It’s been a few weeks since I attended my first writers’ conference. For three days I soaked up everything I could from authors, agents, publishers, and others in the field. I rubbed elbows with lovers of Steampunk, writers of Romance, and purveyors of Science Fiction. It was great to hear from authors who write more than one genre! It was wonderful to be home in Colorado again, if only for a few days.
We talked about the craft of writing and the business of publishing. We networked and made connections, new friends and new business contacts. We celebrated being away from our day jobs as Mommies, teachers, and CEOs for a whole weekend.
One of the sessions I made sure to have time for was on Inspirational (IE Christian) fiction. After all, I have a series of inspirational romances titled The Pangalactic Sojourners that I hope to finish soon.
The session was great! Very helpful, especially regarding information regarding the do’s and don’ts of the genre.
All genres have rules. (That was another session…) These rules are not designed to limit a writer, but to define what story fits into what market. Romance expects a happily ever after. Mysteries were meant to be solved. That sort of thing. If you want to go with a traditional publisher, you have to follow these rules. Even if you self-publish, abandoning the rules could land your book in a netherworld of confused markets and low sales.
With Inspirational fiction, the term Inspirational is not a generic term for any faith tradition. Inspirational means the story has a Christian theme. The story doesn’t have to be about a journey of faith, but it does need to have a main character who makes their decisions based on that faith. If the character isn’t a Christian in the beginning of the story, they will be at the end. If they are struggling, their faith will see them through.
Beyond that, there is a hugely long list of topics on which Christians disagree. The discussion about cussing was hilarious…although it was agreed and understood that you don’t drop the F bomb in an Inspirational story, the word crap was debatable. To some, this word is harmless. To others, it’s still a technical foul. Some Christians take offense at the phrase “Oh My God!” even when it’s abbreviated OMG. Someone brought up the idea of alcohol, with the debate extending to whether one should completely abstain, or whether it’s OK as long as one’s character doesn’t get drunk. Or if they do, it’s a “fallen” moment of sin.
The same was discussed regarding smoking, divorce, and other topics that might be considered sinful by some Christian somewhere. The advice for a broken marriage was (paraphrased) As long as its not the main character’s fault. That left the door open for leaving an abusive relationship, or being left by an unfaithful spouse, but not deciding that one’s marriage was in some other way deficient and should be ended.
So what’s my biggest regret?
Not mentioning that my faith stories feature LGBTQ characters.
Then again, there is a time and a place for everything. My church’s youth group recently visited a church where they noticed that no women were in any of the leadership roles. When they asked, the answer was that the church believed those were men’s roles. Our youth simply and politely nodded and accepted that answer, not as an “Oh! Of course you’re right,” but as an “Oh! I completely disagree but it would be rude to start a debate over it here and now.”
I posted previously about the great feeling of fellowship I felt at the writers’ conference, comparing it to the feeling of being a Christian fellowshipping with other Christians. I find it infinitely ironic that the one time I felt the least fellowship, the least belonging, and the least camaraderie was when I was in a room with other Christian writers. It sounds bad, but really, it really wasn’t as negative as it sounds. The Christian community is a wide and diverse community. There are writers who want to make sure the characters in their books are paragons of morality and faith, and there are readers who want that. There are writers who want to show their character’s journey from being a lost soul to finding Christ, and these writers also have their readers. There are so many possible stories, of course there will be writers and readers who find stories they love and stories they can’t stand. (Like paranormal readers who are divided into two camps: Twlight lovers and Twilight haters.)
My stories are romances. I want to show that quiltbag characters can have stories that are just as inspirational and just as romantic as any traditionally heterosexual couple.
Let’s just hope I find my readers.