Christian Christmas Read ~ Ornamental Graces

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OG-Front-Cover-FINAL

Free Kindle download today, December 15th!

Summary:

After his duplicitous girlfriend left, Dan Malone spent six months in a tailspin of despair and destruction: emotional, physical, and spiritual. Just when his life seems to be back on track, he meets Emily Kowalski, younger sister of his new best friend. Emily’s the kind of girl he’d always dreamed of—sweet, smart, and sincere. But he’s made a mess of his life and ruined his chances for earning the love and trust of a woman like her. Could Dan be the man Emily’s been waiting for? How could he be when every time they get close he pulls away? And will he ever be free from his shady past and the ex-girlfriend who refuses to stay there?

Excerpt:

The man had lifted a Douglas fir from where it leaned against the rope Dan strung across the lot. He stamped its trunk on the frozen, dry ground a couple times and then twirled it around so the woman could see every side. It was a woman, wasn’t it? No telltale pink gloves or hand-knit, sparkly scarf. No expensive boots designed for gawking rather than walking. Just a puffy, navy jacket and white tennis shoes. It could be a skinny dude.

The person spent less than three seconds observing it before planting hands on hips and signaling disapproval with a shake of the head. Yeah, definitely a woman.

Dan rolled his eyes. Another one. If nothing else, this job had given him an unforgettable real-life lesson in male-female dynamics—a lesson that would’ve been helpful a couple of years ago. The man would ferret out the best-looking tree, well-shaped and full, and the woman would turn up her nose, forcing them to cycle through four to seven more trees before one met her approval—sometimes the same tree the man had first shown her.

Poor sap. He had at least three more trees to go.

Website:  www.carolynastfalk.com
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/CarolynMAstfalk
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/CMAstfalk
Instagram:  https://instagram.com/cmastfalk/

Bio:

Carolyn Astfalk resides with her husband and four children in Hershey, Pennsylvania, where it smells like either chocolate or manure, depending on wind direction. She is the author of the inspirational romances Stay With Me and Ornamental Graces and the coming-of-age story Rightfully Ours. Carolyn is a member of the Catholic Writers Guild, Catholic Teen Books, Pennwriters, and is a CatholicMom.com and Today’s Catholic Teacher contributor. True to her Pittsburgh roots, she still says “pop” instead of “soda,” although her beverage of choice is tea.

Buy Link:

http://a.co/d/bW7fMgt

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New Release: Guarding Aaron by amazing teen fiction author T. M. Gaouette

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Guarding Aaron front cover

Book summary:

Guarding Aaron by T. M. Gaouette (Faith & Kung Fu ~ book 3)

When the struggles of the world and his devotion collide, he must choose between his own desires and the will of God.

The world continues to press in on Gabriel Livingstone’s quiet life when fifteen-year-old Aaron Buckley enters Yeung’s Martial Arts Studio looking to learn kung-fu. Gabriel knows there’s a desperate secret behind the boy’s bruises, and secretly vows to be his guard, with the help of his friend Christian.  But when Tanner Rose pressures him for strength and direction, and Faith’s continued rebellion send him and his friends to the hospital, jeopardizing Tanner’s career, Gabriel is forced to reexamine his decisions. Is he called to the priesthood or is life behind the monastery walls merely an escape?

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:10-11 RSVCE)


My Review:

Author TM Gaouette is really onto something with her Faith & Kung Fu series! A master in the martial arts must be disciplined, possessing inner strength along with physical ability. And isn’t this what we Christians need too? This story shows the need for not only knowing right and wrong but also for the self-control and discipline to pursue it, without acting on impulse.

Gabriel, with his steady faith, always has a Scripture verse at the ready and sound advice for others, but inside he’s not sure what God is calling him to. He meets a new kid, Aaron, whose bruises make Gabriel concerned. When Gabriel discovers that the boy is bullied at school, he secretly becomes the kid’s guardian and guides him not only in kung fu but in important life lessons that will strengthen him spiritually and morally. This thread in the story has a strong message about looking out for others who might be the victim of bullying, getting involved, being a friend, and the right way of standing up to bullies.

Meanwhile, another main character, Faith, finds her affections for Gabriel growing and allows her jealousy of actress and friend Tanner Rose to spiral out of control. She justifies treating Tanner cruelly because Tanner had once treated her badly. And when Faith’s best friend doesn’t share her negative attitude toward Tanner, she pushes her best friend away too. This thread shows well how jealousy has a way of bringing out the worst in us.

This story has some lovely scenes, like one with Gabriel and Tanner praying before the Blessed Sacrament. And it has some tense scenes, too. With kung fu action, high emotions, and themes that we can all relate to, Guarding Aaron is a powerful story that teens are sure to enjoy. I highly recommend it!

