New opportunities in Christian fiction

Christian fiction— perhaps it will go down in history as the genre most harshly judged by critics who don’t read the genre. But Christian fiction has a place, and that place is widening.

My earliest memories of Christian fiction were of fiction sold only in specialty Evangelical Christian shops. My impression was that it was mainly designed for members of strict Evangelical groups who taught that Christians don’t read worldly novels— or drink, dance or own a deck of playing cards.

Our family wasn’t that kind of Christian. We were Presbyterians, and went to PCUSA churches— though the church had not fallen away from Christian teaching so badly at that time.  We read ‘normal’ fiction. Though my mom had a novel called ‘The Silver Chalice’ which was VERY Christian in tone and told the story of the Early Church. But that novel was brought out by a mainstream publisher, and later was adapted into a Hollywood movie.

My, how the times have changed! Modern publishers don’t care to retain their Christian readerships. Mainstream novels are full of references to Christians of all sorts as ‘haters’— because the authors think it’s ‘hateful’ to oppose aborting children or oppose calling gay relationships marriage. Publishers not only don’t object to it, they seem to almost require it. And although Christian readers have adapted to this bigoted atmosphere enough to be able to read anti-Christian-biased fiction, it’s often hard to enjoy it. Particularly when authors accuse Christians of all being ignorant, while displaying their own ignorance of the commonest details of the faith they are hating.

Evangelical Christian fiction got noticed when the ‘Left Behind’ series started to hit the best-seller lists. It was helped along by the fact that secular folks got really interested Christian beliefs about the End Times about then, since they believed that the Evangelical End of the World would happen in the year 2000. This was a false belief— the REAL Evangelical End of the World happened in 1988 (40 years— one Biblical generation— after the founding of the State of Israel.) But it sold a lot of exciting books filled with Christian characters to people who might have been in spiritual need of them.

But now in the Internet age, the picture has changed. For one thing, Christian authors are connecting across church/denominational lines. In my Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy FB group we’ve had Evangelicals of many sorts, Protestants, an Episcopalian monk, Catholics, and a Mormon or two. And so we are more aware that sound Christian fiction can come in many ‘flavors’— though we disagree on the authenticity and usefulness of some of the ‘flavors.’

The indie fiction revolution means that Christian fiction writers are no longer out of luck if their denominational background is not accepted by the bigger Evangelical fiction publishers and their own church’s publishing house doesn’t accept fiction. Along with Evangelical fiction, Catholic fiction and LDS (Mormon) fiction, all of which have traditional publishers, the most obscure denominations, like WELS Lutherans, can have fiction tailored to their church background.

Because of indie fiction, individual Christian authors no longer need be restrained by old-fashioned and silly-seeming Christian fiction rules. For example, some of the old Evangelicals wouldn’t allow Christian characters to be shown drinking alcohol, dancing, or playing innocent card games, because some readers would have objected.

The indie freedom has its downside, though. Many Christian writers have read far more secular fiction than Christian. They also often have had very little if any religious education. I know of a number of young Christian girls who see nothing wrong with sex outside of marriage and cohabiting relationships, so long as the partners claim to be engaged. It’s perfectly possible that there are some young indie authoresses out there writing ‘sexy’ romances in which the characters are Christians, and who market their work as Christian romance. It won’t sell to the Christian market, and secular romance fans probably won’t touch it because of the Christian label.

Indie Christian fiction, then, is less ‘safe’ than traditionally published Christian fiction which has been vetted to death for offensive things, even trivial ones. But, as in secular indie fiction, that adds to the excitement of reading and discovering new indie authors. It helps to follow Christian fiction blogs and web sites which review indie and small press books as well as those from the big Christian publishers. They can help you find books which you might enjoy and warn you about any content concerns such as excesses of ‘magick’ in a fantasy novel.

If you are a writer and a Christian, it might be well to consider whether the wider world of today’s Christian fiction might be the right place for your writing. Pitching your book to fellow Christians might be a wiser move than aiming at secularists who might reject your work if they learn about your faith.


Will I review your great new Christian indie novel? Probably not. I am a very slow book reviewer and I have a backlog of books written by friends I must review. Also, I don’t enjoy every possible subgenre within Christian fiction. If you have a great contemporary romance, it probably won’t catch my interest enough to finish it even if you are the best romance writer ever! But, don’t despair. I am hoping to recruit a couple of Christian authors who will do a little guest posting of reviews for this blog. (How do you get your Christian book reviewed in the meantime? Join appropriate Christian author groups, make a few friends there, review THEIR books, and perhaps you will be able to arrange to trade reviews.)


One blog for (Evangelical) Christian fiction writers is Mike Duran’s deCompose. Here is a sample post: The Importance of Implicit (vs. Explicit) Christian Content in Fiction


My FB group for Christian writers of science fiction and/or fantasy:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/366357776755069/

Now, this group, being on FB, does not actually BAR non-Christians from joining. However, since the topic is the problems of CHRISTIAN writers in these genres, non-Christians rarely have much interest in the group.  But all are welcome to join.

Poets market: Eastern Structures

One of the most significant moments of my writing life happened in 1989. After having written poetry intensely for about a year, I finally dared submit my poems to a couple of markets— I had purchased Writer’s Digest’s ‘Poets Market’— and one of them, Struggle: A Magazine of Proletarian Revolutionary Literature, accepted some poems. (I was in my Youthful Marxist Phase at the time.)

I wrote a lot more poems that had ranty Marxist topics and I got published a few more times in Struggle. And I think that I learned a lesson about getting poetry published— try to find a poetry ‘zine you are in synch with and submit regularly.

Currently I discovered a new poetic market in a Facebook group about sijo poetry. It’s called Eastern Structures, and publishes 3 poetic forms: ghazals, sijo and haiku. The editor of Eastern Structures, R. W. Watkins, was seeking out some submissions of sijo for his next edition. The web page of Eastern Structures is: https://sites.google.com/site/nocturnalirispublications/eastern-structures

The ghazal form is explained on the website. ES publishes only 5-7-5 syllable haiku (& senryu)— they are quite firm about that. But they don’t insist on a season word in the haiku, or the strict division between haiku and senryu in the subject matter.

In the Sijo Poetry Facebook group, (https://www.facebook.com/groups/21083466365/), I asked the editor if he had any preferences for sijo in the matter of the number of lines. All the sijo in Eastern Structures #2 were written in 3 long lines, instead of breaking each long line into 2 half lines, leaving what looked like a six line poem.

R. W. Watkins replied: ” I prefer the original three-line version. The six-line version has a tendency to become a six-line thing in itself. I wrote an article on this subject almost two decades ago. Certain people hated me for it; it was an ‘inconvenient truth’.”

So— if you are a sijo poet, I would suggest you submit your sijo to Eastern Structures as poems of 3 long lines. If you have written sijo of 6 lines where the two line-pairs don’t work well as one line, the editor will probably reject it.

If you are new to submitting your poems to a market, here are some tips useful for submitting anywhere:

  • buy a sample copy or two of the ‘zine and read what has been accepted.
  • review descriptions of ghazals, sijo or haiku and see if your poems qualify as these forms.
  • write many, many ghazals, sijo or haiku before submitting, so you can pick the best of many.
  • after completing the first draft, let each poem ‘age’ a month or two before working on the final version.
  • if you think a market is a good fit for your work, don’t take rejection badly. Many poetic markets get hundreds more submissions than they can use. Submit your best new work at a future date.

Have you ever submitted your poems or prose to a publisher? How did it work out for you? Are you still submitting?


Other Post of Interest:

Celebrate: Poem Published! https://myantimatterlife.wordpress.com/2016/03/04/celebrate-poem-published/

Celebrating: fewer Twitter followers

Celebrating fewer Twitter followers? In an age when all the experts say that writers (and others) need more more more Twitter followers? When people send you private messages on Twitter claiming they can sell you more followers?

At first I collected followers— I followed everyone who followed me, I followed everyone Twitter suggested I follow, I followed the people that my Twitter friends followed…. and then I had a Twitter feed dominated by people who tweeted what seemed like ads for their books or blogs, sometimes tweeting such things every 30 seconds for nearly an hour.

What I got was a Twitter feed that seemed like a bunch of people shouting and never noticing that no one else was listening. No interactivity— and I doubted anyone would buy my book or even read my blog post if no one ever interacted with my Twitter posts.

So I stepped back and learned some lessons from a Twitter savvy friend, author Declan Finn. He did a lot of actual interacting on Twitter, having conversations there, informing all his writing friends on Facebook about a useful Twitter hashtag that was trending, making lists of followers….

Declan Finn on Twitter: https://twitter.com/DeclanFinnBooks

The first thing I did was start unfollowing Twitter followers who spammed Twitter with what looked like ads, or who retweeted things I found appalling for one reason or another. Not out of spite, but because it was clear that we just didn’t have any interests in common that would foster actual interaction between us.

Then I started following the Twitter Golden Rule— for every one thing I tweeted/retweeted that was about ME, I retweeted 9 things about others. Particularly others who had interacted with me, or others that had some things in common with me. Since I’m a poet, I retweet a lot of haiku and other short poems posted on Twitter.

I also made a private Twitter list of friends I interact with regularly on Twitter. If you aren’t familiar with Twitter lists— you list some Twitter accounts that have something in common. For example, you could have one for people who Tweet about your favorite baseball team, or for writers of Christian science fiction and fantasy, or political accounts…. When you click on the list, you see JUST the recent Tweets of those on that list— so you can easily find worthy things to retweet, which will make the people you retweet feel more friendly toward you.

How to Create a Twitter List: http://www.wikihow.com/Create-a-Twitter-List

I am by no means a Twitter expert— I’ll bet that there will be people who read this post who know loads of things about how to use Twitter more effectively. Whether you are a Twitter maven with good advice or a newbie with nothing but questions, I’d really cherish a comment from you. Particularly if you’d give the URL of your Twitter account so I can follow you.

Me, on Twitter: https://twitter.com/nissalovescats  If you visit my Twitter profile you will see a cute picture of a kitten in a boot.

This is a post in the Celebrate the Small Things blog hop. Which was yesterday. 😦

 

Law & Order SVU’s latest Christian-hate episode was just sad

Law & Order SVU has just been on the air too long. Most of the original characters have moved on, and they are running out of GOOD episode ideas. The BAD ideas, however, remain.

Last night’s episode featured a common motif: demonizing ‘evangelical’ Christians. Story featured an allegedly evangelical church from one of the ‘flyover’ states. Church taught that homosexual acts are a sin— which is part of what the Bible teaches. But this church taught that raping a gay person cured them.

They called that doctrine ‘reparative rape,’ as a way to demonize reparative therapy. Now, since I have same-sex attraction (gay tendencies) I know about REAL reparative therapy. Some of my friends in the Courage FB group have a high opinion of that therapy— which is voluntary, performed by a qualified therapist who may or may not be Christian, and does NOT involve rape.

If a church such as the fictional one in the episode existed, other evangelical churches would be fighting it as a cult such as Scientology or the Branch Davidians— both of which are cults which harmed their members.

In real Christian teaching, rape is a form of fornication (sex outside of legitimate man-woman marriage) and anyone who encouraged such a sin would be considered a heretic or a false teacher.

If it is wrong to hate people for being Black, Jewish, Muslim or Gay, why is this kind of hatred OK on broadcast TV? And wouldn’t it be better for TV shows NOT to insult the majority religion in this country if they want to build their viewership?

I still like Law & Order SVU. But I’d rather watch their good, entertaining, thoughtful episodes from the past— such as the foot-fetish-guy one, which I watch almost every time it’s on— rather than a new episode of this type.


