Summer & Books: 6 Dates to Disaster

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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.

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About the Book:

When Wendy’s family faces financial hardship, she must find a way to see Mrs. V and Sam again—but will she lose David forever in the process?

For her mom’s birthday, Wendy finds an old jewelry box at a flea market—the perfect gift for someone who loves salvaged junk. But inside the box is a cryptic note that appears to have been written recently. Wendy’s curiosity leads her on a search with boyfriend David at her side, eager to help. Who wrote the note, and did the intended recipient ever see it? But when Wendy’s stepfather loses his job, she needs more personal and urgent help—the financial kind.

The family’s plan to visit Alaska on vacation is headed down the sewer like a hard Louisiana rain. How will Wendy ever see Mrs. V or Sam again? An opportunity arrives in the form of tutoring Melissa, one of the Sticks, and Wendy’s money problems appear to be solved. Until the arrangement takes a turn that gets Wendy into trouble like never before. In the final months of ninth grade, she might lose everything she counted on for the future.


In addition to the fun story line and getting to hang with characters that I’ve come to know and love, this book gave me a lot to think about. Wendy has a lot of opportunities and moral choices to make in this story. I like to know how authors come up with story ideas and themes, so I asked Cynthia Toney a question.

Have you ever risked everything (or almost everything) like Wendy does to see someone you miss or to get what you want?

Today I’m not as impulsive as I was as a girl or young woman, but yes, I’ve taken risks in attempting to get what I want. There’s a saying: “The heart wants what the heart wants.” Often, I’d become frustrated because of a setback or because something wasn’t happening as quickly as I’d like. I’d leave a situation for what seemed a better one and then regret not giving the first one a little more time to develop into what I needed. Or I’d act out of desperation and later realize how undignified I appeared. Like Wendy, I found my integrity slipping away when I didn’t think my decisions through before making them.

~Cynthia T. Toney

My review:

Cynthia Toney has written another fun story in her “Bird Face” series. Many of the characters you’ve come to love in the first two books are back, even if only through email. Main character Wendy Robichaud and her family face new struggles. And Wendy stumbles upon a new mystery, a cryptic note she finds in an old jewelry box that she bought as a present for her mother. Wendy makes some choices she doesn’t quite think through and they lead her into a ton of trouble.

A great book for young teens that gives the reader a lot to think about: family responsibilities; giving tough advice to a friend; making mistakes, owning up to it, and paying the price.  I enjoyed the Cajun touches like this one, “My stomach flipped like a crab cake on a spatula.” I recommend this book for any teen, especially if they’ve enjoyed the first two books in this series.

Visit Cynthia T. Toney:

Website:  http://www.cynthiattoney.com

Blog:  http://birdfacewendy.wordpress.com

Facebook Author Page:  https://www.facebook.com/birdfacewendy

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/CynthiaTToney

Twitter:  @CynthiaTToney

Instagram:  @CynthiaTToney

Pinterest: Cynthia T. Toney, YA Author

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.

CathTeenBooks

Summer & Books: Coming this June!

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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. Stop by every day to learn about a different book!

www.CatholicTeenBooks.com provides teen readers, parents, catechists, homeschool co-ops, youth ministers, teachers, and others with direct links to exciting, well-crafted books that raise the heart and mind to God and reflect the fullness and beauty of the Catholic faith.

The site is organized by genre and includes a wide range of books in the following categories:

  • contemporary
  • historical
  • mystery
  • speculative
  • saints
  • dystopian

Among those, you’ll find suspense, romance, coming of age stories, and lives of the saints with age-appropriate themes including the power of intercessory prayer, the communion of saints, the Rosary, virtue, Theology of the Body, and respect for life at all ages and stages.

“Today more than ever, teens need to know they are beautiful and valuable creations of God,” said author of the contemporary Bird Face series Cynthia T. Toney. “Catholic fiction and nonfiction can show them.”

