the hope that we’ll share what we’ve been given with others.”
“Everyone bore stains of one kind or another. That was why the Lord had come. To pay the price for the mistakes of mankind. Through His sacrifice on the cross, He’d cleansed her.”

*I won a copy of this book with no requirement to write a review. It’s a pleasure to post my honest opinion of this book.

 

TEA TREAT RECIPE:

This is my mother’s recipe for Lemon Bars…a perfect end-of-summer treat with iced or hot lemon tea.

LEMON BARS
Mix together:
1 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 cups flour
Set aside 1 cup of this mixture, then pat the remaining mixture into the bottom of a 9″ x 13″ pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
In a large bowl, beat 4 eggs until fluffy. Mix in 2 cups sugar, 6 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon lemon rind, 1 teaspoon baking powder and 4 tablespoons flour. (At high altitudes, use 6 tablespoons of flour.) Pour over the baked crust…no need to cool, then top with the reserved 1 cup of crumb mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. When cool, sprinkle with additional powdered sugar. Cut into squares.
BIBLE VERSE:
“…Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow…” Isaiah 1:18 (KJV)
PRAYER:
Our Father,
We thank you for sending Your Son to wash us clean from our sins so we may live in your treasured forgiveness. Bless author Keli Gwyn as she writes stories to bless readers by spreading Your message of forgiveness and hope.
In Jesus’ name, Amen
You can learn more about author Keli Gwyn (and find tidbits about her writing journey) at her charming Victorian website: KELI GWYN
Thank you for stopping by for #TuesdayTea. May your end-of-summer days be filled with God’s treasured gifts!
Blessings,
Sherida

Want to improve your writing? #writingtips and #amwriting advice…Review of Excelling at the Craft of Writing.

August 23rd, 2016

Not attending #ACFW2016? You can do a writing-conference-in-a-book with Excelling at the Craft of Writing. This collection of writing advice essays is filled with 101 mini-workshops to make your writing glow. Each contribution is written by an author from the WordServe Literary agency, giving us suggestions on many facets of writing. As I read each one, I felt like I was attending a conference session on writing craft, complete with takeaways and inspiration. For your writing sessions, grab a big mug of your caffeinated tea of choice, or coffee if you prefer, as we study ways to improve our craft.

Excelling at the Craft of Writing

Excelling at the Craft of Writing

 

Excelling at the Craft of Writing: 101 Ideas to Move Your Prose to the Next LevelExcelling at the Craft of Writing: 101 Ideas to Move Your Prose to the Next Level by Greg Johnson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Many treasures of writing advice fill this book!

Excelling at the Craft of Writing is a book filled with multiple gems of writing advice. This is a conference worth of writer workshops all in one resource. The essays are written by successful authors of the WordServe Literary agency and reflect their wordsmith talents.

Divided into eight sections, the first part is Nonfiction Essentials. Even though I’m a fiction writer, I found useful information in this section. Essays on devotional writing inspired me to develop my skills in this area.

The middle sections cover essential information for fiction writers…characterization, dialogue, plotting, timing, structure, setting the scene, style, language, voice, and process. There are many ideas for making your novel shine…to keep readers turning the pages. I especially liked the excellent pointers for creating strong, reader-involved characters.

The ending chapters give tips which apply to all writers…revising, editing and pitching. These essays suggest many ways to edit your manuscript, with a final part covering query letters, pitching and proposals.

Whether you are a nonfiction author or an author of fiction, you will find great tips for improving your writing so your work moves to the next level. You’ll be encouraged with inspirational thoughts, such as “There may be people out there who need what you have to write.” (Laurie Short) From my needle-crafter and writer’s perspective, my favorite inspirational line from this book is Jan Drexler’s comparison of a quilter to an author: “But the thing quilting and writing have most in common? The finished product is a work of your heart that you share with others.” Exactly!

*I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my review. I’m pleased to offer my honest opinion.

PRAYER

Dear Lord,

We pray for all those attending the American Christian Fiction Writers conference this week. We pray for their safe travels and for their encouragement as they are inspired by what they experience at the conference. We pray for the authors and publisher of this collection of essays, Excelling at the Craft of Writing, for providing the blessings of knowledge and motivation for writers. May You bless all Christian writers and readers as Your message is spread through the written word.

We ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Thank you for joining me for this review post about Excelling at the Craft of Writing. If you’re like me, and not attending a writing conference this year, you might consider studying a craft book such as this one. Conferences are amazing experiences, but we can learn to take our writing to the next level by reading advice written by experienced authors.

Maybe a conference will be in our futures for next year! May your writing and/or reading be inspired by God’s treasured blessings!

With warm regards and blessings,

Sherida

 

End of summer #amreading reviews and easy #TuesdayTea treat!

August 9th, 2016

End of summer reading…cooling off from the summer heat or heading out for an adventure on the trail?

What a different summer this has been for us! Hiking in the mountains is our favorite summer activity, but this year we’ve only made it out on the trail a few times. Both my husband and I had important writing projects to complete…his PhD dissertation and my 70,363-word inspirational romance novel for Harlequin’s Manuscript Matchmaker historical writing contest. Since I’ve submitted my manuscript and hubby is still working on his project, I’ve had some time to catch-up with reading, so here are some suggestions to end up your summer with some great reading.

Snowplow along Wolf Creek Pass.

Snowplow along Wolf Creek Pass.

 

If you’re steaming in the hot weather, and this picture cools you off, you would enjoy Ruth Logan Herne’s Her Unexpected Family. This book features Emily, a wedding planner, and Grant, a hero who works for the highway department. Since we need to drive the mountain passes often during the winter, I’m grateful for the people who keep the roads safe, even when they must work in dangerous conditions.

MY REVIEW:
Her Unexpected Family (Grace Haven, #2)Her Unexpected Family by Ruth Logan Herne
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A PERFECT delight!

The whirlwind of precious two-year-old twins, the peek into the fun (usually) job of wedding event planners, and the warmth of the small community of Grace Haven all mixes together for an amazing story about the grace of forgiveness…a perfect story. Emily is so likeable with her common sense approach to life and the joyous love she expresses. As a protective father, hardworking Grant struggles with the past and the future, but he is a good man, willing to see his mistakes and to work on his flaws…my kind of hero.

I love this story, including the shout-out to dedicated highway department employees who work helping others during very challenging weather conditions. As a former special needs teacher, I appreciate the portrayal of Dolly and the viewpoint of parenting. From the details given about the event planning business, author Ruth Logan Herne knows about wedding planning…and I now want to do the job of organizing special memories for happy brides.

If you love small town stories of hope and forgiveness, this delightful story is perfect for you. You’ll love the ending!

Favorite quotes:
“Faith, forgiveness and trust were key factors in life.”
“God doesn’t care that we make mistakes. He cares that we fix them.”

*I was given a copy of this book with no requirement to write a review. I’m honored to share my honest opinion of this delightful story.

Along the Continental Divide near Wolf Creek Pass...summer!

Summer along the Continental Divide above Wolf Creek Pass…near the spot where the winter photo was taken…big difference!

 

If you want to extend your summer by venturing out on the trail, then you will enjoy Love Will Find A Way, a novella collection by Cara Lynn James, Myra Johnson, and Sandra Leesmith. Each story features an adventure on a trail…in Connecticut, in Texas, and near the Grand Canyon.

Along the trail...

Along the trail…

MY REVIEW:
Love Will Find a Way: A Contemporary Novella CollectionLove Will Find a Way: A Contemporary Novella Collection by Cara Lynn James
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A perfect collection of three inspirational romances for summer reading!

