The Story of a Book

book heartLooking back on the history of my first book, I see six phases in its development: Trial by Ordeal, Sabbatical, Poetic Ecstasy, A Better Baby, Love Laborious and New Birth.

Trial by Ordeal

Twenty-some years before writing Souls at Rest (SAR), I was a young, struggling Christian with a whole lot of growing to do. Writing was clearly to be my life, but God asked me to let it first fall into the ground and die. In His infinite wisdom, He prevented me from getting on with it until my own spiritual formation was on less shaky ground. During those years, I inhaled books – wolfing them down in quantities impossible to fully assimilate. Now and then one stopped me in my tracks and by affecting, rather than just stimulating me, invited a response.

Josef Pieper’s Leisure, the Basis of Culture was such a book. Its thesis was my antithesis, but somehow it quickened in me an attraction to something beautiful but distant – some truth about my own being that was just out of my grasp. I struggled spiritually and intellectually to apprehend it, and SAR is the fruit of that effort to make it my own. So, through the long, slow years of continual conversion, this fast-talking, impatient, action-oriented girl with zero tolerance for staying still became the one, ironically, with a message for the world: “Be still, and know that I am God. Be still and quiet and take heart. Keep a quiet heart.” God definitely has a sense of humor! Luckily, this agonizingly slow foundation was succeeded by relatively faster phases, or I would have been a hundred years old before SAR saw the light of day!

Sabbatical

When true leisure had become much more fully realized in my own being – as much by my longing for it  as by its presence in my life, I was given an extended sabbatical rest – nine months in Europe with my family. Though these months had their own considerable stresses and strains – constant pain from a badly arthritic knee, for instance; lack of fluency in German, Italian, French, or Spanish, for another – the period was marked by long stretches of time to pray, journal, meditate, compose poetry, and connect the many dots of my life and reading into a coherent picture.

For the first time in my life, I experienced full restedness, and it brought such deep healing and integration that I came home wanting to shout about it from that mountain-top. We returned in August to a very busy life – hitting the ground running, as usual, but I was inwardly changed by a rest that now colored all my activity. I’ve long kept what I call ‘seed’ files for writing projects. Some grow more than others and get moved to ‘seedling,’ then ‘sapling’ files before bearing fruit in finished work. By December I had a lush vine on my mind that was overrunning every other project – growing within my being, as I still had not had any time to write.

Poetic Ecstasy

Finally, in one miracle week of exhausting 8-12 hour days of writing, it was done. I call it a miracle, because the time seemed to come out of nowhere in a life that normally begrudged me even four connected hours of quiet, happy-kids, in-the-mood-to-write, demands-suspended, time. Every day of this Book Week was its own story, with its own miracles of exhaustion and renewal, of resolving impossible tensions, of solutions to every extraneous life issue (picture a path opening through the Red Sea!).

As the book took shape in my mind the first day, I faced the daunting task of forming it inside a word limit that turned out to be ten times too small! I still can’t explain where I got the idea I had such a tiny frame, but believing it to be necessary, I exercised my poetic chops on what later became a ‘tithe’ of the book – a tightly written prologue of small essays into Sabbath territory. Corrected by a Catholic publisher who must have thought me insane, I breathed a sigh of relief and gathered up the mountain of material I’d been ‘forced’ to exclude.

Days 3-7 saw the reiteration and deeper exploration of the initial ‘booklet’ of thoughts. Every day I exhausted every ounce of energy I possessed, but went to bed content to leave the continuation in God’s hands. Completely spent, not another clue as to what direction to take next, praying, “Mary, I put my writing in your hands – please guide me,” I’d go to sleep and wake with a clear idea of my next day’s work. The result was a book my spiritual director – a woman with a large interior capacity for poetry and contemplation – affirmed was a work of spiritual beauty. It was also a work that needed to be written in much simpler language and style for a typical lay audience.

A Better Baby

So, you’ve just written a book, or had it written through you in an agony-and-ecstasy of cooperation with the Holy Spirit, and it’s time for a do-over. What do you do? You do it over! My director’s request was for a pamphlet form of it that she could hand out to college students. Writers, I know you understand how humbling it was to give 40,000 hard-won words and be asked for a 1,000-word digest!

But, long before, I had come to the awareness that nothing I wrote would be ‘new’ (such a debt I owe so many others for every word of my own!) and that we can but hope to find things worth saying and saying again in new forms. So…a pamphlet! Next, a new book. I was willing to rewrite the book I called Shabbat Shalom, but had no idea how. It was a whole of its own, a poem that couldn’t be dismantled. I left it in a file and prayed that God would show me the next step to take.

About nine months later, I experienced the ‘aha’ of seeing it re-formed, and went through a long ‘labor’ to birth SAR. Shabbat Shalom had been a mere ‘conception’ by comparison, but SAR couldn’t have been written without it. SAR retained much of the voice of SS, but left behind the less accessible, almost circular structure without becoming a start-here, end-there academic proof of a thesis, or a snappy ten-talking-points treatment.

During this period, I had several opportunities to give talks, small meditations, and retreats on the ideas in SAR. In this way, the book was formed in community, by authentic communication motivated by love for real people. I highly recommend this process to writers, though at times you get tired of reworking, reframing, reiterating the same ideas, or of giving away the gist of the book you’d rather sell. The ‘exercise’ of my thoughts helped get them into shape. The responses of listeners helped me write the accompanying discussion questions.

This business of giving away first what I would sell has become my mantra. I really believe you should not sell what you have not learned to give away. Fr. John Hardon expressed the need for Catholic writers who will give of their talent for the Church and its apostolates (see http://www.mariancatechist.com for his article on writing as an apostolate). He’s not against earning a living by writing, but for a detachment from money, glory, and the fruits of one’s talents.

Love Laborious

Many photocopies were given before I sensed it was the time to make it more widely available. Love’s labor was slogging through what was for me an almost impossibly steep learning curve – desktop publishing, website creation, internet marketing…these things do not come naturally, or easily to me! Each step of the get-this-book-realized process seemed tortuous, sometimes scary, often discouraging, but little by little it got done, and I keep ‘getting done’ through the work.

My life’s duties and constraints (family, home, etc…) did not interfere with so much as impede the flow of my writing. Like the fiber of an orange that slows the rush of sugar to the bloodstream, this is a good thing!   There have been several times during all this that I’ve had to sit down and re-read my own book – to reconnect with the message of calm, interior spaciousness and to recollect myself within the Sabbath rest of God.

New Birth

After all that ‘labor’ to get my book self-published, there have been three ‘new births’ from the project. I was asked to write Making Sunday Special for the Catholic Truth Society’s Deeper Christianity Series. Without all the prior work, and the willingness to keep placing my message in new formats, this little booklet could never have been written. Then, when Angelico Press picked up Souls at Work, they also published Souls at Rest, to my great delight. This development added another two years to the ‘flow’ – impedance which has, surely, been good for the whole “Holy Leisure Trilogy” (I’m working now on Souls at Play) and for me.

For You

The lessons I hope fellow writers will take away from my experience:

  • Let it be written in your own being before it goes into print.
  • Don’t sell it until you’ve learned to give it away.
  • Say it again and again in new ways for new people.
  • Dedicate your writing to Mary and continually reaffirm your trust in her guidance.
  • Pray without ceasing.
  • Be slow. Be still. Be quiet. Be in community. Be not afraid.

 

 

 

Posted in Encouragement for Writers, Inspirational, Self-Publishing, The Writing Life | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Monday’s Writing Tips – What Now?

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Monday’s Writing Tips  | Karen Kelly Boyce, Author and Inspirational Speaker

Two weeks ago we finished our personal editing, searched for a professional editor and with price in mind sent our manuscript to be professionally edited. As a proficient writer we paid for developmental, line editing and proofreading. What now? What do we do when that manuscript comes back marked up and full of comments.

I know that the first time I received an edited manuscript I was both lost and confused. Not being trained, I didn’t know what to do. Since most publishers and editors require word documents, most editors work online and use Microsoft word editing marks and comments. You will see words in pink brackets with comments written in the right column. A line will connect the comment to the shaded section that needs correction.

As you go page by page you can make the simple corrections. If there is a comment or correction you don’t understand, don’t be afraid to contact the editor. This is a back and forth process. Once you have made your correction just left click on the comment and you will see the choice to delete the comment. Everyone does their edits differently but I make the simple corrections (Spelling, Grammar, and Sentence restructuring) first. It cleans up the manuscript.

Then I address the serious flaws. Your editor will usually send you an overall impression of the work. They may tell you to simplify or expand the work or give hard core suggestions to improve the plot or flow of the story. They may even make suggestions about characters or dialog. Take these suggestions seriously. You don’t need to make all the changes but you do need to sincerely consider them. Your editor is trying to improve your work – so a publisher will like it!

Once I have considered the editor’s overall impression, I keep the suggestions in mind as I go through the manuscript again. If I agree, I try to make those changes.

I then go back to deal with the longer and more complicated comments that the editor left. I find that once the simple corrections are made I can concentrate on the editor’s ideas and find that most of them have merit. I may not make the exact change that the editor suggested, but they have pointed out a problem and I do address it.

Most writers dislike edits. I love them! Instead of looking at a comment as a criticism, I look at the editor’s comment as a challenge – a puzzle to solve. Since I am a writer I love spinning words and creating scenes and dialog. Why not enjoy the editing? Naturally as artists we tend to be sensitive and temperamental. That attitude doesn’t work well. Get over yourself and plunge into your edits with joy and gusto. Pray for insight and inspiration to perfect your work. It never hurts to thank your editor for all the hard work they have done.

After addressing all of the edits, I do a spell and grammar check. After all, I touched the manuscript and probably made more than one typo or mistake. Here are some common editing marks and symbols that I copied from Webster – Merriam:

PROOFREADERS’ MARKS


Symbol Meaning Example
delete
close up
delete and close up
caret
insert a space
space evenly
let stand
transpose
used to separate two or more
marks and often as a concluding
stroke at the end of an insertion
set farther to the left
set farther to the right
set as ligature (such as )
align horizontally
align vertically
broken character
indent or insert em quad space
begin a new paragraph
spell out
set in CAPITALS
set in SMALL CAPITALS
set in lowercase
set in italic
set in roman
set in boldface
hyphen multi-colored
en dash 1965–72
em (or long) dash Now—at last!—we know.
superscript or superior
subscript or inferior
centered
comma
apostrophe
period
semicolon
colon
quotation marks
parentheses
brackets
query to author: has this been
set as intended?
push down a work-up
turn over an inverted letter
wrong font

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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CWG Prayer Chain Post: March 29, 2015

The CWG Prayer Chain Post is a weekly post for members to include their special intentions by adding a comment.

Isaiah 50:4-7

Lord Yahweh has given me a disciple’s tongue, for me to know how to give a word of comfort to the weary. Morning by morning, he makes my ear alert to listen like a disciple. Lord Yahweh has opened my ear and I have not resisted, I have not turned away. I have offered my back to those who struck me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; I have not turned my face away from insult and spitting. Lord Yahweh comes to my help, this is why insult has not touched me, this is why I have set my face like flint and know that I shall not be put to shame.


The power of prayer and the power of people praying.


March Intention Prayer

Ezekiel 34:11-13

For the Lord Yahweh says this: “Look, I myself shall take care of my flock and look after it. As a shepherd looks after his flock when he is with his scattered sheep, so shall I look after my sheep. I shall rescue them from wherever they have been scattered on the day of clouds and darkness. I shall bring them back from the peoples where they are; I shall gather them back from the countries and bring them back to their own land. I shall pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the inhabited parts of the country.”

Please leave a comment with your intention. If you have problems adding an intention, email it to Mike Hays at coachhays(at)gmail(dot)com and I will add it.  God bless.

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From the President’s Desk – The Importance of Being Needed

Photo credit: Gustavo Kralj/DWF Conference/Gaudiumpress Images

Photo credit: Gustavo Kralj/DWF Conference/Gaudiumpress Images

“I guess being needed is almost as good as being loved. Maybe better.” Betty Smith, “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn”

It’s been a busy – and overwhelming –  two weeks. I attended and spoke to a group of women at the Dynamic Women of Faith Conference in Toronto a few weeks ago (photo above), finished three different editing projects and currently in the process of completing five others.  I finished two writing projects. I’m reading submissions, negotiating two contracts for my publishing company and coaching three authors in their self-publishing journeys. For the Guild, I am answering daily emails (sometimes up to 25-35), working on updating membership, welcoming new members, helping to organize the upcoming live conference and assisting with a variety of other committees. My husband and I teach NFP and will be speaking to a group of engaged couples this weekend at our diocesan marriage preparation course. This is all in addition to my duties as a wife and mother.  My daily “to do” list is so long that I rarely complete everything. Given how overwhelmingly busy I’ve been, I’m greatly anticipating the quiet solemnity of Holy Week and the joy of Easter Weekend.

The other day, I happened to mention to an elderly friend of mine in an email that I was overwhelmed.  She has no family, no relatives left. She wrote: “This may sound unsympathetic, though I hope not. Be grateful for them. It means you are needed and wanted. Yesterday, I had the unusual circumstance of being needed four times, three for counseling and one for an errand. I went to bed very thankful. The two young persons whom I counseled rather intensively will grow up and grow away from any need of me, and it’s likely I’ll never see them thereafter. (Though they might deny that if asked, experience tells me it is so. And I must be glad it is so.) Yet, for now, for today, I fill a need–and how wonderful that is. Not because I “should” be glad, but because I know from direct experience what it’s like to be unwanted, unneeded. There are few feelings worse than being superfluous, a burden at best. It’s a feeling that people who have no family know, especially after retirement.”

Wow.  My friend’s comments put the busyness into perspective for me. I am needed, not only by my family, but by the Guild and my clients, by the women who listened to my talk. Being needed is a wonderful feeling, even if it is overwhelming at times.

Look again at the photo above. (This crowd represents less than half the number of CWG members). We currently have just over 600 members and yet less than three percent of our members step forward to volunteer. Do you want to feel needed? Remember…”being needed is almost as good as being loved.” Please consider volunteering for one of these essential positions!

CALA coordinator (Catholic Arts and Letter Award)
This is an awards contest held every other year.
Duties: Email judges in September to find out if they will judge another year and find new judges if necessary
Email all SoA FICTION recipients (email addresses will be provided) to invite them to submit their SoA books that were published in the two preceding years to the contest before January 31 of the award year
Mail books to judges
Send judging forms by email to judges
Follow up with judges
Collect forms and tally results

Publicity Coordinator
Write press releases and coordinator the Guild’s Social Media presence

Our live conference is approaching.  It will be held July 22-24, 2015 in Somerset, New Jersey. For more information or to register, here is the link:
www.catholicwritersconference.com

Or if you’re looking for something quieter, our Catholic Writers Retreat will be held Octber 25-29, 2015 at the St. Francis Retreat Center in Dewitt, Michigan. For registration, click on this link:
https://adobeformscentral.com/?f=eKwj2NrM6vzT*Beln09Jpg#

If you have any questions, concerns or comments, please feel free to contact me: president(at)catholicwritersguild(dot)(com). (I won’t be answering emails during the Easter Triduum, but will respond by Easter Monday).

Wishing you all a blessed Holy Week,

In Jesus and Mary,

Ellen Gable Hrkach
President, Catholic Writers Guild

Posted in Catholic Writers Conference Live, CWG Member News, CWG Needs Volunteers, Self-Publishing, Volunteering | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Finding the Ultimate Pleasure Park

Photo Credit: Judy Klein

Photo Credit: Judy Klein

We live in a world where pleasure-seeking has become a highly prized ritual. And we keep upping the ante on what constitutes “pleasure.” Sadomasochism is being normalized, evidenced by the immense popularity of “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Addiction is rampant, and kids are smoking more than “plain old pot.” They are, instead, indulging themselves in cheap, synthetic marijuana, guaranteed to give both an outrageous high and a psychotic break.

The stakes are going up and so are the consequences. I’ve gotten five phone calls in the last few weeks from desperate mothers trying to figure out what to do about their drug-abusing children. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that our societal disorder is escalating. So, what in the world is the answer?

I was praying about our collective cultural quandary the other day, and quite frankly, my heart was heavy. I decided to meditate on where it all began—the place where sin, chaos and disorder first entered the world. I began reading Genesis and glanced down at the footnote for Genesis 2:8, where the Garden of Eden, paradise, is first mentioned. I was stunned to learn that “Eden,” translated literally from the Greek, means “pleasure park.” Well, I thought, that explains everything!

Human beings first resided in a pleasure park, and it was positively delightful. Teeming with love, life and light, God’s blessing rested everywhere. Banished from paradise due to original sin, we’ve been trying to recreate Eden ever since. We seek endless pseudo-pleasures to fill the void, yet we avoid the one thing that can bring us real fulfillment.

Because here’s the thing: the bliss of paradise consisted in being in God’s presence and in enjoying an intimate love relationship with Him. Paradise cannot be found outside of the Divine Presence—no matter how wildly we seek it elsewhere. St. Augustine, who discovered this personally, said it this way: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”

It’s not surprising that the less time we make for the pleasure of God’s presence, the more frantic and chaotic we become in trying to fill the God-void. Busyness is epidemic today, as we chase after endless activities, trying to do it all. On occasion, when we’re “still,” we plug ourselves into any number of gadgets that consume our attention.  The endless noise makes it impossible to find interior silence, the place where Presence dwells and the sacred space into which God speaks.

How do we get back to Eden? Where do we find again God’s life, love and light? We must cultivate the garden of our soul, and we must be intentional about doing it.

There is no substitute for spending time alone with the Lord daily, where we speak to Him, become still and listen for His voice.   God asks each of us, every day: “Where are you?” and He wants us to honestly tell Him. He yearns to uncover, possess and penetrate our hearts, and He wants us, in turn, to unveil ourselves, remove our fig leaves and let Him come in.

The secret to finding paradise is simple, yet it comes with a cost. If we “waste” lavish time in God’s presence, and seek Him for His own sake, the place of delight will unfold from within like a beautiful garden. And the pleasure park it contains will surprise and delight us with its sweet, healing fruit.

Posted in Catholic Writing and Publishing, Faith, Lent, Prayer | 2 Comments

Freelance Writing as a Vocation – Part 1

Why do you write?

Some authors write to inform their readers of current events. Other authors write because there is a need deep inside that forces them to craft stories.

Then there are the authors who are more mercenary; it is all about the Benjamins!

The Catholic Church teaches we should be generous with our Time, Talent and Treasure. In this article we will explore a way for your venture into Freelance Writing to become a Vocation.

Besides writing, what are you passionate about? Does your heart sink at pictures of hungry children, throw-away teens or women with unplanned pregnancies? Are you stirred to action by abused animals, deteriorating historical buildings or disappearing natural habitats?

Name a cause and you have a subject for a story. It would be rare if you are the only one passionate about your cause. Even orphan diseases have more than one family involved in pushing for a cure.

Once you have determined your cause, discover who else is working to address that issue. A specific example will clarify what I mean:

Cause(s): Homeless and destitute people living in the Third World
&
Small coffee growers losing their land and livelihood to large multinational corporations.

Solution: Saint Basil Coffee!

basilcup

Saint Basil Coffee was founded by Jim and Mary Margaret Boyles in Houston, Texas, specifically to raise money for the missions run by the Basilian Fathers. To raise the money they purchase coffee from a Cooperative of Small Growers at Fair Trade Prices. The coffee is then sold to consumers with all profits going to the missions.

I became involved with Saint Basil Coffee first as a consumer – I bought their coffee. Later, in a general e-mail sent out to everyone on their list, they sought a freelance writer to help them spread the word of their apostolate. I stepped forward.

I do not get paid a dime from Saint Basil Coffee; however, when I write and sell an article about this wonderful company to a magazine or website, I do get paid. Because I am helping Saint Basil Coffee get the word out, they are happy to send me updated news (research) about their activities to keep the stories fresh.

I must admit that I became involved with Saint Basil Coffee not because I was passionate about their cause but because I was a customer first. The opportunity to do a good work presented itself later. Perhaps you also are a customer of a company that uses its profits for a charitable cause. What I am doing with Saint Basil Coffee, anyone can do with another company assisting a charity; if it is a service that is near and dear to your heart, so much the better.

As members of the Catholic Writers Guild this type of writing should call out to us. In a future article I will share another opportunity where your writing can materially help others. In the meantime remember:

Time – as you research and compose the article it becomes an active prayer.
Talent – God gave you your ability to write; you are now returning a portion of it to Him.
Treasure – as you earn royalties from this effort you can return a portion of it to God.

You can find a list of tax exempt organizations here.

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CWG Prayer Chain Post: March 22, 2015

The CWG Prayer Chain Post is a weekly post for members to include their special intentions by adding a comment.

Hebrews 5:7-9

During his life on earth, he offered up prayer and entreaty, with loud cries and with tears, to the one who had the power to save him from death, and, winning a hearing by his reverence, he learnt obedience, Son though he was, through his sufferings; when he had been perfected, he became for all who obey him the source of eternal salvation.


The power of prayer and the power of people praying.


March Intention Prayer

Ezekiel 34:11-13

For the Lord Yahweh says this: “Look, I myself shall take care of my flock and look after it. As a shepherd looks after his flock when he is with his scattered sheep, so shall I look after my sheep. I shall rescue them from wherever they have been scattered on the day of clouds and darkness. I shall bring them back from the peoples where they are; I shall gather them back from the countries and bring them back to their own land. I shall pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the inhabited parts of the country.”

Please leave a comment with your intention. If you have problems adding an intention, email it to Mike Hays at coachhays(at)gmail(dot)com and I will add it.  God bless.

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Connie Rossini and St. Therese – CWG March Book Blast

This month, the Catholic Writers’ Guild is touring Guildie Connie Rossini’s book, Trusting God with St. Therese. It’s an SOA winner as well as an award-winning novel, and an inspiration to anyone needing find inspiration in the face of difficult situations.

 

Summary: Are your fears, weaknesses, doubts, and anger keeping you from intimacy with Christ? Do you struggle with despair? Let St. Therese teach you perfect trust.  Learn how Therese of Lisieux trusted God through tragedy, scruples, spiritual darkness, and physical suffering. Connie Rossini pairs episodic stories from the saint’s life with memories of her own quest to trust. With Sacred Scripture, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and insights from psychology, Rossini leads readers to surrender their lives completely to Jesus. Practical and accessible, Trusting God with St. Therese includes questions for reflection that make it perfect for book clubs and faith-sharing groups.

Buy it on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00LTATI6C

Excerpt

St. Therese’s trust in God is almost legendary—so much so that we might consider such trust beyond our reach. In her family and later in the Carmelite cloister, she was bathed in a culture focused on Christ. When she struggled at school, she came home to learn among those who understood her. When she wanted to give herself fully to God, she became a nun. When she began to speak about her little way of spiritual childhood, others encouraged her. We daily encounter challenges to trust that she never faced. The world around us—sometimes even including our dearest family members—meets our desire for God with indifference or hostility. In the Church, others think us presumptuous for even striving to follow God more faithfully. And an insistent voice inside us urges us at every step to abandon our course. “Why focus on trust?” we ask ourselves. There are so many pressing problems for Catholics in today’s world: battling the Culture of Death, bringing strays back to the faith, revamping catechesis, caring for the poor. Why not focus instead on one of these? When we ponder this question more deeply, the mistaken notion behind it reveals itself. We do not practice one virtue or join an apostolate in isolation from the rest of our Christian life. Focusing on trust does not take us away from these other important things. It helps us advance in them. Fighting the Culture of Death, for example, can be discouraging, heartbreaking, and personally risky. Trust gives us the strength to persevere. Likewise, we must trust God with the hearts of the lost, for ultimately only he can convert them. We must trust him to work through his Church, even when the humans who make up that Church fall short. And unless we can accept God’s providence, the trials of the poor will crush our spirits. Why should we focus on trust?

In a letter to Sr. Marie of the Sacred Heart, Therese put it concisely: “It is trust, and nothing but trust that must bring us to Love” (PST, 61). “Love,” of course, is God himself. In other words, we cannot grow close to him until we trust him.

 

 

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Review for Enemy Brothers by Constance Savery — Theresa Frailey

 Our Young Adult review series continues, Theresa is doing a great job!

 

Enemy Brothers: A Story of World War II by Constance Savery

Enemy Brothers was one of those books you easily finish and then fling against the wall saying “Why isn’t there a sequel!”

It was a fascinating read, and its greatness went beyond the plot. The story was clever in its setup and the writing was exceptional. However, the charm of the story lay in the characters, in my opinion.

Dymory, or Dym, and Tony Ingleford were two characters that made Enemy Brothers what it was. They were unique, two people you wanted to hear more about. And perhaps, as strong as the charm of the characters was, the relationship between Dymory and his “enemy brother” was the best part of all.

The story takes place in England when World War II is nearing its apogee. The descriptions are true to the time and put you in England in the time of air raid shelters, daily blackouts and the nightly hum of anti-aircraft bombers.

Mainly the story is about Tony or Max Eckermann, as he considers himself. He was born in England to the large Ingleford family. On a vacation to the seaside when he was an infant his mother’s friend from her school days falls in love with the baby Tony. Robbed of the joy of motherhood that her friend has been so blessed with, the woman kidnaps Tony. Thus, Tony is raised in Germany and becomes Max Eckermann, never knowing about his true identity or the family across the sea which he was born to. As Hitler emerges to prominence in Germany, Max becomes fully involved in the movement to make Germany’s new-world regime. He is taught to hate the English and those who oppose Hitler, that black is white when it serves Germany’s interest and that Germany must expand to fulfill her destiny and create a pure race.

However, through a series of incidents, Tony is taken to England, and fate puts two brothers—long separated—back together. Tony’s parents have died in the lapse of nearly twelve years from when he was captured to the time the story opens. But Tony’s brother, Dym, had promised his mother before she died that he would find Tony. Fate, at the strangest of times, when Germany and England are in the middle of intense warfare, brings Tony to Dym.

The story continues with adventures and mishaps, but mainly revolves around the developing relationship between Tony and his elder brother.

The reader never meets the war full in the face   Rather from a peripheral perspective but still is profoundly affected by elements of it. Constance Savery did a phenomenal job creating the atmosphere, bringing depth and dimension to a regular adventure story and reconstructing in the reader’s mind a piece of past.

I was probably intrigued by the story most when I found out that Constance Savery wrote it during the time the story takes place, perhaps the bitterest part of World War II, neither near the beginning nor within sight of the end.  It was published in 1943.  The clear-sightedness of the story seems to be only possible from a retrospective view. Vivid and real, the story was written during the era of the Holocaust and comes to its readers as a beautiful reminder of what is possible during times of struggle.

At different parts, the author seems very certain, through the characters, of England’s victory over the powers of Germany. She also voices the inevitable victory of good over evil. A strong message of perseverance and faith are released through the pages. Although the story had the qualities of good writing and an exciting plot there was a depth to it that appeared in certain instances which truly made it great instead of simply fun. The reader is encouraged by the will of the character Dym to never give in, to never let the forces of evil take over the world and envelop it in darkness. The reassurance he gives his younger brother that no matter what happens, darkness does not last forever influences the reader also. From a historical point of view, its’ encouraging—but then you already know that Germany lost and the Allies won, that the Holocaust was ended and peace eventually restored. But knowing it was written during the years of war before the end seemed near creates a new perspective with which to look at it.

I highly recommend this book as a good tale that encourages its readers. If the book has faults, they fall in the shadows of its qualities—of the characteristics that make it an unforgettable read.

 

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Member Round-Up

roundup

Hey pardner, have you checked out your fellow members’ best blog posts???

Michael Seagriff asks your help to get this great post into church bulletins. Let’s all scurry over and suggest it to our pastors!!

Larry Peterson gives a real man’s take on the hijacking of Valentine’s Day.

Christine Trollinger  – shortest post, and the sweetest!

Kassie Ritman gives some beautiful, hard-won advice that I think needs to become a much-sold book, judging from the stack of comments. Know anyone facing death, dealing with illness?

Ellen Gable Hrkach offers a very classy way of promoting self and others by providing a real service for busy readers. Brava, Ellen!

Oh, and yours truly, Charlotte Ostermann, would really like to start a conversation, and so invites you to a revolution!

See you next month for the Round-Up. Our deadline is now ‘second Wednesdays’. Send the link to your favorite post (your own, not someone else’s!) to charoster ‘at’ outlook ‘dot’ com.

 

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