Thursday, September 4, 2008

Barbara Scott, Abingdon Press, Welcome to Seekerville!

As you guys all know, today we're privileged to chat-it-up with Barbara Scott, the Senior Acquisitions Editor for Fiction from Abingdon Press. Barb has promised to stop in from time to time today, stretch her legs from long hours of editing, sorting, e-mailing, reading, meeting, etc. to play in Seekerville. I promised her good food and great conversation. Or vice versa. Not quite sure which!!

To further that end I've got a lovely brunch laid for everyone and a full cafe'/cappuccino bar set up. If ya' didn't bring your mug, I've got plenty. Stop in, relax a while, chat with us and pour yourself a cup of chocolate velvet, hazelnut decaf or straight ol' 'joe'.

And there are some lovely See's dark chocolates because I hear dark chocolate is one of her weaknesses. As authors, we're not afraid to play on one's weakness, now are we????

Barbara’s bio:

Barbara Scott, Sr. Acquisitions Editor for Fiction, is actively acquiring new voices, as well as published authors, in the genres of contemporary women's fiction, contemporary romance, historical romance, historical fiction, mystery, action/adventure, and suspense/thrillers. Abingdon is not looking for literary, supernatural, or apocalyptic manuscripts. Barbara has more than 30 years experience in newspaper, magazine, and book publishing, including adult, youth, and children's fiction. She also has published two bestselling novels for Thomas Nelson with coauthor Carrie Younce, ghost-written books for well-known ministers, and written numerous work-for-hire gift books.

Barbara, welcome to Seekerville! Your bio for ACFW covers many pertinent points. I know when I put out a request for questions, genres was the most often asked. Since the bio covers that, let’s get more specific. Are you looking for a certain word count? Will the books be released in trade or mass paperback sizes? Do you prefer alpha or beta heroes? (Sorry, that one just slipped in. You know us romance writers. Sneaky little things…)

Thanks for the warm welcome, Ruthy. Love those virtual chocolates! Fiction lovers have such vivid imaginations that I can feel myself gaining five pounds just thinking about them. But on to your questions... ;)

Our fiction will be released in trade paperback (5-1/2” x 8-1/2”) and we’re looking at word counts of around 75 to 80,000 words, although I have some that go up to 100,000 and a couple in the 60 to 70,000 range. To keep our price point at $13.99, we’d like to stay below a 400-page novel.

As for alpha or beta heroes, they just need to respect their women and treat them as if they have brains. No chauvinists unless they reform by the end of the book or get their just desserts. LOL

You’ve been fast and gracious in your dealings with authors submitting proposals, sometimes responding within hours. Minutes… Do you ever worry that your turn-around time might make you the target of other editors whose turnarounds stretch into months and sometimes years? The upcoming ACFW conference is known for rather interesting pranks. Have you ordered extra locks on your hotel room door? Surveillance equipment? J If not, it might not be a bad idea. Assumed identities are helpful as well. Anybody got a Groucho mustache for Barbara?

You know, I have been looking over my shoulder a lot lately and getting these stabbing pains between my shoulder blades. Hm.

Since I was an author once, I know what it’s like to wait and wait for somebody… anybody...the guy at Starbucks…to get back to me. Not fun! Of course, I could always self-diagnose and say it has a lot to do with OCD. I must have a little Monk in me because I can’t stand a full email box.

Actually, I’m quite fortunate at Abingdon because we are consciously not booking ourselves in meetings all day. You’d be amazed at how much time most editors spend in pre-planning, planning, and post-planning meetings from development to pub boards to title and cover direction to marketing and promotions. And did I mention that most receive 75 to 100 emails a day? Try to keep up with that!

Barb, I’m a life-long, choir-singing Irish Catholic. Abingdon is a Methodist press, but rumor has it you’re open to Catholic stories and that’s uncommon in CBA. Tell us a little more about that, what you’d be willing to see and consider.

One thing I love about Abingdon Press is that we respect people of various faiths, cultures, and denominations. For instance, the protagonists in one new mystery series, which will debut in Spring 2009, are a liturgical Christian church secretary and the Jewish Rabbi from the synagogue next door…crime solvers extraordinaire! There will be ample opportunity for them to share their faith in natural, organic ways, just as we all do with our friends, but our rabbi will not be converting. Diversity is the beauty of our lives, and it’s only through dialogue with one another that we gain understanding.

Abingdon has created a stir in the waters with this opportunity, especially opening their doors to new authors and unheard voices. What helped forge that decision? Do you consider new authors a risk or an opportunity to draw new readers?

Cool!! Let’s stir a little water together. I’ve had this conversation with editors and agents for years. Especially in the bigger houses, it’s difficult to take a risk on new writers. This may come as a revelation, but the average fiction book in CBA only sells 3,500 to 5,000 copies. That’s not enough for the financial models of some larger publishing companies, so editors need to find authors with established track records. It makes it difficult for a new author to break in, but it’s not impossible. Realistic expectations were built into our publishing model, which allows us to open the door for those writers who have been working at their craft but are not yet published. New authors are a risk, but they are also an opportunity. Together, we can beat the bushes for those readers who have never read Christian fiction and are looking for engaging stories.

