Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Author Shelia Roberts ('The Cottage on Juniper Ridge') shares the books that changed her life


Books have such a way of speaking to us, don't they? Whether it's fiction or non-fiction I rarely read a book and come away without something new to think about.

Probably the earliest books to affect me were the Nancy Drew novels I devoured as a little girl. What's not to like about a super sleuth who drives a cute little sports car and solves mysteries. Those books were my first taste of girl power.

Then along comes love in the form of Jane Asten's PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. More girl power. How can you not admire a heroine like Elizabeth Bennet, who stays true to herself? That book taught me that a woman shouldn't compromise because the truest and most well-deserved happy endings come when we don't, when we keep to our convictions.

Sometimes a book on writing will set off lightbulbs, like Albert Zuckerman's WRITING THE BLOCKBUSTER NOVEL. As a writer I'm always striving to write a better story, and that particular book really helped open my eyes to some things I could do better as a writer. I still try to read books on writing on a regular basis so I can improve my craft. My goal as a writer is to always try and give my readers the best possible reading experience I can. And maybe even inspire them just a little!

I love to read books where I can come away encouraged. One such book I read was YOU'LL GET THROUGH THIS by Max Lucado. A friend gave it to me after I was diagnosed with uterine cancer and I found its positive message very comforting. It was a great reminder that God is always with us on our life journey, in both the highs and the lows. What an encouraging message to be able to take to heart! Reading that book in conjunction with my Bible kept me steady during an unsteady season. And it even made it okay for me to be bald (which, let me tell you, is not a good look for me.)

There are still so many wonderful books out there just waiting to inspire me. Reading, like writing, is a journey, and I know I'm nowhere near done with mine.

The Cottage on Juniper Ridge

by Sheila Roberts



Can a book change your life? Yes, when it's Simplicity, Muriel Sterling's guide to plain living. In fact, it inspires Jen Heath to leave her stressful, overcommitted life in Seattle and move to Icicle Falls, where she rents a lovely little cottage on Juniper Ridge. And where she can enjoy simple pleasures—like joining the local book club—and complicated ones, like falling in love with her sexy landlord, Garrett Armstrong.

Her sister Toni is ready for a change, too. She has a teenage daughter who's constantly texting her friends, a husband who's more involved with his computer than he is with her, and a son who's consumed by video games. Toni wants her family to grow closer—to return to a simpler way of life.

Other women in town, like Stacy Thomas, are also inspired to unload their excess stuff and some of the extra responsibilities they've taken on.

But as they all discover, sometimes life simply happens. It doesn't always happen simply!

Read an excerpt:
... “You know, I wasn’t really in favor of reading that book, but now I’m glad we did,” Stacy said. “I got rid of all kinds of stuff I didn’t really need. I even got rid of some of my Christmas decorations.”

Cass’s mouth dropped. “No.”

“Well, not a lot,” Stacy admitted. “But a bunch of things we haven’t used in a long time, things I’m not that crazy about anymore. And I unloaded a whole box full of outside lights.”

She and Bill Will chatted for a few minutes, mostly about him and how he was saving up to buy a place of his own. “Except I only got about a thousand in the bank,” he said with a shake of the head. “I need to find me a rich woman. Got any money, Jen?” he added with a smile.

“Yeah. Tons. Can’t you tell?”

“Aw, well. There’s more to life than money, right?” He set down his mug. “Let’s get started. I’m itchin’ to try out that machinery.”

She’d already marked off the area where she wanted the garden. “I figure I’ll put it over there,” she said, pointing to a sunny corner of the yard she’d marked off with string and some small yard stakes.

“Okay,” he said with a nod.

She watched, feeling a tingle of excitement, as he let down the tailgate of his truck and pulled out the tiller. Home-grown lettuce and spinach and peas and carrots. This was going to be great.

Bill Will took the tiller over to the future home of Veggie Central, started it, and began to churn up the earth. She should plant sunflowers, too, she thought watching him.

She was so into her garden daydream that it took a minute for her to realize that the tilling had stopped. “I think we got a problem,” Bill Will called.

Had he hit a rock? She hurried over to where he was squatting in front of clumps of grass and sandy soil, examining what looked like some sort of network of pipes. 
“What’s that?” she asked. Whatever it was, something was wrong with it, she thought, looking at the water gurgling from several that had been severed.

He pushed back his hat and scratched his head. “Well, I’m no expert on stuff like this but if I had to guess I’d say that’s your drain field.”

“Drain field?”

“You know, your septic system. I think we just tore something up.”

A sick feeling landed in the pit of her stomach. “Can you fix it?”

He looked at the mess in front of him and shook his head. “If you need a horse broke or a fence mended I’m your man. This, well, you better call your landlord.”

The sick feeling swelled. “Oh,” Jen said weakly.

Bill Will straightened up. “Sorry to ruin your day Jen, but I don’t think we better till any more until you know where all your drain field is. You don’t want to do any more damage.”

She’d just done more damage ... to her tenant-landlord relationship. Oh, boy.

“You’d better call Armstrong right away,” Bill Will advised.

She could hardly wait.

Her trepidation must have shown on her face because Bill Will threw an arm around her shoulders and gave her a hug. “It’ll be okay. He’s a good guy. He’ll understand.”

Jen wasn’t so sure.

Buy links

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Sheila Roberts is married and has three children. She lives on a lake in the Pacific Northwest. Her novels have appeared in Readers Digest Condensed books and have been published in several languages. Her holiday perennial, On Strike for Christmas, was made into a movie for the Lifetime Movie Network and her her novel The Nine Lives of Christmas has been optioned for film. When she’s not writing songs, hanging out with her girlfriends or trying to beat her husband at tennis, she can be found writing about those things dear to women’s hearts: family, friends, and chocolate.

Readers can find me on:


Facebook: Author Sheila Roberts


Sheila will be awarding a $25 B & N gift card and an eCopy of The Cottage on Juniper Ridge to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour, and a $25 B & N gift card to a randomly drawn host. Follow the tour for more chances to win!


  1. Hi again Sheila! How did you come up with the story? Was it something you've had in the back of your mind for a while? Or did something in particular spurr your imagination??

    andralynn7 AT gmail DOT com

    1. You know, I think it was inspired by the mountains of stuff we inherited when we lost my husband's parents. We already had a ton of our own and it multiplied a thousand fold. I've been trying to downsize and simplify so obviously this was on my mind!

  2. Great excerpt! Sounds like a really good book. Thanks for sharing it and the giveaway. evamillien at gmail dot com

  3. Interesting list of books

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  4. Congrats to Sheila on the release of The Cottage on Juniper Ridge.

    I have never read any Nancy Drew books. SMH. I need to add a few to my summer TBR list.

    Sheila, is Icicle Falls based on a real place?

    Thanks for hosting the giveaway Andi. Fingers crossed to win.

  5. Thanks for this great giveaway!!!


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