CAFE: A gathering place. A place of refreshment.

Thirsty for the latest releases in Christian fiction? Ready for a peek into the world of publishing and writing conferences? Hungry for spiritual and real-life nourishment? Pull up a seat; you're in the right place, and I'm so glad you've stopped by.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Carla's Writing Cafe Has Moved! Come Join Me at the New Place!


Hi there! If you've come here for the Cafe, please know that EVERYTHING has been transferred to the new site! All the blog posts. All the pics that have gone up here over the past 4 1/2 years. You can even search for specific words over at the new place, too! To celebrate the grand opening, I'll have giveaways throughout the month of February. What's not to love? 
Come over to "Those Were The Days" and take a tour. Let me know what you think! This blog will remain as is, but will no longer be updated after today. 
Thanks. See you there!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Cyber Friends, A Sweet Blog Award, and An Announcement

This week my cyber friend who stops in here at the cafe on a regular basis, nominated me for an award - The Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award. Thanks, Tracy Ruckman! You've been an encouragement to me, and I'm honored that you thought of me.

The "rules" that go along with the award are that I need to name ten other blogs for the award and then write seven random things about myself. So this becomes a sort of "chain award" like the old chain letter, only you don't get thirty thousand dollars or recipes in your inbox. What you do get is get the satisfaction of passing the love along. I like that. We should encourage one another.

Where I get hung up is picking only ten. Which ten? The ten who will play along or the ten who really need a boost here in the deep dark of winter? Or the ten bloggers who have it all together and make a significant contribution to the blogosphere? Or the ten who have beautifully designed sites that give you blog-envy? You understand my dilemma then?

So, I'm going to bend the rules. As a matter of fact, I'm going to salute bloggers everywhere - the good, the bad, the sweet, the sarcastic, the beautiful, the stragglers. This I do by giving seven random thoughts about blogging and at the end, a special announcement.
  • It is guesstimated that there are more than 100 million blogs out there. Personal blogs. Corporate blogs. Topic blogs. Hybrids (combining two or more types). Suffice it to say that if you are blogging and people are finding your blog, you are very special. And you deserve the Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award. 
  • By blogging, you are investing your time and energy to share what you know. Whether you write about how to plant a garden, weave yarn into a rug, or write a book, you are sharing a part of yourself, a knowledge that is uniquely yours. You are generous and deserve the Award. 
  • If you are sharing personal journey stories, you are opening up a window into your soul. Your vulnerability is to be admired. Please take the Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award and make it your own. 
  • If you view life through a quirky lens and can make people laugh with your words, please don't quit blogging. The world needs more people like you. The Award is yours! 
  • Have you ever read a blog and sighed because the words were so beautiful or the message so poignant that you were inspired to be a better person, to try harder, to be more patient. You know the kinds of stories I'm talking about. Bless you who can inspire others. The Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award was designed with you in mind.  
  • Much of the craft that I've learned about writing has come from blogs - either a special tip or a resource that sent me in the right direction. I cannot imagine writing without the research tools at our fingertips through the internet and niche blogs. I'm grateful to those who share tips, who give directions, who've brought hope and inspiration to me every day. A double helping of the Award to you. 
  • As promised, I said I'd end this with an announcement. I'll preface that by saying that nearly every blog out there is in transformation - it's not the same today as it was in the beginning. That's the beauty of blogging. It's a learn as you go process. So, Carla's Writing Cafe is also in the process of transformation. Within the next couple of weeks, this page will be integrated into a NEW and EXCITING new webiste - everything under one domain name. Carla's Writing Cafe will remain in place, but will no longer be updated when the new site is ready. 
It's almost bittersweet that the Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award comes to the Cafe now since we're hanging a "Moved" sign on the window, but you'll want to be on the lookout - I'll be celebrating the move with some fantastic book giveaways and other goodies. And if that's not a sweet deal, I don't know what is.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Time to Play

I'm always a little flummoxed when it comes time to share about the Pulpwood Queens Girlfriend Weekend. So many emotions intertwine over the course of three days that it's difficult to sum it up in a few words. With this year's circus theme, though, every time my mind drifts back to that little town in East Texas, I can't help but smile. We did have fun, didn't we? So rather than tell you about it, I'll let you judge for yourself.
Authors Eleanor Brown and Stephanie McAfee

Authors Carolyn Leavitt, Margaret Dilloway, & Karen Harrington

Lovely Book Club members from Mr. Pleasant, TX

Jenny Wingfield of MAN IN THE MOON fame!

