A to Z Blogging Challenge: Table of Contents

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I don’t know why I’m doing this, but I thought it would be nice to put all the A to Z blog posts together. I included a lot of writing tips that I (or someone else!) might want to refer to later. So here it is!

Blogging From #AtoZChallenge 2017: Angels in Fiction

Blogging from A to Z Challenge: Letter B is for Battle and Beauty

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

Blogging from A to Z Challenge: Letter D ~ Dystopia

A to Z Blogging Challenge: Z is for Zenith

And that’s it! Challenge won!

If you like to write and would like to see a post on a particular subject, let me know!

 

A to Z blogging Challenge: M is for Mystery

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“M” is for Mystery

What are your favorite genres? I love reading fiction with a hint of mystery. Books in the mystery genre often involve a mysterious death or has a crime to be solved. But sometimes a mystery can have a twist. And every good book, it seems to me, has that mysterious, unknown element that keeps you turning the pages.

A writer friend of mine, Judith White, writes 1940s detective mysteries, and she puts together a fun 1940s newsletter every month that is really worth checking out. You can follow her on Facebook too.

If you like a bit of faith with your mystery, here are some Catholic Fiction Mysteries you might enjoy:

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The Perfect Blindside by Leslea Wahl

Fresh off a championship medal, Jake Taylor’s parents have dragged him to a middle-of-nowhere town in Colorado, far from where he wants to be. Smart and savvy, Sophie has spent the summer before her junior year of high school avidly following Jake Taylor in every article she can find, but now she sees the “truth” behind the story — he’s really just a jerk. When the only thing they can see is each other’s flaws, how can Jake and Sophie work together to figure out what’s really been happening at the abandoned silver mine? Follow Sophie and Jake into secret tunnels as they unravel the mystery and challenge each other to become who God wants them to be.

bird18 Notes to a Nobody by Cynthia T. Toney

Wendy Robichaud doesn’t care one bit about being popular like good-looking classmates Tookie and the Sticks–until Brainiac bully John-Monster schemes against her, and someone leaves anonymous sticky-note messages all over school. Even the best friend she always counted on, Jennifer, is hiding something and pulling away. But the spring program, abandoned puppies, and high school track team tryouts don’t leave much time to play detective. And the more Wendy discovers about the people around her, the more there is to learn.When secrets and failed dreams kick off the summer after eighth grade, who will be around to support her as high school starts in the fall? 

7RiddlestoNowhere2-500x750-17 Riddles to Nowhere by A. J. Cattapan

Because of a tragic event that took place when he was five-years-old, seventh grader Kameron Boyd can’t make himself speak to adults when he steps outside his home. Kam’s mom hopes his new school will cure his talking issues, but just as he starts to feel comfortable, financial problems threaten the school’s existence. Then a letter arrives with the opportunity to change everything. Kam learns that he and several others have been selected as potential heirs to a fortune. He just has to solve a series of seven riddles to find the treasure before the other students. If he succeeds, he’ll become heir to a fortune that could save his school.The riddles send Kam on a scavenger hunt through the churches of Chicago.

a single bead (002)A Single Bead by Stephanie Engelman

On the anniversary of the plane crash that took the life of her beloved grandmother and threw her own mother into a deep depression, 16-year-old Katelyn Marie Roberts discovers a single bead from her grandmothers rosary-a rosary lost in the crash. A chance encounter with a stranger, who tells Katelyn that a similar bead saved her friends life, launches Katelyn and her family on a mysterious journey filled with glimmers of hope, mystical events and unexplained graces.

bf6a14_2c0c44a06b9f4fc6b7e1490d5b09c76a~mv2Mission Libertad by Lizette M. Lantigua

Crack the Biblical code in this story of suspense, adventure, discovery, and faith! Fact and fiction converge in this thrilling tale of 14-year old Luisito Ramirez—a courageous boy who daringly escapes from 1970s communist Cuba— as he becomes immersed in American culture, and carries out a secret religious mission under the eyes of spies. Integrating Spanish vocabulary and Cuban culture, this novel for ages 10-14 provides an exciting story of the Catholic faith lived out during turmoil.

I’ve read and loved three of these books and the other two are on my “to read” list. But I’ve heard good things about them.

Happy writing and happy reading!

 

A to Z blogging Challenge: L is for Loner

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“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.

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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

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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!

 

New Book Release by Carolyn Astfalk: Rightfully Ours

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A coming-of-age story of first love, buried treasure, and discovering some things are worth the wait.

Rightfully Ours Front (002)Title: Rightfully Ours

Publisher: Full Quiver Publishing

Blurb: Sixteen-year-old Paul Porter’s relocation to Pennsylvania is a temporary move during his dad’s deployment. Or so he and his brother think, until devastating news lands on their doorstep.

Paul’s new home with the Muellers provides solace, especially in the form of Rachel, his friend and confidante. Their abiding friendship deepens as they work side by side to uncover what could be lost treasure.

Will they acquire the strength of character and virtue to take only what rightfully belongs to them or are they in way over their heads, with more than a few lost artifacts at stake?

Excerpt:

An unexpected detour left them lost in the dark. Paul had been certain they were heading the right way, but the two-lane country roads they had traveled the last half hour had few markers, and his older brother questioned whether they had missed a junction sign. Paul’s grip tightened on the clumsily-folded map as he peered out window. Maybe Sean should drag his knuckles out of the Stone Age and get a GPS.

