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, September 27, 2007

Welcome, Baby Girl

Where do you begin to describe the wonders of a newborn? The silky hair. The clamped-shut eyes that aren't ready to face the world. The heart-shaped mouth that makes pretend sucking movements even in sleep. Paper-thin nails on ten perfectly formed fingers and toes. A newborn is all of this, of course . . . and more.

This week, we welcomed our sixth grandchild into the world, and the greatest news is that she's a GIRL!! Soft. Pink. Already filling our hearts.

It's been a while. Between us, my sister and I have seven sons and six grandsons--fun, exceptional people who spit on the sidewalk and throw rocks for no good reason. Who wrinkle their noses at dressing up. Who popped from the womb making v-room, v-room noises. Hmmm. . . I see. You know what I'm talking about! I cherish each of my sons and grandsons and celebrate the unique qualities they have. In other words, I'm comfortable with sweaty socks, slurpy kisses, and skinned knees.

With no prior experience, I'm not sure we'll be able to figure out the "girl" in this equation, but already, Papa Max likes the feel of that tiny, dimpled hand in his. He can't wait to show her off to the world. And neither can I.

Welcome, Baby Girl.
You are loved.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Conference Pics

The "Skit Troupe" who performed in the opening ceremony

Therese Stenzel, Margaret Daly, and Gina Conroy

Therese Stenzel, WIN Chapter President and winner of the Zone Director's Award

Jeneal Rogers enjoying her first conference.

Kathy Estep and Shelley Warren, Nifty Newbies

Jan and Shelley Warren, Jazzy Mom/Daughter Duo

Me with Lacy Williams, the WIN Chimes Editor, at the banquet

Pam and Bill Wetterman in coordinating outfits at the Awards Banquet.

My friend and critique partner, Myra Johnson. Myra won 3rd in the Contemporary Fiction category of the Genesis contest.

Me with Gina Conroy and Cindy Hays, all dolled up for the banquet

Vickie McDonough at Book Signing. Double finalist in Book of the Year.

Margaret Daley, Book of the Year Winner in Short Suspense

Fantastic author, Susan (Sooz) Meissner

Sweet friend, Jill Elizabeth Nelson

Shannon Hill, Waterbrook Editor, and Gina Conroy

Wanda Dyson, Appointment Coordinator, and Miralee Farrell

Home from the Conference

The 2007 ACFW Conference exceeded all my expectations. The sessions, meeting new friends, divine appointments, and sharing fears, woes, and triumphs with other writers made it a fantastic experience. My local WIN group took home many honors and the promise of requested submissions from editors and agents. Going full-tilt for three full days wore me out, and I may never fully absorb all the information. I did learn that a conference of this magnitude is not for wimps, and that you really should prepare a few words for the awards ceremony, just in case.

On the one hand, I didn't dream I would win anything, let alone take first place in my Genesis category. I thought it would be presumptive of me to write out a list of people to thank or any lofty thoughts. Who would've thought? On the other hand, perhaps I should have. When my name was called, my brain turned to mush, followed quickly by involuntary shaking and the inability to propel myself to the stage. That's when my friends took over, and I know their cheers and prayers went with me to the stage. I don't know what I said at the podium, only that words DID flow from my mouth, and the next thing I knew, Jodie Westfall was taking my picture and smiling back at me. Today, I feel humbled and honored and thankful. Enough of that.

The real purpose of today's blog is to share the victories of my local WIN (Writers of Inspirational Novels). What an accomplished group! For some, it was their first conference. Many others are seasoned veterans.
Kudos to:
  • Margaret Daley, 1st place Book of the Year, Short Suspense
  • Therese Stenzel, Zone Director Award
  • Myra Johnson, 3rd place Genesis Award, Comtemporary Fiction
  • Vickie McDonough, finalist in two Book of the Year categories

The photo above is of me with my Genesis award plaque and Jennifer Hudson Taylor, my new fun friend who placed in TWO Genesis categories. Way to go, Jennifer!

I am blessed by this group and will post some of the conference pics when I figure out how. A techie I'm not.

Till then . . .

