Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A Writer's Paradise

What's a writer's paradise? More writers! :) As Anne's post mentioned yesterday, we just returned from the American Christian Fiction Writer's conference in Nashville, TN!

But there was a major highlight for me....

Celebrating my 40th birthday with my writing sisters!

Myself and my love, Laurie Tomlinson - my bebe! <3

Kara Isaac, my New Zealand sister, whose wit and love keep me normal (or try to)

Three of my amazing "writing" sisters, but why qualify them as such?
They ARE my sisters! Laurie, Anne, and Kara
(missing: Halee and Sarah who weren't able to attend)

I had my first taste of fried green tomatoes. I will never be the same again. YUM!

My birthday blueberry "pie" with lemon curd and hand-churned ice cream.

 
Seven years ago, God brought Anne and Kara into my life through ACFW. I've never had a sister, and always prayed for one. I've had close friends, even best friends, but they all seem to fade with time and distance and never really stick. That feeling that I heard of where a sister just "gets you", that you can "be yourself" with them, that you can "say anything, do anything, be anything" and they still love you? That fast became Kara and Anne to me. Sisters of my heart, swiftly followed by a "chance" introduction to Laurie from Kara who may not have intended us all to bond so naturally, but we did. Halee and Sarah were soon to follow and finally, we were together. My sisters. Who fit every qualification and definition I've ever read about sisters. 

When I was little and prayed for a sister, I didn't know I'd have to wait soooo very long. But everything is worth the wait, and who knew that the Lord would bless me with FIVE.

Do you have sisters?

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Jaime Jo WrightProfessional coffee drinker Jaime Jo Wright resides in the hills of Wisconsin writing spirited turn-of-the-century romance stained with suspense. Coffee fuels her snarky personality. She lives in Neverland with her Cap’n Hook who stole her heart and will not give it back, their little fairy TinkerBell, and a very mischievous Peter Pan. The foursome embark on scores of adventure that only make her fall more wildly in love with romance and intrigue.

Jaime lives in dreamland, exists in reality, and invites you to join her adventures at jaimejowright.com.


Periscope: @jaimejowright


Monday, August 29, 2016

My Top 3 ACFW Highlights

Winners of e-copies for last week's "Lady and the Lionheart": Stefanie Harten, Kristine Klein, & Brenda Murphree! Congrats!

Anne here. Of course you all know that the four of us "coffee cups girls" have just arrived home from our annual fiction writing conference and dumped our suitcases in a heap in order to hug and snuggle with our families.

As usual, it's been an amazing fun time with highlights that are unique for each of us.

It's with bleary eyes, a weary body, and a full heart that I give you my top three highlights:

1. Community. Writing is solitary and secluded. It's a profession that requires quiet muse, coffee shop hubbub, earbuds and your favorite writing playlist that shuts out the real world so you can get to that sweet spot where your real life finds you working out your faith on the page of story. That solitary place needs to be well-connected with real life and community. Knowing I'll get to connect with dear friends who've become my sisters, and meet new faces that need that boost of encouragement--it's the bomb! And coming home, to sit around my mom's kitchen table with my family to share my conference stories and listen to the life that happens there--it's priceless. Arriving home to hear my daughter read aloud a poem she'd written about the kitchen table where our stories sink into the wood grain to be kept forever there--filled my cup to a perfect overflowing!





2. Divine Appointments. Every year at ACFW I ask God to set me up with some divine appointments. And I don't mean with editors or agents, or business industry top hobnobs. I mean the average Jenny or Joe. God never disappoints. Of course sometimes it might turn out to be a top industry expert--who is a REAL person too! Being able to speak into a quiet moment of someone's self-doubt, overwhelmed heart, thoughts of chaos and confusion--is a perfect privilege in a world where most people never look down or into the eyes of the person beside them.

3. The God-Whisper. Somehow at conference, it never fails. I'm away from home and daily commitments that keep me busy--and I hear that God-whisper into my spirit in profound way. There, I'm often stripped of my usual self-confidence in a way that awakens the knowing in me for how much I am in need of the Father's voice. Ted Dekker's talk reminded me to let my eyes be opened, to see life's storms from Jesus's perspective, to "walk on the water" by finding a new way of looking at my world through His eyes.

