Archive for the ‘What We’re Reading’ Category
Posted on October 31, 2013 - by Kav
Ways readers can support authors and books in general.
1. Buy them (the books, not the authors) :-) Obvious I know, but without our support the industry will continue to dwindle. Has anyone noticed the drift away from fiction in the Christian publishing industry? It’s not huge, but I know of at least one publishing house that is cutting out their fiction collection in order to focus on non-fiction. My own Christian bookstore has reduced the number of fiction shelves to make way for more non-fiction. This has me a wee bit alarmed. Given that some of the cut back might be due to ebooks but still…the fiction lover in me doesn’t get the draw of non-fiction over fiction.
2. Encourage your public library to purchase Christian fiction. I don’t know about where you live, but my city’s library had a very poor showing of inspirational fiction. They seemed to think they’d covered the genre with Beverly Lewis and Janette Oke. Libraries take title suggestions seriously. You are the demographic they are trying to keep as patrons. More book circulation means higher stats which means secure jobs. Don’t be shy in making your reading preferences known.
3. Try not to compare when you read. Just open your heart and prepare the way to be entertained and moved by the story the author has labored diligently on in order to share with you. Accept it for as a unique gift and enjoy!
4. Reviews sell books. They are a great marketing strategy for authors and publishers alike. Posting reviews on bookstore websites can help sell books. They can be a great boost for authors too. And check out Harlequin’s website makeover. It’s really easy to post reviews. Love Inspired titles could benefit from a shout out!
5. Spread the love. Share a book with a friend!
Posted on October 28, 2013 - by Kim
While it would be next to impossible to pinpoint one author who has influenced me over the years, I do know the first person to offer encouragement to the blossoming storyteller in me. I was in fifth grade and her name was Mrs. Jeri Shellhorse, Language Arts teacher extraordinaire.
Mrs. Shellhorse, perhaps unknowingly, did more to encourage a young writer than all the kudos in the world. She allowed me to write. Story after story from cards pulled from her little box of story starters. Sheaf after sheaf of notebook paper filled with words I’m not even sure she ever read.
But that didn’t matter. What did matter was that she let me write. And, by doing so, taught me the most important lesson about encouraging young writers.
Let them write. As much as they want. As often as they want. For as long as they want.
Let them write.
Posted on October 25, 2013 - by Dawn Ford
On a rainy April day back in 2008 I sat beside Lorna Seilstad on our way out to Pella, Iowa. Lorna had learned of a meeting of Iowa writers and although excited about the prospect of meeting other writers, was a little intimidated to go by herself. I, being the great supporting character that I am, offered to go with her. It was just a fun trip to get out of town and have some girl time.
Little did I know that day would change Lorna and my paths forever. The meeting did start out a little rocky, we were waiting in the loft for the women to come—they were waiting below for us to get there—it ended up to be fortuitous since that is where we met Judith Miller.
It never fails to amaze me how God moved us at the right time and the right place to meet the right person for our future.
I was still along for the ride. Judy encouraged Lorna to join the ACFW. Not to be left out, I joined also, even though I really wasn’t seriously writing. But, I had recently been able to quit working which gave me time to work on my writing, even if it was just for fun.
In the meantime Lorna submitted her manuscript to the Genesis contest, received an offer to publish it, and off we went together to the ACFW conference that fall. I can honestly say both our minds exploded just a bit at that experience.
I went to one agent meeting that year, and looking back I had no clue what I was doing. And it didn’t go so well, but I did get bitten by the bug. After that conference, I knew what I wanted to do.
I don’t know that Lorna ever saw any real promise in my writing. Looking back, as most of us do, I realize how much I had to learn. But it was only because Lorna had the courage first, to take that initial step out of her comfort zone, that I got to go along for the ride. It was, after all, in God’s plan all along. I know that now.
So, the author that influenced me the most is none other than our very own Lorna Seilstad. Because she never once laughed at my efforts (although she did chuckle—and still does—at some of my crazy ideas) and she continues to encourage me every time we talk. She’s relentless in her support, always willing to listen, and read, and every once in a while chastise me when I need it.
I’m blessed to have a best friend who has cut the path ahead of me because God knew if I had to do it myself, I never would. He sent me along for the ride, first.
Posted on October 24, 2013 - by Shari Barr
Many authors have impacted my life over the years, but the ones I remember most were the writers of my favorite children’s books. Reading was a huge part of my childhood. I absolutely loved to read. I even read the backs of cereal boxes while eating breakfast. During summer break, Mom took me to our tiny town library to get a two-weeks supply of books to keep me from serenading her everyday with the “I’m bored” chorus. Without fail the pile was depleted two to three days later, or less. So much for Mom’s great plan.
The books I remember most were those from my middle-grade years. I suppose those meatier stories hooked me from the very beginning. So much more fun than easy readers.
One of my all-time favorites was James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl. I really, really wanted a peach tree in our backyard that year. Who knew a kid could have that much fun with a piece of fruit.
I also loved series. In early middle grade Laura Lee Hope (a pseudonym for several different authors) created the Bobbsey Twins series. I couldn’t wait to see what adventures and mysteries the two sets of twins would get into next.
While we’re on the topic of series, Nancy Drew (written by several authors under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene) was my absolute favorite fictitious teenager. I would have given just about anything to trade places with her for just one day. I was jealous of her, extremely so. She had it all. Little parental supervision, mysteries for her to solve appearing out of nowhere, and a boyfriend who only showed up when she wanted him to. Life couldn’t get any better.
Since I absolutely adored mysteries I can’t forget to mention my favorite one from way back when—Mystery of the Red Carnations by Mary C. Jane. The author created the most realistic, exciting book I’d ever read in my pre-teen years. This was a book I simply could not put down. In fact, I still read it once in a while and it’s just as good now. Ms. Jane lured me into her story with normal, everyday characters. I could relate to the fact that nothing exciting ever happened in their boring little town. Except those lucky ducks did have something exciting happen. Every October a bouquet of red carnations mysteriously appeared on the grave of a young man known only as XYZ. Ooh, I can still feel the shivers.
These awesome authors, as well as many others, lured me into the wonderful world of books, showing me how to keep a reader interested and reading until the very last page. Without them—well, I’d still be reading cereal boxes.
Posted on October 23, 2013 - by Rose Ross Zediker
I grew up in a small town, about 250 then, and knew everyone in town and the surrounding area. Marcine Smith was no exception. I can’t remember not knowing her. She was my aunt’s friend and my friend’s mom and eventually, a famous person, at least to me.
Marcine was a published author. She wrote short stories for Redbook and the True Magazines before she wrote romance novels for Silhouette Romance. I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to purchased her first book and get it autographed! I admired her so much. Little did I know she was admiring me.
While I was star struck proud to know a published novelist, Marcine had seen a talent in me.
She’d read short stories I wrote for our school newspaper and told my mom, your daughter is a story teller. She needs to write. Being a teenager, I thought yeah sure. But Marcine was persistent telling my mom this until I was well in my twenties. Finally, I took her advice, enrolled in a correspondence writing course and never looked back.
When I published my first few short stories, she was as happy as my family was for me and asked me to send her copies, which I promptly did. Any time I felt like throwing in the towel, I thought of Marcine and forged on. After all, she wasn’t a woman to mince words and I didn’t want to try and explain why I stopped writing if I ran into her. And deep inside I was hoping she was as proud of me as I was of her.
God needed Marcine in Heaven long before I published my first romance novel, but her son, my oldest friend, told me how proud his mother would be of me. It made my day.
Although Marcine probably didn’t know it, she was my mentor. This small town girl saw another small town girl dreaming big and it rubbed off. I can’t remember ever saying it to her, so I will now.
Thank you, Marcine.
Posted on October 22, 2013 - by Shannon Vannatter
I’ve probably touched on this story before, but never focused on it. Back in 2005, I went to my first ACFW Conference in Nashville. I didn’t know a soul there. My husband and son came with me and toured the city while I learned I knew nothing about writing. Even after five years of attending local conferences and writers groups. Okay, I take that back, I knew the basics. But after one day of ACFW, I felt like I knew nothing and everyone at the conference was either published or in the process. Everyone but me.
Don’t get me wrong. Everybody was really nice. It was all me. I’m an introvert and I was way out of my comfort zone. By breakfast of day two, I was really overwhelmed. Since I’m not a morning person, I considered staying curled in a ball with my family in my room all day. But no, I had to pull up my big girl boots and face those 400 or so writers who knew so much more than I did.
I went downstairs, got my plate, and sat down at a large table by myself. But I didn’t stay alone for long. This pretty blond came up and asked if she could sit by me.
Her, shaking my hand: “Hi, I’m Lenora Worth.”
My jaw hit the floor. And stayed there. I’d read several of her books. She was one of my favorite Love Inspired authors. But I couldn’t think of a single title or character. Complete brain freeze. I did manage to tell her that I loved her and her books. She probably didn’t believe me since I couldn’t come up with any facts to back me up. But she was very gracious as every person who sat down after that introduced themselves, while I gestured wildly to Lenora and repeated over and over, “This is Lenora Worth.”
She must have avoided me after that. I don’t remember seeing her in 2006. But in 2007, I finaled in the Touched By Love contest and attended the Faith, Hope, and Love Conference in Dallas. Lenora was there and congratulated me when I won 2nd place. Congratulated me!
In 2011, I won the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award and when I got my award in the mail, the return address was Lenora’s. I was as excited about that as I was getting the award.
Every year after that, when I saw her at ACFW, she hugged me. She congratulated me when I finally got published and in 2012, after Harlequin bought the Heartsong Presents line, I stood next to her at the Harlequin author reception. And to top things off, she loves shoes as much as I do. She even has her shoes on her website. Yep, I knew I loved her.
She’s always so gracious and encouraging. But I always wonder if when she sees me, deep down, she thinks, Oh dear–there’s that nut again. If she does, she certainly doesn’t let on.
Posted on October 20, 2013 - by Lorna Seilstad
Did you know peanut butter and jelly have a national day? It’s April 2. There are also special days set aside to honor the “bald and free”, the Mad Hatter, and . There’s even a National Mole Day.
After seeing all those, I was delighted to discover a holiday I could really celebrate. Nov. 1 is National Authors’ Day. So, for the next two weeks, the Inkspers will be counting down the days toward this special day!
Some of us will be sharing things about authors who touched their lives. Others will be discussing how readers can encourage and support authors or how we can enourage young writers who may someday be the next generation of authors.
Please join us as we count down to National Author’s Day!
When I was in 5th or 6th grade, we were given the task of writing to a celebrity. Some of the kids in my class chose actors or athletes. One young man wrote to Charles Schultz and received a reply. I had just read A Wrinkle in Time. It was the first book I’d read that had totally engulfed me, so I chose to write to Madeleine L’Engle. As an aspiring author, I asked her for advice.
Ms. L’Engle wrote me a personal note. In the letter she said that the best advice she could give a young writer was to keep a journal–not of what you do but of all that you think and feel.
I wish I could say I took her advice. I’d have a wealth of emotion to draw on if I had. What I can say is that advice has stayed in my head. I realize that I began to see life through a writer’s lens after that. I didn’t write down all that I thought or felt, but I became aware of it in an acute way.
Unfortunately, the letter was lost when my room suffered water damage. But I don’t need the letter to remember the experience. An author took time to write to me and plant a seed. Today, I celebrate Madeleine L’Engle and all those like her.
Posted on September 6, 2013 - by Brenda Anderson
These past two weeks we’ve been touting beautiful, eye-catching book covers, and talking about why they grab our attention.
Today, I thought it would be interesting to look at book covers from a different angle: the making of the cover.
Here’s an interesting video from Random House Books, talking with book cover designers about their designs:
And another link to Lori Benton‘s blog post on the making of the cover for her debut release, Burning Sky (another terrific read!) -http://loribenton.blogspot.com/2013/08/burning-sky-making-of-cover.html.
I’d love to know your thoughts about the making of these covers.
Posted on September 5, 2013 - by Regina
I am a librarian. Yes, I see book covers on a daily basis, and yes, a great book cover STILL has the power to draw my eye. I’m a sucker for a great cover – contemporary, historical, fantasy – you name it, I am drawn to that cover.
I did a little thinking, though, and found some of my favorite covers. They’re not new, up-and-coming titles, nor are they vintage covers – they’re just covers that will STILL draw me in and make me read them, even if I’ve already read them!
And yes, I think Book Covers have distinct personalities.
I remember the first time I saw Cynthia Ruchti’s debut contemporary novel, They Almost Always Come Home. The cover entranced me. Cynthia, in a mentor meeting at ACFW, entranced me. Now, some of you know that I’m not usually drawn to reading material that won’t make me laugh, or at least swoon. But I was drawn. And I read it. And I was totally, fantastically, humbly, AMAZED at the story journey that that little boat took me on. Sometimes we need to let the cover draw us in!
Occasionally, it’s the dress that gets me. I read my first Deanne Gist novel because the dresses were just SO PRETTY! What was great, however, was the girl inside that dress!
I would have read Laura Frantz if it had a plain brown wrapper, but you know what, her books do NOT have a plain brown wrapper – instead, her heroines are bedecked in glorious silks and an expression that is JUST LIKE you would expect when you get to know the heroine.
And then there are the “fellas.” A few of my favorite authors, for certain series, have opted to put the HERO on the cover, as opposed to the HEROINE. I can certainly live with that . . . Kaye Dacus, in her “Brides of Bonneterre” series, just gave us PART of the hero . . . and that was enough. Mary Coneally, in her “Kinkaid Brides” series, gave us three distinct personalities for her three distinct heroes. Interesting that both series titles have the word “brides,” and they feature the GROOMS! I love it.
A few other series that caught my eye, and one that I’ve seriously already read twice, is Janice Thompson’s “Weddings By Bella” series (which now has a sub-series started!), and Susan May Warren’s “Deep Haven” series. The colors, the art, the playful quality of both series’ covers make me want to hang them on the wall so I can look at them all the time!
So yeah. Talk about a topic that a librarian can sink her teeth into? It’s book covers.
Posted on September 4, 2013 - by Brenda Anderson
Admittedly, I’m rarely swayed by a cover. While it may initially draw my attention, it’s the story description that will be the deciding factor of whether I’ll read it or not.
That said, I did a little experiment to see what initially drew my eye and then kept it there. I headed over to FamilyFiction.com, searched by date for 2013, and then visually wandered through the pages of covers. These are the books that leaped out at me, encouraging me to take a look at the description, and why.
BURNING SKY by Lori Benton – This is an historical romance like many of the books around it, but it’s design is decidedly different. The face is slightly faded (denoting mystery), and I like how the face and hair blend with the land and the sky. The one thing I don’t care for so much is the loop rug in the middle. To me, it doesn’t fit the tone conveyed by the rest of the cover.
A HEART DECEIVED by Michelle Griep – I didn’t find this one on Family Fiction–for some reason it’s not listed there–but it’s one of my favorite covers of the year so I had to show it. Just looking at the cover gives me goosebumps. The dark colors, the leafless tree, the dormered house, no people. And, the author’s name also grabbed me. Love Michelle’s writing!
RULES OF MURDER by Julianna Deering – Again, this cover tells the world that this book is different. The colors, the lettering, the man. It all hints at Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers. I’m definitely taking a second look.
RENEGADE by Mel Odom – I really enjoy a military novel, so the soldier on the cover immediately caught my attention. Here, the author’s name also piques my interest as I’ve enjoyed most of Mel Odom’s military novels.
THE LIVING ROOM by Robert Whitlow – Again, the green on black nabbed my attention, then the body seemingly floating adds interest. Having read may of Robert Whitlow’s works in the past also compels me to take a second look.
SLEEPING IN EDEN by Nicole Baart – I immediately thought about Snow White when I saw this, my eye drawn to the apple. Combine that with the title, and you’ve got instant intrigue. Also, I’ve read a number of Nicole Baart’s works before, and greatly respect her talent as an author.
FEARLESS by Mike Dellosso – Can you say creepy? This cover gives me the chills! And screams “Pick me up!” Naturally, I did. As a reader of Mike Dellosso’s works, I know the story will live up to the cover.
So, what drew me to the above covers?
- Color. That’s the first thing I noticed on each cover, and often it’s a blue or green on black that draws me.
- It’s different. Does the cover tell the reader that this story is different? I’m constantly on the lookout for stories that stray from the norm.
- Mystery. Do the covers convey mystery? If so, I’m likely to take a second glance.
- Familiar Author. If I’ve enjoyed novels by the author in the past, the author’s name will definitely catch my eye.
- No person. Not having any person on the cover is very curious. It tells me that the cover may be literary, and my favorite reads are often literary.
When you’re looking at covers, what initially draws your attention? What will keep it there?