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.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


It's here: the cover of BROKEN WINGS !!!

FaithWords has done an amazing job again on the cover art for my book which releases next summer: Mark your calendars: JUNE 3, 2011. Available for pre-order on Amazon.

Here's a bit about the book:

Onstage, the singing duo of Gabe and Mitzi Steiner captured America's heart for more than two decades. Offstage, their own hearts have throbbed as one for sixty years. Only now, Gabe has retreated into the tangles of Alzheimer's, leaving Mitzi to ponder her future alone.

On the other side of Tulsa, everyone believes Brooke Woodson has found the perfect man--a handsome lawyer with sights on becoming Tulsa's next District Attorney. If only Brooke felt more sure. If only her fiancé could control his anger. If only love didn't come with so many scars.

When an accident lands Brooke in the hospital where Mitzi volunteers, the two women quickly develop an unlikely friendship birthed by providence and bathed in grace. And with Mitzi's help, kindness, and insight, Brooke learns how to pick up the broken pieces of her life.

And so it begins. The page proofs are done. The Advanced Reader Copies for reviewers will be out before you know it. Marketing strategies are being considered. And I'm just as excited about this book as I was the first one. I guess it's true - you can love more than one child with equal fervor. And I so hope that you will love Broken Wings too. You'll be hearing more of the developing story, but for now, I'm just thrilled that I can share this much with you. 

So how about a round of applause for Jody at FaithWords and his magnificent touch in creating this beautiful cover? Thanks, Jody. Thanks, FaithWords. And thank you, readers for this moment of indulgence. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

CAFE SPECIAL OF THE WEEK - Cream Cheese Pumpkin Pie

Nothing says autumn to me like the smell of pumpkin! I love pumpkin-scented candles, trips to Starbucks for the pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin pie, of course, and in the past I've tried to make pumpkin cheesecake. Without much success. The recipes were either too rich, too complicated, too lopsided, toooooooo . . . you know? So, I have this fabulous Lang Calendar with garden recipes, and this one looks like a winner! I've not made it yet, but since we're hosting Thanksgiving this year, I'm going to try this one. Maybe you'd like to go first and tell me if it's any good.


Make a graham cracker crust: 
Mix 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs with 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, & 1/4 cup melted butter. Pat into a 9 - inch pie plate. 

In a separate bowl, mix three eggs & 1/2 cup sugar. Beat until fluffy. 
Add 8 oz. softened cream cheese & 1 tsp. vanilla extract. Beat again. 
Stir in 1 1/2 cup cooked pumpkin puree, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. ground cloves, & 1/4 tsp. nutmeg. 

Pour into prepared crust and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. 

Cool and enjoy! 

This one doesn't sound like it will be too sweet. A little rich, perhaps, but we all splurge some during the holidays. What's your favorite pumpkin recipe? Do you have one that's "healthy" and still tasty? 

Maybe you're not a pumpkin lover. What do you love about autumn? 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Interview with Sarah Sundin

I hope that you all had a chance to read about Sarah Sundin’s newest book, A Memory Between Us, in yesterday’s post. Today, I'm glad to have Sarah with me to answer a few questions.

Thanks, Sarah, for being my guest here at the Café. Congratulations on A Memory Between Us. I’ve been excited about this book for a long time and loved Jack and Ruth’s story. Can you tell us a bit about your writing journey?

I started writing in January 2000 and first submitted the proposal for A Distant Melody to editors and agents in 2003. For five years I received “good” rejection letters—they liked my writing and story and characters—however, historicals weren’t selling. In 2008, publishers wanted historicals again. At Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, I submitted to Vicki Crumpton from Revell, and she offered me a three-book contract. A Distant Melody was released in March 2010, ten years after I started writing.

How did you come up with the idea of the Wings of Glory series? Had you always intended for there to be three books? 

The idea for A Distant Melody came out of a “what if” question—what if a man and woman met at an event, truly clicked, and parted before exchanging contact info? Wouldn’t it be romantic if he went through great effort to track her down? My husband and I watched a History Channel special on the US Eighth Air Force based in England during World War II, and I was hooked. My great-uncle was a B-17 pilot with the Eighth, so I had access to his stories and letters.
A Distant Melody was meant to be a standalone, but while doing research, I became enamored with the Eighth Air Force and wanted to tell the full story to V-E Day. Since my hero had two pilot brothers, I decided to write a series, with each book focusing on one brother.

Having read the first two now, it’s quite obvious that meticulous research goes into your writing. Can you tell me a bit about how you do research? 

I have to confess, I have over two hundred books and websites in my bibliography for this series. Yes, that’s sick. I started with basic texts on World War II, then got more detailed. Bibliographies are a great resource—when a book is mentioned in multiple bibliographies, it warrants attention. On the internet I found a company that sells copies of the actual B-17 pilot’s manual and the training film, which were pure gold! For A Memory Between Us, I did lots of research into nursing during World War II, flight nursing, and Army hospitals.

Two hundred sources in your bibliography? That is some serious research, Sarah. Wow. But you mentioned you have real life inspiration through your great uncle as well. Did you have him in mind with any particular character from your books? 

I based the career of Jack Novak, the middle brother and the hero of A Memory Between Us, on my great-uncle’s career. But Jack’s looks, personality, family, life-story, and romance are purely fictional. My great-uncle, Roderick Stewart (yes, the original Rod Stewart), was a true character, and no fictional character could have done him justice. By the way, Carla and I are not related…no nepotism here.

Well, I am honored that we have the same name in common! I’m fascinated with the way you’re able to put the reader spot-on in the setting. Have you been to England and seen the places you write about? How about the military planes? Have you flown in one? 

I was blessed with a husband with frequent flier miles. He took me to England in 2002 and 2003 without kids (romantic!!!) when I was in the early stages of writing the trilogy. I visited London and Bury St. Edmunds, and traipsed through the ruined abbey—which I had to put in A Memory Between Us. As for the B-17s, the Collings Foundation and the Experimental Aircraft Association tour the country with beautifully restored B-17s—and you can walk through them for a nominal fee. Wow! When you crawl through the narrow passageways, duck through the doorways, and poke your head into the top turret—and then imagine doing it as a full-grown man with bulky high-altitude flying gear in subzero temperatures under fighter attack—it gives you a new level of appreciation for what the airmen went through. Both organizations offer flights in the B-17s, but I’ve balked at the price. Some day…

What do you want the reader to gain from reading A Memory Between Us? Is there a particular take away you have in mind? 

I never write a novel with a message in mind, but I do hope my readers will learn from my characters’ experiences. Shame serves a purpose—to bring you to ask God’s forgiveness—but when it persists after forgiveness, that’s not God talking. Shame burdens so many people and holds them back from the wonderful plans God has for them. I hope my readers will learn to truly accept forgiveness, shove off shame, and allow God to use them. I also hope they see the insidious nature of pride and learn to trust in the Lord a bit more each day.

Your spiritual threads are quite organic to the story, Sarah. Very practical, which leads me a practical question. What have you learned between the publication of A Distant Melody and A Memory Between Us? Any marketing secrets you’d like to share? 

I sure wish there was some way to measure which marketing techniques work and which are a waste of time and money. I’m still new at this, but what I’ve done that seems effective:
a)    Blog interviews like this one. Each interview exposes my book to people outside my sphere of influence.
b)    My publisher gave me book copies for “influencers.” These people have been wonderful. They’ve posted reviews, chatted it up on Facebook, recommended it to their book clubs and libraries, and my friend Marci Seither made a vintage 1940s apron with the book cover for A Distant Melody on the pocket and donated it to a fabric store. The store owner displayed the apron in the store window and recommended the book to her book club!
c)     Facebook has been a great way for me to connect with people—other writers, old friends, and new readers. I like that personal touch.
d)    Bookmarks generously distributed. I carry them everywhere. Whenever someone asks about my book, I give them a bookmark. Also my friends and influencers hand them out in droves. I’ve already gone through my first lot of one thousand bookmarks, and I’m working on the second. Low tech but effective.
e)    Local speaking. I’m still getting started in this, but lately I’ve spoken to middle schoolers, the women’s club, and the Soroptomists. Speaking at the women’s club led to two local newspaper features on me and my book. Those women know people!

Coffee? Tea? Sparkling mineral water? Or . . .
Yes, please! Well, I’ll pass on the mineral water, but I love anything in the caffeine family. Coffee with a dash of milk and flavored syrup, tea (hot or iced), and generic diet cola. Lots of it.

Sarah, you’re getting great reviews and gaining a lot of fans (including my husband and me). Congratulations! One last question:

Please tell us where to find you on the web and the burning question in all of our minds – when does book three come out? Title? 

The third book is called Blue Skies Tomorrow, and it comes out August 2011.
You can find me on the web (and please come visit) at:

Thanks, Sarah. I love the title Blue Skies Tomorrow. And thank you readers for sharing this time with us . . .

A reminder: If you haven’t entered Sarah’s Movie and Memory prize package, check it out on yesterday’s post.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A MEMORY BETWEEN US by Sarah Sundin - Book 2 in the Wings of Glory Series and a FABULOUS GIVEAWAY

 It's no secret to my blog followers that I'm a big fan of Sarah Sundin and her debut Wings of Glory series set in WW II. I'll be sharing my review below, but first, a bit about Sarah and the just-released second book in the series - A MEMORY BETWEEN US. Tomorrow, I'll feature Sarah again in an interview where she tells us more about her passion for writing and how she does research.

ABOUT THE BOOK:Can they overcome the past to find a brighter future together?

Major Jack Novak has never failed to meet a challenge--until he meets army nurse Lieutenant Ruth Doherty. When Jack lands in the army hospital after a plane crash, he makes winning Ruth's heart a top-priority mission. But he has his work cut out for him. Not only is Ruth focused on her work in order to support her orphaned siblings back home, she also is determined not to give her heart to any man.

As the danger and tension of World War II rise to a fever pitch, Jack and Ruth will need each other more than ever. Can Jack break down her defenses? Or are they destined to go their separate ways?

From the English countryside to the perilous skies over France, A Memory Between Us takes you on a journey through love, forgiveness, and sacrifice.

A Memory Between Us is the second book in the WINGS OF GLORY series, which follows the three Novak brothers, B-17 bomber pilots with the US Eighth Air Force stationed in England during World War II.

Sarah Sundin is an on-call hospital pharmacist and holds a BS in chemistry from UCLA and a doctorate in pharmacy from UC San Francisco. Her great-uncle flew with the US Eighth Air Force in England during WWII. Sarah lives in California with her husband and three children. This is her second novel.  For more info please visit her website at!


As I anticipated the release of Book 2 of the Wings of Glory Series, I didn’t see how Sarah could possibly live up to her debut novel, A Distant Melody, but she did. She skillfully portrays Major Jack Novak as a man who is driven to succeed both in his military career as a WWII pilot and in his desire to win the heart of Lieutenant Ruth Doherty, the Army nurse who cares for him when his plane crashes. Ruth’s determination to forget her past and care for her orphaned siblings, though, is her top priority, and she is not swayed by the major’s relentless pursuit. The chemistry that sparks between them is authentic and tender, warm and witty.

There is an indefinable quality to Sarah’s story telling. She drew me in with her meticulous detail of the medical world Ruth inhabits, the British setting, historical context (the chapter on D-Day had me biting my nails), and Jack’s life as a decorated pilot. Novels that have this sort of magical “it” are hard to find, but this one is a treasure. I give it a high recommendation. 


And now, Sarah's gift to one very special reader - 

Sarah Sundin presents The Movies and Memories Giveaway in honor of book 2 in the Wings of Glory series. A Memory Between Us is available for purchase wherever fine books are sold. From the English countryside to the perilous skies over France, A Memory Between Us takes you on a journey through love, forgiveness, and sacrifice.


To celebrate Sarah is giving one lucky winner A Movie and Memory Prize Package! One grand prize winner will receive:

* Make-your-own-photo book from (Capture your own Memories)

* Netflix Subscription (New or Nostalgic Movies delivered right to your house)

* Starbucks gift card (To keep your engine revvin’)

*Gourmet chocolate (A favorite in the 1940’s and now)

* British specialty teas in carved wooden box (Timeless tradition)

* Miniature model of a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber & C-47 cargo plane (Everyone needs a few toy planes)

*Big Band music CD (Break out your dancing shoes)

* WWII authentic poster playing cards (Cards – a perfect game for two)

* Keep Calm and Carry On (Uplifting sayings WWII, a boost for troubled times)

To enter simple click on the icons below (contest runs 9/27 - 10/17!)

Monday, October 11, 2010

SNOW DAY by Billy Coffey up on CFBA with My Review

This week, the 
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance 
is introducing 
Snow Day
FaithWords (October 11, 2010)
Billy Coffey


When you’re raised in small-town Virginia by a redneck father and a Mennonite mother, certain things become ingrained. And when you marry a small-town girl and have two small-town kids, all you want to do is pass those ingrained things along.

Like believing the best life is one lived in the country enjoying the pleasures it provides—summer nights beneath the stars, rocking chairs on the front porch, deer grazing in the fields. And believing that no matter how iffy life can get sometimes, there are some things that are eternal and unchanging.

But above all else, believing that in everything there is story waiting to be told.

That’s where I come in.

Billy Coffey was raised on stories. The first ones came on the front porches of relatives, tales laced with local charm and deep meaning. Then came the stories from people like Max Lucado and Robert Fulghum, who write with a charm and deep meaning of their own.

Billy lives with his wife and two children in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. If you drive by his house, you’ll probably spot him on the front porch. If you do, give him a wave. He’ll wave back.


In this debut novel, Peter is a simple man who lives by a simple truth--a person gains strength by leaning on his constants. To him, those constants are the factory where he works, the family he loves, and the God who sustains him. But when news of job cuts comes against the backdrop of an unexpected snowstorm, his life becomes filled with far more doubts than certainties.

