Where are we?

I believe a person's faith should be between themselves and whatever god they serve. They can discuss it with others, but there is no other person on the face of the planet who has the right to inform another person that they're not good enough. That's up to the god they serve, and no one else. I think that's a big reason that so many get raised in the Christian faith, yet limp away with a shattered heart. The fault's not with God, but rather too many of the followers.And I'm proud to be a Christian Witch and exploring the full range of my abilities to His glory.
I grew up in a very Christian neighborhood, though my parents weren't really religious. We went to church when I was very young, but that was pretty much it for the family stuff. I have bad memories associated with Christianity, and later in life I met one too many religious zealots who were only my "friends" because they wanted to convert me. I'm certainly not bashing Christianity; it is part of me, too. But I have to admit that those bad experiences did influence my beliefs.
I believe that if "God" as christians understand him can be ALL KNOWING, and ALL POWERFULL he can also be all encompassing, and that means that he can be buddha, and christ, and mohamed, and some guy in a bar that starts speaking on something personal to you.I believe God can be found in a poem written by an Athiest, or a christian hymn, or the painting of a Wicca. God is all around us and we have only scraped the surface of what he/she/it/they is/are
I'm a Christian Taoist. I haven't been to church in weeks. I believe in God and the Holy Spirit, but I don't accept all the hypocrites and generally annoying people at my church and my youth group who don't accept me.
I copied these statements from a writing forum that I belong to. When I read them, I felt a several things.
Let me be clear. I was not offended in the least. I was fascinated because I could relate to these individuals; I had walked the same spiritual road.
My parents kept me in church for a long time. I went to a parochial school where I learned doctrine, bible verses and memorized the books of the bible. On Sunday I went to church and tried to listen to sermons that were meant for adults. Usually I sat in back with the kids my age giggling through communion. Our choir sat in the back of the church so our choir director had to stand by the back row pews and direct. Once, a friend got smacked in the head; we laughed so hard we spilled our grape juice in our tiny communion cups.
In high school my half brother sent me a subscription to a Christian magazine and I did the bible studies. During the week. And drank / imbibed on the weekend.
Christianity became very boring as I graduated from high school. I was sold into the whole Star Wars "the Force is all around you" theology and began to look into the New Age. It was not organized; I went to the public library to look up numerology and palm reading. There were no covens. There were no shops that sold crystal. The only thing even close to that were head shops.
Now you all know approximately how old I am.
As my life unravelled, I continued to turn to the New Age for help and guidance and found a god who was like electricity. All around me but didn't care a thing about a young woman with troubles.
However, God with a capital G is real. He lives. He cares. He loves. I could not fathom a great Being who would want to waste their time and energy on an individual who had no prospects, connections or power.
I did not understand that God could be so vast and so close. He sought me out, using a pastor's daughter as my co-worker, to bring me to a little church. That little church loved me into His kingdom. My life crashed but after years, it was given back to me in ways I could have never imagined.
What does this have to do with Christian speculative fiction?
It has everything to do with Christian speculative fiction.
I would have been one of those lost souls who would have loved to read that type of book, especially if it didn't preach at me.
I've been told by one of the blog members that those who write in the secular world find our work "too religious" or "too Christian."
We've also been told by our brothers in Christ that all fiction is a lie and that fiction and Christianity do not mix ever. This sentiment also came from the pastor who brought me to Christ.
I understand the position of the secular world. I also understand the position of some of my brothers and sisters in Christ. So, where are we?
We stand in the middle of two sides who have their arms folded and their heels dug in. On one side stand our brothers and sisters: disapproving, skeptical. On the other, a world trying to write its own religion. A world that condemns God, who looks for Him at the same time and who has been hurt by us.
My heart goes out to the young woman who was me. Who was searching and deceived by false light and an empty promise of peace and fulfillment.
As I told a friend, the fields are ripe but they are heavily guarded.



Rebecca LuElla Miller is an author and promoter of Biblical fantasy. I think she's my lost twin. Becky and I have been networking over the last two weeks, and we'll be uniting our Bib-spec-fic efforts. We'll be launching On Spec, a genre specific cooperative newsletter packed with weekly real-time news. Watch for group e-mail and blog updates as CSFF merges with the LGG. 100% chance of brainstorms.

NOTE: Rebecca will stop by Thursday night to reply to any questions, so ask away, and check back later.

* * *

LGG: Let's go deep early. What in your life has been the inspiration and motivation for writing Biblical speculative fiction?

Becky: Unlike a number of other Christian science fiction and fantasy (CSFF) writers, I did not cut my reading teeth on the genre, apart from standard fairy tales. I became a fan when, just out of college, I read The Hobbit, followed by The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Soon thereafter, though I don't remember the order I devoured the Narnia series, Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain, Richard Adams' Watership Down, and finally Stephen R. Donaldson's two Thomas Covenant trilogies.

The last turned me into a writer. I couldn't believe that Donaldson took Covenant to the point of belief, then had him walk away. But through those books, I caught a glimpse of what a Christian might do with fantasy. Soon thereafter I read some disappointing attempts which made me believe I couldn't do worse. Of course, I had no idea how much I had to learn. (And, to my horror now, I stopped reading fantasy because I didn't want to copy, even unintentionally).

LGG: I must ask about your experience at the Biola Writer's Institute. Christians turn to skeptics when they hear what we write. What happened to you that day?

Becky: As part of this idea to write, I attended the Biola Writer's Institute held a mile away from where I taught. Held in the summer. It was tailor made for a Christian schoolteacher. I wouldn't have housing and transportation costs, plus I was only available for such an experience during the summer.

To my first ever conference, I brought pages from the beginning of my novel, typed on easy-erase paper, a kind of flimsy, see-through paper that has disappeared from use. And yet, I was not sure novel writing was the thing to do. After all, there were articles. There were devotionals. I attended a smattering of classes on all subjects.

Somewhere during those three days, I got alone with God and handed my writing over to Him, really asked Him what He wanted me to do. Could I finish the story, "should" I finish the story, would I find a publisher for it? Out of that time, I came away with reassurance that I was to write the story, and let God worry about whether or not it would ever be published.

LGG: How has journalism and editing Bryan Davis' work shaped your own fiction?

Becky: Journalism has helped me be a tighter writer, and writing to deadline, as nerve-wracking as it is, teaches me to fulfill my writing responsibilities on time.

Editing has made me more aware of my own tendencies because it puts me in ultra-critical mode. After finishing an editing project (I also edit for another writer, unpublished), I see the same things in my writing that I just suggested changes for in theirs.

Basically it makes me think about the things an editor must think about. Character motivations, character individuation, scene clarity, sentence structure variation, repetition, pacing—so many things that go into writing well.

LGG: The past five years have seen more Biblical fantasy from traditional houses than the last three decades combined. What's facilitated this change?

Becky: This is nothing but my opinion, of course. I think all of Christian fiction has expanded. Brandilyn Collins broke some new ground with her Christian suspense, and that seemed like a signal for publishers to try what had not been tried before.

Unfortunately, CSFF seems to be fiction's ugly stepsister: tolerated but not sought after.

If CBA trends followed societal trends, CSFF would be much more in demand. Some of us believe there will be a point of 'catch up' when the CBA houses realize the potential and the market appeal.

LGG: It's wonderful to meet someone so driven in promoting our lost genre. This so intrudes on our writing time—why do you do it?

Becky: I, along with a number of other American Christian Fiction Writers who hang out in the SFF thread at the ACFW discussion board, realized that we could accept the false premise that CSFF was not popular (as opposed to not published), or we could do our part to reverse the perception.

One of our members continues to remind us of the importance of prayer for the agents and editors making the decisions and for the writers with CSFF books out there. I think that is far more important than any of the promotional efforts, but I also think what we're doing with the team blog and the blog tour is an outgrowth of our prayers.

LGG: We must "master the craft" and the Web offers many great tools; what great wisdom can you share about breaking into the industry?

Becky: Hahah! You're asking someone who has not broken into the industry yet.

I don't know how much wisdom these thoughts hold, but here's my take on breaking in. I am responsible to do all that God brings to me. I must be diligent to learn the craft, take the time to meet and learn from others who have gone on before, exercise perseverance, withstand rejection, and still, I may never be published.

That part is God's doing. As is selling well. I've recently heard repeated the statement that no one really knows or can predict why one book, one author takes off and another languishes.

We study craft books, we read classics, we surrender our writing to critique groups and critique partners. But what does an editor see? What will a pub board of marketers and sellers think? What other books will that particular house be considering? What are the sales figures for their last fantasy? Are they looking to expand the genre? These, and so many other questions, are completely out of my control.

Just not out of God's control.

This CSFF writing, for me, is much like being in Gideon's army. God keeps whittling down the troops, also there will be no doubt the victory is His. BUT, I might be one of the soldiers sent home. I have no way of knowing how God wants to use my writing, just that I am to write.

LGG: You've a great story about your first Bib-spec-fic work. You may have left it behind, but did you keep that first tiny spiral notebook?

Becky: You have me chuckling again. I left that book behind and, if memory serves, I did finally chuck that tiny spiral notebook. I have a rule that I do not throw away my writing, but I don't think I had enough of a story that I could call my own. It was something about four children finding their way into another world, through a closet, I think. Hahah. OK, I added the closet just now, but you get the idea. Not real original in that early effort.

LGG: Thanks for taking this time to network. We look forward to unifying our tiny cells’ tasks in the body of Christ.

Becky: Frank, thanks for the opportunity to make an official appearance here at the Lost Genre Guild. I am stunned, thrilled, overjoyed to discover this like-minded group of writers. I'm also looking forward to what God might wish to do in the future through some collaboration between Spec Faith, the CSFF Blog Tour, and you all in the Guild.

On our end, we've seen exciting growth from the first group of thirteen or fourteen of us blogging back in May about the Focus on Fantasy page in Christian Fiction Review, to the fifty or so writers in our CSFF Blog Tour database.

My focus now is shifting slightly. I want to explore ways our efforts can translate into sales for the authors whose books are on the shelves. Because we are in a business, publishers will be more apt to pay attention to sales numbers than to Technorati ratings, as nice as it is to see the books we feature, soar to the top of the Most Popular Books list.

But as far as beginnings go, I think we have made a good beginning, by God's grace. I have a sense that He has big things in store for us. Maybe in Heaven (I think we'll get to continue writing about His victory). Maybe here on earth.

Rebecca LuElla Miller
Christian Fantasy


Please note that I have enabled "comment moderation" for the Lost Genre Guild Blog.

All non-member comments will be vetted by me--all I am really looking for is that responses come from either blogger members OR in the case of non-blogger members who sign in as "anonymous" that a verifiable e-mail address is provided.

As the "owner" of the blog, I want to make sure that comments are constructive and on topic. That is NOT to say that criticism and disagreement are unwelcome--these are necessary for good discussion.

By enabling the moderation features, it is my hope to avoid one-line statements or accusations that
a. are disrespectful;
b. are incomplete; contain little or no explanation/ developed argument;
c. are not constructive;
d. do not further the discussion about Biblical spec-fic.

Of course, as members of the Lost Genre Guild, we are also expected to be respectful of others' opinions. We are here to promote, not dissuade folks from exploring Biblical spec-fic further.

If you forget your sign-in name/ password and haven't yet retrieved it (not mentioning any names, but it begins with s-c-o-t), just send me an email and I will help you or post the comment for you.

cyn's email
The Lost Genre Guild website


Words Heal

Well, hello! It's my turn again to dazzle the world (or at least the readers of the blog!) with sharp and gripping comments on the Lost Genre. To be honest, I don't feel up to it - don't feel like I have anything to add to the wonderful things that have been said here in the few weeks since we began. We have defined the Lost Genre from top to toe in many different ways and all of it adds to the picture. But I can't come up with any more today. So I'm going to settle for a dose of gut-wrenching honesty and hope it brings a personal connection to the theme. Excuse me if I go on a bit. There are a lot of words inside me today. I'm just treating you as family...

You see, I'm passionate about the Lost Genre. On average I read three new novels every week if I can get them. It's necessary for my job, both as a translator, which pays the bills, and as a writer, which might do the same one day. Before I realised this, I used to feel guilty for reading so much. Now the only reason to feel guilty is if I read all night and end up being late (or sleepy) at the office.

One of the reasons I'm passionate is that the Lost Genre provides a way to escape my mundane and sometimes downright awful existence. A way to find healing in the beholding of some far-off planet in my mind's eye, or in the courage of a noble king or a brave peasant child, a way to believe again in true goodness, true hope, true fulfillment, and this in the face of some enormous hardships. This is true of reading, but also of writing.

What happens if I write some of my own problems into the character's life? Usually I just want to see what they do, and sometimes they surprise me. Sometimes I end up writing rather more of my own life into the fiction than I expected. But you know what? I'm happy with that. Maybe there are episodes from real life, but if they take place on another world or in some distant future scenario, then there are other possibilities to explore in order to solve them. For example, in my current novel I'm exploring what might have happened if I had never moved to Germany. If I said no to what I believed was God's voice. I switch realities, so to say, and take a peek at the other side.

And: there's always a happy ending. Put it another way: God always comes through for the people in my stories. No matter what kind of hell I've put them through beforehand, and what trials their faith went through, good wins over evil. Because that's the way it's going to be at the end of time, thank goodness! And as I watch the faith of my characters waver and recover, or stay strong through all sorts of difficulties, and see them come out victorious in the end, somehow it builds my own faith too. If I can untangle the problems in the book, maybe I can deal with real life too.

You see, I've been through hell myself this year. But it drove me to write. You can follow the progress on my personal blog if you want. But that's another matter. The important thing here is that I now begin to see that there is a purpose in the suffering - all things working together for good. If I have suffered, then I can describe it, change it around, pull it and stretch it to match the character in my book, and more: I can appreciate the relief, the joy, the beauty found later on, with a depth that would have otherwise been impossible.

Am I making sense here, folks? I have a feeling that the more I know of the whole broad spectrum of human emotion and experience, the more I can bring it to life in my words. I seek to hold it in the story I weave, to enter it, to experience it in all its wildness and intensity, and then to resolve it. Look around. Times are harder than they've ever been on this old world. But if - IF there were other worlds, things just might be even harder there. Yet the imagined people I get so close to in reading and writing the Lost Genre, well, they make it. Some of them, at least. Yes, there are losses. But the good guys win. They get stronger after their troubles. They find peace after battling through whatever it was.

So that's part of the reason I write the Lost Genre. I seek my healing by setting my suffering in grand and extreme scenarios. And who knows? Maybe it might just work...