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, January 30, 2009


My link and the name of the new blog I told you about yesterday was wrong. So much for trying to blog and carry on a family conversation. My apologies to my friends who created this new blog for all you romantics out there. I've corrected the original post.

The correct name is ROMANCE YOUR SPOUSE. Take another look! Today they've added a contest for Valentine's Day.

An another thing I forgot to point out. This blog is the creation of the wonderful folks at Tekeme, Ashley and George Weiss. Check them out, too. They usually have a contest going on for cool stuff or discounts on their creative work.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

LOVE AND ROMANCE - A New Blog You'll Like

Do you like to hear how other writers who are also wives and moms keep the romance sizzling in their marriage? ROMANCE YOUR SPOUSE, this mostly G-rated blog is fun, informative, and a joint effort by five of my favorite romance writing friends (Hint: One is a relative). Pop over and check them out. When you do, you'll see why I'm particularly excited about today's guest blogger.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


A week or so ago, I mentioned trying to research using Google Maps—a fun and somewhat helpful method of seeing my setting without actually being there. But as several of you responded, you prefer the “in person” method of doing research. Today I took your advice, and with a notebook and camera, went for a drive.

First stop: Downtown Tulsa where I went to the Jazz Hall of Fame. It’s in the Old Union Depot, a magnificent Art Deco building with gracefully curved arches and original Native American artwork painted on the walls and ceiling. There I met two lovely, sweet women who gave me a packet of information and invited me to a special concert in the music hall this Saturday—a tribute to one of Tulsa’s jazz icons. One of the two women I met is his daughter, and she shared with me some memories of being part of the jazz scene in Tulsa and about the way the neighborhoods used to be. Priceless information that has given me a much better feel for this aspect of my new novel. And I’m looking forward to the concert on Saturday.

Art Deco buildings are some of the treasures of our downtown, so I took a winding drive going to my next destination—a neighborhood with a small lake surrounded by a walking path. As the sun warmed my back, I meandered down the path and clicked away with my camera to get the details I need for my story. A woman walking her Airedale (named Teddy Roosevelt) struck up a conversation with me, so we chatted, sharing what we did. I explained that I was a writer and answered her questions about what my novels were about.

Here’s what occurred to me: We learn to “pitch” our stories at conferences to agents and editors thinking that is the only goal, but we can use that same technique to sell our story ideas to potential readers (providing we become published), so they say, “What was your name again? Where can I get a copy of your novel?”

Okay, so that’s a little dream scenario, and perhaps the unseasonably warm day made me a little giddy, but the nice lady with Teddy Roosevelt gave me her address and phone number and offered to help me with any questions I had about the area I was researching. Two lovely surprises in one day.

I came home excited, refreshed, and ready to layer in the textures my novel needs--the precise details provided by “being there” in person.

Have you had any unexpected blessings come when you are doing research? For those of you who don’t write but are faithful to read my blog (bless your hearts!), what kind of surprise encounters have you had lately? Anything fun or intriguing going on in your lives? As always, I’m curious and invite you to share your comments.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


My thanks to the folks at Thomas Nelson for providing the PDF download of The Same Kind of Different as Me through their Book Review Bloggers program. I really like to hold a book in my hand, carry it around the house, and read snatches whenever I can. This was a new experience for me, and since I normally spend a good part of each day on the computer, I wasn’t sure how much I would like reading for pleasure via a computer screen. I cranked the zoom up to 200%, leaned back and read the entire book in a few hours (over three evenings).

The Same Kind of Different as Me is the real-life account of the friendship that developed between two very unlikely men—Ron Moore, an international art dealer and a crusty, homeless black man, Denver Moore, who grew up a modern day slave in twentieth century Louisiana.

Slavery in this day and age? In America? I’m afraid so. Only in the 1940s and 50s (since the Civil War actually) it was known as sharecropping, where third and fourth generation black families were held captive in their poverty and deplorable living conditions by being indebted to the Man who gave them work and a place to live—for Denver a shack no bigger than a backyard storage shed.

Their encounter and subsequent friendship came about when Deborah Hall, Ron’s wife, developed a passion to help the underprivileged in Fort Worth, Texas. As in all relationships, trust and a true bond didn’t happen overnight, but when it did, amazing things began to happen. Trust. Unconditional love. Friendship that didn’t last for just a season, but for a lifetime. God’s moving in the hearts and lives of an entire community.

Several applications stand out for me.
  • Refreshing honesty by the authors.
  • A call to examine our own hearts and motives. Helping the disadvantaged gratuitously may not be the “caring for the poor and needy” that will make a lasting difference.
  • Am I guilty of prejudice or a judgmental attitude, even unwittingly?
  • Am I ready to pour my heart and soul into a committed effort to help the poor in my area?
  • God can do miraculous things when folks hear His voice and call upon Him to move. This speaks to me both as an individual and for us as a nation.
  • The glory for changing people’s hearts and lives belongs to our sovereign God.

