I am taking part in the Catholic Writers’ Guild book tour ofSurvival Spirit by Theresa Alt. It is a 2023 CWG Seal of Approval recipient!
In a post-apocalyptic world, can Christy find a way to save lives without tearing hers apart?
While the world is still reeling from a series of natural disasters that resulted in a catastrophic change in its atmosphere, Christy is thriving. She has a great job, loves her new role as aunt to little Theodore, and has just been reunited with her boyfriend, Scott. But when Christy takes on the challenge of trying to save newborn babies who are unable to breathe the new atmosphere, her job becomes a life-and-death struggle that often takes her away from those she loves.
Can she maintain the precarious balance of her many roles?
Or will she have to choose between her life-saving work and the life she dreams of with Scott?
Ashley and I were up at dawn each day that week, working to get the spring planting done. Mid-morning on Friday, we were putting up a fence along the row of peas we had just planted when I spotted someone walking along the road. It was an unusual sight this far out of town.
“Ashley, do you know that person?” I pointed down the road.
She looked up, still on her knees. “I don’t think so.”
“Maybe we should go in before he spots us, just to be on the safe side.”
“Probably a good idea.”
We hurried to the back door, staying out of sight of the road as much as we could. Once safely inside, I positioned myself near the front window, trying to catch a glimpse of the stranger without letting him know the house was inhabited.
“I think it’s a woman,” I whispered, “but it’s hard to tell.”
I peeked out again. “She’s holding something—looks like a cat carrier.”
I scrambled back from the window. “She just turned toward the house. She must have seen us in the garden. She knows we’re in here.”
I felt for the handle of my pistol, just above my waistband. My fear calmed. I would be able to protect both of us against whoever was on the other side of our front door.
“A lady with a kitten?” Ashley said. “Doesn’t sound that frightening to me. Let me see.”
Ashley had already raised her eyes above the windowsill. I reached to pull her back down to safety. She sprang to her feet, almost knocking me off mine. She burst through the front door and sprinted down the driveway. I had no idea what was going on. I ran out the door after her, fearful for her safety.
The woman set down the carrier and took a step toward Ashley.
Theresa Alt loves a good story—whether on the page or on the stage—and has been writing them and bringing them to life for as long as she can remember. In addition to writing and acting, Theresa enjoys making music, ballroom dancing, spending time in God’s creation, and eating freshly baked scones while watching the sunrise.
Theresa loves her work as a physical therapist, helping elderly clients find purpose and balance through the recovery of strength and function. It’s her hope that Christy’s journey toward purpose and balance will be an inspiration to you.
If you’ve ever asked the question, “How did our society get so messed up?”, Rebellion gives you the answer.
Our society is awash in immodesty, blasphemy, immorality, selfishness, and rage. The question many people are asking is, “How did we get to this point? How did society get so messed up?” Rebellion: The Epic Saga of Marriage, Satan, and the Battle for Our Souls is a page-turning book that answers those questions. Starting at the Garden of Eden and taking a whirlwind trip through major points in history, the reader will uncover how Satan caused Adam and Eve to sin, the epic events and major players throughout history, and why marriage always was and continues to be the battlefield between good and evil. Thoroughly researched with 240 citations, Rebellion pulls back the curtain of obscurity to reveal the roots of today’s societal mayhem.
Rebellion is not your typical Christian book, where at the climax, Christ on Calvary wins the victory, and we all go to Heaven. Rebellion is a story of a battle that is still in progress. While Christ died once for all, His final victory still awaits us. Until that day, we are still in the middle of a great war: the war for souls. The battle against marriage is the key battle in that war, and the attacks against marriage will never cease until Christ’s final victory. Rebellion isn’t a story of Christ’s victory; rather, it is a wake-up call as well as a call to arms.”
