Summer & Books: Battle for His Soul

Inspired by the A to Z Blogging Challenge this past April, I have decided to blog about books for the month of June. I will be sharing tidbits about my own books and the other books on the Catholic Teen Books website.

Battle For His Soul Front

Battle for His Soul, the third in the West Brothers Series, was released on the Feast of the Guardian Angels. It has become my favorite of the books I’ve written because I receive the most feedback from it. One teenage boy who doesn’t like to read stayed up all night to finish it, then he sent a text message to his teacher the next day, saying he loved it and wanted to read the next book in this series (which I haven’t finished yet). So I’d better get writing!

About the Book:

Battle for His Soul by Theresa Linden is a high-action, speculative Christian story. Jarret West, a rich teenage boy, has been accustomed to having control over others and getting his way. When his life begins to fall apart, his guardian angel, Ellechial, hopes now is the time for his conversion. Jarret must be freed from the deep clutches of Deth-kye, the demon bent on seeing him in hell. The fate of several others depends upon Jarret’s conversion.

While Jarret gets ensnared in Deth-kye’s traps, Ellechial can provide little help since Jarret doesn’t pray, doesn’t believe, and hasn’t listened to him in years. Ellechial hopes Jarret’s twin brother, who has recently found God, will be able to influence him. But Jarret goes on vacation with his father and younger brother where temptations only increase.

Meanwhile, Jarret’s twin and other teens form a prayer group and begin to pray before the Blessed Sacrament unaware of the power they provide the angels. Though Ellechial gains strength, Deth-kye wins victory after victory. His weapons: emotion, vice, and memories.

Who will win the battle for Jarret’s soul?

We all believe in things we can’t see. And I’m not referring to air, wind, or gravity. I’m referring to spiritual realities.

Each one of us has a guardian angel. And we know that evil spirits also prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. We don’t think about these realities often, but maybe we should. So I decided to write this story, in part, through the eyes of a guardian angel.

In this story you will find a lot of clashing and clanking of swords and scythes, gold and blue light flashing upon impact. But you’ll also learn a bit about angels. In order to add a level of realism, I researched the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas, who wrote extensively on matters of faith—including angels. You can read a bit about my research in this post.

Please check out the book trailer! for Battle for His Soul. And you can also read chapter one.

Since it would be weird to write a review of my own book, here’s the most recent review, snagged from Amazon:

Wow! What a fantastic reminder that we are never alone. We are surrounded by angels, supported and encouraged by our guardian angel, and tempted by demons. Theresa Linden brings this to life with her fantastic visuals of the spiritual world. She just as successfully portrays her characters, from the individual personalities of each of the West brothers, to the struggles that pull at them internally. The author is also very detailed in her descriptions of settings. I really visualized the scenes, which, for me at least, is a plus in pulling me into the story.

There were also very powerful moments in the story that I can’t share on this post, for giving it away would spoil the story. So, you’ll have to read it for yourself. This is a great story for teens and a reminder that every choice we make, regardless of the size, is an opportunity to glorify the Lord or please satan. So, we must choose wisely. I look forward to reading more from this author.” ~TMG, review on Amazon

This book has the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval.logo color CWG SOA (002)

Want to learn more about Theresa Linden and her books?


blog: Things Visible & Invisible

Facebook author page

Twitter: @LindenTheresa

Thanks for stopping by my blog! Have you stumbled upon a favorite book this summer? Tell me about it in the comments. Feel free to share a link.


Summer & Books: Life-Changing Love

Inspired by the A to Z Blogging Challenge this past April, I have decided to blog about books for the month of June. I will be sharing tidbits about my own books and the other books on the Catholic Teen Books website.


Life-Changing Love is the second book in my West Brothers series and it follows three teens, two West brothers and one teen girl, Caitlyn Summer. Caitlyn is one of my favorite characters. She’s nice to everyone and excited about life but she’s also thin, shapeless, and a bit clumsy. I confess I share some of those characteristics. I remember when I was in grade school, deep in conversation while strolling across the playground with a friend, and next thing I knew I was wrapped around a tether ball pole. Ouch.

If you want to get to know Caitlyn Summer, check out her character interview by clicking here.

