Friday, January 8, 2010

Allen Arnold, Senior Vice-President and Fiction Publisher at Thomas Nelson

Today Allen Arnold, Senior Vice-President and Fiction Publisher at Thomas Nelson stopped by Seekerville to answer our questions. Cara Slaughter (writing as Cara Lynn James) has her first book Love on a Dime, releasing from Thomas Nelson in June, the first of a three book series. YAY Cara! Yay Thomas Nelson!
Allen will stop in today if his life allows. If you've got questions he will try and answer them. Allen has been at Thomas Nelson for 18 years – initially overseeing marketing and branding for the company's top authors until he launched the Fiction division six years ago. For the first two quarters of 2009, Thomas Nelson has been ranked the #1 Christian Fiction publisher at Christian Retail and is recognized for publishing a rich tapestry of diverse titles (Christian and General Fiction), genres (from YA to Amish to Suspense) and authors (from Ted Dekker to Country Music Artist Sara Evans!). Prior to his time at Thomas Nelson, Allen worked at some of the most acclaimed Advertising Agencies - helping develop campaigns for everything from soft drinks to traveling circuses! He’s passionate about the power of a well-told story and the ability of art to transform hearts and culture. In his spare time, you’ll often find him reading Superman comics while eating the spiciest peppers known to mankind. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Now the interrogation begins!

1) Thomas Nelson doesn't accept unagented submissions. We have a strong readership on Seekerville of unpublished authors. So is the only path to Thomas Nelson through an agent or are their other ways? Do your editors ever judge contests or accept manuscripts submitted at conferences?
Our editorial team does judge contests and review manuscripts at conferences like ACFW. But the absolute best chance for an unpublished author to be published through Thomas Nelson Fiction is through an agent. Besides acting as a quality filter for publishers, good agents bring tremendous value to the process by critiquing the manuscript, shaping the proposal and then pitching it to the right potential publishing partners…not to mention overseeing the lengthy contract negotiation process should a deal happen.

2) Thomas Nelson publishes a wide variety of books. Legal Thrillers, Amish romance, suspense western romance, romantic suspense, Sci Fi/Fantasy and on and on. Do you search for a balance between all these genres? Are there a certain number of slots to fill every year in each genre?
While I believe Thomas Nelson Fiction’s program offers the most diversity across genres of any Christian Publisher, our goal isn’t to attain a perfect balance between all the genres. We’re open to all genres since the genre at the bottom of the list today is only one surprise hit away from being tomorrow’s next hot genre!
We approach acquisitions with a two-fold goal. First, we’re keenly aware of what’s working best in the marketplace based on what Christian Fiction readers most want to read. A successful publisher learns quickly not to publish solely for his nightstand (personal tastes)…but rather to publish the best stores in the genres readers are most excited about at that time. Currently, the greatest heat is with Amish, romance and historical novels.
Second – and simultaneously – we’re always searching for the best stories regardless of genre – because nothing trumps the power of a fresh story hitting all the right marks. And you’ll never come up with “the next big hit” by only looking in your rearview mirror and doing what worked great yesterday. Sometimes, readers don’t know if they’d like something new until they see it. It’s up to the publisher to “see if first – even before it exists” and then bring it to market.

3) I love the history of Thomas Nelson. Founded in 1798. That's so impressive. You've been a company in four centuries now. Do the roots of the company affect you in any way today? It seems like a big responsibility to continue the work when the history is this rich.
I agree – and absolutely love being a part of a 212 year-old publishing heritage. I often think about rich heritage and am motivated by that significant responsibility. Our company was founded in Scotland by a real man named Thomas Nelson. He was an incredible innovator – from creating major breakthroughs in the printing press to hiring the publishing industry’s first traveling sales force. At the end of the day, my goal is also to be an innovator. Someone who leads with ideation and publishes the best stories to the broadest audience – always from a Christian worldview. In times past, Christians often led in areas of the arts with story, music, plays and sculpture. Somehow in recent decades, there’s been a shift where Christians now simply try to mimic what’s hot in the secular world – with a light Christian twist. This drives me crazy! We follow a God of ultimate creativity and we should be the ultimate creators this side of heaven. So part of my mission is to usher in a creative renaissance where once again Christian storytellers are leading the way in the arts. More than a dream, this can happen…and is happening!

