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Sally Apokedak: The Button Girl (More Than A Book Review)

The Button Girl: Repentance has decided that she will no button Sober Marsh and have babies for him - no overlord is taking her babies. And so she sentences herself and Sober to life of slavery... and trials she never bargained for. Is it too late for her to remake her rash decisions? Or is she fated to a life of fear?

Back at the writer's conference I went to (which y'all are probably wishing I'd stop talking about) I received a free copy of a really amazing book, and heard the author speak and give what was probably my favorite lecture at the conference...

Putting My Message Into My Stories - Or Is That Preaching???

One thing had been bugging me, how so many Christian authors were saying, "Don't preach. Just tell a story." 

So when I saw a session called Weaving in Your Worldview I knew I had to go. Maybe I'd finally hear something good ;) (I actually heard a  lot of good things)

What made it even better... I walked into the classroom to see a whole stack of books for free in exchange of reviews. I of course took one ;) 

I didn't get around to reading it till October... but when I did I devoured the 300 page book in a weekend! It was that good... you can read all about what I thought of it here
I love this book beyond raving ;)

Sally Apokedak, the author of The Button Girl and the speaker at the session, caught my attention right from the start when she told everyone she had been saved after reading a novel. I loved this as so had I (after reading Lyddie by Katherine Paterson)

I loved how she said, "Fiction is the only lesson we need to learn."  

She went on to tell some very interesting things... I'll share with you some of the highlights of everything I loved: 

Why put themes into our stories - and is it our duty as a writer?

 Remember that EVERYONE does it. We all put write in our agendas.... for example the secular world has what Apokedak calls the three sacred cows: feminism, homosexuality, and abortion. 

And we Christians either act scared of them... or embrace them...
And won't use our voices, because we don't want to be called "preachy."

Something she brought up was this: Why would we put so much time into creating character and plot and leave out our message???? "Message is just as important as plot!"

We storytellers have messages... don't stifle it....

"I believe in free speech - may the best man win!" She said to whether other authors should be allowed to write about their messages regardless of what it may be or whether we might strongly disagree with it. Are they writing about homosexuality as if it's perfectly normal and OK with God? Is Holly Wood producing movies that portray selfish humans as if that's good? Yes - but we don't change something by taking away their rights. 

We cause change by writing something better. 

"They preach their message - why would we let ours slide?"

Of course we have the problem where someone will be telling a story that seems interesting and SUDDENLY God is mentioned. And it's done so awkwardly, so unnaturally. Like... that wasn't realistic at all

To that she said, "Weave your message from the beginning to the end. Don't just drop it in." 

I loved everything she had to say. We writers... we don't write just because we love it... there are days when I hate writing, hate my key board, hate words. We don't write because it makes tons of money... there are so many other better options. We don't write because it's seen as success or such.

We write because it's our calling
 God has something for us to do. He uses us through words, through our imagination, through a fictional story.

How can we possibly say don't preach when that's the very thing our words aren't meant to do?

All of our words may be slightly different  - we may each have different stories to tell (preach)... but it is our calling. And it's what I plan to do - tell a story that encourages, edifies, and entertains

I won't back down from my mission just because it's not considered "the way of the market."

What about you?

Also, I highly recommend reading Sally's book!!! Have any of you read it, or heard of this author?


  1. I agree we should weave our messages in so that they are an integral part of the story and don't seem like an after thought.

    1. I’ve read a few stories where the message was dropped in as an afterthought as if to “save the story”. Very sad to read ;/

  2. I agree wholeheartedly with this post! Whether we realize it or not pieces of us and our thoughts and beliefs will always get scattered in our stories.

    1. Absolutely! It’s so silly to think otherwise... we are writing OF OURSELVES, taking out of who we are to make a story 🙃

  3. Like Jo March, I firmly believe that every story should have at least some sort of moral. And it definitely should be woven in and not be a bombshell.


    1. I didn’t remember Jo March saying that! Very interesting :D This is one of the reasons I love fairytales, for a lot of them are truly “moral tales”.

  4. This sounds like it was a very good class! I believe "Don't preach" primarily comes from entire sections of the story that blatantly state the entire theme of the story to make sure you got it. An example of this is the sermon at the end of the film "Courageous." I don't think we shouldn't convey out messages and worldviews. That would be denying part of ourselves as artists, but we shouldn't try to shove it down people's throats.

    1. It was a great class!!! I think Jessi and a few others went to it, too. And I so agree. Stuffing the message down throats is just a cop out, a job poorly done ;) And is so frustrating to read ;D

  5. The secular world doesn't care about feminism, homosexuals or abortion. That is private interest that do.

    1. I guess it depends on what you mean by the secular world ;)

  6. hmm. how did I miss this? I just found your message on facebook. Thanks so much for posting this and adding to the discussion on preaching in books. And thanks for the kind words about my class and my book. I actually do a longer version of that class when I have time and usually half the room is crying because I tell how I was saved reading a book. And it's a good story. :) God is amazing and he can use our writing for his glory in ways we have not dreamed about.

    1. Oh, I would have loved to hear more of your story! Maybe someday at another conference :) Thanks so much for reading and commenting :) And I so agree with your last sentence ;)


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