Deep POV: Confessions of a Christian Writer

The ramblings of an emergent-realistic-edgy-working-for-God-and-the-pay-isn’t-that-great-sometimes-confused-christian-fiction writer (uh, that would be me).

Friday, July 30, 2004

How to Get Your Book Published (Not!)

Don’t learn the rules of punctuation and grammar.
After all, isn’t that what an editor does? Edit? Who cares if you put your commas and periods outside the quotation marks, don’t have a clue how to use apostrophes to make possessives or write “your” when you mean, “you are.” Let the editors worry about that stuff! You have more important things to do.

Don’t learn the rules of story structure and/or the rules of writing.
Rules smules! Your story is so scintillating that it’ll stand on it’s own no matter how you tell it. You can’t be constrained by a set of arcane rules that stifle your creativity. Just write what you feel. Somehow, it’ll all come together.

Don’t study the market.
Who cares if your book, “Vegetable Soup for the Soul,” seems like something that’s been done before. That’s not your problem. Let the publisher worry about it.

Don’t learn what the publisher publishes or might be interested in publishing.
Just how were you supposed to know that Nonfiction Books Only, Inc. wouldn’t be interested in your romance novel? They’re a publisher, aren’t they? What the big deal?

Don’t follow the guidelines supplied by editor/agent.
Send a query letter, send a proposal, don’t send anything! You can’t keep that all straight, so why try? Just send them your manuscript and be done with it. They’ll get the point.

Ignore practical advice for writing a query letter.
Go on, tell the editor or agent that your book will be a big seller. Huge. In fact, it’ll make Jerry Jenkins weep. Oh, and don’t forget to mention the spiritual element: God wants this book published so what are they waiting for?

Don’t proofread your query letter/synopsis/proposal/manuscript before it’s sent out.
It’s the book that brilliant, right? So, who cares about the rest?

Send out a proposal without writing the book.
Hey, published writers do it all the time. Why go to all the effort of actually writing a book? Naw! Just throw something together and get it into the right hands. The hard work comes after the advance. You’ll write that book—really, you will.

Don’t be professional in your presentation.
Listen, the editors and agents get the same old thing all the time. Why not be creative? That bright yellow paper with the ladybug in one corner makes a statement and it’s so cute! Why not use it to print your entire manuscript? Or maybe you should include a little Godiva Chocolate in the proposal package—what a great way to “sweeten” the deal.

Call the editor/agent every few days.
How’re they going to understand that your book is a priority unless you remind them? Don’t be shy! Get on that phone and bug them mercilessly. Or use E-mail to your advantage. Make sure they know who you are!

Originally published in the June 2003 issue of One Write Way, the newsletter of American Christian Writers of Ventura County

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Boundless-Talking About Sex

There's a great article about sexuality and the "benefits" of the sexual revolution, here:

Boundless-Talking About Sex

What does it have to do with Christian fiction? Everything. Because in writing novels, especially novels dealing with life as it really exists in this pomo world of ours, everything is potential fodder, everything is information, everything is relevant. Especially something like sex!

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Explicit vs. Implicit

There are several people/organizations who’ve had a tremendous influence on me. My crit partners, the wonderful people involved in ACRW (American Christian Romance Writers), Brandilyn Collins, and Dave Long, one of the acquisition editors for Bethany House, who blogs at Faith in Fiction. I began to read him in February and, to put it mildly, he’s helped broaden my horizons.

Something he said not too long ago really stuck with me. He’s discussed many aspects of being a Christian writer from exactly what that means to the kind of writing we should be doing. In this particular blog, he talks about being explicit vs. implicit in our writing. We’re not talking sex here, but whether we imbue our writing with Christian talk in a very explicit, not-to-be-missed way, or do we talk about great and small things that everyone relates to without getting specifically Christian.

As a writer who started out in the strictly-CBA camp, writing a tightly controlled (by me) evangelical Christian worldview in order to be considered by CBA publishers, this idea was a revelation. It’s been coming on ever since my third novel was roundly rejected by some of the CBA publishers for being too controversial. By secular standards, it didn’t rate a blip on the radar screen, but by CBA standards, it was off the charts. Why? I had an unmarried man and woman living together, not as lovers, but as roommates who hoped to become lovers. There was no sex in the story. It was about as tame as it could be, with the two people getting into lots of trouble as they pursued their lustful goals. In the end, they separated. Which was the point since I wrote the story about co-habitation and why it’s not such a good thing. It received great marks on the writing and "voice," but the content--no, no, no! It was too hot to handle and it set me off in search of Christian writers who wrote in the ABA (American Booksellers Association). That’s when I found Dave’s blog.

Here's the article Dave wrote. See what you think. And, if you have any interest in Christian literature, bookmark Dave's site. He's always educational and sometimes quite funny!