Summer & Books: The King’s Prey

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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.

 

kings prey front cover

Can’t afford a vacation this year? You are in luck! With Susan Peek’s latest release, The King’s Prey, you can take a trip back in time to the 7th century, and to Ireland! In addition to the heart-pounding action and lovable characters in this book, you will find beautiful setting details that will transport you into the story. Be prepared to hit the ground running!

About the Book:

An insane king. His fleeing daughter. Estranged brothers, with a scarred past, risking everything to save her from a fate worse than death. Toss in a holy priest and a lovable wolfhound, and get ready for a wild race across Ireland. Will Dymphna escape her deranged father and his sinful desires?

For the first time ever, the story of Saint Dymphna is brought to life in this dramatic novel for adults and older teens. With raw adventure, gripping action, and even humor in the midst of dark mental turmoil, Susan Peek’s newest novel will introduce you to a saint you will love forever! Teenage girls will see that Dymphna was just like them, a real girl, while young men will thrill at the heart-stopping danger and meet heroes they can easily relate to. If ever a Heavenly friend was needed in these times of widespread depression and emotional instability, this forgotten Irish saint is it!


I asked author Susan Peek why she chose this saint to write about:

 I first heard of Saint Dymphna, the patron saint of the emotionally disturbed, thirty years ago, long before I was a published author. The few known facts of this seventh-century teenage Irish princess who fled from her insane father took three measly pages in a tiny staple-bound pamphlet to tell. Apparently, almost nothing was known about her, apart from the fact that her evil, psychopathic dad desired her hand in marriage, forcing Dymphna to escape the castle and flee with three trusted friends. The king’s soldiers pursued them relentlessly across Ireland, and eventually beyond the sea. Although the tiny pamphlet didn’t tell any details of their desperate journey, I knew there must have been many wild adventures and near-death escapades for Dymphna and her companions along the way. Even three decades ago I possessed an author’s imagination and instantly recognized the potential this story had for one heckuva cool novel.

I searched high and low for more information about Saint Dymphna, but all I could find were those same few facts over and over again. By this time, my first two teen novels had been published, so my mind naturally turned to the story of Saint Dymphna as a potential third book. I realized that in order to write her story, I would be forced to fill in the huge gaps with fictional characters and events. In a sense, THE KING’S PREY would be my first stab at “fiction” which worried me. I put the challenge off and wrote SAINT MAGNUS THE LAST VIKING instead. But the idea of Saint Dymphna continued to haunt me. After fifteen years of procrastinating and experimenting, I finally wrote it . . . and admit I had a blast.

For some reason my writing gravitates more towards stories for boys rather than for girls. Don’t ask me why; perhaps it has something to do with having six wild and rowdy (and totally awesome) sons, who turn my hair a shade grayer each passing day (as opposed to my equally awesome but calm five daughters.) THE KING’S PREY is my first female saint story, but actually Dymphna shares the spotlight with the character of Turlough, one of her father’s soldiers who is pursuing them, but for reasons at odds with the rest of the troops. Turlough is the story’s hero as much as Dymphna is the heroine. Many readers have told me that because of this, it appeals equally to boys and girls.

My Review:

I discovered this saint years ago when praying for someone with mental illness, and I am so glad to be able to get to know her better through Susan Peek’s story. THE KING’S PREY is filled with emotionally-charged moments, humor, and high action; never a dull moment. Dymphna’s story is a difficult one. Her mother was a Christian and taught her the faith, but her father was a powerful pagan king with evil Druid advisors. Once Dymphna’s mother died, her father’s mental health deteriorated. He wanted his wife back and his confused mind saw her in his daughter. The teenage Dymphna, wanting nothing to do with a sinful arrangement—though it would provide all the comforts of life a king could offer—fled with the saintly Father Gerebran and others that you will meet in this story.

This story brings the ugliness of evil and sin (in the King’s actions and his Druid advisors) up against the beauty of faithfulness, self-sacrifice, and bearing all for the kingdom of God.

I am a fan of Susan Peek’s saint stories. And so are my boys. Every one of them touches my heart and increases my devotion to the saints. I am thankful that she has dedicated herself to bringing these little-known saints to life for us. St. Dymphna is so needed today as a role model for purity and an intercessor for all those who suffer from mental illness. Privileged to read an advanced copy of this book, I highly recommend it to teens and adults.

Visit Susan Peek and learn more about her and her books:

Website: http://www.susanpeekauthor.com

Goodreads author page

Amazon author page

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

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Summer & Books: St. Magnus, The Last Viking

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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.

 

finalStMagnusFrontCoverSt. Magnus Erlendson was the Earl of Orkney, and he lived from 1106 to about 1115. He is sometimes known as Magnus the Martyr.

His grandparents were Earl Thorfinn and Ingibiorg Finnsdottir. They had two sons, twins: Erlend and Paul. Erlend was Magnus’s father. Other relatives include the Norwegian Kings Olav II and Harald II. You can do an online search and find plenty of interesting historical facts—which I enjoy doing—but nothing compares to stepping into Susan Peek’s novel: St. Magnus, the Last Viking.

About the Book:

Come back in time 900 years, to the fierce and desolate Northern lands, where Norsemen ruled with ax and sword. A dying king, a shocking death-wish, his heirs divided with an oath of blood . . . In this fast-paced new novel by the highly popular Susan Peek, the conflict unfolds between Magnus Erlendson, a heroic young prince aflame with the love of God, and his outlawed cousin Hakon, who blames Magnus for his banishment from their kingdom. What follows is a tale of betrayal and revenge, bravery and forgiveness, as Magnus seeks to restore his father’s vanquished kingdom to its rightful hands. Entertaining and inspiring from start to finish, a must-read for all those who thrill to learn the life of a saint we never knew existed!


And now we have author Susan Peek’s answer as to why she chose to write about Saint Magnus!

After my first two novels, A Soldier Surrenders and Crusader King, were swiped up by big-name Catholic publishers (Ignatius Press and TAN Books) and incorporated into language arts programs in Catholic high schools and homeschool programs across the globe, I knew I had finally arrived as an author. My childhood dream was a reality. By now I had established a fan base (mostly teens, but surprisingly many adults as well), and my vision was crystal clear: I wanted to write fast-paced novels of obscure saints whose lives were filled with adventure and action, and in a style that would appeal to today’s modern youth. It was at this point that I decided to launch an actual series, which I thought I could call “God’s Forgotten Friends: Lives of Little-known Saints.” Armed with a pen and a stack of lined paper, I sat down to write a brand new book. (Back then I didn’t even own a computer. Yeah, pen and paper . . . insane, I know.)

But after the blinding flashes of inspiration that had determined my earlier two heroes, I found myself painfully stuck. Who should I write about next? There were thousands upon thousands of saints out there, yet I had no clue whose story to tell. I went into a slump, spending a few years (yes, years) researching unusual and random saints. I experimented with outlines and wrote corny first chapters of countless holy people – everyone from St. Thomas Beckett’s parents, to King Sebastian of Portugal, to St. Gabriel Possenti, to St. Anthony of Padua, who isn’t obscure at all and shows how desperate I was getting. I wrote hundreds of ridiculous pages of Saint Dymphna, which ended up in the trash like everything else. Nothing worked. My writing career was over. With a heavy heart, I admitted defeat and gave up.

In the meantime, I went back to writing for a Catholic company that produced audio plays, which my husband and I had been involved with back in the 1990’s. While I never enjoyed writing plays in the same way I loved writing novels, it was still a creative way to pass a boring afternoon and earn a bit of extra spending money as well. At the time, all the rage in bookstores and movies seemed to be Vikings. Everywhere I looked were Vikings, Vikings, Vikings. Horned helmets, axes, and hammers of Thor stared at me from every video store and shop window. So, like everyone else in the world, I decided to cash in on the fad. (Awful, I know, but hey, business is business.) So I began an epic quest to find a Viking saint.

Easier said than done.

I discovered two. Only two. Saint Olaf of Norway, and Saint Magnus of Orkney, who isn’t TECHNICALLY a Viking, as he lived at the very tail end of the period. But he was close enough and less complicated than Saint Olaf, and besides, if ever a saint’s life held excitement and conflict, it had to be his. So I chose Saint Magnus. Or maybe he chose me. Either way, I whacked out an audio play and was stunned when I started receiving letters after its production. So many people wrote to tell me they loved the story, and requests poured in to adapt it into a novel. I didn’t take it seriously for a few more years, because I had gone back, yet again, to my idea of a book about Saint Dymphna (which still wasn’t working).

Eventually I did an author presentation at a school, where I learned that several of the boys had taken Saint Magnus as their confirmation patron after hearing the radio play, and one family even named their son after him. The students begged me to put Saint Magnus into a book, and that was the turning point, when I finally took it seriously. For the next several months I researched Saint Magnus in earnest, discovering to my horror that some of the facts in the audio play were way off the mark. I tweaked and changed and developed the characters fully, added more, loaded the story with battle scenes and adventure, and somehow ended up a year later with my third published book. It became a #1 new release on Amazon and I knew I had to keep going and write a fourth.

Again, easier said than done.

How I finally resurrected Saint Dymphna after years of failed attempts will be my last post in Theresa Linden’s wonderful blog. I hope you stay tuned. 🙂

Wow, I love to hear the reasons for all of Susan Peek’s stories! I can’t wait to hear about St. Dymphna!

My Review:

This story begins with the last will and testament of an 11th-century Norseman warrior, Thorfinn the Mighty. The opening scene sets the stage for the novel as the dying ruler makes a startling decision for the sake of the kingdom. The conflict begins here and never lets up. Peek pulls the reader from one tense moment to another. We go back in time and become witness to the dramatic trials Magnus endured and the sacrifices he made.

As the mother of three boys, ages twelve to fifteen, I can’t say enough about this book. My boys love to read and they enjoy saint stories, but Saint Magnus, The Last Viking appeals to them in ways no other saint books have. This is not a sterile retelling of the saint’s life. The characters leap off the page with energy my boys can relate to, keeping them completely engaged as the story of this saint unfolds.

With all the battles, fighting, and conflict, it’s obvious why this story appeals to boys, but I love it, too. As a writer, I thoroughly enjoy Peek’s powerful writing style and vivid descriptions. I marvel at her ability to develop every character in the story. Some lines and sections moved me so much that I found myself re-reading them for pure enjoyment.

Susan Peek’s inspired account of the life of Saint Magnus stirs up the desire to live as he did, with courage, perseverance, and brotherly love, faithful to God to the end. Peek has taken the life of this little-known saint whom time may have forgotten and whose story could’ve remained hidden, and she’s re-presented it to the modern Christian.

This book is not to be missed. I walk away from it knowing I will go back. The message of Saint Magnus’s life is a message for today and it remains with me even now. I can’t wait to step into my next Susan Peek book.

Visit Susan Peek and learn more about her and her books:

Website: http://www.susanpeekauthor.com

Goodreads author page

Amazon author page

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: Battle for His Soul

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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.

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?

website: www.theresalinden.com

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.

CathTeenBooks

Summer & Books: Crusader King

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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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Earlier this month, I asked author Susan Peek to tell readers why she wrote her first novel, A Soldier Surrenders: The Conversion of St. Camillus de Lellis. In this post, I asked her to share the story behind her second book, Crusader King: A Novel of Baldwin IV and the Crusades.

About the Book:

A new historical novel about the unusual life of King Baldwin IV of Jerusalem, the leper crusader king who – despite ascending to the throne at only 13, his early death at 24 and his debilitating disease – performed great and heroic deeds in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. Teenagers and avid readers of all ages will be amazed at this story and be inspired by a faith that accomplished the impossible!


Here is why Susan Peek chose this saint to write about:

A Soldier Surrenders was received with such enthusiasm that I realized with shock that I wasn’t the only person on the planet who was bored with long-winded, dull saint biographies containing lots of names, dates and facts, but with little – or no – excitement and action. So I made up my mind, then and there, to write more books. After my experience with Saint Camillus, I felt deeply drawn to researching and writing about heroes whom no one (or almost no one) had heard of. I also wanted to write stories that readers would find fun. An idea formed in my mind to focus on lives of little-known saints who had lived exciting lives.

Okay, so technically Baldwin isn’t a saint. At least not a canonized one (although he is considered Blessed in France, where many boys are named after him). But his life certainly was exciting, so he qualified on that point. I have always loved the Crusades and was searching for a crusading saint to write about. I considered the obvious, Saint Louis. Nah, didn’t work. I toyed with the monumental Godfrey de Bouillon, and gave some thought to Raymond of Toulouse. Neither of them worked either. Somehow none of those giant knights grabbed me by the throat with their steel gauntlets and shoved a sword against my neck, threatening me to write their story or else! No, they just meandered away, remounted their warhorses, and left me alone with no crusader to write about. Where was the knight whose story I HAD to tell? Who was he? Would he ever show up? I had no idea.

Then, like with Saint Camillus, Baldwin zapped me. I happened to run across a few pages in an out-of-print history text that mentioned him. I was immediately struck by this obscure saintly prince who not only ascended the throne of the crusading Kingdom of Jerusalem at age thirteen, but also happened to catch, of all things, the horrid disease of leprosy. Talk about a shocking twist in a story! Talk about a hero! Wow!

Amazingly, at first it didn’t even cross my mind to write a book about him. Instead, I spent many months looking for a book about him. I couldn’t find one anywhere. After awhile, I stopped hunting and forgot all about King Baldwin altogether.

Then, one evening in our church, I stopped to light a candle at my favorite side altar – one with the image of Our Lord’s Face from the Holy Shroud. My intention with the candle was to ask God to please let me know which book, if any, He desired me to write. As soon as I knelt before the Holy Face, a line from scripture jumped unbidden into my mind: “We have thought him as it were a leper, and as one struck by God and afflicted.” (Isaias 53:4) The text prophesied Christ’s Passion, of course, but in that instant I thought of Baldwin, the young leper prince, who hadn’t crossed my mind in months. I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that God was inspiring me to write his story.

I rushed home and, as I had done with Saint Camillus, snatched up pen and paper right there on the spot and started writing. Over the weeks, the story fell into place almost effortlessly. Research and ideas flowed at every turn. I completed the rough draft in six weeks of excitement, adrenaline, and not a few burnt meals. (My family teased me that all our meals were “Jerusalem food” since I spent all my time lost in the Holy Land instead of the kitchen, where a normal mom would be. The joke still stands to this day whenever I forget to take something out of the oven in time.) Although there remained many months of hard work ahead of me after that first draft, Crusader King was by far my easiest book to write.

With two books now published, my dream of being a real author was actually coming true. There was only one thing left for me to do. Write a third book.

But that is another blog post. 🙂

Here is a review from a teen boy’s perspective:

This review is from my 14-year-old son. “I really like Susan Peek’s writing style. I read the book in one day, then read it several times over the next few weeks. The way Baldwin perseveres despite his illness and struggles makes me want to imitate his example. This was an intriguing novel that I just couldn’t put down.”

Visit Susan Peek and learn more about her and her books:

Website: http://www.susanpeekauthor.com

Goodreads author page

Amazon author page

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: A Soldier Surrenders

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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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Author Susan Peek shares how she got to know about St. Camillus de Lellus and why she chose him to write about! Her answer is so amazing!

A Soldier Surrenders by Susan Peek

About the Book:

At last . . . a saint for strugglers! Soldiering, gambling, brawling, drinking. As a young man, Saint Camillus excelled at them all. Add to that his fiery temper and innate knack for getting in trouble, and Camillus de Lellis seems the last person who could ever achieve holiness! But God had plans for the stubborn young soldier, whether Camillus liked it or not . . .

“This novel for adult and young adult readers will introduce them to a great saint – a physical giant who had to contend with many personal struggles, much weakness, and repeated failures before he could become a moral giant. The story of Camillus de Lellis’ conversion will leave no reader unmoved, and those that feel hopeless about themselves will find new hope, a hero, and a friend in Christ.” – Michael O’Brien Bestselling Catholic Author.

Back in print by popular demand, this fast-paced and inspiring story of the wayward soldier-of-fortune who became an intrepid Soldier of Christ will appeal even to those who don’t normally like to read!


I asked author Susan Peek why she chose to write about this saint:

My special friendship with Saint Camillus, one of my absolute top buddies in Heaven, started three decades ago. The year 1986 found me a glowing, wide-eyed wannabe nun in a Carmelite cloister, and Saint Camillus existing as a mere name on the tattered page of my daily missal that popped up every July 18. Above his Mass readings, in tiny print requiring a magnifying glass to read, were typed the words: “St. Camillus was born in Italy. His youth was spent in dissipation but he was converted and gave himself to the service of the sick in the hospitals. He founded an Order which bears his own name. He died at Rome July 14, 1614. Pope Benedict XIV canonised him in 1746, Pope Leo XIII declared him patron of hospitals and infirmaries and inserted his name in the litany of the dying.” End of itty-bitty print. So every July 18, I would open that page, squint to read the tiny words, yawn, attend Mass, and inevitably forget about St. Camillus by the time I got my piece of dry toast for breakfast. He was just another . . . ahem, boring saint.

I imagine that most Catholics around the world treated him more or less the same way. He must have been fed up that so few people knew or loved him, because one day he zapped me. I remember the day perfectly. It was 1:30 in the afternoon, the time allotted for spiritual reading. I browsed the convent library, dismayed that every saint life I picked up seemed so, well . . . let’s be honest: Boring. I had already read the few exciting saint stories the small cloister library had to offer, and everything left on the shelves contained long lists of names, big words, tons of dates, and no action whatsoever. THEN . . . hidden behind a stack of dusty theological volumes, I spied a hardback book simply entitled “Saint Camillus.” Not even remembering his name from my tattered missal page with the minuscule print, I pulled it out, intrigued, wondering who this guy was. That book, literally, changed my life.

It was written as a novel, so immediately had dialogue and action. Camillus was far from holiness in chapter one – quite the lovable rogue, in fact. I was hooked. I read, engrossed, until the bell rang. It was hard to put down. Over the next several days, I found myself dying for spiritual reading time so that I could find out how this stubborn, proud, endearing young soldier was ever going to earn the accolade of “saint.” Finally I was enjoying – REALLY enjoying! – a saint book!

Then, half way through the book, he converted, became holy, was ordained a priest, and did all the usual boring stuff for the remaining 100 pages. The plot was gone. There was no reason left to root for him and worry about him, and my interest in the book waned.

(Maybe you can tell I wasn’t cut out to be a Carmelite nun. I wanted action-packed stuff. Excitement. Adventure. Not the typical things found in a cloister.)

Fast-forward to 1993. By then I had left the convent, gotten married, and was expecting my fourth child (who, by the way, is now a cloistered nun 🙂 ). Although I had always loved to write and secretly hoped my entire life to somehow become an author, the diapers and babies and duties of motherhood kept me far from my typewriter. Until one summer afternoon when I received a phone call that also changed my life. The man on the other end was a friend of my sister, and he was hoping to start a Catholic movie company. He had heard from big sis that I love to write. So he asked if I would consider writing a movie screenplay for him. Needless to say, I was blown away. “What do you want it to be about?” I asked. His answer, “Whatever you want to write about,” blew me away even more. It took me 30 seconds to decide. I wanted to write only one story – the conversion story of Saint Camillus (the bits BEFORE he became holy and, well, boring).

The next months were a flurry of excitement. Researching, writing, having a blast. My husband Jeff hopped on board and we actually wrote the movie together. My sister’s friend loved it, bought it, and started costumes, casting, producing, the whole nine yards. Then . . . he ran out of money. The project ground to a halt. Disappointment and apologies abounded. Everyone tried to accept God’s will. Seemed like Saint Camillus didn’t want to be known after all.

Later, my husband and I found an agent in New York who loved the screenplay but was unable to sell it. Unlike now, back in the 1990’s Catholic movies were all but non-existent. No producer was interested in a saint’s life for a movie.

The manuscript was henceforth stuffed in a bottom drawer and left to gather dust. Meanwhile, I had more babies, kept busy with more diapers, and forgot about the whole thing.

Until one day several years later. I woke up from a nap, literally, as if hit by a bolt of lightning. I jumped out of bed with the urgent thought, “Adapt it as a novel!” I felt it so strongly that I grabbed a pen and paper right then and there, and started writing.

By the end of the year, “A Soldier Surrenders: The Conversion of St. Camillus de Lellis” was not only published, but incorporated into the curriculum of a small Catholic school in Idaho. Humble beginnings, but it has since gone through four editions, been sold for foreign translation rights in Europe, and is now used in Catholic schools across the English-speaking world. And all because of a dusty book in a Carmelite library and a phone call from a wonderful man with a vision.

I truly believe Saint Camillus is a saint for everyone. He was not always holy. He struggled. He fought. He was a man with many vices and much to overcome. But he did it. He became a saint! And if he can do it, so can we!

Maybe someday he will zap you from Heaven too. He really is a friend worth getting to know!

My Review:

Within the first few pages of this story, I knew that this was a much needed story for our age. Children are not always raised in ideal situations. A parent dies. Or parents divorce. One parent may have faith, but the lifestyle and ideals of the other may be more appealing to the child. The parent with faith worries about the effects of the culture on the child.

St. Camillus’s mother was strong in her faith and tried to impart it to her son, but his father was a soldier and didn’t have much time for that. As a boy and young man, Camillus found his father’s ways more attractive. His mother died while he was young and as soon as he was able, he followed in his father’s footsteps by becoming a soldier.

