Bonnie S. Calhoun
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
This month we are talking to Christine Johnson, the Managing Editor of Christian Retailer. She has great information and insight into the Author Corner program. So without further delay...
Drawing out the personality behind the pen, Christian Retailing’s Author Corner offers an online window into the soul of authors both known and becoming known to a wide variety of readers.
“Inspirational fiction is an important growth category and it’s one we want to help Christian retailers make the most of,” said Andy Butcher, editor of Christian Retailing. “There’s a special sense of affinity between fans of Christian books and ‘their’ authors, which is heightened maybe even more when it comes to fiction, so we wanted to be able to help connect stores and writers better.”
Author Corner is a section of the Christian Retailing Website where authors describe a typical day and answer four questions: What inspires you to write? What three books should everyone read? Who is the most influential person in your writing career? Do you have a special message for Christian retailers? Describe a typical workday.
Intended to be informal and personal rather than promotional, Author Corner encourages authors to talk about their writing ministries, not their latest books.
“This is a way that retailers can get to know a bit of the person behind the pen, their personality and inspiration, and so represent them more clearly to customers,” said Butcher. “Stores can learn about how writers go about their work and the people and other books that have shaped them. Writers have the opportunity to share their heart one-to-one with retailers who are their ‘ambassadors’ to shoppers.”
As a publication for Christian bookstores, the trade magazine published by Charisma Media (formerly known as Strang Communications) aims to reach retailers—and especially store buyers—with news of books just coming to market through its Book News and Reviews section, industry news stories about book publishing and special features on topics such as Young Adult books, biographies, or political titles. With Author Corner, however, Christian Retailing looks at new authors as well as those already selling into Christian retail stores.
A number of authors have shared in their videos:
B&H Books author James L. Rubart says he writes “what I can’t keep from coming out,” whether it is labeled as “Christian” or not. In 2003, his wife went on a three-day fast; as a result he came to a realization: it was time to write novels. “God had given me this destiny and I had to choose whether to step into it or not, so my wife was really the one who started me on this journey.”
Growing up, Wanda E. Brunstetter said her father always thought she was a dreamer. Now the Barbour Publishing author is spurred to write by her creative imagination. Known for her Amish-themed fiction, she says she is inspired most of all by spending time with her Amish friends as they open their world to her. Brunstetter, wife of a recently retired pastor, cites The Love Dare as one of her top three favorites of all time, a book her husband has used in counseling couples and teaches “the importance of ministering to each other.” Her other two favorites are Gary Chapman’s best-seller The Five Love Languages and Jennifer Rothschild’s Lessons I’ve Learned in the Dark.
Zondervan author Terri Blackstock is inspired to write her suspense fiction out of “the way that God is dealing with me in my own life,” she said. Often after starting with a plot, she’ll go through a personal trial, learning lessons she can pass on to her readers. Her three recommendations are Bill Myers’s The God Hater, which explains the Trinity the clearest way she has ever seen; Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness, “because it got me praying again”; and The Lord of the Rings, which she finds “a beautiful picture of salvation and sacrifice.”
Military suspense author Ronie Kendig, who has been published by Barbour Publishing and Abingdon Press, aims to connect with hurting and broken people in her writing, seeing the mission of Christian authors as helping their readers connect with God. Kendig cites Christy Award finalist John B. Olson, a former scientist and author of the Oxygen series, as her “advocate,” the person who has had the most influence in her life.
Rick Acker, a legal thriller author published by Abingdon Press and Kregel Publications, lists his top three titles as C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity; The Federalist Papers, a collection of essays by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison, which relates to the founding of these United States; and The Lord of the Rings, which “shows how Christian principles and themes can be tied into almost any kind of writing.” Acker’s principal job is deputy attorney general in California’s Department of Justice in a unit that prosecutes cases of corporate fraud—the subject of his 2010 work, When the Devil Whistles.
Tracie Peterson, whose focus is historical and contemporary works published by Bethany House, credits her mother with inspiring her to write and tell stories. She was “desperate to keep me quiet in church as a child,” Peterson said, and so had her write a story during the service then tell it to her afterward. Feeling called to communicate the gospel in her fiction, Peterson has the added benefit of teaming up with her husband—a historian—who does research for her books.
Camy Tang—in training for a marathon when she recorded her videos—says she starts her day with exercise, then tackles marketing and e-mail. She writes in the afternoon, but the self-proclaimed “night owl” sets to work again after her husband heads to bed, with a three-hour block starting at 11 p.m., her favorite time to write. The Zondervan author adds a little cultural diversity to the romance and romantic suspense genres with her Asian-American characters.
Because he likes some noise in his writing environment, James Scott Bell often sits at his favorite table at Starbucks when honing his craft. Published by Hachette and Zondervan, Bell explores the big questions of life and matters of faith to “make them understandable to others.” He sees fiction as the best venue because it allows him to do so “without being didactic about it, without being a lecture.”
Author Corner helps Christian authors make a personal connection with Christian retailers—from the comfort of their homes or offices. With seventy-five-plus authors at the time of this writing, Author Corner is expanding. Publicists and authors are welcome to contact Christian Retailing or to submit their videos in response to the questions at the magazine’s Website.
Authors do not need expensive equipment or an elaborate backdrop—just a camera with good video and audio quality. To qualify, authors must sell their books in Christian retail stores.
Because retailers—Christian Retailing’s main target audience—are busy running their stores, authors are asked to keep their answers short and to the point, with each answer recorded separately and just thirty to sixty seconds in length, with no need to repeat the question on camera. Authors who wish to send videos should mark their name and which question was answered on the video and send it via We Transfer (https://wetransfer.com) to Online Editor Felicia Mann at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To see how authors have used this service, take a look by clicking on the Author Corner graphic at www.christianretailing.com.