Wednesday, November 26, 2008

CBA/ECPA Fiction Bestseller Lists

Here's a comparison of the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists reflecting sales in the month of October. Titles appearing on one list and not the other are highlighted in blue.


1. Sunset, Karen Kingsbury, Tyndale
2. The Shack, William P. Young, Windblown Media
3. The Longing, Beverly Lewis, Bethany/Baker
4. Jessie, Lori Wick, Harvest House
5. Fireproof, Eric Wilson Thomas Nelson
6. When the Soul Mends, Cindy Woodsmall, Waterbrook/Multnomah
7. Dead Heat, Joel C. Rosenberg, Tyndale
8. Sinner, Ted Dekker, Thomas Nelson
9. White Christmas Pie, Wanda E. Brunstetter, Barbour
10. Until We Reach Home, Lynn Austin, Bethany/Baker
11. Rebecca's Reward, Lauraine Snelling, Bethany/Baker
12. Miracles, Terri Blackstock, Thomas Nelson
13. Redeeming Love, Francine Rivers, Waterbrook/Multnomah
14. The Parting, Beverly Lewis, Bethany/Baker
15. Rachel's Secret, B.J. Hoff, Harvest House
16. Full Circle ,T. Davis Bunn, Thomas Nelson
17. The Forbidden, Beverly Lewis Bethany/Baker
18. Kidnapped, Dee Henderson,Tyndale
19. The Last Jihad, Joel C. Rosenberg, Tyndale
20. Someday, Karen Kingsbury, Tyndale

CBA (Numbers in parentheses reflect standing on CBA Top 50 list)

1. (2) The Shack, William P. Young, Windblown Media
2. (4) Sunset, Karen Kingsbury, Tyndale
3. (6) The Longing, Beverly Lewis, Bethany/Baker
4. (7) Fireproof, Eric Wilson & Alex Kendrick, Thomas Nelson
5. (14) Jessie, Lori Wick, Harvest House
6. (21) White Christmas Pie, Wanda Brunstetter, Barbour
7. (22) When the Soul Mends,
Cindy Woodsmall, WaterBrook/Multnomah
8. (23) Sinner,Ted Dekker, Thomas Nelson
9. Rebecca’s Reward, Lauraine Snelling, Bethany/Baker
10. Dead Heat, Joel Rosenberg, Tyndale
11. Redeeming Love, Francine Rivers, Multnomah/WaterBrook
12. Until We Reach Home, Lynn Austin, Bethany/Baker
13. Miracles, Terri Blackstock, Thomas Nelson
14. Anathema, Colleen Coble, Thomas Nelson
15. Rachel's Secret, B. J. Hoff, Harvest House
16. Full Circle, Davis Bunn, Thomas Nelson,
17. The Parting, Beverly Lewis, Bethany/Baker
18. Where the Heart Leads, Kim Sawyer, Bethany/Baker
19. Unexpected Love, Tracie Peterson & Judith Miller, Bethany/Baker
20. The Forbidden, Beverly Lewis, Bethany/Baker

Monday, November 24, 2008

Another BG Sells First Novel

Congrats time again! Cynthia Ruchti has sold her first novel--to Abingdon. They Almost Always Come Home will be released in the spring of 2010. Here's her email to me:

Thanks to you, Brandilyn, I was encouraged to request an appointment with Barbara Scott, Abingdon Press fiction acquisitions editor, at the recent ACFW conference. I wouldn't have thought to do that without your suggestion. Barbara is so warm and enthusiastic, and obviously passionate about her role in developing Abingdon's fiction line.

Like a good girl, I followed through and sent her the requested proposal shortly after conference. She read it immediately and literally within a couple of hours emailed to ask me to send her the whole manuscript. (This is the story that took second place in the 2008 Genesis Contest in women's fiction).

From the minute I began working on this story in the spring of 2007, I had a sense that I'd finally found my writing "voice" and a compelling story coupled with the author vulnerability so many talk about. Was I willing to go deep enough to write the story the way it deserved? Yes. On my knees.

