I want to talk about the preconceived notions people have about Christian, Inspirational or Faith based books. When someone hears a story has one of the three aforementioned tones, they immediately shut down thinking the story is going to be sweeter than cotton candy dipped in chocolate and covered with gum drops.
Thereâ€™s CIF [Christian, Inspirational, Faith] fiction that falls into that description and thereâ€™s nothing wrong with it. Itâ€™s written extremely well and packs a message for the reader. However, itâ€™s the misconception that all CIF books are like that which provokes a closed mind to experiencing some really great stories. [I swear Iâ€™m not preaching.]
When I decided to start writing, Iâ€™d dabbled a little in high school and college. Even so far as to writing a couple of plays. I found them later and felt theyâ€™d be a good base for a barbecue fire. When I read them again, I realized, although they were poorly written, they had a few things in common. The characters were all Christians but in real life situations. Let me explain. In a lot of CIF books, the story centers around the church with conflict between the pastor, the board, the choir director, pastorâ€™s family and some evil person not affiliated with the church. Thereâ€™s nothing wrong with those books. Iâ€™ve read a few and like them, however, they werenâ€™t the kinds of stories I wanted to tell.
I have always loved God, fashion and cute guys. I liked â€œThe Devil Wears Prada,â€ â€œBergdorf Blondes,â€ â€œElements of Styleâ€ and â€œThe Debutante Divorcee.â€ These were characters I could relate to. The books are filled with the most incredible fashion and very handsome men. The only thing they didnâ€™t have was a faith based theme. It was reading these books that it occurred to me, why not write a book with similar content, but add a little CIF to it.
My first attempt at writing a book sounded very much like ChickLit. I was fine with it until my beta readers ripped it to shreds. After a lot of re-writes, I finally had a book I was pleased with. Problem was, it wasnâ€™t considered acceptable. Why not? Response, Christians donâ€™t act like that, Christians donâ€™t care about designer clothes, Christians are happy being upper middle class at best, Christians donâ€™t get challenged, tempted, have racy dreams or wicked thoughts, Christians only have sex for procreation and on special occasions. And there is no way a Christian would get divorced, commit adultery, fornicate, swear, drink wine or dance.
Needless to say, I was stunned at the comments because I know a lot of Christians that have experienced and or faced a few of those things. So I set out to write books for â€œmy people.â€
It ticks me off when I hear people say no one will read books about Christians [or people of other religious beliefs] in real life situations. I want to read about â€œmy peopleâ€ dating, regretting, marrying, divorcing, falling in love, wearing designer clothes, traveling and being pursued by wealthy men. I donâ€™t want my heroine to be naive and deceived by an evil protagonist whose only objective is to steal her virginity or corrupt her. What about the sexy, fun Christian girl who works hard and falls for her boss, or divorces her cheating husband or who used to be a little slutty and is now in love with God struggling not to slip back into her old ways. These are great stories and if theyâ€™re written well, you can take the CIF elements out and theyâ€™ll still be great stories.
My next book is a take on Sex And The City. Itâ€™s five successful women all searching for love while wearing amazing clothes. I hear you saying thatâ€™s not possible because that book was all about sex. Not really, the core of that book was friendship. Sex was just one of the supporting characters, much like the clothes, men and New York.
I think itâ€™s a little more challenging to write a CIF book because you have to determine how far is too far. Although I want my books to have a little heat, Iâ€™m very careful about crossing the line. I want my kissing scenes to be as passionate as those found in traditional romance. Although most of my characters are Christians, I donâ€™t want their passion or desire to be watered down. I have chosen to share my characters thoughts. If my heroine finds the protagonist hot, sheâ€™s going to say so. And if heâ€™s having a lustful thought, I want you to read it. These little nuances make the characters feel realâ€¦just like in traditional romance.
So back to the original question, IS THERE A DIFFERENCE? Not really, just different levels of intensity.
Why Did You Chose To Self-Publish? This is the first question most Self-Published Authors are asked. However, what’s really going through the mind of the person asking is, “So you couldn’t get an agent or your work wasn’t up to snuff.” That’s so not true.
I’ve learned a lot on the road to becoming a self-published writer. First, I had an agent. A well-respected agent in the world of Christian Fiction. Let me preface this by saying, she knew my writing style. She’d read the first five chapters of my book. Actually, it was a different book. [That’s a story for another time.] She got my book to ‘Board.’ Two years later and I’m still waiting to hear if that publisher wants to move forward with my book. I think it’s safe to say, they passed on it.
I need to back up. I write what is classed as Edgy Christian Fiction. What is that you ask? ECF [Edgy Christian Fiction], is fiction with Christian themes. What makes it ‘Edgy’ is that it includes elements not common in traditional Inspirational or Christian fiction. In my books, that means the kisses are a little more passionate, there’s sex between the married couples, language with a little bite, lots of physical descriptions voiced by the characters, wine, talk about abortion, divorce, fornication, lust, not liking your in-laws and anything else that goes on in everyday life. The men are hot, the women are loaded with curves and both are quick to render their appreciation of the opposite sex.
As a Christian, I wanted to read stories about women who weren’t ashamed or embarrassed to express their feelings, with strong personalities and business owners. Let’s be real, when you’re sitting down with your girlfriends talking, you’re not talking in prose. No, you’re very descriptive in your comments on how amazing Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey, Johnny Depp or Daniel Craig looked in their last movie. So why not write stories from that POV.
I feel it’s a little difficult to convey to the reader the heroine’s attraction is to the hero by not being descriptive in this manner. Traditional Inspiration Fiction, the heroine’s feelings might be described with something like, ‘His thick black hair was beautiful blowing in the wind, brought a smile to her face.’ That’s nice, but in my world, it would have a little more umph, like, ‘She wondered how his thick black hair would feel brushing against her chin as he placed hot kisses along her neck.’ Or maybe, ‘When he kissed the back of her neck, she lost the ability to stand.” Statements like this aren’t necessarily acceptable CBA approved.
In my GENERATIONAL CURSE, I wanted to tell a story about a man who never turned down a drink or a woman. But when he hit rock bottom, he went cold turkey and fell in love with God. His priorities changed and he refused to let anyone or anything destroy that relationship. The heroine, is the complete opposite. She hasn’t had a relationship with God since she was a child. And even then it was more forced. Now as an adult, the only part of marriage she wants, is a married lover. She has no desire to be with a single available man. In her mind, a married man is less complicated. But she is intrigued by the hero and he her.
In order to tell the story, I had to take the reader on a journey with the heroine. I had to show how complicated and empty her life was by detailing her relationship with her married lover. I’m sure the story could have been told without the sex, but I don’t think it would have had the same impact. I don’t want to give too much away, but in the end it all makes sense.
So Why Did I Choose To Self-Publish? I wanted to tell the stories I wanted to read. I met an agent at a conference and she gave me two options: tell the story with the sex and no God or tell the story with God and no sex.
I wrestled with that statement for quite a while. But, I felt God had given me a great platform and I refused to back down. Also, I wanted covers and titles that were a little racy, another thing not really permitted in Inspirational or Christian Fiction.
So here I am, a newbie writer taking a chance writing stories with a little heat and taboo subjects. I know my style of book isn’t for everyone and that’s fine. For those willing to read something a little different, I think they’ll enjoy it.
Funny thing, a few weeks after I published my book, I got a LinkedIn request from my former agent. I’m still deciding if I should accept it.
That’s why I chose to self-pub.
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