1/01/2009

Lost Genre Guild Promotes ALL Christian Spec-fic

An interesting few days it has been as the Lost Genre Guild was toured by the Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy blog tour. This is a three-part post and at the end I will summarize the tour's impact on/ for the guild. Now, however, I'd like to address an important concern and begin with a quote from Frank Creed the sole founder of the Lost Genre Guild:

At least part of every Christian writer's motivation is bringing glory to God. The Christian publishing world is not as golden-rule as they would have readers believe. There exists an ugly profit-motive double standard, even for genres like Biblical sci-fi that traditional houses won't touch.

Anyone who takes the time to look at
LostGenreGuild .com will see that the Guild promotes quality speculative fiction no matter who publishes it. Members of the guild promote the good CBA-approved fiction alongside Indie novels.

It's what we who love the genre must all do, no matter how the prejudice swings. Raising awareness for Christian and Biblical speculative fiction, or any non-CBA genre, is a team effort.

Our art is not about fortune, glory, and power. As long as we allow profiteers and pride to squelch such powerful worldview literary ministries, we're not doing our best for His glory. ("Christian Speculative Fiction in the Publishing Industry," July 2008)


Not news to anyone in the Lost Genre Guild this is what we are all about, promoting the genre and helping each other promote our work.

Rebecca Miller, the mover and shaker behind the CSFF, and a great hard-working proponent for Christian speculative fiction wrote a tour follow-up post at Speculative Faith to address an issue that concerned her—her opinon, in turn, concerned me!

A couple of the bloggers on the tour pointed out that the Guild Review contained reviews of only non-"CBA" books. While on the face, this is true at this point in time, the problem the Guild Review has isn't about excluding "CBA" books—it is a matter of logistics and . . . well, I could go on at length. Check the mission statement of the Guild Review to see that the site isn't elitist.

I mention the Guild Review only because it was comments about the site that "has given [Rebecca Miller] pause." She goes on to say:

But here's the bottom line. Shouldn't we who want to see more Christian speculative fiction support it no matter what form or from what venue it comes to the reader? I don't see the value of segregating traditional from non-traditional. (Speculative Faith, December 2008)


Two things:
First is a note to self: update the LGG website to ensure that everyone who comes by understands that the guild is not elitist. To this end, today I updated the Guild Review to provide a direct link to the mission statement on every page.

Second: I am confused. The only place I don't see segregation of "traditional from non-traditional" is at the Lost Genre Guild. So I do take exception to this statement; let me explain,

The guild was set up to raise awareness about all well-written speculative fiction that is respectful of the Christian worldview. Among our membership, for example, are some of the best-selling fantasy authors published by the big Christian houses—one only needs to look at the LGG Bookshelves to see that our guild doesn't discriminate as far as membership goes.

As our fearless leader and spokesperson, Frank Creed's public statements and promotion of speculative fiction have only ever been inclusionary, however, he does not ignore the inequities of the Christian publishing industry as a whole.

In her post entitled "CSFF Presents: Lost Genre Guild Promotes Christian SFF Beyond Its Group" Karina Fabian, LGG member and CSFF blog tour member said:

One thing Frank [Creed] and others in the LGG have always said is that we're not just here to promote our own works, but the genre in general.


What I would dearly love to see is other sites and organizations do the same: promote well-written works in the genre that are respectful of Christian beliefs and values, no matter what the name or affliation of the publisher.

13 comments:

Frank Creed said...

My private and public comments will only reflect that my passion is for our genre, because it's such a powerful literary tool with which to glorify the Boss. To be accused of somehow segregating anything has me angrier and angrier as I type.
Know what?
I feel a blog comin' on.

Andrea Graham said...

Is the pot calling a tin kettle black?

Frank Creed said...

Burned out tonight. I'll comment at length on A Frank Review tomorrow.

