When I began Mug N Muffin, it was to introduce readers to new authors (not necessarily new to print, but those that many people in my small town might not have heard of) of Christian fiction. So....there was no doubt what we'd be reading, but I had several ladies say they didn't want to come because they didn't want to read Christian fiction. I did a kick off event with a local author and invited the public. I'm in a very rural area so it was a big deal! News coverage, the whole nine yards. AFTER hearing the author talk and meeting her, many of those same ladies bought her books and several of them now come to the book group.
At our kick off event, I listed books across all genres of Christian fiction and had each one interested circle the choices she thought she'd like to read. That became our first years reading list. One comment that I hear over and over is, "I never thought I'd like this, but it's not like Christian fiction used to be." We read Kathy Macias, "No Greater Love" which opened a great discussion on Apartheid. We read Dying Declaration by Randy Singer which opened up great discussions about the law and faith. We read The Familiar Stranger by Christina Berry which opened up a great discussion on marriage and forgiveness. None of the books were preachy.
My suggestion would be to go across genres and not describe them as Christian fiction. It's all good fiction! A legal thriller. Women's fiction. Suspense. The "proof" is in the pudding. When this lady reads good stories, I think she'll be surprised.
The other thing I did was make the group open ended--if you want to read the book that month, fine. If you don't, fine. Your choice. If the book doesn't appeal to you, just don't read that month. What I've found is everyone is reading every month because they don't want to miss out!
Blessings and good luck!
Yes Tom, and it's too bad that some writers have corrupted Christian fiction to the point that Christians are turing their backs on those of us serving our Lord Jesus Christ through good Christian works.
Imagine if Christians created the buzz and word-of-mouth around good Christian works instead of following a secular mindset and agenda.
What about introducing Historical Christian Fiction?
May I suggest my historical series, Daughters of the Potomac? The first book, 'Before the Scarlet Dawn' comes out Feburary 1, 2012 through Abingdon Press, with the other two novels, 'Beside Two Rivers' and 'Beyond the Valley' six months apart. These are not sugary stories, but rather stories about three women who face challenging hardships in colonial times, set along the Potomac River in Maryland and in the Hope Valley, England.
I think the problem lies with the genre. I've read some pretty bad Christian books--not for the Christianity--they were just badly written. I have also read books that were not labled as Christian but had a lot of it in the book and they were great. My own book is not a Christian book but my encounters with God run all through the book and it gets rave reviews. Doing it that way as many writers do, makes people enjoy the book but not feel that religion is being shoved down their throats. It's simply incorporated into the story.
I understand the sentiment, as well, Martha. I also try to write to the general market; however, from a Christian worldview. At the risk of sounding like I'm just marketing you, you might take a look at www.brucejudisch.com/katia.htm for an example. It's been well received by both Christian and secular book clubs.
I suggest you check out novels from Oaktara, www.Oaktara.com. Oaktara is intentionally publishing works that are inspirational, but not your usual religious novels. They seek to publish works that appeal to secular and nonsecular audiences. Burce Judisch below is one of their authors as am I. You can see my works under L.D. Alford at Oaktara or at www.ldalford.com. I think you will find Bruce and my fiction compelling, well written, and fun to read.
Christian Fiction is just a term. I think books picked should be picked because the reader was intrigued by the synopsis or tag line. The LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE books were not considered 'Christian' and yet they all had the underlining principals and scriptures used throughout.
I appreciate a good story without foul language, without detailed sex, or gore, and yet be exciting enough to draw me away from my world and dive into the authors world. I find there are some great 'Christian Fiction' writers out there. Think about stepping outside of the box and take a chance on new authors breaking into a tough business. :-) I'd love to join and I'm up for a new read.
I'm not surprised. Although I was inspired to write "Littluns" for both secular and Christian readers (everybody), I had a huge wake-up call when the novel was, for the most part, ignored by everyone.
At least in part, Christians had a huge impact on such novels as "Harry Potter," The “Twilight” series, Dan Brown’s books, and many others who would have everyone believe that there is good and bad evil, which any thinking person knows is not possible. I wanted “Littluns” to be a very different reading experience and that’s what I did with all praise to God.
Change being the essential process for all existence, someday the tide will turn and people’s tastes and interests will change with it.