Friday, July 24, 2015

What's wrong with "Christian" Fiction?


I feel the need to rant a bit today. Please forgive me in advance. But whenever I hear from another author that their publisher and/or agent has told them to "tone down" the spiritual/Christian content of their "Christian" novel, I want to puke. (Sorry for the visual)  I heard no such demands when I first got published back in 2006, though I know a few publishers were requesting it.  But now, it seems that everywhere I turn, this is the norm.

So, I guess I'm asking why call it "Christian" Fiction if Christ is not mentioned in the pages. Just call it Clean or Sweet, then people will know there isn't any sex or violence or foul language, but they won't take the risk of being offended by the name of Jesus.  It is His name that offends so many, after all. Gee, I wonder why that is?  Could it be that it is only by the  name of Jesus that men can be saved from hell? Wonder who is trying to push that name into the background?  Erase it from the pages of "Christian" books?

I'm not at all putting down Christian novels that are light on the spiritual side. Some authors are called to just write uplifting, clean stories from a Christian worldview. I get that. It's their ministry and they are good at it.  What irks me is that those of us who want to write strong spiritual stories that mention Jesus, salvation, and other spiritual taboos like delivering demons and healings and miracles, well we are told to stifle it. It won't sell.  I had one author tell me she was told to take out all the overt Christian content and resubmit the book. Huh?

Listen I know publishers are in the business to make money. But they are also in the business of publishing Christian books that tell the good news of the Gospel to a dying world. Which is more important?  Which one do you think God will honor them for? Why not do the right thing and let God sort out the money. Didn't He promise to provide for those who follow Him with all their heart?

I'm also not buying the excuse that they hope to reach more  lost people for Jesus by putting out books the unsaved would purchase and wouldn't be offended at. Really?  I don't recall Jesus or his disciples toning down their message to reach more people? Besides how will people ever know the way to eternal life if someone doesn't tell them?

It's all about the money, pure and simple.. and conpromising with the world, being politically correct to make more sales.  You know, I could sell more books if I wanted to. I could take out all my Jesus stuff from my books, add some sex scenes, and I could probably double or triple my sales. Don't think I haven't thought about it. LOL. Why? because I could use the money, and because there's no author in the world who wouldn't want to be on a best-seller list.   But I answer to a higher power than the New York Times Best seller list (Not that I'd ever make that one. LOL)  I answer to God.

And this world more than ever needs to hear about Jesus.


Writing News
Many of you have been asking when the new and improved version of The Raven Saint will be available. I'm editing the old manuscript right now and will be getting a new cover made next month, so I expect to release it in September.

Also, in celebration of re-releasing my best-selling Charles Towne Belles series, I'm adding a forth book, Charity's Cross. For those of  you who have read the series, you know that Charity is the 4th sister who was left behind in England with a horrible wretched husband.  I've started the book now and expect it's release in either December or January.

I still plan on writing my Medieval story, but it has been moved to a late 2016 release. Sorry about that.. but Charity would not keep quiet in my head!


Have a great weekend!


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31 comments:

  1. Friday, July 24th,
    "Morning, MaryLu."
    You preach it girl !!!!!!!!!!!! Keep on doing what you're doing !!! I agree with al you shared, and I say "Amen" to the fact that you're NOT 'watering-down' the Gospel message nor omitting it in your novels. SO glad you decided to stretch out on your own publishing ... and that you can call your own shots !
    And yes ... you totally have the right attitude -- you are answering to a MUCH higher power and giving God all the glory !
    Rant anytime .... But I commend you fully, for your Christian stand !!! Way to go, MaryLu !!!
    Thanks for sharing.
    Take care, and, God Bless, In Him, Bren

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  2. This is an amazing, amazing post. I plan to write more 'light' Christian fiction, but I fully respect this :)

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    1. Thank you, Stefanie! I appreciate that. :-)

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  3. Oh, MaryLu - just wish I could hug you, shout with you, and jump up and down right now (that is, if I physically could jump up and down, lol)!! This subject has often caused me to rant, just as it has you. I keep hearing that the world of Christian Fiction is changing, reader desires are changing, too much mention of Christ turns even Christian readers off, author contracts aren't being renewed, authors need to tone down the Christian message, etc. - I'd love to know what statistics prove these claims, what the words Christian Fiction and it's publishers really stand for if not to promote Christ, and why even Christians are now offended by Christ being mentioned in their fiction literature??

    As with you, I enjoy Christian books that are light on the spiritual side, but it breaks my heart for those authors whose Christian publishing companies deny the right of their books being published without the spirituality being toned down (the secular publishers don't seem to have much of a ban on sexual, language, or abusive content - do they??). I feel that God gives Christian Fiction authors words/scenes to reach specific people with each book, when those words/scenes are deleted/refused - what happens then?? I'm so glad that you chose to self-pub your books - I know there are advantages and disadvantages to self-pubbing, but feel that in many cases, when a Christian publisher closes the door to an author's Christian Fiction being published due to the spiritual content, self-pub could very well be God's solution.

    Although I don't like the turn Christian Fiction seems to be taking, I feel it is one of the many changes predicted during the final days, and even more reason for us to promote His name - His word commands us to!!!!

    Love, hugs, and prayers - MaryLu!!!!

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    1. Oh, Bonnie, I wish I could hug you in return! And shout and jump up and down! I wish I had some hard cold stats too to prove my rant, but alas all I have is the word of several author friends. It's very sad. Although my publisher never told me to tone down my spiritual content, they did "suggest" I not write about certain topics... pirates, etc... Regardless I'm happy to be writing what I want now. And I do feel this is a sign of the times. I believe there's a prophesy that says that some Christians will drift away from their faith in the end times. Love and hugs back!

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  4. I say AMEN, MaryLu! You've presented a very valid point. Yes, WHY call it Christian Fiction if Christ won't be represented in the telling of the story? He's our ONLY hope of salvation, and how will people know if the Gospel isn't told, even in Christian Fiction? I, for one, am rather glad that you became an Indie writer, so that you can control what you write and be able to follow your heart as God tells you to write. I look SO forward to every book that you put out, because I know that there will be an awesome representation of the Gospel. THANK YOU, MaryLu, for standing up for what you believe! HUGS! :)

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    1. Thanks Angi! HUGS back at you! You know some Christian publishers will say that we Christian writers are preaching to the choir... but I don't see it like that. I've had several non-believers read my books (you can tell because they leave scathing reviews about how religious they are. LOL) Hey, but at least they got the gospel! Also, there are many people who consider themselves Christians and who therefore would pick up a Christian book, but in all honesty, they really don't know Jesus.

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  5. I haven't bought a non Christian book in years. I'm sure that I am not the only one. This situation makes me feel so sad. Will add this situation to my prayers.

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    1. Good idea, Jan. Definitely something to pray about.

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  6. You are absolutely right, MaryLu. I have the same issue with "Christian" music that has nothing in it to point to Christ. To me, it's like being in a marriage but not telling anyone--leading everyone to believe you're single (except maybe telling a few friends "privately in secret"). What's the point?

    Jesus certainly isn't going to be in that kind of relationship. He said that on Judgment Day, many people will say to Him, "Lord, Lord--You're the special one in my relationship" and He will say, "I never knew you. You had a one-sided show going on, but I wasn't part of it. Depart from Me into hellfire with the devil and his followers." Jesus is crystal clear that either we embrace Him fully and proudly or we have NO relationship with Him. He also said that if someone denies Him before men, He will deny knowing that person to the Father in heaven. Jesus takes His relationships VERY seriously!

    Yes, there's a place for love songs and love stories if that is their intent (like Song of Solomon). Otherwise, either be on fire and proudly proclaim to the world your love for Jesus and spread the life-saving news of His grace, mercy, and salvation ... or don't tack "Christian" onto whatever you're doing. Seriously, now--NO ONE is fooled. Not people, not God, not the devil. Jesus clearly said you can't serve two masters--you cannot serve God and money. Whoever thinks they can do both are lying to themselves ... and they will lose everything in the end.

    True Jesus-lovers are proud to belong to Jesus--they tell everyone of their love for Him! It spills out in their words (including wriiten words), attitudes, and actions. And Jesus says proudly to the Father, "That's MY beloved who I am so proud of!"

    That's the relationship I personally have with Jesus, and everyone knows it. :-). Also, I only buy books and music from those who have genuine relationships with Jesus. I won't waste my time, money, or anything else on others. I've also said at work to bosses, "I am a follower of Jesus, and no--I will not lie for you. (or whatever they asked me to do that would deny Him)." Instead of firing me or demoting me--they respected me. Every time. Even if they didn't, it wouldn't change who I am or standing firm in my values. I will always choose my beloved Jesus over anyone or anything else.

    I am SO proud of you, MaryLu! You are greatly loved by Jesus, and He is proud to claim you as His cherished bride! You will always have His favor on you in this life and incomparable rewards in eternity. :-)

    Big hugs!
    ,
    Lora

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    1. Lora, you are definitely one of those people who aren't afraid to shout the name of Jesus! That's one of the reasons I love you so. (And Jesus does too!) Thanks for all the encouragement you give me. :-)

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  7. Since I read Faith's story of the Charlestown belles series I wanted to read Charity's story, and now I get a chance to read it yay. But I have to say my favorite of that series is The Blue Enchantress Hope's story. But then I do love all of your books. Your writing gave me the ability to still pirate stories as an adult. There's not that many clean pirate romances out there so I am thankful for you and your books.

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    1. So true. I rarely find clean pirate romances. Actually I rarely find any clean romances out there except those labeled Christian. So sad. Thanks Carissa.

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  8. I'm so glad to read how you feel! I just read a Christian authors contemporary book, and I'm sadened and confused too! I understand if authors want to venture out and write different stuff, even non Christian clean books. But when they add things issues that are clearly not what the Bible teaches, I just can't support them.
    I'm ok with worldly things in books if the characters realize it as sin and finds the Lord or renews their relationship before the book ends. That's life, I believe authors can reach many unsaved people writing these things. But sex before marriage, drinking with a gang, foul language, and then on Sunday morning, oh we have to go to Church today, just doesn't cut it for me!!
    I'm a book reviewer and I hate not supporting an author I've supported for years, but sadly it's happening!
    Sorry off my soapbox now!
    I am just so thankful for authors like you MaryLu, authors who write Jesus and the Christian life in the lives of their characters. I love that you show your readers Jesus!
    Love your books! I didn't get to read your Charles Towne Belle Series the first time, but I am looking forward to reading the revised series!
    Blessings
    Joy
    ibjoy1953(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Get on your soap box any time, Joy. ;-) You probably see a lot more of what I'm describing since you are a book reviewer. Bless you for standing your ground! :-)

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  9. Way to go MaryLu. Keep up the good work. GOD will bless you for being faithful yo HIM. (((hugs)))
    Maxie > mac262(at)me(dot)com <

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  10. MaryLu,

    I'm hesitant to write anything, but I think the charge in your post was for us to step up and be bold. So without intending any malice, I feel this is something that I need to express.

    I totally understand where you're coming from, but I am deeply concerned by this statement used to justify this "rant": "I don't recall Jesus or his disciples toning down their message to reach more people? Besides how will people ever know the way to eternal life if someone doesn't tell them?" It's simply not accurate and is one of the reasons this whole issue continues to be an issue in the first place. The majority of Jesus' parables - the FICTION He used to get His points across - never mentioned salvation. Instead, He told stories that spoke to people where they were in their lives. When He showed His understanding of where His audience lived, they wanted to know more about where He lived. It is by His example that we are to "..be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves," (Matthew 10:16) and this kind of rant hurts my heart because it really creates "sides" that were never intended to be there.

    I love writing for general market fiction because I know what it means to live on that side of salvation. I was pulled up short by Stephen King's "The Stand" because it challenged everything I believed in...where I lived.

    I deeply respect what you write, MaryLu, and I applaud your voracious pursuit of your calling. However, many of us are called to be sheep among wolves in the guise of snakes who are innocent as doves, to be spies hiding in Rahab's brothels, to clear the way IN the darkness for those who don't even know where to begin looking for the Light.

    Thank you for sharing your heart - I hope you understand mine as well.

    Becky

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    1. I think Paul's words are apt: I become all things to all men that I might win some.

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    2. Becky, thank you for sharing your heart. I am not at all offended by your opinion. Forgive me if you were offended by mine. I believe you misunderstood me. I'm not at all saying that some authors shouldn't be writing for the general market or that some authors shouldn't be writing stories that don't mention Jesus or salvation. We each have our own ministries, right? What I'm opposed to is that those authors like me whose ministry it is to shout the name of Jesus through our books are being told to stifle it by Christian publishers. That's my beef. Not intending at all to create "sides"

      Also, yes, Jesus spoke in parables and met people where they were in love, but He also didn't mince words about right and wrong and God's will. He said more than once that He was the way, the truth, and the life, and no man could come to the Father, except through Him.

      Susie, if you read most of Paul's writings, you'll see that his words were all about Jesus and salvation through the name of Jesus. If you read this particular statement in context, you'll see that he was referring to becoming like a Jew as under the law or becoming weak to the weak... so that he could win some. Not sure how he could win some unless he actually shared about Jesus. Based on all of his writings, it's obvious he didn't mean by this statement that he shouldn't be preaching Christ.

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    4. MaryLu,

      Thanks for taking the time to clarify. I was not offended, just concerned that your choice of words was misleading. I did understand your point about Christian publishers wanting authors to tone things down. However, I don't necessarily believe the motive of these publishers is to "water down" or "stifle" Christ. If they used those actual words, then forgive me and I stand corrected; I would be appalled, too. But if those words were not used, I feel we have to be careful not to make sweeping categorical statements like that about other people's motives. Bottom line, Christian publishers ARE businesses, like you said, and therefore, money IS a necessary part of doing business successfully. It's a catch-22 half the time, and a necessary evil the other half of the time. Finding the balance between serving God and making money is really, really tough in businesses like this. If they're finding that Christian fiction is not selling the way they need it to sell, then it makes sense that they might need to look at the way they're doing things and change things up.

      I think this is where we as authors, then, get to choose where we publish. If an author feels called to proclaim the name of Jesus in his or her books, and the publisher is not looking for that particular style, then that author can look for a different publisher or indie publish. It's a day and age of great opportunities for authors, so instead of making assumptions about or challenging other people's motives, we need to charge ahead in the ministry we are called to.

      As I said, I totally appreciate and support what you do and I'm a reader, too. I am in complete agreement with you that authors should not water down what God calls them to do, as varied as our callings are. I also agree that Christian businesses should not water down the message either, so I think we're on the same page. I just think we need to be careful that we're not inadvertently passing judgement on people or businesses who do things differently than we do.

      Just to clarify, I'm not an advocate for traditional publishing. In fact, I'm indie-published because, ironically, 1) I was told I didn't have ENOUGH Jesus in my books, and 2) I was asked to tone down a rather volatile, but important, scene that the publishers wasn't comfortable keeping, by 3 different big house Christian Publishers who were seriously considering my work just over a year ago. Believe me, my agent and I had conversations very similar to this from the other side of the spectrum.

      Perhaps, by my own admission here, I'm the kind of person you're referring to and I need to re-evaluate my calling and my motives for writing what I do. When I read a post that stirs me enough to respond, it usually means the Holy Spirit is trying to teach me something, you know? So thank you for allowing me to share my heart. I know this is not an easy conversation, but I think it's an important one. I appreciate you.

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    5. Becky, you are so sweet. Thank you for being so kind in your comments, even though I know you don't agree with me 100%. Like you said, I do believe we are both wandering around on the same page... maybe not the same sentence. LOL Thank you for the thoughtful discussion. :-)

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  11. I should have clarified my use of that particular quote from Paul. I apologize.

    He came to the people in a way which they would best understand Christ. I believe that's a need in CBA fiction. I do have several atheist friends who read my CBA books only because they love me. If my novels are preachy, they would be turned off. However, the stories are influenced by my world view as a Christian. There is no big conversion scene, I show Christians as flawed humans, I make my Christian characters trying to be faithful and seeing the faithfulness of God. All of this in a story that is raw and very human.

    This is how I become all things to my readers. Christ is there. He's unforced, though because I believe He is not forceful.

    Sorry if my intention in quoting Paul was unclear.

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    1. No worries, Susie. I apologize as well. You have a very special ministry with your writing and Praise God for your faithfulness in what you do.

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    2. Thank you. And I'm glad God is using you in your writing as well! It's a different kind of ministry and worship.

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  12. This upsets me too. I am on the writing website Wattpad (GoldFantasy) and I post my writings which are the majority Christian related. And this one person commented (actually commented) that I should either reduce the Christianity in it or turn it to a false god. And that it sounded preachy and it would turn readers away.

    This book I am writing is spiritual fantasy, so I wanted my precious and loving God to be apart of this realm I created. I felt so offended, but God, but God is good. I will not take that person's advice. I know Jesus is the only one giving me strength to continue my passion and at the same time spreading the Word. I know someone will be affected positively by the message I'm giving. We Christians have to stick together and pray for one another in these Last Days. People are straying further away from God and are trying their best to limit us. But God, But God. He is good and has the victory over Satan. Thank you for posting this. There's nothing wrong with ranting for Jesus.
    -Whenever you get a chance please check out my book The Legend of the Gemstone: Gold is Power on Wattpad.
    Keep spreading the Word of God!!!!!!!
    -From LeQuita.

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    1. Thank you so much, LeQuita! Bless you for sticking your ground and writing what the Lord has told you to write! These are, indeed, trying times.... but you are right, God has already won the victory. I will check out your book. :-)

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  13. My family are currently reading Lynn Austin's "return To Me", a book based on biblical history with frequent mentions of Jewish religion and culture. The author is a christian and mentions God on just about every page. She is apparently selling millions of copies of her works. How come she is getting marketshare? Is Old Testament not as offensive?

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    1. Hi Bella! Thanks for the question. It depends on the publisher. I can't speak for every Christian publisher, only the few I've heard of who have said this. Also, Lynn's book was published two years ago, which may have some bearing, plus like you said, it's Old testament so Jesus won't be mentioned.. I'm not saying that books won't be published with Jesus and God in them..... all I'm saying is that from what I've heard, there is a definite trend toward softening the Christian message. I'm glad you are enjoying Lynn's books. I've heard they are fabulous!

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