About the Book:

Life-Changing Love by Theresa Linden is a contemporary Christian teen fiction. Caitlyn Summer, soon to be fifteen, must practice old-fashioned courtship with high parental involvement, but she has a terrible crush on shy Roland West and she has competition from a girl with no restrictions. As Caitlyn struggles to remain faithful to God, her parents, and herself, her best friend gets pregnant and might get an abortion. When Caitlyn discovers her mother’s past mistakes, she begins to resent all the guidelines her parents expect her to follow.

The characters in Life-Changing Love face the questions all teens face: Who am I? Where am I headed? How am I going to get there?

One reason I wrote this book is because teens face so many confusing messages now days, especially about love, chastity, and marriage. Our sex-obsessed culture wants them to grow up too quickly and makes them feel odd for living chastely. Teens are bombarded with bad examples in music, TV shows, books, and movies. I want to provide a wholesome alternative, a fun story of friendship and faithfulness. I want to reclaim the word “chastity,” not shunning it as a term that belongs to the unenlightened past but showing that it is a treasure that brings happiness, personal integrity, and self-worth today.

This story also takes readers to Italy and on an archaeological dig.


Since it would be weird to write a review of my own book, I’ll post a couple of review snippets from Amazon.

Caitlyn Summers is a character after my own heart. This teenage girl reminds me much of how I myself was as a teen with her shy and modest nature. I love how she realizes early on that she does not have to dress like the other girls, but, instead, has the perfect right to just dress according to her own personal style. She also discovers an important truth that many teenage girls today need to know: that you should never try to be someone else in order to appeal to a guy. This strength found in taking a stand is paralleled in Roland, the guy she likes, as he must find the courage to speak up when a wrong is being committed. The personalities of both characters are well-captured through both inner thoughts and how they present themselves to others.

Not only is Life-Changing Love an entertaining read, but it’s a great tool for launching conversations between teens and parents about their expectations for dating and relationships.”

This book has the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval.logo color CWG SOA (002)

Want to learn more about Theresa Linden and her books?


blog: Things Visible & Invisible

Facebook author page

Twitter: @LindenTheresa

Thanks for stopping by my blog! Have you stumbled upon a favorite book this summer? Tell me about it in the comments. Feel free to share a link.


Summer & Books: Roland West, Loner

Inspired by the A to Z Blogging Challenge this past April, I have decided to blog about books for the month of June. I will be sharing tidbits about my own books and the other books on the Catholic Teen Books website.


I am always happy to write about Roland West, Loner. This is my best-selling book, maybe because it won an award from the Catholic Press Association in the teen fiction category. Or maybe because of the awesome story and characters! Okay, I sound a bit too excited about my own book but this was the first story I ever wrote. Sure, it went through tons of rewrites and revisions, many other authors helped critique, beta read and edit it, and it looks only vaguely similar to the original story, but hey…. It’s my baby!

About the Book:

Roland West, Loner by Theresa Linden is a contemporary Christian story of a fourteen-year-old boy who finds himself friendless at a new school and the subject of cruel rumors. Despised by older twin brothers, he feels utterly alone but not without hope. If he can avoid his brothers while his father is away, he might have a solution to his problem.When his brothers lock him away, having a plan of their own, he gets rescued by an unlikely pair: a neighboring autistic boy and his brother. Struggling to trust his new friends, secrets, rumors, lies, and an unusual inheritance put him on a journey that just might have the power to change the life of this loner.

RolandWest, Loner addresses loneliness, sibling relationships,facing fears, autism, and the Communion of the Saints.

I love the main character in this story. Roland West is fourteen years old, very shy, and friendless. But he does live in a cool, castle-type house complete with battlements, turrets, and a secret passageway.

But my favorite character is the younger brother of a kid Roland just met. The younger brother’s name is Toby and he has a few unique interests. Toby likes to spin like a top, like a little kid might do but for a much longer time. Toby also likes keys, so if anyone leaves a key lying around it just might end up in his hidden collection. Toby also likes to fish, and if he can’t get out to do it, he will fill the bathtub to the brim and grab a fishing pole! And Toby likes to see light reflected off of surfaces like buildings, his brother’s blond hair, or the boulders on the Wests’ private property.

Toby’s brother is freaked out when Toby sneaks onto the West’s property for a closer look, but Roland is pretty happy about it. Toby ends up rescuing him from a tight situation.

