Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tis The Season...

Somewhere in between Black Friday and Cyber Monday this year, The Woodlands, Texas was transformed into a magical world unlike any other.

"The Nutcracker" came to life here at the hands of the Woodlands Ballet Ensemble. This holiday classic is based on the story of E.T.A. Hoffman and danced to the brilliant music of Tchaikovsky.

Attending this well-loved ballet is a refreshing diversion from the harsh realities of a struggling economy and the rampant commercialism of this holiday season. The Nutcracker allows us to escape into an enchanting world in which dreams still do come true.

The beauty of the Christmas season is reflected on stage through an innocent little girl named Clara as she marvels at the wonder of falling snowflakes, as she dances with her nutcracker doll. The lovely Sugar Plum Fairy entrances the audience with her magical dancing in the arms of her Sugar Plum Cavalier. It reminds us all of the true beauty in this world. And perhaps leaves us wondering if there still is some magic out there for us all...

Nutcracker season has become an annual tradition for my Texas grandchildren who have grown up dancing in The Nutcracker in Missoula, Montana and The Woodlands, Texas. One of the highlights of my Christmas season is watching them perform, seeing them learn and grow into bigger and better roles. This year, I had the honor of watching grandaughters Abigail and Madelaine dance the roles of Clara and The Sugar Plum Fairy. They performed so beautifully, with so much passion and intensity, that I sat in the audience with tears welling in my eyes.

My congratulations to all the Nutcracker dancers for their great performances, to their teachers, parents, and those behind the scenes who made it all possible.

May the magic of The Nutcracker be with us all throughout the Christmas season!

Stay tuned and please stay in touch.

Janet Kay

Monday, November 14, 2011


What do you see when you look at this tree? Try to look beyond the obvious...beyond identifying the type of tree, a cloudy day, etc. Daydream. Turn your imagination loose. Clear your mind and tap into the feelings that this image evokes in your heart and soul.

I see and feel a ghostly tree hiding chilling secrets from the past. What about those crumbling tombstones? Who lies beneath - and how did they die? I sense spirits lurking in the shadows...do you? Wait...is that an elf playing in the twisted, gnarled roots of this ancient tree?

As a writer, I frequently start with an image like this before spinning off into a bit of fantasy.

While fantasy and mythic stories have always been a part of our culture, there has been an explosion of interest in various genres of fantasy. Think J.K. Rowlings' Harry Potter series, J.R.R. Tolkien's work, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Why are so many people today reading and writing fantasy?

As Philip Martin (author of A Guide to Fantasy Literature)writes:"Fantasy is about journeying to strange worlds - but it is ultimately about arriving, in a state of surprise and grace, at a place inside ourselves where we see our own world again with the wonder and the belief of a child."

Yes, fantasy allows us to escape to places where all things are possible. I will never forget my little grandaughter Madelaine's fantasy of being The Little Mermaid. She played the role, sang the songs, perched on a rock beside the pool in a dramatic mermaid pose. However, she got so absorbed in her fantasy that she dove into the pool...she couldn't swim yet! We immediately rescued our little mermaid from her fantasy.

Fantasy allows writers and readers to create and live in make-believe worlds of our own. Here, we ideally learn lessons about good and evil, right and wrong, before returning to the real world.

Fantasy includes a number of interesting categories including fairy tales, adventure, high fantasy, dark fantasy, supernatural/paranormal, and magical realism.

As a writer, I'm not even going to try creating an elaborate world of dungeons and dragons. My preference is "magical realism" which combines magical elements with the real world. The magical or supernatural elements I like to introduce into the ordinary world include paranormal spirits from the past.

I want my readers to come away with a sense of hope and reconnection with the childish dreams that many of us have locked away in the dusty closets of our minds.

I write because there are readers and reviewers like Beverly Pechin of Reader Views. After reading my novel, Waters of the Dancing Sky, she wrote: "This novel will keep you intrigued, inspired, and hopeful. The way the author intertwines reality with fantasy simply leaves one to wonder if there aren't such beautiful possibilities out there for all of us."

Love to hear your thoughts about fantasy!

Stay tuned and please stay in touch!

Janet Kay