New YA Short Story Anthology ~ Secrets: Visible & Invisible

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This collection of short stories for young adults came out on July 4th, the feast day of blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati! It is CatholicTeenBooks.com‘s FIRST anthology of short stories, and I am so excited to have a story in it!

In this blog post, I’ll share a bit about the book–including the book trailer, advanced reviews, author bios, and opportunities to win your very own copy of the book! #GIVEAWAY


Secrets: Visible & Invisible

by Corinna Turner, Cynthia T. Toney, Theresa Linden, Susan Peek, T.M. Gaouette, Carolyn Astfalk, and Leslea Wahl

SecretsSecret (n.) – something kept hidden from knowledge or view; a mystery.

  • In a dystopian future, an innocent picnic turns deadly!
  • Elijah knows nothing of an elderly stranger’s secret past—until her disappearance changes everything.
  • A mysterious, ever-changing painting alarms a group of teens.
  • A cannonball took Dario’s legs . . . Will he lose his soul too?
  • The arrival of a mysterious girl challenges everything about Jason’s life.
  • An unlicensed driver. His dad’s truck. What could possibly go wrong?
  • An old tale of murder and forbidden love leads to a modern-day treasure hunt.

“For nothing is hid that shall not be made manifest, nor anything secret that shall not be known and come to light.” (Luke 8:17 RSV-CE)

BOOK TRAILER

GIVEAWAYS

Chance #1:  Enter here through Shower of Roses Blog

Chance #2:  Enter here through Catholic Teen Books


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ADVANCE REVIEWS

“There is a little something for everyone in Secrets, a short-story anthology for Catholic teens. Seven authors cover an array of genres, including dystopian, historical fiction, and romance, while masterfully developing interesting characters and meaningful storylines. Faith is thoughtfully woven into the plots that also creatively incorporate mystery, intrigue, and heart-felt emotion. Fans of these Catholic teen authors will appreciate reading new stories about familiar characters. And first-time readers will be eager to read more in the full-length novels by their new favorite authors.”

Sarah Damm, mom of 6 and writer at sarahdamm.com


“This anthology of short stories for Catholic teenagers is a true literary treasure. It provides genres for every type of reader, each so well written that the reader is invited to fully escape into many different worlds and places. The short stories will take its readers to dystopian Europe, high school hallways, a city block in summer, and a soldier’s medical ward in 16th-century Italy, just to name a few. The characters are diverse, exciting, relatable; their adventures are accessible, mysterious and enthralling. But within these different settings, there is one uniting comfort: God is always there, whether revealed in a desperate prayer to a guardian angel, through pure romantic love, the presence of Christian charity, men and women religious, or within the sacraments. The hope that comes through Catholicism and Jesus prevails in each vignette, and yet there is still heavy doses of drama, suspense and tactful violence. So if your teen seems totally spaced out and properly engrossed, take courage knowing their love of reading and their love of the faith is being fed through these beautiful stories.”

Regina Lordan for Catholic News Service


“This anthology of Catholic fiction for teens will introduce readers to seven diverse authors. Many of these stories, in a variety of genres but linked by a common theme, offer a peek at characters from full-length novels. Readers already acquainted with these authors will enjoy new perspectives on favorite characters. Kudos to CatholicTeenBooks.com and these seven authors for dreaming up this excellent collection.”

Barb Szyszkiewicz, OFS, Editor, CatholicMom.com and Managing Editor, Today’s Catholic Teacher magazine


“Featuring seven fabulous stories from top authors in Catholic teen fiction, Secrets is as entertaining as it is relevant and thought-provoking. It’s sure to capture your imagination, move your emotions, and stir your soul. Teens and adults alike are sure to enjoy the variety of tales, which are cleverly united by themes of secrets and faith. Packed with powerful, meaningful, memorable stories, this anthology is so good, you won’t be able to keep Secrets to yourself!”

Therese Heckenkamp, Christian suspense author of bestseller Frozen Footprints


“Seven Amazing Secrets . . . At a time when so much entertainment and fiction for teens is saturated with envy, lust, pride and other moral toxins, the book Secrets: Visible and Invisible is a powerful, and FUN-to-read, virtue-rich alternative. The talented team of authors behind CatholicTeenBooks.com have created the perfect way for readers to enjoy a taste of fresh new fiction that satisfies a deep hunger in the teen soul. Teens . . . you need to get your Catholic parents, grandparents, or teachers to get this book for you. Really. You’ll be glad you did.”

Cathy Gilmore, Founder/Executive Director of VirtueWorksMedia.com


“I knew I was in for some great reading when I picked up this collection. What I was not prepared for was how exceptional this collection was. . . . Every story was a remarkable story. Some of the stories were so good, I immediately went back and reread just that story. And then when I finished the book, I reread the whole thing again a few days later. I have a great deal of respect for the seven authors who contributed to this series. And even more so after reading their pieces in this collection.”

Steven R. McEvoy, blogger at Book Reviews & More


“Know a teen reader looking for a book filled with the unexpected? Look no further than Secrets: Visible & Invisible an anthology of 7 short stories from CatholicTeenBooks.com. From tales of bicycles to cars and even a saint standing on the threshold of the “dark side”, there’s plenty here for teen readers to sink their teeth into.”

