Winner of the American Christian Fiction Writer's Carol Award for Dauntless!!!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Take My Match Making Quiz

Do your reading interests match my writing specialties? Take my match making quiz and find out.

Every writer is unique. We all have our own strengths and focuses. And we have other areas that just aren't our specialties. Much like finding the right spouse, I think it's important for writers to find the right readers who appreciate their books and what they have to offer, rather than trying to please everyone, which is pretty much impossible. I've been paying a lot of attention to my reviews lately, and trying to pin down my precise audience. Or as some marketing experts call it, my tribe!

So who is the Dina Sleiman tribe and who should probably just stay away from my books? Let me try to explain with this match making quiz.

Do you like only one category of fiction or a broad variety? If you are very faithful to a specific category like romance or suspense, you might feel that certain elements are lacking from my books or that the pacing is not quite what you expected. But if you a have broad interests, you will be delighted to find many of your favorite ingredients mixed together in a lovely potpourri throughout my books. My Valiant Hearts novels include a heaping helping of romance, a good bit of action, dashes of suspense and humor, and even coming of age elements--all set against a historical backdrop. But don't necessarily expect my heroes and heroines to meet in chapter one, or the suspense to kick off from the very first scene. Be ready for a new adventure.

Are you looking for fantasy or historical fiction? While I enjoy fantasy books for the most part, they include way too much plot and action for me, and really, I don't quite understand the genre. My Valiant Hearts books are historical. They are set in real times and real countries, although often fictional towns. They have elements that might appeal to fantasy readers, like medieval settings and adventure, but if you're specifically looking for fantasy books, that's not what I write. On the other hand, I have a fanciful imagination and my books are more focused on the story and fictional elements than the historical account itself. While I try to be as historically accurate as possible, I use history as a backdrop, not as a primary subject.

Do you like romance and happy endings? If you hate romance and roll your eyes at it and find it gaggy, don't waste your time on my books. Or if you want to shield your kids from romance for some reason, then pick a different author. While I don't consider myself a classic romance writer, I love romance, and I include it in all of my books. My Love in Three Quarter Time is absolutely a romance novel. And I'll let you in on a little secret, Dauntless was originally written as a romance novel and then expanded to bring in a more epic adventure feel. There is a good bit of romance at the heart of everything I write. If you want a book that's dark and depressing and will leave you filled with angst, don't bother with my books. They are full of hope, light, and redemption. I'll be the first to admit, I'm a happy ending girl.

Do you read for plot alone or do you enjoy the more relational and artistic elements of fiction? If you read mostly for plot and tend to skip over lovely descriptions, long conversations, and inner monologues, you might not like my books very much. In fact, you might feel a little lost, because that's where a lot of the good stuff happens. If thoughts of characters, inner journeys, and beautiful language make you tingle, then I am the author for you. If you care as much about what is going on inside a character and appreciate a dash of psychology, philosophy, and deep spirituality, then prepare to be thrilled.

Are you looking for religion or spirituality? When it comes to spiritual threads, I like to go deep. My books will challenge you to experience Christ on a very personal level. They are not just clean books about good morals. They examine hard questions and real life problems, and explore how a very active and present God can make Himself known to you in those places. If you want a squeaky clean, goody-goody book that is G-rated and more sanitized than the Bible itself, please look elsewhere. If you think that God gave us Jesus and the Bible and then left us to our own devices for the next 2000 years, no longer speaking to us or moving in miraculous ways, don't waste your time on my books. Unless of course you are interested in learning and growing and being challenged with new ideas. Then by all means, I welcome you to try them.

Are you willing to read a book geared toward older teen girls and young adult women? My new Valiant Hearts books should appeal to ages 12 through adult, but my goal has always been to write to older teens and younger women. I think you will find that all of my books resonate with that group. And I intend to keep them as my primary audience and focus my books towards their needs and interests. These books are not for elementary kids, and as I've mentioned, they do include romance and some grittier topics. I certainly don't mean to offend anyone, but I'm not going to apologize for tailoring my books to my target audience. And while I'm sure many boys and men could enjoy the Valiant Hearts series, they are more geared toward females.

Do you like heroines who are both strong and feminine? If you are looking for wilting maidens and damsels in distress saved by shining knights who swoop in on their giant horses, look elsewhere. The personalities of these Valiant Hearts heroines will vary from book to book, but some of them are pretty tough, and all of them are courageous and able and willing to rise to whatever challenges they might face. The guys aren't weak--these girls deserve strong men of good character--but the girls are pretty much their equals in every way. The theme of the series is "Be Strong and Courageous," and I stand by that theme. If female empowerment bugs you, if you would rather read about women staying home and quilting and cooking and being demure, you have been fairly warned. On the other hand, if you are looking for women trying to act like men and deny their God-given feminine traits, you won't find them in my books either. I want to show young women that they can be both strong and feminine at the same time.

So that's me and my writing. What do you think? Are we a match made in heaven??? Why or why not?


  1. I think we are a match! I like all that stuff :D I read EVERY kind of genre. fantasy, Sci-fi, Historical, Romance, Suspense, Horror and Dystopian! And I love books with a spiritual meaning to it!

    1. Me too! It's hard sometimes when not everyone likes your books. But at the end of the day I try to write books that I would like to read, and I figure there must be other people out there like me :)

  2. I don't like Christian Fiction that includes offensive, inapporipriate or graphic sex refereces, and frankly, I think too many involve unpunished rape scenes nowdays- but 'clean' does not necessarily mean 'Christian'.
    People who are not Chrstians can write clean stories, and believe in decency and honour- but also include content that is not considered 'edifying' or appropriate for Christian Fiction.

    That said, I have discovered a couple of good, clean secular historicals in the last year- and ones which, although not written by Christians. avioded the disparaging or mocking treatment of Christian people or beliefs that you sometimes see in secular fiction.

    I agree about the depiction of women. I don't like 'Ladette' heroines, or women who can only be strong on the back of stupid, bumbling men.....that's not realistic or fair.

    1. I've read some good secular historicals too. I know in the early days I really struggled with whether or not I even wanted to call my books "Christian" because I wanted them to reach secular readers too. But I found I had too much I wanted to say about the spiritual aspects of life to really work for secular fiction. I've been really happy to have a few reviews from secular readers that mention that they were actually fine with the spiritual aspects of the book. One mentioned it was her first Christian fiction book, and even though she didn't give it a high rating, she said that after reading it she would give other Christian fiction books a try. I was very blessed by that.

    2. I actually wrote a post on a subject like this about two years ago. I know some people dislike Chrstian Fiction, but other secular readers don't mind relgiious content.
      Particularly with books set in the Medieval period, readers seem to be more accepting, as they take it as an accurate reflection of the time, and I think that in turn allows for authors to explore Christian and spiritual themes.

      I know that one book I read last year, although published by Lion Fiction, who as you know are about the biggest Chistian publisher in the US, were endorsed by two major writers in the secular market. In fact some of thier other books are popular with secular readers there really can be crossover.

      TBH I am inclined to think that some of the complaining reviewers are a little prejudiced, or don't look at the publisher. Not all of course......

      Just in case you wanted to see the post the link is above.

      On a personal level, with some of the periods and areas I am interested, such as the time of the Viking Invasions, and later settlements, or the Early Saxon Age, there is also the influence of paganism.
      I have actually looked at some Early Medieval European pagan traditions, and their mythology, but the depiction in Christian Fiction is one that is not often relevant I suppose.

    4. I agree that secular readers are more open to reading about Christian themes in times like the medieval days when everyone was (at least in theory) Christian. Personally, I think it would be very interesting to read about Christians in a pagan society too.

    5. In regard to the latter I would recommend 'The Northumbrian Thrones' trilogy by Edoardo Albert. Its not actually a triogy yet of course- but very interesting historical fiction about the conversion of the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Northumbria in the seventh century.....