Monday, October 5, 2015

Plot-Characters-Faith-The Cord of Three Strands

By Mary Connealy
We are celebrating our BIRTHDAY MONTH!
In addition to these weekly prizes and the iPad Mini grand prize, I'm doing some giveaways too!

A signed copy of my newly released Fire and Ice, also a signed copy of the novella collection (released last year as 12 separate books, so you might have read some of them) The 12 Brides of Christmas, and an Amazon Gift Certificate in the amount of $28 (get it, 28? To celebrate our 8th birthday???)
This is a Bible verse we hear a lot at weddings.
But when you think of the most fundamental building blocks of a story, in the Christian market, you realize our novels are built with a cord of three strands.

Plot. Character. Faith.

Now I’ve had those conversations before—Is your book plot driven or character driven. And I get the difference between the two a little.
But I think, fundamentally, there really is no such thing.
Plot vs Character is just one of those things authors talk about while they struggle to put into words things that are just plain HARD to put into words.
I think of Jack Reacher. Now those stories are all about plot, but the character of Jack Reacher and how he responds to the plot are what make them unique.
How do you separate the two halves of this book. Without Jack Reacher the story would be completely different. But if someone didn’t start killing people right in front of him, I think Jack would honestly be a peaceable guy. I mean it’s not like he actually goes LOOKING for trouble, right? (well, maybe he’s a bit too eager when he finds any little bit of trouble, but still…)
I've you've read a Jack Reacher book, tell me, which are those books. Honestly, bottom line, the plot and character are so intertwined that the book doesn't exist without both.

The Wilde at Heart Series with women disguised as men, now that’s honestly character isn’t it? Their reasons behind it go to backstory, motivation, why they are there, so setting. All of these character traits are so fundamental to the plot -- how do you separate the two?

I don't blame you for worrying,
sometimes, it is said, Mary never really has a point!
This leads me to the point of the day!

I think Christian fiction can be so much more powerful than secular fiction. And it’s that third strand—Faith—that strengthens it. 
Back in the olden days, like 1970—you know the ancient times—romance novels, even without saying so, were guided by Christian principles. Heroines were virgins. Heroes were upstanding and honorable by Christian standards (they rarely even said cuss words).

Those were foundational parts of any book.

I often say that Gone with the Wind couldn’t be published today as a secular book because for all the madness swirling around in GWTG, there’s too much God in it.

The underpinning of faith gives the entire Christian book a depth. The hero is called to save the day, sure, but he has to do it with honor—as opposed to Jack Reacher making himself judge, jury and executioner—which I admit is extremely efficient.

Click to Buy
The heroine can be any type of character, a damsel in distress, a feisty lady rancher, a hard working business woman, a sweet, shy widow trying to raise two kids and hold down a stressful job, but she needs to do whatever she does with her Christian values in place (or if it’s a redemption story for either hero or heroine then they need to be moving toward their faith).
Click to Buy

And to me, the best of all is that the attraction, the sexual (<<< sorry!) tension still has power.
Remember Moonlighting? Will they/won't they? Remington Steele? Of course Christian fiction ask will they/won't they end up married so that's a little different, but still. As opposed to many books where the tension is 'will they/won't they' wait until the second date!
And you know what? Let's be honest here. There’s a huge market for secular books, I know it. I also know that many of those books have gone too far and that has created a fiction line for us.
Mary Connealy 
Who is holding off getting a 
new professional photo taken
she is thinner and younger 
and maybe a little bit smarter looking
Work for people who write books about faith. Books for people who prefer to read books that don’t go against our beliefs…in case our mothers would read it, you know? Or our children?

We write a cord of three strands

And it makes for stories that are not easily broken.
Let’s talk about the faith of our characters and how that shapes your book. How would your book be different, weaker, without the faith of your characters.

Because we are giving away a RIDICULOUS number of prizes, to the point almost everyone will win at least one, I hesitate to overdo it, HOWEVER if ever there was a time to overdo things, it’s during SEEKERVILLE BIRTHDAY MONTH!
So today if you leave a comment, you’ll get your name in the drawing for a signed copy of Fire and Ice, and a signed copy of The 12 Brides of Christmas. And, I'll toss in a $28 Amazon gift card. Three prizes, three winners.

Let’s talk about the faith of our characters.


  1. Just curious. What is the significance of the number 28 on that gift card?

    Something to ponder as I head to sleep. Or not sleep as my case would be.

  2. I get the 8, Tina, because it's our 8 th birthday...does she think it needs to be more than that? Mary, why not 58?
    Great thoughts, and things I look for in books. They're not what they used to be in the olden days of '70s!
    Great post. Thanks Mary. I read the 12 Brides of Christmas, but would love Fire & Ice!

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. I like the image of a 'braid'. It is all intertwined & if separated becomes something else.

  5. Hi Mary:

    I too am not a fan of the plot/character driven dichotomy. I prefer to think of novels as being conflict driven. With Christian fiction I tend to think in terms of conflict driven, faith guided and inspiration sustaining.

    I'm not a big of the 'faith' approach based on
    God having a plan and all will work out with prayer. This approach is not interesting to me.

    What I want in a faith guided novel is for the character's faith to guide his very hard spiritual and ethical decisions. That is, faith with pragmatic consequences. This is a proactive faith that inspires readers and sustains the character thru the valley of deepest despair. I want the faith to produce the consequences rather than for the consequences to generate the faith.

    BTW: I see Jack Reacher as being 100% pantsered and anticipation driven. Take 61 Hours. Each scene sets up an anticipatory event which is quickly resolved to the reader's delight. The plot in 61 Hours is so flawed that Lee Child never finished it. He just had the story end. To the degree there are plots in Jack Reacher books, the plots are the weakest parts of the book.

    Please put me in the drawing for an ebook copy of 12 Brides. I have a few of the novellas but not all of them.


  6. Most of the time, I think it's faith and characters driven. When I wrote something, it feels like my characters that are making the story of their own not me.
    But anyway, faith in a book would make good foundation for the characters.

  7. The card should definitely be $88! ;P

    And that is EXACTLY my reason for deciding on not getting a new author picture despite my hair is like 3 feet long again and my old pictures were taken during one of the three times in my life my hair was up to my shoulders. I need to thin down. My husband must thin down for a surgery he needs, so might as well join him, right? *frowny face as I contemplate my lost desserts*

    I think I've talked about this before, and on one of Mary's posts, or I'm having Deja Vu, but I used to want to write "spiritually light" or without much blatant faith in my books. But ha! Yeah, I can't get away from it, it just naturally comes out and I won't fight it. Though at least I avoid plopping down a mandatory preacher's sermon as the genre used to be riddled with.

    But I agree, the spiritual aspect gives it more depth. Kim Vogel Sawyer in a conference she spoke at told us all that it was normal to have a physical GMC and an emotional GMC, but she adds a Spiritual GMC as well, and I think that just makes your characters even more complex and realistic and well rounded. Because even non-faith people have a spiritual "how to understand the world and me in it" goal--or they should anyway if they want to be considered "deep." And seriously, some youtube/internet commenters really need to find themselves a spiritual improvement goal!!!

