By TJ Mackay
Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of InD'tale Magazine
That was my lament six years ago while working as the Special Features Editor at a mainstream publishing magazine. Each month, I was required to read future bestselling offerings for review, find the “next big hit” in the publishing world, then interview those authors.
While exciting and always interesting, as the months and years progressed, I became more and more discouraged at the content being presented. Gone were the days when I could read a romance where the emotions and love were allowed to grow before the bed was hit and the games began.
At the same time, I started receiving more and more private inquiries. These letters were from incredibly talented authors who write beautiful stories but who were consistently being denied publishing contracts or media exposure because they would not agree to include the 2.5 sex scenes expected in every book. That just didn’t make sense! How were the thousands upon thousands of people like me ever going to find stories they are comfortable reading if the very books we are looking for are shut out?
Well... the seed was planted and, after much frustration and countless hours of prayer, the inspiration took root. I decided to just take the leap and publish my own magazine! One where good, clean authors and any others who don’t fit whatever “mold” is being pressed can have the very same platform and opportunities that anyone else has! Then, through more hard work than I thought possible and more love and support than I thought imaginable, InD'Tale Magazine was born.
Since that epiphany over five years ago, InD’tale has become the magazine of choice by tens of thousands of people who want to learn, be entertained, and discover new and interesting books in the indie and small published world. In our world, no erotica is allowed and all books are not only professionally reviewed and rated, but also include a very valuable “steam” rating that allows readers to judge just how much sex they are comfortable with.
It is the perfect place for faith-based authors to shine! Or so one would think. After all the initial fanfare and excitement from inspirational authors, it has been quite a shock to discover that very few actually take advantage of promoting their work in the secular world. Why is that? I was flabbergast! Everything I have ever been taught about letting my light shine (“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matt: 5:16) and being an example and a witness attests to the fact that good, wholesome, God-centered fiction needs to be available to the mainstream world!
I have pondered often on the lack of enthusiasm from faith-based writers to push themselves to write stories that will lift and turn the mainstream reader towards God. When questioned, most faith-based fiction writers seem content with the strictly Christian readership they enjoy. Many say, “Why would I put myself out there? I’m not writing for the money, I’m writing because God wants me to witness to his people.”
But, who are “His people”? Are not we all His children? Does He not yearn for every single child of His to come unto Him? Are we not, as Christians, called to share His Gospel of Love to the world? As I speak to so many Christian authors, the scripture that continually comes to mind is, “He [Jesus] told them ‘They that are whole have no need of a physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.’” (Mark 2:17) Yet we are content to “preach to the choir” rather than take the time -- and often hard work -- of writing stories that would encourage and draw unbelievers in. Or, allow the stories we write to be placed in “unclean” hands.
It seems that all too often we get comfortable in our own little bushel of life. We are surrounded by those like us. Our basket mates agree with us, they support and encourage us, and they applaud our efforts. We are happy under that bushel. It’s cozy and we don’t have to stress too terribly hard about the hurtful barbs and briars that might catch us if we venture out of our box. So... our little lights happily shine together while the rest of the world drowns in darkness.
What would happen if we pushed that bushel off? It would leave us little lights standing on the hillside exposed!! That’s scary. Bad things can happen. People can criticize and scoff. They can laugh and point fingers. It’s true, and some will assuredly do that. But, even if the darkness balks, what about those tiny, little pinpoints that were looking for a light? They may not be many, they may not be strong. But, if Jesus is to be believed, they are most definitely important. And, foremost, WE are the light they are looking for. The problem is, they may never find it if we stay hidden.
But... IF we put on our armor, scrunch up our eyes, and throw our light into the night, what are the possible rewards? Like all those little lights suddenly exposed to the darkness -- we shine. And as the pinpoints find us, we shine brighter -- and brighter. In spite of the arrows thrown, in spite of the scoffer’s laugh. The light grows and the peace and joy that we write for is found.
Is this not the very reason we choose to share our stories? What, then, is stopping us? Why are publications such as InD’tale Magazine not being bombarded with submissions from inspirational authors? Flooding the world with His love takes only one courageous heart at a time.
So, what do you think? Should Christian fiction dip its toe into the secular market with edgier content that aligns itself with God's precepts, hopefully reaching a broader base for Christ? Or do you think it needs to remain separate from the secular market to maintain its integrity?
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TJ Mackay is the Founder and Publisher of InD’tale Magazine, the publishing industry’s most trusted publication for independent and small published authors and readers. InD’tale’s premier status was built on the high quality and professional yet personal interest Ms. Mackay is known and famous for.
After carrying a double major in both English and music, TJ started her career as an award-winning free-lance journalist. Her warm yet educational articles soon drew the attention of one of the publishing industry’s largest review magazines, where she was recruited as a professional book reviewer and later promoted to the position of Special Features Editor. In that capacity, Ms. Mackay carried the responsibility of interviewing many of the industry’s most influential executives and authors.
While in that position, TJ also realized the extreme need for authors, who do not necessarily fit the “traditional” mold but who exhibit great talent, to find an avenue for success. Thus, the idea for InD’tale Magazine was born. In May 2012, after more hard work than she thought possible and more love and support than she ever imagined, InD’tale’s flagship issue was published. Since that time, InD’tale Magazine has become a worldwide publication helping tens of thousands of readers discover their favorite books and learn more about the art of writing.
Along with that first issue, TJ and InD’tale launched the first ever awards strictly focusing on the Indie and small published world. Now dubbed, “The Oscars of Indie,” the RONE awards are not only the most prestigious award in the Indie industry, but are also the most comprehensive awards in all of publishing today.
In 2015, TJ also launched the first ever InD’Scribe Con and Book Festival sponsored by InD’tale Magazine. Held in the fall of each year, InD’Scribe Con focuses on helping, supporting, and nurturing authors at any stage of their career while allowing readers the rare opportunity to not only see but actually interact and hang out with their favorite authors.
With all this on her plate, TJ also loves to teach! Her love of people comes through loud and clear in any class or workshop she gives, making her a popular and much sought after speaker. Her training, as well as her vast personal experience working with the greats in the publishing industry, allows for a very unique and refreshing take on the writing experience!