art, Fantasy fiction, writing, Young Adult fiction

What Advice Should We Really Give Writers?

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Since the beginning of time — okay, within the last 75 years — we have been told that are ways “to write” and “not to write.” Lots of editors, publishers, and even some authors, are pushing the idea that there aren’t just guidelines, but actually very strict rules for how to create a novel that “the whole world” will be guaranteed to like.

Personally, I take major issue with this.

Number one — not everybody is going to like your book. Sorry, but it is just the truth. Maybe they won’t like it because you simply write outside of the genres they’re most interested in, or you happened to create a novel a bit too long/short for their taste, or maybe you wrote it in Elvish and they don’t speak the language. Anyway, it is quite important to remember this very wise saying: “You cannot please all of the people all the time.”

And there is no reason to consider yourself a “bad” writer if you don’t fit into the pigeon-holes of the current creative writing industry.

I’m a self-published author. One of the major reasons I chose to go this route is because I received positive feedback from my submissions to traditional publishers, but they weren’t going to pursue my work because it didn’t fit certain pigeon-hole criteria. So, I got fed up with waiting for somebody to break the mold and decide to accept work that was “outside of the box.”

Hence, I paid for my work to be printed. But I also retained the copyright, and complete control over editing, cover selection, marketing, distribution methods, and pricing.

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Is it worth it? I say yes, because now I’m making sales, my novel is being well-received (already with cries for the immediate sequel), and I firmly believe that this is only the beginning.

And I don’t have any issues with my agent/editor not seeing eye to eye with my vision, or feeling that I’m not getting enough money/appreciation/time to write how I want to.

Too many authors have complained that what they felt was their masterpiece was butchered by publishers who were more concerned with the almighty dollar than with the quality of their art. I refuse to be one of them.

So, what advice would I actually give to writers, hoping to get sales and loyal readers?

Here are some things I’ve learned so far on my journey:

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Don’t worry too much about making it perfect. There will always be a few things that may bug you about your finished product. But over-editing and constantly second-guessing yourself is not healthy.

Listen to your beta readers/early reviewers. This is especially important when attempting the final draft, or crafting a sequel (as I presently am). Now, you don’t have to take every piece of feedback into consideration. But do pay attention. If several people recommend something, seriously think about it. Maybe even write a draft of how a chapter would look with that change or direction.

Be true to the voice of your story above all else. Don’t listen to the “creative writing rules.” Some readers honestly like novels that are 400 pages long and heavy on exposition. If you truly feel parts of your story need to be told in song, or with flashbacks, or including illustrations, do it.

Remember what the point of your story is. I don’t mean in terms of themes or messages; I mean in staying true to what has to happen to/for the characters and with the plot. Everybody think of JK Rowling, how she apologized for killing off so many of people’s favorite characters, but how she also stands by those decisions, for the sake of what would happen to her protagonist and the conclusion of his tale.

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Since different people enjoy different sorts of writing styles, feel free to revel in yours. Again, your genre/style won’t be for everybody, and that truly is all right. Do I expect folks who normally gravitate towards historical fiction,biographies, murder mysteries to be interested in The Order of the Twelve Tribes? No. Do I hold it against them? No.

When your loyal reader base becomes established, thank them. Don’t forget that your Goodreads giveaway may be receiving so many entries because of that great review somebody put on their blog. Thank your fans (yes, fans!), not just with a note to that effect, but with occasional prize packages, or putting your work on sale, or promoting their blog/new video/Wattpadproject.

Be aware that if what you’re doing is working, there isn’t much reason to change it. Too many authors (I feel) get into the “must select the most dramatic/shocking/inappropriate ending for this series” syndrome, and it loses them a lot of readers. If you’ve built your fan base on having certain elements continue through your trilogy/quad/whatever it’s becoming, then leave that alone.

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And even though we’re seriously trying to make a living off our art, the fact that it is art should never be forgotten. We write because we want to write, we feel a calling to it, we know we can’t give up on it. Keeping our original intention and purpose in mind is essential.

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community, Encouragement, reading, writing

How to Name Your Characters

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This is definitely an issue for writers. When you create characters, you go through the same process that expecting parents do — you want to give your “child” a name that you like, but that also fits in with your family, society, culture and the time period you’re all alive in. And it’s important to get these details right, because it helps your reader relate to the characters — and we all want that to happen, right?