  8. I so appreciate the depth that faith adds to the fiction stories I read. I've even noticed that when I read a clean secular book, I miss the religious aspect! Keep up the great work ladies, and may you always have a growing audience to write for :)

  9. Great post Mary! But the 1970's are the "olden days"? I graduated from high school in 1970 so I guess the story is true...I'm old. :) But I don't feel old.

    The only books I buy these days are Christian based. But I do remember a time back in those olden days when I would pick up a book and like Mary said, the heroine was a virgin and there were no cuss words in the dialogue. God may not have been mentioned in those books but He was felt.

    Happy Birthday Seekerville!

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

  10. I absolutely agree that a faith component adds an added depth and richness to a story. And I'm very thankful that we've reached a point where that is more complex than plopping a sermon down somewhere in a story or having a convenient "conversion scene". In the book I'm writing at the moment the heroine doesn't have a faith and her exploration of this aspect makes the story so much better and her a much more three dimensional character than it would be if it was just all about whether she ends up with the hero :)

  11. Happy Birthday Seekerville...and many more :)

    Mary, an excellent always.

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  12. Good morning Seekers and may you have another great happy birthday celebration. Another great post Mary! Hey, I still remember the good old days but I've been exclusively reading the Christian market since the early 80s. I'm so thankful for the Christian market and the choices it offers. I still like virgin heroines by the way...seems like some of our markets are forgetting that...yeah I know it's a harsh reality but I still prefer pure heroes and heroines and that's my opinion.

    1. PS I have the books but you can put my name in the gift card drawing.

  13. Hi Mary,

    I prayed for you last night when I read the Bethany House blog. Congratulations on your new release!

    The spiritual theme of the story I pitched at ACFW was a cord of three strands is not easily broken.

    Thanks for sharing today. I love that you think plot and character and faith are all three are just as important as the other. (I think I need caffeine. Hope that made sense.) You make me not feel crazy that I've never been able to answer which was most important in my story.

    I hope you all have a wonderful day. What a great drawing! Awesome advice and prizes!

  14. Good morning Seekeville friends. Many years ago I used to read the regular non faith based romances. After reading the clean faith based romances there's no way I could even do that anymore. I appreciate a great clean faith based story by my favorite authors. Great post as always, Mary. I look forward to reading more of your books and a gift card is always awesome too. Yeah, how did you come up with the 28 ? I think a lot of inquiring minds want to know !
    Deanne Patterson

  15. I love that 3 strand imagery! And it truly is the faith of your characters that draws me. I love it when they grow in faith and deal with real issues as the plot progresses. It's something I can relate to and deepen my own faith along the way.

    Thanks for the giveaways. I'm so hoping for a win!!!!

  16. Good Morning, Mary!

    I just finished Tried and True. Loved it!!!! (And yes, I AM that far behind in my reading).

    Great advice as usual.

  17. .
    I thought Mary's $28 made perfect sense. $20 is her normal gift card and the $8 is a Birthday Bonus. As for pictures, I think Mary could change the dress color to red. The picture I like best is the one of Mary at a Conference in a red dress. Red adds spirit!

    Don't shop for a new photo, Photoshop your existing one.

  18. I really enjoy the three strand concept. We use it to prove how a marriage will not fall apart, why not use it to prove the strength of our stories? I want to find a quote (need to read through a second time) and post it where I can see it when I write. Thank you Mary for giving me something to hang onto for the beginning of the week. :)

  19. This post gives me a lot to think about. Thank you! Thanks for the generous prizes as well. Happy birthday month, Seekerville!

  20. Hi Mary,
    I appreciate your perspective of faith being the strand in the cord that holds Christian fiction together. In natural terms a rope is never stronger than its weakest link, but not so when faith is one of the three strands, it makes the other two strands stronger.

    In the olden days, also know as the dark ages, I've read a few non-faith based books. One thing's for sure, they eventually leave a believer with a flat feeling, no matter how good or well written, because even in our love of fiction we're looking for something of value with eternal significance.

    I'm smiling at all of the giftcard comments, anything over $8 is a bonus in my book ;)
    Count me in on your triple generous prize drawings, thanks!

  21. MARY,
    I like your three-strand concept. These elements should be present in Christian fiction, and are what sets it apart. Because these elements are also present in our lives, and set US apart.
    The other three-strand concept I look for in my writing and others' is the trio of the physical challenge, the emotional challenge and the spiritual challenge. I try to have one of each at least for the H and H, and sometimes for secondary characters, especially if I know they're taking a bigger part in the next book.
    If we know our characters it will come, either organically or through a LOT of work.
    I am on vac. this week and expect to do more with my "real" writing, yay. God is blessing. I may even have my daughter (who works in TECH SUPPORT, how blessed is that) come over and help me change my profile photo from the Rice Krispies Christmas tree.
    Will probably check in later,

  22. HELLO MARY, Great post! Thank you so much for writing clean, Christian fiction. Reading about the faith struggle of fictional characters helps me in my own walk. It gives me a different perspective.

    Please put me in the draw for FIRE&ICE and the gift card.
    psalm103and138 at gmail dot com

  23. Hi Mary! I'm a reader - not a writer - and I read both secular and Christian fiction although I tend to avoid romances that aren't faith based. And I find myself leaning toward cozy mysteries because they still let their characters attend Church and have cleaner language and less violence, but my favorites are the Christian based suspense and romance novels. We have a great library at my Church and the librarian stocks a wonderful selection of Christian fiction as well as non-fiction and has introduced many of us to the world of Christian suspense and romance. Anyway - she got me hooked! I've never read a Jack Reacher novel but guess I need to try one! Please include me in the drawings for the give-a-ways!

  24. Mary, I love writing the faith element of my stories. The faith strand adds depth to the characters and impacts their role in the plot, often adding conflict. Best of all, the faith strand enhances or determines the story's take away, its purpose for being told.

    Generous giveaway today. Go you!


  25. The editors and agents at the M&M Conference talked about wanting sweet romances and the readers' desire for wholesome reads. I like that trend.

    As a writer, adding a faith element allows me to go more deeply into my characters. Often their need for love and acceptance centers on their need for God.

  26. Happy Birthday Seekerville!!

    Mary, you are so generous....THANKS....please put me in for the gift card!

  27. Mary, you pegged why I read Christian fiction, almost exclusively. I appreciate the faith thread that weaves the stories together. And I appreciate not having to sift through profanity or sex scenes, when I read a romance. I was reading a mystery series years ago . . . actually, I was listening to them. Hubby and I were on a road trip and I popped one of the books in. I was so embarrassed when a sex scene came up! I wondered what he thought about my reading tastes. :)

    Christian fiction offers us safe, shareable stories. And it offers us as writers to share things about Jesus that may encourage our readers.

