Sunday, May 29, 2011

the girl who stopped swimming - A Review, of sorts

I tripped across Joshilyn Jackson's website through links on other blogs.  There was a contest for her newest release, which I entered, but it was her dialogue in her blog post that had me out that afternoon getting an older story (2008) to see what she was about. 

I like to review books I read in the context of the current christian publication market versus a standard type review.  So no one goes away wondering, I enjoyed the book enough to get another of Joshilyn Jackson's books with the intent of catching up to her newest release; Backseat Saints.

Reviews: The Priest's Graveyard, The Last Templar and Angel Sister

the girl who stopped swimming is not Christian fiction but there is a point I would like to make. The main character, Laurel Hawthorne, is dealing with many issues, not the least being she sees the ghost of murdered people she knows.  The crux of her problems stem from troubled relationships which Ms. Jackson writes well and resovles in a believeable manner.  There was no faith theme running through this story.  There could have been.  There were many places I thought, 'If Laurel had a basis of faith I would appreciate her struggle in a personal way.'  From a Christian perspective I would have enjoyed this story with the ghosts, Ouji board, sexual deviation and all, more, with a faith theme running through it. 

Would this story sell, as is, wrapped within a faith theme?  Herein lies the conundrum.

An interesting connection, this book was published by a division of Hatchett Book Group, the publishing company that recently announced they were launching a new imprint, Jericho Books, to "seek new, innovative authors who reflect a growing change in the church. These non-traditional voices will appeal to the fresh perspectives in today’s culture and provide an avenue for those exploring political and social issues as they relate to faith." 

I'll be watching for the first book under the new Jericho Books imprint to see what Hatchett Book Group considers innovative, non-traditional and fresh issues of faith.  I'm hoping to see courage to publish stories with issues that Christian markets have traditionally been afraid to explore and innovation in their marketing  to connect the Group 2 segment of the reading market to the books they've been looking for.

hatchett book group

Friday, May 20, 2011

"I Can't Believe You Said That!"

The Today show generally gets my thoughts and opinions perking but these musings were brought on by the headlines on my e-mail provider. I first clicked on a story about Glenn Beck being snarky about Meghan McCain and shortly followed with a call for sensitivity training, or his job depending on your point of view, concerning an ESPN reporter. It wasn't the stories so much as the ensuing comments that caught my attention.

Within the commenter's dialogue an obvious trend was emerging.  There appeared a clear call for social civility. Commenting authors, describing themselves all across the personality, political and social spectrum were holding forth on the need, everywhere, to tone down the vitriol.

The shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords appears to be the turning point for a call to the talking heads and politicos to cease and desist spouting vindictive, hateful, and distasteful discourse.
From the comments on these two articles the public may be ready not to be entertained by demeaning remarks.  We have been publicly entertained by bad words and behavior with examples stretching back to The Seven Dirty Words through the wardrobe malfunction to the current lack of social civility.
Unfortunately televised bad behavior, sells.  Good behavior is prevalent, largely in the untelevised population located between the east coast/west coast media giants.

No matter the reasons or origins, the turn from social civility should be reversed and the change begins with us.  The words from our mouths must be civil.  The words we type must be civil.  We don't support the sponsors who support those who spout vitriol.  If it doesn't pay then it doesn't play.  Are you buying?

James 3:6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

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Friday, May 13, 2011

Sanitized Morality vs. Gritty Reality

The Christian Fiction Conundrum is a post I wrote about some of the identified problems within the Christian fiction market.  Specifically those of readers and writers finding themselves in two groups; camp one (1) provides sanitized moral/biblical situations vs. camp two (2) which provides situations closer to reality, more gritty and authentic.  While reading I find myself noting scenes and dialogue that would classify the books in one camp or the other.

I have given two examples of novels that land squarely in the #2 group of Christian fiction, The Last Templar (my post here) and The Priest's Graveyard (my post here).  I was fortunate to receive an autographed copy of Ann H. Gabhart's novel Sister Angel.   Although Sister Angel is in the #1 camp the author does a good job of heading toward the middle of the literary divide.

Alcoholism is a pivitol point in the story but the brush strokes are soft.  The family is patient, forgiving and willing to admit their own behavior might be a hinderance to recovery.  It was fortunate, I thought, that the character was a quiet drunk, not loud and abusive.  Had the character been violent, something many Christians have had to deal with, it would have moved this story into camp #2.

Two fathers in the story are verbally and emotionally abusive.  Their children are intimidated and willing to silence their bitterness and remain passive.  A soft brush stroke that takes a harsh issue but leaves it in camp #1. 

Ann Gabhart writes a poignant, inspirational novel that uses the faith of her characters to teach us a great deal about harsh issues.  She will reach a wider audience by using a soft brush stroke.  Now, this could be because this is how she writes, but the harsh reality is, soft is a bigger sell.

There are many readers who have expereinced these harsh lessons in real life and would appreciate seeing characters stuggle with family, with addiction, with God; read how they work through these difficult situations and come out, clearly tattered and wounded, but with their faith intact and stronger.  Unfortunately the realistic grit of harsh situations is not currently as lucrative for authors in the Christian market and, therefore, is much harder to get published. 

There are plenty of readers for all us writers.  It is my hope that the internet will help us find each other. Perhaps the internet will match authors and readers in a manner that will provide sufficient marketability data to convince publishers that a wide variety of Christian fiction can be lucrative.

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Friday, May 6, 2011

Awesome Mom Moments

The Today Show highlighted the book Awesome Things, by Neil Pasricha, a book listing the many small things that happen to each of us that brings joy throughout the day.  With Mother's Day this Sunday I thought of the awesome things my mother did throughout my life, growing up, that made my childhood a joy.

Unconditional love.  LaughterBeing there after schoolMaking our house a homePicnicsGoing for car rides and getting a frosty mug of root beer.  Porter Wagoner movies at the Drive-In.  Summer camping tripsSunday chicken dinners and watching football.  Chocolate chip cookies.  Vacations 'up north' on the Deer Skin riverPets, Roxanne and Taffy

My mother, like yours, has her dark side and we each have irritating traits to drive each other batty but just as Pasricha found the joy in the simple, everyday things my Mother made my childhood a joyful memory with the simple things she did everyday.

What awesome moments will you share about your mom?

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