STAGING A ROMANCE, by Cara Lynn James, is such a fun romance! I enjoyed this sweet story set at Blue Lake Christian Camp in Connecticut, where home stager Jenna Carlyle and businessman Nate McKenzie met as teenagers. Now they are adults facing responsibilities and considering their future plans. They work their way through issues using prayer and consideration for each other. Jenna’s occupation as a home stager was interesting. On a personal note, I liked this story because my husband and I attended church camp in Connecticut as teenagers…and walked down by the lake. This is a fun and uplifting romance!
Favorite quotes:
“I’m a firm believer that prayer matters.”
“I want to do what we want to do. It’s about us, not just me.”

WORTH THE RISK, by Myra Johnson, is a wonderful story of overcoming with faith! I love and sympathize with the characters in this story. Facing a new location and a new job, single mom Cara Gallagher deals with regrets and unresolved issues of resentment. Tour guide Lucas Montero is struggling with disappointments, but keeps his godly focus on serving others before himself. The secondary characters add sparkle…lively kindergartener Zoe, friendly Sandra, and kind Rosalinda. Weaving their way toward friendship and new beginnings, Cara and Lucas find their faith a strong support. I especially enjoyed the trail hike to see the pictographs and the visit to Candelaria.
Favorite quotes:
“But thank goodness God is in control.”
“Things happen. But it never changes God’s love for us.”

NEW BEGINNINGS, by Sandra Leesmith, puts you right into realistic action on the trails of Grand Canyon National Park! The author’s writing takes you on an adventure along the hiking trails of a favorite National Park. This story is filled with action and emotion as ex-police officer, Samantha Reynolds, and Flagstaff lawyer, Zach Williams, find love while helping others in a desperate situation. Great kissing scenes!
Favorite quotes:
“Let go and let God.”
“Don’t dwell on what could have been.”

*I won this book with no requirement to write a review. It is my pleasure to review this collection.

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Now for our tea celebration!

#TUESDAYTEA TREAT: Summer Fruit Marzipan Tarts

Farmers’ markets bring such joy during the summer…supporting local farmers and finding fresh delicious product. This easy recipe for Summer Fruit Tarts was created after I returned from shopping with apricots and honey. Please enjoy this summery treat with a glass of iced tea or lemonade.

Easy summer fruit tart...apricot.

Easy summer fruit tart…apricot.

 

RECIPE:

Puff pastry sheets

Marzipan-almond paste roll

Summer fruit–apricots, peaches, cherries, plums, berries

Honey

Preheat oven to 450 degrees or temperature indicated on the package.

Cut the puff pastry sheets into squares, approximately 3″ x 3″ and place a 1/4″ thick slice of marzipan in the center of each pastry square. Bake according to the package directions, until golden brown.

Meanwhile, cook slices of the fruit of your choice over low heat to make a sauce. (The apricots were good as a stewed sauce, but instead of cooking the fruit, you could top the tarts with sliced fresh fruit or use berries…even easier.)

To serve, top a pastry/marzipan square with fruit and drizzle with honey. You could add ice cream or whipped cream. We didn’t use additional sugar because the marzipan/almond paste is sweet.

BIBLE VERSE: This is the Scripture written at the beginning of Her Unexpected Family, a good verse to tuck into our hearts.

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32 (KJV)

PRAYER:

Dear Lord,

Bless these Christian authors who spread your word through their writing. May they have strength to continue the writing journey. Please give them comfort in the knowledge they encourage others through their work. We pray all the people of the world come to know You and accept Christ as Savior. Please be with us all during the busy last days of summer.

In Jesus’s name we pray, Amen

BLESSINGS:

So, end of summer reading? Air-conditioned comfort as you read in a comfy favorite chair or out on the trail devouring a book while taking a rest break sitting on a rock? How do you relax during the last days of summer? With an awesome book, I hope!

May you be blessed with God’s treasured blessings of summer–good weather, relaxation time, and fresh produce. Thank you for joining me for #TuesdayTea!

Blessings,

Sherida

 

Seven tools to spark ideas for writing historical fiction. #amwriting #historical

July 26th, 2016

Are you writing historical fiction? Do you sometimes need the spark of an idea to move your manuscript forward? I certainly do, so I’m sharing these tips for what works for me.

