Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Cursing in Christian Fiction

I recently read a novel (which shall rename nameless) published by a book publisher known for publishing Christian works that took me by surprise. I have read from this author before, always enjoying her stories and her unique perspective on life.

This story wasn't my favorite of hers (It was predictable and somewhat cliched, the characters were well-developed though unlikable, and the plot meandered. I ended up skimming the book.) but that's not what surprised me. Rather, it was the amount of cursing she used -- b- words, sh- words, and others.

I know cursing in novels is an oft-debated topic among Christian fiction fans. Should the author be authentic and use the course language a particular character would likely use? Or should the author write around the language?

As a writer, one thing that's drilled into me is that each word in every sentence, scene, and chapter matters. These words are meant to draw the reader seamlessly into the story and should make an impact, yet they shouldn't pull us out. In the case of this novel, I felt her word choice did the latter.  The use of swear words was infrequent, but still unnecessary. It didn't add to the character development. It didn't help define the scene or the setting, but it did make me blink--I'd stop and re-read the sentence to confirm the author actually wrote that. Not once did I think her choice was warranted, thus tugging me out of the story.

Now someone how reads mostly general market fiction wouldn't think twice about the word usage and would label me a prude. But, the Christian market is different, and since this was published by a known Christian publisher and written by a Christian author, the assumption is that this book is written for the Christian market. It will be interesting to see how the typical Christian fiction reader responds.

Do you believe there should be no cursing in Christian fiction? If not, in what instance(s) would it be acceptable to you?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Pacific Coast Justice Series #1
by Janice Cantore

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
416 pages

After an officer-involved shooting, Detective Carly Edwards is taken off her street beat and given a desk job in juvenile. It's a normally boring position, but she is drawn into a murder investigation of the city's mayor, an investigation that isn't as routine as she's initially led to believe.

As she investigates, she peels back layers of corruption in her city that might just bleed into the police department, and she doesn't know who to trust. Complicating things more is  her ex-husband, also a police officer, who says he's a changed man. He's betrayed her before. Can she trust him now, or is he part of the corruption?

My Take:

Years ago, Dee Henderson's O'Malley series set the standard for romantic suspense within Christian fiction. She always offered very likable characters and intriguing suspense. The mysteries may not have been terribly complex, but the characters made up for that, making her books an enjoyable read. As someone who loves a good suspense novel, I'm continuously looking for authors I'll appreciate as much as Henderson, but I'm most often let down.  I know my tastes have changed, I've become very picky. I can't read formulaic suspense--it's far too predictable--and I don't care for romantic suspense that's too gushy. (If the hero and heroine merely brush arms in the opening chapters and their cheeks flush or goosebumps cover their arms, that's an instant turn-off for me. My personal preference.)

Amy Wallace, DiAnn Mills, and Sibella Giorello are three rare writers who have exceeded my expectations. After reading Accused, I'm adding Janice Cantore, a retired Long Beach, California police officer, to that list.

Accused is a lightening-fast read. I read it within a day--my husband only took two (fast for him). Cantore kept the action moving, adding more elements to the mystery, while taking us deep inside Carly Edward's character. Like Carly, I didn't know who to trust until near the very end--my husband felt the same way.

It's one of the most enjoyable books I've read all year and I look forward to reading Cantore's next book in the Pacific Coast Justice Series, Abducted, which comes out in July.

Janice Cantore is a retired Long Beach police officer who now writes suspense novels to keep readers engrossed and leave them inspired. Her years of experience on the force lend authenticity to her stories. Accused is the first in the three-book Pacific Coast Justice series.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Every once in a while I run across a song that offers the perfect encouragement for this oh-so-slow road to publication. We Won't Give Up by The Afters is guaranteed to pump you up and keep you going.


Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:13 - 14

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Novel Anticipation - March 2012

March is here already and I've barely begun reading my February list. That said, this month brings a slew of new releases that are on my must-read list, including the first novel in years by Frank Peretti, and another novel by my good friend, Shannon Vannatter.

Do any of these books interest you?
Are there other March releases you're looking forward to reading?

Howard Books
576 pages

Magicians Dane and Mandy Collins are about to retire when a car accident claims Mandy's life. A grieving Dane goes to see a new magic act---and is shocked to find a 19-year-old version of his Mandy. When the two reunite, can they uncover the conspiracy behind their meeting, Mandy's supernatural magic, and who's following them?

Solitary Tales Series #3

David C. Cook
336 pages

The third book in the Solitary Tales series for young adults, Temptation follows the soul-wrenching twists of Chris Buckley’s journey as he heads deeper into a darkness that threatens all he loves best.

As a reluctant student at Harrington High’s summer school, Chris meets a fun-loving senior girl who offers a welcome diversion from Chris’s past. Soon Chris no longer searches for the truth about the town of Solitary. He no longer tries to pierce its shadows. He no longer questions his role in its mysteries. He makes a new choice: he runs. What he doesn’t realize is that he’s running the wrong way—and is very close to being beyond any choices at all.

B&H Books
352 pages

Amaryllis, Mississippi, resembles the flower for which it's named---bright with southern hospitality. But poison lurks in its center. A serial killer is responsible for five unsolved murders. And now the blood of a sixth stains the town. Three terrified women are sure they know who the perpetrator is---but they all suspect a different man. Who's right?

Place of Refuge Series #1

Harvest House Publishers
304 pages

In a quiet town with a thriving Mennonite community, police officer Ashley Walters finds her threadbare faith and way of life challenged by the Plain people whose simple dress and welcoming manner open her eyes to a God she left behind. Peace eludes Ashley until she realizes the answers she seeks aren't found in starting over but in returning to the simple truth that it's God who overcomes the world, not her.

Center Street
368 pages

Tough Texas Ranger Tyler Steele never could understand why his marriage failed. And now the cowboy hero is a retired single dad who doesn't know how to rebuild his own life---but he does know how to help two on-the-run innocent strangers in danger! Will Ty confront his weaknesses and become the man he needs to be?

Crime Scene: Houston Series #1

352 pages

To the FBI it's a cold case. To Kariss Walker it's a hot idea that could either reshape or ruin her writing career. And it's a burning mission to revisit an event she can never forget. Five years ago, an unidentified little girl was found starved to death in the woods behind a Houston apartment complex. A TV news anchor at the time, Kariss reported on the terrifying case. Today, as a New York Times bestselling author, Kariss intends to turn the unsolved mystery into a suspense novel. Enlisting the help of FBI Special Agent Tigo Harris, Kariss succeeds in getting the case reopened. But the search for the dead girl's missing mother yields a discovery that plunges the the partners into a witch's brew of danger. The old crime lives on in more ways than either of them could ever imagine. Will Kariss's pursuit of her dream as a writer carry a deadly price tag?

Barbour Books

Kendra Maddox doesn’t need to be rescued.

She isn’t thrilled when Stetson Wright steps in to help fend off her overanxious date at a wedding. A new Christian, she’s struggling with a promiscuous past, and Stetson’s firm belief that true love waits only makes his gallant attempt to defend her honor even more unwanted. Then her friends continually push her and Stetson together. . .but can’t they see she’ll never be good enough for him?

Stetson doesn’t need any distractions. And Kendra Maddox is definitely a distraction. From his job as the new youth director at church to moonlighting as a rodeo clown, Stetson has other things to think about. Finding the perfect wife will have to wait.

When Stetson saves a prominent bull rider, he makes headline news, and Kendra’s ad agency is hired to promote the rodeo hero. Attraction simmers, but will they be able to accept each other for who God sees?