This is not the end of the story but only the beginning. This story makes so clear the powerful message that Our Lord is always there, with each one of us, calling us to Himself and to holiness. Our Lord never gives up on us.

Maybe more so than other saints, the story of St. Camillus’s conversion gives hope to the person who struggles with weakness and sin. Camillus had a bad temper and a love of gambling. For the longest time, he did not see the value of faith or self-control. He may have recognized virtue in others but did not see it as a possibility for himself.

But God did not give up on him, just as He does not give up on any one of us. Like a good father, Our Lord allowed many sufferings to come to Camillus. And like so many of us, Camillus had to reach rock bottom before he could look up in faith.

While I enjoy the stories of saints who responded to the call of God at a very young age, St. Camillus is not that saint. In many ways, he is more relate-able. For those who struggle with sin or various addictions, who feel deeply the hardships of life, and who suffer from the consequences of their own actions, there is the story of St. Camillus de Lellis.

Peek’s fast-paced writing style is perfect for this story. She brings the reader right into the conflict, struggles, and agony Camillus endures. She weaves the action, thoughts, and emotions of characters together expertly. I also found myself deeply moved by the moments of grace and spiritual insight that came to him and the way his conversion unfolded.

I recommend this book to everyone who loves saint stories. You will not be able to put this book down. But I especially recommend it to the person who struggles or who feels he or she has fallen too far and is unable to reach that better way. There is hope for us all. Holiness is obtainable for anyone. God can do all things. St. Camillus de Lellis, pray for us.

Visit Susan Peek and learn more about her and her books:

Website: http://www.susanpeekauthor.com

Goodreads author page

Amazon author page

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: Roland West, Loner

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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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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.

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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?

website: www.theresalinden.com

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.

CathTeenBooks

Summer & Books: Treachery & Truth

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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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Good King Wenceslaus went out . . .  You know the song. You sing it at Christmas. Well, maybe you don’t sing, but you hear the song on the radio! But do you know the story behind the song? The story behind the man?

Treachery and Truth by Katy Huth Jones

About the Book:

Immersed in the historical background of the tenth century, this true tale of Good King Wenceslas, as told by his faithful servant Poidevin, brings the reader into the Dark Ages. Fear grips the land of Bohemia as the faithful face betrayal and persecution under the reign of the pagan Duchess Dragomira. As she struggles for power with the rightful heir, Prince Václav, her foes forge alliances in secret despite the risk of discovery. Who will survive?


I asked author Katy Huth Jones about her book:

I’d sung the Christmas carol “Good King Wenceslas” all my life but didn’t learn the whole story about the real historical person until 1990. When I realized how faithful, courageous, and bold this early tenth-century saint had been at such a young age (he won his first battle at age 14), and how brightly shone the light of his faith during those dark pagan times, I knew I had to know more and share his inspirational story with teen readers. I decided to write the novel from the point of view of his young servant, Poidevin, and use Wenceslas’ Czech name, Václav. In December 2016, my husband and I finally had the opportunity to visit Prague and see all the places, statues, and art that I had only researched.

As a writer, I’m jealous. I would love to be able to visit the places I write about. Katy Huth Jones has a few pictures to share with us from her trip.

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This is the famous statue in Wenceslas Square.

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Here we have a detail of a beautiful stained glass window in St. Vitus Cathedral, where Wenceslas is buried—that’s him as a boy praying with his grandmother, Saint Ludmila.

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Katy loves this mural of Saint Wenceslas because it shows him as a young teen, leading his army into battle.

Reviews:

I can’t wait to read Treachery and Truth. Judging by the description and reviews, I think my teen boys will love it too.

“In a time when so many people are searching for truth and trying to decide what to believe in, this historical novel offers a powerful example that may be especially important to our young people–a fine piece of writing from a gifted author.” ~ Amazon reviewer

“While it is written for teens, I enjoyed it immensely! I knew next to nothing about King Wenceslas/Vaclav nor Bohemian history. As seen through the eyes of his servant Poidevin, the reader glimpses the bravery, fortitude, humility, and generosity of Vaclav as well as the history of his life, political alliances, marriage, and death. His story also delivers beautiful messages about the meaning of suffering, fidelity to Christ, and loving our enemies.” ~Amazon reviewer

Visit Katy Huth Jones and learn more about her and her books:

Website/blog: http://katyhuthjones.blogspot.com

Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/KatyHuthJones/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KatyHuthJones

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2914315.Katy_Huth_Jones

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/piccolokate/

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