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Friday, February 17, 2006


Come A Long Way

Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to interview a number of best-selling fiction authors. You’d be surprised how often I hear the story an author repeated recently with her own slight variation.   When it comes to fiction, this author didn’t read “Christian” fiction while growing up. She tried a few of those books and didn’t like them. The stories were too neat and tidy. The characters weren’t like anyone she had ever met and the plots and conclusions were totally predictable.  Yes, she had tried a few and given up reading the “inspirational” genre. End of story. Not really because years later, a friend in Christian retail continually asked her to read it. Finally she agreed and learned inspirational or Christian fiction had come a long way in the area of issues and quality.

I’ve been pouring through a number of fiction proposals for Howard Publishing. I’m often amused when a writer will propose they write “edgy” fiction. What does that mean? Often it means they feel the need to include explicit cursing or detailed sexual scenes into their Christian fiction.  If they have a really bad character that changes, then the transformation makes it edgy? I don’t think so. There aren’t many taboos in the Christian market but one of them relates to explicit language. It is zero tolerance when it comes to this issue. I mean zero. Publishers who have “tried” with some pretty innocent language have been amazed at the returned books from retailers.  If you don’t understand, returned books mean the book has sold into a bookstore, then someone has complained and the book has been returned to the publisher for a full refund. Writers who want to be edgy often fail to understand the risk for their publisher. Who wants to risk returns? No publisher that I know because they want to remain in business to continue another day.

Now if with edgy fiction, you mean the issue that the book and plot tackles, then you are moving in the right direction. The storytelling has to be excellent but you can write about a gamut of issues.  Just to give you a taste, I’m including a list of recent Christian fiction titles. It’s not complete. It’s not my list but came from another author (where I received permission to include it in this post). She didn’t want “credit” because apparently this list has circulated and a number of authors have added to it.  I hope you find it helpful and interesting. Christian fiction has come a long way.

Abortion

Showers In Season, Beverly Lahaye & Terri Blackstock

Tears In A Bottle, Sylvia Bambola

The Atonement Child, Francine Rivers

Ain't No River, Sharon Ewell Foster

Cover Girls, T.D. Jakes

 

Aging

Always Jan, Roxanne Henke

 

Alcoholism/Drug Abuse

 

An American Anthem Series, B. J. Hoff

An Emerald Ballad Series, B. J. Hoff

Beyond The Shadows, Robin Lee Hatcher

Finding Ruth, Roxanne Henke

Looking For Cassandra Jane, Melody Carlson

Shadow Of Dreams, Eva Marie Everson & G.W. Francis Chadwick

Ain't No River, Sharon Ewell Foster

Ain't No Mountain, Sharon Ewell Foster

Ain't No Valley, Sharon Ewell Foster

Passing Into Light, Sharon Ewell Foster

 

Cancer/Breast Cancer

 

A Time To Mend, Angela Hunt

After Anne, Roxanne Henke

Coffee Rings, Yvonne Lehman

Healing Quilt, Lauraine Snelling

Loving Feelings, Gail Gaymer Martin

Seaside, Terri Blackstock

Season Of Blessing, Beverly Lahaye & Terri Blackstock

 

Connection/Isolation

 

Don't Take Any Wooden Nickels, Mindy Starns Clark

 

Domestic Violence

 

A Nest Of Sparrows, Deborah Raney

Cloth Of Heaven & Ashes And Lace, B. J. Hoff

Evidence Of Mercy, Terri Blackstock

Sadie's Song, Linda Hall

Serenity Bay, Bette Nordberg

Ain't No River, Sharon Ewell Foster

Ain't No Mountain, Sharon Ewell Foster

Cover Girls, T.D. Jakes

Blind Dates Can Be Murder, Mindy Starns Clark

 

Drunk Driving

 

After The Rains, Deborah Raney

The Living Stone, Jane Orcutt

Waiting For Morning, Karen Kingsbury

 

Homosexuality/AIDS

 

A Season Of Grace, Bette Nordberg

Spring Rain, Gayle Roper

Tiger Lillie, Lisa Samson

Riding Through Shadows, Sharon Ewell Foster

Ain't No Mountain, Sharon Ewell Foster

 

Infertility

 

Ashes And Lace, B. J. Hoff

Breaker's Reef, Terri Blackstock

Coffee Rings, Yvonne Lehman

In A Heartbeat, Sally John

Lullaby, Jane Orcutt

The Long-Awaited Child, Tracie Peterson

 

Infidelity/Divorce

 

Breach Of Promise, James Scott Bell

Coffee Rings, Yvonne Lehman

Footsteps, Diann Mills

Private Justice, Terri Blackstock

Redeeming Love, Francine Rivers

The Breaking Point, Karen Ball

The Forgiving Hour, Robin Lee Hatcher

The Scarlet Thread, Francine Rivers

Times And Seasons, Beverly Lahaye & Terri Blackstock

Ulterior Motives, Terri Blackstock

Ain't No Mountain, Sharon Ewell Foster

Ain't No Valley, Sharon Ewell Foster

Riding Through Shadows, Sharon Ewell Foster

Passing Into Light, Sharon Ewell Foster

Cover Girls, T.D. Jakes

 

Lying

 

Little White Lies, Ron & Janet Benrey

 

Pride

 

Humble Pie, Ron & Janet Benrey

 

Mental Illness/Depression/Suicide

 

