Friday, April 24, 2015

Adding a Little Bling!

with guest Sandie Bricker

I’m not sure where I heard the story for the first time … or if I dreamed it up in my own head as a kid … but for as long as I can remember, I’ve believed that each of us had something whispered in our ear at the time of creation; something uniquely personal that determines our God-given destiny. For many of us here in Seekerville, we likely heard, “Writer.”

I’d published a dozen books by the time I realized every writer doesn’t necessarily have a gift for editing as well. It always came naturally to me. A misplaced comma, a misspelled word, continuity in storyline, an email with no paragraph breaks … these are the things that try writers’ souls! Or at least they always tried mine. The unique turn of phrase from a new-to-me writer has always stopped me in my tracks. So when Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas founder Eddie Jones invited me to consider designing and managing an imprint of romantic fiction, I did what writer/editor types do. I grabbed a pen … and made a list of pros.

I love fiction!
I get to mentor writers.
I’m pretty good at organizing and scheduling.


Check, check, and check!

I talked to a lot of readers, writers, and agents during that time to find out what kind of publishing imprint they’d like to see created that offered them an outlet not already out there somewhere. While agents’ thoughts turned more toward advances and higher royalty percentages, readers and authors seemed to crave essentially the same thing:

“Lose the formula. Let writers put words on the page that follow our own story path rather than write to detailed requirements that make so many romance novels seem interchangeable.”

“Tell us a realistic story, one that we can believe. Show us characters who are like us, flaws and all.”

“Even though my faith is the most important aspect of my life, I’m not a pearl-wearing church-goer who never has a glass of wine or sees a movie. I’d like to read books about people like me.”
“Let us write a book for the CBA that allows for the transformation of a character without soaking the growth in milk to bland it down. If a recovering alcoholic is actually recovering, can’t we be trusted to use a tasteful approach to showing at least a glimpse of the alcoholic pre-recovery?

I related to these concerns about the structure of writing for the CBA because I came from a fairly secular worldview as a Hollywood publicist and aspiring screenwriter. It took me quite a lot of trying before I finally found my place in inspirational publishing. In fact, when Summerside Press invited me to launch their Love Finds You line, I felt like I’d finally been handed the key to the side door entry of a private club. My hope with LPC’s Bling! imprint was to offer other writers a shot at that key as well, and that these authors would meet the evolving needs of today’s readers.

We chose the name Bling! Romance as an homage to the little shiny something extra a woman reaches for when she wants to stand out. We wanted to design a line that allowed a broader stroke in plots and characters for readers as well as give an opportunity to some writers who – like me – had been dreaming of finding their place in that isolated community high on the hilltop.
   
All that said, there’s a significant challenge to an undertaking like Bling! Romance. The down side to creating something unique for writers is that writers don’t actually know to come looking for you! The up side, however, is that you can eventually be that different kind of publisher they’re seeking; both for them and for their potential readers.

We had several discussions about how Bling! could offer additional opportunities tailored toward creating a publishing home for standout writers. Because I benefited so much from entering contests in developing my own career as a writer, it seemed like a good avenue for generating fresh new content for Bling! while providing aspiring and early-career authors the opportunity to add contest recognition to their resumes.

I discovered in my own pursuits that entering contests early in a career can be beneficial in a host of ways. Attaching your name and project to an award adds a certain amount of cachet to your writer cred. Also, preparing for a contest hones skills like writing toward a deadline, revising and polishing your work, and even developing a more casual relationship with rejection. As an added bonus, entering a contest where agents and editors serve as judges puts your work in front of them in a way that leaps over their slush piles. If you final – or even win! – you may also have the added bonus of garnering the interest of an agent or getting that novel into print.



With those benefits in mind, 2015 will be the first year for what we hope will be an annual contest event if new writers respond to the opportunity. The Bling! Romance DIAMOND AWARDS will highlight excellence in contemporary romantic fiction. The contest will provide three finalists the opportunity for unbiased feedback on their work by professional editors and agents. In addition, one winner will receive a Grand Prize Package to include priority consideration toward a contract with Bling! for the publication of their book.

