Camaraderie - a guest post by Clara Diane Thompson

Saturday, 29 November 2014

via #Daily  Joyfulness
Today, I have the wonderful pleasure of having the lovely Clara Diane Thompson on my blog, to share about what makes our favourite stories tick. Clara is one of the five authors of "The Five Glass Slippers" Cinderella anthology, with her story of "The Moon Master's Ball". I just got the book in the mail last week, and I am really looking forward to enjoying that story. Enjoy, folks :). I will be back blogging soon =).

First things first—I’m terribly flattered to be on Joy’s lovely blog today—thank you, Joy, for having me!

As a writer, I’m always looking for new and different ways that I can make my stories better. Usually I look for writing help in favorite books of mine…how did Anne Elisabeth Stengl handle this situation between her characters, or how did Margaret McAllister describe that epic scene? And what makes Jessica Day George’s dialogue so very enjoyable?

Recently I had a “ah ha!” moment when I was wondering what was missing with my main character. What do readers enjoy? What do I enjoy in a book? There’s the great story, the wonderful characters, but more than that I realized that I loved reading a book where there is camaraderie between characters.

 Now I’m probably terribly late to the game with this realization, but if you’re like me, think back to some of your favorite books. Did the characters have deep, camaraderic (that isn’t a word, is it?) relationships that kept you coming back to that book throughout the years? What about TV shows and movies? I can think of some like Merlin or Doctor Who, or Once Upon a Time, that keep drawing me back in because of the wonderful story built from relationships.

Some old favorite books of mine that feature a healthy dose of camaraderie are: The Mistmantle Chronicles (that series is practically built on camaraderie), the Princess trilogy by Jessica Day George (again, lots of great relationships), The Tales of Goldstone Wood, The Little White Horse, and many, many more! Now I hope to transfer a little of those great author’s wisdom into my own writing by creating a story built on relationships.

What about you? Do your writings feature great relationships or has your book felt a little flat lately? If so, I suggest dusting off an old favorite of yours and finding out what it is that you think makes the book tick! 


Clara Diane Thompson lives in the swamps of Louisiana with her loving family, dashing dog, and a very confused frog that resides in the birdhouse outside her window. Aside from writing she enjoys playing guitar, singing, Broadway plays (particularly The Phantom of the Opera), ballet, tea with friends, and long BBC movies. An enchanted circus may or may not appear occasionally in her back yard.

You can find out more about Clara and her writing on her blog: www.ClaraDianeThompson.blogspot.com


"The Hero of your Life Story" - a guest post by Emily Dempster

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Then she drained the peas and looked around to see if any of her seven siblings had responded to her call that dinner was ready.  They hadn’t.  “Too bad for them if it gets cold,” she thought sulkily.

Does anyone else do that – start telling yourself your story in third person as the drama unfolds in real life?  I catch myself doing it all the time.  I’m not sure why I do it… maybe because I do have a bit of a melodramatic side (that doesn’t come out very often!) or maybe it’ s because I have spent my whole life reading and am now stuck in the ways of thinking like a book.  (Ok… I’m kind of kidding there…) 

Is thinking of yourself in third person a healthy thing to do?  I’m not convinced.  I notice myself doing it the most when I feel hard done by, or upset about something.  The problem is that in novels, drama happens, there is conflict and then that conflict is resolved and the story ends.  Our lives aren’t like that: our days aren’t ‘episodes’ that have nothing to do with each other from one day to the next.  What we do, what we say, and what we think all affects us and the people around us, and often once a wrong word is said, or a thoughtless act carried out, there can be no way to undo the damage. 

Don’t get me wrong – your life is a wonderful story, unfolding as you live out your life.  But it isn’t really your story, is it?