Buy the book here:

Kindle and Paperback.

Connect with T. M. Gaouette:

Facebook author page

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TMGaouette

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6037114.T_M_Gaouette

Instagram: @t.m.gaouette

Blog Tour: The Siege of Reginald Hill

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As one who enjoys dystopian fiction and faith-filled stories, I am so happy to announce this next book Corinna Turner’s I Am Margaret series!


The Siege of Reginald Hill Final Front

An odd surge filled my heart as I looked at him, sitting there in that chair: so old; so evil; so broken; so… alone. A warmth. A caring. A… love. I loved him. Just another poor sinner who need my care…

SAFETY IS NOT THE ABSENCE OF DANGER, BUT THE PRESENCE OF GOD.

Fr Kyle Verrall is living a quiet life as a parish priest in Africa when he’s snatched from his church one night by armed assailants. He’s in big trouble—his sister’s worst enemy is hell-bent on taking revenge on the famous Margaret Verrall by killing her brother, just as slowly and horribly as he can.
What could possibly save him? The humble young priest is defenceless—or so Reginald Hill believes.
But Kyle has a powerful weapon Hill knows nothing about. And he’s not afraid to use it. Is Reginald Hill really the hunter? Or is he the hunted?


I’ve read every book in this series, and I’ve always liked the character Kyle Verrall (Margaret’s brother) and hoped to get to know more about him. This story fulfills that wish. Readers get to go deep into his head and see what makes him tick, and what we find there is beautiful.

The Siege of Reginald Hill is a powerful story of sacrificial love—the kind very few are ever called to. Kyle is faced with unbearable pain and suffering, but he handles it in an amazing, almost unfathomable way. This story made me think about the true meaning of love . . . of God, of neighbor, and even of enemy. And it also made me think of God’s love for each one of us, and the way He tirelessly pursues us, no matter how far we’ve fallen from the straight and narrow path.

I love the intensity of Corinna Turner’s characters, the story world, and the profound moral messages each of her stories contain. Turner writes in such a way that readers feel what the characters feel, whether they are over-worked and tired—like Kyle at the beginning of the story—or whether they are going through an intense trial or an amazing victory.

Having recently gone through robotic surgery myself, I was able to identify with so much of what Kyle goes through in this story. The surgery was a horrible experience, the pain at times unbearable, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything—this is hard to explain but Turner’s story does shed some light on it. And this story brought back reminders of the intensity, pain, and joy of those days.

If you’ve enjoyed the I Am Margaret series, you will love this story.


ISBNs and Buy links:

Paperback ISBNs:                                          ePub ISBNs:
UK: 978-1-910806-78-4                                 UK: 978-1-910806-79-1
US: 978-1-910806-80-7                                  US: 978-1-910806-81-4

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2Bi7Rmg

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2BKiTRH

Barnes & Noble UK Edition

Barnes & Noble US Edition




VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR ~ BLOG STOPS

Dec 1 – Stop 1 – Corinna Turner – Author of the I Am Margaret series including new release The Siege of Reginald Hillwww.IAmMargaret.com

Dec 2 – SUNDAY

Dec 3 – Stop 2 – Steven R. McEvoy – Blogger and Amazon Top 1000 Reviewer Steven R. McEvoy on “Book Reviews & More” – www.bookreviewsandmore.ca

Dec 4 – Stop 3 – Erin McCole Cupp – Blogger, Contributor to Catholic Mom and Author (Jane E. Friendless Orphan series, etc.) – http://catholicmom.com/

Dec 5 – Stop 4 – Regina Doman – Award-winning Catholic teen fiction Author (The Fairy Tale novels, The Angel in the Waters, etc.) – http://reginadoman.blogspot.com/

Dec 6 – Stop 5 – Theresa Linden – Award-winning Catholic teen fiction Author (Liberty series, West Brothers series, etc.)

Dec 7 – Stop 6 – Sarah de Nordwall – The Catholic Bard! – http://sarahdenordwall.blogspot.com/

Dec 8 – Stop 7 – T.M. Gaouette – Writer, Blogger, and Author of Catholic Fiction (Faith and Kung Fu series) – https://tmgaouette.com/

Dec 9 – SUNDAY

Dec 10 – Stop 8 – Carolyn Astfalk – Author of coming-of-age romance Rightfully Ours, etc. – www.carolynastfalk.com/

Dec 11 – Stop 9 – Leslea Wahl – Award-winning Catholic teen fiction Author (The Perfect Blindside, An Unexpected Role, etc.) – http://lesleawahl.com/

Dec 12 – Stop 10 – Elizabeth Amy Hajek – Blogger and Author of The Mermaid and the Unicornhttps://elenatintil.blogspot.com

To learn about more great books, check out Carolyn Astfalk’s “An Open Book” and CatholicMom.com

 

Book Tour: Roland West, Outcast

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First, I want to say HAPPY THANKSGIVING! I am counting my blessings and so thankful for my faith, my family, my freedom, and my followers! Among many other things. May God bless you and your families.

Second, I want to invite you to check out the blog stops for the Virtual Book Tour for Roland West, Outcast! You still have time to enter for 3 chances to win (I’ll be giving away 2 books and 1 Amazon gift card)!

  • Enter the 1st giveaway on the first stop
  • Enter the 2nd giveaway by participating/commenting on the other posts (see below for details).
  • Enter the 3rd giveaway (for the Amazon gift card) by sharing my blog tour posts. This is my way of saying thank you to everyone who helps me promote my new release! I’ve been keeping a list of everyone who has shared them so far. If you share my promotional posts or tell a friend about this book, please let me know either in the comments or send me an email: theresalinden@oh.rr.com

RWOutcast front cover

BLOG TOUR FOR ROLAND WEST, OUTCAST

Saturday, November 17 – our first blog stop will be Tumblar House Catholic Bookstore’s blog “The Lounge.” Check out the Author Interview and look for the 1st GIVEAWAY!  You’ll be able to enter all week long! A winner will be chosen on the last day of the Blog Tour. While you are there, check out the other great books and content on Tumblar House’s website!

Saturday, November 17 – visit Today’s Catholic Teacher Magazine for my article “Why We Need Catholic Fiction.”  Share the link to my article in Catholic Teacher anywhere to enter the second GIVEAWAY. Simply message me or email me the link.

Sunday, November 18 – blogger Barb Grady Szyszkiewicz  shares her review of Roland West, Outcast on “Franciscan Mom” 

Monday, November 19 – stop by Unseen Books, home of the books by Corinna Turner, fantasy and dystopian author.

Monday, November 19 – stop by Plot Line &  Sinker for a review of Roland West, Outcast by Ellen Gable, author, editor, speaker, and publisher.

Monday, November 19 – blogger Steven R. McEvoy on “Book Reviews & More” Read his review and my article “Embarrassing Moments.” Share your own embarrassing moment in the comments to enter the second GIVEAWAY!

Tuesday, November 20 – award-winning Catholic teen fiction author Leslea Wahl shares her review of Roland West, Outcast on her “Monthly Book Review” blog. Play the “Saint Game” for several chances to enter the second GIVEAWAY!

Wednesday, November 21 – visit blogger Christina Weigand on “Faith, Inspiration, and a Cup of Tea” to read her review and to see the entire Prologue to the Roland West, Outcast! Copy any line of the prologue into the comments to enter the second GIVEAWAY!

Thursday, November 22 – Carolyn Astfalk, author of coming-of-age romance Rightfully Ours, has posted the book trailer and her review of Roland West, Outcast on her “My Scribbler’s Heart Blog.” In the comments, share which West Brother books you have read, if any, to enter the second GIVEAWAY!  (It’s okay if you are new to the series. Just say so and you are still entered to win)

Friday, November 23 – T.M. Gaouette, Writer, Blogger, and Author of Catholic Fiction, shares her review and points you to a Mad Lib game! Play the game and answer this question in the comments to be entered into the second GIVEAWAY: Did you ever give a speech in high school? How did it go?

***BONUS STOP***

Saturday, November 24 – blogger Steven R. McEvoy on “Book Reviews & More” shares his interview of the characters: Roland, Keefe, and Jarret West, and Peter Brandt! Check out the character interviews today!


You can check out the review trailer here: https://youtu.be/wDuY3b0cMSY

Need to catch up on the West Brothers series?  Get books 3 & 4 for 99 cents!catholicreads ad

 

New Historical Romance: Charlotte’s Honor

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I am honored to be part of the Virtual Book Tour for Ellen Gable’s new historical romance. In this blog post you will find the book description, early reviews, an excerpt from the story, and an author interview!

Charlotte’s Honor (Great War Great Love #2) by Ellen Gable

Charlotte's Honour Front Cover sm After receiving news that her brother – and only relative – has been killed in action during the Great War, 21-year-old Charlotte Zielinski enlists as a medical volunteer. She eventually begins working in the death ward of the field hospital near Soissons, France, holding dying men’s hands and singing them into eternity.

Dr. Paul Kilgallen is a Canadian surgeon working at the field hospital. During a siege by the enemy, everyone evacuates except for Paul and Charlotte, who volunteer to remain in the basement of the chateau to care for the critically ill soldiers.

During those three days, Charlotte sees a side of Paul that very few have seen and finds herself falling in love with him. Before Paul leaves for the front, he abruptly tells her that he cannot love her, and it would be best to “forget him.”

