Why I Write (and Read) Christian Romance

“I write inspirational romantic comedy.”

And then I wait with bated breath. Why? Because I get a variety of reactions when I tell people this. And for some reason, real people look at you funny when you say that you talk to imaginary people, so I thought this response sounded more…uh, normal than saying that I giggle with glee when I devise the perfect plan to get my bickering couple to spend more time together, consequently ushering them down the road of Happily Ever After. And if romance isn’t your thing, that’s fine! God made all of us different, so celebrate your God-given uniqueness! But my thing is experiencing a mob of butterflies on a sugar high in my gut when the hero and heroine finally kiss! 

I am a dreamy romantic, and I always have been. I find the romance in reading or writing at my favorite coffee house. My husband’s hugs are just as swoony as his surprise trips to the bookstore. I’ll read almost (there are exceptions!) any story or genre if there’s at least a thin romantic thread. Romance and love are all around us, every single day! Romance is a billion-dollar industry and leading genre for a reason – we connect to it on a soul level!

With my newest novel releasing last week on Valentine’s Day, I have been thinking about why I love Christian Romance. This is what I found in that cluttered, anti-KonMari place known as my mind:

1.  I love the kissing!

Okay, I’ll be honest… I wait for that first kiss (and the next one…and the one after that…) between Mr. and soon-to-be Mrs. Right. I happily sigh and grin, and sometimes I need smelling salts! I love that Christian Romance is sweet, sizzling, and safe all at the same time! 

2.  I love the fight!

No, not the fighting… (Although, I probably have too much fun writing the scenes of back-and-forth bickering.) I mean that I love seeing Prince Charming and Lady I’m-More-Than-Just-A-Pretty-Face fight for each other, for love, for the chance to see what God has in store for them! When trauma threatens to crush a marriage, this is a message of hope. When a family is broken and hurting, this is a message of hope. When we are lost and alone, this is a message of hope. Knowing that God has put people in our corner who will fight for us and with us is a powerful thing. Knowing that we are called to fight for our loved ones is just as empowering. But when a story can remind me that God is fighting for me, that’s beautiful! Without fail, I always see this message of hope in Christian Romance, giving me hope on the days I want to fail myself into a vat of chocolate and devour the whole thing.

3.  God created it!

Love and romance were created by God, and this always blows my mind in an obvious sort of way. These beautiful and sacred treasures have been around since the very beginning! It’s not something invented by greeting card companies. It’s not something to shame, ignore, or forget. And it is NOT a waste of time! They are gifts that He created for us out of His love for us, and they should be celebrated and enjoyed! No other genre does this better than Christian Romance, though her subgenres are pretty awesome! With this truth in my heart, I will happily continue to immerse myself in the romantic world of the bookish.

Because He created each facet for me to enjoy.


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V. Joy Palmer is the author of Love, Lace, and Minor Alterations, Weddings, Willows and Revised Expectations (her newest release), and a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She is also an avid blogger and co-founder of Snack Time Devotions. In her spare time, Joy is an unprofessional chocolate connoisseur/binger, and she loves acting crazy and drinking coffee with the teens she mentors. When Joy isn't urging the elves that live in her computer to write, she's hanging out with her husband, their adorable baby girl, and their socially awkward pets.

The Ultimate Happily Ever After

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Romance is a funny thing. Christian romance can be even funnier. Questions about ‘how far is too far’ and ‘is this (historically) appropriate’ and even ‘should Christians read fiction’ crop up every now and again, making this author pause, reflect—and keep on writing.

I write Christian romance. I hope my stories entertain, and that people enjoy the historical details and the elements of romance I include. Most of all I hope people respond to the faith message. Because I believe ‘Christian’ and ‘romance’ aren’t mutually exclusive, and that Christian romance should be the epitome of romance stories.

The Bible is full of romance, with stories of marriages, stories of wooing. God Himself is depicted as a bridegroom, longing for His bride (the church). Here in Australia I grew up singing about Jesus, the ‘Lover of My Soul.’ God is into love. Hello, God IS love!

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But more than the thudding hearts and scorching kisses we so often see portrayed in today’s world, I enjoy (and endeavor to write) stories that show the reality of love. The practicing of forgiveness. The need for patience. Choosing to trust and not fear. Sacrificing selfish ambitions. These are the godly components for love, aspects of the fruit of the Holy Spirit, and those qualities often read at weddings from 1 Corinthians 13. These are the real drivers of ‘true love,’ far more than how passionate a kiss might be.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been married for over 21 years now, and with four children, I believe in passion :) . But more important than that, our marriage has meant learning to love in a way that means swallowing pride, keeping anger checked, learning to compromise. My husband and I are definitely not perfect, we’re still learning what real love looks like.

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In this Instagram-perfect, happiness-hungry, disposable world such things can seem peculiar. In a world of TV bachelors and ‘social experiment marriages’ and celebrity divorce, people who live promises of ‘until death do us part’ can seem extreme. Our world needs stories that reflect God’s ways, that hint of the Divine Romance, and show God’s principles, principles that may at first seem counter-intuitive, but ultimately lead to peace and joy and hope.

I love how God can use fiction to draw people to His truth, how these godly principles can make people pause, reflect, and maybe even repent. My books have been called ‘defiantly Christian,’ so it surprises me when non-Christian friends tell me they have enjoyed my novels. I hope (and pray) that God will continue to use my fictional romances to wash away the dirt of the world and help people see Him just a little bit more. Not that I have all the answers, but I know that God does.

Romance might be a funny thing, something that evokes a wide range of responses from Christians and not-yet Christians, but I think it’s wonderful that God can use our stories to woo readers to Himself. I pray my readers may find the ultimate Love of their life, the Lover of their soul, the One who demonstrates what true love looks and feels and sounds like, the One whose story never ends, and in whom is found the ultimate happily-ever-after.


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Carolyn Miller lives in the beautiful Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia, with her husband and four children. Together with her husband she has pastored a church for ten years, and worked part-time as a public high school English and Learning and Support teacher. Carolyn holds a BA in English Literature, and loves drawing readers into fictional worlds that show the truth of God’s grace in our lives. Visit her website for more information.

Carolyn’s books, The Making of Mrs. Hale (a Gold Star review) and A Hero for Miss Hatherleigh, are featured in the Launch & Spring issues of Hope By The Book magazine.

What Reading Books Means to Me with Rachel Scott McDaniel

Happy Monday! At Hope By the Book we are trying out some new regular features here on the website, and today’s guest - author & avid reader Rachel Scott McDaniel - is someone you need to meet! Her debut novel, Above the Fold, releases December 2019 and she’s bringing us the first installment of “What Reading Books Means to Me” .


What Reading Books Means to Me

by Rachel Scott McDaniel, Author of Above The Fold

Have you ever considered the power of story? How is it possible that words on a page can refresh a wearied soul or bolster a feeble heart? It’s just a conglomeration of sentences and paragraphs. Just a book. Yet within the boundaries of Chapter One and The End lies the potential of something remarkable. What if I told you it holds the capability of bringing to life that which is deemed dead?

Ten years ago, I was a stay-at-home mom who wrote Christian romance during my kiddos’ naptimes. Then something occurred in my family that challenged my secure little world. My three-year-old daughter was diagnosed autistic. I wish I could say that I donned my super cape and stood as Faith Woman, but the truth was, I struggled. Everything came to a screeching halt. I closed my laptop, stopped reading Christian fiction, and only concentrated on surviving the day. The following decade was spent focusing on caring for my kids and reorienting myself to life. My daughter was significantly progressing, overcoming delays which were branded insurmountable. Slowly, my brittle faith strengthened, but I allowed my dream to collect dust in the corner of my heart.

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One day, my sister-in-law mentioned a contemporary romance she’d read by some novelist named Rachel Hauck. At that point, I had been so far removed from Christian fiction—hadn’t browsed the inspy aisle at Barnes and Noble, hadn’t fangirled any authors on Facebook, hadn’t even cracked open a book in years. Not to mention, I hadn’t written a single word in my own story. I completely detached myself from my dream—that aspiration which had once sparked my soul. So on a whim, I snagged To Catch A Prince from the local library, yet I was inwardly skeptical. After all I’d experienced, did I even believe in such a thing as happily-ever-after? But the unexpected occurred in the form of me binge-reading the book, taking in the layered characters and absorbing the vivid prose.

Then it happened.

Somewhere between the pages, the dormant ember ignited. The love of story returned. The only way I can explain it is that I had a “God-nudge.” A pivotal mark on my soul where I knew what had to be done. I dug out my laptop and opened my manuscript. It’d been so long that I nearly forgotten what I’d written. I started creating again and immersed myself into the world of storytelling. Before long, I had the entire novel completed and from then on, the dream unraveled before my eyes. That particular story had won a national contest. I signed with an agent and within a year, I’d landed a book contract.

What would’ve happened if I never had picked up that book? Would my lifeless dream have been revived? I’m not certain. But one thing I do know is the power of story. It can fortify what is frail. It can liven what is dull. So what does reading books mean to me? Simple. Reading is—and always will be—a game changer.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Rachel Scott McDaniel is an award-winning Christian romance writer. She hopes to inspire the mind and refresh the soul with words infused with faith and heart. Because she could never resist a good mystery, suspense and intrigue routinely sneak into her stories. She currently enjoys life in Ohio with her husband and two children. You can find Rachel at her online home RachelMcDaniel.net or on all major social media platforms.

Look for her debut novel - ABOVE THE FOLD - coming December 2019 from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas!