Summer & Books: Rightfully Ours

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Inspired by the A to Z Blogging Challenge this past April, I have decided to blog about books for the month of June. I will be sharing tidbits about my own books and the other books on the Catholic Teen Books website.

Rightfully Ours Front (002)

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

Rightfully Ours by Carolyn Astfalk

About the Book:

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?


I love how, in addition to having descriptive scenes that appeal to all five senses, author Carolyn Astfalk often mentions songs in her books. She has created playlists for all of her stories. You can check out the playlist for Rightfully Ours by clicking here. And you will want to check out the book trailer too!

I asked Carolyn a few questions about music and her writing:

Do you listen to music while you write?

I don’t often listen to music while I write these days, mainly due to where and when I write. There’s already so much noise around me, that it would only further distract me. However, I wrote Rightfully Ours under different conditions, and I did listen to a lot of music. I still find that when I’m stuck, music helps me to capture the mood of a scene or a character’s feelings.

Do all of your books mention songs? 

Yes, all of the published novels do. It’s generally a passing reference, a title, or a word or two. My early drafts included small passages of lyrics, but I replaced all of those with original lyrics in later drafts to avoid any copyright issues.

What elements do you think music adds to a story?

I think it helps set a mood for a scene. The type of music the characters are hearing can help establish the scene in a reader’s mind. For example, a restaurant playing country music has a completely different ambience than one playing classical music or jazz. If it’s a song that’s universally known or a cultural touchstone, it creates a sort of shorthand between the writer and the reader. Whether it’s a Christmas carol, an old hymn, or a patriotic song, music is so tied to memories that it can immediately help the reader draw significant associations.


My Review:

Well-written and enjoyable, this story takes an honest look at the physical, spiritual, and emotional aspects of teens in a serious relationship. As Paul’s and Rachel’s feelings for each other grow, they confront new emotions and urges that they don’t always know how to deal with. Like every child raised Christian, they know what they are “supposed” to do but in some moments, they don’t understand “why.” Sometimes they are confused and make poor choices, but through all the temptations, challenges, and even failures, they both develop an understanding of the value of chastity. By the end of the story, they have a clear, solid, and mature grasp of its worth.

Rightfully Ours provides a thoughtful analysis of intimacy from a teen’s point of view, making it a great book especially for teens who struggle with sexual temptation and for parents who want a deeper consideration of the trials teens in love face.

While all the characters are realistic, Paul was my favorite. Rachel is fourteen when the story begins, and Paul is sixteen. He lost his mother as a child and has a father in the military. The story line surrounding this aspect had me considering what it must be like for the children of military men and women on active duty, and for those that have lost one or both parents. I found myself understanding more deeply and truly appreciating the sacrifice our service men and women make for our country.

I enjoyed watching Paul and Rachel’s friendship develop. At times, they misunderstand each other and jump to conclusions or wistfully wonder if the other feels the same way. They support each other and grow together while facing challenges and while embarking upon a “treasure hunt” in the flower garden. It all felt so real.

Mostly, I like the message of developing a strong conviction about waiting for marriage, rather than allowing oneself the temporary thrill of partaking in something that isn’t “rightfully ours.” I also like how the story tackles the real temptations and challenges a teen in a relationship could face, the behaviors that increase the trials, and those that safeguard from falling. This story has so much to offer.

Visit author Carolyn Astfalk and learn more about her and her books:

Website: www.carolynastfalk.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CMAstfalk

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

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/3428010-carolyn

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

Thanks for stopping by my blog! Have you stumbled upon a favorite book this summer? Tell me about it in the comments. Feel free to share a link.

CathTeenBooks

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CWG Book Blast: Ornamental Graces

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After his duplicitous girlfriend left, Dan Malone spent six months in a tailspin of despair and destruction: emotional, physical, and spiritual. Just when his life seems to be back on track, he meets Emily Kowalski, younger sister of his new best friend.

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After his duplicitous girlfriend left, Dan Malone spent six months in a tailspin of despair and destruction: emotional, physical, and spiritual. Just when his life seems to be back on track, he meets Emily Kowalski, younger sister of his new best friend. Emily’s the kind of girl he’d always dreamed of—sweet, smart, and sincere. But he’s made a mess of his life and ruined his chances for earning the love and trust of a woman like her. Could Dan be the man Emily’s been waiting for? How could he be when every time they get close he pulls away? And will he ever be free from his shady past and the ex-girlfriend who refuses to stay there? A Catholic Christmas romance that spans all seasons.

Read for free anytime on Kindle Unlimited or in the Kindle Lending Library with your Amazon Prime membership.

“This is a truly inspiring contemporary Christian romance. Dan Malone comes into the story with some baggage. Mistakes from his past and rejection from the woman he thought he loved has built a wall around his heart that blinds him to the possibility of a happy life. Then he meets Emily.

Smart, strong-willed and virtuous, Emily Kowalski is tired of waiting for life to happen to her. After learning that the only boy she’s ever loved is about to marry—and after a quart of ice cream and a prayer–she’s ready for a change. Dan and Emily meet in a Christmas tree lot. And Emily’s heart knows at once that this man is special. But it takes Dan awhile to feel worthy of another chance, especially when his past keeps coming back to remind him of his failures.

With flawed but loveable characters, this story delves into the real-life consequences of the choices we make in relationships. It brings out the importance of offering and accepting forgiveness, and gives hope to those who find it hard to let go of past mistakes and to forgive one’s self. Ornamental Graces is a story of love, faith, and passion that you won’t want to miss. This story will take you on an emotional rollercoaster and leave you with hope.” ~Theresa Linden

Website:

http://www.carolynastfalk.com/carolyn-astfalk-author/books/ornamental-graces/

Buy Link:

https://www.amazon.com/Ornamental-Graces-Carolyn-Astfalk-ebook/dp/B01M60UCQB/

Excerpt:

It had come to this. Daniel Malone sold instruments of torture just to keep food on his crappy Formica table for one. Of course, that probably wasn’t how others saw it.

They were bringing home a piece of the outdoors, a symbol of the season, a reminder of Christ’s nativity and resurrection, the eternal— evergreen—promises of God. Dan had seen things that way too before the past year took everything he had and shredded it with a mulcher. Mustering his remaining whit of self-respect, he’d succumbed to desperation and now sat in a drafty shack waiting for the next giddy Christmas revelers to select a fresh-scented, needle-dropping nightmare.

Okay, so maybe the trees weren’t exactly torturous, but he’d had enough of rough bark, sticky sap, and sharp needles to last a lifetime. After this, he’d be an artificial tree enthusiast—if he bothered to put up a tree at all.

Inside his small, weather-beaten shack, the one he’d assembled mostly from leftover wooden pallets, Dan couldn’t smell the fresh, evergreen scent, the only trait of Christmas trees he still enjoyed. Instead, the odor of burnt coffee lingered though he hadn’t made a pot in days. He never cared for the taste, burnt or not, but he had needed something to keep him awake during the long, boring hours when no customers visited his lot.

The space heater at his feet gave a death rattle, and its electrical hum ceased. He kicked it with the tip of his boot. Nothing.

Great.

Dan folded his large frame under the wooden table that served as his desk and jiggled the wire where it entered the cheap heater. It knocked against the laminate floor remnants and hummed to life. A blast of warm air hit his face and then penetrated his boots. As he sat upright, he glanced out one of the two square windows and spotted a young couple beneath the lights in the rear of the lot.

The man had lifted a Douglas fir from where it leaned against the rope Dan strung across the lot. He stamped its trunk on the frozen, dry ground a couple times and then twirled it around so the woman could see every side. It was a woman, wasn’t it? No telltale pink gloves or hand-knit, sparkly scarf. No expensive boots designed for gawking rather than walking. Just a puffy, navy jacket and white tennis shoes. It could be a skinny dude.

The person spent less than three seconds observing it before planting hands on hips and signaling disapproval with a shake of the head. Yeah, definitely a woman.

Dan rolled his eyes. Another one. If nothing else, this job had given him an unforgettable real-life lesson in male-female dynamics—a lesson that would’ve been helpful a couple of years ago. The man would ferret out the best-looking tree, well-shaped and full, and the woman would turn up her nose, forcing them to cycle through four to seven more trees before one met her approval—sometimes the same tree the man had first shown her.

Poor sap. He had at least three more trees to go.

carolynCarolyn 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.

 

 

A to Z blogging Challenge: R is for Research

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R

“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.


lliberty pic

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?

Ornamental Graces: New Christian Romance by Carolyn Astfalk

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Christmas is on the way and we all know people who love to read. Why not check out this new release for the readers of Christian romance on your list?

og-front-cover-finalSummary:

After his duplicitous girlfriend left, Dan Malone spent six months in a tailspin of despair and destruction: emotional, physical, and spiritual. Just when his life seems to be back on track, he meets Emily Kowalski, younger sister of his new best friend.
Emily’s the kind of girl he’d always dreamed of—sweet, smart, and sincere. But he’s made a mess of his life and ruined his chances for earning the love and trust of a woman like her.
Could Dan be the man Emily’s been waiting for? How could he be when every time they get close he pulls away? And will he ever be free from his shady past and the ex-girlfriend who refuses to stay there?

An inspirational Christmas romance that spans every season.

My review: 

“This is a truly inspiring contemporary Christian romance. Dan Malone comes into the story with some baggage. Mistakes from his past and rejection from the woman he thought he loved has built a wall around his heart that blinds him to the possibility of a happy life. Then he meets Emily.

Smart, strong-willed and virtuous, Emily Kowalski is tired of waiting for life to happen to her. After learning that the only boy she’s ever loved is about to marry—and after a quart of ice cream and a prayer–she’s ready for a change. Dan and Emily meet in a Christmas tree lot. And Emily’s heart knows at once that this man is special. But it takes Dan awhile to feel worthy of another chance, especially when his past keeps coming back to remind him of his failures.

With flawed but loveable characters, this story delves into the real-life consequences of the choices we make in relationships. It brings out the importance of offering and accepting forgiveness, and gives hope to those who find it hard to let go of past mistakes and to forgive one’s self. Ornamental Graces is a story of love, faith, and passion that you won’t want to miss. This story will take you on an emotional rollercoaster and leave you with hope.”

You will want to check out the Book Trailer!

The book is available in eBook or paperback. You can get your copy here: Amazon Link

You can also find Ornamental Graces on Goodreads!

If you’d like to get started reading it, here’s a link to the first two chapters. You can get to know Dan and Emily right now!

Please also check out  Carolyn AstfalkCarolyn Astfalk’s Author website where you will find questions for book clubs, playlist, and recipes!

Carolyn is a member of the Catholic Writers Guild, Pennwriters, the Pennsylvania Public Relations Society, and 10 Minute Novelists. She blogs at My Scribbler’s Heart.

Stay With Me, her debut novel, is published by Full Quiver Publishing. Rightfully Ours, a coming of age story, will be published by Full Quiver Publishing in April 2017.

Stay With Me