From talking with you, I know that Abingdon Press Fiction is interested in agented submissions at this time. You’ve been added to the list of ACFW editors for the upcoming Twin Cities conference and I know a lot of our guests are planning to attend. Other than the ladies’ room, (we’ve all heard those stories and no, people, it was never ME!!!) is there any place you’d like aspiring authors to ignore you, pretend they don’t see you, or, at the very least, pretend they’re not authors, LOL!????

I’d rather not throw open the doors to unsolicited manuscripts because then you’d never hear from me. I’d be answering mail all day. However, if I open up an opportunity at a writers’ conference or on a writers’ blog, you don’t need an agent to send me a short query email. In fact, I’m signing up two authors who read Brandilyn Collins’ blog and asked if they could send me proposals. Voila! Dreams do come true!

And yeah, those bathroom encounters can be embarrassing. So just smile and let me wash my hands. I might have an appointment with another conferee and need to get out of there. Oh, and my hotel room is off limits. But you knew that, right?

A few years ago Nav Press branched into fiction after a long and successful ministry in non-fiction. Have you or your staff studied Nav Press’s strategy to ponder what you might do differently? Similarly?

My understanding is that Nav Press has a new administration that decided to go back to their roots of serving the Navigators. Naturally, fiction would no longer fit their mission. You’d have to ask someone from Nav Press for more information.

Barb, as a strong, long-established press, Abingdon has inroads into various sale venues. Can you give us a breakdown of your future fiction marketing strategy? I noticed that Cokesbury, the retail arm of Abingdon, offers books and study materials, etc. from numerous publishers, not just Abingdon. Insourcing from other publishers makes good economic sense for all concerned. Will the fiction line be available through Cokesbury as well as traditional ABA and CBA bookstores? Do you ever use mass retail outlets like Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Sam’s Club, etc.?

Abingdon Press has a big advantage in that we’ve been around for a long time and have a solid reputation. It’s amazing how fast the word has spread to the publishing trade. Our fiction will be available in all Cokesbury stores, as well as ABA and CBA bookstores, and our reps also will be calling on other major accounts.

Barb, you’ve got to be excited about launching a new line, being the ‘go-to’ gal. Do you have a personal goal for this line that you’d like to share with us? And does the line have a name yet?

Excited?! More than excited!! We just closed our Fall 2009 list, and I had to restrain myself from jumping on a desk and singing the Hallelujah Chorus. I’ve never had this much fun in my life! My personal goal is to be another Maxwell Perkins, the editor who encouraged and nurtured writers like Hemingway and Faulkner. My main motivation in life has never been money, although I certainly need to be successful to keep this job, but rather I’m motivated by my passion for discovering great stories, meeting authors who become my friends, and touching readers’ hearts and minds with books that make them want to know and love God.

For now…we’re Abingdon Press

Barb, thanks so much for being here. I know our Seekerville buds are looking forward to your visit. The Seekers appreciate your time, your expertise and we're totally appreciative of the fact that you took our Myra off of Unpubbed Island with her contract for A Perfect Christmas. Gives me more coconut macaroons, having her gone an' all. And yes, I saved you some, drizzled with dark chocolate per your request. I tucked them away because, well... we get lots of women visitors here and you know how THAT can be.



  1. Um, Ruthy, that's ONE Perfect Christmas. For now, anyway. We all know how editors are about changing titles. ;>D Thanks for the mention, BTW. And if Barbara sounds excited about her new line and discovering new writers, well ... just imagine how excited I am!!!

    Wow, it is SO FUN to get to know Barbara and Abingdon Press even better through this interview! Great job, Ruthy!!!

  2. Thanks Ruth and Barbara.

    Just to clarify, does Abingdon Press adhere to CBA guidelines for fiction?

  3. Thank you, Ruthy and Barbara, for this awesome interview. The excitement is contagious!!

    Barbara has been a dream as far as timeliness and communication--I'm so impressed, especially in light of all she's having to get launched! WOW! And I'm so honored to be a part of the line. You can see in her answers that she's passionate about writing, about story, about Abingdon--how wonderful!! Look out CBA--Abingdon is on the way! :-D

  4. Ruthy, thanks for bringing Barbara aboard and Barbara thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. It is always exciting to see a new venture in fiction. I can imagine how thrilled you are to be bringing in new authors.

    I love your comment about Maxwell Perkins. Having worked with editors, I know how much they can improve a manuscript. I don't think you get enough credit-smile. so thank you from a reader who loves to see an author grow into a bestseller.

    And thanks too for taking Myra off unpubbed island. You'll find she's a go-getter and great to work with. As Ruthy said, we now have less people to share those macaroons. yumm pass one over would you Ruthy? I'll have a cup of the Chocolate Velvet too. You know its my favorite.

