Monday, December 12, 2011

How Much is Too Much? by Pamela S. Thibodeaux

For many avid romance readers, Christian romance is an oxymoron due to the conservative guidelines set forth by CBA industry. True, these publishers adhere to the requests of their readership, and that’s a good thing. I’ve said numerous times and I’ll say again: Anything that gives God glory deserves to be praised!

On the other hand, inspirational fiction – especially the edgy sort – seems to be gaining more and more popularity with a large portion of the Christian audience as well as Christians who read secular romance because they are dissatisfied with CBA books.

As a reader I love a good romance novel, but there are also times when I crave a sweet read that simply makes my heart sigh.

When I began writing nearly thirty years ago I wrote romance…plain and simple, flat-out romance. The type of romance I read – steamy and satisfying with fully developed love scenes. Nearly ten years after penning my stories in five-subject notebooks, I recommitted my life to Christ and committed my writing to Him but I still wrote steamy, sensual, fully developed love scenes. At that time I had no idea there was a CBA market much less what they required or didn’t allow in their books. I simply expounded on the characters’ faith as a natural part of their lives. And then came the guidelines...Although I did my best to adhere to the rules of writing Christian romance, I couldn’t seem to tone down my novels enough to fit in the conservative box and thus my writing was tagged, “Inspirational with an Edge!” ™

For instance – CBA publishers want the emotional side of love not the physical – Excuse me, but personally I can’t have one without the other! I have male friends whom I love dearly but the lack of sparks between us makes it impossible to think of them as anything but friends. On the other hand, I know men who make my pulse race and blood pound but to whom I would never entrust my heart unless I wanted it back in shreds.

And then there are topics which are taboo in Christian books….divorce – uh, excuse me again but the divorce rates among Christians are higher than that of secular couples. And what about domestic violence and child abuse? These things happen as often, if not more often in Christian homes.

Here’s a news flash for you: Christians are human with the same wants, needs, and temptations as non-believers!

So why are so many afraid to accept this and allow authors of Christian fiction to explore not only the pitfalls of our human nature – but the awesome power of God’s love, grace and mercy to heal and save, guard and guide?

True, reader demands have encouraged publishers to allow edgier writing and that too, is a good thing, but how much is too much? When do we cross the line or close the door on the issues plaguing the entire human race? Do we show domestic violence and child abuse in all its ugliness or hint at it but gloss over the sordid truth with pretty words?

Which would be more effective in reaching those closed off to God as a result of their mistreatment?

Wouldn’t a more realistic picture of the dark side of life also portray the reality of God’s grace and power?

I think so, which is why I write “Inspirational with an Edge!” ™ Romantic Women’s Fiction that is “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.”

My latest novel, The Visionary deals with just such issues. Twins, Taylor and Trevor Forrestier share more than a successful business. The two share a childhood wrought with lies and deceit and the kind of abuse that’s disgustingly prevalent in today’s society. Can the love of God and the awesome healing power of His grace and mercy free the twins from their past and open their hearts to the good plan and the future He has for their lives? Find out in…The Visionary ~ Where the awesome power of God’s love heals the most wounded of souls. Available now through your local bookstore or online @ Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com

*This post is part of a month-long virtual book tour where 4 autographed copies of The Visionary will be given away. Follow the entire tour (list of stops on my blog http://pamswildroseblog.blogspot.com/) and leave a comment on each one because the more times your name goes in the hat, the more chances you have to win!

Award-winning author, Pamela S. Thibodeaux is the Co-Founder and a lifetime member of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana.
Website: http://pamelathibodeaux.com/
Blog: http://pamswildroseblog.blogspot.com/

Here's an excerpt from The Visionary:
“Thank you for taking such good care of me.”

“I’m not through yet,” he mumbled, then slid off the couch and swung her up in his arms.

Fear snuck in, darkening her eyes. She stiffened and opened her mouth to protest. He brushed his lips over hers and silenced her objections.

“I just want to hold you,” he whispered and laid his forehead against hers. “That’s all. I promise,” he added, unable to camouflage the need in his voice.

***

He’d offered her another step to relinquish her fear and trust him. Triumph lit his expressive eyes when she wrapped her arm around his neck, smiled, and whispered, “Okay,” then snuggled her face against his shoulder and let him carry her to the bedroom.

With exquisite tenderness, he laid her on the bed, crawled up beside her, and took her in his arms. Taylor felt the strength of his need in the heat and tensed against the hardness of his body. He eased his grip and propped up on one elbow beside her. His eyes pleaded for grace when he stroked the hair off her face and said in a soft, husky voice, “Please don’t be afraid of me; please trust me. I will never force or even persuade you to give more than you’re ready to.”

They gazed at each other for a long, tender moment. She cupped his cheek in her hand, brushed her thumb over his mouth, then curled her fingers in his hair and urged his head down to fasten her lips to his. A low moan escaped his throat, yet he held himself taut.

Taylor ran her hand over his shoulder and back in a soft caress then wrapped her arms around his waist. “Hold me, Alex, I trust you.”

The emotions reflected in his tone caressed her heart when he thanked her in that beautiful velvety-rough voice. He rolled onto his back, pulled the covers over her, and held her while she slept.

15 comments:

  1. Thanks for being here today Pamela! I have to admit, I'm intrigued by how you describe your writing! Sounds like my cup of tea. :)

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  2. Great post, Pamela. I'm looking forward to reading more!

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  3. Great post Pamela! I think the reason(s) why certain topics are still taboo is because if you don't mention/read about it, then it is not ocurring and we Christains can live in righteous bliss...and with the romance, the steamier it is, the more of a temptation it could be for some and/or our thoughts should not stray to anything physical. But the stricter the guidelines, the less "real" the characters may seem. I'm sure there are other reasons...

    Thank you for bringing some "edge" to Christian fiction!

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  4. Thank you Joy for having me here during my VBT with The Visionary!

    Thanks so much Serena for stopping by!

    I agree with your comment, Victoria, especially 'righteous bliss' which though may be true, that mindset or attitude is not very realistic. I so wish it was though! Thanks for stopping by!

    Both of you are entered into the drawing for an autographed copy of the novel.

    PamT

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  5. Great post, Pamela! I completely agree with you. While I respect that CBA publishers do all they can to meet the demands of their readership, I feel that many Christians live in bondage when it comes to expressing realistic aspects of love. Some adopt a legalistic attitude that spills over into the books they read, where they don't want to see the hero and heroine being physically attracted to each other.

    Like you said, the characters only express emotional love, and a very controlled degree at that. Sadly, some novels come off as disappointing because the characters are not fully developed in their romantic tension, or the romance itself seems very watered down.

    I've turned to reading and writing "edgy" inspirational fiction for these reasons. I hope it continues to grow with more fans. We can't be effective witnesses to non-Christians if we pretend that we don't have real-life problems or that the romance we experience is solely on the emotional scale.

    Thanks for getting the word out about what many of us Christian readers and writers truly feel.

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  6. In the end the answer is, "what sells". The CBA "bonnet/buggy" purchaser fits a profile that shops in-store therefore they drove the market. On-line publishing and purchasing has changed the landscape. Publishers will (buy) sell what the public will buy. Christian fiction is reaching a wider and wider audience (thanks to the internet) which brings different folks with different strokes.

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  7. You are both so right Brandi & Sally! Unfortunately we are caught between what sells in the secular and CBA market - but as with all things, that too shall change due to customer demand.

    Thank you both for stopping by!
    PamT

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  8. As i grow older, i don't like the steamy romance scenes you often find in secular romances, which is why i stick to the inspirational novels. Having said that, if an author comes across as preachy in too many of her novels, i will not buy. So as long as i find an author who writes to my particular requirements, i will read! mitzi[underscore]wanham[at]yahoo[dot]com

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  9. Oh wow- I love your thoughts on this post Ms. Pamela. Im one those Christian gals who reads mostly secular books due to the fact I cant really find an Inspy that takes on the grit and dirt and reality of life and draws faith aspects to it. I think gritty according to the CBA is marshmellows compared to what I read normally. I think David C. Cook publishers are trying to be more edgy but only time will tell....

    Ill have to give your book a try...:)

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  10. I agree Marianne, sometimes I don't want the steamier secular romances and yet many times when I read an Inspy - I am left with a sense of disappointment - which is honestly why I read a lot more Non-Fiction than fiction.

    Thanks Tina! I'll have to check out David C Cook publishers.

    Thank you both for stopping by - good luck in the drawing!
    PamT

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  11. I would love to win a copy. I haven't had this exact experience, but I've heard if you have 7 women in a group, 4 of them were molested as children.

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  12. I love Christian romance with a bit of 'heat'! Nothing better than steamy kisses.

    I'm trying to get my writing up to that level. Loved your scene, Pamela. Your writing sounds like my cup of tea! LOL.

    Cheers,
    sue
    sbmason at sympatico dot ca

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  13. Thanks so much Sue for stopping by!
    PamT

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