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October 2012

Reporter: Rebecca DeMarino

Rebecca DeMarinoDeMarino, a member of ACFW, RWA, and the Faith Hope & Love Chapter, began writing her first novel in 2008. Her debut, based on her ninth great-grandparents and set in 1600’s Long Island, will be published by Revell in 2014, the first in a three-book series. Visit her online or through Facebook and Twitter.

Presenter: Allen Arnold

Allen ArnoldArnold worked at Thomas Nelson for 18 years, leaving as Senior Vice-President and Fiction Publisher. In his new position, he will oversee the content and resources at Ransomed Heart Ministries. At Thomas Nelson Arnold oversaw author marketing and branding for more than a decade before launching the Fiction division in 2004. He’s passionate about the power of a well-told story to transform hearts and culture – to entertain and inspire.

Workshop 20: Christian Fiction Unplugged

“Come with your questions about the industry, ready for a ‘relaxed’ conversation,” the course description read. And with Allen Arnold’s easy demeanor and approachable style, his ACFW conference workshop Christian Fiction Unplugged had the flavor of an intimate talk between friends. He listened to questions, gave his thoughts, and opened it up for discussion. No question was off-limits.

Arnold, former senior vice president and fiction publisher at Thomas Nelson, now oversees content and resources for Ransomed Heart Ministries in Colorado. He was presented with ACFW’s Lifetime Achievement Award at this year’s national conference in Dallas.

A changing industry

Arnold plunged right in with what was on most writers’ and industry professionals’ mind: the tumult of change, ranging from genre shifts to technology and how readers read. “Some things begin to bring fear when you work in isolation,” Arnold said. “Demons start to create doubt. In the end, it’s always about story. Storytellers are always needed.”

Biblical fiction

Ebook imageArnold anticipates growth in Biblical fiction and increasing use of peripheral Biblical characters. He asked how many were currently writing in the genre, and when only one hand went up, he said it’s a good time to be writing Biblical fiction.

Hot genres

Arnold discussed writing what you are called to write, versus writing the hot genre. Hot genres, he pointed out, could change before you finish. Jumping on a bandwagon, he said, tends not to be fresh.


Arnold said he feels e-books will ultimately sell more than paper. He encouraged authors to be format agnostic—writers and publishers are not the owner of paper. Readers have the freedom to choose the format they read. “It is threatening for the brick and mortar stores, but for storytellers, the demand is always there.”

Social media

“The Wild West of mass advertising on TV and magazines is long gone,” Arnold said. And while digital opens up “discoverability,” if everyone blogged, none would stand out.


Idea imageWith an open, no subject barred conversation, the question where the industry is at with language in Christian fiction was bound to be asked. Arnold responded with aplomb: “You don’t want novels that avoid realism. Christianity has never been about a safe way of life. For adults, safety is not the goal.”

He said too often we look to the general market to set the trend, and then copy it. “We should be leading in the arts; we should be setting the trends. We have a Creator.”

“God cares more about your story (you) than your story (your novel).”

E-book image courtesy of adamr/

Ideas image courtesy of Stuart Miles/


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