With humor and a gift for storytelling, Billy Coffey brings you along as he spends his snow day encountering family, friends, and strangers of his small Virginia town. All have had their own battles with life's storms. Some have found redemption. Others are still seeking it. But each one offers a piece to the puzzle of why we must sometimes suffer loss, and each one will help Peter find a greater truth--our lives are made beautiful not by our big moments, but our little ones. (2010)

To read an excerpt from Snow Day, go HERE.
From debut author Billy Coffey comes the tender story of Peter Boyd who wakes up one morning to a snow storm. But this isn’t the only storm in his life. He’s in danger of losing his factory job and doesn’t know how he’ll care for his family with Christmas just around the corner. He takes a “snow day” and as he ventures through the day, his interactions with family, neighbors, and strangers remind him life’s simple virtues—family, laughter, kindness, and faith. Coffey weaves gentle humor into prose that had me smiling one minute and teary-eyed the next. Peter Boyd is a man we’d all be fortunate to call friend. I’m looking forward to more stories from this author.

A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Denver
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month - this year celebrating 25 years of awareness, education, and empowerment. Race for the Cure events are being held worldwide this month to remind women to have their annual mammograms and to work together so that more women might live. My sister is a breast cancer survivor and participated in the walk in Denver this past weekend. She's such a sweet, gentle soul. I'm so fortunate to have her for my sister . . . and as my hero.

At the start of the race

To find out more about breast cancer and how you can be involved please visit the Breast Cancer Awareness Month website.

Have you had your mammogram this year?

Sunday, October 3, 2010


I'm borrowing the title of this post from Jason Ashley Wright, the quirky Mississippi boy who's one of my favorite columnists in our local paper. The first of the month he channels his Southern roots and throws in some lagniappe - a little somethin', somethin' extra, as he says. Last weekend I went to the Celebration of Books and attended the humor session where Jason was a panelist. He's just as cute and funny in person as he is in his column, so I thought I'd "totally name drop" and steal his lagniappe theme to fill you in on several happenings in my world.

Confession time: My suitcase from the ACFW conference is finally unpacked, but the glow of the ACFW conference still lives! For all of you who want to see what all the conference buzz is about Mike Ehret, editor of the ACFW Afictionado Ezine, has just released the Conference Edition. Every year this is a more monumental undertaking as the conference grows. I'm honored to be one of the "reporters", and who wouldn't be? Mike is a great encourager. Clap. Clap. Great job, Mike! And clap, clap for me for getting the suitcase emptied and back in the closet.

New Interview: Fellow writer, Delia Latham featured me on The Bookshelf Newsletter where she asked some fun off-the cuff questions that certainly qualify for this lagniappe kind of day. Thanks, Delia! While you're there, check out Delia's new upcoming Solomon's Gate series from White Rose Publishing.

Since lagniappe is a southern thing, this is a good time to bring up that spot in East Texas where the Deep South begins. Check this out: THE AUTHORS  who will be attending the Pulpwood Queen's Girlfriend Weekend in Jefferson, Texas. January 13 - 16, 2011. A great gathering of some of today's most fabulous authors, including Pat Conroy, Cassandra King, Fannie Flagg, Charles Martin, Jamie Ford, AND a host of others. Complete details on the tiara wearing, book loving queen, Kathy Patrick's website: Beauty and the Book. Did you know the Pulpwood Queens Book Club is the largest book club in the world? Did you know Kathy is the founder and owner of the ONLY Hair Salon/Book Store in the WORLD? Kathy's heart is as big as the hair she does, and I'm not only looking forward to attending the Girlfriend Weekend, but also being one of the featured authors November 12-14 for the Books Alive! charity fundraiser that Kathy sponsors. And yep, it's in Jefferson too.

Looks like I'll be pulling out my suitcase to start packing again soon. I'm thinking I should just leave it out. And all this talk reminds me of one of Jason Ashley Wright's favorite "Clairee" quotes from Steel Magnolias: You know I love ya more than my luggage! Yes, readers, I love having you here. And to wind this up, what's your favorite southern saying?

Friday, October 1, 2010

And the winners are . . .

Thanks to everyone who celebrated with me on my three year blogoversary and left such nice comments. I must admit, I let yesterday slip by without drawing for the winners as I'd told you I would. Today I remembered and have notified the winners. Ready?

Congrats to Carmen, Stina Rose, and CarolNWong! 

Hope that you enjoy the book and continue to be the faithful readers of my blog that you have been. Coming up, I'll be featuring more books I think you'll enjoy, interviews, and later this month a special addition to Carla's Writing Cafe. That's all I can tell you for now, but it's going to be wonderful! 

Many Blessings!