Courtney Walsh painted this picture for me to put in the Silent Auction which benefitted the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. THANKS, Courtney!!!!

Housemates from the DELTA STREET INN ready to head to the circus.

Book Signing with fellow panelists. Stephanie McAfee, Eleanor Brown, Me, Rebecca Rasmussen

PROM night! Karen Harrington is an amazing lady and author!

Fabulous Authors Nicole Seitz, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, Lisa Wingate, and Marybeth Whalen

Comparing footware with Marcia Fine - the coolest gal from Arizona you'll ever meet!
HEAD Pulpwood Queen Kathy Patrick - lovely as always.

Fun Times at the Circus!

Aren't these the cutest clowns you've ever seen?

The Purple Leopard Clowns - so fun!

The group from Eureka, Kansas

Author group that won FIRST Place for their portrayal of THE NIGHT CIRCUS

New friends from Dallas area. 

Can you see my dilemma? Too many things to describe and this is only a tiny portion of the weekend! There were 50 authors, 300 bookclub members, a bookstore, a former soap opera star, Hollywood peeps, more than a few NYT Best Selling authors, and more.

One of the more poignant parts of the weekend was the emphasis on literacy and the fantastic job Kathy Patrick does in generating enthusiasm among the 525 Pulpwood Queen Book Clubs to promote literacy and books. But that's a post for another time.

We had joy. We had fun. We acted silly. We went to the circus.

When was the last time you did something silly? Or laughed until you cried? If it's been awhile, then maybe you need to think about going to Girlfriend Weekend in Jefferson, Texas next year! See you there!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Don Reid of The Statler Brothers has new book - THE MULLIGANS OF MT. JEFFERSON

I've been a fan of the Statler Brothers ever since "Flowers on the Wall" and have been to a LOT of their concerts. I've grown older right along with them. A couple of years ago I learned that Don was writing books, and I did a little cheer - I feel like we've both pursued our writing passions when our other obligations have come to an end. He, too, writes about the mysteries of life and how God shines through some people more than others. Good going, Don!

This has nothing to do with his new book, which is featured below, but I found this on YouTube and thought you might enjoy it. It's my all-time favorite Statler Brother song, and this particular recording is with the original tenor, Lew DeWitt.

And now the book information:

David C. Cook (January 1, 2012)
Don Reid


Don is one of the original members of the STATLER BROTHERS, the most award-winning act in the history of country music. He and his brother and two friends began singing in their hometown of Staunton, Virginia when Don was only fourteen years old. Working all over their home and neighboring states as a part time group, they were discovered in 1964 by Johnny Cash and given their first record contract. By the time Don was 20 years old, the STATLERS had their first major, world-wide hit record with FLOWERS ON THE WALL, which started a string of hits that generated a career in the music industry that lasted for four decades. The STATLERS have been recipients of multiple industry awards:

It wasn’t until the STATLER BROTHERS decided to retire from traveling in 2002 that Don pursued his writing career to another level. Having songwriting and scriptwriting under his belt, the next obvious step was to write a book. And that book was the scripture based HEROES AND OUTLAWS OF THE BIBLE published in June of 2002 by New Leaf Press. He has since written two other non-fiction books and in 2008 saw another dream come true for Don when he released his first novel, O LITTLE TOWN. Novel number two came in the form of ONE LANE BRIDGE, and THE MULLIGANS OF MT. JEFFERSON, is a sequel to O LITTLE TOWN.

