Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Do you ever have those moments where you feel truly inspired by God and know you are on the right track? Many authors talk about writing the story God gave them. It’s a wonderful feeling as the Holy Spirit flows through your fingertips onto the page. But there’s another kind of Holy Spirit experience that’s even better than knowing it as it happens. It’s the moment you read back what you thought was a mundane, common-place scene and find the gems He left behind. That’s when you know you are being used as an Empty Vessel of the Lord. And there’s no greater feeling in the world, because the emptier you are of yourself, the more room you have for Him. And the more Him, the better!
I have many moments in my life I look back to and see God’s work in play, even times I’d put Him aside for what I’d deemed more important things. Though I’d neglected Him, He never treated me as though I were of lesser importance. I think that’s why those moments are so special to me now.
He still gives me these wonderful revelations of His presence in my life. One most recent was as I wrote the last scene of my novella, At the Edge of a Dark Forest. 
In writing fiction, it’s important to get the pacing of the story just so. That way, the reader can feel they are in the moment with the character. In the final scene, my female protagonist, Carly, is going to a spot in the forest to see the male protagonist, Cole, for the first time in many months. I felt this walk in the woods needed to take a little time so the reader could feel Carly’s nervousness about seeing Cole again. I wanted to drag it out just a bit so as to heighten the suspense of what she’d find. So I added lots of details of the woods she traveled and thoughts of past moments there. 
I asked myself, “What would she be thinking?” 
She’d be thinking of the tree her father’s car hit when he meant to commit suicide. That was the moment where Cole and Carly’s two worlds intertwined. 
“What would the tree look like now?”  
I wrote the answer into the story, “New growth in broken spots and animals finding shelter in the holes.”
I added the crunch of the leaves under her feet and the exertion of the climb and ended the story. Phew! It always feels so good to type “The End” even when you know there are reams of edits to make afterwards. So I read through the scene several times, clarified points, elaborated on ideas and …
Then it hit me!
New growth in broken spots and animals finding shelter in the holes.
Wow, God!
That phrase, unbeknownst to me as I typed the words, was a perfect metaphor for Cole’s story. You see, Cole is a double amputee after having been injured from an IED in the Iraq War. Carly came into his life to provide him with her prototype prosthetics and train him how to use them.
New growth in broken spots …
But that was not the part that really shocked me. It was the last words of the sentence …
… and animals finding shelter in the holes.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. Could the metaphor be more perfect? I sobbed at the realization, because I had nothing to do with its use. It was all God … when I wasn’t looking. There’s nothing more extraordinary then the feeling of being an Empty Vessel of the Lord. Thank you, God!
Oh yeah, if you’re wondering how the animals finding shelter in the holes relates to the story, well, there’s only one way to find out .


Cole Harrison, an Iraq war veteran, wears his disfigurement like a barrier to those who might love him, shielding them from the ugliness inside. He agrees to try and potentially invest in, a prototype prosthetic with the goal of saving a hopeless man’s dreams.
Carly Rose contracts to live with Cole and train him to use his new limbs, only to discover the darkness that wars against the man he could become. 
At the Edge of a Dark Forest is a modern-day retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Only it is not her love that will make him whole. 

Connie Almony is trained as a mental health therapist and likes to mix a little fun with the serious stuff of life. She was a 2012 semi-finalist in the Genesis Contest for Women’s Fiction and was awarded an Honorable Mention in the Winter 2012 WOW Flash Fiction Contest. Her newest release, At the Edge of a Dark Forest, is a modern-day re-telling of Beauty and the Beast about a war-vet, amputee struggling with PTSD
You can find Connie on the web, writing book reviews for Jesus Freak Hideout, and hosting the following blogs: InfiniteCharacters.com and LivingtheBodyofChrist.Blogspot.com.
You can also meet her on the following social media outlets:

Review of At the Edge of a Dark Forest by S. Black:
Connie Almony in her novella "At the Edge of a Dark Forest", weaves an intriguing story of a Iraq war veteran disfigured with the loss of his arm and leg by EID blast who considers himself as repulsive and unlovable on the outside as well as in the inside. He lives his life in his large chalet-looking home as a recluse in the dark forests of the mountainous area with only his servants to take care of him. All the wealth he inherited from his parents could not assuage his anguish, only by means of consuming alcohol could he forget his plight, for awhile, until nightmares left him screaming in the night tormented by war sounds. In his mind he even considers dark thoughts of ending his life. But God intervenes in Cole Harrison's life as he climbs the mountain waiting for hypothermia to take him. He sends a distraction of another desperate man whose car runs off the road, accidentally or on purpose. Cole knows no one will see his car in time to rescue him so he detours from his path hobbling down to the car. The driver, Henry Rose, allows Cole to lead him to his home and conversations reveal that Henry's daughter, Carly, designs prosthetics to help amputees like Cole to have a more maneuverable life, and he encourages him to allow Carly to try her new prototype prosthetics on him. After three months he agrees but Carly finds out when she arrives that she must live at the chalet until he is capable in the use of his new prosthetics. This was not  part of the bargain. Could she trust this complete stranger, to live with him, in such a remote place, a man so obviously bitter? Could she ever make a difference in Cole's life.

An outstanding novel, I couldn't put the story down. Ms. Almony gave me a glimpse of the horrors our soldiers endure even after they have returned from fighting for the freedom of others.  I enjoyed each of the characters so much that I cried at parts in the story as well as laughed at other parts as their lives developed relationships between each other. What a unique method of using "Beauty and the Beast" as the parallel theme through the story. I recommend this book highly, and I look forward to reading more of Ms. Almony's writings.

1 comment :

  1. Thank you for allowing me to be on The borrowed book today, and thank you for such a lovely review!!!


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