Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Christian Fiction in a Secular World: A Light Under The Bushel?



By TJ Mackay
 Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of InD'tale Magazine

“GAH!  Does no one write a clean, uplifting story in publishing anymore?!?”  

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.
 

GIVEAWAY:
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?  

Leave a comment and we'll toss your name into a "Basket of Books" giveaway consisting of winner's choice of three books from the InD'tale website. Or for authors, winner may select a FREE full page advertisement in InD'tale Magazine (that's an $80.00 value!). Good luck!

And be sure to take advantage of the FREE SUBSCRIPTION to InD'tales Magazine by going to the InD'tale website and scrolling down to the bottom of the page and clicking on the subscribe link. Then let me know you did that in the Rafflecopter box of my contest below, and you'll earn five extra points in my contest, so GOOD LUCK!

JULIE'S CONTEST:
Win a character named after you or a loved one in Julie Lessman's next book, His Steadfast Love due out this summer, a signed copy, and two other of Julie's books in paperback or e-book by entering Julie's InD'tale Contest.


BIO:
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!

204 comments :

  1. I TJ, welcome to Seekerville. I subscribed to your magazine three days ago when I stopped by to read Julie Lessman's article. I hope you have a great day visiting with us!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. JACKIE!! Thanks for reading the article, my friend, AND subscribing -- MUCH appreciated! Fingers crossed for a win, so GOOD LUCK!!

      Hugs,
      Julie

      Delete
    2. Why thank you, Jackie! I am excited to be here! Oh, I hope you enjoy InD'tale magazine. Julie was an absolute blast to get to know.

      Delete
    3. Ditto, TJ! Sisters separated at birth, give or take forty years and a bottle of Loreal! ;)

      Hugs,
      Julie

      Delete
  2. This is a tough question. I think there is space for both - edgier Christian fiction that reaches the needs of non-Christian readers, as well as the current more conservative offerings.

    But I think it might be two separate types of fiction, and the publishers will need to market them as such.

    I'll give you an example: I read a book review this week where the reviewer said that while it was a good book, it wasn't what she'd classify as Christian fiction (despite being published by one of the big CF publishers).

    Another lady commented on the review, basically saying that she has never read Christian fiction but got loaned this book by her neighbour ... and it brought her back to God.

    No matter what *I* want to read, I have to applaud the author and the publisher because the book has changed at least one life for the better - and that's got to be a good thing.

    It's about writing in obedience to the call God has for us - which might be writing for Christians. But it might be writing for non-Christians or ex-Christians. We need them all.

    Now I'm off to subscribe to your magazine!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. IOLA, thank you SO much for your excellent comment, my friend!

      It is a tough question, but one that needs to be discussed because our ultimate goal is to reach the world for Christ. But that's kind of hard to do when secular fiction (and since I am a romance writer, I'm speaking mostly romance here) and Christian are so polarized in the market.

      You said: "Another lady commented on the review, basically saying that she has never read Christian fiction but got loaned this book by her neighbour ... and it brought her back to God.

      No matter what *I* want to read, I have to applaud the author and the publisher because the book has changed at least one life for the better - and that's got to be a good thing."

      WOW. WOW. WOW!! That story gives me warm chills because as far as I'm concerned, THAT'S what it's all about for me. I rejoice when I get a letter like that, like the one I received from a woman who’d “fallen away” from Christianity and wouldn’t read Inspirational books on a dare, but picked mine up not realizing it was spiritual. She wrote that it rekindled her love for God and gave her hope again. These are stories that I treasure in my heart.

      But my favorite story is one I told in my Seeker blog LIFE ON THE EDGE, about when I was praying with my prayer partner one day and her 25-year-old daughter stopped by, a girl I hadn’t seen in a long time. I knew this girl had strayed from her Christian roots—living with her boyfriend before they got married, not going to church anymore, heavy drinking, etc. Anyway, for some reason she actually read one of my books that her mom gave to her, which shocked me in and of itself. This young women proceeded to tell me that when she read my books, she actually got angry at me. Why? Because the spiritual parts convicted her so much that she wanted to throw the books out. But she didn’t, she said, BECAUSE the sensuality and intense romance so grabbed her by the throat, that she was compelled to finish the books. And when she turned the last page of A Passion Redeemed, she told me it had brought her up to a whole other level with God. I had tears in my eyes when I learned she went back to church and was once again trying to live for Him. Call me “edgy” if you will, but for me, it just doesn’t get any better than that.

      Thanks for subscribing and commenting, Iola. We really appreciate it!

      HUGS AND GOOD LUCK!
      Julie

      Delete
    2. Hi Julie! You hit on something very important: Your friend's daughter didn't throw out your books because of the sensuality and the intense romance. It was a GREAT story that kept her turning the pages to the end.

      One day I was setting up in my church hall for a women's ministry night and I started thinking about all the time I'd volunteered in church for church events and I thought, well, the only ones who come to these things are Christians. And while it's good for us to come together, it never sat right with me that so many of our activities were for us, held at church. Will someone seeking God go to church? Sure, maybe. But odds are higher they'll be somewhere outside of church. Jesus meets us where we are. He doesn't wait for us to reach a certain level before he embraces us.

      As writers, we have to remember that we need to reach out to our readers where they are. What speaks to people differs reader to reader so you never know what message will resonate with someone. But squeaky-clean books with preachy tones will only alienate the ones we seek to impress with His message.

      Delete
    3. AMEN, JOSEE!! We are called to be salt, but unless we get tossed in the pot with the rest of the world, they may never get to taste the glorious flavor of God, so onward and upward!

      Thank you SO much for your wonderful comment -- appreciate it and YOU!!

      Hugs,
      Julie

      Delete
    4. I completely agree with you! There is room for all types of faith-based stories in mainstream. Whether it is the more sensual or the very clean, it the story is written well and draws the reader in, it will be loved. I do think when reaching out to the secular world we have to be careful how heavy-handed we are in preaching God's word, however. A little softer touch goes much further than bludgeoning people over the head.

      Delete
    5. Oh sure! "A Passion Redeemed"... Charity at her most conniving, self-centered, worse! That's probably the one book of yours that a non-Christian would find most addictive! God must have had a hand in the selection of that particular story. Charity in a new light: your most successful missionary!

      Delete
    6. LOL, VINCE ... Charity as a missionary??? YIKES! That's as bad as likely as when my husband told me I was missing the mark when Twilight came out. He said I needed to make Charity an Amish vampire, and we would be set for life! ;)

      A PASSION REDEEMED is actually my favorite book of all I have written, tied with A Hope Undaunted, so it's obvious I like those sassy heroines! ;)

      Hugs,
      Julie

      Delete
  3. Hi TJ:

    I don't believe that most readers want 'Christian Fiction'. What they want is fiction that is consistent with Christian values. They want a good clean read that inspires, holds their attention, and does not offend their sensibilities.

    Christians don't need to read fiction that will turn them into Christians. Non-Christians in particular have little interest in reading fiction that they perceived as trying to win them over to any given faith.

    I think the strongest marketing approach is to show the Christian lifestyle in a rewarding and inspirational light while the fact that the characters are Christian is incidental to the story in the same way that the characters' occupations are incidental.

    It's like the difference between being preached to and simply observing, out of sight, the values and lifestyles of people who happen to be Christian. I think this is why you do not see the word 'Christian' on the Love Inspired covers. And why 'Christian' isn't on the Seekerville header.

    Doing things this way allows the readers to sell themselves on living Christian values instead of having someone else trying to sell them on the idea.

    I favor seeing Christian authors marketing their books in the secular world as inspirational reads suitable for all fiction lovers. I think this is how to reach the largest audience with the most salable impact.

    Vince

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. VINCE SAID: "I don't believe that most readers want 'Christian Fiction'. What they want is fiction that is consistent with Christian values. They want a good clean read that inspires, holds their attention, and does not offend their sensibilities."

      BULL'S-EYE!! As usual, my friend. ;)

      Hugs!!
      Julie

      Delete
    2. VINCE, LOVE your comment! Absolutely nailed it.

      Delete
    3. AMEN!! I couldn't agree with you more, Vince! That is why it is labeled "Inspirational" in our review section at InD'tale. It is SO important to give the secular reader something that shows the faith-based lifestyle as something they would want, that would help them be happy, while still being realistic in the struggles we all share.

      Delete
  4. Welcome, TJ. I agree with Vince. Since I am already a Christian, I enjoy reading the inspirational books to be just that...inspired and uplifted when I read about the characters turning toward God.

    I subscribed to your magazine when I read your wonderful article on Julie.

    Blessings,
    Marcia

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. MARCIA, thank you SO much for coming back to read our blog today and for both reading the article and subscribing -- you ROCK, girlfriend!

      IN YOUR COMMENT ON MONDAY YOU SAID: "Thanks for the link...APMP is the first book of yours I have read, and looking forward to reading more. I am a voracious reader, and sometimes...well, most times...it gets in the way of my writing. But, I claim it is all in the name of research and let myself get away with it."