For writers interested in entering the contest, click here. Additional details can be found on the awards page of the Bling! website. We’re hoping to see the DIAMOND AWARDS grow with each passing year to become a viable platform for the discovery and recognition of unique author voices.

So … to writers and readers alike … what are you looking for that isn’t often found out there in the CBA marketplace? After you close the cover of a book, what were the qualities that keep the story and characters in your mind?
 

Sandie Bricker was an entertainment publicist in Los Angeles for 15+ years where she attended school to learn screenwriting and eventually taught the craft for several semesters. When she put Hollywood in the rearview mirror and headed across the country to take care of her mom until she passed away, she traded her scripts for books, and a best-selling, award-winning author of LIVE-OUT-LOUD fiction for the inspirational market was born. Sandie is best known for her Another Emma Rae Creation series for Abingdon Press. As an ovarian cancer survivor, she gears time and effort toward raising awareness and funds for research, diagnostics and a cure.

 

She is also the Managing Editor of Bling! Romance, the new contemporary romance imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas (LPC). Bling! will launch in Fall 2015, releasing two new contemporary novels each quarter.



Seekerville shares the fun of Bling! Romance and The Diamond Awards with a special surprise book giveaway. One for a reader and one for a writer. Just let us know you want to be entered! Winners announced in the Weekend Edition!


76 comments:

Mary Preston said...

Just recently I have been seeking out stories about everyday people finding courage when thrust into extraordinary situations or rather when the situations find them.

Cindy W. said...

The type of stories I like to read are ones in which the characters are so well written that they seem real in my mind. The type that when I close the book they stay with me. I just finished a book yesterday that took my breath away and I can't get the characters out of my mind.

I would love to be entered into your giveaway.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

Cindy W. said...

I meant to add that not all the books I pick up have three dimensional characters. That is what I really look for in a good book.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Sandie, what a fun adventure! Good for you!

And who doesn't love diamonds, honey? Oh, if only they sold diamond-encrusted shoes, I'd die a happy woman!

(okay, I'm actually happy if I remember to change out of farm boots with chicken manure before going to the store in town. This is not always the case.)

Thank you so much for being here, and congrats on the new gig! Good for you!

Is Lighthouse actually in the Carolinas? Can you tell us more about the whole line?

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Coffee is here, my friends! And I'm on cup #2!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Oh boy, welcome to Sandie and BLING!

Sounds like a great debut coming up!

Have you got any authors launching this new venture?

Tina Radcliffe said...

Ruthy, I am barely on cup one. Must catch up.

And hmm, what's a good breakfast spread to welcome in BLING! ???


Strawberries and cream? And cheese blintzes!

Tina Radcliffe said...

I see Candee Fick is publishing with Bling! Terrific choice! And Happy Birthday to Candee.

Jessica Nelson said...

Yay! Sounds like a great opportunity!! You never know, I might get a story in my head that fits there...it sounds like a wonderful line.

cathyann40 said...

I'd like to be entered. I read. I can't write a letter let alone anything more. lol

Barbara Scott said...

Good morning, Sandie. I hope Ruthy has warmed you up with her coffee, and those strawberries and a little cream sound scrumptious.

Since you're my friend, I'm a wee bit prejudiced. You are one talented lady and don't you ever forget it. I love everythihg you write, but I'm just as awed by your editing ability. You rock!!

Jackie said...

Hi Sandie,

Welcome to Seekerville. I'm so excited to discover your contest. Thanks for the great opportunity!

I'm not sure about the contest link, when I hit it The Road to the Zambia popped up playing music. I'm pretty sure I woke somebody up! :) But the music wasn't bad.

I'd love to have my name in the pot for the giveaway. Now I'm off to find the Bling Contest Information.

Thanks!

kaybee said...

Sandie, what a great idea and opportunity. I'm doing historicals right now so Bling isn't an option, but how great to have another avenue for Christian writers! When God closes a door he opens another one, especially for writers.
Kathy Bailey

Wilani Wahl said...