    Great post!

  28. HI Mary Great post today and so true. Truly real people need to deal with the spiritual aspect of their lives as well. We hear so much about feeding our bodies healthy food and feeding our minds healthy thoughts. But rarely do we hear about feeding our spirit. We are three as well, mind, body, spirit. So our characters need the spiritual element as well.

    The objection I have to a lot of Christian fiction is that is just isn't real. I get tired of heroes and heroines that are widows or widowers because that is the only way they can be older and be "Christian". I really like stories that deal with real issues and that show how to overcome them using Christian values. When the hero and heroine have to be perfect "Christian" to start with, it makes for a rather boring story. in my humble opinion.

    Another thing I have a problem with is didactic Christian fiction. I am reading a book now and it was so wonderful until we get almost to the end and had to have a whole preaching scene of why the hero and heroine had to be one particular religion. Ruined the story for me because before that, they were showing their worth in who they were by their actions-godly Christians in spite of their specific denomination.

    So while I love the faith element in a story, I really want it to be real. I want it to show real struggles we all have with our faith. And how we get through them.

  29. KB Have fun with your daughter and get that photo. We are with our brother-in-law and he is very techo. He is helping hubby who is totally non-tech learn how to use his "toys." We are so blessed to have young people around aren't we?

    btw, whenever I have a tech issue I go look for a young person. chuckle.

  30. Good morning, Mary! Even before I was writing "inspirational," I found that my stories held that third element--faith. It was in there, even if subtly, to glue the story together, to strengthen and round out the core character of the hero and heroine. It deepens the story and adds another dimension to goal, motivation and conflict. I read "inspirational" and "secular" novels--and enjoy both. I don't like to be beat over the head with 'faith' elements, but sometimes of the non-inspies I find myself thinking--"this is a wonderful story but it could have gone so much deeper."

  31. I'd love to be in the drawing for book and giftcard. I love your books.

  32. I am answering Tina's question without reading Mary's answer, because I know what the answer is...

    She changed her intended $20 gift card into $28 so that the $8 increase would honor our birthday.

    Now I must post this and run and see if I am, indeed, correct.


    Egotistical Yankee Know It All

  33. Excellent post, Mary! In a well-written book, how can you possibly separate plot from character--or in a Christian novel, from the faith element? For the story to work, they must be woven together seamlessly.

    SANDRA, I am in complete agreement with you on the didactic issue. I thing that's why I avoided Christian fiction for many years--too many of those contrived salvation scenes that seemed to be required elements. I'd much rather read (and write) about true-to-life characters who struggle with faith but still ultimately trust that God is there for them and carrying them through the hard times.

  34. Vince and I are in serious agreement!

    WHO KNEW???? $20 Plus Bonus $8!!!!

    I like Jagears' look at $88, though! Laughing!

  35. I love birthday month!
    Who doesn't love parties?

    I agree that Christian romance has so much more to offer than secular books. That faith thread heightens conflict. I used to read a lot of secular books, but I don't know if I could ever go back.

  36. I hope there is a trend continuing toward sweeter romance for folks who aren't into a more sensual read.

    I love the emotion of romance, and I remember those 70's books, too! Where the story was so much more than a bridge from sex scene to sex scene.

    So I agree with this post, that the surge to more sensual and sexy reads opened the door wide for Christian fiction, and that's the age-old pendulum, doing its "swing", just like it's supposed to.

    Mary, that verse is perfect, and I love the look of the three-cord... bound and woven.

  37. I have gotten to the point where I will rarely read anything that is not a "Christian" book. I guess I have become so used to it, anything else offends my moral standards and I can't enjoy reading it. My son asked me to read a book series he was reading so we could discuss it. Now, I would do most anything for my son but oh my goodness, not that it was awful or anything but I just kept thinking, Silly characters, you should be praying about this instead of whining. Books without faith elements might as well not have characters or plot. They just don't get it. OK, now I'm starting to sound like Mary, which indeed, is a very good thing! Love your females trying to make everyone think they are men. Can't quite do it, can they?

  38. Kara Isaac, what you said is positively brilliant. "More than plopping down a sermon or a conversion scene..."



    Where the human struggles are entwined and not planted.

    Perfectly stated.

  39. Deanne Patterson, I agree. I used to read a lot of secular romance before I was writing, and I can appreciate the talent of so many of those authors, but then it seemed... like the plots weren't deep enough in so many ways, and that the people's issues were superficial... But I think the change was more in me, that I wanted deeper stories, like the ones I loved in the 70's and the ones that set an example of sacrificial love.

    So this has been a wonderful door opening for us!

    And I don't read secular romance often, with a few fave author exceptions.... and I do read a lot of real-life based stories. I like to see the story behind the story, and then imagine "What If????"

    Like the Kratt brothers, on Wild Kratts only they're so much cooler when they do their "WHAT IF????" pose!!!

  40. I like the image of three strands because the best stories are the ones where you can't pick them apart. Who the characters are at the core is naturally influenced by their faith (or lack thereof) and that influences the plot and decisions they make.

    But I agree about skipping the preachy, conversion scenes. While my characters might end up sitting in a church service at some point or get convicted by a verse they read, their real faith is lived out in the everyday struggles like being kind when they'd rather be snarky or stepping out of comfort zone to do something difficult.

  41. Great post, Mary! I enjoy reading and writing stories that contain the element of faith. Without faith, how does one survive in this world today?
    Awesome giveaways...thanks!

  42. OH MY GOSH!!!!!!!!!

  43. I suppose I should have don $88, Teenster, but I'm just too cheap.
    Sorry. :)

  44. Janet I like that image. I was thinking of a broken cord or braid but what about one that just comes unraveled and is then three separate things.
    That's a great comment, thank you.

  45. Mary
    I understood the extra $8 with the $20 Amazon card. I think Tina's brain was just tired.

    I, too, agree with many of the commenters. Clean secular romances do seem to be missing something without the Spiritual element. The HEA is a bit... empty. Not quite as satisfying as the Inspy HEAs. My two cents... I love the braided, three strand cord imagery.

    I've got all those books offered in the prize package, but would love a shot at that Amazon card. The Gupster has his eye on certain toys these days since his birthday is in ten days. He'll be a big, grown up six. (and he's not sure he wants to be "grown up" because he likes some of those "momma's baby" benefits *heh*).

  46. Vince I thought the ending of 61 hours was strange. But (can't remember the title) the Reacher book set in Nebraska was just plain odd. The 'thug henchmen' for the bad guys were former Nebraska Cornhusker Football players.

    I know I'm a Husker fan so call me prejudiced but good grief, of all people to have as bad guys. Especially the former players FROM Nebraska. Especially the former players from RURAL Nebraska.

    These kids are the salt of the earth, not to mention lifelong heroes. They aren't even potential criminals because the Husker background pretty much guarantees them work and fame for life.

