Last month I was asked by a dear friend, Andre Gensberger, who is both owner and publisher of Books 'N Pieces online magazine to write an article for his April issue titled: Why the World Needs Clean Fiction and Characters With Value. At first I thought he was baiting me because that's not a popular type of book being written today, so I asked if I could think about it overnight. But when I said my prayer, I knew this was an opportunity to address why I write books that are suitable for the entire family. I feel like God has given me a gift that can be used to bless the lives of others by expressing my love an devotion to Him and His Son, Jesus Christ. It is a sacred responsibility I take seriously, even though I know few people will read what I've written. I decided to share it with you since I sense that many of you feel the same way I do about the eroding moral fabric in society today.
Those of us who believe need to stay true to our convictions and not allow the woke agenda's being promoted today to take away the peace and safety we feel when we are free to express our religious beliefs. If you would like to read the many other good articles and short stories in his magazine you can access it at www.BooksNPieces.com. Here's what I wrote in answer to his most thought provoking questions.
Why the World Needs Clean Fiction and Characters with Values
I see the need with most of the books my 13 year-old granddaughter reads because her obsession with the macabre, violent and unreal frightens me. Fortunately, she's not into the really graphic sexual stuff yet, but I see the handwriting on the wall. No one wants to write about normal people with regular problems anymore because it's much too tame and doesn't appeal to the masses who have been conditioned to accept things as being routine that caused people to gasp even a generation ago. I feel a great need and responsibility to help fill the gap between people who have decided that God no longer exists, and ones who still believe in him, with stories that cause people to get in touch with their inner selves and hopefully find the strength to fight their own problems without giving in to all the negative influences that are so prevalent in our me-centered society.
Brylee Hawkin's Virtue
Brylee is a character of the twenty-first century. She knows what it's like to feel rejection, regret, betrayal, anger and loneliness. Watching her grow from a frightened young woman with no real sense of self into a confident adult who can run a ranch and give emotional support to a family she doesn't know helped me to identify my own strengths. She has no answers when she arrives in Australia to face her estranged father, but she has the faith necessary to keep moving forward when her beliefs threaten to destroy everything she is trying to build--even a new romance. She learns how to fight through the hardships and pain without turning her back on God, like most everyone else in her family has done, because she understands that without her faith she has nothing left to cling to. Her journey parallels that of most anyone who has ever lived, not in exact experiences, but in the throbbing disappointment, excruciating heartache and loss of dreams that few mortals escape. Brylee's story is not for readers who prefer fantasy to reality, but it is for those who want a thought-provoking and exciting read that is full of twists and turns they will not see coming.
An Author's Values
I am in the minority and can only speak to the values I've set for myself, and they are ones I cannot violate even though I know I would garner far more success if I did. I was raised in a very strict home where our mouths were washed out with soap if we said even the mildest swear word and our behinds felt the pain coming from a razor strap if we back-talked to our mother or stepped out of line in any other way. I'm not saying that's any way to raise kids, but we knew what it was like to respect God, country and adults--something that is sorely lacking in today's permissive and self-indulgent society. I also grew up reading books where the authors could tell a riveting story without lacing it with profanity, violence, drug and alcohol abuse, explicit sex and many other things I feel are unnecessary but still show up on nearly every page in the books that are coming off the press today. I feel accountable for every word I write because it defines who I am as a person. I'm proud of being a Christian in a very unChristian world. I want people to know I believe in God and in my Savior who died for each of us since I know I will have to account to them one day. That stance offends a lot of people who can say some very unkind things, but I try to let their comments roll off my back because we have the right of choice and should never condemn someone else for their personal beliefs.
Creating Women of Substance
In the past seven years, I have published sixteen books--two series and four standalones. Each lead comes from a place of true individuality underscoring diverse problems that could happen to most anyone. I write in first person because it feels more authentic to me, and I cast women as my lead characters because I really have no idea how men think and want my stories to be believably real. I also feel that the genres of family life, romance and mystery are more likely to be read by women who want to identify with the lead character.
In Indecision's Flame, Brylee is searching for forgiveness and family as she tries to make peace with a very disturbing past while trying to build a future where she can thrive. Reagan Sinclair, as a new FBI agent, finds out through some very desperate experiences that perhaps her parents were right in saying that a career exposing her to the seediest underbelly of life isn't the right place for a girl who attends church every Sunday and believes in God. Maya lost her husband in an unexpected avalanche and is left with two children to raise. Rani has a chip on her shoulder as big as the state of Colorado and cannot stand weakness in anyone, but then she discovers some of her own. Andrea just wants to be married but falls in love with a guy who is all wrong for her. And Jada goes back to her old college as an adjunct professor hoping to find answers as to why her professional life is flourishing while her personal life stinks. The series I'm working on now is about a middle-aged divorced woman who finds herself alone with no one to cling to for help, but she is willing to risk everything she has left to become part of a family she has never known and isn't sure still exists.
Indie vs Mainstream Publishing
I'm not sure I've ever really broken into mainstream publishing. That's pretty hard to do without some serious cash backing, and I'm afraid to push too hard because I don't want anyone telling me I have to change my characters values and beliefs just so the general public will be more interested in their stories. I guess I have to say that I value my integrity over potential dollars earned. Whatever I make goes directly into an account for my grandchildren, and I like having people tell me how much they appreciated one of my books because it gave them direction, courage and hope. I appreciate being able to connect with other writers of faith-filled books who are going through the same struggles I am in finding the right audience. It gives me the courage to stand by my beliefs because the work we're doing is helping people, if only one by one. For me, that's what my writing is all about.
Personal Growth Through My Writing
I think I realized how much I've grown as both a person and an author when I started my latest series. While each of my books contain reflections of an incident or feelings I've had somewhere throughout my life, I was able to truly let go with these. I no longer care what someone else might think about the storyline or how my characters react to personal problems. We live in a very diversified world and have to accept both the good and the bad in others if we want to be happy. That doesn't mean we have to embrace a lifestyle that isn't right for us or accept any kind of abuse, but we do need to show compassion and understanding. That's something I've always believed but have managed to let judgmentalness, jealousy and anger cloud many of my dealings with people. I don't feel that way anymore. I know who I am and would like for my faith to embrace everyone who is struggling and fill them with the same peace I've managed to find. I would still like to find that golden niche every author dreams of, but I'll keep on writing until I do.
There you have it. I hope it makes a little sense and would love to hear how you feel about the books being written today. I can only say that in these times of turmoil and strife I only read things that will build and uplift because I get enough of everything else from the news. People need to know about all the good there still is in the world and how kind and loving most of the people are. Maybe I just choose to look for the positive because that's how I'm trying to live my own life. May safety follow your footsteps and may you find joy in the little beauties you find along the way.
Books by Author JS Ririe found at: https://amzn.to/2BXNSdv
Crossfire at Bentley
Kismet finds a Way
Rivers of Rage
Beyond the Glass Doors
Agent Reagan Sinclair series:
Indecision’s Flame – Book One
Lost – Book Two
Exposed – Book Three
Betrayal – Book Four
Reawakening – Book Five
Unraveling – Book Six
Destiny – Book Seven