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.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Dangerous Mercy by Kathy Herman on CFBA

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Dangerous Mercy
David C. Cook (October 1, 2011)
Kathy Herman


Suspense novelist Kathy Herman is very much at home in the Christian book industry, having worked five years on staff at the Christian Booksellers Association (CBA) in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and eleven years at Better Books Christian Center in Tyler, Texas, as product buyer/manager for the children’s department, and eventually as director of human resources.

She has conducted numerous educational seminars on children’s books at CBA Conventions in the U.S. and Canada, served a preliminary judge for the Gold Medallion Book Awards of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association , and worked as an independent product/marketing consultant to the CBA market.

Since her first novel, Tested by Fire, debuted in 2001 as a CBA national bestseller, she's added sixteen more titles to her credit, including four bestsellers: All Things Hidden, The Real Enemy, The Last Word, and The Right Call.

Kathy's husband Paul is her manager and most ardent supporter, and the former manager of the LifeWay Christian Store in Tyler, Texas. They have three grown children, five almost-perfect grandchildren, a cat named Samantha. They enjoy cruising, deep sea fishing, and birdwatching—sometimes incorporating these hobbies into one big adventure.


Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. —Matthew 5:7

When eighty-five-year-old Adele Woodmore moves to Les Barbes to be near the Broussards—and her namesake, their daughter—she wants nothing more than a comfortable, quiet life. Employing men from Father Vince’s halfway house for the homeless to do odd jobs and landscaping, she delights in the casual conversation she has with them, the fledgling friendships, and the idea that she is helping them get back on their feet.

A series of murders in Les Barbes has cast a pall over the town and, in fact, one of Adele’s handymen becomes a person of interest to the police. But Adele cares for these young men, she knows them, and continues to show them kindness in spite of her friends’ concern. And then one day a murderer walks through Adele’s defenses, sits down at her kitchen table...and they begin to talk...

If you would like to read the first chapter of Dangerous Mercy, go HERE.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

ACFW Conference, Part II, Genesis Winners

St. Louis, 2011 ACFW Conference
It's always a little difficult for me to encapsulate what the ACFW conference is all about. Yes, it's a professional organization dedicated to benefit the members by instructing, providing services and a community of like-minded people - people who want to write books with an eye toward publication. It does all that, and every year it expands not only in numbers but also in the scope of what it does. And every September we stream in from all over the globe to laugh, learn, and overdose on Starbucks. 

ACFW has become an extension of who I am - a believer who writes books that I hope inspire and instill hope in others. ACFW is part of me, and after my sixth conference, I know that even if I never went to another one, the friends I've made along the way will be part of my life as long as I draw breath. We invest time, energy, and large doses of laughter and encouragement in one another. I've benefited not only from the rich learning environment, but also feasted on some of the best fiction in today's market.

Mary DeMuth (I owe her the world) and D'Ann Mateer
Many people befriended and encouraged me before I had an agent. Or a contract. Or any clue of what I was doing. They still do. Some have walked the pre-published path with me and have become soul mates, cheerleaders, advisers, prodders, and encouragers. They dole out the bitter with the sweet and share in the joy and the tears. And I return the favor :-)) That's just how it works. We give back because others have given so freely to us. And for most of us, ACFW has had a large part in that.  

Since I started by going backwards with these posts from this year's conference, I'll continue. Today, the Genesis winners. This is a contest for unpublished writers. It's very competitive and is considered one of the top contests in the world of Christian publishing. Editors and agents pay attention to the finalists and the winners. Other writers strive to make the cut every year, and it wouldn't surprise me to see some of these author's names on the cover of a book in the next year or two.

Camille Eide ~ Genesis Winner ~ Friend Extraordinaire
That said, I'm very proud of two special people on this list. Camille Eide, my critique partner who has tirelessly been the "iron that sharpens iron" for me the past two years was in the winner's circle. I'm not sure who was happier - her or me. She's talented, dedicated, and deserving. Way to go, Camille!