I will keep this contest in mind. Thanks for letting us know about this new line.

Kav said...

Wow -- what an exciting venture in Christian publishing at this time. The first two books sound awesome. I'll keep my eye out for them. Please tell me they'll be published in print format!!!!

What I'd love to see more of in inspirational fiction -- diversity in people and places. I don't know why the powers that be think only North American locales will sell. Plus my world is made up of people of all colours and nationalities and I think that should be reflected in the fiction I read -- and not just secondary characters, but hero and heroine as well.

Wilani Wahl said...

I forgot to mention please enter me in the giveaway.

Jeanne T said...

I know of a number of writers who will be thrilled to hear about the new Bling! line. :) And a contest? Yay! I love hearing your enthusiasm for this. It's truly catching. :)

Author Sandra D. Bricker said...

I'm still having my first cup of coffee, and the conversation is flowing here! Thanks so much for stopping by, one and all!

Ruth, Lighthouse IS headquartered in the Carolinas. :-) And they've got several great imprints, from historical romance to Southern women's fiction and speculative. You can start here to find out about all the books LPC releases: http://store.lpcbooks.com/product-category/romance/

Tina, thanks for asking about my launch authors. i'm so proud of them! Debra Holt's "Mercy's Rescue" will be available in November, and it definitely revolves around some of those memorable, three-dimensional characters Cindy mentioned. Read more here: http://smile.amazon.com/Mercys-Rescue-Debra-Holt/dp/1941103936/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1429881865&sr=8-1&keywords=Mercy%27s+Rescue+Debra+Holt

At the end of the year comes Candee Fick's wonderful novel, "Catch of a Lifetime." It's a little edgier than your typical Christian romance, and takes place in the world of college football.

I'm so proud of these two authors!

Kaybee, since you're into historicals, Ann Tatlock's Heritage Beacon line at LPC might be just the thing! Ann wrote a blog post on the Bling! site for us to introduce readers and writers to her line. You can read about it here: http://www.blingromance.com/meet-greet-heritage-beacon-books/

Kay, YES! Every Bling! book will be available for ereaders as well as in print. I've been working with a stellar cover designer (the cover being one of those special details that draw readers to the characters and storyline), and I think you'll really be drawn to them in print as well as on your kindle. :-)

I hope I didn't miss anyone ... but thank you so much to everyone for visiting today and cheering for the new Bling! line and the authors that will launch it.

Keli Gwyn said...

Congratulations on your new venture, Sandie! It's exciting to see how many avenues are available to writers these days. I wish you well on your launch this fall.

Candee Fick said...

Still need my first cup of caffeine but had to stop by to welcome my amazing editor to Seekerville! Such fun to hear the heart behind the imprint and excited to see who else joins the Bling! Family.

And when I say family, I truly mean family. The LPC crew as a whole and Sandie in particular are making this adventure extra special. She's a gem and any writer would be blessed to work with her.

(Now I hope she's blushing as much as I was when reading her comments about me.)

Author Sandra D. Bricker said...

Ah, Candee! Thank you so much for your sweet words. But you do sort of make it easy for an editor to love you.

Lyndee H said...

HI Sandie,
Thanks for the heads up on the new imprint and contest. I met Eddie Jones at the Write to Publish conference in Wheaton, IL two years ago. What an encouraging man. He was willing to look at a non-fiction proposal even though it wasn't the usual idea for Lighthouse. Loved that he was willing to think out of the box. Bling Romance is sure to be a success. Congratulations!

Mary Hicks said...

Good morning, Sandie! I envy your natural editing talents. I think when I was born the message whispered in my ear was 'grammar idiot'. :-)

But, undaunted, I struggle on.

This is an exciting post. My very favorite genre is Women's Fiction. I like a good story with an element of romance. Will this genre be embraced at Bling! Romance?

Author Sandra D. Bricker said...

Mary, we'd definitely look at women's fiction as long as it has a thread of romance. I like an edgier story that straddles the line between the two.

Julie Lessman said...

Oh, SANDIE, you had me on the word "bling"!! If it's got rhinestones or flash on it, I am soooo there! ESPECIALLY in novels!! ;)

YOU ASKED: "So … to writers and readers alike … what are you looking for that isn’t often found out there in the CBA marketplace?"

Well, for me eight years ago, I wanted WAY more PASSION in my reading -- both romantically and spiritually. Had a hard time finding that, so I decided to write my own. Since then, the romantic passion has increased a wee bit in the CBA, I think, but it seems like the market may be veering to less spirituality, more "sweet" stories in an effort to capture more of the secular market, which is GOOD!!

But I want to be spiritually moved in my reading as well as romantically, so I long for both, which is hard to find. Have never read Bling romance, but maybe I should? Is the spiritual thread strong?

And let me be clear about what I mean by "strong spiritual thread." I want spirituality as it applies to Christians today, trying to live in an amoral world. Subjects like the dreaded "submission" Scripture or abuse or immorality tackled in a real and human way without coming off preachy, but with real spiritual application and resolution.

But then with a tagline that reads, "passion with a purpose," I've always been a bit on the edge in this market, so my taste are definitely not the norm (i.e. the "market"). :)

Hugs,
Julie

Author Sandra D. Bricker said...

Julie, I think you described your preferences perfectly. For many of us our faith is such an organic part of who we are, we see Jesus in everyday circumstances without planning it or consciously thinking about it. That's what I prefer in my own reading as well, so when I created the guidelines for a Bling! Romance, I was careful to say there is no REQUIREMENT of a spiritual thread, but at the same time if it's organic to the plot and characters, I want to see it.

Chill N said...

Sandie, this is majorly exciting news for readers!
Sending wishes for all the best in your new venture.

Nancy C

Missy Tippens said...

Welcome, Sandy! And congrats on the beginning of this new contest. We LOVE contests around here!! It's how all of us in the Seekers first came together. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Oops! Sorry, Sandie! I spelled your name wrong. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Cindy W, I love books like that too! The ones that haunt me.

What do you think makes the characters so real and 3D for you??

Missy Tippens said...

Cathyann, we love readers around here! No need to worry about writing anything. ;)

Becky Dempsey said...

It was nice hearing about this new imprint. I pinned the contest information! I'd love to be in for the giveaway.

Missy Tippens said...

Candee, congrats on your release!!

Missy Tippens said...

Mary Hicks, you're so funny. :) You just need to have the Grammar Queen around to help. :) :)

Missy Tippens said...

Julie, I'm with you! I love anything that sparkles or glitters or shines. LOL

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Sandie, I like the idea of un-thinned or watered reality, without being over the top, but yes...

I'm a real person and I like reading about real folks! Now that doesn't mean I like to water down messages, but there are clever ways of getting the true spirit of a book across without pretending life is jaded.

Kudos to you guys for seeing that and addressing it, and I think it's gotten a lot better in CBA, or else I'm being way more selective.

And that could be the case!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I've brought luncheon by, because I'm stinkin' hungry.

Chicken salad today, with romaine lettuce and a side of cole slaw.

Yes, all carb-friendly, and don't be a hater! It's what I have on hand, LOL!

:)

Author Sandra D. Bricker said...

Lunch! Awesome.

And thanks to all of you for encouraging the Bling! line along. I thought you might like to share a little video I put together about the first year.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bX480p5NT7o

Julie Lessman said...

SANDIE SAID: "For many of us our faith is such an organic part of who we are, we see Jesus in everyday circumstances without planning it or consciously thinking about it. That's what I prefer in my own reading as well, so when I created the guidelines for a Bling! Romance, I was careful to say there is no REQUIREMENT of a spiritual thread, but at the same time if it's organic to the plot and characters, I want to see it."

That's great that you have such a broad reach, Sandie, and really, I far prefer that to tightly restrictive guidelines. :) Thanks for your response!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

MISSY SAID: "Julie, I'm with you! I love anything that sparkles or glitters or shines. LOL"

:) Now why does that not surprise me??? Only you probably prefer the bling to be real (like diamonds), while I like the cheap stuff. :)

Hugs,
Julie

Tina Radcliffe said...

