Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Coming Home to Story by Ann H. Gabhart

These days we have a choice between writing for the Christian market and the general market. Some authors do both at the same time. Today, author Ann Gabhart shares her experience in "coming home" to Christian fiction. -- Sandy

Ann: If you write for a Christian inspirational publisher, sometimes you might wonder if you would be more successful, sell more books or get more reader attention in the general market. And all those things might be true for some writers. But not for me.

I’ve been there. My first historical romance novel, A Forbidden Yearning, was published by Warner Books almost forty years ago as a mass market paperback. The title was chosen by the editors and perhaps promised more forbidden yearning than it delivered which is why, after publishing one more novel with Warner Books, I seemed unable to keep up with market trends. My agent said my stories were “too clean.” After that I published eleven coming of age stories for young people with several general market companies.

While I was writing those books, I began to notice Christian fiction books on store shelves, but I hesitated to try writing for that market. I thought I’d have to preach and I didn’t feel qualified. I simply wanted to tell stories.

Then, after a few years of writing and getting nothing but rejections, I decided to forget about markets and write the book I wanted to write without worrying about whether an editor anywhere would like the story. I came up with a young girl whose father was a preacher and whose mother had deserted the family. I didn’t really have the inspirational market in mind while I was writing the story, but I did have that preacher as a viewpoint character along with his daughter. Then, I threw in odd old Aunt Love who did her best to keep the young heroine in line by quoting Bible verses at her. Plus, my young heroine had her “dog prayers” and “sister prayers” and “please, no more cabbage for supper prayers.” That led my agent to send Scent of Lilacs to Revell Books, an inspirational publisher. First time out, the story found an editor who not only liked lilacs but also liked my Hollyhill characters.

And I came home. Right where I needed to be. I love writing for the Christian market. I like being able to include my characters’ faith journeys in my stories. I like that my stories can be “too clean.”

Readers have so much choice in today’s market place with books to suit practically any interest. I’m glad I’ve found some readers who choose the kind of books I like to write. I sometimes wish I had decided to write that story about a preacher sooner, but then everything in its own time. Perhaps I had lessons to learn in those rejection years and that has helped me write better stories now.

On my website, my tag line is “Come home to story.” I feel as though that’s what I did when I began writing for the Christian market. I came home and found a welcome. 

Have you "come home" to a market or a genre that fits your writing?



Ann H. Gabhart is the bestselling author of many novels, including Angel Sister, Small Town Girl, and Love Comes Home, the 2015 Selah Book of Year winner. She’s also known for her Shaker novels and Heart of Hollyhill books. Now, as A.H. Gabhart, she is writing the Hidden Springs Mysteries set in a small town much like the Kentucky town where she grew up. Ann and her husband have three children and nine grandchildren and still enjoy country life on a farm near that small town. To find out more about Ann’s books or to follow her blog, visit