Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Future of Hope-Filled Fiction, Part II: What's Coming Up & Why It Matters

A few weeks ago I spotlighted a few of my favorite upcoming releases, based on a recent article I wrote for Library Journal's November 2013 issue. You can read that here. And you can find the article here.

Today I would like to spotlight a few more websites for readers interested in following the trends and then mention another half dozen books I think are significant after perusing the release catalogues, conducting e-interviews, and surveying the web.

NovelCrossing was created last fall and continues to grow in its offerings. Created by Waterbrook Multnomah books, it is a sort of Goodreads of Christian fiction with so much to offer the CF reader. In addition to updated news, a calendar of releases and loads of great interviews and reviews, Novel Crossing has WONDERFUL interactive tools for readers.

There are reviews by a variety of readers. You can create your own bookshelves of books you want to read, have read, or are reading just as you can on Goodreads or Library Thing. There are over 5,000 titles in the database. If you run a book club, there are also great features here including sample questions and ideas for your next gathering. And this site is planning more for 2014.

Amish Living is a great site hosted by Thomas Nelson. I wasn't even aware of this site until writing my article. it features online book clubs for Amish subgenre lovers. According to a Library Journal September survey, Amish fiction is the category of CF offered by the most libraries across the country. Authors Wanda Brunstetter and Beverly Lewis' books are among the top four CF authors included in libraries.

Its social network has almost 8K members and is very interactive. You can chat in forums or groups. There are pages about all topics Amish including recipes, travel, and furniture. Interactive book clubs share monthly discussions about a variety of books in the subgenre. I think this site is significant because of the interactivity and community it offers. Even if you aren't an Amish fan, its worth a look.

Thirdly, I learned about a new-to-me site, Edelweiss. Similiar to NetGalley, bloggers and professionals can request review copies of advanced and new releases. Perhaps I'm behind the times and everyone else knows about this site! What is great about Edelweiss Above the Treeline is that you can peruse upcoming book catalogues. What better way to trace the trends than that! Edeleweiss is a very useful site for retailers and libraries but I believe it is essential for us to stay current in trend-watching and this site can help us do it.

Here are a few more books I think are representative of what's new in 2014:

1) Amish Vampires in Space by Kerry Nietz:

OK, yes, I know (cringe).

In the words of one of my favorite songwriters, anything goes, right?

Pushing the envelope, we may at first simply laugh at the title, but it is a reminder that satire is entering the Christian fiction realm. Christian fiction and a sense of humor can go together.

And perhaps the absurd can find its way into Christian fiction, whether for good or ill.

2) The Miting by Dee Yoder:

Amish fiction has typically been the realm of the idyllic, happily-ever-after ending but we're beginning to see a new style of Christian fiction. An example would be the release of Alice Wisler's Still Life in Shadows inspired by a character in National Geographic's Amish: Out of Order series.

This upcoming year sees the release of several books about Amish and Mennonites who have a different view of the lifestyle. In these books, the members find the life restrictive and legalistic and find themselves in a different type of Christian life in the outside world after an "escape."

Still other releases feature Amish young people during their Rumspringa (a teenage time of questioning) who must decide whether to stay or leave. In these books, the decisions made are varying. This is clearly not your mother's Amish fiction.

3) Defy the Night by Heather and Lydia Munn:

Christian young adult fiction has increased its scope. Contemporary issues and fantasy have long been staples of the YA Christian fiction market but I'm thrilled to see historicals and other offerings for the young adult market.

To increase that diversity, a new CF YA line has been launched this fall, Playlist. Can't wait to see what will be coming next! Since I have a daughter in the preteen years I am especially anxious to see quality and faith-filled novels in the young adult and children's markets.

4) Edwin by Edouardo Albert:

A debut novel about Christian Britain's early rulers is set in a unique time period. The medieval time period is one that hasn't had very much attention in CF and I'm glad to see it getting a chance.

Noteworthy also is the fact that it is published by Lion Fiction, an imprint with a 2013 launch that has made it a goal to publish fiction with "complex characters and exciting historical settings." Offerings include: mysteries, historical fiction, fantasies, and women's fiction.

5) For Such a Time by Kate Breslin:

World War fiction is hitting it big with the anniversary for the Great War (many of those titles coming up as mentioned in my previous installment with the popularity of Downton Abbey). World War II is another popular choice.

Breslin's debut book and How Sweet the Sound by Amy Sorrells are a few books that tap into biblical history to make parallels to historical and contemporary times.

These covers are books I can't wait to devour. How about you.

What books are you most excited about that are set to release in 2014??


Joanne Sher said...

Just have to say how very cool it is to see my dear dear friend Dee Yoder's book mentioned here! It definitely ISN'T your grandma's Amish fiction! And a highly recommended read for anyone who wants to see how Amish life truly is for some!

Fabulous post, Julia. So very glad for all these wonderful resources!

Julia M. Reffner said...


I hadn't heard of it, but look forward to reading it. I'm so glad for new directions for Amish.

Dee Yoder said...

I'm honored my book has been included in the discussions about Amish fiction. Since I work with Mission to Amish People and am involved with many former Amish, my desire has been to represent their journeys through my story. Thanks so much for the opportunity to share this project with others. You've blessed me today!

Julia M. Reffner said...

Thanks so much, Dee for sharing in the discussion. So pleased to hear about your book. This sounds like such a fascinating topic and I'm thrilled to see Amish fiction moving in some new directions.

Alice. J. Wisler said...

Nice to have my novel, Still Life in Shadows, my ex-Amish novel, mentioned! Thanks!

Julia M. Reffner said...

I really enjoyed it, Alice. So great to see new ideas being embraced.

Amy K. Sorrells said...

Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you for mentioning my upcoming, debut novel, How Sweet the Sound! My prayer is that the story will bring renewed hope and joy to many, many readers.

Julia M. Reffner said...


You're welcome. Congratulations on your debut! Love the cover!