I love the movie Nim’s Island starring Gerard Butler and Jodie Foster.  In the movie, Foster is an author by the name of Alexandra Rover who is terrified of everything and everyone outside of her apartment.  When she dares to travel halfway around the world to rescue a little girl all alone on an island, she is accompanied by her imaginary friend, the hero of her best-selling adventure series, Alex Rover.  Throughout the movie, Alexandra depends on Alex to get her through her moments of terror until finally, Alex leaves, telling her to “be the hero of your own life story” (to which Alexandra replies, “Do throw me that line – I wrote that line!”).  In the end, Alexandra discovers that she actually doesn’t need Alex to be brave; she discovers that she really can be the hero of her own life story and can face it without the help of her literary character. 

Most people today have the same mentality – be the hero!  But, how many people actually realize that we make way too many mistakes to be heroes of any great standing or efficiency?  I know that if I were left to be the hero of my life, I would already be failing miserably.  There are just too many things that are so out of my control.  No, I would make a dismal hero.  Which leads to me to assume that everyone else would probably be in the same boat.  And if we can’t be the hero of our own lives, how on earth and can we dive in and correct everything in someone else’s life?  We can’t.  To be quite frank, we are utterly, utterly helpless in this great wide universe we call home.

“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.” (Ephesians 2:8) 

Trust in your Hero – He has been from the highest heights of paradise, to the deepest depths of death and back again. He breathed the world into existence, and enveloped the whole of it in His arms when He stretched them out on the cross.  He alone has the power of atonement, and with His red, red precious blood, we might be washed whiter than snow. He has championed over the sin that resides within each of us and waits eagerly for us to respond to His victory with rejoicing and gratitude.  He longs to be the Hero of your life story – to make it His story – to write you into the history of His kingdom and His family.

You may not be the star of your story anymore… but is it much of a compromise? To have His righteousness and purity radiating out of your being and spilling His love and joy wherever you go – allow Jesus to be your Champion… the Victor over your sin… the Hero of your life story.

I am a stay-at-home daughter, home-school graduate, piano teacher, big sister to six sisters and a brother, and a follower of the Lord Jesus.  I spend my days studying for my diploma, babysitting my little sisters, playing music with my siblings, scribbling poetry, writing on my blog Amity, and doing life with my family.  In the near-ish future, I hope to do paediatric nursing and, Lord willing, get married and have (and adopt) a whole heap of cute kiddies to keep me on my toes.  :)

Interview Feature with Rachel Heffington | "Anon, Sir, Anon"

Monday, 10 November 2014

Some truly amazing books are being released this month, or have just been released: Plenilune by Jenny, Golden Daughter by Anne Elisabeth Stengl, Counted Worthy by Leah Good. . . truly, we are being spoilt ;). But let's not complain, shall we? Books, books are wonderful! 
Especially one like, "Anon, Sir, Anon".
Today, I have with me the wonderful Rachel Heffington who has only five days ago published her latest novel, a charming, cozy-English mystery titled "Anon, Sir, Anon". If the title, and the auspicious date of its publication doesn't intrigue you enough, I don't know what you're made of. But here is a review I wrote last month that might help you along if you are totally clueless about this lovely little gem! When you're done with that, dig right into the first part of my interview with Rachel, and then head over to Rachel's blog, The Inkpen Authoress for part 2 :).
A Chat with The Inkpen Authoress

1.      Hello, Rachel, what a delight it is to have you on Fullness of Joy blog! To start this off, would you mind telling us a little bit about yourself as a writer? Also some of the interests/random happy details that colour your life, like which is your favourite flavor of tea, least favourite chore at home, a secret hobby, and whether you like cats over dogs, or dogs over cats . . (that sort of thing)?
I am partial to cats, I delight in creating gourmet food, I am always up for cheesecake, and P.G. Tips is a good substitute when loose-leaf can’t be had. Which it usually can. But P.G. Tips is good stuff.
2.                Without giving too much away, could you be persuaded to tell us a bit about your newly released novel, Anon, Sir, Anon?
Essentially, the back-cover blurb gives it for me. I do write these things for ease of use. ;)
THE 12:55 OUT OF DARLINGTON BROUGHT MORE THAN ORVILLE FARNHAM'S NIECE; MURDER WAS PASSENGER.IN COMING TO WHISTLECREIG, GENEVIEVE LANGLEY EXPECTED TO FIND AN AILING UNCLE IN NEED OF GENTLE CARE. IN REALITY, HER CHARGE IS A CANTANKEROUS SHAKESPEAREAN ACTOR WITH A PENCHANT FOR FENCING AND AN AFFINITY FOR PLACING IMPOSSIBLE BETS.WHEN A BODY SHOWS UP IN A FIELD NEAR WHISTLECREIG MANOR AND VIVI IS THE ONLY ONE TO RECOGNIZE THE VICTIM, SHE IS UNCEREMONIOUSLY BAPTIZED INTO THE ART OF CRIME-SOLVING: A FIELD IN WHICH FIRST IMPRESSIONS ARE SELDOM LASTING AND PERSONAL INTEREST KNOCKS AT THE FRONT DOOR.SET AGAINST THE RUSSET BACKDROP OF A NORTHAMPTONSHIRE FOG, ANON, SIR, ANON CUTS A COZY PATH TO A CHILLING CRIME.
3.                Cast your mind back if you can; at what age did you first start writing and develop a love for wordcrafting? Was there someone or something that influenced you to start this journey?
To be blunt, I was a presumptuous young toad at the age of twelve and figured I had read all the books worth reading, and had better write some myself. Thus, I penned my first book (A Year With the Manders) at that age. It was 50,000 words long and full of tragicomedy. We are pleased to announce we have improved rather than otherwise since that project. In a serious vein, my love of word-crafting was born from my love of good books.
4.                This is always rather a difficult question, but can you recall what inspired the plot of Anon, Sir, Anon?
Oddly enough, I can answer this question without a qualm: P.D. James on Detective Fiction. It was a random pick-up from a library shelf, it looked interesting, and I thought I’d read it as random information-collecting for the all-elusive someday. By the end, I had an idea for my detective characters, Vivi and Farnham.
5.                Isaac Newton was known to have said, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Who have been the literary giants or “Greats” that have inspired your writing and perhaps even your life thus far?
I hate being cliche, but I would be amiss if I did not mention C.S. Lewis as one of the inspirations. He taught me the joy of coming across an indescribable thing described. The largest influences in my early years were L.M. Montgomery and L.M. Alcott. In recent years, my tone has picked up a bit of P.G. Wodehouse and A.A. Milne. (Read: you will laugh while reading my books)
6.                Now, if you could have been the author of any published book besides your own, what would it have been?
Oh, now this isn’t fair! Plagiarism, even imaginary, smarts. But if I could say it, I’d be cliche again and choose Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. I think it’d be amusing to see the journey of what I wrote as a social, satirical comedy becoming Western Civilization’s measure of a proper romance.
7.                Readers of your other works (Fly Away Home, The Windy Side of Care) as well as your “Inkpen Authoress” blog would probably collectively agree that you have a truly beautiful gift of writing in a sparkling and witty flair of prose, with cosy, tongue-in-cheek, almost whimsical scenes of banter and dialogue that is both truly unique and charming. How do you feel you may have matured and developed in this gift with “Anon, Sir, Anon” and your other latest works? Is there ever a time in writing when you feel that too much “wit” can remove some of the power of storytelling?
It’s up to the reader, really. In Anon, Sir, Anon, I deal with graver subjects (murder, gore, damsels in distress) which automatically changes the tone of this book. You can’t be but so jovial about these things. All the same, it is a cozy mystery and my classic tongue-in-cheek shows through where best. I have been told that I can lay it on too thick...which always strikes me as intriguing because most conversations that occur in my books could (and do) very easily happen in my family. You ask if too much “wit” could remove some of the power of story-telling. To me, that depends on a combo of the reader and the skill of the writer. Supposing the writer has done her work well, it is up to the reader to react. If the reader’s sense of humor does not shimmy well with dry, sometimes sarcastic, always whimsical descriptions, I could see how it would distract them from the story. On the other hand, if you “get” that humor, I think it enhance the experience.
8.                What part of the writing process do you dread the most? Can you tell us what your favourite part is?
I dread plotting. It can keep me awake at night. My favorite parts are the initial first inklings, which I generally hand-write, and revision rounds, actually.
9.                Can you imagine your novel being adapted into a movie? In the stuff of your day-dreams, who would you choose to direct the films, and who would you cast for your main characters?
It was easier for me with Fly Away Home. I went through the cast several times and though it was impossible (some actors being dead) I assembled a good dream-cast. For this book...eeesh. I will do it for four principal characters:
Farnham: Anton Lesser could do the job.
Vivi: Carey Mulligan (She’s a bit too pretty but she could be plain-ed up.)
Dr. Breen: Denis Lawson
Michael Maynor: Dan Stevens (I know we all think of him as a good guy, but it could work.)
10.              Characters, like Vivi, often find themselves in situations they aren't sure they can get themselves out of. When was the last time you found yourself in a situation that was hard to get out of and what did you do?
I...I tend not to get out of them. Or at least, the situations I have got in are usually not so bad it is imperative I get out. On the other hand, there are small moments of occasional terror. I can usually keep calm, get quiet, and think sensibly. I’m really not awful in a crisis.
11.              While writing, did you find yourself learning any lessons or going through any of the journeys/struggles that your characters went through yourself?
Not so much. Of course there are the day-to-day struggles that everyone goes through, but none of the large ones were experienced by me while writing.
12.              As a Christian as well as an author, how do you feel your faith affects your writing generally and your mystery novel specifically?
The largest impact my faith has on my writing is in its optimism and storytelling. There is a bigger Story I am a part of, and life is precious. I firmly believe that and my world-view leaks onto the page. It can’t help it. In my mystery, life is precious. You aren’t left with any doubt of that.
13.              In writing in the mystery genre, do you hold to any convictions or guidelines on how you approach details of murder, immorality and crime in your books, as well as drawing out when/how justice as well as mercy should be administered?
I’m afraid I can’t tell you everything I would like on this subject (spoilers), but my convictions are that the sin can be portrayed as long as it is portrayed tastefully and not glorified. Also, there are varying practical consequences for varying sins and you see that in this book. Obviously, murder gets a stricter penalty than philandering or anger or lust, but they all have consequences.
14.              Do you have any strange writing habits/quirks (like standing on your head for research or plotting assassinations in the shower)?
Not...not that I can think of.
15.              How much of a similarity in genre-style do you think your novel is to an Agatha Christie murder mystery or to Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes? Who is your favourite mystery-genre author?