Pete Socks, The Catholic Book Blogger


BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE

July 4:  Steve R. McEvoy, Book Reviews and More

July 5:  Leslea Wahl, Leslea Wahl

July 6:  Barb Szyszkiewicz, FranciscanMom

July 7:  Shower of Roses, Shower of Roses

July 8:  Carolyn Astfalk, My Scribbler’s Heart

July 9:  Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur, Spiritual Woman

              Sarah Damm, Sarah Damm

July 10:  Corinna Turner, Unseen Books

July 11:  Christina Weigand, Palace of Twelve Pillars

July 12:   Theresa Linden, Things Visible & Invisible

July 13:   T.M. Gaouette, T.M. Gaouette

July 14:   Karina Fabian, Fabianspace

July 16:   Therese Heckenkamp, Therese Heckenkemp

July 17:    Ellen Gable Hrkach, Plot Line & Sinker

                  CatholicMom, CatholicMom

July 18:    Virginia Lieto, Virginia Lieto


AUTHOR BIOS

CORINNA TURNER is the author of the I Am Margaret series for young adults, as well as stand-alone works such as Drive! and Elfling (for teens) and Someday (for older teens and adults). All of her novels have received the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval (except new releases for which the Seal may be in process).Liberation (‘I Am Margaret’ Book 3) was nominated for the Carnegie Medal Award 2016 and won 3rd place for ‘Teen and Young Adult Fiction’ in the Catholic Press Association 2016 Book Awards. I Am Margaret was one of two runners-up for the ‘Teenage and Children’s Fiction’ Catholic Arts and Letters Award 2016.

Corinna Turner is a Lay Dominican with an MA in English from Oxford University, and lives in the UK. She has been writing since she was fourteen and likes strong protagonists with plenty of integrity. She used to have a Giant African Land Snail called Peter with a 6½” long shell—which is legal in the UK!—but now makes do with a cactus and a campervan. You can find out more at www.IAmMargaret.com.

CYNTHIA T. TONEY writes for preteens and teens because she wants them to know how wonderful, powerful, and valuable God made them. Her novels employ hope and humor to address some of the serious issues young people encounter.

Cynthia is the author of the Bird Face contemporary series, including 8 Notes to a Nobody, 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status, 6 Dates to Disaster, and soon, 3 Things to Forget. A coming-of-age historical, The Other Side of Freedom, is set in a 1920s farming community. Her novels have appeared on numerous Catholic bloggers’ Top 5, 10, or 20 book lists and favorites lists. They have also been featured in Catholic Teacher magazine.

She is a member of the Catholic Writers Guild and whichever author association or writing guild is available in the state in which she might currently reside, which so far has stretched across the southern U.S. to Texas. She has a passion for rescuing dogs from animal shelters and lives with her husband and several canines. She loves hearing from readers, who can connect with her through her website, www.CynthiaTToney.com.

THERESA LINDEN is the author of the Chasing Liberty dystopian trilogy and the West Brothers series, including Catholic Press Association award-winners Roland West, Loner and Battle for His Soul. She resides in Ohio with her husband and their three teen sons. A Secular Franciscan and a member of the Catholic Writers Guild, her faith inspires the belief that there is no greater adventure than the realities we can’t see, the spiritual side of life. She hopes that her stories will spark her readers’ imaginations and awaken them to the power of faith and grace. Learn more about her and find her social media links at www.TheresaLinden.com.

SUSAN PEEK is the author of the young adult series, God’s Forgotten Friends: Lives of Little-known Saints. All of her novels received the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval and are used in Catholic schools across the English-speaking world. The King’s Prey: Saint Dymphna of Ireland was voted one of the Top 10 Best Catholic Books of 2017 and Crusader King was listed with The 50 Best Catholic Homeschooling Books of 2013. Although Susan’s first love is writing for teens, she’s also authored several children’s books.

Susan is a Third Order Franciscan and mother of eleven children, including two in the Religious life and a son in the U.S. Air Force. She lives in Kansas, where she usually has her nose in a book, finding obscure saints to write about.

You can visit her at www.SusanPeekAuthor.com.

T. M. GAOUETTE is the author of the Faith & Kung Fuseries for young adults, as well as The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch. A member of the Catholic Writers Guild, her novels Freeing Tanner Roseand Saving Faith have received the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval. (Others are in the process). Born in Africa, raised in London, England, Gaouette now lives on a small farm in New England with her husband where she home-schools her four children and raises goats.

A former contributor on Project Inspired, she now writes fiction for teens and young adults. Her desire is to instill the love of God into the hearts of her readers. You can find out more at www.TMGaouette.com.

CAROLYN ASTFALK writes from The Sweetest Place on Earth, Hershey, Pennsylvania, where she lives with her husband and four children. In addition to her contemporary Catholic romances (sometimes referred to as Theology of the Body fiction), including the young adult coming-of-age story Rightfully Ours, she writes for CatholicMom.com and Today’s Catholic Teacher. When she’s not washing dishes, doing laundry, or reading, you can find her blogging about books, family life, and faith at www.CarolynAstfalk.com.

LESLEA WAHL lives in beautiful Colorado with her husband and children. The furry, four-legged members of her family often make cameo appearances in her novels. Leslea’s writing career began when she was searching for faith-inspired books for her own children and the idea for her first novel popped into her head. That divine inspiration has led to a successful writing ministry that she hopes encourages teens to grow in their faith through fun adventures. For more information about her faith-filled young adult mysteries, visit www.LesleaWahl.com.


SOCIAL MEDIA

Find all of these authors and others at: CatholicTeenBooks.com.

On Facebook, join the Books for Catholic Teens Group. On Instagram, follow Books for Catholic Teens.


GIVEAWAYS

In case you skipped over them, I’m putting them here again:

Chance #1:  Enter here through Shower of Roses Blog

Chance #2:  Enter here through Catholic Teen Books

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Release Day for the Liberty Trilogy!

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In two weeks her vocation begins.

She must find a way out.

Liberty 554-062466-84 of Aldonia grew up knowing that one day she, along with every member of society, must contribute to the greater good. She’s been measured, tested, and examined all her life, and now they’ve matched her to a vocation. They want her attributes—intelligence, beauty, health—to pass on to the next generation.

Life begins in the laboratory, making the family obsolete. Using top specimens, scientists create and implant only the best into the fittest women. Every girl in Aldonia wishes she had this vocation because of the alleged bonuses and privileges that come with it. But Liberty does not want to be a Breeder.

As the day draws near, Liberty is attacked. She’s about to lose consciousness when someone rescues her. She wakes in an underground facility, discovering a secret group that watches over Aldonia. Before they return her to society, she witnesses the rescue of a man scheduled for government re-education. They rescued him. They can rescue her.

Set in the not-so-distant future, the Liberty trilogy is a young adult story about a woman who wants to direct her own life, instead of having it controlled by the government. This novel explores the loss the individual faces when government is allowed to grow too big and reach too far. The traditional family is nonexistent. Human life loses value. The earth is elevated above man.

The books are available now as paperback or ebook on Amazon or through your favorite bookseller.

Chasing Liberty

Testing Liberty

Fight for Liberty

Bound to Find Freedom ~FREE short story connected to the trilogy

Congratulations to Michelle! She won a complete set of the Liberty trilogy!


Author Happiness!

Dear readers, you are my inspiration! I didn’t realize how much fun the contest was going to be for me as the author. But I have so enjoyed reading all the comments. I’ll share some of them here:

“I have read this series and I couldn’t put it down! I describe it to my friends as a Catholic version of the “Divergent” series. Dedrick is definitely swoon-worthy! LOVE the new book covers!” ~Cathy

“I love this series! So exciting that they’ll be re-released with such awesome new covers!” ~Susan

“I know my daughter would love this series!” ~Heather

“I love reading your books! I’ve just started Anyone But Him. I have been timid to read the trilogy because I wondered if it would be too depressing but after reading your blog, I’m ready to expand my horizons” ~Andy

“I enjoyed reading this trilogy so much! (I am so glad you decided to write a trilogy and didn’t stop with the first book! I so needed the next two in the series, especially the third!!!) I know I will reread the series again, as I miss reading about characters like Dedrick and Liberty. What better way to reread the trilogy than with the new covers?!” ~Anna

“I love the new covers. I adore a good Catholic dystopian. I want these for myself and look forward to sharing them with my 3 children.” ~Jillian

“This trilogy sounds so good! I am definitely putting it on my to-read list and adding to our homeschool book list for this year for my 9th and 11th graders! We are going to be working on American History and government over the next 12 months so I feel like this could be interesting to add to the topics in our discussions.” ~OurRominCatholicLife

“I love Dystopian fiction. Adding faith into the mix makes it even better.” ~Nicole

“This Tirlogy not only capivated my teen but also me. Your wording in this article is everything I have been trying to exclaim to others about dystopian but fail for lack of words. You have a very eloquent way with them. I long for great dystopian fiction and you hit the nail on the head, evoking emotions and feelings like none other, creating in me a desire to seek out truth and become the person God intends me to be. I pray you will be writing for years to come!” ~Danielle

“I have to admit your 5 points persuaded me to take a look at your books for my daughter.” ~Margaret


book signingAbout the author:

Theresa Linden is the author of award-winning Battle for His Soul and Roland West, Loner (Catholic Press Association Book Awards, 2016 & 2017). Raised in a military family, she developed a strong patriotism and a sense of adventure. Her Catholic faith inspires the belief that there is no greater adventure than the reality we can’t see, the spiritual side of life. She has eight published novels, including a fast-paced dystopian trilogy that tackles tough moral questions of our day, and two short stories in Image and Likeness: Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body (Full Quiver Publishing). She holds a Catechetical Diploma from Catholic Distance University and is a member of the Catholic Writers Guild and the International Writers Society. A wife, homeschooling mom, and Secular Franciscan, she resides in northeast Ohio with her husband and three teenage boys.

A World Such as Heaven Intended by Amanda Purcell Lauer

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I am happy to share this book by fellow Catholic Writers Guild member Amanda Purcell Lauer. She is an incredibly gifted writer and if you enjoy historical fiction, you are sure to love this book!

“Follow Amara and Nathan’s story from war-torn Atlanta to the plains of Texas as their lives connect in a way that shatters the separate worlds they once knew.”

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Summary:

Amara McKirnan and Nathan Simmons share a devotion to their Catholic faith but their loyalties lie on opposite sides of the conflict. Dedicated to the Confederate cause, Amara offers to help out at her uncle’s makeshift hospital in Atlanta. Fate brought Nathan to their doorstep and into Amara’s life. Little does Amara know that the wounded soldier she cares for harbors a secret that will not only jeopardize his life but hers as well.

Follow Amara and Nathan’s story from the heart of war-torn Atlanta to the Northern Georgia battlefields to the plains of East Texas as their lives become intertwined in a way that shatters the separate worlds they once knew.

Awards: “A World Such As Heaven Intended” is a 2016 CALA award winner.

Excerpt:

Amara began to cough, trying to dislodge the swamp water from her lungs. It took her several minutes before her voice and energy came back to her. She then started to wriggle to get out of Nathan’s arms. “Where in God’s name were you?” she sputtered, breaking free from him. “Didn’t you see that dog had a gun pointed at my head?”

“I was well aware of that fact. I was biding my time, ready to make a move when the opportune moment presented itself.”

“Would that have been before or after I was shot, drowned or eaten by an alligator?”

“It would have never come to that. I had everything under control.”

“Under control, my foot.” Amara stomped over to the fire and started kicking dirt over the flames. “Next time why don’t we let you go for a swim in alligator-infested waters with a madman who has a gun stuck in your neck, and I’ll watch from the safety of the trees,” she screeched.

“Would you promise to save me?” asked Nathan sweetly.

“Oh, everything would be under control, trust me,” said Amara sarcastically.

“Let me think on that,” said Nathan with a laugh. He adjusted the packs on the horse and then offered to help Amara up. She slapped at his hand and mounted unassisted. Easing himself up behind her, he couldn’t help but lean towards her and ask, “Were you really eyeballin’ me up?”

