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As I was preparing our annual "BC Year in Review" survey this morning, it occurred to me that some authors might be interested in asking our readers some questions.  Large and diverse, our club not only appreciates the generosity of the authors who have made themselves available for our questions but our members also enjoy sharing their own opinions about Christian literature.

 

If you would like to pose a question to our group, reply to this post and I'll include it in the survey that our group will fill out at our August 17th special event.  After the results are compiled and tabulated, I'll post the results here later in August.

 

Thanks,

Sandi

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I'm an issues-driven author. In other words, my fiction is usually built around a hot-button issue, and usually not a light or easy one. My Son, John is a novel that dealt with a family whose son murdered another family member, and suddenly they were questioning their own unconditional love and forgiveness. My current Extreme Devotion series is made up of four novels set in different countries (South Africa, Mayan culture of Mexico, China, and Saudi Arabia) and very loosely based on the true lives of Christians who live there and who struggle and suffer for their faith. Two of those books are already out, and the other two will release over the next few months. I am also about to start a new three-book contracted series (the "Freedom Series") on the topic of human trafficking. Though they too will be fiction, they will be based in fact. My passion is to bring these hot-button issues to the hearts and minds of Christian readers. As such, how do you feel about books that tackle what many see as heavy issues? If they are well researched and well told, are you open to reading them? Thank you so much for your feedback!
I have a difficult time dealing with hurtful issues and tend to stay away from them. Especially if they go into too much detail. Having lived through too many distressing situations, I prefer to have happy endings that uplift and encourage. Just me though! I'm sure you do a fabulous job!
Kathi, some of the issue-driven books yielded the best discussions for our club. A great example was In Search of Eden by Linda Nichols. I was initially apprehensive about the choice because incest was a life changing event for one of the characters. WIthout exception, every member loved that book and many considered it to be the best selection of the year. I will pose your question with perhaps a few examples for them to consider. Are there any specific issues you would like them to consider as they answer your question?
What do you look at first when choosing a book? Cover? Back blurb? Author? First page?
What makes you want to ask others to read the book you've just finished?
Hi Lisa,
Usually, I look at the author first, then the back blurb. If that doesn't satisfy my curiosity, I'll turn to the inside flap to see if there's any more. Then I check out the cover. If it has questionable or racy pictures, I won't buy it. Even if I'm interested in the story.
Lisa...another great question which will be included in the survey. As someone charged with choosing books for others to read, I probably do more research than the average person. I am most interested in the author and always visit their website if they have one. I mentioned in a previous post that the site does not have to be technically slick, but I do look for clues as to why the author writes. Time proven advice to authors has always been to write about what you care about so I suppose I'm looking for that linkage on an author's site. This information is especially important for first time authors. Once I've read a great book, I continually watch for future releases from that author but a reader needs something on which to base their initial purchase from an author. While I like to consider my choices to be rational, I must confess to once passing on a popular book because I couldn't fathom looking at the cover for any length of time. I know...shame on me for judging a book by it's cover! That being said, the covers on most books are wonderful and perfectly snapshot what the book offers.

I always read the back blurb. That is an important 60 seconds where a final buying decision often happens.

First page...hmmm...after considering that aspect, I realized that I skip to somewhere in the first or second chapter to understand an author's writing style. Perhaps that is because I understand many authors put their best efforts into the all important first line, first paragraph, and first page and I want to see a more representative writing sample. I'm sorry! That revelation will probably distress authors who agonize over their first pages. Again...remember that BC leaders are not typical readers so it will be fun to discover the factors influencing book choice from the survey. Thanks for your input.

I usually to not read the back blurb because it might give too much info.  I often read book reviews on Amazon or CBD.    I often recommend books that I like to friends.

Sandi,

This is great; thanks for the opportunity to interact with your readers.

How important to your club readers--and you, as the reviewer of potential material--are endorsements by other authors and book reviews posted on sites such as Amazon.com and Goodreads? Do you lend them much weight, or try mostly to discern from the synopsis whether it's something you'd take a chance on?

Another aside question: Do you, or have you ever tried to, have virtual interactive sessions with an author and one of your book clubs after they've read his/her book? I was thinking a telephonic Q&A, meet the author, sort of thing for authors who may live too far away to visit physically? Just curious...

Cheers! Bruce
Bruce, realizing that many authors enlist the help of friends and family to influence through reviews, I take most reviews with a large shaker of salt. If a reviewer misleads too many times, I ignore all of their subsequent reviews. Reading both the positive and more critical reviews can sometimes add clarity but a synopsis and actual sample from a book is far mor revealing. It is helpful when a "look inside" sample is included at online retailers and/or when an author includes excerpts on their own sites.

Virtual interactive sessions are a mixed bag because you are at the mercy of technology and various personalities. Our larger group meets for and hour and a half and the best time allotment for author participation seems to be about 30 minutes. This allows the first 30 minutes of the meeting for the members to share some thoughts among themselves and compose questions for the author. The author can then take his or her 30 minutes to tell us what they would like us to know about themselves and their work leaving adequate time to answer our questions. After the virtual visit, the members can continue their book discussion in light of what they learned from the author.

In some ways a phone visit can be more productive than a SKYPE visit because some members are intimidated knowing they are also "on camera" which inhibits their participation. To some, talking through a phone setup is akin to talking to a friend and the more shy members are more apt to contribute to the discussion. I suppose there are also advantages for authors who don't feel like "dressing up" for the camera that day.

Author actual visits are welcomed because much more information can be shared. Authors are encouraged when they visit to bring copies of their work which tend to sell very well especially when the authors are gracious enough to personally autograph to each member puchasing their books.

I look forward to the group's answers to your questions. Thanks for your input.
Hi Sandi:

I'd like to know if your members read fiction to help them work through issues in the news that affect our spiritual lives in many ways: the economy, terrorism, racism, poverty at home and abroad, etc.
I'm with Ronald! This is something I asked earlier too. As an author who's issues-driven, it's always interesting to know how readers feel/respond to that sort of story.
Hi, Kathi;

I have to say that your newest book No Greater Love where you talked about the apartheid in South Africa and discribed the issue from many angles helped me understand the struggle they were having. I’m not a history buff and really didn’t understand all that was going on there at the time. I loved how you had the two main characters approaching the topic from each others point of view but not totally convinced their way was RIGHT! They had trouble in their spirits about how God viewed this whole thing. Was he a God of Love? Where did he fit in all this? I loved how you showed believers truly being tested in their faith and walk out what God says in his word period the end.

It’s definitely on my book club pick list. I like to have a topic like this for my ladies to discuss. We read Crossing the Lines by Richard Doster this year about Martin Luther King and how he was fighting for EQUALITY FOR ALL-- which meant equality for men, women, children, red, yellow, black, white and everyone else on the planet. I didn’t understand that clearly until we read this book and talked to the author. It was powerful.

Your book took this whole matter to a whole new level. Wow!

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Created by Phred St Laurent May 27, 2010 at 11:35pm. Last updated by Phred St Laurent May 31, 2010.

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