Paul had been anxious about this move more than the others, even though it would only be temporary. The claw-like limbs of the barren trees whizzing by his window made the whole ordeal seem even more foreboding. He’d never been through North Central Pennsylvania, but in the daylight, the mountains would probably be beautiful, if a little desolate.

 Its only for a few months. By spring, Dad would be home, and things would go back to normal. Normal for them anyway. Besides, maybe he’d like it here.

Read more by clicking here!

Goodreads listing: Check out the Goodreads Giveaway!

Amazon Pre-Order/Buy Link  (Kindle only; paperback coming Easter week)

Check out the Book Trailer!

Extras: http://www.carolynastfalk.com/category/extras/

About the author:carolyn

Carolyn Astfalk resides with her husband and four children in Hershey, Pennsylvania, where it smells like either chocolate or manure, depending on wind direction. She is the author of the inspirational romances Stay With Me and Ornamental Graces and the coming-of-age story Rightfully Ours. Carolyn is a member of the Catholic Writers Guild and Pennwriters and a CatholicMom.com contributor. Formerly, she served as the communications director of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, the public affairs agency of Pennsylvania’s Catholic bishops. True to her Pittsburgh roots, she still says “pop” instead of “soda,” although her beverage of choice is tea. You can find her online at www.carolynastfalk.com.

Social media links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CarolynMAstfalk

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CMAstfalk

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

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+CarolynAstfalk

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/c/CarolynAstfalk

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/carolynastfalk

Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/user/show/3428010-carolyn

Instagram: https://instagram.com/cmastfalk/

Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/1FyiK1v

Facebook Launch Party: Tuesday, April 4, 2017, 7:30 – 8:30 p.m. DST

Tour Schedule:

Monday, April 3         Virginia Lieto http://virginialieto.com
Tuesday, April 4        Bird Face Wendy https://birdfacewendy.wordpress.com
Wednesday, April 5  Plot Line and Sinker https://ellengable.wordpress.com
Thursday, April 6     Sarah Damm http://sarahdamm.com and Our Hearts are Restless heartsarerestless.blogspot.com
Friday, April 7           FranciscanMom.com http://franciscanmom.com
Saturday, April 8      Olivia Folmar Ard http://www.oliviafolmarard.com
Sunday, April 9         Things Visible & Invisible https://catholicbooksblog.wordpress.com/
Monday, April 10     Terry’s Thoughts www.thouchin.com and Erin McCole Cupp  http://erinmccolecupp.com
Thursday, April 11    Peace to All Who Enter Here dmulcare.wordpress.com
Wednesday, April 12 Plot Line and Sinker https://ellengable.wordpress.com

 

Blogging from A to Z Challenge: Letter G ~ Guam

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“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 F ~ Founding Fathers

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F is for Founding Fathers

When God made me, He decided when I’d come into the world and where. He chose the year 1966 and He chose America. According to some statistics, a billion children live in poverty today, 400 million do not have safe access to water, and 1.4 million die from poor sanitation. And of the 194 countries in the world, forty-nine are under dictatorships. 36% of the world population does not have freedom. And another 24% has only partial freedom.

But I was born here. And I am proud to be an American. While our country isn’t perfect, I believe it was founded on solid principles that were designed to protect our freedoms and God-given rights, and give us every opportunity for success.

Our Founding Fathers had strong faith. I wish more in government office had similar faith, courage, and humility. The proud and arrogant push their own agenda, which inevitably leads to destruction. But the humble, those who readily admit they cannot do it alone and who turn to the Lord and Giver of all victory, bring blessings to the land.

Here’s a quote from George Washington:

“Thursday the seventh Instant, being set apart by the Honourable the Legislature of this province, as a day of fasting, prayer, and humiliation, to implore the Lord, and Giver of all victory, to pardon our manifold sins and wickedness’s, and that it would please him to bless the Continental Arms, with his divine favour and protection’ – All Officers, and Soldiers, are strictly enjoined to pay all due reverence, and attention on that day, to the sacred duties due to the Lord of hosts, for his mercies already received, and for those blessings, which our Holiness and Uprightness of life can alone encourage us to hope through his mercy to obtain.”

                             ~General Orders, March 6, 1776

The Founding Fathers believed in freedom. One of my favorite quotes is by Patrick Henry, from his Speech to the Virginia Convention at St. John’s Church, Richmond, Virginia, March 25, 1775

“Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God. I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

I have a shirt with this quote on it. It makes me think how tragic it is when we try to compromise with evil to get things we want, including so-called peace and even life. Did you know that according to the Vatican some 100,000 Christians are murdered for their faith every year? This far surpasses the numbers during the Roman Empire persecutions.

Having never been tested, I do not know if I have the courage of the martyrs or of our service men and women to lay down my life for the faith, for our country, to save another, or for what is right. But I hope I do. I hope to always have the strength to be on the side of truth and goodness and to allow no compromise.

So what does it take to secure freedom? Here is a quote by Samuel Adams:

“If virtue and knowledge are diffused among the people, they will never be enslaved. This will be their great security.”             

                      ~Letter to James Warren, February 12, 1779

Not just knowledge, but virtue and knowledge. I pray for an increase of faith and for “holiness and uprightness of life” in our country that we may receive those blessings that the “Lord and Giver of all victory” has prepared for us.

Remember, everyone who is reading this blog, you were made for this time and this place. God has a purpose for you.

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