“The only one who’s going to be eyeballin’ you up is that gator when you fall off this horse,” said Amara irritably. She dug her heels into the horse’s flanks and the surprised animal shot off, causing Nathan to tighten his grip on her waist to keep his seat.

“You’re not going to lose me that easily, Miz Amara.”

Bio:

Wisconsin resident Amanda Lauer saw her debut novel published October 29, 2014. A World Such as Heaven Intended hit the no. 1 spot in its genre on Amazon two months later and was the 2016 YA CALA winner. The second book in the trilogy, A Life Such as Heaven Intended, was published April 1, 2018. A Love Such as Heaven Intended is scheduled to be published November, 2018. Lauer has been offered a contract from a Catholic movie production studio based in Los Angeles to bring A World Such as Heaven Intended to the big screen. They are in the pre-production stage of the film and are actively seeking out investors to help bring the production to life.

Lauer learned the technical aspects of writing as a proofreader in the insurance, newspaper and collegiate arenas. Over the last 14 years she has had more than 1,400 articles published in newspapers and magazines throughout the United States. In addition to her proofreading, copy editing and writing career, Lauer is involved in the health and wellness field and does commercial acting and modeling. She and her husband John have been married 37 years, have four grown children, a son-in-law and daughter-in-law, four adorable grandchildren and another one on its way.

Website: fullquiverpublishing.com

Blog: https://aworldsuchasheavenintended.wordpress.com/

Twitter handle: @amandalauer23

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/amandapurcelllauer/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/amanda.p.lauer

YouTube Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1kbKpBNHv8

Amanda Lauer’s business website: KangenWisconsin.com

Buy Links:
https://tinyurl.com/yalsckdb Amazon
https://tinyurl.com/ycfacwfj Barnes & Noble

Why to buy:

Do you want to support Catholic arts? A World Such as Heaven Intended has an offer from a Catholic movie studio based in Los Angeles to turn this award-winning novel into a major motion picture. Every book sold brings more attention to this poignant Civil War love story. If we can make this novel a national bestseller, that momentum should help us find the investors we need to bring this project to reality.

With all the issues in which Hollywood is currently embroiled, the American public is clamoring for excellent films made by moral production teams that feature large-draw actors who are known for their talent and not their scandals. People are looking to be entertained with movies that harken back to the Golden Age of Hollywood — a good, old-fashioned story that will “make them laugh, make them cry, and move them.”A World Such as Heaven Intended will do precisely that.

We invite you to join us in bringing excitement, joy, laughter, and love to moviegoers worldwide by investing in our film, A World Such as Heaven Intended. You have a chance to make a lasting difference in millions of lives.

Thank you for your consideration. We’ll see you on the red carpet!

5 Reasons We Need Dystopian Fiction

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Before I begin… While I believe dystopian fiction is important (and thus I wrote the Chasing Liberty trilogy) my trilogy is now unavailable in paperback. If you are dying to own a copy of the trilogy today, there is only one way to get it. You’ll have to contact me! I have two complete sets that I can autograph and send to you. I’ll explain more later about that and a giveaway.

Do you find dystopian fiction to be exciting and adventurous or depressing? Or maybe it’s a bit of both.

I find it invigorating and inspirational to follow a lead character who recognizes something is wrong with the world–with the culture–and who is willing to do something about it despite the personal costs. We do not live in a perfect world and we each have a responsibility to do something about it.

Reason #1: Dystopian fiction can be inspiring. It can motivate a person to take a hard look at the world around them and encourage them to make a difference.

So while my trilogy is currently unavailable (in paperback) I am excited to announce that it will soon be re-released. I’ve revisited the stories and the characters (Dedrick, Liberty, Dr. Supero…) and brought them alive again in my mind. And I can’t wait to share the new covers and some special opportunities.

If you read through to the end of this, I’m also going to ask you to do something. And I’ll tell you about a chance to win the new trilogy.

Before I give reason #2 for why we need dystopian fiction, I’d like to share how this trilogy came about… because I never really planned to write a dystopian.

I was in the middle of writing and rewriting another book when inspiration for the Liberty trilogy struck. It wasn’t a single factor so much as a compilation of things that bothered me. I’d been watching and reading the news…

  • Scientists are experimenting on human embryos (Is nothing sacred? Where do we draw the line?)
  • Special interest groups insist that tiny fish are more important than farming families (Look it up if you don’t believe me!)
  • Other groups radically push the population-control agenda (Who cares that every person on the planet could fit into the state of Texas with over a thousand square feet per person?–Do the math.)
  • We all know that we can be tracked with our phones, and our cars, and through every online search and action. (I’m still shocked every time I see random ads in my FB feed for bizarre things that I research for stories.)
  • And who doesn’t notice and lament the moral decline our culture is experiencing?

I love our country and don’t want to see her fall. But if we lose focus on the things that matter—faith, family, and freedom—we’ll go the way of Rome and every other once-glorious nation.

Reason #2: Dystopian fiction can help us to realize what we have, what is valuable to us, and what we stand to lose.

So love of my fellow man and my country prompted me to throw myself into research, and I discovered actual special-interest groups that are influential in our country and the world. All the warped ideologies in my story come from this research. Yes, there are actual groups that think humans are the scourge of the earth.

The more I learned, the more I realized I needed to write this dystopian story about a possible future for America.

Reason #3: Dystopian fiction can help us to visualize, draw conclusions, and consider where we are headed if we continue down the same path.

I only meant to write one book and return to my other stories. I wanted to end Chasing Liberty by 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? Can one person possibly make a difference? The other two stories in this trilogy came to life very quickly.

The Liberty trilogy is set in the near future. The technology, science, and ideologies are real. The main character, Liberty, has grown up in a society that has done away with faith, family, and freedom. Needless to say, the average citizen’s concept of right and wrong is sorely lacking.

