The Thing About Bravery…

The last couple of weeks have been jam-packed for me. I completed edits on four (yes, four) projects, turned in A Love for Leah (Mississippi Amish Book #2) to my editor, and finished my first-round rewrite for Ten Reasons Not to Date a Cop. I still have a few more edits to do on the next Kappy King mystery and outlines for the next three books in my queue, but being busy is good. And I am grateful.

But I can’t say that it’s always easy. I went from finishing up all my contracted work to an indie project rewrite that I have been fighting against ever since I knew this was what I needed to do. Even before. Change isn’t easy ya know. And that’s when the doubts set in.

Writers are notoriously insecure about their craft, but these were doubts of a different kind. Am I doing the right thing? Why is being brave so hard? Is it just that I don’t want to change my stories? Heaven knows it’s easy to fall in love with our own words. But it’s not only that. The doubts come from another place, a place that should never be. A place that was created when I was younger and going to church every time the doors were open, even though I was a young teen and the only one in my family/household at the time who was attending. A place that came into being when the people I trusted to get me through what then was the toughest point in my life, turned on me, made me feel like less, and sent me searching for something different. Not God. He is always there and always true, but the church and the people that I surrounded myself with.

I’ve been reading, but not commenting, on social media where readers are discussing why they feel Christian writers are writing “not so clean” books with cursing, bedroom scenes, and other potentially offensive material such as drinking. This is something that’s been on my mind lately as I am focusing my efforts in continuing as an inspirational author. Yes, I’m changing the books that I am able to. It’s going to be a long road to get there. And I will not be able to do this to all of them. Does that make me less of a writer? A Christian? A person?

Some are asking why do authors (like me) have books like this at all. That’s a question I’ll answer later, in another blog post, at least for my own tale. For now, let’s look at the broad picture.

The big question is, why? The answer is everyone is different.

We say ‘the church’ like it’s the only one. Like where each and every one of us goes to Sunday School was directly established by Jesus with no deviation. And it’s not. It has changed. The church has split, grown, and evolved. Good or bad, those are the facts. Even the Anabaptist had a split and within that split even further. That’s why we talk about Old Order, Beachy, car Mennonites, and more.

 

Everyone has a different tolerance level for certain things. What bothers me might not bother others and vice versa. I actually had a reader get upset with me because, in an inspirational book, I had dancing and the characters drank a beer. I found no problem with either one of these things, especially since the book was set in Texas. But she did. She didn’t want that in an inspirational book and felt like the inclusion made it not so inspirational. But I didn’t have cursing or bedroom scenes. They went to church and prayed and tried their very best to do what they felt God wanted from them. Was that not enough?

Not for this reader. She stopped supporting my writing–all of it–dropped from my street team, and otherwise wrote me and my writing off. This is her prerogative. I can’t say that it didn’t hurt my feelings, but I accept her choices. Yet is it not also my prerogative to write the books as I see them? How clean is clean?

I’ll admit I’m struggling a little with these rewrites. I want to make my reader happy. I want to take stories that came to me a long time ago and make them into stories that reflect what I care about now. But I’m terrified. I go back to being that fourteen-year-old who only wanted to love God and be a part of something bigger and yet the actions of others had them turning against me.

What if I write something that offends someone? What if they get mad? What if I’m not good enough?

I’m not saying this for you to comment that you won’t be offended, you won’t get mad, and I am good enough. I’m writing this to say, of all writing, have an open mind. If it bothers you, don’t read it. But that doesn’t mean that you should completely give up that author or trash them in an Amazon review. One of my favorite authors wrote something in a book that horrified me. This was years ago. I didn’t finish the book. Right now, I’m reading another book by that same author. Tolerance.

Writers write. Most write for money whether they make a living from it or not. If they didn’t write for money, they wouldn’t charge for their books. They want you to buy their books. So they try to write something different to stand out from the rest and toes are stepped on. See, the Beatles had it easy, but that’s a post for next time.

Have you read a book that had something in it that offended you? Did you finish it? Do you still read that author’s books? I’d love to hear your thoughts, but please keep it as uplifting as possible. If you can’t be positive, please don’t include names or other clues to tip off to what book/author you are referring to. Please don’t ruin that author’s chances with another reader. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure applies to books as well!