You may have guess it: Toby has autism. And the reason I love him so much is because he was based on my oldest son. So all of the challenges, obsessions, conflict and joy concerning this character are based on our real life experiences.


Since it would be weird to write a review of my own book, I’ll post a couple of review snippets from Amazon.

“Great story about a lonely boy, treated harshly by his brothers who finds his way and eventually finds their respect. I think this would make a great read for middle school kids.”

“If I was allowed to choose only one novel this year that was not only sheer delight to read, but also had the most profound impact on my spiritual life, it would be – without a shadow of a doubt – “Roland West, Loner” by Theresa Linden. I wish I could give this book to every Catholic teen I know (and their parents too!). At first glance, the story is on a purely natural level: a teenage boy, alone and friendless in a new school, trying to cope with his cruel older brothers. But the plot swiftly moves into a new and unexpected realm – that of the supernatural – sweeping the reader way beyond the halls of River Run High and plunging straight into the doctrine of the Communion of Saints. The way Linden accomplishes this will take your breath away.

This book has the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval.logo color CWG SOA (002)

Want to learn more about Theresa Linden and her books?


blog: Things Visible & Invisible

Facebook author page

Twitter: @LindenTheresa

Thanks for stopping by my blog! Have you stumbled upon a favorite book this summer? Tell me about it in the comments. Feel free to share a link.


Writing Tips for Young Writers


I started writing when I was in grade school. It all sprang from a role-playing game that my sister and I made up. We used to pretend we were various characters from television or movies, then we made up and acted out our own stories. Because school kept getting in the way of play, we started writing our stories out–yes, during school. I’m not recommending that to students. Please pay attention to your teachers.

My sister and I took turns writing chapters in an ongoing story, each of us writing the characters into a cliffhanger that the other had to write them out of.  It was incredibly fun and really sparked our imaginations! We ended up creating many of our own characters and the most exciting, albeit bizarre, story lines. Some of the characters are in my stories today. I’m sure my sister recognizes them.

I recently created six newsletters packed with writing tips for young writers. I sent them weekly to students in our homeschooling group as they prepared for a Young Writers Day, where they presented books they wrote.

I am getting ready to send these Writing Tips newsletters out again, opening this up to anyone who is interested. Here’s what they cover:

Week 1: Genre, Theme, Story Problem
Week 2: Characters, Point of View, Opening Lines
Week 3: Conflict, Plot and Structure, Checklist
Week 4: Setting, Details, Strong Closing
Week 5: Dialog, Emotion, Tense
Week 6: Editing your work

If you are interested in receiving these for the young writer in your life, just let me know! You can comment here or send me an email:

The first one goes out Wednesday, May 3rd. The others will come out weekly, on Wednesdays.

At the end of the six weeks, if anyone would like to share their story or part of their story, I would love to see it!

Happy writing!

A to Z Blogging Challenge: X is for Xavier



“X” is for Xavier

Oh yeah! You thought I couldn’t come up with something other than x-ray, xanthan gum, or xylophone! Or that I’d have to use some strange word no one has heard of before like xeroses or xyliod! (No, I have no idea what those mean.)

But here I am rocking it with a totally cool “X” is for Xavier!

This is my youngest son’s middle name. I asked him how he felt about his middle name, and he said he likes having “X” for his middle initial because it’s cool.

Names are so important. When parents discover they are expecting a child, the first thing they do is hit the baby name books and websites. We want to find a name that has meaning. It has to be perfect.


As a writer, I put similar effort into finding the perfect names for my characters. And I also hit the baby name books and websites. If I need a name in a crunch, I use name generators. The writing software that I use, Scrivener, has a built in name generator that gives you options including gender and origin. But there are plenty of name generators online too.

A few Name Generators:

Behind the Name

Fake Name Generator

The Character Name Generator

Seventh Sanctum – this site is one of 101 best websites for writers, according to Writer’s Digest

A few Baby Name Websites:


Baby Name Genie

Oh Baby! Names

All of the names in my dystopian trilogy have meaning, including the city names, which are named after people in the Deep Green or similar disturbing movements.