The similarity between my novel and an Agatha Christie is the setting: early 1930’s, rural England. There, it ends. My mystery is a cozy mystery...the authors you mentioned are a little more hardboiled. My favorite mystery writer is Dorothy L. Sayers. :)
*****
About Rachel Heffington:
Rachel Heffington is a novelist, a nanny, and a people-lover living in rural Virginia with her family and black cat, Cricket. Her first novel, Fly Away Home, was independently published in February of 2014, while her novella, The Windy Side of Care, was published by Rooglewood Press in the Five Glass Slippers anthology in June of 2014. Visit Rachel online at www.inkpenauthoress.blogspot.com

The jollification isn't quite over yet, folks. Rachel is hosting a Cozy Quagmire Party Pack!! Oh, it is something warm, cozy and really scrumpteous, so. . . be sure to enter to win a complete party in a box! The Cozy Quagmire Party Pack includes everything you’ll need to have an evening worthy of guests such as Vivi, Farnham, and Dr. Breen. Prize includes P.G. Tips (my favorite British black tea), a $5 Panera Bread gift-card for toasting-bread, a Yankee candle, matchbook, and a paperback copy of Anon, Sir, Anon.
Cozy Quagmire Party Giveaway!
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How To Balance Your Literary Diet - a guest post by Suzannah Rowntree