What could Law & Order SVU have done to tell that story without being hateful? First, they should have researched what traditional Christians really believe— perhaps even talk to Gay & Lesbian Christians who sacrifice their sex lives for their Christian faith.

And a good technique would have been to include a character who was evangelical and believed that people with Gay tendencies are called to celibacy if they cannot enhance any opposite sex attractions enough for marriage, and have this character express the wrongness of the cult-church’s teaching. This technique is often used on TV— as when they have a good Muslim in an episode with a terrorist Muslim villain, or a socially responsible Gay person when a Gay guy turns out to be the killer.

They could have told their story without giving it that hate-y, propagandistic tone. And kept more viewers on board.

Why only 8 minutes to build a daily writing habit?

Lately I have been working on developing a daily writing habit. Main reason: when I take a day or two off from writing, that leads to a writingless week or even more. Which tends to turn current writing projects into ones that aren’t going anywhere.

What inspires me is the idea of doing a daily 8-minute timed writing stint (you are allowed to do more.)  To get more accountability, I post daily on Facebook, tagging a few friends who also are working on their writing habit.

But the question is, why 8 minutes? Wouldn’t it be better to do an hour or two? Or even three or four hours like most professional writers do?

The problem is this: if you are trying to build a writing habit, but you know you have to do an hour or more at each writing session, it’s too easy to decide you just don’t have time for writing today.

But 8 minutes— that’s not so much of a challenge. I once did my 8 minutes just before bedtime when I thought my brain was already asleep. My brain woke up and did its job surprisingly well.

The thing about doing 8 minutes of timed writing it leads to longer writing. If you really get on a roll, are you really going to stop at 8 minutes and not even add a sentence or two? Sometimes I do a few 8 minute sessions and then perhaps do 20 or 25 minutes because I’m really hot.

Monica Leonelle suggests in her book that you can use your 8 minute sessions to increase your writing speed, so that even if you can only fit in 8 minutes, you will get many more words in.

In my experience, timed writing increases my writing speed by eliminating distractions— I don’t look up facts on the internet or pull out one of my name books to name a new character. I skip that bit and do the research later. So I don’t end up spending 6 of my 8 minutes fooling around online.

The accountability partners really help. I feel a little silly when I tag the participants and interested persons on Facebook every day. But they can tell me not to do that if they don’t want to any more. The posting— and the comments and ‘likes’ of the others— motivate me. And it’s great to see other people doing their own daily 8 minute stints.

So— do you have a habit of writing (or blogging) daily? If yes, how did you build the habit? If no, are you doing anything to change it? Perhaps you could try the 8 minute writing method to see if it works for you.

If you want to join me and my friends/followers in the daily 8-minute writing, you can drop by my author page, https://www.facebook.com/nissalovescats/  and post your daily 8 minute triumphs there. You can also ask to be on my list of tagged people. I also do it on my personal FB page, https://www.facebook.com/nissa.amas.katoj  Though maybe you should mention on my author page if you are making a friend request?


Marian Elizabeth: The 8-Minute Writing Habit http://www.marian-elizabeth.com/2015/10/the-8-minute-writing-habit.html

Monica Leonelle Will Help You Develop a Consistent Writing Habit http://www.writewithimpact.com/monica-leonelle-will-help-you-develop-a-consistent-writing-habit/

Buy The 8-Minute Writing Habit on Amazon.com https://www.amazon.com/8-Minute-Writing-Habit-Consistent-Storytellers-ebook/dp/B013ZVSFFC

Jeff Goins and why you need a tribe

Jeff Goins, writer

You need a tribe. That is, if you are a writer, poet, blogger, musician, artist or other creative person, you need a group of people who can relate to your work, or to you, and who might possibly become your Number One Fan and take you hostage and do bad things to you….. Well, maybe you’d rather skip the hostage situation.

Author Jeff Goins, who is one of the top writing-topic bloggers, is currently giving away a free PDF ebook called “It’s Not Too Late.” I downloaded it this morning and read a bit chunk of it before I remembered I was supposed to write a blog post this morning. In the book (which is FREE) he talks about tribes. He also has some good deals for those who preorder his next non-free book— find the info here: https://goinswriter.com/preorder/

How do you go about building a tribe? First you find ways to connect with people who might appreciate your work. My very first tribe-building was when I had my old blog, The Lina Lamont Fan Club. I met a few people who commented on my posts regularly. One, Amanda Borenstadt, asked me to read her book and gave me a free ebook copy. We connected because we were both Catholics and Doctor Who fans.

For a few years I was part of the Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy blog tour, which was run by Rebecca LuElla Miller. Each month she scored free books for us from Christian publishers, and on three set days of the month we all blogged about it and visited one another’s blogs. Most of the bloggers were Evangelical/Protestant Christians but there were a few Catholics and a Mormon or two. I got to know some potential ‘tribe’ members through the blog tour which, unfortunately, has come to an end.

I was rather shy about posting in Facebook groups— I was afraid if I said anything online, everyone would mock me and ask me to leave the group. So I started my own FB group for writers of Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy. I met some fine people. And one or two not so fine. A few I consider members of my ‘tribe’— or perhaps I’m members of theirs.  If you might be interested in the Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy group, it’s here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/366357776755069/

But that’s me. I’m sure many creative people have found ways to connect with those who might appreciate their work. What has worked for you?


Three Important Steps to Building a Killer Tribe: https://goinswriter.com/how-to-build-a-killer-tribe/
Nothing to do with Charles Manson, sadly.

Build Your Platform with Tribe Writers: http://debralbutterfield.com/tribe-writers/

Martin Luther and the Lutheran Hail Mary

Can you imagine Martin Luther, founder of Protestantism in general and Lutheranism in particular, kneeling down in prayer and saying the ‘Hail Mary?’ Impossible, right? Well, Martin Luther himself didn’t think so. He included the Hail Mary prayer in a prayer book that he published. It had the first part of the modern Hail Mary: “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.”

This shortened Hail Mary was the original form which is used in the rosary, and which early was used as a substitute for praying the Psalms in the Liturgy of the Hours, for those who could not read the Psalms or who didn’t have access to a book of the Psalms or the Liturgy.

Since Martin Luther by that time was in the Catholicism-rejecting business, he certainly did not need to include this prayer. He did not retain all of his former Catholic beliefs about the Virgin, but he— and other reformers such as Zwingli, Calvin, and even the later John Wesley, retained some Catholic teachings that their modern-day followers universally reject.

One thing I lament about  the world today is that so many of us don’t know what other churches teach, and many also don’t know what the founder of their church taught, or even what the creed or catechism of their church teaches. Perhaps Christians would be better able to understand one another if they would learn some of these things?

The Lutheran Rosary – https://myantimatterlife.wordpress.com/2015/08/23/the-lutheran-rosary/     The top post on this blog

 


In my research for this blog— I read that including links in my posts makes my own post ‘Google’ better— I came across a very new blog by a LCMS (conservative Lutheran) seminarian. He wrote a good post on Luther and the Hail Mary, which is here: https://dsmondayblog.wordpress.com/2017/04/09/the-hail-mary-according-to-martin-luther I think it would be a wonderful idea if all my readers would stop by his blog, read his article, and drop some encouraging words in a comment.

I also ran across an article called Martin Luther’s Devotion to Mary. The author turned out to be a friend of mine, Dave Armstrong, a former Protestant who is now a Catholic apologist. His blog is here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/

Here are two other articles for further reading:

Mother Mary and Martin Lutherhttp://www.interfaithmary.net/pages/mary_Luther.html

Martin Luther believed in devotion to Mary? (James White)http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/2013/10/17/martin-luther-believed-in-devotion-to-mary/