Roland in Roland West, Loner is named after Charlemagne’s nephew Roland (the subject of The Song of Roland). His mother chose this name because of her love of medieval and classical literature, and other reasons that come out in a story I have only written bits and pieces of.

Eugenie von der Leyen.jpgSome of my characters’ names are based on real people. For example, Jeannie Lyons, from my work in progress Unwanted Visitor, is named after Eugenie von der Leyen (1867-1929). Eugenie was a well-educated woman of high German nobility who kept a diary of the disturbing visits she received from souls of people who had died. I based my character on her, but I changed the year to modern times, and the location to New York. This will be the focus of my upcoming posts, after the Blogging from A to Z Challenge has ended.

How much effort do you put into creating names for your characters? And what resources do you use?


A to Z blogging Challenge: N is for New Adult Fiction



“N” is for New Adult Fiction

I can’t believe I am halfway through the Blogging from #AtoZChallenge! To all of you who read my posts, follow me, click “like,” or leave a comment, thank you!!! You help me to persevere with this challenge. And I’ve now developed a good habit of writing with purpose every morning–a habit I hope to maintain even after the letter “z.” (Oh no! What begins with “z”?)

So what is New Adult fiction? And, no, I am not referring to recently released adult fiction. Okay, but isn’t New Adult the same as Young Adult?

No, it’s not the same. There is a new category now!

It sprang up around 2009 when St. Martins Press called for “…fiction similar to YA that can be published and marketed as adult—a sort of an ‘older YA’ or ‘new adult’.”

Characters: Both Young Adult and New Adult have young protagonists. YA tends to feature characters aged 14 to 17 while NA characters range from 18 to mid-twenties. Many adults enjoy YA fiction, but it is geared toward teens with issues teens can relate to. And the teen voice needs to be strong.

New Adult fiction is written for brand new adults!

The characters in NA fiction are now officially adults, but they don’t really feel like it. (Us older folks, we remember that feeling, right? Moving out and living in your first apartment on your own or with your new spouse, it didn’t feel real for a long time. Am I right?) NA characters are trying to understand what it means to be an adult and discovering how they fit into the adult world. They are faced with new responsibilities and adult issues.

Themes:  first jobs and financial independence, starting college, living away from home for the first time, making the decision to live by faith, wedding engagements and marriage, starting new families– and all the fears, challenges, and failures that accompany these things. Protagonists in NA fiction gain insight and perspective from life experience in a way that characters in traditional YA don’t.

Style and voice: New Adult fiction has emotionally tense story lines and fast-paced, dramatic plotting. It is often written in first-person, but it must have an engaging narrator.

New Adult titles appeal to both the young-adult and adult audience. Many (currently most) are contemporary romance, but NA combines all genres and sub-genres: fantasy, mystery, romance, science fiction, paranormal, dystopia, etc.
I would love to see more New Adult fiction in different genres.

My current favorite NA dystopian is by Erin McCole Cupp, The Memoirs of Jane E, Friendless Orphan. The first book begins with the protagonist as a child, but the character soon grows up and is thrown into the world. The insights she gains as a young woman as she finds her place in the world are what I believe make this NA fiction. If you’ve enjoyed Jane Eyre and you love dystopian or steampunk, check out this trilogy. ALL of the Jane E ebooks will be FREE April 17-21, in honor of Charlotte Brontë’s 201st Birthday on April 21. FREE on Kobo too.

“Classic Gothic heroine rebooted”

I will soon be seeking representation for my New Adult mystery romance, Anyone But Him. This is a love story that is light on the romance and heavy on the mystery.

anyoneTagline: A young woman wakes with no memory of the past three years and finds herself far from home and married to a boy she hated in high school.

Her perfect husband would love Jesus above all
and would love her because of her love for Jesus.
He would be faithful and gentle and have a heart for others.

So how did Caitlyn Summer end up marrying the guy who got her high school best friend pregnant then pressured her to abort?

Unable to remember the past three years or understand why she would’ve moved so far from home, Caitlyn can’t believe she willingly married such an overprotective, bossy, and jealous man. In this emotionally charged mystery romance, Caitlyn struggles to solve the mysteries of what caused her amnesia and of why she married this guy. Suspicious circumstances surrounding him tempt her to leave and start life over, but they also force her to evaluate the strength of her Christian faith.

The arrival of her first love, her husband’s younger brother, intent on helping her regain her memory, offers a glimmer of hope. Together they uncover secrets involving her coworkers and the local abortion clinic, but nothing to explain her marriage. Had he changed, or had she?


Happy writing! If you are a fan of New Adult fiction, please share your favorites in the comments!

A to Z blogging Challenge: L is for Loner



“L” is for Loner

lonely-814631_1920Perhaps everyone feels lonely at one point in their life. With all the changes in society and advancements in technology, it is no wonder that loneliness in American teens is a growing problem.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta said, “Material poverty you can always satisfy with the material. The unwanted, the unloved, those not cared for, the forgotten, the lonely: this is a much greater poverty.”

In my YA Christian fiction, Roland West, Loner, 14-year-old Roland feels lonely at home and at a new school. Worse, he’s the subject of cruel rumors. And he’s shy. He’d trade anything for one good friend.

As the story unfolds, Roland makes a couple of friends and he learns a powerful 3D-Book-Rolandlesson that is true for every one of us. None of us are ever truly alone. In addition to our ever-present God and our guardian angel, we are surrounded by a cloud of heavenly witnesses (Hebrews 12:1). Can these witnesses really help and encourage as it shows in Hebrews?  Can turning our attention to spiritual realities be a remedy for loneliness? Can it help a person to find their purpose while also inspiring him or her to reach out to others?

Loneliness is an important element for storytelling. After facing conflict throughout the story, and failing many times, our protagonist needs to go deep and go alone. In the “Hero’s Journey” this is called the “Innermost Cave.” Here, alone, our protagonist is brought to his knees. He comes face to face with his greatest fears and weaknesses. Here he must conquer the inner demons.

On Holy Thursday we remember the when the greatest hero prayed alone in the Garden of Gethsemane. He longed for the support of his three closest disciples, but they were not there for him. Jesus had to do this alone.


And on Good Friday, abandoned by his followers, the greatest hero embraced the cross that would save us all.

And on three days, He rose again.

Have a holy Good Friday and a Blessed Easter!





A to Z blogging Challenge: K is for Klutz



“K” is for Klutz

Thoughts on Character Flaws

I was an awkward girl and a klutzy teen. The majority of my friends seemed to have it all together. They moved through life with relative grace and ease.

One day in grade school, I was strolling across the playground with a friend, deep in conversation, and next thing I knew I was wrapped around a tetherball pole.

Other times, I got up to leave a classroom and my purse dragged me back to my desk, the strap hooked around the chair. Or only some of my books came with me, the others diving to the floor.

These humiliating experiences have inspired one of the characters in my Christian teen fiction: Caitlyn Summer. Caitlyn is super sweet, but she’s thin, shapeless, and klutzy. Caitlyn gets tangled in the streamers of a hanging plant, she trips climbing stairs, and worse: she blurts out things that should’ve remained secret. Her flaws humble and humiliate her but they also change the direction of the story.75HN5HHXIE.jpgWhile we want our characters to have admirable qualities and unique skills and abilities, every character needs flaws. This allows readers to either identify with or feel compassion for them. Character flaws can add tension or humor to a scene, stand in the way of a character attaining his or her goals, and give the character something to strive to overcome.


They can be little things like a coffee addiction or fear of spiders or snakes. They can be deep psychological or moral weaknesses like pride, cowardice, and distrust.

How do you get a character’s flaws into the story?

Demonstrate it through their actions, thoughts, and dialog. They might not even see it as a flaw at first. Over the course of the story, reveal character flaws so that they are fully exposed to the character by the end of the story. In addition to beating the antagonist, give the protagonist something within themselves that they must overcome in order to bring about the victory.

Looking for resources to develop interesting character flaws? Check out this list on Writers Write. or have fun with this character flaw generator or this character trait generator.

If you are a fiction writer, I’d love to hear how you come up with character flaws. Please leave a comment.

Happy writing!


Blogging from A to Z Challenge: Letter G ~ Guam



“G” is for Guam

When I accepted the blogging from A to Z challenge, I intended to post about writing and books. What does Guam have to do with it? Every writer began their journey as a writer somewhere and mine began on Guam.

My father entered the Coast Guard at a young age. He was a radioman.

So our family moved around often. While my earliest memories are from my preschool years in California, I have a thorough recollection of my time in Guam. Living on an island was fun! Although, I admit I had no idea just how tiny Guam is.

My sister and brother and I loved exploring the woods behind our house and playing with strange bugs and with our friends. We did the same things any kid does, playing on playgrounds and riding bikes.

But my sister and I also played games that led to me becoming a writer. We played roll-playing games, using our favorite characters from movies and TV shows.

1978 TV programming: The Hardy Boys Mysteries, Battlestar Galactica, Welcome Back Kotter, Little House on the Prairie, Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, The Incredible Hulk, Wonder Woman…  And of course our favorite movie was Star Wars (A New Hope), which came out in 1977.

These games developed over the years. We created many of our own characters, and we started writing our stories down and illustrating them. I wish I had all our old stories and pictures! But I still have some of the characters that we developed in those early years. Modified versions of them are in all of my stories!

Faith was a natural and joyful part of my life back then. I believed everyone in the world was good and knew Christ. We attended Santa Barbara Catholic School with the sweetest sisters I’ve ever met. Several Chomorro women used to teach us how to make treats with coconut and how to weave baskets and mats from palm fronds.  It seemed to me that everyone on the island participated in our celebrations and processions and gatherings.

Life was exciting and fun and good back then. And I hold those memories dear and close to my heart. But I also want to share elements of it, if I can. So in all of my stories, I try to capture something of the joy of adventure, faith, and goodness.

So Guam is where the inspiration began for me. Where did it all begin for you? What inspired you to become a writer?

Blogging from A to Z Challenge: Letter C ~ Creating Compelling Characters


2017 BadgeToday I will focus on an important element of good fiction writing: creating compelling characters!

In order to hold a readers attention, writers need strong, interesting characters. Ablue-boy-1514731 well-developed character has strengths, weaknesses, secrets, fears, goals, dreams, hobbies, obsessions, and even little quirks. This can be accomplished in so many ways! One of my favorite ways to develop a character is to write a character interview. I’ve done that for a character in Roland West, Loner, Peter Brandt, Roland’s new friend. You can read it here.

And I’ve interviewed Caitlyn Summer in Life-Changing Love:

Character interview of soon-to-be fifteen-year-old Caitlyn Summer, conducted by author Theresa Linden. This interview took place at Caitlyn’s house before the camping trip. (You can read the interview below or on my website)

 Smiling and giddy, Caitlyn hangs up the old phone on the kitchen wall. Her big green photo-1445295029071-5151176738d0eyes swivel to the dining room and latch onto me. Her smile shrinks a bit, but the news she received from the phone call must’ve really made her day because it seems like she can’t stop smiling.

I smile back. Mrs. Summer has been kind enough to invite me into her home for this interview, so I’m sipping hot Constant Comment tea at the dining room table. Stacks of laundry sit on one end of the table. A plate of chocolate chip cookies sits before me, but the long red hair sticking out of the cookie on top keeps me from taking one.

Mrs. Summer carries baby Andy and an armful of fresh laundry as she cruises through the little house, heading toward the bedrooms. A spring-fresh scent trails behind her. As she passes Caitlyn, she says, “Oh, Caitlyn, you have a guest. Mrs. Linden would like to speak with you for a moment.” Mrs. Summer glances at me and smiles. Then she rounds the corner and disappears, leaving Caitlyn and me alone.

“Oh.” Caitlyn gives me a sort of deer-in-the headlights look. Her eyes are so round and sparkling green, a nice contrast to her long red tresses. I wonder if I’ve captured them right in my stories.

“Care to join me at the table?” I say. “I’d like to ask you a few questions.”

“Oh,” she says again, glancing to either side. The house is relatively quiet, but her younger sisters and brother are laughing and talking in the backyard.

Caitlyn runs a hand through her hair, wipes the front of her skirt then approaches with slow steps. “Are you from River Run High? I was supposed to meet with a counselor sometime this year. To talk about my future plans, I guess.” She tugs a chair back and eases herself into it. “Is that who you are, a counselor?”

“Um, no.” I wonder if it will freak her out to hear the truth. “I’m an author. And I just wanted to ask you a few questions.”

“Oh.” She’s studying me now, making me feel like I should’ve put on something a bit nicer than sweatpants and my favorite ratty jacket with the burn hole in the sleeve. “So, what do you write?”

“Different things. I wrote a dystopian trilogy, and I also write Christian fiction for teens.”

“That sounds interesting.” She grabs a cookie, takes a bite, and makes a face. Now she’s pulling a hair from her mouth. “What did you want to talk to me about?” she says with her mouth full. She shoves the rest of her cookie under the edge of the plate.

“Well, I wanted my readers to get to know you a little better. So if you don’t mind . . .” I’m talking quickly now, hoping she won’t get paranoid like Peter had done when I’d interviewed him. “I have just a few questions. First of all, I noticed that you seemed very happy after getting off the phone. Care to share why?”

Her smile returns and her eyes light up like two emeralds under a jeweler’s lamp.

I briefly wonder if my mental description of her eyes is too flowery.

“Oh,” she says, “that was my friend Peter. He finally got back to me about a camping trip we’re going on.” She dips her head and a tangle of red curls falls in her face. “I was hoping that Roland . . . a, uh, a new friend of ours was coming.”

“So, I guess he is then? Roland’s going camping?”

Still smiling, she pushes the hair from her face, twirls a red curl around her finger, and nods.

“Would you tell me a bit about Roland?”

“He’s new to River Run High, and we recently became friends.” Her smile wavers. “I really like him, but he’s very shy.”

“Is that a problem? That he’s shy? I think that’s great that you’re willing to reach out to a shy kid, especially someone new to your school.”

“No, I like that he’s shy.” Caitlyn glances over her shoulder in the direction of the hallway that leads to the bedrooms. “It’s just that, well, he’s so different from everyone else, and I really like him.” She stresses the word ‘really’ and gives me a serious look.

“Oh.” I nod. “Like a boyfriend.”

Her eyes pop open and she spins her head to peer over her shoulder. Then she faces me again and whispers, “No, I can’t have a boyfriend. When I’m older, my parents want me to practice courtship.”

“Oh, so what about now? You can’t see boys?”

She shrugs. “I can see them in groups. Which is why I’m glad he’s going camping.” Her smile comes back and she reaches absentmindedly for a stack of t-shirts, part of the folded laundry Mrs. Summer had left on the end of the table. “You see, we’re friends already. So I was hoping we . . .”

The stack of t-shirts slips off the table. Caitlyn twists and whisks both arms out, trying to catch them, but it’s too late. Mumbling, she leans and ducks under the table. Something bangs and she says, “Ouch.” A few seconds later she pops up with a sloppy pile of shirts and a weak smile.

“I just was hoping we could get to know each other better, you know, get closer without actually dating.” She stands and carries the shirts to the kitchen bar counter. “Though, I don’t know what I’d do if he really liked me, too.” She places the messy pile onto the cluttered countertop and folds one of the shirts. “I mean, I don’t know why he would, but . . .” She sets the folded shirt next to the messy pile and grabs another shirt.

“Why wouldn’t he like you too?”

“I don’t know. Some girls seem to have it all. They’re pretty and comfortable around boys . . .” She’s not even looking at me now. She’s folding shirt after shirt and putting them in a new stack, but the stack keeps inching back. “My best friend tells me I’m cute, but I don’t feel cute. And I’m certainly not pretty. Or hot.”

I find that I’m gripping my teacup, worried about that moving stack of folded shirts. It seems too close to a pretty glass pitcher—

The crashing sound of glass on a tile floor shudders through me. Caitlyn shrieks then stands frozen.

I get up to help.

Before I get around the table, Caitlyn shoves her hands into her tangled red hair and groans. “Oh, who am I kidding? The new rules won’t matter. I’m not even girlfriend material. I’m a clumsy mess!”

I’m not sure whether to clean up the broken glass or to comfort Caitlyn first. “I think every girl your age—”

“What was that?” Mrs. Summer flies onto the scene. She no longer carries Andy. Her round eyes shift this way and that, her gaze darting all over the kitchen and dining room. “Are you okay? What broke?” She looks at me. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Liden . . .”

“Linden,” I correct. But I understand what the look and tone of voice mean. The interview is over, and it’s time for me to go.


If you’ve read to the end, thanks! I hope you enjoyed the interview!