Saturday, October 23, 2010

Book Clubs, A Novel Event, host a Mystery Event with Soon After

Tell them, I sent ya. Faith and Fiction retreat- It's going down in Florida.

One of the highly anticipated events of the calendar year for me is the Faith and Fiction Retreat. It brings faith based novelist together with readers to discuss the industry and the genre of Christian Fiction. There is truly something for everyone, authors are both panelist and participants at the Faith and Fiction retreat which is the brainchild of author, Tiffani L. Warren. This is the perfect outing for you and your bookclub. Check out the particulars below from the faith and fiction retreat website. Should you choose to treat yourself. Tell them I sent ya.

The purpose of the retreat is to allow readers to come together in a spirit of sisterhood and to get up-close-and-personal with their favorite Faith Authors!

2011 Faith and Fiction Retreat Information

June 23-25, 2011

Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

Sawgrass Marriott Spa and Resort -


ReShonda Tate Billingsley; Victoria Christopher Murray, Stacy Hawkins Adams

2011 AUTHOR PANELISTS Tiffany L. Warren, Rhonda McKnight, Victor McGlothin, Patricia Haley, Leslie Sherrod, Angela Benson, Vanessa Miller, Patricia Bridewell, Kimberly Cash Tate

NEW for 2011

Author Bootcamp - Everything you ever wanted to know about launching your publishing career. Workshops on: Writing Craft, Contracts, Royalty Statements, Agents and MORE! Bootcamp registration includes a Pitch Session to prominent industry professionals that can sign YOU to a book deal!

Book Club Panels, Games, All White Beach Party REGISTRATION OPTIONS

Full Registration $199: Includes sessions (Late night book club discussions - moderated by book club presidents, book signings, panel discussions), Friday Lunch Bar-b-Que, and Saturday Night Author Gala (all-white beach location), and retreat materials. AFTER Feb 1, 2011, price raises to $239.

Author Bootcamp Combo $269 includes pitch session and full registration and author bootcamp - Five minute pitch session with agents and editors to help launch your book career.

Meals Only Registration – For spouses and guests $129

For questions email

Urban, Not Necessarily the Opposite of Rural

Poor Mr. Webster, how demoralizing it must be to put out an annual reference that is basically outdated before it’s typeset. Once again, I have to call him on one of his definitions: Urban. Of, or pertaining to a city was one of his listings. Is that the kind of Christian Fiction that I write? New genres are created everyday. Citified Christian Fiction, although I like the premise and overall ring of the title; it is not necessarily what I write.
What are categories anyway, but catch-alls, and that’s the catch 22. I write Urban Christian Fiction. I write for Urban Christian (literally, that is the name of the publishing company I write for). Urban, loosely, subjectively and connotatively means of or pertaining to African Americans. It’s that simple or complicated. Like I said before, it’s a catch all category.
Believing that African Americans even in a niche market like Christian Fiction write all the same is like believing all African Americans are citified. WHat about the Southern Belles and gents. I just came back from The Faith and Fiction retreat ( in Atlanta created by fellow Christian Fiction author, Tiffani L. Warren (What a Sista Should Do, Father than I Meant to go, Longer than I Meant to Stay and In the Midst of it All) where I learned that our audience as well as why we write is as varied as our skin tones. Some write primarily to edify the body of Christ, and others dubbed as pioneers of contemporary Christian Fiction like author, Victoria Christopher Murray ( Joy, Temptation, Sins of the Mother) feel compelled to write for those who may never grace a church pew.
Me? I feel a certain weight to write to try to demystify the black church. I am a certified church girl that was tired of movie portrayals of church with their attempts to paint a caricature or rely on stereotypes of “church folk” who liken sitting in Sunday service to serving fifteen years to life in a maximum security prison. I really hated those classic redemption scenes where the prodigal son or daughter literally crashes a Sunday service, joining in with the choir and dramatically giving their heart to the Lord. Sorry Steven Spilberg and his adaptation of Color Purple, but Alice Walker ‘s book shows what happens with Shug Avery between the time she’s singing Sista in the juke joint and when she comes down the aisle singing, Speak Lord in her daddy’s church. I try to illustrate Christians exercising their faith. I love to write about burgeoning love and a burgeoning relationship in Christ. Either may or may not take place in a church.
African American Christian writers are bound only by their conscious and publisher’s guidelines. We are CPA, self and mainstream published. We write multi layered novels, often tackling taboo topics with the overall theme of God’s love, forgiveness and redemptive power. Our diversity gives us our edginess.
Here’s the catch 22. (I’ll ask you to hold my base steady while I ascend my soapbox.)You will not see Urban Christian Fiction authors in the Christian Fiction section of the local bookstores. I dare you to look for me or any of my titles. Lord forbid if we are placed in two sections. Where are we then? As if we are children of a lesser God, we are clumped into the two to four shelves set aside for African-American interest. We are in with Urban romance, Urban classics, Urban contemporary, Urban Erotica and Urban Urban or what is known as Urban Street Lit genre.
Don’t get me wrong, I know my audience is primarily ‘urban,’. I know some authors prefer to be the only race categorized by ethnicity. I am sure there are Caucasian Christian authors who would prefer to be shelved in fiction instead of Christian. Like a true evangelist, I wonder who might be missing my message because they failed to realize or fail to wonder into African American interest section because they are not African American.
If you fall into the later category may I suggest some authors for you. Kendra Norman Bellamy, Norma Jarrett, Rhonda Mc Knight, Sharon Oliver, Sheila Lipsey, Reshonda Tate Billingsley, Dwan Abrams, Michelle Larks, E.N. Joy, Michelle Andrea Bowen, Cecelia Dowdy, Angela Benson, Shana Burton, Tia McCollors, Nicole Rouse, Kimberly Cash Tate, TN Williams, Stacy Hawkins Adams, Victoria Christopher Murray, Nikita Lynette Nichols, Vanessa Miller, Sherri Lewis,Ashea Goldson, Leslie Sherrod, Patricia Haley. This by no means is a comprehensive listing. There are a few men to mention as well, Victor McGlothin , James Jimason and James Guitard.
Just like rural doesn’t mean Caucasian, Urban does not literally mean African American. According to connotation , Urban is not necessarily the opposite of rural. You’ll find Christian fiction is more alike in its root message than different no matter what section you find it in or what race the author hapens to be.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Book Club's Best Friend

And, the number one reason why you should make Soon and Very Soon your book club selection is . . . Sherryle Kiser Jackson is a book club’s best friend! That’s me, and that along with reasons 2-10 ala David Letterman style was printed in my promotional material for my debut novel. Book Clubs were my target in my marketing plan and I courted them. I started with the list on (the quintessential place for booklovers) and started relaying the message of my self-proclaimed title. I also had success with meeting with area book club’s to do what I coined, a book tasting. Much like a chef/baker would have a tasting for potential clients I used this as an opportunity to read and share excerpts of my upcoming novel the first fifteen or the last fifteen minutes of their gathering. I was prepared to also take them through my literary journey from manuscript to the printed page and have tons of giveaways just to make an impression. It made sense to me. Out of all the people who pass by a Borders bookstore in their daily travels, book club members would nine times out of ten drop in with their Rewards card and buy something. I believe book clubs are imperative to books for and about our people.
Aww, the naivety of a debut author, I didn’t understand the form and function of different book clubs and like Cicero I didn’t really know how to court them. I was spending lots of money and not sure to this day if some of the clubs I tried to woo with dramatic readings and baked goods ever chose my book as a monthly selection. I was starting a grassroots campaign with the type of book clubs that meet monthly and discuss a pre-selected book. I call them the page turners. I knew this type. I personally own a copy of Go On Girl!: Book Club Guide for Reading Groups by Monique Greenwood, Lynda Johnson and Tracy Mitchell-Brown when I revamped my sorority’s book club in the late nineties. After my book came out I met with many like the Black Women’s Reading Group that have been in existence in Washington DC for over thirty years. I was surprised to find another entity in the book club world though with an amazing scope of influence-the Online Book club. These powerhouses such as The Grits On line Reading, the Good Girl Book Club and R.A.W. Sistaz are of the book-promoting, book-reviewing, and book-selling variety. I call them the mini publicist brigades. They have mastered the art of networking to a target audience and can draw thousands to their site in search of recommendations on what to read next. Promoting with these group and sometimes even getting your book reviewed may cost you, but selecting the right online book club can be well worth your marketing dollars.
As authors we sometimes have an arrogance about us. Don’t make the mistake like me and presume that since you’ve cranked out 261 pages of narrative you can tell an established book club when and where to function like they’re on your pay roll. Most book clubs whether the grassroots page-turners or the publicist brigades have websites and guidelines. Use them. Remember there are truly too many book and too little time. Keep this in mind when marketing to book clubs.
Research book club As I’ve said before many of these groups have been together for a long time and have established criteria for selecting monthly reading selections. Target book clubs that read your specific genre , for example the Good Girl Book Club or Virtuous Woman book club for Christian fiction/non-fiction authors, using social networking sites. Inquire with online book clubs about the range of services provided from reviews to banner ads on their web page.
Capture information about these book clubs to add to your contact list. Do not inundate them with emails, a monthly correspondence to tell them about your new literary projects and signings in their area is effective in keeping them updated.
Be assessable Let book clubs know you are available to meet with them to discuss your book. Offer to meet with clubs in different cities before or after a signing. Use or skype to “appear” at club gatherings via the phone. Many book clubs have blogs or radio shows through blogtalkradio. Pitch an idea for a show or guest appearance to really relate to readers from the comfort of your own home.
Attend the National Book Club Conference This is where literary giants and those authors like me with emerging notoriety walk among avid readers and adoring fans. I’ve been told its more like a family reunion. See you there.
Courting has not gone out of style A bookmark and a review copy goes a long way.

Soon and Very Soon Book Trailer