Sunday, July 11, 2010

What is Edgy Christian Romance?

Let me break it down for the beginners out there.

If romance were a summer drink, bonnet books and Christian category would be sweet tea. Edgy inspirationals would be unsweetened with a slice of lemon. And mainstream romance would be a Long Island iced tea.


Don't worry, I'll elaborate. But before we get started, there are a few things you need to know:
  • I use the words Christian and inspirational interchangeably (but only when talking about books).

  • I don't bash sweet inspirationals to promote edgy Christian fiction. My bookshelf is big enough for 'em all. If it starts with ro and ends with mance, I'm probably gonna love it.

  • I'm not an expert. I'm not the guru. I'm not the definition diva. I'm just a fan obsessed enough with this sub-genre to start blogging about it.

Here is what I've come to expect from an edgy inspirational romance:

1. An edgy inspirational romance will have characters who struggle with temptation.

The type of temptation they struggle with is as varied as the ones we struggle with everyday. But sexual sin of some kind, or lust, is not uncommon to find in this sub-genre.

2. An edgy inspirational romance is not afraid to mention body parts.

You might find a butt or a breast (and in case you're wondering, I mean the words, not actual pictures).

3. An edgy inspirational romance might deal with gritty topics like divorce, abuse, alcoholism, or prostitution.

No worries. Since this is a romance, we'll always get our happily ever after.

4. Edgy inspirational romances are about three way relationships.

But not the kind of three ways you'd find in a Harlequin Spice.

The three way in this scenario means God, the hero, and the heroine.

Despite edgy subject matter, these are books written from a Christian worldview and contain a message of faith. The messages range from subtle to overt depending on the author.

5. An edgy inspirational romance does not glorify sin.

This is really the most important point. In my opinion, if the sin portrayed in an edgy book makes the reader aspire to engage in it, than the book is not inspirational.

6. For every point I mentioned above, there's probably an exception to the rule.

Which brings me right back to where I started. I am not the guru, I am not the expert. I am not the definition diva.

So as we kick off our Edgy Christian Fiction Summer Blog Tour, I guess the only question left to ask is how do like your tea?






Want to wade into this sub-genre? Here are some of my favorites to get you started:

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers


A Bride Most Begrudging by Deeanne Gist


A Passion Most Pure by Julie Lessman


Don't miss the next stop on our blog tour! Wednesday, Dan Calabrese writes about spiritual warfare in the edgy Christian novel.

38 comments:

  1. Great article. I even got an idea for my article from something you said, of course I'm gonna put a crime fiction twist on it. :)

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  2. I think your list is spot on! Edgy Romance is all the things you mentioned but there is still that redemptive mark; that faith factor that ultimately points to the creator God for resolution. I think it's what makes ALL edgy Christian fiction unique - the non sugar coated lemony reality that still points to the Savior's grace.

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  3. I'm more of a coffee girl, actually; and a dark French roast that has the potential of rotting my gut is my favorite. When I do drink tea, however, it has to be on the rocks, dark and strong, with a big wedge of lemon I can push to the bottom without squeezing it first. No sugar, no artifical sweetener, but with occasional sips of TART which make your eyes water or the insides of your cheeks contract in shock or awe.

    Your point #5 is my favorite and, I think, the most important thing to remember across all the sub-subgenres of edgy CHRISTIAN fiction. Show the sin as real as it is; but show its consequences as real, too.

    Thanks for your insight, Joy!

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  4. JOY!!!! Whoa, girl ... I have a feeling this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship!!

    This blog is dead-on, and what you said in point #4, "The three way in this scenario means God, the hero, and the heroine," I almost stood up and cheered because I have had this statement in my website bio for four years now:

    Through my love affair with Him, I have discovered that romance can transcend to another dimension where romantic passion and spiritual passion merge, creating a 3-D love story: the hero, the heroine, and the God that brings them together.

    We are definitely on the same wavelength, Joy, and I am SO glad we connected!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  5. Whoops ... forgot to say THANK YOU for picking A Passion Most Pure as one of the books you recommend!! You are a sweetheart!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  6. Thanks for stopping by Nike and Tracy, can't wait to read your entries! :)

    LOL @ Shawna...now *that's* a tea! I'm looking forward to your post too.

    Julie!! Thanks for commenting. I'm still get a little star struck whenever one of my favorite authors swings by this blog. I'm glad we connected too. :)

    And I can't take credit for the three way analogy, I did read that somewhere referring to inspy romance in general.

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  7. Whew! What a great start to the tour, Joy. These are great insights. I guess I did it right with Meander Scar, although I bucked the HEA ending. The publisher wanted to call it romance, though...I'll be chatting up outside the box edgy romance on July 28 at http://reflectionsinhindsight.wordpress.com.

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  8. Great post, Joy. I didn't know about Harlequin Spice. I'm just learning about edgy inspirational romance as a subgenre. Is it hard to place these books or is there a well-defined niche market for them? Just curious.

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  9. Janalyn, I'm not sure you got my reference, but Harlequin Spice is *not* the place for an inspirational story, edgy or otherwise.

    To answer if it's hard to place an edgy inspirational book, I am probably the wrong person to ask b/c I'm not published yet.

    Hopefully some of the edgy inspy romance authors can chime in on that one. Julie? Michelle? Lisa? Shawna?

    Thanks for stopping by Lisa and Janalyn.

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  10. Oh-boy Joy, you've set the bar high. This is going to be one sweet tour ( no pun intended).I agree with Joy about romance transcending just passion. It is a powerful gift given to us by God, but it has a spiritual element that some unfortunately miss or forfeit for for a mere rump in the sheets. I am sure the topic of faith love, lust, romance and spirituality will come up later in the tour when Michelle speaks on sensuality in Edgy Christian Fiction.

    Thanks for the very honest "You might like these" review:)

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  11. I am a new follower from Meet & Greet Monday!

    http://simplystacie.net

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  12. Sorry to be arriving so late. :) I agree with your points, Joy, even if you aren't published yet. Good point about not dissing the "softer" books to promote edgy ones. I've been enthralled with some sweet romances if they are well written and compelling. Now the three example books you listed are great starters for readers, too. Mine would probably be too much for beginners. Maybe not, though. :) Anyway, loved the books listed and love your thoughts. This is a great post!

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  13. Stacie- Thanks for joining us, I hope you like it here. :)

    Sherryle- Thanks for chiming in! And thanks for the FB shout out.

    Michelle- Never Without Hope is a little closer to Long Island iced tea than unsweetened. But it was the best Long Island iced tea I ever read. LOL.

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  14. JOY AND JANALYN, not sure what you mean by if it's hard to place an edgy inspy, but if you mean to get it "published," than I would say five years ago it was near impossible, but things are changing in the market. My books are pretty edgy, more so than most of what is out there, except for authors like Michelle Sutton, Deeanne Gist, Ruth Axtell Morren and MaryLu Tyndall, but publishers are definitely "loosening" up. A good example is Steeple Hill publishing Carla Capshaw's The Gladiator, which is just about as edgy as I've seen a modern Love Inspired get. So if LI is loosening up, you know the trend is heading that way just a bit.

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  15. Thanks for your insight Julie. I think the next book I buy will have to be The Gladiator. I can't wait to read an edgier Love Inspired book!

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  16. That is good to know about The Gladiator. :) Love that era, too!

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  17. I'm posting a review tomorrow for Amanda Forester's The Highlander's Sword. If you haven't read that one yet, you might really enjoy it. It's a mainstream romance but I think it deserves an honorary edgy inspirational title.

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  18. I just joined this blog and know that I'm going to love it already. I too am an "Edgy" Christian fiction author with five titles under my belt. For me, edgy means all of the above forementioned plus allowing our readers to enjoy books that touch on real life issues that we face whether we are Christians or not. Thus my tagline for my books 'perfect stories about imperfect people'.

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  19. Shelia, I love your tagline. Thanks so much for chiming in. Please stick around, I'd love to hear your opinions.

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  20. Somehow I missed this article when it first was posted and it's such a very good article.

    I'm not one for anything untoward, but I would appreciate a bit more realism in my Christian fiction. I live in a small town with white picket fences. We have a very active historical society which has preserved an Am Rev War feel, yet even our town is actually more modern than many towns depicted in Christian romance. I'd like to read about a town or village I think really exists.

    Vondraya

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  21. Thanks Vondraya for weighing in! :)

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  22. Read The Gladiator by Carla Capshaw. It was good. Edgy for a Love Inspired, but still a kinder, gentler book than most in that genre (historical Rome - early church).

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  23. It is so great to find your blog and to know of this genre! I love romance fiction too but sometimes found the sweet ones a little "too sweet". Right now I'm reading Here Burns My Candle by Liz Curtis Higgs and and loving her "edgy" but "real" side!

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  24. Today I reviewed A Passion Most Pure and mentioned your blog! ;-D

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  25. I look forward to visiting this blog site more often. It looks like it is just my type. :)

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  26. Thanks for that! Guru or not, I'm guessing after reading this piece that my manuscript will fall under Edgy Inspirational/sub genre romance. I was beginning to wonder if there was even a place for me in the Christian Publishing world...And yet there is hope.

    http://chevonesefender.blogspot.com/

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  27. Oh Joy! (no pun intended) Finally, someone who appreciate my kinda writing. I thought I was the lone voice crying in the wilderness!

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  28. Hallelujah!

    A genre "invented" just for me and my writing. It took years, but I finally got a contract on my first edgy Christian novel, and interest in my second. Just finished editing #3 and am ready to start querying.

    Joy, until I found your blog (today)I was beginning to think I was all alone out here.

    Readers - especially ones who've not yet met the Lord - need to know Christians face real temptation, too. And that He is the solution to the worst of problems.

    Edgy Christian fiction is more likely be read by non-Christians as well as Christians, than the sweet tea version. Hopefully it will turn a light on here and there, where darkness prevails.

    Thanks for your tremendous efforts to support this heretofore unappreciated genre. I will be a regular!

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  29. Nice post, and I've loved reading the responses. My books have tended to be on the sweet side...which leaves me a little concerned about the upcoming third book in my Solomon's Gate Series. It'll probably still weigh in on the sweet side of the iced tea scale, but with less sugar and more lemon than the previous two. We'll see how that goes...

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  30. When I saw your blog, I got excited! Then when I saw that your 'get started' books were Redeeming Love and A Bride Most Begrudging, I was stoked! Yay! I haven't read A Passion Most Pure so that will be my next purchase! Thanks!! :)

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  31. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  32. Messed up the first comment completely!! As a Christian and an author, it's been hard to find/make my place in writing what I feel led to write. I am thrilled to find this blog--even if I am a bit late to the party. Great piece!!

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  33. Redeeming Love is one of my favorite books of all time, and at that point in my walk I wasn't reading much Christian fiction. Francine Rivers really set the standard for the rest of us authors. So grateful to her...and for you for helping to promote this sub-genre!

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  34. I'm interested in this edgy genre, but can someone list some titles that are about faithful, married people? Thanks!

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  36. Hi guys, I am again at the same place, and reading this post, it is also a pleasurable article, so stick with it.

    Jessica Bell

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