Saturday, 8 November 2014

via Pinterest board "Literary"
Today, I am so glad to have a sweet new friend on Fullness of Joy. I fell across Suzannah Rowentree's blog through Schuyler's blog, My Lady Bibliophile when she linked her to an analytic "Lord of the Rings" review that I found really inspirational, and was delighted to see the stuff she shared!  Suzannah writes amazingly insightful reviews of literature (new, old and obscure) on her blog and is a wonderful writer in her own right too :). In this post, she shares with us about literature, and balancing one's diet of reading. Enjoy! 
- Joy

Goodreads is one of my favourite social networks. It doesn’t gobble up a lot of my time, it’s a very useful tool for keeping track of my reading, and it’s a great way to find out about books I might want to read if I could get the chance. While I often stumble across wonderful recommendations on Goodreads, there are also times when I wind up scratching my head over the rather narrow reading habits some shelves display.

There are the readers who spend all their time reading feminist chick lit about sassy heroines who defy their stodgy parents to study chemistry or explore Asia. Peculiarly, these readers never seem to read anything that’s actually about chemistry or Asian exploration.

Then there are the readers who spend all their time reading inspirational romances set during the War Between the States, or the Crusades, or in little Amish farming communities. Just as oddly, these readers have apparently never read a history book on the War Between the States, or a medieval chronicle, or actual books by Amish people. (Even some John Howard Yoder would do. Anyone? Anyone?)

I’m not saying that it’s necessarily a bad thing to read some romance here or there, or that novels about female chemists or explorers are necessarily dishonest (although I would stay away from the trashy chick lit if I were you). However, a limited bookshelf is evidence of a limited mind.

We all know that it’s important to get a varied physical diet. Too much of the same thing, and we start to develop deficiencies and health problems. It’s the same with reading habits. You may read a lot of books, sure. But are you developing deficiencies anywhere? Here are just a few categories which should be a regular part of every literary diet.

Old Books
“The past is a different country,” as the man said. We may visit the past in historical fiction or history textbooks, but the only way to truly understand the past is to read what people in the past actually wrote. Because we grow up breathing the spirit of the age like air, it’s actually impossible for us to imagine things being done differently or believed differently to nowadays. For that reason, we need to read old books. And we need to read books from all over history, not just from the 1800s. Homer’s worldview was sharply different to Edmund Spenser’s. The church historian Eusebius was a bit shaky on the morality of suicide, and so was H Rider Haggard, but St Augustine got it right. To paraphrase that giant of the faith, world history is a book, and those who’ve never read anyone older than Jane Austen have barely read the last footnote.

New Books
The Lord is always doing something in the world. Right now, books are being written which will influence the history of the world. Some of them will be remembered 200 years from now...and some of them won’t be. Nevertheless, authors can write, but it takes readers to make a difference. What if the next City of God for the next Christendom was published forty years ago, but you never stumbled across it?

New books are our own legacy to future generations. Let’s be diligent in seeking out and preserving the good ones.

Fiction
Stories are soul food. Stories come at us sideways, unexpectedly, hitting us with an old truth we might have begun to overlook. Stories take principles and apply them to everyday life. Stories run war games for the Christian life, showing right and wrong behaviour in a host of different scenarios. If sermons tell us what to believe, stories teach us to love what we believe. Stories bind our hearts closer to the truth. Stories matter.

Nonfiction
But nonfiction matters too. The best nonfiction anchors us to God’s reality. Memoirs give us eyewitness accounts of real history. Biographies introduce us to men and women we will not get to meet on this earth. Theology teaches us to distinguish truth from error. Books on music and the arts help us to appreciate good art and produce it ourselves where necessary. Philosophy, logic, and rhetoric train us in the forgotten arts of thinking and writing well. Science teaches us to make the most of the physical world and return thanks to our Creator. And history shows us God’s sovereign hand at work in the greatest story of all time. Nonfiction is all about reading the book of God’s general revelation. Should we focus on our own voices in fiction, and ignore the voice of God in history and creation?

