Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Coloring Outside the Lines

with guest Rachelle Dekker.



I have never been a “rule-follower.” I don’t always break the rules, but I do find myself bending them from time to time. Part of it may be the rebel in me that always has to learn the hard way, but part of it comes from the constant creative flow that works its way through my brain. The question of Why? that follows me like a shadow. It dares me to wonder if things have to be done by the rules, and tells me that if I’m brave enough to color outside the lines my experience might be greater. I may unlock secrets others are too afraid to find. 

This part of me is loudest when I sit down to write. Getting published is difficult. There are many steps, many channels and people that have to buy into the story you’re essentially selling. And one of the major questions everyone is chasing is: What’s hot in the market right now? What rules do we need to follow so people will buy the books we’re selling? 

There’s nothing wrong with these questions—publishers and agents should be looking at them. They want to do right by their authors, and frankly, authors have to sell books in order to continue writing. So what happens then, as a writer, when the story you need to tell is out of fashion, by all accounts? Or when it doesn’t fit into the mold that people are comfortable with? 

In the seven years I’ve been actively working on getting published, I have been faced with this problem more often than not. My stories are too edgy, too different, too risky. I want to write religious fiction, but in a secular way. I don’t want my heroine to be saved by a man. I don’t really want to write romance. Why can’t I write about an assassin? Why can’t I write about vampires? Why can’t I write dystopian? The answer to these questions was always the same. Because that isn’t what sells. (Note: I’m talking about the Christian market here.)

There were many times when I thought about just doing what they asked. Giving in and writing what was popular. Now, please hear me when I say I have nothing against what is popular in Christian fiction. It’s beautiful and fantastic and I enjoy reading it! The only problem is that my heart was always pulling me in another direction, and in order for me to write authentically I had to follow my heart. So every time I heard, “This is fine, but I’m not sure it’s what’s right for the market,” I stood at a crossroads. Follow the advice of those who probably know better than you, or follow your gut. 

The decision wasn’t easy, because I really wanted to be published, I really wanted to write and make a living doing it. But I couldn’t ignore the calling in my spirit to be brave and follow the path less traveled. So I continued to write stuff that was outside the box and trusted that the leading in my spirit wouldn’t guide me astray. 

For me it was all a lesson in faithfulness—and trust. Trusting that if I was faithful to my calling then whatever purpose my calling was meant to have in the world would unfold, but I had to be faithful even in the hardest of times.  

Thankfully, I eventually found a publisher that was brave enough to jump off the ledge with me! I remember one of the first times we were at an event together, me and several representatives from my publisher. We were seated around a large round table, listening to the keynote speaker. She was an esteemed figure in the literary world, a top-ranked expert, and she said, “Don’t write or buy dystopian fiction; it’s on its way out.” I’m paraphrasing, of course, but it was something very similar to that. Fear exploded in my chest. I had just sold a novel fitting this exact description to the people sitting around me. I braved a glance at them and I was immediately encouraged. Their faces said, Don’t worry, we’ll prove her wrong. And I was thrilled to have continued to practice faithfulness in my craft. 


Write what your heart is telling you to. Follow the path even if you’re walking it alone. You never know where it will lead you, but if you are faithful to your calling, then you are exactly where you should be. 




What is your calling? Does it ever feel like the world is telling you there’s a right way to follow that calling, but your heart is leading you down another road?


The oldest daughter of New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker, Rachelle Dekker was inspired early on to discover truth through storytelling. She graduated with a degree in communications and spent several years in marketing and corporate recruiting before making the transition to write full time. She lives in Nashville with her husband, Daniel, and their diva cat Blair. 

Visit her online at www.rachelledekker.com.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rachelledekkerauthor
Twitter: @RachelleDekker

Instagram: @rachelle_dekker


Rachelle is featured in the current Christian Fiction Online Magazine too!
The Choosing (A Seer Novel)

Like all citizens since the Ruining, Carrington Hale knows the importance of this day. But she never expected the moment she’d spent a lifetime preparing for―her Choosing ceremony―to end in disaster. Ripped from her family, she’ll spend her days serving as a Lint, the lowest level of society. She knows it’s her duty to follow the true way of the Authority.

But as Carrington begins this nightmare, rumors of rebellion rattle her beliefs. Though the whispers contradict everything she’s been told, they resonate deep within.


Then Carrington is offered an unprecedented chance at the life she’s always dreamed of, yet she can’t shake the feeling that it may be an illusion. With a killer targeting Lints and corruption threatening the highest levels of the Authority, Carrington must uncover the truth before it destroys her.


Leave a comment for an opportunity to win a copy of The Choosing (which releases TODAY on Amazon!) Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.

76 comments:

Mary Preston said...

When a writer writes from the heart it translates well into the story.

Cindy W. said...

Great post Rachelle. To be honest to your calling speaks louder than words. Sometimes it is hard to not turnaround and go with what people tell you you should be doing. But when you are obedient to what God has called you too, that's when the blessings happen.

Have a blessed day!

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

Kara Isaac said...

Thanks for such a great post, Rachelle.

I think it always shows when a writer is writing what they feel called to write, rather than what they think will sell. The book that resulted in my first contract was also the one I was convinced no one would want because I had been told consistently for years that that type of story would never sell!

Looking forward to reading The Choosing :)

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Following your heart has created classics. Well said, Rachelle!

Welcome to Seekerville! I've put the coffee on and I've set out a nice selection of cinnamon-sugared fried cakes from a quaint Klondike attraction called Caribou Crossing. Let me just say that traveling thousands of miles to get to the Klondike was WORTH IT!!!

These are really good fried cakes! :)

Tina Radcliffe said...

Welcome, Rachelle! Chocolate croissants in your honor.

What a kick to have you here. Truly!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Now, let's get serious.

It takes some real guts to admit to the world that we write....romance..and inspirational romance at that. First hurdle.

Then staying true to our voice, our style, who we are and what we have to stay, even if that can mean doors closing. Yeah, this is a tough journey.

But you have to be able to be true to self in the end.

Wow, excellent post.

Tina Radcliffe said...

So, let's talk elephants in the room. I purposely did not read any of your interviews so I could ask a few questions of my own, granted they are probably not original.

1. Mixed blessing being the daughter of a famous writer?

2. Does anyone else in your family write?


3.How many books are in this series?

4. What else do you dabble in, writing wise when not working on dystopian new adult typle works?

Jackie said...

Thanks for such an inspiring post today. I usually spend some time with God before coming to Seekerville, and I'd just been praying about a direction I was being led, and the direction of my heart.

Congratulations on following your heart and getting published. Blessings!

Kav said...

I get so frustrated when people 'in the know' make sweeping statements like that. Readers are a diverse group and we don't all fit inside a publisher approved box. Love that you followed your heart and it has resulted in your debut novel. I'm looking forward to reading it. It's on my hit list now.

Kelly Bridgewater said...

Great post, Rachelle! I used the same title in one of my recent blog posts, so your title caught my attention. I agree. Write what God has plac3d.on your heart. Don't worry about the popularity of the topics. I would love to win a copy of your book! Have a great week.

Tina Radcliffe said...

No guts. No glory. No risk. No reward. Sometimes you have take pride in being a square peg.

Mary Hicks said...

Even if the outcome is less than hoped for, we have to follow our heart—that's the energy and fun in living!

The thing is to educate the heart.:-)

Following your heart takes faith and commitment. One thing we can always count on, either we grow or we learn a good lesson.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Good morning Rachelle and welcome to Seekerville. We are delighted to have you with us today and I especially love your topic. I have been writing out of the box for a while and you are so right. If it isn't you then it really isn't that interesting. Your inner passion comes through.

And often we are called to write and we think it is to be a best seller, but sometimes God uses our calling in many different ways. Its amazing.

Best wishes on your debut novel.

Jeanne T said...

Rachelle, it's encouraging to hear your story. And you book? Sounds amazing. I completely agree about writing where your heart leads you. I am learning how to do that. Though my stories aren't edgy, they reflect pieces of me.

Thanks for your uplifting words!

Janet Dean said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Rachelle! Your journey is inspiring. I'm called to write within the lines, but I'm thrilled that you are fulfilling your purpose by writing godly stories that impact readers longing to read outside the box. Wishing you all the best with your career!

Janet

Julie Lessman said...

WELCOME TO SEEKERVILLE, RACHELLE -- SO GREAT TO HAVE YOU HEAR!!

First of all, SUPER CONGRATS on your new book -- I'm with your publisher on this, most of the younger people I know LOVE Dystopian, and the truth is your publisher would not publish it unless they felt there was a market no matter how great a book is, so you go, girl!!

You said, "Write what your heart is telling you to. Follow the path even if you’re walking it alone. You never know where it will lead you, but if you are faithful to your calling, then you are exactly where you should be."

INCREDIBLY WISE WORDS for someone so young!! It took me almost 65 years to learn that lesson well, so I'd say you just saved yourself a lot of needless angst -- good for you!!

I wish you well in your career -- you're off to a great start for sure!

Hugs,
Julie

Megan Besing said...

Yes, I would love to win! Dystopian will always have a place near my heart. No matter what the market says. :)

Rachelle Dekker said...

Thank you Cindy!

Rachelle Dekker said...

I'm glad you followed your heart Kara. It can be tough, but as we both know, totally worth it!

Rachelle Dekker said...

Thanks Tina, for your kind words and the croissants (I haven't eaten breakfast yet, so those sound amazing). Yes, staying true to yourself is the battle we face everyday. Some days are better than others.

Myra Johnson said...

Welcome, Rachelle! Such a refreshing post! Attempting to follow market trends means we will always be several steps behind. And what will it matter, anyway, if we're not being true to what God has put upon our hearts to write?

Rachelle Dekker said...

Did someone say coffee and fried cakes?! I'm on my way!

Rachelle Dekker said...

Thank you Jackie!

Rachelle Dekker said...

Yes, there was a moment of panic at hearing her words, but I'm no good if I don't stay true to myself. The plunge was scary, but I'm thrilled I took it!

Can't wait to hear what you think of The Choosing!

Rachelle Dekker said...

I love this Tina!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Well, I love Dystopian, too.... And I love fantasy. Willow... Ladyhawke... Tolkien....

I think it's just plain fun to expand our imaginative sides into realms and let the public decide later.

But I also have a mortgage and I love the growing readerships of romance and inspirational stories.... and the fun I have with readers!

I think there's room to explore multiple worlds these days, and aren't we blessed to be here in these times of choices!

Rachelle Dekker said...

Here goes...

1.Yes, but more blessing because he's got really great advice
2. Yes, one of my younger sisters wants to write children's books
3. Three
4. I'm always in the realm of fantasy and sci-fi, anything that transports you to a different place.

Rachelle Dekker said...

Agreed, and wonderfully said!

Rachelle Dekker said...

Thank you Janet

Rachelle Dekker said...

I agree, makes for a better read every time!

Tina Radcliffe said...

How many potential writers are there in your family? Lol

Rachelle Dekker said...

Thank you Kelly.

Rachelle Dekker said...

Very true!

Rachelle Dekker said...

You're welcome! Thanks for stopping by.

Rachelle Dekker said...

Thank you so much Julie, and hugs right back!

Rachelle Dekker said...

Me too!

Rachelle Dekker said...

So true. Faith is everything!

Rachelle Dekker said...

Absolutely. For this season it's dystopian, but who knows where I'm headed after!

Dana R. Lynn said...

