Author Interview!

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Two posts in one day? That’s such a rarity for me, but I had the honor of being interviewed by my good friend Grace Johnson over at her blog. You can check out the interview here! Grace is a fellow author (Held Captive, Bound and Determined, as well as several short stories), so be sure to check out her books and the rest of her blog. She’s a great interviewer, and I had so much fun answering her wonderful questions – thanks again, Grace! 🙂

Writing amidst the Busyness of Life

This is how we all write, correct?
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If you’re anything like me, you probably have other things going on outside of writing. Sad, right? 😊 Just kidding. We need balance, too. We can’t just live in our happy (or sometimes, not so happy) fictional worlds forever. Be it work, school, family, church – life – it all takes up time. And sometimes, balancing writing with the rest of your life can be difficult.

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What about “Preachy” Christian Fiction?

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Preachy fiction. I’ve heard this term thrown around in the Christian fiction circles for a bit now, and I’ve thought about it for a bit. Have to let these things percolate before I think about publishing my ramblings to the outside world, right? 🙂

Ok. So most of the time, this label of “preachy fiction” is applied to a book that has maybe a sermon in it, too many Bible verses, or too much stuff about the Lord. Maybe the storyline drags because the author has a long conversation about something in the Bible or has an extended prayer. You get the point. Of course, this is going to be different for everyone. Something might be “preachy” to you that isn’t “preachy” to your friend. But in general, let’s just take that definition as the basis for this conversation.

Critics of preachy fiction would say that a sermon, or too many verses, or too many thoughts about the Lord disrupt the storyline. The plot stalls out as the author gets his point across. The reader will zone out during the verses. Your audience will get frustrated at the way you’re expounding on a truth and slam the book shut.

This side would prefer a much softer approach to relating Biblical things. (Keep in mind, this is in general.) The better approach, from this side of the aisle, would be to relate truths through the story. For example, lying is bad. The story shows the consequences of deceit, but there’s very few or no verses that deal with the clear command against lying. Another approach would be to use symbolism to present truths. Or even if the books simply have good and evil, it’s a valid book that can better one’s life, even if it doesn’t mention the Lord or the Bible or the Gospel.

So what are my thoughts on this? (Since you are here on my blog, kindly reading through my rambling statements, I suppose you want my point of view. 🙂 And I will get to it.)

I’ve read lots of books that I enjoy from both sides of the argument. There are amazing authors who write both ways, and their stories are amazing. I love the characters, I love the settings, I love the plots.

But it comes down to this. I want to read books that edify me as a Christian. Our lives are very short. “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” (James 4:14). I don’t have unlimited time to read every book in the world. And even if I did, wouldn’t I want everything I did to be to the glory of God and draw me to Him?

I’m afraid that the backlash against “preachy” fiction has created this new form of Christian fiction, making authors afraid of preaching the Gospel to their hearers because it’ll be labeled like this. You guys know what books I’m talking about – those that say they’re Christian fiction, and all that’s included is a prayer for help in the climax (at best). It’s like the publishers and authors want enough that they can have one foot in the world and one foot in the church to appeal to the widest audiences. For their revenues, that’s great, right?

But listen what Jesus says: “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” (Revelation 3:15-16) This verse has come to mind several times when I’ve been thinking about this subject, and I think it’s very fitting. If authors want to write fiction that’s just clean—or even worse, labeled under Christian fiction and containing stuff that shouldn’t be in there—publish under a secular imprint. Don’t claim to be Christian when you’re not. Be cold. Don’t be somewhere in the middle, that disgusting lukewarmness that makes believers and unbelievers alike sick.

I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.”

Revelation 3:15-16

Now, am I saying that a book should just be sermons with a few characters walking to church to hear it? Is symbolism a bad thing? Should we have pages of a character’s prayer and nothing else?

Not at all. There are ways to let the story flow into a sermon, to have the character’s life be formed so the presentation of the Gospel or Biblical teachings exist seamlessly in the plot. Symbolism can work great – doesn’t the Bible use symbolism a lot? But we have to be clear. We have to show truth. And we as authors must strive to get better and better at our craft so our stories pull readers in and make them want to keep reading.

But you know what? I’d rather read a book that has solid Biblical teachings that interrupted the flow of the plot but edified me a thousand times rather than fluffy, lukewarm books that mean nothing. I don’t want to waste four hours of my life reading something I’ll forget the next day, or all that matters to me is the plot. In the end, what is that? In the end, what really matters? Is our engaging plot the most important part of the story? Is character development most key? No. Christ matters! His Kingdom matters! Peoples’ eternal souls matter!

God has given us Christian authors a huge responsibility – a terrifying one – by giving us the chance to reach people we never would have without our writing. Do we just want to give them a nice story that might give them a few hours of pleasure and then send them on their way to hell? I know that sounds extreme, but if an unbeliever picks up your book, you have the chance to give them the Gospel that will save their lives. Why waste it? Why mince your words to maybe keep from offending people or not getting as many sales? Was Jesus ever afraid to tell the truth?

The bottom line: we have to realize what really matters. A book with a fuzzy moral that may or may not be grasped by our readers is not going to cut it. We need to share the Gospel in our books. We need to give them verses – “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17). We need to learn and work and strive to make our stories flow well, to engage the readers, to present the Gospel in a convincing matter.

And that can be scary. It scares me. I’ve have thoughts while writing, questioning if I should say something, considering what readers will think.

But don’t be afraid, author. “Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.” (1 Thess. 5:24) Please the Lord, not man, and leave the results in His Hands. “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” (Isaiah 41:10).

“Only one life,’twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

-C.T. Studd

Authorly Updates

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Well, it’s that time again – as you can tell from the title, this is an update on my writing endeavors. Last month, I officially released Unknown, which was so exciting but also quite tiring. It was definitely a dream come true, but I still have a lot to go in learning how to be an author. 🙂 I got that book submitted right before my college semester started, thank the Lord, so now I can focus mostly on school while still balancing writing alongside college.

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The Beginnings and Story of Writing Unknown

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Well, this story begins very long along, in a distant land … just kidding. It does seem like a very long time ago when I first started writing Unknown back in late 2018. I’d just come off of writing a trilogy of Civil War books (what I consider my first “real” and finished books.) For some reason, I decided I wanted a change of pace and chose to write something in a modern setting.

And then somehow, I decided to set it in Russia. And why’s that?

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