While writing historical romances, I find inspiration in some fascinating places. Maybe it’s the history buff in me, or maybe my interest in how other people lived years ago, but ideas popped up when I did these things:

My grandmother is second from the right. This is probably around 1910.

My great-grandparents’ family photo. My grandmother, Mabel, is second from the right. This is probably around 1910.

1.LOOK AT OLD PHOTOGRAPHS

Pinterest is a great place to search for the time period and subject you are writing about.  Photos from historical societies and history books also provide setting ideas. Family photos are other good places to find gems. I found a picture of a stiff-faced family which sparked the idea for a flashback memory for my heroine. Of course, you need to be sure the scene propels your story forward, but reflecting on a moment which adds important elements to the story can be useful.

St. Patrick's Catholic Church, Silverton, Colorado 1905

St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Silverton, Colorado 1905

2. VISIT HISTORIC SITES

A wealth of valuable ideas can be found in old towns and historic districts. I find ideas for the settings of my stories by taking walking tours of places I want to write about. Often, there are guide books available which give intriguing details about the people and their occupations to  spark further ideas.

Durango-Silverton steam engine

Durango-Silverton steam engine

3. EXPERIENCE LIFE IN ANOTHER TIME

This is truly the best way to get the feel of a bygone era. My stories always seem to involve train travel, and since we love tourist railroads, riding an excursion train is always on our agenda. There is no better way to experience the stench of coal smoke, the grit of cinders, the thrill of the whistle, while relaxing as the train rocks down the tracks. I suggest heeding the “All aboard!” call of the conductor whenever possible.

Someday I hope to try a wagon trail camping trip to experience the trials of the Oregon Trail. Read

Staying at a historic hotel also immerses you in the setting so you can imagine life during a different time…but the beds are more comfortable now and private bathrooms are good additions.

Wyman Hotel and Inn, Silverton, Colorado 1902

Wyman Hotel and Inn, Silverton, Colorado 1902

4. READ MEMOIRS

Recently, I found an obscure book written by a man who had lived in the area I was writing about. The violence during his time period impressed me, and his use of language was helpful. Reading the man’s remembrances of his early life in New Mexico sparked the idea of adding a raspberry picking adventure to my story. This was authentic to the time and something I hadn’t considered. If you can’t find a memoir through your library, this type of book can sometimes be found in local independent bookstores in a location you’re interested in writing about.

5. SCROLL THROUGH OLD WORD DICTIONARIES

Since a historically accurate novel should contain words used during the time, I found the Online Etymology Dictionary helpful to check when a word was first used. Looking through the word lists also gave me ideas for interesting words to add to my story. Tizzy wasn’t in use during my time period, but scatterbrain and hare-brained were used. I find word etymology fascinating…and sometimes skitter off into too much research.

Click here for Online Etymology Dictionary.

 

Antique shops

Antique shops

6. BROWSE ANTIQUE SHOPS

Looking through antique shops can give you an idea for an item to add to your story which gives your writing an authentic feel. I like old tea-cups, bottles and cans of items available during your time period, and kitchen utensils. Just a mention of an Arbuckles’ coffee crate can put your reader in the Old West setting of your story.

Arbuckles' Coffee Crate

Arbuckles’ Coffee Crate

Also, printed materials from your era give glimpses into everyday lives if you can find a newspaper or magazine from the time period you are interested in.

 

Historic museums

Kit Carson Home and Museum, Taos, New Mexico

7. VISIT HISTORIC MUSEUMS

Small towns often have museums which are idea treasure boxes, offering glimpses into the lives of early citizens. Seeing the personal belongings which were important enough to bring to new homes out west reveals the characters of real pioneers. The gift shops often have great books for research.

 

Thank you so much for stopping by. What tools do you use to spark ideas when you’re stuck during your writing process?

Please share your thoughts and your idea-sparks by commenting on this post. May your day be filled with God’s treasured blessings as you write and/or read a historical novel!

Sherida