You Crown The Year With Your Goodness

Monday, 31 December 2012

photo and table-setting courtesy of my sister Sarah
photo and table-setting courtesy of my sister Sarah

"You crown the year with Your goodness, and your paths drip with abundance." Psalm 65: 11

Right now, I am exactly twenty minutes away from the stroke of 12. 

So, Happy New Year, dear friends! 
'Tis hard to believe that we are on the eve of a new year! For me, 2012 has been a difficult year in many ways yet it was also a beautiful year... an amazing year, and one filled with the evidence of God's faithfulness in my life, and a fullness of His joy and hope. It was a year filled with love and promise and fellowship. Despite some trials, I always knew that God was there with me. He has showered me with tender mercies and blessings and the comfort of His love. I underwent a lot of growth in 2012 (not physically  for I am no taller!) but learnt a lot, only to realize there is SO MUCH MORE YET TO LEARN. This year, I discovered a new depth in my love of writing and wrote and published my first ever short story, A Love that Never Fails, and advanced in my writing skills and intellectual reading (a little... ^.^)! It has been the year I turned seventeen (which I'm loving already!), it has been the year I have discovered J.R.R. Tolkien and Rosemary Sutcliff and more of C. S. Lewis and Abigail J. Hartman and Jennifer Freitag (which makes any year illustrious in itself!), it is the year I joined NaNoWriMo for the first time and laid aside 'The Crown of Life' for a time (sniff sniff), and chose to write 'A Love that Never Fails' into a novel, it is the year I attended writer's workshops, studied such amazing things at school (and... too...) etc, etc! There have been sad and difficult moments too, like the passing away of my Grandpa (I miss him a lot!) or the stress of schoolwork :p. I had to give up some things this year, some dreams and friendships... but I was abundantly blessed by others. The blessing of family and the love we have for one another... the spiritual and physical blessings we've received and miracles we've experienced,  God's loving hand on our lives, and the new friends we've formed has all been a part of the legacy of 2012. I can say confidently, that the Lord has been faithful through it and upholded my steps so I would not utterly fall. 

I thank the Lord Jesus for all He has done for me and my family this year, and also I am so grateful for the friends He's brought in my life... friends like you, dear readers of Fullness of Joy! You've all been such a blessing to me!! ♥ You have encouraged me all along the way this year, especially in my writing journey, through comments, e-mails and sweet messages. I am so thankful!!

I am very excited for this new year and for all that God will do in it. It is all a new page, crisp and white like the sheets of my Christmas diary, a new chapter in your life and mine untold. I wonder how the story goes on, but I trust the Great Author in whatever He writes... though I may not now understand it all, yet it is all being written and molded by His loving Hands in love: one day the canvas shall be unfolded and we shall see that 'Jesus is Victor'! My sister Sarah wrote a lovely little message for the new year and I happily got permission to quote her! 'Ahead is a new year - still a blank sheet on which a new chapter of the story of my life and yours are still to be written, a clean canvas on which a beautiful design is still to be woven! He is not finished. My prayer is that I would be a ready pencil in His hand and a knotless thread in His skillful hands this year. May it be our prayer - all of us!'

"Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” 1 Samuel 7: 12

♥ So... hello, 2013!! ♥

'Thorns in the Straw' - Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

photo from 'The Nativity Story'
Hello friends and readers of 'Fullness of Joy'!
I had planned on posting earlier with my Christmas wishes to you all, but as it was, I was so taken up with the joys of celebrating with family that I've hardly found a wee moment to steal for  you friends through blogging (and e-mailing, just that you'd know seeing all the well-wishes I've received from some of you through that medium of communication)! I have a lot of photos and things to share of the Christmas season, but for now, I just want to wish you all a belated Merry Christmas! I hope and pray you've all had a very blessed Christmas, remembering the wondrous birth of our dear and precious Saviour and Redeemer, Jesus Christ! Christmas is such a blessed and joyous time! There are so many blessings and beautiful things in this Season: the love and time and joys/laughter spent with family, fun/goophy times with sisters and dear friends and the good/special moments with ones parents, singing joyfully favourite Christmas Carols, Christmas decorations, holidays, family movie nights, receiving and giving gifts, baking and cooking delicious treats, reading and writing in the wee hours of the evening (alas, I've done neither so far this month!), and oh, such enjoyable activities and delightfully fun moments with those we love best! 

However, the most wonderful and most awesome of all, above all these things, is our Lord Jesus Himself, God's only Son. The transcendent glory and hope of Christmas is this: that God became incarnate and was born as a baby, lived among us and suffered for and among us and died the cruelest death possible in our place and rose again victorious for our Hope and Redemption! He came to save us from our sins and purchase us unto Himself! What a glorious reason to celebrate! 