Rather than stuffy, dry stories of saccharine piety, readers will find lively stories that appeal to the modern reader addressing difficult issues such as suicide, abortion, grief, family relationships, disabilities, and dating, all informed by the light of faith.

“A growing number of Catholic authors are producing high quality fiction, as well as riveting non-fiction or fictionalized versions of historical people and events,” according to Stephanie Engelman, author of A Single Bead. “The goal of these authors is to teach as Christ taught – through stories. They take ordinary people, with ordinary lives and challenges, and write extraordinary stories meant to change hearts while teaching minds. While avoiding being preachy or didactic, these authors impart wisdom and support Catholic moral and social teaching.”

Many of the books included have been awarded the Catholic Writers Guild’s Seal of Approval. Several have also received awards from the Catholic Press Association as well as secular organizations. Some books are currently used in schools throughout the United States. All are available in both paperback and electronic format through Amazon.com and other retailers.

“An incredible amount of excitement surrounds this new website,” said Theresa Linden, author of the award-winning Roland West, Loner. “We hope to see it grow into something wonderful for God, helping young readers find books they will thoroughly enjoy and that support, rather than tear down their faith. And also, helping authors of Catholic teen fiction reach their audiences.”

CathTeenBooks

A to Z blogging Challenge: R is for Research

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“R” is for Research

Love it or hate it, every writer needs to do it. Whether writing fiction or non-fiction, your book can benefit from research. Since the research aspect is obvious for non-fiction, and I don’t write non-fiction anyway, this blog will focus on researching for fiction.

Ideas for Research

Characters – we want our characters to have unique talents, interests, and abilities, but we also want them to be realistic.

Got a child in your story but no child at home to base him on? Visit family or friends or even the library. Pay attention to the unique speech, mannerisms, interests, and interactions of children of different ages.

Got a teen in your story? Head out to the mall for some people watching! Pay attention to clothing styles and jewelry, along with the unique way each teen’s personality shows through body language and verbal communication.

For adult characters, consider people in your family or workplace and note different characteristics, personality quirks, and manners of speech that might work for a character in your book. Warning: don’t create a character that resembles a real person too closely if the person might take offense.

IMAG0097I modeled Toby Brandt in Roland West, Loner on my oldest son, who has autism. This character captures the personality and interests of my son at age 8 or 9, including his manner of speech and interesting behaviors and obsessions. And even some of the story conflict. While every child with autism is unique, I hope that people will find Toby a realistic character.


Setting – long, detailed passages of weather or setting descriptions will bore our readers, but we need enough details to allow them to picture the setting in their minds.

When possible, go on location to gather details. Go into the woods, warehouses, wilderness, or wherever your scene takes place. Take a notebook and focus on all five senses. When you can’t go on location or you want even more ideas, use the research of other writers, for example try the Setting Thesaurus on the Writers Helping Writers website.

I will share another favorite resource for setting details on the “V” blog next week.


Story ideas – these can come from anywhere and go in any direction but getting a few facts can go a long way in making a story feel believable. We don’t want readers to be thrown out of our story world because something doesn’t ring true.

Rightfully Ours Front (002)In Carolyn Astfalk’s new release, Rightfully Ours, sixteen-year-old Paul Porter relocates to Pennsylvania during his dad’s deployment. He makes a temporary home with the Muellers and develops a friendship with Rachel, the Muellers’ teenage daughter. Their abiding friendship deepens as they work side by side to uncover what could be lost treasure.

Author Carolyn Astfalk wanted to get her facts straight with this story so she researched sink holes (where and how they happen and how you rescue someone from one). She also researched how custody of a minor is handled when a single parent is deployed. And, she had to research how gold bars are authenticated.

Her hard work researching for this story makes it all the more believable and allows readers to truly immerse themselves in the romantic and adventure-filled story line. The e-book is available on Amazon and the paperback is coming soon. You can check out the book trailer here.


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The ideas for my dystopian trilogy came directly from the news. Governments too often step on the rights of the individual. Scientific and technological developments often cross ethical boundaries. And special interest groups attempt to indoctrinate us in order to push hidden agendas.