Hi Rachelle! I really enjoyed your post! I hope dystopian is around for a long time, because my kids and I love it. And finding an author who writes it while staying true to their faith...brilliant! I would love to win a copy of this book. And congrats on your sale!

Keli Gwyn said...

Hi, Rachelle! Kudos to you for following your calling. Writing without passion can lead to lackluster stories.

What's the biggest surprise you've experienced as an author?

Mary Connealy said...

Hi Rachelle.
I just got an email telling me The Choosing is now in my kindle. :)

My adult daughters love the dystopian books, Hunger Games and such. I always buy Christian versions of that if I can get my hands on that type of book to show them. I can't wait to read The Choosing.

Mary Connealy said...

PS in a lot of ways my 'romantic comedy with cowboys' is similar to your dystopian.

When I was pitching my books historicals were dead and NO ONE was writing western.

It was a hard sell. :)

Ruth Ann Dell said...

Hi Rachelle

Congratulations on your debut novel. I'd love to find out more about dystopian books so please enter me in the giveaway.

Best wishes

Ruth Ann Dell

Missy Tippens said...

Rachelle, welcome! I'm so glad you joined us today. I loved hearing about your journey. I'm so glad you've been able to realize your dream with a story written the way you felt called to write!

DebH said...

hi Rachelle
first? KILLER cover... I'd be checking out your book for that alone at first.

" if you are faithful to your calling, then you are exactly where you should be "

Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! Love this. My mom has always told us kids to do this, no matter our profession. So cool to see you following your calling. I hope your debut book sells great.

thanks for visiting Seekerville and giving us great food for thought. I would love to be in the draw for the Choosing. will have to mark it for purchase should I not be the fortunate winner.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Downloaded here too!!!!! 499 pages!!!! That's a big book!!!!!!

Tina Radcliffe said...

How long was this book in the making??

Ruth Logan Herne said...

When I look at the number of people in our country alone...

IN AMERICA...

318 MILLION PEOPLE...

And then you add in English speaking countries...

There is room for SO MANY GOOD WRITERS! I love that! To gather .005 of the readers, 5 thousandths of the American population would be 1.5 million readers.

Plenty to go around!

I think the crux is writing tight, writing well, and it doesn't hurt to be prolific and smile.

:)

Big teeth help spur that last!

Pam Hillman said...

Rachelle, so glad to have you in Seekerville. What a great, thought-provoking post.

Most of us come to cross-roads in our writing...well, more than once, actually. Been there, done that, and I know I will again.

Early in my career, I had to decide ABA or CBA. Okay, the lines might a bit blurred now with Indie publishing, but 20 years ago, it was sort of either/or if you wanted to keep up with which house was looking for.

Then, about the time I made the decision that I'd rather push a few envelopes than be pushed, historicals tanked and romantic suspense was popular, and I had one of each to final in the Golden Heart. Another crossroad. Another decision.

And there have been many more. Sometimes I've colored within the lines and sometimes without, and found satisfaction in both. :)

Hmmm, but usually there's more excitement in the latter! lol

Pam Hillman said...

Good grief, I should have proofed my last comment before posting.

But most of you are writers and/or readers.

Use your imaginations!

I would blame it on needing more coffee, but it's nearly 1 pm... ahem ...

Rachelle Dekker said...

Thank you so much!

Rachelle Dekker said...

Thanks Mary, I can't wait to hear what you think!

kaybee said...

Well, I learned last year from someone who knows that historicals aren't selling. Which is tough because those are what God has laid on my heart to write. So I've had decisions to make: do I write a contemporary romance or women's fiction that my heart isn't IN? Do I stay with nonfiction, which at least pays the bills? I decided to keep honing my craft through the historicals and see if a. the market would turn around or b. God would lay on my heart a contemporary or a women's fiction or a mystery or a suspense novel. SO...still writing, still waiting, still believing.
Kathy Bailey

Rachelle Dekker said...

