New Release: Catholic teen fiction and St. Francis!

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STANDING STRONG, the fourth book in the Catholic teen fiction West Brothers series, came out October 4th, the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi. I chose this for the release date because of a strong Franciscan theme. In this blog post, I’ll tell you a bit about seventeen-year-old Keefe West and the Franciscan Brothers.

Standing Strong follows the seventeen-year-old West twins, Jarret and Keefe. While Jarret struggles to remain faithful to God when faced with old temptations, Keefe tries to discern whether he has a calling to religious life.

Roland Front Cover with Award NoteKeefe West has come a long way since readers first met him in Roland West, Loner. He was once under the thumb of his controlling twin brother, Jarret. Sometimes he tried to talk his brother out of bad ideas, but more often he went along with Jarret’s schemes, even when he knew they were wrong.

While Keefe has always cared about his brothers—not wanting them unhappy or in trouble—he had a distorted view of true compassion.

The word “compassion” means to “suffer with” someone. However, true compassion cannot “suffer with” someone when sin is the cause of the suffering. True compassion considers the real needs of the other, including moral and spiritual. And sometimes the compassionate choice is to speak the hard truth.

In Life-Changing Love, on a trip to Italy, Keefe experienced a life-changing event. LCLFrontCover(Spoilers: he visited the Basilica of St. Mary in Bagno di Romagna, where he witnessed a Eucharistic miracle.) As he knelt before the Lord, the transforming fire of Christ’s love touched his heart. Upon returning home, he experienced the true measure of his transformation. He had to finally show true compassion to his twin by refusing to condone Jarret’s poor choices.

Keefe’s transformation created a rift between himself and Jarret, but it opened the door of Keefe’s heart to Christ. In Standing Strong, the latest book of the West Brothers series, Keefe feels drawn to a religious vocation, but he must first fight a few inner battles.

Battle Front Cover with awardIn Battle for His Soul, a group of Franciscan Brothers passed through Keefe’s town. To ensure accuracy, I researched Franciscan communities and happened upon a group of Brothers who I’ve been following ever since: the Franciscan Brothers of Peace in Minnesota. The Brothers in my story are loosely based on the Brothers of Peace.

These Brothers know all about true compassion. From their website: they are a “Pro-Life Religious Brotherhood dedicated to giving (their) lives for love of our Lord Jesus Christ and His Holy Catholic Church.” Faithful to the teachings of the Church, these men are committed to serving and defending the most vulnerable members of society: the pre-born child, the severely disabled, survivors of torture, the poor and the homeless.

I was incredibly touched by the story of their founder, Brother Michael, and by the other Brothers’ loving care of him. At age thirty-two, he suffered cardiac and respiratory arrest and was left with brain injury and a severe disability. The Brothers remained by his side at the hospital and later at an extended care facility, where he spent seven months. Then they brought him home to provide round-the-clock care. They did not see caring for him as a burden.

“Brother Michael became the loving heart of our home and of our Brotherhood. In the mystery of God’s plan for Brother Michael and for us, the Lord Jesus Christ manifested Himself in Michael and through his brokenness, and brought about a spiritual formation that we could not possibly have experienced in any other way.” 

I encourage all to pray for vocations and to visit the Franciscan Brothers of Peace website to learn more about the Brotherhood. Read about their history and “The Roots of Brotherhood.”

Like the Franciscan Brothers of Peace, I too have been deeply moved by the story of St. saint-francis-of-assisi-300x300Francis, especially by the way he took the words of Christ literally.

“If you want to be perfect, go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven; then come and follow Me.”      ~Matthew 19:21

I wrote a blog post about this called “All In with St. Francis.” Thousands of men and women hear this call today and choose to follow Christ in the footsteps of St. Francis. And the Franciscan Brothers of Peace are beautiful testimony to that.


Standing Strong is available in paperback or ebook.


Follow the blog tour now!

  • CatholicMom.com posted the Press Release: “Catholic teen fiction can turn the tide of young adults leaving the faith.” You can also read an excerpt from Standing Strong!
  • T.M. Gauoette – writer, blogger, and author of Catholic fiction and non-fiction. Author T.M.G. has been kind enough to host my guest post “Why We Need Catholic Teen Fiction”
  • Leslea Wahl, author of award-winning Catholic teen fiction has read an advanced copy and posted her review, along with several other early reviews of the book.
  • Cynthia Toney, author of the Bird Face series, has posted my article about the inspiration for Standing Strong. It has to do with a nun and her teenage student who doesn’t like to read.
  • Carolyn Astfalk, author of coming-of-age romance Rightfully Ours, has posted the book trailer and her review of the book.
  • And finally, please check out my blog post about the Top Ten reasons you need a copy of Standing Strong!

