Sep

28

2011

What Makes a Christian Book “Christian”? (Part Two)

by Karen Ball


So what are some of the answers I’ve been given to the question “What makes a Christian book Christian”? Consider the following:

  • Written from a Christian world view
  • Story offers hope
  • Core of the story shows importance of faith in Christ

Similar to the things you all wrote in your comments (though I think your responses went far deeper.) But I’ve also been peppered with the following critical comments regarding Christian books:

  • It’s safe
  • It doesn’t challenge the status quo
  • It doesn’t leave anything unsettled, everything’s resolved
  • Quality doesn’t match that of ABA books
  • Easy answers
  • Doesn’t make readers think
  • Affirms readers beliefs and perspective

Notice a trend here? Now, before you get upset or think these folks are totally out of touch, let me point out that this view of Christian writing comes most often from professionals in the field rather than from the readers themselves. Or from those who haven’t picked up a Christian book in decades. But if we’re being honest, some readers agree with those descriptions.

The last time I was tangled in this debate, I came to a conclusion. And so I turned to those gathered and offered the following: “You really don’t like this consumer much, do you?”

No response. But I could tell that, indeed, they weren’t crazy about this person. This simplistic non-thinker who only wants books that offer a kind of pabulum to the masses determined to hide in their safe churches and faith, never questioning, never facing real life.

Can’t say I blame them, can you? I wouldn’t care much for that kind of person, either. But here’s the thing: I don’t know many Christians like that. And I sure haven’t met many readers like that. From the reader letters I get as an author, it’s clear those who read Christian fiction are looking for books that not only make them think, but that challenge them–even PUSH them–to go beyond themselves and what they think they know. In the letters and emails my authors receive from their readers, we’ve found people who are facing life’s ambiguities and inequities full-force. Yes, they long for something to give them answers. But even more than that, they long for something to tell them, quite simply and honestly, that they’re not alone. That they’re not the only Christians out there who:

Doubt

Struggle

Wrestle with God over living a life of faith in an insane and hostile world

Don’t appreciate easy or pat answers

Want to KNOW God. Intimately. Even when it’s scary or uncomfortable or painful. Which, as anyone who’s walked a hard path knows, it is.

Often.

Cool thing, though, about that debate is that it didn’t end there. In fact, it led us all deeper. And I’ll tell you how and where.

In a minute.

First, I want to know who you think today’s Christian reader is? Why do you think s/he reads Christian books? What are you hearing from the readers around you about the books they’re reading? And, if you care to share, what novel or nonfiction Christian book have you read lately that lived up to your expectations?

So share your thoughts…and stay tuned for Part 3.

 

 

 

 

 

46 Responses to “What Makes a Christian Book “Christian”? (Part Two)”

  1. Timothy Fish September 28, 2011 at 3:31 am #

    I have a limited ability to answer the question, but what I’ve found to be true of today’s Christian reader is that she (yes, I said she and not he) is a church member and attends church at least two or three times a week. She is involved, working in at least one ministry at church, which is very much her “book club” as she discusses the books she’s been reading with other women like her. Her family is important to her and at least part of them are also involved in church. Her husband may also be actively involved in church, the example of the kind of leader God wants men to be, but it is also possible that he has dropped out of church or isn’t a Christian at all. Part of the enjoyment she gets out of reading is that she gets to discuss the book with other people, though the discussion isn’t typically about what happens in the books but about what other books the author has available or will have available. She doesn’t have a lot of money, but the isn’t broke either, so she’ll buy some books, but others she wait until they are available in the church library.

    • TC Avey September 28, 2011 at 5:25 am #

      WOW! I can’t help but wonder what background you have that gives you this point of view of who Christian readers are. While I know everyone’s answers will differ because we are all individuals and have different references/past experiences to draw our conclusions from, I can’t help having a reaction to yours. I’m sorry you feel this way, it’s not how I view readers at all (but that’s my opinion, we are each entitled to one).

      Readers are too complex to peg into such a narrow hole. Sorry for being judgmental, I hope/pray through this discussion your views may broaden.

      • Timothy Fish September 28, 2011 at 6:15 am #

        TC Avey,

        I’m confused. Maybe you can fill me in on why you took issue with my answer. If the question had been “who reads computer programming books?” and I had said that computer industry professionals, students, and hobbyists are the primary readers, I don’t think many people would disagree. In my answer to who reads Christian books, I essentially said that godly women read Christian books. I don’t really have a problem with that. As much as I would like to think there’s a lost man out there who will pick up one of my books and come to Christ because of it, I think that is unlikely unless he is already seeking answers that he hopes Christianity provides. But as for the reader I described, I like that reader. That reader is just like a lot of my friends.

    • Steve Laube September 28, 2011 at 6:22 am #

      This description could be quoted as what the general market perceives as the typical Christian reader. Unfortunately it is both a cliche and a myth.

      Karen succinctly wrote “I don’t know many Christians like that. And I sure haven’t met many readers like that.”

      • Timothy Fish September 28, 2011 at 10:10 am #

        Steve,

        You’re probably right, but I didn’t pull my description from the perception of the general market. I simply thought about all of the people I’ve ever seen with a Christian book in hand and wrote the traits that I know they have in common. By that, I mean specific people whose names I could list and with a little more trouble I could give you their address, their phone number, and the name of their little dog too (though I won’t).

        I don’t know what to say about the statement, “I don’t know many Christians like that. And I sure haven’t met many readers like that.” For all I know I’m just blessed to be in a great church, but I do know many Christians like that and a lot of them are readers also.

    • TC Avey September 28, 2011 at 6:32 am #

      Sorry, I couldn’t find the reply button on your last post.

      It’s not that I took offense, it’s that your response to the question seems a bit harsh. I know many many Christian men who read all sorts of Christian books. I know many Christian couples who read books together (not just devotionals) and I myself do not fit your mold of a Christian female reader, nor do many of my Christian friends. I even have friends who are not Christian who read Christian fiction if the book is well written. I also have a few friends who rarely go to church (but identify themselves as Christian) that primarily read Christian books.

      I’m just hoping you can see that while, from your experience your Christian readers tend to fit a certain mold, there are a broad range of readers.

      Perhaps if you are predominately drawing a certain crowd on your books it is because you write to them and for them. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, in fact each subsection of readers has certain authors they are drawn to and that is a wonderful things. We all need different things and are searching for various things when we read and God provides that in the different writers available.

      • Timothy Fish September 28, 2011 at 7:10 am #

        TC Avey,

        I think I see what you’re saying. I realize there are also men who read Christian fiction, I happen to be one of them, but we’re outnumbered and I still think the typical reader looks like what I wrote.

    • TC Avey September 28, 2011 at 7:22 am #

      I agree, the “typical” reader probably does, however I think perhaps times are changing. It seems like it anyway, I am finding more and more males reading this genre as well as those who are wanting a break from the mainstream non-Christian books. But I only have my friends/acquaintances and what I read on blogs to verify this.
      I am trying to get my book published, so I can’t really speak with any authority from an authors perspective. But I hope to soon!

  2. gina welborn September 28, 2011 at 5:31 am #

    I’m one of those readers who checks out more CBA fiction from the library than she buys. A huge irk of mine is spending good money on a book, only to be disappointed. That said, the last CBA novel I actually bought myself was COURTING MORROW LITTLE by Laura Frantz. My friend and fellow author, Dina Sleiman, raved about it being a fabulous romance with one hot hero. How can I resist that endorsement?

    I utterly loved Laura’s book. So it finaling in the Carol this year was a hearty delight. Only, IMHO, the book isn’t a romance. However, it is a perfect example of historical fiction with romantic elements. The hunky hero could have died at the end and that would have been fine with me because the story wasn’t his. Still, COURTING MORROW LITTLE met my expectations. I loved it and happy to have paid full retail price. :-)

    Of course, earlier this year, Dina gave me a copy of THE PASSION OF MARY-MARGARET by Lisa Samson. She insisted I’d like it even though it was a true women’s fiction novel. About a nun. A Catholic sister. In the mid-1900s. Eh. Everything about the book said “Gina, you will not like this, like this you will not.”

    Best book I’ve read so far in 2011. But I think that’s also because the book was correctly marketed for what it was: women’s fiction, not a romance. I loved loved love the book, and apparently it didn’t sell very well because, maybe, it wasn’t safe, it challenged the status quo, it didn’t give easy answers. Because it had a heroine who ignored the advice of religious leaders and obeyed what God asked of her even though man’s wisdom also said “stupid idea for you to marry that man.”

