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.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

ACFW Conference Aftermath

Sometimes it's hard to process all that goes on in a weekend long conference - hence my long wait to tell you about my ACFW conference experience last week. My thanks to the conference directors who made this the best one yet! The teaching was exceptional, and I know I will be pondering some of the nuggets I learned for a long time. But for me, the primary purpose of attending ACFW is to be with other writers, to reconnect with friends, make new ones, and for a few short days, indulge myself in all things having to do with craft and promotion and rubbing shoulders with some of today's finest Christian authors. So, here are my highlights of this year's conference:


Seeing my friend, Camille Eide, who is also one of my critique partners, and our mutual dear friend Kellie Gilbert. They are both fabulous writers and someday you're going to enjoy reading their novels. To give you a taste, check out what Camille had to say about the conference here. She's funny and wonderful!
(left to right: Kellie, Carla, Camille)
I LOVE the awards banquet, and this year was exceptional. My agent, Sandra Bishop, received the Agent of the Year award. Not a surprise to her clients as she is witty and smart and one of the best in the biz. Here is Sandra with Chip MacGregor and Amanda Luedeke, the rest of the savvy team at MacGregor Literary. CONGRATS SANDRA! Sandra gave her 30-second speech with style and grace, but was unable to give her longer, prepared speech. However, she shares it here. Scroll down to the September 22 entry.

Hats off to all the winners, but a shout out to Cindy Hays who was a Genesis finalist and Myra Johnson and Vickie McDonough from my local ACFW group who were Carol Award finalists. A complete list of the winners can be found here.

One of the most prestigious awards is for the Mentor of the Year, and this year's honor went to Susan May Warren. She is one of the most energetic, giving, and fun people I know. She encourages and inspires other writers through her My Book Therapy endeavors. And every year, she hosts a pizza party on the "free" night at the conference. This year she had a special surprise. At the conclusion of the party, Susie herded everyone into another room, locked the doors, and taught us all a line dance. Not your usual expectation for a writing conference, but what can I say? Publisher's Weekly dubbed it the highlight of the conference. I'm sharing the link at risk of embarrassment to myself, but we're all friends here, right? Line Dance on YouTube.

I'll conclude with some other random shots - friends, colleagues, moments that I'll hang onto until the next conference. To see my complete set of photos please visit me on FaceBook where I've posted two albums of pics.

I shared a book signing table with the fabulous James Scott Bell and enjoyed the support of Susan Meissner and Christina Berry. The gals both endorsed Chasing Lilacs and were Carol Award finalists. Christina took home the trophy in Contemporary Fiction Book of the Year - I am so proud of this girl!
Courtney Walsh, Sandra Bishop, and me. I'd been dying to meet Courtney after our online friendship and sharing the same agent. She was wonderful and we hit it right off. I miss her already. 

Sandra and her clients, celebrating at the banquet. 
 My post is not complete without mentioning Max, who not only encourages me in this crazy writing life I've chosen, but also drove the SUV that got us safely to Indianapolis and home. Not sure if it was the allure of being around 630 people who navigate imaginary worlds and stay up until all hours talking about plots and character goals or if it was the call of golf courses not yet conquered that made him want to go. Whatever it was, the trip was that much sweeter because Max shared it with me. Thanks, honey.

Friday, September 17, 2010

ACFW Carol Award Finalists

The ACFW awards banquet will be held on Sunday evening, September 19. Awards are given for Agent, Editor, and Mentor of the year based on nominations from ACFW members. It's always an exciting time, and even though she's a reluctant finalist, I'm thrilled that my agent, Sandra Bishop, is one of the finalists for this year's event. 

Following that will be the announcement of the 2010 Carol Award Winners and Genesis Contest Winners. 
Another exciting development is that the Award ceremony will be available as a Live Blog this year, so that those at home will know the results almost as soon as the crowd in Indianapolis. Very Hollywood and brought to your home by Wynn/Wynn Media and ACFW. Cool beans. 

2010 Carol Award Finalists
Debut Author
Talking to the Dead - Bonnie Grove (David C. Cook Publishing, Nicci Hubert - Editor)
The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn - Liz Johnson (Steeple Hill, Elizabeth Mazer - Editor)
Eternity Falls - Kirk Outerbridge (Marcher Lord Press, Jeff Gerke - Editor)
Michal - Jill Eileen Smith (Revell, Lonnie Hull DuPont - Editor)
The Unfinished Gift - Dan Walsh (Revell, Andrea Doering - Editor)

Contemporary Novella - 6 Finalists due to a tie
One Child - Barbara Cameron (Thomas Nelson, Natalie Hanemann - Editor)
When Winter Comes - Barbara Cameron (Thomas Nelson, Natalie Hanemann - Editor)
A Mule Hollow Match - Debra Clopton (Steeple Hill, Krista Stroever - Editor)
The Great Christmas Bowl - Susan May Warren (Tyndale House, Karen Watson - Editor)
A Change of Heart - Beth Wiseman (Thomas Nelson, Natalie Hanemann - Editor)
A Choice to Forgive - Beth Wiseman (Thomas Nelson, Natalie Hanemann- Editor)

Historical Novella
Home Again - Victoria Bylin (Steeple Hill, Melissa Endlich - Editor)
A Breed Apart - Vickie McDonough (Barbour Publishing, Rebecca Germany - Editor)
Beloved Enemy - Vickie McDonough (Barbour Publishing, Rebecca Germany - Editor)
Christmas Bells for Dry Creek - Janet Tronstad (Steeple Hill, Tina James - Editor)
A Shelter in the Storm - Carrie Turansky (Barbour Publishing, Rebecca Germany - Editor)

Long Contemporary - 6 Finalists due to a tie
The Familiar Stranger - Christina Berry (Moody Publishers, Paul Santhouse - Editor)
A Widow's Hope - Mary Ellis (Harvest House Publishers, Betty Fletcher - Editor)
The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow - Joyce Magnin (Abingdon Press, Barbara Scott - Editor)
White Picket Fences - Susan Meissner (Waterbrook Press, Shannon Marchese - Editor)
If Tomorrow Never Comes - Marlo Schalesky (Multnomah, Julee Schwarzburg - Editor)
Nothing But Trouble - Susan May Warren (Tyndale House, Karen Watson - Editor)

Long Contemporary Romance
Critical Care - Candace Calvert (Tyndale House, Jan Stob/Lorie Popp - Editors)
Seaside Letters - Denise Hunter (Thomas Nelson, Ami McConnell/Jessica Alvarez - Editors)
Just Between You and Me - Jenny B. Jones (Thomas Nelson, Natalie Hanemann/Jamie Chavez - Editors)
Plain Promise - Beth Wiseman (Thomas Nelson, Natalie Hanemann - Editor)
The Hope of Refuge - Cindy Woodsmall (Waterbrook Press, Shannon Marchese - Editor)
The Case of the Mystified M.D. - A.K. Arenz (Sheaf House, Joan M. Shoup - Editor)
Under the Cajun Moon - Mindy Starns Clark (Harvest House Publishers, Kim Moore - Editor)
A String of Murders - Darlene Franklin (Heartsong Mysteries, Susan Downs - Editor)
Polly Dent Loses Grip - S. Dionne Moore (Heartsong Mysteries, Susan Downs - Editor)
Pushing up Daisies - Janice Thompson writing as Janice Hanna (Heartsong Mysteries, Susan Downs - Editor)

Long Historical
A Bride in the Bargain - Deeanne Gist (Bethany House, David Long/Julie Klassen - Editors)
Fit To Be Tied - Robin Lee Hatcher (Zondervan, Sue Brower/Leslie Peterson - Editors)
Look to the East - Maureen Lang (Tyndale House, Stephanie Broene - Editor)
Love's Pursuit - Siri Mitchell (Bethany House, Dave & Sarah Long - Editors)
Stealing Home - Allison Pittman (Multnomah, Alice Crider - Editor)

