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.

Friday, February 29, 2008


My friend, Mary DeMuth, who is always full of splendid ideas and loves to share her expertise, posted this today on The Writer's View 2. Wanna get the skinny from a cast of writing professionals? Mary tells us how:

If you're an aspiring writer and want to get a writers conference in your inbox, consider joining The Writer View. It's free. It's amazing. And, seriously, you'll learn everything you'd learn at a writer's conference (sans meeting cool people face to face), only you don't have to pay airfare. How they work: Each Monday and Thursday a panelist poses a question about the publishing industry, the craft of writing, or anything related to the writing journey. These panelists are agents, editors, writers who are well known in the Christian writing industry. Then, panelists and members writeposts about the question raised. I still learn new things every week. It's a moderated loop, so there's no blatant self promotion. Word counts are limited to 250 per post.
For beginning to intermediate writers, the group to join is TWV 2. Clickhere <> .
For advanced, published writers, join The Writers View. Click here<> .

You will be asked to fill out an application that you then send to thegroup's leadership. You'll receive an email letting you know whether you'vebeen accepted.

Monday, February 25, 2008

What I Love About My Job/Carnival of Christian Writers

The February Carnival of Christian Writers is up today. I hope you'll check out what this month's Authors, Aspiring Authors, Literary Agents, Editors, etc. have to say about their love of the craft, call, and business of Writing.

A special thanks to Gina Conroy at Writer . . . Interrupted where I won Paul Borthwick's book Simplify: 106 ways to uncomplicate your life. This is a subject that is near and dear to me as I strive to get back to the basics and sort out what those basics are. A brief scan of the introduction and topics tells me I have a treat in store. Some of the chapter titles are: Discerning Want Versus Need, Stay Out of Debt, Toss That Mail, Make a List, Eat Before Food Shopping, Making Memories, and Staying Fit. 106 short chapters (simple) to put one on the path to a simpler, more fulfilled life. Thanks, Gina!

Friday, February 22, 2008

20/20? Not exactly.

I made a long overdue visit to the eye doctor this week. It’s not one of my favorite things to do, but since I could no longer read road signs from much distance, I knew it was time. Surprise! My eyes have not gotten worse. My prescription was actually too strong. That’s a first. Of course, the flip side of that is that the optometrist explained that after a certain age, your eyes start going the other way. At this rate, by the time I’m 100, I may have the 20/20 vision of my preschool days.

I’ve been wearing wire frames for quite some time and have admired the trendy plastic glasses that have come out in recent years, so I went with a new look. What do you think? Chic? Writerly? Or do I look like an aging female Buddy Holly? The best news is, I can see great, and the world is a safer place when I’m on the road.

On another note. On Tuesday evening, I heard Gail Provost speak on the Story Circle, a novel writing method instituted by her late husband,
Gary Provost. Gary was a Writer’s Digest Magazine contributor for many years and dubbed The Writer’s Writer. Gail presented a visual workshop that gave new perspective to the time-honored Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey and Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey. I especially enjoyed the diagram Gail used that showed a fist (the inciting incident) sending the character in a completely different direction and thus, the beginning of the story circle. Most of the presentation was familiar, but as she spoke, I couldn’t help but apply the different aspects to my WIP and came away with new ideas and a new acronym to apply to writing scenes. Bet you’re dying to know, aren’t you? All right. WAGS.
W—World. Set the scene. Time and place.
A—Active characters who are doing something.
G—Goals. When a character in a scene is thwarted in his goal, have him take another swing; i.e. try another tactic such as flattery, rationalization or confrontation.
S—Stakes. Things have to matter. Something must be at stake.

So now, with my new glasses and a new tool for writing my novel, I have no excuse. Everything’s looking good from this side.

Monday, February 18, 2008


Last week was hard—so many emotions going on that I did what I do best—closed my eyes and took each day one at a time. Do you ever have times like that?

The week’s plan started simple enough. Polish my Genesis entries and send them off. Spend an unhurried day on Valentine’s cooking a nice dinner for my hubby. Then, on Friday, straightening the house for company over the weekend.

I sent off the first Genesis entry as planned, and immediately began to think of ways to derail my careful work. What if the judges didn’t get it? How could I have strengthened the opening hook? Why did I ever think I could be a writer?

On Tuesday, a beloved worship leader in our church passed away unexpectedly. Just last year, John retired from full-time ministry to start a landscape business that he could enjoy until his real retirement years kicked in. Not yet sixty years old, his death leaves a gaping hole in thousands of people’s lives that he has touched over the years. His “going home” celebration on Friday included tributes from many whose lives he shaped and a tender, yet joyful worship service led by three of his four children. It’s hard to explain the deep despair in the midst of complete yielding to God’s omnipotence. Our own feeble attempts fall so short in explaining that which only God knows. John Kilgore was a faithful servant on earth and now worships at the throne of Almighty God. Like many others, John’s new life made me homesick for heaven.

