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, December 29, 2011

The Best Reads of 2011

What a great year for books! Unfortunately, it wasn't a great year for time to read all the books I wanted. The year started off with my going to the Pulpwood Queens Girlfriend Weekend in Jefferson, TX. There I was introduced to many new (to me) authors which added to my already leaning pile of books-I-want-to-read-before-I-die.

Writing, editing, and marketing took a big chunk of my reading time in the middle part of the year, but I've finished strong and read some darned good books the last few month. Before I get to that, I have to tell you about a new and interesting twist to my author life - I was asked to read a number of books for endorsement - that pithy little blurb that appears sometimes on the cover or in the flyleaf at the front of a book. What an honor . . . and a responsibility. You can either gush and sound really silly or try out some sixty-four dollar words and sound stuffy or you can give a brief but lively blurb that pulls out the strengths of the book. Luckily, for me, this was easy as all the books I was asked to read only added to my literary enjoyment this year.

So to start things off, these are the authors and their books that I've endorsed this year:

When All My Dreams Come True by Janelle Mowery
Reinventing Leona by Lynne Gentry
Reclaiming Lily by Patti Lacy
Savanna's Gift by Camille Eide
Wish You Were Here by Beth K. Vogt (2012 release)
A Sweethaven Summer by Courtney Walsh (2012 release)
The Mother Road by Jennifer AlLee (2012 release)

Such a privilege to read these heart-warming stories. The one thing they all had in common was the unique voice that each author brought to the book.

Now, on to the Best of List. I sometimes do a top five in two or three categories, but this year my reading took me far and wide so I'm going to do like they do on the televised awards shows and invent categories to suit my needs.

Best Memoir:
In the Sanctuary of Outcasts by Neil White

Best Novel Set in England:
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson

Best Novel Set in the South:
Georgia Bottoms by Mark Childress - Absurd and Hilarious!

Best Literary Novel:
The Violets of March by Sarah Jio

Best Novel from CBA (Christian Booksellers Association):
The Sweetest Thing by Elizabeth Musser

Two-Way Tie for Second Place:
Blue Skies Tomorrow by Sarah Sundin
A Sound Among the Trees by Susan Meissner

Best Christan Debut:
Wings of a Dream by Anne Mateer

OVERALL BEST BOOK: Remember what I said about that huge pile of books. The best book I read this year is one that's been gathering dust for a couple of years, the one I'd heard great things about but never seemed to pull out and read. Although it has a 2007 pub date, 2011 was the year I discovered it, and everything I've ever heard about this book was true. Gritty. Mesmerizing. Heart-wrenching. The writing is unlike anything you've ever read. The characters and the story will wind around your heart and squeeze until you think you can't breathe. The impression will not go easily away. A teaser: I will never see or hear an accordion again without thinking of my choice for Best Book of 2011 - The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

It will most likely be read again in 2012.

How about you? Are you familiar with these authors or these books? See anything interesting? It was an eclectic year for me, and that's just the way I like it!

Happy New Year! I'll be back next week to tell you about the books I'm looking forward to in 2012.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Giveaways and Christmas Wisdom You Can Use

Writing friends are amazing! Today I'm sending you to a couple of hot spots on the web so you can judge for yourself.

Courtney and I with "our" agent in the middle
Dear, dear friend, Courtney Walsh, is giving away stuff, and I mean LOTS of stuff on her blog this week and next. Today is a multi-gift giveaway for the creative soul, and she's giving away Broken Wings and a jazzy 3 CD-set of Harry Connick, Jr. and several scrapbooking lovers items, including the scrapbooking book she authored. Like I said, very cool. Look for her other giveaways coming up too!

Courtney's Blog

My friend Judy Christie is a prolific novelists AND writes non-fiction AND she has the most wonderful sense of humor. She's a joy to be around and has some great advice from her new book Hurry Less, Worry Less, at Christmas which she shared on Inspire A Fire. You'll love this!

I'm trying to be more intentional this year and did a minimal amount of decorating, but I did set out the nativity sets.  I love the simplicity of this one.

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Book Giveaway Winners

Thank you, readers for the many comments on the posts for Alice Wisler's A Wedding Invitation and for my "thank you" giveaway for the choice of either of my books.

Ta-Da! The winner of A Wedding Invitation is Deb's Desk. Enjoy!

Cheryl Barker and Seashore Mary (love that name!) were the lucky winners of my post and have both chosen to receive Broken Wings.

Much appreciation to all of you for stopping by. If you didn't win, there's still time to get copies of all three books for Christmas giving. Click on title to take you to the spot where you can do that.

In other news, this lovely review of Broken Wings from TheDabblingMum came to my attention last week. There are no words for the gratitude that comes when someone takes the time to express such poignant feelings about a book. Thank you, Alyice, for the review, and thank you readers for making what I do such a pleasure.