Although the main characters' issues are vastly different from anything I've experienced, I do know the pain of wondering if my husband would come home from a trip he took to the Canadian wilderness, as does Libby. Libby would leave her husband...if she could find him.

So many lessons here. Because the manuscript was completed and all the hard work done to get the synopsis and blurbs and market analysis and back cover ideas, I was able to send her the full manuscript within a few minutes, after praying hard but quickly!

I signed with Wendy Lawton (my dream agent who is perfect for me--great mix of business acumen and a momma's/sister's heart) the day Barbara told me she wanted to take it to committee. And here we are! In far more ways that just this one, I owe a lot to you. How many hundreds of novelists say that to you every day? Thanks. Now, the work begins!

Blessings and deep gratitude,


Congratulations, Cynthia. We are thrilled for you!

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Look at December's CBA Retailing

Yesterday my digital issue of December's CBA Retailing + Resources arrived in my inbox. I usually receive this e-mail a week or two before the printed version comes in the mail. Three things to note in this issue:

1. On a personal note, it was great to see Dark Pursuit as this issue's featured fiction review in a 2/3 page spread. "Lean style and absorbing plot ... Brandilyn Collins is a master of suspense." I didn't know Dark Pursuit would be featured like this. Nice surprise and review.

Congrats to Jeanne Damoff for her book, Parting the Waters, being chosen as the nonfiction feature.

2. In "Where Have the Customers Gone?" Verne Kenney, Zondervan's Executive Sales VP, talks about the movement in music and book sales to digital versions. A few statistics he notes: In 2000 Americans bought 785 million albums. Last year that number fell to 588--including downloaded albums. Why? Because now folks are buying singles, whose sales rose 65% from 2005 to 2006. As for books, e-book sales have increased 42% since 2002. Last year Amazon released the Kindle, with sales now over 245,000 units. And Sony has its Reader. (See F&F posts on the Kindle vs. Sony here, and Zondervan's distributorship agreement with the Sony Reader here.) Kenney advises Christian bookstores that "incorporating a digital center in a high traffic area will help position your store as relevant and as a cutting edge business."

The digital age of book sales has just begun, methinks.

3. Last month CBA R+R began a column on blogs and the impact they have on Christian retail. This month the columnist talked about four levels of blogging, as learned from a webinar CBA staff members attended, sponsored by Avectra Academy. The levels go from "unengaged" blogging--those who blog but don't follow others' sites--to fully engaged, in which you are actively listening to what's going on in the blog community and creating your own helpful and unique content. Of course, the goal is to get to that fourth level.

You can help strengthen the Christian retail blog community. The columnist is making a list of blogs within CBA that relate to the industry. If your blog does this, or if you read blogs that do, send an e-mail to the columnist with the blogs' names and URLs. Put "Blog Roll" in the subject line. In subsequent columns I'm sure we'll be hearing about some of these sites.

CBA Retailing + Resources is a helpful magazine that will help you keep an eye on the industry. A yearly suscription for non-CBA members is $59.95. You can review a sample digital issue here. Go here to buy a subscription.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Keep That Bible Rollin'

Today the Bible rolls into Tulsa, Oklahoma.

From the
Bible Across America web site:

Bible Across America is a one-of-a-kind, cross-country promotional tour honoring the 30th anniversary of the New International Version (NIV) translation, the most trusted, most read Bible available today.

The Bible is America's favorite book of all time. And because of its accuracy, clarity and literary quality, the NIV has become the most successful Bible translation of all time. Zondervan believes that a completely handwritten version of the NIV Bible by people from all across our country will help America rediscover the Bible in a fresh, new way.

Bible Across America is a symbol of Zondervan's commitment to make the Word of God more accessible and more relevant to more people. What better way to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of the NIV Bible than by inviting Americans to participate in this monumental tour and open more hearts to the Word of God.

The 15,000-mile journey will directly reach 90 cities in 44 states during the course of five months. Bible Across America is currently making stops at churches, universities, retail stores, American landmarks and special events between September 30, 2008 and February 11, 2009. More than 31,000 people are being invited to contribute a verse to complete an entirely handwritten Bible -- America's NIV.

Go here on the BAA web site to see when the tour may be near you.

Follow the tour on Twitter.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Egad, a Pecking Tom at My Window!

Need your entree for Thanksgiving dinner? It's strutting on my deck.

The wild turkeys are everywhere. They run all over the yard, looking for food. But come break time, they're on the deck right outside my office windows. The gal turkeys are content to stay down. Not so with the macho men. They like to fly up to the railing and sit there like they own the world. This afternoon a bunch were congregated at the side view out of my office, and suddenly I heard this banging noise. What in the world? I walked around my desk to catch a fat tom pecking the heck out of the glass. He caught sight of me and backed off, only to return and start pecking again when I sat back down. Whadya suppose is his problem? I figured he saw himself in the glass and didn't like what he saw. (Egad, a competitor tom!)

In the front yard we have a tree, now barren of leaves but loaded with red berries. Well, half loaded. The turkeys work on it every day. Trouble is they've eaten all the lower berries so now have to fly higher up in the tree. They are the most ungainly flyers. Bad enough going up. Coming down they tend to beak plant half the time.

Be my guest, BGs. Come on over and bag yourself a turkey.

Turkey view from my desk (looking straight ahead).

Left side view from my desk. Roostin' on the railing.

Dining at the berry tree.

Pecking tom at my side office window.


Winners from yesterday's drawing for copies of Unpretty: Jason and Kristi Golden. Congrats! Jason and Kristi, please contact me with your street addresses.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

UNPRETTY: The Truth of Evil

Recently I read Unpretty, a newly released suspense novel by Sharon Carter Rogers. I found the book interesting because of the reasons Sharon wrote it (see below). My own latest release, Dark Pursuit, was written because of a phrase and scene from John Milton's classic book, Paradise Lost, that had stuck in my head for 30 years. Sharon's Unpretty rose from her viewing a classic painting. In her guest post today, Sharon gives us the background on her novel:

Sometimes I wonder why I write suspense/thriller fiction.

It’s not like I set out to dream up scary stories for someone else’s entertainment. In fact, I just wanted to write stories…I didn’t think much about whether or not they’d be frightening, or even suspenseful. And my life is remarkably mundane for someone who dreams up macabre things to print. Somewhere in the back of my mind, though, when I started writing novels I must have been thinking about a quote attributed to Stephen King, “I just write about things that scare me.” I do that too, I think. And because I am Christian, things that scare me sometimes have to do with eternity.

Enter Michelangelo Buonarroti.

A few years ago I visited a bargain bookstore (yes! I’m cheap!) and saw a beautiful coffee-table book on the life and work of Michelangelo. I was instantly transfixed, so much so that I bought the book on a whim, brought it home, and immediately began churning through its pages. It was here that I first discovered Michelangelo’s scary/beautiful masterpiece, the Last Judgment – his depiction of the literal end of the world at Christ’s return.

This violent, graphic, huge painting actually adorns the altar wall of the world famous Sistine Chapel in Italy. If this painting were a movie, it would be rated NC-17 on the basis of nudity and violence alone. Yet it also breathtakingly depicts an artist’s interpretation of literal events described in the pages of Scripture itself.

The Last Judgment achieves an impression on the viewer that is both repugnant and holy. Terrifying and fascinating. Thrilling and peaceful.

This apparent juxtaposition of values was fascinating for me—and it sparked within me an exploration of the concept of God’s presence in darkness, in suffering, in art, in beauty and ugliness, in life, and in eternity. The result, as you can guess, was my latest suspense novel Unpretty. (Hey, I’m a novelist! What else did you expect?)

As I was writing Unpretty, I drew the most frightening literary scenes directly from the artistic scenes that Michelangelo included in his painting of the Last Judgment. And occasionally, while studying particular areas of the master’s artwork, I found myself asking questions like, “Wow, is it really appropriate to graphically display a nude man having his privates poisoned by a large snake on the altar wall of arguably the most famous Christian church in the world?” I can’t imagine the thousands of people who attend Saddleback Church or Willow Creek Community Church putting up with having to stare at THAT artistic vision while their pastors spoke each Sunday morning!

But I also realized that there was an honesty to Michelangelo’s depiction of evil. Judgment for sin is a messy, revolting thing. So much so that for me (and you) to be spared, it required the torture, humiliation, and naked execution of the Son of God himself.

So, I wrote Unpretty under the instruction of Michelangelo’s tutelage. Evil is real. Evil is ugly. Evil carries an element of truth, and when depicting evil you must tell the truth about it. It’s not the writer’s (or the artist’s) responsibility to glorify evil or to demonize evil. It’s the writer’s responsibility to tell the truth about evil – and its consequences – and then let that truth speak for itself. And to remind that, in the midst of that evil, the beauty of God’s redeeming presence still exists for those who will see it.

I’ve discovered that in the Christian publishing industry this can be a difficult approach to take. It seems we feel obligated to make sure the reader knows what’s “good” and “bad” in a story. We assume that if we aren’t startlingly clear on those topics, the Christian reader is too ignorant and easily offended to figure it out on her own. But I’ve found that most Christian readers are much more intelligent than we give them credit for being. (And, interestingly enough, several publishers turned down Unpretty because they were personally offended by the scenes drawn from the Michelangelo painting, saying those scenes were “too dark” and “not appropriate for Christians.” I was amused that my recreating scenes from this classic painting could be thought of as “not appropriate” for Christians when, for centuries, this huge image has been displayed prominently behind the pulpit of one of Christendom’s most revered churches!)

Which brings me back to the question I asked at the beginning. Why, I wonder, do I find it so necessary to write about scary things (like the Last Judgment) in the suspense/thriller genre of fiction? If my agent is correct, I could certainly make more money writing romance, or “women’s” fiction instead. And I would save myself the pain of getting hate mail telling me that my writing is “sadistic” and has “no redeeming value” for Christians!

But there is a certain truth in fear that I can’t avoid. And truth matters. It’s only through truth that I am able to enter an intimate relationship with the Spirit of Truth in Christ Jesus. This life is not always filled with sunshine and puppies; but it is always filled with the presence of God – even in darkness, even in pain, even in the moments of suspense that make the heartbeat drum in the ear and bring the faint smell of blood into the nostrils.

So, for now at least, I will write of the unpretty things. And I will hope that through those thriller/suspense stories, some reader somewhere will also get a glimpse of that which is eternal – and the One who makes all things beautiful.

Thanks so much for reading!

-- Sharon Carter Rogers

Sharon has donated two copies of Unpretty as giveaways to F&F readers. If you'd like a chance to win a copy, please leave a comment stating why you'd like to read it. I'll announce the winner's names tomorrow.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Dark Pursuit In Stores

My latest novel, Dark Pursuit, started shipping Friday, Nov. 7--ten days ago. By now they will be showing up on shelves across the country. If you check a store and the book's not there yet, you can always pre-order. Its arrival is imminent.

Thanks to many ARC giveaways from Zondervan, Dark Pursuit has already been reviewed all over the place on the Internet. New reviews come in each day. And on December 3-5 it will appear on the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance tour.

I'm very happy to see how extremely positive the reviews are. It's particularly gratifying to read reviews from people who haven't read Christian fiction before, stating how exciting and twisting they found the story to be. As for me, I had a fun time writing this book. Imagine a suspense author writing about a suspense author who's having trouble coming up with a plot. :) Might I be mixing a little reality and fiction there? And then, of course, the story mixes reality and fiction in its own way ...

Between the blog tours and ARCs, I've given numerous opportunities for you F&F readers to receive a free copy of Dark Pursuit. If there are some out there who still haven't gotten a free copy, you have more chances. Right now through the
Fans of Brandilyn Collins group on Facebook, I'm giving away 10 copies--winners drawn Friday. If you're not already a member of the group, join and add your post to the drawing. Just answer the questions (1) Why do you want a copy of Dark Pursuit, and (2) Who would you loan/give the book to when you're done reading?

You can also subscribe to my newsletter, Sneak Pique, which includes chances to win books in each issue. The next Sneak Pique will be released in the beginning of December.

Finally, if you've bought Dark Pursuit and want it signed (or any other suspense novel of mine, for that matter), please go to the Free Stuff page on my web site to request a bookplate. Might make someone you know a nice Christmas present.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Shocking Emily Post

I've been on Twitter for two and a half days. I have survived.

Did I cave to the pressure? Not really. I'm a logical thinker, and the Twitter pundits challenged with this: How can you really judge something you haven't tried? So I'm trying it.

Well, I don't go into anything halfway. First I had to set up my Twitter page. Thanks to the folks at HeBlogsSheBlogs for their helpful post on F&F. They gave dimensions for a graphic that can go on the side of your Twitter page as a way to get in more info about you. I created a graphic with my book covers and Seatbelt Suspense/Don't forget to b r e a t h e ... logos.

Second, on Facebook I chose the application for Twitter and selected to have all my tweets sent automatically to my Facebook page. This is a great feature. Keeps my Facebook page updated, thereby cutting down my time there. I only need to go on Facebook now once a day to confirm new friends and check mail. I can do that in five minutes. And once in awhile I send a message to the Fans of Brandilyn Collins group. (By the way, I'm about to give away some books through that group, so if you're not a member yet--go sign up.)

Third I went to some Twitterers' pages to see who they were following and chose to follow some folks I didn't know at all but who looked interesting to me. Many people will follow you in return, and I was happy to see that be the case with the majority of these folks.

Many people advised downloading TweetLater to help deal with Twitter. It has a great feature that allows for auto direct messages to new followers. Only one problem--Twitter first has to fulfill its promise to send you emails of said new followers. I have my account set to receive such emails, but I ain't gettin' 'em. I am receiving notices of direct tweets, however. If anyone out there knows how to fix this problem with Twitter, please do speak up. In the meantime I've been manually responding with direct messages to new followers.

Mainly I have tried to go slow and not make a public spectacle of myself. (My craziness in setting up Facebook wasn't all that long ago.) Reading all the incoming tweets is a little weird at first. Everyone's putting in their own two cents, and people responses are minimal. So it sounds like a lot of very self-centered people constantly wanting to tell you about their day without really listening to news about yours. I realize that's not really true, or they wouldn't be signed up to follow anyone else. That's the whole point of Twitter--putting out those tidbits about what YOU are doing. But this goes completely against my traditional social training, which is to show interest in the OTHER person, asking questions about his/her life. Emily Post would be shocked.

Do you think Twitter's creating a new social etiquette that will spill over into our regular lives? Interesting thought. Maybe not for us babyboomers, whose mamas taught us how to act, but for kids raised on Twitter ...

At any rate, I'm trying to get used to talking about myself throughout the day and not feeling like I have to respond to every tweet out of politeness. Actually on Twitter that wouldn't be polite, since all my followers would be barraged by my individual responses. It's quite the backwards etiquette.

After two and a half days I've got 110 followers. I haven't done much to drive up this number, other than simply announcing I'm on Twitter. I've kept down the number of people I'm following for the moment as I try to get used to all this chatter. (If you're following me and I haven't reciprocated yet, please be patient.) I have to wonder about folks who follow hundreds, even over 1000, people. You can't possibly read all those tweets. Are they following simply to be followed--and not reading their tweets at all? Are they the ultimate Emily Post shockers?

Clearly, this Twewbie has much to learn.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Zondervan Acquires BibleGateway

Ever used the online source BibleGateway? You can look up any verse, using a few search words, in more than 50 languages and in 81 just different versions. Zondervan has now acquired this online tool.

Publishers Weekly reports:

"In the coming months, Zondervan intends to build out the current features of the site and add a selection of reference materials and other Bible study resources based on its proprietary content and author resources."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Never-Ending Story Hits Home

Last week I received this email. It reminded me how efficient God is. He'll use one person's struggles to help another. (Email printed with permission.)

