A new journey into the world of
with a two-minute exchange at a writer’s conference with my editor Rick
Steele (AMG Publishers). He expressed regret that the committee had
turned down a proposal for a Bible study and asked me to consider
writing for the God and Country line.
I knew the line of true story
devotionals that focused on wars
didn’t fit my brand. I quickly responded, “I’m all about family, so I’d
want to write stories about the home front and the courageous women who
supported war efforts. I’ve been a military wife and mom, so I
understand the lifestyle and choices.”
He liked the idea.
So, after I finished a contracted book, I found a co-author and we
wrote a proposal. The short chat became reality this month with the
publication of Stories of Faith and Courage from the Home
Front: From the French Indian War through the Wars in Iraq and
The true one-page stories in the
book use fiction techniques to
bring the characters to life. I spent hours in dusty historic society
libraries reading digitalized old journals and newspapers. My
co-author, Jocelyn Green, found some of the characters so fascinating
that she wrote a historical fiction series based on some of her Civil
War research. I also discovered many people whose stories grabbed me. I
hope to someday expand some of the stories into biographies or
historical fiction. Real characters and their courageous acts beckon us
to share their faith and lives.
Let’s back up and consider what happened that led to the book contract.
I connected with my editor, knew my brand, and turned an opportunity
into a contract. I already had two books published by AMG and had
developed a relationship with my editor. Before Rick, I had met Dan
Penwell through Kent Crockett, a writer I met at my first major
Christian writer’s conference. Dan contracted with me when he worked at
Hendrickson. Once he moved to AMG, Dan contracted the two books for
AMG. Dan later introduced me to Rick.
The publishing industry is all
about relationships, connecting with
editors, other authors, and readers. It’s important to attend
conferences and get to know people. I served on the faculty this spring
at conferences in Florida and Colorado. At each conference I worked at
getting to know aspiring writers, reconnected with author friends, and
met with editors. At one I saw Rick Steele and we discussed a possible
future project. An another I spoke with an editor who in the past
wanted to contract a girl's book with me but then she moved to another
publishing house. However, she opened the door and I did get a contract
from her former publishing house. Nw we're discussing a possible book
for her current publishing house. At the past one I met a young woman
who shares my
love for teen girls and I’m mentoring her.
relationships should be more than work
focused and intense meetings on writing. One evening in Colorado I sat
with old friends as well as authors I had not met before. We played a
fun game of
Bites Dog. The game is about using
cards to create headlines, but naturally we had to spin possible tales
from the headlines and laugh together as we played with words.
Spinning ideas is part of writing. My quick response to Rick Steel led
to a book that I loved writing. I quickly spun an idea that fit their
editorial need and stayed within my brand. Because I want to write
about family, it’s also easy to connect to my readers. I find it
effortless to share the passion of the people in the book with readers
who share a passion for history. Many who have heard about the book are
already eager to buy it before it hits the shelves.
excess that didn’t fit in the pages flowed into a file of social
network posts ready to publish when the book releases. I captured the
thoughts as I wrote and saved them to share with my audience. I hope
those posts will help build a relationship with readers. Promotion
should begin with the desire to reach readers with a message. As
authors we need to market the messages, but we don’t have to do it
alone if we learn to partner with others.
I belong to a few organizations for authors and have met many wonderful
writers. I’m also on the board of Christian Author’s Network (CAN), a
writer’s group that focuses on book promotion. The group cooperatively
promotes one another’s books. As people join CAN I visit each new
member’s website, try to read at least one of his or her books, and
follow the individual on Facebook or other social network. I want to
know the members so I can help promote their work.
The CAN board understands the
importance of developing bonds and
establishing long-term associations. I spent months contacting the
Munce Group, and then Bonnie Calhoun and I held a number of
conversations with Kirk Blank, the president, and other key people in
that company. That provided opportunities for us to partner with Munce
and supplied our members with marketing possibilities. Five CAN members
spoke at the Munce Christian Product Expo for retailers in January and
several members signed books at the event. Bonnie and I met with Kirk
Blank and Sue Brewer. We wanted to continue partnering and find other
ways to reach the more than five hundred independent stores Munce
services and we found several new promotional opportunities. The CAN
board is also working on other partnerships.
We should all be building
networks to expand our writing and
readership. Each day is a new opportunity to connect with people who
share a love for books.
Karen Whiting, author of
fourteen books, is well-known for
her popular inspirational craft books for teen girls (God’s Girls
series). Her inspirational miniature craft books release this year.
She’s a mother of five and a grandmother. She enjoys gardening, crafts,
and hanging out with girlfriends. As a military wife and mom, she and
her husband help with OCF (Officer’s Christian Fellowship) Bible
studies at the U.S. Naval Academy.