    That all said, the ABA maket has both thinking-fiction and escapist-fiction. Why shouldn’t the CBA have it too? Because after a stressful day being a wife and a mom, sometimes I want safe, everything’s resolved, faith-affirming books that don’t make me think but instead leave me utterly entertained. For every LOST, I need a THE OFFICE. And I’m completely okay with that. :-)

    • Lindsay Harrel September 28, 2011 at 8:10 am #

      Gina, I totally agree with you. Not every book has to be a knock-your-socks-off-totally-brilliant-this-is-gonna-win-an-award kind of book. Sometimes we need something light to read as well.

      • Lindsay Harrel September 28, 2011 at 8:12 am #

        Of course, that’s not to say that every book that’s merely meant to entertain won’t knock your socks off or win awards. :P

  3. JoAnne Potter September 28, 2011 at 5:43 am #

    I know the publishing industry like to put what writers generate into categories, but writers are Christians, and write from what they know to be true. Unless we write apologetics or devotionals, we just write. If it’s a mystery or history or advice, it’s Christian because we are. Is Dickens Christian? Or Tolstoy? I don’t understand why I have to declare what I write Christian. It will show itself with or without the declaration.

    • Timothy Fish September 28, 2011 at 6:34 am #

      I think we can see a parallel in businesses. Hobby Lobby is not a Christian store. Even though they are owned by Christians and they play Christian music in the stores, they are just a craft supply company. Lifeway, however, is also owned by Christians and they play Christian music in their stores, but their stores are considered to be

    • TC Avey September 29, 2011 at 7:58 am #

      Good point

  4. Peter DeHaan September 28, 2011 at 5:45 am #

    There are authors who are Christians and some of them happen to write for the Christian market. (And likely, some non-Christians write for the Christian market, too!) Other authors who are Christians opt to target the general market. Which of those works are “Christian?”

    However, at the risk of quibbling over semantics, there is no such thing as a “Christian book” any more than there are “Christian cars” or “Christian cows.”

    • Timothy Fish September 28, 2011 at 6:21 am #

      Peter,

      Perhaps not, but there are church buses and holy cows.

    • TC Avey September 28, 2011 at 6:34 am #

      It’s like the saying, eating at McDonald’s doesn’t make you a Big Mac any more than going to church makes you a Christian.

  5. Lynn Squire September 28, 2011 at 7:03 am #

    Karen, when I started to receive reviews for Joab’s Fire I found myself a little awed by the comments, particularly when the reviewers stated that they read mainly inspirational romance (being generic here), and did not generally read books like Joab’s Fire. I began to realize that many people stick to what is comfortable until someone challenges them to try something new.

    I see a trend in “edgy Christian” fiction, or fiction that is ‘reality driven’, to not dig deep enough to provide Biblical solutions for real situations–instead they offer the world’s solutions. So, from fiction that is nice, you don’t get reality and from some ‘reality’ fiction (not all–I’ve read some very powerful books) you don’t get solid Biblical truth. It leaves a great void.

    I tend not to read light Christian fiction…I want my faith challenged, but I also want the challenge to point me to God’s Word, to finding the solutions from the Bible, not from the world, not from a person’s opinion or experience, not from a weak stance on the Bible.

    Recently, I read an ARC for “Yahshua’s Bridge,” by Sandi Rog. Excellent story with challenges met by God’s truth – genuine questions raised answered by God’s Word. Of all the books I’ve read this year, this one hit the top on my list, and most of the others ‘scored’ many points lower.

    I only read Christian Fiction–it is a choice I made based on what I believe I should read and time. However, this past year I’ve grieved over the trend I see away from Biblical truth. You can have books that deal with hard issues and give eternal hope without the ending tied up with pretty bows. You can have books that deal with hard issues that give solid, Biblical answers–the only true answers to those issues. And taking a stand on those answers means writing not what the world wants, but what God wants.

    This morning I continued my study in Matthew 10, where Jesus is preparing to send the disciples out. In verse 18, He tells them that they will be brought before governors and kings, but He says it will be for a testimony against them. In other words, the governors, kings, and Gentiles may not like what they hear, but they need to hear the truth–even if it means the person giving the testimony is killed.

