Sunday, June 23, 2013

An Open Letter To Christian Fiction

Dear Christian Fiction,

I really, really like you. In fact, after neglecting your genre for about a decade, I've been reading you like crazy, discovering all the books and authors I missed in the meantime. Seriously, I've read more than sixty books in your genre this year already. And tons more a decade ago when it was all I read. As someone who's been both inside and outside the Christian camp, let's chat.

First off, some of your books are really, really, like crazy good. Mainly any book by Laura Frantz (oh my gosh I'm obsessed with her books lately, pardon my fangirl) or Deeanne Gist, Tamera Alexander, Lisa Tawn Bergren, Melanie Dickerson, and Julie Klassen. Thoughtful books where the writer's aren't afraid to let bad things happen to their characters. Where there are good and bad people alike, and those lines aren't always determined by whether they are Christians or not. These writers are doing it right.

But here's my problem with you, Christian Fiction. When others writers among you paint the world as made up of THEM, ie, non-Christian heathens who are evil and immoral and driven only by darkness vs. US, the Christians who maybe make mistakes but always choose the right thing in the end, it makes me kind of sick to my stomach. It's not how the world works and oh my goodness I sure hope you know that.

And here's the other big thing that ticks me off: when you have God speaking to the characters all the time. Like literally a voice in their heads, in pretty italic letters on the page. Do you not get how painful it is to pretend that's the way the world, and God, work? Do you know how upset I was as a teenager because God never 'spoke' to me like he did in all the books I read and how I thought that meant I must be doing it wrong? And in such plots, God always steps in at the last moment so nothing bad ever happens to the characters. And I want to pull my hair out because BAD THINGS HAPPEN to people. And painting a world like this, where the Christians are always good and do the right thing and hear God's voice... it's just plain wrong and hurtful and destructive, to all parties. I mean it's not just you, it's Christian subculture too. Either way, I was so shocked and unprepared when real life hit in my early twenties. I was unprepared for life's squalls and storms because it didn't fit this picture I'd been fed of how the Christian life worked. I was shattered.

I get it, Christian Fiction, I do. You have your tropes the same way other genres like Romance or Mystery or even YA do. I don't even mind all the preachy bits because I understand, the point of this genre is you get to talk about God and have your characters talk about God. And I'm generally fine with a little wish-fulfillment fiction. I like happy endings as much as the next girl. I just have a problem when you ascribe it all to God and pretend this is how the real world works.

In the meantime, I'll keep on reading you, and just avoid the authors who trigger my gag reflex. Because I still enjoy you, Christian Fiction. I like that your characters have depth and go through big emotional character arcs, and I like the way you do your love stories in historical settings, and I like that I can read you without worrying about being assaulted by graphic sexy times every other chapter (which I still like on occasion, but not every single book where it seems like that's all the scenes are just wishy-washy character-wise, all driving toward the sexy times scenes!). And yeah. Like YA, I like that your books seem to have more time and attention spent editing them than a lot of mainstream genre books. Sometimes I even like it when you talk about God.

Still, please be on notice Christian Fiction. It's hard enough having faith in God in this world. Please don't muddy the waters with your wish-fulfillment on how you WANT God to act and give us a little more of how he DOES act, which more often than not, is silence, requiring faith.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Giveaway! 2 Signed Copies of BOTH Override & Shutdown!

To celebrate Shutdown only being two weeks away from releasing and Glitch being on sale for just $2.99 for Kindle and Nook, I decided it's time for a giveaway! Giving away 2 copies of BOTH Override and Shutdown, you can enter once every day!

I'm going to paste the rafflecopter code, but if that doesn't work, you can always click this link to it on Facebook:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Write Through Anything

I’ve heard people say writing saved their life, and while I can’t go that far, I can say that writing has provided stability and sanity in a very unstable world.

Writing helps me feel grounded, even in a strange week like this one where everything else feels all strange and weird. My husband and son are out of town and it’s just me up in this thirteenth story apartment, too ill to really go anywhere, feeling like Rupunzel locked in her tower—though maybe without the glorious golden locks, or does mid-shoulder black and pink hair count? Nevertheless, I feel very locked-away-in-a-tower-ish.

But then, when I write, even on days like today where I’m distracted by All The Internet Things, if I manage to hit my word count, I feel this nice calm settle over me. I did the work that needed to be done today, even if everything else seems out of sync and off schedule.

It’s kind of the magic of developing a discipline of writing. Like any muscle, it’ll get flimsy and out of shape if you don’t exercise it. I’ve mostly gotten to the place where writing isn’t something I get up and decide to do everyday. It’s something I take for granted that I WILL do, come hell or high-water or, you know, Twitter and Facebook addiction and my normal internal whining about I-don’t-wanna! ;)

So tonight, all alone in this empty apartment up in the sky, I’ve got a smile on my face because I did my second writing session and hit the 2k word count I try to do every day. Officially my required word count each day is 1k. It’s one of the tricks I use on myself, so that if I only get 1k or only do one writing session instead of two, I still get to count the day as a win. When you’ve got this weird amorphous job of being a writer, it’s the little things that count to make you feel productive.

The trick is to write through anything. Write through depression. Write through success. Write through heart break. Especially write through failure. Write through sickness, at least as much as able. Write through books being sold. Write through waiting on submission to see if more books will sell. Write through failed books that didn’t end up going anywhere and sit as half-done hundred page documents that will lay forgotten in some random folder on my computer.

It’s when I stop writing that I get into trouble. I feel like I can be happy and contented through anything life throws at me, as long as I can hit that daily word count. Now, none of this is to say that the writing will be particularly good, especially if there’s something bad or stressful going on in my life. The idea of the tortured or depressed artist putting out masterpieces might be all good well in theory, but it certainly never worked for me. I write best when I’m stable and happy and my family is in a good place. But you still gotta write, because that way lies sanity and mental health. Come to think of it, I bet it’s how Rapunzel stayed sane too. She was probably stuck up there with thousands of sheets of paper and a magical unending inkpot ;)