    It's almost like Lee Child Googled Nebraska and took the Cornhusker hit and decided to play with it, with almost no knowledge of even what a Cornhusker was besides a football player.

    I wonder if all the states he sets his work in agree with that?

  47. I had this conversation (kinda-sorta) with my husband's 95 yo grandmother yesterday. We were talking about the faith element in my books, and then I went on to tell her about the watershed events in the late 1970s, early 1980s that led to a genre specifically labeled Christian fiction.

    And GWTW is a good example of a book that would probably have had a hard time being "shelved" in the last 30 years of publishing. But, then, NOW we're in the indie, ebook revolution where that's changed again. I wonder how it would be shelved if Margaret Mitchell was a fresh, new voice today?

    Interesting to think about. :)

  48. Evelyn that is it exactly, the characters are REAL enough that how they handle the plot is unique to them. Another character could live the same story but it would be a DIFFERENT story.

  49. Melissa I actually had an editor (who did NOT buy my book) sort of good natured-ly yell at me for the sermon in the middle of my book.
    No more of that. Unless I can make it really funny.

  50. Heidi you know what this reminded me of?
    Has anyone read Tuesdays with Morrie?
    It was a huge seller about this old dying man and the young man who came every Tuesday for the last year of his life and the two of them discussed this wise old man's life and death in great, emotional detail.

    So, okay. I read it. And I read the commentary of how cool and deep and WISE this book was...about life and death. A bold look right in the face of death and how Morrie felt about it.

    You know what? Not one mention of faith or God or afterlife.

    Okay if you don't believe then that's your choice, but to never discuss it? Never even mention it--even in a negative manner? To pretend like it's not even part of the conversation in a year long discussion about death?

    I just found that weird.

  51. Hey Mary, You actually slept in??? Good for you. I'm glad you got some good sleep. Now you'll be energized to stay up all night tonight and write another great story. chuckle

  52. Good point Mary about Tuesdays with Morrie. You would think it would at least have come up.

  53. Mary, I feel as though the spiritual thread feeds heavily into the characters arch (GMC). Their goal, if they are a spiritual person, will be a moral one. Their motivation may or may not be Godly. If not that may change in the course of the story as they grow. And often times the conflict is of a worldly nature that they must handle within their beliefs.

    As far as plot vs character, I think that choice falls more to the reader. Am I more into the story because I feel emotionally connected to the hero and/or heroine? Or is the "what ifs" of the story most intriguing? But, best of all is when you get both!

    Please enter me, thanks!

  54. Pammers Way too much thinking for a Monday. But I agree. Would be interesting.

  55. Deb H Happy birthday do the Gupster. October birthdays are wonderful. My hubby's birthday is this month also. Gotta love October.

    Happy Birthday Seekerville. Can't say enough how thankful I am for my Seeker friends and Villagers.

  56. Cindy W, I graduated in 1974. I can remember the first book I ever read when the hero and heroine...not yet married....swung the bedroom door shut....WITH BOTH OF THEM INSIDE IT!!!!!!
    I was shocked and it was so totally OFF the page and still obvious.

    Wow talk about a slippery slope.

  57. Kara, I even mostly skip wedding scenes.
    I have them only if I've got a very LIVELY idea for it like the wedding in Now and Forever, with all the mountain men talking during the 'service'. They got married outside when they were found together thus compromised, after being lost, alone, together for five days.

    And in Fire and Ice when Gage, knowing his intended very well, subtly slides his hand up her back and closes it around her neck and squeezes until she says I DO.

  58. Hi karenk, thanks for stopping in for the longest birthday party EVER!!!!!!


  59. Good for you, Bettie. And you are NOT alone. That's why there is a market for our books and PRAISE THE LORD FOR THAT!

  60. And you're in for the drawing, Bettie. Thanks for getting the books. I appreciate it.

  61. Jackie, sweetie, feeling crazy is a REQUIREMENT if you're gonna be a writer.

    (at least I sure hope it is!)

  62. Deanne...I was just trying to use an EIGHT somehow.

    I seem to remember Tina telling us we need to use an EIGHT in our blog somehow, and since I did THREE, well, maybe I should .... well forget it.

    IT was the only 8 I could think of.

    Although for a while this post was named CRAZY EIGHT....but I couldn't figure out which of the Seekers I'd leave out.

  63. Kate I am always sort of amazed at the faith that pops up in my books. To me, I don't exactly plan it, but it's just part of REAL, so how can it not come in?

    I know I once wrote a book VERY CONSCIOUSLY trying to emphasize the overarching moral plot and then, toward the end, I realized my point wasn't going to have anything to do with the moral plot I'd been emphasized.

    I had to go back and find all those 'points' and change them. I believe that might've been when I gave up plotting.

  64. Hi Ruth:

    Great minds and all!

    Is was not worried about posting the "$28 Solution" before Mary got to it and gave away the answer. I was worried about beating you! We almost had to check the instant replay.

    The Yankee season is tomorrow!

  65. HI ROSE! I wish you were coming to St. Ansgar with me this weekend.
    Does anyone live near St. Ansgar Iowa? I'm going to a writer's retreat there this weekend at the Blue Bell Inn. A bed and breakfast owned by an author who I met at an ACFW Conference. Magnificent old Victorian house, beautifully restored and decorated.
    It's Friday evening and all day Saturday.
    I don't know if it's full or not but if anyone is available you should come.

  66. Good point on Gone With the Wind . . . it would pretty much have to be published under Christian fiction today due to all the God references. But then there'd be an outcry, because Scarlet, even though she finally figures some things out in the very end, doesn't exactly finish the book with an abiding faith (or a happy ending). At least to my recollection. Thus very few people would be happy with it.

    I guess it's a good thing it was published when it was.

  67. Vince you liked my red dress?
    Well, thank you. It was a very daring choice for me.
    But then that's me. Always super BRAVE!

  68. Aw Kelly you sweet thing.
    Be careful when you talk about 'cords' and 'hanging' in the same comment!

  69. Thanks for stopping in Sally. We give daily prizes, weekly prizes and a grand prize, so EVERYONE!!! keep us in mind all month, for the fun as well as the prizes.

  70. Here's me being a bit off topic, Tracey, but you made me think of this.

    Remember the show Two and a Half Men? When the little boy grew up and he quit the show because he had found a personal faith and the show was making him do things he personally objected to?

    Remember that they just plain wiped him out of the show?
    I always though how smart it would have been if they'd left him in and had him BE that person of faith. Imagine how he could have been the brains of those three men. Imagine him coming in and mocking his dad and Uncle Charlie for their ridiculous choices.
    It could have been really FUNNY and brought a completely new dimension to the story without ruining it at all.

    But they never even considered it.
    "Oh, you're not willing to sleep with older women and smoke pot and make jokes about that? Well, then, you're fired."

    I honestly consider that a lack of talent, almost as if those writers just had no idea what a person like that would even say or think.

