It’s inarguable that the Beatles are one of the greatest bands in rock-and-roll history. They’ve sold 178 million albums in the US alone and this number continues to grow as they are still selling today. In fact they were recently honored with another thirteen platinum and gold records. The White Album has gone platinum nineteen times over and is considered by some to be the greatest of their works.
These statistics are staggering. Few have had such success in the music industry. So why do I say they had it easy?
I mean no disrespect. I own my fair share of Beatles recordings and grew up listening to Help, Eleanor Rigby, and Yesterday. But at the time of their rise to stardom, rock-and-roll was in its infancy. The sound was new and young. Coming up with something new out of something new isn’t a big feat. Kudos to them for coming up with something new and pleasing to a broad audience. And for years. They had an open door to slip through, but it was their genius that kept them going.
Fast forward to 1970 and Black Sabbath hit with their new sound of heavy metal. It was an extension of rock-and-roll and yet not. See after the Beatles, the sound changed. Some stayed with the old ways and others went to new sounds. Black Sabbath paved the way for others still. Today my son comes in and talks about Industrial Metal, Techno-metal, and other branches of this sub-genre of ‘metal’ music. But it all started with those four guys from Liverpool.
What does this have to do with writing? More than you might think. I hear readers and reviewers all the time complain when a writer breaks the rules. Christian fiction shouldn’t have sex, cursing, or drinking being one of the major grumbles.
Like the Beatles and Black Sabbath, all writers are looking for something new. None of us want to be published and be just another book on the shelves.
But writing didn’t start in the sixties. Nor did any of the genres. People have been writing books of all sorts for thousands of years. Yes, it’s true. There’s nothing new under the sun, but still we try. Yet there was a time when an idea was new or at the very least fresh. When I started writing romance, I had a smart-mouthed heroine and a conservative, red-haired hero with freckles! Keep in mind this was twenty years ago. No one had done that. At least not to my knowledge. I felt like I was on the cutting edge. But these days, that edge is getting wide enough to build a house on. Not so edgy anymore.
In the last few years we have seen the rise of ‘urban fantasy romance,’ shape-shifters, Amish, Christian speculative, and a host of other attempts at something different. But in order to be innovative, rules have to be broken. When some rules are broken it completely changes the genre. Romances must have a happy ending. If they don’t, they fall into love stories. Even Nicholas Sparks will tell you that he doesn’t write romance. But more on that in another blog post.
So why can a writer break some rules and not others and still be in the same genre. I’m not quite sure. Some things just are. Like romances end happy, cozy mysteries aren’t bloody and graphic, and in mainstream fiction anything can happen.
To say Christian fiction is such a broad term. Can it be considered a genre? Well, what is genre? Dictionary. com lists it as a class or category of artistic endeavor having a particular form, content, technique, or the like. (see the complete definition HERE.) Unfortunately, books aren’t divided like plants and animals. There’s no kingdom, phylum, or class to go along with genre. That leaves the reader floundering, trying to determine what books they might like. This is even harder if you want to only read clean fiction. (More on that later.)
Combine this lack of definition with the writer’s strive for something new and different and a lot of times you will end up with a dissatisfied, and maybe even offended, reader.
You might not like it, but please respect the author for their originality. Or at the very least for giving it a go. It takes a lot of false bravado or true bravery to put a book out for the world. Like the tone-deaf contestant on American Idol, some feel their work is fantastic when it needs a complete overhaul, but most put something out and hope and pray that it doesn’t get ripped to shreds. I wonder if the Beatles had their doubts. It seems unlikely now so many years and platinum albums later, but I bet they did.
What about you? Do you want to read something fresh and new or are you happy with status quo? No answer is wrong. Feel free to comment, but as always be kindful to others, their feelings, and opinions. Spread JOY.
Everyone who comments will be entered into a drawing to win a copy of Amish Brides. *
The winner will be announced Friday August 25, 2017, on the next blog. Comments will be taken until midnight EDT Thursday August 24, 2017.
Thanks for reading!
*If you already have a copy of Amish Brides, be sure to still leave a comment. If you are fortunate enough to have your name drawn, I have plenty of other titles to share.
18 thoughts on “The Beatles Had It Easy”
Thank you for sharing this Amy, sometimes I feel that when authors write a series, you already know what the end is going to be. Other times, you are left up in the air and have no idea what is going to happen next. I like when some authors leave you wanting to read the next book of the series, because I am not sure what is going to happen.
That’s it exactly! The originality is so important and yet is becoming more and more rare at no fault to the writers. The ideas are shrinking especially when you have a genre or classification that is restrictive–like Christian. Thanks for reading, Andrea! :)
I use to read only romance books.. But I started noticing ,that they were getting more into bedroom scenes TOO MUCH INFO.. As a Christian I started to feel condemned in my heart for reading them.. So I quit reading… My sister -after a lot of talking- got me to read her Amish books.. I really did enjoy them, so I am now back to reading.. I have tried a lot of authors who do Amish related books.. I have read a few authors that I try and stay away from.The ones who have the Amish cursing.. I love your books.. And will be buying more of them.. Thank you …
Thank you, Janice! I feel the same. I’ve written ‘regular’ romance books but at the time that I started writing, the love scenes were not as explicit as they are today. I’ve often said that I started writing Amish books at a suggestion from my agent, and I have never regretted that decision. Looking back I can see that someone else was guiding my footsteps. I still have ‘sexy’ books out there and a couple more I mean to write to finish a series even thought I know that my sexy ones are too sexy for the reader who only reads ‘clean’ books and not sexy enough for the average contemporary romance reader. It’s a tough balance. But I love writing Amish and have no plans of stopping any time soon! :)
Methinks that people shouldn’t be so critical when a book hints at “things” in a nice way, it’s when the words are blatant that would make me raise an eyebrow. I read an amish book where two sentences conveyed everything; that gave a visual that said more than a paragraph describing it. Made me put a little imagination in it!
I feel that readers shouldn’t, in that case, complain – or complain in a review.
Each reader has their own idea of what they’re looking for in a book; if they don’t like it close it up and pick another, or maybe continue reading and broaden their horizons.
As a reader it’s your choice what you put into your brain.
Personally I enjoy reading the status quo in the genre I like and will pick a different genre when I want something a little different.
I believe at the end of the day an author needs to have been true to themself and be satisfied with the book they’ve produced. Because if you’re truly happy with it then the opinions of others pale in comparison (We’re the Beatles making music to please others? Or because they loved making music? We’re they doing it to be different? Or just being true to themselves? You get my point).
Anyway enough rambling; Thanks Amy for making some really great books!
I love your rambling and totally agree! It’s okay for an artist to try something different as long as it strikes a chord within themselves. I branched out with Amish, but decided before I wrote ‘Chapter One’ on the page that it would have to be a book that anyone who had read my other work would read my Amish book and say, “Yeah. Amy wrote that.” I’ve been reading above my pay grade lately and find it very inspiring to work harder on each turn of phrase and chapter set up. Kind of like the baseball team that won’t get any better if they don’t play teams that are more talented than they are. Anyway, with the Beatles I think it was all three–they loved making music, they loved people loving their music, and they wanted to bring something different. When you add in the talent they brought to the table, it’s a no-brainer for success. But I hear the grumblings of Christian readers who don’t like when Christian authors put controversial topics, language, sex, etc into their books. I feel these writers are just trying something new, trying to be seen above the rest. We all want that, but it’s hard in a genre so filled with rules and so dictated by the varying beliefs of others. Thanks for reading!!.
Thank you, Amy, for this wonderful blog.
I never associated the Beatles or Black Sabbath with writing. Now I can see.
(I have a copy of “Amish Brides”.)
Thanks Elaine! It’s a writer’s curse to make connections where there almost isn’t one! LOL
I never would have compared those two to writing but I can see why you did now :) I like originality and sometimes when “new” things are tried….but I also kinda stick to what I know when reading books :)
want to read something fresh and new but like most of the Christian genre & stick to them :)
I’d never thought about that before but you are right.Love all of your books.
I will admit I’m a reader that likes Christian Fiction because I’m very uncomfortable with sex , swearing or violence in the books I read. Which is exactly why I chose Christian Fiction as my genre. I sometimes feel that books should be rated like movies are rated. But that would probably be another good topic for discussion.
I thank you for your most generous giveaway and thank you for this post.
Loved the Beatles. A big part of my life. Still have old record albums which I just can’t part with even though I have nothing to play them on haha
I am one of those readers that sticks with the status quo most of the time, and will occasionally change when the mood strikes me. I read majority Christian fiction and anything else would be just a clean romance or mystery. I don’t have a copy of Amish Brides and would love to win a copy! Thanks for the opportunity!
After I turned a millstone age, I turned to more Christian reading. I love the mystery, romance and the sharing of the information about the area or timeline that is being written about. I’m not saying that I don’t read something a little different than that once in awhile, but I most stick to the books for two (2) different places were I purchase the Christian books. Yes, I would love to win a copy of the Amish Brides, but if someone else is picked, congratulations to them.
New and fresh can be good. I always enjoy finding new-to-me authors. I don’t like it when an author I like changes too drastically just because they think it will sell. I think it’s a good thing to stay true to yourself. Keep up the good work, enjoying your blog posts…thought-provoking!