    Almost forgot my question I was so busy thinking about those macaroons.

    How is Abingdon planning to launch their new line? You touched a little on this, but will you be featuring the line or the authors in an ad campaign or with distributors or the CBA convention? Thanks again for taking time for us.

  5. I got up extra early this morning, rubbed the sleep from my eyes and made my way downstairs to get a huge mug of coffee...lots of creamora and two sugars. I sat down to my computer and clicked on 'The Seekers' anticipating the interview. Augh!!! It wasn't up yet!

    I need more patience, I know. I have to say I loved reading the interview. I felt like I was sitting in a cozy living room listening to Ruth and Barbara having a chat.

    My heart has been fluttering ever since I got word that my novel, 'Surrender the Wind', a historical set in Virginia and England, post-revolution, was accepted by Abingdon Press. I was out of the house when Barbara called. She left a message and I still have it on my answering it for friends and family when they stop in. Tear up every time I listen to it.

    If you head over to my website, you can read about 'Surrender the Wind', coming out in the Fall of 09 by Abingdon Press.

    Thanks again to Barbara and the staff at Abingdon Press for making my dream come true. Writers, do not ever give up.

    Rita Gerlach

  6. Please, Ruthy, eat all the macaroons you want. Never cared much for coconut anyway. But don't come between me and anything chocolate!

    LOL, Rita, I still have Barbara's voice mail that she left on my cell phone before calling my home number!

  7. Barbara, welcome to Seekerville! Thanks so much for joining us.

    Ruthy, excellent interview. Barbara, thanks for taking the time to answer.

    I have to laugh about the answering machine messages. Well, maybe I should cry! My first sale call message got lost after a storm. So Rita and Myra, find a way to save those recordings! :)


  8. Barbara, what a pleasure to have you here!! I know your interview with Ruthy has been highly anticipated.

    And I am impressed with your fast response turnaround -- holy cow, you must be the most organized editor on the planet. Response times from editors that I have experienced range from 6 months to 3 years. You are a breath of fresh air!


  9. Hi, Barbara. Welcome to Seekerville.
    And you are BRILLIANT to find Myra and snag her.
    Congratulations to Ronie and Rita, too.
    Maybe Seekerville can be a hang out to promote Abington. We can call it The Abington West Wing???

    Great answers, too. I learned a lot. I'm sure some of you heard the cracking of my atrophed brain. Learning is always painful for me. I avoid it whenever possible.

  10. I'm sure it's a huge relief to have fall 2009 behind. I'm looking forward to reading some of those books!

    A BIG congrats to all of you who are now off unpubbed island! This was a great interview. Ruthy, thank you for sharing Barbara's wonderful insights into Abingdon's new adventure.

  11. What an awesome interview! Thanks for sharing!

  12. Thanks for the insight, Barbara. I'm very please with your interaction with our agency at ICRS. It helped us target some things you wanted to see. It is always so helpful when an editor is forthcoming in that way and we can submit material that is at least in the ballpark and not a waste of either of our time to have it considered. I know your new line is going to be a great success.

    Terry Burns
    Hartline Literary

  13. Rita, that was so MY BAD!!!

    Didn't mean for it to go up late and I never, ever, ever post late...

    Until today, LOL!

    I could pretend I was holding out for the West Coast sleepyheads, but that would be an outright fib. Just had a muddle with Blogger (note the absence of cool Abingdon logos and photos) and finally just went straight script.

    Which is really all you guys care about anyway! Well, that and the food.

    I've got to tell you guys that Barb has been wonderfully fun to work with. She's open-minded, dynamic, smart, savvy and has a great sense of humor. A wonderful gal to trust with your work.

    And the rest of us are just excited to see a new avenue opening up. The more the merrier, I say, and with Christian fiction blossoming I know we all appreciate this bold step forward.

    And Myra I added that part this morning and I knew I blew ONE PERFECT CHRISTMAS right after I published this to the web the SECOND time but I didn't dare fool with success. I know you understand.

    Okay, pass me a macaroon and some of that bread pudding with almond sauce. To die for. I LOVE Southern and New England cooking.


  14. Ruthy, hand over the chocolate and no one will get hurt! The cafeteria was serving pork loin, avocado salsa, black-eyed peas, and collard greens. Now I know I've moved to the South, but I need dessert to tide me over.

    How great is it to see three of my new authors on this blog! Congratulations again Myra, Ronie, and Rita. You're all terrific writers!!!

    Now on to questions: Patricia W. asked whether Abingdon Press adheres to CBA guidelines for fiction. That's a good question. Most authors have the idea that there's a master list of rules tacked up on a wall somewhere that dictates what we publish. Not true. Every publisher is different, and every editor is different. Some are more conservative, some are more middle-of-the-road, and some are a little more left of center. Decisions are made by disparate individuals who don’t always agree. I've seen some pretty heated arguments between editors, management, and sales over projects brought to the table. But as an editor if I think a project is right for our house, I’m like a bulldog. For instance, I held on to one proposal for two years before I could convince everyone we should publish it. By that time, several people had moved on to other jobs and a new wind was blowing.

    Other times I've turned down a manuscript because I knew there was no way it would succeed in CBA. If a passage makes me blush, then I know it won’t get past the gatekeepers. But as Christians I think we should have the courage to examine authentic real-life issues. Platitudes never changed anyone's life, and getting someone saved doesn't make all the problems of life go away. Our view at Abingdon is that fiction should illuminate the human condition in some important way. Our Christian walk is not perfect, and we need to let the world know that sometimes we fail or fall down, but when we do, we have a loving God who will pick us up. That’s real. Should we always preach to the choir, or should we step out into the world and be salt and light? Jesus ate a lot of meals with sinners and the unclean. Sometimes, we just need to laugh at ourselves.

    Sandra asked how we were going to launch the Abingdon line. With great fanfare! For instance, we’ll have advance reader copies (ARCs) for the BEA and ICRS conventions, and we’re contacting every publication we can think of for articles and reviews. ARCs will be sent out to church reading groups and other influencers in the CBA. Money will be spent on trade ads and other promotions that are being whipped up by our marketing department. Of course, blogs are extremely important. Fiction sells by word-of-mouth endorsements, so our authors will do blog tours. I know there’s more, but some things are a secret. ;)

    Okay, my shoes are off and I’m ready for the next question.

  15. Barbara said, "Now I know I've moved to the South." I wondered if a relocation was involved when you came on board at Abingdon. Was it hard pulling up stakes and settling in a new place?

  16. Barbara! It's so wonderful to "connect" with you. :-D I am so looking forward to working with you. Wow, you're really setting off the fireworks for the launch!

    I absolutely love that Abingdon is versatile regarding the Christian elements. I've always had a hard time with "conversion" scenes because writing somethhing like that is very delicate, to me. So, I am relieved to be with Abingdon in that regard (and many others!). LOL

    Barbara - Can you tell us how many books are launching the first year? I think on another blog, it had mentioned 4-5.

  17. Hi Myra,

    Yes, we moved from Grand Rapids to Nashville on a Wednesday (in a driving rain), and I flew to ICRS that Saturday, July 12. It was my first day with Abingdon. I had set up appointments with authors and agents, so my dance card was full. It was a great show for me.

    Now we just need to sell our house in Grand Rapids. Anyone moving to Michigan?

    Was it hard? Not at all. I've lived in lots of places like the San Diego and Ventura areas, Tulsa, OK, Springfield and St. Louis, MO, Dallas, TX, etc. My husband Mike and I were so thrilled to move south again that he gave our snow blower to the guy next door!

  18. Barbara,

    Thanks for sharing this info about Abingdon!

    What are you looking for in historicals? Do you want strictly stories set in the U.S. or other countries as well? Do you prefer stand alone books or ones in a series? Any specific times periods?

    And I'm so delighted that you snagged up Myra. She's a member of my local writers group. :)

  19. It sounds like we're on the same wave length, Ronie!

    As for our first list, we have 6titles slated for Fall 2009, and we'll probably be up to full speed with 10 books for the Spring 2010 list.

  20. Sweet! You're rockin' it out, Barbara! That mystery series you mentioned earlier sounds great!

    Since you're in the South, you've got to try this Ultimate Banana Pudding recipe passed on to me by a family friend and has become a tradition in our family for ... well, just about every holiday that exists and then some!

    5 cups milk
    2 Lg Boxes vanilla pudding
    *beat 4 minutes on low*
    12 oz cool whip
    8oz sour cream
    Layer: Nilla wafers, bananas, pudding. Repeat.

  21. Well, Myra, I think it's unanimous. You just won Survivor -Unpubbed Island. :)

    Vickie, I have no fast and hard rules for historicals. They don't have to be restricted to the U.S., nor to any particular time period. Although I'd love to see a really terrific 1st century novel about the early church.

    I'm working on my thesis for a Master's in English, and I've read everything from medieval to early 20th-century novels. No where on the globe is off limits. Here's my criteria for a good historical... if I can't stop reading after the first couple of pages, you've got me hooked. But if the history gets in the way of a great story, it pushes me right off the edge of a very flat earth. I love the richness of historical accuracy and details, but if I feel as if someone's giving me a history lecture through the mouths of the characters, I lose interest.

    Does that answer your question? I'd like to hear what historical periods and places interest all of you and your friends.

  22. Kudo's for Ruthy for asking the real questions we are all asking and for an awesome interview.

    Thank you, Barbara for being with us in Seekerville and for so graciously answering those hard-hitting questions.

  23. Hello Barbara. I read (and commented on) your first interview and was just as eager to read your second. :-)

    Your turn-around-time sounds too good to be true. I sent a query with a series propsal to an editor last Jan and last word was they haven't decided yet. It wouldn't be so bad if they'd at least ask to see the ms. :-(

    I have you on my editor request list for the ACFW conf. If I don't get an appt, maybe I'll see you at a meal or in the hall but I promise, I'll ignore you in the bathroom and I won't hide in your room.

    Hmmm - nobody said anything about the parking lot, though...what kind of car do you drive? Or are you flying in? What does your coat look like? I have your photo so I'm sure I'll recognize you...

    No, I don't write suspense with stalkers...yet...

    :-) Thanks for the interview Ruthie. Oh - I love macaroons.

  24. Barbara,
    I'm reading these posts and your witty and informative replies, crying and laughing at the same time. My heart is filled with joy and thanksgiving. The support of other Christian authors about this new line has been fantastic. I can't tell you how grateful I am to God for opening up the door for me with Abingdon. It literally was a miracle.

    I had sat down at my desk and with my hands over my face I asked the Lord to give me direction, to show me the way He wanted me to go. A few moments later, after I checked my emails, I went to Brandilyn's blog and read about you and Abingdon's fiction line. I queried you and was offered a contract.

    It took me two years to write 'Surrender the Wind', and for two years I've been submitting to agents. I am a testimony to God's grace and how He knows what is best for us, when it is best for us. We just have to be patient and allow Him to have control over our writing careers. I hope you will want to take a look at my next historical, 'Beside Two Rivers', and my other historicals that were pod printed but no longer under contract. I'm ready to go!

    I know this is lengthy, but I'm bursting with things I want to say. For one, I will be featuring the launch on Stepping Stones Magazine for Writers. I would like to feature each author and their books, when they are released in monthly issues under 'New Releases'.

    I plan to talk to my cousin Nora Roberts about this new line and ask if she and her husband Bruce would be willing to stock books in their store in Boonsboro, Maryland called Turn the Page. I can't promise anything, but I'm going to try. You could send them a catalog.

    I'd like to link up with any Abingdon fiction authors, as well as other Christian authors, in my area that would like to put together a joint book signing.

    And speaking of Maryland...we like black-eyed peas too, as long as they have tons of onions in them. If you are ever in my neck of the woods, Maryland fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and country gravy are the popular choice...along with Maryland crab cakes seasoned with Old Bay.

    I'm taking a breather now.

  25. Once upon a time I was a Presbyterian church secretary until I quit to write full time for Thomas Nelson. Abingdon Press and Cokesbury were family names to me. Great to see you expanding into fiction, Barb! I look forward to saying hello at the ACFW Conference.

  26. Okay Barb, as one of your newly discovered golden voices, I have a question. As we all know the Golden Ratio can be defined as a simple mathematical equation. If the ratio between the sum of two quantities such as height and width is the same as the ratio between the larger one and the smaller, the golden ratio is approximately 1.6180339887. This formula, when applied to math and the arts is considered most esthetically pleasing. We've all heard of the golden rectangle in window design, not to mention the fact that most lemon squares are not exactly square and are expressed in the golden ratio equation (which is why they are so tasty), brownies also and of course your basic Hershey Bar--especially your basic Hershey Bar even when broken down to it's smallest pre perforated dimensions. So, the average cba book is five and one half inches by eight and one half inches which equals a ratio of 1.3 or thereabouts. Uh, NOT the golden ratio. How do you account for this discrepancy in publishing and mathematics? And do you think all the awards to be won by your all-girl orchestra will once and for all disprove the golden ratio in CBA? Uhm.

  27. As with Rita, having Barbara accept my manuscript was also an answered prayer. I am still pinching myself and praising God every day for this wonderful opportunity!

    Actually, God has found some pretty interesting ways to get His message across, so I don't put anything past Him. Last March at Mount Hermon I felt like He kept bringing the word "unfailing" to my thoughts, and I've clung to it ever since. His timing hasn't not always met my schedule, but His promises never fail!

  28. Joyce! My head is spinning! These are publishing facets that never occurred to me.

    Pam, our resident statistical genius, where are you? Why haven't you discovered these important details?

  29. Well yes, Myra, book design is a science after all. This is why they feel so good in your hands and we love to turn the pages and caress their, oh sorry I can't say caress, savor their many words. This is why I say death to the Kindle. It's ratio is way off.

  30. Can I tempt anyone with a slice of melktert all the way from South Africa? Its soft dreamy filling with a touch of cinnamon is really yummy!

    Thank you Ruthy and Barbara for this interesting and most encouraging interview.

    Barbara, I'm glad to see that historicals need not be restricted to the US. Does the same hold true for your mysteries? What does Abington Press look for in a mystery? I guess I'm really asking if a cozy mystery set in South Africa stands a chance of finding a home with you.

    Best wishes for your new fiction line.