I apologize if this has been answered but can you tell us about the distribution for this new venture? Print and e? Do you anticipate novellas and anthologies in your future? Open to all sub genres? My personal fav being rom suspense and rom comedy!

Tina Radcliffe said...

And knowing what you already have in your line/up.... What are you missing that you'd like to see??

Pam Hillman said...

Like others have said, I like the characters to come alive. As Cindy said, three dimensional. I like them to be true to their character and if stray from that too far, I want to see clear motivation for that.

I don't like holes in plots or implausible situations. The details are in the pudding... oh, wait, wrong metaphor... but apt, I suppose.

An unresolved plot hole practically ruins an otherwise good book (or movie) for me.

So, plug those holes. :)

Tina Radcliffe said...

Oh, I just found one answer! E and print! Terrific!!

Julie Lessman said...

SANDIE SAID: "At the end of the year comes Candee Fick's wonderful novel, "Catch of a Lifetime." It's a little edgier than your typical Christian romance, and takes place in the world of college football."

Okay, Sandie and Candee, I want details -- when you say "a little edgier than your typical Christian romance," what are you saying?? Because that's what I would qualify my books as, so if there's another author out there writing edgier stuff like me, I'm SO there!!

Hugs,
Julie

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

Lighthouse is in NC Ruthie! Lol about chicken manure ! 🐓

Julie Lessman said...

Oh, by the way, Sandie, LOVED the video -- very fast-paced, like I imagine your books are. :)

Hugs,
Julie

Cara Lynn James said...

Sandra, you have such an interesting personal story!

Thank for telling us about about Bling! It's always great when a publisher adds fiction or expands it.

Author Sandra D. Bricker said...

Julie, I don't want to give away any of the storyline of Candee's book, but I can say there are elements you wouldn't see in a typical CBA romance. And as an added bonus, she handles it beautifully.

Author Sandra D. Bricker said...

Cara Lynn, thank you for that! And yes, I agree. The way the publishing landscape is changing every few days it seems, options like LPC are a breath of fresh air.

Sherida Stewart said...

Sandie, what fun news about Bling! Romance and a new contest! As I'm getting older, I'd like to see mature characters in romance novels, as in rediscovering love or recommitment to a marriage. A book I'm reading right now begins with an older couple, but flashes back to how they fell in love.

I just love the name Bling! for your new venture. We all like some sparkle in our lives! Thanks for sharing!

Caryl Kane said...

YAY for Bling! Romance. I enjoy story elements that challenge me to look at life from a new perspective. Thank you for this wonderful post! Please enter me in the giveaway.

HAPPY FRIDAY SEEKERVILLE! Enjoy your weekend.

Wendy L. Macdonald said...

Sandie, how refreshing that Bling won't tie writers down to a tight formula. This alone inspires me to want to enter. And I think my latest project might be just the one for me to keep working on towards this contest. Please enter me for the book give away. Thank you.

Blessings ~ Wendy ❀

Author Sandra D. Bricker said...

Caryl, I like the idea of older characters too. One of my first forays into the CBA market was a book called The Big 5-OH! The title speaks for itself I think. I have tackled it on a little deeper level recently on a book that's with a pub board, so keep good thoughts on this!

Wendy, I'm very much about coloring outside the lines of formula as long as it's done well. LPC (and their imprints across the board) is a good platform for that.

Myra Johnson said...

It's great to have you here, Sandie! Bling! sounds like a fun new imprint that will definitely fill a niche! As a writer, I'm not interested in creating "perfect" characters but rather showing their growth over the course of the story. As a reader, I don't need to love a character from page 1 (although I do need to discover something likable about them pretty quickly). I'd rather go on their journey with them and see how their circumstances help them become better people.

Heidi Robbins said...

