Last Thursday evening “Shoot the Wounded” was officially “launched”! It was such fun to gather with family and friends and fellowship and laugh and yes, getting to sign a bunch of copies of my book for them. I can always count on my buddies to be so encouraging. It was great to be reunited with the SCCC ladies, and to have Caleb (the cover artist) and his parents there too. It was especially wonderful to have the book “commissioned”. I was profoundly touched and blessed by the prayers lifted up by Paul Nelson not only for me but for Caleb. I am so glad that everyone at the book launch recognized that this book (and the others to follow) are a new way for me to minister to youth.
That said, when I went home that night I knew my book was now in the hands of some of those youth and I started to get nervous…again. The book reviews would soon be in and I would know for sure whether or not the youth would give me a thumbs up or a thumbs down for the story. I could count on them to give me an honest critique. Now, I’m not saying that my adult friends would not give me an honest critique, but let’s face it, youth are much more prone to “tell it like it is”. They can be brutally honest…and I do mean brutal! I have heard more than one book, movie, T.V. show, video game, etc. etc. be labelled “lame” or “failure” and careers launched or lost dependant on those youth reviews.
So I logged in to my Facebook account to await the reviews. I didn’t have to wait long. “I love the book, Mrs. Dove!” “I read it in one night, I couldn’t put it down!” “Can’t wait for book number two!” Whew! They like it!!
On Saturday I spent a couple hours at Bentley’s Books in Cochrane for my first book signing and I will admit I was bolstered for the day due to the positive reviews I had received from my youth at church. Unfortunately my high spirits were somewhat short-lived when one of the first to come in and talk to me was the editor of a local newspaper. He said politely to me, “Love the title of your book….not necessarily the Christian content.” Talk about getting the wind knocked out of my sails.
It’s a heavy and sad realization when you come face to face with opposition that has nothing whatsoever to do with your writing abilities but has everything to do with writing from a Christian perspective. No sooner had he left the store when another lady from the community came up and looked at the back cover of the book and as soon as she saw the line: ‘Shoot the Wounded is a contemporary Christian novel…’, she plopped it back down and humphed, “Christian!…not for me!”
When I told my family about this later that day, my youngest child, Carmen asked me, “Mom, why did you say it was a Christian novel on the cover? You would probably sell a lot more books if you didn’t!”
I remembered the interview I had with a local newpaper reporter who had asked me a similar question, “Why are you limiting your reading audience by writing a Christian novel?”
Success. How is that measured? I have had to come to terms with that all through this writing and publishing process and that is why I refuse to hide behind a cover (book cover or otherwise) that depicts me in any other way than what I am. I am a Christian. My books may or may not be read by thousands of people (not because it isn’t a good read), but because countless numbers of people may never get past that “contemporary Christian” line on the back cover. It’s sad, but it’s true. I’m sure I’m not the only Christian writer who has experienced this but it makes me even more determined to write from a Christian world view. After all, I gauge success by God’s standards and not the world’s.