Prominent Catholic Writers to Speak at Catholic Writers Conference in Schaumburg, Illinois

Contact: Ann Lewis, Catholic Writers Guild, 317-755-2693

Schaumburg, Illinois– Several prominent Catholic writers will speak at the ninth annual Catholic Writers Conference LIVE taking place July 18-21 at the Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center in Schaumburg, Illinois (near Chicago.) Sponsored by the Catholic Writers Guild and the Catholic Marketing Network (CMN) and held in conjunction with CMN’s annual retailer trade show, the Catholic Writers Conference LIVE provides Catholic writers with a prime opportunity to meet and share their faith with editors, publishers, fellow writers, and bookstore owners from across the globe. The theme of this year’s conference is “The Catholic Imagination.”

Presenters include keynote speaker Dr. Barbara Golder (THE LADY DOC MURDERS), authors Amy Cattapan (SEVEN RIDDLES TO NOWHERE), Erin McCole Cupp (UNCLAIMED), Lisa Mladinich (TRUE RADIANCE), Lisa Hendey (THE GRACE OF YES), Ellen Gable (STEALING JENNY) and many others.

The conference will give authors an opportunity to meet personally with publishing professionals and pitch their writing projects. Some participating publishers are Ignatius Press, Ave Maria Press, and Servant Books. In addition, attendees have the opportunity to sign up for a fiction critique workshop with award-winning short fiction writer Arthur Powers (A HERO FOR THE PEOPLE), a non-fiction critique group with Nancy Ward (SHARING YOUR FAITH STORY) and attend writing workshops with novelists John Desjarlais (SPECTER) and Michelle Buckman (RACHEL’S CONTRITION). Michelle Buckman will also be offering one-on-one critique sessions. Information for all these events can be found on the conference website.

The Catholic Writers Guild, a religious non-profit organization affiliated with the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, sponsors this conference in July, an online conference in March, and a writers’ retreat in October to further its mission of promoting Catholic literature.  CWG President, Joseph Wetterling, says, “The Guild exemplifies the Catholic faith ‘both/and’ with writers from every part of the world, in every genre, and from every walk of life. We’re diverse in personality and style but united in our loyalty and love of the Catholic faith. The Catholic Writers Conference Live is a unique opportunity to come together in fellowship and sharpen each other toward our united mission: a rebirth of Catholic arts and letters.”

Registration costs $75 and $45 for students. CWG Members receive a 10% discount. There’s also a discounted registration combined with a CWG membership. To register or for more information, go to https://catholicwritersguild.org/live-conference

An Open Book – May 2017 #openbook

Open Book

I’m also joining with Carolyn Astfalk and Catholic Mom for An Open Book. Here’s what I’ve been reading:

St. Faustina Prayer Book for the Conversion of Sinners by Susan Tassone

Amazon Synopsis: “Today bring to Me all mankind, especially all sinners, and immerse them in the ocean of My mercy.” — Jesus to St. Faustina.    Throughout her Diary, St. Faustina speaks of Jesus’ call for the conversion of souls. Through prayer and sacrifice, the Lord calls us all to strive for our own conversion, and for the conversion of the whole world. Perhaps you’ve tried everything to draw your friend or family member back to faith in God. In St. Faustina Prayer Book for the Conversion of Sinners, best-selling author Susan Tassone shows you how to place the lives of all you love into God’s merciful hands. Known worldwide as leading the “purgatory movement,” Susan invites you to learn how to live the message of conversion daily, to avoid purgatory, and to become more faithful in praying for others.

My review: Excellent book, as are all of Susan Tassone’s books.  “The Purgatory Lady,” as Susan is known, has written many books about the Holy Souls in Purgatory and the conversion of sinners. This book gives us ways not only to pray for our loved ones who are away from the faith, but it also helps us to grow in faith and to glimpse the mercy of God in action.  Highly recommend!

Heads Bowed by Lisa Mladinich

Amazon Synopsis: Catechetical thought leader Lisa Mladinich offers nearly 300 original prayers that will resonate with every Catholic teacher, principal, DRE, or catechist who has ever uttered the words, ‘Class, let’s bow our heads…’ Every teacher, catechist, or homeschooling parent appreciates a new collection of prayers to start the year. This book enables faith formation and prayer in a way that is easy to integrate into a busy class day. Mladinich provides prayers for the needs of both teachers and students, as well as Scripture verses and suggestions for use. Read these prayers in your classroom, by yourself before the start of the school day, in your religious education class, or in department and faculty meetings.

My review:  Beautifully written and powerful book of prayers.  This is ideal for teachers, homeschooling parents or religious education teachers.  Highly recommend!

 

Fatima: The Apparition that Changed the World by Jean Heimann

Amazon Synopsis: Fatima. Few place-names in the Christian world conjure up such powerful images and associations as that of this humble town in Portugal. For it was there that Our Lady appeared to three shepherd children beginning in 1917 apparitions that are intimately linked to pious Catholic practices such as devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the five first Saturdays, daily recitation of the Rosary with the Fatima prayer, as well as miracles attested to even by non-believers, such as the day the sun danced. The Virgin s message, as it always is, was penance. But she also predicted world historical events such as the rise and fall of communism, the second world war, and the attempted assassination of Pope St. John Paul II. She promised refuge in her Immaculate Heart to all who approach her a promise extended, and urgently needed, today.

My review: This is a wonderful book about the Apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima, just in time for the 100th anniversary of Our Lady’s first appearance to the three shepherd children at Cova da Iria.  It is well-researched, well-written and filled with beautiful color photos and images.  In 1917, Our Lady of Fatima predicted many world events. After appearing monthly to the three children, devotion to her Immaculate Heart, the recitation of the Holy Rosary along with the new Fatima prayer, and the first five Saturdays were spread throughout the Church and continues to spread throughout the Church even in the 21st century.  Although it’s been 100 years, Our Lady’s message continues to be urgently needed today.  Highly recommend!

 

Fatima: The Apparition That Changed the World

Today I’m hosting Jean Heimann’s Virtual Book Tour for her new book, Fatima: The Apparition That Changed the World.

My review:  This is a wonderful book about the Apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima, just in time for the 100th anniversary of Our Lady’s first appearance to the three shepherd children at Cova da Iria.  It is well-researched, well-written and filled with beautiful color photos and images.  In 1917, Our Lady of Fatima predicted many world events. After appearing monthly to the three children, devotion to her Immaculate Heart, the recitation of the Holy Rosary along with the new Fatima prayer, and the first five Saturdays were spread throughout the Church and continues to spread throughout the Church even in the 21st century.  Although it’s been 100 years, Our Lady’s message continues to be urgently needed today.  Highly recommend!

Tell us about your new book, Fatima: The Apparition That Changed the World.

Fatima: The Apparition That Changed the World (Tan Books, 2017) is the true story of three shepherd children who, in 1917, had visions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the mountain village of Fatima, Portugal and met with her on six different occasions. Our Lady asked them to pray the Rosary daily and to offer penances and sacrifices for the conversion of sinners and for world peace.

In my book, I present a comprehensive look at the Fatima apparitions; offering a chronological timeline, describing each of the apparitions in detail, tracing the lives of the three visionaries as well as the death and beatification of Jacinta and Francisco Marto, and revealing the ongoing message of Fatima for the past one hundred years. I also share a history of the various popes from 1917 to the present and describe their relationship with Fatima as well as some of the modern day miracles that have happened since then. In addition, I explain why the Fatima message is relevant to us today and how we can put it into practice.

What prompted the writing of Fatima: The Apparition That Changed the World?

I made my consecration to Jesus through Mary about twenty years ago. I was just beginning to grow in Marian devotion at that time, although when I was a child, we prayed the Rosary daily and my mother was always turning to her heavenly Mother in time of trial. The Brothers of St. John attracted me to their community through the Marian consecration via the St. Louis de Montfort method which they taught in a group setting, providing spiritual guidance. I was then drawn to become an oblate with the Community of St. John in Princeville, Illinois and to entrust my life even deeper to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

As a child, I grew up in a small French-Canadian town in northeastern IL and was well-acquainted with Our Lady of Lourdes. Every day after school I visited the Lourdes grotto behind our parish church and prayed there, sharing my concerns with the Blessed Mother. I learned about the Fatima apparitions, but they did not stick with me the way the apparitions at Lourdes did. I do, however, remember watching the 1952 movie The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima, which left an impression on me. As an adult, I became re-acquainted with Fatima by watching EWTN. I decided to join the Blue Army and through this organization began practicing the First Saturday devotions and praying the Rosary daily. About a year ago, I realized that 2017 would be the 100th anniversary of the Fatima apparitions and thought that this would be an interesting topic to write about. Last fall, I founded the Our Lady of Fatima Rosary and Study Group in my parish and we began meeting in my home, where we studied the Fatima apparitions and prayed the Rosary.

What did you learn from writing this book?

I learned what a powerful apparition Fatima is! The conversion of the world and world peace are dependent on our fidelity to its prayers and devotions. It is through devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and her Immaculate Heart as well as through the recitation of the Rosary that we will experience an end to the culture of death and obtain world peace. Pope St. John Paul II has stated that the message of Fatima is even more relevant today than when it was first given to the visionaries in 1917. I also learned about the details of the wonderful miracles that have taken place in connection with Fatima since the initial apparitions in 1917.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

I enjoyed using my imagination and my five senses in depicting the apparitions. I enjoyed viewing things from the vantage point of the children, the Angel of Peace, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the other characters in the book. For example, I loved writing about the spectacular miracle of the sun, describing the wide array of colors of the sun and the earth, how the sun was seen as a silver disc and began spinning around. I imagined how beautiful and frightening it must have been at the same. In my mind’s eye, I put myself in that crowd of spectators, watching the sun fall from the sky, fearing that this was the end of the world, hearing those around me confessing their sins aloud and begging for mercy.

Who is the target audience for your book?

I wrote this book for adolescents and adults, both Catholic and non-Catholics who want to learn more about the Fatima apparitions, put its message into practice, and have a beautiful family keepsake to treasure for years to come in honor of the Centenary of the Fatima apparitions.

Why would readers want to purchase this book? What does it have to offer them? How can it help them?

This book helps the reader learn to live the message of Fatima: prayer, penance, and devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It draws everyone who peruses it into a deeper, more intimate relationship with the Mother of God and helps them perform a crucial role in changing the world from a culture of death into a culture of life.

Other stops on the Blog Tour:

May 1 – Carolyn Astfalk, My Scribbler’s Heart http://www.carolynastfalk.com/category/my-scribblers-heart-blog/

May 2 – Ellen Gable, Plot, Line, and Sinker https://ellengable.wordpress.com/

May 3 – Virginia Lieto, Virginia Lieto, http://virginialieto.com

May 4 – AnneMarie Miller, Sacrifice of Love, http://marianninja.blogspot.com/

May 5 – Barb Szyszkiewicz, Franciscan Mom, https://franciscanmom.com/

May 6 – Steven R. McEvoy, Book Reviews and More, http://www.bookreviewsandmore.ca/

May 7 – Lisa Hendey, Catholic Mom, http://catholicmom.com/

May 8 – Jeannie Ewing, Love Alone Creates, http://lovealonecreates.com/fatima-apparition-changed-world/

May 9 – Lisa Mladinich, Amazing Catechists,  http://amazingcatechists.com/

May 10 – AnneMarie Miller, Sacrifice of Love, http://marianninja.blogspot.com/

May 11 — Barb Szyszkiewicz, Catholic Mom,  http://catholicmom.com/

May 12 – Allison Gingas, Reconciled to You,  http://www.reconciledtoyou.com/blog.html  and Marge Fenelon, Marge Fenelon, http://margefenelon.com/

May 13 – Esther Gefroh, A Catholic Mom in Hawaii, http://hicatholicmom.blogspot.com/

Author’s Bio:

JEAN M. HEIMANN is a Catholic author and a freelance writer with an M.A. in Theology, a parish minister and speaker, a psychologist and educator, and an Oblate with the Community of St. John. She is a member of the Blue Army and founder of Our Lady of Fatima Rosary and Study group. Jean is the author of Seven Saints for Seven Virtues (Servant, 2014) and Learning to Love with the Saints, A Spiritual Memoir (Mercy, 2016). Visit Jean at her website http://www.jeanmheimann.com/  through which you can access her award-wining blog, Catholic Fire. Her new book Fatima: The Apparition That Changed the World is available for pre-order at Amazon.com or at TAN Books online.

 

 

In Name Only #FREE on Kindle

My gold-medal winning novel, In Name Only, is FREE today through Thursday (April 18-20) on Amazon Kindle. In Name Only is a Catholic historical romance, and is not a formulaic or Harlequin-type romance. It is the first in the O’Donovan Family Series.

