Can Christian writers get traditionally published?

Recently a lot of writers in my circles have been evaluating their success (or lack thereof) with publishing. Becky Minor, of the Realm Makers Conference, articulated the question this way:


Many of us have the goal of writing stories with Godly underpinnings, even if the Christian values or themes are not overt. We’d love for our stories to reach beyond “preaching to the choir,” so to speak.

What I wonder is this: do such stories actually have a chance of being traditionally published? Or are they more likely to collect rejections for “lacking freshness” (because the story contains moral absolutes), committing cultural appropriation/exploitation (because an author opted to write outside of the typical American churchgoing experience), being misogynistic (a hierarchy of authority might be headed by male members of a society) , or land on the wrong side of any of a number of hot button thou-shalt-nots?

As you ruminate on the strictures of the both the CBA and the ABA worlds, what is really true about the publishing prospects of Judeo-Christian-leaning speculative fiction?


This launched a discussion with all kinds of opinions. One science fiction writer talked about being told that Anne McCaffery is no longer relevant to the genre:


I think they’re likely to collect rejections, and unfortunately it’s not a failing of quality stories or even a measure of what people will buy or read, but a failing of traditional publishing. They’re so committed to secular humanism and the politics that follow with it that there’s no room for heroes anymore. Their sensitivity readers will wash it all out.

The good news is they keep pushing the boundaries of what’s acceptable and tolerable to them into a smaller and smaller box. Just last night I had the trad pub crowd on a fake news site railing on me while I was defending Anne McCaffrey, as they called her a “problematic writer”. No joke. There may not be a traditional publishing in 10 years time if they tell most of the reading population that they’re not wanted.

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Dragonriders of Pern, while it does have dragons, is actually science fiction

Another person remarked,


The general market is very open to all of the above as long as the story isn’t clearly “message driven” or “preachy”. It’s all about a good story. I just look at all the great LDS authors like Brandon Sanderson who have theology and/or moral underpinnings in their works. Readers in the general market love it. The authors don’t preach, but their worldview is infused in their stories.

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Cover art for The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

And then comes the mic drop.



I think too often these musings are just another layer of excuse. I’m certainly not saying that was Becky’s intent here, but it’s something I do see a lot, particularly in culturally/politically like-minded groups. “This story probably won’t sell because the market blah blah blah it’s out of my hands.” And note that the “other side” is wringing their hands over the identical issue. “I can’t sell my story about my black lesbian abortion doctor because it’s too marginal/controversial.” They have the same experiences of rejection which seem to support that view. Neither end of the bell curve can see the other, only the bump in the middle which appears to be the opposite end. We all think we’re being shut out, when in fact there’s an enormous bump in the middle.

But really, it’s very much in your hands. No, you don’t get to make the final buying decision, that’s all on the editor 🙂 but you are 100% responsible for the submission package you send. And most of the time, that’s about your story, not about you.

And in my observation, it’s not as limiting as described above. The limitations are OURS. If a writer can’t write the difference between a male authority character and misogyny, that’s the problem, rather than a cultural conspiracy. Likewise while there are a few cultural appropriation landmines to avoid, the majority of the market is pretty fair and accessible (I’m super-white, and my last traditional short story did not have a single white character and was set in a country I’ve never visited).

I think much of the time, this is the same emotional response I see in myself to the CBA. It’s not what I know and am comfortable with, so I think it’s constrictive, I find it unwelcoming, and I might call it names. 😉 If we look around this group and are very honest with ourselves, we’ll see we are predominantly white, predominantly Republican, predominantly homeschool, etc. But those tribes have NOTHING to do with Christianity, if we really think about it. To say “I can’t sell because I’m a Christian” is a false oversimplification at very best, while to say “I can’t sell my climate-change-is-a-global-conspiracy story to a hard science mag” may be a more accurate assessment.

We don’t have to “sneak” our worldview in. If it’s really our worldview, it’s already in, wholly permeating our story. But we have to keep in mind what our ultimate message is, too. Is our ultimate theme to convert people to a political view or a change in habits? (Hey, that’s a longstanding literary thing, go right ahead, just don’t pretend it’s your *faith* which is holding you back from publishing success.) Or is our ultimate theme a message of love and hope and spiritual redemption? Because that should carry through regardless of male or female characters, cultural setting, politics, etc.

TL;DR: Don’t confuse politics and faith, don’t assume a lack of sales is relevant to faith, consider Occam’s Razor when guessing at cause of rejection (if 95% of secular stories are rejected, yours might be just rejected too rather than the rejection being a specific anti-Christian response).

(Note: somebody is probably going to read this and interpret that I’m recommending a personal sellout to get sales. That’s absolutely not my point at all. That is in fact the opposite of my point.)


After that, the discussion was pretty much over. I thought it was fascinating–the idea that maybe the problem isn’t publishing. Maybe the problem is us.

It made me really evaluate my own writing. I have a faith-based element in the Malevolent books, and their sales are mediocre. It could also be that the YA paranormal romance genre is a hard sell right now. My cozy dragon mystery, which has no religion at all, but lots of nice people being nice to each other, is selling really well. That “permeating worldview” seems to speak more powerfully than writing a sermon.

(All quotes have had the names removed to protect identities. If you would like your message here removed, drop me a line.)

When things don’t go as planned (and Valentine’s book sale)

“I have a book to launch this week!” I thought to myself. “I’ll spend the week setting up advertising, formatting the ebook and print book, and celebrating!”

And then we all got tonsillitis.

I’ve never had it before, and it’s all kinds of lousy. It’s taken me a whole week to get better. A whole. Stinking. Week. AND THEN all the kids and my husband got it, too. So I’ve been barely well enough to look after other sick people. There’s been a lot of hot tea and kombucha around here.

“Sure, I’ll participate in this big blog book sale!” I said several weeks ago.

Annnnd tonsillitis. I woke up this morning and realized, crap, that was TODAY. I had the bright idea to throw a roast in the slow cooker so I could get my work done and still have dinner.

I pulled out the slow cooker and set it on the sink. I opened the cabinet to grab my seasonings. A glass jar fell out of the cabinet, fell into the crock pot, and as luck would have it, shattered the crockery of the pot, NOT the jar. So now I have the extra step of baking a roast in the oven instead of the set-it-and-forget-it slow cooker.

It’s been kind of a rough week. So here’s some books!


This Valentine’s Day, the awesome authors at Fellowship of Fantasy have banded together to provide an awesome selection of free and discount Fantasy and Speculative Fiction stories. Browse the titles, select as many as your heart desires, and discover your next favorite author!



All Fellowship of Fantasy titles are author rated with a guaranteed content level no higher than PG-13, so you shouldn’t encounter graphic sex, gratuitous violence, or excessive language.



As pricing can be subject to the whims of the vendors, please verify that the deals are, in fact, still active before purchasing. Thank you!


Bargain Books (priced at 99 cents)

Fellowship of  Fantasy
Rebirth—Frank B. Luke-Amazon
Seven Deadly Tales—Frank B. Luke-Amazon
The Hidden Level—AJ Bakke-Amazon
To Save Two Worlds—AJ Bakke-Amazon
The Regency Shifter Series—KM Carroll-Amazon—iTunes—Barnes and Noble
Academy of Secrets—Michael Carney-Author Website
Sunbolt—Intisar Khanani-Amazon—Barnes and Noble—Kobo
Wyndano’s Cloak—A. R. Silverberry Amazon—Barnes and Noble
The Stream—A. R. Silverberry –Amazon—Barnes and Noble
Rainbird—Rabia Gale-Amazon—Barnes and Noble—Kobo
Reality Break—Jennifer Kibble-Amazon
Battle for the Throne—EJ Willis-Amazon
Nyssa Glass’s Clockwork Christmas—H. L. Burke-Amazon
The True Bride and the Shoemaker—L. Palmer-Author Website—Amazon
Cry of the Sea—D. G. Driver-Amazon
Foxtails—Erica Laurie-Amazon
Eun Na and the Phantom—Erica Laurie-Amazon
 

Free Books

The Buick Eight—Frank B. Luke-Amazon
Cora and the Nurse Dragon—H. L. Burke-Amazon
Lands of Ash—H. L. Burke-Amazon
Prince of Alasia—Annie Douglass Lima-Amazon
Awakening—Julie C. Gilbert-Amazon
Leandra’s Enchanted Flute—Katy Huth Jones-Amazon
Mercy’s Prince—Katy Huth Jones-Amazon
Woe for a Faerie—B. Brumley-Amazon—iTunes—Barnes and Noble
Chasing Lady Midnight—C. L. Ragsdale-Amazon
Jin In Time Part One —Karin De Havin-Amazon—iTunes—Barnes and Noble
Nyssa Glass and the Caper Crisis—H. L. Burke-Amazon
Fellowship of Fantasy

Cover reveal: MALCONTENT

It’s finally here! Malcontent is ready, and now the buildup to launch begins!

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Six months after the events of MALEVOLENT, Mal and Libby are struggling with the side effects of having two souls combined in one body…and the uncomfortable intimacy it brings.

When Mal captures a hive of killer bees, they inform him of a new threat from the Necromancer. Dark barriers and dangerous sigils are mounted around the valley. At the same time, Libby begins training with the Marchers, who will instruct her in the use of life and death motes. But the Marchers are on a relentless hunt for the Lich Prince and his hidden soul – which she now carries inside of her.

Now Mal and Libby must find a way to extract Mal’s soul before they are caught by the Marchers – killed by the Necromancer – or destroyed by the slow subsumption of their souls.


MALCONTENT will be available on all retailers February 14th! (Isn’t that a totally appropriate release date?) I’m super excited for this book–it’s one of my best yet. There are feels. There is suspense. Mal and Libby’s relationship deepens. There may even be kissing. 😉

Preorder here!

Sneak peek at chapter 1 here!

Open letter to my aspie friends

When I was a kid, I went to a big science event for local homeschoolers. We mixed chemicals, opened eggs, and played with liquid nitrogen. It was grand.

During one of the breaks, I wandered out into one of the patios. A group of kids was out there talking. One of them was a boy who carefully enunciated all his words. He was arguing some advanced mathematical concept with the other kids.

I listened for a while, then departed, feeling shy and slightly envious. He was so much smarter than me. I knew that he was different, and I would never be that smart because I wasn’t wired that way.

The term Asperger’s hadn’t yet come into vogue. Without a label, I was free to observe and draw my own conclusions. My conclusion was admiration.

Years went by. As a teen, I sought out creative, intelligent people and surrounded myself with them. Many of them spoke in that clear, enunciated, staccato way. They were always super-smart, taking ideas to a level of genius I’d never conceived. I learned to seek them out when I needed to develop ideas. By comparison, other people seemed like Muggles.

Then the term Aspergers* came along. Suddenly my super-smart friends were apologizing. “I have a sensory-processing disorder,” they would say. “I’m going on medication for it.”

I watched as my once-brilliant friends were dulled to the level of a Muggle by medication. They meekly accepted the ruling of The Establishment that there was something wrong with them.

So this is my open letter to you. This is me shouting NO. Aspergers is not a disability. It is genius. The definition of genius is being able to focus on one thing at a time. You do that with the intensity of a laser, drilling deep into a concept, far deeper than I can, with my scattershot mind. While I can achieve that level of focus, it’s more difficult for me to achieve. And your brain does it effortlessly.

 

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Mana Tide by AquaSixio

 

Our culture has ceased to value genius. It only values stupidity and conformity. Look at our pop culture as the foolish, the disgusting, the mentally ill, are praised and glorified.

Don’t let them tell you that you are broken. Don’t take their drugs that will alter your brain chemistry. If you have health problems, take high-quality supplements (this one is my favorite!) and good probiotics to support your natural health. Eat veggies. Drink water. Exercise. You have a brilliant mind. Care for it. Guard it.

Drugs will take it away. Labels will make you feel bad about yourself. Before geniuses had Aspergers, I recognized them for what they were.

Geniuses.

Please don’t ever change.


 

  • The term Aspergers has been rolled into the broader “autism spectrum”, which encompasses everyone from the slightly shy to the non-vocal. Pretty much everyone I know fits into this definition.
  • Lots of famous people have been on the spectrum. Check out this list. Among them are Albert Einstein, Adam Young of Owl City, Satoshi Tajiri (creator of Pokemon). To say nothing of famous people who probably were spectrum, like Mozart.

Resolutions for 2017

Or less resolutions and more like my bucket list of things to do this year.

First up: how did things go last year?

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Outer Frontiers by Emilie Leger

Last year in January I had a 2-month-old baby. I meant to do one of these posts, but never actually did. My word for last year was “smile”. When you have a new baby, you have to smile at them a lot to teach them how to do it. I hadn’t smiled in so long, my face muscles had almost forgotten how. The kids kept asking, “Why are you smiling so much?” It made for a nicer atmosphere in our house, just me smiling even when I didn’t feel like it.

Last year kicked my butt. Between having a new baby, getting harassed by CPS (oh noes you let you kids play outside!), and having to move suddenly in October, it was a grueling, stressful year. Not to mention all the election garbage that saturated social media. Blah. Barf. I’m glad that’s over with.

I did manage to publish Werefox in March, and the fourth Spacetime book in June. I revised the next two Malevolent books, but didn’t quite manage to release book 2 in 2016. I just got the edits back this week and I’m hoping for a February release. I can even do a cover reveal in a few weeks. Yay!

So for 2017, here’s the lineup:

  1. Publish books 2 and 3 of Malevolent

2. Edit/publish my dragon cozy mystery, Takes the Drake (think the Dresden Files, only fluffier, with ice cream).

3. Write the fifth Spacetime book, which will end Series 1. Not sure if I can write/publish it in 2017, but it’s worth a shot.

4. My hubby and I are starting to stream gaming together on our Beam channel Chronostrider Gaming. Eventually we plan to do it every weekend, and we’re planning to play every two-player co-op we can think of.

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Landscape by HughEbdy

My oldest child will turn 10 this year. School is going to change gears into a heavier workload for him, I think. Right now we’ve sort of slipped into unschooling (moving right before the holidays seriously disorganized me), but we’ll be heading back into more structured school here in the new year. Gotta get these kids writing more. Their reading and math skills are great, but writing, not so much. That will go along with their science/history/book reports.

Ah, book reports. I’m making them do reports in the format of Amazon reviews. So far my two oldest kids have successfully sold each other on various books, with Twisted (a book about were-tornados) being the latest hit. We’re also reading the Saturdays aloud, with plans to read the entire Melendy series.

I’m also trying to learn how to use Daz3D to create artwork. So far it’s been fairly easy to learn posting and lighting … now I just have to learn to incorporate it into a larger artwork.

So that’s my very general agenda for the next year. As this past year has showed me, I really have no idea what sort of things might happen. What I’m most thankful for is that my relationship with my husband is thriving. After all the anguish of last year, playing games together again has bonded us in such a wonderful way. If I get nothing else done this year, our improved relationship will have been worth it.

My personal theory about aliens and the universe

This is just a bunch of thoughts that have been rolling around in my head lately. Like aliens. And other planets. And Mars.

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Temples of the Giant by MacRebisz

I ascribe to creationism, which means that I believe God created the universe and the Earth in six days. Evolution teaches that the world built itself (or was built by aliens, but I’m not sure that’s actually evolution anymore–at least not Darwin’s).

According to evolution, life pops into being randomly. Like spawn points in a videogame, bugs and bacteria just appear, then grow and change into better and better creatures until they achieve sentience. This means that there must be aliens on other planets, too.

Except we haven’t found any. SETI has been listening for years. We keep finding tons of new exoplanets (and some are really bizarre, like the one with the rings that are like 200 times bigger than Saturn’s).

UFOs just keep getting debunked. (My father-in-law served in the Air Force for 20+ years, and he says that he can debunk most, if not all, UFO sightings.)

We keep learning about our own solar system and how inhospitable it is. Mars has chemicals in its dirt that will poison us. Venus has electrical fields that blast away all oxygen. Jupiter has a magnetic field so strong that getting probes near it takes superhuman effort. Not only is there no life on these planets, it definitely couldn’t spawn there randomly.

This is discouraging for evolutionists (and creationists who would love for there to be aliens). The universe is depressingly empty. Yet our very DNA is a programming language written by someone. There is Someone out there–either God or aliens, and if the aliens built our DNA, then they might as well be gods.

But as we find planet after empty planet, this theory seems to have hit a dead end. We haven’t found aliens and we should have.

So instead, I offer my Big Creationist Theory of the Universe. It’s the inverse of the alien theory.

Back when God created the world, it was perfect. No death. People and animals lived forever. But God told them to be fruitful and multiply, to fill the Earth.

Well, with no death, the Earth would soon be full of both people and animals. Bursting at the seams with life, as it were.

As it just so happens, there’s a billion jillion empty planets out there.

If Jesus’s teleportation powers were something that all humanity had before sin entered the world, then space travel wouldn’t have been an issue. We could just jump to whichever worlds we wanted.

I mean, Mars had an ocean at one point. Venus is still slowing down and apparently had liquid water at one point, too. The asteroid belt might have been a planet that shattered–there’s water ice on Vesta. Not to mention the various moons around the gas giants–science fiction writers have been colonizing those for years.

The reason we haven’t found aliens out there is because those are OUR planets. We were supposed to travel out and live there, taking our animals with us. Those other planets may have had water, plants, animals, who knows–but like Mars and Venus, the universe is broken now.

Now we have death. While our population is growing, the earth is far from being full. Getting to other planets takes advanced technology that we’re still developing. We don’t have supernatural teleportation, and heaven help us if we did. The other planets are inhospitable and deadly. We can live on them with a huge amount of effort (see: The Martian).

So yeah, that’s my theory of why there’s no aliens out there. There’s absolutely no way to prove it, and I don’t have any arguments with people who like other theories better. It’s just a fun thing to think about sometimes–what it might have been like to populate the entire universe. To live on a moon near a gas giant, and to wake up every morning to an ever-changing sky of striped, swirling colors. We can only experience that in videogames.