We see this every day, on the news and in our neighborhoods and schools. The sense of right and wrong has diminished considerably, even compared to ten years ago.

And while this is true, it is also true that God is not dead. God does not sleep or hide. He continues to offer His gifts, His truth, and holiness to those who long for it.

Raised in this godless society that has elevated the earth above man, Liberty had never learned about God and moral truth. Yet she has a moral compass that guides her.

We all have this moral compass, even though we often ignore it. Liberty doesn’t ignore it. Her choices make life harder for her at times, and she definitely stands out among her peers, but she wants to be faithful to the inner voice. And this makes a huge difference in her life.

Reason #4: Dystopian fiction shows that no matter how dark the world around us becomes, we each still have that inner voice and it’s important to follow it–not just important for our own life, but for the world around us.

Teens and adults have responded to the characters in this book and to the themes of the trilogy. It’s been called an action-packed thrill ride, phenomenal, and a must-read.

“Chasing Liberty by Theresa Linden is a futuristic look at what our culture might become if we keep on the same trajectory as we are presently heading. Though I dearly hope we have enough sense and compassion to avoid such a catastrophe, I can connect the dots which drew the picture Linden is pointing to. As in the books, 1984 and Brave New World, where the authors pointed to an extreme version of the worst elements in society, the danger is real, even if only in part. Such authors speak to us through fiction and remind us of an important truth about ourselves.”       ~Ann Frailey, novelist and screenwriter

This trilogy is aimed at young people, new adults, and adults who enjoy a character-driven story and a thought-provoking plot. It is also very relevant to today.

While some books recommended for young adults contain content that you wouldn’t want your teens to read, these do not. I wanted to write something that anyone could enjoy. My mom has even read and loved them! I won’t post her reviews though, because she might be partial. 🙂 But I will share one more review and then I’d like to show you a new book cover!

“I just finished the book, it was excellent. It is a hypothetical of what could happen to this country and the world when government controls you from cradle to grave and how a young woman by the name of Liberty is chasing just that liberty and freedom. It is a must read as this book takes you further in what happens to a society that is government run than the book Agenda 21 by Harriet Parke and Glenn Beck.”   ~Joe Goldner, co-host at The Truth Is Out There-Voice of the People Radio Show!

The trilogy will be re-released with the new covers June 27, 2018. The ebooks are available now but the paperbacks are not. Remember, I have on hand two autographed sets of the trilogy with the original covers, which I will offer at a reduced price. Contact me here.

And now… here is one of the new covers:

Chasing Liberty Front Cover

If you want to see the other two covers, visit my author website. You can probably also find them on Amazon because the ebooks seem to be available now, even though I’ve set the release date as June 27th.

This trilogy starts off pretty gloomy, I admit, but it ends on a note of hope and encouragement. Like Frodo in the Lord of the Rings and Mother Teresa on the streets of Calcutta, one person can truly make a difference in the world.

Reason #5: A good dystopian fiction brings home the message that you are responsible for the culture and you can make a difference in your own unique way.

 

Thank you for reading this through to the end. And now I’ve got a challenge for you.

Can you imagine if every person in the world stepped outside, picked up a piece of garbage, and threw it away? In some neighborhoods you might not have far to walk to find it, but others you would. But with that one effort, imagine how much cleaner our world would be.

But how do you change a dark culture that has allowed science and technology to advance without comparable developments in ethics, that has allowed a government to grow too big and controlling, that has allowed morals to fall so low that faith is no longer welcome in many situations?

 

I challenge you to do something.

  • Pray. It’s easy. You can do it anywhere, anytime, and for any reason. Remember God is always in control and He is waiting for us to turn to Him.
  • Be holy. Make the right choices every day, even if it leads to a few inconveniences. Think of the example you set for others!
  • Speak up. Talk to people about important issues. Even if you don’t agree, respectful dialog can accomplish a lot.
  • Share my trilogy! Don’t you think that’s a great idea? Or at least share this blog post if you think it makes a good point others need to hear.
  • If you’re a parent, educate your children about important issues. Talk about them often.
  • Be a responsible citizen, not just by voting but by staying informed and making your voice heard on important issues. Write editorials and blog posts!
  • Show your faith. Live your faith. Stand up for values.
  • And don’t underestimate the power of fiction. Stories are the basic way we make sense of our world. Unconsciously, our brains organize the information we receive every day in essentially the same form as a story. (I have more to say on this but I’ll share it another time).

And now, I leave you with a quote from Saint Catherine of Siena. This young woman who lived in the Middle Ages influenced popes, cardinals, and princes. She negotiated peace between countries, wrote books on spiritual matters, and was declared a Doctor of the Church.

Saint Catherine of Siena did all this before her death at age thirty-three.

be who God meant

You can contact me or sign up for my author newsletter here.

If you’ve read this trilogy already, please let me know what you think of it! And if you have someone you’d like to share it with, let me know that too. Share it in the comments for your chance to win a complete set of the trilogy with the new covers. #DystopianTrilogy #Giveaway #CommentToWin

Contest details: simply comment on this blog post and you are entered to win. Winner will be selected by Contest Winner Picker on the release date: Wednesday, June 27th. The winner will be announced in my newsletter and on my blog. The three books of the trilogy will be shipped to the winner within a day or two after that!

Please spread the word! Thank you!


Today is the release day and we have a #WINNER: Michelle Crosbie!!!

Congratulation, Michelle! I will get the complete trilogy in the mail to you as soon as possible! You commented that you think the trilogy would be perfect for your son. I hope he enjoys it!

Books that Touch on Life Issues: by Carolyn Astfalk

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Guest Post by Carolyn Astfalk, Inspirational Romance Author

Because fiction excels at creating empathy, books that involve deeply personal, emotionally-intense issues help readers consider situations in a whole new light. Over the years, I’ve read many books that touch on life issues – both at its beginning and end. These books are ones that touch on abortion and related life issues.

The reviews may not even mention abortion, as these aren’t “message” books but rather novels that skillfully weave life issues into the plot. Beneath the reviews are several other books that merit being included, but for which I did not post a review. (There was actually a time when I didn’t review almost everything I read! I also haven’t reviewed my own book, for obvious reasons.)

And finally, there are four dystopian series listed, which were also included in the end-of-life post. I hope you’ll click through and read more about these exceptional books!


9780997674743.mainAnyone But Him by Theresa Linden

Anyone But Him is brimming with delicious romance, keep-you-guessing mystery, and a dose of humor. Wonderfully written with well-developed characters, and a solid plot – all hallmarks of Theresa Linden’s books. With her first novel aimed at the new adult market, I hope many, many more readers are introduced to her writing. It’s a joy to read novels both well written and underpinned by the Catholic faith and the values Catholics hold dear. [Learn more about Anyone But Him.]


shadowsShadows of Hope by Georgiana Daniels

Shadows of Hope is a book-length exercise in dramatic irony that kept me engrossed until all was revealed, in dramatic fashion.

From the first pages – or from the book description alone – the reader knows that Marissa counsels Kaitlyn throughout her unplanned pregnancy and that, unbeknownst to both women, Marissa’s husband Colin is the father.

Tension builds as various conflicts unfold and layers of the characters are revealed: infertility, the absence of a father, infidelity, insecurity, and more bring great depth to Marissa, Kaitlyn, and even Colin.

The reader gets to examine the situation from each of the three characters’ points of view – closest with Marissa (1st person), but also Kaitlyn and Colin (3rd person).

Georgiana Daniels resists an easy resolution, instead delivering a true-to-life examination of the shared heartache, joy, and, eventually, hope, of three imperfect people bound by an unborn child.

Fans of women’s fiction will especially enjoy this well-written, thoughtful story. I look forward to reading more from this author.


discoveryDiscovery by Karina Fabian

If your mental picture of religious sisters is dour, old women with wimple habits and ankle-length skirts, then scrub that image before opening Discovery. The sisters in the Order of Our Lady of the Rescue are post-modern, brave pioneers with habits suited to work in zero gravity.

The challenges to their present mission on the alien craft Discovery are best summed up by Sister Rita’s exclamation of “Codists and Wiccans and evangelists, oh, my.” Sister Rita, along with stalwart pilot Sister Thomas and “spacey” but brilliant Sister Ann, have all sorts of conflicting interests to contend with: the brainy researchers, the working-class rockjacks, and, oh yeah, that alien ship.

Interwoven amongst the crew’s scientific discoveries are their personal discoveries, brought to light within the desolate alien craft. Karina Fabian does a good job of managing what could be an unwieldy cast of characters, two romances, devious intrigue, and a guilty conscience.

In the end, the most profound discovery isn’t an alien life form, but a relationship with God, whose love knows no boundaries, whose mercy overflows, and who calls us each for a unique purpose.

Just enough bread crumbs are dropped to keep the reader intrigued by the various interpersonal relationships and cryptic messages of Sister Ann, mounting to page-turning suspense in the final chapters.

Discovery is a journey worth taking.


23440072Unfailing Love by Julie Lessman

I awaited Isle of Hope for months, eager to read Julie Lessman’s voice in a contemporary novel. She did not disappoint.

The characters have depth, are well-drawn, and inhabit their modern coastal Georgia isle so naturally they made me long for a beach vacation.

The dramatic plot turns in Isle of Hope call to mind a soap opera (as they often do in Julie Lessman’s historical novels), which is less a criticism and more a testament to the author’s savvy given the enduring popularity of soaps (and perhaps a nod to her well-known love of Gone With the Wind). The novel includes perhaps the best one-sentence chapter-ending cliffhanger I’ve ever read.

The faith element is organic to the story, but is more extensive than in most inspirational romances or women’s fiction as multiple characters’ arcs echo the themes of forgiveness, (re)conversion, and redemption. I highlighted several passages that struck a chord – something I typically don’t do. By showing the natural consequences of selfish actions, the narrative deftly demonstrates how no sin is truly private, and its repercussions affect many people besides the perpetrator.

Some beautiful, tender, heart-melting moments of grief and sorrow are interwoven with the painful longing and simmering passion you’d expect.

A little tightening to reduce thematic repetition and some of the analogies would only make this good novel even better. As it is, it’s an engaging story of love, forgiveness, healing, and rebirth that left me looking forward to the next book in the series.


9780996816861.MAINLife-Changing Love by Theresa Linden

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.

Caitlyn Summers is in love with being in love. She yearns for her first boyfriend and her first kiss. And she knows just the boy to make those dreams come true: Roland West. Only Roland, despite the mixed signals he sends, is not interested in having a girlfriend.

By contrast, Caitlyn’s gorgeous best friend Zoe has gone from zero to well beyond the speed limit in mere days with Roland’s dangerous older brother Jarret.

When Jarret’s twin Keefe returns from a trip to Italy with his father, he’s changed -unwilling to allow Jarret to manipulate him, introspective, pious, and intrigued by Caitlyn.

The lives of the West brothers and Caitlyn and Zoe turn topsy-turvy as they struggle to navigate obedience to their parents, the longings of their hearts, and the predicament Jarret and Zoe have created for themselves.

Theresa Linden does an outstanding job of capturing the tension of the teenage years. The result is a moving story that shows the consequences of premature sexual relationships and the value of pursuing friendships that honor God and respect the dignity of each person.


22293276The Truth and Nothing But Lies by Cheri Vause

The Truth and Nothing But Lies is an engaging tale that could be ripped from the headlines if only the media delved so deeply. Its intricate plot and suspense hold attention and draw the reader to the end. Its greatest value, however, lies in its plain demonstration of the dire consequences of all-too-familiar actions cloaked in euphemisms of sexual liberation and freedom to choose.