Please share by leaving a comment below. I’m giving away a copy of The Amish Brides to one lucky person who comments this week.

Remember…be kind, loving, and brave.

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27 thoughts on “The Thing About Bravery…

  1. Wow ! Well I must say I am not offended by any of your books and I pretty much read them all. All though being a Christian to me life in a book is like life here on earth. We as Christians do not walk a straight path we fall. So why in a book does it have to be so clean. I love a good story and actually someone drinking in it or kissing and not vulgar affections in a book is just life. Ones that would offend me are pure sex and cussing every other word with the F bomb. now that offends me. I have never seen this in any of your books. I usually will give a book a chance. Now if every other word is bad and i can;t get through first chapter I will not finish it and I have wrote a Christian author about why I would no review for her. I felt deceived saying to me she was Christian then wrote pure filth. She did write me back apologized and said this is how she was told by her editor to do it to get the sales. I told her that is bad thinking all you will do is offend the Christians and they will not purchase. She said she was going to rewrite them. And get different editor. I think I would think of it as how do I want people to see me. I am to be striving in my christian life to be more like God. But honestly Amy I find no fault in your books. Please keep on writing and follow your heart. God will not lead you astray.

    1. Thank you Diana! I try, but as with us all, sometimes I fall short. I love writing and I love God. I sincerely hope both of these are shown in my work! I really appreciate all your support!!

  2. Great blog post and thought provoking. Reminded me of my own church experiences. I have been hurt the most by those at church. Guess the expectations are just higher. When I am turned off by a book I may read another of that author’s books but I won’t write a review or recommend that author in case a friend might think all that author’s books are ok. Life’s a journey! You are doing great, hang in there! Blessings!

    1. Thanks, Linda!! It’s a delicate balance between he things we love and the things we don’t and how it affects the people around us. I know that not every book is for every reader. That’s why we have so many different kinds of stories and it’s good that way! Don’t you think? :)

    1. Me too. Sometimes it’s my own frame of mind and when I go back it doesn’t hit me the same way and I finish but sometimes I never get back to the book. Thanks for reading!!

  3. I cannot day that any of your books has offended me. I am open minded when I read. Sure, I call myself a Christian. But, when reading for authors, I will look at things with my glass half full.
    I have never given a poor review on a book that I have read…….no matter what the genre is.
    I love to read!! I will read all types of books.
    Keep up the great work, Amy!
    I love you and all of your books!

    1. Thank you, Elaine! Love you too!! I also love the glass half-full, That’s a great way of looking at it. Sometimes I will pick up a book and be judgmental then later realize that I wasn’t being fair to the author or the book. I try hard to not do that these days, but I suppose we are only human.

  4. Interesting article, Amy. I have never been offended by any if your books. Your stories are real and enjoyably.

  5. Pardon the spelling errors — please. My fingers can’t work in unison with my brain 😊 So sorry.

  6. I don’t mind dancing or drink or even a bedroom scene if it’s done in good taste, now I wouldn’t want it grafic and dirty. But I can see how some people would find it offensive they would expect a Christian novel to not have that type of writing I guess, especially some if the old timers. But I guess you have to write what your comfortable with with and find enjoyable if not it would start to show in your writing if you didn’t enjoy how you write…. so go for it 😊

    1. Thanks, Missy! I feel the same about the bedroom scenes. As with any scene it should move the story forward. But I read all kinds of stories and each one deserves to be told in the best way. But you are absolutely right! If a writer isn’t comfortable then it will show. That’s one of the reasons that I don’t write as spicy as some. I’m more about the story. Or at least I try to be, Thanks for reading!!

  7. I love your books, Amy! Everyone has different ideas as to what they feel comfortable reading. That is probably a matter of personal choice.

    1. Thanks, Juanita! I know I walk a fine line with my contemporaries, but that’s one of the main reasons I came out with the rating system, Because my books are different sub-genres of romance and mystery, I want the reader to be able to make a good choice on their own. And of course, I try my best to be available if anyone has a question about the content of any of my books. Thanks for reading and all the support!

  8. As a church librarian, I am very aware of the difference between Christian fiction and contemporary fiction. We, as Christians are sinners. We make mistakes, we have consciences that remind us we are doing wrong (yet we still do it), but more than anything, we have a relationship with God even though we are fallible. Contemporary fiction leaves out God altogether for the most part and what we might classify as sinful nature is just considered everyday life.
    Our library has some books that contain some curse words, sex scenes, and other moral issues. These books however show the power of the Word of God and His forgiveness in the characters lives. We have labeled them “mature content” so that if this type of fiction may upset a reader, they know before hand this book might not be for them.
    None of us is perfect and we never will be. Our job is to glorify our Heavenly Father and this is being done through realistic Christian fiction like Amy writes. I for one am very happy with Amy’s books.

  9. Very insightful, Patti! I love ‘mature content’ and will be using that in my rating system. That’s the best way to cover all the bases, :) Moral issues are very important in Christian fiction. Any fiction really. For it imitates life and life is full of issues, moral and otherwise. I really appreciate your comment! Thanks for reading and all your support!!

  10. Heya Ames! First, I want to say that I always, always, always read your newsletters and blog posts because, well, I love you and love how I get to keep up with what’s going on in your world through your posts. Second, I wanted to say that I am going through the same thing you are right now (in a sense), because I’ve taken a break from writing my normal steamy plots to working on a project that has been with me for years — an edgy inspirational that is the book of my heart. It has been a tough project, though, because it deals with difficult issues Christians face in this day and age, sometimes I think more often than others because we can be “under attack” from evil forces. I’m sure the book will offend some Christians because it does contain mature content. Others, I’m hoping it conveys how God can work in our lives to bring blessings even when we assume all is lost. That how even when we believe things are at their worst, He is working to bring us what HE feels is best…and how in the end, He’s always right. It’s a scary thing for me, stepping into this uncharted territory, and I am right there with you when it comes to how much is too much or too little. Regardless, I have to write the story how He gave it to me. To do otherwise would convey doubt and I cannot do that after He’s given me these amazing characters who have been with me for so long. Once I’m done, I’m handing it over to Him. I’m gonna do the very best job I possibly can and then lay the project at His feet. If nothing comes of it, that’s totally okay by me. Because, in the end, the journey has been worth it. Writing this book changed my life and I’m gonna let Him decide who else it needs to touch. Hang in there, my friend. I’m over here with my pom-poms and a high kick, cheering you on every step of the way!!! xo

  11. AJ–so good to hear from you!!! It is hard and these are dangerous waters, but that’s what being brave is all about. Some stories need to be told and some are uncomfortable. But those are the ones that make us think. I can’t say my stories are edgy like that, but I hope and pray that I tell a good story that entertains and pleases. I know a lot of my inspy readers don’t read my books that have ‘mature content’ and that’s perfectly okay. I just protest when the readers pass judgement on an author for one book. Or believe that all of that author’s stories are the same. Or–heaven forbid– they trash the author on Amazon even though they liked one book, but heard that the author has written other stories that aren’t clean. I’ve had this happen and it’s bothersome to me. Yes, it’s the readers’s choice, but I don’t have to like it, right? LOL Thanks for all your support! I can’t wait to read this new book of yours! I bet it’s fan-tastic!!

    1. Yep. I couldn’t agree more. And I bet that happens to you more than not because you are so well known for the beautiful Amish stories that you write. I think sometimes that social media creates such a wall of anonymity that people forget there is a real live person on the other side who has to process those negative comments. And I also fear this is the exact same place I’m headed with this particular project. For those people who will read it and assume my other works are the same, ruh-roh… Huge shocker. The thought scares the crap out of me and, at the same time, is exactly why I admire you so much for what you’re doing. Just so you know, you’re a huge inspiration to me. xo

      1. You flatter me! It’s not always easy, but it is always fulfilling! Write the project where you know it needs to be and the rest will fall into place. Right? LOL

  12. Hi Amy,
    Although our mom would not have any idea about Polonius, she and our dad taught Stacey and me to be true to ourselves. Hence, two sisters who love each other, but have very different interests, yet the same values. I hope you recognize your wonderful gifts and be completely true to yourself.

  13. Thank you, Bev!!! You and Stacey mean a lot to me! And I think your mother is amazing as well! Being true to yourself is something most of us have heard at least once in our lives, and it sounds almost trite, Yet, it’s a hard endeavor. Much harder than I think a lot of people realize. But it is oh-so important!!!

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