Matt Jones, the president of our local ACFW group, also won his category. Sadly, he wasn't there to accept the honor, but we brought the beautiful plaque home for him and are very proud just the same! Not only is he a great writer, but also very savvy in graphics and website development.

Genesis winners and their categories:

Contemporary Fiction
Katy Pistole

Contemporary Romance
Mary Curry

Historical Fiction
Johnnie Alexander Donley

Historical Romance
Sarah Ladd

Dianna T. Benson

Romantic Suspense
Renee Ann Smith

Speculative Fiction
Matt Jones
Women’s Fiction
Camille Eide

Young Adult
Nicole Quigley 

Congrats to all the winners! 

Monday, September 26, 2011

ACFW Conference, Part I, Carol Award Winners

I'm just back from the annual ACFW Conference and will be sharing this week some of the highlights and lists of winners. I'm still getting organized so to get the wheels spinning, let's start off with the last event of the conference - the Awards Gala and the Carol Award Winners. I must admit I'm partial to some of the people on this list because they're dear friends, but they are all deserving - the best of the best! 

A special shout out, though, to Hillary Manton Lodge who was a finalist in the Long Contemporary Romance category. Her Amish romance, Plain Jayne, didn't take home the trophy, but Hillary's an amazing, sharp-witted writer who has a bright future, and I'm sure one day she'll be in the winner's circle.  
Hillary and Danny Lodge

Hillary with her editor, Kim Moore (Harvest House)

Hillary and me with our agent, Sandra Bishop
Now for that list of winners:

Debut Author

Crossing Oceans by Gina Holmes (Tyndale Publishers - Kathryn Olson, editor)

Long Contemporary

Never Say Never by Lisa Wingate (Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group - Dave Long, editor)

Long Contemporary Romance

Plain Paradise by Beth Wiseman (Thomas Nelson - Natalie Hanemann, editor)

Long Historical

Sons of Thunder by Susan May Warren (Summerside Press - Susan Downs, editor)

Long Historical Romance

Love Finds You in Homestead Iowa by Melanie Dobson (Summerside Press - Rachel Meisel/Connie Troyer, editors)


The Camera Never Lies by Elizabeth Goddard (Barbour Publishing - Rebecca Germany, editor)


A Trusting Heart by Carrie Turansky (Barbour Publishing - Rebecca Germany, editor)

Romantic Suspense

The Silent Order by Melanie Dobson (Summerside Press - Rachel Meisel/Susan Downs/Ellen Tarver, editors)

Short Contemporary

A Father for Zach by Irene Hannon (Love Inspired - Melissa Endlich, editor)

Short Contemporary Suspense

Night Prey by Sharon Dunn (Love Inspired Suspense - Emily Rodmell, editor)

Short Historical

Her Healing Ways by Lyn Cote (Love Inspired Historical - Tina James, editor)

Speculative Fiction

König’s Fire by Marc Schooley (Marcher Lord Press - Jeff Gerke, editor)


Predator by Terri Blackstock (Zondervan - Sue Brower/Dave Lambert, editors)

Women’s Fiction

Beaded Hope by Cathy Liggett (Tyndale Publishers - Jan Stob/Lorie Popp, editors)

Young Adult

Anything But Normal by Melody Carlson (Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group - Lonnie Hull Dupont, editor)

Do you see any of your favorites here?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Here's to Friends by Melody Carlson on CFBA

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Here’s to Friends
David C. Cook (September 1, 2011)
Melody Carlson


Over the years, Melody Carlson has worn many hats, from pre-school teacher to youth counselor to political activist to senior editor. But most of all, she loves to write! Currently she freelances from her home. In the past eight years, she has published over ninety books for children, teens, and adults--with sales totaling more than two million and many titles appearing on the ECPA Bestsellers List. Several of her books have been finalists for, and winners of, various writing awards. And her "Diary of a Teenage Girl" series has received great reviews and a large box of fan mail

She has two grown sons and lives in Central Oregon with her husband and chocolate lab retriever. They enjoy skiing, hiking, gardening, camping and biking in the beautiful Cascade Mountains.


