Road Less Traveled

Ronie Kendig grew up an Army brat and married a veteran. Life
is never dull in her family with four children and two dogs. She has a degree
in psychology, speaks to various groups, volunteers with the American Christian
Fiction Writers (ACFW), and mentors new writers. Rapid-Fire Fiction, her brand,
is exemplified through her novels: Dead Reckoning, Nightshade
(Retailer’s Choice Award Finalist), Digitalis, Wolfsbane (Christy
Award winner, Carol Award Finalist)
Firethorn, and Trinity: Military
War Dog
, book 1 in the A Breed Apart series, which releases September 2012.
Ronie
can be found at www.roniekendig.com,
on Facebook (www.facebook.com/rapidfirefiction),
Twitter (@roniekendig), and GoodReads.
Two years ago
as I sat at the table at the American Christian fiction Writers conference, I
chatted with my acquisitions editor for the first time—officially—as a Barbour
author. Her usual warmth and gentility made me comfortable and confident.
                Until I broached a subject that
had been weighing on my heart.
                I’d finished the first book in
the Discarded Heroes series, Nightshade, and was well into the second book,
Digitalis, but I had a dilemma for the third book, Wolfsbane. I saw my hero and heroine. . .well, I saw their
romance arcs. And to put it mildly, it distressed me. I asked her if it would
be a problem if my characters went too far in their relationship. My editor calmly
answered, “As long as it’s offstage”—I quickly assured it would be—and as long
as I showed the consequences of those actions, then she supposed it would be
okay.
                Phew. I felt freed! Enabled to
write the story the way I kept seeing it, despite my warnings to my characters
that it was wrong, that they were breaking some serious cardinal rules. They
wouldn’t listen (yes, part of their problem), and the story got written.
                Then I panicked. “I can’t
possibly write that. Readers will crucify me.” I’d already had one reviewer
call my Christianity into question because of one of my books. I knew that I’d
be thrown over some hot coals if I let my characters, Canyon and Dani, go down
that dark path. 
                 So, I prayed, told God I couldn’t
do this—couldn’t write a story about two characters who sin. He asked me “Why
not? You have characters lying and killing other characters.”
                “Yeah, but, God. . .these characters are
Christians. . .doing the no-no. I’ll never get another contract because readers
will despise me and call me UNChristian and give me horrible reviews.”
                So, I rewrote. Made my story
conform into the “likeness” of acceptable Christian fiction, the well-traveled road. Gave it a clean
conclusion. There. That should make readers happy. 
                But I hated it. I mean, hated—the same way my husband gags at
the slightest taste of black olives (true story—ask me sometime about the
six-inch Subway sandwich with a HALF of a black olive that nearly made him
vomit!). Sure, it was done. Rewritten. Conformed. But it was flat and bland.
Honestly, the ending just fizzled. 
                So, I re-rewrote. Cried. Prayed and
prayed. Cried some more.
                Changed it YET AGAIN! Now Canyon
and Dani were chaste.
                But it was torturing me. I knew
it wasn’t right. But I was terrified of the backlash.(Have you read my post on being a Jelly in a Rhino Industry? Check it out–I’m not confrontational or brave. The article will prove it.).
                And the timing was such that I
visited Focus on the Family and a dear friend there got the special privilege
(or was it torture?) of hearing me spill my guts about this story. I told her,
“I am so afraid. I tried to rewrite it, but it wouldn’t’ work.  But I can’t
show them doing that in a
Christian novel, even if it’s offstage.”
                My dear friend told me, “Ronie,
do it! This issue is avoided in church, it’s not talked about. People need to
see this, need to understand why it’s wrong. Do it! Do it, Ronie, and let God
have the rest.”
                About that time, I talked with
my agent. Told him of my angst. And he pretty much told me the same thing. So,
I went back to what I originally saw. Wrote it. Made absolutely sure that I did
not “justify” premarital sex, made sure there were consequences.
                Terrified of what would come
once it was published, I released that book to my publisher. My editor
reassured me I handled it well. And yes, I did get some nasty reviews. I had
people call my views into question. Say it wasn’t appropriate for church libraries.
But. . .I had peace. Because a far greater number of readers contacted me,
thanked me, said it helped them, or helped a loved one.
                Then. . .Wolfsbane finaled for a
Christy—the industry award for Excellence in Christian Fiction.
                And it won! 
                Not because my characters had
sex but because the story was powerful with raw, authentic characters. Write to
that end, but not as an excuse to simply write edgy or confrontational content–readers can smell that a mile off. WRite to honor the story that is in you, that only you can write, even if it means, taking the road less traveled.
I
shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Robert Frost
                *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      * 
This hero’s seen combat. So has her handler.
Reeling from the effects of a traumatic brain injury that ripped his
military career from his hands, former Green Beret Heath Daniels
struggles to find new purpose with his war dog, Trinity. Then he’s
called to rescue a beautiful military intelligence officer, but will
this—the greatest mission of his life—also be his last?
TRINITY: Military War Dog – lunges onto the scene September 1st!