Friday, June 4, 2010

Journey to Publication by Lisa Wingate

Welcome to another Fortifying Friday! Maybe you’ve spent many hours writing and are looking forward to a few days away from the computer. Or perhaps you’ve had a crazy week at the day job and are looking forward to having a little time to write. Regardless, as we get ready to head into our weekend, grab a cup of coffee or tea and be fortified with what author Lisa Wingate shares with us today!

Journey to Publication

Years ago, I had an English teacher who assigned the dreaded What I Want to Be When I Grow Up essay. I said I wanted to be a writer. She asked what kind of writer. I had no idea. Some years later, I opened a desk drawer and discovered a story I felt compelled to write. I composed the manuscript for my first novel, Tending Roses, found an agent, the agent sold the book, and the book was published in 2001 as a premier title in New American Library’s women’s fiction line.

These days, I write inspirationals for Bethany House (a CBA publisher) and Penguin Putnam (an ABA publisher). Many inspirational writers now find themselves with opportunities in both CBA and ABA. Ten years ago, when Tending Roses came out, bookstore managers sent comment cards saying they had customers looking for stories in which characters grew in faith, and in which content wasn’t graphic. Those forward-thinking store managers pinpointed a trend that has seen the inspirational genre boom. For writers like us, that’s exciting news!

So, why the rapid growth spurt? I asked around a bit. Steve Oates, VP of Marketing at Bethany House says, “It is now easily possible to have a book reach the top ten on the NY Times bestseller list or the USA Today bestseller list and still be selling just from the CBA stores and the inspirational section of the general market.”

According to Dave Long, Acquisitions Editor at Bethany, “We’ve seen strong growth, primarily because we’ve found new retail outlets, Walmart, Sam’s, Costco. There is a broader range of what’s considered acceptable in CBA. Which means we’re all asking the question: What is Christian fiction? How overt does the spiritual message have to be? How much “edge” can the romance have? When writers emerge who have strong, unique voices that might not have worked ten yeas ago—today we’re happy to read them.”

In terms of readership, agent Danielle Egan-Miller, who represents Francine Rivers and Charlene Ann Baumbich, says, “Readers are people at different places in their faith journeys, and they respond to writers who are turning out terrific novels in which faith is an organic part of the story.”

Agent Claudia Cross (Sterling Lord Literistic) described the appeal of inspirationals by saying, “The best inspirational writing speaks to you where you live.” For me, that sums it up. Tending Roses came from the place I lived. I set out to write about life lessons passing from one generation to another in a notebook of stories from my grandmother. Without the awareness that God brought about understanding and forgiveness between two people who had never understood each other, the story would have failed to be complete. Faith was the underlying lesson in that notebook, and in the end the lesson that mattered most of all.

Lisa Wingate is a magazine columnist, inspirational speaker, and the author of fourteen mainstream fiction novels, including the national bestseller, Tending Roses, currently in its thirteenth reprint. Her books have been featured selections for Doubleday and Literary Guild book clubs, selected for The Reader's Club of America, have garnered LORIES Best Fiction and Reader's Choice Awards, and been nominated for the ACFW Book of the Year Award. Recently, the group Americans for More Civility, a kindness watchdog organization, selected Lisa along with Bill Ford, Camille Cosby, and six others, as recipients of the National Civies Award, which celebrates public figures who work to promote greater kindness and civility in American life. Her most recent books include The Summer Kitchen (Penguin) and Never Say Never (Bethany House).

More information about Lisa’s novels can be found at

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