On Finding Joy

This year has been full of wonderful experiences for me. I’ve been less focused on my own writing in favor of learning from other writers. (I’m still writing, but – you know me – I’m not ready to share until I’m ready to share.) During one event I attended in September, I met talented writer Sarah Floyd, who has self-published her novel, Finding Joy.

Yes, it’s my tendency to shrink away from self-published works; I’ve been burned many times. This book is different. It’s different in a lot of ways. First, it’s inspirational fiction…and I actually like it. That is a shock to me. There is a natural passage of time needed for persons to grow and develop, which principle is terribly lacking in most novels, particularly in the “Christian inspired” ones. And there’s no heavy weight of preachiness, no “hit me over the head with the Spirit of God” moments. In fact, most of the life principles that are brought up in this book are underemphasized. I found myself a few sentences ahead when the impact of some thought really penetrated my brain. This is where Sarah Floyd’s skill truly impresses. Here’s an excerpt near the end of the book where one of the characters is talking about how she’s forgiven someone for hurting her:

“I have to keep forgiving him periodically, you see, like clockwork…or a…an annual physical or something. And it’s overdue…I need to do it again.”

Yes! That’s how forgiveness really feels. It’s not something where you just forget what happened. The scar is always there, and you have to go back and reapply forgiveness every-so-often with no feelings of guilt, or “God isn’t doing His job taking this away from me.” It’s a natural part of the process that gets ignored. And it’s like an afterthought in this conversation. I love that!

Second, Floyd remains true to her characters. When Joy Carnegie gets to Vermont, she’s overwhelmed. She sees the needs others have, and she doesn’t suddenly pull a skill out of her back pocket and come to the rescue. When a friend gets sick, Joy reflects on her distress at her friend’s sickness; but she can’t think of what she can do to help. She prays; she calls to check on him. That’s all she can do. In another section of the book, Joy has a friend who is going through a family crisis and is crying softly in her bed. This moment of quiet release is a single statement in the story. Joy doesn’t do the superman thing and run over to comfort her. She just let’s her cry, let’s her have her time. The author doesn’t make excuses or leave her heroine feeling like a lousy friend. It’s clear Floyd’s not directing her principle actors to say what needs to be said at the fitting time, or pushing her characters to be anything more than what they are organically. She allows them to develop and change on their own. It’s wonderful! They say things and do things that flow like a normal stream of consciousness would have them. This is one of many reasons I turn to the old books for normal-human-reaction therapy. I want to read about the behavior that was completely acceptable before our super self-aware, movie-watching imitators’ culture decided what emotion and response is universally appropriate for every personality and situation. The writer of Finding Joy doesn’t conform to that silliness.

Here’s the third great thing about Sarah Floyd’s Finding Joy: It’s comforting. When I was a kid, my mom would make Cream of Wheat for breakfast, sprinkle it with sugar, and pour milk over it. That’s my comfort food as an adult – that or oatmeal with the milk poured over it. Now, if I’d just said, “Finding Joy is like eating oatmeal,” I realize most of you readers would’ve curled your lip at that. (Maybe you still are!) But I’m trying to give you an idea of the feeling this story wraps around me. It empowers one with the sense of being part of a special fellowship in the midst of all the struggles that can occur in life. There were sections where I smiled or laughed at the gentle banter between Floyd’s characters because they reminded me of the fun I share with close friends. (And it doesn’t hurt that there’s a character that likes eating oatmeal.)

Lastly, the grammar is better than I’ve read in current book selections from some of the genre book clubs. (Isn’t it dreadful how writers lazily apply past tense verbs when the narrative is in past participle? I don’t know why editors allow it in print.) I found a handful of typos but nothing that made me cringe. It’s obvious the author knows her verb tenses and her English, as well as some French!

I have no qualms or hesitations; I can completely recommend Finding Joy to you. Like I do with every story, I looked for a worthwhile protagonist to take with me after I closed book. I’ve found Joy to be just that sort of character. Find Joy’s story on Amazon.

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