I knew that C.S. Lewis and I had more in common than our Christianity when he said, "You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me." Welcome to a celebration of faith, tea, and the written word. I'm always engaged in a book, and whether it's one I'm reading or one of the inspirational historical romances I write, there's always a cup of tea close by. Join me in a cup as we chat about faith, our favorite books and the exciting places our reading and writing adventures take us.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Brown Betty

I love my Brown Betty teapot! Brown Betties are known the world over as excellent for tea-brewing, thanks to their rounded shape (which allows tea leaves to swirl, creating a more even infusion) and their make-up of red clay (which retains heat well). They've been a staple in English homes since Victorian times, and as an icon to British people, they haven't changed since.
Brown Betties are a great price, too! This one is $23.99 on ebay.
Alas, mine isn't an authentic Brown Betty. While it's serviceable, cute, and a pretty shade of maroonish-red--rather than the typical brown--it's a knockoff...I had no idea until recently, when I learned the history of the Brown Betty.
My faux "Brown Betty" looks a bit like this one on Amazon. Not real, but it still makes a nice cuppa.
England's Midlands have been called "the Potteries" since the Middle Ages, since the resources used to make pottery occur in abundance here. Wedgwood, Royal Doulton, and Spode are some famous Staffordshire companies.

Tea drinking became popular in England before 1800, to the point where poorer folks purchased used tea leaves and/or tea leaves mixed with other, less savory, ingredients (including animal dung). While the upper class served tea in bone china, regular people used clay tea pots.

Most of the time, these pots were intended to be used for a while before they inevitably broke, and then could be replaced. But what became known as a Brown Betty teapot proved durable and superior at brewing tea, and many became heirlooms.

There is no single Brown Betty teapot; it's not a brand. Rather, a Brown Betty is a type of teapot, but they all bear certain things in common.

  • The teapots must be crafted in Staffordshire, England, from the red clay discovered there in 1695.
  • They are round in shape, although very early teapots from Staffordshire red clay looked more like coffee pots.
  • The teapots are glazed with manganese, or Rockingham glaze. They are a soft lavender color until the second firing, when they turn their famous shade of brown (a little like Hershey's chocolate syrup).
Although it looks black int he picture, this pot on Amazon is labeled as being crafted by Cauldon, and is therefore authentic.
A few companies still make Brown Betties, Adderley Ceramics Ltd. and Cauldon Ceramic Ltd.

Is your teapot a Brown Betty? Whether it's Adderley, Cauldon, or from another manufacturer, it's easy to tell. Flip it over. On the bottom, there should be an unglazed ring of tell-tale red clay, and it should say "Made in England".

Same Adderley pot from the top of the post, on ebay

One more word on caring for your Brown Betty: don't put it in the microwave or on a hot stove. And to clean, just rinse well. That's one benefit of the classic brown glaze: it won't show tea stains!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Welcome Lisa Karon Richardson

Welcome Lisa Karon Richardson to Tea and a Good Book today!

An image posted by the author.
A recently unearthed "letter to the editor" sheds light on her new release, The Peacock Throne.


Caclutta Gazette

3 November 1802

Dear Sir,

At your request I interviewed those persons commonly believed to be connected to the return of the great Peacock Throne.

I began with Miss Lydia Garrett, believing that a young lady possessed of grace and charm would find it delightful to be mentioned positively in newsprint. She accused me of working for the French and then told me an outlandish tale that began with two murders in London and devolved into a hunt for what amounts to pirate treasure. To hear her tell it, with a bit of cunning and luck a single English frigate can best a French ship of the line. Even more incredible, she believes French agents infiltrated Calcutta and kidnapped friends of the Lieutenant-Governor in an attempt to extort the throne from him. Either she is a bit mad, or as I suspect, she was making sport of me. I was unable to obtain a single publishable fact from her.

I next approached Mr. Marcus Harting. As you know, he is of good family, being the youngest son of the Marquess of Wiltshire. Looking back on the conversation, I’m not quite certain where it veered away from the topic, but although I spoke to him for nearly an hour, by the time it was done I had the most dreadful headache and I’m fairly certain I was the only one who ever even mentioned the Peacock Throne or how Mr. Harting came to Calcutta.

Finally, I called upon Anthony __, the Earl of Danbury. He socked me in the nose and threatened to shoot me if I came about again. As preposterous as it sounds, I think he actually meant it.
All in all, it was a most trying day. You described this as an easy assignment which an infant could perform. This was not my experience I have come to the conclusion that I am not at all cut out to be a reporter, I must therefore resign effective immediately.

