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What does “clean”, “sweet”, and “inspirational” mean?

I’m a multi-published author in the inspirational romance category, both traditional and indie. First, yes you can show physical attraction and be published by traditional Christian publishers. I do in every book. I’m published by Barbour and Abingdon Press. My characters notice physical attributes, touch, kiss, cuddle, and have the sky rocket kiss moments. They talk to their friends about their attraction. That’s so normal in real life and it has to be normal in fictional life, too. I use emotional words to draw readers into the scene and it has to move the plot forward just like in any other romance.

What is very important to note in the inspirational romance market is that each publisher is different and has different requirements. When I contracted with Abingdon, at that time, no angels were allowed in their books because it is a sub of the United Methodist Publishing business/religion. This particular denomination avoids glorifying and worshiping angelic beings over God. It makes a lot of sense when you understand the why behind the guideline. Each publisher has certain denominational aspects you must learn before submitting.

Bridal Whispers novella included in the Lassoed by Marriage Romance Collection meets the romantic tension standards for Barbour Books.

Bridal Whispers novella included in the Lassoed by Marriage Romance Collection meets the romantic tension standards for Barbour Books.

Barbour Books has been very open to the romantic tension scenes. Romantic tension is not the same as sex. Romantic tension is what builds between two people and pulls them together physically. That’s what I assume most romance writers are trying to show. I’ve even had a novella, Bridal Whispers, in the Lassoed by Marriage Collection from Barbour, absolutely state the married couple closed the door when he passionately kissed his wife and then carried her into the room, kicking the door closed behind him.

I asked Rebecca Germany for a more concrete explanation of Barbour Books views on inspirational Christian romance. Her first comment is this, “Christian romance puts God first in a relationship.”

Then Ms. Germany goes on to share, “Otherwise I’d say a Christian romance is an entertaining story that celebrates love between a man and woman from a biblical point of view and highlights the challenges and adventures they go through to come together as a committed couple. It doesn’t use sex for titillating purposes, but will occasionally have it off stage for plot development. Christian romance is also a vehicle that can explore more issues than romance that affect all areas of human life.

On the question of guidelines with Barbour’s published books, Ms. Germany added, “We don’t really have any specific guidelines related to our fiction up online. Here is all we have http://www.barbourbooks.com/pages/writersguide.aspx

So the key is to know the publisher. Read their books as you research where you’d like to be published. And if you get readers who like what you write, do that as an indie also. That’s what I try to do. In the inspy market, you build a lot of real relationship before the “I love you” scene. I also don’t write the conversion scenes unless it is crucial to the story or character. If it’s part of their soul healing journey, I try to make it very genuine and if I’m referring to anything biblical it’s done in dialogue and paraphrased as common conversation. That’s what most Christians really do. Some quote. Most don’t. So it’s a way of understanding deep conversations between two people, not “Bible thumping” done to someone. Think of a time you visited with a friend over coffee when you hurt deeply. What did that friend say to you to help you through the pain? That’s the way I try to write the reaction scene to the terrible dark moment scene.

So far as sex on or off the page in books, inspirational romance is more like that coffee date with a friend where you tell each other the romantic story of how you met your spouse or loved one.

Even over coffee, it’s not normal to tell a friend the blow-by-blow details that happen behind your bedroom door. And yet those stories are highly charged with emotion and romance. That’s what reading an inspirational romance is like for readers, the romance and story without the invasion of privacy.

My brand is still “clean” meaning clean language to readers, and “sweet” meaning sex is only between married people and behind the bedroom door, unseen and “off screen”. But, sexual tension is important and Christian publishers want that to be there. Books are rejected for not enough tension. The variety of guidelines is much more diverse than you’d think. Barbour was completely happy that my story was about a widower and his new bride overcoming his deep love and grief for his first wife so that the story built until they finally slept together—privately. Another reason that was important to me, besides my faith, was that I was telling my grandparents’ love story. I seriously cannot imagine fictionalizing their privacy in the bedroom. Yet, I saw a 54-year marriage between two people that loved one another deeply.

Sex between married people is important and beautiful to Christians. Christian readers just don’t want to read all those private details. Many of these readers have already been past readers of books that have lots of sex. They’ll talk about it at events, online, and in messages they send. These are voracious readers. They’re tired of it and often just want the story. They love settings of places they want to visit, characters who struggle through real life problems that they’re trying to figure out themselves, and strong women that set an example of going after their goals.

There’s quite a varying degree of what even Christian readers want to read. The average age is 45 and up. These people know what sex is. They are often very happy and simply enjoy reading. They want to learn something from the stories and feel good at the end. These readers love learning how to work through relational conflict in positive ways, love to laugh, love to cry with the main characters, and love to win the goal with them at the end.

