Christmas Town: Steeple Hill Guidelines

Thinking about my new plan of doing a survey of a year’s worth of Steeple Hill book, to determine things like ratio of male believers to female believers AND MORE…I came across this page that explains what can’t be written about in Steeple Hill romances, and thought it might be interesting to us all as I critique this book blind:

There should be no explicit sex in these stories, and a minimum of sensuality and sexual desire. Intimate physical interaction between main characters must be strictly limited. And, unless it is part of the struggle the protagonists face, there should be no premarital sex or graphic violence.

Ah.  Just like in Twas the Night Before, when Tom and Noella never had sleepovers, even though they were both in their thirties and engaged.

Although the faith element is central to these stories, the degree of religiousness can vary. We would prefer that specific Christian denominations not be named unless the story requires it, e.g. we prefer “Good Shepherd Christian Church” to “Good Shepherd Baptist (or Presbyterian, Methodist, etc.) Church.” The progression of the story must incorporate the faith journey of each character, whether struggling to accept faith or simply being active members of their church community. By the end of the story, protagonists must be both believers and members of a church community.

This is why I want to do my survey—I have a sneaking suspicion that it is far more often the woman who leads the man (back) to Jesus, and I want to see if this is really the case.

Because Steeple Hill sells to both CBA and ABA bookstores, we must adhere to CBA conventions. The stories may not include alcohol consumption by Christian characters, card playing, gambling or games of chance (including raffles), explicit scatological terms, hero and heroine remaining overnight together alone, Halloween celebrations or magic, or the mention of intimate body parts. Lying is also problematical in the CBA market and characters who are Christian should not lie or deceive others. Possibly there could be exceptional circumstances (matters of life and death), but this has to be okayed by an editor.


Also no Halloween.  I haz a sad.

Anyway, just some help in case anyone wants to write a Christian romance, and as we dig deeper into Christmas Town.


Posted on December 9, 2012, in Books, Christmas, Christmas Town, Twas the Night Before, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. No halloween, no lying, no card games… The CBA sounds a little over the top, doesn’t it?

  2. I’m guessing CBA stands for Christian Buzzkill association, HEYO.

  3. O_o Well, there’s a confining market. (Also, I feel kinda sorry for people who can only read CBA approved books. I haz a sad.)

    I do find myself wondering if the “no lying” clause doesn’t factor into some of the weirder aspects of the Left Behind series, though.

  4. I’ve read one of these and it was *terrible*. It was a historical, and frankly, all of the sexual tension that romance novels generally have between the hero/heroine became sublimated and transposed onto a cow. I’m not kidding. If you would like to read my snarky chapter-by-chapter review of it, it starts here:

  5. Also… I have no idea why my name on that previous comment came up as some bizarre combination of letters and numbers. I’m not spam, I promise!

  6. Well, this explains why so many Christian books are so awful. No sex, minimal sensuality and sexual desire, and limited physical intimacy… in romance novels?! I don’t even like romance novels, but I’m pretty sure they would be pretty boring without those things.

    And the protagonists must be church-going Christians by the end of the book, plus no drinking, no card games, no Halloween or magic, no lying, etc. Christian book publishers ban all the fun and interesting things. All that’s left is a dull, formulaic story with crappy characters and an annoying Jesusy message.

  7. I’m reminded of old American board games, where they wouldn’t provide dice because dice were for gambling… so instead you’d get a six-sided spinner into which a matchstick was inserted, because obviously that was completely different.

    I find the mealy-mouthed-ness of the phrase “intimate body parts” pretty odd as well – reminiscent of “The Abominable and Detestable Crime against Nature”, which I believe may still be on the statute books in some US states – certainly Rhode Island had it as a felony in 1997 – without ever getting any formal definition. (Still, it’s not just old laws of this sort that don’t bother to define what they’re banning; the English law against smoking in enclosed public places tries to define it, and ends up saying that smoking is smoking: ‘(a) “smoking” refers to smoking tobacco or anything which contains tobacco, or smoking any other substance, and (b) smoking includes being in possession of lit tobacco or of anything lit which contains tobacco, or being in possession of any other lit substance in a form in which it could be smoked’.)

    But back to the topic… while I don’t have an intrinsic problem with a no-sex-in-the-book rule, I do think that it needs to be addressed in a realistic way. This is a problem in more conventional romances too: if the protagonist is not of a typical age to be having his/her first love, why is he/she now available? People who don’t get involved with anyone may well not be suited to getting involved with anyone. People who were consciously waiting until “the right one” came along are likely to be pretty strange. If you then add “has never had sex” to the constraints, you are pretty much guaranteed to end up with people who’ve been brought up RTC or similarly isolated from reality, and trying to claim that normal non-RTC people sometimes just don’t bother to have sex – while being entirely ready to get into a sexual relationship as soon as the right person does turn up – creates a credibility gap that’s hard to bridge.

    I feel I should point out, though, that the books of Georgette Heyer have absolutely no sex, no eroticism, no “intimate body parts”… but her heroes, at least, are often worldly-wise enough to have an ex-mistress hanging around, and they certainly gamble.

    • I’m reminded of old American board games, where they wouldn’t provide dice because dice were for gambling… so instead you’d get a six-sided spinner into which a matchstick was inserted, because obviously that was completely different.

      When our sixth grade teacher confiscated our D&D dice, we poked dots in the sides of our #2 pencils and continued rolling up characters during class time.

  8. O_o No wonder RTC’s hate hollywood. The gap between what’s allowed in CBA approved books and say, an episode of Modern Family, would certainly make MY head spin if I were an RTC. It’s sad that people are forcing themselves to be that far removed from normal human emotion and experiences.

  9. Y’know, it occurs to me that under the rules of RTC novels, you’d have to throw out most if not all of the books of the Bible.

    • Except that those are regarded as divinely inspired, and the rules are different for God. (But of course moral relativism is a bad thing.)

  1. Pingback: Deconstruction Round Up, December 14th 2012 « The Slacktiverse

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: