Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Historical Fiction--and other stuff, too.

It's almost as if I lost the wind in my sails on this topic. :D

I'm writing story right now. It has a Christian World View [i got that term from Rachelle's blog]. There are villains, church-goers, good people, ornery people, priests, moms, dads... you get the picture. Set in present day, fictional Coopersville, NY--north of Binghamton, the story is about everyday people in everyday life.

If you've been with me a while, you know my stance on the CBA guidelines, on Inspirational fiction. Although I appreciate the efforts, I think it falls short of the world we live in. So, this is a subjective topic. I understand that. I know that not everyone agrees with me. I know not everyone loves to read a heart-pounding thriller like I do, but just so you can see where I'm coming from, let's imagine.

A villain, dark, mysterious and psycho. He has one thing on his mind, and one thing only--to capture the heroine and kill her. He thinks he's invincible. The closer he gets to her, the stronger the urge is to have her, use her and kill her! [da-dun!!!] What do you do? [and if you're a CBA approved author, i'd love your perspective] Does he not swear? or drink? think lude thoughts? How do you portray EVIL without being able to show it. A side note: I have read some very good Christian Fiction that portrayed evil extremely well. This is definitely a book by book assessment. Though I steer away from lots of Christian fiction nowadays, I do try to give each book I pick up a fair shake. :)

On to Historical Fiction. Have you ever heard a person say, I wish I lived during the 1800's. Life was easier in the old days. Temptations weren't so apparent during that time because more people had lives centered on God. Well, phooey is what I say. I can't figure out why more than half of the inspirational fiction that reaches the bookshelves is historical. Is it easier to write within those aforementioned guidelines if your story is based in history? Are the issues easier to address? Is it easier to bring your character to a conversion that way? I feel I have to know.

[my wind is definitely back... Hahaha]

I've done some thinking lately on this topic. After bringing our family to church for confession several weeks ago, a man passed us as we were walking back to our car. He kept shaking his head. I don't remember his exact words, but basically he felt sorry for us. That he thought we were doomed to fail in this society. That the world had turned and there was no hope for our children...no, there was no hope for us! We would be broken for sure.

Then I got to thinking...why does everyone think we live in the worst that the devil has to offer? I think that the sin we experience in our lives today is the same sin that ran rampant through the world during and before Jesus' time. It is the knowledge of sin or temptation that has changed. We no longer are protected from the worst the world has to offer. Fifty years ago, no one knew what the heck was going on in other worlds unless they were in it or interested in it. Now, it's all online. We have become more aware of the sin...but it's not new.

One book I'm looking forward to reading is Francine Rivers, Redeeming Love. A rendering of the book Hosea. If I had Francine by my side, I'd ask her what made her write this story during the prairie days, besides the fact that she writes in that genre. If my sources are right, it's a book worth its weight in gold. Wonderfully penned and emotionally compelling. I look forward to it. And I also think that the setting is probably perfect for the story. There isn't a 'saloon girl' in present day times that a good Christian man would fall in love with... not with the drugs, alcohol, STDs, etc that have changed that age-old profession. :D

Okay, so maybe some things have changed.
But, I'd still like to read a good contemporary Christian story that isn't chic lit, please.
I'd like one that doesn't pull its punches when it comes to the love that brings two people together. It's a STRONG bond. Not one that can easily be reined in. You know what I'm talking about. It's the kind of love that is continually asking God's help to hold in check.
And I'd like one where the villain actually seems villainous...and not on the verge of a conversion as the heroine speaks to him of God in the last page or chapter of the book.

God has called us to live today. To live in this world, but not of it. How can we encourage the young people around us, if we only portray goodness in the centuries before this one?

:-) Now I'm done.
Thanks for listening.


  1. I lovveed Redeeming love! It's the only Christian romance i've ever read. And you know what? It was awesome!

  2. Hi, Bethanne. Just popped in to let you know I'm a follower.

    Lynnette Labelle

  3. I am continually amazed at how much you think -- and how well you can express those thoughts in writing.

  4. i know. i seem so thoughtless, typically! LOL hahaha. :D thanks for stopping in.

  5. I've always said I was born 100 years too late. At least until I think of what I'd be missing...like AC and being able to wear t-shirts and shorts;) I don't see how the women wore the layers of clothing and worked as hard as they did.

  6. Redeeming Love was an amazing book. First and only christian novel I've ever read! You'll love it!

  7. Hi Bethanne,

    I stumbled across your blog while doing a Google search on CBA historical fiction and was interested in your post. I'm a published author in the CBA market, in both women's contemporary fiction and historical (old west) romantic fiction...two books at this date, with two more (one each genre) coming out next year.

    Much of the inspirational women's fiction today pushes the envelope on subject matter. There are any number of books that deal with rape, alcoholism, infidelity, broken marriages, teen pregnancy, and so forth. My debut novel, The Other Daughter, deals with a 13 yr old girl who (after her mother's death) is dumped on her bio dad's doorstep to live. The problem is, neither he nor his wife and two kids know she exists. He's now a Christian (he wasn't when the girl was conceived) and the wife isn't a believer, their marriage is already strained as a result, and this new addition strains it even more. Shock, disbelief, anger, broken trust, and lies are all things that are dealt with, along with the ramifications of a step child being thrust into a family not prepared (emotionally) to take her.

    There are also historical novels that deal with deep issues and aren't simple, pat stories. Sure, most romances have a predictable ending (or they wouldn't be a romance, LOL!) but Christian fiction has come a looonnnggg way from what it was even ten years ago. I don't believe there's a need for swearing...it can be depicted in other ways...or ever showing a sex scene, but we CAN show strong passion with the emphasis on the emotional connection rather than on the physical response.

    As for the 'bad guy'...Brandilyn Collins, Ted Dekker, Colleen Coble, and other suspense/thriller authors writing in the Christian market are doing a brilliant job depicting truly evil men who are NOT redeemed at the end of the book.

    And yes, I too LOVE Redeeming Love, but Francine is by no means just a writer of historical fiction. She's also dealt with some very tough subjects (like rape and abortion) in a contemporary setting.

    I hope this has helped a little and added to your conversation. I hope you'll consider taking a look at either of my books and stop by my web site sometime! Blessings, Miralee Ferrell


  8. I went to my library and put your book on request. I look forward to reading it. :)

    My objection to the CBA goes a little deeper than just swearing and intimacy, though that's what I talked about on this post. The CBA has to please a select group of readers--a big one--but still select, and they seem to forget that there's alot more to faith than a personal relationship with Jesus. Or, maybe they think that's all it's about. I don't know, but it can't satisfy me.

    I hope I didn't give the impression that I don't like any Christian fiction. :) I grew up reading it and many of my favorites are in that genre. I think my favorites were more about the story than the conversion at the HEA--intrigue, war stories, etc. Everyday is a conversion, but conversion isn't the end of the story and I think that is what's missing in Inspirational Romance.


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