I want to talk about the preconceived notions people have about Christian, Inspirational or Faith-based books. When someone hears a story has one of the three aforementioned tones, they immediately shut down, thinking the story is going to be sweeter than cotton candy dipped in chocolate and covered with gum drops.
There’s CIF [Christian, Inspirational, Faith] fiction that falls into that description, and there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s written extremely well and packs a message for the reader. However, it’s the misconception that all CIF books are like that which prevents a closed mind from experiencing some really great stories. [I swear I’m not preaching.]
When I decided to start writing, I’d dabbled a little in high school and college. Even so far as to write a couple of plays. I found them later and felt they’d be a good base for a barbecue fire. When I read them again, I realized, that although they were poorly written, they had a few things in common. The characters were all Christians in real-life situations. Let me explain. In a lot of CIF books, the story centers around the church with the conflict between the pastor, the board, the choir director, the pastor’s family, and some evil person not affiliated with the church. There’s nothing wrong with those books. I’ve read a few and like them, however, they weren’t the kinds of stories I wanted to tell.
I have always loved God, fashion, and cute guys. I liked The Devil Wears Prada, Bergdorf Blondes, Elements of Style, and The Debutante Divorcee. These were characters I could relate to. The books are filled with the most incredible fashion and very handsome men. The only thing they didn’t have was a faith theme. It was reading these books that it occurred to me, why not write a book with similar content, but add a little CIF to it.
My first attempt at writing a book sounded very much like ChickLit. I was fine with it until my beta readers ripped it to shreds. After a lot of re-writes, I finally had a book I was pleased with. Problem was, it wasn’t considered acceptable. Every traditional editor I approached had the same response, “Christians don’t act like that, Christians don’t care about designer clothes; Christians are happy being upper middle class at best; Christians don’t get challenged, tempted, have racy dreams or wicked thoughts; and Christians only have sex for procreation and on special occasions. And there is no way a Christian would get divorced, commit adultery, fornicate, swear, drink wine or dance.”
Needless to say, I was stunned at the comments because I know a lot of Christians that have experienced and or faced a few of those things. So, I set out to write books for “my people.”
I spoke with an author friend and told her what I had been experiencing with the traditional publishing machine, and she suggested I consider going indie. I wasn’t too sure the indie world was for me, but it was. The indie publishing world allows me to tell the stories I want to tell.
It ticks me off when I hear people say no one will read books about Christians [or people of other religious beliefs] in real life situations. I want to read about “my people” dating, regretting, marrying, divorcing, falling in love, wearing designer clothes, traveling and being pursued by wealthy men. I don’t want my heroine to be naive and deceived by an evil protagonist whose only objective is to steal her virginity or corrupt her. What about the sexy, fun Christian girl, who works hard and falls for her boss, or divorces her cheating husband, or who used to be a little slutty and is now in love with God and struggling not to slip back into her old ways. These are great stories, and if they’re written well, you can take the CIF elements out and they’ll still be great stories.
My next book is part five of an office romance. The Good Girl series starts out sweet and sassy and escalates to a hot romance. For those expecting a tame romance, this isn’t it. As the series moves forward, so does Gabriella and Phillippe’s relationship. The cover of Part Five reminds me of a scene from the book. Without giving too much away, I’ll say this, Gabriella and Phillippe get what they want. The question is, “What do they want?”
Since I began writing, my books have gone from being classed as steamy, Christian fiction to Contemporary Romance with faith and heat. My books range in heat from sweet to very sensual/steamy. Personally, I don’t see where they are that hot, but some readers feel otherwise. Probably because I’m very descriptive and not afraid to leave the door wide open.
Although most of my characters are Christians, I don’t want their passion or desire to be watered down. Here’s a startling fact, Christians like sex. I know it’s hard to believe. Smile. But it’s the truth and that’s why I have chosen to include open door sex in my books. Let me clarify, I only include sex scenes when I feel they are relevant to the story. I also like to share my characters thoughts and reactions to situations. If either of the protagonist are having a lustful thought or are pissed off, I include it. These little nuances make my characters appear real and relatable.…just like in traditional romance.
So back to the original question, IS THERE A DIFFERENCE? Not really, just different levels of intensity.