      LOL ... yes, RESEARCH!! That's exactly why I read 6-8 books a month, or at least that's what I tell my husband ... ;)

      HUGS!!
      Julie



      Delete
    2. Why thank you so very much, Marcia! I truly hope you will enjoy it in coming months! We are a mainstream magazine that sincerely tries to uphold faith-based values. It is a real challenge in today's society to walk that line of helping ALL readers while trying to bless them with light.

      Delete
  5. TJ, great guest post. I recently attended a Christian writer's conference and chatted 1:1 with an editor. We discussed challenges in the industry; the long time readers of Christian fiction are "ageing out" and younger ones are dissatisfied with the unrealistic "prayer is always answered" and squeaky clean formulaic content. The solution offered was exactly what you are calling for faith-based writers: to stop "preaching to the choir" and provide well written secular fiction that shows bad choices have consequences and provides clean content without the preachiness.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. AMEN, FICTIONTHATFEEDSYOURFAITH!! And, WOW, that addy is quite a mouthful, but SO on target, so THANK YOU for your excellent comment!

      You said: "secular fiction that shows bad choices have consequences and provides clean content without the preachiness."

      Mmm ... that's what I would like to think I write, but you would have to judge for yourself. So let me know if you've never read any of my books, and I'll see what I can do about remedying that if you like.

      Hugs!!
      Julie

      Delete
    2. Absolutely!! It's just a matter of giving people hope in a way that doesn't alienate those that aren't already strong. You nailed it!

      Delete
  6. Hi, TJ. I'm excited to learn about this magazine, both as an author and reader. Thanks for sharing. I'm about to subscribe as soon as I post this comment.

    How may I have my book reviewed by your publication, as well as advertise?

    Easter blessings to you, to all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ELAINE!!! SO great to see you here, my friend, and thanks for subscribing to InD'tales -- you won't be sorry!

      And TJ will respond to your question soon.

      Hugs!
      Julie

      Delete
    2. Hi Elaine! Gosh, I'm so excited you are interested! We sincerely want to help and bless everyone so we offer the magazine free of charge. That means advertising is the only means we have of paying the bills,though, so I am always doubly excited when someone is interested!
      Getting reviewed and/or advertising is super simple to do. Just pop over to our website and click under the submissions tab or the advertising tab! There you will be able to upload your book or peruse all the options for advertising... then, if you still have questions, I'd be happy to help you personally. Just shoot me an email at: tjmackay@indtale.com.

      Delete
    3. Thanks much, TJ! I'll be in contact. You're offering a wonderful service to both the reader and author. I left another comment below.

      Delete
  7. Welcome to Seekerville, TJ. Great to have you here.


    Your challenge brings us back to the tale as old as time-what is edgy Christian fiction? Dipping it in secular plots is not edgy. I think when people say edgy they really mean that they want to read about real Christians experiencing real world sins and coming out on the other side.

    That's not what many of us want to write. I flat have zero desire to read or write edgy Christian fiction.

    Traditional Christian Publishers aren't ready for real edgy Christian fiction either. There are less than a handful writing it.

    As it stands we are watching publishers of Christian fiction close down faster than we could have imagined five years ago. Much of it is because the aging demographics are literally dying off.

    We are in transition. That transition is either going to be into small press, indie publishing or, yes, into the ABA market if we are fortunate. There are no longer enough slots in the CBA to realistically think we can sell.

    THANK YOU, GOD FOR INDIE PUBLISHING! We can make our own rules.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. TINA SAID: "Traditional Christian Publishers aren't ready for real edgy Christian fiction either. There are less than a handful writing it."

      Uh, you think? ;) And, yes, my friend -- "THANK YOU, GOD FOR INDIE PUBLISHING! We can make our own rules."

      Hugs,
      Julie

      Delete
    2. Amy Harmon is must-read author. She started off Indie but is now with Amazon. "From Sand and Ash" is an awesome book.

      Delete
    3. You nailed it, Tina. We've lost so many Christian publishers in the last few years.

      But I've also found that breaking into the ABA with a "clean and wholesome" book that isn't preachy but holds to Christian values is hard, especially for an author like me who doesn't have standout sales numbers in the CBA.

      So I'm feeling kind of stuck right now. To write the kinds of books I'm personally drawn to probably means indie publishing. But then, I'm not a good marketer, so finding an audience becomes a problem.

      Ugh. No easy answers.

      Delete
    4. Thank you, Tina! I'm honored to be here! I think there is room - and a market for both the "edgy" Christian books and the more circumspect. I do agree that the old rules are dying out, however. In today's world, a book needs to be realistic to the lives of those who read it. We all have struggles and showing how we rise above them, incorporating our faith is a very valuable teaching tool.
      And,YAY for Indie Publishing!!!

      Delete
    5. JOSEE, I've never read Amy Harmon, but you've piqued my interest. Is she romance or more women's fiction? And why do you like her? Is her romance edgier without going over the line? And is there a spiritual thread in her books, and if so, heavy or light?

      Thanks for the recommendation!

      Hugs,
      Julie

      Delete
    6. Amy Harmon is women's fiction with a heavy thread of romance. I wouldn't say it's "edgy" but it reads very mainstream. There are Christian themes but they're light. I believe she is Mormon but there is no nod to her faith or her LDS church. She's just a fantastic story teller and a wonderful writer. She started off indie and then "Making Faces" took off. Now she's published under Amazon. Lake Union, I think. "From Sand and Ash" is a bestseller and her most recent book. I LOVED IT. Hands down one of, if not my favorite book in the last year.

      Delete
    7. JOSEE, thank you SO much for coming back to give me the information. I will definitely check her out.

      HUGS!
      Julie

      Delete
  8. By the way, I would like to raise my hand and say that I write for money. I do a job and I want a paycheck. Who are these people who don't? I must need a sugar daddy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL ... I have one, so I'm one of those gals who said she didn't write for money, but mostly because I didn't make much money, so it allowed me to get off the hook gracefully. ;)

      Hugs,
      Julie

      Delete
    2. I'm raising my hand with you, Tina. I have no shame in saying I am writing for money. (Future money, that is.)

      Delete
    3. Me, too! Yes, I've been blessed to have my husband's income to count on for daily living, but we do feel the pinch when I have a lean writing year.

      Delete
    4. LOL!!! And, hear, hear!!! Now we need to help you make that money WHILE lifting others!!

      Delete
    5. Julie, this is great! Now I know what to say! I'm one of those gals who said she didn't write for money, mostly because I didn't make much money, so it allowed me to get off the hook gracefully. ;)

      Nancy C

      Delete
    6. LOL, NANCY ... sad, but true! :)

      Hugs,
      Julie

      Delete
  9. Great post!

    Whether to include edgier content and who should read what... That's the beautiful thing about books. You can't control who reads them. :)I believe we should only write the story God puts before us, no adjusting or shying away or sweetening up. However it shakes out, that is the story we were meant to write.

    You know... this post reminds me of the first time I put a book for free with a Bookbub ad. I almost cried at all the one stars who were angry at the Christian content!

    And then a friend reminded me, "You've left your little circle of readers. Those one stars are the proof that your book is the little fish in a big pond now, and that's a good thing."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, WOW, MARY JANE -- you have a VERY smart friend, girl, because that's an excellent statement and SO very true!!

      You said: "I believe we should only write the story God puts before us, no adjusting or shying away or sweetening up. However it shakes out, that is the story we were meant to write."

      I couldn't agree more, although I will admit that I went back and took out words like "freakin', flippin', and friggin'" in my latest contemporary indie series because the 1- and 2-star reviews given because of those words was hurting the five-star rating. ;)

      Hugs,
      Julie

      Delete
    2. Kudos to you, Mary Jane, for throwing off that bushel! It is scary and you do have to take the barbs from all the naysayers. But if even if you reach a few and really change their lives? Nothing in the world is better!!! Keep up the great work!!

      Delete
  10. TJ, that's some bio! Welcome to Seekerville... and for all this information.

    I'm laughing because I have a post scheduled for later this spring titled "I write for a cast of thousands"... because I love readers! Without readers there are no sales, and sales keep us in business, so my pragmatic side knows that loving God is not synonymous with working for free.

    Waterbrook has just re-released my cowboy series in "mass market paperback" size, searching for my readers in Walmarts and Targets and Wegmans and Krogers... the sensibility in this is because my Love Inspired readers will see me there! They might not get to B&N on a weekly basis, and bookstore stocking has thinned, so this puts my longer books right into the aisles where my readers shop. The other thing is that I'm mixed right in with secular books in some Walmarts and next to Love Inspired in others, so it's a full-blown experiment to reach readers.

    This kind of out-of-the-box thinking is huge these days.

    And I love that we have the option of indie publishing (although I'm being careful not to be my own competition) because there are no guarantees of tomorrow's contracts.

    Great info, TJ!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. RUTHY SAID: "The other thing is that I'm mixed right in with secular books in some Walmarts and next to Love Inspired in others, so it's a full-blown experiment to reach readers."

