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

Sunday, March 22, 2009


I've returned from the Christian Book Expo in Dallas and had a wonderful time. I'll give a full report tomorrow, but wanted to share one of the highlights here--being in the room when the Christy Finalists were named AND being able to hug two of my friends who made the list this year. A HUGE congrats to Mary Connealy in the Historical Romance category and to Shelley Adina in the Young Adult category. I was also really pleased that Alice Wisler was chosen for the First Book category as I simply loved her debut book.

The 2009 Christy Awards nominees are:

Beyond the Night by Marlo Schalesky • WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group
Finding Stefanie by Susan May Warren • Tyndale House Publishers
Zora and Nicky: A Novel in Black and White by Claudia Mair Burney • David C. Cook
Sisterchicks Go Brit! by Robin Jones Gunn • WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group
Summer Snow by Nicole Baart • Tyndale House Publishers
You Had Me at Good-bye by Tracey Bateman • FaithWords
Dogwood by Chris Fabry • Tyndale House Publishers
Embrace Me by Lisa Samson • Thomas Nelson
Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon by Debbie Fuller Thomas • Moody Publishers
Blue Hole Back Home by Joy Jordan-Lake • David C. Cook
Rain Song by Alice J. Wisler • Bethany House Publishers
Safe at Home by Richard Doster • David C. Cook
Shadow of Colossus by T.L. Higley • B&H Publishing Group
Until We Reach Home by Lynn Austin • Bethany House Publishers
Washington’s Lady by Nancy Moser • Bethany House Publishers

Calico Canyon by Mary Connealy • Barbour Publishers
From a Distance by Tamera Alexander • Bethany House Publishers
The Moon in the Mango Tree by Pamela Binnings Ewen • B&H Publishing Group
By Reason of Insanity by Randy Singer • Tyndale House Publishers
The Rook by Steven James • Revell
Winter Haven by Athol Dickson • Bethany House Publishers
The Battle for Vast Dominion by George Bryan Polivka • Harvest House Publishers
Shade by John B. Olson • B&H Publishing Group
Vanish by Tom Pawlik • Tyndale House Publishers
The Fruit of My Lipstick by Shelley Adina • FaithWords
I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires by Cathy Gohlke • Moody Publishers
On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson • WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group
Congrats to all the nominees!
I'll have pictures and some of the best moments for me from the CBE tomorrow.
Are there any books on this list that you've read or would like to read??? Please, do tell.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The TRUTH Revealed

Today's the day to reveal which of the things about me is a lie from the game Two Truths and a Lie.

#1. Taking a private tour of the crown jewels. TRUE. Max had friends in New Orleans who were friends of Bob & Margaret Melling. Mr. Melling, a former Beefeater, was the curator of the crown jewels, by appointment of the Queen. He arranged a private tour with 3 other couples, so we were able to see the jewels and royal garb up close and personal. We later met with the Mellings in his office in the Jewel House to deliver the New Orleans Saints sweatshirts we had brought for their grandchildren from the states. The also invited us to the Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower that evening. We later joined the Mellings (who lived in the Tower apartments) at their private pub for a good time with the locals. One of the highlights of our time in London.

#2. Meeting Garth and Trisha at Starbucks. FALSE. This lie is based in truth for Garth and Trisha had visited the Starbucks I frequent the week before. The barista had a picture to prove it. But I did not meet them there.

#3. All TRUE. I've lived in Oklahoma, Texas, and Missouri, but only lived in Missouri six months as an infant.

I appreciate all who played. From the commenters on this post and the previous one that featured the interview with Mary DeMuth, author of Daisy Chain, I've put your names in the hat and drawn for TWO winners.

CONGRATULATIONS to Keever Kids and Koala Bear Writer.
As soon as I get your snail mail addresses, I'll mail you your books.

Happy Reading. And remember the truth is stranger than fiction!

Friday, March 13, 2009


As promised. . . my review of Lisa Samson's latest book. For story information and a bit about Lisa, please see previous post.