Synopsis: Caroline Martin’s life has finally taken a turn for the better. After years of hard work, she has met a virtuous and wealthy man whose love seems to promise the kind of life realized only within the comforting novels she keeps on her night table. Tragedy, however, will teach Caroline of the complexity with which God Himself authors the lives of those who turn towards Him. Gold Medal Winner in Religious Fiction, 2010 IPPY Awards, Amazon Kindle #1 Bestseller (February-March 2012).

Reviews:
“If you love romance but hate smut, pick up this beautiful story and let it carry you away. The characters are believable, layered, human and humorous even in the midst of tragedy. The reader never loses hope and is rewarded on every page with little gems of character behavior, dialogue, plot twists and romantic intrigue. I was so very sorry when it ended!”
Lisa Mladinich, author, True Radiance: Finding Grace in the Second Half of Life

“This is the best book I’ve read in a long time. It has all the qualities that make for an outstanding memorable novel – and it’s Catholic as well. I highly recommend it!”
Therese Heckenkamp, author, Frozen Footprints, Traditional Catholic Novels.com

“There aren’t too many historical romance novels that appeal equally to men and women, but Ellen Gable pulls it off admirably with In Name Only. It’s great to read a Catholic novel that’s not overly “sanitized,” realistic enough to make you wonder if it’s really fiction, and yet not at all offensive. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!” Gerard Webster, author, In Sight

“Gable has skillfully crafted this intriguing novel… which conveys the beautiful Catholic teachings on conjugal love, and shares both a pro-life story and a conversion story.”
Jean Heimann, author, Seven Saints for Seven Virtues

To download the book for free on Kindle, click here: In Name Only, free on Kindle

Happy Easter!

A Blessed Easter!  Alleluia!  He is Risen!We have had a very busy Triduum with my husband as Cantor as all the Masses and me as Lector.

We have had a very busy Triduum with my husband as Cantor as all the Masses and me as Lector.

Easter is somewhat different from the way it used to be when our boys were very small. But we still fill a huge Easter basket to be shared by everyone!

Favorite Easter Hymn:

Jesus Christ is Risen Today

Favorite Chocolate:

President’s Choice Dark Chocolate Peppermint Melts

Favorite Easter Memory:

In 1967, when I was nearly eight years old, my mother was in the hospital in critical condition. Back in those days, children were rarely allowed to visit patients in critical care. I wrote her many letters (like the one below), but rarely could she answer any of our letters because of her illness. A few days before Easter, my father had arranged it with the nurses to allow my three siblings and myself to visit her on Easter Sunday because it was the end of March and also was very close to her birthday. We hadn’t seen her in over a month so I was thrilled to be able to be with her and talk to her again. My first view of her was sitting in a wheelchair, her complexion very pale and I remember being surprised at how thin she was. In fact, my oldest brother could put his fingers around my mother’s wrists they were so small. Mom, at five feet six inches tall, was normally about 110 pounds. When we saw her that Easter day, she weighed about 85 pounds. I didn’t care how she looked, though. I was so excited to see her again after so long. Later, whenever my mother would recall that day, she said that while she was happy to see us, just a few minutes with us tired her out so much that she wound up sleeping most of the rest of the day! Thankfully, Mom made a complete recovery from that illness (and, in fact, gave birth to another child!). She eventually passed away nine years ago. In fact, tomorrow is her birthday. Here is an article I wrote about her several years ago.

copyright Ellen Hrkach

copyright Ellen Hrkach

Favorite Easter Photos Collage:

Top Left: James and I, our first Easter together, 1980

Right: Easter 2003, with my boys dressed (as they used to like to say)

like the brothers in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

Bottom Left: My sibs and I, Easter 1962

Easter collage

 

 

 

Interview with Carolyn Astfalk, Author of Rightfully Ours

Special thanks to Carolyn Astfalk, author of FQP’s young adult novel, Rightfully Ours, for answering these interview questions!

Rightfully Ours is a coming-of-age story of first love, buried treasure, and discovering some things are worth the wait.

When did you first feel called to write fiction?  Although I took a noncredit course in short story writing in the early 1990s, I didn’t dedicate any time or effort to fiction writing until late 2010. I’d seen National Novel Writing Month mentioned here and there by online friends and acquaintances and felt a nudge to give it a shot. It came at exactly the right time, when I had a block of time and relative peace to make at least a passable effort.

How did the idea for the story of Rightfully Ours come about?
I came across an article in our local newspaper about the search for gold that went missing while be transported across Pennsylvania to the Philadelphia Mint in 1863. I tucked that article away without a clear idea of what to do with it until I decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month. I used that as a springboard for the story, developing the characters and the themes as I went along.
How do you come up with names for your characters?
Some names are simply unused baby names that my husband and I tossed around before each of our children were born. Others have more meaning. For example, in Stay With Me, I chose the name Christopher not only because I like it but because the character was to be a “Christ-bearer,” which is what Christopher means.
How does your Catholicity inspire your writing?
My faith infuses my writing very naturally. Just as it is woven into my life, it becomes woven into my stories. While I can imagine writing stories where Catholic themes are less explicitly revealed, I can’t imagine them not underpinning a story because they frame my world view.
Do you have a favorite saint or a patron saint you use to intercede for you when you’re writing?
Long before I began fiction writing, I turned to the Holy Spirit when I had to write or speak publicly about matters pertaining to faith and the Church. That has carried over into fiction writing. I’ll most often say a simple prayer to the Holy Spirit from memory. When it comes to saints, Pope St. John Paul II has inspired me in so many ways. I’m continually awed by his wise and beautiful words. As an author and artist himself and because of his Theology of the Body, which has had a great influence on me, I consider him the perfect patron for my writing.
What message do you hope teens will take from your book?
I hope that teens will recognize the truth and beauty of human sexuality, and that chastity is a virtue that is necessary for all ages and stages of our lives. Jesus’s commands aren’t arbitrary rules made to deprive us of pleasure but rather for the benefit of not only individuals, but marriages, family, and by extension, all of society.
What do you envision as the target audience of this novel?
Because the protagonists are teenagers, I’d expect that teens could most easily relate to the characters and their experiences. However, from the beginning, I saw it more as a coming of age story that I hoped would appeal to adults as well. These days, adults readily enjoy Young Adult novels, I think because we all recognize the unique character of our youth when we are typically more optimistic, idealistic, and first discover the depth and power of love.
What is your favorite part of the writing process? Idea? Writing first draft? Editing? Marketing?
My favorite part is completing the first draft, when everything – the plot and the themes – all come together, sometimes in what seems to me almost a magical way. Unlike a lot of writers, I don’t dislike marketing. I only wish there were more time for it.
What is your least favorite part of the writing process?
My least favorite part is late in the editing process. By that time, I’m often eager to delve into a new project, but there are sometimes still critical changes that must be made about what stays and what goes and discerning which suggestions should be adopted and which should be rejected.
Who are your favorite authors?
When it comes to classics, I enjoy Willa Cather’s writing. When it comes to contemporary Christian romance, which is what I read most, Becky Wade, Denise Hunter, Tammy Gray, and Nicole Deese are among my favorites. And then there are all of the contemporary Catholic fiction writers who have inspired me: Ellen Gable, Michelle Buckman, Stephanie Landsem, Erin McCole Cupp, Theresa Linden, and so many more, who I’m privileged to know.
Do you have any advice for new writers?
Read as much as you can and make a habit of writing. Be diligent about continuing to improve your writing skills whether by reading books on the craft of writing, frequenting blogs, attending conferences, or listening to podcasts. And then, be patient.
What are you currently working on now?
I have two stories in the works. One is another contemporary romance between a young woman who has struggled to lose weight and a young man who cannot find authentic love – or Bigfoot, which makes it a bit quirky. The other is a story that spans decades as a man and woman’s lives intersect at various points from childhood to middle age. The power of unknown prayers for one another sustain them and eventually bring them together.
Rightfully Ours is available on Amazon Kindle and will be available in paperback soon!
Want to win a free paperback copy when it becomes available?  Leave a comment below (before April 24) to be entered!

An Open Book – April 2017 #openbook

Open Book

I’m also joining with Carolyn Astfalk and Catholic Mom for An Open Book. Here’s what I’ve been reading:

Rightfully Ours

by Carolyn Astfalk

Amazon Synopsis: 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?

My review: I  recognize that I’m probably biased since my company is publishing this book. However, I enjoyed this young adult novel the very first time I read it.  Even though it’s considered Young Adult, it kept my interest and I thoroughly enjoyed the story and plot.  Highly recommend.