      THAT is one of the first steps on the road to de-polarizing secular fiction from Christian fiction, so you are a pioneer in this process, my friend, and I couldn't be prouder of you!!

      Hugs,
      Julie

      Delete
    2. Hi Ruth! Yikes! I had to go back and see which bio they ran! I sent two options - one short one with bullet points and a longer more conversational. Looks like you were hit with the looong one! Thanks for taking the time to read it all!!
      And, I'm applauding YOU! What you are doing is AWESOME!

      Delete
  11. I think Christian fiction can be in danger of sugar coating things and making characters/situations too perfect. But perhaps there's a fine line between too perfect and too much... I do know I appreciate real issues and honesty as I can identify so well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. KATE, I would agree on that, although I do think there are readers who want the sugar coating and they should be able to have it. I just want to see the tent pegs of the CBA pushed out a lot more to reach those fringe readers who do NOT want sugar coating or too-perfect HEAs.

      Hugs and GOOD LUCK!
      Julie

      Delete
    2. I completely agree, Kate. That is the exact complaint I hear over and over again from non-Christian readers. I think they need to see real people with real struggles but with a way to rise above them. Showing them both helps them see the God's love really can help even with all the messiness of life.

      Delete
  12. TJ I LOVE this post! Thank you for your magazine and following your heart. Most of all, thank you for your passionate call for us to wake up! Blessings, Edie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. EDIE, thanks for coming by, my friend, and I echo your thanks to TJ!

      Hugs,
      Julie

      Delete
    2. Oh Edie, thank YOU for your wonderfully kind words!! You have made my day brighter!!!

      Delete
  13. What upsets me with this is I am seeing too many Christian authors using swear words and Christian swear words and even the Lord's name in vain. I read one Christian book where the pastor was caught up in pornography. I am reading one now where the whole story cheapens the gospel. I want to see the world reached with the Gospel, but the line needs to be drawn and the Christian fiction needs to be clearly Christian. It is getting so I can't even read what is said to be sweet romance because I have ended up with pornography. It is sad the way this is happening. I should add this is one of motivations for writing that there is still fiction out there with strong Christian standards.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. WILANI, I certainly agree with you on actual swear words and gratuitous sex or sins (i.e. like the pastor caught up in pornography -- if the reason for that was to redeem him, then I don't have a problem with that as long as it's not graphically depicted). And I agree that those who want more traditional Christian fiction should be able to find it easily without surprises.

      But I also would like to see Christian fiction utilized for more than just clean entertainment. I'd like to see it become a tool for revealing God's precepts in an amoral world and hopefully reaching the lost.

      And why can't it be both? Readers choose, so those who want the strongly Christian fiction have that option, but I'd also like to see those who wouldn't touch a Christian books with a ten-foot pole have the surprise option of being exposed to God's precepts.

      Hugs and more hugs!
      Julie

      Delete
    2. I agree completely that swear words and gratuitous sex is not the example we need to set. I do believe that it is completely possible to be realistic without the use of curse words and to show loving, sensual relationships without using graphic sex scenes to do so. We can be clean and still be realistic!

      Delete
  14. Hello TJ! Great post. People could debate all day about what makes "edgy" fiction and if should Christian writers should write outside the CBA market. I love reading about real characters with real problems and rely on Christ to help them solve those problems. I don't know if that's considered "edgy" or not, but I do know that in a world of darkness, Christian romance is sorely needed now. Please throw my name in the hat for the drawing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. OH, AMEN TO THAT, LeANNE!! When you think of the fact that Fifty Shades of Grey has topped best-seller lists around the world, selling over 125 million copies worldwide by June 2015, it's a little frightening. The imbalance between fiction that inspires and fiction that degrades is downright scary to me, especially when Fifty Shades of Grey has been translated into 52 languages, and set a record in the United Kingdom as the fastest-selling paperback of all time.

      To me, mommy-porn like 50SOG is like a cancer, and we have the cure, but it's not getting out there.

      Hugs,
      Julie

      Delete
    2. ABSOLUTELY!!! I couldn't agree with you more, LeAnne!!

      Delete
    3. Thanks, Cynthia! Can you tell this is a hot button for me???

      Hugs,
      Julie

      Delete
  15. Welcome, TJ! Congratulations on the success of your magazine!

    In my opinion, edgy and "clean" (I prefer the word wholesome or sweet) are on a spectrum. The ends of the spectrum are usually pretty obvious, but near the middle, each reader draws the line in a different place. So it's tough to classify books sometimes.

    I agree with Mary Jane / Virginia that we just need to write the story God is calling us to write. Then see where it lands as far as how to classify it and where to promote it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed, MISSY, both with you and Mary Jane!

      And, yes, it IS a beautiful cover, although I will admit it's all the more so seeing my name on it ... ;)

      Hugs,
      Julie

      Delete
    2. I agree, Missy. I think there is room for every type. With so many different needs out there, there should be different levels - from very sweet to a little edgy.

      Delete
    3. Julie, I would feel the same way about seeing my name on the cover! :)

      Delete
    4. LOL, MISSY, when TJ interviewed me, she said she was giggly (nervous, excited, one of those words)about talking to me because she really likes my books. But what she didn't know was that I was a nervous wreck beforehand because InD'tales is a VERY big deal, so I hear you!!

      Hugs,
      Julie

      Delete
  16. BTW, that's a gorgeous magazine cover above!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Why, thank you!! Even though we are a mainstream magazine so I have to be careful - April is the one month I really try to show the "light of the world" in some way. :).

      Delete
  17. TJ, welcome to Seekerville. Thanks for the thought provoking post. I write for Love Inspired Historical. The author guidelines are strict, which is okay with me. However my editors have allowed me to write about important real-life issues that involve sin as long as the characters experience these in the past before they found faith. Perhaps the faith thread in our stories seems too pat for secular readers. I'd like to share God's light and always pray my books will get into the right hands. But I'm unsure exactly what is meant by edgy inspirational romance. I don't want to write steamy. To me Julie's books aren't steamy, yet she considers her stories edgy. So maybe I'm looking for a problem that doesn't exist. :-)

    I'd never heard of your magazine until Julie got involved. I applaud what you're doing. For those readers who want some level of steamy, or none at all, you are giving them awareness of the options.

    Janet

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Janet! I think of "edgy" as just what Julie writes. It incorporates the sexual tension and desire and the challenges but it doesn't drop over into the actual descriptions of sex etc. It allows for the feelings and desires but lets the reader incorporate the rest. I think for many secular readers that is a very nice line. It is realistic to them without dirtying up the overall message and point.

      Delete
    2. JANET!!! That surprises me because I thought you DID think my books were steamy, but I guess when compared to secular, there's no contest! ;)

      TJ, you said: " It is realistic to them without dirtying up the overall message and point."

      Oh, AMEN!! You know, I don't read many secular romance novels unless I'm judging the Ritas, and then look out -- I usually get all the eroticas. Sigh. And the #1 feeling I get when I finish the book is almost an empty feeling where God is left out of the mix. They actually make me feel a little depressed because I know that the jump-in-the-sack mentality is the norm today. How sad is that when as recently as the early 60s, morality reigned?

      Hugs!
      Juie

      Delete
    3. TJ, sexual tension is a given in any romance. Desire should be there but must be handled carefully not to offend, at least for my readers. Steamy implies more descriptive love scenes than Julie writes. We probably all have definitions that would vary. :-)

      Janet

      Delete
    4. Julie, When the hero finally gets serious about kissing the heroine, I sure don't want the kiss to be a sisterly. But steamy suggests taking the kiss further than my comfort zone.

      Janet

      Delete
  18. Hello, TJ! First off, I feel like I must get this off my chest: You have gorgeous hair.

    As for Christian Fiction, you never know what's going to move someone. I had Lauren Daigle playing in my kitchen and my cousin's wife (who is Buddhist and a singer) turned it up, sat down at my kitchen table and listened to 3 or 4 songs in a row. She said afterwards, "Wow, Christian music has sure come a long way. I really like that. What's her name? I want to download her music."

    The same goes for books. One of the big issues I see is HOW do we get our books into the hands of "non-believers?" First of all, I can't see a non-believer seeking out the Christian fiction section of our Barnes and Noble, but on the off-chance they might, all they'd encounter (in my store anyway) is a very small selection of Amish and historical romance and a dozen copies of "The Shack."

    There are some seriously awesome story-tellers out there who are writing REALLY good books with a Christian message of hope and redemption but people don't know about them. That's a bummer.

    I live in Vermont (the least-churched state in the country) and I went into my locally-owned bookstore in downtown Burlington (right by the University of Vermont) and asked where their Christian Fiction section was and they looked at me like I had two heads. Then I asked them if they had anything by (and here named 5 or 6 of the "big names") and they didn't have ANYTHING.

    I've been thinking about this ever since and I am praying that God would one day place my books in THAT store. Vermonters LOVE to support local artists of all mediums, though maybe not Christian ones. So, if I don't advertise my books as "Christian Fiction," I have a far better chance of actually reaching people.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Josee, that's interesting about Vermont--I had no idea! My daughter and her husband are active in ministry in Montana, and they have made similar statements about how unchurched their state is.