17786919Rapunzel Let Down: A Fairy Tale Retold by Regina Doman

“Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” – Rom 5:20 In this modern adaption of the classic tale of Rapunzel, Regina Doman brings us the story of Hermes, a conservative senator’s son, who falls in love with Raphaella, the adopted daughter of a radical feminist. Hermes impregnates the innocent Raphaella and from there, sin begets sin and suffering. Fans of Doman’s fairytale novels and new readers alike will enjoy this adaption that brings to life both the dire consequences of sin and the graces borne of virtue. The contemporary setting meshes wonderfully with the timeless fairytale sprinkled liberally with a Catholic worldview. Reminiscent of Doman’s other novels, the heroic ending will have you on the edge of your seat.


tob-coverImage and Likeness: Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body edited by Erin McCole Cupp

Even if you’ve read St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body from start to finish and a half-dozen nonfiction books about it on the side, I guarantee this collection of shorts will uncover the teachings in ways you hadn’t considered. It will challenge you in unexpected ways. One or two (or more) of the stories may make you uncomfortable. While the writing is polished, the varnish coating the darkness of our lives is stripped, laying bare the truths written on our heart and the lies we tell with our bodies.


Recommended for reading, reflection, discussion, and even entertainment. A gritty but beautiful introduction not only to the Theology of the Body as it is lived (or rejected), but also to the breadth and promise of Catholic fiction being written by contemporary authors. These shorts are accessible to any careful reader, whether familiar with the Theology of the Body or not.

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Red Rose Bouquet by Jennifer Rodewald

Ornamental Graces by Carolyn Astfalk

Stealing Jenny by Ellen Gable

Emily’s Hope by Ellen Gable


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The Gifting Series by K.E. Ganshert

The Liberty Series by Theresa Linden

I Am Margaret Series by Corinna Turner

The Memoirs of Jane E, Friendless Orphan by Erin McCole Cupp


carolyn

Carolyn Astfalk is a wife, mother, and author of contemporary inspy romances Stay With Me, Ornamental Graces, and Rightfully Ours. She formerly worked as a communications director and now works just to keep her head above water. Find her books on Amazon and her other words scattered around the blogosphere and social media.

Follow her blog “My Scribblers Heart”.

CWG Book Blast: Finding Patience by Virginia Lieto

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It is wonderful to stumble upon books for children that have fun stories and promote virtue. I am happy to share this wonderful book written by fellow Catholic Writers Guild author Virginia Lieto!

FHC-2017-Cover-copy-233x300Book Summary:

Eight-year-old, Faith Livingstone, just moved to town and is about to enter a new school. She wants to make new friends fast; to feel like she belongs in her new surroundings. It can’t happen fast enough for Faith! Watch how God shows her the way to new friends and new virtue!

 


Excerpt:

After school, Faith ran up to her room.

Mama rushed up the stairs and knocked on the door. “Honey, what’s wrong?”

Faith sobbed, “Nobody likes me!”

“No, no,” replied Mama. “They just don’t know you yet.”

“I want to go home,” cried Faith, “to be with my friends!”

Mama took Faith in her arms and said, “Faith, this is our home.  Daddy’s job is here and we all need to be together as a family.”


My  Review:

I enjoyed this thoughtful story by Virginia Lieto. I would’ve loved to read it to my kids when they were younger. Children will love the colorful illustrations, the characters, and a story they can relate to. I think this would be a great book especially for children who are transitioning to a new school or have moved. My father was in the Coast Guard and we moved often. Finding a friend in school was always so important but didn’t happen overnight. The message of practicing patience is so important for children at this age and this story presents it beautifully!


Get the book here: https://amzn.to/2rAhzup

Tell your friends about the book too! Tweet:

Looking for a way to teach your child patience, without coming across as “preachy?” Let Finding Patience show you the way. https://amzn.to/2rAhzup


Author Biography:

Virginia Lieto is an adjunct professor of Theology at Saint Joseph’s College of Maine, where she also obtained her Master of Arts Degree in Pastoral Theology. In addition to teaching, and speaking publicly on the Catholic faith, she is the author of the children’s book “Adventures of Faith, Hope and Charity – Finding Patience,” a Catholic Writer’s Guild Seal of Approval recipient. She contributes to Catechist Magazine, Catholicmom.com, and Saint Joseph’s College of Maine’s Theology Blog. In addition, Virginia freelances for such internet companies as Biblezon, providing Catholic content for children. She also maintains her own blog, at virginialieto.com, focused on virtue and morality.

Website: http://virginialieto.com

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

Twitter: @virginialieto

Love Hurts: A Book Review of Resistance: Fighting the Devil Within by Michael Voris

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young-woman-2622725_1920She laughs as she runs with her diamond-shaped kite. Her long auburn tresses fly across her face and bounce down her back as she peers at the sky. She is beautiful, maddeningly beautiful. So carefree. So competent. So real.

He runs along after her, watching her, loving her.

With one hand held aloft, holding the kite string, she runs. Faster and faster, she sprints over the rocky terrain. Her kite spins and rolls in the air. She can’t get the height she wants. But then, she’s made the kite herself and it has no tail, nothing to make it stable.

He doesn’t dare correct her. It would dampen her delight, her pride of accomplishment. Maybe hurt her feelings. She hates when he criticizes her. And he can’t bear her rejection, her anger.

Catching a wind current, the kite shoots up. “Oh, look! There it goes!” She runs faster, her eyes on the kite and not on the ground.

A cliff lay ahead, hidden from view. Should he tell her? Though she didn’t look inclined to slow down, she likely knew. If he brought it up, it would spoil her fun. She would think he doubted her. He couldn’t bear to hurt her feelings, to risk making her mad at him.