4) You and Karen Ball talked at the ACFW Conference about making your publicity efforts into a party. It was a really good program and even though my brain is pretty full, I believe I tucked some new knowledge in there thanks to you and Karen. We like to think Seekerville throws a pretty fun party every day and we have a lot of fun doing it. Have you got advice for us?
It’s simple. The people who host the best online parties will attract the most involved followers. The most value an author has to a publisher– next to great stories – is a loyal, growing, interactive, rabid fan base. And that really is something the author needs to nurture and grow. Publishers should take the responsibility of introducing new readers – but authors are the gatekeepers to existing fans. And there’s no way to keep those fans happy than hosting the best party. A misnomer is that this takes way too much time for an author. But it shouldn’t once it is up and running. Once you create the gathering place for them – you can step out of the way to some degree. Just like at an in-person party, the host would start to become irritating if they felt they had to be in every conversation. Let like-minded fans hang out and drive the conversation – you focus on hosting and keeping new and exciting content in front of them. Fans will keep the party going! And here’s a hard reality – if an author can’t generate enough fan interaction and excitement at their online party – how much confidence should a publisher have that somehow once they print their novel that readers will react with any greater enthusiasm in the real world? Read Seth Godin’s short book Tribe for additional insights on this topic.

5) What does it take to make you enthusiastic about a book. What are you looking for?
I’m looking for great writing and a distinctly unique voice. A lot of authors say they are the next Ted Dekker or Karen Kingsbury or Beverly Lewis. Well, those authors already exist – we don’t need an imitation of them. Those authors hit it big because they had a unique, fresh voice. We need the next unique, fresh voice – regardless of the genre. And we need an engaging author that we’ll enjoy working with. Relationship is so important – and even if you’re writing world-class fiction, we’re still not going to sign you if we don’t look forward to our conversations and the process. Life is just too short to do otherwise.
6) Give us an idea about a day in your life. What is your involvement in a final decision about offering a contract? Is the decision yours? Do you have final veto power or is it a vote between all your acquiring editors?

Here’s my motto (taken from Gladiator): “What we do in life echoes in eternity.” I really do start each day with deep passion and gratitude for what God allows me to do. I absolutely love my role in bringing stories of salt and light, epic good and evil, loss and love, etc. to people. Nothing I’d rather do. Period. And every day is filled with asking two big questions: 1) What If? This leads to doing things different and fresher than others. 2) What Can We Do to Make it Better? Whether the title, cover, plot point, format, etc…how can we make something good even better. And in terms of contracts and acquisitions, we have a very democratic process filled with vigorous conversation. And we have some of the most seasoned, wise, passionate editors in publishing (Christian or General Market). But yes, at the end of the day, there has to be one person accountable and driving the ship and that is me. I don’t see that as a source of power but rather as a way to best serve my team and our authors.

7) I was at a book event in Omaha, NE last spring called Mayhem in the Midlands and I was on a panel with a young man who writes murder mysteries. Then, I was in Denver and saw you in the crowd and almost went up to you to say hi, because you look so much like that man, who, I admit, I only met that one time several months earlier. You don't write murder mysteries under a pseudonym by any chance do you?
If he said brilliant things and wowed the crowd, I’ll claim him as the twin brother I never knew I had. ; )

I'll understand if you deny it. And no, I don't think I'll tell you his name. What if you don't think he's good looking? I can't handle that kind of pressure.
No pressure there. I don’t really ever think any man is good looking…including me. Men are at their best when we’re living an adventure rather than primping in front of a mirror checking to see how good looking they are!

Thanks for being on Seekerville, Allen.


59 comments :

  1. Oh my gosh, I'm first in!

    Coffee's on. Tea, too. Chai, for those who can't live without it, like me.

    Allen, first, thank you for stopping by. Well, actually thank you for talking with Mary. We know Mary. We understand how tricky that can be and let me just say we totally respect you for staying the course. You rock! And should I tell you that the unflappable Mary Connealy was SO EXCITED ABOUT DOING THIS that we all kind of giggled about it. Nothing tweaks Mary. But she was so impressed by what she saw in Denver, that she had to hunt you down.

    Which can be scary, we know.

    You're a brave soul, sir, and we appreciate that in Seekerville. I brought food. Lots of food for lots of visitors.

