Saturday, September 24, 2011

Reflecting the Spotlight

The recent warm reception of my guest post, "One thing is needful" at St. Lydia's Book Club has helped me appreciate how much grassroots effort plays a role in introducing new writers to a wider audience in the digital age. Say what you might about mutual appreciation societies, but it is useful in any field to expose your work to the criticism of your peers and receive encouragement from them; that's what professional conferences are for (not that I'm claiming to be peers with those who have responded). And while I'm certainly not a professional writer, and a blog is not a professional conference, the collegial interaction of writers in the blogosphere serves much of the same purpose.

One responsibility of engaging in a collegium is giving back. With that in mind, I wanted to highlight a couple of authors whose work I find authentic, compelling, and highly enjoyable, but whose work is not likely to show up at St. Lydia's Book Club.

I've recently highlighted the Foy Davis fiction of Gordon Atkinson, but wanted to recommend his new blog Tertium Squid, too. Tertium Squid is Atkinson's new blog chronicling his continuing search for truth. I was first "introduced" to Atkinson when he blogged about visiting St. Anthony the Great Orthodox Church in San Antonio at Real Live Preacher. His appreciation for the beauty of the Divine Liturgy sparked a flurry of conversation in the Orthodox blogosphere, some of it merely appreciative of the fresh perspective, some of it speculative that Atkinson was headed for conversion. In addition to blogging about his faith perspectives at RLP, Atkinson writes fiction that is refreshingly raw and honest.

Raw and honest might also describe the non-fiction that Claudia Mair Burney wrote on her blog Ragamuffin Diva, and while her Amanda Bell Brown Mysteries are informed by that grittiness, they are decidedly romantic fiction (and quite enjoyable). I discovered Burney when I stumbled across her write-up of the Ancient Christianity and Afro-American Conference. As is the case with Atkinson, the thread I think I enjoy most running through Burney's work is a diligent and honest search for Truth. Burney's latest project, The Sunshine Abbey, continues this trend. Her latest post "A Simple Shaft of Light" recalls some of the same ideas I wrote about in "One thing is needful" with respect to looking for and finding salvific beauty in the world around us.

Both Atkinson and Burney have had their flirtations with Orthodox Christianity, but are not Orthodox (Burney was--and is still little-"o" orthodox--read about that story here). So while both might be better qualified to be profiled at St. Lydia's Book Club, it is not likely that either will be. I hope that I can use my little bit of spotlight to shine some light on these excellent writers, too.

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