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!