Sandwiched between the shock of John’s death and his service, we had Valentine’s Day—a celebration of the 38th Anniversary of my first date with Max. It was a day marked for perfection. Max brought the chocolate and the wine. I grilled the steaks. Together we watched “Hello, Dolly,” the movie we saw on that memorable day so long ago. Splendid—as my four-year-old twin grandsons love to say!

I rushed to clean up the house for the weekend onslaught of kids and grandkids, but in reality, it was a spit and shine kind of job. Now, after a whirlwind couple of days, I’m tired. Reflective. Plural emotions have ripped through my arteries the last seven days. Yet, somewhere in all of it, a nugget has emerged. As a writer, don’t I want to give my characters a wide range of emotions? Joy. Despair. Uncertainties. The simple blessing of cuddling a four-month-old granddaughter. How can I make my characters’ lives multi-layered? Give them unexpected twists and chasms to cross as they march toward their goals?

Funny, but God gave me a blueprint last week. I think I should pay better attention. How about you? How do you layer your stories? From real life or off the top of your head? For me, it’s a matter of the heart. And for that, I’m thankful.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


Congratulations to Vicki McCollum! She is the winner of Julie Lessman's A PASSION MOST PURE. Thanks to all who entered the Romantic Contest and stopped by the cafe. Watch for more book giveaways right here!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

To My Valentine

Today is the 38th anniversary of my first date with my incredible husband, Max. So, to you honey, I love you. You're my best friend, the one who makes me laugh and love and cry, the one who believes in me, and who I choose to grow old with. Thank you for all the memories and mostly, for putting up with me. You are a treasure.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Little Things . . .

I received this email from a writer friend yesterday. With his permission, I'm sharing it with you here at the Cafe.

Sometimes I wonder if being a foster dad is worth all the trouble. But I have seen them grow up and do well. It's not always some great thing that they do, or that happens to them. It's the little things.

This is a little note I found on the bathroom sink this morning from Catherine, 18.

Dear Dad,

I want to thank you so, so, so, much for my brand new bed! I can't tell you how happy it really and truly makes me to really have my own bed that I can call my own and take with me wherever I go. You are the best dad in the world! I wish you had been my dad when I grew up. Thank you so, so, so, so much Dad!!! I love you lots.

Always and Forever,

Catherine's father has been in prison most of her life. Her mother is a drug dealer south of Dallas and would not even meet with her when we were in Dallas recently. A bed is not a big deal unless you have never had your own, I guess.

I am not really that great of a father, but I am glad to be able to be there for some of these kids.

Carla here. My friend and his wife are foster parents many times over. He has a heart for others (not just kids) and a quiet resolve to do that which God has called him to do. I know it's not always easy. He expects nothing in return. He accepts the little things that come his way and rejoices in them. That's the essence, isn't it?

As writers, we write because of a divine imprint on our lives. No guarantees. Lots of rejection. Yet, we plod on, not knowing what effect our faithfulness might have on another life. When recognition comes our way, a molecule of success, we rejoice. And that's enough.

Thank you, my friend.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

A Romantic Contest For You

This is the week for lovers and those who LOVE romantic escapades, right? I’ve got just the thing for you—the chance to win a copy of Julie Lessman’s A PASSION MOST PURE.

From the back cover: She’s found the love of her life. Unfortunately, he loves her sister. Book 1 of The Daughters of Boston series, A PASSION MOST PURE, will carry your heart from the sophisticated streets of Boston to the green hills of Ireland as men go off to war and women long for their return. Full of passion romance, rivalry, and betrayal, it will captivate you from the first page.

My Review: I don’t normally gravitate toward romance novels, but I had heard so much about Julie’s book that I wanted to give it a try. I’m glad I did. Nothing formula about this. Faith O'Connor loves Collin McGuire, but her sister Charity has the engagement ring. Collin's an Irish rogue forbidden to both of them by their father. The sisters battle with each other brings their devout parents practically to their wits' end. At times, only their faith binds them all together. The interwoven personalities of this fiery Irish family give a nice depth to the book. While Faith and Charity remain at odds with each other, a greater crisis hits the O’Connor family—the U.S. enters WW I. Two O’Connor men and Collin McGuire are called to fight for their country, leaving loved ones behind to worry and keep their lives together. The ending will knock your socks off, and if you think you’ve figured out what’s going to happen, trust me, you haven’t. A lovely read.

NOW, for the good news. You may win a copy of this stellar novel by leaving a comment right here. US addresses only, please. I’ll draw a name at noon on Friday. You can’t win if you don’t enter.
Happy Valentine’s Week!