Don is the father of two sons. Debo and his wife, Julie, and daughters Sela Mae and Adra, live within a stone’s throw. You may have seen Debo’s name on many songs written with Don on albums over the years.


Cal, Harlan, and Buddy grow up together in a small Virginia town in the years before the second World War. United by age, proximity, and temperament, they get into—and out of—all the trouble that boys manage to find. They even earn a nickname from a local restaurateur who gives the boys their first jobs and plenty of friendly advice. “Uncle” Vic calls them the Mulligans, because they always seem to find a way through a thicket of trouble—family problems, girls, college, war—to success. Cal and Harlan and Buddy have been blessed with second chances.

Now it’s 1959, and police lieutenant Buddy receives an early-morning phone call: his friend Harlan, a store owner, has been shot in a break-in. Cal, now a preacher, meets Buddy at the hospital, and together, as professionals and as friends, they begin to unravel what might have happened to Harlan.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Mulligans of Mt Jefferson, go HERE.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

I'm running away with the circus!

The lure of the bigtop awaits. The lights! The colors! The carny barkers and wild animal acts. The strange. The beautiful. The magnificent. I'm so excited I'm about to pop!

THE GREATEST BOOK SHOW ON EARTH in Jefferson, Texas kicks off tomorrow with the Clown Alley Author Dinner. The annual Pulpwood Queens Girlfriend Weekend is hosted by Kathy Patrick - the queen of books, hair, literacy efforts, and now - THE CIRCUS!

The official program of Girlfriend Weekend 2012.

This is the twelvth anniversary of Girlfriend Weekend, but only my second year to attend. I've been looking forward to it since the drive home last year. Some of the highlights on the program this year:
  • Tina Sloan (long running star of The Guiding Light) presenting part of her one-woman show Changing Shoes.
  • Deeanne Gist will be doing her BOTTOMS UP show featuring an intimate look at a Victorian woman's undergarments.
  • Keynote Speaker John Berendt, author of My Baby Blue Jays and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
  • Jenny Wingfield, author and film and television writer of The Man in the Moon fame.
  • Elaine Clark, radio voice-over star who will speak on There's Money Where Your Mouth Is.

In addition, a slew of fantastic authors will speak on panels all day Friday and Saturday with evening shows unparalleled on this side of the earth - Pretty in Pink Prom Night and The Great Big Ball of Hair with live music and more fun than is legal in the great state of Texas.

The real stars, though, are the book club members who hail from all over the US - delightful readers who've become friends.
Author Servers at the 2011 Author Dinner to kick things off on Thursday evening.

Don't you wish you were running away with me???? My costumes are ready, and I can't wait. I'll be back next week with loads of pics and the full report.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Dale Cramer up on CFBA with The Captive Heart

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Captive Heart
Bethany House (January 1, 2012)
Dale Cramer


Dale Cramer spent his formative years traveling the world as an Army brat, then settled in Georgia at the age of fifteen when his father retired.

After high school he became an electrician, a job that took him to places as diverse as power plants, stadia, airports, high-rise office buildings and a hard-rock mining operation.

Twenty-five years of experiences in the trades provided him with the wealth of characters, stories and insights that populate his novels.

When he married his childhood friend, Pam, in 1975 he had no way of knowing they would not have children until fifteen years later.

In his early forties, when Dale left his job to become a stay-at-home dad, he suddenly found himself with time on his hands, so he pursued a lifelong dream and taught himself to write.

Using an online writer’s forum as a training ground, he wrote his first short stories in 1996. As his writing skills improved he turned to novels, publishing his first book, Sutter’s Cross, in 2003.

Since then, Dale has published four more novels and garnered a measure of critical acclaim with two Christy Awards, a listing among Publisher’s Weekly’s Best Books of 2004 and numerous other Best lists. Dale and his wife Pam live in Georgia with their two sons.


Bandit troubles intensify as Caleb Bender's family tries to settle into their new life in 1920s Paradise Valley. When El Pantera kidnaps Rachel and leaves her brother, Aaron, for dead, Jake Weaver and the Mexican native Domingo pursue the bandit leader to his mountain stronghold in a hopeless rescue attempt. Jake and Domingo manage to escape with Rachel, with the bandits hot on their trail. In a desperate attempt to avoid recapture, Domingo puts himself squarely in harm's way, giving Jake and Rachel time to get away. This is not the quiet life Caleb Bender envisioned when he led his family out of Ohio. What is a father to make of his daughter's obvious affection for a man outside the fold? And how will a pacifist Amishman like Caleb respond to the events that threaten his family and their way of life?

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Captive Heart, go HERE

BONUS: My friend Camille Eide did a four part, in-depth interview with Dale Cramer. To learn more about his Amish background, the writing of this series, and get a glimpse of his wonderful sense of humor, please visit the Word Serve Water Cooler.
Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
You can also read Camille's review of The Captive Heart here.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

My Reading List for 2012

When I was a kid, when we put more on our plate than we could eat, my dad would say, "Guess your eyes are bigger than your stomach." That's the way I feel when I survey my bookshelf and plan what books to move to the top of my reading list. I want to read them ALL! And I want to re-read my favorites. So making a list is an exercise in delusions of grandeur. Although I desperately want to devour them all, I have to narrow it down to a few dozen choices, knowing that there will be new releases and "hot" books hitting the bookstore shelves again this year. And that one-click button on Amazon is sooooo easy.

So this list is a loose outline of what I hope to read in the next twelve months, words that will nourish my spirit, give me a laugh or two, and prod me to be a better writer myself.

  • When Sparrows Fall by Meg Moseley (I've already started this one and am loving it)
  • The Bungalow by Sarah Jio
  • Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls (on last year's list - didn't get to it)
  • There You'll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones
  • From This Day Forward by Margaret Daley
  • Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton (also one I didn't get to last year)
  • The Girl Who Chased The Moon and Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen (recommended by a friend whose literary taste I trust)
  • Mother of Pearl by Kellie Gilbert (will have to wait as this is a September release)
  • Lilacs in Bloom and The Daughter's Walk by Jane Kirkpatrick

These are the books I have or know about. Charles Martin has a new one coming out and will likely move to the top of the pile the minute I get my hands on it. I also have three of Elizabeth Berg's books that I want to sink into - I love her voice and lovely stories.

I also want to revisit my Anne Tyler collection - I'm thinking The Accidental Tourist and Back When We Were Grownups. It's been too long since I've enjoyed one of her books.

Now for a fun surprise:

What books were on the NYT Bestsellers List on this week in January, 1952?

No. 1 - The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk
No. 8 - From Here to Eternity by James Jones
No. 12 - The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger

Sixty years and these are still beloved. Classics, I suppose, by now. I'll think I'll add The Catcher in the Rye to my 2012 list.

How do you choose what books you want to read? Friend recommendations? Best-seller lists? Classics? Do you ever read books more than once?

2012 is off to a great start! What's the first book you want to read?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Best Reads of 2011

What a great year for books! Unfortunately, it wasn't a great year for time to read all the books I wanted. The year started off with my going to the Pulpwood Queens Girlfriend Weekend in Jefferson, TX. There I was introduced to many new (to me) authors which added to my already leaning pile of books-I-want-to-read-before-I-die.

Writing, editing, and marketing took a big chunk of my reading time in the middle part of the year, but I've finished strong and read some darned good books the last few month. Before I get to that, I have to tell you about a new and interesting twist to my author life - I was asked to read a number of books for endorsement - that pithy little blurb that appears sometimes on the cover or in the flyleaf at the front of a book. What an honor . . . and a responsibility. You can either gush and sound really silly or try out some sixty-four dollar words and sound stuffy or you can give a brief but lively blurb that pulls out the strengths of the book. Luckily, for me, this was easy as all the books I was asked to read only added to my literary enjoyment this year.