The view from our room: do you see storm or sunshine?

Father God--give me your perspective!

There are many many more special moments and reasons I love ACFW, but I have to leave room for my other coffee cup girls (AKA--amazing women!)--to share theirs too this week!

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Blog post by Anne Love-
Writer of Historical Romance inspired by her family roots. 
Nurse Practitioner by day. 
Wife, mother, writer by night. 
Coffee drinker--any time.
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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Away at ACFW

Gabrielle Here:

As you read this, I'll be attending the 2016 ACFW Conference in Nashville, Tennessee. It will be my first trip to Nashville, but my fifth time attending the conference. There will be much laughter, hugs, and some tears of joy (especially when we cheer Erica onto the stage for her Carol Award!).

It's a highlight of my year and a time of refreshment, perspective, and growth. I always walk away from ACFW with something to ponder for the rest of the year. There are planned meetings, unexpected encounters, and moments of silence to soak it all in. The worship time is phenomenal, the food is always delicious, and the conversation fills me up for weeks to come.

My very first pitch appointment was captured in a candid
shot by a photographer at the 2012 ACFW Conference.
Here I am pitching to Becky Monds of Thomas Nelson.
When I return from Nashville, I will have one day at home and then I'll turn around and go back to the airport to pick up two of my dearest writer friends, Lindsay Harrel and Alena Tauriainen. They are coming to my house for five days to attend the release party for my first novel on Thursday, September 1st. Melissa Tagg will join us and then we'll spend the weekend brainstorming stories, visiting, relaxing, and seeing the local sights.

It's going to be a whirlwind two weeks, but I couldn't imagine it any other way!

If you think about it, would you say a prayer for all of us here at Coffee Cups & Camisoles while we're at ACFW? It can be a stressful time and hard to be away from our families back home. We'd love to pray for you, as well. If you have any prayer requests that you're willing to share publically, please do so in the comments.

Greetings from Nashville!

Gabrielle Meyer
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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

When Life Changes Quickly


Erica Here


Some of you might have noticed that I have been absent from the blog for the past couple of weeks. Many thanks to the CC&C girls for picking up my slack.

Here's the thing:

Life changes so quickly sometimes. Three weeks ago, my husband had abdominal pain. We headed to the doctor, and he sent us to the ER.

And everything changed.

What we thought was appendicitis was actually a tumor.

Sarcoma. Cancer. Tumor. Oncologist. Surgery. Chemotherapy.

Trust me. In that few moments, everything changed.

Two weeks later, Peter was having surgery at the Mayo Clinic.

And he began his journey as a cancer survivor.

We have asked for prayer for peace and comfort, and that we will be salt and light for those we meet on this journey. And we are praising God that the surgeons were able to remove the entire tumor. We are thankful to live where we do, and to have The Mayo Clinic as our local medical center. We are so thankful for our friends and family for all their support.

I ask for your prayers as we take this new path. And I ask that you treasure your loved ones, remember that we are not promised tomorrow, and thank God for something every day.

Because that's what I'm doing!


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

#ACFW2016 Bound and 40 Years

This will be me tomorrow! Kissing my coffee mug and chasing down the drivethru (which doesn't take much chasing cause it's stationary :P ) to get my celebratory birthday drink.

You see, tomorrow two AMAZING things happen!

1. I depart for Nashville, Tennessee for the ACFW conference! Anne posted on this yesterday, but it's the entire conglomeration of everyone writerly in the Inspirational fiction market.

I love this conference. It's filled with people who are extensions of my immediate family. Filled with writer-sisters. And pressure--lots of pressure! :)

We'll be pitching to editors and hoping our books sound interesting. I'll be teaching a workshop to 100+ guests (so excited!). And networking, lots of networking! (which is the fun part).