I've long been a fan of Lisa's writing--her quirky characters, everyday situations that capture the imagination with stellar writing that takes you off ordinary paths into lesser explored territories of the holy and the righteous.

The Passion of Mary-Margaret is no exception. As a matter of fact, this may be her best novel so far. Written in a stream-of-consciousness style, the present day account of Sister Mary-Margaret mingles seamlessly with her childhood, her journey of faith, and dedication to Jesus and the Catholic church. You know bits of the future from M-M's journal writings, but only as the story unfolds does the crux of the story take center stage.

How far does one on the verge of taking her final vows go to follow the voice of Jesus? Is the ultimate obedience to the Lord lie in giving up a life service for Him for a higher purpose--to save one lost lamb?

Beautifully written, poetic at times, this book broadens my beliefs about the mystical aspect and sovereignty of Jesus and makes me realize anew how miniscule the human concept of God really is.

Publisher's Weekly gave The Passion of Mary-Margaret a starred review. I couldn't agree more.

Monday, March 9, 2009

TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE - Blog Tour Spot for Daisy Chain

Daisy Chain by Mary DeMuth hit the bookstores last week. This intriguing book has a major theme of secrets. In keeping with that theme, I’m letting you in on three cool things about me. Only trouble is, two are true and one is NOT. It’s up to you, my dear readers, to figure out which is which.


1. On our trip to England, Max and I had a private tour of the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London.

2. On one of my recent trip to Starbucks, Garth Brooks and his wife, Trisha Yearwood, stopped in at the same time. Garth’s not a coffee drinker but Trisha adores her Starbucks.

3. I was born in Oklahoma, grew up in Texas, and now call Oklahoma my home. The only other state I’ve lived in is Missouri.

Which one is a lie? Leave your answers in the comment section, and a couple of cool things will happen. If you’ve already entered my contest to win a copy of Daisy Chain, your name will be added twice by commenting here as well. Also, if you participate in the Daisy Chain Blog Tour, you may be eligible for a grand prize which included signed (and kissed) copies of all three of Mary’s novels and bragging rights for being the winner. To participate in the tour go here.

My review of Daisy Chain.
An interview with Mary.
Purchase Daisy Chain here.
Visit Mary’s website, blog, or Facebook page.
Follow other bloggers on the tour to see what their truths and lies are.

Next Monday, March 16th, I’ll reveal which one of the things about me is a lie. Take a guess now. I know you want to.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


My good friend, Camille, wrote a lovely post on her blog today. It made me smile.

Myra Johnson, Moi and Camille Eide stirring up trouble at Mt. Hermon last year.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Interview with Mary DeMuth and chance to win her new book, DAISY CHAIN

It's quite an honor for me to have my friend and wonderful author, Mary DeMuth, on my blog today! She's in the midst of "release" mania with her newest novel, Daisy Chain, but has agreed to answer a few questions.

At the bottom of the post, you will find out how you can win a copy of Daisy Chain.
So, let's welcome Mary.

Thank you, Mary, for coming to the Cafe, and congratulations on Daisy Chain. I've been waiting forever it seems for it to come out. Ready for some questions?

How long have you been writing? And how long after you began writing before you were published?

Since 1992. I was first published in a magazine ten years later.

That's some serious writing. What did you do to hone your craft along the way?

I read a lot of craft books, networked with other writers, went to conferences, listened to critique and wrote miles and miles of sentences.

What is your writing process like? Are you a plotter or a seat-of-the-pants writer?

Definitely a seat of the pants writer. My editor would like me to be a plotter. But I’m getting better at developing the plot as I write.

Plotting is tough for me, too, but you write character-driven novels. How do you develop characters? Charts? Interviews? Or do you just start writing?

I just start writing. As I do, the characters form.

Where did you get the idea for the Defiance, Texas series?

I had a friend who had a difficult story. He grew up in a Christian home. His father was in leadership in the Christian community. From the outside, all looked perfect. But behind closed doors, life was very, very hard. I wanted to expose that kind of abuse. That’s why the idea of family secrets plays heavily into all three books.