Dear Brandilyn,

Can I tell you that you're an answer to my prayers?! Oh, wow! I have to begin by confessing that I've not yet read any of your books. However, I sat down at 2 today and read through your 65 entry "Never Ending Story". I could barely tear myself away! And what I found there was relief and the confirmation that I needed. Thank you!

When I was a 25 year old English major at Methodist College (now Methodist University), my senior project was to write a feature length screenplay. My professor, a Jewish-born atheist with Buddhist tendencies, (Yes, at a Methodist school) wouldn't allow me to write anything about God, faith, or religion in my screenplay. Though I received an A- on the project (and his recommendation to send it to Hollywood), I knew in my heart that I hadn't written something that God was satisfied with. I wasn't satisfied with it either, but in the press of graduating, moving, and beginning a "real" job, I knew that I wouldn't have time to do anything further. I put my screenplay and all of its accompanying paperwork into a Reebok shoebox, wrapped it well with packing tape, and stuck it on the top shelf of the closet of my spare room.

Two weeks ago, sitting in my quiet living room at my laptop, with my dog snoring at my feet (typical), I heard God's still small voice tell me to rewrite my screenplay. But the strange thing was that God didn't tell me to rewrite it in screenplay format. He told me to adapt it into novel form. OH MY GOSH!! I'll be quite honest with you-- I thought that God had missed it or that I had lost it. I haven't thought about that screenplay but a dozen times in the past five years that it's sat in that closet! I have a BA in English, but my creative writing classes were all in popular magazine writing and poetry. And my concentration was in ESL. Those credentials do not a novelist make!

Once I'd regained my composure, I began to seek God about how I was going to go about obeying Him. The first thing He told me was to start reading novels and diagramming them as I did so to teach myself structure. I'm a VORACIOUS reader (I spend more on books than I do on clothes, shoes, makeup, and jewelry combined) and so this was not a chore for me. The second thing He told me to do was to go back and study the characters He'd given me for the screenplay. And the third thing He told me to do was to read your blog-- a little amazing since I'm not very familiar with your work.

I honestly don't know that this novel will ever be published. God didn't tell me to publish it-- just to write it. And when I started studying my characters, I realized that each of my characters contains a lesson that God wants to teach me about myself. In a way, they're all me... The young ones, the old ones, the men, the women, and the children... Even the dog... They all contain pieces of me that God wants to use to show me myself and Himself. Wow! I'm so amazed!

When I read your blog, you confirmed what God was doing with me. You pointed me (and your faithful BG's) back to God and said this is not about me or you. This is about God. And in saying that, you absolutely confirmed what God's doing in my life... And this confirmation means everything. I may not have the skills or the talent, but He does. And as long as I learn the lesson He has for me to learn, I've done the most important thing.

The "Never-Ending Story" referred to is titled "How I Got Here" in this blog's archives. This gal has joined ACFW and has already begun writing her book. How interesting it will be to see where God leads her on the journey!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

How Not to Market

I've just read Tribes, by national margeting guru Seth Godin. I'd seen numerous mentions of this book online, the last of which is a recommendation by Thomas Nelson President/CEO Michael Hyatt. It's an interesting book, worth the read.

We've talked a lot about marketing here on Forensics and Faith. It's a subject I continually seek to learn more about--and pass on to you what I discover. If you're interested in reading a thought-provoking blog on marketing, I recommend Godin's blog. (He had a very interesting post on election day about how the two candidates built their "tribes.") In Godin's November 7 post, "The Sad Lie of Mediocrity," he notes:

Doing 4% less may very well get you 95% less ... That's because almost good enough gets you nowhere ... Big organizations have the most trouble with this, because they don't notice the correlation. It's hidden by their momentum and layers of bureaucracy. So a mediocre phone rep or a mediocre chef may not appear to be doing as much damage as they actually are ...

Which leads me to my how-not-to-market story.

Recently my husband, Mark, spoke to two companies about a service they provide for airplane owners. After talking to Company #1, he called Company #2 and spoke to a phone rep:

Mark: How much does your service cost?

Rep: Twenty-five hundred.

Mark: Oh. Your competitor charges two thousand. Why do your services cost more?

Rep: We have bigger offices and more employees, so our overhead is higher.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Ride of the Future

Before we get into today's post--congratulations, Grady Houger! You've won the ebook offered in Friday's post, Blogophobia Conquered, by Laura Christianson & Jim Rubart. Please contact them through their blog,, to cash in.

Now--for those who are looking for a unique Christmas present, check out Terrafugia's Transition, a combination car and airplane. Keep the Transition in your garage, roll it out to take off, fly to your destination, then convert it to a car that travels at highway speeds.

The Transition is currently in a testing phase, with first deliveries scheduled for late 2009. Price--$194,000.

It uses super unleaded gas--way cheaper than aviation fuel. And it only burns 4.5 gallons an hour. Imagine the looks from folks when you roll this thing into your local Exxon station.

Okay, ya gotta learn how to fly first. Details, details.

Can't afford the thing? Not a private pilot? The Transition's still for you ... as a way cool vehicle in your next novel.

Friday, November 07, 2008

He Blogs, She Blogs On Twitter

Following our recent discussion about Twitter, Laura Christianson & Jim Rubart of wrote this guest post regarding how to get the most out of the program in terms of marketing. Take it away, Laura and Jim!

How to Set Reasonable Goals For Twitter

If you’re thinking about starting a blog—or enhancing the blog you already write—consider micro-blogging. Because micro-blogging services such as Twitter allow you only 140 characters per post, “tweeting” is a great way to practice writing tight and writing for a responsive audience.

But before you begin tweeting, you need to set goals for how Twitter will help you promote your writing. Think of it as creating a mini marketing plan. Here are some important questions to ask:

How will your Twitter user name (the URL that people click on) promote your brand?

Do you want to use a descriptive name that matches your business name?

HeBlogsSheBlogs -
BookHound -
MediaCoach -

Your first and last name?

MichaelHyatt -
Triciagoyer -
Terrywhalin -

Perhaps you’d rather smoosh together names, biz names—even locations:

Casseracom -
Mncahill -
Deegospel -

What picture will you use?

Twitter automatically posts a 48 x 48-pixel image next to each of your posts. In other words, the picture is teeny! Most people upload a semi-attractive headshot of themselves, which (hopefully) entices their followers to connect with them. Many businesses (such as use a company logo, because:

a) we’re ugly;
b) we can’t fit both of us in a 48 x 48 image; or
c) our logo promotes our brand better than a pin-sized picture of our faces

What color scheme will you choose?

Twitter lets you choose one of their pre-made themes, but why look like everyone else? Change the background and text colors so they match the color scheme of your Web site and/or blog. You do have a consistent color scheme for all your marketing materials, right?

And please, please do not use light type over a dark background. It’s too hard to read, especially for us old fogies!

How will you personalize your sidebar?

Twitter offers limited options for customizing your profile page, but you can use photo-editing software to create a skinny sidebar image (ours is 115 x 599 pixels) that promotes your latest book(s), products, services, etc. Every little bit of cross-promotion helps.

How will you balance personal vs. business tweets?

We recommend 80 percent business, 20 percent personal. Set up a Twitterfeed
account so links to your blog posts automatically feed to your Twitter profile.

Attempt to tweet three times during your workday (it only takes a minute—really). Two of those tweets should relate to your business; the third one can be about whatever strikes your fancy.

How will you interact with your followers?

As with all social networks, if you follow them, they’ll follow you. Once you’ve developed a following, it’s easy to engage your fellow tweeps by posing a question, commenting on their tweets, or direct messaging them.

Warning: Building and nurturing a following can become addicting, so set firm limits on your networking time. We suggest taking five minutes a couple of times per day to skim tweets and interact with other tweeters.

Will Twitter truly help you build your writing business? Most definitely—particularly if you strategize and set realistic goals.

So what are you waiting for? Create your Twitter marketing plan right now. And let us know how it goes.