Inspy books are character and/or plot driven, but the story is prime and must hold the tension for the reader through characterization and storytelling. This readership does call books “clean”, “sweet”, “inspirational”. There are always jargon words in any industry. These are the jargon words in the Christian publishing industry. They have to do with language content, explicit sexual content, and whether the story is from the Christian world view and therefore considered spiritually inspiring from a biblical perspective. Meaning, does the book inspire you to live a better life and turn away from things that are harmful in your life. That’s why if any drinking, cursing, smoking, drugs, risk-taking behavior, child abuse, or sex outside of marriage happen in a book (yes, these do get written into inspirational books) the character expressing the risky behavior has to have a consequence shown in the story that results from that behavior.

The healing in an inspy book is often from a trauma that resulted from risk-taking behavior. Even suicide, rape, drug addiction, marital affairs are written in inspy books. But these books are written to readers that want to learn how to heal from trauma while reading a good story. Sometimes a reader want to help someone else heal and give away a book because they know it will touch their friend’s heart. That’s very special because we, as authors, never know and yet we might have had the opportunity to be part of someone’s real life story, too.

There are also just fun fluff stories just like in any other romance category. But how awesome that these kinds of books might be used to help someone learn how to overcome a past hurt. As our characters go through the journey, the reader does, too.

So before lumping all inspirational or Christian romances in one pot, please consider reading across the wide variance. There are some similarities, but a whole lot of differences between publishers and even publishing lines as is the same with the ABA traditional publishers.

By the way, I do know of many readers who will read clean, sweet romances from other world views. So you don’t have to write Christian/inspy. But do be clear so the expectation doesn’t trip your book up or your reader. They’re always looking for a good story.

Are you looking for a good inspirational romance? Please consider one of my books. You can check them out here on my website, at your favorite online store, or at your local retailer, or library. If the store is out, please ask them to order one or more for you. Retailers and libraries will carry your favorite authors if you let them know to do that. They don’t know unless you tell them. And that is a big blessing to an author 🙂

Inspirational Romances by Angela Breidenbach from Barbour Books 

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Recovering when you hit rock bottom is part of your success story.

How do you create a business that supports your creativity?

Mr. Earl B. Heard of Bic Media Solutions and Bic Alliance guests on Lit Up with Angela Breidenbach about why he’s moved into books and movies…

Earl B. Heard of Big Media Solutions and the Bic Alliance shares how he built an energy magazine into a corporate giant so he could share books and movies to enhance lives. Tips for you on business-building, networking, finances, and more…

Books, Magazines, and Movies from Bic Media Solutions

Books, Magazines, and Movies from Bic Media Solutions

Books and movies mentioned today:

Rock Bottom and Back (coming to Uplift TV in March)
If you’d like more information on people who have overcome circumstances, addiction, disastrous health situations and more, please visit RockBottomandBack.com because you can make a stunning comeback, too. Read or view stories that will inspire you toward your own victory.

It’s What We Do Together That Counts

Earl’s Pearls  hardback available

Or Earl’s Pearls free ebook

Michael Learns to Listen (children’s book)

A Gift Horse movie with stars John Schneider, Kyla Kenedy, and Candi Brooks

Urban Country (coming soon, in development now)

Gems of Wisdom: The Treasure of Experience

Websites:

BIC Media Solutions:   https://bicmediasolutions.com/
BIC Alliance: 

Be sure to attend the Genealogy Workshop titled Discovering Your Pastwith Angela Breidenbach on 3/24/2018 at the Garden of Read’n in Missoula, MT. Special gifts provided for all in-person attendees by the National Institute for Genealogical Studies includes a choice of a free online class, a family tree form, and a family group sheet to get you started discovering your own ancestors!http://www.bicmagazine.com/

About Angela’s Guest:  Earl B. Heard is the founder and CEO of Business and Industry Communications (BIC) Alliance, which includes IVS Investment Banking, BIC Recruiting, and BIC Media Solutions (BMS)- a custom publishing, event planning, and media investment company. He is also the publisher of BIC Magazine, the Western Hemisphere’s largest multi-industry energy publication. In addition to “Rock Bottom and Back,” Earl has published six books through BMS: “It’s What We Do Together That Counts,” “Energy Entrepreneurs,” “Industry Achievers,” “Earl’s Pearls,” “Michael Learns to Listen,” and “Louisiana Sports Legends and Heroes-Leaving a Legacy”. In 2014, BMS expanded its media investments into co-producing and marketing inspirational, faith-based films, including “A Gift Horse,” starring John Schneider. BMS has also produced a companion DVD for “Rock Bottom and Back-From Desperation to Inspiration”. As an inspirational speaker, Earl shares his wealth of knowledge about how to become successful both personally and professionally. Earl resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife, Alice “Bodi” Heard.

More about Lit Up host and author, Angela Breidenbach: Angela Breidenbach writes romance through the ages, teaches the business of writing, hosts the radio show Lit Up, and is in process of getting her genealogical studies degree. She’s the president of the Christian Authors Network. Angela lives in Missoula, MT with her hubby and Muse, a trained fe-lion, who can shake hands, lay down and roll over, and jump through a hoop. Surprisingly, Angela can also.

http://AngelaBreidenbach.com

Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Pinterest: @AngBreidenbach

Lit Up! with Angela Breidenbach, a show for creatives and those who want to know what makes them tick!

Lit Up! with Angela Breidenbach, a new show for creatives and those who want to know what makes them tick!

Apple Podcasts/iTunes: Lit Up With Angela Breidenbach
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/lit-up/id1232892304?mt=2

Angela’s A-Muse-ing Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/0VjH1

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author Cheryl Ricker

Ghostwriter and Collaborator, Cheryl Ricker

Last week’s episode with Linda S. Clare on Lit Up with Angela Breidenbach opened the door for part 2 this week as  Cheryl Ricker joins Lit Up host, Angela Breidenbach, to talk about ghostwriting memoirs with the person whose story needs to be told. Tips on ghostwriting, how to collaborate on the story, and how to tell the story using plot points rather than the day-by-day. This episode is a perfect dovetail off of last week’s Writing Memoir topic. Memoir is a tough genre to write even if you’re a trained author. What if you aren’t? What does a contract look like for collaborators? How do you get to the nitty gritty of the story and transfer that to the page for the reader? Listen to Lit Up with Angela Breidenbach episode 37.

Cheryl’s Website:  cherylricker.com

About Angela’s guest: Cheryl Ricker has a degree in Creative Writing from York University in Toronto, Canada, and studied Theology at Christ For the Nations Institute in Dallas, TX. She has written or contributed to six books. She ghostwrote and collaborated on two memoirs:

Books Mentioned:

Rush of Heaven: One Woman’s Miraculous Encounter with Jesus (Zondervan)

This miraculous encounter is more than an inspiring, compelling story that will capture your attention. It is an unforgettable rush of truth that will open your heart to find lasting joy and peace, no matter what you’re going through. You will see your life from a whole new hope-filled perspective.

 

Josiah’s Fire: Autism Stole his words, God gave him a Voice (BroadStreet). Autism stole his words, God gave him a voice.
First-time parents Joe and Tahni Cullen were thrust into the confusing world of autism when their toddler, Josiah, suddenly lost his ability to speak, play, and socialize. The diagnosis: Autism Spectrum Disorder. In their attempts to see Josiah recover and regain speech, the Cullens underwent overwhelming physical, emotional, and financial struggles. While other kids around him improved, Josiah only got worse.

Five years later, Josiah, who had not been formally taught to read or write, suddenly began to type on his iPad profound paragraphs about God, science, history, business, music, strangers, and heaven. Josiah’s eye-opening visions, heavenly encounters, and supernatural experiences forced his family out of their comfort zone and predictable theology, catapulting them into a mind-blowing love-encounter with Jesus.

The Good Gift Giver: 21 Days of Blessings

Cheryl’s Social Media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorCherylRicker/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CherylRicker

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/cherylricker/

 

Lit Up! with Angela Breidenbach, a show for creatives and those who want to know what makes them tick!

Lit Up! with Angela Breidenbach, a new show for creatives and those who want to know what makes them tick!

About Lit Up host, Angela Breidenbach: Angela Breidenbach writes romance through the ages, teaches the business of writing, hosts the radio show Lit Up, and is in process of getting her genealogical studies degree. She’s the president of the Christian Authors Network. Angela lives in Missoula, MT with her hubby and Muse, a trained fe-lion, who can shake hands, lay down and roll over, and jump through a hoop. Surprisingly, Angela can also.

http://AngelaBreidenbach.com

Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Pinterest: @AngBreidenbach

Apple Podcasts/iTunes: Lit Up With Angela Breidenbach
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/lit-up/id1232892304?mt=2

Angela’s A-Muse-ing Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/0VjH1

Angela’s memoir is Gems of Wisdom: The Treasure of Experience

 Written to help women become courageous, become who God meant them to be, and become a woman of confidence.

 

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