I didn't know the seed for your story came from a real experience. You have a growing reputation for awe-inspiring prose and taking the reader on a journey through deep, sometimes scary places. Does Daisy Chain continue in this tradition?

Wow, those are high words. I hope Daisy Chain keeps the reader on those journeys because redemption is much more beautiful in the midst of darkness. That’s my own personal testimony, so it can’t help but leak out on the page.

You are one of the most transparent writers I know. What do you want the reader to gain from reading Daisy Chain? Is there a particular take away you have in mind?

My hope is that folks will see the need to share their family secrets in order to be set free. I also want people to see that the Body of Christ is probably much different looking than they first thought. Some appear holy. Others, in distressing disguises, actually are.

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

BOC, Butt on chair. You can’t improve if you don’t write.

The worst?

Write what you know. While I agree on certain levels, I wouldn’t have written any of my novels if this were the case. I’m not a native Southerner by any stretch. I spent most of my life in Seattle. So setting my novels in the South was not something I instinctively knew. But I love that they are set there.

I have an affinity for Southern novels. Now, let's get serious. Coffee? Tea? Sparkling mineral water? Or . . .

Pellegrino, all the way.

Daisy Chain is the first of three Defiance, Texas books. When will the other two books be released?

A Slow Burn releases in October.
Defiance (working title) should release May 2010.

I also have a memoir releasing called Thin Places next January.

You've been very busy writing. And yet, you maintain several blogs—and have launched a new one in conjunction with Daisy Chain. Tell us a bit about that.

I’m too busy! Yes, the newest blog is called My Family Secrets. You can see it here: It’s a place for folks to share their family secrets anonymously.

I also help writers at Wanna Be Published and you can read my personal blog here.

It’s your turn. Any closing thoughts or exciting news you’d like to share?

Just that writing is an amazing privilege, but the journey is very difficult and painful and wonderful and gritty. It takes more tenacity than you think you have. But it’s worth the sweat.

Wise words, Mary. Thanks so much for being my guest. I’ve loved having you and wish you all God’s best with this exciting new book and the blog project.

Carla here with a daisy of a contest. I'm giving away two copies of Daisy Chain. Please leave a comment with your contact information to be included in the drawing. Contest closes at noon on March 14. Mary is an amazing writer. You may also purchase the book here and read many rave reviews about the book.

Guest Blogging Today at On The Write Path

Erica Vetsch has been on of my faithful cheerleaders on this writing journey. We were finalists together in the 2007 Genesis contest. How fortunate I am to have become good friends with her.

She has me on her blog today if you'd like to read more about my writing journey.

Monday, March 2, 2009


IT’S OFFICIAL!!! My first book has sold. Two-book deal to Anne Horch at FaithWords (Hachette Book Group). I don’t know whether to jump up and down or hide under the sofa. On the one hand, this is what I’ve been panting after for most of this millennium. That’s when I gave myself permission to strap on a seatbelt and park myself in front of the computer . . . for better or for worse.

On the other hand, I’m trembling to think that the story which grabbed me by the throat and begged to be written will be “out there” for all the world to read. What if people don’t like it? What if I’m run out of town on a rail? What if I don’t earn out my advance?

Big Breath. God has brought me this far. He is capable of going before me and preparing the way. One step at a time. If I didn’t believe that, I wouldn’t be sharing this wonderful news today. I’m grateful and humbled at his goodness.

I’m also indebted to my agent and many, many others who’ve encouraged and prodded me along on this journey.

Now, for the book. A Dandelion Day is a novel about a girl growing up in Texas in the 1950s, struggling with her faith and identity in light of her mother’s mental illness and the family dynamics that result from her mother’s suicide.

It will come out in the Spring of 2010 from FaithWords. My editor has started working on it, so I’ll be working on edits soon. The second book, which is coming along nicely, doesn’t have a firm title yet.

I’ll let you know how it all goes.

Signing my first contract.