I attended a very special award ceremony this year thanks to my friend and author Kathi Macias. She invited me to the Golden Scroll Award banquet. Her book RED INK was nominated for book of the year. I was excited to be there with her and my husband to cheer her on. I pinched myself to make sure this experience was real and not a dream. I couldn't believe all the amazing people in the room. More about this event later. I just wanted to share the first author who's book touched me in a real way. Carol Kent.

AWSA Announces Golden Scroll Award Winners (below taken from their website - - You can see other pictures from that event

Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA) announced their 2011 winners for the Golden Scroll Awards, Sunday, July 10 th, at the Omni at CNN Center in Atlanta.

Honored for outstanding ministry partnership with their authors, the Golden Scroll Publisher of the Year winner went to Discovery House. “ Although small in comparison to other houses, Discovery House demonstrates an enormous capacity to serve the Lord,” said author Penny Monetti.

The Editor of the Year winner went to Terry Glaspey of Harvest House Publishers. Author Connie Cavanaugh said of Terry, “Regardless of whether he is dealing with an author who sells in the millions or in the thousands, he treats us all with dignity, respect and love.”

The Fiction Editor of the Year winner went to Tyndale House Publisher’s Jan Stob. Jeanette Windle said of Stob, “She encourages, motivates, and cheers me on in my writing, but what I most appreciate is that when I think I've turned in a good book, she won't let me rest until it's an excellent one."

The 2011 Golden Scroll book awards Novel of the Year went to Kathi Macias for Red Ink (New Hope Publishers), a gripping novel loosely based on a true story about a young Chinese woman who is forced to abort her second child, and eventually goes to prison for her faith.

The Nonfiction Book of the Year went to Margot Starbuck for The Girl in the Orange Dress (IVP Books), a cleverly written, poignant memoir regarding the author’s search for a true “father who does not fail.”

Becky Harling was named AWSA Member of the Year. AWSA founder Linda Evans Shepherd said, “Becky is both an abuse and cancer survivor. She inspires audiences, readers as well as our own prayer team to spend time daily praising God.”

Kathi Macias presented The Beyond Me Award to Yvonne Ortega. Macias said, “Yvonne has been through many heartaches and trials, yet she continues to allow God to use her pain to minister to others. She is indeed a “beyond me” person, modeling a “you-first life in a me-first world.”

The 2011 Golden Scroll Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Patsy Clairmont. Carol Kent said of Clairmont, “ As a much loved keynote speaker at Women of Faith arena events, Patsy’s triumph over agoraphobia has opened doors for her to share God’s healing power through spoken and written words."

Clairmont keynoted the event, with Linda Gilden as emcee. Authors Carol Kent and Linda Evans Shepherd presented the awards. Recording artist Gwen Smith performed a parody written by Martha Bolton and dedicated to editors and publishers. Following the banquet, Hollywood screenwriting consultant Linda Seger discussed turning Christian books into movies.

AWSA, an outreach of Right to the Heart Ministries, consists of over 300 top ICRS women authors who both publish and speak nationally. See

I was Thrilled to catch up with Carol Kent whose book BETWEEN A ROCK AND A GRACE PLACE touched and encouraged me right when I needed it most.

About Carol : 

Carol Kent is a popular international public speaker best known for being dynamic, humorous, encouraging, and biblical. She is a former radio show co-host and her messages have been featured on Focus on the Family.  She has been a keynote speaker at Women of Faith, Time Out for Women, and Heritage Keepers arena events; she has also spoken at The Praise Gathering for Believers and at Vision New England’s Congress. She has also been a featured speaker at many of the Extraordinary Women and Women of Joy events.

