Two things to keep in mind this month: Latayne is giving away five copies of her debut novel Latter-Day Cipher! You'll want to get in on that! And, I hope you are all working hard on those manuscripts for the Audience with an Agent contest. Wendy Lawton commented just the other day about how she is looking forward to reading your work. That has got to be a motivating factor! Don't forget to check out the submission details in the promotions section of Novel Matters. Formatting your submission correctly counts. Remember, you want your work to reach the desk of a literary agent. Professional standards for submission applies. Also, keep in mind you are submitting your work to us at Novel Matters first - so be sure to address your correspondence accordingly. We are all very excited to read your submissions. We're pulling for you, and praying for you too!
Debbie asked a wonderful question on Monday - What do you love about Christian fiction? My answer started me down memory lane, and I'd like to share my thoughts with you today.
My introduction to Christian books came early in life in the form of comic books. At first, this was largely a non-fiction foray. Comics like The Cross and the Switchblade, The Hiding Place, and God's Smuggler captivated me. I read In His Steps as a mini-graphic novel long before I heard of the classic version (the one without pictures). I read a comic book about missionaries who were killed by the tribe they were trying to reach for Jesus. Even the life of Jesus first came alive to me in the form of Christian comics.
Then came Christian fiction! Via Archie comics (yep, there really were Christian Archie comics). I read and re-read these stories so often that even now I can recall vast portions of them. To my eight to ten year old mind this was Christian books.
When I was eleven or twelve, I read my first Christian novel, one I borrowed from my older sister. called The Substitute (I can't recall the author's name, and I can't find the book online, any help would be appreciated!). It was biblical fiction - the story took place during the time Jesus walked around teaching and healing. I loved the book - and to this day I can recall several scenes. To my young mind, biblical fiction was Christian fiction.
In my twenties, I read a gentle, old-fashioned sort of novel - about a girl moving west to the untamed Alberta foothills - and I was confused. It wasn't biblical fiction, but it wasn't modern either. Ah, historical fiction. So, somehow I got the idea that Christian fiction should either be biblical fiction, or historical fiction. This notion wedged itself in my mind and became stuck. I decided I didn't like Christian fiction.
A few years later I walked into a Christian store (Christians were half price that day), and discovered shelves of fiction categorized by genre. Weren't there only two genres? I cracked a few spines (book spines that is) and began to build on my limited experience with Christian fiction. What I've learned since then is that hope-filled fiction lingers far longer than I imagined.
Some might argue that the reason I've found a haven in Christian fiction is because it has "grown up" over the years from a fledgling industry to a true literary force. And that would be correct. Others say that the introduction of 'edgy' story lines and 'gritty, real-life' characters has helped readers to connect with Christian content fiction. True enough.
But in reflecting on my experience with Christian fiction, I've learned more about myself than I have about books. I've come to understand that not every book on the Christian shelf was written with me in mind. That there are audiences of readers who like different things than I do, and that over the years, I've been part of a different audience at different times. My fiction wants changed, and so did the books. And, they will change again. Me, and the books.
One thing I believe Christian fiction has going for it more than general market fiction is that it asks itself the question: What is is the people care about? That is a far cry from only asking "what will sell?"
How has your taste in fiction changed? What do you see your fiction needs becoming in the future?