    Problem is, how do you get someone to read truth in a book? A believer or more mature Christian comes along side them and encourages them to do so…explaining where necessary and always pointing to Scripture. Consider Fireproof. That is what the father did with the son. I lead a Bible Study covering the issues brought up in Joab’s Fire (which is inspired by the Book of Job). Ultimately, of course, it is the Holy Spirit that does the work.

    For me, I have moved away from chasing after the Christian Publishing Industry because business is their 1st love. My first love is God, and serving Him as He has given me to do—presenting Biblical truth through story. I’m praising God because He has made it possible to work outside traditional publishing through e-books and companies like CreateSpace. (I know, the mere mention of such things makes some cringe then spit retaliatory fire).

    In my opinion, Christian fiction writers need to dig a little deeper into God’s Word (isn’t that true of all of us?) and let His Word challenge our faith, make us examine our faith, make us apply it to every situation, every hurt, every sin, every consequence in our lives.

    • Natalia Gortova September 28, 2011 at 11:27 am #

      Thanks for this. It challenges me as a writer.
      I heard Max Lucado speak at a writers conference earlier this year, and his comment was that you can only be effective in others to the same degree you yourself have been effected.

      That’s a good thing to remember. Especially as I’m looking to impact readers with truth. It has to be true for me, first.

      • TC Avey September 28, 2011 at 12:28 pm #

        Thank you sharing Max Lucado’s comment, it’s some really good advice! He is one of my favorite authors!

    • Timothy Fish September 29, 2011 at 4:56 am #

      Lynn,

      How do we get people to read truth in a book? I think that’s part of why we write fiction in the first place. Non-fiction is the easiest thing in the world to sell when there are people who are searching for the answers the book provides. But there are some truths that we don’t know we need. We certainly aren’t going to type them in to a search engine. With fiction we’re able to grab ahold of the reader by introducing our reader to a character who has a problem. As the character tries to solve that problem, the reader begins to see that there is a bigger problem hidden under the surface. That bigger problem is one that our target reader has, but may not have been willing to admit it. In the story, we demonstrate that the problem is one that needs to be solved and by the end of the book we introduce our reader to what we believe the first step to solving the problem is. For example, if our character is a church leader who has been looking at some pictures he shouldn’t be looking at, the first step might be for him to tell the church about the problem and resign. By stopping there, we encourage the reader with a similar problem to take action, but we don’t imply that doing so will make life rosey. There may still be many problems ahead. The cool thing is that by grabbing our reader with a problem he is willing to discuss, we’re able to talk to him about a problem he is not. It isn’t an easy task on our part, but it works.

  6. Jo Huddleston September 28, 2011 at 8:25 am #

    Karen, thanks for tackling this topic. In the replies, I read edgy, challenging, etc. The first thing readers of Christian fiction I’ve talked with mention is the books are too predictable, even from the first few pages. I’ve finished a novel, which I’ve said is probably too liberal for CBA and too conservative for the ABA. In my novel I have a an illegitimate baby/single mom, the hero tries drinking for the first time but learns from it and vows never to do so again; the farther the novel goes, it becomes more unpredictable. I would say my novel does not fit with the second set (7) of items you mention, but rather does challenge the status quo, does leave something unsettled, no easy answers, does make readers think, etc. These are elements I want in the Christian fiction I read. The last Christian fiction I read that met these expectations is Rooms by Jim Rubart. Again, thanks for this topic; look forward to Part 3.

    • James L. Rubart September 28, 2011 at 8:40 am #

      Thanks, Jo. Appreciate that.

    • Timothy Fish September 28, 2011 at 8:54 am #

      Jo,

      I don’t mean to pick on your book; I haven’t read your book. For all I know, it could be great, but when you mention that a character tries drinking for the first time and then voes to never try it again, that seems like the very definition of an “easy answer.” I’m not sure there’s much to be learned from someone who tries something and then just gives it up.

      But I think your subject matter has potential. One of the things that concerns me when I look at Christians today is the attitude so many of them have concerning fornication and drinking. These days, it isn’t just church members who have six pack in their frig, but there are pastors who are drinking right along with them, even though the Bible makes it very clear that leaders and especially pastors should leave the stuff alone.