Without Him, there would be no joy this Christmas...
Without Him, there would be no Christmas at all to celebrate!

Merry Christmas!

Because Christmas should remain in our hearts through not only the Advent of Christmas, but through the whole year, I thought it would be good to share this Christmas song with you. 'Tis by Christian composer Graham Kendrick and is one of my favourite modern Christmas songs told from the perspective of Mary the mother of our Lord Jesus. My sisters and I sang and played this last year at the Christmas Carol school service at a beautiful cathedral in our city which was such a blessing! I pray that you too will be blessed by the beautiful words and the music video recording, as we worship and adore the Child born in Bethlehem!

Thorns in the Straw 

Since the day the angel came
It seemed that everything had changed
The only certain thing
Was the Child that moved within
On the road that would not end
Winding down to Bethlehem
So far way from home.

Just a blanket on the floor 
Of a vacant cattle-stall
But there the Child was born
She held Him in her arms
And as she laid Him down to sleep
She wondered - will it always be
So bitter and so sweet

And did she see there
In the straw by His head a thorn
And did she smell myrrh
In the air on that starry night
And did she hear angels sing
Not so far away
Till at last the sun rose blood-red
In the morning sky

Then the words of ancient seers
Tumbled down the centuries...
A virgin shall conceive...
God with us... Prince of Peace
Man of Sorrows - strangest name
Oh Joseph, there it comes again
So bitter yet so sweet

And as she watched Him through the years
Her joy was mingled with her tears
And she'd feel it all again
The glory, and the shame
And when the miracles began
She wondered, who is this Man
And where will this all end

'Til against a darkening sky
The Son she loved was lifted high
And with His dying breath
She heard Him say 'Father forgive'
And to the criminal beside
'Today-with me in Paradise'
So bitter yet so sweet.


And did she see there
In the straw by His head a thorn
And did she smell myrrh
In the air on that starry night
And did she hear angels sing
Not so far away
Till at last the sun rose blood-red
In the morning sky

Words and Lyrics by 
Graham Kendrick

'And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the  Father, full of grace and truth.'
John 1:14

P.S. I got to see 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey' today! Lord willing, a review is coming soon :)

A Dance for Every Sigh - Part 1 Tag

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Four young ladies so kindly got to tag me in the last three or so months: Arda Nessimava, Elizabeth from Endless Road, Gabrielle from Ink Stained Parchment, and Katie from Whisperings of the Pen. I've only once before done a tag, and that was jolly good fun, and the tagging fever got carried away to some bloggers who normally never did tags and awards and stuff. I hope those whom I tag this time around will be able to join in the pleasure of the party, but anyone is welcome to join in the tag and answer these questions too! Since I cannot recall the links to all the tags given to me, I shall just tell you what I'll do! The rules of a tag in general are to list about 11 random things concerning yourself (I was about to type 'concerning hobbits' ^.^), then answer the questions given to you, tag another batch of bloggers and ask them a maze of amazing questions. Since I have four sets of questions to answer, I have reduced a few questions from each tag; and because none of us want this post to grow terribly long, I am dividing up the post into two parts. One will have a list of the eleven random facts about myself, and the other post will have those who're going to be tagged and the questions I'll pose to them. Agreed? The questions I got asked were myriad and varied in topic (some a get-to-know-you-better sort of tag, others more literary and others movie or literature related), besides being positively fun and intriguing  so I shall do my best to answer them with all the grace and wit I can muster.

the freckle dots about me... 

1. It is hard to recall, but I believe the first adult novel I ever read (or rather devoured) was 'The Robe' by Lloyd C. Douglas (followed closely by 'Pilgrim's Progress' and 'Hinds Feet on High Places' and 'The Holy War') when I was about eleven or twelve years old. Needless to say, this novel was instrumental in stirring my affections for historical fiction, and Ancient Rome in particular--which eventually opened the path for my writing of 'The Crown of Life'

2. Description is my thing. I love it! 

3. I keep a sporadic journal with the handwriting that would make a cat's scrawls seem elegant in comparison to mine. Yes, it is atrocious, but I am working on improving it. Honest.

4. Because I was brought up to love the stories of godly men and women of the faith in the past and reading lots of biographies and watching movies about their lives (missionaries, pastors, theologians, parents etc) it rubbed off on my playing as a child. My dolls would go as missionaries to India like William Carey did and translate the Scriptures into the language of Sanskrit... and then a fire would tragically burn down all their hard work and their printing press but they would not give up but persevere and try again! I would pretend to be young woman missionary pioneering in some heathen land and rescuing orphan girls (Amy Carmichael) and escaping boarders of Soviet Russia with Nazi soldiers at my heels (a little mixed up I know)  and pretend that my imaginary husband is in prison for his faith and I must try to get him out (Ann Judson)! I was very missionary-oriented when I was little girl I guess.

5. Being the third eldest and second youngest of four sisters with vibrantly different personalities has thrown my own personality into a thousand rays of contradictions and colourful splayed prisms.  If you were to take the analogy of Little Women my sisters and I will definitely find something in us to match every one of them: I am only a little like Meg, a lot like clumsy, blunt and jolly Jo in her intellectual interests and dreams (without her tomboyish and high-spirited ways) and with a faint streak of Beth's quiet temperament and some of Amy's silly immaturity. Ho hum ho!

6. I have not really seen the inside of a school room before and am the happier for it. 

7. I am a hobbit in disguise.

8. I have a knack for being lengthy. When I've got a letter or e-mail to write, you may be almost sure it will be book-sized (at least 7-9 pages in length). And I relish the opportunity to flaunt my talent for it :).

9. It is a fact known about me that I am dramatic (or rather melodramatic) and prone to high emotions, tears and sentiment. However, I am not a highly romantic person though I dearly love a beautiful love story told or lived by the firelight, and fairy candles at night and red roses and bridal gowns; I just don't obsess over them.

10. I have a deep seated love for Ancient History and admire my sister, Sarah, as a history student for her perseverance in her academic studies and skill for getting others excited about history!

11. The majority of my favourite authors and books come from somewhere in the 20th Century; I admire the literary style of that time-period from Sir Arthur Conan's Doyle (who almost fell into the 20th Century) down through the years till the 1980s with Rosemary Sutcliff and Patricia St. John because it was rich and intriguing and poetic without being arduous or wordy.

Arda Nessimava's 'Game of Riddles'

via Pinterest
1. If you lived in Middle-earth, what would you most likely be employed as (i.e. stable hand in Rohan, musician for the elves of Lothlorien, Ranger of Ithilien, a baker in Hobbiton, librarian in Minas Tirith, etc, etc, etc...)?
It would most probably be tie between a musician for the elves if I were more virtuoso a violinist than I currently am (does Middle-Earth have violins though?), and a librarian in Minas Tirith--wow, that sounds like something I would truly love! Most likely though I would end up being employed as an aid for the baker in Hobbiton and perhaps I would be happy about it if I did not long so much for an exciting and adventurous life and was something of a better cook!
2. You're sent to Mordor to destroy the Ring; you can take with you anyone (but only one!) you want, real or fictional.  Who is it?
Only one? If I were to choose from the folks in 'The Lord of the Rings' as in fictional people, I would love to have Gandalf be with me, or Aragorn because each of them is so brave and strong and wise. Frodo too because of his bravery, mercy and compassion and long-suffering, but he is the ring-bearer and almost you feel like you are Frodo yourself when you imagine to be in his shoes. But when I think about it I would not have anyone but brave and faithful Samwise Gamgee! In real life--I would have one of the members of my family go with me, and yet I would not want that, because the cost would be too high for them, and thus for me. I really understand Frodo in 'The Fellowship of the Ring' how he purposed to go to Mordor alone though he was mortally afraid to do it yet for the love he bore for his friends he could not bear the thought of the sufferings they'd have to endure. 
3. If Tolkien had bothered to write you into LOTR as a member of The Fellowship, how long would you have survived?
Not very long I suspect. But on second thoughts, I am rather like Pippen and he survived long and well (longer than most without getting injured), so maybe I could too! 
4. Which of the swords in LOTR would you most like to own?
STING! Bilbo's sword is amazing because it is light (that means I can handle it!), and lights up when orcs are about (how nice is that?) and is passed down through the brave adventures of my three favourite hobbits, Bilbo, Frodo and Sam! Andruil is an epic sword, but it is so very loooong I would not manage it. And anyway, Aragorn is the only one who has power to wield it =D. 
5. On a scale of 1 to 10, how excited are you for The Hobbit?
I am very excited about 'The Hobbit' on the scale of 100 out of 10. Enough said I think.  
6. If you could be in an episode of any tv show, which one would it be?
'No Place Like Home' in 'The Little House on the Prairie' tv series because that's a great episode and I'd love to dress and live in 1800s style for a day! But you know I think I would love to be in a Jeremy Brett adaption of Sherlock Holmes in one of his cases--any one of them as a client perhaps or maybe... or maybe a criminal.
7. What's the last book you read?  Was it Good?  Not so good?   
I've been reading so many books since then that my memory is rather blurred, but I believe the last book I finished reading was the last book in C.S. Lewis' Cosmic Space Trilogy, 'That Hideous Strength'. My thoughts on it? The most peculiar novel I've read in ages! I liked 'Out of Silent Planet' and 'Perelandra' better than this last book in C.S. Lewis' Space Trilogy. It was a bit too fantastic and a crazy mixture of science-fiction, fantasy, time-travel, Arthurian Legend, the battle between good and evil, philosophy and Christian thought that it confused me sometimes. I often got lost in the complicated twists and turns of the tale and some things I still do not understand about the scientific issues involved in the story (like that mechanical head kept alive!). But 'That Hideous Strength' owns a very thrilling and strong story-line and perhaps the best part of the whole story is the how captivating the characters are (Jane, Mark, Mr and Mrs Dimble, Ivy Meg, Lord Featherstone, the Fairy, Mr. Wether, etc...). As a stand-alone novel it is really unique and delightfully thought-provoking, but as in J.R.R. Tolkien's words about 'That Hideous Strength', "the last book ruined the trilogy' (the exact words may have been a little different!). I have a feeling I tend to agree with him :p. But I really enjoyed reading this book immensely and it made me think a lot. The literary style was also very, very captivating and it just made me realize more than ever what a capital novelist C.S. Lewis was--not only in fantasy, allegory and philosophy but in modern (for his time) story settings! (I read the full 500 something pages) in the space of a week but got very little schoolwork done during that time. For that, I think C.S. Lewis owes me an apology!
8. What are some words that people often use to describe you with? 
Joyfulishness (and/or simply) Joy. Meek. Jolly. Caring. Immature. Sensitive. Talkative. Sociable. Intellectual to name a few.
9. Something(s) you just really hate?  Go on.  Rant. 
Hmm... on second thoughts, I'd rather not.

