Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Interview with Nora St. Laurent

As an author, it's exciting to meet people who have a passion for stories. Today, I'm taking a break from my normal posts and introducing you to Nora St. Laurent who started The Book Club Network with her husband. If you're interested in finding good books to read and ways to win free book, read on!

Lisa: What inspired you start TBCN?

Nora: 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 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.

Lisa: Have there been any surprises for you @TBCN? What benefits have you seen by bringing readers and authors together?

Nora: 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.

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!

Lisa: How can readers join in the anniversary celebrations?

Nora: 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. 

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

Nora: If you are 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.

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

Nora St. Laurent’s Bio: Nora 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, Novel Reviews, and Suspense Zone.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Annual English Camp!

It's been a busy week as we welcomed a group from Texas and Brazil who came to host this year's English camp. So far, we've had a great week with the campers who have come to not only work on their English, but also learn more about God through games, dramas, singing, activities, and service projects. We also include some of the campers from former years to be ambassadors to the new campers. I'll be putting together a video later, but for now here are a few photos.

Campers and staff divide into groups to get to know each other on day one.

Green team having fun! (Campers and staff are divided into four teams)

Painting camp T-shirts
While the camp is for high school kids, there is a lot of neighborhood kids who come by to hang out.

The campers love all the activities planned by the Sugar Creek, Texas team.

Retelling of the story of Elijah and the profits of Baal through a drama.

Monday, July 09, 2012

A week in Pictures

We are so thankful for two groups who spent the week in ministry with us, both from South Africa. It was a great week, with lots of relationships built, contacts made, and work accomplished. I shared a number of other things that happened last week, if you missed those posts.

We also praise God for two women in Quinjata who have been coming to church for quite a while and who gave their lives to Christ and were baptized in the ocean yesterday! (Unfortunately, I don't have photos of them.)

Worship at David's
Teaching about how we should be the light of the world.

Progress on the well. The foundation is build and we are waiting on the pump.
Progress on Mel and Mandy's house!

Foundation poured at our house.

The new church building in Magola!

Lots of hard workers.

Edna and I (what a cutie!!)
Be a blessing today!


Saturday, July 07, 2012

Janu gets his wheelchair!

While it took a lot longer to have this special wheelchair built than we had planned, it was all worth it to see Jano's smile when we delivered it to him last Sunday. What a precious boy!

A big thanks goes to the Creek Kids at Sugar Creek Baptist Church who collected change for The ECHO Project to supply vitamins for children in the villages we work with and to build this special chair for Jano. Visit The ECHO Project website to learn more about what is happening and how you can make a difference!

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Aleyna goes to Mozambique

Those of you following my blog know that June and July are always a very busy time for us as we host short-term mission groups wanting to get involved in the work here. This year, has been extra busy as we have two groups from the US, two from South Africa, and a group from Brazil arriving next week for English camp. On top of all of that we are also trying to build our houses at the same time.

South African group brought Jano his wheelchair! (More on this soon)
This week we are hosting two groups from South Africa as well as two college grads from the US who are both spending a month here with us working in ministry. I thought you might enjoy one of the updates of one of our summer interns, Aleyna, as she shares what has been going on the last couple of days. Enjoy!

"So I am two days behind in my updates...Yesterday (7/3) we worked on the veggie tunnel and then we went into town to host the English club. About this veggie tunnel - I have a new found appreciation for any farmer! Alissa and I worked with a few Mozambicans to till the land where the veggie tunnel (which I found out today is actually going to be more of a veggie rectangle) and that was hard work clearing all the brush and roots. It was all manual labor - we had our hands and a few hoe looking things. 

Wish I had gloves because there was definitely some poisonous scorpion looking things in the ground that we had to kill. I am still sore two days later from all the bending over. When the team from S. Africa arrived Alissa and I helped sew panels of netting together to provide the covering for the veggie rectangle. I learned how to say thank you very much in Afrikaans - I have no clue how to spell it - it sounds like "buy a donkey". 

In the afternoon we went to English club with the S. African team and hosted a lesson/craft on being fishers of men. We met and talked with Jose and Alice. Jose spoke excellent English and Alice was super shy.                                       
Afternoon at English Club

Alissa and Alyena
Today (7/4) I wore the post patriotic clothing i could find- my Texas flag shorts from Tyler's and a shirt with the American flag - in honor of the 4th of July. Happy 4th from Mozambique! The ladies from the S. African team and Alissa and I went the the orphanage down the street. Talk about heart breaker. I wanted to take all of them home with me! There is a playground right next door so we went and played this S. African game called "Rotten Egg" that is kind of like "duck, duck, goose", Red Rover, and this other game that doesn't really have a name. 

The little boys sat in a line in front of a soccer goal post and grabbed on to each other around the chest to make a chain. The point of the game was for someone to peel off one by one each kid from the line. They were surprised that I could pull them all off! After the orphanage we went into the local market...I still had my Texas flag shorts on and EVERYBODY knew that I was from the US some people even knew I was from Texas :-) I practiced a little bit of Portuguese...thank goodness some of it is coming back to me! 

Hanging out at the orphanage
At English club today we talked about the story of the Jesus feeding the 5000 with just 5 loafs of bread and two fish. I got to visit with a lot of the disciples (yea!!) and meet some more new friends. I met a new friend named Delson who helped me with my Bitonga. He was surprised I knew the few words that I did! I am learning parts of the body now...I hope I can remember them tomorrow!
English Camp
I am absolutely LOVING my time here! Every time I come it feels like home and its especially nice to have friends and see familiar faces in town. Thank you for praying for me and those around me!!! So far the Lord has been shining His Glory on this trip and all that I have encountered so far! 

New friends

Old Friends
P.S. Scott said that there are two ladies in the Quinjata village church who want to be baptized Sunday! I am so excited! Hopefully in the next few days I can post some pictures and I will try and get a video of the baptism!