    We've set a juice bar of all Allen's faves in the rear vestibule and you'll find the breakfast bar being wheeled in as I speak. Don't those stuffed croissants look divine??? The staff (meaning Cara and Sandra)said they filled them with a mixture of scrambled egg, cheddar cheese (extra sharp), lean ham and oh my goodness, they smell wonderful. Fresh fruit. Cottage cheese. Bagels. Danish.

    Oh we know how to party in Seekerville. And Allen, we actually sent a ferry to Unpubbed Island to bring those gals ashore to take part in today's festivities. (I'm hoping they left the grass skirts on the Island, but you never know around here.)

    Welcome aboard, sir. Seekerville salutes you!

    Ruthy

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  2. Great interview!

    It's always nice to get an inside look at a publisher/editor.

    Keep the hot food and drinks coming ladies...it's frigid here in southeast South Dakota!

    Rose

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  3. Good Morning Allen and welcome to Seekerville, We thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to join us.

    I find the inside info on the publishing business so fascinating. Thanks for the peek.

    I like what you said about looking forward instead of in the rearview mirror. When something does click, we then get innundated with the sammo sammo. So I'm glad you are still on the lookout for that new and exciting next big hit.

    Mary, great questions.

    Ruthy, thanks for getting the spread out early. Cara and I did work hard on getting them finished on time. smile

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  4. Good morning, Allen, and welcome to Seekerville! I met you at ACFW during the last day of the "Tribe" seminar you hosted with Karen Ball when you very kindly offered to loan your "Tribe" book to me because I didn''t have one of my own.

    Regrettably, I never did purchase one, but have written a sticky note this very morning to do so soon, so thanks for the reminder!

    This may come as a surprise to you, but of all the editors or agents I have ever met, you have had one of the biggest impacts on me. Not just because of your and Karen's excellent seminar (which, regrettably, I didn't attend till the last day because I'd forgotten to buy the book, but Cara Putnam strong-armed me into going anyway, for which I am VERY grateful!), but because of your presence, which radiates God through and through.

    In my brief experience with the publishing world, I find it is so easy to get caught up in the numbers and competition, taking our minds off of Christ. Too often I have seen authors (myself included), agents and editors who are frazzled, driven and not always emulating the God we all long to serve. You are one of the few people in the industry who has impacted me with your calm, your peace and your obvious love for God.

    All I can say, Allen, is when I grow up, I want to be just like you!

    Just a side story about your seminar with Karen Ball -- at its closing, you and Karen gave everyone in the class a "graduation" gift -- a stone with a particular word on it especially for them. Needless to say, I was a little spooked when I saw that my stone had the word "Passion" emblazoned across it, which is a word that is in all three of my book titles, A Passion Most Pure, A Passion Redeemed, and A Passion Denied, not to mention in my tagline as well, Passion with a Purpose. I was greatly moved by this and want to thank you and Karen for such a clever and meaningful conclusion to the class. However, if you tell me that out of 50 people in the class, half of them received the word "Passion," well, then I'll probably slink away to eat my peach oatmeal and drink my hazelnut coffee, so maybe it would be better left unsaid ... :) As it was, I felt pretty special and I imagine everyone else did too, so THANK YOU!

    Kind regards,
    Julie

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  5. Very nice interview. Thanks for sharing an inside look into the world of Thomas Nelson.

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  6. Great interview! Thanks for stopping by, Allen.

    TN books are great reads, and the covers are wonderful. Check out Cara's first cover. Beautiful!

    Hmmm, this croissant is yummy!

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  7. Great interview, full of good advice. I love what you said about the genre on the bottom being tomorrow's surprise hit. Here's hoping it's mine! ;)

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  8. As always, great words of wisdom, Allen. :D

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  9. Good morning from Sunny Nebraska where we just set a new world record for cold. In fact the forecast this morning went somethng like this, "Get out of the state! Are you insane!"

    Not those exact words, but you get the idea.

    We try and make Seekerville a party everyday, Allen...right down the the cyber food....though honestly, that was NOT my idea. For some reason I feel compelled to not eat imaginary food. Probably because I'm on an imaginary diet.

    I did a Christmas romance this year. And I loved it and was more aware than other years that there are lots of novels with Christmas in the title. I wondered if Thomas Nelson has stategies for seasons.

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  10. Allen, thanks so much for stopping by and chatting with us in Seekerville this morning. I enjoyed learning more about Thomas Nelson and the ins and outs of publishing with this great company!

