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Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Christian Fiction Blog Alliance


Novel Journey is pleased to offer you an interview with Bonnie Calhoun, director of the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance. This alliance has just eclipsed their first year and yield amazing results. No stranger to writing herself, Bonnie is currently shopping a manuscript and working on several others.

How did the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance came into being, and who plays what role?

The CFBA came into being as the brainchild of author T.L. Hines. As you can see by the recent success of his first novel, Waking Lazarus, which is into it's second printing as we speak. Tony is a bit of a marketing genius.

I remember in the late summer of 2005, he dropped by the Christian writers site that I frequented, FaithWriters.com and left a message that he was starting a blogging alliance for Christian fiction and he was looking for people who liked to read.

It sounded like fun, so I joined. Over the next year we intermittently did several blog tours for books, and when we finally got to do Waking Lazarus, Tony found himself in a whole new world where he needed to make writing deadlines rather than set up blog tours.

He asked, I answered, and our present organization came into being. I am the Director. I have Mimi Pearson as Assistant Director, and Kevin Lucia as the MySpace Director. Kevin is also the Editor of our CFBA Newsletter.

The CFBA started as a one-page blog, and I see that you have other help...how large is the CFBA now?

Jessica, we're growing by leaps and bounds. Some days I just sit back and wonder where the Lord is going to lead us.

WE now have a four...soon to be five page website. Then there's the CFBA blog where we do the tour postings and all the reviewers can check in to say that they've posted. We also have a multi-page MySpace presence. We've recently developed a Book Review Newsletter that also showcases some of the books that we don't have room to review.

And there is something new and very exciting in the works, but I can't divulge what that is at this time.

Ha! Way to tease us! Can you at least tell us how many blogs participate in the CFBA right now?

82 and rising...(new members this week!)

What is the goal of a blog tour?

The immediate goal of a blog tour is to raise the book's standing on the Technorati Popular Book page, especially for the weekend when people are looking for new things to read—and to raise a buzz about the quality of Christian fiction. It is no longer your mother's fiction, or relegated to being of second-rate quality.

Other results I've seen include a myriad of secular people telling me, "I didn't know the writing was that good in Christian fiction," or the recent debate at a very popular secular agent's site about the merits of inspirational fiction.

We now have participating members that span a plethora of subject matter on their sites, which combined draw a minimum of a thousand people daily. We as Christians can be the wave of the future...to God be the Glory!

How does the Technorati rating work?

You need to use a specific link formula keyed to the ISBN number of the book. that specific link is tracked by Technorati for its number of hits. On a good day when Technorati is functioning normally...and I give those guys and gals a lot of credit. There are only 30 people tracking approximately 52 million websites and blogs...the links pop up as a book ranking after being active for 48 hours.

Active links are counted for two days and after that they drop off the ranking. so there fore the books on the Popular page, are the ones being blogged about in the last 48 hours. the more links you have, the higher in ranking you climb.

What is required of a member?

What is expected from a member is relatively simple and only twofold

When they sign on, they are given two blogrolls for the CFBA. They are expected to keep these blogrolls posted on their blog. They also get the added benefit of eighty or so new links to their blog. Anyone who is part of a blogroll understands this.

And the other...when they order a book to review it, we expect a review, or at the least, a posting of the links and an introduction of the book to their readers.

We do have people who are not writers, and sometimes these folks are shy about writing and, in some cases, actually fearful of writing an incorrect review. In this case we offer a blurb review, which is basically the back cover story of the book. This review is posted on the CFBA blog site and is available for copying and pasting.

What constitutes an incorrect review?

An incorrect review would be one that gives away too much of the plot...or in very extreme cases...the complete ending! We've actually had that happen several times. We try to avoid that because it frazzles the authors!

What are the requirements to become a member, and where should they go to join?

The only requirements are a love of reading, the desire to further the Lord's kingdom by helping to spread the word about Christian fiction, and like I said previously...keeping our two blogrolls on their site.

How do you decide which books you're going to feature?

Since I personally set up all the tours, I pretty much have my finger on the pulse of our reviewers. I have a good idea of what is a popular read, and I try to be sensitive to all of our genre readers by maintaining a mix of genres, and first-time and established authors, so that everyone gets to read something they are enthusiastic about.

What kind of books does the CFBA review?

We review Christian fiction that is published by mainstream CBA publishers. We do not review self-published or POD books because we do not have time to scrutinize them for CBA quality.

If someone wants to set up a blog tour with the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance, where should they go?

The could stop at the CFBA website,
http://christianfictionblogalliance.com/ and send me an email. I prefer to hear about a tour six months ahead of time because it allows for planning time.
There are so many books, and we have a limited schedule.

With holidays and such, it limits us to about 48 tours a year. Right now we are maintaining a tour a week schedule.

What kind of information do you require when you're setting up the tour. What can publicist/author do to best help you?

I need to know the genre of the book, a blurb about it, to give me a feel for the story, the date it will hit the stands, and information on how many copies I can get sent to reviewers.

To best help me in the process authors and publicists can make sure we get the books on time, so as to not interfere with the schedule. Our schedule is so tight that a late book can throw it off to the point that a book winds up being cut. I just wish I had more weeks in a year!

To join the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance or to learn more, please visit their web page:
http://www.christianfictionblogalliance.com/


19 comments:

  1. Thanks Jessica and Bonnie. I've always seen the little CFBA thing on people's blogs but had no idea what it meant. I get it now! Sounds good.

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  2. Bonnie, we appreciate what you're doing for CBA fiction so very much. Thank you for working so hard for all of us!!!!!

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  3. Thanks Janet and Gina...this is really a labor of love. The members are all great people, and we're all working on a common goal...futhering the Lord's kingdom through christian fiction!

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  4. Grass-roots wonderful, Bonnie!

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  5. Oh, and Jessica...thank you for giving me this opportunity to spread the word about our awesome organization...and thank you a million times over for NOT using my picture....Bwahaha!

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  6. Bonnie rocks! It's sometimes very amazing to me as well, especially when I learned that this "new director" taking over for Tony was a person who lived...oh, maybe ten minutes away from me....

    Time for Bingo to enter the national stage! 'Bout time. All we have around here are bars and bowling alleys. And they're not very nice bolling alleys, either.

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  7. Oh, and by the way - Bingo is Binghamton, where Bonnie and I both happen to live.

    Cue Twilight Zone music.

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  8. In the few months I've been involved CFBA has grown leaps and bounds.

    Bonnie is very professional and easy to work with.

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  9. Kevin...LOL...People are going to think that you're into the cooking cherry! Everyone...Bingo is the nickname for our fair city of Binghamton, New York. It is also the hometown of Rod Serling, hence the cuing of the Twilight Zone music! LOL!

    Thank Bernita, we do have a lot of grassy roots! I think mine need a little touchup! LOL!

    And Kelly...easy! I'm easy to work with! Hmmm....I must work on that! Mwhahaha!

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  10. Isn't it cooking SHERRY? What the heck is a cooking cherry? A new Vegitales character that's a chef?

    HA!

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  11. You guys are a riot!! Just think, everybody, if you join the alliance too, you can have even more of them.

    Bonnie, thanks so much for giving the interview. I greatly appreciated it.

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  12. Psst! A cooking cherry is like a maraschino...it holds up under heat...LOL!

    Sheesh! You're going to make these people think that we have fun over in our little corner of the blogosphere!

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  13. I meant to thank Kevin and Mimi too, as well as Tony who had the brilliant idea and all the sweet bloggers who participate.

    I know the authors you feature appreciate this service you all are providing. We all do share a common goal and that's what's so great about the CBA.
    This was great Jess. Thanks for featuring Bonnie,et al.

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  14. Hey everybody! What a great interview! Bonnie works so hard and has great ideas...I just try to keep up with her!

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  15. Bonnie, you're amazing at how well you run CFBA. I'm enjoying being a part of it!

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  16. Thank Dineen and thank you all for the wonderful comments. I'm just part of a very cool team! It takes all of us to make this work!

    To God be the Glory!

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  17. As a past and future benefactee (?), er, one whom benefits from the mighty CFBA's efforts, I would like to say thank you, Bonnie, Kevin, M.C. (makes me wanna rap, yo), and the others for spreading the word about these books. You guys rock. I'm looking forward to the end of the month for Landon Snow #3's moment in the cybersun. (Great timing, incidentally, as a Landon Snow short story is due to appear in Focus on the Family's Clubhouse magazine for kids in December. I'll send Bonnie a link if/when it shows at their website.)

    Writerly blessings!

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  18. As a CFBA member all the way from Australia and decidedly computer illiterate Bonnie has been an absolute angel answering bothersome questions from me over and over :) Mimi and Kevin do fantastic things too and all three make it a breeze for those of us reading and reviewing. It has been wonderful to share my passion of encouraging people to read Christian Fiction with others. Bless you all!

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  19. LOL...Rel, you are never a bother...I love being techie! We can all learn and grow together!

    R.K. send along that link and I'll be sure to utilize it!

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