Saturday, July 31, 2010

Welcome Edgy Christian Ficton Lovers Blog Tour

Hello, we were expecting you. Some things may have changed since you last visited. I've spruced up a bit. Don't look in that closet. I hung a new sign for my new novel. Like it?
Let's get to what you came here for.

Urban, Not Necessarily the Opposite of Rural

Poor Mr. Webster, how demoralizing it must be to put out an annual reference that is basically outdated before it’s typeset. Once again, I have to call him on one of his definitions: Urban. Of, or pertaining to a city was one of his listings. Is that the kind of Christian Fiction that I write? New genres are created everyday. Citified Christian Fiction, although I like the premise and overall ring of the title; it is not necessarily what I write.
What are categories anyway, but catch-alls, and that’s the catch 22. I write Urban Christian Fiction. I write for Urban Christian (literally, that is the name of the publishing company I write for). Urban, loosely, subjectively and connotatively means of or pertaining to African Americans. It’s that simple or complicated. Like I said before, it’s a catch all category.
Believing that African Americans even in a niche market like Christian Fiction write all the same is like believing all African Americans are citified. WHat about the Southern Belles and gents. I just came back from The Faith and Fiction retreat ( in Atlanta created by fellow Christian Fiction author, Tiffani L. Warren (What a Sista Should Do, Father than I Meant to go, Longer than I Meant to Stay and In the Midst of it All) where I learned that our audience as well as why we write is as varied as our skin tones. Some write primarily to edify the body of Christ, and others dubbed as pioneers of contemporary Christian Fiction like author, Victoria Christopher Murray ( Joy, Temptation, Sins of the Mother) feel compelled to write for those who may never grace a church pew.
Me? I feel a certain weight to write to try to demystify the black church. I am a certified church girl that was tired of movie portrayals of church with their attempts to paint a caricature or rely on stereotypes of “church folk” who liken sitting in Sunday service to serving fifteen years to life in a maximum security prison. I really hated those classic redemption scenes where the prodigal son or daughter literally crashes a Sunday service, joining in with the choir and dramatically giving their heart to the Lord. Sorry Steven Spilberg and his adaptation of Color Purple, but Alice Walker ‘s book shows what happens with Shug Avery between the time she’s singing Sista in the juke joint and when she comes down the aisle singing, Speak Lord in her daddy’s church. I try to illustrate Christians exercising their faith. I love to write about burgeoning love and a burgeoning relationship in Christ. Either may or may not take place in a church.
African American Christian writers are bound only by their conscious and publisher’s guidelines. We are CPA, self and mainstream published. We write multi layered novels, often tackling taboo topics with the overall theme of God’s love, forgiveness and redemptive power. Our diversity gives us our edginess.
Here’s the catch 22. (I’ll ask you to hold my base steady while I ascend my soapbox.)You will not see Urban Christian Fiction authors in the Christian Fiction section of the local bookstores. I dare you to look for me or any of my titles. Lord forbid if we are placed in two sections. Where are we then? As if we are children of a lesser God, we are clumped into the two to four shelves set aside for African-American interest. We are in with Urban romance, Urban classics, Urban contemporary, Urban Erotica and Urban Urban or what is known as Urban Street Lit genre.
Don’t get me wrong, I know my audience is primarily ‘urban,’. I know some authors prefer to be the only race categorized by ethnicity. I am sure there are Caucasian Christian authors who would prefer to be shelved in fiction instead of Christian. Like a true evangelist, I wonder who might be missing my message because they failed to realize or fail to wonder into African American interest section because they are not African American.
If you fall into the later category may I suggest some authors for you. Kendra Norman Bellamy, Norma Jarrett, Rhonda Mc Knight, Sharon Oliver, Sheila Lipsey, Reshonda Tate Billingsley, Dwan Abrams, Michelle Larks, E.N. Joy, Michelle Andrea Bowen, Cecelia Dowdy, Angela Benson, Shana Burton, Tia McCollors, Nicole Rouse, Kimberly Cash Tate, TN Williams, Stacy Hawkins Adams, Victoria Christopher Murray, Nikita Lynette Nichols, Vanessa Miller, Sherri Lewis,Ashea Goldson, Leslie Sherrod, Patricia Haley. This by no means is a comprehensive listing. There are a few men to mention as well, Victor McGlothin , James Jimason and James Guitard.
Just like rural doesn’t mean Caucasian, Urban does not literally mean African American. According to connotation , Urban is not necessarily the opposite of rural. You’ll find Christian fiction is more alike in its root message than different no matter what section you find it in or what race the author hapens to be.

What’s next on the Edgy Christian Fiction Lovers tour. Check out these past and future dates. Oh and by the way, don't just eat and run. Take your feet off my good furniture, take a look around and leave a comment.
Sun July 11: Joy Tasmin David, Edgy Christian Romance

Wed, July 14: Dan Calabrese, Spiritual Warfare and the edgy Christian novel,

Sun July 18: Nike Chillemi, Edgy Christian Crime Fiction,

Sun July 25: Janalyn Voigt, Edgy Christian Epic Fantasy Fiction - medieval

Wed, July 28: Lisa Lickel, Outside Of The Box Romance

Sun Aug 1: Michelle Sutton, Sensuality in the Edgy Christian novel; both YA and Adult romance.