Long Historical Romance - 8 Finalists due to a tie
Paper Roses - Amanda Cabot (Revell, Vicki Crumpton - Editor)
Cowboy Christmas - Mary Connealy (Barbour Publishing, Rebecca Germany - Editor)
Montana Rose - Mary Connealy (Barbour Publishing, Rebecca Germany - Editor)
The Frontiersman's Daughter - Laura Frantz (Revell, Andrea Doering - Editor)
The Believer - Ann Gabhart (Revell, Lonnie Hull DuPont - Editor)
A Passion Denied - Julie Lessman (Revell, Lonnie Hall DuPont - Editor)
Love Finds You in Poetry, Texas - Janice Thompson writing as Janice Hanna (Summerside Press, Rachel Meisel - Editor)
The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper - Kathleen Y’Barbo (Waterbrook Press, Jessica Barnes - Editor)

Short Contemporary
His Cowgirl Bride - Debra Clopton (Steeple Hill, Krista Stroever - Editor)
Autumn Rains - Myra Johnson (Heartsong Presents, JoAnne Simmons - Editor)
A Wagonload of Trouble - Vickie McDonough (Heartsong Presents, JoAnne Simmons - Editor)
A Texas Ranger's Family - Mae Nunn (Steeple Hill, Melissa Endlich - Editor)
Dreaming of Home - Glynna Sirpless writing as Glynna Kaye (Steeple Hill, Melissa Endlich - Editor)

Short Contemporary Suspense - 6 Finalists due to a tie
Evidence of Murder - Jill Elizabeth Nelson (Steeple Hill, Emily Rodmell - Editor)
Final Warning - Sandra Robbins (Steeple Hill, Tina James - Editor)
Murder at Eagle Summit - Virginia Smith (Steeple Hill, Krista Stroever - Editor)
Scent of Murder - Virginia Smith (Steeple Hill, Krista Stroever/Tina James - Editors)
Double Take - Jenness Walker (Steeple Hill, Emily Rodmell - Editor)
Code of Honor - Lenora Worth (Steeple Hill, Patience Smith/Tina James - Editors)

Short Historical
Her Patchwork Family - Lyn Cote (Steeple Hill, Tina James - Editor)
The Glassblower - Laurie Alice Eakes (Heartsong Presents, JoAnne Simmons - Editor)
The Outlaw's Lady - Laurie Kingery (Steeple Hill, Melissa Endlich - Editor)
All That Glitters - Lynette Sowell (Heartsong Presents, JoAnne Simmons - Editor)
The Unfinished Gift - Dan Walsh (Revell, Andrea Doering)

Speculative (includes Science Fiction, Fantasy, Allegory) - 6 Finalists due to a tie
Eternity Falls - Kirk Outerbridge (Marcher Lord Press, Jeff Gerke - Editor)
The Vanishing Sculptor - Donita K. Paul (Waterbrook Press, Shannon Marchese - Editor)
The Word Reclaimed - Steve Rzasa (Marcher Lord Press, Jeff Gerke - Editor)
Starfire - Stuart Vaughn Stockton (Marcher Lord Press, Jeff Gerke - Editor)
The Muse - Fred Warren (Splashdown Books, Grace Bridges - Editor)
By Darkness Hid - Jill Williamson (Marcher Lord Press, Jeff Gerke - Editor)

Intervention - Terri Blackstock (Zondervan, Sue Brower/Dave Lambert - Editors)
Lonestar Secrets - Colleen Coble (Thomas Nelson, Ami McConnell - Editor)
Exposure - Brandilyn Collins (Zondervan, Rachelle Gardner/Sue Brower - Editors)
Salty Like Blood - Harry Kraus (Howard/Simon & Schuster, David Lambert - Editor)
Breach of Trust - DiAnn Mills (Tyndale House, Karen Watson - Editor)

Women’s Fiction - 7 Finalists due to a tie
Sweet Waters - Julie Carobini (B&H Publishing, Karen Ball - Editor)
Leaving Yesterday - Kathryn Cushman (Bethany House, Dave Long - Editor)
Sweet By and By - Sara Evans & Rachel Hauck (Thomas Nelson, Ami McConnell - Editor)
Never the Bride - Rene Gutteridge & Cheryl McKay (Waterbrook Press, Shannon Marchese - Editor)
Yesterday's Embers - Deborah Raney (Howard/Simon & Schuster, David Lambert - Editor)
Above All Things - Deborah Raney (Steeple Hill, Krista Stroever - Editor)
The Summer Kitchen - Lisa Wingate (New American Library/Penguin, Ellen Edwards - Editor)

Young Adult
Who Made You a Princess? - Shelley Adina (Hachette FaithWords, Anne Goldsmith Horch - Editor)
Always Watching - Brandilyn & Amberly Collins (Zondervan, Barbara Scott - Editor)
I'm So Sure - Jenny B. Jones (Thomas Nelson, Natalie Hanemann/Jamie Chavez - Editors)
So Not Happening - Jenny B. Jones (Thomas Nelson, Amanda Bostic/Jamie Chavez - Editors)
Unsigned Hype - Booker T. Mattison (Revell, Andrea Doering - Editor)

Lots of my favorite authors on this list. How about you? Read any of these books? Favorites? Don't forget. Don't forget, you can enjoy the LIVE BLOG results here beginning at 7:30 pm on Sunday night. See you there!   

Thursday, September 16, 2010

2010 ACFW Genesis Finalists

One of the highlights of the ACFW Conference (which is where I am right now while my blog is on auto pilot) is the awards banquet on the last evening of the conference. Posh frocks, lots of sparkle and glitz, a kilt or two. And three or four dozen very nervous attendees who have the noted honor of being contest finalists. Two writing contests: The Carol Awards (named for Carol Johnson, the editor who first championed Inspirational Fiction) and the Genesis Awards (esteemed contest for unpublished authors). This year's contests are shaping up to be among the most exciting to date. Several from my local ACFW writing group are among the finalists - Cindy Hays (Genesis), Myra Johnson and Vickie McDonough (Carol awards). Vickie is actually a 3-time finalist with three titles making the list. Precious and very prolific writer!

An exciting addition to this year's awards is that it will be broadcast in a LIVE BLOG so that you who couldn't make the conference this year can root and cheer for your favorite finalists at home.  Wynn/Wynn Media and ACFW have teamed up to bring you this, so along with the imaginary red carpet, you can fantasize that you are in Indianapolis at the actual event when in reality you are in your pajamas having popcorn and pop out of a can while the contestants are wringing their hands and sweating bullets waiting for their category to come up. Showtime is 7:30 pm on Sunday, September 19!

Here are the Genesis finalists. Tomorrow I'll post a list of the Carol Award Finalists.

2010 Genesis Contest Finalists: 
  • CONTEMPORARY FICTION: (total entries: 47)

    1. Cindy Hays
    2. Lynnette P. Horner
    3. Chris Kraft
    4. Mark Lundgren
    5. Christina S. Nelson
  • CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE: (total entries: 63)

    1. Jeannie Campbell
    2. Sarah Forgrave
    3. Janice LaQuiere
    4. Rebecca Syme
    5. Linda Yezak
  • HISTORICAL FICTION: (total entries: 35)

    1. Lori Benton
    2. Brenda Jackson
    3. Robert Kaku
    4. Lisa Karon Richardson
    5. Katie-Marie Stout
  • HISTORICAL ROMANCE: (total entries: 65)

    1. Susanne Dietze
    2. Anne Greene
    3. Pam Hillman
    4. Lisa Karon Richardson
    5. Ruth Trippy
  • MYSTERY/SUSPENSE/THRILLER: (total entries: 45)