    Ruth Dell

  31. Thanks Barbara for the info. I'm looking forward to the fanfare. Sounds like you have selected a great starting line.

    You mentioned you were through for 2009. Are you still acquiring for future years or are you set to start with these authors?

    No fair talking about that southern food. Yummy. I think I gained a pound thinking of fried chicken.

  32. Do I really have to work today? I'd so much rather hang with you all and blog. Like you, Rita, I'm laughing hysterically...inside. After all, I work in a cubicle, albeit a fairly large cube. I do have neighbors, though, who might not appreciate my outbursts.

    In all seriousness, though, I think it's totally a God thing that I'm here...not to get too hyper-spiritual on everyone. But I had been praying for a job where it was warm and where Mike and I could eventually retire. Nashville and Abingdon met all my criteria. Get this: I was laid off from my previous position one day (along with 17 other people), and I was offered the position at Abingdon the next afternoon. I couldn't have planned that timing!! So maybe we're all like the perfect storm of prayers coming together at the same time. As someone I know used to say, "God is in the narrative." He's the one weaving this incredible story, with more plot twists than any of us could dream up.

    Oh, and Ronie, I've already emailed the banana pudding recipe home.

    More to come. I'm still working on that golden ratio thingie.

  33. Congratulations to all the new Abingdon authors! I'm so excited for you.

    Barb, I'm wondering about chick lit. I saw on another blog that you were open to it, but your bio here didn't mention it. Of course, it could just be considered contemporary women's fiction. Will you share your personal opinion on the genre.

    Thanks so much for answering all these questions. It really shows that you love your job, and I think we all want to work with you just for that reason alone.

  34. Hi Barbara, Your question about the historical preferences has been twigging around in my head. I'm like you in that it doesn't matter what time period the historical is set in as long as its a great read with terrific characters. Our Seekers that write historicals (Julie, Mary, Janet) are all in different periods, but the writing is so great, I love each one.

    But I have been thinking a lot about the sixties. Having recently retired and hanging with retirees, I'm discovering they love nostalgia of their era of youth. I went to see Mama Mia with my high school girlfriends (we get together twice a year) and most of the comments were the fun of the memories from the sixties the movie evoked. Think about it? There are tons of baby boomers who are going to have time to read after they retire. smile

  35. Joyce. I actually have some worksheets for the Golden Rectangle. We can settle this with a simple mathematical formula.

    Length = Width x (1 + square root of 5) over 2.

    If the width of a golden rectangle is 10 meters, what is it's approximate length in meters.

    There. One that's solved we can fully grasp the Abington fiction novel size.

    We can do the Pythagorean Relationship.


  36. I have cube math, too.

    Which could be effective for those of you in cubicles.

  37. Okay, y'all got me curious. I just Googled "Golden Rectangle" and came up with this site. It's still gibberish to me, but at least I know how to do a hyperlink in a comment. Which is more than I can say for some Seekers.

  38. Ah, but Mary, does the Pythagorean Relationship apply to fiction or baked goods for that matter since it can be demonstrated in so many ways that do not, ipso facto, require symbolism or explanation.

  39. Whoo, Mary and Joyce. I can see you two are going to hit it off very well.

    Excuse me, I need chocolate. I have a headache.

  40. Hi Colleen! I have Anathema on my bookshelf, and it's on my "to do" reading list. I can't wait to see all or some of you at ACFW! Please stop by and say hi.

    Anita, you have a great stalker mentality there. You can use that; put it down on paper. Actually, I'm flying in, and I have NO IDEA where my coat is. We're still living in an apartment and most of our things are in storage. I guess I'll have to go buy something new. What a shame!

    Joyce, about that Golden Rule Golden Triangle... definitely not that...Golden Ratio...that's it. If you factor in the number of words within the book and divide it by 1.6 whatevers,it balances out the .3 thingies you're missing to make the perfect book. Can you tell math was not my major? Words, Joyce! Give me words!

    Welcome, Ruth, from South Africa. I'll take a slice of that melktert.Interesting question about a cozy mystery set in SA. Could you throw in a transplanted American as one of the protagonists? Maybe a woman who moves there for some reason and has to rely on a South African detective...with a little romance thrown in, of course.

    Sandra, re: acquisitions past 2009...Actually, I'm madly reading proposals for Spring 2010, and before you know it, I'll need 10 more books for Fall 2010. Contracts are going out today or tomorrow for the Fall 2009 list, but all of those manuscripts were already complete. The publishing process is like having a baby. Give it nine months from the time you acquire a title to editing to cover design to promotions to release. We have to stay ahead of it. I feel like I'm pregnant with six children right now and planning on a second litter.

    Lest I make these answers too long, I'll post this and then answer the other questions in another posting.

  41. Hey everyone! They say "hey" a lot in the South. It's perfectly acceptable. I'm headed home now. I've been here since 7ish this morning, and I hear good old hamburgers are in my forecast for tonight. Although after all the talk of fried chicken....sigh.

    However, I will try to hop on again tonight, and then I'll check in tomorrow morning as well. I can't leave the chick lit and boomer questions hanging. Talk to you soon!

  42. Thanks to Ruthy and Barbara for such a fun and informative interview!

    Barbara, the amount of projects you handle at one time astounds me! After all the emails we've sent back and forth, I'm looking forward to meeting you in person at the ACFW conference. And I promise not to stalk you!

  43. Um, Barbara, I claim plausible deniability (or whatever works) if you are suddenly addicted to the stuff and gain 150 lbs. Okay? Just wanted to make sure. LOL My family DEVOURS it--and that recipe makes a large batch!

    WOWOW!!! What an exciting time for Abingdon. I'm one of the 2010 authors, so I'll get to watch with gleeful anticipation as the other authors see 2009 bring their releases...and bringing me one step closer to my release date! This is sooo kewl.

  44. Barbara, I was laid off from Abingdon last year just as we were deep into discussions about starting a fiction line, with your name already on the table. I was an editor in Adult General Interest in my everyday life as Joan Shoup, and the project I was working on was canceled. So I'm thoroughly delighted to see that the line is progressing so well already! Sounds like you're having just tooooo much fun! I wish you all the best!

  45. I can't believe the food you guys have devoured.


    Lookee here, I brought a big dish of that layered banana pudding thing-a-ma-jig for everyone as long as you all realize that the theoretical principles of ratio establish the base solidity of this particular repaste...

    Ruthy translation: In baking, writing, pudding and romance, it's all about ratio.

    Too much?


    Too little?

    Namby pamby, toss the book across the room, find another.

    Not deep enough?

    Author was either hurried or lazy or not the sharpest tool in the shed, ergo: a rope.

    Too deep?

    Author has fallen in love with his/her own voice because they're either mega-sellers and can get away with it or way too literary for me, using words beyond my ken.

    Ratio, gals. Balance. In any equation it all comes back to ratio.

    Which is why NONE of us will ever look like Barbie because her shape on a real woman is totally unreachable and unrational. But yowza! The girl (doll) sure can wear a nice pair of jeans. Just sayin'...

    Hey, I'm thrilled to death, tickled pink, ecstatic and every other over-the-top bit of nonsense I can spew at how nicely you've all hounded... er, ummm.... welcomed Barbara. You guys totally rock the big Kahuna.

    I have no idea what that means but I think it was a Moon-doggie expression.

    Don't know or remember Moon-doggie?

    My lips are sealed. Google it.

    I've got supper being served on the veranda of the hotel. The hotel has graciously provided a totally awesome Southern meal in honor of Nashville...

    Which is hosting RWA at Opryland in 2010...

    And hosted ACFW two years ago. Great, great time. Ask a few Seekers about Coyote Ugly, 'kay????

    Anyway, I hear they've got fried chicken, ranch dressing, corn on the cob, cornbread, dirty rice (one of MY favorites), pulled pork, mac salad and mac and cheese...

    And a host of desserts to finish off our day. Paula Dean would love this buffet! And who doesn't love Paula Dean? Please...

    More on them later.

    Keep 'em coming, ladies, and Barb, God bless you for your warmth, joy and humor.

    See ya' later.


  46. Hi Barbara! Thanks to you and Ruthy for this fun, informative post. We're all excited here in Seekerville about Abingdon Press! And delighted you grabbed Myra's One Perfect Christmas!

    I loved hearing how God answered your prayers about your job situation with His perfect timing.

    Looking forward to meeting you at the ACFW conference.


  47. Barb, it was so great to get the opportunity to hear (read) more about the fiction line for Abingdon. I'm very excited about the launch, and eager to read those first titles.

    Burgers for dinner in this southern home too, by the way. Well, turkey burgers. I point that out because there is apparently some question about whether they're "real" burgers or not.

    Blessings, and thank you so much for all the great humor and information.

    Sandie Bricker
    Tampa, FL

  48. So...when you get the CALL, you're supposed to say, "Uh, do you mind hanging up and calling me back and repeating all this into my answering machine. I promise not to pick up this time."?


    Great interview. Looking forward to seeing you in Mnpls, Barbara.

    And don't mind Ruthy. None of us here would never break into your room or accost you in the ladies room.

    The nerve.

  49. Perhaps some of you posting here wouldn't mind being 'influencers' for the Abingdon authors, writing a review, or doing an interview, when it is the right time.

  50. Okay Barb, remember that great Shakespearean line...

    "Methinks the lady doth protest too much..."

    Uh huh.

    Go back and read Pam Hillman's post and remember that name if and possibly WHEN someone lurks in hallways, hotel rooms, restaurants, etc., waiting for the PERFECT time for the PERFECT pitch...

    Oh my goodness gracious, it's probably Pammers.

    (big smile here, Pam...)

    Rita, you asked about influencers. Give us a shout when it's closer to the release date. I know many of us have acted as influencers in the past so it's worth a look, right?