So, here are some tips on how to find great names for your fictional babies:

Consider the time period your character was born in. Not the year you’re setting your story in, but when the person was born — this is mega-essential because most people are given names that reflect what’s going on at the time of their birth, not when you’re actually describing the plot. For example, The Order of the Twelve Tribes (my series) is set in present day, but most of the characters are between 15 and 45 years old, and their names take that into account. A middle-aged man or woman in 2017 would have a name that was popular in the 1960s, and their adolescent children would (most likely) have names that were big on parents’ radar at the start of the 21st century.

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Be sure to decide on your character’s ethnic/cultural background, and remember that when naming. Maybe your story’s set in modern America, but if your people are immigrants or belong to certain religions, their families may have wanted to pay homage to that by selecting a name from “the old country” or a religious tradition.

Fantasy/sci-fi names don’t have to sound “fantastical” or “alien.” Lots of readers struggle with this, especially in sci-fi or high fantasy novels. It can really trip up the flow of reading if you have to stop and sound out a name every other paragraph. If you’re writing about an alien race, how about mixing similar words from foreign languages — example, French and Spanish, or Latin and Italian — but not including too many syllables, to come up with names that sound unique and part of that culture, but that your readers can also pronounce. (Marie Lu’s The Young Elites and Veronica Roth’s Carve the Mark are good examples of this technique.)

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It’s more than okay to use names that aren’t exactly “in fashion” at the moment. When I was researching this subject for my own characters, I discovered that people really seem to like using popular names over and over.

And I’ve found there’s this trend in recent fiction recently, where it’s apparently mandatory to call every heroine a variation of Isabelle, or every hero a version of Alexander. Okay, not every single book/series, but is anybody else thinking this as they read? And quite frankly, it ticked me off, because I really like both of these names and was already planning to include them in my own work. Anyway, after having established several of my characters with classic/common names, I decided to try to “diversify” more with the rest.

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Visit websites and conduct up-to-date research. Nameberry (Google it) is extremely helpful, not just for name origins and meanings, but explaining the history of the name’s use, whether it’s so intensely popular that it could take a break from the cultural public eye, and even offers alternatives. And the site also has lists of popular baby names given in the UK, Ireland, France, etc.

And remember — don’t stress about it. If you feel like you’re about to have a nervous breakdown over getting your characters the “perfect” names, then you’re trying too hard. Trust me, it doesn’t have to be “perfect,” it just has to fit your story, the background, and your fictional friend’s “feel”.

And don’t forget, taste in names is like taste in salad dressing — it’s very subjective, and no matter how marvelous you think your narrator’s name is, there will always be somebody who goes, “Ehhh, I wish she was called Bernadette.”

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blogging, books, Fantasy fiction, reading, writing, Young Adult fiction

Featuring Indie Authors

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Yeah, I kind of have to mention myself, since I am a self-published author. But, while including myself in this list, I want to take today to focus on those of us who work really hard to produce good quality fiction for the public to consume, often while holding down a day job or going to school, raising a family, living a non-writing life at the same time. And most of us do our own editing and marketing as well, and trust me, this is no easy task, either. Anyway, my point today is — just because we don’t have a team of editors/designers/advertisers paid big bucks behind us doesn’t mean our work isn’t worth reading. And I’m going to spotlight some of the indie authors I’ve read that prove this.

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This author is American but currently resides in Spain, and he’s a teacher, and managed, on top of all this busy real-life stuff, to create a very well-thought-out and interesting world and premise. The editing is superb — in looks alone, this novel is professional in every way. The writing is thorough, the content is appropriate for teen readers as well as adults, and for fans of Narnia, Middle Earth, and Wonderland, Where the Woods Grow Wild feels like a fun romp across all of them. Nate Philbrick is now putting up a new novel on Wattpad.

You can visit him at: https://youwritefiction.wordpress.com/

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The Assassin’s Daughter is another prime example of an indie author taking great care and effort with her manuscript. The finished product is beautifully clean on the page, and the writing and character development shows the time and passion she poured into creating this fictional world and growing close to her narrators. The world in this novel feels familiar, yet has its own twists and is a unique, fitting setting to the story. Jameson C. Smith has plans for a sequel as well.

You can find her at: https://www.jamesoncsmith.com/

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The first in the Beaumont and Beasley series, The Beast of Talesend is a great amount of fun, with a really clever sense of humor and a twist on the idea of fairytales and magic being real or not. Kyle Shultz has plans for more books set in this world, and he’s currently working on an audio version of the first release.

You can visit him at: http://kylerobertshultz.com/

I’d also like to try releases by Ichabod Temperance (https://www.amazon.com/Ichabod-Temperance/e/B00J71862M/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1), Alexis P. Johnson (http://www.phoenicianrises.com/), and Nadine Brandes (http://nadinebrandes.com/). All of these authors maintain a social media presence, they’re very approachable and won’t bite, and their work sounds very interesting, refreshing, just fun, or all of the above.

And now, because, I’m sorry, but it is my blog, here’s a moment of shameless self-promotion:

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Not to toot my own horn too much, but Masters and Beginners, the first in my YA fantasy series The Order of the Twelve Tribes is receiving very good support/acclaim on Goodreads, and for this I am intensely grateful and humbled. If you’d like to purchase a copy, please contact me (details can be found under my header or in the sidebar). I have a paperback for sale, as well as a digital edition, and there are still the limited edition mini-subscription boxes available.

Okay, I won’t ramble on about myself too much. Do check out all these other authors, and support their art!

Autism, family, Parenting, reading, writing

The Indistinct Howls and Grumbling Edition

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Seriously, this is what you people most want to read about? Well, I guess I asked for it when I included it as an option in the latest Twitter poll… But, sigh… And, well, I suppose this post is off to a good start.

Here’s what I’ve been grumbling about lately:

Muffin has been bingeing Dreamworks movies, particularly How to Train Your Dragon and the Ice Age series. He is presently obsessed with dragons. (I can hear some of you applauding his good taste.) I love dragons, too, and Ice Age. But every once in a while, it would be really nice for him to stop interchanging the discs at a nearly frantic pace, and watch something else for a little bit, maybe…

My writer’s playlist has run dry, feels hackneyed, and my ears are tired of it. Not that I’m never going to listen to any of these songs again. It’s just that, right now, I want something different, and I’m rather finnicky when it comes to selecting stuff like music…

I can’t seem to finish my tea while it’s still hot. It used to be mostly because of children, but nowadays it appears to have become its own thing. Groan…

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Work is progressing on Volume 2. Some of that results in lots of mumblings and complaints to self and the occasional howl…

I’m practically stalking my Goodreads page, hoping for amazing stats on Volume 1. It is being well-received, and there are some impending reviews which I know are going to be good. More than 170 people have entered my Goodreads giveaway (which ends Wednesday), and for a debut author, this is truly incredible. I guess I’m a little worried about this planing off, though, and that definitely results in howling…

I’ve hit a reading slump. I’ve knocked everything new off my TBR, except for Dawn of the Clans, which I don’t feel like starting right now. None of the new releases this spring are grabbing my attention, and this is generating a vaguely unsettling feeling…

The season finale of Riverdale was last week. This is now one of the only TV shows I regularly watch. Honestly, I don’t mind having to wait for the new season, I’m not 12. But the realization hit me that by October, by the time all the new episodes will be premiering, a whole lot will most likely be different in my life…

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Muffin will be starting preschool by the fall, if not before. While this is all good, because he’ll be able to receive all his services in one place, and I’ll certainly have more time to write, or even think about going back to teaching dance, it still means a big upheaval in our daily lives. That creates howling for a bunch of reasons…

As I think about the future, the fact that White Fang will be in high school in September is also not far from my mind. WHAT. HOW. DID. THIS. HAPPEN. I swear he was Muffin’s age just last month. Okay, it was more than 10 years ago. I am old. More than that, I just… How did he become so much his own person, who has this mind and personality and life that I’m learning about as we go — rather than being the expert on my small child? Because he grew up and discovered who he is and what he’s into, that’s why — and isn’t that what I tried so hard for over a decade to achieve? Insert wolf impression here…

My husband finally started reading Volume 1. Yes, it is among the great ironic moments of my life that some of the last people to read my first release are my immediate family. But the reason this is so momentuous for me is because my husband does not read fantasy or speculative fiction at all. (He once picked up a Frank Peretti novel circa 1995, and never finished it.) I’ve had to explain to him what a TARDIS is, that “faery” is a correct spelling, and the significance of Shroedinger’s Cat. He is so not a geek. Anyway, the fact that he got through the Prologue of Volume 1 and said, “This is really good!”, has intense personal meaning.

A-owwwwwwwwww…

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There are also some big personal things happening for a few people I know, and this gets to me, because I want to be able to help, and in some instances, I just can’t. Either I don’t live close enough, or it’s not my place to step in, and there’s really not much I can do other than stand back and watch developments unfold. I am a do-er, I like to participate in situations resolving, and know that it’s all going well. Especially when it concerns people I care about. So this is a tough bit.

A-owwwwwww…

Anyone have time to post a glowing review of Volume 1 to make me feel better?

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books, reading, writing

How to Choose a Genre for Your Book

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So, you’ve written a novel. And survived to share the news! Congratulations! What next? Are you hoping to share it with others? Okay, go for it — self-publish or put it on Wattpad or something. Now, here’s the really hard part after writing and editing — marketing.

What’s the hardest part of marketing? “Tell me what your book is about.”

Many indie authors I see around the blogisphere have compared writing a summary of their novel/series with being tortured, suffering through a prolonged illness, or feeling that their very soul has been ripped out and displayed to the whole world.

In other words — it seems so easy (to the naive general public), but deciding what your novel is “about” can be almost impossible.

Here’s a major reason why — selecting the genre it belongs to. Genres are something apparently contrived by publishers to torture writers. “Genre” means a category. Humans love to put things in categories. But writers find “genre” a bit tedious, because, honestly, really good stories don’t follow a checklist of standards; they cross borders and fall into more than one genre. We often don’t like feeling limited by sticking to the expectations of a category.

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So, here’s how to decide which genres your novel falls into:

Consider the major elements of the story. Is the focus of the plot on solving a crime? (mystery) Is it set in outerspace? (science fiction) Does your world include inhabitants such as dragons, mages, and talking horses? (fantasy)

But do think about things like setting and premise as well — Is your sci-fi novel actually set in Victorian London? (historical fiction and steampunk) Are your characters solving a who-done-it they stumbled over on their honeymoon? (romance) Has your Narnia-inspired Earth actually come to be after a post-armageddon event circa 2234? (dystopia)

Don’t worry one bit about writing in more than one genre. Nowadays, readers are hungry for less-formulaic fiction, and the industry is catching on. On Goodreads, my first publication is listed under fantasy, YA, and contemporary, because yes, it’s about faeries and mythology, but it’s set in present day, and the target audience is ages 13 and up. You’ll actually reach more potential readers by writing a historical fiction murder mystery, or a dystopian romance.

Above all, stay true to the voice of your story. This is the most helpful “professional” advice I’ve received on writing. Stop worrying about what your novel “should” be in terms of trends or what your favorite authors are currently producing. Concentrate on the story you’re telling. If you just know it has to be a contemporary, or has to be fantasy, to properly explore the growth of the characters and who they’re meant to become, then stick to it.

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How to determine the age classification. This simply means, who’s it for? Is the intended reader an adult, a teenager, or a kid? And how you reach this conclusion should not be based on the age of the narrator or the protagonist. For example, The Book Thief and The Hunger Games are labeled juvenile fiction, purely because the narrators are very young, but the content and the subjects within those pages are very, very serious and not easy for juvenile minds to comprehend. It may actually be harmful for people under the age of 16 to read such books. The same with the Throne of Glass series, which you’ll find on sale or in the library next to Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, but has explicit sexual references.

(Go back to step one: Staying true to the voice of your story.)

As a parent, I really wanted to write something that I’d feel comfortable having my own kids read — now, not when they’re adults. For a few years, I toyed with the idea of making my series NA (new adult, ages 18 and up), but eventually I decided to make it YA (and a solid YA, acceptable for middle-schoolers to read). But there’s plenty for older teens and even adults to enjoy. My content is pretty conservative, so for adults who don’t care for tons of violence or sex or swearing in their fiction (like myself), there’s still adventure and mystery and some romance and clean humor. Although The Order of the Twelve Tribes can be found under YA, it still works for a broad audience.

Hope all of this helps our future bestselling authors! Happy writing!

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art, blogging, books, Fantasy fiction, reading, writing, Young Adult fiction

How to Make Those Pesky Tropes Work for You

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Yes, you read that right. For those of us in the know, we cringe when we see the word “trope” in a book review. For those of us scratching our heads and wondering what the heck I’m going on about, a “trope” simply means an overused theme in fiction, and some authors apparently devote entire series to using as many of them as possible. And they are more prevalent in certain genres than others (YA, anybody?), and fantasy fiction has been falling prey to them lately.

But just the existence of a trope isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Generally it indicates that a particular theme or idea is popular, so, as an author, you may consider including popular things that your audience may be asking for. (If, you know, you want to actually sell your work.) However, this can also backfire very easily, when too many people write a trope in too short a span of time, and then the audience gets tired of it.

So, how can we authors take advantage of some tropes that may actually a) fit our story, b) we in fact like them? Here are a few thoughts on how to shake it up and stay true to our cause of producing unique work.

To begin with, remember that no one’s book is truly original, and that’s totally okay. We’re all influenced by the storytellers to come before us. We’re living in an advanced age of humanity, there’s a lot of influence to draw on. Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t seem to come up with something that hasn’t been seen on this planet yet. It depends on what you do with your influences, as to how unique your writing is.

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Tried-and-true tropes that just need a different spin to still be successful:

Examples: the love triangle, insta-“love”, the chosen one (or, the “special snowflake”), bad/absent parents, and throwing every kind of tragedy conceivable at the hero/heroine.

Okay, let’s start with the love triangle and “insta-love.” When it comes to YA fic, these can be dangerous if portrayed in a way that suggests falling into complete love with the first person you lock eyes with at a party is normal, or that not only will you have one potential boy/girlfriend but you’ll fact have 5, all fighting over you. Is it impossible to believe that — especially in close social circles, as teens tend to have — more than one person would have a crush on the same girl/boy? Nope, not at all. But does this inevitably result in pistols at dawn? Good grief, no. We’re in the 21st century here. And might you be at a party only because your friend begged you to go, and over by the punch bowl you see a totally attractive person with a great smile and a fantastic dress sense, and in your head go, “OH MY GOSH, I LOVE THEM”? Yeah, of course. But that does not mean they’re about to propose and buy you a sailboat and pounds of chocolate and novels. And it is very important to make the difference clear to impressionable young people.

In The Order of the Twelve Tribes, I included romantic situations that the adolescents involved are possibly over-thinking how serious it is, and that’s actually quite a healthy lesson for teens. (Being the parent of a 14-year-old myself, I am definitely concerned with him not planning on marrying his very first crush.) Through the rest of the series, I’ll be exploring how the couples grow as individuals, learning about themselves and what they want, along with how to be a good partner. (Which should lead to a lot less dysfunction in their adult lives…)

Anyway, so how about instead of always having one girl and two boys making fools of themselves for her affection, let’s try — a) the girl tells both of them to go away, b) after she strings them along, the guys tell her to shove off, c) it’s two girls after the same boy who ultimately decide being friends with each other is more valuable.

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Moving on to the dreaded chosen one, aka the special snowflake. It became a big deal with Harry Potter, and therefore a bit jaded soon after, as there were a plethora of trilogies or series (The Maze Runner, Divergent, Legend, Percy Jackson) released in quick succession focusing a variation on that theme. The unique thing about Harry Potter was that he didn’t know he was considered the “chosen one,” and had never thought of himself as anything special. Then he rose to the challenge, anyway — even though we found out in book 7 that it was never confirmed Harry was the chosen one.

Now, that’s a twist. So, how about more twists? Instead of the chosen one being groomed from birth (think King Arthur), he/she — a) avoids their “destiny” at all costs, by running away to a far land to herd llamas, b) turns out not to be amazing and powerful but really rubbish, c) was mistaken for the real fated hero, but decides to give it all they’ve got.

We’re up to bad or absent parents. Come on, folks, let’s do away with the way there are never any consequences for neglectful parenting in fiction — a) the family is irresponsible, so your protagonist ends up in a loving foster care situation, b) the dysfunctional home life results in a tragedy that creates intense character growth, c) we think the parents may be dead but are in fact alive, and simply in hiding to protect their offspring.

(For The Order of the Twelve Tribes, I went with the last. And for the record, when push comes to shove, she steps up to the plate.)

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And, please, let’s do stop throwing every kind of tragedy conceivable at the hero/heroine. I wrote an entire post earlier this year about how important happy endings are, even to dystopia and fantasy. (You can use the search bar to find “It Is Not Too Much To Ask For A Happy Ending” if you missed it.) Anyway, my view is that, while it’s (unfortunately) realistic to have some bad things happen to your characters, readers need to have hope and the opportunity for life to be okay for these fictional beans they’ve grown attached to. (And I will be writing this way, too. There will be losses, but not the absolute entire end to the complete and total universe. There will be love and peace as well.)

So, instead of endings like in Mockingjay and Allegiant, what about — a) broken friendships are restored, b) only half the major characters get killed (remember, most of them survived in The Deathly Hallows), c) after winning the war, rather than becoming a devastated husk of a former human being, the narrator quietly retires to a farm to raise teacup pigs and does not suffer from PTSD for the next 743 years.

