Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference
Bonnie S. Calhoun

Bonnie S. Calhoun is the Founder and Publisher of Christian Fiction Online Magazine . She is also the Owner and Director of the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance which is the parent organization for the magazine.

In addition to her passion for spreading the word about Christian fiction, Bonnie is also an aspiring author of action/adventure thrillers. She is represented by Terry Burns at Hartline Literary.

The Life of an Idea

Introducing Carlton Garborg and Summerside Press

Summerside PressMere ideas change our world. Whether utilitarian—like sliced bread—or noble—like, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”—ideas are the seeds from which great things explode. At Summerside Press, we had an idea.

We had an idea, and we believe God was behind it. We’re finding that His idea is bigger and better than we ever imagined. In October 2008, we emerged, initially unheralded, into the world of romantic fiction with two releases. Today, we’re blessed to report that our foray into the CBA marketplace is a true and ongoing success, thanks to hard work, diligence, and divine providence. In under a year, we have placed more than 400,000 books with retailers worldwide.

We launched our publishing house with LOVE FINDS YOU, a series of full-length novels that relies on a simple yet appealing idea: set inspiring, romantic stories in actual American towns with interesting, romantic, or quirky names, weaving the local flavor and history of the locales into the tales. LOVE FINDS YOU installments cover multiple genres—contemporary, historical, and Amish fiction among them—written by skilled and accomplished authors.

Company president Carlton Garborg has extensive experience in the market, in both sales and marketing. “You can’t publish great books without amazing authors,” he says, “and we have recruited the best authors working today to produce the LOVE FINDS YOU series. It’s a great way for readers to explore America and be swept away to charming towns and exciting vacation getaways.”

Among those producing LOVE FINDS YOU installments are much-loved authors such as Robin Jones Gunn, Melody Carlson, Tricia Goyer, Sandra D. Bricker, Loree Lough, and Andrea Boeshaar, among others, and we have just announced a three-book agreement with Melanie Dobson. We will publish 14 LOVE FINDS YOU titles in 2009 and another 14 in 2010, and we plan to publish at least one book set in each of the fifty states.

Prolific author Melody Carlson, whose Love Finds You in Sisters, Oregon releases this month, has signed on for a second LOVE FINDS YOU book to release in 2010. Fall 2009 releases include Love Finds You in North Pole, Alaska by Loree Lough, Love Finds You in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania by Lauralee Bliss, Love Finds You in Holiday, Florida by Sandra D. Bricker, and Love Finds You in Lonesome Prairie, Montana by Tricia Goyer and Ocieanna Fleiss.

Additionally, award-winning author, Bodie Thoene has joined the Summerside Press family, and will contribute her own installment to the Summerside line of books in 2010 with Love Finds You in Lahaina, Hawaii, a historical romance tale featuring a real-life Hawaiian princess who lived in the 1890s.

Building on the success of LOVE FINDS YOU, Summerside will launch a second fiction series in the spring of 2010. The historical romantic-suspense series features stories set in the early- to mid-twentieth century, and authors Susan May Warren and Tricia Goyer are set to launch the line as inaugural authors. Warren’s Sons of Thunder will send readers from a remote Greek island to the sultry Chicago jazz clubs of the Roaring Twenties to the World War II battlefields of Europe as two brothers vie for the love of the same woman. And in Goyer’s Songbird Under a German Moon, a beautiful American USO singer must team up with an army photographer against post-war Nazi influences to find a missing woman.

Key to Summerside’s successful launch has been a strategically chosen team of people who are trusted to work within their

own particular giftings, whether that be editing, design, or publicity. Though based in Minnesota, Summerside Press is actually a nationwide firm, relying on the talents of authors and industry professionals wherever they have chosen to take root.

Carlton Garborg said:

At the recent International Christian Retailing Show in Denver, the Summerside Press booth was full of buyers, authors, and media interested in our story. From the quality covers to the extensive research to the talented authors, we have had a very successful launch in an economy that is often seen as down or failing. One key to the success of this launch is the team of people that works on the books. Dubbed “the house without a house,” by author Melody Carlson, we have successfully recruited a team that works well together, even from different locations across the United States. Strategic and creative, this model has proven to make a very successful launch and first year in publishing for this group.

Our team members work from home offices based across the States—Minnesota, Illinois, Ohio, and Oklahoma—and we communicate regularly through E-mail, conference calls, and occasional meetings. Summerside’s informal work environment has encouraged team members to be innovative and adaptable. Free from the hassles of office politics and endless meetings, we are able to focus on what we do best.

Experienced senior fiction editor Rachel Meisel has the ability to work well with authors while maintaining the integrity of the LOVE FINDS YOU line. She set the pace for the series launch. And our latest staff addition, Susan Downs, is an award-winning fiction author who brings a well-rounded perspective to her role. She has had many years of experience with other CBA publishers and was recently named by American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) as one of three finalists for its prestigious “Editor of the Year” award. Meisel said of Downs, “I’m beyond excited that Susan has joined the Summerside team. Professionally, she brings a wealth of experience and knowledge that will be a huge asset. And personally, she’s a wonderful complement to our team and is so much fun to work with!”

Downs, too, is delighted with her new company. “Though Summerside Press is a newcomer in the CBA publishing world, we are quickly becoming known for an innovative rejection of the status quo, as evidenced in the LOVE FINDS YOU romance line. I am thrilled to join the Summerside editorial team as we develop a new fiction line,” she said.

And yet we acknowledge that even our wonderful staff and talented authors couldn’t have gotten us here by themselves. We are grateful to our authors’ agents, many of whom believed in our potential before we’d published a single book, and also to retailers who agreed to place our books in their stores. Above all, though, we’re grateful to God.

“We humbly acknowledge that God is responsible for any and all successes we have had, and we give Him all the glory!” says Garborg. “It is not by our own might that we have achieved this. It’s because of God’s amazing blessing and because He has chosen to bless the work of our hands.”

It’s undisputed that there is power in ideas, and we at Summerside Press have seen that to be true. What began as a notion now has a life of its own, and we’re thrilled to be on this trek together, seeking to honor God in and with our success. Come along with us.