The Coffee Corner Goes to The Philippines with Jan Elder (Giveaway)

Welcome to the Coffee Corner! 

We're talking to Jan Elder about the Philippines and her book, Manila Marriage App. A few other topics are in the mix including


Hang onto your hat 'cause here we go!

Hi, Jan, I can't wait to get started. I see you're all comfy on the couch, and everyone's anxious so...let's see. Well, you have a book out and I know it's pretty special. Can you tell us what special about it?

Manila Marriage App is set in the Philippines—thus the name. J Why did I choose to write a book about a country that is literally half way around the world from where I live in Maryland (8500 miles to be exact)? That's an interesting question!

Well, then I guess I better ask it, huh folks? LOL Why would you choose to write a book about a country that is literally half way around the world from where you live?

It all started in a little café in Silver Spring, MD. I was meeting with a few other ACFW members (American Christian Fiction Writers) and a fellow writer, mentioned that Pelican Book Group was searching for authors to write for their Passport to Romance series. What did I do after I hurried home? You got it. I checked it out. Pelican/White Rose publishing has a lovely website with terrific handy-dandy info all about their requirements.

In case there are any interested writers out there, here’s an excerpt from their website at that shows the requirements for their newest series.

Take a trip and fall in love! Passport to Romance™ titles are contemporary romances set in exotic locations around the world. These stories offer the contemporary Christian reader adventure, vivacity, romance, and faith. Passport to Romance™ features chic heroines who are sparkling, confident, open for adventure—and who are a perfect match for a contemporary alpha male who has a zest for life, a thirst for God, and who likes an intelligent woman who can hold her own.

One of the countries an author could choose from was the Philippines, specifically the city of Manila. My brother, Rev. Dr. Floyd T. Cunningham, has lived in a suburb of Manila for over thirty years in an area called Tay Tay. He’s a missionary, seminary professor, and church planter.

What an amazing resource! (It's amazing how the Lord provides!) But how did you decide what to actually write about and do your research?

The hero in Manila Marriage App was inspired by my single brother. He’d always talked about how difficult it was for a busy missionary man to find a good woman. It would be a great deal easier to just send out an application and choose a mate without all that fuss, muss, and emotion. He was kidding, of course, but hey, what if he wasn’t? What if there was a man out there who would have the audacity to advertise for a wife in this day and age?

My brother, Rev. Dr. Floyd T. Cunningham
In 2009, I was able to visit him—my first visit to a third world country. Manila and the vicinity is a bizarre and striking mix of wealth, beauty, and friendliness existing side by side with extreme poverty. What I loved the best by far was the unreserved graciousness of the Filipino people. I could see why my brother chooses to live there.

APNTS Seminary

In order to research the book, I rolled back my memories of this amazing country and took off. Having a reliable source of information and mental pictures in my mind helped tremendously and I even used the seminary where he works, Asia Pacific Nazarene Theological Seminary (APNTS), as the model for the seminary in MMA.

I would say you had a good foundation for an awesome story, Jan. Praise God for the writers who gave you the seed. Speaking of writers, what advice do you have for the new writer?

Find a good writers group that is both encouraging and honest. Your mother can tell you you're already a wonderful writer. You want your writers group to challenge you and help you stretch and grow. Conferences are also a great way to learn an amazing amount about the craft in a short period of time. I would highly recommend the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference. Also, think about joining a group such as the national organization, American Christian Fiction Writers. They have been a tremendous inspiration to me in many ways and I give back by serving as the Maryland Regional Coordinator.

Okay, it's time to get personal. All writers (at least everyone I know) like to read. What’s your favorite book(s) and where do you like to read the most?

I'm going to go with the unparalleled, Mr. C.S. Lewis, One of the best gifts I've ever received was a Christmas present of The Chronicles of Narnia. I reread them every few years and they never fail to thrill me. As speaking of C.S. Lewis, one of my favorite books is A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanalken, a friend of C.S. Lewis's. If you haven't read it, check it out. It's beautifully written and one of the best love stories of all time. I plan to reread that one again this summer.

Pets...dogs, cats, or monkeys?

I am a certified “cat-lady” and I’ve been owned by various felines since the tender age of four. Any book I ever write will have a cat in there somewhere. Currently, my husband and I have two, Miss Ivy Lu Shu-Shu, and Miss Jamie Lynn Chatty Cat. My favorite way to write is sitting on the couch with my laptop propped on my knees, feet crossed up under me, a cat or two plastered to my side.

Sometimes I’m so engrossed in a story I forget when it’s time to feed the girls. Shu-Shu has a habit of landing in the middle of my computer keyboard and she enjoys “typing” to get my attention. Believe it or not, she has typed some actual words from time to time, but I’m not at liberty to divulge what came tripping off her paws. Not surprisingly, I save my work frequently.

Not to be outdone, when Jamie is hungry, she’ll lie down at my feet, roll over, and cry as if she hasn’t had a nibble in days. If that doesn’t sufficiently melt my heart, she sits up like a meerkat on her back feet and bats those big gold eyes of hers. Hard to resist? You betcha.

Is there a special quote or saying which comes to your mind?

I was immensely blessed to grow up in a Christian family, and Mom always made sure we were in church at every opportunity. From the day I was born I knew that God loved me and wanted the very best for my life.

When I was five years old, our pastor at church invited people who didn't know the Lord to come down to the altar for prayer. I remember pulling on my mother's sleeve, asking her if she would go down that long aisle with me. I asked Jesus into my heart that night.

Is life always wonderful? No, because we live in this fallen world. But there's a joy deep down in my soul that can never fade or falter. What a glorious gift!

Writing Christian romance was a natural fit for me. My goal in writing is to shine a light on a particular concept or new way of thinking that might resonate with the reader. One of my favorite quotes is:

"You don't write because you want to say something. You write because you have something to say." F. Scott Fitzgerald.

What an amazing testimony and goal, Jan. Thank you so much for spending time at the Coffee Corner this week, Jan. It was a ton of fun! And say hi to your brother in Manila from us.

Jan's giving away a copy of Manila Marriage App to ONE commenter.


Manila Marriage App

Prize: Winner's choice of paperback or e-copy
(selected by random drawing on 9/27/25 -
winner to be notified via email left in comment)
Minimum of 5 comments required to validate contest.

 About the Book:

It all began as a lark. Shay Callahan’s life was just fine, thank you, but when the seemingly misogynistic missionary, Timothy Flynn, places an advertisement for a wife in a Christian magazine, she decides to give it a whirl and sends in the five-page application. Why not? After all, she’s not currently seeing anyone, and this man truly needs to be taught a lesson.

Finding out she’s Dr. Flynn’s pick of the litter, Shay hops on a plane and flies to The Philippines. The strategy is to jet in, enjoy an exciting two-week vacation, and jet out again, all at his expense. Instead, her plan backfires. The handsome missionary man is not what he seems, and the foreign land has far more to offer than she could imagine.

Embark on a tropical adventure with Shay that challenges everything she believes.

About the Author:

Jan Elder
Jan Elder is a Christian romance writer with a zeal for telling stories other women can relate to. She strives to write the kind of book that will strengthen the reader’s faith, while also providing an entertaining and engrossing love story. Pelican Book Group/White Rose is publishing her first novella, Manila Marriage App, one of many in their successful Passport to Romance series.
Besides writing romance, she enjoys the occasional hazelnut cappuccino while watching Turner Classic Movies. Always an avid reader, she devours books voraciously, both Christian and secular. She was born a cat-lover and all future books will, no doubt, feature a feline in some way or another.
Happily married for twelve years to loving (and supportive) husband, Steve, the two live in central Maryland along with Jamie (a tuxedo cat), and Shu-Shu (a tortoiseshell cat). On the weekends, Jan and Steve comb the nearby countryside in search of the perfect ice cream flavor.
Connect with Jan Elder:


  1. Hi Jan,

    What a fun plot! We've lived in France and Africa and visited elsewhere, so this tweaks my imagination - so cool how you brought your bro into this. Maybe it'll reap him a wife!

  2. LOL! I wanted to say that too, Gail! I'm so glad someone did. :)

  3. Interview and the book sounds like one I would enjoy reading.

  4. I'd love to visit the Philippines. It seems like an amazing place. Thanks for stopping by, Ann and Gail. And yes, maybe this book will produce some fruitful results. LOL

  5. And the winner of the giveaway is...Gail Kittleson! Congratulations, Gail!

  6. Renee, thank you for having me on your blog. It was a pleasure! And thank you everyone for your comments. If my brother ends up getting married, I'll let you know! My heroine, Shay, would be perfect for him. :)

  7. Your book looks interesting especially as I have known your brother since 1989 when I was his student in Manila. Steve Walsh

  8. WOW! 1989! Floyd is amazing in so many ways and I love him dearly. We don't see enough of him here in the states. Thank you for your post! Where are you serving now?

  9. I serve in Brisbane, Australia, where I pastor Capalaba Community Church of the Nazarene. I taught at our Nazarene College here for 11 years, and also in PNG and China. I served as the Chair of the Board of Trustees for APNTS (1996-2007), and am APNTS Alumni Association president. I wrote the wikipedia article on Floyd. Steve

  10. Nice to "meet" you, Steve, and you did a terrific job on the wikipedia article. My sister, Diane, (also Floyd's sister of course) teaches at NNU in Idaho. Tough job! I will ask Floyd about you. Thanks for responding to the blog post, and hope you get a chance to read Manila Marriage App. Just pretend my hero, Timothy Flynn, is Floyd except taller!


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