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, July 31, 2011

Chasing Lilacs Goes Dutch

Fun tidbit today: Chasing Lilacs is now available in Dutch! I'm thrilled with this cover, seen side by side by the US cover!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Opportunity Knocks

Just a quick post to tell you about some terrific opportunities for free books right now.

My friend Lynne Gentry's debut novel, Reinventing Leona, which I told you about here is available for a limited time for FREE on Kindle. Don't miss out.

And two blogs are currently featuring giveaways of my book Broken Wings. Check out my interview on Susan Meissner's blog, Edgewise, for details. And visit Dragonflies 'n Daydreams - the cyber home of Lesley Peck. This is a really cute blog that also has a short review. Both drawings end soon, so if you've not gotten a copy of Broken Wings yet, this might be the opportunity you've been waiting for.

And of course, it's always available for purchase - - -

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


In just two months, ACFW descends on St. Louis, for the annual conference. This will be my sixth year to attend, and I can’t imagine being a writer in the Christian market and NOT attending. It’s one of the highlights of my year!

One of the many things I love about ACFW is how it has grown to meet the needs of both novice and seasoned authors alike. The first time I went, I was definitely an aspiring novelist. Yes, I’d written a couple of books which weren’t published, but I wasn’t sure how what I wrote fit into the inspirational market, so I went with some hesitation. Wow. Blown away by the experience only begins to describe what transpired during that four days. And each successive conference has brought new (and equally wonderful experiences).

So what makes ACFW so fantastic? I’m glad you asked. No matter what level you are in your writing, there’s a spot for you. And opportunities. Here’s a partial list of things you might expect from attending an ACFW conference.

Newcomer’s orientation – You’ll learn how to get the most out of the conference and have the opportunity to ask questions about how things work.

Continuing ed classes and workshops—these instructional hours are the “meat” of the conference. These vary from beginning level writer to multi-published, so there’s something for everyone. Confession: I still take a beginning level class once in a while, and I always learn something new or am reminded of a great writing concept that I need to work on.

Bonus early bird session with a national speaker. This year Dr. Stanley Williams will present his teaching on The Moral Premise. This promises to be a great session for every level of writer.

Appointments with editors and agents. Goes without saying how valuable to your writing career these are, but to make the most of your time and theirs, do your research ahead of time to see who might be the best fit for you and what you write.

For published writers: Media training and other media opportunities. This was a new and exciting part of ACFW last year as published authors had the opportunity to connect with publicists and/or staff from Christian Retailing Magazine (Strang Publications) and RT Book Reviews.

Awards Banquet—this is the “dessert” of the conference. The fun, gala evening when the best of ACFW is recognized—Genesis winners for the unpublished contest and Carol winners for published books. Plus Editor of the Year, Mentor of the Year, and Agent of the Year. Last year was particularly memorable for me as my agent won the coveted Agent of the Year award.

What do all these things have in common? Connections. Renewing acquaintances and catching up with those you see once a year. Rubbing shoulders with authors, editors, and agents. If it’s your first time and you only know ten people like I did when I attended my first conference, you’ll be surprised at how friendly and helpful ACFW is. To keep track of those you meet, it’s helpful to exchange biz cards.

Connection opportunities abound at ACFW – you’ll have many opportunities for casual meetings with people. The hotel lobby, the conference bookstore, meals, waiting for appointments, and after hours. A prayer room is open for private contemplation or if you want someone to pray with you, volunteers are there. I’ve discovered every year, there are divine connections to be made, sometimes when you least expect it. Come with a heart open for learning and worship, and God will meet you where you are.

See you in St. Louis!

Carla Stewart

Broken Wings, June 2011 (FaithWords)
Chasing Lilacs, 2010 (FaithWords), Oklahoma Book Award Finalist, 2011 OWFI Best Book of Fiction, Inspirational Reader’s Choice Awards, 2nd Place (Women’s Fiction)

Monday, July 11, 2011


Today I'd like for you to meet a friend of mine, Lynne Gentry. The first time I saw her was several years ago at an ACFW conference when Sarah Palin was the Vice-Presidential candidate. Lynne sat a couple of rows ahead of me in the workshop we were both attending and had her dark hair pulled up and was wearing cute glasses. The resemblance to Sarah Palin was uncanny, and when someone mentioned it, Lynne laughed and said something clever. At the time I thought she was someone I would like to know.

As fate would have it, we ended up with the same agent, and a year later, we did get acquainted. Since then I've learned that she is gracious and more witty than I even imagined, and I'm honored to have her for a friend. I was thrilled to learn that her debut book was coming out with Tyndale's Digital First line of novels and am hoping that you'll all discover for yourselves what I've learned - Lynne Gentry is also a fabulous writer!

Here's a bit about her:

Lynne Gentry knew marrying a preacher might change her plans. She didn’t know how ministry would change her life. This author of numerous short stories and dramatic works travels the country as a professional acting coach and inspirational speaker. Lynne lives in Dallas with her husband Lonnie and counts spending time with her two grown children and their families her greatest joy. 

And her debut novel, Reinventing Leona, is about . . . are you ready for this? A pastor's wife.

Leona Harper loves being a pastor's wife. Her impressive resume touts thirty years of coaxing hot water from rusty parsonage plumbing, planning church potlucks, and standing beside her husband while members take potshots at his sermons. Except for the little tiff with her grown children, Leona feels her life is right on track with the wishes of the Almighty . . . until her husband drops dead in the pulpit.

When the church board decides to fill the Reverend's vacated position, Leona is forced to find a paying job, mend her fractured family, and tackle her fears. With life spiraling out of control, Leona might find the church members' antics comical if she weren't so completely panicked. Can the faith of an overwhelmed widow withstand the added heartache of two resentful children and several underhanded church members? If Leona can't trust God, how will she learn to trust herself?

To learn more about Lynne and learn how to get a copy of her debut novel, please visit her website. I loved this book and am thrilled to give it the following endorsement:

Reinventing Leona is a delightful read that will have you laughing one minute, pondering the next, and then reaching for the tissues as the words dance from the pages. Lynne Gentry's voice sparkles with originality as she draws you into Leona's world. Highly recommended. Bravo! 


Friday, July 8, 2011


They're here - those lazy, hazy days. I know we're only a month in, but already it feels like these hot, hot days will never end! It's not like when you were a kid and could run through the sprinkler to cool off. And these days, who has a window swamp cooler that you can stand in front of, lift up your shirt, and get a quick cool-off?

I do admit, thought, that the slower days are nice. Here are some of my favorite things about summer:
Snowcones - not the ones in a pointy cup that leak everywhere, but mounds of shaved ice in a cup, best eaten with a spoon. Strawberry is my favorite.

Watermelon - ice cold, eaten with a fork and a salt shaker nearby.

Movies - something about a dark, air-conditioned theater with the latest comedy or Pixar release just shouts summer to me.

Fireflies - Smart little bugs who only come out at dusk when the thermometer has dipped below triple digits. Nice to sit on the patio and watch the sparkle in the shrubs and flowers.

Lemonade Pie - One 3 oz. cream cheese. One small can frozen lemonade. Large container cool whip. Graham cracker crust. Blend softened cream cheese and lemonade, adding a bit of the lemonade at a time to make a smoother blend. Add cool whip and pile into graham cracker crust. Freeze. Simple and it makes my mouth happy to bite into the cold, tartness.

Books - There's never enough time to read all that I want, but I've started The Book Thief - not the typical summer read, but I'm sprinkling in a few fun reads as I go. I'll be telling you about one of those delights next time. 

Most favorite thing about summer - Grandkids. We try to have each of the five grandkids who live nearby for a stay, and it usually is in the summer. The two from Texas are coming this afternoon. I'm thinking watermelon, movies, and watching fireflies. Who knows? We might even run through the sprinkler.

Stay cool! And as my favorite coffee guy down at the Quik Trip says, "See ya next time!"

So what are you doing this summer? Vacation? Pool parties? Please share.