Friday, August 25, 2017

If the Bible was Submitted for Publication… (1 Samuel 31) by C. Kevin Thompson

C. Kevin Thompson
I attended a Christian writers conference a few years ago. It was the first one for me. They had a contest wherein writers who wished to do so could submit the first three chapters of a manuscript prior to the conference. The submissions were subsequently handed off to faculty members when they arrived. The manuscripts samples were read, scored, and were given back to the attendees when they registered. The winners in each category were honored on the last evening of the conference.

I thought to myself, “My writing is pretty tight. I have a good chance.” So, I paid my contest fee, sent in my first three chapters, and waited. 

When I arrived at the conference, I received my manuscript packet. Inside, my three chapters were stapled together with a cover sheet from the editor of a publishing house who was charged with the reading of my work. This editor—being honest, I’m sure—wrote on the form, in the comment section these words: “Not suited for Christian market. Submit to general market.”

As you can imagine, I walked away a little discouraged. Borderline depressed, actually. What I thought was good writing for the CBA market had just been annihilated in nine words. As I walked away, I wondered why I was there. If my work is not suited for the CBA, then why stay at a Christian writers conference?

I wanted a reason. A note. A critique of how this conclusion was reached. But there were no comments about the level of the writing itself. No words of encouragement. No critique whatsoever. Just the editor’s name, the publishing house represented, and the comment.

Because there was no reason given, I had to speculate, and that’s the worst thing to do when you’re depressed and discouraged. I concluded that people having affairs and subsequently getting eaten by giant sea serpents didn’t fit the scope of the bonnet and buggy crowd. And, I thought, because this editor only got to read the first three chapters and not the entire manuscript, the redeeming value of the story was missed.

Now, here I sit, reading the last chapter in 1 Samuel. A book in the Bible, no less. And the gore depicted in this story rivals, probably exceeds, anything I’ve written.

This chapter describes the demise of King Saul. The Philistines had already killed his sons, and now, Saul asks his armor-bearer to “run him through” with his sword so that his enemies cannot torture him. Saul’s armor-bearer refuses, so Saul takes his own sword and commits suicide. Terrified, the armor-bearer does the same thing.

The carnage didn’t stop there. The Philistines went through the region, occupying towns and taking any and all possessions. They even raided the dead bodies fallen on the battlefield. When they come across King Saul and his three sons, they stripped them of their armor, then beheaded Saul’s dead body. They sent news via messengers throughout the land, no doubt, using Saul’s head as the proverbial king’s seal of authenticity.

If that wasn’t bad enough, Saul’s armor was taken, along with his body, to the Philistine temple of Ashtoreth. There, his armor was put in the temple (v. 10). And to top it all off, Saul’s body was fastened to the wall as a sign to the worshippers that Ashtoreth was supposedly greater than the God of Israel.

This was reprehensible to the people of Jabesh Gilead, so they entered the temple, removed Saul’s body, burned it, and then buried the bones (vv. 11-12).

I guess God should have written this for the general market.

Oh, wait. He did.


And therein lies the rub.

As a writer, it’s easy to write Christian novels that ooze with Christianese and always end “happily ever after.” Everybody gets saved, finds God, gets filled with the Holy Spirit, wins the girl of his dreams, finds the man of her dreams, or whatever. When I say “easy,” I mean Christian publishers always look for these kinds of stories because they sell. But interestingly enough, that’s not how the Bible was written. Yes, there are the romantic suspense stories of the Ruths of the Bible. There are the dramatic stories of the Marys. However, the Bible doesn’t contain those kind of stories only. God chose to write stories depicting people, godly people at times, with all their spiritual warts, psychological scars, and psychopathic tendencies. Sometimes, committing horrendous atrocities.

And the most important thing to remember is that God wrote the Bible so that others could be saved.

Imagine that. People can get saved reading about violence and sin…so long as the violence has a redeeming purpose and sin is sin.

So, for those of you who write stories that don’t involve Amish women or historical figures of the wild west who hate each other in the beginning (but you know they’ll end up together), take heart. There is a place for your story in the plan of God…so long as there is a redeeming purpose in the pages. So, be patient and keep writing. God will take care of the rest.

