Eagle Designs
Lori Copeland

Lori Copeland bio: My husband and I live in the beautiful Ozarks. Our three sons, Randy, Rick and Russ live nearby so we get to enjoy our five grandchildren on a weekly basis. James, Joe, Josh, Gage and Audrey. Naturally I dote on the grandchildren! We also enjoy our many friends from our church and RV club. You can find more information at www.loricopeland.com.

Christian Genre Fiction

Christian genre fiction covers a large arena. When I entered the market ten years ago, it was vastly different from today. Before 1998, I had written secular romance novels—fifty to be exact—for various publishers like Dell, Random House, and Avon. If success is counted by the amount of contracts one garners, I was vastly successful. But I wasn’t comfortable writing secular material. Now, nearly a hundred published books down the road, I’ve found my passion. To coin a new genre: I love writing Contemp Istorials. I love to take the modern man or woman and put them back on the farm in the 1800s, and I adore writing today’s contemporary stories. I shamelessly refer you to my latest Zondervan contemporary release, A Man’s Heart (Oct. 2010), and make quick mention my newest historical, Walker’s Wedding (Harvest House, July 2010). I have successfully incorporated most of my secular readers into my Christian readership.

Genres abound in fiction and more are springing to light every day in the Christian market. Because of the books’ natures, Christian fiction will choose its authors—authors will not particularly choose genres. It’s as hard or harder to get published in the Christian market as it is in secular publishing. If your reading, writing, and imaginative storytelling lends to gratuitous violence, graphic love scenes, and strong language, the Christian market is not for you. You might very well run away from squeaky clean stories and Little House on the Prairie home folk scenes, but you won’t run far if you aren’t comfortable writing secular material. Christian fiction is not an alternative market.

Icons like Frank Peretti, Jannette Oke, and Beverly Lewis have led the way in Christian storytelling with spiritually rich novels. Today the genres address hard-hitting topics like divorce, abortion, alternative lifestyle, spousal abuse . . . the list is growing. Today, Amish fiction is setting industry records. The Christian reader cannot get enough of the subject, and publishers that formerly centered on Protestant beliefs now focus on feeding the masses. Who would have dreamed that the obscure little corner called “Fiction” in the mom-and-pop bookstores would eventually reach out and grab the reader in a miraculous way?

How does “Christian” and “fiction” coexist? The Bible is not fiction. Shop any book religious fiction aisle and you will find Christian genre incorporating biblical teachings in contemporary, historical, suspense, sci-fi, thrillers, and more written from a Christian point of view, and the market is growing rapidly because of readers seeking stories more in sync with their personal, spiritual, and moral values. You want tears? We have it. You want to laugh out loud and cry? It’s there. Cowboys, gum shoes, sassy heroines, and strong-minded heroes are available for your reading pleasure, but written for those who skip graphic love scenes and thumb through salty language and gratuitous violence. Christian fiction exists to feed the mind while entertaining.

Today’s multitalented Christian genre authors deliver sterling entertainment without any obscenity or graphic love scenes. More readers are turning to Christian novels to enrich their lives.

If your reading tastes run conservative or open, shop the fiction shelves, read the back copy, and decide if the book is preachy or timely. Would it speak to your heart, or would you talk back to its contents? My mail is filled with thoughtful comments from readers who would have told my story differently, but I tell the story the way it comes to me. The plot might not always be proper, nice, or even socially acceptable, but God invites, “Come to me all who are tired and weary, and I will give you rest.”

Christian genres are a rich box of decadent chocolates; some have chewy, thought-provoking centers, some are squishy soft and sweet, some have nuts, and some sit you on the edge of your seat, but always the delight satisfies the sweet tooth for those wanting to read stories that uplift and enhance their beliefs.

Like chocolates in a brightly wrapped box with a red bow tied around it, authors are as different as the subjects they choose to write about. Once Christian fiction was thought to be preachy, staid, and boring. Today’s fiction couldn’t be more diverse in subject and tone. I’m never sure if I’m writing Christian stories or purely writing from the heart, because I write about flawed people. My characters often veer onto the wrong path but discover through God’s grace the easier road taken. They don’t pray over every word or thought, but God is evident in their lives. They know, yet often forget, that they do have a purpose in this journey. They tell fibs and ask for forgiveness under their breaths. They’re confident that nothing life holds can conquer them, but something always does. In other words, I write about people like me. Flawed but forgiven, for how else can you experience God’s full grace? Best-selling author Karen Kingsbury says it best about writing Christian genre: “As a Christian fiction writer, I can tell a story about the complete person, the whole character. I think this resonates with readers, and touches them in the deepest parts of their hearts and souls.”

A Man's Heart