Carol has spoken internationally in South Africa, Germany, Bulgaria, China, Korea, Hong Kong, Guatemala, Mexico, and Canada. She regularly appears on a wide variety of nationally syndicated radio and television broadcasts. Past appearances have included the Billy Graham Prime Time TV Special, Dateline NBC, CNN LIVE, WE TV, Deborah Norville Tonight on MSNBC, The Harvest Show, Aspiring Women, Significant Living, In Touch with Charles Stanley, Focus on the Family, On Main Street, LIFE Today with James Robison, Prime Time America, Midday Connection, Family Life Today, HomeWord with Jim Burns, Key Life Network with Steve Brown, and 100 Huntley Street TV. Carol has also been a keynote speaker for the televised and nationally syndicated women’s conference sponsored by Church Communications Network.
She is the president of Speak Up Speaker Services, a Christian speakers’ bureau, and the founder and director of Speak Up With Confidence seminars, a ministry committed to helping Christians develop their communication skills. She has also founded the nonprofit organization, Speak Up for Hope, which benefits inmates and their families.

She holds a master’s degree in communication arts and a bachelor’s degree in speech education. She has taught speech and drama, and directed women’s ministries at a large Midwestern church. She is also on the advisory boards of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association and MOPS International.

By Carol Kent
Publlished by: Zondervan
ISBN# 978-0-310-33098-1
209 Pages

Back Cover: From bestselling author Carol Kent comes a riveting journey of facing the impassible obstacles of life and discovering the last thing ever expected--the sweet spot of grace.

REVIEW: I’m so thankful to have received a review copy of such an inspiring novel. The reader can get the essence of this heart warming, non-fiction book by reading the dedication Carol wrote to her parents.

“Thank you for consistently pressing into the rock and reminding me to find the place off safety and grace in the middle of my darkest hours.”

I appreciated this story filled with hope and joy found in the most unlikely places. Carol Kent not only chares her story of how her and her husband are finding that in their weakness God is strong, but that he also provides the peace that passes all understanding in the middle of the storms of life. Carol and her husband don’t claim to have it all together, nor do they tell you how life becomes easier after your son has been in prison for life for nine years.

Carol says, “As our family is living out a realty far different from what we once dreamed, God has repeatedly reminded us of his favor in the middle of difficulties. There is hope and joy in the darkness…..we could never learn to be brave and patient if there were only join the world…Joy is not the absence of trouble but the presence of Christ…Joy is experiencing God’s peace in the middle of impossible circumstances and sensing his care when life is anything but fun!”

Life can be tough and taking one day at a time is all we can do. Just like Paul who prayed for the thorn to be taken from his side. Carol talks about Paul praising God in prison under the most horrible conditions and moving on with the thorn in his side God chose not to remove.

Carol Kent along with others share their stories where God showed in the most unexpected ways. These stories were ones that provided hope and inspiration in the most impossible of situations!

Some of the chapter names are Grace in the hardest of places, Angels in Disguise, Longing for a Better Life, The Secret Power of Gratitude, Unexpected Kindness, Why do you Weep? And Dwelling in the Grace Place.

No matter what you face in life dwelling in the grace place is where you want to be with your heavenly father. This book is not a how to book, follow steps one, two and three and God will do this. Not it’s a book filled with real people walking out their faith in the middle of the storm, relying on God to be there like He said he would.

I know that I’ll be reading this book over and over again. I want to go back and really spend sometime in the back of each chapter where Carol provides questions and scriptures to meditate on. I just can’t say enough great things about this powerfully moving, hopeful book. It’s a must read for the hurting and for those people who want to be Jesus with skin on to the people around them.

NOTE: It was a thrill to meet up with Carol that day. I tried to express to her how her book touched me through tears and pauses. She was most gracious to wait as I struggled to talk. Wow, what a woman and what a book! I highly recommend it.

Nora St. Laurent
The Book Club Network


Here are ten Christian authors I've met this year and LOVE their work (placed in random order)  These are authors to watch! CLICK on the authors name to read more about them and their books at the Family Fiction Magazine!! Fun! Fun! Fun!

  1. Julie Lessman
  2. Denise Hildreth Jones
  3. Allison Strobel
  4. Pamela Ewen
  5. Melanie Dickerson
  6. Kathi Macias
  7. Ginny Yttrup
  8. Meg Moseley
  9. T.L. Higley
  10. Elizabeth Musser
I run two "live" book clubs and I'm always looking for new novels and authors to discuss at book club. I'm looking for books that have something more to talk about then all of us saying, "Boy, that was fun!" I've had the honor of meeting many of these authors in person and hearing their writing journey. Also how they came up with the idea for their stories. What a delight it's been to talk with them..