— From the Introduction
After successful careers in both advertising and software development fields, Michael has turned his attention to running Catholic Treehouse where he uses his passion for his Catholic faith and the skills acquired in his previous careers to spread the Gospel and Catholicism. He is the author of Rebellion, and is also the publisher of Passing Time, compiler of The Sacred Heart Book of Devotions, and compiler and editor of over twenty-five saint devotionals. He is also a Fourth Degree Knight of Columbus, and has been the lecturer at his council for over seven years. A native of Pittsburgh, Michael is a lifelong Catholic who has been married for over 20 years and has two children.
Because we can always enjoy more good books…. I am participating in the Catholic Writers’ Guild virtual book tour of G.M. Baker’s “The Wistful and the Good.” It is a CWG Seal of Approval recipient!
The mighty are undone by pride, the bold by folly, and the good by wistfulness.
Elswyth’s mother was a slave, but her father is a thegn, and Drefan, the man she is to marry, is an ealdorman’s son. But though Elswyth is content with the match, and waits only for Drefan to notice that she has come to womanhood, still she finds herself gazing seaward, full of wistful longing.
From the sea come Norse traders, bringing wealth, friendship, and tales of distant lands. But in this year of grace 793, the sea has brought a great Viking raid that has devastated the rich monastery of Lindisfarne. Norse are suddenly not welcome in Northumbria, and when Elswyth spots a Norse ship approaching the beach in her village of Twyford, her father fears a Viking raid.
But the ship brings trouble of a different kind. Leif has visited Twyford many times as a boy, accompanying his father on his voyages. But now he returns in command of his father’s ship and desperate to raise his father’s ransom by selling a cargo of Christian holy books. Elswyth is fascinated by the books and the pictures they contain of warm and distant lands.
But when Drefan arrives, investigating reports of the sighting of a Norse ship, Elswyth must try to keep the peace between Drefan and Leif, and tame the wistfulness of her restless heart.
“Who are Ælfflæd and Cuthbert and Agnes? I thought you only had one god, the one you call Christ.”
“Not gods, silly, saints.”
“What is a saint, then? Are they like an elf or a dwarf or a troll?”
“No, no. Oh, how can I explain it? A hero, I suppose. Only a holy hero. Ælfflæd and Cuthbert are our own saints—Northumbrian saints, I mean—so they are our special patrons and they look after us.”
“Oh, well, all girls pray to Saint Agnes.”
Elswyth pursed her lips and flushed a little. “She is the patron of virgins,” she said.
“A god of virgins?” Leif said. “This is very strange to me. We have Freyr, who is goddess of fertility. Women sacrifice to her to get children. But a goddess of virginity is strange indeed, for every people has need of fertility and increase.”
“Well, if you say the right prayers on her feast day, Saint Agnes will help you find a husband.”
“That is good service, I suppose. But your husband was found for you long ago. Why do you still pray to her then?”
“I don’t know. I like her, I think. She was a girl like me. And she was a martyr— they tried to make her a whore, but she refused and they killed her.”
G. M. Baker is trying to revive the serious popular novel, the kind of story that finds the truth of the human condition in action, adventure, romance, and even magic. He writes the newsletter, Stories All the Way Down and is the author of the historical novel series Cuthbert’s People — The Wistful and the Good, St. Agnes and the Selkie, The Needle of Avocation — and the literary fairy-tale Lady Isabel and the Elf Knight.
This lovely picture book about Saint Clare–and her cat–has been a favorite of Catholic families. While enjoying the colorful pictures on every page, young readers will get familiar with this saint: how she lived in Assisi and was the daughter of a count, how the preaching of Saint Francis touched her soul and sparked her vocation, how many other young ladies felt called to join her as poor sisters, how she grew closer and closer to God through prayer and daily work, and even some of the miracles that resulted from her prayers! This story will make a wonderful addition to your family library.
On the road to San Damiano, Grandma Nonna shares with her grandson Antonio a once-upon-a-time story about Saint Clare. Full-color illustrations and a delightful tale capture the beauty and faith of Saint Clare as she pursues her vocation and embraces the joyful and simple Franciscan spirituality. Ever-appreciative of the little things, Clare’s happiness blossoms even more with her wonderful discovery of a tiny kitten.
“I read it through and found it beautifully illustrated and written. You have my approval! By all means the St. Joseph’s table would love to have one.” ~ Fr. Gillilan
”This charming story of Saint Clare of Assisi and her blossoming friendship with a mischievous little cat is absolutely delightful.” ~ Amazon review, Nose in a Book
”The story is written in an engaging and entertaining manner. . . . And can be read again and again, at the writing of this review I have read it almost a dozen times, by myself or with one or more of my children. . . . It is a great Catholic picture book, fun for the whole family..” ~Steven R. McEvoy, Book Reviews & More
”Wonderful and delightful story with incredible illustrations!! Children will love the full colored pages as they listen to the story. A must add to any children’s collection.” ~ Amazon review, Didi
”Saint Clare and Her Cat is a great introduction to the Franciscan saint. Told as a story within a story, it’s appealing to children with friendly illustrations and pretty kitty too. The book would make a great gift for a child any time of the year.” ~ An Open Book Family
After our last dog passed away a few years ago, I didn’t want to get another dog. My husband has dog allergies. We have two cats. I always end up with scoop-the-poop duty. And vet bills can be unpredictable. But our boys seemed to miss having a dog around the house, so so we researched to find a “hypoallergenic” dog that gets along with cats and decided a poodle would be a good fit.
Enter Harley . . .
Harley is a Parti Poodle, which sounds fun but just means the poodle’s coat is at least 50% white and has patches of another color: cream, in her case. Harley even has a big cream-colored heart on one side.
We brought our bouncing puppy home over two and a half years ago. While male poodles often have a closer connection with one member of the family over the others, female poodles tend to make a special connection with each member of the family. And Harley really has. She responds differently to each of us, greeting me with wiggles and wags when I come through the door and cuddling whenever I sit down for prayer, following my husband when he gets home until he has time to pet her, zeal and zest with our nineteen-year-old son, and more subdued and obedient behavior with our oldest son, who has autism.
She is such a special dog. She loves to do training and play catch and go for walks–although she’s much better for my nineteen-year-old than for me on a leash. She also loves to cuddle–my favorite too–and even lets the family know when it’s time to sit down for the evening Rosary, which she probably enjoys because we are all together.
One of my boys discovered how fun she looks in pictures he takes with his cell phone.
Lately, I’ve enjoyed experimenting with filters on GoAart. It’s free and fun.
But Harley is so special she also got a cameo appearance in my newest release, Summer at West Castle! This clean Catholic romance came out January 18, 2023. Story one-liner: A young woman’s act of mercy toward a man she’s never liked puts her on an unexpected path that challenges her to look beneath the surface.
After driving aimlessly for an hour, sunlit scenery on less-traveled roads doing little to lift my mood, I returned to town, to the city center, and pulled into an angled parking spot across from Saint Michael’s Church. An old man sat on a park bench in the quiet park before me. A middle-aged woman walked a white-and-tan poodle on the sidewalk, right past my car, or actually the dog walked her.
~from Chapter 27 of Summer at West Castle
Yes, I’m the middle-aged woman! And the white-and-tan poodle is Harley! Like I admitted already, she does better on a leash for my nineteen-year-old than for me.
I like the idea of getting exercise by walking the dog, but it’s even more fun to let her go off leash in an open field. I don’t have to worry about her running away because she always stops and looks back to make sure she can still see me. And when I call her, she comes running to me. Most of the time. Sometimes she has to stop and sniff something along the way.
I got the idea for including Harley in the story–even though she just has a bit part–from Leslea Wahl, author of the award-winning The Perfect Blindside and other favorite YA books, all contemporary mysteries. Her dogs often make cameo appearances in her stories: her labradoodle Everest in the Blindside books, labradoodle Kahlua in Into the Spotlight, and her Dalmation Lexus in Where You Lead.