      I agree, it's just sad that stores like Barnes and Noble have such dismally small Christian fiction sections, and the selection of what they do carry is so limited. Mid-list Christian authors really don't have a chance, and obviously many of the best big-name authors don't either.

      Delete
    2. Hey Jose! First, THANK YOU!! Although you may change your mind about the hair if you see it in all its wild, frizzy morning glory! ;)
      I think you hit the nail on the head when you mention "Christian Fiction". For anyone who is not already a strong Christian that moniker has such a bad connotation. That's why we have labeled faith-based stories "Inspirational Fiction" in InD'tale. People just seem to be so much more open to reading something inspirational as opposed to Christian - go figure. It's all about the messaging!

      Delete
    3. TJ, that's a great point about the messaging!

      Delete
    4. JOSEE SAID: "Hello, TJ! First off, I feel like I must get this off my chest: You have gorgeous hair."

      LOL ... how do you think I felt when we did our video interview??? I just got back from the beach (I was visiting friends in Florida) and had to rush-wash my hair, and it didn't behave. Then this young, gorgeous chickadee pops up, and I wanted to crawl in a hole!! ;)

      YOU ALSO SAID: "As for Christian Fiction, you never know what's going to move someone. I had Lauren Daigle playing in my kitchen and my cousin's wife (who is Buddhist and a singer) turned it up, sat down at my kitchen table and listened to 3 or 4 songs in a row. She said afterwards, "Wow, Christian music has sure come a long way. I really like that. What's her name? I want to download her music."

      I cannot tell you HOW much that blesses me -- thank you for sharing that! And I'm praying right now that your books WILL -- in Jesus' name -- be in that bookstore someday! You go, girl!

      Hugs,
      Julie

      Delete
    5. Thank you, Julie! From your lips!

      Delete
    6. TJ, the term "inspirational" is far more inclusive than "Christian" though I honestly wish there weren't different sections to begin with! I wish ALL fiction were together, ALL romance together. What would be cool would be if there were a rating system like for movies. So if someone wanted a sweet and clean romance they'd veer to the PG books.

      Delete
    7. I've wished the same thing, Josee. I wonder how something like a book rating system could be accomplished uniformly. If authors are left to police themselves, we might all be using different standards.

      Delete
    8. Josee, When your book(s) come out, go to that bookstore and see if you can do a signing. I bet God will send you some seekers!

      Blessings,

      Marcia

      Delete
    9. That rating system is exactly what we were trying for in the magazine, Josee! We use steam kettles, though. :). AND, our reviewers usually give readers a very good idea of what that entails in their reviews. At least that way people have some idea of what they are getting themselves into!

      Delete
  19. Hello, TJ! Welcome to Seekerville!

    So many wonderful, insightful comments today. The face of Christian fiction's changing. To not acknowledge that is sticking our heads in the sand.

    While I don't believe all readers want the same thing from inspirational fiction, I do think many (MANY) readers want more realistic fiction that mirrors real-life. AND the reality is-- real life is messy, chock-full of challenges, concerns, and problems. There's also a healthy niche of readers who want more intimacy without graphic detail. They want great stories that portray these relationships in a Christ-like fashion--AND they want characters who are imperfect and fallible, yet striving toward a healthier balance.

    There's also room for the sweeter, gentler reads, and those who enjoy stories that address heavy-hitting topics, but perhaps, with less innuendo and off-page "reality."

    Now-- here's the thing. I study people at our local big box bookstore. (And I say "big box" because our local Christian bookstores' fiction offerings continue to decrease. Sad, but true.) As I watch people at the "other" bookstore, many (usually women) will peruse the ChristFic lines, thumb through books, and maybe select a title to purchase and/or...they'll then meander over to the secular romance/women's fiction/contemporary aisle and select various other titles. Nothing wrong with that--just an observation. Another observation? I rarely see millennials in the Christian Fiction section of the bookstore, but I sure hear them comment about it. That's a topic for another day.

    Now, back to your questions. I'd like to believe there's still room for BOTH Christian and secular fiction that tell great stories with spiritual integrity. IF Christian Fiction is to survive, however, change is going to be necessary.

    My long-winded two cents.

    GREAT topic, TJ!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I couldn't have said it better, myself, Cynthia! 100% agree!

      Delete
    2. Oh, CYNTHIA, here I am waving wildly because I'm in that "healthy" group although trust me, I've had a fair number of reviews denounce me and my marriage as not so healthy!

      YOU ALSO SAID: "As I watch people at the "other" bookstore, many (usually women) will peruse the ChristFic lines, thumb through books, and maybe select a title to purchase and/or...they'll then meander over to the secular romance/women's fiction/contemporary aisle and select various other titles. Nothing wrong with that--just an observation. Another observation? I rarely see millennials in the Christian Fiction section of the bookstore, but I sure hear them comment about it. That's a topic for another day."

      Cynthia, I cannot tell you HOW many Christian girlfriends I have that read nothing but secular romance, so I hear you on that!

      And as far as the the millennials? Move over on that one, too, because I know a ton who devour secular romance, and then go and base their morality on it. :(

      FINALLY, YOU SAID: "I'd like to believe there's still room for BOTH Christian and secular fiction that tell great stories with spiritual integrity. IF Christian Fiction is to survive, however, change is going to be necessary."

      NO QUESTION ABOUT IT, MY FRIEND!! Because as several people have mentioned here, the Christian base is getting older and dying out, so it's just a matter of time before the Fifty Shades of Grey mentality poisons our young women coming up.

      Hugs,
      Julie


      Now, back to your questions. I'd like to believe there's still room for BOTH Christian and secular fiction that tell great stories with spiritual integrity. IF Christian Fiction is to survive, however, change is going to be necessary.

      Delete
    3. Well said, Cynthia. I apologize if I've shared this comment too many times but "Fifty Shades" sold what, FIFTY MILLION copies in the US? They dubbed it "mommy porn." What % of those women do you suppose are Christians?

      I'm SO OVER romance books where the couple find love through a sexual relationship. That rarely, if ever, happens in real life, aside from the moral implications.

      But when I read a really clean romance, I'm left wanting...a little more passion. Am I really supposed to believe that a 40-year-old man who was married twice and becomes a Christian in the last three pages of the book is now desiring a one-year-long engagement so he can "properly court" his intended? Sorry, but I don't.

      Years ago I read a few of JoAnn Durgin's books and I appreciated that she explored her characters' sensuality. They waited until they were married and everything was "behind closed doors" but she wasn't afraid to show her characters struggling with the wait. That was early into my "inspy romance" discovery but I remember being surprised that she tackled that struggle.

      Delete
    4. ...And the reality is... "struggles" ARE real. Real in life, and even in homespun fiction -- which, is what I write.

      Delete
    5. Oh Josee, I agree!! PREACH it LOUD!!! It drives me just as nuts when a couple never even look at each other with desire let alone kiss and we are supposed to believe they are desperately in love - as it does when they jump into bed on first meeting and fall desperately "in love". Opposite ends of the pendulum but the same results - NOT believable! (Oh dear, I feel a rant coming on! I'll be very quiet now. :).

      Delete
    6. Okay, JOSEE, we could be twins here because for several seconds, I actually thought your comment was mine! I said almost EXACTLY the same thing about Fifty Shades and mommy porn a few comments up, so great minds!! The statistic that I found said that "Fifty Shades of Grey has topped best-seller lists around the world, selling over 125 million copies worldwide by June 2015. It has been translated into 52 languages, and set a record in the United Kingdom as the fastest-selling paperback of all time." Gosh, that makes me sick!

      You also said: "I'm SO OVER romance books where the couple find love through a sexual relationship. That rarely, if ever, happens in real life, aside from the moral implications."

      OH!! MY!! GOSH!! This is my BIGGEST pet peeve about secular romance, and it makes me CRAZEEEEE!! I also said something similar in my comments here, too, so gosh, Josee, we ARE twins separated at birth on this subject for sure, although like I told TJ, separated by about 40 years! ;)

      Hugs,
      Julie

      Delete
  20. Welcome TJ and Julie - I signed up for your magazine when I shared Julie's blog post because I'm pre-pubbed but I admire your focus and what you're offering through your excellent magazine. Because I haven't sold yet I'm not sure what end of the spectrum I'm going to end up on. I know I'd like to see stories that show people dealing with real issues like infertility, addictions, divorce, adultery and forgiveness. Have I written those yet? No, but at the same time I'm frustrated by all the widows we have in Christian fiction, as opposed to the divorced single moms who're trying to rebuild their lives. I realize those topics aren't for everyone, but I've got family who're dealing with all of those issues as Christians. Life gets messy, but Jesus is the One who cuts through it all and lifts us out of the mire. So, whenever I publish I pray it'll be with a story that might be out from under the bushel. I don't want steamy or edgey - I want realistic and not preachy. I don't want swear words but I don't want people so squeaky clean no one wants to read about them. I hope that makes some kind of sense! :) I'm SO glad to find InD'Tale magazine, TJ. Thank you for all your hard work and for giving all of us the chance to learn more about you and the opportunities you provide.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank YOU for your very insightful thoughts, Laurie. I think you will make a very fine author - now get those books written!! ;)

      Delete
    2. Oh, LAURIE, I couldn't agree with this statement more: "Life gets messy, but Jesus is the One who cuts through it all and lifts us out of the mire."

