No doubt about it, writing novels is a dream job. But it's not all fun and games. When it's time for a break or change of scenery, many novelists retreat to a special garden spot in the backyard, front porch, courtyard or garden shed. We welcome you into the outdoor spaces that offer us respite and inspiration. So grab a mug of coffee or a cup of tea and come sit with us a spell. . .

[Authors are presented in alphabetical order, so be sure to scroll through all of the more than seventy gardens, or use the sidebar links to navigate to your favorite authors. Each week, one author's garden spaces and latest book are featured at the top of the blog.]

carolyne aarsen

Since selling her first book in 1997, Carolyne Aarsen has had numerous novels published. Her stories reflect a love of God, family, and rural life. When not writing she helps her husband with his logging business, and with the cows, horses and chickens on their farm in Neerlandia, Canada, where long winters make them appreciate their flowers all the more. (The lovely arbor bench below is the view from Carolyne's office window!) Carolyne and her husband have raised four children and numerous foster children, and are now enjoying the addition of grandchildren to their family. Read more about Carolyne at www.carolyneaarsen.com.

tamera alexander

Tamera Alexander is a bestselling novelist whose works have been awarded and nominated for numerous honors, including the Christy Award, the RITA Award, and the Carol Award. After seventeen years in Colorado, Tamera and her husband have returned to their native South and live in Nashville, Tennessee, where they enjoy spending time with their two grown children, and a ten-pound silky terrier named Jack. Tamera's always wanted a screened-in porch, and look...she finally got one. The perfect outdoor office! More at www.tameraalexander.com.

Tamera doing research at Claude Monet's gardens in Giverny, France.
Tamera's tidy indoor office (between books, obviously!)

nikki arana

Nikki Arana’s newest title, The Next Target, due out in June 2012, is about a woman inspired to evangelize Muslims and her efforts to protect them from the Satanic directive of Sharia law to kill anyone who converts from Islam to Christianity. It is inspired by a true story. Her first three novels make up the Regalo Grande series, set alternately in Guadalajara, Mexico and California wine country. Nikki and her husband, Antonio, live in the Pacific Northwest.  Visit Nikki's website at www.nikkiarana.com.

Nikki's office at home.

lynn austin

Lynn Austin's books have won eight Christy Awards, and her novel Hidden Places became a Hallmark movie starring Shirley Jones. Until recently, Lynn gardened near Chicago, but in Fall of 2013 she and her husband, Ken, vacationed in Michigan where Ken grew up, and where he and Lynn met and fell in love. "As we cycled along one of our favorite bicycle trails near the lakeshore," says Lynn, "we saw a 'For Sale by Owner' sign in front of a beautiful little house that I'd long admired. The owners were having an open house that day, and as soon as Lynn saw the custom-built library shelves in the great room, complete with a rolling library ladder, she fell in love. "The house had everything we needed, including a sandy beach on Lake Michigan where we could watch the sunset every evening." In a wonderful chain of events only God could have orchestrated, they made the house their home after Ken retired in May of 2014. More about Lynn at www.lynnaustin.org.
Lynn's new office in the Austins' Michigan home.

ruth axtell

Ruth Axtell Morren loves writing about the 19th century, whether it’s Regency or late Victorian England. Ruth studied comparative literature at Smith College, spending her junior year at the Sorbonne in Paris. After college, she taught English in the Canary Islands, then worked in international development in Miami before moving to the Netherlands, where for the next several years she juggled writing and raising her three children. With the publication of Her Good Name, she returned to coastal Maine in the 1890s. For Ruth, gardening (both vegetable and flower) is a source of inspiration in Downeast Maine and something to look forward to during the winter months. Visit Ruth online at Ruth Axtell Morren.

Ruth stops at a sidewalk café
while in Paris on a research trip.

A view of Ruth's garden when she lived in Holland.

Ruth's office-with-a-view in her Maine home.

karen ball

Karen Ball has been writing stories since she was a little girl. The first novel in her Family Honor series, Shattered Justice, was given the 2006 Inspirational Reader's Choice Award. won the Inspirational Reader's Choice Award. Karen's love of all things nature came from her mother and father, who raised pansies and roses, respectively. As a result, Karen's garden has an abundance of both flowers, and she loves creating bouquets from her garden to fill the house with the sweet fragrances. The color and aroma are a definite inspiration to her as she writes. Karen and husband, Don, live in Oregon with their two "kids": Dasha, a mischievous Siberian husky, and Dakota, an Aussie-Terrier mix rescue dog. Visit Karen's website at www.karenballbooks.com.