Leslea Wahl even wrote a children’s book To Serve and Protect about a dog named Siena who does her best to fill in for her military family’s daddy while he is deployed. It’s really such a cute story.
And I got the idea for blogging about my dog from inspirational author Carolyn Astfalk when she posted “Puppies, Possibilities, and God’s Generosity” The blog post is HERE. Her new dog, Tillie, is quite adorable! And Carolyn does have a pet in one of her stories too. It’s not a dog though. And it’s not a glamorous role but . . . well, In Ornamental Graces, Emily’s brother’s family has a cat that barfs on the floor when Emily is babysitting. It’s so nice to have pets in stories! And Carolyn’s stories have such real, down-to-earth elements…like with Emily’s brother’s cat. Even though it’s Christmassy, this one would make a wonderful February read because of Valentine’s Day!
Here are the pictures of the authors I mentioned: Leslea Wahl, Carolyn Astfalk, and me! Click on the names to reach the authors’ websites. And yes, I totally used that fun GoArt filter thingee on our pictures! I hope the authors don’t mind…. I tried to use filters that were flattering, as opposed to ones that did things like this:
I’ll close my post with one last thought about Harley. I didn’t really want another pet, but Harley makes me so happy every day with her wagging tail and sweet golden eyes and the way she tilts her head when you talk to her . . . She reminds me how much God loves me.
Just think: everything good in the world was created by our loving Heavenly Father for us. And when I think of all the cute, cuddly, interesting, silly, beautiful, and wonderful creatures in the world, my heart stirs to know that God made them for me–to comfort me and make me happy and sometimes to make me laugh. And He made them for you too, of course!
“The Catholic Teen Book authors have done it again! We loved this book from page one; it’s a great way to dig deeper into Lent with your teens. The book has a story for everyone, and they all share the faith in different but wonderful ways. Highly recommend!”
Jennifer & Kate Waldyke, Co-hosts of Catholic Mom and Daughter
“Ashes, the latest compilation of stories from CatholicTeenBooks.com provides teen readers with plenty to think about. This compilation focuses on the theme of Lent, Easter, and our own mortality. In each of these stories, there is an encounter with death. Sometimes a death is pending or has just occurred or is threatening nearby. But the experienced and very talented authors at CatholicTeenBooks.com have not presented a depressing, frightening or dark anthology here. Instead, I was surprised to find that each story is uplifting, hopeful and very inspiring.
What binds these stories is that each young person must make a leap of Faith, take a step into a fuller, more mature understanding of their Catholic Faith. Characters are called to forgive, to resist temptation, to be courageous, to be steadfast and responsible. All of them come to understand on a deeper level the sacrificial nature of Love.
I highly recommend this collection of stories from the authors at CatholicTeenBooks.com. Your teens will love how characters struggle when confronted with the stark reality of death but ultimately learn that with Faith, they can be heroes!”
Melinda Harrington, Catholic Children’s Stories
“This is the fourth anthology from the authors at the Catholic Teen Books collective. Each has been a great read. This Lenten volume is also, to be honest, my favourite of the four now. Each story was remarkable.
Many of the contributors to this collection, in their own way, imitate Christ and are master storytellers in our own generation. I have a great deal of respect for the ten authors who contributed to this series. And a couple of them are among my all-time favourite authors. And I read a couple hundred books a year. This is a collection of 10 faith-filled stories by 10 great authors.
In this collection, we have one short story from each of the contributors. Some contain characters you can encounter in novels by the authors. Some are from books and series that have been around for a few years and others to recent releases or forthcoming works. I really could not pick a favorite or least favorite. Each story is very well written. And I thoroughly enjoyed them all. For fans of any of the authors in this collection, you need to pick this book up to read their contributions. For readers who love remarkable stories, this collection is for you also. And if you want some great reads that are clean Catholic fiction, this is the book for you. This anthology is Amazing!”
Steven R. McEvoy, BookReviewsAndMore.ca(Full review on BookReviewsAndMore.ca)
For your chance to win . . .
a free copy of Ashes: Visible & Invisible,
along with One Day at a Time for Catholic Teens by Katie Prejean McGrady and Tommy McGrady,
along with a pair of cozy Lenten socks,
a “Prayer Warrior” paracord and metal bead rosary (complete with St. Benedict Crucifix from Italy)
THERESA LINDEN is the author of award-winning Catholic fiction, including the West Brothers contemporary series and the Chasing Liberty dystopian trilogy. One of her great joys is to bring elements of faith to life through a story. She has more than a dozen published books, three of which won awards from the Catholic Press Association. Her short stories appear in several anthologies, including Secrets: Visible & Invisible, and Gifts: Visible & Invisible. Her articles and interviews can be found on various radio shows and in magazines, including EWTN’s The Good Fight, The National Catholic Register, Catholic Digest, Today’s Catholic Teacher, and Catholic Mom. Her books are featured online on Catholic Teen Books, Catholic Reads, FORMED, and Virtue Works Media. A wife, homeschooling mom, and Secular Franciscan, she resides in northeast Ohio with her husband and children. You can learn more about her at www.TheresaLinden.com.
ANTONY BARONE KOLENC is the author of The Harwood Mysteries, an exciting historical-fiction series for youth published by Loyola Press. He is a long-time member of the Catholic Writers Guild, and his novels all have the Catholic Writers Guild’s Seal of Approval. He retired as a Lieutenant Colonel from the U.S. Air Force Judge Advocate General’s Corps after 21 years of military service. A law professor who’s had his works published in numerous journals and magazines, Kolenc now speaks at legal, writing, and home-education events. He and his wife, Alisa, are the parents of five children, and have been blessed with three wonderful grandchildren. To learn more about The Harwood Mysteries and its author, visit www.antonykolenc.com.
AMANDA LAUER loves writing books—particularly Young Adult Historic Fiction—that portray the Church in a positive light and depict God’s children endeavoring to become the best version of themselves every day. A journalist and proofreader by trade, Amanda embarked on her novelist career with the award-winning and best-selling Heaven Intended Civil War series. A World Such as Heaven Intended earned the 2016 YA CALA award. Currently, Amanda has several more books in the process of being published. In addition to writing novels, Amanda works in the film industry writing and copy-editing screenplays. She was awarded Best Writer 2020 (Red Letter Awards) for her work as a co-writer on the movie The Islands. To learn more about Amanda, who’s blessed to be living in a world such as heaven intended, visit her website: www.AmandaLauer.com.
ELLEN GABLE HRKACH is an author of twelve books, ghostwriter, editor, self-publishing book coach, publisher, and contributor to multiple websites and books. She is the former president of the Catholic Writers Guild, and her books have won multiple awards: the IPPY Gold Medal (2010), and First Place in the Catholic Media Association Awards (2022). Married to her husband of 40 years, James, she is also the mother of five adult sons, three daughters-in-law, and Grammy to two precious grandchildren. When she’s not writing, Ellen can be found watching classic movies, researching her family tree, and reading with her grandchildren. Originally from New Jersey, Ellen lives with her husband in rural Ontario, Canada. Visit her website: www.EllenGable.com.
CAROLYN ASTFALK writes from the sweetest place on Earth, Hershey, Pennsylvania, where she lives with her husband and four children. In addition to her contemporary Catholic romances (sometimes referred to as Theology of the Body fiction), including the young adult coming-of-age story Rightfully Ours, she is a Catholicmom.com contributor. She is a member of the Catholic Writers Guild and Pennwriters. When she is not washing dishes, doing laundry, or reading, you can find her blogging about books, faith, and family life at www.CarolynAstfalk.com.
LESLEA WAHL is the author of the award-winning Catholic teen mysteries The Perfect Blindside, An Unexpected Role, Where You Lead, and eXtreme Blindside. The characters in this short story, Luke, Celia, Austin, and Grandma Grace, appear in her newest adventurous novel, A Summer to Treasure. Leslea’s journey to become an author came through a search for value-based fiction for her own children. She now not only writes for teens but also has become a reviewer of Catholic teen fiction to help other families discover faith-based books. Leslea lives in beautiful Colorado with her husband and children. The furry, four-legged members of her family often make cameo appearances in her novels. Leslea has always loved mysteries and hopes to encourage teens to grow in their faith through these fun adventures. For more information about her faith-filled Young Adult mysteries, please visit www.LesleaWahl.com.
T. M. GAOUETTE is the author of the Faith & Kung Fu series for young adults, as well as The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch and For Eden’s Sake. She also contributed to the last two Catholic Teen Books anthologies, Secrets: Visible & Invisible with her short story “Sister Francesca” and Gifts: Visible & Invisible with “Just Jesus.” Her novels have received the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval (except new releases for which the seal may be in process). Born in Africa, raised in London, England, Gaouette now lives on a small farm in New England with her husband, where she homeschools their four children, raises goats, and writes fiction for teens and young adults. A former contributor for Project Inspired, Gaouette’s desire is to instill the love of God into the hearts of her readers. You can find out more at www.TMGaouette.com.
CYNTHIA T. TONEY writes characters that show tweens and teens how wonderful, powerful, and valuable God made them. Her current novel will accompany The Other Side of Freedom that will give readers more of Robert Brown (a.k.a. Sal) and Antonina, the girl he left behind. Cynthia is also the author of the Bird Face series; 8 Notes to a Nobody, 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status, 6 Dates to Disaster, and 3 Things to Forget, as well as short stories in the Catholic Teen Books anthologies Secrets: Visible and Invisible and Gifts: Visible and Invisible. She is a member of the Catholic Writers Guild and a volunteer with the Independence Italian Cultural Museum in Louisiana. She has a passion for rescuing dogs from abuse, neglect, and euthanasia and lives with her husband and several canines. The public can also connect with her through her website http://www.CynthiaTToney.com and her blog http://www.BirdFaceWendy.wordpress.com. Look for her books and other writing at CatholicTeenBooks.com and her publisher’s website, WriteIntegrity.com.
MARIE KEISER is the author of Heaven’s Hunter. A former teacher, she now lives in Minnesota with her husband and young children. She is passionate about writing inspiring stories about people who struggle with Faith. When she’s not doing dishes, chasing toddlers, or changing diapers, she occasionally blogs about books, life, or ideas at http://www.EnjoyingWomanhood.com.
CORINNA TURNER is the author of the I Am Margaret and unSPARKed series for young adults, as well as stand-alone works such as Elfling and Mandy Lamb and the Full Moon (for teens) and Someday (for older teens and adults). She has just released The Boy Who Knew (Carlo Acutis) the first book in her new Friends in High Places series about friendship with the saints. All of her novels have received the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval (except new releases for which the seal may be in process). Liberation (‘I Am Margaret’ Book 3) was nominated for the Carnegie Medal Award 2016 and Elfling won first prize for “Teen and Young Adult Fiction” in the Catholic Press Association 2019 Book Awards. Several of her other books have been placed in the CPA Awards and the Catholic Arts and Letters Award. Corinna Turner is a Lay Dominican with an MA in English from Oxford University, and lives in the UK. She has been writing since she was fourteen and likes strong protagonists with plenty of integrity. She used to have a Giant African Land Snail called Peter with a 6½” long shell—which is legal in the UK!—but now makes do with a cactus and a campervan. You can find out more at www.IAmMargaret.com.
I’m taking part in the Catholic Writers’ Guild book tour of Karina Fabian’s ebook, “Antivenom: A Rescue Sisters Story.” Originally published as part of the anthology, “Infinite Space, Infinite God II,” it is a CWG Seal of Approval recipient!
Snakes on a spaceship? Can Sister Rita’s faith overcome her phobia?
Three religious sisters from the Order of Our Lady of the Rescue offer help to a ship that is off-course and not answering hails. They find the ship crawling with venomous snakes who have killed their handler and bitten the pilot. When one bites her partner, Sister Rita must conquer her phobia and snatch the antivenin from their nest.
The door opened, and Sister Rita saw the dizzying sight of Basilica floating in the velvet dark, a thin neon line tying it to them. Sister Ann hooked her line, then that holding the rescue bag containing the injured pilot. Ann activated the motors, and they pulled away: a large, white alien child carrying a silver balloon. Rita listened to her count the meters, and when she was certain they were clear, closed the outer airlock door.
Karina Fabian is a founder of the Catholic Writers Guild and writes (among other things) Catholic science fiction and fantasy. Sometimes, it’s deliberate – what else are you going to do with a dragon who loses a fight to St. George? – and other times, it’s a natural outflow of her belief that true worldbuilding includes faith. She also writes secular SFF and humor. She’s married to a rocket scientist and lives on Florida’s Space Coast.
This is one of a series of short stories about the Rescue Sisters, an order of religious sisters who do dangerous search and rescue operations in space as well as run orphanages, schools, and other needed programs for those colonizing the solar system. Find all the stories here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09L59B69G
This month, the Catholic Writers’ Guild is touring Kimberly Novak’s book, Bella’s Beautiful Miracle. It is a 2022 CWG Seal of Approval recipient! Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, SHE became a butterfly!
Bella the caterpillar leads a happy and content life in her tree in the Royal Forest. However, one terrifying night, Bella is uprooted by a sudden storm, carrying her far from home. Surprises abound for Bella unexpectedly when God sends new friends on Bella’s path to inspire and motivate her hunger for transformation. Bella’s Beautiful Miracle is a story of loss, healing, the transformative power of God, and the path He lays out for each one of us.
The light of the next day came quickly, and Bella gave her body a big morning stretch. Feeling refreshed and rested, she climbed down from where she slumbered. Bella was sure Mira was in prayer and wanted to begin that same routine. Why not start right now? she thought. I’ll need a sunny and quiet place. Just then, she spotted a flower garden. The flowers were colorful, and the lush greens provided a comfortable place to be still. Bella closed her eyes, quieted herself, and began a prayer.
“Hi, God, it’s me,” she said. “I want to do this with You every day, and I am asking that You please remind me when I forget.” Hesitating briefly, she thought about what should come next. “Oh! Gratitude!” she exclaimed. “Thank You for the blessings that I counted last night, especially for Mira. She is the biggest blessing I have ever gotten. I know that You sent her to me. God, I love You for that, and I love Mira very much.”
Just then, Bella paused, not knowing what to say next. “God, I know I’m not the best at prayer,” she said, “but please give me some time, and I will be better at it one day. Amen.”
Kimberly Novak is a wife, mother, author, and spiritual director. Her passion for inspiring and motivating those on a spiritual journey has bloomed into various ministries. Kimberly’s mission is to enhance each journey by guiding others where the light of strength is … God’s love. Find her blog and A Little God Time at KimberlyNovak.com. Her debut book, Bella’s Beautiful Miracle, A Caterpillar’s Journey, is available now.
The devastation of a ruined summer. The gift of a second chance.Can Josie learn the lessons she needs to discover her true self?
After a humiliating event and overwhelming peer pressure, 16-year-old Josie flees her home to spend the summer with her aunt on a South Carolina Island. Her fresh start turns into the summer of her dreams as friendships grow, romance blossoms, and a series of thefts surround her with excitement.
However, when tragedy strikes someone close to her, Josie realizes there are more important things than her reputation. As she sets out to solve the mystery she has become entangled in, she not only realizes the importance of relying on her faith but along the way also discovers who God wants her to be.
Fun Facts (by author Leslea Wahl):
1)Into the Spotlight was originally published under the title, An Unexpected Role. When I was able to take back the rights to the story, I decided to move it to Vinspire publishing to join my novel, Where You Lead. Besides the new title, the story received a wonderful new cover which reflects some of the lightheartedness of the story.
2) The initial idea for this story came to me when I was writing my first novel, The Perfect Blindside. In order to create authentic teen characters, I began carefully observing my own teens and their friends. This made me ponder what would happen if an author wrote too much about her children and their daily lives. That thought inspired Josie’s backstory of her author-mother inadvertently causing trouble in her daughter’s life, which leads to Josie leaving for the summer.
3) During the writing of this book, I was intrigued by how the movies and shows in the Marvel universe interwove characters and storylines. My husband suggested that I do that with my books. So, I decided that one of the characters in this story would be related to a character in my novel, The Perfect Blindside. I’ve had a lot of fun creating several short stories combining the main characters from these two books. These mini adventures now have their own series entitled all for One.
4) Josie’s adventure was originally a stand-alone book, but a series by author Irene Hannon inspired me to make this story the first novel in a new trilogy titled Finding Faith. Each book will feature a different main character in Josie’s fictional world. The second book, Charting the Course, set on a cruise ship, will be out in June and is about Josie’s best friend, Liz.
5) Music has a wonderful way of inspiring my writing. There are always certain songs that make me think of my characters. You can check out the songs that I associate with this book as well some other fun facts on my website.
When fifteen-year-old Emilia uses her musical talents to help her father win noble status in 18th-century Milan, the repercussions threaten not only her dreams for her future but her sister’s very life.
Emilia Salvini dreams of marrying a man who loves music as much as she does. But in 18th-century Milan, being the “second sister” means she’ll likely be sent to a convent instead. Emilia’s only hope is to prove her musical talents crucial to her father’s quest for nobility. First, though, she must win over her music tutor, who disdains her simply for being a girl. Before she can carry out her plan, a tragedy sends the family into mourning. In her sorrow, Emilia composes a heartrending sonata that causes the maestro to finally recognize her talent. He begins teaching her music theory alongside Antonio Bellini, the arrogant great-nephew of a wealthy marquis. Emilia’s feelings toward her rival gradually change as she strives to outdo him. But just when her dreams seem within reach, Emilia learns that her success could destroy not only her future but her sister’s very life.
At its core, this is the story of two teens struggling to follow their true calling, even when it conflicts with their father’s selfish goals. Playing by Heart was inspired by two amazing sisters who were far ahead of their time—composer Maria Teresa Agnesi and mathematician Maria Gaetana Agnesi.
My fingers slipped, striking an ugly chord that set my teeth on edge. I dropped my hands to my lap.
I didn’t understand—why couldn’t Father let Maria take the veil? She would truly welcome a life of devotion to God. Yet Father’d been angered by the mere suggestion. I will not have her extraordinary talents hidden away in a convent. The chiming of the Basilica bells pulled me into the present. Maestro Tomassini would be here any moment. I raised my hands to the keys and began my first practice piece—a piece the maestro used to have me play blindfolded.
Suddenly, I knew what I must do. I had to make Father feel the same way about my talents as he did Maria’s.
My fingers stumbled again as a voice in my head said, But you’re not good enough.
To which my heart replied, then I must become good enough.
Carmela Martino is an author, speaker, and writing teacher who holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults. Her articles, poetry, and short stories have appeared in newspapers, magazines, and anthologies. She is also the author of two novels: Playing by Heart, winner of the 2018 Catholic Arts and Letters Award (CALA) for Children’s/Young Adult Fiction, and Rosa, Sola, a Catholic Press Association Book Award recipient. Carmela has taught writing for over twenty years, including both webinars and in-person classes. For more, see www.carmelamartino.com.