The Peril of the Pen . . .


Well, I suppose now it might read the Curse of the Keyboard. Ultimately it’s the responsibility of the writer.


I’m an avid reader of Christian fiction who has championed many authors and novels on my blog, Facebook, Twitter, in personal conversations with strangers, family, friends, and wherever and whenever I get the opportunity. I love Christian fiction because it attempts to give a spiritual dimension to life and to the trials and pain of humanity. There are some truly incredible authors laying claim to some fascinating, touching, imaginative, and thought-provoking fiction in multiple genres.

As a writer – but even moreso as a reader – of Christian fiction, the current “safe” approach in publishing has resulted in a great deal of repetitive and incurious novels. Novels that follow rules righteously, adhere adhesively to the genre, and don’t dare use adverbs like I just did to describe or amplify anything within the pages of their books. In fact, there is little “daring” at all going on and style is like a forgotten or ignored by-product of an elapsed era.

A lot of assumptions about readers have been made by publishing professionals in every area of manuscript buying and selling. It’s certainly not difficult to advance more of the same to the reading demographic they’ve worked so hard to establish. Catering the same products to the same audiences creates enough to continue the same means to perpetuate more of the same. Or so it seems.

Now with the e-book popularity raging, another world of Christian fiction has opened up to readers who don’t comply with the same old, same old, and for writers who don’t – or in my case “won’t” – fit into the sometimes surreal mold the CBA book publishing industry has established in certain genres.

A few of you know I’ve written seven novels. I know: big deal. “How many have you gotten published?” you ask with the slightest elevation of your chin. Zero, zippo, nada. I’ve self-published (I see you smirking) three of them. And for whatever reason, I’m actually writing three more. (Remember now, you’re not supposed to call me a fool. Oh, go ahead.) I had no idea they wouldn’t “fit” into Christian fiction when I wrote them because they’re redemptive stories. I didn’t realize “real-ly” portrayed romance would be outlawed in Christian romance novels. That sexual attraction was a no-no. That words like “breast” or even the more callous “boob”: absolutely taboo. And not only were they not permitted, but if one of them managed to sneak through the penetrating eyes (or wishful thinking) of editors, holy hell would be unleashed on the author by “Christians” who forbade “bad language” in their “Christian” reading material.

The peril of the pen is to write the story the way it must be written and prepare for consequences. The Curse of the Keyboard is to believe certain ways of telling that story shouldn’t – but inevitably will – offend someone, not because it’s crude or vulgar or because it promotes graphic depictions, but because it dares to paint a picture that rings true and elicits emotion and demands examination or empathy or contrition. And, yes, whether or not those stories crack the barriers of Christian publishing is the risk and responsibility of the one who authored them.

However, the peril and the curse have been reduced by e-publishing, and the responsibility for professionalism has been expanded. And welcomed.

Nicole Petrino-Salter writes love stories with a passion. Visit her at