By Pamela S. Thibodeaux
When asked to do this post for Suite T and teach, or explain, how I write my ‘Christian’ novels and grab a reader’s attention “without decreasing the message,” I had to stop and think a while, and I must confess….
I don’t write Christian fiction.
Years ago I wrote an article titled, “Is it Christian or is it Inspirational?” in which I detailed some of the major differences in the two. I’ll recap here…
Christian novels (mostly) adhere to strict guidelines such as:
The heroine never appears outside her bedroom in her nightgown.
The h/h do not spend the night (or week or time) in a house alone.
The h/h do not curse or use euphemisms such as heck, darn, etc. and the use of God or Jesus except in a prayer is unacceptable.
Premarital sex is a big No-No! as is divorce, water & spiritual baptism, women preachers, etc.
Mentioning a specific religion is frowned upon because CF wants to reach readers across dominations.
Newsflash: So Do Writers of Inspirational Fiction!
Inspirational novels may incorporate some of these rules OR the opposite of some, but still stay within Biblical guidelines.
For Example: The heroes in my Tempered series may curse (not all the time and no F bombs!); fight, and/or have a sensual encounter, but there is no premarital sex and there is usually a lesson learned from the encounter. In Lori’s Redemption the bull-rider turned preacher gets in an actual fist fight – then spends days in prayer and repentance and delivers one of his best sermons ever afterward.
These are a couple of examples from my own work and the reason my writing has been tagged as, “Inspirational with an Edge!” ™
Other authors have written the ‘edgy’ style also. Julie Lessman’s writing is known as Edgy Christian Fiction. Julie, whose tagline is “Passion with a Purpose” pushes the envelope in some ways but still remains within Biblical guidelines in a way traditional CBA publishers and fans adore.
One publisher I spoke with when pitching my work years ago said they would accept a certain degree of ‘edginess’ in Historical but not contemporary.
As if the things that take place in a Historical novel don’t take place (and even more so!) in contemporary times.
Alas, I’ve come to the conclusion years ago that, although I love God/Christ with all my heart, I’m not called to write ‘Christian’ but Inspirational books. Books that are (per reviewers) “steamier and grittier” and have “the most realistic characters read in an inspirational novel.”
So what would I say to writers who want to write Christian (edgy or not) or Inspirational?
Stay true to YOUR voice and YOUR calling. If you want to write and be published in the Christian market, don’t push the boundaries too much and be willing to rewrite/revise if you’re asked to. Think outside the box when submitting. Publishing is constantly changing, guidelines aren’t black and white anymore. There are shades of gray (no pun intended LOL!) and they get blurrier all the time.
Consider pitching to smaller publishers whose guidelines may be a little more lax on some of the ‘taboo’ Christian issues, or to an agent who represents both CBA and ABA markets, or self-publish.
If you choose the self-publishing route, please hire an editor and cover artist and present your work in a professional manner!
The most important advice I can give a writer of any genre is to write the book of your heart and make it the best book you can! Keep learning and growing, be teachable and flexible and don’t ever give up. Writing is a talent, a gift given to you by God. Don’t bury your talent or hide your gift. Trust in your calling, your voice and your God.
Award-Winning Author, Pamela S. Thibodeaux is multi-published in fiction and non-fiction. Her writing has been tagged as “Inspirational with an Edge!” (tm) and reviewed as “Steamier and grittier than the typical Christian without decreasing the message.” She is the Co-founder and a member of the Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. As a former member of American Christian Fiction Writers (formerly ACRW), Golden Triangle Writers Guild, Coeur de Louisiane and RWA, Pam won Coeur’s 1999 “Diamond In The Rough” as well as their 2000 “Ruby” Award and received her RWA Pro Pin in 2001. A committed Christian, she firmly believes in God and His promises. God is very real to her and she feels that people today need and want to hear more of His truths wherever they can glean them. Although her writing is Inspirational, she does her best to encourage readers to develop a personal relationship with God. The deepest desire of her heart is to glorify God and to get His message of faith, trust and forgiveness to a hurting world. Her hope is that all of her stories will touch the lives of everyone who reads them and – in some way – bring them a truer knowledge of God and urge them into a closer walk with Him. Social Media links: Website: http://pamelathibodeaux.com Blog: http://pamswildroseblog.blogspot.com
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