I thought I should let you in on why I can’t get a publishing contract with a Christian publisher.
With my first book, I couldn’t get a contract for anything. Now that I have more writing experience under my belt, I do believe I probably could—if I wrote the way I was “supposed” to.
Several fellow Christian authors have reported to me that Christian publishers today won’t accept books with too much biblical content. They want a generic sort of Christian flavor without any real substance. And, believe it or not, they don’t even want protagonists who are sexually pure. One author was told that to be realistic the girl hero will have already had multiple sexual partners before the story opens.
Now I do want to write realistic stories, and so the sexuality of my characters has been a challenge at times. But since I insist that my protagonists be models worth emulating, they follow the biblical standard for sexual purity. John and Abby do have their temptations in the Trilogy, and Merri and Brett theirs in the Rewinding Time Series. That’s only natural. But they heroically resist temptation. I’m sure publishers would say that was unrealistic.
And they’d be annoyed with the substantive (and controversial) biblical and doctrinal issues that I weave into my stories.
For example, in More Than Meets the Eye Elizabeth is the woman who supervised the men building the Sears houses in Carlinville, Illinois in 1918. She’s a strong leader of men, and yet she knows the Bible commands wives to submit to their husbands—even though hers is an alcoholic gambling addict. Merrideth Randall, modern feminist that she is, confronts this issue too in More Than Meets the Eye as she ponders whether she’ll be able to be a good Christian wife to Brett. Julia McDaniel in Holding On also struggles to balance being a fulfilled female person while also following what the Bible says to women. Here’s a key passage:
In that perfect moment she realized with stunning clarity that if ever there was a man she’d willingly submit to it was Neil Ashe. That must make her some kind of awful non-feminist, unliberated throwback too. So be it, just as long as she had Neil.
I wonder sometimes what readers think of this theme in my books. I’ve heard that some are offended that my female characters aren’t sweet enough to be very good Christians, Julia McDaniel for one. (That’s because she takes after me. LOL) But I’m sure other readers of a more feminist stripe are equally offended that I even bring up the dreaded subject of obeying husbands.
I personally find that biblical command the most troublesome of the whole Bible, mostly because I was raised in a church that encouraged women to be silent doormats and yet I live in a world of strong women in all sorts of positions of authority.
It’s a sticky issue, indeed. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating a blanket adherence to that command in situations where the husband is physically abusive, as is the case in Unclaimed Legacy. In the author notes at the back of that book, I advise women to flee such husbands because I believe they have biblical grounds for doing so.
But I don’t ever want to be guilty of the current popular practice of throwing out the parts of the Bible one doesn’t like. At the same time I wonder if something got lost in translation or interpretation. One day all will be made plain. Until then, I’m trusting that the Lord loves women equally with men.