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Jerri Corgiat | When “Gentle Fiction” Feeds the Soul…

September 29, 2011

Jerri CorgiatI’ve been thinking about the economy and war and my son and entertainment-market trends. Hang in there with me; I’ll tie this together.

Just recently, I read this article that said, because of the Depression-Which-Must-Not-Be-Named, Hollywood has been finding success in adventure-escapist-fare such as this past summer’s spate of movies based on comic book heroes.

Not much later, I spoke with my former print editor. She said there was a new, growing demand for “gentle fiction” of the same stripe as my Love Finds a Home series.

And then, on the eve of the tenth anniversary of 9/11, my son spoke with a sergeant, and he said, you’re headed for Afghanistan, private, before another month is out.

My epublisher, thinking that last point might be overshadowing pretty much everything else in my life just now, reminded me I’ve a blog entry due to Fresh Fiction. She’s right; I’d forgotten, and now the hour is late. So I face this page with all these thoughts knotted up in my head and very little patience in untangling it all, so let me grab a thread and pull.

A decade ago, before 9/11, I fought an uphill battle to find representation for Sing Me Home, the first book in the Love Finds a Home Series. Sing Me Home features an introverted, non-college-educated, small-town woman falling in love with a country rock star who lives his life in the glare of celebrity. Together they discover, as Catherine Anderson once blurbed for me, “the things that matter most.”

I pitched this book—and pitched and pitched and pitched it—to agents, who pitched it right back. A decade ago, soft contemporary romance was out, chick lit was in. SING ME HOME was no Sex and the City and my protagonist, Lil O’Malley, no Bridget Jones.

Fast forward two years. Two years that held two revisions of SING ME HOME and a two-inch pile of rejections, two years that ended with one horrific tragedy on September 11.

As our nation picked itself up and looked around at a changed landscape, I started pitching again, and this time had prompt, eye-blinking, positive responses and a pick of several agents. Within six weeks of choosing from among them, my new agent sold the book to NAL at Penguin Putnam. When I wondered aloud at the abrupt turnaround, my new editor said,  post-9/11, in a nation stunned by horror and about to launch a war, the populace was trending toward “comfort food” entertainment.

Ten years ago …comfort entertainment.

Ten years later …gentle fiction.

If you’re to believe my former editor.

And I did. Until I ran across that article I just mentioned, the one on comic book heroes. Not gentle stories at all. Perplexed, I did some research.

A year after 9/11, the bestseller list was stocked with such stories as THE LOVELY BONES, THE NANNY DIARIES, THE SUMMONS and PREY. This past year, the list included DIARY OF A WIMPY KID and the Twilight series, THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET’S NEST and THE HELP.

Good books, all. Escapism, much of it. But “comfort food?” “Gentle?” I don’t think so.

You know, writers get tired of having books rejected, not because they aren’t good stories, not because they aren’t terrific stories, but because a publisher has determined a trend, which may or may not be more than their wishful thinking, desperately wishful, even, as said publisher has just snapped up every manuscript that bears any resemblance to the last Big Bestseller, whether those manuscripts are excellent work or…not so much. So, owning up to some pettiness, and even though it didn’t bode well for my own work, I’ll admit to a small thrill of delight at uncovering evidence which seemed to fly in the face of my former editor’s convictions.

Except this morning, browsing on Amazon for a new book for my Kindle, and with my mind still cluttered with thoughts of the economy and terrorism and of my son, I chose, from all the bounty before me, a sweet inspirational read, based on the recommendation of a friend who knew my heart needed warming.

Maybe my former publisher knows more than I think. I hope so. It is both humbling and wonderful to think my books might have once met a need for readers who were looking for a gentler, kinder fiction, for books filled with the warmth of family, home, friendship and romance, regardless of what titles are populating the best seller lists.

And, in their current ebook incarnation, that they might do so again.

Tell me your opinion:

Think of the last books you’ve bought or borrowed…

Do you think what’s commonly known as the Big Six Publishers—whose books you see populate the tables at the front of big bookstores—anticipate and meet your reading needs?

Or are you finding more of what you want in the continuing explosion of ebooks, which allows you to try books unavailable in print – whether from brand-new authors or the backlists of favorite authors?


Jerri Corgiat‘s Love Finds a Home series was originally published in paperback by Penguin’s Signet imprint. The books now are available for Kindle, Nook, and other ereaders through Istoria Books. Find appropriate “buy buttons” at the Istoria Books website or on




Award-winning author, editor and former bookseller Jerri Corgiat lives in the Midwest with her husband, son, dog Rosie—and the true queen of the house, their cat, Princess Piggy-Britches.  Their home is located in rolling woodlands reminiscent of the Ozarks, where she spent her childhood summers and where the Love Finds a Home series (originally published in paperback by Penguin and now available in ebook form through Istoria Books) took root in her imagination. She is currently working on her sixth book. Her website is:

Read an interview with Jerri Corgiat at the Istoria Books blog

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