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Monday Musings….Indie vs. Publishing Houses

Recently on social media, I came across two articles. One, which I have linked here, based on the article and the comments as a whole, essentially says that the CBA (christian fiction publishing market) is failing. At one time it was prosperous, but it no longer is. Many comments blamed the CBA for its failure to change with the times, its lack of reality, its cookie-cutter-ness, its unwillingness to take on different povs, and its marketing only to a specific older crowd (affirming beliefs as opposed to creating discussion).

And then there was a response, which you can read here. This response basically states that the CBA market is changing, but that’s not necessarily a reflection of the books that the publishing houses put out. Their books do change with the times and there is realistic fiction, but at its core the CBA provides Christian fiction and so sometimes they can’t take or promote certain works.

so where do I lean in this debate? As a writer, when I proposed to agents and publishing houses my ideas of writing historical romance novels from a black American’s pov, I was told there were too many issues there and that I should write contemporary romance. And that hurt. And that was frustrating. And so it did, in many ways make me think that the CBA market is really for white Americans because that is who it is geared to. That said, I have always found my identity in Christ first, and as a lover of all things romance, I simply cannot devour secular romance novels, and so I still read CBA romance novels.

Many commenters (is that a word?) from the first article claimed that they had given up on Christian fiction and no longer read traditionally published Christian books. As you know, this is not me. But, I have cut back a great deal on traditionally published Christian novels. There are, frankly, many of them that are boring as all get out and I find that their readership has a tendency to praise substandard books that would never make it in a traditional market out of desire to be kind and to excoriate books that take chances and may be a bit more edgy. But, there are many new authors that are absolutely amazing. And I have noticed that more books are taking greater risks.

It’s a kerfluffle for sure. I would never give up on the CBA market. I don’t know what I would have done without it growing up. But I will say that I have chosen to read a healthy mix of both indie and CBA.

So, where do you fall in this discussion?

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Connie Almony’s One Among Men

She applied to run the all-female dorm at Maryland State University. Then why must she live in the all-male dorm instead???

Samantha Hart wants to find Godly purpose within her new Christian faith, like her missionary best friend, but is forced to take a job as the resident director of the all-male, Calvert Hall, where she gets to baby-sitting pampered party boys, rather than change lives.

Facing the typical challenges of her position, such as sexual assaults and drug use by residents, and those unique to being a woman, she leans heavily on her faith. She must also gain respect from young men who view her as a sex object—one of whom is stalking her—while guarding against the campus serial rapist.

It doesn’t help that her boss treats her like an imbecile. So why did God put her here when her experience was with women’s issues and she’d applied for the all-female building?

Chris Johnson, a rock guitarist who is returning to school as a music major, is intrigued by the resident director and the faith she shares with her muscle-bound resident assistant from “the hood,” nick-named Preacher. While Chris observes how they act on their beliefs, he is drawn into a relationship with a ruthless supplier of the on-campus drug trade.

While observing Sam’s care of students who don’t deserve her efforts, Chris assists her on the sly. Can he manage his two worlds without risking Samantha’s life?

Review

So, I randomly stumbled upon Connie Almony in my quest for a romance novel and soon as I read the premise I was super excited. Here’s why:

What I liked:

The setting. Sam is an RD at a college campus. I was never an RD, but I remember RDs and I remember college and dorms and it all just brought it back (gosh I’m getting old). It was almost nostalgic. Also, it’s just not a setting I see in Christian novels too often and I really felt that the author stayed true to the atmosphere of a state college.

Chris. Chris has a lot going on, but I found more and more fascinating everytime I turned the pages.

The suspense. This novel is not a mystery because you, the reader, knows the bad guy. But it does have plenty of suspense. Sam is constantly finding herself in some shady positions.

Spiritually, Sam is a bit of new believer and learning how to follow God. I love how she’s not the only Christian and that the book kind of shows a diversity amongst Christians. Usually, I find them to be very cookie cutter in books. Also, I thought the author did a good job of showing how slowly Chris came to having a relationship with Christ. It wasn’t overnight, and so it came across as very believable. And I loved the message that God uses our individual gifts and talents for His glory. We don’t have to do what others are doing to be in the will of God.

What I didn’t like:

Sometimes Sam made decisions that made me shake my head a time or two. But I will say kudos to her at the end for not being overly dramatic when some big reveals happened.

Romantic Scale: 8

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I thought it was fun, different, realistic, and well worth reading.