      YES, YES, YES!!! He did that for me, and that's what I would like to see Christian fiction begin to do for those secular readers who need Jesus desperately!

      Hugs,
      Julie

      Delete
  21. I am loving reading these comments! What a great discussion and topic. I personally love to be convicted and challenged when I read my books. For one thing - I NEED it as a Christian! How else will I keep growing and moving forward? Then again, there are times I just want a sweet, no thinking required, escape story.
    In today's society I agree we probably need more "actions have consequences and you can't run from them" moral-of-the-story books. I like to read those because I'm only human - being a Christian doesn't stop me from sinning, unfortunately. So authors, please don't stop writing for us life-long Christians, we need the correction and uplifting comfort reminders, too!
    What is neat about so many authors and books is there is something for everyone. I don't think authors need to be "scared" or worried about where they are as long as they feel God has called them to write the stories they are writing. You each have your special place in the puzzle of life - you are each a special unique piece! As examples listed in other comments - the books find the hands they need to fall into. God has it under control!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Amen! This is along the lines of what I have been thinking as I read this post and all the comments. This Christian journey is a life long one...and it's hard! And we're not meant to walk it alone. I'm grateful for the companionship and inspiration Christian Fiction brings to my life.

      Delete
    2. I'm loving this discussion, too! Thank you Susan! I think you brought up a very important point. We, as believers, need stories that help us through, as well. There are so many wonderful ways to reach each heart. We just need to get them out there!

      Delete
    3. SUSAN, I LOVE THIS:

      "I don't think authors need to be "scared" or worried about where they are as long as they feel God has called them to write the stories they are writing. You each have your special place in the puzzle of life - you are each a special unique piece! As examples listed in other comments - the books find the hands they need to fall into. God has it under control!!"

      ESPECIALLY the line "God has it under control!!" You know what's sad? It took me about six years and a sabbatical to fully understand that point and let it go to let God take over. Sigh. I'm a slow one ... :|

      Hugs,
      Julie

      Delete
  22. ...And another thing. One of the best-selling books ever, Francine Rivers' Redeeming Love, is a story that many considered "edgy" at the time. In fact, if memory serves correctly, I believe the first editions came with a disclaimer, or gentle reminder, if you will, that this was a story that was more appropriate for adults (non-teens), or something along those lines.

    Even then, Redeeming Love transcended our cookie-cutter version of Christian Fiction, and today it still resonates. Why? Because it realistically addressed needs, hurts, and relationships in a Christlike fashion but also in a non-preachy way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, CYNTHIA, YES!!! Redeeming Love is definitely an icon that has risen above the ranks of all Christian novels, and THAT'S the type of book I would like to see break into the secular market, or maybe it has!

      Hugs,
      Julie

      Delete
    2. JULIE, I clearly see we're of the same mold. ;)

      Delete
  23. I don't have a problem w/edgy Christian as long as I know what I'm in for. Most of the time, I just want a good, clean book. I don't even care if there is a Christian thread as long as the characters are Christian-like.
    But sometimes the point of the book is a character overcoming some kind of sin or ordeal. Like Cynthia mentioned, Redeeming Love. Then the author must delve deeper.

    I don't guess I've ever read a book with the mindset to help me overcome some problem. It's always been about the entertainment. Wow? How shallow must I be?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Connie! Your point is a good one and one of the reasons we include the "steam" rating right along with the overall rating of every book. That way readers can find books that they are comfortable reading - from completely sweet (not even kissing) to very steamy (while not erotic, mainstream can get pretty graphic). I think we need to know what we are getting before we purchase a book!

      Delete
    2. You're so right. I love that you give a rating. I wished they gave ratings on teen books. Such a great idea.
      And you're not telling people what to read, just informing them. Love it.

      Delete
    3. CONNIE SAID: "I don't guess I've ever read a book with the mindset to help me overcome some problem. It's always been about the entertainment. Wow? How shallow must I be?"

      LOL, CONNIE, then I'm shallow too, my friend, but I wouldn't tag us with the "shallow" trait just yet -- ONLY if we read one with a helpful message and DON'T get the spiritual point! ;)

      Hugs,
      Julie

      Delete
    4. Connie, I so agree with you. I wish they would do the rating for teen books too. It would definitely make me feel safer picking up a YA book to read if there were. Maybe they should label the actually good YA books "teen appropriate" seeing as the genre definitely isn't anymore.

      Delete
    5. Actually we DO have a section for teen books - and they have steam ratings, as well!

      Delete
  24. Oh, I don't even know where to start, this is such a good discussion.
    Mary Jane/Virginia is right, if God steers me in that way that is the way I will go.
    I'm reading a book by Tamera Alexander right now, "A Lasting Impression," and there is a fair amount of sexual tension between the H and H, but she never crosses the line. Neither is she shy about showing that these are attractive young people and they're attracted to each other. it is realistically done.
    In my Oregon Trail series I have a reformed prostitute and another young woman who "gave herself to the love of her life" before she was a Christian. I've toyed with the idea of having the second young woman taken advantage of by the hero, but then that would cast him in a poor light, so I decided to let their passion stand (in the past, of course). She wasn't a Christian at the time.
    My prostitute (boy, did that not come out right) is out of that life by the time she graces my pages, and she regrets it bitterly as she goes West. I changed her to a "saloon girl" for a possible run at a more conservative publisher, but either way, she wasn't a virtuous woman.
    I think if I sanitized them any more, I couldn't write as well about their redemption, which is the point of Christian fiction, at least for me.
    My personal reading tends toward Christian fiction (romance, historical, contemporary) and cozy mysteries. I don't need graphic sex in a book, I already know where everything goes, and if I happen to be reading a book with detailed sex scenes I usually skip over them, so what's the point?
    I'm going to think about this more while I go do some errands.
    Kathy Bailey

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You do exactly what I love, Kaybee! My favortie books are those that show real people and feelings without all the graphics. I have become a first-rate sex scene skipper and I agree... if I can skip that scene, why is it there in the first place?

      Delete
    2. Kathy, I love the premise of your story! I would grab that off the shelf. :)

      Delete
    3. KATHY SAID: "I think if I sanitized them any more, I couldn't write as well about their redemption, which is the point of Christian fiction, at least for me."

      Uh, yeah!! Stick to your guns, my friend, and I'm with Laurie -- I love the premise of your story too!

      Hugs,
      Julie

      Delete
  25. RE CHRISTIAN BOOK STORES...There was one in the next big town, Manchester New Hampshire, but it closed a couple of years ago and was replaced by a Cash For Gold outfit. Is that ironic or what. There is one in Concord NH, where my daughter lives, but I can take it or leave it, it's at least half to two-thirds gifts and trinkets. If you're going to sell books, sell books.
    I have found that BAM (Books A Million) has a respectable selection of inspirational books, including fiction. I think it might have a little more than Barnes & Noble.
    I will be looking for Ruthy's books in Walmart, where I spend a disturbing amount of my time.
    KB

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "I will be looking for Ruthy's books in Walmart, where I spend a disturbing amount of my time."

      LOL ... that IS disturbing AND depressing because I HATE shopping!! ;)

      Hugs,
      Julie

      Delete
    2. kaybee, I found Ruthy's books at Walmart! It's the first place I go. Love the Staffords, and the awesome covers!

      Marcia

      Delete
  26. Hi TJ and welcome to Seekerville. Oh my goodness, you are an answer to prayer. I so agree with you that we need to let our light shine in the secular world. I write sweet romances and often sell at fairs. I tell those walking by that I write "Sweet romance, no shades of gray" and I can't tell you how many thank me and then buy my books. I am so delighted to meet you. I am so sorry to say I didn't know about your magazine and will certainly be taking advantage of all you have to offer. I keep saying we need to let secular readers know we are here because there are so many who really love romance but don't want all the explicit sex. They tell me they "skip those parts" Well why not give them good reads that don't have parts they have to skip?

    And they can find those reads through you. I am so going to pass the word out. Thank you. Thank you. I will be in touch.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh my goodness, Sandra! Thank YOU!!! I agree with every single thing you said! I would love it if you keep in touch! If I can help in anyway just shoot me an email at tjmackay@indtale.com

      Delete
    2. Sandra, love your comment to readers about "no shades of gray" in your stories! I find so many readers enjoy the LIS line because they don't want the bedroom scenes and can trust the stories will be PG or G rated.

      Delete
    3. Hey, SANDRA, you are SO right on, my friend about giving those readers who want it good romantic reads that don't have parts they have to skip. That's what I want -- passion God's way!!

