Nora St.Laurent is the CEO of The Book Club Network Incorporated. Nora and her husband run The Book Club Network (www.bookfun.org) She runs two book clubs near Atlanta, Ga., Former ACFW On-Line Book Club. Nora currently writes a Book Club column for the Christian Fiction OnLine Magazine and is a Book Club Talk Columnist for Novel Rocket. You can read author interviews on her Finding Hope Through Fiction blog, located at http://www.psalm516.blogspot.com, and reviews around the web at The Christian Pulse Mag, Title Trakk, NovelReviews, and Suspense Zone.
Nora is hosting an awesome contest, where she will be giving away 10 books every day in the month of August. Winners will be selected once a week. Told you it was awesome!
Below, Nora answers some questions about TBCN and this wonderful contest. I hope you take a minute to enter. 10 books per day are pretty good odds!
What inspired you start TBCN?
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 encourage the authors who are writing 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, members can take their time to find the right book -- or win it! We have giveaway 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 where I work, 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 on 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 the 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 them, I had a reason to read. These books spoke to me because I wasn’t expecting it. They 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 go.
I tell you all that to say I’m dyslexic and I have never been a fan of reading. Movies were more my thing. I could watch a movie based on 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. The fact is, I can’t read books fast enough to keep up with its shelf-life at the store.
I also told him that 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 seeing 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 were 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 members 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). 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.
Have there been any surprises for you at TBCN? What benefits have you seen by bringing readers and authors together?
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 watched the authors 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 readers to answer that give them a peek into their book. They create interest, and then the discussion helps book club leaders connect with the author. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the number of authors who want to be featured at The Book Club Network. It’s been a great thing.
The interaction with the authors is almost like having a book club meeting online. It’s a huge benefit for both the authors who’ve wanted to ask clubs questions and the eaders 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 is that TBCN members are not afraid to share what they think. I’ve learned so much and laughed out loud in some discussions 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 by phone. It’s my hope. The discussion will be there forever. No worries about a book's shelf life here at TBCN. So, everyone has time to get to know each other!! It’s a beautiful thing!
How can readers join in the anniversary celebrations?
It’s easy to sign up to be a member of TBCN. There are a few general questions for you to answer, as well as 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 in August, 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.
Do you have any other comments for my readers?
If you are an avid reader, this is the place for you to learn about the latest in Christian Fiction and interact with authors 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. Let us know about the authors you’ve met and the book fun you’ve had. Learn from other book clubs that have already set up their pages.
Have you been wanting to start a book club but feel it is 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 definitely the place for you. You’ll have a chance to get to know 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 will be picked and announced week.
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 www.bookfun.org
You are a Blessing!!
The Book Club Network CEO
Be sure to visit the site and enter to WIN! Good luck!