Girly Books
As women, we were created with a specific role in mind: to help and encourage our men, and to act as nurturers, mothers, and wives. For this reason it’s necessary for us to read books, old and new, fiction and nonfiction, that encourage us and prepare us for these specific roles. Also, certain things are important to us as women, and we tend to write about what’s most important to us. For this reason I believe it’s also good for men to read books by and for women.

Manly Books
However, the specific role to which most of us, Lord willing, will be called in marriage, is that of a helpmeet to a man. We need to know what’s important to men, and we need to cultivate a fearless and capable attitude that will help us to fulfill this role. We need to have realistic expectations of the men in our lives, and one of the best ways we can do this is by reading the books they’ve written.

Books You Agree With
Non-fiction: You know what you believe. But do you know why you believe it? It’s easy for us to simply accept the pronouncements of our parents, or of the charismatic parachurch ministry leader with the perfect family, but we need to actually test what we believe and make sure we know what the reasoning is behind it. We need to be sure that we’re actually living Scripturally, and not just on a bandwagon, following after our friends. Often, it’s this that makes all the difference between a deep-rooted faith that endures, versus a shallow-rooted faith that withers the moment it comes across difficulty.

Fiction: Remember what I said about soul food? What happens if we’re constantly absorbing poison? I actually don’t believe that anyone can read and love the enemy’s fiction without eventually coming to behave like their enemy. Our heads may remain unconvinced, but our hearts have surrendered. Fiction trains the affections, and we need to make sure we’re always training our affections in the right direction.

Books You Disagree With
This is not to say that we should avoid books we disagree with. These are actually really important as well. Reading non-fiction we disagree with is a vital part of testing our own beliefs. Do you really have a better argument than your opponents? Have they pointed out real problems with the things you believe, or are their objections hollow and unconvincing? Do you really believe what you say you believe--or are you just ignorant? Just is it’s easy to be led astray if you never define your own beliefs, so it’s easy to go astray if you only hear one side of an argument.

Not only this, but fiction written from a different worldview is an extremely helpful tool in training us to recognise hostile worldviews in practice in the world around us. Just as we should read books from different times and places in order to come to understand those other people, so we should read books from different perspectives in order to understand what those worldviews look like in practice. In short, don’t read Terry Pratchett just because he’s such an entertaining writer (and he is): read him because you need to know what postmodernism looks like.

Clean Books
Because we live in a world of deranged appetites, it’s possible to become so desensitized to decadence that it ceases to shock us when it should. In CS Lewis’s Perelandra there’s a passage where the main character reflects upon the rarity of experiencing an shatteringly intense and yet perfectly innocent pleasure. But this needs to be our ideal: to experience clean things cleanly. Too jaded a palate, too great a liking for the forbidden for no other reason than that it is forbidden, and we render ourselves numb to simpler pleasures. Read a lot of clean and bright stuff, because otherwise you may lose your taste for it.

Icky Books
All the same, I’m going to come out and say it: There are lots of books out there that you need to read, which are going to turn your stomach and make you want to fetch the brain bleach. Paul Johnson’s Intellectuals, Otto Scott’s James I: The Fool as King, and similar books are not for the fainthearted or for the immature. However, they are for readers who are serious about facing and killing the Dragon. We simply cannot fight evil with our eyes shut, or avoid maturity because we are afraid that it will be uncomfortable. One of my recent favourite non-fiction books is James Gaines’s Evening in the Palace of Reason, a double biography of JS Bach and Frederick the Great of Prussia. Part of the book’s extraordinary power is the juxtaposition of Bach’s faithfulness and goodness against the depravity and despair that characterised Frederick’s life. Just as we need to learn to love the goodness, truth, and beauty of Christendom, we also need to see the bitter end of the ugliness, evil, and lies offered by the Enemy.

As Christians, we are not called to mediocrity. Christ is Lord of everything, including our reading. We are exhorted to do whatever we do with all our might, as unto Christ. We are called to redeem the time, for the days are evil. So, to those of you reading this, here’s my challenge: Get serious about your reading habits. Don’t just coast: push out of your comfort zone. Take dominion. And when you do, may you find it just the kind of thrilling adventure that I’ve found it.

--About Suzannah Rowntree of Vintage Novels:

I love words--and the Word by Whom all came to be. I am a freelance writer and editor with a particular interest in theology, literature, law, history, and languages. Home educated, with a bachelor's degree in law, I now live at home with my parents and employ my time in volunteer and freelance work in my family, church, and community. I have always been fascinated by the art of writing, which embodies the author's most deeply held beliefs and hopes in a concrete, narrative form. When reading, I love to spot the deeper meaning behind an author's imagery and plot. I am a writer of both fiction and non-fiction. My article "Home Schooling: Education Outside the Box" was published in the June 2012 edition of Quadrant, Australia's leading general intellectual journal, as a result of which I was interviewed on national radio. In May 2013 I self-published a short ebook, The Epic of Reformation: A Guide to the Faerie Queene, which collects a series of blog posts written in January 2013 on Edmund Spenser's classic epic poem. I also occasionally copywrite for the Home Education Foundation of New ZealandIn early 2014, I became a regular contributor to Ladies Against Feminism/Beautiful Womanhood. Find my articles hereAnd, I am currently working on the fourth draft of a young adult fantasy novel.

The Miracle of Literature - Guest Post by Bree Holloway

Monday, 3 November 2014

As I decided to take my customary November internet break this year to focus on my studies as well as some writing for NaNoWriMo, I have the special pleasure of hosting a few wonderful guest-posters and interviews over the course of the month who have graciously agreed to fill in for me while I stay busy. Lord willing, I will be back by the beginning of December, and will then be responding to all your beautiful comments, emails and messages, and get back to posting as per usual ;). But for today, here is a lovely post by the wonderful Bree Holloway. Enjoy! 
- Joy 

Last night I watched, for the first time, the movie Dead Poet's Society. Aside from the unavoidable tear-shed (that caught me by surprise), it got me thinking about literature, poetry, art, and that little je ne sais quoi in a few rare works that rakes you in and clutches your heart. As a writers, I know we all strive for that element, and it is often the determining factor in whether or not the book becomes an all-time favorite. 

The funny thing is, when that element's been tapped, it makes it easy to forgo the other small flaws in a work. For example, there was a lot of language in Dead Poet's Society that normally would put me off and lower my rating to a degree. When the movie was ended, I had to be reminded by my sister that it was even there, because I was so wrapped up in everything good about it. 

We talk about writing from real life a lot here. Being realistic in your work is important in order to be believable and respected as an author. There comes a point, however, where realism is dull and as an audience member, I need something that resonates with me to connect to the work. Writing isn't a formula - at some point, you have to break out of the mold and the rules and the grammar (give that one a rain check) because for the magic to happen, you've got to go further than you originally planned. 

I'm not saying there's one sure way set a fire in the hearts of your readers - I suppose it's one of life's mysteries. I'm not even saying you'll know 'it' when you find it. I'm just saying that we can't sit on the surface and write about life the way everyone else sees it. Writing takes work (don't we know it); it's a constant struggle to see the world from a different angle. Even if your stories are simple, you've been gifted with a unique perspective - so use it for heaven's sake!

(You may need to stand on your desk to get a better view.)
"In every work of genius we recognise our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us in a certain alienated majesty." -Emerson

Bree Holloway is a young dancer, graphic designer and authoress-in-training. She'd tell you more about herself, but that's better done over a cuppa at her blog, Tea & Bree. Because let's face it - who's story is short enough to sum up in a bio?