Recently, the group Americans for More Civility, a kindness watchdog organization, selected Lisa for the National Civies Award, which celebrates public figures who work to promote greater kindness and civility in American life.
Blogging Mondays at: http://www.southernbelleview.com/
My website: http://www.lisawingate.com/
BOOK CLUB TALK BEGINS
I’ve enjoyed building relationships with many reading groups, and each of those connections has been a special blessing. In the ten years since my first book, Tending Roses, came out, I’ve even become an “honorary member” of a few clubs, meeting with them each year, as new books have been released. It’s a joy to see how those groups have grown and changed over time. Amazing connections form between people as they talk about stories. Friendships deepen, life happens, birthdays are celebrated, members join, members move away, members pass away and join the circles of book angels in heaven. It’s such a special blessing to spend time within those tight-knit groups, seeing firsthand how story bonds people together.
Where would you like to see your relationship with reading groups grow? How do you think your goals can be met?
I enjoy phone chatting with groups, and I’d love to do even more of that. It’s not always possible to meet with every group in person because of distance, and phone-in visits are a great substitute. Some days, I can be in Nevada for lunch and in Florida for dinner, via phone or Skype, and talk with readers who come from all sorts of different backgrounds.
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?
For phone-in visits, I typically talk to groups of any size, as scheduling allows. In-person visits that require travel vary, depending on the distance and time commitment involved. In general, this is true for speaking engagements of any kind. If it’s local, I may drop by a meeting of fifteen to twenty people or so. When travel is involved for a book group meeting or a speaking event, we generally ask that the hosting group gather around fifty people or more. Having an author visit is sometimes a good excuse for the club to invite friends or potential new members.
Which type of book club meeting do you prefer? Why?
I really do enjoy both kinds of book club meetings. I guess if I had to pick one or the other, I’d say that in-person meetings are the most fun. Over the years, I’ve traveled to some wonderful locations for speaking engagements and book discussions, and been blessed to sit in on discussion nights filled with laughter, tears, amazing personal stories, and wonderful conversations that went late into the night.
|Never Say Never won the 2011|
American Christian Fiction Writers Carol award
Did you learn more about your characters than what you had originally intended? If so what?
I’ve learned that characters aren’t really just characters. For any imaginary life you can create, there’s someone out there who has lived it, at least in part. By extension, when we’re discussing stories, we’re not just discussing stories—we’re sharing bits of ourselves and our own lives. We’re rolling out our own issues, examining them, and gaining the perspectives of others in the group. Sometimes that’s easier to do, in the context of discussing a character in a book than it is in discussing our struggles in real life. I think this is one of God’s most beautiful ways of using characters. They really do walk us through an experience and show us what life looks like on the other side.
Have you been surprised by readers’ reactions to one of your books? Characters? If so, which ones?
Many times! I’m always surprised and humbled by readers’ reactions to the characters and their stories. I’ve been amazed at how invested readers have become in various characters. After my first book came out, readers emailed me for years asking what happened to the little girl in the book, Dell. Because of those letters, Dell became a background character in several more books, growing up little by little, until she could have a coming-of-age story of her own. After her coming-of-age story, people wanted to know if she would get married, and if she would have children, and so on. By the time it was all over, Dell was fully raised, and she had become the daughter I never had. I’m a boys-only mom, so for me, that was kind of a thrill.
|benefit booksigning for the Gospel Cafe in Waco TX|
What was your most memorable reading group experience? What made it so fun?
|Tiara Society founder's Day Float at the Pulpwood Queens Girlfriend Weekend book festival |
I’ve always written stories about spiritual journey. When I started writing mainstream fiction, the dividing line between ABA and CBA fiction was more defined than it is now. In 2001, when my first book was released by Penguin Putnam, faith-based stories in ABA fiction were a rarity, which made it an exciting, and sometimes challenging, place to be. Over the years, the markets have changed, and when I was given the opportunity write for Bethany House as well as Penguin Putnam, I jumped at the chance. My greatest desire as a writer is to create books that have the potential to bring Christian and secular readers together and generate discussion. I strive to create stories that will appeal to veteran Christian readers, but have the potential to bring in readers who have never tried Christian fiction, as well.
Blog post about how to do your own book club premier:
|Picture of the group that met that night|