      I think it is interesting that you mention Rooms. We all have different opinions. I didn’t care for Rooms because I couldn’t stand the main character. I also didn’t care for the way the character forgot everything at the end. I figure that if you forget the process of learning then you haven’t really learned anything. But I guess to each his own.

      • TC Avey September 28, 2011 at 9:01 am #

        I agree with your learning comment and with the world creeping into our churches. The Bible is black and white, it us who like shades of gray.

      • Steve Laube September 28, 2011 at 9:02 am #

        And hereby Timothy you have hit on the key to much of this discussion. You have some very strong and well articulated opinions. But they are subjective according to your understanding, belief system, and perspective.

        Fiction is much broader than the individual. One person may not like a book (and I’d prefer if further debate about specific titles be suspended on this blog…this isn’t a book review site) and another may have their life changed by the same book.

        That is the beauty of fiction. There is literally something for everyone. Which is why there is so much variety in Christian fiction. I remember when I first started in this industry there were maybe ten novels in the Christian market. Today there are thousands.

        Steve

      • Jo Huddleston September 28, 2011 at 9:48 am #

        Timothy, without having read my book I can understand your comments. I’d like to tell you that the background for my hero learning so quickly is that his father is an alcoholic and the hero has disliked his father’s lifestyle. When the hero leaves home, his faith wavers and that’s when he goes drinking with the boys. The next morning he feels like he’s seen his father’s reaction to alcohol and how he has now done the same thing. That’s when he vows never to become like his father; thus, he decides never to drink again.

  7. Lindsay Harrel September 28, 2011 at 8:30 am #

    The Christian reader is someone who, in general, wants to be encouraged and challenged. I know that many people in the world believe that Christians in general are not thinkers, that we blindly follow a God we cannot see with our eyes and stick to beliefs that don’t make sense to a lot of people just because, well, we believe it! So, it would make sense that these same people might believe that Christians want books that simply affirm those beliefs and give pat answers…and maybe some do. But I believe the majority of Christian readers out there want to (a) be encouraged, (b) be entertained in a safe environment, and (c) be challenged to live out their faith even when struggles seem too great to overcome.

    The majority of books I read in the Christian market have characters who are going through some situation that is difficult. That makes for a good protagonist no matter what the market is, whether Christian or secular. If we don’t connect with the character, then we are not likely to continue reading. Most Christian readers I know would not be extremely satisfied with an ending that was too pat and resolved. I know that when a story ends with what my creative writing teacher calls a “poof” moment–it comes out of the blue and ties everything up with a perfect little bow–I am far less satisfied than when I see the character struggle through, in the same way I might struggle through if I went through the same thing. So, the story has to be believable and the struggles have to be real in order for a connection to be made. When this occurs, we can relate to the character, and as Karen said, then we feel connected. We feel as if we are not alone, that perhaps there are others out there who are struggling just like we are.

  8. Lindsay Harrel September 28, 2011 at 2:02 pm #

    Steve, I couldn’t find a “reply” button on your response to Timothy, but I completely agree. Depending on someone’s life experiences, certain books resonate more than others. Consequently, if you’ve gone through an experience and the way a character handles the same experience doesn’t ring true with the way you handled it, it’s possibly that you could identify with it, learn from it, or find it one of those “pat answers.” It all depends on where we’ve been and where we’re going.

    To a writer, it’s both a scary and a liberating thought–we’ll never please everyone and we’ll never reach everyone. But hopefully, we’ll reach someone.

    • Steve Laube September 28, 2011 at 3:22 pm #

      Sorry Lindsay, the way this site is designed you can reply to a reply to a reply…but not to a third level. I think it is to keep the threads from getting smaller and smaller in width.

      But folks can still follow your comments even if they are not necessarily inline with the original one.

      You said it well. The writer will NEVER please everyone. It is impossible. Instead we focus on those who do become readers and hope the words connect as some level…even if that level is simple escapism. There is no shame in being an entertainer especially if it is done for the glory of God and honoring the gifts that He has given to you.

      I have children in the arts (dance and music) and they work and perform in the general market. But they endeavor to make their work glorifying whenever and wherever possible. Even if it is just enjoying the performance and knowing the joy it brings into the heart of the viewer or the listener.