So to start things off, these are the authors and their books that I've endorsed this year:

When All My Dreams Come True by Janelle Mowery
Reinventing Leona by Lynne Gentry
Reclaiming Lily by Patti Lacy
Savanna's Gift by Camille Eide
Wish You Were Here by Beth K. Vogt (2012 release)
A Sweethaven Summer by Courtney Walsh (2012 release)
The Mother Road by Jennifer AlLee (2012 release)

Such a privilege to read these heart-warming stories. The one thing they all had in common was the unique voice that each author brought to the book.

Now, on to the Best of List. I sometimes do a top five in two or three categories, but this year my reading took me far and wide so I'm going to do like they do on the televised awards shows and invent categories to suit my needs.

Best Memoir:
In the Sanctuary of Outcasts by Neil White

Best Novel Set in England:
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson

Best Novel Set in the South:
Georgia Bottoms by Mark Childress - Absurd and Hilarious!

Best Literary Novel:
The Violets of March by Sarah Jio

Best Novel from CBA (Christian Booksellers Association):
The Sweetest Thing by Elizabeth Musser

Two-Way Tie for Second Place:
Blue Skies Tomorrow by Sarah Sundin
A Sound Among the Trees by Susan Meissner

Best Christan Debut:
Wings of a Dream by Anne Mateer

OVERALL BEST BOOK: Remember what I said about that huge pile of books. The best book I read this year is one that's been gathering dust for a couple of years, the one I'd heard great things about but never seemed to pull out and read. Although it has a 2007 pub date, 2011 was the year I discovered it, and everything I've ever heard about this book was true. Gritty. Mesmerizing. Heart-wrenching. The writing is unlike anything you've ever read. The characters and the story will wind around your heart and squeeze until you think you can't breathe. The impression will not go easily away. A teaser: I will never see or hear an accordion again without thinking of my choice for Best Book of 2011 - The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

It will most likely be read again in 2012.

How about you? Are you familiar with these authors or these books? See anything interesting? It was an eclectic year for me, and that's just the way I like it!

Happy New Year! I'll be back next week to tell you about the books I'm looking forward to in 2012.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Giveaways and Christmas Wisdom You Can Use

Writing friends are amazing! Today I'm sending you to a couple of hot spots on the web so you can judge for yourself.

Courtney and I with "our" agent in the middle
Dear, dear friend, Courtney Walsh, is giving away stuff, and I mean LOTS of stuff on her blog this week and next. Today is a multi-gift giveaway for the creative soul, and she's giving away Broken Wings and a jazzy 3 CD-set of Harry Connick, Jr. and several scrapbooking lovers items, including the scrapbooking book she authored. Like I said, very cool. Look for her other giveaways coming up too!

Courtney's Blog

My friend Judy Christie is a prolific novelists AND writes non-fiction AND she has the most wonderful sense of humor. She's a joy to be around and has some great advice from her new book Hurry Less, Worry Less, at Christmas which she shared on Inspire A Fire. You'll love this!

I'm trying to be more intentional this year and did a minimal amount of decorating, but I did set out the nativity sets.  I love the simplicity of this one.

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Book Giveaway Winners

Thank you, readers for the many comments on the posts for Alice Wisler's A Wedding Invitation and for my "thank you" giveaway for the choice of either of my books.

Ta-Da! The winner of A Wedding Invitation is Deb's Desk. Enjoy!

Cheryl Barker and Seashore Mary (love that name!) were the lucky winners of my post and have both chosen to receive Broken Wings.

Much appreciation to all of you for stopping by. If you didn't win, there's still time to get copies of all three books for Christmas giving. Click on title to take you to the spot where you can do that.

In other news, this lovely review of Broken Wings from TheDabblingMum came to my attention last week. There are no words for the gratitude that comes when someone takes the time to express such poignant feelings about a book. Thank you, Alyice, for the review, and thank you readers for making what I do such a pleasure.