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.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Last week, I packed up and headed south toward Dallas to attend the first ever Christian Book Expo. Plenty of people have blogged about its less than stellar success in attracting people from the public. I won't go into that here. However, I had a great time.

First of all, just crossing the Red River from Oklahoma into Texas always does something to me--it's almost like coming home. I grew up in Texas and spent quite a number of years there as an adult. Two of my kids were born in the Metroplex, so as the hulking view of Dallas loomed before me, memories washed over me. People we've known. Places we frequented. The pulse of the city. Texas is a state like no other, and I love returning there for visits.

About the book expo. For me, it was a time to meet new friends and reconnect with those I already know. I spent quite a bit of time at the ACFW and the Barbour booths because I knew people there. Waving to my new friends who were gracious enough to hang out with me--Mindy Obenhaus, Kellie Gilbert, and Lynne Gentry--what fun we had plotting mischief.

Mindy Obenhaus and Rebecca Yauger (who ran the ACFW booth)

Lynne Gentry and Sandra Glahn

Kellie Gilbert & Me with Zondervan/Mt. Hermon contest finalists sign
Congrats to my dear friend, Susan Meissner, whose book The Shape of Mercy won the Fiction Book of the Year award at the ECPA banquet. An amazing book from one of my favorite authors.

I did quite a lot of star-gazing as well. I attended a panel where Mary DeMuth (Daisy Chain) and Donald Miller of Blue Like Jazz fame spoke with a couple of ther panelists. Delightful. On Friday evening, I attended the evening session where Max Lucado, Liz Curtis Higgs, Henry Blackaby, and others spoke. Some really great music that night as well.

One of the highlights for me was the Christy session on Saturday where a celebrity panel answered audience questions. How often do you have the opportunity to hear Terri Blackstock, Mindy Starns Clark, Jerry Jenkins, Beverly Lewis, Robert Liparulo, Bill Myers, Davis Bunn, and Jeannette Oke on stage together. Inspiring. At the end of the panel discussion, the Christy nominees for 2009 were announced. I whooped with glee that dear, dear Mary Connealy was nominated in the Historical Romance category and Shelley Adina (a friend from Mount Hermon last year) for the Young Adult category. I'd heard or read many of the other authors, so it was a delight to be there. For the complete list of Chrisy nominees see my last post.

So, for me, it was all a matter of perspective. I know the publishers weren't thrilled with the turnout, but for the record, some of us had a great time. Here are a few pics I took. Enjoy.

Susan Downs, Mary Connealy, and friend

Bryan, Amanda, & Susie Davis


Erica Vetsch said...

I wish I could've been there with you. It looks like it was so well run and professional.

Perhaps this year's CBE was like seed money. Sow the seeds now, reap the larger harvest later?

I'm still dancing for Mary and that Christy nomination. :)

Mindy Obenhaus said...

We had so much fun. And it was great to get to know you, Carla.

carla stewart said...

Erica, you would have had a great time! I have no idea whether they'll do another expo--not too many of the reading public showed up.

Hey, Mindy, so glad to get to know you better. Can't wait to start where we left off when we get to Denver!

Myra Johnson said...

She's runnin' with the big dogs now!!! What a fun trip for you, Carla! I'm envious!