    Hey, the dessert table's here. We've got a build your own sundae bar (kind of like Build-a-bear but better because it's ice cream. Who needs another stuffed animal to pick up off the floor???), pecan pie, buttermilk pie, more bread pudding, chocolate chip this time, brandied crepes set aflame and sherbet.


    How prosaic is that?

    Sherbet for those who have restraint amongst all this virtual goodness. Please. Paula Dean would be ashamed of you.

    Unless you use the sherbet as a base for a hot fudge sundae. Fruit and fudge... divine...


  51. Ruthy, I was going to say... Paula would be ashamed unless there was butter with the sherbet. :)

    I love Paula. And I love butter as much as she does. :) Put a ton of it on my fresh ear of corn tonight. Mmm. Wish I had leftovers.

    Barbara I hope the hamburgers were good! :)


  52. Thank you for such a great interview with so much information. I will look forward to smiling and saying hello. My dream is write both fiction and non-fiction while traveling as a speaker :-) I look forward to learning from the growth of your company and the authors you choose to publish. Congrats on the finale' for 2009 :-D

    Angie Breidenbach

  53. Hi again Barbara,

    Many thanks for your comments re a cozy mystery set in South Africa. My next question was going to be whether or not I could use a cast of South African characters, but you have already answered that and given me new angle to think about at the same time. Thank you.

    What is the preferred word count for a cozy mystery for Abingdon Press?

    Best wishes

    Ruth Dell

  54. Missy, I'm right with you there on Paula Dean and butter. Same holds with whipping cream.

    Can there EVER be too much? Is there such a thing?

    I submit there is NOT!



  55. Sounds like there is most pot stirring here too!! Love it. I'm so glad the CBA market is opening up.

    Ms. Scott, hope to meet you in Mpls.

  56. Good morning, everyone,

    I was so stuffed last night from all the yummy food you served, I could barely sleep. Not enough Pepcid in the world for that heartburn.

    My OCD just wouldn’t let me walk away with unanswered questions, so here goes. I’ll try to keep it short.

    Chick lit: The word we heard from agents at ICRS was that this category is waning. Personally, I think we just call it contemporary women’s lit and change cover designs. They all look alike now.

    Boomer lit: This includes me. Boomers unite! Anyway, I think this is a category that will trend upward in publishing, but persuading people out there who have been marketing to young people all these years will be a task. I predict (uh, oh…I’m going out on a limb here) that we’ll see a bestselling boomer book in the next couple of years. My question is, as a boomer, do I want to read about the 60s? I like funny, savvy characters who have lived a little, but I’m not sure I want to revisit those times. I could be wrong. Our grandchildren find it fascinating. And aren’t you getting sick of all the 70s clothes? I can’t find a thing to wear that doesn’t make me look like a sagging, flower-covered teeny-bopper.

    Cozy mystery word count: 70,000 plus or minus.

    I wish I could comment on all the wonderful things you said about Abingdon. Thank you so much for your support. My colleagues and I are like race horses in the gate, just waiting to run this race and see the first books released to the marketplace.

    You all asked such great questions. If you have a burning one that didn’t get answered, send it to Ruthy and she’ll send it on to me. I’ll answer as best I can.

    Until then, may God richly bless you in all your writing endeavors.


  57. Thanks again, Barbara. I especially appreciate your effort to come back and answer all our questions. And here's hoping you publish some chick lit disguised as women's contemporary fiction.

  58. I'm SO late...but thank you, Ruthy and Barbara for a FABULOUS interview! I had as much fun reading your comments as I did the interview. LOL!

    I learned a ton and am excited for the Abington launch!

    Cheryl Wyatt

  59. Ah, I'm late to the party! Reading this entry was on my to-do list for yesterday...and then I lost the list. Such is the life of this writer...and mommmy...and wife...

    Barbara, I can't wait to work with you and meet you in person (Sadly not at ACFW this year being six and a half months pregnant and all) but hopefully next spring in Nashville. I lived there for 12 years and I need to get back to visit friends and family.

    And if I haven't said it (enough), I'm thrilled to be part of your 2009 fall launch!

  60. Barbara, if you read to the end of your extensive comments, hello! Wonderful interview, and you sound so very happy at your new position. It won't stop me from missing you at Zonderkidz, but I'm thrilled for you. (And for getting to work with Myra!)
    Kristi Holl
    Writer's First Aid

  61. "Most authors have the idea that there's a master list of rules tacked up on a wall somewhere that dictates what we publish. Not true."

    There may not be a master list tacked up on a wall anywhere but CBA and ECPA serve a very specific market that calls for very specific guidelines so that market isn't offended. Just because an author doesn't need to see them to write inside of them doesn't mean they don't exist. They do. It certainly would be a lot nicer if CBA finally did post these guidelines so Christian authors who write for the broader market of Christians would have a better idea of who not to submit to. :)