Yours, etc.
Gavin Greenleigh


The Peacock Throne releases Jan 27. 
Here's a peek:

When Miss Lydia Garrett's guardian is murdered, and the authorities refuse to investigate the odd circumstances, she vows to catch the culprit. The same night the Earl of Danbury is murdered in his bed. Against all odds it appears that the murders are related - and Anthony Douglas, the new Lord Danbury, is bent on revenge. 

The clues point to the former Earl's first naval command. In 1758 the Earl spirited away and hid the magnificent Peacock Throne at the behest of the Indian royal family. To draw out the murderer, Anthony and Lydia agree that they must locate the throne. However, they are not the only ones interested in the Peacock Throne. 

Marcus Wiltshire, agent of His Majesty's intelligence services, has received hints that Bonaparte intends to return the throne to India and leverage its mystical significance to foment rebellion and cut England off from her most important trading partner. When the amateur sleuths join forces with the professional agent, the quest for the throne leads them around the globe on an adventure steeped in danger, treachery, and romance.

Fun fact: Although she's multi-published, this is the first book Lisa wrote. 

Check these out!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, January 18, 2016

Phew! Party's Over! Let's Relax with Hot Buttered Yum

Congratulations to Betti, who won the One Word From You Prize Package!

Thanks to all who entered and helped me celebrate!


Last week was a blast, promoting the release of Austen in Austin, Vol I. I was on five blogs, met a lot of new e-friends, hosted a giveaway and a quarter of the author giveaway, and read a few reviews of the book. Too. Much. Fun. I could get used to this!

But it's time to come back to earth. Good thing, as I'm under a deadline. I have three contracted novellas to write quickly.

So today I'm going to make a delicious, wintery drink to celebrate, and I thought I'd share the recipe with you. I modified it from a Susan Branch recipe (she's so awesome!).

It's actually a Christmas drink, and an alcoholic one at that, but my version has no alcohol.

Heard of Hot Buttered Rum? This is a Hot Buttered Yum.

Yep, it's full of butter and sugar. Nope, that's no health food. Which is why I'm drinking a cup to celebrate.

Hot Buttered Yum:

  • 1/2 lb butter (not margarine), softened
  • 1 whole pound of brown sugar
  • 1/2 t. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 t. cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. pumpkin pie spice -or- nutmeg
Cream together. Store in refrigerator up to 2-3 weeks. When you want a drink, add a tablespoon of the mix to a mug and add 6 oz boiling water. (If you were adding rum, you'd add an ounce.)


Monday, January 11, 2016

Austen in Austin Release Week! Win, win, win!

I'm so excited for Austen in Austin, Volume I, to release this Friday, January 15! All the stories are re-tellings of Jane Austen novels set in historical Austin, Texas. My novella, One Word from You, is Pride and Prejudice with a Texas twist!

Visit my website this week (click here) to enter for a One Word From You prize package. It includes a copy of Austen in Austin (paper or ebook, winner's choice) plus a Jane Austen Devotional by Steffany Woolsey and a cute little pink notebook.

I've also listed the blogs where I'm appearing this week and included links to their sites. Karen Lange, Debbie Lynne Costello, Angela Breidenbach, and Jaime Jo Wright all host me--thanks, ladies! Leave a comment on one of these blogs for an extra entry into the drawing!

You can also pop by Inkwell Inspirations (click here) to enter to win a prize package with goodies offered by all four Austen in Austin authors. Deb, Gina, Anita and I all had fun putting it together.
Look at all the goodies!
Thanks for celebrating with me!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Multiple Ways to win The Austen in Austin Collection, Volume I!

It's almost release time for my newest novella collection!

The Austen in Austin Collection, Volume I, contains four historical Texas-set novellas based on Jane Austen's novels (Emma, Sense and Sensibility, Pride & Prejudice, and Northanger Abbey)...and it releases Friday, January 15 from White Fire Publishing!

To celebrate, I want to share some ways you can win the book and other related prizes.


Get ready for a One Word From You giveaway prize pack! Prizes include the paperback Austen in Austin Collection, Volume I; a Jane Austen Devotional; and a notebook to record your thoughts or prayers. Contest will be offered through Rafflecopter on my website, www.susannedietze.com, January 10-15, 2016.

Entry with Rafflecopter is easy. Your email addy is required for notification purposes only: I will not share it nor will I use it for anything other than notifying the winner. You earn entries just by visiting my facebook page and/or tweeting and/or being a newsletter subscriber--the number of entries you get is up to you. Be sure to check my website in the New Year for more info and to enter!


Mega Prize Pack from the Authors! 

The authors are giving away a prize pack, too! Prizes include the paperback Austen in Austin Collection and other goodies tied to either Austen or Austin (well, cowboys, at least). My contributions include a Jane Austen Pocket Post Puzzle Book and a Cowboy dish towel. Visit www.inkwellinspirations.com January 11-15.