Just when the war is coming to a close, Charlotte is surprised by two events that are destined to change her life forever.

You can learn more about the book here.

Get a copy of the book here:  Amazon Kindle

Print:  Coming Soon

Book 1 of the Series: Julia’s Gifts: Available on Amazon


Advanced Reviews:

Charlotte Zielinski, to whom we were first introduced in Julia’s Gifts, is a strongly positive role model for our daughters. She endures trials throughout this story that most of us cannot imagine facing today, yet the genuine manner in which the characters react and respond rings true for all time. I would add Charlotte’s Honor to the must-read list for any historical fiction, mother-daughter generational, or virtue-based book club. Of course, Gable’s tales are perfectly delectable as a personal poolside treat as well!”   ~ Jean Egolf, author, the Molly McBride series

“Charlotte’s Honor includes a little bit of everything: WWI history, sweet romance, and a little mystery/suspense. This page-turning love story (it’s a fast read!) is built on a foundation of faith and above all, the dignity of human life. Charlotte devotes herself to the care of dying soldiers. It is through this calling that Charlotte meets and falls in love with Paul, a skilled surgeon who has closed his heart to the possibility of romance. Expect a little humor amidst the backdrop of wartime brutality and a couple of surprises along the way. Charlotte’s Honor is not only a pleasant romantic escape but edifying as well.” ~ Carolyn Astfalk, author, Ornamental Graces

“Set toward the end of the Great War, Charlotte’s Honor allows readers to glimpse ugliness and death, blossoming relationships, and the most challenging experiences a person could face, juxtaposing the brutality of war with the beauty of sacrificial love.” ~ Theresa Linden, award-winning author of Catholic Fiction


EXCERPT

May 1918

Vauxbuin Field Hospital

Near Soissons, France

The air was thick with the mineral stench of blood. Inside the canvas tent that served as Barrack Number 48, Charlotte searched for a place in the unconscious soldier’s body to insert the hypodermic.  The poor gentleman had burns and wounds everywhere, but she managed to find a one-inch diameter spot on his thigh in which to plunge the needle.  The man didn’t flinch, and Charlotte suspected that his injuries were too grave for him to survive.  She recited a silent prayer for this man’s soul, then moved onto the next soldier.

The large canvas tents that were part of the field hospital covered the lawn in front of the chateau. Most volunteers referred to it as a chateau because it looked the part with its high ceilings, plentiful rooms and marble floors. However, it wasn’t a castle. It was a 19th century country manor.

A tendril of dark brown hair slipped from her headscarf, and she tucked it back in. Charlotte Patricia Zielinski didn’t care much whether her unruly hair was tame, but she did care about keeping healthy. She wasn’t a large girl, nor was she small.  However, roughhousing with her brother Ian for so many years made her strong.

After preparing another soldier for the operating theater, she took a short break and sat on a bench near the tent.

She glanced up at the dark sky, enjoying the quiet. After the sunrise, she’d hear the distant booming that came with being ten miles from the front.

After her bout with influenza last month, she’d felt fatigued for weeks.  In the past few days, she had enough energy to move a mountain.

Sister Betty, the medical volunteers’ middle-aged supervisor, called to her from the barrack beside her, Number 49.  She was a big-boned woman who seemed taller because she always stood so straight.  Charlotte wasn’t sure whether it was because she was British or because she was a big woman, but she also had a booming personality and a loud voice.

Charlotte stood up to speak with Sister.

“How many more men have to be prepared for the O.R., Miss Zielinski?”

“Four, Sister.”

“Maybe you’d be of more use in this barrack.” She pointed toward Number 49.

“Certainly.”  She turned to alert her co-worker in 48, when Sister yelled, “Wait.”

Charlotte stopped. “Yes?”

“Perhaps you’d better stay where you are. If there are only four left to prepare, finish that duty, then report to this barrack.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

It took a bit of getting used to, but here in Europe, nurses were referred to as sisters.  And all sisters – and most medical volunteers – wore headscarves that looked like habits.

She approached a soldier on a cot, noticing the maple leaf on his collar. Canadians tended to be an agreeable bunch.  He pursed his lips as she stripped his clothes, wincing as bits of skin came off with his pants.  The poor fellow tensed, but Charlotte could only offer, “I’m so sorry.  I am doing my best not to hurt you.”

The dark-haired man attempted a smile. 

An ear-piercing explosion caused the world around Charlotte to vanish, and she reflexively collapsed on the cot, falling across the soldier lying in front of her. Ears ringing, she remained still for what seemed like an hour but was likely a few minutes. Blinking, she opened her eyes and stared at the metal side of the cot in front of her and felt the soldier moving underneath her.

As she lifted herself up, not one but three large drops of blood splattered the white sheet below her. Her head seared in a flash of pain. 

When the Canadian soldier took hold of her hand, he said something she couldn’t hear. 

His warbling soon became words. “Are you all right, Miss?”

Her mouth was open, but she couldn’t speak.  Nodding, she raised her hand to her headscarf.  When she pulled her hand to her face, it was covered in blood.  Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.

“Are…you all right, sir?”  Charlotte asked the man.

“Yes, no worse than I was.  Thanks to you, Miss.  You shielded my body with yours.” He paused. “You have a bad shrapnel wound on your head.”

“Y…yes.”  Charlotte winced but forced a smile. She turned and picked up a bandage from the side of the overturned cart. She pressed it to her head.

By this time, the entire ward was awake and bustling with moaning soldiers. 

Standing up, her surroundings seemed to shift and sway, so she reached for the soldier’s hand. “I’m so sorry.”

“Think nothing of it.  I’m happy to reciprocate.”

Glancing just above the soldier’s head, she spotted five or six holes the size of watermelons blown through the side of the barrack’s canvas wall and hundreds dotting the rest of the walls. Following the holes from the side wall to the ceiling, she stared upwards at the roof of the tent, now shredded in many places.

A few soldiers near the wall had sustained minor injuries, but no one appeared to be mortally wounded.

Panicked and fearing the worst, Charlotte rushed outside, the bandage still to her head. As she turned toward the adjacent barrack, she stopped and gasped. The influenza ward was no longer there.  Body parts, blood, torn-apart furniture, and bits and pieces of the barrack were all that remained.  The realization that she had escaped death made her knees buckle.

She blessed herself and lowered her head. “Requiescants in pace.”  Her hearing had not yet fully returned, but she could hear someone call her name. 


Author Biography:  Ellen Gable is an award-winning author of nine books, editor, self-publishing book coach, speaker, publisher, NFP teacher, book reviewer and instructor in the Theology of the Body for Teens. Her books have been downloaded nearly 700,000 times on Kindle and some of her books have been translated into Portuguese, Italian, Spanish, and French. The mother of five adult sons, Ellen (originally from New Jersey) now lives with her husband of 36 years, James Hrkach, in Pakenham, Ontario, Canada.

Find Ellen at:

Blog: Plot Line and Sinker

Full Quiver Publishing 

Amazon Author Page

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Goodreads

Pinterest

Linked In

Google+


Author Interview: 

What was the inspiration for Charlotte’s Honor?

Since one of the themes of Charlotte’s Honor is preparing and being with soldiers who are close to death, the inspiration came from being with two close people in my life in the hours before their deaths. These experiences served as inspiration for Charlotte’s Honor.

Eleven years ago, when my mother was close to death, my sister called me in Canada and urged me to come right away (to New Jersey, my home state), that Mom didn’t have much time left.  I arrived before she passed, but by the time I got there, she was unconscious.  My sister and I prayed the Litany of the Saints (which she requested) as well as the Divine Mercy Chaplet. In the middle of the night, I got up to sit with her. I held her hand and prayed for her, talked to her and told her she was loved, and that it was okay to go.  When she did pass away, I was grateful and honored that I was present at the moment of her passing. And an interesting experience happened. My stepdad, siblings, and I were all sitting by my mom’s bedside and all of a sudden, I felt like my mom was on the ceiling staring down.  I lifted my head to look up, but at that point, my brother patted my arm and said, “Hey, El, I have this strange feeling that Mom is on the ceiling looking down at us.”  I believe that we were given a great grace at that moment.

Last year, my mother-in-law passed away. She had both dementia and cancer.  She was surrounded by those she loved and, although unconscious, we prayed the Rosary, the Divine Mercy Chaplet and other prayers for her in the last few days of her life.  It was a good death, a holy death. It’s the kind of death I hope to have: others praying the Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet for me as I’m close to death.

Why World War 1?

I’ve always been interested in history and I knew very little about this war.  I decided to focus the bulk of my research on the last year of the War (after the United States entered).  Because I am American, and my husband is Canadian, the female protagonists in this series are American and the male protagonists are Canadian. So for Charlotte’s Honor, Charlotte is American, and Paul is Canadian.

Why is the name of the series Great War Great Love?

I owe my gratitude to the son of a friend of mine, Ian, for coming up with the title. The reason for the title is that World War 1 was called the “Great War” by the Allies before the USA entered the war, and is still often called the “Great War,” by the British, Canadians and Australians. And Great Love because there are many examples of how couples met and fell in love during times of war.

Can you tell us about the first book in the series and next book of the series, Ella’s Promise?

Julia’s Gifts (Book #1 Great War Great Love) As a young girl, Julia began buying gifts for her future spouse, a man whose likeness and personality she has conjured up in her mind, a man she calls her “beloved.” Soon after the United States enters the Great War, Julia impulsively volunteers as a medical aid worker, with no experience or training. Disheartened by the realities of war, will Julia abandon the pursuit of her beloved? Will Julia’s naïve ‘gift scheme’ distract her from recognizing her true “Great Love?” From Philadelphia to war-torn France, follow Julia as she transitions from unworldly young woman to compassionate volunteer.  Julia’s Gifts is now available in Italian and French and will soon be available in Portuguese and Spanish.

Ella’s Promise (Book #3 Great War Great Love) The daughter of German immigrants, Ella is an American nurse who, because of the time period, was discouraged from continuing her studies to become a doctor.  During the Great War, she travels to Le Treport, France, to work at the American-run hospital. She meets her own “Great Love” in the last place she would expect to meet him.  Ella’s Promise will be released in mid-2019.

This is very different from some of your other books in that it is a very clean romance and can be read by young teens to elderly women to middle-aged men.  Was that a conscious choice?

Yes, it is very different and no, it wasn’t a conscious choice at first.  When I came up with the story and as I was gradually developing the characters and plotlines, it made the most sense to keep this a “sweet” and “clean” love story that anyone can enjoy.  It is, however, a war novel, so there are descriptions of war injuries.

Are you working on any other writing projects?

I’m in the process of writing Ella’s Promise, which is book 3 in the Great War Great Love series.

I’m outlining another novel, tentatively entitled Where Angels Pass, based on my father’s life and experience as a clerical abuse survivor. Since he never saw justice in his lifetime, I’d like to create a story where there is justice for him, even if fictional.

I’m also working on a non-fiction project that will offer guidance in coping with loss (I’m still in the outline stages of that project). 

Who are some of your favorite authors?

My favorite Catholic author is Dena Hunt (author of Treason and The Lion’s Heart), but I also enjoy reading Willa Cather’s books (Death Comes For the Archbishop, One of Ours).  Dena’s books are incredibly well-written and moving.  Cather’s books are well-written and rich in imagery and meaning.

And while this may seem biased, I enjoy reading books by all the Full Quiver Authors.  I also enjoy the books of the authors who are fellow members of the Catholic Writers Guild

One of my favorite secular authors is Nelson DeMille (author of the John Corey series).   I also enjoy reading Kathleen Morgan’s Christian historical novels.

 

Virtual Book Tour Stops/Links

October 22      Plot Line and Sinker

October 23       A.K. Frailey

October 24      Book Reviews and More,   Patrice MacArthur

October 25      Amanda Lauer

October 26     Franciscan Mom

October 29     Carolyn Astfalk

October 30     Catholic Mom

November 1    Plot Line and Sinker

November 2    Michael Seagriff

November 5   Virginia Lieto

November 6  Leslea Wahl

November 7   Theresa Linden

November 8   Sarah Reinhard

November 9   Erin McCole Cupp

November 11  Plot Line and Sinker  Remembrance Day/ Veterans Day post

November 12  Mary Lou Rosien

November 13  Therese Heckenkamp

November 14  E.M. Vidal

November 15 Leticia Velasquez

 

Christmas Gift Ideas for Catholic Children

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Books by Susan Peek,

author of fast-paced saint stories

ChristmasFrontCoverMeet Saint Anastasia, one of the greatest Christmas saints and the Patroness of Martyrs. Take her hand and let her lead you to the Crib! For centuries, this humble and unassuming martyr has remained hidden in the shadows of the stable. Yet of all the saints in Heaven, she is the only one whose feast day falls on Christmas itself! It’s about time she stepped forward and made some new friends! Join Saint Anastasia and her best friend, Saint Theodota, as they bravely prove their love for God and neighbor, even unto the sacrifice of their own lives.

AOGfrontCoverChildren’s Stories of Animals Who Encountered Saints . . . Told from the Animals’ Points of View! Three delightful stories for young Catholics, beautifully illustrated with black and white drawings. Includes Bonus Reproducible Coloring Book in the back! Stories in Volume One: “The Little Lamb’s Wish”  “The Hungry Gray Mule” and “The Loyal Friend”

AOGV2cover final front cover animals of god volume two (2)Two more stories of animals that encountered saints…told by the animals’ points of view! Stories include: “The Lion Who Lost His Appetite” Rex the Lion has it made. A delightful tale of a saint’s unwavering trust and God’s infinite power, told from the lion’s point of view! “Cuthbert for Breakfast” An endearing story of brotherly love and God’s unfailing mercy, told by the little goose’s point of view!

SmallFrontCoverGOD and learned to love Him enormously! Being different from others is never easy. Saint John the Dwarf, of all people, could tell you that! Forever standing on chairs to reach things, unable to play games with other children because of his size, and being teased by the village bullies were all hard things to bear, and could have made John bitter and full of self-pity. But John discovered a secret – a great BIG secret – which changed his life and turned him into a giant of a saint. Join Little John on his adventures – from his home to a desert cave, to the altar and beyond – and let him teach you his secret of holiness too!

WilliamFrontCoverMeet Saint William, a young French nobleman who could have had it all . . . and gave it all up!Riches, fame, knighthood, an easy life in a grand castle. These were the things that rightly belonged to William by his noble birth. Instead he chose to leave it all behind and give himself completely to God. Building a hut in the quiet woods, he planned to live out his days there in prayer and solitude. But God had other plans for William . . . plans that ensured his suitcase would never stay unpacked!Join William as God sends him one surprise after another, until William finally receives the biggest surprise of all!

MY REVIEW

Whether she is writing teen fiction or children’s stories, Susan Peek knows how to bring characters to life and send them on exciting adventures.

Every book has detailed, beautiful artwork that allows children to visualize scenes. The simple vocabulary makes her stories easy to understand and enjoy. The setting details and imagery Susan Peek uses will draw young readers deeper into the story, speak to their imagination, and stir their little hearts.

Peek’s stories definitely entertain, but they also encourage virtue. The message of each story will appeal to a child’s sense of awe and have them appreciating the Blessed Mother, the saints, holiness, and the Blessed Sacrament in deeper ways.

Visit Susan Peek’s website. Find all of Susan Peek’s books on Amazon or through your favorite bookseller.


Little Runty Trilogy by Martina Parnelli

RuntyBook1FrontCoverA fresh telling – based on actual events! – of the trip taken by the donkey that went to Bethlehem, and all the wondrous things that he saw on the way and there at the cave. Full color illustrations bring to life more vividly this charming account of the classic Christmas story.

 

RuntyFrontCoverIn this exciting adventure, we join the donkey that was present at the crib of Bethlehem. Follow him as he accompanies the Holy Family through the events that occurred on their way to their new home in Egypt. Wondrous miracles, joyful happenings, visits from angels, or great hardships, Little Runty was there and saw it all!

 

Runty Book 3 frontAngels, miracles and adventures await Little Runty in this last of the Little Runty trilogy. The little donkey who went to Bethlehem and Egypt with the Holy family now rejoins them for the trip home. The trek is full of surprises and hardships and at its end there is the question of Runty’s return to the farmer from whom he was borrowed. Follow Runty through his journey and its happy conclusion in this last of the Little Runty series.

MY REVIEW

Author and artist Martina Parneli has created a delightful trilogy that will not only entertain but edify its readers. Parneli’s sweet and engaging writing style is sure to connect with children. Detailed and beautiful artwork fill these books, giving young ones a lot to look at while being read to. Inspired by Venerable Maria D’Agreda’s book The Mystical City of God these stories provide unique insights into the Christmas story and beyond. All three stories convey beautiful messages like trusting God even with your imperfections, knowing that He has a plan for you, making the best of a situation, working hard, and holding onto hope. Through these stories, readers will also grow in a deeper understanding of the trials and sacrifices the Holy Family likely experienced during Jesus’s early years.

Visit Martina Parnelli’s website. Her books are available on Amazon or through your favorite bookseller.


This month I am linking up with Carolyn Astfalk’s “An Open Book” and CatholicMom.com. What have you been reading lately? Feel free to link up your blog post too! You can find the details here.

Sweet Romances for Sweetest Day

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Sweetest Day ~ Saturday, October 20th

Are you ready?

I just discovered that Sweetest Day is mostly celebrated in the Midwest. Well, that makes sense, because I also discovered that it started in Cleveland, Ohio!

In 1921, Herbert Birch Kingston, an employee at a candy company, wanted to make the less fortunate happy, so he passed out candy to the homeless and orphans around Cleveland.

A year later, it became an official holiday!

So Sweetest Day is not just for couples. You can do something sweet for anyone! And while candy is nice, I think books are better!

This Sweetest Day, I would like to recommend a few sweet inspirational romances that will deepen your understanding of and longing for true love.

I’ve also interviewed the author, Carolyn Astfalk, so you can see what makes her books unique.


41MmpqQbnbLWith her sister Abby’s encouragement, Rebecca has moved out of their overbearing father’s home. When a chance encounter with Chris ends with an invitation, Rebecca says yes. The authentic way Chris lives his life attracts Rebecca and garners her affection. Chris loves Rebecca and her innocence, but he’s confounded by the emotional scars she bears from her parents and an attempted assault. Her father’s disdain for Chris’s faith and career only make matters worse. With the counsel of their friend Father John, can Rebecca and Chris overcome every obstacle and bridge the deepening gulf between them and her dad? Or will a crucial lapse in judgment and its repercussion end their relationship?

Click here for reviews.  Click on the book covers to reach the Amazon links.


OG-Front-Cover-FINALAfter his duplicitous girlfriend left, Dan Malone spent six months in a tailspin of despair and destruction: emotional, physical, and spiritual. Just when his life seems to be back on track, he meets Emily Kowalski, younger sister of his new best friend. Emily’s the kind of girl he’d always dreamed of—sweet, smart, and sincere. But he’s made a mess of his life and ruined his chances for earning the love and trust of a woman like her. Could Dan be the man Emily’s been waiting for? How could he be when every time they get close he pulls away? And will he ever be free from his shady past and the ex-girlfriend who refuses to stay there?

An inspirational Christmas romance that spans every season.

Check out the book trailer here.


rightfully oursSixteen-year-old Paul Porter’s relocation to Pennsylvania is a temporary move during his dad’s deployment. Or so he and his brother think, until devastating news lands on their doorstep. Paul’s new home with the Muellers provides solace, especially in the form of Rachel, his friend and confidante. Their abiding friendship deepens as they work side by side to uncover what could be lost treasure. Will they acquire the strength of character and virtue to take only what rightfully belongs to them or are they in way over their heads, with more than a few lost artifacts at stake? Themes include premarital chastity and overcoming temptation.

This young adult Christian fiction is always listed high on Amazon’s “Values & Virtues” category.

Read an excerpt from Chapter 1.


Author Interview: Carolyn Astfalk

I’ve read all three of your published books. I found them all to be well-written and enjoyable with characters that remained with me even to this day. Stay With Meand Ornamental Graces are both adult romance and Rightfully Ours is young adult. Why do you write romance?

I didn’t set out to write romances. In fact, before I wrote the first draft of Rightfully Ours, which was my first attempt at fiction writing, I read very few romances. Somehow, as words spilled onto the page, what I imagined as a teen adventure morphed into a romance. And that’s what I’ve been writing ever since.

I’ve come to love clean, inspirational, and Christian romances. And I continue to read and write them because that spark of romance is not only fun, but provides opportunities for reflecting on the role of romantic love, which gives us a glimpse of the loving fervor with which God pursues each of us and helps us love as He loves.

Romance stories revolve around a central love story that ends in an optimistic ending. Christian romances are typically sweet (no explicit content) and they contain an element of faith woven into the plot. What makes your romance stories different from other Christian romance stories?

What sets my romances apart from other Christian romances is my Catholic worldview. Only a small minority of Christian romances include Catholic characters and themes.

I read heavily in the non-Catholic Christian genres and enjoy those novels very much. But there’s something to be said for seeing your own experience reflected in novels from time-to-time. So, when my characters pray, they’re more likely to bring out the rosary beads. If they’re practicing their faith, they’re at Mass on Sunday. They have the benefit of the sacraments and the grace that they offer. They’re more likely to be open to large families.

And, less significant, but contrary to what some Christian booksellers and publishers would condone, my characters enjoy a good beer, a glass of wine, or use a rare, well-placed mild curse word.

I also treat sexuality in a frank but non-explicit manner. I don’t gloss over the temptations we all face in remaining chaste, no matter our state in life. I try to communicate the joys and challenges of married sexuality lived in accordance with God’s plan.

I understand that themes in your stories reflect ideas found in Pope Saint John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. What is TOB and how do these ideas influence your writing?

When my husband and I were newlyweds, Pope St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body was becoming more widely known thanks to people like Christopher West, Janet Smith, and George Weigel. Simply put, the Theology of the Body, presented in a series of Wednesday audiences between 1979 and 1984, is a reflection on the body’s capacity for making visible an invisible reality manifested in our creation as male and female. It is an integrated look at the human person, made to love and be loved.

At the time, we volunteered for Catholic Engaged Encounter in our diocese and saw first-hand the extra challenges faced by couples who rejected the Church’s teaching on sexuality. As a consequence, I really delved into that aspect of theology and developed an affinity for it and a real love for Pope St. John Paul II.

While I never set out to write about the Theology of the Body, that holistic view of the meaning of our bodies always seems to find its way into my stories because it is integral to the intimacy between men and women and ultimately discovering our happily ever after.

How can a romance novel combat the false notions about love and sex that permeate our culture?

There’s a real dichotomy between the way love is often portrayed in modern media, often self-serving and fickle, and the kind of self-donative love we’re called to live.

The kind of romances I write are sometimes witty and flirty—at least I hope so! But, they also delve deeper. While the rush of attraction has an important role to play, I force my characters to move beyond those feelings to deal with what sustains love over the long term. So, that means they’ll wrangle with temptation, sin, forgiveness, mercy, and self-sacrifice.

Ultimately, that kind of love, self-sacrificial love, is more satisfying and fulfilling.