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  11. Hi Seekerville Groupies!

    I'm having a blast reading your comments. I'll be hanging out on the site throughout the day. I'm the guy at the food bar drinking a big glass of spicy salsa (a great kick to start the morning - really!!). And Julie - only a few stones had the word PASSION written on it. So that was absolutely a wink from God to you. How cool! KEEP THE COMMENTS COMING. AND FEEL FREE TO ASK ANY QUESTIONS! Now...back to the salsa.

    -ALLEN

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  12. Welcome, Allen! Thanks for a great interview. And thanks for buying Cara's wonderful books. We're so excited to get to read them in print! :)

    Mary, you're more than welcome to head to Georgia and enjoy a balmy 21 degrees. I have a spare bed. :)

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  13. Ruthy, of course you're here first. You get up earlier than any other person on the face of the Earth!

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  14. Hi Mary -

    You asked if we have Fiction strategies for the season. Great question! From a content perspective, we prefer to publish stories that can be read and sell year-round. While we have and will continue to publish Christmas novels - such as last season's best-selling An Amish Christmas and Max Lucado's Christmas Collection - those make up one or two titles of our sixty new releases per year. And even when these titles hit big, they have an extremely limited time on the bookstore shelves (Sept - Dec) the year they release. They must break out from 100 other similar sounding Christmas titles - and if they don't sell well, stores will move on to other new Christmas titles the next year since they only have so much space for seasonal releases. So while I understand the unique appeal of a seasonal novel and would never discourage a writer from pursuing it - I do feel readers and retailers are best served by titles that are accessible and relevant year round.
    -ALLEN

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  15. This really is a great interview and one I was looking forward to! I've actually had the pleasure of speaking to Allen Arnold on a couple of occasions, and he is truly a genuine man who is seeking to follow God's direction in his life. He also cares a great deal about what readers think of the stories he chooses to publish! :)

    It's great to read Allen's thoughts on publishing and once again confirms for me the fact that he truly has a heart for Christ and loves the job God has given him to do! What a great combination to find in the president of a Christian publishing house!

    Allen, just as a side note, thanks to you, Robert Liparulo now plays an integral part in my family's reading adventures and has become a friend even to my two teen sons. I have you to thank for that - even if it started with my complaint! Thanks so much!

    Kim Ford

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  16. Great interview! I learned a lot!

    Allen, I write Christian fiction set in late 16th century Japan, part of the time period referred to in Japan as the Christian century. (Regarding my background, I'm married to a Japanese woman, spent several years in Japan, speak the language, and am a Japanese history buff.)

    What are your thoughts on Christian-based historicals set in the Far East?

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  17. Hi Walt -

    Hope you're having a good day. My thoughts on Christian Historicals set in the Far East would be the same as my thoughts on any novel set in any time period or genre - great stories transcend genre. Every unsung time period or out of favor genre is one sleeper hit from being revivied. Of course, it all comes down to the story. And great writing trumps everything.
    -ALLEN

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  18. Allen,
    Great to have you in Seekerville. Thanks for coming to share your heart and wisdom with us.

    PS..Pass the salsa!

    Cheryl

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  19. Welcome to Seekerville, Allen. Thanks for your interesting, informative post! Excellent questions, Mary.

    I'm impressed with your attitude toward your work and your belief that God's children should be the ultimate creators this side of Heaven. What an awesome, exciting challenge! A challenge we writers can only hope to meet by knowing our limits and drawing on the Ultimate Creator, allowing Him to use us.

    Seekerville knows how to throw a party, as do the Love Inspired Historical authors and readers at Goodreads.com. It's fun to see readers start discussions and build relationships, not only with authors but with each other.

    Ruthy, you've gone all out this morning! The croissants are the best ever.

    Janet

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  20. Ami McConnell, Thomas Nelson fiction editorJanuary 8, 2010 at 10:48 AM

    Great interview, Mary and Allen! Allen, I love what you had to say about the distinctive author voice and how readers aren't looking for imitations of existing authors but rather for new, authentically unique voices. And what you said about how Christians ought not mimic culture but rather transform it. Who among us can keep it to ourselves when we "meet" a new author whose voice speaks to us in new ways?! Inspiring!

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  21. Ami, we're happy that you stopped by too!

    Hope Allen shared his salsa with you. :-)
    Cheryl

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  22. Allen:

    Thanks for the inside tips. It's encouraging to get this kind of information first-hand.

    Helen

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  23. Oh my gosh, Ami McConnell, ACFW Editor of the Year, 2009,

    AMI!!!!

    Welcome to Seekerville, sweetness! Let me just say this is yet another editor who came to Seekerville even after they met me. (It was years ago, I was younger and brasher, if possible and Ami won't remember me, which is NEVER a bad thing, Ami!!!)

    Oh my goodness, time to break out even more party food. And oh look, Panera Bread has kindly offered to do lunch.

    And might I add we're so proud to have our Cara as part of the Thomas Nelson team. We know you guys will love her like we do.

    Allen, you guys run the gamut as stated earlier, and Seekerville LOVES romance. (You've met our Julie, so you've already figured that out.) Any ideas for story lines you don't see enough of in the romance genre, any time periods you'd like to see more of?

    Ruthy

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  24. Great interview, Big Guy! I especially love the passion for story you bring to the table. It was a happy day when you took over Thomas Nelson fiction!
    Colleen Coble

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  25. Welcome to Seekerville, Allen. What a fun and informative interview! Thanks for all the insights into publishing at TN past and present.

    When you mentioned marketing and publicity as a party and appreciating the fan base an author brings to the publisher, how do you capitalize further on this for new authors? Do you host an online launch party grouping authors with similiar voices together?

    Oh and Ruthy? You never said I wasn't to wear the grass skirt on the mainland! I don't know, I think the skirt with a smattering of orchid petals adds to the festive atmosphere.

    I brought fresh coconut creme pie, too. Just a little token from the island...

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  26. Wanted to respond to a few questions while waiting for my order of Chicken Fajitas. ;O

    Ruthy -
    We're receiving an incredibly wide range of interesting romance story lines. Ditto for the time periods. So no shortage of ideas or variety. What does seem to be working best are stories filled with hope, inspiration light and some laughs...probably because so many people's lives are already filled with fear and depression and the unknown.

    Audra -
    You asked how best to grow the audience base for new authors. That's a foundational question. For us, it really starts PRIOR to the acquisition. All things being equal, an author who writes well AND has already started growing her online fan base has a tremendous advantage because they are showing they have a following, even a small one (from a blog, etc.) based on their writing. For new writers, this can and should happen even before a book is ever published. Of course, once we sign a new author, we have numerous ways - based on the author and type of novel - to start buzz with potential readers. I wouldn't recommend an online launch party grouping authors with similar voices together since that doesn't let each author shine. It's a timely and costly task to strategically launch a new author brand and is why we only do so with one or two new authors a year. But it is much more effective approach than to crowd a bunch of new authors all together in a virtual room and hope the readers show up and then can remember who is who five minutes after the party ends! Great question - and I wish you the best in your writing journey!

    -ALLEN

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  27. Oops - should have added a comma in my comment above to Ruthy so it reads "...filled with hope, inspiration, light (not inspiration light)..."

    -ALLEN

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  28. Great interview, Cara, and inspiring answers from Allen!

    Rachel

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  29. Allen, thanks for all the advice and insight for the unpubbed. Sometimes this business seems daunting, so it is wonderful to see that all of that effort will eventually pay off.

    Mary, come visit me in Arizona. Its in the seventies. Sunny and bright. I'll let you sit on the patio in the sunshine and won't even talk to you. You can write your heart out. btw isn't your current wip set in Arizona? Ahh yes, research.

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  30. I'm done with Arizona, and moved on to New Mexico. Do you suppose I am subconsciously choosing sites that are WARM?

    I am revising something sent farther north though, so I can bring a huge amount of authenticity to cold weather. Unfortunately. Researching blizzards right now by looking out my window....I can see six inches. Grrrrrrrrrrrrr

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  31. Colleen and Ami, thanks so much for stopping in.

    Between Ruthy's cyber food and Allen's real food, I think I need to take a break and go boil so blazing hot soup. My typing room is cold and my husband and I have voted and decided we can't afford to keep me warm...it was actually a tie, but the thermostat is in his side of the house!

    So I have to endure.

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  32. Allen, this is the most uplifting interview I've read in some time. Thank you!

    I appreciate your desire to publish great stories and to publish Christian writers who influence the direction of the secular market, rather than simply following it. We have grace, symbolism and history available to us that should give us a deep connection with readers, if we can only tap into it.