Oh, and by the way, about those first three chapters I mentioned earlier…they were the first three chapters of my debut novel, The Serpent’s Grasp. This novel won the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference’s 2013 Selah Award for Fiction-First Novel and was a finalist in Foreword Review’s 2012 Book of the Year Awards in the Science Fiction category.

A publisher picked it up at that same conference referenced above.

It was a good thing I stayed, huh?

Something ominous lurks under the waters.

Dr. Evelyn Sims, a brilliant marine biologist, is being watched. Her husband's mysterious death at sea—with the only survivor of the Greenback telling a shocking, unbelievable tale—has thrown her personal life into chaos. Her scientific views are being scrutinized. Her husband's office and their home are investigated. Called in by the FBI to help solve the mystery, Evelyn is thrust into her toughest research project ever...and forced into a maze of deception and betrayal.

Micah Gregson, the Coast Guard captain who rescued the Greenback, is determined to find out why a special unit at the FBI—the one assigned to cryptozoological cases—is involved.

Together Evelyn and Micah will uncover a plot more deadly than anything the ocean could ever produce. One that will either save Evelyn's life and redeem her career, or destroy everything she—and myriad others—stand for.

C. KEVIN THOMPSON is an ordained minister with a B.A. In Bible (Houghton College, Houghton, NY), an M.A. in Christian Studies (Wesley Biblical Seminary, Jackson, MS), and an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership (National-Louis University, Wheeling, IL). He presently works as an assistant principal in a middle school.

His Blake Meyer series is out! 30 Days Hath Revenge - A Blake Meyer Thriller: Book 1, is now available! Book 2 of the Blake Meyer Series, Triple Time, is now available! Book 3, The Tide of Times, will be out Labor Day weekend! Also, the second edition of his award-winning debut novel, The Serpent’s Grasp, is now available!

Kevin is a huge fan of the TV series 24, The Blacklist, Blue Bloods, and Criminal Minds, loves anything to do with Star Trek, and is a Sherlock Holmes fanatic, too.

To connect with Kevin and learn more, please visit:

Kevin’s Writer’s Blog:
Facebook:                              C. Kevin Thompson – Author Fan Page  
Twitter:                                  @CKevinThompson
Goodreads:                            C. Kevin Thompson


  1. Love this. Thanks for sharing your experience. I loved what you said about speculating in the midst of discouragement. Congratulations of sticking around and getting your book picked up!

    1. Thank you, Amy. Stay encouraged. God's not finished with us yet.

  2. Thank you so much for this!! I don't fall in the parameters of Christian fiction although I do weave faith and hope in my pages! Your words give such encouragement

  3. "I concluded that people having affairs and subsequently getting eaten by giant sea serpents didn’t fit the scope of the bonnet and buggy crowd. ...the redeeming value of the story was missed."

    Hahhaha hahaha....this caught me off guard. Yeah. I mean, who would have thought.

    But as I read on, your article was very encouraging. Sometimes stories start dark...though, I do believe the best ones don't end that way.

  4. Excellent post Kevin. Gives me hope when I come up with some of my ideas that are outside the norm.

    1. You know, Terri, I just read some comments on a YouTube video about a "Christian band" (if I mentioned the name of the group, many people would know who they were) that stated they aren't a "Christian band." The group refers to themselves as a "band of Christians" who happen to play music. I've often felt that if writers had approached their writing in this manner way back when, and if publishers had approached publishing the same way, I wonder if our impact on society would have been greater? Salt of the earth instead of in the shaker, you know? Charles Dickens was a mainstream writer. His stories appeared in the newspaper a chapter at a time. His philosophy was that he wanted "the masses" to read them, and they usually cold not afford books, so he got his work published in a way they could get their hands on it. Wouldn't you agree that "A Christmas Carol" is about a "Christian" as anything we write today? Even more so? There are some lessons to be learned here as we approach the last days. So, keep writing outside the norm. You're in good company!


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