    For entertainment value, I’d give this book a B. It was a fast read, and I was particularly fond of Denver. For provoking thought and issuing a call to action, I’d give it an A.
    For the courage to take their story public and proclaim God’s glory—An A+.

Has anyone else read this book? What are your thoughts?

Monday, January 12, 2009


I meant to post here last night, but on a whim decided to look up an area I’m researching for my current novel. Wow! With Google Maps, I looked at it from the satellite view, zoomed up close, then took a tour through the neighborhood. There’s a little man you can drag on the screen over to the area you want and see things from the street view. Leaves in the gutter, stone walkways, who the neighbors are. You can do a 360 degree pan, and after a while I admit, I was a little dizzy.

A couple of things struck me about this form of research. It is a useful tool to visit places you’ve never been. You can see what landmarks, hospitals, bodies of water, and freeways are in the neighborhood. I was particularly interested in how hilly the area was for the street I’m researching, but couldn’t get a real feel for it. And for the time I spent, I could have driven over there since it’s in my locale. I could have taken pictures and notes myself, and had more useful material for the descriptions I need. On the other hand, if you are writing about a place four states away and need information quickly, this is definitely a great alternative to being there.

Because of the precise detail, it also made me realize that our homes and our identities are no longer our private domains. Not with satellite maps, the ability to find out addresses and phone numbers with a few clicks on the Internet, or a quick engine search to see if anything’s “out there” about a person.

For a writer, this has two sides. I want my name out there for recognition purposes. When my books become published, I want them to be found with a click or two (hopefully with a credit card purchase after the last click). But what if someone hates what I write? They. Know. Where. To. Find. Me.

This is not something I’m going to lose sleep over or which will haunt me until I have to be medicated for my paranoia. As a matter of fact, I will probably find myself on the virtual map again someday. One question is troubling, though. Whose car was that in my driveway???

Do you have any “pet” research methods? Do you snoop around neighborhoods virtually or do you prefer the old-fashioned get-in-the-car-and-take-a-road-trip method?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Trying to decide what books to put on my reading list this year makes me think of the endless buffet people talk about on a Princess cruise liner. Every choice imaginable, but only so much room on the plate. And you don’t want to fill up on just one thing, so I’m imagining my reading list as a scrumptious, carefully chosen meal that promises hours of blissful escape, a hearty dose of laughter, and a few tear-filled moments.

For example:

An appetizer or two: Perhaps a new author or a genre I haven’t tried before.

Soup and salad: Lighter fare, like a novella or cozy mystery to be tucked in for a quick read and taking me on a mini-cruise (think Gilligan’s Island).

Main course: The bulk of my reading list, comprised of books in the genre I write (women’s fiction), longer works that intrigue me, books on the craft of writing craft, and a literary work or two for variety.

Dessert: Ah . . . the delectable, rare tidbit that satisfies by providing the perfect metaphor, prose that inspires and takes my breath away. A story that lingers long after the last page and makes me wish for dessert three times a day. I know in this year's list I will find many sweet treats because I’ve either heard great things about these books or they are from authors who I've enjoyed in the past. So, hand me a plate . . . I’m ready to sample the buffet.

MY LIST TO BE READ: (More will surely be added – these just top the list for now)

Same Kind of Different as Me (Ron Hall and Denver Moore)
Demon, A Memoir (Tosca Lee)
Havah (Tosca Lee)
Ice Cream for Breakfast (Leslie Levine)
Where The River Ends (Charles Martin)
Daisy Chain (Mary DeMuth)
Odd Thomas – the series (Dean Koontz)
World Without End (Ken Follett) Note: this was on my list last year, and I didn’t get to it. I’m hopeful in 2009.
The Red Siren (M. L. Tyndall)
Tiger Lillie and Women’s Intuition (Lisa Samson)
What Sarah Saw (Margaret Daley)
The Christmas Sweater (Glenn Beck)
Par for the Course (Ray Blackston)
Revision and Self-Editing (James Scott Bell)
All the Way Home (Mary Sue Lopez)
Until We Reach Home (Lynn Austin)
Sweetwater Gap (Denise Hunter)
One Perfect Day (Lauraine Snelling)

Also, two special writing friends – Myra Johnson and Erica Vetsch – will have their debut novels published this year, and I can’t wait to read them. You’ll be hearing more about those when they release.

So, what book on your nightstand is screaming “pick me” in the early days of this new year? I’ll take a break from reading to check on your answers.