Faith,
f

thefinishers.biz

Frank Creed.com: the official site of Flashpoint: Book One of the UNDERGROUND

The Finishers.biz: Polishing Manuscripts until they Shine

Mike Lynch said...

I appreciate you clarifying this issue about the purpose LGG serves. While it is nice when people promote their own publishing achievements, or perhaps the achievements of others, the real purpose this site serves is promoting speculative fiction to an industry that has yet to embrace it equally with other genres. When one of us wins, we all win. And perhaps one day, discussions such as this will no longer be necessary. Thanks for bringing this discussion to the forefront.

Mike

Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

Frank, as I said in my response to your comment at Spec Faith, I had no intention of accusing you of anything. I am very sorry that what I said came across as some kind of accusation.

Andrea, I'm not sure what you're trying to say. I won't assume it's meant to disparage CSFF. I would appreciate if you have some concern with the organization that you bring it to me or some other member of the administrative team.

Thanks,

Becky

Sue Dent said...

Well, I can't speak for Andrea but I can speak for myself. If I'm not mistaken you suggested LGG was exclusive while CSFF proports to represent Science Fiction/Fantasy and even sometimes Horror produced by Christian authors.

Hmmm, when I tried to get CSFF to tour Forever Richard I was told that because my publisher wasn't affiliated my book would have to undergo undue scrutiny. Wow! Frank Creed was told the same thing.

If anything sounds exclusive to me, it would be that. Every lists you put up for books dealing with Speculative Fiction are books produced by CBA and ECPA affiliated authors. Always. And neither CBA nor ECPA serve the entire Christian market. They don't even produce true Sci-Fi/Fantasy and never horror.

Perhaps that's what Andrea meant. :)

UtM, SherryT said...

At the risk of producing more heat than light...
My "Seabird" (a Christian YA fantasy) was a finalist in the ACFW's Genesis Awards (for as-yet unpublished Christian fiction) back in 2006.
As a finalist awaiting the results of the upper tier judges, one of the tasks required of me was working out a marketing plan should my book win.

The awards were to be given out at the annual ACFW Conference in Texas later that year. I expected to attend the conference and I was eager to market my "Seabird" manuscript with the agents and publishers who would be there.

While working on the assigned marketing plan and on my author pitch, I began to realize that none of the CBA-type publishers would even look at my book, thanks partially to its genre and partially to inclusion in the manuscript of "d@rn", etc. Agents I approached who represented manuscripts exclusively to CBA-type publishers said that they couldn't handle my manuscript.

I canceled my plans to attend the conference because I saw that there was no one attending who would even consider my book. At the end of the ACFW proceedings, members emailed me with congratulations because "Seabird" had won third place in the SF/Fantasy Division.
In December 2006, a new small publisher, Gryphonwood Press accepted my manuscript. My editor is Dave Wood, who also happens to be a Methodist minister.

At the beginning of 2007, Frank noticed my contributions to another Christian SpecFic mailing list, and invited me to join the Lost Genre Guild.

My point is writing all of this is that from my point of view, the ACFW and the CBA-type publishers with whom they usually deal appear to be exclusionary --- from my point of view. Frank and the LGG do not appear to be.
I am sorry to say that I know very little about the CSSF. I ask Rebecca and its members to forgive me for that since I should most definitely be trying to keep up with their wonderful work to promote Christian writing!

Rebecca, I remember you from those ACFW contest days back in 2006, & I thank you for your encouragement at that time! If you ever wondered why I suddenly chose not to attend the ACFW conference, now you know. CBA-type publishers and their exclusion of many worthwhile Speculative Fiction manuscripts were at the root of my decision.

Meanwhile, I applaud ALL those who write for the glory of God, no matter what their chosen genre. I believe that all LGG members do the same.

Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

Sherry, interesting that you should mention that Genesis contest. It was after the Mount Hermon writers conference that CSFF was born, largely as a result of discussion at the ACFW forum, sparked by four of us Genesis finalists. We saw the handwriting etched in the wall, based on what those editors were saying.

Yes, many ECPA houses are restrictive about things like language and horror and sex. Those are areas that writers in any number of genres complain about. That's not my issue. (For the most part, my writing is PG, but that's neither here nor there.) The point is, while fantasy was flying off the shelves and movie makers were grabbing up the rights of more and more fantasies, ECPA houses were saying "Fantasy doesn't sell." (Not, Fantasy doesn't meet our content standards). Our evaluation, right or wrong, was that it wasn't selling because no one knew it existed.

Thus CSFF was born.

To be honest, we didn't think we would have enough books for more than a year, and we made the determination to broaden our horizons by including online endeavors. That was one of the best decisions we made (God directed, for sure, because we were simply struggling along trying to find our way by hit or miss). Featuring Web sites gave us a chance to highlight others who were working to facilitate speculative fiction one way or another. (Through short fiction, Web-zines, reviews, alternative presses).

I'm happy to read in the part 3 post summarizing the blog tour that the tour seems to have been beneficial for the Lost Genre Guild. That's what we want to see--the community of committed fans and writers coming together to spread the word that Christian speculative fiction does exist.

Becky

Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

Hmmm, when I tried to get CSFF to tour Forever Richard I was told that because my publisher wasn't affiliated my book would have to undergo undue scrutiny. Wow! Frank Creed was told the same thing.

Sue, this is policy. When we first started the tour, we selected the books and asked the author or publisher if they would be willing to supply review copies. As the tour grew and publicists, authors, and publishers began to approach us, we realized we needed to have a way to determine what books to feature and what ones not to. In the last two years, because we also highlight Web sites such as Wayfarer's Journal, we have averaged ten books a year. We get far more requests than we can possibly tour and needed a plan in place. For right or wrong, we came up with one that works for us which involves one of the team recommending the book. It is completely subjective, but not exclusive as you suggest. We use the same means to evaluate books coming from ECPA houses. (You can read the process on the CSFF About page, FAQ section).

As near as I can recall, we agreed to consider Forever Richard, but that was before you had finished writing it. I believe you even said that would give you a motive to finish it and that your publisher would be happy about that. (If I'm not mistaken, you have since changed publishers).

I'll say to you what I said to Frank, Sue. I'm sorry if my post came across as an accusation or as you said, a suggestion that LGG is exclusive. As near as I can tell, here is the offending part of the post: I don't see the value of segregating traditional from non-traditional. In other words, I'd like to see the Lost Genre Guild include on the Guild Review books by CBA authors. I personally think that can only help all concerned.

Those statements came about because of what I read at other sites during the tour. I saw a pattern--some LGG members making disparaging comments about traditional publishers and some non-LGG members expressing surprise that some of the well-known books weren't included in the Guild Review. In other words, it felt like people were beginning to draw lines and take up sides.

Horrors! As far as I'm concerned, we all lose if that happens.

Doesn't that sound like something Satan would like to see happen? I mean, we as believers are to be about unity. The world is to learn about God by witnessing the way we love each other.

Interestingly, the Motiv8 Fantasy Fiction authors who toured together this summer didn't seem concerned about which publishers put out the books. I think that's a great model.

Becky

Andrea Graham said...

Sister Rebecca, sometimes a question mark is just a question mark. I simply asked a question; I was not making an accusation. Adam and I sometimes call each other Pot and Kettle jokingly, in a friendly manner, if that helps you understand my question.

I would ask you to remember, this whole thing puts me in a rather awkward position, but this is case-in-point why I passed on doing a real review of the LGG. Unlike the newlyweds glowing about the Guild on the tour, this old timer has no illusions of perfection.

I don't know the CSFF well enough to say anything about you one way or the other, but I can tell you, while I'd be foolish to speak for all of it's individual members, the LGG, as an organization, is not elitist. If anyone comes across as having a chip on their shoulder, that is them, not the position of Guild itself.

Of course, the wise among us will listen to your concerns and make modifications to better present ourselves. It does a tin kettle no good to assert that it's tin and continue to sound like a black kettle. This is exactly what I see Cyn and Scott Frank doing. Good for you, guys!

In other words, it felt like people were beginning to draw lines and take up sides.

Horrors! As far as I'm concerned, we all lose if that happens.

Doesn't that sound like something Satan would like to see happen? I mean, we as believers are to be about unity. The world is to learn about God by witnessing the way we love each other.


I couldn't agree more!

TWCP Authors said...

Rebecca:

I am certainly impressed with the amount of work you put into running the CSFF. It is always your name I see attached to meaningful comments on all the blogs, so one can't expect that you would have time to return to follow up.

I am still dismayed, however, on a couple of counts.

First, my concern as a result of your blog on Speculative Faith (which I saw after I'd written my comments).

--to read the statements you made after I had spent much time trying to explain and/ or clarify on each site that did question the LGG's loyalties, bothered me immensely.

Okay, you may well have written the blog post prior to or without knowledge of my clarifications -- very likely this is the case. However, once I had made the clarifications (on the Spec Faith blog, for instance) there was never any significant acknowledgement that perhaps someone had spoken without the proper facts. Just the same suggestion that "there was a problem and it doesn't hurt to question it."

To this end, I have also put new and louder clarifications on the Guild Review and LGG sites.

Second, I felt the LGG's character was publicly scrutinized without a proper amount research to support certain statements. I kept mumbling to myself, did you look here? or here? or if you'd taken the time to check out these pages, how about all the blog posts that featured CBA-affliated authors . . .

It felt kind of like a book being judged by its cover.

Or, perhaps a better analogy would be the story about the 6 blind men and the elephant.

As I read your post at Spec Faith, my eyes kept drifting over to the sidebar. I was tempted to point out the appearance of elitism when I noted that none of the "recommended authors" are published by small or independent presses nor are they self-published. I was also tempted to inquire about the books that CSFF has toured.

I didn't make claims like this publicly because I realized that I was probably not in possession of all the information. I wish that the same consideration was afforded the Lost Genre Guild . . . which, by the way, is much more than a website!

TWCP Authors said...

some LGG members making disparaging comments about traditional publishers

Ah, a problem.

An issue I see that causes trouble on blogs, in news groups, etc. is lack of definition of terms.

--Traditional publishers are those publishers who pay advances, industry-standard royalties, foot the bill for printing, distribution, etc. and have a marketing plan (though very rarely do as much as non-published authors assume) in place for each title.

I see the term traditional publishers tossed around to mean the big Christian houses that are affliated with the CBA or are members of the ECPA. Incorrect usage of the "title."

Think "traditional" as in the most basic meaning of the word -- a press that does things in a traditional manner.

Small publishers are considered, within the industry, as those who do < $1 million sales per year.

Independent publishers are those not affliated as a consortium or type of marketing board. In the Christian publishing world, this would mean those not members of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Assoc., the CBA or other.

Do some of the LGG members disparage the output of the large Christian houses? or the publishers themselves? Whenever it is an issue, you betcha. Especially if we come across someone who has inaccurate information -- some of us feel it is our duty to correct assumptions. And, usually we are thanked for it.

Do some of the LGG members disparage the above in our private members-only newsgroup? I can't say because it is private, but I can't stop anyone from drawing their own conclusions.

Like many organizations, the LGG is formed of free-thinkers. Controversy isn't smothered, it is encouraged. Rude or disrespectful behaviour isn't condoned within the private group. However, having said the above, you will often see LGG members disagree on public forums -- this, as a group, we don't put a lid on either.

cyn

TWCP Authors said...

Regarding my above comment.

I just realized that it looks like I am lecturing people about vocabulary usage.

Well, kinda I am! but that is beside the point.

In the previous post, my intent was to point out that if I define a term one way and someone else defines it another way, then we can run into problems that could be avoided.

cyn