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.

Monday, April 26, 2010


A drumroll please. The winner of Sarah Sundin's fabulous WWII novel, A Distant Melody, is . . .

Koala Bear Writer!

Congratulations and thanks to those who entered.

A teaser: If you love late nineteenth century historicals, especially those set in Texas, I have a treat for you. Vickie McDonough, a seasoned author with many novellas and HeartSong Presents novels in print, now has her first trade length book - just out this month! I think you're going to love it, too. Interested? Please see my blog post tomorrow (CFBA Tour) for all the details and an opportunity to enter a drawing for THE ANONYMOUS BRIDE.

A review that made me cry: My hubby's newest hobby (after golf and woodworking) is trolling the Internet looking for mentions of Chasing Lilacs. He gets the prize for finding this great news before anyone else. Thanks, honey! I love you.

Publisher's Weekly Starred Review: Week of April 26, 2010

Chasing Lilacs Carla Stewart. FaithWords, $13.99 paper (304p) ISBN 978-0-446-55655-2
Stewart’s fiction debut is a classic coming-of-age story set in tiny Graham Camp, Tex., in 1958. Sammie Tucker, soon to be 13, has a mother with “nerve problems,” a desire for a typewriter since she wants to be a writer, and a sort-of boyfriend in Cly, an Elvis Presley–like teen just arrived from California with a stuffed bag of family issues. Subplots involving all the minor characters that revolve around the central constellation of Sammie and her family as Sammie’s life is upended by a tragedy pack a bit too much complexity . Stewart writes about powerful and basic emotions with a restraint that suggests depth and authenticity; the relationship between Sammie and her mother Rita, the engine that drives the plot, is beautifully and delicately rendered. . Coming-of-age stories are a fiction staple, but well-done ones much rarer. This emotionally acute novel is one of the rare ones. (June)

See you tomorrow with news about Vickie's book!

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Full and Busy Life

Things have been quite hectic around here lately. Can anyone relate? I've know that April would be a busy month, and it has been. Great things going on, but sadly I've not taken the time to share them with you here. So, this is the short version.

First-born Grandson's 13th Birthday: We didn't make it to Texas for the actual day, but we had a wonderful time seeing the kids, relaxing at the hotel pool, and having "Chocolate Dipping Stix" at Pizza Hut in lieu of cake. Such a cool kid. Happy 13th Birthday!

Writing Workshop with Susan May Warren: This was our local WIN-ACFW writing group's annual mini-conference, and WOW! Susie is just a bundle of energy. She is a fount of ideas and practically glows when she is teaching. I came away from the Friday evening and all-day Saturday event ready to tackle my next book. Honestly, though, it wore me out. My brain simply cannot hold all the info that Susie shared. If you have the opportunity, please take a weekend course or a conference class from Susie. AKA Susie May and Susan May Warren and the Book Therapist. It wasn't all work, though. The officers of our group took Susie to eat at Los Cabos on the Jenks Riverwalk and enjoyed a perfect spring evening talking about . . . what else? Writing.

Writing News: I'm counting the days until the release of Chasing Lilacs. 54.5 days right now. I've been blessed with a lovely review in Library Journal and found out yesterday that Chasing Lilacs received a 4 1/2 star rating from Romantic Times Magazine (the highest rating they give). Sometimes I feel like I'm living someone else's life and that I'm going to wake up in a strange house one of these days. I'm so grateful to all the people who've cheered me on. God is good.

Milestone Day: This is news that I'm whispering. Tomorrow I step into a new decade of my life. I'm not going willingly, but hopefully with grace. I only know that if the next ten years are half as amazing as the last ten, it will still be a wonderful life.

So, is it just me, or is the earth turning faster? Why are the days going by in a blur? And please do not tell me, it's because I'm older.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

CAFE SPECIAL OF THE WEEK - Cinnamon Swirl Quick Bread


1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Combine 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon; set aside.
Combine flour, baking soda, salt and remaining sugar. Combine buttermilk, egg and oil; stir into dry ingredients just until combined. Grease the bottom only of a 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan. Pour half of the batter into pan; sprinkle with half of the cinnamon-sugar. Carefully spread with remaining batter and sprinkle with remaining cinnamon-sugar; swirl knife through batter. Bake at 350 for 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pan ten minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Makes one loaf.

I made this for the brunch table at a writing event I attended on Saturday. Perfect addition to the egg and meat casseroles and seasonal fruit plates of the other guests.
I'll be back tomorrow with pics from the "Weekend with Susan May Warren Weekend."

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Please welcome my friend and debut author extraordinaire, Sarah Sundin. She's become something of a phenomenon in the blogosphere with five-star reviews popping up everywhere. Authentic. Detailed. Delightful. These are just some of the words used to describe A Distant Melody.

To celebrate, Sarah is hosting a social sharing promotion! Click the icon below to enter this fab-o contest. Tell your friends and earn extra entries!

A Distant Melody is book 1 in Sarah Sundin's exciting Wings of Glory series. Sarah has partnered with Litfuse Publicity Group for the Netflix® & Nostalgia Contest! Sarah's offering one Grand Prize winner the chance to get NOSTALGIC!

The Winner of our ‘NETFLIX® & Nostalgia’ giveaway will receive a vintage prize package, including:

*A 6 month NETFLIX® subscription
*$25 Starbucks® gift card
*A box of See’s Famous Old Time Chocolates®
*A jar of homemade strawberry jam
*A Big Band music CD
*A Mini B-17 Model airplane
*Vintage stationery and pen
*British specialty tea
*WWII style playing cards

Historically Accurate High-Flying Adventure!
A Distant Melody

Debut Author, Sarah Sundin, earns rave reviews from BOOKLIST. "Sundin's debut Christian historical romance is an emotionally gripping, detail-rich but fast-paced trilogy set against the backdrop of WWII at home and abroad. Romance readers and military history buffs will find much of interest here."

Seattle, WA - 4/9/2010 - Rarely does a book come along from a debut author that is as well received as Sarah Sundin's A Distant Melody. The story grips you on page one and doesn't let up until the last page is turned. Critics and readers alike are impressed with both the accurate historical detail and complex cast of characters. From the fertile California orange groves to the soggy terrain of England, A Distant Melody, weaves an exciting and tender tale of love, courage and sacrifice. Not to be missed!

ABOUT THE BOOK: Never pretty enough to please her gorgeous mother, Allie will do anything to gain her approval--even marry a man she doesn't love. Lt. Walter Novak--fearless in the cockpit but hopeless with women--takes his last furlough at home in California before being shipped overseas. Walt and Allie meet at a wedding and their love of music draws them together, prompting them to begin a correspondence that will change their lives. As letters fly between Walt's muddy bomber base in England and Allie's mansion in an orange grove, their friendship binds them together.

But can they untangle the secrets, commitments, and expectations that keep them apart?

Hop on over and enter to win this great prize. I have. And to make sure that as many people as possible have the chance to read this book, I'm offering in a completely separate giveaway the copy that LitFuse Publicity Group sent me as part of the blog tour. To be entered in the drawing for this book, leave a comment with your contact information. I'll draw for a winner on Friday, April 23.

My Review of A Distant Melody:

Once in a while a book comes along that wraps its arms around you and so enchants you that you don’t want to the story to end. Sarah Sundin’s debut novel, A Distant Melody, is one of those books. At the height of WWII, a chance meeting brings Allie Miller and Walt Novak together, but Allie’s upcoming marriage, arranged by her wealthy parents, and Walt’s dispatch to pilot a B-17 bomber from an airbase in England, halts the romance before it has time to spark. Only the letters which cross the Atlantic keep the flames burning.

At times I felt I had a front row seat in a Bing Crosby/Frank Sinatra/Betty Hutton movie. The story is warm and witty, with authentic characters and poignant situations. While Walt deals with the tragedy of war, Allie is consumed with wedding preparations to a man she doesn’t love and volunteers for the war effort stateside. Multi-layered with tender subplots, Sarah weaves this lovely story with finely drawn details and finesse.

Did I mention I didn’t want it to end? The good news is that this is the first book of three in the Wings of Glory series. I can’t wait until book two. Highly recommended.

VOID where prohibited. Chances of winning dependent on number of entrants. Book provided by Litfuse Publicity Group.

Friday, April 9, 2010

CHASING LILACS has a new cover

I've been anxious to unveil this fun news for a week or so. CHASING LILACS has a new cover. The design concept folks at FaithWords felt that a different look would convey the essence of Sammie's story better with this new look. As soon as I saw it, I fell in love with it.

While I could almost smell the lilacs in the fruit jar on the original, this one captures the story even better. You may still see the old cover popping up here and there, but it's the same story, just with a new look. And there's still a nice little bouquet of lilacs in Sammie's hand.

A side note: Some of you have already pre-ordered Chasing Lilacs. Thank you. It means a great deal to me. If you've been thinking about it, but haven't had a chance, I wanted to tell you that Barnes and Noble and Amazon both have it at a nice price. You can also read more about the story and see some of the lovely things people are saying about the book. Stay tuned for other announcements about book signings and my book launch which are in the works. The time is fast approaching for the release date - just a fraction over two months.

So tell me, don't you love this creative new design?

Monday, April 5, 2010

An Excellent Opportunity for Writers

Want to learn from a published pro? An author who has a passion for teaching? In less than two weeks, SUSAN MAY WARREN is coming to Tulsa. Check it out:


WHEN: FRIDAY, APRIL 16th, 2010
5:45: Registration & refreshments
6:15–9:00 PM: Session with Susan May Warren
5050 E. 111th | Tulsa, OK 74137

What is keeping you from being published? If you want to be an author, or even have a few written manuscripts on the shelf, discover the five things you can do to make your manuscript publishable with bestselling, RITA award-winning author Susan May Warren.


9:00 am - 5 pm with a lunch break (to be determined by participants)
Brunch, snacks, and drinks will be provided. Come with pen and paper ready to learn!

(directions and details to be emailed to registrants)

Struggling to bring your character to life? Problems with a plodding plot? Not sure how to find your voice? I understand – I’ve been there, and learned a few tricks and techniques on how to solve these problems, and more. Come with your ailing manuscript and share your problems with best-selling, RITA award-winning author Susan May Warren, and learn how to become your OWN book therapist. Limited to WIN / ACFW members.

Click here for cost and registration information for both sessions.

SUSAN MAY WARREN is the RITA award-winning author of twenty-six novels with Tyndale, Barbour and Steeple Hill. A four-time Christy award finalist, a two-time RITA Finalist, she’s also a multiwinner of the Inspirational Readers Choice award, and the ACFW Book of the Year. A seasoned women’s events speaker, she’s a popular writing teacher at conferences around the nation and the author of the beginning writer’s workbook: From the Inside-Out: discover, create and publish the novel in you!. She is also the founder of, a story-crafting service that helps authors discover their voice. A full listing of her titles, reviews and awards can be found at: