The Jewel Of Gresham Green
Tyora Moody 

Tyora Moody is the editor of She goes by her nickname, Ty. She often finds herself trying to juggle various hats on her short frame. Those hats include being a military wife, writer, blogger, book reviewer, web developer, and “momma” to two spoiled cats. Her other sites are: (Ty's writing journey blog) (Ty's faith journey blog)

Are You Reading Outside the Box?

Some turning points in our lives stick with us. For me, during 2000, a slow transition took place on my beloved bookshelf. For many years, family and friends never saw me—the avid bookworm—without a book. But somewhere around 1998, a stirring dissatisfaction grew in my spirit. Back then I still was a babe in Christ, on fire and struggling with things I needed to let go. It soon became apparent to me that authors and books that used to appeal to me were now a problem. So, I stopped reading fiction until one day a dear friend introduced me to a book.

I admit to judging the book by its cover. I know you should never do this, but hey, I’m a graphic designer, and some book covers have serious issues. But I digress. Let me make it clear, this book’s design, to this day, covers one of my all time favorite books.

The young African American woman captured my attention. I immediately knew this story took place in a time that was not friendly to people of color. She held a bag in her hand and appeared to be leaving a place where she had experienced pain but loved. Although I grew up after the civil rights movement, I certainly didn’t grow up in a bubble. From a young age, I understood the world treated certain people differently.

As a newbie Christian, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read a book that dredged up history. That was one excuse. Another was that I loved mystery and suspense, and reading historical fiction was not something I ordinarily did. Finally, I cracked the book open and started reading.

I read, wept, grew angry, wept, and fell in love.

Passing By SamariaSharon Ewell Foster’s Christy Award winning book, Passing by Samaria, catapulted my love for Christian fiction. She was one of a few women authors with Walk Worthy Press who wrote outside the Christian fiction box. Almost ten years later, multicultural Christian fiction is a phenomenon that continues to amaze and astound me. Now I look at my bookshelves (that often need to be transitioned due to my life as a book reviewer), I truly enjoy seeing the vast array of African American authors. It’s encouraging to me as a reader as well as a writer. Despite the strides that have been made, a barrier still exists.

I’ve been a Christian fiction book reviewer since 2001, and I have written hundreds of book reviews for As of 2006, I officially started writing Christian fiction and eventually learned of CBA and ABA. Many of the books I review are from CBA publishers. In the past few years, I’ve noticed books with edgier storylines, grittier scenes, more realistic characters, and even taboo topics are being explored. These books have a faith factor, but not much preachiness, which is refreshing.

What I have not read enough of are characters who look like me or even have my experiences as an African American woman. Sharon Ewell Foster continues to write beautiful, grace-filled novels, as well as a host of others under CBA like Marilynn Griffith, Stacy Hawkins-Adams, Claudia Mair Burney, Linda Leigh Hargrove, Tia McCollors, and Kendra Norman-Bellamy. The vast majority of multicultural Christian fiction is published under ABA. Nothing wrong with that, but why such a small percentage in CBA?

I’ve pondered this, as I know others have too. Let’s keep it real; we know publishers are interested in selling books. I’m not sure why CBA publishers don’t notice the explosion of African American literature and how we devour good books. So, I want to look at this question from a different angle. It’s easy to jump on the publisher, but who’s buying the books?

If you read Christian fiction, do you judge a book by its cover? Are you stuck on reading only certain types of books? I can be honest. I love mystery and suspense. But sometimes it is good for my development as a reader and a writer to read outside my comfort-zone box. It’s good for me to read historical, chick lit, or even fantasy/speculative fiction every now and then. And I have.

Let me give you an example of a recent “phenomenon.” A few months ago, Angela Benson toured with CFBA for her book Up Pops the Devil. It was a book several participants would never ordinarily pick up to read because the main character was a former drug dealer and now ex-convict. Once readers went past their hesitation, their responses to the book were very positive.

Let me urge you to read a book outside of your normal reading habits. When I do, I am blessed by the experience. In fact, why not make it part of your New Year’s resolution for 2009? To help you get started, I’ve listed some new and upcoming multicultural Christian fiction titles to consider:

My Son’s Wife by Shelia Lipsey (Urban Christian— In Stores Now)
My Father’s House by Dijorn Moss (Urban Christian—In Stores Now)
Now and Then, Again by Bonnie Hopkins (Walk Worthy Press—November 2008)
Talk to Me by Pat Simmons (Urban Christian - November 2008)
Married Strangers by Dwan Abrams (Urban Christian—December 2008)
The Bishop’s Daughter by Tiffany Warren (Grand Central Publishing—January 2009)
The Someday List by Stacy Hawkins Adams (Revell Books—January 2009)
Illusions by Wanda Campbell (Urban Christian—February 2009)
The List by Sherri Lewis (Urban Christian—March 2009)

I invite you to visit my blog,, as I journey toward publication. Also, check out as I highlight “African American Literature That Edifies the Soul.”