  71. Mary, I love this post. I think the strongest books I have ever read are when you have the faith element completely woven into the character and plot. Then you don't have a preachy section that the readers skip over.

    I would love to be entered in all 3 drawings.

    I have a question for any one. The book I finished last week was written in Journal style. I have in mind for it to be a series and have ideas for two more books. What I am wondering is do I have to do the whole series in a journal style. That is very difficult to do and I am thinking it would not be appropriate for the next two stories.

    Have a great week everyone!

  72. kaybee, this is great.
    the trio of the physical challenge, the emotional challenge and the spiritual challenge

    Very well put.

  73. NOT THE RICE KRISPIE WEDDING CAKE, KAYBEE!!!!! Although I will admit to wondering what you look like! :)

  74. Vince, I cannot even justify how my team has played the past few weeks....

    I'm almost rooting for HOUSTON because they've been such underdogs!

    And you should hear me scolding the boys in pinstripes! If someone was paying me 20,000,000 per year.... I WOULD HIT THE BALL.


    I like fiction because I can control what happens in fiction!!!!! :)

  75. Caryl, you're welcome. You know, I wrote for YEARS with my eyes on the secular market, because I got published, just because I didn't know there WAS a Christian market.
    This was before Google and the only bookstores were far away and I didn't know there were Christian bookstore. (maybe there weren't any???)

    Then when I discovered Christian fiction I went and checked all these books I'd written and it was so EASY to convert them all (HAH I converted my books to Christianity, that strikes me as very funny)

    BUT MY POINT IS, the faith was there. The Characters were behaving as Christians, the faith was just unspoken. But rewriting it to speak the Christian faith out loud was SIMPLE.

  76. LOVES TO READ we just LOVE readers here at Seekerville, you are just so utterly welcome to come all the time. YAY!

    There are so many sub-genres in Christian fiction. Who's the Christian Jack Reacher? Anybody got that?

  77. Hi Janet, I love it too. It just gives the story a firm foundation, just as it gives our lives a firm foundation.

  78. I love the fact that I can read a wholesome novel without all the gratuitous extras some authors and publishers think I need to read about when in reality they believe that without it the book wouldn't sell. A good author writes a story without it!

  79. Oh, and 'Loves to Read' let me add this.

    Christian fiction has tried (with mixed success) to launch cozy mystery lines.
    I wrote three cozy mysteries for Barbour Publishing.

    One of the reasons I think they struggle is because secular cozy mysteries are just pretty darned sweet. Thus there is no great outcry to 'give us a clean version of this'.

  80. Debby I've heard of the growth in Clean Reads and it sort of makes me want to laugh. Even for secular readers the books have gone too far, too sexual, too immoral in other ways.

    Can we just have a break from the bedroom and SOMEONE tell us a STORY!!!???

  81. HI JACKIE SMITH! You're in the drawing! Thanks for stopping in!

  82. Jeanne, one of the most wonderful things I ever hear about my books is a mom saying, "My daughter and I both love your work."

    Or... "My mother and I read them together."

    I just love that, the idea that my writing can reach across generations.

  83. Sandra such good points. And I think MOST authors try very hard to NOT do that. But yes, it does happen.
    Maybe those books are for someone else besides you. I always hope the different books are there to reach a certain audience, even maybe an audience of one person in need.

  84. GLYNNA yes, that is exactly how I was with my writing.

    It never made sense to me that I live my life as a faithful wife, a mother who is trying to raise children with Christian beliefs, and then I'd go write a book that defied all those beliefs.

    To me it was the equivalent of Peter denying Jesus three times. (another THREE!?)

  85. Hi cathyann40! You're in the drawing!

  86. Ruthy seriously, are you writing comments on Seekerville and NEGLECTING YOUR BRAND NEW GRANDDAUGHTER?

    Your priorities, girl! We need to talk!

  87. Connie! Hi!
    So you liked my blog post, huh?

    Obviously we haven't listened to Ruthy yet. I'm sure she'll clear your thinking!!!!


  88. Cindy, no LOL my female characters soon admit defeat (one at a time of course)
    They realize since they moved west they've hung around with each other but avoided town and WHY?????
    Because they know their disguises won't hold. They've been kidding themselves that they are 'getting away with it'.

  89. Ruthy...and Kara...the thing is for a Christian, yes salvation is the cornerstone, but there is still so much to learn, so much to MAKE of yourself after you've begun living faithfully.

    There are countless books to be written for the faithful that don't include conversions.

    Plus out where my books are set, it's hard to find a preacher and listen to a sermon. Town is 40 miles away.

  90. I've never heard of the Kratt Brothers? Ruthy have you been holding out on me?

    I like non-romance suspense and detective fiction so I read that out of Christian fiction because yeah, there's cussing and an occasional 'romantic interlude' but mostly they're just chasing bad guys. and some of them do it VERY WELL.

  91. Which reminds me VINCE .......
    I read all three John PUller novels. (this is David Baldacci) Have you read Memory Man? That was a good one. Strange but cool. I think that's setting itself up for a series. I hope so.

  92. Candee Flick, you know I do sometimes redeem characters.

    In Over the Edge, though maybe no one noticed (HAH! That's bad) I gave the hero Seth a conversion scene.

    And I redeemed a secondary character Myra in the Wild at Heart series.

    Sorry Myra but I started her with being a truly bad guy, beyond (yeah, I know, no one is BEYOND!) but you know what I mean beyond redemption in that she was the BRAINS of the bad guys. A truly, fully embraced crook.
    Then I thought of someone it'd be cool to have her fall in love with and I had to go back and rewrite her with dimensions, which is the way I should have written her to begin with) and redeemable.

  93. Jill we see how people survive and it's often not a pretty pictures.
    Faith makes a difference, but some are blind to what they lack.

  94. HAPPY BIRTHDAY GUPPY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    (in ten days of course) LOL

    Yay! you've got yourself a little cutie there.

    Your name's in the drawing for the gift card and thanks for already having the books. I appreciate that.


  96. Pam, I don't know Margaret Mitchell, but I'll bet an editor would've told her to 'take God out of it and we'll publish'
    And she would have. Problem solved.

  97. Sandra that's the point, whether you're a Believer or not, it would have come up.

    I just thought that was the 800 pound gorilla in that book.

  98. Donna you put that so well. If being Christian is simply WHO THEY ARE then that's part of everything they do. It's a guiding principle, the wheel that steers the ship.

    Well said.

  99. Rachael, I'd say you're right about Scarlett not exactly becoming a loving, devoted Christian.

    That's a safe statement. Ah, Scarlett. She was a troublemaker before the war, then things got worse.

  100. Wilani, my first reaction is, Write the book you want to write in the style that fits the story. Go for it.

  101. Ruthy and Vince my brother is a life long CUBS FAN. You can imagine how excited he is!

  102. And by the way I only know the CUBS must be winning, cuz he told me.
    This is baseball we're talking about, right?