Friday, February 8, 2008

And The Winner Is . . .

CONGRATULATIONS to Lacy Williams, the winner of Jill Elizabeth Nelson's The Reluctant Smuggler. Happy reading, Lacy, and a special thank you to all who entered.

In honor of Valentine's week, I'll be having a drawing for a special, steamy romantic book. Stop by on Monday to find out which book I'm giving away next.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Little Did I Know . . .

When I embarked on this writing journey seven years ago, with visions in my head and ideas exploding in my heart, I had no idea what lay ahead. No clue that one day my vocabulary would include terms like writer’s platform, technorati, blogging, stat counting, and web presence. What was I thinking?

Playing with words, studying craft books, attending writers’ conferences, and keeping my eye on the goal—now those things I envisioned. But certainly not the techie things that would tax my very untechnological brain. In today’s publishing world, though, every writer must become savvy in all these things. And more. Like marketing, finding my brand, and networking. Heaven help us all.

Thank goodness, there are some ginormously wonderful, helpful, caring people out there to help writers navigate these strange waters. I’ve mentioned
Mary DeMuth before and her “So You Want To Be Published” blog for writers. It’s an oasis of great ideas that I visit often.

Randy Ingermanson also has the
Advanced Fiction Writers Blog that addresses all sorts of writing and techie subjects. He’s talking about building websites this week. Today’s post has a comprehensive list of ideas and questions for anyone wanting to set up a website or revamp an existing one. He also talked about web (blog) presence which is based on “hits” to your site and part of building a platform.

I’ve been tracking my
stats for a while. While the majority of my readers come from the good old USA, I’ve also had visits from Canada, Australia, Africa, India, China, England, and other distant lands. Bless you all for stopping by.

The one thing I hadn’t done was check my
Technorati rating. I found out that my “authority” (number of people who link to my blog) is 27 and my “rank” is 305,717. Not sure that it’s means anything, but the way I understand it, out of the sixty million or so blogs out there, with # 1 being the most popular, that’s my rank. It’s not something that keeps me awake at night, but it is definitely not something I would’ve thought I’d be checking on.

What does it all mean? Is this the meaning of life? If I don’t do all this technological stuff, am I doomed as a writer? Who knows? Certainly not me.

The bottom line, God planted the desire to write in my heart. He equipped me with enough gray cells to figure out what needs to be done. He guides my steps and holds my hand.

I’m holding up my end. Writing on my novels during the day. Slogging through the tech stuff in the evenings. And you’ll be the first to know when I sign a book contract. Thankfully, there are people out there to help me sort that out, too.

Tell me, do you struggle with any of this, or is it just me???

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


My friend Shannon over at Rocks in My Dryer is an incredible blogger in the “momosphere.” Our round-about connection came about when our hubbies worked in the same office and compared notes about their “writing” wives. By the way, we both have the best spouse support systems in the universe. Whatever.

I started reading Rocks in My Dryer. I laughed. I cried. Nodded my head. Pumped my fists in the air. Shannon has a way of sharing life in the trenches of motherhood with tenderness, humor, and down-home good sense. Her following is humongous—hundreds of comments almost every time she so much as types a sentence. Before long she got noticed by national advertisers, big name magazines, people who pay real American dollars to get their name on her little spot in cyberspace. It could not have happened to a nicer person.

Then . . . she got an email that rocked not only her dryer, but her world. She was invited by
Compassion International to go to Uganda (yes, in Africa!) with a team of bloggers to spread the word about relief efforts there. I cannot possibly do justice to how this impacted her life and would love for you to read her posts about that process of decision and preparing for her trip to Africa.

Fifteen Christian bloggers will be “live” from Uganda from February 10 (departure date) until February 18. Read more about the individual bloggers and the vision of Compassion International

What can you do?

Pray for my friend Shannon. For the other bloggers. For the people of Uganda. For the readers of these hallmark posts.

Support a child in Uganda through
Compassion International.

Expect your life to be changed.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

How Fast Do You Read?

I've always read voraciously. Not necessarily fast, but I can't remember a time that I didn't have a book "in progress." Right now, I have two bookshelves spilling over with books I want to read. Confession time: I'm a compulsive book buyer. I can't resist buying a book or two or three every time I go to Barnes and Noble. And Amazon--oh my! What really gets me there is that if you buy a certain amount, then you qualify for free shipping, so of course, it just makes sense to pick out another book, doesn't it? Please tell me I'm not the only one who does this!

So, being a reader, I was curious when Georgianna Daniels posted this fun quiz (exercise) on one of the writing loops I'm on. I took the quiz and found out I was a "good" reader (300 words per minute) with an 82% retention rate. Above average. You can find out your reading speed and retention level here.

Let me know how you did. Now, I'm off for some quality reading time.