Trust me, your readers will thank you.

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art, community, Encouragement, writing

Sending Out The Call

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…Or, The Post That May Get Me In A Lot Of Trouble. And yet, I’m fairly sure that won’t stop me from going forward.

Lately, I’ve been coming across some pretty intense (and very important) discussions on “Christian media” and whether it’s actually effective, helpful, or even valuable to its own audience. And these discussions are happening among believers in the Christian doctrine. Since I count myself among that set of spiritual principles, but also as an artist, I’ve encountered several problems with “Christian” entertainment before. And this is something we need to talk about.

A lot of Christian musicians, writers, and other sorts of artists feel extreme pressure to only produce certain content in their art. If they cover a “taboo” topic, or include an image or wording that some in the Church find offensive, they are worried about being branded as a “heretic” or a “blasphemer.” (Now, is it just me, or aren’t we past the time when Catholics and Protestants put each other to death in the city square?)

Apparently, labeling something “Christian” means that it will already cover the issues of Biblical teachings and modern churchgoing lifestyle that most believers should know and/or generally follow. And often it seems to point a finger at those in the denomination or the faith that “aren’t measuring up.” It isn’t affirming of the message that the Messiah came to die for all of us, while we were still sinners. Nor does it present anything appealing or encouraging to non-believers.

Personal note time: I don’t read Christian fiction anymore, because I simply can’t relate to finding a husband being absolutely more important than anything else in life (even more than God, apparently); or to non-believers always being presented as drunks or child abusers or corrupt in business (since plenty of non-Christians are in fact very moral and very nice people); or to believers never getting angry or making a mistake that wasn’t forgiven at the drop of a hat, just because they prayed for God to show the other person they were “being unreasonable” (ahem…).

Not that absolutely all Christian fiction is this bad. But way too much of it is. So I’d rather spend my precious free time reading something that may not point to a spiritual lesson or spell out something of religious importance, but that provides lots of thought in the areas of growth and love.

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As artists, who are supposed to be creating and finding new and innovative ways to share our art (and our passion), we are continually being put in a box. As I attempted to finish the final draft of Volume 1, I explored the possibility of trying to get a Christian publishing agent, and was more than a little horrified by what I found. Too many companies informed prospective clients that “good Christian literature does not include swearing, sexuality, violence, any mention of other religions, the supernatural (even angels and demons), or reference other literature/music/art that is not Christian in origin and nature.”

Excuse me?! Have any of these people actually read the Bible, and discovered just how much violence there is, references to who “lay” with his wife, mentions of about 17,000 other cultures and sets of beliefs, and TONS of angels and demons?! And isn’t one of the major teachings of the New Testament that part of LOVE is respecting people who have a belief system/lifestyle/background you don’t agree with? Didn’t Jesus of Nazareth say that you could go to temple every week, follow all the instructions of the priests, and still be a sinner with a wicked heart if you ignored the beggars and the cripples on the street or didn’t give the repentent prostitutes a second chance?

This type of attitude among a lot of modern churchgoers is why I also don’t write Christian fiction. And believe me, I have worked way too hard on my “baby” to see it shoved into a corner of “not worth reading” by so, so many if it was labeled “Christian fiction.” Especially considering that most of the Christian publishers out there would call it “blasphemy” because it’s in the fantasy genre. (Haven’t they ever heard of JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis?!)

Not that my series will be known for loads of profanity or explicit sexual references or graphic violence. But, somebody needs to tell me why, just because I write about faeries and unicorns and dragons — and angels and demons — I can’t call myself a Christian. And they need to have evidence that trumps the Gospels, which proclaim that my Savior came to die for autistic fantasy writers, too.

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Too much of the current Christian entertainment market is full of cheesy, unrealistic, dull, and even offensive portrayals that need to stop. I know for a fact I am not the only one who feels this way. That I am not the only one who feels the world as a whole needs to return to a higher moral standard, and that faith needs to be allowed to play a greater role than just “preaching to the choir.”

I don’t want to drop anybody’s names, in case you aren’t prepared for that; but if this is an issue that you face, as a believer and an artist, please raise your voice. To those of you who already have, thank you. We can band together to develop a place where our art is allowed to exist without discrimination, to reach all sorts of people through love of a shared interest or hobby, without in-fighting or unnecessary restrictions.

So, I am sending out the call. Let’s hear you.

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