Because this trilogy is set in the near future, I did an incredible amount of online research into actual ideologies that influence world governments, the latest scientific developments, and cutting-edge technology. Unlike some dystopian stories, nothing that happens in this trilogy is that farfetched. If we don’t reclaim our culture and cling to faith, family, and freedom, this is a real possibility for our future.

The more I learned from research, the more I realized I needed to write this dystopian story. I only meant to write one book and get back to my other stories. I wanted to end Chasing Liberty showing a seed of change being planted. But I couldn’t stop thinking about it. What exactly is this freedom we should be fighting for? And how can one person make a difference?

This trilogy is available through most online booksellers and you can find the book trailers on my website.


What type of research have you done for your stories and what are your favorite resources?

A to Z blogging Challenge: K is for Klutz

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“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.

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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!

 

Book promotion. Ugh.

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I love writing! I could do it all day and all night… given the opportunity. Of course, I’m never given that opportunity because I live in the real world. I have a wonderful family, I homeschool my three boys, and we have to eat and do other time-consuming things like that.

I get time to write here and there, and I have an awesome husband who often takes the boys out for awhile or helps in other ways to make time for me to write. I don’t bring in a ton of money with my books, so one could consider it a hobby. Sometimes an expensive hobby. But my husband never belittles me as a writer. He encourages me and listens to my story ideas, lets me spend money on ISBNs and contests and websites and flyers and all those other things that go with writing and publishing. I probably don’t tell him enough how I appreciate him!

But I digress. This blog post is about promoting my work. Not my favorite thing to do. In fact, it’s not even in the top ten. I don’t know where on the list it is, but I avoid it like the plague! Part of me loves writing so much that I don’t care if I sell a single book. But the other part of me realizes that I write for others.

I long to find my audience, those people who would really enjoy my books! So I have to do something in order to find them.

Today I made an effort. I created a bunch of tweets about my books and a few quotes from wonderful Americans.  And I created a few promotional posters which I promptly posted on my Author Facebook page and Tumblr. And I don’t know what else to do with them, so I’m putting them all here.

If you or someone you love, might enjoy my books, please check them out! Ask your library to carry them and buy them as gifts for your friends!

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Along with a group of awesome writers of Catholic teen fiction, my books are on this brand new website: www.CatholicTeenBooks.com   If you like my books, chances are you will like the books found here too!FB poster

Okay. There you have it! My promotional effort! Yay, me!

If you have a good idea for how an author can find his or her audience, please oh please, let me know!

New Medical Thriller: Dying for Revenge

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 In keeping with my current theme of “friendship,” I would like to share my thoughts on friendship in this new medical thriller.

Friends can be the glue that holds us together. A friend can help a person get back on track or stay on track. They can help us to see parts of ourselves that we’d rather not look at, but which we ought to in order to grow or find inner peace.

I was privileged to read an advanced copy of Dying for Revenge by Barbara Golder. One particular friendship in this story gave me a lot to think about: the friendship between the main character and her parish priest.

The strong-willed, competent, and hardworking main character, Jane Wallace, knows pain and loss. She’s moved from Florida to Telluride, Colorado, a popular skiing and tourist town, hoping for peace and healing. As the Chief Medical Examiner, she expects to encounter a few dead bodies from accidents, violence, and sickness. But she never expected this string of suspicious deaths. While she’s dealing with autopsies, lawyers, and nosy journalists, she also has her own inner issues to deal with. Unfortunately, she’s put up a wall, cemented by her lack of forgiveness for her husband’s murderer.

Fortunately for her, she’s got a friend in the new local priest, Father Matthew Gregory. He’s just a few years older than her oldest son, and he doesn’t have a lot of pastoral experience. Tall, with an uncontrollable beard, and with an edge to his otherwise warm personality, he can be intimidating. Doctor Wallace isn’t sure how to take him sometimes.

