So, I'm finishing up my third Christian romance novel, to be released early Spring. Although I've only written three books, this was by far the hardest to write. In many ways. My first two romance stories were typical "love stories". Girl meets boy(or vice versa),falls in love, struggles with an emotional dilemma, and ultimately ends up "happily ever after", with a subtle religious lesson thrown in for good measure. Typical romance novel story lines. Obvious love story plots. Obligatory references to Christian doctrine. And while I'm VERY proud of my two former novels, and have received MANY compliments and accolades, when I go back and read them now, they seem almost "naive and simplistic". Don't get me wrong - they were a joy to write. In fact, the first one, Broken Dreams and Answered Prayers, literally wrote itself! The words rained down like manna from Heaven, and the more I wrote, the better the story line got! In fact, I'm still convinced it would make an AWESOME Lifetime movie, if just the right director could read it!
Likewise, my second novel, Letting Go - Emily's Homecoming, was equally enjoyable writing. The story had already came to life in my mind before I ever typed the first word on my computer (ahem, bohemian typewriter!) Once again, the right words poured effortlessly from my creative reservoir, and formed a fuzzy, heartwarming love story. Again, my fans were supportive and complimentary, and clamoring for my next "great work". With two "successful" books under my belt, I thought I was on the way to becoming a famous and sought-after Christian romance author. In one book review, I was even compared to the likes of Terri Blackstock and Irene Hannon!
Eager to embark on my next book, I immediately began laying awake in my bed at night, contemplating even BETTER and more tantalizing story lines. Finally, a story began evolving in my head. But it was a dark story. A story with hidden secrets. A story of shame and regret. A story of troubling demons of the past. A story of murder and mayhem. And yes, a love story. Only this story didn't "write itself" as easily as the first two. In fact, I struggled with every word. Every chapter. Every character. Right down to the last page. Gone was the giddy "high" I had while writing my first two books. Gone was the laid back, peaceful flow of beautifully coordinated thoughts and plots from one chapter to the next. Gone was the simple story of girl meets boy, falls in love, resolves a conflict, and lives "happily ever after" - with each other, and with God. Gone was the simple Christian romance novel. Enter the Bohemian Christian romance novel...
There are as many genres of romance writing as there are of people falling in love every day. And while I admit I haven't read even a smidgen of them, I have read enough to know they all don't end on a "happily ever after" note. Nor do they all always follow the traditional Christian doctrine. Nor are they all suitable for "children under 13". There is a growing genre of Christian romance writers, like me, who are writing books with a "freer style". We are The Bohemian Christian authors. Pushing the limits of religion to make our stories MORE believable and modern-day. Writing lines that our readers can relate to in a more modern way. Using the dynamic language and modern expressions that our readers are familiar with. But still relaying God's message of hope, love and trust in a powerful way through more intense drama and highly personal story lines. Breaking the old rules of Christian romance novels (whatever they were), and freely writing on a level that today's romance novel reader can really relate to and understand. Reaching out to them in a bolder, more thought-provoking manner on matters of right and wrong, good and bad, and evil vs righteousness. OUR words speaking THEIR thoughts.
And this is the type of novel my third book will be, because it breaks the rules of what a traditional Christian romance novel is. No, it's NOT another "Fifty Shades of Grey". Not at all. Nor am I condoning or justifying a "risque" style of writing. But in writing Heart in a Bottle, I found that I had to get "down and dirty" with the characters - and the plot - in order to make the story REAL and BELIEVABLE. I had to break out of my usual namby-pamby Christian shell, and write with guts and honesty. I had to expose the ugly, the dark and the evil in order to make the story come to life. Real life. Not just a fantasy. I had to write "on the full moon's edge" of light and darkness. And that's why writing this book was SO hard. And SO rewarding. It forced me to explore another side of romance novel writing. And in the struggle, I not only learned a lot about myself as a writer, but I became more in tune with my readers. And yes, I became closer to God because I was forced to examine ALL sides of the story. The good. The bad. And the ugly. Not only from the perspective of a writer, but of a Christian, as well. In fact, many of my OWN demons surfaced while I was writing this book, and I was forced to deal with them, as well. God sure does know how to get your attention at the strangest times!
It's only been within the past few years that I discovered - and embraced - my true Bohemian self. It was always there, of course, but it took me almost forty some years to realize - and appreciate it. And the more time I spend writing, the more I realize that my style is truly Bohemian. Which means my future Christian romance novels will more than likely be Bohemian Christian. Like the bohemian font that brings life to this blog, so will the Bohemian Christian words continue to flow from my bohemian typewriter.