via Pinterest
A Tag by Elizabeth

1. I have heard it said that some people  don't want to read classics because they are too long. Yet some of these same people read Harry Potter (and those are not short books). Do you think it is really the length of the book, or something else? 
(Disclaimer: I am totally against anything to do with Harry Potter--movies, books etc--but more on that in my next tag post). I think the thing that daunts people from picking up a classic to read it is not just the size of the said book, but rather the depth of language in it that does not make for an easy afternoon reading and when you add length on top of that, it can be very off-putting. So much easier to grab a modern novel or watch a movie adaption of an old classic. Though I loved reading early on, until recently I myself did not relish the reading of a novel written before the late 1800s (Dickens etc, etc, etc). Now that I am older I have grown to appreciate the writing style and complexity and beauty of Eighteen and Nineteenth Century literature and realize that though modern novels are easier to read they may not be as truly enjoyable or beneficial as an old classic. 
2. If you could pick a dead author to talk to who would it be: Jane Austen, one of the Bronte sisters, Mark Twain, or Thomas Hardy? 
I've heard something of Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters and Mark Twain though I've read nothing of their works. But if I were left to choose, I would like to be allowed to view a discussion of the Inklings group (Lewis and Tolkien, yay!) and even get to talk with/write to them personally. But I think I would as much enjoy meeting Patricia St. John or Rosemary Sutcliff than any of the others and talking with them without feeling like an intellectual midget. 
3. Who is your favorite actor? And what is your favorite character they have played? 
 My favourite actors are those that when they take on the role they become the character and they visalizue their thoughts and emotions with depth. I am not all too familiar with actors and their differing roles though so if I make sweeping statements, forgive me :). I love Jeremy Brett's acting immensely, and my favourite character he played would undoubtedly be the 1980s version of Sherlock Holmes in the BBC tv adaption. Ioan Gruffudd  is another great actor, and I love his roles as Horatio Hornblower in the mini tv series Hornblower and as William Wilberforce in the movie Amazing Grace. Elijah Wood's role as Frodo Baggins was the best casting role to grace the cinematic screen in my humble opinion though; I mean he did it really well, capturing Frodo's earlier innocence and youthful thoughtfulness and later on his vulnerability and his struggle against the power of the ring and the endurence of his sufferings with such a capacity of moving and touching your heart to tears; but then of course every single role for each of the characters in the LOTR movies was chosen perfectly; each actor acted wonderfully. Young Georgie Henley playing Lucy Pevensie in the Narnia movies, Olivia Hussey as Mother Teresa in the movie by the same name, Richard Harris as Oliver Cromwell in 'Cromwell' and Gregory Peck as Francis Chisholm in 'The Keys of the Kingdom' are some of my other favourite. Goodness, that was a big list!
5. Do you think being a fan of Jane Austen is becoming/is a fad? 
For ever so long, Jane's Austen's novels as classics have been popular with young ladies in their growing up years. So I doubt it is a fad that will pass, because I honestly do believe that there is some quality in Austen's writings at least in her portrayal of some of her characters which is worth some merit and has stood the test of more than one hundred years. I personally have never read any of Jane Austen's books, on the advice of my dad, though my older sister has watched some of the movie adaptions of Jane Austen's books and my mum read her books when she was in highschool. I just believe that it must not be taken as some sort of guide for how courtship and romance ought to happen and I think that we girls must guard ourselves against falling into that 'desperate dating mindset' wherein young ladies and their mothers are on the continual hunt for suitors as seems prevalent in Austen's books; also to be careful against falling into the trap of idolizing marriages and gentlemen from relationships and the male characters in her novels and movies. If I were to read and enjoy Jane Austen's books, I would do so for the sake of literary character and quality, a bit of history of the social times the stories are set in, and for general enjoyment but not as a guide for marriage or how relationships ought to work!
6. Would you call yourself a morning person?
The intellectual part of my brain works best in the evenings (if it has not been sizzled in the morning firing pan of Mathematics), but my body functions best in the morning if that makes any sense. On normal days I wake up from 7:00 to 7:30 but that is because my normal bedtime now is 9:30 to 10:00 (sometimes later when I am not wise!). During weekends, I can go to bed as late as 12:00 pm and wake up from about 8:00-9:30 am if we don't have an early appointment somewhere.
7. Tea or Coffee? 
I have only ever drunk de-caffeinated tea and coffee. I liked both... one day I should like to like and enjoy both but not get addicted to them. 
8. Have you come across a book where you liked the movie version better? 
Yes, I did in fact. It is 'Ben Hur' by Lew Wallece. I enjoyed the movie ever so much better! W-e-l-l, I have started to change my mind on the book after rereading it (the first time I read it I was only around twelve and found the description and romance rather beyond me). I appreciate it a lot more now and it makes quite a lot of sense, but I think the movie version will always be my favourite.
Also, I rather enjoy the 'Prince Caspian' movie better then the book in general. Shocking, I know, but that's how I am!
9. What is your favorite place to read a book? 
It does not matter to me! I'll read anywhere and everywhere with relish, and I do not have a special place though I do enjoy reading quietly alone in the bedroom. Also I like to read a book best when I am not feeling guilty about it (like when I am wasting time reading it rather than attending to my studies or chores) but it matters not to me the place or circumstances. I do prefer good light and my spectacles handy so I do not strain my eyes and reading in the car is less than perfect but if the book is interesting enough that too will not matter very much.  
10. Do you have a food that you don't like, but everyone else does? 
I love just about all food, but there are some food 'mixtures' and 'mushes' that my sisters might enjoy and I feel like retching over. 

And on this happy note, I'll leave you with a beautiful Christmas song, 'Carol of the Bells', and ask you to stay tuned for part two of 'A Dance for Every Sigh Tag'! 
God bless.

The Snip-Whippets of the Season

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

1940, London. Despite the encroaching shadow of evil from Germany, Jane Wilson's little world consists of the love, memories and happiness of those she loves best... but when she is torn from her beloved father and Grandmamma by a war she does not understand, she finds herself one of many children evacuated to the golden shores of Australia, away from England and all that she held dear there. In a new land, with a new family, Jane discovers, against the grief of loss and difficulty, the truth of her grandmother's words, 'love never fails' in an unlikely way.

You know, Christmas is looming just around the corner and there's been so much to do lately that I had it a bit slow with posting since coming back from my month's absence on the internet. But I decided that I just had to post something today, on the twelfth day of the twelfth month in the year of our Lord, two thousand and twelve, simply because it is such a memorably important date. Those coordinating numbers 12/12/12 will never occur again within our lifetimes! Does that not feel so historical? 

As I shared in my last post, during the middle of November, I chose to put on hold 'The Crown of Life' and start working on 'A Love that Never Fails' until I feel more prepared to take the other story up again. Well, I just want to thank you all for the lovely comments you gave me on my last post and for your sweet encouragement and prayers regarding this decision. I know it was a little disappointing to you to have me put on hold my story, (it was to me too!), but in a way I am glad it was; because I have just realized how interested you have been all along by 'The Crown of Life' and that one day you may enjoy the reading of it when I hopefully pick it up again! Rest assured, with God's help, I hope to pick it up again one day :). I love the story so much--far too much in fact to be giving it up. I simply need a little break from working my heart-and-soul into it (though I will not altogether stop writing in it!) and work on something completely different--a lighter story with a totally new theme and time-period and new characters and new plot lines! It is rather exciting, and nerve-wrecking all at the same time. As 'A Love that Never Fails' is still in its early days, I fear lest I share too much of the story-line or even the characters. I still have to get better acquainted with them and work with them more but I feel so badly like talking about it... 

This collection of snippets (hosted by Katie's Snippets of Story) is from 'A Love that Never Fails' this time around, but I actually did a lot more writing during November in 'The Crown of Life' than in my new story and I would love to show snippets of that writing to you. As it turned out though, the snippets from the two stories need to be in separate posts to be understood and appreciated properly, because they are so very different stories! At any rate, I hope you enjoy snippets of the early seedlings I've been planting in 'A Love that Never Fails'.

The Snip-Whippets of the Season

The bomb shelter stood across the street, a bulwark beckoning her with the faint hope of protection, but to reach it she had to risk the open street and she found she dared not run for it, not while the planes of the German Air Force, the Luftwaffe, screamed overhead like black devils in the smoke-chocked night sky. 
A Love that Never Fails

Weariness and more than just weariness hung over Jane like a cloud, and she felt the distinct emotion of fear, that kind of fear one awakens to after a dreadful dream accompanied by troubled sleep, wishing against all hopes that the feeling had been stirred from simply an unpleasant nightmare and that all was well with the world after all.  
A Love that Never Fails 

A flame-like light danced off the eastern sky as Jane walked alone towards Mrs. Corrall's property, basking in the warm earthy colours of evening and the whispering beauty of creation about her. The narrow dirt-road stretched like a slithering snake before her for a little way but then got swallowed in the foliage of eucalyptus and ash-wood trees standing as grandiose guardians by the bend in the path.   
A Love that Never Fails

Resting her head against the stone wall by her grandmother’s side, Jane stirred at the sad chiming toll of an electric bell outside, the signal for people to brace themselves and come out of their shelters; the signal that the immediate danger of being blown to bits had passed for the present.
A Love that Never Fails

A sandy-haired gentleman gave a hoarse laugh. ‘Ain’t what I call a quiet night...’ he muttered, lifting his invalid son up the steps, the first to leave the shelter. He turned at the door to a middle-aged woman in a black velveteen dress with an angular face and tipped his hat. ‘Did they make you lose much sleep, those fiendish Nazi monsters, Mrs. Folks?’
‘No,’ the woman said with a brisk shake her head, ‘but your snoring did. Come on, and don’t block the way at the door for other good folk to pass if you haven’t lost all trace of sensibility in your hatred for our enemies.'
- A Love that Never Fails   

The words twisted and screamed dark and ugly before her, tearing her heart crimson with tears. Unwillingly, the flimsy sheet slipped from her hands to the dark basement floor at her feet. “No, no,” she moaned painfully and crouched to the ground. “No, Pappa!” 
- A Love that Never Fails

The metallic cadence of the typewriter keys drowned out the distant rumble of thunder and rain hammering on the roof outside the living-room window, as Jane typed up a scene from one of her old stories and sipped now and again from her glass of lemonade. The crisp white paper with the firm and rounded scrawls her pen had earlier scratched on its surface lay by her elbow as she worked on the story. The images almost shimmered and danced in colourful, splayed banners before her, short glimpses of different lands, ancient times and heroic peoples, so far removed from the small one-butt kitchen she now sat  in alone. 'If only I could reach you,' she said towards the cobalt-and-white sink tiles. She lifted her chin and smiled and with a little sigh lifted her fingers back to those dear old black keys.
A Love that Never Fails   

She turned to look into her grandmother’s eyes and saw a shimmer of tears—transparent grey and delicate—reflected within their pools. She stopped in her track; Grandmamma understood. Suddenly she threw her arms around her grandmother’s neck and buried her wet face in the bosom of the older woman, bitters tears galling her cheeks.  
A Love that Never Fails 

Gently putting down her basket and books down at her feet, Jane took a deep breath, buttoned up her navy cardigan and wrapped her scarf about her head as a tingling bight of cold wind whistled through the rustling leaves overhead and licked at her cheeks. Winter seemed bent on releasing its frosty chill with something akin to impatience this year; for April, as Jane had recently discovered, usually clung to the warmth of summer if not its sunshine with a maternal fondness. But this weather... Jane frowned and thought of Mrs. Corrall and her sickly newborn. Oh, God... please let little Annie live. Please watch over Your little lamb.
A Love that Never Fails 

She shifted her glasses solemnly into place, and gripped the handle of her leather bag between her gloved hands. ‘Could you please take us home, sir?’ she said quietly, casting her eyes from the face of the warden’s to Jane’s stricken figure every now and again. “We are lost—and my Jane is sad and I am unable to find my way about on my two tired legs, old as I am. But where there is a heart, there is a will, I’ve always said. I do not have much strength or will now—not when I see the heart of England crushed before my eyes—but I do have a heart still and if nothing else I want to see my granddaughter safe.’
A Love that Never Fails

'Think of me, Jane, sometimes. Do not forget this moment--ever. Steal it away down in your heart and do not let time or distance ever erase it from your soul.'
'I will, Pappa.'
- A Love  that Never Fails

'Cynthia!' she screamed, but there was no reply, save a dull echo of her voice vibrating against the threshold of the shop. She thrust her head through one of the broken window panes into the darkened building. The main plastered wall of the shop, dappled with ebony flares of soot, had crashed sideways and Jane saw in a mockery of the hellish nightmare she was in phantoms from a happier day. She saw those lovely little Christmas confectioneries that had been the pride of Mr. Oldacres’ shop—caramel fudge, chocolate containers in purple, scarlet and green cellophane wrappings and liquorice sticks in brown paper bags—flung all over the carpeted floor amid glistening shards of broken crystal. A bottle of claret had been knocked down and red liquid dripped from the shop counter in dark pools, wetting the grey carpeting, like fresh blood. Jane chocked down a sob, and fled in terror away
A Love that Never Fails

When the Battle's Lost and Won - NaNoWriMo 2012

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

via Pinterest
When shall we three meet again?
In thunder, lightning, or rain?
When the hurlyburly's done,
When the battle's lost and won.
-Macbeth (Shakespeare)

In one month I wrote just about 14000 words; of course, it is a far cry from how much I had wanted to write for NaNoWriMo, but when I reflect upon it I find that I have not done that much writing in such a long time! But of all those words, not all were written in 'The Crown of Life' and I am at this stage not much further down the beaten-track towards my goal of finishing it than I was a month before. You see, November brought about a climatic crux to my writing journey, one quite unexpected when I first entered the month. I suppose one may say it was more like an anticlimax the way things went, but be that as it may, it has been rather like a bombshell blast for me, splintering my carefully conceived plans into shards of plastered fragments and broken glass. 

I have tearfully jerked my messy but dearly beloved mound of 90,000+ word manuscript, my historical fiction novel 'The Crown of Life' on hold.
(This is not indefinitely, but it is definitely for a while.)

If that comes as a shock to you, it was even a bigger one for me and stabbing to the heart like being pierced with a heron-tufted war spear--a lot of blood (figurative), tears (real), prayers and sighs were involved! However, this decision was not come about because I grew bored of 'The Crown of Life'. If that were so, than it would be twice wrong and shameful to concede defeat and give up on my novel, or even lay it aside for a while. This painful climax was built not on the motives of boredom or weariness or lack of themes and plots to write about. So, why have I come to this decision? 

When I was twelve, I started a historical fiction novel set in the first-century A.D. in Rome, entitled, The Crown of Life; I think most of you who've been reading my blog for a while will know a little about it and my journey in writing it. When it started out, it had nothing but a faint semblance to what The Crown of Life is now and my writing style was atrocious--of course. But I wrote bit by bit, slowly like molasses running up a hill. I brain-stormed my head for ideas and plots, read books of culture and Ancient Rome and historical fiction novels for inspiration, wrote more (and edited and edited), discussed plot-holes and ideas with my sisters while drying dishes at the sink or with my writing friend on numerous evenings via phone; I edited again, was within end sight of the story (or almost), lost the copy of my story on the computer, sobbed my heart out, rewrote, changed plot-lines and characters, dates and... well, let us just say that in the four to five years since its birth, this story has grown to be one very, very near to my heart, and like Tolkien said of his Lord of the Rings series... "a tale that grew in the telling". So it has been with me with The Crown of Life. I have kept at this one story without turning to the right hand or to the left, simply because it was a story I loved, treasured and couldn't be parted from, even though I was often hard-pressed to drop it out for other stories. 

