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.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

What to do on a Saturday morn . . .

If by chance you're lolling around this morning, nursing another cup of coffee, and deliberating whether you really want to venture out into another hot day, I have an alternative. I've been on the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance this week. Wow! Some of the reviews have blown me away. I'm grateful and tickled pink with the kind words of affirmation and the honesty that some of these book reviewers have penned. One sweet soul, who writes in the suspense genre, passed Chasing Lilacs to his mom to read. Hey, I love that! Anyway, if you're still undecided with what to do for the next thirty minutes, you might check out the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance and the links to reviews of my book. Scroll through the information and the boxes of gobbledy-code to the reviewer's list. The links should take you to the blogs. Some interesting stuff there besides my book.

If that is too much work, one click will take you over the the uber-cool Susan Meissner's blog Edgewise where she has interviewed me. Some intriguing questions from one of my all-time favorite authors. Thanks, Sooz!

Or if you feel like you'd like to just get away, you might click over to The Koala Bear Writer's blog, which hails from Canada. She's a writer, a mom, and an all-around wonderful person who I know only through the cybersphere, but I think you'll enjoy what she has to say.

Or you could just have another cuppa and grab the funny papers. The choice is yours.

Friday, June 25, 2010

My First Book Signing

I thought I would lump my two signing/launch events together, but then I decided that my first book signing should have its own post. What a fun evening. My publisher set up the signing with the Mardel Christian Book store in Tulsa and provided beautiful posters and flyers announcing the event. And the host store was so accommodating, I kept looking behind me to see if Francine Rivers or Ted Dekker had just walked in and they had me confused with a bona fide author. Okay, I'm bona fide. I've got my name on the cover to prove it, but it's all a bit surreal to me. The evening was a huge success, and I'll just let the pictures tell the story.

Chet and Leslie

Tulsa Night Writer Friends

Max, James, and Allison

My cousin, Val

Store display (check out the great poster at the top)

Myra and Cindy, my writing pals

Pam Sherrer - She knew I needed a hug!

Leanor, my friend for life

Great evening with just the right balance of friends, family, and a few customers. A special thanks to the two Gayla's (you know who you are) who sent the beautiful bouquet for my first book signing.

I'll share some of the highlights of the book launch in Texas next time. Happy reading!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The time is . . . NOW!

Book Launch Week! I'm not sure I ever thought this week would ever come. I've been busy with preparations for the parties - that's what I'm choosing to call the book signings because it's a time to celebrate friendships, make new friends, and just have fun. We'll have gift baskets to give away, some fun "retro" snacks like Chik-O-Stix candy, slo-poke suckers, Blackjack gum, Double Bubble, peanut butter logs, and books of course!

So, if you're in the Tulsa area, Thursday, June 17, at the Mardel's at 52nd and S. Harvard. We'll start the party/signing at 6 pm.

If you're in the Oklahoma or Texas Panhandle, the launch party will be at the Community Worship Center in Perryton, TX. Party time: 2 to 4 pm. Retro dress optional.

First book sighting: Barnes & Noble, Tulsa. Special promotion by Barnes & Noble with my book featured on the NEW RELEASE table, center aisle, and a good supply of the books in the general fiction and literature section. Here they are right between Robert Louis Stevenson and Mary Stewart and just a few spines down from one of my recent favorite books, The Help, by Kathryn Stockett.

Chasing Lilacs is featured on the CAN (Christian Author's Network) Blog this week.

And the last item of note: A taped interview with the amazing Dianne Burnett at A hint: the speaker with the twang is NOT Dianne. Personally, I think I sound awful on tape, but she asked some great questions. I will be telling you more about the great resources at this site next week.

Whew! I'm tired, but this is a lovely, contented tired. Hope to see you at one of the parties!

Sunday, June 13, 2010


In times of bereavement, bringing food is a ritual meant to comfort the family and create a bond within the community - a sacred bond. In Romans, Chapter 12, Paul talks about life within God's family: love, devotion, honor, joy, patience, faithfulness, and in verse 15 - "Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn." When a death occurs, we offer the best of ourselves to those who mourn. A hug. A few tears. And quite often - the gift of food. Our best dish. One crafted with care with our own hands. It not only says I'm sorry for your loss, but also says - I offer my best to you.

In Chasing Lilacs, Irene Flanagan is one who gives her best. She's the church pianist and the maker and giver of Coconut Cakes. She has no lines of dialogue in the story, but she is johnny-on-the-spot with a coconut cake every time a need arises.

I thought you might like to have her recipe. Someone you know may need the comfort of your friendship . . . and a cake.


2 cups sugar
1 Tbsp. margarine
1/2 cup Crisco
5 eggs, separated
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups flour
1 tsp. soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 3/4 cups coconut

1 8 oz pkg. cream cheese
1 Tbsp. margarine
1 tsp. vanilla
1 box powdered sugar

Cake: Cream sugar, margarine and shortening until creamy. Add egg yolks and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add flour and buttermilk alternately. Stir in coconut. Beat egg whites until stiff (in separate bowl). Fold into batter. Using 3 9-inch cake pans (greased and floured), bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool ten minutes before removing from pan. Cool completely before icing cake.

Icing: Cream together cream cheese, margarine and vanilla. Add powdered sugar and beat until creamy. Assemble cake with small amount icing between layers, then ice tops and sides of cake. Sprinkle additional coconut on top of cake.

Refrigerate cake until serving time.

I must confess that I don't always give my "best" when taking food to a family who has lost a loved one. Often in a rush, I dash to the store and pluck one from the bakery case. Of course it's okay. It's fine and I have made the effort . . . and yet, somehow it doesn't convey the message that says, "I made this just for you."

It's true. Irene never utters a word in Chasing Lilacs, but we know she's the kind of lady who gives freely and abundantly of herself. A person I'd like to be. A person I think Paul had in mind when he wrote the twelfth chapter of Romans.

A giver of cakes. And a giver of her time.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Giveaways and A First Time Experience For Me

Counting down to release date of Chasing Lilacs. SIX days. Long enough for a quick trip to Europe. Or for beans to sprout in the garden. Or for a hatchling robin to sprout half its feathers. And all of these things are infinitely more impressive that the release of my book. That's what I keep telling myself. I'm not counting the days. . . really I'm not. And besides, I've been too busy to do much counting.

First off, there's been a happy flurry of blog posts popping up this week. Interviews. Book blurbs. Stuff about me. AND GIVEAWAYS. It's not too late to enter the drawings to win a copy of Chasing Lilacs.

Here's a quick rundown of the blog posts from this week:

Elizabeth Ludwig's THE BORROWED BOOK: An interview and Book Drawing.


Guest Post on Creating Characters on THE SEEKERS: With Book Giveaway

Cathy Bryant's WORD VESSEL: Book Giveaway

Heidi Main's Blog: Fun Interview.

Lena Nelson Dooley's A CHRISTIAN WRITER'S WORLD: Interview and Giveaway

I'm in awe of each of these lovely bloggers creativity and devotion to promoting Christian fiction. They asked some tough questions, too. Things like: How do you respond to criticism? Who are you favorite authors? What is the quirkiest thing you've ever done? I hope you'll stop by and say hi at some of these beautiful blogs.

Yesterday was a first for me and hence the picture at the top of this post. I had my first live radio interview!! Jill Hart and Diana Ennen at CHRISTIAN WORK AT HOME MOMS, INC. interviewed me about Chasing Lilacs and my writing journey. They were fun and lively. Sweet, gracious ladies. I was . . . well . . . nervous. But I made it through and had a great time. One of the hints I'd been given was to smile when I was talking, the rationale being that even though I wouldn't be seen, the smile comes through in the conversation. I hope it did. The link is not up yet for you to listen, but when it is, I will add it to my sidebar.

All in all, a great week! Now, if I can just hold it together for six more days, I'll be home free - Ha!

Have a great weekend. Hope it includes something fun and relaxing.

Monday, June 7, 2010

CAFE SPECIAL OF THE WEEK - Silver Dollar Pancakes

Does your family ever have breakfast for supper? We sometimes did when I was growing up and our kids loved it when they were at home. And sometimes Max and I still do. There's something comforting about sitting around the table, eating simple country food, enjoying every syrupy bite of homemade pancakes or a crisp slice of bacon.

As I mentioned last week, I'm featuring recipes of the "down home" food from Chasing Lilacs. In the era of the fifties, there wasn't a lot of eating out, no fast food, no microwaves, and as a rule, families sat down and ate together . . . even a meal as simple as breakfast for supper. Silver dollar pancakes were one of my dad's specialties so it wasn't much of a leap to have Joe Tucker, Sammie's dad, whipping up the pancake batter on the first night Sammie's mom is home from her stay in the mental hospital. It's a simple scene, one that shows that even in families where problems occur, there are things you can count on. Like a meal shared with family.


1 cup flour
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 - 2 eggs
1 cup milk
2 tbsp vegetable oil

Mix all ingredients thoroughly with wire whip. For thicker pancakes, add a bit more flour. If thinner ones desired, thin with milk. Heat heavy griddle (I use an electric skillet) to moderately high temp. Oil surface of griddle. Drop batter by teaspoons onto hot griddle. Turn when bubbles appear on top. Makes 30 or more silver dollar pancakes. Serve with butter and warm syrup.

Kids loves these tiny morsels of fun. Why not make a memory with your own kiddos? Or your grandpeeps. Chances are the big people in your family will want to join in too.

Q4U: Do you ever have breakfast for supper? What is your favorite food or menu when you do?

Friday, June 4, 2010

HAPPY FRIDAY and a few more links of note

We're headed into what looks like is going to be the hottest weekend of the year so far. Sunshine is definitely better than tornadoes! And things are heating up in the pre-release days of Chasing Lilacs. Please don't think I'm pushing, pushing, pushing you to run out and buy my book. It might not be your cuppa at all. I surely understand that and get annoyed when people twist my arm to buy something I don't want. If that's you, I'm giving you permission to skip on over and play on YouTube or hang out on FaceBook with people who are infintely more interesting.

Here's the thing: Some really gracious people have invited me to be on their blogs, have interviewed me, reviewed Chasing Lilacs, or are offering giveaways of the book. I am honored to be part of a writing community that is so supportive. AND I want to introduce these writers and folks to you. By sharing where I am in the blogosphere, I am promoting their work as well. I love talking about other people's books and reading about their lives. I hope that you do too.

Here are the places where I've been the last couple of days:

My friend, the lovely Ane Mulligan, is one of the most encouraging people to writers I have ever known. She wrote this review on Novel Reviews (scroll down a bit to find the review).

Rel Mollet from Australia, who I introduced you to a couple of days ago, has a very fun feature on her site called CHARACTER SPOTLIGHT where authors tell what famous people most resemble the characters in their novels. I had so much fun with this. If you're curious, check out Relz Reviews. This link should get you there.

Last year when my publisher requested an author photo, I went to the phone book and checked out local photographers. One sort of jumped off the pages at me - Yellow Chair Photography. I loved the name and the work Sarah Adams had on her site so I gave her a call. I love this girl! And now, she has a blog for women in Tulsa that is just adorable and full of fun, chatty things and great giveaways. Today she's offering an autographed copy of Chasing Lilacs. You can find it here on Dandelion Lane where she tells how she chose the name of her blog. You might be surprised. I was!

I never knew one of the benefits of writing would be meeting so many interesting people. I hope you enjoy getting to know them too!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Review and Giveaway of CHASING LILACS

Just wanted to alert you, dear ones, that Relz Reviews has a heart-warming review and giveaway of Chasing Lilacs going on until June 13. Rel is an amazingly sweet reviewer from Australia who champions Christian fiction. I'm honored to be on her terrific site. Here's the link and while you're there, check out some of her other reviews and character spotlights. Very fun!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

CAFE SPECIAL OF THE WEEK - Peanut Butter Icebox Pie

Good grief! I don't know where the time has gone. I posted last Thursday and here it is the wee hours of Wednesday and nary a word from me. And I promised a friend of mine I would do better about blogging. Not only that, but it's been ages since I've had a Special of the Week Recipe.

So here's the plan. For the next few weeks or until I run out of recipes, I'll be featuring dishes that the characters in Chasing Lilacs made. Most people have their specialty . . . their go-to recipe to whip up for special occasions or to just extend a hand of friendship.

Today I'm featuring Alice Johnson's Peanut Butter Icebox Pie. Now I know many of you haven't read the book and might say Alice who? Trust me, this woman is a force of nature. She can sugar up her husband to think things "her" way or comfort a neighbor with this delectable dessert. I believe if she were here today, she might make one to celebrate the fact that Chasing Lilacs releases in 15 days! Hope you enjoy the pie as much as Alice likes making it.

Peanut Butter Icebox Pie

3 oz. pkg. cream cheese
1 c. confectioners sugar
1/3 c. crunchy peanut butter
1/2 pint whipping cream, beaten until stiff peaks form
(May substitute 9 oz. Cool Whip)
1 baked pied shell

Blend cream cheese and peanut butter. Add sugar; mix well. Fold in whipped cream. Pour into baked pie crust. Garnish with peanuts and chill.

With the warmer weather, this might be just the thing to top off your evening meal - a slice of cool peanut butter pie on the patio. Don't forget the after-dinner decaf! Verona's my choice this summer.

Your turn: What is your best "go-to" dish? The one people say, "Oh, yes, this is definitely her recipe. No one makes it like _____ (fill in your name).