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 author of suspense/mystery thrillers. In the summer of 2009, she signed a co-authored two book contract with Abingdon Press. The first book will be released in 2011 and the second in 2012. She is represented by Terry Burns at Hartline Literary.

Novel Journey

Meet Ane Mulligan, Gina Holmes, and Jessica Dotta

Ane MulliganIn 2006 I found Novel Journey and met Gina. Then a month later I met Jessica through the PR firm where she worked and a few months after that I met Ane through ACFW. And lastly, in 2007  I was invited to join the critique group that the three of them had formed. So you could say I've known these three ladies most of my internet life. Take it away Ane!

Author Ane Mulligan has always been a voracious reader starting at an early age. Soon she was telling her own stories. Of course, when she told them in school, they called it lying. Ane published her first drama script in 1999 with LifeWay’s National Drama Service, a quarterly collection of scripts. After writing and publishing dozens of scripts from the thirty-second sermon-starter to full-length musicals, she switched to novels. Ane’s an editor with Novel Journey and a humor columnist for the e-zine Afictionado. Whether it’s novels, plays, or humor, writing is her passion, but using her talent to serve the Lord is her grand passion. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband and a dog large enough to qualify as two.

I met Gina Holmes at a writers conference and Jessica Dotta in an online critique group. Since 2004, the three of us have been more than just critique partners. We learned this business of writing together from the bottom up. We’ve been tough on one another in critiques, wanting to produce our very best. We approached platform building the same way.

Gina HolmesWhen Gina founded Novel Journey, no one was blogging author interviews. Novel Journey was the first to do them. Gina found a need and filled it. When in early in 2006 she brought Jessica and me on board, we never could have guessed what God would do. But He blesses what He chooses to bless, no matter how inept we were. The more authors we interviewed, the more readers we gained, and with those readers, a platform.

Over the years, we’ve interviewed hundreds of authors from the debut novelist to New York Times Bestsellers and Pulitzer prize winners. We’ve asked the questions we wanted to know about novel writing and received answers from the best. I have two personal favorites of the interviews I did.

After a class I took with James Scott Bell, I decided I would go after Dean Koontz. I was too dumb to know that he normally doesn’t do interviews. I blithely went to his Web site and clicked on Contact. It gave me a post office box number and said to

write a note. So I did. I explained who I was: a nobody who interviewed authors for a great literary site. I explained that most of our readers were writers or avid readers.

A couple of weeks later, I opened my mailbox and pulled out a handwritten note back from Dean, agreeing to the interview. Now you have to understand, as a teen I never screamed over movie stars or rock stars. But Dean Koontz? Wow. I still have that note pinned on my bulletin board. The thing that impressed me most about him was how much he put into his answers. We had to break up the interview in to two days. You can find that interview at http://tinyurl.com/2ccpg6.

The other interview was with Annie Barrows, coauthor of The Jessica DottaGuernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I left off one of her answers and told people to e-mail me for that answer. I posted the interview in December 2008, and I’m still getting e-mails about the question. That’s a great way to discover book clubs around the country. Her interview can be read here: http://tinyurl.com/yh6sn9p.

Gina, Jessica, and I have always held to the “open hand” philosophy: sharing what we’ve learned. Because of that, my favorite part of the site is what I now do: offer “our” authors, those previously interviewed on NJ, a platform to publicize their newest releases by teaching on the craft or business of writing. That way, Novel Journey offers writing tips to new writers and marketing or interviewing help for the published author. It’s our way of giving back to the industry.

Novel Journey’s sister site is Novel Reviews. When we started that one, I put my fiction addiction to good use and posted reviews of the books I was reading. It was a great way to feed my addiction. As the workload grew, we brought on other writers as reviewers. Kelly Klepfer is now the senior editor on NR.

According to Kelly, she’s only recently come to recognize the value of our word or endorsement. “As tempting as it is to say, ‘This book is awesome’ because the author is a friend, to do so becomes a much bigger issue than any interest the review might generate. But we also realize personal genre preference and subjectivity must be taken into consideration when accepting a book for review. On Novel Reviews, we strive to write honest reviews for the books we recommend.”

There are times when we know God has arranged to bring lives together. I’m so glad He brought me friends like Gina and Jessica. But I don’t think any of us ever guessed the doors Novel Journey would open for us. And for that I’m eternally grateful.