Since I'm a visual learner I want to leave you with a lasting impression.And covers to look at when you got to the book store! Grin!

These authors write amazing stories, ones that touch your heart, mind and emotions. When you read the last page of these books you'll  have had an experience you won't forget. You'll learn something and you might discover something about yourself you hadn't realized. These authors characters will leave a lasting impression on your mind and you'll wonder about them when you least expect it. The characters you read about will feel like new friends you want to hang out with. All these qualities and the authors well timed humor makes for a GREAT Book Club Pick!


Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network 


We  feel with more than 4 million people without power and 15 deaths reported so far, that it would be best to postpone our contest Monday night., August 29th at 9p.m. EST. Looking at members locations it appears that a significant number of TCBN members were close if not in the direct path of the storm. So we will postpone Monday night's contest and RESCHEDULE it.

Now next week is Labor Day and many people have plans so we felt that waiting one additional week would give more people a chance to participate.

NEW DATE MONDAY, SEPT 12. 9p.m Eastern Standard Time.  Please forgive us for any inconvenience this may cause. We both felt that this was prudent though.

Please forgive us for any inconvenience this may cause, we felt it was prudent though.
Email me at  with any questions.


ANGIE SMITH is the wife of Todd Smith, lead singer of the hit Christian contemporary group Selah. She is the author of the popular blog Bring The Rain (, which receives between 7,000 and 15,000 unique visitors every day. Women of all ages (and a few men!) have connected with Angie through her transparent, warm, witty writing. Many of her blog posts receive up to 500 comments from women identifying with the life experiences Angie writes about. And each day, Angie receives emails from women around the world who tell her that her writing makes them feel as if they’ve been lifelong friends with her. They share their deepest hurts with her, and amazing bonds are built between Angie and her audience. Angie’s training is in psychology (a Master’s degree from Vanderbilt University in Developmental Pyschology), and her blog gives her the opportunity to combine her two greatest passions: helping to heal people’s hearts and writing. Through her blog and her future as a book author she seeks to minister to other women who have walked difficult roads as she has, and instill in them a passion for the God Who brought her through the darkest night imaginable.

The media have taken note of Angie’s story and her popularity on the internet, and she has recently been approached by HomeLife Magazine and ParentLife Magazine, each wanting to do feature articles on her and Todd’s story (both magazines have been told that they will need to wait until the book release for those feature stories). Angie and Todd have appeared on Focus on the Family radio and led the Focus on the Family chapel in January 2008. In February 2008, Dennis Ferrier of Channel 4 News (NBC) Nashville interviewed Angie for a feature story that will air in March of this year.

Through Todd’s CCM group, Selah, Angie’s platform is further extended. Over the last twelve years Selah has sold more than two million records and has received five Dove Awards. Their eighth CD releases in Summer 2009 and will feature a song written by Angie, Todd, and Christa Wells entitled “I Will Carry You,” which was written for Audrey Caroline. (Taken from CBC.COM's website)

MY THOUGHTS: I work at a Christian Book Store and saw this book hit the shelf in 2010. I heard of their story at the same time fellow co-workers told me of their journey in the book I Will Carry You.  I couldn't bring myself to read this book. I have to say that I didn't know if I could hear her speak about this in public.

When Angie got up on stage she talked about the First time she spoke at a Women of Faith conference.  She said that she was so nervous and  had to go to the bathroom a few times before speaking. The last time she heard a splash and felt a tug on her shirt. Angie realized that the speaker had fallen into the toilet. She yelled and quickly picked the equipment out of the water. She immediately put it under the hand drying machine praying that the equipment wasn't ruined and blow dryer would make everything alright. Praise the Lord it worked.

She had told the tech team what had happened and the next day they had hooked her up tightly and put a sticker on her backside to help her know where the equipment should stay and told her to not take bathroom breaks with the equipment on. Angie has a great sense of humor and thought it would be fun to share with the audience the story of her speaking equipment getting wet but not ruined. When she lifted up her shirt to show everyone the sticker, she was horrified at the fact the cameras were zooming in on her backside and it was showing on four very large screens for everyone to see. OHMYGOSH!! She didn't tell that story again!

