I am so honored to have been asked to speak at the Romance Writers of America's KYOWA Writers' Dogwood Conference in Greenbo, Kentucky, the first weekend in May. I was asked to speak on Christian fiction today and how it's not what it was a few years ago.
I know the angle I will approach this speech as a writer. That is easy to me.
But, I'll make a confession here: I'm not a fiction reader - Christian or otherwise. I never have been. If I actually end up with enough leisure time to read, chances are good that I'll choose an old cookbook or Christian non-fiction book.
So, I'd LOVE to hear from readers, and how you feel that Christian fiction has changed in the last few years. I'd love to incorporate that into my speech.
Please leave a comment here. One commenter will win an ebook copy of all three of my Song of Suspense books, including the upcoming May 13th release A Carol for Kent.
what a blessing and an honor for you to speak !
I started reading prairie and amish fiction over 25 years ago and with homeschooling lost touch with much of christian fiction till last year in April, so over this year reading, reviewing, influencing for Authors, publishers and plubilcity houses I have really seen a big change. Where I once was not a suspense romance fan, I have seen alot of that htis past year and I sorta got hooked ! I soley blame this on Katy Lee with her book Warning Signs and now Grave Danger.
Also to read your books is new for me too. I can't say I have ever been military minded or war time story fan, but its a big thing in historical romance now.
I am seeing a huge shift away from so much amish fiction to a more broad sphere of many genres in general and I am happy for that. I would still say my favorites are Prairie Fiction and now I would say Historical Fiction is my favorite over all.
Faithful Acres Books
Christian fiction has gotten a little more "relaxed" in the last few years. I mostly love it. I like that it seems to be getting a bit more realistic in terms of physical attraction. Let's face it. Not talking about the reality of romance isn't doing us or our young people any favors. It is a normal part of romantic relationships and I think it is important for people to be able to write/read that with a balance of holding true to God's design. Teaching moments in fiction that were being missed for so long!! The flip side is that in its "relaxation" of the 'writing rules' there are some authors who have not taken care in building a strong line that I feel the reader also needs.
I have been seeing many more creative plot lines in the last few years versus the same old general story line - boy meets girl -there's conflict - there's happily ever after. It was boring. I believe it pushed people away from Christian fiction and in turn they got sucked into a world of reading that is just not edifying.
I also love that there is more Christian fiction that doesn't assume its readers are Christians. Weaving the story of redemption through a "frivolous" fiction book can have such a reach. I think it continues to be important for Christian authors writing Christian fiction to stop and take a look at the potential their story telling has to reach lives in a non-traditional way.
Another thing that has grown in Christian fiction is Suspense. Goodness, I remember very few Christian Suspense OR Christian Suspense Romance when I was younger. The one or two I read weren't very good. Now there is a wealth of great quality Christian suspense options.
I feel that Christian romance is much more realistic than it used to be. Holier than thou characters are just unrealistic and not true to life today. I love the amish stories like Paula because of the simplicity of their lives. And because of their real struggles against life like most other people today.
Your stories are great because they include characters that could be the girl next door, or the kid you went to school with. They are REAL, and make you want to know what happens to them after the story ends! That's what makes a GREAT book to me! Wanting to know what happens after the story is the best compliment to any author and all of your books have done that for me!
In regards to how Christian romance has changed is the real life struggles against sex before marriage. There, I said it. The elephant in the room. The way a character struggles to keep pure for the person they will marry, or how they resist temptation to give in. It's not an easy choice and the way characters are portrayed now is much more realistic to how young people will relate to.
I tried reading Christian fiction many years ago and all the characters were either "goody, goody" or "truly bad with no good qualities". The stories either preached at you and weren't real. Everyone has good and bad in them and there are gray areas as well as black and white areas in all our lives. Now I truly love Christian fiction and rarely read any other kind, unless its an author I love from years back (aka Kay Hooper, Catherine Coulter) or one of my author friends (aka Debra Webb, Linda W. Jones, Lynn Stone, Bonnie Gardner & other friends in the Heart of Dixie, RWA). Now the plan of salvation is in the storyline but not pushed down your throat (as my grandmother would have said). Now I have read authors that make the characters seem real, flaws, questioning their lives and God's purpose. Just being human. I love Christian suspense, I love reading about the Amish. I'm 67 and it reminds me of how my grandmother lived. Oh, she had electricity but she had a well and an outhouse. At night you used a chamber pot if you stayed overnight. I was married before she ever got indoor plumbing. I remember when she got a gas range, she was so excited. Christian fiction has grown and as the authors have updated the premise for their books so has their audience increased. Used to only find Christian fiction in a small section of the bookstore, especially the used bookstore. Now there are two-four aisles in the new bookstores and long shelves of Christian fiction in the used bookstores. The characters have flaws and are more real than they were in the 70's, 80's and 90's. Thank you Christian authors for having come so far and made so many of us happier.