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Saturday, May 5, 2012

Guest Post + Giveaway! Do writers have a responsibility to their readers? by Sherri Wilson Johnson

Please welcome Sherri Wilson Johnson, the author of To Dance Once More, to Christian Bookshelf Reviews!!

Do writers have a responsibility to their readers?
Sherri Wilson Johnson

When my children were young, I read to them. Later, they read to themselves books that I helped them choose. We looked for books that entertained and maybe even educated a little bit. We homeschooled, so often the books we read were textbooks or fiction recommended by the curriculum writers to correspond with or at least compliment their other subjects. Because we listened to the recommendations of people we respected, I had no fears about the books my children read. I knew they would not read something that was contrary to our lifestyle; that they would learn good character traits and often even learn something spiritual along the way.

As the years went on, it became harder and harder to monitor what my children read. At the library, just because something was categorized for the young reader, it didn’t mean it was something I deemed appropriate. Even I had a hard time finding something to read that would not crowd my mind with unnecessary garbage. I looked for authors who had built their reputations on writing with a purpose. If I am going to spend my minimal free time reading, I want the book I read, fiction or non, to leave me with something I can apply to my life to make it better – to leave me with a sense of accomplishment, of victory. My children learned to discern whether or not certain books/authors were worth their time just by watching me and the choices I made.

Do writers have this responsibility to their readers? I guess that’s up for discussion. Some writers write simply to entertain and not to impose their values onto their readers and certainly not to offer any type of guidance. The world we live in today is crammed full of bad things though. Readers want to escape the realities of this world. They want to believe that good conquers evil. That’s where the beauty of fiction comes in. It can be an escape. It can be fun. It can take the imagination to unimaginable places. It can also be a clever way to immunize the reader’s mind against the destructive forces of this world. But it doesn’t have to cause someone to stumble into wrongdoings or to open their eyes and desires to things of this world.

As a writer of both fiction and non-fiction, I gladly take on the responsibility to make sure that my readers walk away from reading my books feeling encouraged, entertained, challenged – but never led astray. Since I am a Christian, my books will be marketed as such. I want readers to be able to recommend my books – for a parent of a teen to recommend one of my Inspirational Romances to a parent of another teen – with confidence. I want readers to come back for more. The way I do this is to take on the responsibility of writing with a moral and spiritual compass, knowing that my readers will hold me accountable.


About Sherri Wilson Johnson:

Sherri Wilson Johnson is the author of To Dance Once More and Song of the Meadowlark. She is from Georgia, has been married since 1988, and is a former homeschooling mom. She loves to write, read, eat ice cream, ride roller coasters and make people laugh. She loves Jesus and hopes to spread His love to the whole world through her writing.

About To Dance Once More:

To Dance Once More is the story of Lydia Jane Barrington, a Victorian debutante. Lydia lives on a plantation in Florida under the watchful eye of her father. She's quite an independent young lady who does not want to fall into the trap (as she sees it) that her mother and sisters have fallen into-marriage and motherhood. She wants to travel the world and experience life before giving her heart to a man. One day, her eyes are opened to love and no matter what, she cannot forget the blissful feeling it causes. She begins to believe that love isn't such a bad thing after all. Then she discovers a secret that prohibits any of her dreams from ever coming true. She begins a quest to free herself and her family from a future of bondage. Hearts are broken and lives are torn apart because of Lydia's own selfishness. Will she surrender to a call that God placed on her life and be able to experience love after all? You'll have to read the book to find out. Here's a link to the sneak peek: http://sherriwilsonjohnson.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/to-dance-once-more-media1.pdf

Book Giveaway!

Sherri generously offered to give away an eBook copy of her book, To Dance Once More!! Open Internationally!!

Enter by filling out the Rafflecopter below (here is a tutorial, if you aren't familiar with Rafflecopter). The mandatory entry is to leave a comment on this blog post - after you do that, the other entries will become available. :) 

In your comment, answer this question for Sherri:

"Do you look to Christian authors to lead you in any way? In other words, do you feel authors have the responsibility not to guide you wrongly?"

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I am so anxious to read Sherri's book!!! Sounds like my kind of book, and after all, she lives in GA!(as do I!). Thanks

  2. If I understand this correctly, I am to leave this comment....in answer to Sherri's question.
    YES, I do think authors have a responsibility in their writings to us readers....to influence us, inspire us, give us hope. I look for these things when I read a book!
    jackie.smith[at] dishmail [dot]net

  3. Sherri...i whole heartedly agree with you! The authors i go back for, are regularly those that i have been encouraged by, enlightened by, and so on. To have a good read, even just an escape read doesn't mean it can't be influential. Thank you for your post and the great opportunity to win your giveaway

    1. Thanks for entering the giveaway and for your thoughts, Marianne! :)

  4. Stories are a form of entertainment and knowledge. If you are seeking knowledge then yes they do however if you seeking entertainment then no.

  5. Replies
    1. Thanks, Liz! I loved To Dance Once More!! :)

  6. In all honesty I do think that Christian authors have a special responsibility to present a godly worldview in their books. There are some authors who have said that they use writing as their own type of ministry to people, not saying that it has to be that way for everyone. But I do hold Christian authors to a higher standard of responsibility for their books and what they put in them. For example if I were to read a secular book and strongly disagreed with it, I would be more likely to shrug it off and say that I didn't expect them to have a worldview that totally aligned with my own. Sorry if it sounds like I'm being super-tough on Christian authors! But I love Christian fiction because of how it sets itself apart from the other books out there with the values and faith elements :)

    Hopefully this makes sense! Thank you!

  7. I feel that I am responsible for myself and what I do, an author is not responsible for that. I appreciate when they lead their characters in the right direction, but it is not their responsibility to lead me.


  8. Absolutely! However, there are many "versions" of Christianity. Therefore, whenever I come across a "Christian" author with whom my beliefs and moral compass simply do not mesh, I no longer read them. In fact, I rarely finish their books. In my opinion, a Christian author should set a moral compass with the Bible as direct North and anything that could mislead or cause another person to stumble should be absolutely eliminated.

  9. Thank you so much everyone for the comments!!!!

  10. Yes, I think that Christian writers do have a responsibility to their book readers. Like Jackie S. said in earlier comments to influence us and inspire us. And also to help us become better Christians.
    This looks like a really good book and I really want to read it! Thanks for having the giveaway!

  11. I definitly seek guidance by the authors and the books I read. I think an author should not only want to "entertain" but have also his/her standards and moral in the work he´s/she´s writing.
    But I also think that we readers do have a reponsibility to choose what to read and what to leave aside aswell wisely.

  12. I don´t know if my comment only temporarily vanished or if its gone :D, however I do think authors should have morals and standards in their book as well ars we reader are responislbe to choose wisely what we read and what we leave aside (but I know that it can be quite hard, since noone can be totally sure of clean content in a book beforehand.

  13. If I know an author is a Christian I expect it to be relatively clean (language & romance) or very clean. It depends on the person and the book. From any author I expect them to have done their research and not misrepresent any people, place, era or historical figure in their novel.
    Thanks for the great guest post and giveaway!

  14. "Do you look to Christian authors to lead you in any way?"
    i expect them to write with excellence and thorough research, language accuracy and details. i would more likely expect non fiction authors to write to lead, not fiction. it is our responsibility as readers to make choices - to use our minds and discernment - not to be spoonfed by authors' perspectives or depend on others' beliefs.

    In other words, do you feel authors have the responsibility not to guide you wrongly?"
    definitely our responsibility as readers to develop our own theology and responsibility toward exercising that in our reading choices...

  15. Thank you for the giveaway! To answer the question, I read to be entertained. When a book enlightens, uplifts, or educates me that is a bonus. :o)

  16. There have been great comments before me, sorry if I repeat anything that's already been said ;)
    I find I look to Christian authors to give me not just entertainment in the books I read, but something that will last longer than that, life lessons and biblical morals that inspire and encourage me to live for Jesus :D

  17. Yes, I think Christian author should lead in a way pleasing to God and inspire their readers to think on godly things.

    ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

  18. I think Christian authors should be different from the rest of the world and that they should write on things that are pleasing to God,that will keep our focus on God and not the world!! Thanks for the chance to win and God bless.

  19. Thank you everyone for your encouragement! You make being a writer worth it!


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Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. ~ Philippians 4:8

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