The Thunder of Justice

by Ted and Maureen Flynn

Amazon Synopsis: The Thunder of Justice provides messages from the major apparition sites in the world from the Blessed Mother. Messages include Church approved Guadalupe Mexico, Rue Du Bac France, LaSalette France, Lourdes France, Pontmain France, Fatima Portugal, Divine Mercy Sister Faustina, Beauraing Belgium, Our Lady of All Nations Amsterdam, Our Lady of America Ohio, Akita Japan, Kibeho Rwanda, San Nicholas Argentina, and many others. Major sites covered not approved by the church are Garabandal Spain, and Medjugorje Bosnia as well as many others.

My review: I’ve read this book before, but wanted to get the updated edition.  It’s a great book if you want to read an overall summary of Marian apparitions. However, the Kindle edition left a lot to be desired.  Formatting was sloppy and no photos or illustrations were included.  It’s kind of difficult to read in places.

The Catcher in the Rye

By J.D. Sallinger

Amazon Synopsis: Since his debut in 1951 as The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield has been synonymous with “cynical adolescent.” Holden narrates the story of a couple of days in his sixteen-year-old life, just after he’s been expelled from prep school, in a slang that sounds edgy even today and keeps this novel on banned book lists. It begins, “If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. In the first place, that stuff bores me, and in the second place, my parents would have about two hemorrhages apiece if I told anything pretty personal about them.” His constant wry observations about what he encounters, from teachers to phonies (the two, of course, are not mutually exclusive) capture the essence of the eternal teenage experience of alienation.

My review: I have read this before, but re-read it last week to assist my youngest son with a project.  Holden Caulfield definitely has some mental issues and major personality issues.  Narrative voice is very clear and the best thing about this novel, but it’s never been one of my favorites because of the overwhelming negativity of his story.

My Heart Will Triumph

by Mirjana Soldo

Synopsis from Amazon: Mirjana Soldo was only sixteen years old when she and five other children encountered a mysterious woman near the village of Medjugorje, ex-Yugoslavia. The woman—who possessed an extraordinary beauty and grace—identified herself as the Virgin Mary. The events that began on that summer afternoon in 1981 dramatically changed Mirjana’s life and brought intense suffering at the hands of the communist authorities. After more than 35 years of apparitions, people still flock to Medjugorje in search of answers to life’s big questions. Stories of miracles abound, and, according to Mirjana, more are yet to come—the Virgin entrusted her with ten prophetic secrets concerning the future of the world.

In My Heart Will Triumph, Mirjana tells the story of Medjugorje through her own eyes—the same eyes that, according to her testimony, gaze upon the most revered woman in history.

This is on my “To Read” shelf.

Dorothea’s War: The Diaries of a First World War Nurse

by Dorothea Crewdson and Richard Crewdson (editor)

Synopsis from Amazon:  The evocative diaries of a young nurse stationed in northern France during the First World War, published for the first time. What shines out above all from the pages of these extraordinarily evocative diaries is a courageous, spirited, compassionate young woman, whose story is made all the more poignant by her tragically premature death at the end of the war just before she was due to return home.

My review:
I’m still reading this, but what I have read is compelling.

Refined by Fire: a Journey of Grief and Grace

by Mary Potter Kenyon

Amazon Synopsis: “Where is the handbook for widows?” Mary Kenyon lamented as she planned a funeral for the beloved husband whose triumph over cancer she chronicled in Chemo-Therapist: How Cancer Cured a Marriage. During the ensuing weeks, as she attempted to make sense of his untimely death, she filled two journals, blogged, and read the inspirational writings of others who had gone down the road of grief before her—authors like C.S. Lewis and Madeleine L’Engle. She eventually found herself studying grief and bereavement in her quest to unearth answers to alleviating the pain associated with profound loss. In the process, she discovered a strength and emotional reserve she didn’t know she had, along with an evolving faith that helped her face the impending loss of an eight-year-old grandson.

“In the midst of the darkness of loss, I found light. Admittedly, in those first weeks, it might have been but a single small spark I sensed deep inside of me, but that spark guided me in the twisted, dark journey of grief. As I stumbled over the roots of hopelessness and despair, that light grew to illuminate my path, a path I sometimes felt very alone on. At some point in the journey I’d turned around, and there was God.

“That is grace.”  In beautiful prose, touching metaphors and stories, and actual journal entries, Mary Potter Kenyon provides a balm for the grieving soul.

My Review: I enjoyed this beautiful book about grieving, although it was heartwrenching at times.  I could relate to several sections because my mother was a grieving widow.  This is an ideal book to give to widows or widowers who are still grieving.