Nov

29

2012

Reactions to Your Career

by Tamela Hancock Murray

Often, strangers ask me what a literary agent does. Once I tell them, they’ll want to share with me that they are writing a children’s picture book. Or an aunt, cousin, or friend, is writing one. I think a lot of parents write read-aloud books because they are part of the bedtime ritual with their own children and perceive that the volume of books published means the market is vast. Unfortunately, it is not, as I discovered when I wrote three of my own, never-to-be-published children’s picture books. But I digress.

When I said that I present books to editors, an auto mechanic asked, “So you are teaching the editors how to read?”

Most people understand what I mean when I say I’ve written Bible trivia books, but conversations can get more lively when I tell them I’m the author of Christian romance novels. One recent reaction was laughter. And more laughter. I think he may have even pointed at me.

Another response: “Like, in the ads where you see ‘Meet Christian Singles’?”

To my surprise, a churchgoing relative asked, “What are those? Christians having a romance?”

I’m always amazed by how many Christians are not even aware of Christian books. That’s something we as publishing professionals need to change.

Your turn:

Would you like to share any interesting or unusual responses when you say you are in Christian publishing or a Christian writer?

How would you define Christian romance novels?

What do you think we can do to bring more potential readers to our book shelves?

94 Responses to “Reactions to Your Career”

  1. Diana Harkness November 29, 2012 at 5:15 am #

    I don’t read Christian romance novels because I haven’t seen any that were written well (except for those by Charles Martin.) People would be more inclined to read Christian books of any sort if they were well-written. My favorite Christian authors are Charles Martin Flannery O’Connor, Fredrick Buechner, Gary D. Schmidt, Madeleine L’Engle, C.S. Lewis, and a few more. Schmidt, L’Engle, and Lewis are read by Christians and non-Christians. That should be the goal of the Christian writer: to portray God’s transcendence in such a way that anyone’s heart is moved.

    • Jill Kemerer November 29, 2012 at 7:11 am #

      Have you tried any lately, Diana? I love what Becky Wade, Jenny B. Jones, and Denise Hunter have been bringing to the contemporary Christian romance market. For historical romances, Jody Hedlund, Laura Frantz, and Deane Gist consistently put out wonderful books. I don’t read much romantic suspense, so no recommendations there!

      I read a lot of Christian romance, but not much Christian fiction in general. I hope you give them another try!

      • Jill Kemerer November 29, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

        Diana, I’m adding Charles Martin to my list–thanks! (By the way, Tosca Lee is a beautiful writer. I will always recommend Demon: A Memoir. Also, her description of the Garden of Eden in Havah really broadened my imagination.)

    • Cecelia Dowdy November 29, 2012 at 7:16 am #

      Diana, like Jill suggested, you should give the Christian romance genre another try. Try reading Deanne Gist and Julie Lessman.

      • Diana Harkness November 29, 2012 at 8:01 am #

        I read a few pages of Deanne Gis and Julie Lessman. Not for me. I still prefer Charles Martin. Just read the f1rst paragraph of The Dead Don’t Dance and you’ll be hooked.

    • Melissa November 29, 2012 at 11:04 am #

      I read the first few pages of The Dead Don’t Dance, I’d say you were looking for more literary fiction reads rather than typical romance reads. That doesn’t make romances necessarily poorly written (which there are those…) they’re just not often written with a literary style, but rather a commercial style. My opinion anyway, it’s a style difference rather than bad vs. good.

      So you should get some recommendations for Literary Christian reads, like Lisa Samson, Patti Lacy or …. I don’t know many really, because I prefer commercial style writing. (Sorry about not being hooked by Martin :) So maybe someone else can suggest some, because, yes, Gist and Lessman are more commercial than literary.

      But the “Christian Fiction is terrible” comment I get a lot and the responder is usually someone who hasn’t read any since Grace Livingston Hill or not at all. :(

    • Steve Laube November 29, 2012 at 11:05 am #

      Diana,
      I would not say they weren’t well written. Better to say they didn’t connect with you. Francine Rivers is an extraordinary writer but you may not like her books. Deanne Gist is a great writer but they weren’t for you.

      Sibella Giorello is a family favorite but she may not be your cup of tea.

      I think Charles Martin is very good, but I wouldn’t consider everyone else poorly written. It is your right to say so, but it is rather unfair. And few can match the genius threshold of O’Connor, Buechner, L’Engle, Dillard, and Lewis. Toss in PEACE LIKE A RIVER by Enger and GILEAD by Robinson and we have even more great writing to consider.

      Thus is the subjective nature of all fiction. For those who missed it I addressed this a few weeks ago: http://stevelaube.com/the-story-we-bring-to-the-story/

      • Diana Harkness November 29, 2012 at 1:18 pm #

        I have read Francine Rivers and very much enjoyed a few of her books. She and Angela Hunt were among the few Christian authors whose books I felt that I could pass on to my friends without embarrassment. Lisa Samson was another. I will try Sibella Giorello. Leif Enger and Marilyn Robinson are part of my library and Robinson is one who I reread every couple of years. I simply don’t understand why many Christian authors cannot take the time to perfect their similes and metaphors, their word selection, and quality of writing. I just finished Michael Chabon’s novel, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. He used three similes for the color blue. When he used an agrarian reference for the second in NYC, I thought surely he had failed, but he tied it in brilliantly. I understand that authors must churn out a book a year after being first published (except for Robinson), and a year is not much time to achieve perfection ;) I know we can’t all write like Dillard or O’Connor or Chabon, but I learned long ago that if I aim for my goal–no matter how high–I would at least hit something nearby. I’d rather stretch toward Buechner and end up a failure by that standard, but only by a little. What’s the point of writing if we cannot ultimately produce a thing of beauty?

      • Diana Harkness December 2, 2012 at 11:58 am #

        I just finished Sibella Giorello’s first book. Very well written. Only noticed 1 unneeded comma. Great use of simile and metaphor. I’ll be blogging about her book and contrasting it with one by Julie Lessman.

    • Tamela Hancock Murray November 29, 2012 at 11:18 am #

      Diana, I visited the link on Amazon and the book does look good! However, even though the term “love story” is used, based on what I have read on Amazon, is not a genre romance. Thanks for telling us about it, though. I appreciate your recommendation because you have broadened our horizons. :)

      • Diana Harkness November 29, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

        I must not know what genre romance is. I thought it was a story of love between a man and a woman containing emotion, discovery, conflict, resolution. That would be all of Charles Martin’s novels. However his best two were The Dead Don’t Dance and Maggie.

    • Tamela Hancock Murray November 29, 2012 at 1:19 pm #

      Diana, many stories contain romantic elements and are considered romantic so I can see why you ask. A true genre romance is all about the romance. The hero and heroine must meet very early in the story, and they cannot be apart for any significant length of time. Some genre romances deal with married couples, but those are very, very few and usually, the marriage has not been and cannot be consummated for a reason. The conflicts and obstacles in the story must present problems that keep the couple from being able to pursue their romantic relationship. Sexual tension is part of both ABA and CBA romances, but obviously the steam setting is low in Christian romances and the focus is on emotion and God’s role in the relationship. Hope that brief explanation helps. I’ll be glad to clarify if need be.

  2. Nikole Hahn November 29, 2012 at 5:19 am #

    The reactions I get is just the opposite for Christian romance. People in my church and in my circle love Christian romance. In fact, mostly our library has only historical or Amish with some Ted Dekkar for color. One of my friends complained that a Christian store only had romance and amish and few if any like Ted Dekkar. I’m a speculative fiction writer and yet it seems we have a tough job. When I say I am a writer, they want to know what I write. When I say speculative, they look confused until I clarify fantasy, sci-fi, and horror. They just aren’t aware of the variety out there it seems. The responsibility lies with bloggers, reviewers, librarians, and every day people word of mouth. I think Ted Dekkar should write how he managed to place among historical or amish romance…i.e. his story for success.

    • Tamela Hancock Murray November 29, 2012 at 8:37 am #

      Nikole, I love to see people promote Christian fiction of any type! I think social media has helped us move beyond the days when book stores limited their Christian fiction section to half a shelf with four or five titles.

    • Steve Laube November 29, 2012 at 10:56 am #

      Nicole,

      A couple things. 1) it is Dekker, not Dekkar. Two “e”s. Easy to misspell.

      2) Speculative is a genre name that came from the general market but is primarily used in CBA circles. For whatever reason it has never really caught on in the general market despite being around for decades. I actually never heard it used until about 10 years ago. It came about because of the extraordinary challenge of selling science-fiction or fantasy in the Christian market. Also the Christy Awards had to have a broader name for the category so that apocalyptic books like Left Behind would have a place…and yet not classifying it as science fiction.

      Therefore I’ve been trying of late not to use the word “speculative” but to call it what it is. If it is science-fiction, call it that. If it is Fantasy, call it that.

      Interestingly enough the dystopian books in YA (like Hunger Games) or Time Travel in YA (like Lisa Bergren’s Waterfall) would have been classified as science-fiction if they had been written for adults. But because the YA category isn’t really separated by sub-genre…at least not in most conversations, they are able to avoid a category label.

  3. Renee Andrews November 29, 2012 at 5:25 am #

    The most interesting response I receive doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that I write Christian romance and devotionals. It’s the fact that I’m a writer. Them: “So, what do you do?” Me: “I’m a writer. I write Christian romance and devotionals.” Them: “You know, I’ve always wanted to write a book, but I just haven’t had the time.”

    I respond politely, but in my mind I have to wonder if they truly believe writing a book worthy of publication only takes time (no talent, no studying and perfecting the craft, just…time).

    • Tamela Hancock Murray November 29, 2012 at 8:44 am #

      Renee, I think people make time for what is important to them. I wonder if in their hearts, they have a sense of how hard it is to achieve success as an author, and they don’t want to make the time to learn the craft.

  4. Aimee Byrd November 29, 2012 at 5:35 am #

    I get really awkward silence when I tell people that I blog. Along with Renee’s comment, many dismiss reading blogs because they “don’t have the time.” I wonder how much time they spend reading magazines and watching television. There doesn’t seem to be any loss of honor if you read the newspaper every morning, but somehow articles on a blog must be different. Now that I am getting published, I feel more validated when I say that I write, but people still don’t understand what I “do” all day.

    • Tamela Hancock Murray November 29, 2012 at 8:46 am #

      Aimee, I am constantly surprised by the people who should be computer savvy but aren’t. They are missing so much of the world!

  5. Jennifer Dyer November 29, 2012 at 6:19 am #

    People sometimes get confused when we say Christian romance, as if the two cannot coexist. Yet God is the author of romance! Sadly, many people think of “romance” books being about sex.
    As for getting the word out, I blog weekly about CBA books in all genres and post on my social media accounts anytime I finish a book I enjoyed, and there are tons out there in the CBA market. We just have to keep telling people about them. I also request that my local library buy CBA books so that other patrons can learn about that author.

    • Tamela Hancock Murray November 29, 2012 at 8:48 am #

      Jennifer, thank you for getting the word out. I love the way you are promoting with libraries!

  6. Lisa Carter November 29, 2012 at 6:21 am #

    Christian romance writer? Really???

    That’s the response I typically receive from Christians and non-Christians alike. From my church members who believe non-fiction is the only valid reading material for real Christians to non-Christians who actually think the romance genre itself is hoot-worthy.

    And then there’s the whole thing about telling people you are a writer . . . I’m hesitant these days to admit to that because everybody is more interested in telling me about their book, their memoir, how can I help them get published . . .

    My response—I generally advise them to go to a conference and learn the craft—the hard, old-fashioned way like I did. And usually when you mention money, time and sweat are going to be involved, this blank look enters their eyes and they fade away.

    • Tamela Hancock Murray November 29, 2012 at 8:51 am #

      Lisa, I get that range of responses, too. Your answer to wannabes is perfect. You are doing them a service to let them know the work involved!

  7. Peter DeHaan November 29, 2012 at 6:48 am #

    I don’t write Christian romance, but have often seen Christians react to it negatively, as if the two concepts are incompatible.

    I refer them to the book of Esther in the Bible. They don’t have much to say after that.

    (Perhaps they’re embarrassed to admit they’ve never read Esther — or embarrassed to admit they have.)

  8. Tari Faris November 29, 2012 at 6:52 am #

    When I told someone the other day, their response was, “So, you write for old ladies to have something to read while they winter in Florida?” (He was serious)

    • Tamela Hancock Murray November 29, 2012 at 11:22 am #

      Tari: Isn’t it funny how so many reactions tell you more about the speaker than the topic?

    • Ramona Richards November 29, 2012 at 3:22 pm #

      When people respond that way to me (and they have), I usually cock my head and respond, “Do you have any idea how much money those little old ladies spend on books?”

  9. Lisa November 29, 2012 at 7:05 am #

    I think being real has something to do with drawing readers in. Sometimes people have a picture in their mind that Christians are perfect or at least live with that veneer. When you strip that away, and show your humanity and messiness along with God’s redeeming love, then you have people’s attention. People long to grasp hope, but also feel known, understood, and loved.

    • Tamela Hancock Murray November 29, 2012 at 11:23 am #

      Lisa — very nice! One of the aspects of Christian romance that I love is the fact that we are indeed dealing with flawed heroines and heroes, and their relationship with the Lord, either new or long-term, helps them grow and learn.

  10. Robin Bayne November 29, 2012 at 7:08 am #

    I often get a reaction to writing romance (for example, “That stuff is filth.” I then explain it’s either “sweet” or Christian romance, and get a much better response.

    • Sally Bradley November 29, 2012 at 7:36 am #

      I think the best response I heard was the writer pointing out to them the critic’s own romance, how they met their spouse, fell in love, and decided that person was the one. How God played a leading role in all of that.

      Now say Christian romance is filth. ‘Cause all of us married Christians have had one. :)

    • Tamela Hancock Murray November 29, 2012 at 11:25 am #

      Robin, that’s why I always make clear Christian romance is my business, too. I’d rather be ridiculed for my faith than thought to be dealing with erotica.

  11. Cecelia Dowdy November 29, 2012 at 7:14 am #

    I have found that a greater majority of the people I meet are confused about the definition of a romance novel. I find that they confuse a romance novel with erotica. The usual reaction is, “Aren’t romance novels nothing but a bunch of sex?”

    When I mention the Christian romance novel, I do get laughs. “How can you write a romance novel without sex? All those romance books are is a bunch of sex scenes strung together…”

    I try and educate them, starting with pointing out the fact that most have never read a romance novel, and that they should not rely on stereotypes. I even offer a free copy of my book if the conversation goes on for long enough.

    • Tamela Hancock Murray November 29, 2012 at 11:25 am #

      Cecelia — I love the offer of a free copy! I hope lots of people take you up on it!

  12. Jill Kemerer November 29, 2012 at 7:14 am #

    I usually get really nice reactions, but once in a while, I’ll get something inappropriate, like how do you write all the steamy scenes and keep it Christian. To which I reply, “I don’t. Christian romances don’t feature the steamy stuff!”

    A Christian romance to me is first, centered around two people falling in love, and second, shows them growing in faith during the process.

    • Tamela Hancock Murray November 29, 2012 at 11:26 am #

      Jill, this just shows their reading background. They haven’t been exposed to Christian fiction, and you are educating them.

  13. Candy Gourlay November 29, 2012 at 7:23 am #

    My late father in law was a doctor. When asked by strangers what he did for a living he always replied, ‘I’m a doctor’ and then before they could pipe up with some illness that required diagnosis, he would add quietly: ‘A venerealogist.’ Thus successfully staving any attempts at free consultation.

    • Becky Doughty November 29, 2012 at 10:51 am #

      Candy! Is there a word we could use in the writing field that would work so effectively???? I LOVE that. Your Dad must have been a delight. You’ve got me giggling. HA!

      Blessings,
      Becky

    • Tamela Hancock Murray November 29, 2012 at 11:27 am #

      Candy, that is too funny!

  14. Lindsay Harrel November 29, 2012 at 7:50 am #

    Most of my friends are at least aware of the Christian fiction genre, even if they don’t read it. I’ve also found most people to be supportive, but when I say I’ve finished a book, they want to know when it will be published. Most nonwriters don’t understand the looooooong process of getting an agent, getting a contract, and waiting for a book to be published (and most don’t get it when I say I want to be traditionally published. Nothing wrong with self-pub, but just isn’t the route for me at this point). That’s okay–I didn’t understand it either until I researched it. But explaining it can often take awhile. :P

    • Tamela Hancock Murray November 29, 2012 at 11:28 am #

      Lindsay, that’s why we writers need to hang out with each other. We get it! But it’s still good to share with others. You never know, they may join us in our crazy, faith-filled journey!

  15. Kathryn Elliott November 29, 2012 at 7:58 am #

    When I receive derogatory comments, I immediately point out best sellers that fall into the CF category. Nine out of ten times, I hear some variation of – “Huh, really? I didn’t know Title XYZ was CF. It’s not all God stuff.” Makes me giggle.

  16. HG Ferguson November 29, 2012 at 9:47 am #

    Welllllllllllllllll — in my case, when you’re writing in an unnacceptable genre (Christian Horror/Historical Romance/Historical Adventure Blend) you get either polite stares followed by “Oh,” and then an even more polite and immediate change of the subject, or you just get ignored altogether. Responses like these themselves ignore horror’s Christian worldview roots (Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker, duh). As far as what is a Christian romance, a Christian romance is a story that above all honors God and remains true to scripture, including the relationships of the main two people involved, whether it is modern or historical. Biblical fidelity is something to which we must all remain true. Keep writing!

    • Tamela Hancock Murray November 29, 2012 at 11:30 am #

      HG, you make a very good point about horror. I’ll encourage you to keep at it, too!

