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, October 24, 2011

Pulpwood Queens Girlfriend Weekend Coming in January

Today I'm the guest blogger on The Pulpwood Queens Blog. With over 500 chapters, this bookclub rocks! And nothing is more fun than spending a weekend with readers. Check out the details and schedule for Girlfriend Weekend - January 12 - 15, 2012.
2011 Author Dinner 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Inspire a Fire Update

Inspire a Fire has been up and running several weeks now. I hope you've been able to read some of the inspirational posts there. Some have made me cry, others have given me goosebumps, all have given me determination to be a better person, to pursue with greater fervor my walk with Christ. I'm really glad for the small part I've had in bringing a couple of those stories to readers.

The truth is, I'm blessed by knowing some incredible people, people who've touched me and been great examples of service, of hope, of encouragement. So those are the people I've asked in this first month to share their stories.

Elsie Cowan is the mother-in-law of one of my best friends. She's the epitome of giving to others. I've never seen her when she didn't have a smile on her face. If you missed it, here's the story about making quilts for Boys Ranch - Quilted With Love. 

Miranda and Jesse Lewis live in a small town outside Oklahoma City. We've known Jesse and his family for years and years, though, and we grieved along with others about the loss of their home in a tornado last May. Miranda tells of her experience in What The Wind Blew In. 

Inspiring stories everyday. That's what our goal is at Inspire a Fire.
We believe one person has the power to make a huge difference in the world and eternity. Sometimes it only takes one match, one spark, to ignite an inferno of change.
Hope you'll stop by and be inspired, too!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Wonderland Creek by Lynn Austin on CFBA

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Wonderland Creek
Bethany House (October 1, 2011)
Lynn Austin


For many years, Lynn Austin nurtured a desire to write but frequent travels and the demands of her growing family postponed her career. When her husband's work took Lynn to Bogota, Colombia, for two years, she used the B.A. she'd earned at Southern Connecticut State University to become a teacher. After returning to the U.S., the Austins moved to Anderson, Indiana, Thunder Bay, Ontario, and later to Winnipeg, Manitoba.

It was during the long Canadian winters at home with her children that Lynn made progress on her dream to write, carving out a few hours of writing time each day while her children napped. Lynn credits her early experience of learning to write amid the chaos of family life for her ability to be a productive writer while making sure her family remains her top priority.

Extended family is also very important to Austin, and it was a lively discussion between Lynn, her mother, grandmother (age 98), and daughter concerning the change in women's roles through the generations that sparked the inspiration for her novel Eve's Daughters.

Along with reading, two of Lynn's lifelong passions are history and archaeology. While researching her Biblical fiction series, Chronicles of the Kings, these two interests led her to pursue graduate studies in Biblical Backgrounds and Archaeology through Southwestern Theological Seminary. She and her son traveled to Israel during the summer of 1989 to take part in an archaeological dig at the ancient city of Timnah. This experience contributed to the inspiration for her novel Wings of Refuge.

Lynn resigned from teaching to write full-time in 1992. Since then she has published twelve novels. Five of her historical novels have won Christy Awards in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2008, and 2009 for excellence in Christian Fiction. And two of her inspirational fiction books were chosen by Library Journal for their top picks in 2003, and 2005. One of Lynn's novels has been made into a movie for the Hallmark Channel, starring actress Shirley Jones. Ms Jones received a 2006 Emmy Award nomination for her portrayal of Aunt Batty in the film.


Alice Grace Ripley lives in a dream world, her nose stuck in a book. But happily-ever-after life she's planned on suddenly falls apart when her boyfriend, Gordon, breaks up with her, accusing her of living in a world of fiction instead of the real world. Then to top it off, Alice loses her beloved job at the library because of cutbacks due to the Great Depression.

Fleeing small-town gossip, Alice heads to the mountains of eastern Kentucky to deliver five boxes of donated books to the library in the tiny coal-mining village of Acorn. Dropped off by her relatives, Alice volunteers to stay for two weeks to help the librarian, Leslie McDougal.

