Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Blogside Chat | Nora St. Laurent of The Book Club Network

I have a treat for you today! While my Blogside Chat guests are usually authors, today I'm excited to introduce you to Nora St. Laurent of The Book Club Network. Nora is one busy lady. She runs two book clubs near Atlanta and runs The Book Club Network with her husband. She also writes a column for the Christian Fiction Online Magazine and Novel Rocket. And on top of all that, she blogs regularly at Finding Hope Through Fiction and posts reviews on several sites around the blogosphere. Nora has a special announcement that I'm pretty excited about, so please join me in welcoming her to i blog 4 books!



i blog 4 books: Nora, welcome to i blog 4 books! Before we get to your big announcement, tell us a little about the inspiration behind starting The Book Club Network.

Nora St. Laurent: The Book Club Network was born out of a desire to share Christian Fiction authors with other book clubs, share book club ideas with other leaders and to encourage the authors who are writing such amazing books. The economy has been really tough for a few years and people are not parting with money like they used to. Through TBCN they can take their time and find the right book or win it. We have give away opportunities each month. All of our contests are from the 19th – 21st of the month.

I run two face to face book clubs one at the Christian Book Store I work at and the other at the church I attend. It’s a position I never imagined I’d be in since I didn’t read for pleasure much before I started working in a Christian book store 11 years ago.

But since I love talking with people and the main thing to talk about in a book store is books I started reading Christian Fiction (publishers sent ARC copies to our store and I started checking them out) The first book that rocked my world and got me hooked in Christian Fiction was a book by Linda Nichols called Not a Sparrow Falls. Her next book did me in and I couldn’t stop talking about it, At the Scent of Water was her next book that prompted me to contact the author and let her know how much her book touched my spirit.

After reading these two books and telling customers about these reads I had a reason to read.  These books spoke to me because I wasn’t expecting it. It reminded me of the stories in the Bible. Jesus is the greatest story teller and He knew a story could change a life or prick our spirit and move us in a direction we never thought we’d be in.

I tell you all that to say I’m dyslexic and I have not been a fan of reading. Movies were more my thing. I could watch a movie of a book and have a lot more fun. Reading Christian Fiction changed my life in more ways than one.  I wanted to tell everyone about the greatest book I read, and I’d do that at the book store.  It was possible to talk about the new book I read and loved for about a month or more but when At the Scent of Water and Not a Sparrow Falls were not on the shelf anymore, I had to find some other books to talk about at work. I’m not a very fast reader so; discovering the next new book was a challenge. Would I get the book read before it disappeared from the shelf?  How long do books live on a book shelf? The shelf life of a book was a mystery to me and still is.

I was whining to my husband Fred about my problem. How can I get the word out about great books for a very long period of time??? Being a man who likes to face challenges head on, we began to talk about how we could do this and the fact that I can’t read books fast enough to keep up with it’s shelf life at the store.

I also told him as a book club leader I wanted to promote great books and share them with other groups. Not everyone has the advantage of working at a book store and see what new books hit the shelves each week. Another struggle I had was if I had an author speaking at my book club I wanted to share them with other book clubs in the area. How could I do that? Where are book clubs meeting?
Our answer to many of these questions and more was the birth of The Book Club Network - TBCN. Connecting authors to book clubs and readers to their books; it’s also a network of book clubs as they post what they’ve read and how the meeting turned out.

It’s a place to find where a book club is located. We have a member map where you can find a book club near you. Message them and see if they are accepting new members. I envision it to be similar to be similar to the Weight Watchers program (don’t laugh Grin) you can go to a meeting anywhere in the country right? All you have to do is look on line and get connected. This is my hope for the future of TBCN.

ib4b: Wow! I can tell that you really have a passion for spreading the word about Christian fiction! Have there been any surprises for you @TBCN?

NSL: I’ve been encouraged and fascinated by our growth. I can see there were other people out there like me wanting to connect with other book club members.

I’ll tell you what has surprised me is the author/reader interaction each month. This is something I didn’t foresee as I’ve watch the authors are having a blast interacting with the readers and visa/versa. The beauty of this discussion is it’s there forever for all to read no matter when you join TBCN.
The authors have done a great job coming up with questions for reader to answer that give them a peek into their book – create interest and then the discussion helps book club leaders connect with the author. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the amount of authors that want to be featured @The Book Club Network. It’s been a great thing.

ib4b: What benefits have you seen by bringing readers and authors together?

NSL: The interaction with the authors is almost like having a book club meeting on line. It’s a huge benefit for both the authors who’ve wanted to ask clubs questions and readers who want to get to know authors. The authors are catching on. Our sponsors have loved the interaction as well. Members have told me that they love the author interaction from the 19th-21st as much as having a chance to win all these books. It’s hard to know if a book will be a fit for your group so these interaction times are helpful for that and so much more. Another thing I love about TBCN members is the fact they are not afraid to share what they think in a good way. I’ve learned so much and laughed out loud in some discussion where the questions lead to sharing funny moments.

My hope is that book club leaders and/or members participate in the discussions and make that book connection with the author and their book. I want TBCN to be a tool for them in picking out their books. Maybe invite the author to speak to their book club on the phone. It’s my hope. The discussion will be there forever. No worries about a books shelf live here @TBCN. So, everyone has time to get to know each other!! It’s a beautiful thing!

ib4b: We're all about books here too! What were some of your favorite books growing up?

NSL: I only started reading for fun about 8 years ago when my boss asked me to start running book clubs at the Christian Book Store I work at. Reading was difficult – it’s still a struggle – but I’m getting better at it every day. I didn’t get diagnosed as being dyslexic until I was 26 years old. Christian Fiction books have given me a reason to read, not only are the books fun, action packed and filled with so many different genres and I’m encouraged by the message and characters as they struggle with situations and challenges of life.

There were two books I remember my teacher reading that I LOVED. From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konisgburg and My Side of the Mountain by Jean George. I was captivated by the adventure of these stories.

ib4b: I know this isn't really a fair question with the number of books you probably read, but what was the last "must read" Christian fiction book that you read?


NSL: Oh, Wow, I’ve read some pretty amazing books lately. Here are books that stayed with me long after I read the last page and closed the book. They are going on my voting list for this year –  these books are not listed in any special order, just as they came to my mind.

False Witness by Randy Singer
The Judge by Randy Singer
Wedded for War by Jocelyn Green
Walks Alone by Sandi Rog
Lion of Babylon by Davis Bunn
Never the Bride by Cheryl McKay & Rene Gutteridge
Listen by Rene Gutteridge
A Stray Drop of Blood Roseanna M. White

I could go on and on --- We are so blessed to have so many great writers

ib4b: Yes, we are! Do you have a "life verse" or favorite Scripture?


NSL: I don’t know about life verses but I do have some Bible verses that I cling to daily.

"God has not given me a spirit of fear but of power, love and sound mind." 2 Timothy 1:7

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 ESV

"Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:11-13

ib4b: Those are great verses that we should all cling to daily. Write your memoir in six words or less.

This verse sums up my life’s mission. Galatians 2:20: "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."

ib4b: Thanks for playing along with my questions. Now, I know TBCN is celebrating a big anniversary this month and you've got some fun things planned. How can readers join in the anniversary celebrations this month?

NSL: It’s easy to sign up to be a member of TBCN.  We ask a few questions for you to answer and for other information that helps us keep spammers and other information seekers out of the network. It’s also FREE. You have opportunities to win lots of books. For our BIRTHDAY BASH we are giving away 10 books a day and announcing winners once a week. You’ll have all week to enter the daily featured contests.

ib4b: Do you have any other comments for my readers?

NSL: If you are an avid reader, this is the place for you to learn about the latest in Christian Fiction and interact with the author each month.

Are you a book club leader? Well this is the place for you to find your next book club pick. We’d also love for you to set up your Book club page at our site for others to see. It’s a place to share your latest featured book. Post pictures of your club and the field trips you’ve taken. The authors you’ve met and the book fun you’ve had. Learn from other book clubs that have already set up their pages.

Want to start a book club but felt it was too overwhelming? You can learn from other experienced book club leaders, and you can start right away making your book club list!

Do you like to win books? This is the place for you. You’ll have a chance to get to know the authors and their books and read genre’s you normally wouldn’t. We’ve been giving away about 100 books a month and for our birthday bash it’s going to be 10 books every day; starting August first. Winners are picked weekly and announced each weekly.

ib4b: Nora, thank you so much for stopping by and sharing this exciting news with my readers! I know I'll be stopping by each day to see what books are up for grabs, chat with authors, and meet some new friends!

NSL: THANK YOU! You’ve been a grand host to have me here and let me talk about The Book Club Network and our Birthday Bash!! I hope to see you there @TBCN. You are a Blessing!!

5 comments:

  1. THANKS SO MUCH for having me here today!! We are very excited about celebrating our Second Birthday Party in a big way, thanks to Wynn Wynn Media, Bethany House Publishers, and Revell for making our birthday party possible!

    Everyone will have a chance to enter our contests everyday. FIRST you’ll have to join The Book Club Network – it’s free. Then you’ll answer one of the questions that the authors have come up with to be entered into the drawing. Winners will be picked once a week and announced once a week.

    The winners will be picked once a week and announced once a week.

    We are also THRILLED to announce that we'll be publishing our FIRST BOOK FUN MAGAZINE SEPT 1st. It's a digital Magazine about Book Clubs, Book Clubs, Events, Food, reviews and so so much more!!

    I appreciate you getting the word our about our BIRTHDAY BASH and the GREAT BOOK FUN We will be having ALL MONTH LONG!!

    Hope To see you there Soon!

    Blessings

    Nora :o)
    The Book Club Network CEO
    www.bookfun.org

    ReplyDelete
  2. Good interview of Nora today, thanks. I am a member of this book club and she does a fantastic job there. I really like meeting so many authors that I have read.
    Paula O(kyflo130@yahoo.com)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great interview!I had no idea you were dyslexic, Nora! That makes what you do even more amazing. I just shared this on my author Facebook page. And, I'm honored to be among the must-read books that came to mind.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Nora - Thanks so much for dropping in. Can't wait to see what you guys have in store for us!

    Paula - Yes, Nora does a great job and really helps connect authors and readers. I've had a ton of fun at TCBN too. :)

    Jocelyn - Thanks for stopping by and for sharing the post!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Nora, Great interview! I really enjoyed reading it. Now it has me thinking of Florida and times at NCF.

    Blessings,
    Jo

    ReplyDelete

I love comments! Thanks for letting me know what you think!

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