Do you subscribe to my newsletter? I only send an issue when I have a release, and every newsletter includes a cheery hello, a bit of news, a recipe, and a prize for one or more subscribers. The Austen in Austin winner has been announced already, but there will be a new prize with the March newsletter...a copy of The Cowboy's Bride Collection coming from Barbour. To sign up, click here or click the button to the right.


If you're interested in purchase...Austen in Austin, Volume I is available two ways! The first is the complete first volume in paperback, containing all four stories based on Jane Austen's Emma, Sense and Sensibility, Pride & Prejudice, and Northanger Abbey (photo at the top of the post). Or, if you prefer, each story is also available individually in  ebook format (photo of mine above!).

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Monday, December 28, 2015

Sneak Peek of One Word From You

Ooh! I'm so excited about the release of Austen in Austin Collection, Volume I, coming in just a few weeks from White Fire Publishing! It comes in paperback with four stories based on Jane Austen's Emma, Sense and Sensibility, Pride & Prejudice, and Northanger Abbey. Or, if you prefer, each story is also available individually in  ebook format.

My story, One Word From You, is a project that's dear to my heart. It won the Genesis for Historical Romance in 2013, and was a joy to write alongside my writing buddies from the Inkwell Inspirations blog.

A few fun facts about my novella, One Word From You:
  • My story may be a retelling of Pride & Prejudice with a Texas twist, but it's not just for Austen fans. If you're familiar with P&P, see if you recognize my re-imaginings of Austen's characters...and even bits of dialogue.
  • The Austen Academy mentioned in each novella in the collection is fictional, but other Austin historical landmarks are real.
  • Something else historical that figures into my story? Time zones weren't established in the United States until November, 1883. Prior to that, each city set its own sun time, as did each train station. They hardly ever matched up, which caused a lot of problems.
Curious about the story? Here's a sneak peek!


“My affections and wishes are unchanged, but one word from you will silence me on this subject forever.” Mr. Darcy, Pride and Prejudice


October, 1883

             “If it is indeed a truth universally acknowledged that a bachelor in possession of a lucrative cattle ranch must be in want of a wife, then Mr. Cray will be swapping vows before calving season.” Merriment pulled at Eliza Branch’s lips as she gazed past her parents at the darkness beyond the carriage window. “He doesn’t need our assistance to find a suitable bride.”

            “This is no time for your odd sense of humor, Eliza.” The carriage bumped over a pothole, and Mother sucked in a hissing breath. “This headache!”

            “I’m sorry, Mother. I didn’t mean to upset you. Are you ill?” Eliza bit the finger-seam of her glove and tugged, baring her arm to the evening cool. She cupped her hand over Mother’s smooth cheek. “You don’t have a fever.”

             Mother’s head jerked back. “Still a hoyden after months of finishing school. Can no one persuade you to stop undressing with your teeth?”

             “I didn’t rip the seam this time.” Eliza patted Mother’s knee. “Let’s turn back home. The Hales will understand if you’re too ill to attend the gala.”

            “You mother’s fine,” Father drawled. “Hot with determination, is all.”

            “No thanks to you, George.” Mother’s eyes flashed glossy as ink in the moonlight. “Now Eliza must wed Hezekiah Cray with too much haste for a proper society wedding.”

            “I—what?” A nauseating sensation coiled in Eliza’s stomach, just as it did during her recurring nightmare of arriving tardy for a French exam at her finishing school, The Jeannette C. Austen Academy for Young Ladies. In those dreams, she couldn’t recognize the conjugations on the chalkboard. But Mother’s perplexing words boded a far worse fate than poor marks.

              “Marry,” Mother reiterated, as if she were about to spell the word. “You’re nineteen. Plenty old enough.”

              Eliza stifled a snort. She’d marry Mr. Cray, with his oily black hair, overlong mustache, and unsavory habits when his cattle sang in the church choir. “He gambles, Mother.”

            “He can afford to. He has the touch of Midas with livestock.”

            “And I do not.” Father sighed and stared out the window at the dark street.

            Eliza’s mouth filled with fearful questions, cold and metallic as coins on her tongue. “What’s happened?”

            “The cattle are diseased.” Mother massaged her temples. “Your father bred good stock with feral cows to produce some new kind of Longhorn. But he failed. The drought hasn’t helped, either. We must sell the ranch to keep the house here in town.”

            Eliza touched Father’s arm, willing him to look at her. “It’s not so bad, is it, Father?”

            He shrugged, but whether his action bespoke apology or resignation, she couldn’t tell.

Meet Will Delacourt, my Texas twist on Mr. Darcy, in the book!


Come back next Monday to learn how to enter to win a copy!