    1. Rich Bullock
    2. Barbara Early (double finalist with two entries)
    3. Lynda Schab
    4. Chawna Schroeder
  • ROMANTIC SUSPENSE (there was a two-way tie for the fifth finalist slot): (total entries: 50)

    1. Valerie Goree
    2. Mindy Obenhaus
    3. Leslie Pfeil
    4. Dianna Shuford
    5. Teri Dawn Smith
    6. Terri Weldon
  • SPECULATIVE FICTION: (total entries: 49)

    1. Ben Erlichman
    2. Suzanne Krein
    3. Shelley Ledfors
    4. Andra Marquardt
    5. Holly Smit
  • WOMEN'S FICTION (there was a three-way tie for the fifth finalist slot): (total entries: 76)

    1. Lisa Buffaloe
    2. Jennifer Fromke
    3. Terri Haynes
    4. Fay Lamb
    5. Christina S. Nelson
    6. Melissa Tagg
    7. Michelle Ule
  • YOUNG ADULT: (total entries: 56)

    1. Angela Bell
    2. Lin Harris
    3. Kasey Heinly
    4. LoraLee Kodzo
    5. Stefanie Morris
Congratulations to all the 2010 Genesis finalists!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Top Ten Reasons I Love the ACFW Conference

This is the week I anticipate all year - the annual American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) conference. This year it's in Indianapolis, so soon I will be In-di-an-a Bound! What's so special about this conference? I'm glad you asked. Here are ten things I love about it, and I'm sure if I tried I could think of ten more, but with bags to pack and materials to gather, this is what I've come up with.

1. Seeing different cities: Usually it's held somewhere in the middle of America, and so far I've been fortunate to attend ACFW in Dallas, Minneapolis, Denver, and now Indianapolis. The two ending with  "polis" are cities I've never been to - states I've never seen.

2. The buzz in the air when you first step into the lobby of the hotel. It's readily apparent that ACFW has taken over and not a year has gone by that I didn't recognize a noted author or a dear friend. Which leads to the next item on the list . . .

3. Hugs. Whoops of joy at seeing friends from previous years. I often only see these friends once a year and it's sweet bliss to be together again. Hugs. Smiles. Friends.

4. Classes. Continuing sessions. Late night chats. There is no comparison to the variety and quality of the workshops that are offered. Something for every level of writer. For every genre. I've yet to attend a conference without coming away with my head spinning from all the new knowledge and ideas that I want to bring to my writing. This year I'm looking forward to James Scott Bell's early bird session, the multi-session teaching of Dr. Dennis Hensley of Taylor University, the keynote speeches of Tim Downs, and numerous workshops on craft and the business of writing.

5. Worship. One of the unique things about this conference is that each day begins with a devotion and time of worship. This year 600 will gather to lift their voices and prayers to heaven. And it feels a bit like heaven to be in the midst of the 600.

6. Prayer. A prayer room is open at all times for private prayer or to have someone pray with you. Prayer happens spontaneously, too - in the hallways waiting for appointments, in the restroom where you find someone crying, around the meal tables when a seat mate says, "Say a prayer for me, okay?" I love this part of the conference. I've had people pray with me and for me as I have done for others. What a privilege.

7. Pitching and networking opportunities. Often this part of the conference is the most stress-inducing - talking to an editor or an agent about your book or your ideas. Fortunately, the editors and agents are human and very gracious. I've met with several in the past, and while they may or may not have requested my work, they are now acquaintances who I trust and am always happy to see. A conference is by far the best place to start networking with the folks who hold your writing future in their hands.

8. Coffee. My life is not complete without coffee, and thankfully, most conferences I've been to have great coffee. And there's nothing like sitting with a friend, sipping a cuppa, and sharing your heart.
9. Socializing. Yes, there's still time for that. One evening is left open for people to get together on their own. Pizza parties. Publishers get-togethers. There's a chocolate party that's always a hit. And there's always a lively group in the lobby after hours.