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The Grand Eclipse by JustV23

I love velociraptors

You know how in my previous post, I talked about trying to figure out how to adult awesomely? And how I failed at it?

Well, I sort of rediscovered how much I love the Jurassic Park velociraptors. All I did was look up t-shirts, and …

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This is me. Especially with my glasses on.

squad-goals-t-shirt

Okay, so they’re not ALL raptors, but they’re all very cool. My hubby wants me to stream games with him, and I need something fun to wear on camera, right?

I have to also not suck at games, but one thing at a time.

Cover reveal for fantasy steampunk Flare!

Today I’m having Rabia Gale guest post on my blog. I’ve enjoyed her books, but I haven’t read this series yet. However, now that the last book is launching, that’s my cue to read them all. I mean, it’s steampunk fantasy. What’s not to like?

Now, without further ado, here’s Rabia!


Thank you for having me on your blog, Kessie!

I’m delighted to have the chance to introduce my series, The Sunless World. This epic fantasy with a steampunk flavor features a world on the brink of extinction. Centuries ago, the ancient mages saved their word from an imminent threat by plunging it into eternal night. But the mages are long gone and the world is slowing dying without its sun. Veins of luminous quartz provide light and heat, and desperate states vie to control this precious resource.

Enter Rafe Grenfeld, junior diplomat and spy. He’s just learned that a legendary quartz pillar, known as the Tower of Light, actually exists. Determined to claim it for his own country, he begins his search for it. That’s difficult enough, but then lost magic, dark demons, a hostile foe, and an unpredictable ally with her own agenda show up.

The Sunless World series contains many elements that are fascinating to me. I love writing worlds where magic exists alongside more advanced technology, like trains and industrial machinery. I enjoy putting characters, cultures, and whole worlds in tough situations (like losing their sun!) and seeing how human ingenuity copes. And I adored writing from Rafe’s viewpoint, a character who is energetic, competent, and prone to making wisecracks.

Without further ado, I’m happy to share the cover of Flare, Book Two of The Sunless World series, with you!

 

Flare COVER REVEAL

Rafe and Isabella are back

The mages of old saved their world, but left it in eternal darkness. Now it’s time to bring back the light.

After two years of training his magical gifts, Rafe returns home to a land wracked by war. Desperate states struggle to protect their resources of luminous quartz. Magic pulses and earthquakes devastate a world on the brink of extinction.

Rafe’s old enemy Karzov has gathered a band of prodigies obedient to his will. He seeks the power of the ancient mages for an audacious and sinister purpose. It’s up to Rafe and his ally, Isabella, to stop him—and undo the mistakes of the past to put their world right again.

Flare will be out in September 2016!

The Sunless World series

The Sunless World BLOG

Quartz: The Sunless World introduces a rich and credible backdrop to the adventures of her characters, with a deadly political mire underlying the bright colours of high society.” – By Rite of Word Reviews

This story is fast, fascinating and highly recommended.” – Amazon.com review

The Sunless World series begins with Quartz (Book One) and Flux (A Sunless World Novel).

About the Author

Rabia Gale Headshot I create weird worlds full of magic and machines, and write characters who are called on to be heroes. I’m fascinated by light and darkness, transformation, and things that fly. Giant squid and space dragons appear in my work—you have been warned!

A native of Pakistan, I now reside in Northern Virginia, where I read, write, doodle, avoid housework, and homeschool my children.

Find me online at:
Website: http://www.rabiagale.com
Newsletter: http://www.rabiagale.com/thank-you/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rabiagalewriter
Twitter: https://twitter.com/rabiagale

Magic Weaver and Saint Death both launch!

I was pleased to see that my friend Mike Duran launched his urban fantasy Saint Death today. So did Magic Weaver–so why not promote them both?

First up, here’s Magic Weaver!

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So far it’s only available at Amazon, but the other retailers will be up in a day or two. This is a young adult contemporary fantasy–technically urban, but it’s less about a gritty city setting and more about friendship and chasing ghosts. You don’t have to have read the other books to enjoy this one. But if you have read the others, it’ll be fun to visit all the characters again. Magic Weaver is on sale for .99 for the rest of the week, so grab it now!

Second, here’s Saint Death, by Mike Duran:

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This is the second book in his urban fantasy series. Unlike Magic Weaver, this IS set in a gritty city setting. If you ever wondered about the secret occult underbelly of Los Angeles, this is the book for you. Also, all the heroes have superpowers that are like all the fun bits of quantum physics.

Two new books! It’s so fun getting to launch books. Especially when I’m excited about my friends’ books, too.