Jan Flanders

As everyone who has not been dwelling under a rock for the past half century knows full well, Jan Flanders is a world-renowned expert on writing, editing, and publishing fiction. A bona fide member of the landed gentry dating back to the Jamestown, Virginia, settlement, and a magna cum laude graduate of Ms. Finicky’s Foundational Finishing School of Fiction for Well-Bred Females (FFFSFWBF), she resides with her three Angora cats in the heart of the deep South on the plantation, sadly diminished, where she was born and reared, and which her family has owned since the early 1700s. God forbid she should ever allow it to fall into the rapacious hands of any vile Northern carpetbagger! That will happen over her dead body. She is still mourning the lamentable outcome of the late War of Northern Aggression, and if you know what is good for you, you would be well advised not to bring up the subject unless you wish to have your ears pinned back. Rest assured that if anyone knows etiquette, it is our own Ms. Flanders, and she is doing you a favor by sharing her expertise.

Fiction Etiquette with a Southern Twist Twisted Southern

Good mornin’, dedicated fiction devotees. And isn’t it a bright, new day? Ah am so glad to see that all this vulgah holiday excitement has not hindered you from placin’ the proper priority on our monthly session of exhortation in the Sacred Laws of Fiction Etiquette, which, as you all know, Ah am most thoroughly qualified to administer.

Ah do trust that y’all have been maintainin’ proper deportment and decorum amidst the temptations of the season. If you have not, rest assured that Santa will have no choice but to leave a lump of coal in your stockin’ on Christmas mornin’. Therefore, be absolutely certain that you do not trample on propriety or step out of your appointed place. And that goes for the upcomin’ New Year, too—which Ah will have more to say about next month.

If you will kindly hand me that envelope, sweetheart, Ah will be forevah in your debt. Figuratively speakin’ of course. Ms. Flanders is nevah really in anyone’s debt, you understand, darlin’. Now, do please sit down. Don’t be thinkin’ there is any possibility a mealy mouthed young’un such as you can evah upstage me.

Thank you, baby doll. Bless your heart . . .

Dear Ms. Flanders,

Why doesn’t Christian fiction generate the kind of reader excitement and loyalty, not to mention sales, that books like the Harry Potter series do? Can it be that Christian fiction isn’t as well written—or perhaps that it doesn’t address topics readers find as compelling? Is it because Christian publishers don’t promote their books like secular publishers do? Or do Christian authors need to avail themselves of the newer media to get the word out? What can we authors do to rectify this unfair situation?

Aspiring Best-selling Author

Rectify this situation? Mah dear, the situation is exactly as it should be. Ah am most thoroughly horrified by such an open display of crass materialism by someone who claims to be a Christian author. But on your behalf, Ah will assume that you are inspired by the Christmas season.

Please do keep in mind that true Christian fiction is not only of much higher quality than the ilk of the Harry Potter books, but also does not appeal to the herd. That, honey chile’, is why the best inspirational novels will nevah be tainted by the label of “best-seller” or burdened with common acclaim. Such stories are just too pure to attract the notice of those who are not acquainted with quality literature.

It follows that those who write and publish Christian fiction will not descend to the reprehensible tactics used by their counterparts in the secular field. Mah stars and bars, would you have your fellow authors descend to throwin’ caution—not to mention common sense—to the wind and gallopin’ after somethin’

so base as fame and fortune? Sweetheart, that can lead to nothin’ except the most scandalous behavior, such as accosting passers-by on the streets to press copies of your book into their hands or, heaven forbid, runnin’ amok on these so-called social networkin’ sites Ah have heard of—but have nevah visited and nevah will to mah dyin’ day, thank you very much!

Why, just the very thought of talkin’ to strangers you’ve nevah been introduced to, whether in person or on this thing called the Internet—well, it’s all just too scandalous for the well-bred gentleman or lady to consider. Do not even think of it or you will be ruined forevah!

Mah goodness, you have put me in a proper state! The only way Ah’m goin’ to get back into the holiday spirit is by retirin’ to mah boudoir and indulgin’ in a cup or two of eggnog. And let me assure you, mah recipe, which has been closely guarded by mah family since well before the late War of Northern Aggression, includes a generous dollop of—well, shall we just say, nog, if y’all know what Ah mean. It is guaranteed to make the season particularly festive, and at the moment Ah need all the festivity Ah can get.

Alas, once more the time has arrived for me to bid y’all adieu. Do not under any circumstances neglect to start your New Year off right next month by returnin’ for further admonishment on the Sacred Laws of Fiction Etiquette or 2009 is bound to be a great disappointment for you, darlin’.

Upcoming Topics

January: What are the most important New Year’s Resolutions for a fiction writer?

February: How does a new author go about securing endorsements for an upcoming release?

March: Is it proper to communicate directly with an author if you’re a huge fan?