  103. Good point Mary, There might be someone who does need to read that book. Glad it isn't me. LOL

    But you're right. Can't be judgmental as that isn't Christian is it?

  104. Good afternoon, Seekerville! I agree completely, Mary, that plot and character and faith are completely interwoven. In my February debut, the hero comes from a background of abuse and violence and anger. Also in his background, he becomes a Christian which, he thought, saved him from his issues of anger. Enter the heroine. Now, he's in a position in which he needs to protect the heroine, and he's thrust into the conflict of uncertainty as to whether he's really saved. All three woven together. I can't imagine having written the book without the plot, that particular hero, and the spiritual conflict.

  105. Thank you for a wonderful article!!

  106. I guess if I want to be the real heroine of a novel, I'm going to have to write it myself.

    But really. Who names a heroine Myra??????? No, they get names like MARY and RUTHY and TINA.

  107. Hi Ruth:

    They may pay a guy $20,000,000 to hit the ball but someone else is paying another guy $20,000,000 to keep the first him from hitting the ball. The result is the game stays the same but the box seats I paid $3.50 for in 1956 now cost $400.

  108. Sandra maybe we can't be judgmental but we can sure pick the books we like and don't like!!!!

  109. Meghan I just went and pre-ordered your book. What a great kind of tension.

    It's called Under Duress (Love Inspired Suspense) releasing February 2016.

  110. I S. Triesche. If you come back, tell me how to pronounce your name.

    And remember UNUSUALLY SPELLED NAMES are fantastic when it comes to getting a website.

    No one ever pronounced Connealy right, not at first. I've learned to be a good sport about that. I just answer to anything close.

  111. Mary: I have "Memory Man" on hold at the library on both the large print copy and the eBook. Linda wants the large print. I have not read it.

    You know, I think of John Puller as the ethical Christian version of Jack Reacher. But then, Debby has created true 'John Puller' Christian characters. Same job, same rank. That's pretty close! Brava Debby!

    Seekers who read 'John Puller' novels need to mention in their Amazon reviews how they read Baldacci books between the publication of Debby Giusti books. That will keep LI busy.

  112. Sorry Myra.
    Really when I name a character Myra I really have trouble because I spell it Mary all the time. it just comes out the ends of my fingers.

    PS I have a secondary character in my current proposal, not yet accepted, named Myra Blake. Jack and Myra Blake. I am now planning to make a character named Myra in every book I write....UNTIL YOU ARE HAPPY!

  113. Speaking of Baseball!

    I want to know what Missy thinks of those commercials of Buster Posey coming into the hospital room, in full uniform, to deliver a fan's wife's baby. She wants a real doctor. The husband wants Buster to handle the delivery. It's so funny that I have no idea what is being advertised.

  114. Vince I've seen it, it's hilarious.

    "Honey, you're embarrassing me in front of Buster Posey." LOL

    Vince, have you seen the t-shirt with a picture of Buster on it that says, "Thou Shalt Not Steal."

    Pretty cool, even a Bible verse.

  115. Mary:

    That's funny. Whenever I type 'Myra' it comes out 'Army'. I also always type "Writer's End" for "Winter's End". Fingers just seem to have a mind of their own.

  116. Vince, I see your point... except when it's the Yankees.

    In that case the expectation of success goes beyond the mere dollars and cents of the current situation.

    Hence the #28.

    I'm beyond annoyed with them right now, September and October are NO TIME TO SLUMP.

    And I want to know who the older woman is who sits behind home plate in Toronto (at least for the Yankee games) so well-dressed, very cordial to the waiters that bring food, and loves baseball.

    I want to be her friend.

    I am not the only person wondering about her, when I Googled her, it seems others have, too.

    We must all be freaks, Googling strangers.

  117. Is it Guppy's birthday? For real?????

    Happy birthday, my precious little friend!!!!

  118. Mary, I agree that all three strands are woven together.....and I like reading .....and writing ......books containing faith.

    I love the faith-filled books that challenge me to be better in my walk with God.

    Thank you for putting my name in for the birthday celebration gifts!

  119. Baby Magdalena Ruth (have to get that middle name in!) is home with her mom and dad, and her brothers and I'm working.

    But I had to take a break and I had to check Seekerville and ONE OF US DIDN'T SLEEP IN TODAY...

    Um, that would be ME and so I had to talk to people until you got up, had your coffee, read three newspapers, weaned some calves and built a new barn or something.

    And you have a new granddaughter, too.... They're so stinkin' cute!!!!


    You said, "Back in the olden days, like 1970—you know the ancient times—romance novels, even without saying so, were guided by Christian principles. Heroines were virgins. Heroes were upstanding and honorable by Christian standards (they rarely even said cuss words)."

    WOW, I never thought of that, but you're right! Some of my favorite movies were the Doris Day movies, where Doris was always the all-American wholesome virginal girl, who always got her guy in the end! BOY, OH BOY -- NOT ANYMORE!!

    Today, secular romance is often so shallow and false that it actually both depresses and angers me. (Really? A billionaire Greek god who can sleep with any woman and does so regularly falls desperately in love with a gal who jumps in the sack with him immediately and THEN wants to commit to her and her alone? Oh, and he's rich, handsome, a player and STILL a truly wonderful guy as well??? Yeah, that happens every day ...)

    You said, "Let’s talk about the faith of our characters and how that shapes your book. How would your book be different, weaker, without the faith of your characters."

    Well, I can pretty much say that without the faith of my characters, there would be no books. Period. Because everything I write revolves around God, almost as if He is another main character in the story. Which is why I was asked to dial WAY back the spirituality in my most recent book, IOH, because too much spirituality today is not a big seller, even in the Christian market, apparently. :| SIGH.


  121. Make me rich, famous, young, beautiful, good, and kind, and I'll be happy.

    That would work in real life, too.

    Just sayin'.

  122. MARY SAID: "Remember Moonlighting? Will they/won't they? Remington Steele? Of course Christian fiction ask will they/won't they end up married so that's a little different, but still. As opposed to many books where the tension is 'will they/won't they' wait until the second date!"

    LOL ... how true is that!! I LOVED series like Moonlighting and Remington Steele and miss them.

    YOU ALSO SAID: "There’s a huge market for secular books, I know it. I also know that many of those books have gone too far and that has created a fiction line for us."

    AH, YES ... the proverbial silver lining! All things -- even mommy porn -- works out for good for those who love God and are called according to His purposes! :)


  123. Great post as usual, Mary. I love everything you write! I just won your Fire & Ice - can't wait to read it! Can I possibly win again???? :) ha ha! Loved your post! I love reading books with the faith component! It helps me through the day keep better thoughts! We need them with the way the world is going today! Sorry about your bad shoulder! Hope it heals, girl!

  124. I appreciate all you authors who include faith as an important part of your books. I think faith adds demension, a richness that secular novels lack. Probably 90% of the books I read are Christian fiction. I am glad I have so many great books to choose from.

  125. I like it when a Christian romance shows the character's acting on their faith. I judge books for a secular contest each year and because the majority of the books I read are Christian it always throws me when there's no one relying on their faith. It's just not the same without that vital part of the thread.

  126. Valri the fact that you won this book on Seekerville YESTERDAY, may work against you. LOL But you're definitely in the drawing.

  127. Julie I was so addicted to Remington Steele it's a little embarrassing to admit it. I loved that show to an unseemly degree.

  128. What a hoot reading today's comments. I love it! I was glad I had commented earlier as Mom decided she wanted to go out to breakfast. And we just got home now. Yes, not only was breakfast a long one, because we met friends from down south, but we drove an hour to get there, and since we went so far we couldn't not do some business while there!

  129. Hi Pam, well, sweetie as a writer of Christian fiction I sincerely THANK YOU for reading Christian books!!! YAY!!!

  130. Jamie I do a bit of judging for a few contests. And let me tell you...I too have been SHOCKED!!!!!!

  131. Marianne, a day with Mom is never wasted!
    Thanks for stopping back in!

  132. This is an awesome giveaway, and I would use this to buy thomas and friends and garth brooks. I like the one with the pictures of the woman in hat. :)

  133. So does Garth Brooks write romance now?? If so I am in trouble because he has friends in low places!

  134. I know what you mean about being shocked! One year this particular contest added a children's books section. I jumped at the chance to judge them thinking I'd pass them on to my kids who love to read. When we were done with them we donated them to the library but had to warn the Librarian to check them over first. I didn't want to be held responsible for given some poor kid nightmares for the rest of their life.

  135. Oh, I LOVED Remington Steele! I watched every episode! Thanks for reminding me about that! Ah....Pierce Brosnon......yummy :)

  136. TINA, you are hilarious, I was kinda thinkin the same thing, lol

  137. Vince, I love you thoughts on the faith and consequences approach. I'll be thinking on that one as I plan the next story idea. :)

  138. Mary, I'm still laughing at your heading under your head shot. LOL Yeah, I'm waiting for younger and thinner, too. :) The bad thing is that the younger is probably easier than the thinner!


  139. I read both secular and Christian books and like them all. But when I write, I find I tend to have at least one character who has a faith journey. And often, it has something to do with what God is teaching me at the time. :) Of course, maybe I shouldn't admit that. LOL

  140. I loved your comparison of Lee Child's character Jack Reacher. Lee does write a fast paced plot, but Jack's character and quirks sure do come through. Faith is the most important part of a Christian novel. It helps carry on the believable journey of the main character and adds to his motivation. What an amazing blog today. Really makes you think. Thanks for sharing, Mary.

    Again, Happy Birthday to all the Seekers.

  141. I found the secret of your blog and why I am getting it one dsy late. So I Googled it and see that I can reply before the email arrives tomorrow. But look, so many comments here already. I am still late to the party. Smile.

  142. Vince, we have laughed like crazy at that commercial!! My favorite line is when the husband says she's embarrassing him in front of Buster Posey. :) :) I'm sure we'll tease him about it at the holidays since I forgot to say anything when he was in Atlanta when they played the Braves.

  143. Mary, great post! I agree that plot, character, and faith must fit together in Christian fiction. I try to do that in my writing.

    I have not read any of the Jack Reacher novels. I'm sure I would agree with you on the one with the bad guys as former Cornhuskers. Lee Child really must learn about the Huskers.

    Please enter me in the drawing. I have never won an Amazon gift card yet! :)

    I also have a question on the weekly $50 Amazon card during birthday month. Is there a certain time we need to comment and say we want entered in that drawing, or are we entered for commenting any time during the week? Thanks.

  144. Hi Mary:

    I did not see the Buster Posey 'T' Shirt with the words, "Thou Shall Not Steal" but if I wrote it, I'd add the words, "Vengeance is mine". Romans 12-19

  145. Hi Ruth:

    The Yankees had a slump all right!

    It was called losing their best home run hitter for the season, losing their best batting average player for many, many games, and, oh yea, something called: Toronto! The Blue Jays spent a fortune to buy a championship. Before that happened the Yankees were in first place by enough games that they could back into the wildcard spot by the end of the season.

    I'm not mad at the Yankees. I'm amazed. They did not have a great team to start the season. Their pitching was losing games where the Yankees scored 5 runs and more.

    The Yanks are where they are because of the great managing Joe has done. Joe is the Yanks MVP as far as I'm concerned.

    Say a prayer because the time is near.


  146. debarshi das Hi, thanks for stopping in.
    I like Garth Brookes so it sounds as if you would spend the Amazon money wisely. You're IN THE DRAWING.

    (PS it's also okay to just go nuts with it, nobody's gonna call a cop)


  147. Jamie, isn't that awful that you had to be careful of children's books? What are people THINKING!

  148. Valri, I had them ALL on tape and was just ridiculous about watching them over and over.

    I'm cured now.

  149. Tracey, I never really believed Garth had friends in low places.

    Not sure why.

    Maybe if he'd sung it in a slightly higher key.


    And why wouldn't you want to make a POINT you're finding out about in real life. Makes sense to me.

  151. Suzanne Baginskie you are NOT too late to the party. It will rage on until NOVEMBER.

  152. And Suzanne, you really think my blog post is AMAZING???

    Thank you so much. I'm printing off your comment and mailing it in a registered letter to Tina!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  153. Missy, do you have the link to the Buster t-shirt?

    I've seen the t-shirt with other catchers names on it, but we all KNOW who the real t-shirt is about. Not these POSERS!

    How's Buster doing this year? I admit to not following baseball much.

    Is he gonna rack up another Super Bowl Ring....or no...some other word ... Ah, World Series Ring.....there you go.

  154. HAH! I found a Nebraska girl!
    Sandy have you heard about the Word Sowers Conference in Omaha next April? We need to talk about it. I'm teaching (but don't let that stop you from coming, it's nice)

    Sandy by leaving a comment right here today you're in the drawing for the week and the month. To get in NEXT weeks drawing comment any time NEXT week.

  155. MARY, you and TINA can do standup for a side career.

    RUTHY's not holding out on authors, the heads up on the Kratt brothers, they have a 30 minute show for kids on PBS about animals. Wonder why she would know that?

  156. I love your thoughts on that third strand! Great article! I all for the ridiculous prizes, too.

  157. Vince, I love our sidebars!

    Yes, Toronto made great moves. Donaldson. Price.



    My time of waiting seems to be at hand, doesn't it? Spring training, 2016: Where Hope Springs Eternal for the boys of summer.

  158. Mary, I have heard about the conference. I believe it was held this last year too, wasn't it? I would really like to come so maybe it will work out next year. I also hope that I can meet with all you guys in the Nebraska Iowa group someday.

