Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Guest: Elizabeth Seckman and Mainstream Fiction

Thanks for having me over Tyrean!

Thanks for visiting, Elizabeth! It's great to have you!

I had a conversation with some writers last week over whether or not good decent grace-saved, messed-up Christians should be writing mainstream fiction, or should we be writing Christian fiction? Or in the very least, concentrating on sweet fiction devoid of adult language, situations, and alcohol? When I first started writing, I tried to stay in these parameters, but I came up with nothing. Not a single story thread. Zero. Zip. Nada. Not even an idea.

So, I ran with my broken characters with their less than perfect lives and the stories returned.

Then, a friend of mine dedicated her first book to God. We published about the same time, so I considered doing the same. But then I wondered if God would want a book with premarital sex, lies, and drinking dedicated to Him. So, I didn't.

But the more I write. The more I get out to conventions and meet readers, the more certain I am that I am doing what I am called to do.  Broken people are reality and their lives are messy and sometimes even jaded, but they are just as loved. They are just as important.

And this broken believer will happily write their stories. And if someone in real life wants to know how I make it through life with joy, I'll share.

Am I on a holy mission? No. I just don't see the point in hiding who I am.

So, this time...I dedicated this ornery book to the One I owe everything.

*Now, to be clear- when I say ornery, if this book were a movie, it would rate a PG-13. There are adult situations and content, but no F bombs or super steamy scenes. I don't want to get my poor mother-in-law worried that I am acting like her rotten son. Hehe.


The Blurb:

Jo Leigh Harper comes from a long line of trouble-making, white trash stock.
Tanner Coulter comes from a longer line of wealth-creating, blue blood stock.
Jo graduated college top of her class, moving toward a future full of possibilities.
Tanner dropped out of college, trading a law degree for drinking games and one night stands.

A family crisis throws the rich party boy and the poor genius girl together. The attraction is immediate, though neither one is a heart-in-the-sand-drawing believer in true love. But as the summer sun heats up along the shores of the Outer Banks, so does the connection between them. Maybe, just maybe, they can win at love by defying reason.

 
Author Bio:

Elizabeth is a multi-published author of books for people who are believers in happily-ever- after, true love, and stories with a bit of fun and twists with their plots. The mother of four young men, she tackles laundry daily and is the keeper of the kitchen. She lives along the shores of the Ohio River in West Virginia, but dreams daily of the beach. 

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35 comments:

DL Hammons said...

Personally...I don't think a persons beliefs should dictate (or restrict) what they write. It's fiction!

Loni Townsend said...

Before I came out of the writing closet, one of the things that terrified me was wondering if people would judge me based on my books. I am a Christian, and my parents/brother + his family are pretty conservative. My books are fantasy, and they contain multiple deities (not one true God). What would they think?

I got over it, and took the shaky step to let other people read my work. I know my parents are proud, but I'm still not sure about whether or not my brother and his family disapprove. Oh well. I didn't write my story for them anyways.

Shelley Sly said...

Yup, I can definitely relate to this topic. I mostly write for kids, which makes it easy to stay "clean," but I also write for adults occasionally and I find myself gravitating toward the imperfect and broken.

Jerry McGarrity said...

I was recently inspired by this article in First Things: http://www.firstthings.com/article/2013/12/the-catholic-writer-today
In it, the writer points out that many Catholic Christian fiction writers did not directly write about faith in their stories. Nevertheless, their faith informed their stories and said something important to the world. I think you strike a good balance, Elizabeth.

Katelyn Summers said...

This is something I've worried a lot about myself—being judged for who I am according to my writing. As a Christian who writes romance and lays it all out there, I've wondered if people will look down on me for writing strong language or steamy scenes. But I also agree with DL, writing is an artistic expression and moreover, it's fiction. It shouldn't define who you are.

Dixie@dcrelief said...

You have a very responsible attitude, love it.

Kristin Smith said...

Ahh, this is such a great post, Elizabeth! I'm always worried about how I might be perceived based on the character's I've created or the scenes I've written, but sometimes you have to let go of those insecurities and just write. People's lives are complicated and rich with problems and conflict. And in order to tell their story, it might get a little messy. And someday when I'm published, I hope my readers will understand that my writing doesn't define who I am, it's just a part of myself I've decided to share with the world.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Elizabeth, this is one of the most awesome things I've read in a long time!
Life is messy and people are flawed. And besides, who did Jesus hang out with? Sinners! We can still put our values in it without compromising character or being unrealistic.
And we should never be afraid to declare who we are and Who we belong to.

M Pax said...

Glad you found your way, Elizabeth. I love the flawed people.

Tyrean Martinson said...

I'm with you, Elizabeth. I think the flawed characters need to be written because we are all flawed and broken and need to know we are loved. Although I wrote an openly Christian fantasy to start with, I still get the "why did you allow such and such for your character" comments . . . so I think we have to stick with honoring the gifts God has given us, balancing our faith in our writing, and keep sharing how the flawed people are loved and need love, too. I hope that our readers will understand the faith underlying the character-driven plots.
And, loved this post, Elizabeth - thank you for sharing!

Christine Rains said...

I love flawed and broken characters. Their stories are amazing and you have a talent for writing about them. :)

Liz Blocker said...

Ok, I'm Jewish, so I may not understand all of the nuances - but I've always thought that faith (no matter which religion) is about knowing that we are human and flawed, and working to overcome those flaws. Perhaps we are able to with the grace of God, or Allah, or Buddha. Perfect people doing perfect things isn't compelling - but imperfect people trying to be better most certainly is, and is most certainly about faith. That's my two cents, anyway.

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

I like that you always keep it real, Elizabeth.
I think that regardless of one's religious beliefs or lack thereof, most people are over the fairytale and don't want to read about perfect people in their perfect little worlds.

Thank you, Tyrean and Elizabeth.

Medeia Sharif said...

Those broken characters need to be shared. They are a reality and they are valuable. Their is also plenty of hope for them.

cleemckenzie said...

I enjoyed reading Elizabeth's Healing Summer, and I'm not a big romance reader, but her characters were engrossing and their story captured my imagination.

Leandra Wallace said...

I worry about this too. Especially since most of my family is ultra-conservative. But, oh well, if I never get published, then there's no need to worry about it. If I do... uh-oh! ;)

Lisa said...

I've read the "ornery" book and enjoyed it immensely! I like reading "real-to-life" stories, because to me they "show" the High one in action... and I don't think he'd mind that. (Show, don't Tell, right?!) Great post. Thanks Tyrean for having Elizabeth on your blog today!

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Couldn't agree more!

Elizabeth Seckman said...

I think the hardest thing is when people think you are your characters. I will have people try to figure out who's who in my books. It's tough!

Elizabeth Seckman said...

I'm always intrigued by the broken among us.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Thanks Jerry! I'll have to read the article. You're right...who we are and what is at our core does bleed into our writing.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

I rationally know this, but I still cringe on the inside when I know my mother in law or someone from church is reading one of my books. But I'm getting better!

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Thanks Dixie!

Elizabeth Seckman said...

You are so right Kristin! You have to let the insecurities go. I will draft as if no one will ever read it. It's not until I edit that I start to second guess everything.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Thanks Alex! Jesus is one cool guy. And you're right, our values will be there, whether we try to put them in or not.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Thanks Mary!!

Elizabeth Seckman said...

A friend of mine wrote a Christian based story and got attacked from all sides. Strict Christians didn't like the paranormal blend and paranormal fans didn't like the Christian nuances. All the fighting bumped her sales though.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Thanks Christine <3

Elizabeth Seckman said...

And you're two cents are shiny and wonderful. You're absolutely right. We're all flawed.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

I've never trusted perfection anyway...don't know why I'd try to write it anyhow.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Excellent point! When broken people get it together, it does give us hope.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Thanks Lee!! Yeah, Healing Summer's characters were in desperate need of healing.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

You will get published and it does get easier seeing the shocked looks on people's faces. ;)

Elizabeth Seckman said...

A friend of mine pointed out that the Bible didn't white wash the tales. And the broken people were loved as much as the perfect ones. Oh wait...only Jesus was perfect.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Thanks for having me over Tyrean!! It was good to share my fears. I feel so much better just talking about it.