      But that is a different topic, isn’t it?

      Steve

      • Lindsay Harrel September 28, 2011 at 4:59 pm #

        Ah, indeed it is! It reminds me, though, of the Steven Curtis Chapman song: “Do everything you do to the glory of the One who made you.” If we are doing what God made us to do, the very act of doing it brings Him glory.

        So, whether I reach thousands with my writing or only one, whether I cause deep reflection or entertain, to God be the glory.

    • TC Avey September 29, 2011 at 8:01 am #

      I agree with your comment. I’ve been told that if I am pleasing everyone I am doing something wrong and I am not being true to myself.

  9. Chris Lovie-Tyler September 28, 2011 at 5:01 pm #

    I’ll put my hand up as one of those rare men who read lots of books written by Christians.

    I can’t speak for others, but what Lindsay says is certainly true of me: I want to be encouraged and challenged.

    The majority of what I read is non-fiction, a mix of old and new.

    I recently finished “Letters & Papers from Prison” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. That was a fascinating read, especially because of the format (mostly letters to a friend). I was challenged by many things that Bonhoeffer said, and moved by the candid record of his experiences in prison and how his faith informed his response to that.

    I’ve started reading Os Guinness’s “Steering Through Chaos: Vice & Virtue in an Age of Moral Confusion”, and already I can tell it’s a significant book. His “God in the Dark: The Assurance of Faith Beyond a Doubt” helped me hugely in understanding and dealing with doubt.

    • TC Avey September 29, 2011 at 8:04 am #

      Those are some good books! If you like Bonhoeffer I think you might like this book, “Bonhoeffer Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy” by Eric Metaxas. It’s a wonderful book! He is an amazingly inspiring Christian and leader!

  10. Chris Lovie-Tyler September 29, 2011 at 4:52 pm #

    Thanks for the tip, TC. And, yes, I’ve heard of that book. I’ll check it out when I get a chance.

    I’d definitely like to read some more of Bonhoeffer’s books. I’ve heard good things about The Cost of Discipleship and Christ the Centre.

    • Steve Laube September 29, 2011 at 5:36 pm #

      Bonhoeffer’s book LIFE TOGETHER is on my shelf of the most influential books I ever read. The context in which it was written and the words about community and the life of the believer are amazing.

      I think CHRIST THE CENTRE was his doctoral thesis and is a little harder to absorb.

      COST OF DISCIPLESHIP is his classic work. Highly recommended.

      • TC Avey September 30, 2011 at 10:17 am #

        I have “Cost of Discipleship” on my reading list. Thank you for recommending “Life Together”, I’m adding that to my list as well. Can’t wait to read them both…I only wish I had more time!

    • TC Avey September 30, 2011 at 10:15 am #

      I visited your blog, I like it!

  11. Chris Lovie-Tyler September 30, 2011 at 12:28 am #

    Thanks, Steve. I’ll add Life Together to my list.

    A doctoral thesis would be hard going, but maybe worth it if you had the sticking power, particularly given the subject.
    I think I’ll put that one on the back-burner and read a couple of his more accessible ones first!

  12. Ann Van De Water October 2, 2011 at 9:25 am #

    Hi everybody! Just found you and am glad I did.

    I just had my first book released in June! “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Commencement~ The Heartbreak, Hope and Hilarity of Being a Mom” is a book about motherhood from a Christian perspective. It is comprised of 83 chapters of short, mostly humorous anecdotes.

    I agree with Lindsay that readers want to be able to connect by feeling they are not alone in their struggles. What makes a book “Christian” and a good read, in my opinion, is the fact that the reader comes away with a renewed sense that God is at work and in control, that He cares about even the mundane details of our lives, that there is hope and there are others just ahead on the journey that are willing to share their experiences and be honest about how God pulled them through. That’s the feedback my readers have given me. They have been very grateful for my honesty and candidness.

    If God is at the core of the main message of the book, then would it not be considered a Christian book, whether it entertained or brought about deep reflection? My book is not a deep read, by any means, but a God-honoring, uplifting, light-hearted chuckle that will leave readers saying, “Honey, we’re normal!! God be praised!” I think different books can bring readers different experiences at various points in their lives. And you can pick up the same book at a different point in your life and get something entirely different from it! Let’s face it…we can’t always be immersed in deep, philosophical, theological treatises. Now and then we need a light read that will just lift our spirits and help us see the bright side of the abundant life God wants for us, without making our brains work too hard!