It has grown between the gossamer threads of my imagination and pen and so beyond it, and defied me with its vastness and depth. For in The Crown of Life, is a story reflecting heart-felt themes and struggles of human hearts: honour, loyalty, love and courage are there in vivid flame-like contrasts to the darkness of Roman intrigue, jealousy and vengeance, ancient family feuds, ambitions and painful betrayals portrayed within the story and the lives of the characters. It is a story of what it truly costs a man to take up his cross, and be a disciple Christ. So you see this story is not, nor ever was, a very simple tale! And I will be frank with you, through those many years of writing in it, I have encountered a lot of hurdles, many of which I never was ever really able to come out from. As I tried to overcome them, I only bumped into so many others. In ‘The Crown of Life’ I have had had to deal with historical accuracy in the history and culture of Ancient Rome and the early Church and of Nero’s intense persecution against the Christians. There's been a need to grapple with and get an understanding of the pagan religions and philosophy of the times to set a realistic backdrop for unbelieving characters in opposition to the Gospel. This story owns a huge cast of more than forty characters, four of whom are main characters each with a story of their own in their own right. As I mentioned above, the themes are rather big and exciting (not to mention the myriad of plots and subplots within the it). So, this is how the 'The Crown of Life' is and has been for so long, dear friends. And I have loved the challenge because it has been a story I really loved. 

But the more I have been writing in it, the more I saw just how challenging a novel I was undertaking. And since the beginning of the year, I have not helped realizing that despite my heart-felt love I really do not yet have the ability or writing maturity to take  on such a big-sized, multi-layered tale as The Crown of Life through the many hurdles that are before me and do the story justice and bring it to completion.  The discipline of Beginning, Middle, and End have just not been in me for very long--if ever at all--seeing this is my first full length novel. I never did it before save in a short story, and to be confronted with the task of doing it with such a large work now has been more than daunting. And I am still young, with a lot to learn both in writing and in life! I have often felt, as I do more clearly now, that in working on this major work for so long I have hindered myself from writing successfully other stories, and drained myself on a novel that I will have, hopefully, a better capacity and skill to write in a few years from now

And so, midway in November when I had all my head in the scribbling of 'The Crown of Life' and I was struggling to overcome scenes which have haunted me for so long, I finally had to decide if I was to put it on hold and start a new story or plod on with no end sight. I asked the Lord to lead me and show me which way He wanted me to go. Almost providentially the same week in which I was struggling and wondering, I read two posts (a guest post Jenny wrote here on Fullness of Joy, and the other by teen author Rachel Coker on Go Teen Write about when to give up on a story) that stirred me more into the direction I had been avoiding for so long. I talked it over long with my family who sincerely encouraged my decision to put 'The Crown of Life' on hold and to start a new story, and so it was!

But to what new story? Well! Does anyone of you remember a little story I wrote around early this year? It goes by the title of 'A Love that Never Fails' and it happily got published in a special edition anthology a little while back with other local writers. But it had been in me for a long while that I might have an opportunity to extend the story into a full-length novel and delve more into it. There is so much material that I can see yet to be written in it! So far 'A Love that Never Fails' has been a simple tale (at least on first glance), with gentler themes and with nothing as ancient and dramatic as 'The Crown of Life' but perhaps that is for the better. I have a feeling that depth and life does not always come riding along the steed of a world of intrigue and of dragons and kings and swords and poisoned chalices, but in the hearts of the men and women themselves. And whether we reach for ancient skies or a time more present, something of that flair of burning flame and truth may always shine forth in radiant colours and touch the soul.

And so I have taken up my pen to rewrite a 'A Love that Never Fails' and so far I have written a little over 3,000 words into it (p.s. that is the same size as the full short story but only at the beginning of the story!). I would love to tell you more about it, but since it is still in its early days I think I will let it unfold before you as it does with me. Lord willing though, I shall share a snippet post soon with bits of my NaNo writing, and maybe some Beautiful People too with brand new characters to introduce!! I am pretty excited about this, despite the nostalgia and sadness to be laying aside 'The Crown of Life' at present. It has not been easy, but you know I am not giving it up, just waiting for a time when I feel more ready to pick it up again. Meanwhile, I have got a new story to write! And with that happy thought in mind, I will sign of this long post, but before I do, I just want to offer a big thank you to all those dear young ladies who have contributed to Fullness of Joy in the way of guest posts; I definitely enjoyed every post--I hope you readers did too :). Thank you so much!

And it seems that while I've been away and off in my writing den, December has danced in with a flourish of heat and busyness,  taking me unawares and sweeping me off in its whirl, but I wish that in the midst of the business of the season we treasure the whispering joys of Christmas and of the wonderful birth of our Saviour! Happy Christmas time, dear friends :).

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." John 3: 16