10. Awards banquet. It's not a conference if people aren't recognized for their hard work. And ACFW does it up grand with a lovely dinner and an Oscar-worthy list of finalists. Lots of glitz and glam, winners, shoulda-been winners, and the lovely MC of the evening, Brandilyn Collins. I'll be cheering for many friends and colleagues this year.

So there you have it - the top ten reasons I love the ACFW conference. I'll be putting the blog on automatic posting for the next few days with lists of the finalists in the various categories. And, of course, I'll be back next week with pictures!

Oops! Almost forgot. Number 11. This is the first year I'll have a book to sign - can't wait for that! Also, I have a small gift for the first five people who come to my table to get my autograph. Saturday from 3:00 to 3:30.

See you next week!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

CAFE SPECIAL: Peanut Butter Sheet Cake

Fall is in the air - along with cooler temps, a bit of rain . . . and Football! My friend Martha Grunau shared this recipe - says it's delicious. She was making it for their OU Tailgate party last weekend. Works for me! Whether you have it for a tailgate or just watching your favorite team on the TV at home, this is sure to please the sweet lovers in your family.

Thanks, Martha! Go Sooners!


1/2 cup peanut butter
1 stick butter
1/2 cup oil
1 cup water

Boil above ingredients together just until bubbly. Remove from heat.

2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. soda
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix well and pour into 9 x 13 cookie sheet pan with sides. Batter will be very thin. Bake at 375 for 20 - 25 minutes. Cool slightly, then top with icing.

1/2 cup peanut butter
1 stick butter
1/3 cup milk

Bring above ingredients to a boil. Remove from heat and add:

1 box confectioners' (powdered sugar)
1 tsp. vanilla

Beat until smooth, then spread over slightly cooled cake. 

Sounds delish! Any other tailgaters out there? How do you celebrate game day? 

Monday, September 6, 2010

Wild Kingdom

For a country girl who has had more than her share of encounters with wild animals - raccoons, armadillos, rattlesnakes - you'd think what happened last night wouldn't have given me the heebie-jeebies. But it did.

We live in the city now where the bunnies hopping across the yard and the squirrels tk-tk-tk-ing from the trees are about as wild as it gets. You'd think.

It's bedtime. Time to let Zelda (the wonder doxie) out for the last time before we call it a night. Instead of the usual dash to the grass, she stops right outside the door, sniffs and rattles the leaves in the corner where the breakfast room juts out a foot or so from the rest of the house. Then she jumps, her claws scritching for traction as she goes after what looks like - from the corner of my eye - a BIG rat.

"No, Zelda, stop!" The thing is hunkered by the leg of the lawn chair. Not a rat, but a young, probably half grown possum.

Zelda pauses, but doesn't obey and inches closer.

"No. Stay away." My voice has hitched up an octave. More of a screech.

"Help! Max, can you hear me? Stop, Zelda. Don't touch it!"

I don't know if Max can hear me, but I'm pretty sure the neighbors have.

I'm scrambling, trying to hook my finger in Zelda's collar. She's having none of it. And her nose is sniffing, and I think she's trying to gain her courage for the big lunge. The possum is staring us down with its beady little eyes.

An incident with a tiny bunny a few months back flashes through my head, and I cannot wrap my head around what Zelda is going to do to this possum, who has not played dead as I always thought they were supposed to do.

Max comes flying out the back door, and I point to the spot where the creature is. He reaches for Zelda who is now going in circles, but somehow when he shuffles across the concrete, the back of his house shoe catches on the crack between the patio sections. He loses his balance and is now hurtling toward me. He bumps my shoulder and grabs the back of the patio chair and thankfully doesn't crash onto the patio. Zelda is looking at us like - "Gee, I wish you all were this entertaining all the time."

I scoop her up and look for the possum. It has escaped. Gone. Smart little thing.

I take Zelda inside, put her in her crate, telling her the adventure is over and she will just have to "hold it" until morning. Max goes to bed. I'm not sleepy so I google opossums.

They are not related to rats (although there is a remarkable resemblance). They are nocturnal marsupials and more related to kangaroos and koalas than rats.

They do not carry rabies, but like any mammal, they could. Chances are extremely rare, however, since the have too low a body temperature to allow the rabies virus to survive.

They make few sounds. You may hear a soft choo-choo or sneezing sound. Mamas make a clicking sound when trying to locate their babies or during mating season.

If you find an opossum (the correct name) in your yard, leave it alone. They are transient and stay only two to three days in an area before they move on. (And I'm thinking this little critter has already taken the Amtrak to another far away neighborhood)

Do not trap or kill. The opposum is actually beneficial: eating the harmful, unwanted pests around your home such as snails, slugs, spiders, cockroaches, rats, mice and snakes. Think of the opossum as your free gardener. The opossum is known as “Nature’s Little Sanitation Engineer” for a good reason!

Okay. There you have it. Possums a good thing. I wish someone had told my pounding heart. But no matter what the internet says, it still looked like a rat. With beady eyes and a long tail.

Any pet adventures with you lately? Encounters with wild animals?

PS: This is not "our" possum, but one courtesy of Google Images.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Blogoversary and A Giveaway

When I saw that another blogger on Twitter who also has a Cafe site was celebrating her blogoversary, I thought, "Hey, I've been doing this a couple of years. Maybe I should do that and have a party or something." I'm shocked! When I went back and checked, I found out that on September 12, 2007, I tapped out my first blog. So, I've been blogging for THREE years. Three! I could've sworn it was only two. Alas, here's what I wrote in that first post . . .

Today I'm releasing my first ever blog to orbit in cyberspace. Does the world need another blog? How many is too many? I've wrestled with this and a few million other questions for quite some time. What relevance can I offer? How can I enlighten writers, friends, family? And whatever made me think I should become a blogger?

The answer to that, of course, is the still, small voice upon which my life is anchored. The voice which whispered to me that I could become a writer. That urges me on when tough choices come my way. That comforts me when life throws me a curve. That takes my breath away when unexpected beauty crosses my path.

I am first a child of God. I'm also a wife, a mom, Mimi to a batch of extraordinary little people, daughter, sister, friend . . . and writer. So whether the world needs another blog or not, I can't honestly say. I only know that I am here. No fancy-schmancy stuff. Just a few laughs, sharing about books and writing. Always time for a good cup of coffee. I would be honored to have you along for the journey.

It's been a fun three years and I must say that the more things change, the more they stay the same. The world still does not need another blog. I still wrestle with what to write. I'm still a child of God (praise be!) and wear the same hats I did back then. Coffee?? Well, those of you who know me, know that I think coffee is the nectar of the gods, and my days are richer because of this heavenly brew.

What has changed since that first post?

Our immediate family has grown by two - our first granddaughter who came a few weeks after the launch of this blog and a new daughter-in-law who is lovely, witty, and wonderful!

I'm still on a writing journey, only now I've been blessed with my first published book and a second one on the way. If starting a blog sprinkles magic dust on the publishing fairies and you are waiting to be published, then by all means, start a blog. Results are not guaranteed, but I do promise you will encounter some terrific people and have a few laughs.

I do think this calls for a celebration, don't you? September will also mark the third month that my book has been on bookstore shelves. So, in keeping with "three" how about I give away three copies of Chasing Lilacs???

To enter, please leave a comment (with your contact info please) and tell me how you learned of my blog and if you are a reader, a writer or any other interesting facts about yourself that you'd like for my readers to know. Even if you already have a copy (and THANK YOU to all who've bought one) you can enter and give it away if you win.

I'll be drawing for three winners on the last day of the month - the 30th!

Thank you all for being faithful readers!

Disclaimer: Void where prohibited. Your chances of winning dependent on the number of entries.