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  33. Wonderful interview! I hosted a writer's group for six years and now two of my writing buds have contracts with T. Nelson and I'm very excited for them!

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  34. Such useful info on behind the scenes at Thomas Nelson with Allen. Thank you, Allen and Mary, for this interview and the answers to questions I wanted to ask, too. Pat

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  35. Thank you, Allen, for the insights. I just published with WestBow and I must say, I couldn't be more pleased with the way my project was handled, from Christ-like attitudes and responses to some of the staff even going so far as to read my novel and giving me a thumbs up, I couldn't have had a more pleasant and exciting experience. Their design staff went above and beyond my expectations with both the cover and text...they well represent TN's standard of excellence. I'm thankful TN decided to offer WestBow as an alternative to traditional publishing, but after listening to you, I might change my mind about seeking out an agent! ;)

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  36. I really appreciate the interview. Seems the more I turn, I keep hitting road blocks, so this was encouraging, that maybe it IS possible.

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  37. Famous people are falling out of the woodwork today!!!

    Oh my stars, grab a hard hat to avoid head trauma!

    :)

    Allen, I loved your answer and I think you're right and the rising popularity of authors like Mary Connealy (I think she's the new chickie that writes for Barbour) and Lisa Wingate shows that trend.

    And who doesn't love a good laugh?

    Great therapy and the price is right.

    Mary, I've got a space heater the puppies don't need anymore. It smells bad, but I don't mind sending it your way.

    Ruthy

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  38. I'm so glad each author has a chance to shine. I'm all for branding (love those cowboys!)and author recognition : )

    Thanks Allen!

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  39. Welcome to Seekerville, Allen! Sorry I'm coming late to the party.

    Great interview. Thanks for all the information about publishing and promoting.

    And most of all, thank you for buying Love on a Dime. I was thrilled when I saw it in the new Thomas Nelson catalogue. And the beautiful cover is beyond my wildest expectations!

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  40. Cara -

    We are so thrilled that you are part of the Thomas Nelson Fiction family. I agree - the cover is fantastic. Then again, we had to have something that reflected the fantastic story you honored us with. Onward and upward!

    -ALLEN

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  41. The class Allen and Karen taught at ACFW this last year was such an eye-opener for me. As a newly pubbed writer, I felt like a very small spark sitting with all those literary luminaries. But Allen and Karen were most welcoming and warm, inviting people to join in the discussion. I felt as if a refreshing breeze had blown across my heart.

    The stone I received said Grace. :)

    Thank you, Allen!

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  42. Allen, any geographical locations, characters, or plots you see too much of or not enough of?

    Salsa for breakfast? ....if you say so.

    Can I have chips and cheese with that?

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  43. Hi Pam -

    There really isn't any plot, area, etc. that we're seeing too much or too little of. Don't let any of those issues distract you. Run hard after the story you're most passionate about telling. As I said earlier, all things being equal - the best story wins. And I believe writers only can write their best stories when they aren't worried about avoiding - or artifically adding - certain elements. Run to the story!

    And yes - salsa for breakfast. But don't dillute the spicy drink with distractions like chips or cheese! ; )

    -ALLEN

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  44. I had a space heater. My husband gave it to an elderly, home bound man whose furnace has been giving him trouble.

    It's a little hard to make my case that I need it more.

    Allen? You eat the salsa straight? I've got a brother-in-law you should talk to.

    Mr. Habanero.

    He uses Tabasco like I use salt. He'd be a kindred spirit.

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  45. Mary -

    It's sad but true. I really freak out the wait staff at Mexican restaurants as I drink the salsa (ask Colleen Coble!). I even use salsa as my salad dressing on salads. Tell your brother-in-law that even better than a salt substitute,Tabasco works great as toothpaste. ; )

    -ALLEN

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  46. Thanks, Allen, for a great workshop at ACFW. TRIBES and the ideas we discussed over those two days moved me in a very positive way. Hope you and Karen will consider hosting another workshop next year.

    So glad you could join us in Seekerville! Wishing you continued success! A 212-year publishing history is truly inspiring.

    My stone said Peace, which is how I've been feeling recently. :)

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  47. My stone said, "Now." I have it on my desk beside me.

    I just keep hoping it's not God's way of saying I should clean the house.

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  48. Welcome to Seekerville. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the fact that you just told us--no really you ordered us to throw more parties.

