Author Ray Blackston set out to write something never before conceived in the CBA market
and ended up capturing the imaginations of both the CBA and general ABA market retailers with his already award-winning novel,
Releasing May 1 with Revell, a division of Baker Book House, Flabbergasted (0800718372, $22.99, hardcover) is a compelling
and often humorous narrative that will appeal to anyone looking for a great “beach read.” The story centers around the new guy in
town who goes to church to meet girls and discovers an unlikely assortment of believers who turn his perceptions of God and
spiritual life upside down.
Before signing with Revell, Blackston had been turned down by every publisher he approached with the book, each saying that “no
one would want to read a book about singles and their volatile dynamics.” Revell thought otherwise and began testing the waters.
“The initial response to this book from the retail community has been phenomenal,” says Twila Bennett, Revell’s marketing
manager. “After hearing the concept and seeing the cover, retailers began casting their vote in favor of Flabbergasted by ordering
significant quantities and offering prime store placements. All this for a first time author and an unknown talent!”
As early conversations about Flabbergasted began with accounts, orders began pouring into Revell by the thousands. Major
promotions for the book are being planned with all national accounts including Books-A-Million, Barnes and Noble, Waldenbooks,
Hastings, Family Christian Stores, LifeWay Christian Stores and more. The reviewer at Crossings Book Club even contacted
Revell and said, “This is the best Christian novel I’ve read in five years!” Her enthusiasm was echoed by the editors of the club,
and the book has been picked as a Main Selection of the Crossings Book Club. Flabbergasted has also received a First Place
award from the Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference, while its sequel is already in the works with plans for its release in 2004.
Blackston’s previous vocation was as a financial analyst. He left this career in 2000 and decided to pursue the craft of writing
based partly on the encouragement of his second grade schoolteacher. Cashing in part of his 401K, the newly determined author
gathered richly from his life experiences: as a single, as summer missionary to Ecuador, as financial professional and as planner of
frequent beach retreats, then brought to life the fictional characters in Flabbergasted.
Lead character and single stockbroker, Jay Jarvis, narrates the adventure. Jay is the slightly irreverent spoon who stirs the relational
gumbo, a stew of quirky characters who, over the course of the narrative, begin to stir back. In the process they change Jarvis’
perceptions of church and of God, culminating in events that leave Jay, and those around him, thoroughly ‘flabbergasted.’ The
supporting cast of off-beat others includes Jarvis’s love interest and missionary girl, Allie; Nancy and the Numericals; surfer-dude
Ransom; Bible-thumping Stanley; and Allie’s best friend Darcy, whose lime-green convertible graces the cover of the book.
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