Monday, April 3, 2017

Finding Hope in the Land of Fiction by Annette M. Irby

First crocus of spring at the base of a birch tree*

I’m not much of a talk-show watcher. Increasingly I feel distanced from the celebrities who are interviewed and the projects they’re working on. But the other day, I turned on an interview where the guest spoke of family hardships before he landed his first movie deal. He mentioned how God had gotten his family through, and the fact that after the blessing he could give back to his family. You know what surprised me? The audience’s response. Am I the only one who doesn’t expect the crowd to cheer for words like that? I half-expected his segment to be edited down. I mean, he mentioned God after all. But when he gave glory to God, and the audience cheered, I felt something—hope.

There’s a game show (again, I’m not usually a fan, but I happened to catch an episode) on TV where contestants play to win large amounts of money—nothing new about that, right? This show was developed (as stated by the creator) to help people who have helped others. So the contestants are those who are making a difference in their own communities. As they play to win, the audience is invested in their success. Collectively, the audience (and the home viewer) wants to see them win so that they can be blessed like they’ve blessed others. There’s something wired into people that wants to see goodness (selfless people doing selfless acts) rewarded. This is especially satisfying because we’re used to goodness going unrewarded so often. 
I think this goes back to the verse: “I would have lost heart unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13 NKJV) People are encouraged by seeing a positive outcome, by seeing God’s goodness here on earth. 

That’s why I love reading Christian fiction. I picked up a book the other day that I thought was from a Christian publisher, because I knew the author from my Christian writing friends’ circles. But from the opening pages, I could tell something was different. The story didn’t have the Christian tone I was used to. The words were harsher; the images, darker; the world more bleak and hopeless and violent. Because I had a different expectation, I was nonplussed. Reading a grim book because I choose to is different than picking up what I thought was a CBA novel and finding bleak, harsh elements. 

So, what makes a novel fitting for the CBA? That’s a question left up to each publisher, though most follow a certain, biblical-based list. I’ll tell you why I love reading Christian fiction—hope. Light. Redemption. Healing. Life. Those are elements I love to see in the books I pick up and include in the novels I write down. 

What about you? What do you like to see in the books you read, and write into the books you pen? What are the elements that, if missing, will cause you to give up on a novel and move on, or rework until those elements are included?

Write on, friends!


Husband Material by Annette M. Irby

Wyatt Hansen has no fears about commitment, but only three years have passed since his beloved wife died, and he can't bring himself to break their annual dinner date—that is until he meets restaurant owner, Lara Farr. Lara doesn't have time for romance; she has a business to run. At least that's what she tells herself so she doesn't have to admit that commitment scares her. But Lara's business is failing, and it just may take a miracle—or marketing analyst, Wyatt Hansen—to save it. Can Wyatt rescue Lara’s restaurant, help her overcome her fears, and prove he is good husband material?


Annette M. Irby

Annette M. Irby is a freelance editor and Christian fiction author who dabbles in gardening and photography. She has completely fallen in love with her grandson. She enjoys spending time with her family and husband of over twenty-five years. You can learn more about Annette by visiting her website or her page here on Seriously Write. 

 *Photo credit: the awesome folks at Pixabay


  1. I honestly feel much Christian fiction is unrealistic with a "magic bullet" of faith making everything better at the end. I feel life is filled with bleak moments that are harsh and dark, even hopeless. That doesn't mean God is not at your side, and won't answer your prayer. But even prayers aren't always a Yes. Yesterday my son married a lovely girl, and the widow of his best friend was there with her little boy. The death of this beautiful man by brain cancer tore a permanent hole in my heart, my life, and despite our joy, I held her as we wept. Yeah I trusted in the Lord. But the No was devastating. I read Christian fiction with events like this, or other serious challenges, and the characters' trust gets me down, because I don't always have that feeling. I have faith of course, but I admit outright it isn't easy. Those characters--often kinda preachy sub characters--are a bit unreal to me. Not that I want depressing stuff...just some realism without judging.

    1. I have felt the same way, Tanya! Like the tough stuff is glossed over. Or the author decided to "preach" instead of humbly approach the subject. Those are challenging issues, and we can't use trite words to pretend everything is okay. I don't like seeing judgment in novels either. Thanks for sharing these points!

  2. Annette, Christian fiction is my favorite. I freely admit to reading secular fiction as well. I think part of what I like is that God is there through it all. And I want to read that and write it. I want people to know Jesus is always with you.


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