      Hugs,
      Julie

      Delete
  27. Wow -- what a great discussion!!!! So many things racing through my mind right now. Like others, I'm not sure what edgy means. I read almost exclusively Christian fiction. The stories I enjoy are about real people dealing with real problems whether it's contemporary or historical or romantic suspense or speculative. The issues vary as do characters and plots and I see a lot of variety in the Christian Fiction market. Enough to please every type of reader.

    I think the problem lies in the marketing. Authors don't need to write differently or edgier -- whatever that means -- to make a leap into the ABA market but publishers and booksellers need to rethink the way they present Christian Fiction books.

    The big box bookstores in my area don't even have a Christian Fiction section. Those books are added to the two shelves allotted for Christian Non-Fiction and consist of Beverly Lewis and Janette Oke. Seriously. That's it. That's what they think Christian Fiction is. Meanwhile they have a whole wall and centre aisle full of every kind of Fiction book imaginable. Every genre from classic literature to erotica and everything in between. So why would they think that Christian Fiction is limited to two authors????? Gah!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Kay! I honestly think it is the moniker of "Christian" that stops them all before they even give the books a chance. Very sad - but we just need a way to work around it! We're trying to by calling them "Inspirational". I have seen many more secular readers picking up the books under that heading than they ever would have under "Christian". Hey whatever works! The important thing is that they are reading!

      Delete
    2. KAV!!! I've missed you, girlfriend! Hope all is well. Are you still not able to read ebooks right now?

      I used to LOVE Barnes & Noble because they had a realllllly large Christian section and they always wanted me to come for book signings. But my sister tried to find one of my books at a Barnes & Noble, and she couldn't because the section was itsy-bitsy with just a few big names like you said. When my sister asked if she could order it, the gal actually rolled her eyes and said something a little snide to her. I don't remember what it was because I put it out of my mind, but both of us were pretty ticked at the time. And the Christian sections have been really small at every B&N store I've been in, which is sad.

      TJ, I actually wanted to coin the phrase Mainstream Inspirational for my books, but obviously one book does not a section make. But my prayer is that someday we will have a section like that. I just hope I'm still alive to see it ... ;)

      Hugs,
      Julie

      Delete
    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
  28. TJ, so glad you could be with us today. Congrats on your lovely publication...and all you're doing to bring readers and writers together. I need to subscribe!

    Thanks, Julie, for sharing TJ with us!

    Great topic!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so very much, Debby! I would be delighted if you did subscribe. Hey, it's free - what's to lose?!?

      Delete
    2. WHOOPS ... accidentally wrote this comment to Deb on Kav's post, so here it is, Deb, for you!

      I know, TJ's great, isn't she? It was like a gift from God when she contacted me, seriously!

      Hugs,
      Julie

      Delete
  29. Really enjoying this thought-provoking discussion, TJ, and thank you so much for being our guest today! I subscribed to your magazine and look forward to browsing the articles, reviews, and other information. You are really filling a niche, and I wish you much success!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you SO much, Myra! Oh, I hope we can help you!! Hopefully you'll be able to better find books you would like to read and be entertained. Let me know if there is anything you would like or need.

      Delete
    2. She is, isn't she, MYRA, and I am SO glad we are introducing her to so many potential readers today, so YAY!!

      Hugs,
      Julie

      Delete
  30. TJ, this is great! So needed. I just subscribed to the magazine and am looking forward to reading Julie Lessman's article.

    Because the first inspirational book I started reading (and didn't finish) was heavy-handed with message, I never would have read another inspirational if an editor friend hadn't encouraged me to by mailing a much better one to me. Your magazine would have been a great resource back then. Glad it's here now :-)

    Thank you for your magazine,
    Nancy C

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Chill!!! Between you and me - I have a very hard time with Christian books that bludgeon the message in. I much prefer the story to inspire subtly with the message weaving itself into the fabric of the story rather than hitting me over the head! Takes a very talented author to do that but hey... we have a lot of them that can!

      Delete
    2. Thanks, NANCY, for reading the interview and subscribing -- MUCH appreciated!

      And I am SO glad your editor friend got you back in our camp, my friend!!

      HUGS!!
      Julie

      Delete
  31. "No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money."
    Samuel Johnson

    I'm a marketing person and while many authors talk about writing for the money, they are often very adverse to taking steps at doing just this. The highest selling fiction writers build the marketing into the story before they write the first word! Do we know any authors who do that?

    These mega-selling authors ask questions like below at the start:

    Is it a high concept idea? Will it fully support a 400 page novel? Is the location/setting of high interest? Is there a strong added reader interest over and above the plot line? What about: Interesting events? Occupations? Hobbies? Does it have a 'stand up and cheer ending'? When you show your story outline to non-writer friends are they anxious to know when you are going to write this story because they can't wait to read it?

    Just try to do this question approach with many writers! You know what you get?

    "I pantser. I can't plot the story out ahead of time like that. It would come out lifeless."

    "I write the story where God leads me."

    "I'm writing the story of my heart! Changing the location just to sell more books! That's just so philistine."


    And the beat goes on and on and on.

    If one really wants to sell more books, then take James Patterson's writing course. It's not how to write or publish. It's how to write from the start to sell the most books. Patterson was a high level ad man on Madison Ave for 15 years and he really knows how to sell product. He's also not reluctant to tell other writers just how to do it too.

    Warning: Patterson says he will spend two to three months perfecting the outline for a story. He'll also write a scene six or seven times not because there is anything wrong with it but to make it more compelling and rewarding reading. It takes a commitment to obtain such high sales.

    BTW: Patterson is said to be selling more fiction than anyone else!

    Vince

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. VINCE!! I had no idea that "Patterson was a high level ad man on Madison Ave for 15 years and he really knows how to sell product."

      I knew he was a big deal, but I had no idea about his prior career! WOW!! It takes one marketing genius to unearth that for us about another, I guess. :)

      HUGS,
      Julie

      Delete
    2. Vince, I ask many of these questions when I am coming up with a story idea. But that's just because I want to be a bestselling author myself. Not solely because of the wish for money (though it would be pretty great to be able to support myself solely on my writing income), but HELLO, who doesn't want movies made based off of their books, merchandise on their books sold (I would kill to have Barbie dolls made to represent my characters), and all sorts of awesome franchise stuff.

      I'd never heard of Patterson before, so thanks for the info.

      Delete
  32. I started writing after I had read enough trash in the current YA market that is out there, and decided that the bad morals featured in those books were in no way helping our culture. What was once a relatively clean genre made for readers who were too young to read adult books and too old to read children's books, is now filled with all sorts of garbage and political views. So I decided to start writing clean books for the secular YA market, to give readers an "out" so to speak. Something else to read that isn't filled with garbage.

    I would love to be entered for the author giveaway.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. THANK YOU, Nicki!!! I have been shocked the last year or so at how bad the YA books have become! I, like you, always thought YA was the one area that I could be assured was clean. Not anymore, unfortuntely. If fact I have even went on a few rants about this very subject. I wonder if some of the authors that are putting so much garbage in YA stories are aware that the average reading age of a YA book is 13 - 14!

      Delete
    2. Oh, WOW, Nicki and TJ, I knew YA was getting bad, but I didn't realize how bad, although I should have given today's amoral society.

      And to think there are Christian moms who will not let their 16-year-olds read my books. :|

      Hugs,
      Julie

      Delete
    3. Oh, yes, YA books are getting bad. My mom says that they are really just being written for the middle aged women who read YA books. No longer the teenagers, like me, who the genre was actually written for and are just looking for an interesting story.

      At one point in reading the last book in a series (a book I had waited an entire year to read) I had to actually go ask my mom if I was reading what I thought I was reading, because it was so mature and blatant that I was sure they wouldn't put that in a book written for young adults. It was certainly too mature for sixteen year old, me that was for sure, and made me extremely uncomfortable. And on top of that it ruined the whole rest of the series for me, I hate that the author had to go add all that smutty crud in the last book. Why couldn't she have just ended the series the same way she had written the first two books, rather than ambushing me in the last book? I'm a stinkin' teenager for crying out loud! I don't want to have to read about that.

      And here I am ranting myself.

      Delete
    4. Rant away, NICKI, I'm ticked about it too! Especially when the stuff is usually so blatantly against God's precepts like jumping in bed with whomever -- the secular bible!!

      I always have to shake my head when I judge Rita books because I can't tell you HOW many times the premise is the gal has realllly steamy and downright crude sex with the guy the first or second time she meets him, but for some reason he can't understand, he's desperately in love with her and has never felt this way with any of the other 350 women he's been with. Yeah, right. Happily ever after for sure -- NOT!!

      Okay, rant over.

      Hugs,
      Julie

      Delete
    5. You nailed it, Julie! Plots like that are just SO unbelievable to me!

      Delete
  33. TJ, you have written a powerful post. "And as the pinpoints find us, we shine brighter--and brighter." Exactly! We all become stronger.

    I first learned about InD'tale at a Buildin' the Dream conference in Scottsdale, Arizona, a few years ago. I believe you were one of the speakers. I'm so glad to hear you doing are well and spreading the good news of Christian fiction.

    Thank you for the important message you shared today. I'm putting on the armor. Blessings!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Sherida! I WAS a speaker at Buildin' the Dream a few years ago! I'll bet I will know your face the minute I see you again... which I sincerely hope will happen!!

      Delete
    2. SHERIDA!! It is a powerful post, isn't it? And a very important one too, so thanks for coming by to comment.

      You lucky dawg -- you got to meet TJ in person??? Someday hopefully, I will too. :)

      Hugs,
      Julie

      Delete
    3. I did meet her, Julie. She is full of energy and enthusiasm. After reading TJ's post, I appreciate knowing she believes in Christian fiction and values our place as inspirational writers as we shine the light! Yay!

      Delete
  34. Now that I'm home from the day job and am looking at comments more thoroughly, I want to say that I enjoy writing and reading "edgier" fiction. But that's edgier in terms of premise and conflict, not the usage of vile words or explicit love scenes. My debut novel that made its appearance last year is definitely edgy (again, along the lines of premise and conflict). And it is definitely Christian fiction, by a Christian publisher. I believe Christian authors can write edgier fiction without all the curse words or behind bedroom door scenes. To tell a good story suitable for both the Christian and secular market doesn't mean one has to compromise one's integrity by resorting to those story angles. Actually, in my opinion, I wish publishing can stop separating Christian fiction from non-Christian fiction (kind of like on the American level, we're all Americans, not Irish-Americans or North vs. South Americans). We are all authors. I've read quite a few "secular" novels by major name authors who have mentioned practices of faith, attending church, have no swearing and they're not branded as Christian fiction or Christian authors and enjoy cashing their larger royalty checks from big publishing houses.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very well said, Elaine! Wouldn't it be wonderful if great fiction were just that - great fiction!

      Delete
    2. Hey, ELAINE, I agree with you that I wish publishing could stop separating Christian fiction from non-Christian fiction (kind of like on the American level, we're all Americans, not Irish-Americans or North vs. South Americans). It would be pretty cool if we could have a standard book rating system like we have a movie rating system. There's not two different rating systems for Christian movies and secular movies -- only one: G, PG, PG-13, and R.

      You also said: "I believe Christian authors can write edgier fiction without all the curse words or behind bedroom door scenes."

      I agree with that, but I also know there is a billion-dollar industry out there in romance, and unfortunately it's mostly comprised of secular books that are promoting their world view instead of God's. That billion-dollar industry is comprised of women and some men who plunk down cash for books where the bedroom door is open because they want the thrill of romantic passion. If the Christian market doesn't give it to them in a greater degree than it does now, they will worship at the altar of the likes of Fifty Shades of Grey.

      And frankly, I am one of those women who loves romantic passion. I used to read secular romance until God tapped me on the shoulder and led me to Christian romance. Why? Because I wanted the passion, yes, but I craved the blessing of God's precepts in it too. I couldn't find the level of passion I wanted as a former secular romance reader in the CBA, so I started writing my own, infusing it with God's precepts, passion, and hope.

      Unfortunately, I am a catch 22 since I am too passionate for the Christian market and too spiritual for the secular. I pray it changes, but if it doesn't, I will continue to keep the bedroom door open in a way that honors God and teaches readers that sex is part of a God-ordained marriage and one to be celebrated. That's not everyone's cup of tea, I realize, especially in the Christian market. But it sure is in the secular market, and the Christian market needs to realize that even if we are only talking about romance novels, Edmund Burke's statement still applies: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

      Hugs,
      Julie

      Delete
    3. Julie, I'm glad we have you as a trailblazer/role model. Something needs to change, for sure.

      Hugs, back.

      Delete
    4. Well, I don't know how much of a "trailblazer/role model" I am, Elaine, but I have a big mouth, so that's gotta help, right? :)

      Hugs,
      Julie

      Delete
  35. Hello TJ and JULIE! I love how the Lord uses stories to reach those who need Him. My Mom is not currently service the Lord. I gave her a Karen Kingsbury book for her birthday. She has been on a quest to back read ALL her books. She even shares them with her co-workers.

    THANK YOU, TJ and JULIE for being BRIGHT LIGHTS in this very dark world! You are a BLESSING! (((((HUGS))))

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank YOU, Caryl for such kind words! I sincerely appreciate it!!

      Delete
    2. CARYL!! Thanks SO much for coming by, you sweet thing, and good for you in giving your mom a Karen Kingsbury novel -- Karen is top of the line for sure. Is that your mom's very first Christian novel?

      But when she's done with Karen's book, say in 2020, I hope you let her read one of the paperbacks you won for me, okay? ;)

      Hugs and more hugs,
      Julie

      Delete
  36. TJ what a great thought-provoking "get your bushel moving" kind of post! Thank you. Several years ago, DeeAnne Gist explained why she chose to publish outside of Christian publishers and it was a fantastic message.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Sharee! I LOVE DeeAnne Gist - probably for that very reason. She is letting her light shine everywhere no matter the odds. :)

      Delete
    2. Oh, SHAREE, I will have to hunt that message down because I have never heard it and wondered why.

      Hugs!!
      Julie

      Delete
  37. Hi TJ and Julie! Thank you for such a thought-provoking post. I lean toward writing non-edgy fiction (although I really enjoy Julie's books) but I've enjoyed reading the comments here from those with differing opinions. Much to think about. I really like Mary Jane Hathaway's comment: "Whether to include edgier content and who should read what... That's the beautiful thing about books. You can't control who reads them. :)I believe we should only write the story God puts before us, no adjusting or shying away or sweetening up. However it shakes out, that is the story we were meant to write." In the long run that's what I hope to do.

    Off now to read Julie's interview in your magazine (I tried over the weekend but couldn't connect for some reason). Thank you both for such an interesting post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I tried again to subscribe and read Julie's interview, but it still didn't work for me (I'm sure it's my fault - I'm as low tech as a person can possibly be). I did get a confirmation email that said, in part, "Thanks again for registering." But when I try to read Julie's story, it says I need to subscribe. I will try again when I get home from church.

      Delete
    2. Hi Laura, You should be able to just click on the magazine image on the website to read it. I'll also check and see what the problem is for you in subscribing... could be just a verification glitch. :)

      Delete
    3. Thank you, TJ! I got an "account details" email and was able to connect.

      Delete
    4. LAURA, I can't tell you how much I appreciate you reading my books, my friend, even though you don't tend toward edgy fiction.

      And thank you, too, for taking the time to read the interview -- I SO appreciate you, my friend!

      Hugs,
      Julie

      Delete
  38. You are so right, TJ. We are to shine our light before the world. We are also to take every thought captive to obey Christ. How can we do that if we only spend time with the choir and only reuse the same Christian ideas over and over again?

    Secular YA has definitely gone bad. It's refreshing to see some Christian YA titles out there that I think even non-Christian teens would enjoy. I've even written a couple myself- though my sister would say they're too preachy. But now I'm looking toward another dark genre that needs to be taken captive for Christ: NA. New adult is perfect for those of us who are too old for YA and too young for adult adult. But there are almost no Christian NA- or even clean NA, except for one or two titles I've been privilaged to read, so it's time for me to get to work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep! Get to work, Boo! We need more great YA fiction!!

      Delete
    2. Hey, BOO, you go, girl -- we need you, so get busy!!

      Hugs and more hugs,
      Julie

      Delete
  39. Again, I really liked this post!

    ReplyDelete
  40. Hi TJ,
    Thanks SO much for being here today. This post was great to read (because I totally agree). I'm going back to read the comments because I'm really curious how the discussion went.

    You asked:
    "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?"

    The reason you get a whole-hearted YES from me is because I know that at my most basic inner level, my character was formed so much by the books I read. Which is why I give such strong praise to the authors who write inviting MG and YA fiction. It's SO important.

    Thank you for creating InD'tale. I subscribed and am totally looking forward to reading.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, CATE, I sure love those "whole-hearted YES's," so thanks for the affirmative shout! And you're right, compelling Christian fiction that invites a broader range of secular readers IS so very important!

      Hugs,
      Julie

      Delete
    2. Oh thank you, thank you,Cate! Both for your wonderful comments and for subscribing!!

      Delete
  41. Thank you EVERYONE for a most wonderful discussion! This is something I feel so strongly about and I am delighted to know that others do, as well. It is an honor and a pleasure to get to know you and I sincerely hope I'll have the chance to continue our acquaintance in the future!
    If there is anything I can do to help each of you in your pursuit of great books, just drop me a note at: tjmackay@indtale.com. I would be happy to hear from you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. TJ, thanks SO much for being a stellar guest today -- it was a pleasure working with you on this, my friend, so let's do it again sometime, okay?

      HUGS and MORE HUGS!!
      Julie

      Delete
  42. Oh! And one more thing.... IF you choose to submit books for review, please know that we direct the genres to the specific reviewers who know and understand that genre well. So, we have professionals who love inspiriation and Christian books reviewing the inspirational genre. That being said - you also need to know that the books are held to just as high a standard as mainstream books. All the requirements such as a proper arc, character development etc. are judged.
    A professional review can be used on covers and in editorial areas and holds a much higher amount of weight than do personal reviews. The standard is higher, as well, though. So be forewarned!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What all entails to submitting a book for review, would it have a charge?

      Delete
    2. Nope!! There is no charge for reviews. There is a small charge of $12.00 if you want to have your book cover and clickable buy-links included with the magazine when it publishes,however. Submission is super easy, you just pop over to the website and click on "Submit a book for review". Under the "Submissions" tab. Here is the direct link to make it easy. :). http://www.indtale.com/submit-book-review
      Then you just fill out the paperwork and upload the book!

      Delete
  43. I don't have any problem with Christian fiction reaching out to the secular market. I do like my clean reads though and I tend to be less surprised by things I don't want to read if I chose a Christian author.

    I did not know about your magazine TJ. What a good idea. I'm heading over to look at it now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Loraine, for taking a look at InD'tales -- you won't be sorry!

      And that is an excellent point with Christian fiction -- at least you know it's a safer bet when you pick it up ...

      Hugs,
      Julie

      Delete
    2. Thank you so much, Loraine!!

      Delete
  44. I had to join in after dinner although I read this thought provoking post at lunch.
    TJ thank you for sharing today! I really enjoyed reading your perspective. I subscribed to InD’tale after Julie's interview was shared on Seekerville. I am so glad that I did. :)
    Now as for the question:
    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?
    My thoughts have gone back and forth on this. Personally I think that writers should write the stories God put on their hearts in an authentic fashion. I think more of this issue is on the heads of publishers more than the writers. Christian non-fiction has made great headway in publishing with authors being given a shout out in many venues and not just Christian. I believe Christian fiction can do the same whether edgy or more traditional, but the publishers need to recognize when someone has the goods for any reader.

    This opinion comes from a very limited view. I have only been reading Christian fiction for ten years and started with "Murder by Mushroom" by Virginia Smith. I started reading Christian fiction because I was looking for something more uplifting and was pleasantly surprised by how good Christian fiction actually was. Prior to that my favorite authors were Sue Grafton, Stephen King and James Patterson. They were not the only authors I read, but reflective of the kind of writing I enjoyed.
    PS I still read those authors too. :)

    Thanks again!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Kelly! I'm so glad you decided to chat! Obviously, I think Christian fiction should get into the secular market. I don't think it necessarily has to edgier because I think there is a market for all types. To succeed in the secular market, however, it has to be more careful. It can't hit people over the head with preaching. The message must be done in a more subtle way. People turn off at the mere thought of "Christian" fiction because they think they will be bludgeoned with the message rather than inspired with the story. Unfortunately, that is true with some books. It is something that Christians may not mind and even enjoy but to influence the secular market one has to be more carefully persuasive.

      Delete
    2. Hey, KELLY, thanks for coming back to the discussion, my friend, and for subscribing to InD'tales.

      You made an excellent point about Christian non-fiction making "great headway in publishing with authors being given a shout out in many venues and not just Christian." And I totally agree that "Christian fiction can do the same whether edgy or more traditional," and in fact, that is my prayer!

      Hugs and GOOD LUCK!
      Julie

      Delete
  45. This was a great post. I love a Christian book that has lots of edginess yet makes me think. I try to do that with my novels. Sex for sex sake is just irritating. I want to read a romance with a story line that helps me love the characters and root for them to choose each other. I've had several people purchase my novel who are not Christians. Which as you said is who we are to light our shine for. I'm going to do a book signing and mini-workshop at the public library this summer. I am not promoting my book as a Christian Historical Romance. Because I like to think the content is compelling enough to appeal to the unbeliever. Put my name in the basket for your drawings. Cindy Huff,Jubilee Writer

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's awesome, Jubilee!!! Let that light keep shining!!

      Delete
    2. Hey, CINDY, I couldn't agree more with your statement that "Sex for sex sake is just irritating." And leaves me feeling depressed and almost dirty, which is why I gave up secular romance a while back.

      You said: "I am not promoting my book as a Christian Historical Romance. Because I like to think the content is compelling enough to appeal to the unbeliever."

      Oh, girl, good for you!! I plan to write a secular book down the road that has a very loose thread of spirituality, so I'll try that too. :)

      Hugs,
      Julie

      Delete
  46. This was such an interesting post! I had not heard of InD'tale before. I love the idea of reaching out with my books. I subscribed and will look forward to reading more.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much Carrie! I will be looking for your books!

      Delete
    2. Thanks, CARRIE, for subscribing, my friend, and coming by!

      Hugs,
      Julie

      Delete
  47. This is not just a question for the world of books, but a friend and I co-write screenplays and although I truly believe there is an audience for good, clean movies that don't overdo it on the preachiness, it's hard to find a spot to fit. If you don't have the swearing and sex, some distribution outlets don't want you, but if you don't have a big "Jesus" moment, you're not "Christian" enough. We continue to pray and write and have faith that if God has called us--all of us--to do this thing, He will find the outlet for these kind of uplifting stories. Thank you for a great post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, Glynis, I will be praying for your success,as well as all the other wonderful writers here! The world of movies is a whole other kettle of soup but one that runs parallel to publishing. I SO agree with you - we need good, inspiring movies just as desperately as we need good inspiring books. Maybe if people see the rise in Inspriational reading it will transfer to the movies they make? One can only hope. :)

      Delete
    2. Hey, GLYNIS, I never really thought of that regarding movies, but you're right! Saying one for you as well, so God bless you in your efforts.

      TJ said: "Maybe if people see the rise in Inspriational reading it will transfer to the movies they make? One can only hope." :)

      You know, that's a bit like what happened when Mel Gibson produced The Passion of the Christ, TJ. It was a box-office blockbuster, and it set Hollywood on its ear, shocked that there was this HUGE silent market of Christians that they had no idea was there. That was a key moment for Christians in the arts, I think, and hopefully it's about time for it to happen again.

      Hugs,
      Julie

      Delete
  48. How did I not know this magazine was out there? And what a great topic! I started to get caught in all the replies and realized how many people felt the same way I do. I'm still learning the craft of writing, but I want my stories to have a message that is accessible to nonbelievers as well as belivers. It's such a relief to know so many others feel the same way!
    How I'm off to subscribe to In D'tale! Thanks so much, TJ, for seeing this need, this mission field, and doing something about it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so very much, Laura! I'll be watching for you!

      Delete
    2. YAY, LAURA ... don't feel badly, I didn't know InD'tales was there either till TJ was kind enough to contact me, so she's been a MAJOR blessing to SO many people this week!

      Hugs,
      Julie

      Delete
  49. Even my books with the LEAST amount of Christian message get nasty reviews from people accusing me of preaching, of shoving Jesus down their throats, etc. I also get reviews saying that there was a Christian message, but it didn't "bother" them, or wasn't "too preachy." (Is that a compliment or should I feel like I missed the mark?) Then again, I occasionally get messages that tell me that my books helped them get back on track with God. And those are always based on my books that have the MOST Christian content and heaviest Christian message. So . . . it's too much for me to figure out, so I just write what is on my heart, and I don't worry if my Christian content is going to offend anyone. And I write the best story I can, and sometimes that is too edgy for some of my readers. Again, you can please some of the people some of the time, but not all of the people.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. MELANIE!! SO fun to see you here, my friend, and I certainly hear you on that!

      My hubby asked me to tone down the romantic AND spiritual passion in my San Fran series just to try something different, so I did, also making them shorter, funnier, less complicated. STILL got bad reviews saying it was too Christian or to sensual. Sigh.

      So I totally agree -- it IS too much to figure out, so I am just writing the stories God calls me to write as well, and so be it!

      Hugs and more hugs,
      Julie

      Delete
  50. My reply may not be exactly on mark but many years ago, when the book 'Left Behind'became a best seller and led to a multi-book series, I watched library patrons devour these books. I am certain that many of them weren't Christians but suddenly they were questioning the End days and seeming answers. I heard some practicing Christians criticize these books because they thought they weren't true to their Biblical teaching. My reply was, and remains the same today, "These books have introduced Jesus Christ to people who would never had seemed Him. Let Tim LaHaye open the door a d then perhaps we can lead them through". Thanks for a great, thought provoking post!
    I also subscribed after reading Julie's post.
    Blessings!
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Auto correct once again at work! Both of the words seem and seemed should be SEEK & SEEKED.

      Delete
    2. No, CONNIE, you are RIGHT on the mark with your comment, my friend, so thank you for pointing that out. I'd forgotten how powerful and far-reaching The Left Behind Series had been, and you are dead-on -- I'm pretty sure it brought tons of people to seek more about God, so thank you, Tim LeHaye!!

      Thanks for reading my interview and subscribing to InD'tales, my friend -- you won't be sorry!

      Hugs,
      Julie

      Delete