Thank you. Probably the biggest surprise is how much other work it takes. It's not just about writing, that's only half the journey. The marketing it takes to get your book out there is more than I thought.

Rachelle Dekker said...

Thanks Ruth! Will do.

Rachelle Dekker said...

Thank you Missy, me too!

Rachelle Dekker said...

Thank you so much, I love the cover too. My team over at Tyndale Publishing did an amazing job!

Rachelle Dekker said...

I worked in it for little under a year (from outline to finished draft).

Rachelle Dekker said...

Haha, no problem. I understand needing coffee at all times of the day! Love your comments, thanks.

Rachelle Dekker said...

Smiling is always the key ingredient! 😄

Rachelle Dekker said...

This really touched me. I know exactly where you are, and I have been there. But you said it: you just have to "keep" believeing. Belief and faith really are everything! Good luck girl.

Chill N said...

RACHELLE, as a life-long square peg, I take heart from your post.

Having been told soooo many times that westerns are dead, I questioned what I was doing and why I had no interest in writing any other type of fiction. Finally I looked at western reader sites on the Internet. The genre is alive and well with a dedicated following. Now to finish the books and reach those dedicated readers :-)

Your book cover is fantastic. I particularly like the line under the title: "Not to be chosen would yield a cruel fate of my own making." It immediately makes a connection between the reader and the POV character. Wow!

Nancy C

Becky Dempsey said...

It is always good to stick to the calling that God gave you, even if it doesn't seem to be "in". And that goes for all facets of your life, too :)

Walt Mussell said...

Rachelle, welcome to Seekerville and congratulations on publishing the book your heart called you to write. I'll have to check your book out, as I love it when writers go off on the less traveled path. (It's one of the reasons I'm a fan of your Dad's, who I had the pleasure of meeting at a book signing once.)

Hope sales are great!

Olivia said...

Enjoyed the post from another Middle Tennessean! I sense the conflict in writing what's expected rather than what you are called to do. I am struggling with this as a novice, unpublished writer. Please include my name in the drawing for your wonderful new book, Rachelle.

Donna said...

Rachelle, I admire your tenacity! It is great that you produced what you desired to write instead of what seemed safe. The Choosing sounds very interesting!

Caryl Kane said...

HAPPY RELEASE DAY RACHELLE! I can't wait to read The Choosing.

Boos Mum said...

Great post. I personally like it when authors write what they want to write. I would enjoy winning your book.

Jes Drew said...

I personally love reading books with things like assassins, vampires, and dystopias in them. And I love writing stories with those same elements. Please enter me for the book drawing.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Rachelle, many thanks for spending the day with us. Come again any time!

The Artist Librarian said...

Don't enter me in the drawing today, since I have the pleasure to be a part of "The Choosing" blog tour (my post/review goes live on Sunday)! I have to say, dystopians and I have a mixed history (loved "The Hunger Games" trilogy, but forcing myself to finish the "Divergent" series) but "The Choosing" is AMAZING! Wonderfully written for a debut author and ... wow. So many topics touched upon --especially ones that relate to girls, women, and self-worth. =)

Debby Giusti said...

Wonderful! So glad you could be with us on Seekerville! Loved learning about your journey. You followed your heart and succeeded! Congrats.

Edwina said...

Rachelle,, excellent post. I find when I seem to be getting off track, if I will go back to my original call, I'm back where I need to be.

Please put my name in for the drawing!

Sarah Claucherty said...

I feel called to work as a writer in some way for faith-based nonprofit organizations (and to someday write children's fiction), but there are many more opportunities to take my skills in other directions....Your post is encouraging, and I look forward to reading your from-the-heart stories.

Now I need to go see if the local library has ordered your new release yet... :)

Carolyn Chambers Clark said...

I agree totally and was happy to hear you followed your heart.

Deanna Stevens said...

toss me into the drawing, I'd love to read this. I enjoyed meeting you Rachelle.. Blessings!