When they first met, Father Matt noticed that something troubled Dr. Wallace and he reached out to her. He began inviting her to coffee regularly. She meets with him, but she doesn’t appreciate the way he seems to probe into her life.

While she doesn’t always welcome his advice, at times he seems to know her better than she knows herself. He pushes her to do the right thing and to rise above her feelings, even when it calls for her to give up things she’d been clinging to. He helps her to face her faults. He helps her to grow.

True friendships might not always be comfortable at all times, but they can lead us to be better versions of ourselves. They can lead us to healing.

I haven’t read a medical mystery in a while, but I thoroughly enjoyed this one. I’m glad that this is Book #1 because that means more will follow!

Dying for Revenge: The Lady Doc Murders Book 1

DyingForRevenge.jpg Someone is killing the rich and famous residents of Telluride, Colorado, and the medical investigator, Dr. Jane Wallace, is on a collision course with the murderer. Compelled by profound loss and injustice, Jane will risk her own life to protect others from vengeful death, even as she exacts a high price from those who have destroyed her world. DYING FOR REVENGE is a story of love, obsession and forgiveness, seen through the eyes of a passionate, beautiful woman trying to live her life — imperfectly but vibrantly — even if she won’t survive.

About the Author:

Dr. Barbara Golder is a late literary bloomer.  Although she’s always loved books (and rivals Jane in the 3-deep-on-the-shelf sweepstakes), her paying career gravitated to medicine and law.  She has served as a hospital pathologist, forensic pathologist, and laboratory director.  Her work in forensic pathology prompted her to get a law degree, which she put to good use as a malpractice attorney and in a boutique practice of medical law, which allowed her to be a stay-at-home mom when her children were young.  She has also tried her hand at medical politics, serving as an officer in her state medical association; lobbying at a state and national level on medical issues, writing and lecturing for hire, including a memorable gig teaching nutritionists about the joys of chocolate for 8 straight hours, teaching middle and high school science, and, most recently, working for a large disability insurance company from which she is now retired.   Her writing career began when she authored a handbook of forensic medicine for the local medical examiner office in 1984.  Over the years she wrote extensively on law and  medicine and lectured on medicolegal topics.  On a lark, she entered a contest sponsored by the Telluride Times Journal and ended up with a regular humor column that memorialized the vagaries of second-home living on the Western Slope.   She currently lives on Lookout Mountain, Tennessee with two dogs, two cats and her husband of 41 years.

Social Media Links:

Dying for Revenge Kindle Edition link

Dying for Revenge Print edition link

Novel Page on Full Quiver Publishing -Check out the book trailer & excerpt here!

Author’s website

Book Series Facebook page

Facebook Author Page

Instagram: @ladydocmurders

Twitter: @ladydocmurders

Email: ladydocmurders@gmail.com

Reviews:

“Barbara Golder joins the ranks of Chesterton’s bloodthirsty heirs as she
spins a tale that will delight mystery fans. With Dying for Revenge in
hand, your beach experience is now complete!”
~Mark P. Shea, Author of Mercy Works

“Dying for Revenge dives into the deeply personal place in so many
hearts with “justifiable” reasons for revenge… but the face of mercy is
entwined in the unexpected turn of events. You’ll be captivated…”
~Patricia M. Chivers, ABLAZE Radio WNRE-LP 98.1 FM, Catholic Church of Saint Monica

“Dying For Revenge is a darn good medical thriller — a page-turning
plot and vivid characters — with a stop-you-in your tracks twist: the
costs of revenge. It’s a gripping story — I defy anyone to put it down.”
~Deacon Dennis Dorner, Chancellor, Archdiocese of Atlanta

“I know it sounds cliché, but I honestly couldn’t put this down. It isn’t
just who-dun-it, but it’s the story of the power of understanding in a
world that’s afraid of self-knowledge.”
~Joan Watson, Director of Adult Formation, Diocese of Nashville

Virtual Book Tour Dates:

 

Book Release: Catholic Teen Fiction

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Friendships in Fiction

I’ve been thinking and blogging about friendships lately. Since this is the release date for Life-Changing Love, I’ll write about the friendships in this story.

Fourteen-year-old Caitlyn Summer has two close friends: Peter and Zoe.

Friendships come in all shapes and sizes.

Friendships that are more like family: Caitlyn and Peter have practically grown up together because their parents had been friends since before they were born. So they think of each other more like brother and sister than like actual friends. Peter pokes fun at Caitlyn’s appearance, comparing her to Raggedy Ann or a long-haired red cat, and Caitlyn has no problem making a pig out of herself in front of him. They spend a lot of time arguing, teasing and rolling their eyes at each other, but when the need arises, they are both willing to be there for the other.

“Thy friendship oft has made my heart to ache: do be my enemy for friendship’s sake.” ~William Blake, English poet

Best Friends Forever: Zoe and Caitlyn are BFFs since grade school. One of five children in her family, Caitlyn is a bit clumsy and she’s shy around boys. Plus she lives in a house so small she has to fight for a turn in the bathroom. Zoe, however, is an only child. And she’s one of the most popular girls in school. She’s always had a boyfriend and she lives in a big, newer house, with her own bathroom. Their differences don’t stand in the way of their friendship. They walk to each other’s house almost every day. They know each other inside and out, and they share all their secrets with each other. At least they used to. Until Zoe had something to hide.

“Cherish your friend, keep faith in him.” ~Sirach 27:17

Friendship with family members: Sometimes the ones closest to us hurt us the most. It’s hard to relate to them and, try though we may, they just don’t seem interested in friendship. Poor Roland who felt friendless in the first story in this series (Roland West, Loner) is determined to develop a friendship with his older brother Jarret, who has always been more like an enemy.

“What are brothers for if not to share troubles?” ~Proverbs 17:17

Friendship with Yourself: Jarret’s twin brother Keefe is working on a friendship of his own, if you can call it that. He’s lost himself over the years, or maybe he’s never really known himself. So, while on assignment in Italy, he’s working on finding out who he is. I’m sure he’s not the only person who has let the failures of the past and other concerns in life stand in the way of loving yourself.

“Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself.” ~St. Francis de Sales

Every friendship is unique. I enjoy creating unique friendships in each of my stories. Some friends share similar pasts and experiences. Others have many things in common now. Some share a similar sense of humor or outlook on life. I suppose all friends care about each other and enjoy each other’s company. I believe that a solid friendship needs to be built on trust and honesty and the ability to be oneself. But we all make mistakes, so a true friend is one who remains your friend even when you mess up.

What characteristics do you think make for a good friendship? I would love to read your thoughts on friendship in the comments!

And here’s a bit more about my new Catholic teen fiction which comes out today:

Life-Changing Love: a novel about dating, courtship, family, and faith

Life-Changing Love3D.jpgCaitlyn 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: Who am I? Where am I headed? How am I going to get there?

Order Life-Changing Love here.

Watch the book trailers here!

Reviews:

“The way Linden weaves her characters and various intricate plots together is at once delightful, edifying, heartwarming, and, believe it or not . . . even hilarious at times.” ~Susan Peek, author of the best-seller Saint Magnus, the Last Viking and other saint stories

“With its strong pro-life message, Life-Changing Love will open the doorways to many great conversations about what love and life are all about.” ~ A.J. Cattapan, author of the award-winning book Angelhood

Life-Changing Love is a poignant tale about the beauty of life and the importance of being yourself. It is well-written and compelling, inspiring me to finish it within a few days. . . . threads are tied together seamlessly, as they form a love letter of life that God has given us.” ~ Gina Marinello-Sweeney, author of The Veritas Chronicles

“You’ll love Roland West, Caitlyn, and the cast of Life-Changing Love as they experience the heartache, trials, and pitfalls of courtship and dating.” ~ Cynthia T. Toney, author of 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status