I’ve been in a local Christian fiction book club for many years—-before I ever thought of writing a novel.
Many years ago (maybe 20 years!), a young mother discovered Christian fiction. The books she read impacted her faith so much she started a book club. She felt that God had used those stories to draw her back to Him. She wanted other people to experience some of what she had experienced through reading those stories and to be able to talk with fellow believers about how God was speaking to us through them.
I didn’t join the group for a number of years while I worked at my church in children’s ministry because I didn’t think I could squeeze in another activity. I also mostly read nonfiction at the time.
Little did I know what I was missing.
My friends in the group said there were just certain books I had to read by Francine Rivers, Randy Alcorn, and Lynn Austin. They swooned over some new guy author named Charles Martin.
So I bought or borrowed these titles.
There were some sleepless nights.
There were bleary eyes, blurry vision, tears…
And even bigger shifts in my heart and my opinion of fiction–the realization that there is power in story. Jesus taught with stories…
And I fell in love with Christian fiction.
So I became a faithful member group of the group. We only have a couple of rules. It must be Christian fiction, and you have to have read the book to recommend it. (That helps us not end up in a book not worth our time or that was incorrectly labeled as Christian.)
Fast forward many more years, I had a crazy idea to write my own Christian fiction novel. When I finished, I fearfully asked a few members to read this mass of pages I’d gone to Office Max and printed off and put in a three-ring binder. The ladies were so encouraging. The whole book club ended up reading printed off copies of the very rough rough ugly draft of Leaving Oxford. I cringe now thinking about how amateurish is was. But they cheered me on. While writing Going Up South, I sent a few of the members scenes every day as I wrote them. I really didn’t care if they read them at that point, but it kept me accountable to keep working on this crazy idea. They were so patient as I clogged their inboxes with scene after scene. (I know they’re thankful I found an author critique group with ACFW by the third book!)
A quote from my 4th book, Blown Together:
There is power in story. Stories change thinking, change lives. There is beauty in words. Words work their way into our hearts and nuzzle us up to greater heights. Words and stories inspire leaders, change societies, and spark revolutions.
I’ll never forget the first essay you wrote. I knew right away I had a writer in my class. You have a God-given gift, dear Elinor. You wield the power of story and the beauty of words. I ask you to continue to hone that gift to bless, inspire, and nurture. Transform lives for the better. Spark a revolution of love for the first Author.
I’m writing book nine now. The ladies still encourage me. We still read multiple Christian authors every year, one per month!
Not only are we book club ladies closer to God through our reading of Christian fiction, we are closer to each other. We are sisters and friends! (Here’s a pick a few years back when we had Love Inspired author Lorraine Beatty as our guest.
I’ve spoken at numerous book clubs around Mississippi where I live. One had been together 100 years! I love hearing their stories and feeling the camaraderie. I know there are many active online book clubs too!
This is a great time to be reading while we are all stuck at home. My book club met on Zoom technology last month since we couldn’t get together.
If you’re in KU, all but one of my books are available there, along with many of our Inspy Romance authors. I’m also leaving my 4-book series at 99 cents on Amazon another month due to the quarantine.
(Here’s our trying to get organized to a pic picture way back when, LOL!)
I’m so thankful for my Christian fiction book club! Are you in a book club? Tell me about it!