It was moments like that Angie shared that made her adorable, fun, and transparent. She then talked about how she came to know of and want a personal relationship with Jesus. Someone had asked her to a bible study and she brought the only bible she owned and that was a precious moments Catholic bible. She told how later that same friend asked her to go to a singles meeting. She didn't see how that could be any fun but went anyway. There she saw Todd Smith singing and said to the Lord I don't know if I'd be good enough to be married to someone like this singer but something close would be good. She got saved shortly after and to her surprise met, dated and married Todd Smith who is in the group Selah.

She remembers being totally sold out to the Lord and telling him Lord do with me what you will. She says, "Oh, Lord, I'll do what you want I'm afraid to fly so if I don't have to fly that would be good. Oh, I'm also afraid of public speaking but if you can work around all that, I'M YOURS! Do with me what you will!"

Everyone started to laugh. She is now flying all over the country and speaking to large crowds of women telling the story the Lord has given her to tell with the Women of Faith group.  God doesn't force us to do anything. He allows us an opportunity to over come our fears in His arms.

See the enemy wins when we don't take that first baby step on a journey we're scared to go on. Te one the Lord has for us. When we take that first step we can see the Lord is there to carry us, hold us every step of the way, like we help our kids attempt something new that is scary for them like trying to swim, ride a bike, go to school for the first time. All things that are a bit scary and can be overwhelming to a little one. But we trust our parents and know they love us so we take that first step and allow them to guide us and love us along the way. The Lord wants to do the same thing with us.

The other thing that got to me was how Angie, Todd and their girls CELEBRATED life. In an age where taking a live in the womb for many reasons is the norm, while letting old people die for other reasons. Our society has not CELEBRATED the precious gift we have of  LIFE!! Take a listen to how Angie and Todd along with their little girls CELEBRATED Audrey's life. The short time they had with her. It will make you look at life and the Lord through fresh eyes. It's encouraging! Here is an excerpt from an article on the Smith's that gives you more information into their situation.

To Read the Full Article Two and a Half Hours With Audrey By Pam Woody a Focus on the Family Thriving Family on Line Magazine Here is the excerpt.

"Angie Smith looked forward to her 20-week ultrasound. As she waited for the technician, she thought of how the images would thrill her husband, Todd, a vocalist for the band Selah, and excite their three daughters. But when the ultrasound machine began capturing images, the technician's composure changed, and Angie sensed something was wrong. The doctor's words confirmed her worst fears.

"Your child, she has many conditions," the doctor said. "Her kidneys are polycystic, and her heart is much too large. Each of these is a lethal condition.There is no amniotic fluid; her lungs are not developing. ... You will have some choices to make."

Instantly, Angie's belief in the sanctity of human life collided with the reality of a fatal prognosis, a prediction that her baby would die soon after birth. Angie and Todd sought the counsel of another doctor, who had performed abortions earlier in his career but devoted his later years to serving God. His position was clear:
Taking the baby would be destroying a human life.

As Angie and Todd left the hospital, they knew what they needed to do. Angie would continue her pregnancy, and the baby she was carrying would stay with them until the Lord's appointed time. They also chose to live life fully as a family during the coming weeks rather than grieve over an uncertain future."

I WILL CARRY YOU: The Sacred Dance of Grief and Joy
By Angie Smith
Published by B and H Publishers (May 1, 2010)
ISBN# 978-0805464283
224 Pages

Book Description: In 2008, Angie Smith and her husband Todd (lead singer of the group Selah) learned through ultrasound that their fourth daughter had conditions making her “incompatible with life.” Advised to terminate the pregnancy, the Smiths chose instead to carry this child and allow room for a miracle. That miracle came the day they met Audrey Caroline and got the chance to love her for the precious two-and-a-half hours she lived on earth.

Upon receiving the original diagnosis, Angie started a blog (Bring the Rain) to keep family and friends informed of their journey. Soon, the site exploded in popularity, connecting with thousands who were either experiencing their own heartbreaking situations or simply curious about how God could carry someone through something so tragic. I Will Carry You tells the powerful story of a parent losing her child, interwoven with the biblical story of Lazarus to help those who mourn to still have hope—to find grace and peace in the sacred dance of grief and joy.

Listen to their journey as Angie and her husband Todd explain briefly about their journey. It truly is an amazing story and gives credit to the quality of life and how precious it is.

NEW BOOK SEPTEMBER 1, 2011 Hitting Book Shelves

By Angie Smith
Published by B and H Publishers (Sept 1, 2011)
ISBN# 978-0805464290
224 Pages

Book Description: A woman's faith in God is challenged by the first question Satan asks Eve in the Bible: "Did God really say you can’t eat from any tree in the garden?" That seed of doubt and the story it begins to unfold breed a concept of fear still haunting each of us on some level every day-the idea that our actions could ruin something beautiful, and God might not have control of things.

In What Women Fear, acclaimed writer and speaker Angie Smith admits, "fear is a major part of my testimony" and talks openly about her treatment for anxiety as a child. Giving a voice to the problem, she says, "I truly believe every single one of us struggles with some type of fear, whether it's fear of flying or fear of being 'found out.' Maybe you don’t worry about dying, but you get sick thinking about the fact that you might fail."

Rather than suggesting that those who truly love the Lord would never fear, Angie blends her own experiences with those of men and women from throughout Scripture to help us start dealing more effectively with these true, human emotions. Whether it’s a constant "What if?," a nagging fear of abandonment or betrayal, fear of your own or someone else’s death, fear of trusting God's plan, or even the fear that God's existence is a lie, Angie will walk you through stories of others who have simultaneously loved God and struggled with fear. Join Angie and discover how to let Jesus redeem this struggle as only He can, that He will be glorified, and you will be transformed!

NOTE: After the conference had ended my daughter and I ran to get in line to speak to Angie Smith. We were heart broken to discover the line to see her had been cut off. We were amazed to see only about 15 or so people in line and they had cut it off. We asked why. They said Angie had a plane to catch in order to get home to her family. They had been with her on Friday night but she was on her own on Saturday. It ended about 5pm. Traffic in Atlanta at that time no matter the day is always hectic. We understood but were disappointed. So my daughter managed to get a few shots of Angie as she signed peoples books. They had copies of her new book What Women Fear. I had a chance to look in it. Wow!

This book really looks good and after hearing Angie Smith talk this is on my wish list to read. It's amazing how God can work through us if we let Him! You'll want to check out both of these books. I know I will be!

Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network 


My daughter took these pictures of Luci Swindoll. The line was so long to meet Luci Swindoll we didn' t have time to wait in her line and then get back to the conference. She got a pretty good picture of Luci as the others waited in line to meet her. Luci was recovering from bronchitis and they said she didn't have much of a voice 4 days before this event. From the Youtube video you can see how spunky she really is when she isn't battling sickness. She still was funny and real! This was the first time I'd every heard her speak. Fun and moving!

This is the story I heard her tell at the conference.

Luci has a new book coming out early next year. It looks good!

By Luci Swindoll

Published by Thomas Nelson (March 13, 2012)
ISBN# 978-1400203538
224 Pages

Product Description: Simple rules for a successful, intentional life approached in a no-nonsense manner with a solid, scriptural foundation.

Luci Swindoll, a beloved Women of Faith speaker for sixteen years and a distinctive Christian voice in writing and speaking for thirty years, gives readers common-sense rules to live by. These are rules we may know but don't often use-because we don't think about them.

Luci's book places these practical rules in one small, well-organized, fun-to-read compendium that can be referred to again and again.

The 50 simple "secrets" are in five parts:

Beginning with the Basics
Developing Your Style
Achieving Balance
Living a Good Life
Staying Connected
Simple Secrets to a Happy Life is sure to delight readers-from young people needing advice from a friendly voice to older readers who realize they still don't have it all right.

While I was waiting in line to see Lisa D. Harper and finally talked to her she brought out her friend Kelly Minter, to meet my daughter and I. I had told List I worked at a Christian book store and she wanted me to meet Kelly. I only knew of Kelly's work in books and bible studies. It wasn't until I looked her other projects up did I realize that she also sings. Wow!
Love the book trailer to her book The Fitting room and the music she had for the study of Ruth! Check it out!

THE FITTING ROOM: Putting on the Character of Christ
By Kelly Minter
Published by David C. Cook (April 1, 2011)
205 Pages

Product Description: Kelly Minter explores what it means—in real life—to “clothe” ourselves (Col. 3:12) in Christian virtues like forgiveness, joy, patience, compassion, and more.

Colossians 3:12 tells us to “clothe” ourselves in Christian virtues like forgiveness, joy, patience, compassion. But how does that work in real life? Can we really “dress up” in the character of Christ? Kelly Minter says the answer is yes—if we let the Master Designer do the fitting. This relatable book offers insightful Scripture study with real-life stories and simple, down-to-earth explanations of tricky concepts as justification and sanctification—stitching it all together with dry humor and down-to-earth honesty. There are no gimmicks, no guilt trips, just an irresistible invitation for women to enjoy a spiritual makeover—to put on a life that’s personally tailored by the One who knows and loves them best.

Kelly is a multi-talented women with books, and bible studies under her belt she is also an accomplished music artist! The next study Kelly said she is working on is Nehemiah. Can't wait.

Below youtube video from Lost Love and Legacy - Reflections on Ruth Study

Oh the amazing people I met at The Women of Faith Conference in Atlanta. Oh, what an impact it had on my life! I've never been before! Lord willing I'll be able to go again! Thanks to Thomas Nelson Publishers for sponsoring and putting together these conferences going out through out the USA!!

Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network 


I caught up with Elizabeth Musser at the ICRS conference in Atlanta a few weeks ago. I enjoyed talking to Elizabeth about her new book The Sweetest Thing and book clubs.

1. What have been the benefits to you in having relationships with reading groups?

I love hearing from reading groups/book clubs!  I find it so encouraging.  I’ve received photos of different book clubs, each holding a copy of my novel on the beach or at a special meeting.  Knowing book clubs are reading, discussing and enjoying my novels is an answer to prayer—I especially like hearing about discussions in which people of different religious points of view were touched by the messages in my novels.

Because my novel The Swan House (Bethany House, 2001) takes place in Atlanta and has several scenes which occur at the real Swan House (now a part of the Atlanta History Center), many, many book clubs throughout the years have journeyed to Atlanta and had lunch at The Swan Coach House (where a scene from The Dwelling Place is set) and then toured the Swan House.  For years, there was a docent who took book clubs on a special tour, pointing out all the things that were mentioned in the novel.  I have so enjoyed hearing from different book clubs which have done this.  And it has been a special privilege occasionally to join a book club on a tour and/or for lunch at the Coach House.

2. Where would you like to see your relationship with reading groups grow? How do you think your goals can be met?

I enjoy interaction with reading groups and am happy to speak to groups by phone, skype or in person.  Living overseas, it is harder to organize phone calls because I am 6 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time and often reading groups meet in the evenings, which is the middle of the night for me.  So I’d like to figure out ways that I can interact—perhaps by answering a few questions ahead of time.  I’d also like for the groups to be aware of all that is available on my website: discussion questions and lots of other information about my novels, updates about our ministry in France, a ‘my favorites’ page, photos from book signings, etc.

I have a recently launched fan page on FaceBook which offers photos and updates about reviews, interviews etc. and interaction with readers:!/pages/Elizabeth-Musser/149546181768451

3. Do you have a set size a reading group has to be before you'll talk to them on the phone or in person? What do you feel most comfortable doing?

I am happy to talk with any size reading group by phone or Skype.  Since I do many speaking events when I am back in the States, I like to invite reading groups to come hear me if they want a more formal presentation.  But I have often spoken to groups of 10-15 readers in a home or church setting or in a restaurant, etc.

4. Which type of book club meeting do you prefer? Why?

I enjoy all types of meetings, but I suppose I prefer being able to share a bit about my background and reasons I wrote the novel and then interacting with the readers in an informal question and answer time afterward..  I need a little bit of structure—I speak more clearly when I have an idea of the format of the meeting.

5. Do you learn about your book and yourself from book club meetings? If so what?

It is extremely humbling to hear positive comments about my novels from the readers’ perspective.  Honestly, I at times get tingles running through me to hear that readers have been touched by my words, moved to laughter and tears, and have even drawn closer to the Lord as they contemplate the message of my stories. 

