Thursday, November 14, 2013

Cinderella in the Streets

I don't know about you, but when I was a teenage girl growing up, I loved to go back to my mom's bookshelf in my parents' room and pull out a Grace Livingston Hill book. Anyone familiar with Grace Hill? Let me sum up. 

Grace Hill wrote the same book with about a hundred different book covers. Exhibit A. Perfect girl. Exhibit B. Perfect boy. Exhibit C. Evil girl. Exhibit D. Evil boy. Plot line. The good girl ends up with the good boy, and the evil girl and the evil boy end up broken somewhere.

So. I loved those books, I truly did. I read Crimson Roses, The Christmas Bride, Brentwood and Cloudy Jewel at least fifty times. Each.

But as I grew older, and my taste in fiction developed, I began to nurture a hunger for characters with whom I could identify. This girl who struggled not with the vileness of sinful nature in these books? She was a stranger to me. One-dimensional. Flat, dull, tasteless.

Enter Francine Rivers into my literary world. Ah, the power of books like Redeeming Love and The Atonement Child. I began to find characters that, like me, struggled with sin, hate, loss of self-control, other abominations that God finds displeasing. 

The redeeming quality in all of her characters? Grace. Specifically, God's grace. Just like in my own life.

I met Mary Ball on Goodreads, and per further discussion, agreed to a blog switch with her. Below is her blog she sent me. I was impressed with her commitment to creating realistic characters in her inspirational fiction. I believe she will touch many lives through her fiction because she creates characters to whom each of us can relate. 

Enjoy her post. Happy reading! :)
Tamara Shoemaker
One Author's View on Christian Fiction

I love to read Inspirational/Christian fiction (most of the time). I want to read a Christian novel that highlights the characters as real people who kiss, have doubts and often befall temptation. After all, none of us is immune to troubles.

I don't enjoy namby-pamby novels. If the characters are too good or holy, I can't relate to the novel. I think Christian fiction should show flaws, while bringing the characters to the understanding that the Lord is their guide and can see them through.

Inspirational novels needs to encourage ways a person can survive in the everyday world, not in a fairytale land, with soft green meadows, of "I never have a problem" plots.

I need stories to proclaim a faith, which flows from the spirit and a hope for a better tomorrow. These personalities need to have things happen, same as everyone. The only difference should be the way the characters cope with life and temptations in the real world.

The focus of a Christian novel should be to show how people could become stronger; seeking out a better life with the Lord's redeeming mercies.

I scribe stories with characters that deal with unpleasant things, but somehow find a way to forge ahead, while developing a relationship with God.

Each of us handles situations differently. The way we react to things certainly depends on our outlook of life, but if I can use my writing to open up a new way of thinking or to strengthen someone's faith, then I've done my part.

I create Christian fiction to show ways of escaping the bad things that happen, regardless of the effects it can have on us.

If you're a Christian writer, then I believe that no matter where you are in the author pool, whether you're with a major publishing house or small company, you probably started out with a desire to share the Lord's grace. After all, showing the world a gentler life is important.

I remember a book signing I attended; a man approached my table and asked about my novels. I replied, "I write inspirational fiction. My characters go through everything we do, but if they didn't know the Lord, then they would find him by the last chapter."

He laughed and said, "I didn't think God was lost."

I smiled, and then answered, "No, He's not, but a lot of folks think He is. It's like misplacing your keys, and then you find them later. They were on the table the whole time you were searching. You just didn't see them."

That's where Jesus is, right at the end of our fingertips if we reach for Him.


Mary L. Ball is a member of ACFW. Her fiction novels, whether suspense, mystery or Christian fiction will always come entwined with a bit of romance.

She has two published novels by Prism Book Group, Escape to Big Fork Lake and Stone of Destiny. She recently submitted her third fiction novel, which she dubs Redemption in Big Fork Lake. This novel will take the readers back to Big Fork Lake for a visit.

Connect with Mary:
Amazon author page:

Her novels are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other online stores.


  1. I enjoyed reading the two different takes on books we enjoy, and I'm assuming Tamara is a tad younger than me since those books are more recent than I recall starting out with. :) I too enjoy Christian fiction, as Mary does. I've enjoyed her books so much, and continue to plug away at my own writing, remembering some of my favorite authors as well. Nice blog~ Blessings....

    1. Thank you, Diane! I am 34 next Tuesday, but you don't look any older than me in your picture, so we might be close in age. ;) Blessings as you write, and I will be sure to check out your work once it's on the market. :)

  2. I believe stories can teach all of us so much, and they appear in fiction, nonfiction, movies, music, conversations, and life. I don't write Christian fiction, but I do treasure strong characters. Just wrote a few ideas about this on my blog ( Talk about coincidence.

    1. Thank you for this, Bonnie! I will be sure to go check out your blog. Strong characters are a must in writing, no matter if it's on the Christian market, or the mainstream. :)

  3. Nice blog post and great book. I read Stone of Destiny and enjoyed it very much. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you, Kim; yes I thought Mary's blog was very poignant; I would love to see stronger characters come out of fiction, especially Christian fiction these days. :) I'm looking forward to reading Stone of Destiny as soon as I wrap up my current work in progress. :)

  4. Interesting interview! And "Stone of Destiny" is a wonderful read.

  5. Well said, Mary. Thank you for describing the work, as well as the heart, of a Christian writer. Redemption for genuine people, in the real world. I'm looking forward to reading Stone of Destiny :)

  6. Thanks everyone for the great comments. I know we all are faced with writing dilemmas, no matter what genre we write. I believe that unless you're writing Sci-Fi or Paranormal - keep it real, even fiction needs to be based on reality. :)

  7. Mary continues to write awesome books with well structured plots and characters. I've read two and enjoyed them both.

  8. I feel the same way about all those cookie cutter Harlequins, though I did have a few favorites. It's sometimes nice to read mindless stories, but when you have less time, you want a meal along with dessert. Thanks for sharing!

  9. When I was a young girl, I loved the simple books. Now I enjoy the more realistic read. Real people struggle. It's good to see them struggle in books. Of course the heroine and hero usually overcome the evil in our Christian books. Wouldn't it be wonderful if that happened in real life?

  10. Yes, Gay It would be great to overcome everything, But for me, having Jesus in my life always gives me peace with any situation that life tosses at me. He really is my strength. :)