2. Tomorrow I turn FORTY! I'm so excited. Partially because Peter Pan is 4 and he has been quite thrilled to realize that I'll be 4-ty too! Also because I love birthdays. I'm such a kid at birthdays it's not even funny. Confetti and balloons are never too much for me, and really, I'm not all stuck on myself, it's just the fun I'm stuck on. I think forty is going to be an amazing decade. I don't have any of the proverbial angst, and while I will be wearing a black cardigan tomorrow, it's because I hate the A/C blowing on me in the car, not because I'm embracing my inevitable death. Not to mention, who cares if I'm over the hill? It's just a downward slope toward Jesus now, and what's so awful about that?!

So tomorrow holds much of my heart. I will appreciate prayers for the one pang in the day: leaving my family. Cap'n Hook will manage, but I already have an emotional little Tinkerbell whose fairy dust has run out and been replaced by welling tears in her big baby blues. Peter Pan is oblivious--for now. He will not be a fan tomorrow night when Mommy isn't there to sing him Mary Poppins "Feed the Birds" in the dark at bedtime while stroking back his hair and lulling him to sleep. Sigh.

Regardless: TOMORROW TOMORROW, I LOVE YA TOMORROW!

And DON'T MISS OUT ON THIS TRIP!!! I'll be posting an insane amount of Live videos and pictures at my Facebook page, and I'd love love love for you to join me there!

What trips and year activities do you look forward to?

_________________________________________________________



Jaime Jo WrightProfessional coffee drinker Jaime Jo Wright resides in the hills of Wisconsin writing spirited turn-of-the-century romance stained with suspense. Coffee fuels her snarky personality. She lives in Neverland with her Cap’n Hook who stole her heart and will not give it back, their little fairy TinkerBell, and a very mischievous Peter Pan. The foursome embark on scores of adventure that only make her fall more wildly in love with romance and intrigue.

Jaime lives in dreamland, exists in reality, and invites you to join her adventures at jaimejowright.com.


Periscope: @jaimejowright

Monday, August 22, 2016

#ACFW*Nashville2016

It's that time of the year again where hundreds of Christian fiction writers, lecturers, agents, editors, publishers, publicists, speakers, sound & tech, and worship team people will all converge in one hotel for a few days of priceless togetherness.






Several years back I hit one of those decade birthdays where you start to think about bucket lists and my husband says to me: "hey, are you going to finish that book, or am I going to have to write the end of it if you die?"

Well. Thanks, hun. Heeheehee.

But that little thought pushed me to think about what I was leaving behind, for him, my kids, and someday my grandchildren. I decided one of the richest things I could leave behind were my words.

Without words, I couldn't pass on my faith or my love.
Without words, I couldn't tell them about God's faithfulness.
Words are what remind them of the richest of stories.

So, in 2008 I finished my first novel. Most authors will tell you they were very proud of their first novel, but it will never see the light of day! Writing a first novel is only to know if you can accomplish it. But usually it's just for the author to learn from--and that's what I did.

I proudly printed off my first novel in it's entirety. Yep. Didn't need to do that. But I didn't know that.
I gave myself permission to attend a little fiction conference an hour from my house, where I learned about American Christian Fiction Writers national organization and state chapters. It launched me into a network of local writers and I was shocked to learn the closest member lived ten miles from me (thanks Lisa Mills!).

My new friend kindly invited me to room with her in 2009 at the Denver ACFW and I went on a ride I haven't gotten off of yet. This year will be my 6th conference, and I can't wait to see friends!!


I can't wait to worship together. Laugh together. Cry together. Cheer each other onward. Pray for one another.

Whether you are a writer or a reader, find a conference to go to that will give you perspective, encourage you, push you in your spiritual walk, and feed your soul and spirit.

And if you are headed to your first conference, take a look around---you may be looking at life long friends! Stay tuned this week for fun conference updates!
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Blog post by Anne Love-
Writer of Historical Romance inspired by her family roots. 
Nurse Practitioner by day. 
Wife, mother, writer by night. 
Coffee drinker--any time.
Find me on:Facebook
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Find me on: Goodreads

Friday, August 19, 2016

Lady & the Lionheart #GIVEAWAY and #BookCover Story

Readers, this is my most favorite read of 2016 (Jaime here, btw). I've read so many great books this year, but even Romantic Times gave this novel the very rare 5 STAR rating. I'm also NOT a crier, but this novel kept me up until 2AM and had my pillowcase wet by the time it was over. Here's my review:

This book. It touched the deep places inside of me. It became more than a story, and instead, a journey. The circus was palpable, and infused into every crevice and ounce of the novel. Charlie more than tamed the lions, he tamed the soul. Ella became the shadow of myself that walked ahead of me, guiding me page after page until the midnight moon was high overhead and the last page turned to close. The best read of 2016 so far. It engages the emotion, the senses, the spirit of the circus, and the romance that impresses itself on your heart well into the morning light.

Joanne is visiting our blog today with a secret, inside-look into the making of her gorgeous book cover! I'll hand it over to Joanne and then keep reading for book info and a GIVEAWAY!

Take it away, Joanne ...


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Because The Lady and the Lionheart is independently published, it’s entirely a grassroots adventure –so when it came to the cover concept, it meant a lot of thought and planning around our kitchen table. :) As a former art student, I adore the cover process so was excited for the opportunity to do the design. But from a practical mindset, The Lady and the Lionheart posed a unique challenge because not only is it historical, but it’s set within the circus which made finding pre-existing stock photography nearly impossible. So began the journey of a custom photo shoot and what an adventure it was!
The Lady and the Lionheart
The Model – A few years ago, our family began attending a new church and I noticed that the girl who sat in front of us looked remarkably like Ella, the heroine of the story. I’d never seen anything like it and as uncanny as the resemblance was, it was also sort of a useless factoid that I kept to myself. But two years later, I was ready to move forward with publishing the book, and with a bit of scheming by her sister and a mutual friend, we were ready to see if she’d be up for some historical modeling. The only problem, is that same Sunday, and with all of us holding a burning question that was two years in the making, the cover-model-to-be showed up to church with her blonde hair died a dark brown. I will never doubt that God has a sense of humor. :) Her sister told me to ask anyway, but who walks up to a perfect stranger and says, “So I know we’ve never met, but I’m an author which means I have imaginary friends, and you look just like one of those imaginary friends. She’s a girl who goes to the circus and kind of has a lion tamer for a boyfriend and would you like to be on the cover of that book? You’d get to wear a pretty dress but the only problem is that you’d also need to die your hair back to blonde.” Turns out I say that, because a blink of an eye later, she was overjoyed to be part of the cover. She asked to read the book so I mailed her the manuscript and she read it through. That was a huge bonus because not only was she a big fan of Charlie and Ella from the start, but she approached the shoot with a deep understanding of the characters and story.

The Photographer - With the plan in motion, I sought out a sweet friend whose photography is positively stunning.
Meghan Elise2
The light and emotion she captures behind the lens is what immediately drew my eye to her work. When it came to seeing if she’d be interested in shooting this cover, it was an easy jump. Having never shot a book cover before, she was super excited and immediately on board! All of this happened in the fall, so we set a date for early spring which gave us all plenty of time to arrange the next steps…

The Setting – The majority of the story takes place in Virginia in 1890 on the outskirts of Roanoke when it was just becoming a bustling city. The circus would have taken up a multi-acre lot on the edge of town where circus workers would have plenty of room to set everything up. Because I live in Southern California, most known for its deserts, beaches, and freeways, this felt a tad tricky, but fortunately, we live in the mountains where some gorgeous meadows are sprinkled about. With the help of my photographer friend who knew of a great local spot, we dialed in on a meadow just five minutes from home. We were one off-road drive closer to a cover!

The Props –
First on the list was a circus tent. This is when it’s doubly wonderful to have a mother-in-law who is not only handy with a sewing machine, but who also has tubs of fabric and a willing heart! The white portions of the tent you see are actually hospital sheets that she cut into strips, and the red is vintage fabric that she’d been saving for years. We looked at a few pictures of circus tents to get the feel for one from the Victorian-era and she got right to work, even adding a surprise touch of ruffles that is my favorite part. My husband is brilliant at making things, so after showing him the finished draping, he built a curved frame out of PVC piping, strung parachute chord for the back, vintage-style rope for the front, and arranged it all to look like a portion of the Big Top. That man is amazing. And the cutest roustabout I’ve ever seen. ;)
Lionheart 10 - www.joannebischof
Next up was finding just the right outfit that a young woman might wear to the circus. Something romantic and elegant, but also not so ornate that it would compete with the red and white stripes of the background. After sifting through dozens of dresses at a costume warehouse with my assistant’s help, we realized we needed to switch gears (it helped having a bright red and white backdrop in the dressing room!) I posted pictures to my author page and reader friends were weighing in with their thoughts as we were in the dressing area which was so much fun!


