Tag: edgy Christian fiction

Neighbourhood Cast List

A few readers said they had some trouble keeping such a large cast of characters straight while reading the original NEIGHBOURS Series. To help alleviate that issue, I have added a ‘cast list’ to the second series at the back of each volume. I want to thank Violet, one of my beta readers, for making this suggestion. Here is what it looks like:

Cast List From the Neighbourhood

The Malloys:

Jed Malloy: 32 – back woods boy from Newfoundland is the head of the ‘clan’.

Zeb Malloy: 30 – rough around the edges; likes to party, and likes his ‘freedom’.

Bo Malloy: 27 – quiet and more sensible than the rest. Works at the Urban Cowboy.

Will Malloy: 26 – into sports, the outdoors, and anything fun!

Reba Malloy: 24 – fiery redhead with a stubborn streak.

Pip (Steve) Malloy: 22 – the ‘baby’ of the family and a bit of a ‘ladies’ man’.

The Rest:

Andrea Carravagio: identical twin to Angela. Owns Gemini’s Beauty Salon.

Angela Carravagio: identical twin to Andrea. The ‘wild one’ of the two.

Jacques Marcett: manager of the Urban Cowboy, originally from Quebec.

Lester Tibbett: former cowboy and Jed’s friend.

Patsi Tibbett: Lester’s younger sister back from the country.

Brett McMillan: Patsi’s former boyfriend and one of the ‘elite’.

Marigold Reynolds: artist and environmentalist. Her parents own a campground.

Ophelia Stanfield: rich California girl visiting her relatives, the McMillans.

Cory Roberts: owns the Urban Cowboy; likes dreadlocks and DJing.

Viann-Patrice Marcett: Jacques’s step-sister from Montreal.

Sherri Chan: college professor who goes with Lester Tibbett.

Tiffany Yuen: Martial arts instructor visiting from Toronto.

Lily Chan: Sherri Chan’s cousin who also works at the family restaurant.

Some Minor Players:

Tamara Spence: owner of the Brew café where Patsi works.

Carmen Lamont: owner of the Brew café where Patsi works.

Sherman Chan: Architect. Sherri’s brother. Goes with Carmen Lamont.

Rocky Carravagio: Scary looking brother of Andrea and Angela.

Jeremiah Reynolds: Will’s boss. Owns a campground.

Maizy Reynolds: Jeremiah’s wife.

Buck Stone: First Nations man who works at Jeremiah’s camp with Will.

Tad Roberts: Cory’s father and financier of the Urban Cowboy.

Dr. Lawler: has a brief relationship with Viann.

Crystal: waitress at the Urban Cowboy.

Millicent Peacock: nosy neighbour who lives in the apartment building.

Ma and Pops Malloy: The parents who started it all.

   (The three sisters still in Newfoundland):

Fanny: 33  – married to Joe with 3 kids

Mary: 29 – married to ‘Dr.’ Trent with two kids

Sissy: 28 – married to Hank with four kids

Characters from Neighbours Series I referenced in Series II:

Megan McMillan: Patsi’s friend and sister to Brett.

Emmanuel Fernandez: Megan’s boyfriend whom she eventually marries.

Elaine and Bruce McMillan: Brett’s lawyer parents involved in a scandal.

Steve Russell: Newspaper columnist who dates Tamara Spence.

Matonabee Spence: Tamara’s young son.

Goldie Harper: Lives in the apartment and goes with Tad Roberts.

Jason Harper: Goldie’s son.

Vinny Kirkpatrick: retired newspaper reporter.

Renee Tucker: Carmen Lamont’s niece, who used to date Cory Roberts.

Pre-sales of Volume 2 – NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH – BO are on now! 

Accountability Progress Report

If I was in business, I would say that the first quarter of 2017 has come and gone. In fact, we’re two weeks into the second quarter. But wait… I AM in business. I’m a writer, and I set some pretty lofty goals for myself at the beginning of this year. In fact, my ‘word’ for 2017 is ACCOUNTABILITY, so this post is one way of maintaining that focus one quarter in.

While I’m not one hundred percent up to the mark with all of my writing and publishing goals, I feel like I am making very good progress. In fact, you may already know that Volume 1 in the NEIGHBOURS sequel released on Saturday.

NEIGHBOURHOOD TANGLE – Volume 1 – JED is now available on Amazon. It is the first novella length instalment in the continuing series. (There are seven in all) I shared the blurb in a previous post 

Here is how the rest of the series is shaping up:

NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH – Volume 2 – BO – release date April 30

NEIGHBOURHOOD REBEL – Volume 3 – REBA – release date  May 15

NEIGHBOURHOOD UPSTART – Volume 4 – PIP  – release date May 30

NEIGHBOURHOOD FREEDOM – Volume 5 – WILL – release date June 15

NEIGHBOURHOOD CUPID – Volume 6 – ZEB – release date June 30


KEEPING UP WITH THE NEIGHBOURS COMPLETE SERIES 2 – release date July 30 (paperback and ebook)

Please stay tuned for more details on the final launch. I am releasing each novella separately, but hope to make the final book launch of the complete series a bit more ‘splashy’.



This short volume – the first in a seven part series that follows the Malloy family, whom we met in NEIGHBOURS Series 1, is set to release on April 15.

Keeping Up With the Neighbours: 

Volume 1 – Neighbourhood Tangle – JED

Look out! The Malloy family are taking over the neighbourhood! Jed – a ‘down-home’ boy from Newfoundland who’s a bit rough around the edges – moved ‘out west’ several years ago, but now his raucous family are joining him, one by one. A confirmed bachelor, Jed finds himself attracted to a hairdresser who he mistakes for her identical twin sister. Just when Jed thinks he’s ready for love, he finds out that their moral standards don’t align. In anguish he turns to alcohol – the one true friend that has never let him down.




Note to readers: This series, although labelled ‘Christian’, contains elements that may be disturbing to some readers, such as the use of alcohol and pre-marital sexual encounters. (The latter take place ‘off camera’.) There is, however, a faith based element throughout with a strong redemptive message at the end of the series.



Take Aim

Businessman holding rocket and shooting to archery target.

Businessman holding rocket and shooting to archery target.

Knowing your target audience should be uppermost in every writer’s mind. This is just as vital for fiction authors as for writers of non-fiction, yet many fiction writers naively think their books will appeal to everyone. While it is wonderful to want to evangelize, the reality is that most non-Christians just aren’t picking up Christian fiction. To further narrow the field, not all Christian fiction is created equal. Let me explain.

One of the major problems is that the audience and the author just aren’t speaking the same language. Many people within the Christian community don’t realize that they speak with idioms that are only understandable to others within their faith. (‘Christian-ese’ I like to call it.) Another issue is that the average Christian reader has an expectation about the content. Coarse language, sexuality, and violence are usually smoothed over so as not to offend. In contrast, secular fiction – along with its motion picture counterpart – is becoming more and more sexualized, violent, crude and shocking.
When a book is labeled ‘Christian’ the assumption is often made that it will be squeaky-clean. There will be no sex outside marriage, no violence, no language warnings… nothing to make anyone uncomfortable. Some readers argue that they don’t want to be surprised by these elements and if a book is labelled ‘Christian’, they have a certain expectation, kind of like a ‘G’ movie rating. I’m NOT saying there is anything wrong with this. Story is ‘king, (or queen) and if a book can’t stand up on its own without these elements, then it’s really not a very good book in the first place. Gratuitous violence, sex, or bad language won’t improve a bad story. End of story.
But there are readers who want something with a little more ‘grit’. Real life isn’t perfect. Bad people do bad things. Adding non-gratuitous ‘edgy’ elements to a book makes the story more believable and can have a huge impact on the message. For a few wonderful examples, check out the Bible. There are plenty of stories in there that are pretty graphic – no sugar coating added.
That there is a market for such books is a fact. The problem for authors of so called ‘edgy’ Christian fiction is that they have a harder time finding their audience. To avoid a backlash from readers who expect all books labelled ‘Christian’ to contain zero worldly elements, some authors avoid mentioning the ‘Christian’ part. This inevitably creates another set of problems when non-Christian readers get offended by ‘too much religion’.
My own experience with this dilemma is quite extensive. I try not to sugar coat my characters or their circumstances. I want my characters to sound like real people in their natural setting, and let’s face it. Life sucks sometimes. Of course, I have certain standards – I don’t write explicit sex scenes, grotesque violence, and I will never use the F-bomb or take the Lord’s name in vain.
Still, my characters might have sex outside of marriage, get caught up in violent situations, and may use the occasional mild curse. This last one seems to be the stickler for many Christians. One lady wrote me to say she had to stop reading when a character used the word “hell.” Interestingly, many other readers expressed the opposite opinion, saying the authenticity of the dialogue added to the believability of the story. It’s an anything but clear case of ‘you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.’ (I apologize to those who may be offended by the use of the word ‘damn’…)
Some Christian authors state that their goal is to evangelize, and therein lies another paradox. In all honesty, non-Christians just aren’t reading their books. Books written from a Christian worldview are being read by people who are already familiar with the gospel. When my second book MY MOTHER THE MAN-EATER came out, I was asked at a library reading if I would prefer my book in the regular stacks or in the religious section. My immediate reply was in the regular stacks. A few months later I got an email from a reader who told me they didn’t like my book because it was too religious. (By the way, amazon isn’t the only way authors get feedback…) On the other hand, I have had more than one reader contact me to say that this same story impacted them on a deep level and they were sharing a copy with a friend. This kind of encouragement convinces me that my message has value. Even if I only affect a few people along the way, it’s worth it.

I am beginning to see that trying to be ‘all things to all people’ is not the best strategy. The debate actually comes down to one thing: AUDIENCE. I believe there is a niche – even a need – for fiction that isn’t squeaky-clean, but that tells an uncompromising yet compelling story from a Christian worldview. Perhaps the demographic is different from the stereotypic Christian reader. It may include people who were not raised in the church, who came to salvation through difficult circumstances, or who are of a more liberal mindset. If this is your audience, then write for them. They will thank you for it.

This article was originally published in the 2015 fall edition of ‘Fellowscript Magazine’.

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