But the librarian turns out to be far different than she anticipated--not to mention the four lady librarians who travel to the remote homes to deliver the much-desired books. While Alice is trapped in Acorn against her will, she soon finds that real-life adventure and myster--and especially romance--are far better than her humble dreams could have imagined.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Wonderland Creek, go HERE.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Love on the Line by Deeanne Gist on CFBA

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Love on the Line
Bethany House (October 1, 2011)
Deeanne Gist


After a short career in elementary education, Deeanne Gist retired to raise her four children. Over the course of the next fifteen years, she ran a home accessory and antique business, became a member of the press, wrote freelance journalism for national publications such as People, Parents, Parenting, Family Fun, Houston Chronicle and Orlando Sentinel, and acted as CFO for her husband’s small engineering firm--all from the comforts of home.

Squeezed betwixt-and-between all this, she read romance novels by the truckload and even wrote a couple of her own. While those unpublished manuscripts rested on the shelf, she founded a publishing corporation for the purpose of developing, producing and marketing products that would reinforce family values, teach children responsibility and provide character building activities.

After a few short months of running her publishing company, Gist quickly discovered being a "corporate executive" was not where her gifts and talents lie. In answer to Gist’s fervent prayers, God sent a mainstream publisher to her door who licensed her parenting I Did It!® product line and committed to publish the next generation of her system, thus freeing Gist to return to her writing.

Eight months later, she sold A Bride Most Begrudging to Bethany House Publishers. Since that debut, her very original, very fun romances have rocketed up the bestseller lists and captured readers everywhere. Add to this two consecutive Christy Awards, three RITA nominations, rave reviews, and a growing loyal fan base, and you’ve got one recipe for success.

Her latest releases, Beguiled, Maid To Match, and Love on the Line are now available.

Gist lives in Texas with her husband of twenty-eight years and their border collie. They have four grown children. Click here to find out the most up-to-the-minute news about Dee.


Rural switchboard operator Georgie Gail is proud of her independence in a man's world ... which makes it twice as vexing when the telephone company sends a man to look over her shoulder.

Dashing Luke Palmer is more than he appears though. He's a Texas Ranger working undercover to infiltrate a notorious gang of train robbers. Repairing telephones and tangling with this tempestuous woman is the last thing he wants to do. But when his stakeout puts Georgie in peril, he realizes more than his job is on the line.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Love on the Line, go HERE.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Reclaiming Lily by Patti Lacy on CFBA

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Reclaiming Lily
Bethany House (October 1, 2011)
Patti Lacy


Patti Lacy, Baylor graduate, taught community college humanities until God called her to span seas and secrets in her novels, An Irishwoman's Tale and What the Bayou Saw.

The secrets women keep and why they keep them continue to enliven Patti's gray matter. A third book, The Rhythm of Secrets, released in January of 2011. Patti's, Reclaiming Lily, documents a tug-of-war between a Harvard-educated doctor and an American pastor and his wife for a precious child and explores adoption issues, China's "One Child" policy, and both Christian and secular views of sacrifice.

Patti also facilitates writing seminars in schools, libraries, and at conferences and has been called to present her testimony, "All the Broken Pieces," at women's retreats. She also leads a Beth Moore Bible study at her beloved Grace Church and has had a blast planning the September 2009 wedding of her firstborn, Sarah.

Patti and her husband Alan, an Illinois State faculty member, live in Normal with their handsome son Thomas, who attends Heartland Community College. On sunny evenings, you can catch the three strolling the streets of Normal with their dog Laura, whom they've dubbed a "Worchestershire Terrier" for her "little dab of this breed, a little dab of that breed."


A storm the size of Texas brews when Gloria Powell and Kai Chang meet in a Dallas hotel. They have come to discuss the future of Lily, the daughter Gloria adopted from China and the sister Kai hopes to reclaim. Kai is a doctor who had to give up her little sister during the Cultural Revolution and has since discovered that an inherited genetic defect may be waiting to fatally strike Lily.

Gloria's relationship with her daughter is tattered and strained, and the arrival of Kai, despite the woman's apparent good intentions, makes Gloria fearful. Gloria longs to restore her relationship with Lily, but in the wake of this potentially devastating diagnosis, is Kai an answer to prayer...or will her arrival force Gloria to sacrifice more than she ever imagined?

If you would like to read the first chapter of reclaiming Lily, go HERE.

MY ENDORSEMENT: I was thrilled to be asked to read this book for endorsement. It makes me feel smart to know that I read it before the masses. Here's what I wrote then:

The bonds of maternal love and whispered promises are held to a flame and tested in this redemptive story of sacrifice. Patti Lacy’s vibrant prose and endearing characters will capture your heart. Bravo! 


Thursday, October 13, 2011

An Evening at the Harwelden

The Harwelden mansion is home to the Tulsa Arts and Humanities Council and is lovely. Rich wood and great slabs of stone in this Collegiate Gothic-English Tudor home speak in hushed tones of a grand era. Indeed, the home is located on the famed Black Gold Row among rolling hills, lush greenery, and overlooks the Arkansas River. It's one of the popular spots for literary and music events in Tulsa.

Local Authors with Pianist for the evening 
This year, the Oklahoma Center for Poets and Writers chose Anna Quindlen, Pulitzer prize-winning writer, as the Tulsa Reads author for her work as a columnist, essayist, and novelist. She made a recent trip to Tulsa for several events. Sadly, I was out of town, but was honored to be asked to participate in an event where local authors responded to Anna's works. I read a selection from Anna's 1998 novel, Black and Blue, and then read a selection from my newest novel, Broken Wings.

One of the more interesting things that I learned was that Anna didn't set out to write a story about domestic abuse, but rather to live inside her "Frannie" character for a time and just tell her story. This resonated with me at a deep level. I didn't really want to write about the ugliness of abuse, either, but through the eyes of two unlikely friends in Broken Wings, I was honor bound to tell the truth of their stories - what connected Mitzi Steiner and Brooke Woodson. In doing so, I was also compelled to offer hope to those whose lives are tarnished by abuse and Alzheimer's.

This is what I shared with the audience at the Harwelden on the most gentle of evenings. Wonderful time spent with friends and authors. A little slice of heaven on earth.

Layton Isaacs, the coordinator of the event, had this to say in her article. Thanks, Layton! And thank you, Tulsa, for being a city that supports the arts. I'm honored. I'm blessed.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Wedding Invitation by Alice Wisler on CFBA

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
A Wedding Invitation
Bethany House (October 1, 2011)
Alice Wisler


Alice was born in Osaka, Japan in the sixties. Her parents were Presbyterian career missionaries. As a young child, Alice loved to walk down to the local stationer's store to buy notebooks, pencils and scented erasers. In her room, she created stories. The desire to be a published famous author has never left her. Well, two out of three isn't bad. She's the author of Rain Song, How Sweet It Is, Hatteras Girl and A Wedding Invitation (all published by Bethany House).

Alice went to Eastern Mennonite University after graduating from Canadian Academy, an international high school in Kobe, Japan. She majored in social work and has worked across the U.S. in that field. She taught ESL (English as a Second Language) in Japan and at a refugee camp in the Philippines. She also studied Spanish at a language institute in San Jose, Costa Rica.

She has four children--Rachel, Daniel, Benjamin and Elizabeth. Daniel died on 2/2/97 from cancer treatments at the age of four. Since then, Alice founded Daniel's House Publications in her son's memory. This organization reaches out to others who have also lost a child to death. In 2000 and 2003, Alice compiled recipes and memories of children across the world to publish two memorial cookbooks, Slices of Sunlight and Down the Cereal Aisle.


After returning home from teaching English at a refugee camp in the Philippines, Samantha Bravencourt enjoys her quiet life working at her mother's clothing boutique in Falls Church, Virginia. When she receives an invitation to a wedding in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, she looks forward to reconnecting with her college friend. Instead her life collides with Carson, a fellow teacher and the man who broke her heart, and a young Amerasian refugee named Lien who needs Samantha and Carson's help to find her mother before Lien's own wedding. When the search for Lien's mother reveals surprising secrets from the past, Samantha must reevaluate her own memories and decide whether to continue to play it safe or take a risk that could change her life.

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Wedding Invitation, go HERE.

Watch the book trailer:

Sunday, October 9, 2011

STARDUST ~ Coming in May, 2012

Thrilled to share with you at last ~ my next novel, coming in May, 2012.


Shortly after burying her unfaithful husband, Georgia Peyton unexpectedly inherits the derelict Stardust motel from a distant relative. Despite doubts from the community and the aunt who raised her, she is determined to breathe new life into it. But the guests who arrive aren't what Georgia expects: Her gin-loving mother-in-law; her dead husband's mistress; an attractive but down-on-his-luck drifter who's tired of the endless road; and an aging Vaudeville entertainer with a disturbing link to Georgia's past.

Can Georgia find the courage to forgive those who've betrayed her, the grace to shelter those who need her, and the moxie to face the future? And will her dream of a new life under the flickering neon of the STARDUST ever come true?

Here are a couple of the early endorsements:

"A reverence for the past and a keen eye for interesting characters make Stardust as bright and magical as a twinkling neon sign on a dark, lonely two-lane. You'll love the journey as much as the final destination. Another winner from an author with a uniquely beautiful talent!" (Lisa Wingate, National Bestselling and Award-winning Author of Dandelion Summer and Blue Moon Bay)

"Carla Stewart is one of the best at slicing out a piece of Americana and serving it to the reader in a delicious story. STARDUST is a smooth, inviting, well told story that will stick with you long after you read the last line and close the book. A worthy read." (Rachel Hauck, award winning author of Dining with Joy)

This was a fun book to write, although I didn't whip it out as fast as I would've liked. As you all know, life intervenes, and during the months when I was writing, a lot was going on. Somehow it all came together just in time. And I can't say enough about the talented, creative cover art team at FaithWords. It was love at first sight when I got my first glimpse of this one. You'll hear more in coming months about the writing and the setting, but for now, another book is in the embryo, hankering to be written stage, AND it's on a deadline, so I'll be carving out some writing time the next few months.

Have I mentioned that I LOVE this writing thing? And for all of you - I cherish your support, your cheering from the sidelines, and hearing from you. We're in this together!

And with that said, perhaps I should ask - what would YOU like for me to write a story about? Any burning topics that fall in the "nostalgic" realm? I'd love to hear your ideas.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Heiress by Susan May Warren - FABULOUS GIVEAWAY

About the book: Heiress

They can buy anything they want—fame, power, beauty, even loyalty.

But they can’t buy love.

The beautiful and wealthy heiress daughters of August Price can buy everything their hearts desire. But what if their desire is to be loved, without an enormous price tag attached? When one sister betrays another for the sake of love, will she find happiness? And what happens when the other sets out across the still untamed frontier to find it—will she discover she’s left it behind in the glamorous world of the New York gilded society? What price will each woman pay for being an heiress?

Set in the opulent world of the Gilded Age, two women discover that being an heiress just might cost them everything they love.

Read an excerpt here.

About Susan: Susan May Warren is an award-winning, best-selling author of over twenty-five novels, many of which have won the Inspirational Readers Choice Award, the ACFW Book of the Year award, the Rita Award, and have been Christy finalists. After serving as a missionary for eight years in Russia, Susan returned home to a small town on Minnesota’s beautiful Lake Superior shore where she, her four children, and her husband are active in their local church.

Susan's larger than life characters and layered plots have won her acclaim with readers and reviewers alike. A seasoned women’s events and retreats 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.

Susan makes her home in northern Minnesota, where she is busy cheering on her two sons in football, and her daughter in local theater productions (and desperately missing her college-age son!)

Susan May Warren is thrilled to announce the release of her latest historical book, Heiress!

Find out what the reviewers are saying here!

Heiress, a richly complex historical romance, is the first in Susan's three book Daughters of Fortune series. In honor of Heiress’ debut, Susan is hosting a FABULOUS Gilded Age Giveaway and giving away an opulent prize pack fit for an heiress!

One grand prize winner will receive:

  • A $100 gift certificate to
  • A sleek silver iPod™ Shuffle
  • A beautiful strand of Pearls
  • Titanic DVD
  • Speakeasy Compilation Music CD from Starbucks™
  • Heiress by Susan May Warren
Click one of the icons below to enter. But do so soon - this giveaway ends 10/5/11. The winner will be announced Thursday, October 6 on Susan’s blog.

Enter via TwitterEnter via E-mailEnter via Facebook

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Inspire a Fire Website goes LIVE today

Today's the day! Months have gone into planning, praying, and assembling a team to bring you Inspire a Fire - a website that will tug at your heartstrings as you read stories about real people who've had tremendous struggles or feel compelled to step out into the world and make a difference.
We believe one person has the power to make a huge difference in the world and eternity. Sometimes it only takes one match, one spark, to ignite an inferno of change.

Brought to you by the creators of Novel Rocket (formerly Novel Journey), an entire team has pulled together for this endeavor. I'm excited about the possibilities and being a part. I will post on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of each month.

We'd love for you to check us out now. And please, click on the Submissions tab at the very top if you know someone in your community who has a great story or is doing something extraordinary. And go to the Make a Difference tab to see how can be involved in your own community.

We're very excited about this website and hope to see you there! Please stop by and leave a comment.