Authenticity in Christian Fiction

I have written three novels. The first two are best categorized as fantasy, while my third, Leaving Darkness, is my first Christian novel. I have since realized that is the genre I am called to write in.

I just read a tweet that said something to the effect that the advice to write what you know about is wrong. The implication was it limits the subject matter and thereby cannot effectively hold the interest of the reader. To remedy, you need to research to write about what you don’t know, as well.

In some aspects, I certainly agree. For example, my second novel relies upon a Soviet covert plot to infiltrate the United States Catholic Church during the mid 20th century. This was an area I had no expertise in. I realized I’d need as much realism to prop up the fantasy of such a ridiculous idea, so I Googled for facts that could have possibly been interpreted by conspiracy theorists that such an infiltration attempt existed. To my surprise, this actually occurred!aaron-burden-233840-unsplash.jpg

But there are areas I disagree, a most significant one being Christian fiction. Christian fiction differs from other genres in that its purpose is to spread the Gospel and advance the kingdom of God. Those called to write Christian fiction sense a need to use the written word to promote the path to light and salvation. It would be impossible to write authentically about the saving grace of Christ in lives without knowing that personally.

Authenticity goes further though. A Christian fiction author must live their life as a Christ follower. Obviously this does not mean a sinless life because that is impossible. However, to convey the authenticity on paper (or screen) the author needs to follow Christ not just for an hour and a half on Sundays, but rather live, breathe, and proclaim through actions their devotion to Christ.

One of my favorite ways to explain if you’re doing this effectively is if people can identify you as a Christian without you explicitly saying so (either outright or tangentially through other discussions such as church activities). Being a Christ follower changes you – not just internally, but externally.

It should surprise no one that this change is reflected by the written pages as well. Authenticity allows your love of Christ to leap from the words to the reader’s heart. And as a Christian fiction author, that is the primary goal, after all.

For a free copy of my inspirational first fantasy novel Forgiveness sign up at https://bookhip.com/XFCCLN

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Novelette

I’ve never written a novelette before but read somewhere that creating one for a book is a great way to market a book and your brand. I’m working on building my email list, something honestly I should have done several years ago when I wrote my first book, Forgiveness. Live and learn.ben-white-197668-unsplash

I’m working on a new novel tentatively titled Fatherhood and will share more about that book as it develops. Childhood is the novelette I’m developing as a prequel to Fatherhood. Fatherhood is told from the father’s point of view (POV), while childhood from the mothers. Childhood, as the title implies, presents how the couple met as children and the development of their relationship through college.

My main purpose for writing Childhood is to have a freebie to give away in exchange for a mailing address to build my mailing list. I understand that agents and publishers look closely at that as part of the author’s platform (a term I did not know of until my first writer’s conference a week ago, the Mid South Christian Writers Conference). Therefore, my plan is to create this 10,000 word or so novelette (complete with professional editing of course), add a nice cover, and self-publish through Ingram Spark as I have done with several other works. It may even generate some revenue, but it’s email addresses I’m interested in.

As I’ve written the first draft the past few days (5000 words, so about half done) I’ve realized another important benefit. I’ve progressed significantly with the development of the characters and the world building. I see this as such an important offshoot of the novelette exercise that I will probably continue to do this for all of my future novels. When I began five days ago (my goal is 1,000 words on average per day, so I’m right on track) I didn’t even have names for the two main characters. Now I have that, their background, some personality traits, and a great foundation for the conflict that Fatherhood will create.

I’ll announce here when the novelette is available. I don’t have a timeline, as I need to ensure its quality and therefore don’t plan to rush its release. But the process of creating Childhood has certainly been positive and exciting.

Interested in a freebie now? Receive a free copy of Forgiveness at https://dl.bookfunnel.com/kc5ix83t35

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash 

Leaving Darkness Combines Ministry and Fiction to Provide Hope

With the novel Leaving Darkness (WestBow Press), Franklin, Tennessee author Greg Schaffer hopes that, by blending fiction with ministry experiences, readers may be helped through the story of a young man on the brink of sLeaving Darkness by Greg Schafferuicide who, through participation in a small group ministry, finds a path out of the darkness of depression.

“I’ve seen firsthand the healing power of small group ministries,” explained Schaffer, a volunteer for several years with Nashville, Tennessee-based Restore Small Groups. “The key is reaching those who want to change but don’t know how or where to look for answers. My goal is that some struggling can possibly relate to Leaving Darkness and that the novel may trigger within them the motivation to reach out for help.”

Leaving Darkness follows Lowell Ferguson, a 28-year-old long-haul truck driver living in a world of isolation to numb himself from his past. His Chihuahua, Rufus, provides his only lifeline, but when he finds out Rufus may have cancer, he considers his own end is near, as without Rufus he believes his life is meaningless. While awaiting the diagnosis, he happens on a flier for a small group ministry promising the fullness and meaning of life he missed. Reluctantly attending his first group meeting opens a faith-based road to finding the life he is meant to live.

“I was in a place similar to Lowell many years ago,” Schaffer continued. “Well, not as drastic, but I was certainly down. I knew I wasn’t the ‘happy-go-lucky’ person I used to be. And, like Lowell, I stumbled upon a flier for a small group ministry that promised a path to change. Sure enough, that group experience changed my life forever. This process works for those willing to find a way to make a change. That’s why I was called to write about it.”

Leaving Darkness is available in paperback, hardcover, and eBook from major Internet outlets and directly from WestBow Press. For more information, visit leavingdarkness.info.

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/leaving-darkness-combines-ministry-and-fiction-to-provide-hope-300758607.html

A Long Day and a Beer (Or Two)

I’m sitting in a pizzeria located on the first floor of my office building, drinking a beer (Atom Bomb IPA or something like that), trying to unwind from a 12-hour workday. I’m exhausted not because I don’t like my job, but because I love it. It’s a blessing to be doing what you enjoy and getting paid for it.

Still, I have a hard time shutting down. I’m in this eatery with this IPA because I’m not done with work, but the shared office space I use is hosting a meeting of a political party. People mingling about my cube is not conducive to reviewing a SOC report (not that a pizzeria is much better, but at least I can order a beer here). For those uninitiated to the wonderful intricacies of information security, a Service and Organization Controls (SOC) report is a summary of an audit on controls of a business to protect information. It is also documented as an effective cure for insomnia.

About 14 pages into this 75 page SOC report (and about halfway into my IPA) I lose what final thread of interest I had in the SOC report. My report on the report to my client can wait a bit longer when I have fresher eyes and a reinvigorated spirit tomorrow. Besides, I have writing on my mind.

The manuscript for Leaving Darkness Leaving Darkness Cover Conceptis in the copy edit phase. That means that I am paying to fix errors caused by all of the times my attention wandered in seventh grade English. I’m fine with that because working with a competent editor helps to sharpen the writing skills I have and introduce others I missed along the line.

But a manuscript is a deeply personal creation, and the thought of someone else changing it in any way is unsettling as well. I have all the confidence in the word that the result will be fantastic, nearly ready for the publisher. Then I will feel relief. This project began over a year and a half ago, and I’m ready for it to be over.

I don’t mean that in a negative way, though I am a bit burned out from the process of countless revisions. Isn’t it amazing that you can read the same sentence dozens of times and miss a glaring error that you should have caught in seventh grade? Oh, yeah, those times of gazing out the window during Mrs. Klein’s English class coming back to haunt me 40 or so years later.

If you’re waiting for the point of this blog, there is none, really. I just needed to get away from the SOC report and everything else information security that I have been concentrating on for my clients over the past 12-plus hours and muster some measure of a creative outlet (whatever that means). I can’t work on Leaving Darkness while it’s in another’s hands, and I’m not going to start a new project until this one is completed. I do have an idea of the next project – the only hint I’ll give is the working title is Desert Death.

Well, my time writing this lasted long enough to necessitate ordering a second beer. Perhaps that was my true motivation after all.

Note – The cover illustration is a concept, hence the iStock watermark. We may end up using that image, or something else.