Gail's 2 newest books!
Cindy: You write for Steeple Hill, which is the Christian Imprint for Harlequin. Had you published anything prior to that?
Gail: I wrote two novels for Barbour Publishing before Steeple Hill, and I continue to write for them. Before fiction, my first sale was a program book for churches and Sunday school, called Kneel Before The Babe. It consisted of four Christmas programs for worship services. I also wrote hundreds of articles on parenting and teen issues for Christian magazines, using my expertise as a licensed counselor. I also sold VBS and Sunday school material which included articles and short stories for children and adults. One romantic short story was published in Affaire d' Coeur. In 1997, I began writing fiction and sold my first novel in 1998.
Cindy: In order to get anywhere in the writing/publishing business, you need to acquire an agent and a reputable publisher. How difficult is it to convince an agent and/or publisher that your work is worth consideration?
Gail: A writer cannot convince an agent or editor to work with them if their work doesn't stand up on its own. Literary agents want to represent solid, quality fiction, and editors want the same so trying to convince someone I am a good writer just doesn't work. I let my writing stand for itself. It's not always the writing that causes rejections with editors but what they are buying. A publisher looking for suspense doesn't want a romance or perhaps they've recently published a book with a similar story line. I still receive rejections.
Cindy: Wow, you've sold over 3 million copies! Do you attribute that accomplishment to your books being available through Harlequin's Book Club?
Gail: Certainly direct mailing helps to sell novels, but my novels are in book and retail stores all over the country. I see my novels in grocery stores, K-Mart, Walmart, Target and similar stores. The more the books are placed in the public eye the more opportunity readers have to purchase them. Sales come from books readers enjoy. The fact that I've just signed a contract for my 43rd and 44th books is another reason I have so many copies in print. Logically, the more books the more sales.
Cindy: What book was your favorite to write and why?
Gail: That's a difficult question. I love many of my books and can't name a favorite. One book that I feel is my best writing is a novel I'm trying to sell now. Secret Places is a single title women's fiction.
Cindy: And your most difficult one?
Gail: The same book - Secret Places. It's set in Louisiana in Cajun country. It took tremendous research to get the feel of Louisiana, the Cajun people, as well as the jargon, customs, and lifestyle of people in that area. I also needed to know some laws regarding historic homes. The novel is written in two time periods, the forties to the sixties and present day so that added to the research.
Cindy: What are some of the most common errors new authors make?
Gail: Pacing is one of the biggest. Newer authors often don't know where to start a story and how to use scene and sequel to enhance the progress of the story. POV is another. Head-hopping is a problem of many inexperienced writers. Finally, beginning writers don't always understand that everything said and done must move the plot forward. There's no room for chitchat or getting to know each other. The character hops off the train and keeps on running, in the words of CBA editor Karen Ball.
Cindy: You're one of the co-founders of the ACFW organization. How did all of you come up with the idea for the group?
Gail: In February 2000, the six founders met in a chat room to talk about the need for an organization like RWA for romance writing. Secular romance is very different from Christian romance, not in the romantic tension but in the need for sexual description. Personally I think it takes more talent to write a romance without much of the romance being in bed. Our characters learn to love the character's attributes as much as the "body beautiful." In our first on-line meetings, we discussed creating an organization for romance writers, but within a year, we had many Christian fiction writers longing to join but wanting an organization for all genre. In 2002, we reincorporated and changed our name to American Christian Fiction Writers. Today ACFW has a few members short of 2000 writing in all genre, and our conference is the premier Christian fiction conference in the country.
Cindy: What are some of the advantages to belonging to the group?
Gail: ACFW draws the top agents and editors from the major Christian publishing houses to our conference where they offer appointments to those in attendance (first come first served). Many novelists have made contacts at ACFW that have resulted in the agent they wanted or their first book sale. During the year for the price of the membership, ACFW offers free writing classes to members, critique groups, topics of the week, an archive filled with research material, forums where members can discuss genre issues, a monthly newsletter, marketing news and contact with some of the best Christian writers in the country who mentor new authors. They also have a loop where authors can ask questions and receive answers.
Cindy: When you hold your annual conferences, what advantages can you offer a new author/member?
Gail: Besides contact with agents and editors in appointments, these people host tables at lunch and dinner so authors have another opportunity to make contact. We also provide an early bird special at an additional cost with major people in the business. This year attendees could have a full day workshop with Donald Maass, agent and author of the The Breakout Novel and The Fire in Fiction. Six or more continuing sessions are available for writers at all levels, and a multitude of one hour workshops are available on many topics. This year I taught a workshop on Tension and Conflict. These are recorded and available for purchase.
The conference also hosts our annual Award Banquet for winners of the Genesis (unpublished authors) and Book of the Year (published authors). These awards have gained a fine reputation and often lead to a publisher buying the novel. Fellowship, publisher parties, worship and praise are available to those in attendance. Each year an outstanding novelist is the keynote speaker at the conference. This year Debbie Macomber, NY Times Best Selling Author, presented three keynote addresses filled with humor, advice and heart-touching inspiration.
Cindy: Where can readers learn more about you and any new books to watch for?
My website is:
I am also on Facebook at:
I have a reader's group on Facebook at:
I have a blog at:
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If you are a new writer, please visit my Writing Fiction Right blog at:
Writers will find many articles related to all kinds of topics for any genre-secular and Christian fiction-listed in the right hand column.
Cindy: In parting, is there anything else you would like to add to this interview that I may not have covered?
Gail: Thanks for the interview, and if readers are interested, my three book anthology, Monterey Memories, a Barbour release, will be in stores some time in November, just in time for Christmas. If readers enjoy connected series novels, my Man's Best Friend Series, continues into next year. Dad In Training was released by Steeple Hill Love Inspired in September, and although not in stores in October, it can still be purchased from online book stores or an order through your favorite bookstore. The second book, Groom in Training, will be released in February 2010 and Bride In Training, in July 2010. The stories revolved around three women involved in a dog shelter. The book is in memory of our daughter Brenda who fostered and trained dogs until they could be adopted and provided dog obedience training in people's homes.
Here’s just a few of Gail’s Books...