Look how she smiles. How she laughs. How she runs like there is no cliff. In a few short steps she’ll reach it. Should he say something?

Five, four, three…

Two…

One…


Love Hurts: A Book Review of Resistance: Fighting the Devil Within by Michael Voris

The short story is preposterous, of course. No one would let another, much less one they love, race off a cliff to avoid hurting his or her feelings. Or would they?

resistanceMichael Voris’s Resistance: Fighting the Devil Within drove home to me the fact that true love does not remain silent in the face of danger, especially the danger that matters most: spiritual danger.

Michael shares a lot of tough stuff in this book, including the influence of Liberation Theology, Sexual Liberation, Homoheresy, and the media on many in high places in the Church, and the dismal statistics that show the decline of authentic faith in the Western world.

These are hard topics to read about, write about, research, and discuss. In reading this book and from following Michael over the years, I’ve come to realize: Michael Voris loves Holy Mother Church. If he didn’t, he would not expose himself to the anger, hostility, misunderstanding, and rejection of so many brothers and sisters in Christ. But he knows, as any good parent, friend, or spouse knows, that sometimes love hurts.

Real love desires the good of the other and not just the affection of the beloved.

Through his ministry, a labor of true love, Michael seeks to warn the wayward and motivate the faithful. Resistance: Fighting the Devil Within gives a clear warning about the fate of the Catholic Church in the West and in the world. This book reveals the evil that has been attacking the Church in modern times. Michael calls on faithful Catholics to “adopt an attitude of resistance to the corruption of the faith.”

While I’ve heard and read about the disturbing modern-day attacks against the Catholic Church from without and within, Resistance shows the cause and effect, which explains how we got where we are today. Because these things are so ugly, diabolical even, it is hard to look at them. And a part of me would rather not know. But not knowing doesn’t make the problem go away. As with any successful marriage, company, or organization, productive and sometimes painful self-evaluation is necessary. It is not enough to just recognize the bad fruit, we must also look at the tree and all the way down to the roots.

Resistance does not stop there. This book makes clear that to effect change, we need to begin with ourselves. And so Part II of this book provides concrete steps for self-evaluation and spiritual growth through an examination of the Beatitudes. I know that I will read Part II many times, especially the mediation on Peter. Peter’s story is told in the meditation of “Blessed are those who Mourn.”

“There is no man in Scripture who so impulsively and radically loved Our Lord as did Peter. And then in one horrible succession of events, he cursed and threw it all away. All that was left now was a lone, direct look from Jesus penetrating Peter’s spirit to its core…” ~Resistance: Fighting the Devil Within

We’ve all been there. At least I have. We’ve denied Our Lord. We’ve failed the test. We’ve chosen the easy way and not the right way. But Peter repented, and Our Lord forgave him. Then Peter got back up and lived his life boldly, fearlessly, selflessly in love with Christ and His Church. He loved to the point of death, also on a cross but upside down because he felt “unworthy to die in the same fashion as Our Lord.”

We need to get up too and live in this love. I love the Catholic Church. It is the church that Jesus built. Thus, it provides all that one needs to know God and to grow in holiness. It is the Bride of Christ.

For my love to be real, it needs to be selfless and purified. I need to look at the ways in which I seek to compromise with the truth or fail to follow the teachings of the Church, the ways in which I’ve shied away from correcting another or speaking the truth to avoid hurting feelings or coming across as being judgmental. Does this sound hard? Impossible?

As so many saints have proven over the years, unflinching faithfulness is possible.

And isn’t that what we all want? Faithfulness. You want it from your spouse, your children, your family, and friends. God wants it too. He wants me to be faithful because He wants me to open my heart to His transformational love. And whether we like it or not, sometimes love isn’t that heart-tingling feeling that has you walking on clouds. Sometimes the beloved has to say, “No, that’s not good for you.” “You’re on the wrong path.” “This is going to be hard.”

Because—let’s face it—when love is real, sometimes love hurts.

When writing my dystopian trilogy, which is a supposition of our world if we don’t change course, I struggled with the final book. I couldn’t fathom an ending because, at times, it seems evil has won and falsehood is so enmeshed in our culture that it would be impossible for a new, holy culture to emerge. Like in the Battle at Minas Tirith in the Lord of the Rings, the odds are ridiculously overwhelming. Evil stretches out aminis tiriths far as the eye can see. The good are few and most are ill-prepared. Evil goes on the offense while the good tuck themselves away and struggle at defense. Walls that have stood forever crumble, lives are lost, and the enemy has just unveiled Grond.

You know what I’m talking about, right? That one-hundred-foot long battering ram shaped like a ravening wolf with fire burning in its jaws.

But I am a Christian. And I’ve read the last page of the book. (Not referring to the Lord of the Rings, though of course I’ve read that.) I’m referring to the Holy Scriptures. We win. Jesus Christ has already claimed the victory. And in Him, we win too. Love win—true love, that is.

So I realized how the third book in my dystopian trilogy needed to go. The answer is with you and me. It is in pursuing holiness right here and right now. It is loving despite the cost. It is that sacrificial love that makes me willing to lose a friend today because I am unwilling to lose that friend for all eternity. Not on my watch.

Resistance: Fighting the Devil Within gives a clear idea of what the spiritual battle looks like for the Church in our times. It is a clarion call to all the faithful to get our boots on the ground.

Whether you are Catholic or not, I recommend that you read this book. It will offend you and startle you and maybe even open your eyes to the attacks that have been going on for years against the Catholic Church. And hopefully, this book will shake you to the core and motivate you to get on your feet and enter the fray. Fight for true love! Fight for Christ!

Arise, arise, Riders of Théoden!
Fell deeds awake: fire and slaughter!
Spear shall be shaken, shield be splintered,
a sword-day, a red day, ere the sun rises!

Ride now, ride now! Ride to Gondor!

~Theoden’s rallying cry in The Lord of the Rings