I often hear that readers are also inspired by my life.  That too is very humbling and a bit unbelievable to me, and it is clearly God using what I offer Him—in fear and trembling—for His glory.  What an answer to my prayers.  I love to tell readers that their gifts and talents too can be used in surprising ways to glorify God.

I really enjoy listening to a readers’ perspective on a character, a scene, a theme from a book. 

6. Did you learn more about your characters than what you had originally intended? Have you been surprised by readers’ reactions to one of your books? Characters? If so, which ones?

Many times as I am in the process of writing a novel, I find my characters doing things that surprise me—as I delve into their personalities.  However, I’m careful that they remain true to themselves—so sometimes those surprising actions get edited out.  As an author, I need to know a lot more about my characters than I can show in the novel—for instance, their background, their likes and dislikes, their fears, their secrets.  Many of these things come out during the course of the novel, but not all.  Still I need to know so that it all holds together.

Oh, I love to hear readers’ reactions to my characters!  Surprised?  Well, yes.  In The Swan House, I have a character called Ella Mae—she is an African American who serves as a maid in the 1960s South.  I felt I was very honest about the unjust way she was treated by her employers—not unkindly, but condescendingly—and I feared that the society I was describing (elite Atlanta) would not look favorably on my honest appraisal.  But quite the contrary, many readers have told me, in tears, that they had an ‘Ella Mae’ in their lives and family and that I described their feelings exactly.  Pure love and yet a na├»ve misunderstanding of racial issues.  They were thankful I tackled this issue through my character.

I chuckle too at how vehemently some readers express their disdain for villains in my novels—especially Jean-Claude Gachon and Ali Boudani in my first novel, Two Crosses.  But even Spalding Smith in The Sweetest Thing has gotten some very negative reactions (well deserved, I must admit!)

Mostly I hear that my readers find my characters so real and they can identify with them—and this is exactly what I want.  I say that although I write inspirational fiction, ultimately what I want to communicate to my readers is the truth—and that is accomplished by creating characters with depth.

7. Has your book club experience - getting feed back from reading groups - helped you in writing future books? If so, how has it helped you?

Yes, I glean information that I can use to help me as I write future novels—hearing what readers like most about my novels.  I’m all ears!  Mostly, the input I get from reading groups confirm that what I am writing is being well-received by my intended audience and I should continue in my goal of writing what I call ‘entertainment with a soul.’  Probably the comments I most often receive are that my novels deal with real issues and that I depict realistic spiritual struggles in believable ways.  Hearing that someone has gained a better perspective on God or been helped through a difficult period in life by my novels makes me feel all the more responsible to communicate God’s wonder and power and my characters’ need for Him in ways that depict truth.

Thanks for your book club insight Elizabeth. I know how much I learn at book club meetings about the book, situations and each other. It's very interesting to hear what you as a writer enjoy and experience through book club events. Really enjoyed meeting you at the ICRS Conference and learning of your novel journey.


Bethany House is giving away 9 copies of Elizabeth's book THE SWEETEST THING!! It's A "LIVE" Event. The GRAND PRIZE of the night is a KINDLE!! We'll also be giving away 14 other author's book. Check out the Front Page of the Network to see the other books you can win. You must join TBCN to participate. It's painless and FREE!!

Looking forward to seeing you on MONDAY AUGUST 29th at 9p.m. Eastern Standard Time!!

Until Next time.

Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network 


REMEMBER To CHECK if it's "FREE" BEFORE you hit the download button. Click the Title of each book to get to the Free Link. Some of these have been free for a while and will end soon. So Hurry!! You can download these on your computer, iphone, ipad or whatever reader you have. So, many great book!

By Tia McCollors
Nook Free link

By Richard Mabry M.D.
Nook Free Link

By Denise Hildreth
Nook Free Link

By Barbara Cameron
Amazon Link

By Catherine Palmer
Amazon Link

By F. P. Lione
Amazon Link

By Stephanie Whitson
Amazon Link

By Yvonne Harris
Amazon Link


Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network