An American Anthem Series, B. J. Hoff

Becoming Olivia, Roxanne Henke

Cloth Of Heaven & Ashes And Lace, B. J. Hoff

Finding Alice, Melody Carlson

Songbird, Lisa Samson

The Living End, Lisa Samson

The Novelist, Angela Hunt

When Joy Came To Stay, Karen Kingsbury

Riding Through Shadows, Sharon Ewell Foster

Passing Into Light, Sharon Ewell Foster

Ain't No River, Sharon Ewell Foster

Ain't No Valley, Sharon Ewell Foster

Passing By Samaria, Sharon Ewell Foster

Cover Girls, T.D. Jakes

 

Pornography

 

Last Light, Terri Blackstock

Ain't No Mountain, Sharon Ewell Foster

 

Responsibility

 

The Second Mile, Ron & Janet Benrey

 

Unplanned Pregnancy

 

A Moment Of Weakness, Karen Kingsbury

An Emerald Ballad Series, B. J. Hoff

Child Of Grace, Lori Copeland

Cloth Of Heaven & Ashes And Lace, B. J. Hoff

Firstborn, Robin Lee Hatcher

With Love, Libby, Roxanne Henke

Ain't No River, Sharon Ewell Foster

Passing Into Light, Sharon Ewell Foster

Ain't No Mountain, Sharon Ewell Foster

 

Rape/Incest/Sexual Abuse

 

A Distant Music, B. J. Hoff

A Nest Of Sparrows, Deborah Raney

Afton Of Margate Castle, Angela Hunt

An Emerald Ballad Series, B. J. Hoff

Antonia's Choice, Nancy Rue

Ain't No Mountain, Sharon Ewell Foster

Ain't No River, Sharon Ewell Foster

Ain't No Valley, Sharon Ewell Foster

Cover Girls, T.D. Jakes

Cloth Of Heaven & Ashes And Lace, B. J. Hoff

In The Still Of Night, Deborah Raney

Justifiable Means, Terri Blackstock

Margaret's Peace, Linda Hall

Mending Places, Denise Hunter

The Atonement Child, Francine Rivers

What She Left For Me, Tracie Peterson

When You Believe, Deborah Bedford

Why The Sky Is Blue, Susan Meissner

 

Sexuality/Attraction

 

The Hidden Heart, Jane Orcutt

A Quarter For A Kiss, Mindy Starns Clark

Passing By Samaria, Sharon Ewell Foster

Ain't No River, Sharon Ewell Foster

Ain't No Mountain, Sharon Ewell Foster

Ain't No Valley, Sharon Ewell Foster

Riding Through Shadows, Sharon Ewell Foster

Passing Into Light, Sharon Ewell Foster

Cover Girls, T.D. Jakes

 

Racism

 

Trial By Fire, Terri Blackstock

All The Way Home, Ann Tatlock

Passing By Samaria, Sharon Ewell Foster

Ain't No River, Sharon Ewell Foster

Ain't No Mountain, Sharon Ewell Foster

Ain't No Valley, Sharon Ewell Foster

Riding Through Shadows, Sharon Ewell Foster

Passing Into Light, Sharon Ewell Foster

 

Purpose

 

Passing By Samaria, Sharon Ewell Foster

Ain't No River, Sharon Ewell Foster

Ain't No Mountain, Sharon Ewell Foster

Ain't No Valley, Sharon Ewell Foster

Riding Through Shadows, Sharon Ewell Foster

Passing Into Light, Sharon Ewell Foster

Cover Girls, T.D. Jakes

 What a wide range of relevant issues! Christian fiction has come a long way.

8 Comment:

At 11:31 AM, Blogger Vicki Left a note...

Terry, thank you! This is exactly the info I needed today. I'm doing research for some fiction I want to write this year, and the list you provided is very, very helpful.

 
At 12:02 PM, Blogger Cathy West Left a note...

Hi Terry,
Thanks for visiting my blog.
I am excited to be back in the world of writing after my personal hiatus, and I look forward to meeting fellow Christian authors such as yourself, through blogs, FCW and other places.
Your list is very impressive!
Cathy

 
At 3:32 PM, Blogger Sharon Hinck Left a note...

Great list!
You might want to add the fantastic book "Watching the Tree Limbs" by Mary DeMuth, which handles childhood sexual abuse with great sensitivity and power.

 
At 10:32 PM, Blogger Janice Left a note...

What a great post. Thanks for reminding us of the number of well-written stories that deal honestly with the hurt and problems today's culture faces.

 
At 6:29 AM, Blogger relevantgirl Left a note...

Hey, thanks Sharon!

And I was going to add that the market has changed. When I first shopped the book, the publishers said NO. Even my publisher said NO. But a few months went by and the publisher then said YES.

Normally, you'd have to be writing a while (and have a following) to be able to tackle thes harder issues, but as Terry said, I think it boils down to your storytelling.

Don't complain that you're book may not fit because it's too edgy. Just write the book in such a way that a publisher can't put it down!

 
At 10:42 AM, Blogger C.J. Darlington Left a note...

This is all very heartening. I've long enjoyed CBA novels, and I continue to find more and more to talk about.

 
At 1:34 AM, Blogger Camy Tang Left a note...

Awesome list! Thanks, Terry! I had a similar experience with Christian fiction--avoided it because it didn't seem real, but then I read Linda Windsor's HI HONEY I'M HOME and it completely changed my viewpoint. Suddenly I wanted to write Christian fiction. It HAS come a long way.

Camy

 
At 1:38 PM, Blogger Gina Holmes Left a note...

Have I told you lately that I love your blog? Great post. Because of my own life experiences these are the type of books that minister to me. I love that the CBA is stretching.

 

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