  159. Kratt Brothers.
    I believe I first heard the words Phineas and Ferb from Ruthy, too.

  160. Hi Janet, thanks for the kind words about my post.

    I appreciate that. I really can't write any other way.

    I don't understand how anyone could publish a book that they hope GOD won't ever read. In fact, that makes so little sense that I really worry about some nice people I know who write really questionable stuff. :(

    But that's their choice and so good luck to them.

  161. Sandy we have really been a long time between gatherings in the Nebraska/Iowa group.

    You've heard the Lorna's husband isn't well??? She's pretty much our leader and she's in no position to arrange anything.

  162. I love anyone who is going to buy Thomas & Friends and Garth.

    Link to Garth Brooks' "THE DANCE"

    One of my favorites.

  163. I love Phineas and Ferb!!!!!

    "104 days of summer vacation, 'til school comes along just to end it!"

    Perry the Platypus!

  164. Happy birthday Seekerville!!! Though I've not been here the 8 years that you've been around, I have so enjoyed the blog posts in the short time I have been a part of this :-) Always something good to read!
    Not sure what else I'm suppose to say, unless I missed a question somewhere along the!! Thanks for the chance at these two books & the $28 Amazon card (I love that, I really do!!).

    teamob4 (at) gmail (dot) com
    Am I suppose to leave this....I will anyway :-)

  165. "…in the Christian market, you realize our novels are built with a cord of three strands. Plot. Character. Faith."

    Mary have you thought about how close this is to the the Holy Trinity? The plot is the grand plan -- the father God. The character is the personification of the divine -- the son. The faith is the holy spirit -- the essence of the divine. This might make a Sunday school lesson.

  166. Mary

    I followed the link and saw the 'T' shirt. (For a little inside baseball, ala the illuminati, i.e. Yankee fans -- runners actually steal off the pitcher and not catcher. A catcher won't get many throws to second if the pitcher has a good delivery and pickoff move.)

  167. Wow, obviously this is a hot topic, Mary. I just got home from work so I haven't read all the comments, but 170!!! That's some serious talking going on.

    To answer your question - my stories wouldn't exist without the faith element. It's integral to the plot and to who the characters are. Without it they'd be just some other people - not my people.

  168. It is always informative to read posts here on Seekerville. Thank you for your observations, Mary. I'd love to win any or all of the prizes :D

  169. Very good post, Mary Reacher! ;) (hehehe....You might not remember this, but at the Indy ACFW I introduced my husband to you, and the next thing I knew you both were discussing the Jack Reacher books. Later when my husband couldn't remember your last name, he referred to you as Mary Reacher - - LOL!).

    Seekerville throws an amazing birthday party!! :)
    "Ain't it GREAT.....Seekerville is EIGHT!!"

    Hugs and a pan of Peach cobbler, Patti Jo

  170. Great post, Mary. You know, 28 is my fav number. That's my birthday, my dh birthday and our wedding anniversary. :)

  171. Mary, I did know about Lorna's husband so understand there won't be much going on.

  172. Say a prayer for him, Sandy. Anyone. EVERYONE! He's mending but it's slow.

  173. Lydee, NO WAY.

    That is such a weird fact.

    13 is my favorite number. My first daughter was born 13 days early, she weighed 6 lbs 13 oz, at 12:13 p.m., right after noon, on Friday the 13th!

  174. Trixi, glad you're a part of us here. Thanks! You're in the drawing.

  175. Hi Mary Curry, thanks for finding time in your incredibly busy day to stop in.

  176. Hi Patti Jo! I remember the Mary Reacher and so do YOU. It worked!
    Good for your husband.

    And you wrote a POEM for our birthday!

    We should have included this on our birthday sign.

    Can you get to work on NINE right away!?

  177. Mary, thanks for sharing the T-shirt link. I should probably buy one. I love it. :)

    But hey, did you have to start spreading rumors about my books being semi-autobiographical?!!! LOL I only admitted to the spiritual thread SOMETIMES relating to my current spiritual journey!!


  178. Mary, you asked about Buster's season… He had a great season! Unfortunately, the team didn't make it to the post-season. No ring this year.

  179. Patti Jo, that's so funny about Mary Reacher!!

  180. Wonderful post! I think that without faith there is so little point and purpose. As I have grown in my own faith, I have grown to desire more from what I read, what I listen to, what I watch and what I write. I also love the tension of the will they or wont they moments. :) I cut my teeth on every show you mentioned. :) Thanks for sharing a wonderful perspective Mary!

  181. Mary - I think you always have a point. Great post. I've struggled with plot versus character so you're words are welcome tidbits of wisdom. Please throw my name in the hat. I hope I'm not too late!

  182. Something must set Christian fiction--Christians--apart, and you hit the nail on the head, Mary!
    Voni Harris
    Rich n Voni @ yahoo .

  183. I think the the information presented here is like getting a MFA! Love the way you 'braided' this together!

  184. I enjoyed your thoughts today! I'm a reader but I do enjoy your ideas!
    Happy Birthday Seekerville!
    Toss me into the hat please :)

  185. I love your three strand cord. It's perfect.

  186. A chord of three strands—with God all things are possible! Okay, that's two verses mixed together, but it works! :) Happy Birthday, Seekerville! #8! That's great.

  187. I definitely agree with all of your points, Mary. In some Christian fiction I am disappointed when there is just a mere mention of God or going to church, but a lack of spiritual investment. I like to see the struggles to follow a God-honoring life and how they rely on the Lord for ultimate guidance. Show me the touch stones to their faith - prayer, worship, respect and reverence. And then give me some funny, too. Am I asking too much? heehee :)

  188. I know I'm a bit late to the party, but I just had to say what a wonderful post this is, Mary. I so agree that the faith element is integral to the story as much as the characters and the plot. I agree with the notion that if you can take out the faith/spiritual parts of the story and you still have a complete book, it's not Christian fiction. And I strive to write true Christian fiction.

    Thanks for this post.

    Happy Trails,
    Crystal L Barnes

  189. I'm a day late leaving a comment, Mary, but in my defense, I've been celebrating my birthday all week. I've already purchased and read FIRE AND ICE, so no need to put me in that drawing, but I'm putting up my hand and squealing, "Pick me! Pick me!" for anything else. ;-) I still need to write my review.

  190. I loved Tried and True and can't wait to read the other books in the series!

  191. The faith aspect of Christian fiction is essential. It really is what other genres are missing.

  192. Thank you for another interesting post, Mary - I always enjoy your humor.

    Christian Fiction is such a blessing to me - it has added such an enjoyable and inspiring dimension to my reading. Caring for very little of the secular fiction available, I read mainly Bible Studies, Christian self-improvement, and bios/autobios before discovering Christian Fiction. The element of faith is just as important to me as the plot or character - in the books I read.

    Please enter my name in your wonderful giveaways - thank you!!

  193. Great post, Mary. Thanks for the giveaway! :)

  194. coming a bit late to the party :( gotta pin this post so I don't forget to finish reading it tomorrow!