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  • The Master's Artist is a group blog for writers united by the blood of Christ and a love for language. We come from different backgrounds, have different theological outlooks, and are interested in a wide variety of genres and artforms. The opinions expressed belong to their authors alone -- and you're welcome to share yours.

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March 24, 2008


Sue Dent

--The ACFW loop this week and weekend still chirps a discussion on edgy vs traditional Christian novels.--

If I'm not mistaken, the majority of members voicing their opinion on this site believe that CBA and ECPA represent Christian Fiction. Therefore, every discussion will be slanted to this belief.

CBA and ECPA are two gatekeepr affiliations for a niche market of conservative Christian Evangelicals. The writer who suggested she'd pull out if they got edgier speaks highly of who they write for. Their niche market is huge! Why would they allow edgier stuff in?

And why should any Christian writing for the broader Christian market care what a niche markets views on edgy are? They have restrictive content guidelines to protect their conservative evangelical market. They've let Dekker and Peritti and a few others get by with a little more than they've let others get by with but that's about it.

They're sitting on a gold mine! Why would they change their opinion about what edgy is? Move on people! There's nothing to see here.

Since when does a niche market define the market as a whole anyway? They admittingly serve conservative Christian evangelicals. Is that who we all write for?

I don't think so.

Dee Stewart

Great point, Sue.

However, the books I mentioned are CBA titles, which means that more books that you and I obviously like are getting in. But the bigger issue isn't about CBA. I am rereading what I wrote, because I hope what I said wasn't meant just for CBA titles. Most of my published author friends write for ABA and the discussion continues. So let me rephrase for clarity.

As Christian writers--irregardless of your publisher--why can't we see the need for both?

Dee Stewart

One more thing. I'm a ACFW Member, but I don't believe that CBA and EPA are the only sources for Christian literature. I thought I was one of few who shared this belief, but this week I was surprised to see that there are other authors, who have not confined themselves to thinking just that. That made me feel better about my decision as a member.

Sue, you hit the nail on the head about why should a niche define a market? I love that question. And that's what I want to know:)


Absolutely sound point, Dee. I totally agree with your premise. There is a need for both and/or most kinds of CBA novels, and based on what I've read in the last five years, there is a huge menu within contemporary Christian fiction.

One thing I "hear" on different blog posts or comments is how "restrictive" the business is. I disagree. It has some limitations which are based on the individual house's choice of what they want their product to represent. Why shouldn't they be allowed to produce what they want for who they want? Other houses have imprints which stretch the limits of topics, language, and/or spirituality. And the same privilege belongs to them. No longer can the entire CBA be tucked neatly into one style. All the better for those who choose to write from a Christian worldview.

Dee Stewart

Thanks, Nicole.

I also agree. Can anyone debate with me? :)

I don't mind the restrictions. I understand what each house's market is. I'm cool with that to a point. OT: I still think that an AA imprint is in order. Other than that...

AT ACFW two years ago an editor of a publishing house asked about my novel(in casual conversation.) I told her. She liked the idea very much accept the fact that the setting was a GA winery. She asked me if I could change winery to something else. I wished I could, but the winery is so important to the setting and the theme I couldn't. We both parted with smiles and well wishes. I didn't feel bad about our meeting at all. I know, because I also review many of the titles that editor acquires what stories she's looking for. In the future, if I was to write one of those type stories I would send it to her. Getting upset about why she wouldn't take my WIP doesn't make good sense. That house couldn't market my book and the stores that their distribution company affiliates with couldn't sell it either. That's just being real.


Yes, I can see the need for an AA imprint. A great idea, too.

Interesting about your WIP. As you know, Secrets, Unforgotten, and Echoes by Kristen Heitzmann mostly took place in wine country, the estate a critical part of the overall story, published by Bethany House.

Dee Stewart

Funny you mentioned that. A few months before the ACFW convention I had reviewed Unforgotten for a great reviewing project so I knew not only was the winery sellable, but the story wasn't so out of the box that it couldn't be nominated for an award. That is the main reason I didn't get upset. I knew the editor. She's sweet and was trying to get me to change that one thing, but I know what I know. And like I said someday I may write a story that fits her company.

This also lends to the argument that all CBA novels aren't restrictive. I think those people who say that haven't read the gamut of what's offered.

Mary E. DeMuth

I don't think it's wise to fear change in the marketplace. It's simply the reality of the business. Those who embrace that change will be more apt to write for newer niches. Those who don't, won't. Which is fine. We all have our niches to fill.

The cool thing about the Kingdom of God is that His kingdom is all about all sorts of different folks. Some will be reached by "edgy" stories. Others will be reached by "sweet" stories. And some won't be reached by stories at all. That's why it's imperative that each of us before God asks Him to direct our lives. Because we are uniquely gifted to reach unique folks.

Dee Stewart

Now, Mary that's sweet. :)

Thanks for commenting.

J. Mark Bertrand

Hey, thanks for mentioning my book, Dee! You even said it was very good, which I appreciate. :)

I think what's really changing is the assumption that, without even cracking the cover, you can know for certain what you'll find inside "the CBA novel." Some people appreciate this, because it opens what is really a great industry to new talent. Others are frustrated, because they liked things as they were. If you read Amazon reviews of some popular CBA novels today, you'll notice that some readers count off points if the author does things that a CBA novelists "isn't supposed to." That's one part of the market. Another part appreciates the supposed transgressions.

As a veteran of these debates, I think it behooves us not to spiritualize them too much. It's not really a question of CBA light succumbing to worldly darkness. If anything, this change is what happens when the industry becomes a viable option for a much larger part of the church (both its readers and writers). In a sense, a univocal experience of the faith is expanding, and the result is an increasingly beautiful polyphony.

Dee Stewart

Mark, Wow! You say things so well. I am reading some great, great CBA titles right now and I agree. I'm excited with where I hope it is going from what I'm reading. Granted I do love traditional it's real good to see that we are opening this genre up to more expressions.

I don't read the Amazon reviews anymore, although I'm a top reviewer. Still don't know how I became one. :)

But I do wonder. What does a CBA Novelist supposed to do? My stories might be in the danger zone.


Dee, I'd like to know why you consider yourself a CBA novelist.

Dee Stewart

Hey, Mick. Did I say I was a CBA novelist? I don't see it on this post. You're trying to get me in more trouble, Milk.

My question at the end was meant for a CBA novelist to answer? Who dictates what a CBA author is supposed to do? You're the man, Milk. Tell me. :)


The market. :) And I agree with Mark. It's expanding.

Dee Stewart

Yeah, Mark sure can write. Now I'm going back on my blogcation. Don't add anything else, Milk. :) Kidding...

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