If someone asked about the main distinction between books in the CBA and ABA, I would say that at the core, CBA books present a Christian worldview. Some ABA books meet that qualification also, although not as many, or at least some of their characters respond from a Christian worldview. Further I might add that books in the CBA don't usually contain swear words or blatant sexuality because publishers are too smart to offend their target audiences. Big picture words might include redemption, forgiveness, healing, self-sacrifice and love. The story's closure may be a bit open-ended, but it will have hope. Many readers expect to see their characters' faith in action and this, I think, is where readers can become disappointed in Christian fiction. It's either too much or not enough. Interestingly, my books have been accused of both.
As writers, we project bits of our own perceptions and personalities onto our characters. For me to create a character that is overly demonstrative, flamboyant or outspoken as a Christian would be a caricature, and would simply not ring true. I come from a long line of very private people with quiet faith. Quiet faith does not mean ineffective. My character is not going to stop and pray over every minor decision or meal or problem, and she won't speak 'Christianese.' Will my character sense God's leading in her life and ask Him for help? Most assuredly. Will she understand that Jesus loves her even though she's imperfect? Yes. Will he help her solve all her problems? No, but he will show her she's not going through them alone.
This won't be enough for some readers and it will be too much for others. I can't please everyone, but I understand that this can be a deal breaker. Sometimes a theme is so subtle and understated that it runs through the story like a whisper instead of a marching band. That doesn't make it less effective and may be more appealing to an intuitive reader.
So, please feel free to continue your comments here for Sharon's post or get specific about what is too much or falls short in regard to today's. We'd love to hear!