Summer News

Summer News

I’m taking a short break from my ‘I Dare You’ series to bring everyone my summer news. Many things have happened this year so far, and I’m bursting at the seams to share it all.

April 4th I received an email back from Splickety Publishing Group about a manuscript I had submitted to them last year. It’s my contemporary young adult novel about a girl dealing with alcoholic parents, and the fallout of the lies she tells to try to cover it up. Splickety’s acquiring editor fell in love with it (her words, not mine), and she offered to help me publish it in partnership with SPG. You can only imagine the elation I felt that 1.) someone loved my story, and 2.) they wanted to help me get it published. Since this novel was one I had planned on self-publishing anyway, this is a real coup to get a publishing company to help me navigate these indie waters. We are currently working on the edits for this story, and when something more newsworthy such as a publishing date, or front cover comes, Inkspirationalmessages will be among the first to know.

ACFW logoOn May 4th I received a call telling me I was a semi-finalist in the ACFW Genesis contest for my fantasy submission. This isn’t the first time I’ve submitted, but the first time after a professional editor went through it first. I’d sent this in without any real intention of being a finalist, but God has a sense of humor. Maybe because I had given it fully over to Him this time, He blessed me. Later I received notice that my submission moved on to the finals rounds. The winner is going to be announced on August 27th at the ACFW gala in Nashville, TN. I quickly gathered the money needed and booked the conference, and later a flight, and hotel room. I’m beyond elated with this news, and a little queasy at the thought of having to have a speech ready, just in case. Talk about jitters!!

This past month I went to one of the most fulfilling conferences for Christian Sci Fi and Fantasy writers Davis Bunn RMever: Realm Makers. There I got to meet up with my Splickety editor, Sarah Grimm, and meet all of the SPG staff who came to the conference face to face. They are all amazing in so many ways. As are Becky and Scott Minor, who along with Ben Wolf, spearhead the conference. This year it was an honor to sit through a class with Davis Bunn, aka Thomas Locke. I almost envisioned gold coming out of his mouth as he spoke. Next year will be bigger and better. It’ll be held in Reno, NV and it boasts Ted Dekker as our feature speaker. This group is one of the most accepting and helpful I’ve ever met. It’s almost as if you assimilate when you sign up. (Dr. Who reference for those other nerds out there.)

And two days ago I received notice that one of my short stories has been accepted to a magazine. Because I don’t have anything signed yet, and I’m using a pen name, I can’t give you any details on that, save to say that my smile is breaking the sides of my face at this point. It feels like all of my hard work is finally coming together in fast succession. I don’t know what to do except praise God for giving me the stories of my heart that I can turn around and share with others.

It’s been an eventful year, and it promises to keep getting better. Normally I would knock on wood, or toss some salt behind my shoulder, but I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt this has all transpired due to God’s great and powerful favor. When people told me it would take ten years to get published, I used to scoff. It’s close to ten years for me now, and I’m not scoffing any longer.

So, how has your summer been?

In Search of Scintillating Covers

Brendianna Jones Anderson here, writing from the wilds of Minnesota where I’ve run from ginormous rolling snowballs and have dug my way out of dangerous garter snake pits all while searching for the elusive scintillating book cover.

Okay, okay, a bit dramatic, I know, but isn’t drama what we want when searching for books? Aren’t we looking for the cover that hints of escape and adventure? Something that removes us from our little universe and gives us a greater sense of the world around us?

I have been on a search for the book cover that catches my eye, the one that compels me to pick up that book and check out the description. The greatest difficulty in this process was turning off my bias meter (the one that immediately discounts genres I don’t typically read) so I could scan shelves for covers that grabbed my attention.

This search has taken me down several paths, but two were the most fruitful.

I scanned the latest Christianbook.com spring fiction catalog solely looking for what provoked a second glance regardless of genre. Several jumped out at me, but these three really tell a story with their cover:

GONE TO GROUND by Brandilyn Collins.

First off, I LOVE the color. The vibrant red is definitely gaze-grabbing. But then I looked closer and saw that drip of blood hanging from a petal. Gives me goosebumps! There’s no doubt I will pick up this book and read the back cover.

Amaryllis, Mississippi, resembles the flower for which it’s named—bright with southern hospitality. But poison lurks in its center. A serial killer is responsible for five unsolved murders. And now the blood of a sixth stains the town. Three terrified women are sure they know who the perpetrator is—but they all suspect a different man. Who’s right?

THROUGH RUSHING WATER by Catherine Richmond. This entire cover hints of mystery: a foggy lake, the woman gazing off into the distance … I want to know her story. What is she looking at? Regrets? Hardships? I have to find out!

Elegant and educated, Sophia Makinoff is sure that 1876 is the year she’ll wed congressman Rexford Montgomery. But he proposes to her roommate instead! Humiliated, Sophia signs on with a foreign missions society to go to China—but ends up with the Dakota Territory Indians. Can she find a purpose in God’s plan?

THE TELLING by Mike Duran. Another cover that gives me the chills. The shadowed mountains, scraggy dessert, the lettering, the raven. Right away I think of Edgar Allan Poe and, as a Poe fan, I’m going to pick this book up and look deeper.

Zeph Walker had abandoned his prophetic gifts—until detectives ask him to explain his own murder. During the bizarre investigation, Zeph discovers that early miners in Death Valley accidentally unearthed a sacred site where spiritual and physical forces converge. Can Zeph overcome his own despair in time to seal the ninth gate of hell—before evil finds him?

I couldn’t leave my hunt for the perfect cover to an internet search so I headed to my local Christian bookstore and took along my book-loving and very astute daughter. Together we scanned the fiction racks for covers that stood out. We picked out several that warranted a second look, but we had one problem: the majority of books showed only their spine. That sent us on a new trajectory.

Looking beyond the author’s name, we sought attention-grabbing spines. Several intrigued us including Burn by Ted Dekker and Erin Healy, Ten Plagues by Mary Nealy, Book of Days by Jim Rubart, and Almost Heaven by Chris Fabry. (I should have brought my camera to the store because I discovered it’s very difficult finding pics of book spines on the web.)

Chris Fabry’s ALMOST HEAVEN jumped out at me because of the mandolin pictured on the side. That was an immediate attention grabber for this music lover. Don’t you love how the mandolin wraps around to the front? The foggy mountains in the background indicate story setting. Just from the spine, I know I’ll give this book a closer look.

Billy Allman is a “hillbilly genius.” Folks in town say he was born with a second helping of brains and a gift for playing the mandolin—and was cut short on social skills. But there are two things they don’t know—he’s troubled by a brutal secret, and an angel is determined to set things right!

As for why those particular spines stood out, color was top on our list. We both gravitated toward bright colors. Shadowing was also important as it hinted at mystery. The title, font, and color indicated genre. A small picture depicting the story was a great  help. The spines that were merely a title on a colored background were easy to ignore. If you look at the spines of our own Lorna Seilstad and Shannon Vannatter‘s books, you’ll see their spines tell a story too.

I love spines that hint at drama. What about you? When you go to a bookstore, what on a spine captures your attention? The lettering? Color? Shadowing? Title? Author? What will compel you to pull that book from the shelves to look a the cover?

For me, it’s a combination of all of the above.

This is Brendianna Jones Anderson signing off after a successful spine-tingling search for scintillating covers.