    My book is mostly humorous, but there are some challenging chapters and some heart-touching stories as well. All are from my personal experiences, so it is not a work of fiction. However, I am hoping it will do well because it gives God the glory and it gives moms an honest look at the trials and triumphs we all face. I hope they come away thinking, “I’m glad I read that book! I can relate! I am blessed to be a mom, even on the toughest days! Thank you God!” (I personally believe in Prov. 17:22!)

    Moreover, as Lindsay said, if I reach one reader who needed to hear God’s voice through my humor telling her “You’ll be okay! Hang in there”, then my book is a success. And as Steve said, if you endeavor to glorify God in the process, then You honor Him by using the gifts He has given!

    • Lindsay Harrel October 2, 2011 at 6:47 pm #

      …”the reader comes away with a renewed sense that God is at work and in control, that He cares about even the mundane details of our lives, that there is hope and there are others just ahead on the journey that are willing to share their experiences and be honest about how God pulled them through.”

      I completely agree, Ann! It is so good to be able to read a book that’s entertaining and that reminds us of all of these things at the same time.

  13. Ann Van De Water October 2, 2011 at 9:26 am #

    Wow! That was long! Sorry- didn’t mean to preach on this Sunday morning!

  14. Karen Ball October 3, 2011 at 1:44 am #

    You know, it never ceases to amaze me the kinds of discussions folks have when I bring up these kinds of topics. It’s been interesting to read your thoughts. For my part, I believe the typical reader of Christian fiction is someone very much like you and I. Someone who longs to know God on an intimate level. Who longs to live life in a way that makes the Creator smile. Who seeks to treat others as God calls us to treat them, but who knows how often s/he fails at that. Who is more grateful than s/he can say for GRACE, and God’s constant, undeserved, unconditional love.

    I love my readers. And those who read my clients’ books. I respect these readers. I pray that when they finish one of my books or one of the books my clients have written, the overwhelming sense is (1) God is in control, and (2) I’m not alone. Because we’re all in this together. The path isn’t just narrow, folks, it’s treacherous. And becoming more so every day. So we need others to help us as we journey.

    That, I guess, is what I love most about fiction. Especially fiction steeped in God’s truth. It leaves me feeling someone has come alongside me on my journey. And in their words, I hear Truth.

    Karen

    • Lindsay Harrel October 3, 2011 at 3:45 pm #

      Karen,

      I agree with you 100%.

      After reading these kinds of books, not only do we not feel alone because other people have gone through what we have, but also because we can see God and His power. The best thing is when God speaks through the written word of one of his followers.

      As a reader, I feel doubly blessed to know that (1) we have fellow travelers on this Christian journey supporting and encouraging us and (2) we have the backing of the Almighty God. As a writer, I feel incredibly humbled if God chooses to use me in this way to encourage and support others.

      Thanks again for your post!

    • Hilarey October 4, 2011 at 1:01 pm #

      Thank you Karen, that defines it for me with your (1) and (2) By that definition, ABA publishes “Christian” books sometimes.
      I agree with Steve about the variety of fiction having something for everyone. Who is today’s Christian reader? There are probably as many different readers as there are denominations.
      Even if you peg Christian readers to a narrow demographic, they’ll want a little variety on occasion. Who watches only epic sagas…never throwing a sitcom in the mix?
      I hear people say they don’t like Christian fiction because it is poorly written fluff. But I find much of the same in the secular market.
      For me–a good book is an entertaining ride and a satisfying ending. What makes it Christian for me is the love story between Christ and a character. When someone buys a romance, they want to read a kiss and a proposal. Tie the knot. Consummate it. In a thriller, people expect a chase scene.
      When I read Christian fiction, I want to read about the divine romance. Otherwise, there are plenty of great books that don’t have graphic language/sex. If that is all the Christian market offers, then we are not really a separate genre.
      It seems we are caught as Christian authors between “don’t show the dark and yucky,” and “don’t get too whacked out and religious.” Trying to satisfy both of those usually ends up with a few hundred pages of fluff. Of course, sitcoms have their place.

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