Wed, Aug 4: Sherryle Jackson, Edgy Urban Christian Fiction

Sun Aug 8: Tracy Krauss, Edgy Romantic Suspense

Wed, Aug 11: Keith Madsen, Edgy Christian Fiction In The Ebook Market

Sun, Aug 15: Shawna Williams, Clean Doesn't Equal Christian

Sun, Aug 22: Shawna Van Ness, Culturally Relevant Characters

Sun, Aug 29: Donna Fletcher Crow, Spiritual Authenticity in Fiction


  1. Great post Sherryle!! That's true, they don't put urban Christian fiction in the Christian section. I never thought about that before. I think they should be in both. It's helpful that you named specific Christian authors so people can find them in the mainstream stacks.

  2. It never ceases to amaze me that in this 'progressive' day and age, we still find so much 'segregation'. I'm not sure Christian fiction should even be in a separate section, let alone urban Christian fiction. The Christian message, especially for any 'edgy' writers-should be getting out to everyone, not just believers. I'm sure the same goes for urban fiction. There are many of us 'melanine challenged' folks who enjoy urban fiction, too!

  3. Melanine challenged (LOL) Tracy. Hopefully you will consider some of the authors works listed above and attending the Faith and Fiction retreat. We have a blast and the open forum lets us talk about how we can get the word out about our titles.

  4. I'm glad you're on the tour. I've read Shelia Lipsey and had a couple of intriguing conversations. Our books were up for acfw bookclub choice at the same time. I think urban is probably the edgiest, touchiest of all the inspy choices. It's not a crime to celebrate our differences, besides amount of mealnine. Lifestyle, culture, speech patterns...once we decide we're stronger together I think we'll be less afraid of what we learn from each other and how we see each other and ourselves.

  5. Thanks for a look into your world. I followed your blog. I'm part Native American, but you can't tell it from my skin tone. :o)

    CBA Fantasy writers have the opposite problem. Bookstores often shelve our books in the Christian section where general readers won't look for them. With more readers ordering books online, opportunities arise.

  6. Sherryle, That was so informative. I had no idea that urban fiction meant black. And that you have your own problems with book store categorizing. Oh, my, the complications never end, do they? But thank you so much for explaining it all so clearly.

  7. Hi Sherryle and the rest of the Edgy Christian fiction members. Sherryle, what an outstanding blog today. It is oh so true and only you could have so eloquently explained 'Urban'. Thank you also for the shout out (Yayyyy). To all who may not know, Sherryle is my label mate (we both write for Urban Christian) AND we write Christian fiction (lol). No need to go into all of that because Sherryle has explained it all. I wish you many blessings on your upcoming release!

  8. Sherryle,

    Wonderful post. I've been trying to tell people for years that Urban Fiction is fiction set in a big city. How it became African-American I do not know.

    Thanks for mentioning me as a author to consider. I invite you all to visit my blog where there's lots of melanin, but a whole lot more of Christ.

  9. What shelf do we belong on? Great question, not only for the Urban Christian fiction writer, but for all Christian fiction writers.

    I agree with Janalyn, with more readers ordering online, all writers have an opportunity to reach a greater number of readers.

    Great article...

  10. As a reader of Urban Fantasy (where the "Urban" sticks more to Mr. Webster's definition and the mention of race has more to do with the ability to grow fangs or fur LOL) I hadn't really thought about Urban Fiction being otherwise. I've been educated. Thanks! I find it intriguing that within one industry the word "urban" can be used as an adjective to describe two subgenres (Urban Fantasy and Urban Fiction) which maintain two very different definitions.

    BTW: I WISH there WAS a "rural fiction" category where they could shove all those Amish books-- might leave more marketable space for Edgy Christian Fiction!

  11. There are quite a few Rural books out there in the Christian section. Why is that? At one point I thought that rural was synonmous with Christian Fiction.

  12. Great post, Sherryle! Also, thanks for mentioning me in your blog post! I've blogged about the shelving of African-American books, and getting non-African-Americans to visit the AA section of the book store a number of times! The first time I heard the word Urban, it was several years ago at an ACFW conference. At the time, I don't think the Urban Christian fiction line had launched, or if it had, it was brand new. Author Dee Stewart mentioned the term Urban Christian, and I said, "My book wouldn't be eligible for that line since it's not set in the city!"
    She patiently explained to me that urban didn't necessarily mean that the book would be set in the city. It's still a confusing term, especially when you look at the definition of urban.

  13. Just wanted to clarify about the conference that I mentioned, it wasn't the first time I'd heard the word was the first time I'd heard the term URBAN CHRISTIAN FICTION.

  14. Sherryle: I just wanted to let you know: I put a link to this post in my latest post (I wrote about Urban Fantasy)on my blog! Hope you get some hits from it!

  15. Very nice blog, Sherryle. Thanks a million for the plug. I will have to say, though, that I have seen my Urban Books titles in the Christian Fiction section of the store from time to time. I think it's largely because I write for more than one publisher and they shelve my stuff together regardless of who published it.

  16. Good food for thought. Some may miss out on reading a good book because of the misconception of what "Urban" means.

  17. Rhonda thanks for introducing me to this blog. I most certainly will return for some more great information on one of my favorite genres.