Author Guest Post
You Can't Be Happy And Write A Good Story
by Julie L. Cannon, author of Twang
The human brain craves stories. We read in order to understand life. We read to find out how others wrestled, struggled, and survived, how they found hope in the valleys. If we can read how someone clung to their dreams when they were met with adversity, it gives us courage to cling to ours.
A writer's most powerful voice comes from their deepest wounds. Writing teacher Donald Maass said something I keep by my keyboard, "These novels change us because their authors are willing to draw upon their deepest selves without flinching. They hold nothing back."
When I was a junior in college, the bicycle I was riding was struck by a car. While visiting various neurologists because of a traumatic brain injury, I saw folks sitting in wheelchairs, staring vacantly with drool running out of their mouths, and I knew, "There but for the grace of God go I." Time passed, and after much therapy, I started asking a lot of questions about life. It was a brand new, earth-shaking experience that blew the door wide open to my soul. I'm sure you've heard people say it was their suffering that made them see things differently. That in the depths of despair, the valley, they discovered that what they'd once lived for, what they'd put their hope in, was no longer enough. This was true for me, and now I'm out to share this through my books. My characters find grace, even beauty in the ugliest memories and events.
I love telling stories and I love country music. Conway Twitty says, "A good country song takes a page out of somebody's life and puts it to music." As I began writing Twang, I devoured the stories of country music stars. One comment I came across constantly is - "You can't be happy and write good songs." Every article by a musician had some comment about how their great songs sprung from those tortured times in their past. Brad Paisley said, "As a songwriter, heartbreak is important." I thought about that old axiom I learned in writing classes - stories about happy people are boring. I had the formula for a successful country song and a good story.
I brought Nashville hopeful Jennifer Clodfelter to the page. A 22-year-old woman from Blue Ridge, Georgia, she's running to Music City and away from her past. One thing that amazed me when I went to Nashville for research is that there are many so-called 'gentleman's clubs' there. I was told this is because a lot of wanna-be female singers work there to pay their rent, buy food while waiting for their big break. I included this in Twang, and I added a lecherous father, a beautician with a tattooed past, and a manager who's hungry for blockbuster hits at the expense of his client. Jennifer is determined to leave her ugly past in the past. She is terrified to use those hurtful things to write songs.
I wrote Twang to show how cathartic it is when we finally do look those painful memories in the eye. How God can redeem the seemingly unredeemable. This novel shows how a wounded country music diva uses her pain to create powerful hit songs that touch others' lives.
About The Author
Her latest book is the Christian fiction novel, Twang.
Julie L. Cannon's Twang Virtual Book Tour Page On Pump Up Your Book!
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Publication Date: August 1, 2012
Format: Paperback - 336 pages / Kindle - 1323 KB / Nook 2 MB
Genre: Christian Fiction / Southern Fiction
BUY THE BOOK: Twang
BARNES & NOBLE
Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Pump Up Your Book! Virtual Book Publicity Tours.
Haunted by a dark past, country music diva Jenny Cloud pours her pain into the autobiographical lyrics of one hit song after another, until finally the soul-wrenching aspect of her art gets to be too much and she knows she cannot revisit an unmentionable time from childhood without losing her sanity.
The songs Jennifer Clodfelter writes and sings aren’t from her imagination. With innocence and passion, Jenny pours the pain from her childhood into the lyrics of one Billboard Country hit after another. Her manager assures her that confronting formative years wrapped in violence and poverty is a necessary evil, part of the unstoppable force of her destiny to become a Country Music Diva. And for a while, little Jenny Cloud is in heaven. She basks in the spotlight on stage and the wild applause of her fans. But as she pours herself into writing more and more autobiographical songs, Jenny begins to find the emotional fallout is staggering. When she revisits a dark memory she thought was long-buried, she begins to seriously wonder if the high price she’s paying to write her hits is worth it. Jenny’s hairdresser, Tonilynn, sees the wounded little girl beneath the star’s on-stage smiles and she attempts to fix her broken spirit along with her hair by counseling Jenny to pour yet another long-repressed story of her father into a song. Is singing for her sanity a possibility in this instance? Would another hit song be therapy enough to reconcile Jenny and her dark past? Jenny Cloud faces the music with music.
My Book Review:
Twenty-three year old Georgia girl Jennifer Clodfelter knew she was destined to become a country music star. Leaving her troubled past behind, Jennifer heads off to Nashville to make her dreams come true. After struggling for three years, her hard work and determination finally pays off, and she becomes Music Row's next rising country music star named Jenny Cloud. But success comes with a price: her troubled past and buried secrets rise to the surface and starts to take its toll on her life and career. With the help and support of good friends, Jenny embarks on a journey to put her faith and troubles in God's hands, and learn that forgiveness is the key that will set her free.
Twang is a poignant story of a woman's journey to chase her dream of becoming a country music star while learning to let of go of the past and the importance of faith and forgiveness. This inspirational story is told in the first person narrative, with Jenny taking the readers along on her profoundly insightful journey. This story will captivate you and pull at your heartstrings, you can't help but feel for Jenny as she learns to put her faith and trust in God and to let go of the past, so that the beauty of redemption could set her free to enjoy her life and career. Rich in details and vivid descriptions, the reader is easily transported to Nashville's famous Music Row. You can just hear the ghosts of country music's past as you walk through the hallowed halls of some of Nashville's legendary landmarks. I would be remiss if I didn't mention the author's inclusion of Nashville's flood into the storyline, it simply gave me goosebumps as I remembered the devastation that came out of this event, and the people's unwavering faith while trying to make sense out of it all. As a country music fan, Twang was everything I had hoped it would be and then some, it left me wanting more.
The author has created a wonderful cast of characters who are realistic and down-to-earth people. She brings the characters to life through engaging dialogues and interactions with each other that captivates the reader's attention. I enjoyed following Jenny on her journey, I couldn't help but feel for this young woman as she struggled to let go of the past, her pain and anguish was palpable, I just wanted to hug her and cheer her on. The supporting cast of characters: kindred spirit Roy Durden; business manager Mike Flint; and hairdresser Tonilynn, were all engaging characters who added to Jenny's journey and made the story that much more of an engaging and compelling read.
Twang is an inspirational and deeply moving story of seeking love, faith, strength, forgiveness and redemption. This story will touch your heart, only through heartache and struggle can a good country song and story be told, it will resonate with your soul long after you have read the last words.
RATING: 5 STARS *****