Once upon a time in a little town on the Oregon coast lived four Lindas—all in the same first-grade classroom. So they decided to go by their middle names. And form a club. And be friends forever.

Decades later, they're all back home in Clifden and reinventing their lives, but the holidays bring a whole new set of challenges. Abby’s new B&B is getting bad reviews and husband Paul is acting strange. Still grieving for her mom, Caroline is remodeling the family home, but boyfriend Mitch keeps pressuring her to go away with him. Artist Marley, distracted by a friend's family drama (and a touch of jealousy), can't find her creative groove. And Janie’s drug-addicted daughter has just appeared up on her doorstep! When a long-planned New Year's cruise turns into a bumpy ride, they learn once again that, in your fifties, friends aren’t just for fun—they're a necessity!

If you would like to read the first chapter of Here’s to Friends, go HERE.

W I N N E R S !

Congrats to the winners of recent giveaways here at the Cafe!

Aly Logan is the winner of Sarah Sundin's Blue Skies Tomorrow.

Sandee61 is the winner of Anne Mateer's Wings of a Dream.


I'm off to the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference in St. Louis this week. I'll come back with the smell of the Mississippi clinging to my clothes and be a whole lot richer in spirit for having been with 700 of the smartest, nicest, most talented people in America - See you next week!

Monday, September 12, 2011

WINGS OF A DREAM by Anne Mateer - Review and Giveaway

Please welcome my friend, Anne Mateer, today. I'm delighted with her first book and have shared my review at the end of this post. There you'll find a sweet surprise as well. 
This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Wings of A Dream
Bethany House (September 1, 2011)
Anne Mateer


While I have been writing for what feels like my whole life, I began seriously studying the craft in 2000. Since then I have completed five novels, had several pieces published in local periodicals, attended six writing conferences and managed to final in ACFW's Genesis contest in 2006, 2008, and 2009. My first historical novel, Wings of a Dream, will be released in September 2011, with another historical novel to follow in 2012. But writing is only a piece of my life.

I am mostly just a woman trying to live her life in a manner pleasing to the Lord. That involves being a wife to Jeff and a mother to my three teenagers--neither role coming easily but both roles stretching me, requiring me to press in closer to Jesus. And because of this, Jesus has taken an insecure, fearful, sometimes angry girl and is turning her into a more trusting, peaceful, grace-filled woman. At least some of the time. There is still such a long way to go!


Rebekah Hendricks dreams of a life far beyond her family's farm in Oklahoma, and when dashing aviator Arthur Samson promised adventure in the big city, she is quick to believe he's the man she's meant to marry. While she waits for the Great War to end and Arthur to return to her so they can pursue all their plans, her mother's sister falls ill. Rebekah seizes the opportunity to travel to Texas to care for Aunt Adabelle, seeing this chance to be closer to Arthur's training camp as God's approval of her plans.

But the Spanish flue epidemic changes everything. Faced with her aunt's death, Arthur's indecisiveness, and four children who have no one else to care for them, Rebekah is torn between the desire to escape the type of life she's always led and the unexpected love that just might change the dream of her heart.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Wings of A Dream, go HERE.


In Wings of a Dream, Rebekah Hendricks, a small-town Oklahoma girl, dreams of an adventurous life . . . and escaping from her controlling mother. When she’s called to Texas to care for an ailing aunt, she’s certain that God has granted her desire and that adventure is just around the corner. Set at the end of WWI against the backdrop of the Spanish flu epidemic, debut author Anne Mateer, gently guides the reader through one surprising twist after another. It reminded me of the old adage to be careful what you pray for . . . you just might get it.

Anne did a great job of keeping me guessing on which of the three possible heroes Rebekah would choose—the handsome pilot whose promises she wants to believe, the  sheriff who can’t stop “dropping in” for a visit, or the rather distant father of four children who need a mother. There’s a lot at stake in this book, and I think you’ll be swept away with this warm, engaging story. I know I was. 

Intrigued? Have you heard of the Spanish Flu? Please leave a comment with your contact information to be entered in a drawing for this book. I'll draw for the winner on Monday, Sept. 19. 

Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher for my honest review. Void where prohibited. Chances of winning dependent on number of entries.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


Welcome Back! This is Day 2 of the blog tour for Sarah Sundin, celebrating the release of the third installment of her Wings of Glory Series - BLUE SKIES TOMORROW. If you're just joining us, please visit yesterday's post for the special giveaway. Hurry, though, as the Grand Prize contest ends this Saturday!

If you're a regular visitor to my blog, you will know how much I admire Sarah's work and am fortunate to have her as a friend. We met at Mount Hermon in California several years ago and had the distinction of being "debut" authors together last year. Enough about that. Please read to the end - I have a special surprise for one lucky reader.


Blue Skies Tomorrow is a stunning conclusion to Sarah Sundin’s Wings of Glory Series. Lt. Raymond Novak steps to the forefront in this one, but unlike his hero brothers, he really wants only to be a pastor and feels his stateside job as a flight training officer doesn’t measure up to the sacrifice and courage of those who’ve gone into combat. A job change that he views as a demotion brings Ray back to his home area in California. There he reconnects with a childhood friend, Helen Carlisle, who is now widowed and has a small child. As a romance begins to kindle, Helen confesses a dark secret to Ray, and in a panic, tells him she never wants to see him again. Defeated even in love, Ray volunteers for flight duty in England.

What I love about Sarah’s books is that her characters are flawed or have great obstacles to overcome, but falling in love doesn’t erase those problems and often highlights them. She brings her characters through the fire of their shortcomings, and as the romance develops, so does trust, accountability, and even being willing to let go of the other person if it benefits him or her more. Ray and Helen’s story was, for me, the most heart wrenching in the Wings of Glory Series. Helen’s character as a childhood polio victim and then a victim of another kind as an adult had me hoping desperately she would find courage and happiness. The ending tied all the stories together beautifully. Please don’t miss out on this great series.

Now for the surprise. In the comments section, tell me your favorite genre and favorite setting for a book, past or present. Also, you'll need to leave your contact information so I can notify the winner. At noon on Sept 15, I will draw for the winner of Blue Skies Tomorrow. Chat away!

Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher for my honest review. Void where prohibited. Chances of winning dependent on number of entries.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

BLUE SKIES TOMORROW by Sarah Sundin - Kindle Giveaway

Special two-day post: Today, the blog tour giveaway information! Contest entries must be in by this SATURDAY, Sept. 10. Hurry. Hurry. 

Tomorrow, my review PLUS my giveaway of Sarah's book.

To celebrate the release of Blue Skies Tomorrow, the final installment of the Wings of Glory series, Sarah is giving one lucky winner A Vintage Kindle Prize Package! 

ABOUT SARAH: Sarah Sundin received the 2011 Writer of the Year Award from the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, and her second novel A Memory Between Us is a finalist for an Inspirational Readers' Choice Award. Her stories are inspired by her great-uncle who flew with the U.S. Eighth Air Force in England during World War II.

Sarah lives in California with her husband and three children.  Visit with Sarah online at

ABOUT THE BOOK: Lt. Raymond Novak prefers the pulpit to the cockpit, but at least his stateside job training B-17 pilots allows him the luxury of a personal life. As he courts Helen Carlisle, a young war widow and mother who conceals her pain under a frenzy of volunteer work, the sparks of their romance set a fire that flings them both into peril. After Ray leaves to fly a combat mission at the peak of the air war over Europe, Helen takes a job in a dangerous munitions yard and confronts an even graver menace in her own home. Will they find the courage to face their challenges? And can their young love survive until blue skies return?

Read what the reviewers are saying here.

One winner will receive:

* Kindle with Wi-Fi

* Handmade vintage apron for you and a friend (see a photo here)

* Blue Skies Tomorrow (for Kindle)

To enter just click one of the icons below. But, hurry, giveaway ends on 9/10. Winner will be announced on 9/12 at Sarah Sundin's blog. Details and official rules can be found when entering the contest.

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter