Jane Eyre Lives!

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I loved this unique dystopian trilogy, and I am certain you will love it too! For a limited time, all three books in the The Memoirs of Jane E, Friendless Orphan are on sale for only 99 cents each.

I love the old classics but I also love futuristic stories. “Unclaimed: The Memoirs of Jane E.” combines both elements in a fun-to-read, hard-to-put-down book. With imagination and a great writing style, Erin McCole Cupp has created a powerful futuristic story that is a real thought-provoker. Science fiction readers will love the creative futuristic elements. At times humorous and other times heart-wrenching, this story delves into issues worth considering as society advances. Having developed a strong connection to Jane E, I found myself incredibly moved by a climactic scene where faith plays out in a natural but powerful way. I can’t wait to read more of Jane E.!

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You can read an amazing review of the book on Catholic Reads.  If you haven’t heard of Catholic Reads, here’s what I found out about them on their website:

“We are a resource for Catholic readers hungry for fiction that explores their faith through creativity and fosters Catholic writers by promoting good books.”            ~excerpt from Catholic Reads mission statement

Kindle links:

Unclaimed (Book 1)

Nameless (Book 2)

Vanished (Book 3)

These book are also available in other formats:

Unclaimed on Nook, iBooks, Scribd, 24Symbols, Kobo, Inktera, !ndigo, Angus & Robertson, and Mondadori

Nameless on Nook, iBooks, Scribd, 24Symbols, Kobo, Inktera, !ndigo, Angus & Robertson, and Mondadori

Vanished on Nook, iBooks, Scribd, 24Symbols, Kobo, Inktera, !ndigo, Angus & Robertson, and Mondadori

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A to Z Blogging Challenge: U is for Utopian

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“U” is for Utopian

I write dystopian fiction. A dystopia is an undesirable or frightening society characterized by misery. It is the opposite of utopia.

A utopian society has perfection in law and politics and very little crime, violence, or poverty. The term was first used by Sir Thomas More in his book, Utopia.

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Saint Thomas More was an English lawyer, social philosopher, author, and councilor to Henry VII.  He was beheaded for refusing to acknowledge King Henry’s annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, and for refusing to recognize the king as the Supreme Head of the Church of England.

His parting words: “I die the King’s good servant, but God’s first.”

In 1516, he wrote a political satire called Utopia. While the word utopian has come to mean “a good place,” in Greek the word means “not place” or “nowhere” because the place doesn’t exist anywhere in the world. More’s story is all about the religious, social, and political customs of a fictional island. Through his story of this fictional land, he discusses some of the bad things going on in Europe at the time and he proposes a society based on rational thought, where there is no poverty or class distinction, and little crime or immoral behavior, and no threat of war.

It is a good idea for a writer to have a version of utopia in mind, all that is good and true, when they are writing conflict, challenges, and failings into the plot. We can’t delve into the bad if we don’t have the framework of good.

What would an ideal society look like to you?  What would an ideal life look like to you? What does “the ideal” look like to the protagonist in your story?

 

 

 

A to Z blogging Challenge: R is for Research

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“R” is for Research

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

Ideas for Research

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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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Blogging from A to Z Challenge: Letter D ~ Dystopia

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D is for Dystopia!

A dystopia is an imaginary society that is undesirable or frightening.

Who wants to read a novel about such depressing stuff and why would anyone write about it?

I wrote my Chasing Liberty dystopian trilogy as a way to consider where certain ideologies might lead. We all believe in caring for the earth, but some very influential elitists believe that the earth is more important than people, population numbers need drastically reduced, and humans should be corralled into contained cities.

So…if the earth was elevated above man, what does that look like?

These highly influential special interest groups also believe that faith in God and the traditional family stand in the way. Let’s face it: when you have faith and family, you care about the world around you and everyone in it. You think about right and wrong. Stuff matters. Crush faith and family, and a government can rule without opposition.

So…what does a society look like when faith and the traditional family have been suppressed?

Perhaps all dystopians are written to warn people about current ideologies or trends that could lead to a frightening future.

Here are a few modern dystopians, including my own:

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This is a reboot of a classic! Born not in a past of corsets and bonnets but into a future of cloning and bioterror, could Jane Eyre survive? This Jane is an “unclaimed embryo,” the living mistake of a reproductive rights center–or so her foster family tells her. At age ten she is sold into slavery as a data mule, and she must fight for freedom and identity in a world mired between bioscientific progress and the religions that fear it. What will happen to a girl without even a name of her own? (available on Amazon)

The third one is hot off the press! Cadain’s Watch: Michelle and Jason escaped the wreckage of their beloved hometown and are determined to live free. Though they are hunted by the totalitarian bureaucracy, they vow to resist oppression no matter the cost. But insidious evil still threatens. Once proud Americans are hopeless and unwilling to fight, making it that much harder for the rebels in their quest for Liberty. And so, God intervenes, and the angel-warrior Cadáin is sent to watch over those whose spirits are unbroken. (available on Amazon)

Chasing Liberty dytopian trilogy – 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. It shows the importance of faith, family, and freedom through a story about a society devoid of all three.  Available in paperback and ebook on Amazon or through your local bookseller.

Do you enjoy reading dystopians? What are your favorites and why?

New Release: Path of Angels

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PoAKindle (002).jpgIt is year 63 of the New Era.
Nacerma has rid itself of societies ills, homelessness, hunger, suffering and religious differences, becoming a country of peace.
Seventeen-year-old, Aadi, seeks something deeper than the life Nacerma offers. When her former lover, turned  priests, asks her to risk her life for her faith, she accepts.
Mischa Truin is wanted by the Guard and needs to get out of town for awhile. When he’s asked to keep his best friend, Aadi, safe, he jumps at the chance.
Together, their faith and friendship are tested as they face thieves, highwaymen, the Red Guard and their own inner demons as they grow closer. Will their friendship survive? Will they?
Available on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Path-Angels-Underground-Book-1-ebook/dp/B01N4W4X3W
Author website: http://dawnwitzke.com
Dawn Witzke is the author of  100 Best Free Online Learning Links: For Teachers, Parents & Students and several magazine articles. She is also a cover designer who has designed a ton of amazing covers that you can check out here.

Are you familiar with Pope Saint John Paul II’s Theology of the Body?

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I asked this question to several people lately. And I was surprised that all of them said, “No.”
I’ve come to believe that John Paul II’s Theology of the Body was made for our times.
John Paul II is one of my favorite saints. I am deeply moved by the story of his life. He enjoyed swimming, skiing, writing, and acting. He faced impossible trials, losing his parents and brother at a young age and living under the Nazi occupation in Poland. He possessed an amazing faith, delving into theology and spirituality and the meaning of life. Some of his richest teachings come from his Theology of the Body. If you are not familiar with this theology, I invite you to look into it. George Weigel, author of Witness to Hope, says John Paul II’s Theology of the Body is a “. . . theological time bomb set to go off, with dramatic consequences . . .”
We need this time bomb to go off now! Our generation is in dire need of a deeper understanding of our own humanity. People are confused about the relevance of human life and relationships, the gift of love and sexuality, and even their own sexual identity. This theology provides the key. God has a message for every one of us, and it’s written in our bodies!

 

“The human body includes right from the beginning… the capacity of expressing love, that love in which the person becomes a gift – and by means of this gift – fulfills the meaning of his being and existence.” ~John Paul II

tob-coverThese teaching are deep and rich. Once you start reading them, you’ll want more. But nonfiction isn’t the only way to delve into this theology. I appreciate that Full Quiver Publishing  has dedicated themselves to publishing books that bring to light the Catholic Church’s beautiful teachings on sexuality and marriage. They’ve just released an anthology of short stories and poems Image & Likeness: Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body.
This anthology includes beautiful poetry and tragic, thought-provoking, and inspirational stories in a variety of genres. I am honored that two of my own short stories appear in this anthology.
Image & Likeness is available in Kindle and Paperback
All are invited to the Image &Likeness Book Launch Party on Facebook Thursday, October 27th from 8:00 PM to 10:00 PM. Please drop by and get to know more about this anthology. There are a ton of prizes to win too! Stop by today to see the prizes!