That's pretty awesome to start something new! Looking forward to seeing what you publish! Please enter me for the reader surprise :)

Sarah Claucherty said...

As a reader, I love these chances to discover new publishing lines that I wouldn't otherwise know about! And is love to be tossed in the drawing!

Sandie, any suggestions for how an almost-college-graduate (who'll soon earn her Professional Writing degree) could get involved in the development of something like Bling!, or into the editing/publishing/book marketing fields?

Author Sandra D. Bricker said...

Sarah, it's a tough road to find your place in publishing. But the best bet is to come to terms with starting at the bottom and learning the business from every angle. She might consider interning if she's able to do that without living under a bridge. :-)

Anita Mae Draper said...

What a great imprint title!

Although I've heard of LPC I'm not that familiar with the company or the imprint(s), so thank you for the info.

Eddie Jones said...

Sandie and Seekerville, thanks so much for launching Bling! and making this romance imprint something special. Couldn't have done it without you, your editors, and - of course- the Bling! authors. EJ

Carol Garvin said...

Thanks for this, Sandie. A 'be real' approach appeals a lot to me. I avoided reading inspirational fiction for many years because of its unreal characters and convenient storylines. Now that I'm writing it, I'm delighted to find a publishing house that believes there is validity in writing truth from a Christian worldview. Best of luck with Bling!

Author Sandra D. Bricker said...

Thanks, Carol. I'm happy to share my "baby" with everyone ... and particularly hopeful that writers will get excited about spreading the word about the Diamond Awards. It can't be overstated how valuable contests are in the career of an up-and-coming author.

Missy Tippens said...

Eddie, we're glad you dropped by!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Carol Garvin, I know what you mean, and I'm so glad to see things changing and I often wonder if they would have without indie and small press publishing offering new options?

I love options, I like to spread my wings, so working in several markets works for me and so many others.

And I would have said the opposite about 4 years ago, so that shows you how little I know, LOL!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Anita Mae, I'd seen Lighthouse announcements on facebook, but I'm so glad Sandie's here to fill us in!

I love the inside scoop!

Missy Tippens said...

LOL about the diamonds, Julie. :)

Sandy Smith said...

Thank you for sharing this information. It sounds great. Please enter me in the drawing.

Author Sandra D. Bricker said...

Thanks for hanging with me here today! It was such a pleasure to spend some time in Seekerville.

Marianne Barkman said...

New publishing line. Can only mean great things for a reader like me! And if books are to be won, please put my name in. Mom and I are enjoying the books from you TINA! Thanks again!

Tina Radcliffe said...

You are welcome, Marianne, and yes, it's nice to see a new publishing opportunity open up!!!

Anna Weaver Hurtt said...

Sounds like an exciting opportunity! I love that you want to let authors tell their own stories and let them be different. That's awesome!

Please drop my name in for the writer giveaway. Thanks!

Deanne said...

What I enjoy reading is a story that is so rich in historical detail I feel like I could step into the pages and be a part of the story. I can't get stories like that out of my mind long after I finish the last word !Please enter me into the special surprise book giveaway. Thank you.
Deanne
Cnnamongirl@aol.com

The Artist Librarian said...

Bling! sounds awesome! I hope you get some amazing entries! Maybe it's superficial, but CBA books featuring Asian Americans or other "minorities" is something I always like to see more of. God chooses people from all different kinds of backgrounds to be a part of His plan and it's nice for me as a reader when authors recognize that --especially in contemporaries. =)

Deanna Stevens said...

I enjoyed todays post. Things as a reader I don't think about. I agree with the characters need to be real. Things they think & feel need to resonate with me..
toss me in as a reader please :)
Dee S

Edwina said...

Ask anyone who knows me at all, and they will tell you I am a lover of BLING! The more the better! So I was totally excited to read the name of this new division and the Diamond Award! And, Ruthy, in my stash of bling, I do have a pair of "diamond" encrusted shoes! Wore them to both of my kids' weddings!
Please enter me in the giveaway!

Kelly Blackwell @ Heres My Take On It said...
This comment has been removed by the author.