  17. Meghan Carver November 29, 2012 at 10:24 am #

    We could bring in more readers by helping them grow their faith. I was raised in a churched family (as opposed to a Christian family that lived out their faith) and had no knowledge of Christian fiction. When I began reading adult fiction, it became more and more difficult to find anything appropriate. I had just enough faith to know I didn’t want violence and smut but not enough faith to venture into a Christian store or find Christian products. As my faith grew, my husband and I attended a more Bible-based church and got to know people who were more devout. I was introduced to Christian fiction and non-fiction as well as Christian music and our local radio station. I remember that the first music we found was Michael W. Smith’s “I’ll Lead You Home” and the first book I read was Rene Gutteridge’s “Boo”. I found a plethora of books to read that supported and even encouraged my growing faith. Crisis averted!

    Now, how to help readers grow their faith? That’s far beyond the scope of this comment. :)

    • Tamela Hancock Murray November 29, 2012 at 1:24 pm #

      Meghan, I think helping readers grow in their faith is organic to Christian fiction. They are reading about other Christians, from a Christian author, and seeing how the characters cope with problems. “You are not alone,” is a message we all need to hear.

  18. Becky Doughty November 29, 2012 at 10:56 am #

    Tamela,

    I think one of the most common responses I get is the one Renee mentioned: “Oh, I’ve always wanted to write a book!”

    But the close second response I get is: “Oh my goodness! You should write MY story! It would totally make a great romance novel!”

    I even had one guy ask me if he could hire me to be his “life scribe” – when I asked for a job description, he shrugged, and said, “You know, like, follow me around and write about me.”

    Like I don’t have enough people running around helter-skelter inside my head wanting me to follow them around and write about them already!

    I DO love people. When they’re so up front about things, it makes for great character analysis. I’ve come up with some of my best scenes from those surprise encounters! :-)

    Blessings,
    Becky

    • Tamela Hancock Murray November 29, 2012 at 1:26 pm #

      Becky, that’s a perfect way to garner realistic material — although of course truth is often stranger than fiction!

  19. Melissa November 29, 2012 at 11:21 am #

    I inevitably get the “so how many books do you have published?” as if, the moment you finish your first book it automatically is good enough to be bought. I’ve tried the “instead of going to college, you work for a few years writing books until you’re good enough to “graduate” and get one on a shelf” response a few times with varying results

    So, now that I have a contract, I told a family member about it and she said, “I can’t believe it took you four years, are they paying you for that time?” What????

    But my favorite so far was this Thanksgiving. My father-in-law, very proud, noticed I wasn’t just walking around telling everyone I’d sold a series, so over the dinner table he tells them. They ask what I write, and I said “Historical Romances” and a cousin said, “Oh, well, just don’t write those . . .–
    I interrupted her and told her I write Christian romances thinking she was going to say, smut or porn or something.

    But then she finished with “Well, you shouldn’t write the books with all the people in long dresses.”

    Huh? A period story without dresses? I told her that I’m sorry but that’s what I write. (I think I’m a long dress writer anyway!) Now, I’m wondering if she meant Amish….

  20. patti shene November 29, 2012 at 12:53 pm #

    Recently, I shared with my former nursing school classmates that I have retired from my nursing career and now serve as an editor for a small publishing company. One wrote back and told me she had always wanted to write a book and asked if I could give her some tips on getting it published. I wanted to gently encourage her to learn to write first. Her email was riddled with so many spelling and grammatical errors that I had to read it three times to understand what she was saying.

    • Tamela Hancock Murray November 29, 2012 at 1:30 pm #

      Patti, I hope you did give her that gentle encouragement. The tone of your comment tells me you would have been kind. Frankly, if I see a bunch of grammatical errors in a cover letter, I’m not inclined to offer representation.

  21. CathiLyn Dyck November 29, 2012 at 1:08 pm #

    When I went down to ACFW from Canada this year, the border guard asked me what I was going for. So I told him what ACFW was and that they have an annual conference.

    He said, “Have you written anything I’d have heard about?” Which was a really interesting response to hearing about a Christian fiction guild.

    Our small-town library (not the church library) has a ton of CBA fiction, because the town is fairly traditional and churchgoing and people have requested it. Bless their hearts, they shelve them on the main shelves alongside the general-market books rather than as “religious,” except for a separate section specifically dedicated to Christian romance.

    At first I found that frustrating for locating my CBA faves or browsing for new ones, but I soon realized we can be found very easily in the crowd. Christian fiction covers, including the spine, consistently have more colour depth and more use of light. They stand out.

    • Tamela Hancock Murray November 29, 2012 at 1:35 pm #

      CathiLyn, I agree, CBA has top-notch cover art! I don’t think everyone realizes the unbelievable amount of thought and time the design team takes in creating the perfect cover. Not only must they consider visual appeal, but they must be accurate to the setting and time period.

      If you are inclined, visit the publisher’s and/or author’s web sites and mention covers you especially like. Everyone involved will appreciate you for taking the time.

      • Teressa November 29, 2012 at 2:51 pm #

        I recall teaching my children that when they go to dine at someones house and if they do not like the food, do not say the food is not good. Understand that their tastes might just run in another direction. What is distasteful to one might be another’s favorite. Found this to apply to most anything, even books.

      • CathiLyn Dyck November 30, 2012 at 8:08 pm #

        Tamela, I’m to the point now where I have specific designers of whom I’m a secret fangirl. :) Kirk DouPonce was the first one — he’s done my critique partner’s covers.

        I love to praise a good cover…I see a lot of stuff floating around on Twitter and so forth, especially now that self-publishing is so fast and easy. It’s become really noteworthy (and a visual relief to my eye — not to be a snob, but it really matters to me as a reader) when I come across beautiful and communicative art. It says the contents inside have been cared for diligently.

  22. Jackie Layton November 29, 2012 at 2:44 pm #

    When a really good friend of mine heard I was writing Christian fiction, she laughed and said that must be an oxymoron. She’s led Bible studies and didn’t really know about Christian fiction.

    In case you’re wondering, it did hurt my feelings. I know I’ve got to develop thicker skin.

    • Diana Harkness November 29, 2012 at 3:14 pm #

      A book your friend might find enlightening is The “Rock that is Higher: Story as Truth” by Madeleine L’Engle.

    • Tamela Hancock Murray November 29, 2012 at 3:57 pm #

      Jackie, a lot of people don’t understand Christian fiction. I donated some of my novels to a church library once and the woman said, “Oh. These are fiction.”

      “Ouch!” No matter how thick your skin is, you still feel pinpricks.

      But that’s the only time I was almost sorry to make a donation to a church library. Most church librarians really appreciate donations.

      • Tamela Hancock Murray November 29, 2012 at 4:04 pm #

        Maybe I should clarify that I didn’t actually say, “Ouch!” But maybe I should have!

      • Jackie Layton November 29, 2012 at 7:17 pm #

        Tamela,thanks for sharing.

        I can just imagine her face if you had said,”Ouch.” Ha!

  23. Susanne Dietze November 29, 2012 at 3:06 pm #

    I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who gets wildly differing reactions when I share what I write. One woman laughed at me for not including sex in my stories, but that was the most jarring response I’ve received. Far more others have been enthusiastic. Or confused. So I’m always happy to share or recommend books to help spread the word about quality, wholesome Christian romance.

    Great post and discussion.

  24. Vanessa Davis Griggs November 29, 2012 at 3:08 pm #

    I’m a Christian fiction author of presently 14 novels, #15 releasing December 24th entitled THE OTHER SIDE OF DARE. I’ve received much support in what I do. People seem to love how I begin each chapter with a scripture that coincides with what’s in that chapter. My novels reach an arena of people (age, sex, religion). I’m a black author who is honored to have a great following withing all races, celebrating the Good News as truth.

    It helps when we’re accessible to readers, so social media has been a great assist in my being able to do that on a greater level. It’s a blessing knowing that WHAT we’re doing in being writers–promoting the message of Christ, those who are agents who can bring writers & editors together, are doing our part to increase the “talents” God has given us as gifts to the world. My goal is foremost to honor God in all that I do in the name of Jesus the Christ.

  25. Jennette November 29, 2012 at 3:14 pm #

    Well, I’ve not been very outspoken about my career choice, but I have gotten a share of varied responses.

    My aunts have asked why wasn’t I published yet, or when my books will be out.

    I’ve had some people get excited, one friend of mine has introduced me to a middle schooler who is writing and wanted help with her stuff. The mom said they’d exchange for babysitting and I’m thinking, writing time!

    Sometimes there’s that awkward pause and then, oh cool, what do you write? Then it’s my turn to pause awkwardly because I know some of these people don’t like fantasy, but most of have been cool with C.S. Lewis so I quickly make the connection for them.

    The most memorable response I received: the guy’s eyes widened and he said, oh, well, stay away from the dark stuff. Or something like that. My face was burning so loud in my ears I couldn’t hear properly. :-)

    I do wish I could just write regular historical romance but the lure of adventures in far away places is hard to resist. That’s not to say I don’t have some romance within the story. :-)

    • Tamela Hancock Murray November 29, 2012 at 4:04 pm #

      Jennette, you’re wise to keep a strong romantic thread in your stories. There are plenty of readers who love adventure. Keep at it!

  26. Ramona Richards November 29, 2012 at 3:34 pm #

    The oddest response I’ve had was the guy on the plane who asked if what I wrote would be “safe” for his wife. I showed him my latest Love Inspired Suspense. He said, “Oh, that would be too rough. Anything else?” I gave him a devotional book I’d written. I didn’t dare mention Ted Dekker.

    • Tamela Hancock Murray November 29, 2012 at 4:00 pm #

      Ramona, LOL! I knew someone who couldn’t bear to watch Alfred Hitchcock reruns on TV, so I get what he meant. So glad you had a devotional book to share. :)

  27. Eva Ulian November 29, 2012 at 3:59 pm #

    An unpublished author will be told right from the beginning, as it would be irksome if you changed over at some stage in your writing career, for whom are you going to work: the Christian or the non-Christian market? As I understand it, and perhaps I’m exaggerating a little, but in order to sell,the Christian market romance should lean towards the pious and reverent, while the non-Christian one towards sex and violence. What about those of us, who, as writers are neither sexy nor violent but also not reverent or pious. Is there not a niche for “normal” romance?

    • Tamela Hancock Murray November 29, 2012 at 4:02 pm #

      Eva, there are publishers who have sweet secular lines. I recommend that you query agents with your proposal and let them give you guidance on where your work fits.

      • Eva Ulian November 29, 2012 at 4:07 pm #

        Thank you Tamela, that indeed, I must do.

  28. Pat Iacuzzi November 29, 2012 at 4:14 pm #

    At first I used to get a lot of negative reactions to the fact that I wanted to write. After people politely ask what type of book (historical romantic suspense)I got comments such as, “That sounds really hard–do you think you want to try that?” Or: “Doesn’t that take a lot of research?” And they’d “kind of” go along with the suspense idea to humor me. But romance?–not so much.

    If they read at all …

    Many of the women I know (even in my church)were just not readers. They’ve been raised on T.V., and will sit down at the end of a busy day and have a story spoon-fed. (I’m guilty!) I’ve asked if they remember anything they read from their high school days, and they’ll mention a couple of titles they had to read as assignments. So much for the classics. They’re usually memorable if they’ve seen it as a movie.

    However, the Lord has made inroads with a group I work for…parents of home-schoolers. At first I brought in YA books and non-fiction–they passed muster. Now a lot of folks are curious about the fiction–and yes–romances! so, slowly but surely….:)

  29. Jenni Brummett November 29, 2012 at 5:23 pm #

    When I tell people that my WIP is a Christian Gothic Romance I’m not sure if they are more baffled by the Christian or Gothic part of my explanation.

    My story takes place in the 1830′s in Key West with the shipwreck salvage industry as a backdrop. There are family secrets buried amidst a decrepit house, unknown relatives bent on murder, and a setting that plays the part of a character. Horror and the supernatural are close companions. But the overarching theme is that of the Lord’s rescue of us. He is a God that never abandons or forsakes us. As my main character allows the Lord to infiltrate and remove her fears, she draws nearer to him. All this while falling in love.

  30. Kathie Truitt November 29, 2012 at 5:25 pm #

    You’ve all talked about Christian Romance, but how about Christian Psychological Thriller? My first novel, ‘False Victim’ is written ‘novel-style’, but it’s a true account of what happened to my family when we moved to Woodbridge Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C. It was creepy enough that I sold the movie rights to Lifetime and it was a featured segment on Investigation Discovery. I’ve done over 137 signings/speaking engagements across the country.
    Even though it is a thriller it has a STRONG Christian message.

    If you’re not into thrillers but you like Fannie Flagg-esque stories then you’ll ‘The Hillbilly Debutante Cafe’ series. I haven’t been able to travel and promote it as much but it’s very humorous. I’m working on the second one now.

    • Tamela Hancock Murray November 29, 2012 at 9:46 pm #

      Kathie, love the Hillbilly Debutante Cafe title! Makes me smile.

      I am familiar with Woodbridge so I’ll have to see if I can learn more about your story. Thanks for sharing!