 

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CWG Book Blast: 7 Riddles to Nowhere!

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I am a member of the Catholic Writers’ Guild, and this month, the CWG is touring Amy Cattapan’s book, “7 Riddles to Nowhere.”  It is a CWG Seal of Approval winner and a totally fun story! Seventh grader Kameron Boyd must be the first to solve seven riddles involving churches in Chicago in order to inherit a fortune and save his school from closing.

Summary:

All seventh grader Kameron Boyd wants to do is keep his little Catholic school from closing. It’s the only school where they’ve made life as a selective mute somewhat bearable. As the school faces financial distress, Kam learns he is one of many potential heirs to a fortune large enough to keep his school open.

With the school’s bully as one of the other potential heirs, Kam and his friends race to solve the riddles first. Their journey takes them through the churches of Chicago to decipher the hidden meanings in artwork all while avoiding the mysterious men following them. But creepy men in trench coats won’t stop them! They’re on a quest–not only to keep the school open, but to help Kam recover his voice.

Excerpt:

Kameron Boyd hadn’t spoken a word in school for seven years. This, however, did not stop his teacher from asking him to stick around after class.

“Mr. Boyd.” Mrs. Harris eyed him over the rim of her tortoise-shell glasses. “You’ll need to see me after school again today.”

Again? Kam’s heart sank as he lowered his eyes to his desk. He knew exactly how this after-school meeting would go. The same as all the other ones. Mrs. Harris would talk, and Kam would stand there dumbly, shaking and nodding his head at the appropriate times. When a small movement of the head wasn’t enough, he’d scribble a brief note on his whiteboard.

Website: http://www.ajcattapan.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/acattapan
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJCattapan
Instagram: https://instagram.com/a.j.cattapan/

From my review: “Seven Riddles to Nowhere is a blast, taking the reader on an exciting tour of Chicago streets and churches, while characters gain insight into mysteries and symbols of our faith as they struggle to solve riddles. The tension and suspense mount right up to the very end.” ~Theresa Linden

Author Bio:

Amy (A.J.) Cattapan is an award-winning author, speaker, and middle school English teacher living in the Chicago area. Her young adult novel, Angelhood, has been an Amazon bestseller in Christian teen fiction and won multiple awards, including the Moonbeam Children’s Book Award, a Readers’ Favorite Book Award, and the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval. Her second novel, a middle grade mystery titled Seven Riddles to Nowhere has won an award from the Catholic Press Association and the Catholic Writers Guild seal of Approval. She’s also been a Chicken Soup for the Soul contributor and had numerous short stories and articles published in magazines for teens and children, including Highlights, Pockets, and Hopscotch for Girls.During her precious spare time, she can often be found baking or traveling, usually to Rome. You can follow her writing and travel adventures at www.ajcattapan.com

Buy Link:

https://www.amazon.com/7-Riddles-Nowhere-J-Cattapan/dp/0997173254

Tweet:

Can a 7th grade boy solve the riddles & win the fortune that could save his #CatholicSchool from closing? #amreading http://tinyurl.com/y7d9fvme

Summer & Books: 6 Dates to Disaster

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

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About the Book:

When Wendy’s family faces financial hardship, she must find a way to see Mrs. V and Sam again—but will she lose David forever in the process?

For her mom’s birthday, Wendy finds an old jewelry box at a flea market—the perfect gift for someone who loves salvaged junk. But inside the box is a cryptic note that appears to have been written recently. Wendy’s curiosity leads her on a search with boyfriend David at her side, eager to help. Who wrote the note, and did the intended recipient ever see it? But when Wendy’s stepfather loses his job, she needs more personal and urgent help—the financial kind.

The family’s plan to visit Alaska on vacation is headed down the sewer like a hard Louisiana rain. How will Wendy ever see Mrs. V or Sam again? An opportunity arrives in the form of tutoring Melissa, one of the Sticks, and Wendy’s money problems appear to be solved. Until the arrangement takes a turn that gets Wendy into trouble like never before. In the final months of ninth grade, she might lose everything she counted on for the future.


In addition to the fun story line and getting to hang with characters that I’ve come to know and love, this book gave me a lot to think about. Wendy has a lot of opportunities and moral choices to make in this story. I like to know how authors come up with story ideas and themes, so I asked Cynthia Toney a question.

Have you ever risked everything (or almost everything) like Wendy does to see someone you miss or to get what you want?

Today I’m not as impulsive as I was as a girl or young woman, but yes, I’ve taken risks in attempting to get what I want. There’s a saying: “The heart wants what the heart wants.” Often, I’d become frustrated because of a setback or because something wasn’t happening as quickly as I’d like. I’d leave a situation for what seemed a better one and then regret not giving the first one a little more time to develop into what I needed. Or I’d act out of desperation and later realize how undignified I appeared. Like Wendy, I found my integrity slipping away when I didn’t think my decisions through before making them.

~Cynthia T. Toney

My review:

Cynthia Toney has written another fun story in her “Bird Face” series. Many of the characters you’ve come to love in the first two books are back, even if only through email. Main character Wendy Robichaud and her family face new struggles. And Wendy stumbles upon a new mystery, a cryptic note she finds in an old jewelry box that she bought as a present for her mother. Wendy makes some choices she doesn’t quite think through and they lead her into a ton of trouble.

A great book for young teens that gives the reader a lot to think about: family responsibilities; giving tough advice to a friend; making mistakes, owning up to it, and paying the price.  I enjoyed the Cajun touches like this one, “My stomach flipped like a crab cake on a spatula.” I recommend this book for any teen, especially if they’ve enjoyed the first two books in this series.

Visit Cynthia T. Toney:

Website:  http://www.cynthiattoney.com

Blog:  http://birdfacewendy.wordpress.com

Facebook Author Page:  https://www.facebook.com/birdfacewendy

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/CynthiaTToney

Twitter:  @CynthiaTToney

Instagram:  @CynthiaTToney

Pinterest: Cynthia T. Toney, YA Author

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

A to Z Blogging Challenge: T is for Teen Fiction

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T“T” is for Teen Fiction

People love to buy books for children for so many reasons:

  • they want to encourage children to develop their literacy and language skills
  • stories promote imagination
  • reading provides a time of quiet and reflection in busy little lives
  • reading books gives parents and grandparents an opportunity to bond with their children and grandchildren
  • and these are only a few of the benefits

I would like to write children’s stories one day. I have several ideas in mind (I actually have several written as first drafts). But I love writing stories for teens, with teenage characters facing all the challenges, discoveries, and joys teens face. The teenage years can be trying in many ways, but they are also exciting. Adulthood is just around the corner. That can be terrifying but it also feels like the whole world is open to you! Where will you be tomorrow? What will you do? Whom will you meet? Sometimes the question is as basic as: Who am I?

Some studies show that kids read for fun less as they get older. But other surveys show that young adults are among those most likely to be book readers. According to one survey, over 77% of teens say they’ve read at least one extra book per month for personal pleasure.

Why should we write and why should people buy books for teens:

  • reading takes you on an adventure
  • reading can help develop the imagination
  • a person can discover new ideas, places, and people
  • reading develops the capacity to “see” the invisible, spiritual realities and moral concepts
  • it can help one to deal with our increasingly complex world and begin to understand some adult issues that a teen will soon have to deal with
  • one can find solutions to personal problems by seeing how characters solve problems
  • reading relaxes mind and soul
  • reading improves the thinking process
  • reading improves vocabulary and spelling while the reader is wrapped up in the story line
  • some fiction can even help a teen to know that they are not alone, that others may feel the same way they do
Over the years, I’ve met many authors of Christian teen fiction, and I’ve read and enjoyed their books. I’ve often shared their books with others, promoting them through social media or by word of mouth because I think others will enjoy and benefit from them.

Inspired to join together in sharing our stories, a group of Catholic teen fiction authors have recently created a website.
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Authors include:

Genres include:

Contemporary
Historical
Mystery
Romance
Speculative
Saints
Dystopian
This website also provides information for teachers, including themes and resources for each book.
An incredible amount of excitement surrounds this new website, including inquiries and comments from readers and authors alike. We hope to see it grow into something wonderful for God, helping young readers find books they will thoroughly enjoy and that support, rather than tear down their faith. We’ll be adding more authors and more books in the near future. So stop by often!

Do you read YA fiction? What are your favorite books and why do you read?