Monday, September 17, 2007

Preparing The Way

"Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert."
Isaiah 43:19

This is the theme of this year's ACFW conference in Dallas. Don't you get goosebumps when you think of the One who goes before preparing our paths in ways we can't even imagine?
I've done the preparing on my end. Writing, editing, digging deep into the craft of writing, trying to define my "brand". It is necessary work, one I feel passionate about. Now, it's time to let go and head to Dallas.
Some of the events I look forward to:
  • Hearing the keynote speaker, James Scott Bell
  • Meeting with Susan Meissner for a critique of the pages I sent her
  • Participating in the sessions and workshops
  • Appointments. Editor and agent. And those divine moments that God springs on me.
  • Meeting new people. Making friends.
  • The awards banquet. My critique partner, Myra Johnson, and I are finalists in the Genesis contest, and Vickie McDonough and Margaret Daley from my local WIN group are Book-of-the-Year finalists. Winning is not at the top of my list. I'm already honored just to be in the running.

My heart is full of anticipation. Not about whether I land an agent or shine in some way. Rather, I want to be open to whatever comes. I want to experience the rivers in the desert . . . a new thing.

I'll let you know how it goes, and as soon as I can, I'll post conference pics and give you the highlights.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Espresso or Decaf?

A CONTEST Brewed with you in mind!
$25 Starbucks Gift Card

You are what you eat. Or drink. Feeling like a jolt to jumpstart your morning? How about a double espresso? Health conscious? Try a decaf. Plain Jane? Well, that's what we used to have with the "good to the last drop" of yesteryear.
As writers we can learn a little from the escalating popularity in specialty coffees and drinks. We all need fresh ways of describing characters, and boy, does the coffee industry know how to get creative with description. Here's a sampling of what I found. Which one fits you?
  • Delicate with a cocoa finish
  • Elegant with floral, citrus, and herbal notes
  • Exotic and unpredictable
  • Pleasingly mild with a nutty complexity
  • Light-bodied (don't I wish?)
  • Velvet smooth and roasty sweet
  • Nutty and smooth
  • Hint of acidity
  • Balanced and straightforward
  • Earthy and full-bodied
  • Dense, caramel smooth
  • Blunt, smoky, and intense
  • Fleeting, floral aroma
  • Not for the timid
  • Lush and full-bodied
  • Bold acidity with a crisp finish
  • Frothy and sweet
Sounds like the cast of a great novel, doesn't it? Because I LOVE coffee and am anxious to get to know some of you, I'm hosting a contest. Right here friends, I'll be giving away a $25 Starbucks gift certificate for your sipping pleasure. Not a coffee drinker? Be a sport and bless one of your coffee-lovin' friends with a nice gift.

RULES: Post a comment on this post telling me which kind of coffee describes you. If you're a tea-sipper or mocha junkie, no problem. Just leave a comment anyhow and let me know you want to be in the drawing. Please include contact information. E-mail or website. No phone numbers or street addresses (for your protection).
When I reveal the winner, I'll tell you which coffee personality I am!
I'm off to refill my cup. Have a glorious weekend!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . . Lift Off!

Today I'm releasing my first ever blog to orbit in cyberspace. Does the world need another blog? How many is too many? I've wrestled with this and a few million other questions for quite some time. What relevance can I offer? How can I enlighten writers, friends, family? And whatever made me think I should become a blogger?

The answer to that, of course, is the still, small voice upon which my life is anchored. The voice which whispered to me that I could become a writer. That urges me on when tough choices come my way. That comforts me when life throws me a curve. That takes my breath away when unexpected beauty crosses my path.

I am first a child of God. I'm also a wife, a mom, Mimi to a batch of extraordinary little people, daughter, sister, friend . . . and writer. So whether the world needs another blog or not, I can't honestly say. I only know that I am here. No fancy-schmancy stuff. Just a few laughs, sharing about books and writing. Always time for a good cup of coffee. I would be honored to have you along for the journey.

  • A fun contest that involves my favorite beverage (Hmmm. . .wonder what that might be?)
  • Special reports about the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) Conference in Dallas (Sept. 20-24)
  • A long-awaited family event
  • Books, Books, Books

Till next time, God Bless.