  31. Laurie Alice Eakes November 29, 2012 at 5:46 pm #

    It hasn’t happened to me in a couple of years, but at first, people used to tell me all about an uncle or friend or enemy who self-published a book and how terrible it was, as though mine must also be self-published and couldn’t possibly be good. I also got asked how much it cost me to get published.

    When I say I write romance, I usually get a vague: Oh. or How nice. Here in the South, I can just hear, “Bless your heart.”

    I confess that a little of this has been my fault. I never used to say I write romance. Now I am proud to say that’s what I write. Besides it being more than 1/3 of the market in genre fiction, it’s just plain good, fun, and uplifting reading, what I choose to read and therefore what I choose to write.

    • Tamela Hancock Murray November 29, 2012 at 9:49 pm #

      Laurie Alice — So weird that people would jump on the “self-published” speech for no good reason. Apparently that was the only part of the industry they had any knowledge of.

      You have every right to be proud of your work. I’m proud of you!

  32. Kathie Truitt November 29, 2012 at 6:03 pm #

    I’m just amazed at all of you that write ‘romance’! I’ve married for 31 years and even my husband says I’m the least romantic person in the universe. That and children’s books are the two genre’s I’d never try. It’s just too intimidating.

    I’ve heard the responses that you receive when folks find out you’re a writer. How many of you have blogs? If you don’t have one then you need to. I had a blog two years before my first book was published. I still find for the most part that people ‘discover’ me through my blog.

    Thanks for the great conversation. You all are great!

    • Melissa November 29, 2012 at 6:43 pm #

      Kathie, I write romance and both my hubby and I laugh–I’m a very UNROMANTIC lady. You know the joke: The wife asks why her husband never says I love you and his answer is “I told you when we got married, I’ll let you know if it changes.” I’m totally the groom!

      I view it as therapy. Maybe writing it will rub off on me, eh?

      So if you want to…it can be done!

    • Tamela Hancock Murray November 29, 2012 at 9:50 pm #

      Kathie, that’s excellent advice!

  33. Karen November 29, 2012 at 7:11 pm #

    I had one friend who was super supportive when I said I was writing and champions me ever step of the way, even now. I have another, that I didn’t tell anything about my writing until I was going away on weekends to conferences and placing in some contests, so I sort of revealed my alter ego, so to speak to all our friends and family.
    This friend reads a lot of women’s fiction and mystery, but whenever I had mentioned romance novels during book discussions, she would kind of scrunch her nose and say she never got anything out of them because they were too shallow for her. Hence, the delay in announcing my ambitions to her.

    But the funniest comment I’ve ever heard about my writing came from my older brother. He wanted to read a story I’d written. He liked it and the only way he could think to express that was to tell me it read just like one of those real books you can buy in the bookstore.

    I’ve learned that writing, and especially the romance genre, whether it be inspirational or mainstream, is an entity unto itself. Most people (including voracious readers) have no idea about the process of writing a story much less what goes into seeking representation or actually getting published. But it is the most wonderful thing to do and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

    So, have faith and take heart all you fabulous storytellers, our day will come.

  34. Jan Cline November 29, 2012 at 8:41 pm #

    I am also very surprised when I get that blank stare when I say I write Christian fiction. And not just from non-Christians. You are right about there being a large percentage of churched people who don’t even know there is such a genre. Don’t know if I quite get that. But we will fill those bookshelves back up won’t we!?

  35. Susan Karsten November 30, 2012 at 7:21 am #

    An interesting response I have had when I have mentioned being an aspiring writer: “Will you change? When you get famous?” and questions of that ilk. With sinking heart, since I haven’t even got an agent yet, I have had to reassure these dear ones, that, no, I will not change, and explain that even if I get published, I will be a long way from being famous.
    There must be an image out there in people’s minds that authors of fiction, even Christian fiction, are to be made into something of an idol in our society.

    • Tamela Hancock Murray December 3, 2012 at 10:12 am #

      Susan, it’s amazing how many people think published authors are instant millionaires with standing invitations to appear on all the talk shows. What super questions, though. They are saying they are confident you will be a famous author, but they love you just the way you are!

  36. Angie Breidenbach November 30, 2012 at 9:03 am #

    I do get some odd reactions. first people want to know what it means. Then after I tell them what I write, I usually I get asked for book titles and where can they buy them. Locally, I point them to the store in my town. Quite a few ask me to write their idea for them. I took a tour recently where the guide asked what I do. Then he asked me to write the story of one of the historical figures on the tour. I didn’t have the heart to tell him I don’t write documentaries. He didn’t understand the difference in historical fiction and the true life story.

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