    I will finish this week with a smile on my face.

    If you are not busy tomorrow, please stop by, we are having a huge party on Saturday.

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  49. Also thank you for the great interview..so lovely to get to know editors as real people.

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  50. Allen - I'm with Debby and hoping that you and Karen will do the workshop again at ACFW.

    Thank you for your insights and the great interview today. Always a pleasure to hear from you.

    As to the cold... since daughter Kayla and I have our series set in Alaska for B&H, we are feeling the -50 degree temps...

    Maybe I should ask Allen to pass the salsa, AND the tabasco.

    Lovin' this Seekerville, keep up the good work.
    Kim

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  51. Great interview Allen and Mary!

    I'm sipping hot cocoa trying to stay warm. I think we broke records, too, and tomorrow is supposed to be colder. Mary, I was thinking the other day as we were getting our 5 inches of snow that the Children's blizzard would make a good setting for a romance.

    Allen, you're words were anointed and touching. I loved one of the comments you made. And I believe writers only can write their best stories when they aren't worried about avoiding - or artificially adding - certain elements. Run to the story!

    I had a question about romances in the OT biblical era, but you've already covered it.

    Thank you for the wise advice you've offered.

    Renee

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  52. Oh my gosh, Kim! Negative 50 degrees? And I'm complaining about Atlanta's 20+!

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  53. I already had stars in my eyes, and now this stellar interview.
    : ) Thank you for sharing, Allen, and for hosting, Mary!

    Mary had asked if any of the TN editors judge contests, and I can say in answer, a big "yes, thank you!"

    Natalie Hanemann judged my ms from the Launching a STAR contest *waving at Leigh Duncan* and requested my full. So miracles still happen this side of unpubbed island's shores. Keeping fingers, toes and eyes crossed. : )

    Allen, I love what you said about God's people leading a renaissance of creativity in the arts. Gave me chills! This is my fondest hope, that we, being imitators of HIM, will bring something fresh to the landscape. No more re-fried Hollywood! : )

    Thanks for all you do at TN. Lord bless!

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  54. Debby - LOL! 20 can feel very cold in Atlanta.

    Just to throw in something for everyone to chew on - can you imagine climbing Denali (the tallest mt. in N. America) in January? With sometimes 150+ mph winds, DARKNESS, -70 to -100 degree temps, CLIMBING a mountain? I can't imagine it. But according to the rangers, there are three people up there right now.

    I'm wondering about their sanity.

    Makes me want to grab another blanket. Research makes me even colder.

    BRRRRR...
    Kim

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  55. What a fabulous interview! I appreciate the opportunity to get to "know" Mr. Arnold.

    Hmmm...I really like salsa - I even eat it on eggs and sausage. But I'm not sure about drinking it. :)

    Blessings,
    Edwina

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  56. Wow - what an awesome conversation. Before I left, I just wanted to say a big THANK YOU to Mary and everyone for inviting me to Seekerville. It's been a great experience. As a publisher, I so appreciate what each of you are doing as you walk with God and create stories that inspire and entertain. The tagline from Gladiator says "What we do in life echoes in eternity." Never doubt that what you are writing matters. It has eternal echoes.
    Onward and upward.
    -ALLEN

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  57. Allen, thanks so much for being on Seekerville! Sorry I'm late to the party, but I'm on Pacific Standard Time and I had a busy morning with other work stuff. Great interview, Mary!
    Camy

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  58. Oh it HAS been a lovely party, hasn't it???

    So much so, I hate to see it end so I've fired up the stoves, got the oven preheating, and a delectable assortment of keep-the-party-rolling foods for tomorrow.

    Just imagine wood-fired steak and eggs, crisp-golden hash browns, a fruit tray that tempts people thrice to the banquet table...

    And mimosas, toasting life.

    Very nice life.

    Exciting life!!!!

    :)

    Fresh champagne, chocolate dipped strawberries, a chocolate fountain...

    Fresh cake squares to dip INTO the chocolate fountain.

    Who said January is for diets??? HAH!!!

    Not tomorrow. Not in Seekerville.

    Because we're a bunch of gals that just LOVE to throw a good party.

    See you then!

    And I get up smack-dab early, so the feed's on well before dawn. Join me for coffee.

    Ruthy

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  59. Uh...I think it was YOU who said January is for diets...sounds like you, Ruthy.

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