Laura Christianson & Jim Rubart co-founded, a Seattle-area company that helps individuals and businesses maximize their writing, blogging, and marketing. Submit a comment to this post before Sun., Nov. 9 at 9 p.m. (Pacific)--and you’ll be entered in a drawing to win a copy of their new e-book, Blogophobia Conquered (retail $19.99). The winner will be announced on Monday's post.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Kanner Lake In Africa

I received this thank-you letter after sending some books to fans of mine across the ocean. They already had books one and two of the Kanner Lake series, but wanted the final two. Aren't these girls beautiful?!

Dear Brandilyn,

The books you sent to my students have arrived along with the bookmarks! Thank you so much. What a joyful day that was! They were so excited to see two brand new books that now belong to them, and to look inside and see that you had signed them was such an amazing thing to them. They immediately wanted their picture taken with the books.

Several of the girls are already through the 3rd book and waiting their turn to read the 4th. What a blessing it was for you to send them. The boys of the group (3 of them who were too shy for their picture) each took a bookmark and said their thanks.

I want to thank you for using the gifts and talents the Lord blessed you with to write Christian books that we all can enjoy. These children here consider gifts like this such an absolute blessing and will cherish them. Blessings to you as you continue serving the Lord and thanks again for sharing part of yourself with my sweet African students. You have no idea how happy you made them.


Libbie Seaton
Rafiki Village Ghana

Libbie--no more happy than they made me, seeing that wonderful picture.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Staring Evil in the Face

The November issue of Christian Fiction Online Magazine is out. Once again it's filled with many interesting and helpful articles. This month I have two. The first is my regular "Making a Scene" article, in which I wrap up my discussion on Story Resolution. The second is a column titled "Staring Evil in the Face" on why I write suspense--and why you should care (yes, even you BHCC folks!). Check these out--and see what else the magazine has to offer.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Know a Teenager?

We all do. They're our own kids, a friend's, maybe a nephew or niece. A lot of negative factors hit teens these days. Here are some newly released books (from Zondervan) to entertain with positive messages. Think--Christmas presents.

The Owling, by Robert Elmer

Life is turned upside down on Corista for 15-year-old Oriannon and her friends. The planet’s axis has shifted, bringing chaos to Brightside and Shadowside. And Jesmet, the music mentor who was executed for saving their lives, is alive and promises them a special power called the Wind—if they’ll just wait.

Homecoming Queen by Melody Carlson

Taylor returns from her disappearing act. The girls are still at odds over boyfriends and drama roles, as well as the upcoming event where Taylor, Eliza, and a reluctant DJ compete for homecoming queen. Will the best girl win?

Eternity's Edge by Bryan Davis

Nathan Shepherd's parents are alive after all! With the imminent collapse of the universe at hand, due to a state called Interfinity, Nathan sets out to find them. With Kelly at his side, he must balance his efforts between searching for his parents and saving the world.

The Fall of Candy Corn by Debbie ViguiƩ

Halloween time at The Zone means monsters, mazes, and plenty of candy corn. Candace is shy about telling friends at church that she’s working as a maze monster. However, when she discovers her youth group has planned an outing to the park, her embarrassment quickly turns to stage fright!

Ripple Effect by Paul McCusker

In book 1 of the Time Thriller’s Trilogy, all Elizabeth wants to do is run away, but when her world is turned upside-down and inside-out in an unexpected and bizarre time warp, all she wants to do is return home. But will she find the faith to uncover the truth and make her way back to her own reality?

Monday, November 03, 2008

Another Abingdon Success

More congratulations are in order for another BG. I recently received this email from Jennifer AlLee:

I just wanted to send you a quick note with a big THANK YOU! Because of your blog, I made contact with Barbara Scott at Abingdon Press. Long story short, you can add me to the list of authors who sold to Abingdon after reading about their new fiction department on your blog. My book, The Pastor's Wife, is scheduled to come out Spring 2010, and I couldn't be more thrilled :+}

Thanks so much for everything you do to encourage fellow authors in this crazy writing journey!

Be Blessed,


Major congratulations, Jen!