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Lady Maybe by Julie Klassen

In the new novel by the three-time Christy Award-winning author of The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, a woman’s startling secrets lead her into unexpected danger and romance in Regency England… 
One final cry…“God almighty, help us!” and suddenly her world shifted violently, until a blinding collision scattered her mind and shook her bones. Then, the pain. The freezing water. And as all sensation drifted away, a hand reached for hers, before all faded into darkness…

Now she has awakened as though from some strange, suffocating dream in a warm and welcoming room she has never seen before, and tended to by kind, unfamiliar faces. But not all has been swept away. She recalls fragments of the accident. She remembers a baby. And a ring on her finger reminds her of a lie.

But most of all, there is a secret. And in this house of strangers she can trust no one but herself to keep it.

Review

I didn’t even realize when this book came out (it came out yesterday) but Julie Klassen is one of those authors, who makes me stop reading whoever I’m reading and read her book. This book. THIS. BOOK. Due to the nature of the novel, I can’t review it like I usually do because I am notorious for giving things away. Therefore, I will do my review a little differently. Let me tell you folks, it was a roller coaster ride…

The first couple of the chapters had me like:

And then like this:

I wanted to jump to the end, but I didn’t! Don’t do it folks, don’t jump to the end. It will ruin it! So I kept on reading and then I was like:

Stuff….kept…happening…Secrets kept being revealed. And it was all:

I mean, I was reading this book with trepidation, not quite understanding why people were making the decisions they were making. And to top things off, I ran into my least favorite trope:

I was really, really, really worried about how it would end. Really worried. But then it ended and I was like:

And so folks, it was one heck of a ride. But just as soon as finished it, I picked up again and reread it knowing all the secrets, and the who-done-its, and the watcha-ma-call-its. And so, take this ride at your own risk.

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Monday Musings….My Top Books of 2015 So Far

In no particular order:

1. Mercy’s Fight by Tammy L. Gray

2. Sway by Amy Matayo

3. To Win Her Favor by Tamera Alexander

4. Tiffany Girl by Deeanne Gist

5. The Wood’s Edge by Lori Benton (Oh how I hated the cliffhanger)

6. Best Forgotten by Paula Vince

7. Hidden by Vannetta Chapman

8. Fury by Steven James

9. These Sheltering Walls by Mary Jane Hathaway

10. A Love Like Ours by Becky Wade

What are some of the best books you’ve read so far this year?

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Interview of Carol Post and Giveaway!

Carol Post-100.150Thank you for being willing to be interviewed on my blog!

1. What got you interested in writing?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve enjoyed writing. I was one of those strange kids that actually enjoyed doing book reports and research papers. In the late 1980s, my husband and I worked with Marriage Encounter, doing marriage enrichment weekends. We had to write out our talks ahead of time and send them to the lead team couple for approval. I really enjoyed writing those talks, and that’s what got me thinking about trying to write for publication. A couple of years later, I got my first article accepted, then followed up with several more for a variety of Christian and children’s publications. Eventually I decided to try writing a novel, and many more years passed. It was my third complete book that finally got picked up by Love Inspired Suspense in 2012.

2. If there is one thing that you want a reader to take away from your books, what would it be?

I write about hurting people who have been through some rough times. They are damaged and often have difficulty trusting and letting other people into their lives. I want my books to appeal to believers and nonbelievers alike, so rather than preaching at the reader, I try to show through my characters’ experiences the difference trusting God can make in our lives. The most important thing I want readers to take away from my books is that when we come to God for forgiveness, healing, strength and comfort, He accepts us with open arms. He is always there and will never leave us or forsake us. A relationship with God at its center can withstand anything the world throws at it.

3. Who or what would you consider to have the greatest influences on your writing?

The most obvious influence on my writing is, of course, the Lord. My relationship with Him is the reason that I write for the inspirational market. Another influence has been all the books I’ve read through the years. I think to be a good writer, you have to be a reader. Lastly, my husband has had a big influence on my writing, so much so, I patterned the hero in my debut book, Midnight Shadows, after him. I even gave him the same name! I wouldn’t have attempted this career if it weren’t for Chris’ encouragement and support.

4. Do you have any favorite authors that you recommend?

I would recommend any of my fellow Love Inspired Suspense authors. I’ve read books by Terri Reed, Lenora Worth, Jill Elizabeth Nelson and Roxanne Rustand, to name just a few, and they’re always very good. When I’m not reading suspense, I often read in the young adult genre, for something totally different from what I write. I enjoy Heather Burch’s books, both her young adult and her adult books, which though not necessarily inspirational, are always clean.

5. Can you tell us about what you’re working on now?

I am currently working on two series—one for Love Inspired Suspense set in Cedar Key, Florida, and another for Love Inspired set in Murphy, North Carolina. The Murphy series is brand new. I’m working on the first book. In the Cedar Key series, I’ve completed three books (Shattered Haven, Hidden Identity and Mistletoe Justice) and am starting on the fourth. I like setting books in places that I enjoy visiting. I have family in Murphy,

and Cedar Key is just a fun escape. The second oldest city in Florida (behind St. Augustine), it’s quaint and artsy with a real “Old Florida” feel. My husband and I just spent our anniversary there a couple of weeks ago.

Thank you, Embassie for having me on your blog. I’ve enjoyed the visit!

BIO

Carol J. Post writes for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense line and lives in sunshiny Central Florida. Besides writing, she works alongside her music minister husband singing and playing the piano. She also enjoys sailing, hiking, camping—almost anything outdoors. Her two grown daughters and grandkids live too far away for her liking, so she now pours all that nurturing into taking care of a fat and sassy black cat and a highly spoiled dachshund. You can find her at http://www.caroljpost.com. For news and fun contests, sign up for her newsletter. (The link is on her website.)

BOOK BLURB

After becoming trapped in a web of blackmail and murder, Meagan Berry escapes by faking her death. She finds anonymity on Florida’s Cedar Key until she is caught on camera rescuing a senator, and the nightmare begins anew. Something tells Cedar Key police officer Hunter Kingston that Meagan isn’t who she claims to be, but the fear in her eyes and the vulnerability beneath that aloof exterior reach out to him. When he learns the truth, he is determined to protect her, whatever the cost, because at least one person is dead set on making sure the next time Meagan “dies,” it’ll be for real.

Giveaway

If this book has captured your fancy (and I hope it does!), there’s an opportunity for you to win your own copy! The author has graciously decided to giveaway an autographed copy of Hidden Identity! All you need to do is leave a comment with your email address. The giveaway ends on July 24th! The winner will be randomly selected (and must be from the US or Canada). If you win, you have 48 hours to respond to the notification before I will choose another winner. Happy Reading!

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Mary Connealy’s Now and Forever

Shannon Wilde is the middle sister–and the one who loves animals. She’s established her own homestead and is raising sheep for their wool. Things are going fine…until Shannon gets swept over a cliff by Matthew Tucker!

Tucker seizes every opportunity to get away from civilization, but one particular walk in the woods ends with him sprinting away from an angry grizzly and plunging into a raging river, accidentally taking Shannon Wilde with him. Their adventure in the wilderness results in the solitary mountain man finding himself hitched to a young woman with a passel of relatives, a homestead, and a flock of sheep to care for.

As Tucker and Shannon learn to live with each other, strange things begin to happen on Shannon’s land. Someone clearly wants to drive her off, but whoever it is apparently didn’t count on Tucker. Trying to scare Matthew Tucker just makes him mad–and trying to hurt the woman he’s falling in love with sets off something even he never expected.

Review

I really enjoyed the first book in this series. Here are my thoughts about the second:

What I liked:

The Wilde sisters. I love that they are these complex individuals who served in the Civil War, started their own homesteads, and yet still need help from time to time. Kyle was the more feminine one, but Shannon has a heart of gold. Though Connealy, often writes about tough women, these women don’t exactly put me in mind of her previous heroines.

Old day customs. Connealy doesn’t play when it comes to marriage and honestly, I think people married up quick in those days. And she not only follows the old days customs when it comes to marriage, but also when it comes to fleshing out the men in her novels, like Tucker in this instance. He’s very much a mountain man of his times.

Suspense. There is always suspense in a Connealy novel and I thought it was well done here. Initially, I didn’t think the bad guy was that bad, but the guy is sufficiently creepy by the end of the novel.

Humor. There is no Connealy novel without humor.

Spiritually, the novel talks about being able to trust God with your doubts and the ugliness of this world and knowing that He can and will listen and will help you through it.

What I didn’t like:

Silliness. Mary Connealy writes good books. Hence why I continually read them. But sometimes they border on silly. The first one in this series actually didn’t come across as silly to me, but this one had a few silly moments that I didn’t care for.

Romantic Scale: 7.9

Overall, a very satisfying read. It’s cute, it’s light, it’s fluffy, and I’m super excited about Bailey’s story!

** I received this copy from Netgalley. My opinion was not affected in any way.**