image1 (2)
We liked what we had found, but nothing felt quite right. I kept searching and soon, found the perfect skirt and blouse at a vintage clothing store that would be a softer accompaniment to a vibrant background. Wanting a little pop of color, I made the pink sash. For those of you who’ve read the story, you might notice that it’s this very outfit written into the romantic, rooftop scene. :)

The Lionheart -
There’s something about that Charlie Lionheart. He’s a huge part of the story and so began the process of finding ways to incorporate his essence into the cover. He’s circus through and through, so having that setting was really special. Also, as a dashing Victorian gent, he not only has a fond affection for his top hats, but there’s a little rumor around the circus that whoever has his hat, has his heart. My hope was that Ella might have that hat in hand on the cover as an extra nod to the romance and Charlie’s oh-so-important character. Which brings us to…

The Big Day–
The big day was a big deal not just because we were shooting the cover for a story so dear to my heart, but because getting to that day was a wild adventure all its own! The photo shoot was set for the hour before sunset so it was a wait, wait, wait, go! kind of day. The cover model showed up in leggings and flip flops and with her hair gorgeously done based on a style we’d picked from Pinterest. Next came costume and make up and soon she was transformed into a heroine from 1890. Then we were heading down that bumpy road and within minutes, the photographer was at work with two different cameras—one digital and one film. Film has a grainy, old-fashioned look, and as I sifted through the finished photographs, it was a tough call because digital and its high-resolution look made the most sense. Because the image I most loved was shot in film, I was slightly worried that it wouldn’t fall in line with other modern book covers, but as the story goes, whoever has Charlie’s hat really does have his heart, so the pose on the cover was just too perfect to pass up. Looking back on this experience, God was there each step of the way, helping the process along and there was so much in the little things and all the helping hearts behind the scenes. The response from readers has been as much of a joy!
Lionheart 1 - www.joannebischof
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Do you all see what I mean? This book. GAH! I love it so much!!! 
Check out the story!
Two worlds collide when the circus comes to Victorian-era Virginia. 

Raised amid the fame and mystique of the Big Top, Charlie Lionheart holds the audience in the palm of his hand. But while his act captivates thousands, it’s away from the spotlight where his true heart lies. Here he humbly cares for his pride of lions as if they were his brothers, a skill of bravery and strength that has prepared him for his most challenging feat yet—freeing an orphaned infant from the dark bondage of a sideshow. A trade so costly, it requires his life in exchange for hers, leaving him tarnished by the price of that choice.

As the circus tents are raised on the outskirts of Roanoke, nurse Ella Beckley arrives to tend to this Gypsy girl. All under the watchful eye of a guardian who not only bears a striking resemblance to the child, but who protects the baby with a love that wraps around Ella’s own tragic past, awakening a hope that goodness may yet reign. When their forbidden friendship deepens, Charlie dares to ask for her heart, bringing her behind the curtain of his secret world to reveal the sacrifice that gave hope to one little girl—boldly showing Ella that while her tattered faith is deeply scarred, the only marks that need be permanent are his own.

Just then a child in the row behind Ella cried out, “Look, Mama!”

Charlie, dressed in his center ring finery, strode into the arena, as strong and strapping as ever. Face powdered and painted with two jagged teardrops under his eyes, he walked with stoic authority, tall boots forging a fresh trail straight toward his audience. Ella didn’t know a single man could hush a packed house with no words, but…then there was Charlie Lionheart.
 

ENTER TO WIN!! Because I believe in this book SO MUCH, I am giving away THREE e-copies of this novel to three lucky winners! (Kindle only) and buy your copy here if you can't wait :)


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