Interview with the Hollywood Times

Interview with Hollywood Times photoI was recently interviewed for the Hollywood Times.  Special thanks to Jules Lavalle! Here is a short excerpt:

Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 4/4/20-  When she joins the war effort during the Great War, American nurse Ella Neumann doesn’t see allies or enemies. The daughter of German immigrants, all soldiers — Allies or Axis — are human beings in need of care. A promise to herself and a promise made to her by an enemy officer become the catalyst for the life she plans to lead after the war. But a handsome Canadian soldier may complicate her plans. In this third installment of the Great War – Great Love series, join Ella in a tale of promises, betrayal and unconditional love.- Ella’s Promise (Great War Great Love Book 3)

Did you always want to be an author?

English, Creative Writing and Spelling were the subjects I loved most in High School and college. As a small child, I enjoyed telling stories and making up stories. When I was a young woman, I married my husband, James, and raised five sons. For me, that was a vocation in itself.

It never occurred to me to be an Author, however, until my husband suggested the idea twenty years ago after I found out some disturbing information about my great-grandmother. “You should write a novel and base it on the stories of yourself and your great-grandmother.” So that’s what I did.

There are several recurring themes in your books. One theme is that every human being is unique and irreplaceable and should be treated with charity and kindness. What are the other themes?

St. John Paul II said, “ Human life is precious because it is the gift of a God whose love is infinite; and when God gives life, it is forever.” Human beings from the moment of conception to natural death are eternal gifts, and that is another theme that flows through my novels.

Saint Teresa of Calcutta once said, “Intense love does not measure; it just gives.” My faith and love for Jesus Christ and the Blessed Mother are important to me, so self-sacrifice is also a theme in most of my books.

St. John Paul II also said: “Love that leads to marriage is a gift from God and a great act of faith toward other human beings.”

Another recurring theme is that husband and wife are called to love as God loves: freely, totally, faithfully and fruitfully. This is why all of my publishing company’s books are called “Theology-of-the-Body Fiction.”

To read the entire interview, click here.

 

Open Book – April 2020 #openbook

Today, I’m joining with Carolyn Astfalk and Catholic Mom for An Open Book.  One of the things I’ve enjoyed most about social distancing and being home all the time is the extra time I’ve had to read. I usually work from home anyway, but James and I take part in several ministries for the diocese so I don’t usually have that much time to read. Now that all of our out-of-home activities have been canceled, I’ve been able to get through many of the books on my “To Read” Pile!

Devil in White City

The Devil in White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson

Synopsis: Come for the Killer, Stay For the Fair. Anonymous death came early and often. Each of the thousand trains that entered and left the city did so at grade level. You could step from a curb and be killed by the Chicago Limited. Every day on average two people were destroyed at the city’s rail crossings. Their injuries were grotesque. Pedestrians retrieved severed heads. There were other hazards. Streetcars fell from drawbridges. Horses bolted and dragged carriages into crowds. Fires took a dozen lives a day. In describing the fire dead, the term the newspapers most liked to use was “roasted.” There was diphtheria, typhus, cholera, influenza. And there was murder. In the time of the fair the rate at which men and women killed each other rose sharply throughout the nation but especially in Chicago, where police found themselves without the manpower or expertise to manage the volume.

But things were changing. Everywhere one looked the boundary between the moral and the wicked seemed to be degrading. Elizabeth Cady Stanton argued in favor of divorce. Clarence Darrow advocated free love. A young woman named Lizzie Borden killed her parents.

And in Chicago a young handsome doctor stepped from a train, his surgical valise in hand. He entered a world of clamor, smoke, and steam, refulgent with the scents of murdered cattle and pigs. He found it to his liking.

The letters came later, from the Cigrands, Williamses, Smythes, and untold others, addressed to that strange gloomy castle at Sixty-third and Wallace, pleading for the whereabouts of daughters and daughters’ children.

It was so easy to disappear, so easy to deny knowledge, so very easy in the smoke and din to mask that something dark had taken root.

This was Chicago, on the eve of the greatest fair in history.

My review: So far, this has been my favorite of the three Larson books I’ve read. I could not put this book down.  Larson weaves the story of H.H. Holmes, one of America’s first serial killers and the story of how the Chicago Fair was organized.  Outstanding read and I learned so much as well.  Highly recommend.

Garden of Beasts

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror and

An American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson

Synopsis: The time is 1933, the place, Berlin, when William E. Dodd becomes America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s Nazi Germany in a year that proved to be a turning point in history.

A mild-mannered professor from Chicago, Dodd brings along his wife, son, and flamboyant daughter, Martha. At first Martha is entranced by the parties and pomp, and the handsome young men of the Third Reich with their infectious enthusiasm for restoring Germany to a position of world prominence. Enamored of the “New Germany,” she has one affair after another, including with the surprisingly honorable first chief of the Gestapo, Rudolf Diels.

But as evidence of Jewish persecution mounts, confirmed by chilling first-person testimony, her father telegraphs his concerns to a largely indifferent State Department back home. Dodd watches with alarm as Jews are attacked, the press is censored, and drafts of frightening new laws begin to circulate. As that first year unfolds and the shadows deepen, the Dodds experience days full of excitement, intrigue, romance—and ultimately, horror, when a climactic spasm of violence and murder reveals Hitler’s true character and ruthless ambition.

Suffused with the tense atmosphere of the period, and with unforgettable portraits of the bizarre Göring and the expectedly charming–yet wholly sinister–Goebbels, In the Garden of Beasts lends a stunning, eyewitness perspective on events as they unfold in real time, revealing an era of surprising nuance and complexity. The result is a dazzling, addictively readable work that speaks volumes about why the world did not recognize the grave threat posed by Hitler until Berlin, and Europe, were awash in blood and terror

My review: This was also another compelling read, and again, I learned a lot, especially about the early days of the Nazis when they were in control of the country.  Dodds, the American ambassador, tries to warn others about the diabolical Hitler, his SS and the Nazis in general.  He saw firsthand the persecution of the Jews and other unspeakable acts even before others outside Germany.  Highly recommend.

112263

11-22-63 by Stephen King

Amazon Synopsis: ON NOVEMBER 22, 1963, THREE SHOTS RANG OUT IN DALLAS, PRESIDENT KENNEDY DIED, AND THE WORLD CHANGED. WHAT IF YOU COULD CHANGE IT BACK?

In this brilliantly conceived tour de force, Stephen King—who has absorbed the social, political, and popular culture of his generation more imaginatively and thoroughly than any other writer—takes readers on an incredible journey into the past and the possibility of altering it.

It begins with Jake Epping, a thirty-five-year-old English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who makes extra money teaching GED classes. He asks his students to write about an event that changed their lives, and one essay blows him away—a gruesome, harrowing story about the night more than fifty years ago when Harry Dunning’s father came home and killed his mother, his sister, and his brother with a sledgehammer. Reading the essay is a watershed moment for Jake, his life—like Harry’s, like America’s in 1963—turning on a dime. Not much later his friend Al, who owns the local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to the past, a particular day in 1958. And Al enlists Jake to take over the mission that has become his obsession—to prevent the Kennedy assassination.

So begins Jake’s new life as George Amberson, in a different world of Ike and JFK and Elvis, of big American cars and sock hops and cigarette smoke everywhere. From the dank little city of Derry, Maine (where there’s Dunning business to conduct), to the warmhearted small town of Jodie, Texas, where Jake falls dangerously in love, every turn is leading eventually, of course, to a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and to Dallas, where the past becomes heart-stoppingly suspenseful, and where history might not be history anymore. Time-travel has never been so believable. Or so terrifying.

My review: I absolutely loved this book.  It has something for everyone: time travel, great characters, someone trying to stop the Kennedy Assassination, a love story, interesting plot.  It’s a LONG read (900 pages), but after I finished the book, I immediately ordered the DVD of the 2016 mini-series with James Franco.  Highly recommend both the novel and the DVD!

Such Good Girls

 

Such Good Girls: The Journey of the Holocaust’s Hidden Survivors by R. D. Rosen

Synopsis: Edgar Award-winning mystery novelist R. D. Rosen tells the story of the hidden children who survived the Holocaust through the lives of three girls hidden in three different countriesamong the less than 10 percent of Jewish children in Europe to survive World War IIwho went on to lead remarkable lives in New York City.

Only one in ten Jewish children in Europe survived the Holocaust, many in hiding. In Such Good Girls, R. D. Rosen tells the story of these survivors through the true experiences of three girls.

Sophie Turner-Zaretsky, who spent the war years believing she was an anti-Semitic Catholic schoolgirl, eventually became an esteemed radiation oncologist. Flora Hogman, protected by a succession of Christians, emerged from the war a lonely, lost orphan, but became a psychologist who pioneered the study of hidden child survivors. Unlike Anne Frank, Carla Lessing made it through the war concealed with her family in the home of Dutch strangers before becoming a psychotherapist and key player in the creation of an international organization of hidden child survivors.

In braiding the stories of three women who defied death by learning to be “such good girls,” Rosen examines a silent and silenced generation—the last living cohort of Holocaust survivors. He provides rich, memorable portraits of a handful of hunted children who, as adults, were determined to deny Hitler any more victories, and he recreates the extraordinary event that lured so many hidden child survivors out of their grown-up “hiding places” and finally brought them together.

My review: I just downloaded this for .99 so this is in my “To Be Read” pile.

 

Rome Sweet Home

Rome Sweet Home: Our Journey to Catholicism by Scott and Kimberly Hahn

Amazon Synopsis: The well-known and very popular Catholic couple, Scott and Kimberly Hahn, have been constantly travelling and speaking all over North America for the last few years about their conversion to the Catholic Church. Now these two outstanding Catholic apologists tell in their own words about the incredible spiritual journey that led them to embrace Catholicism.

Scott Hahn was a Presbyterian minister, the top student in his seminary class, a brilliant Scripture scholar, and militantly anti-Catholic … until he reluctantly began to discover that his “enemy” had all the right answers. Kimberly, also a top-notch theology student in the seminary, is the daughter of a well-known Protestant minister, and went through a tremendous “dark night of the soul” after Scott converted to Catholicism.

Their conversion story and love for the Church has captured the hearts and minds of thousands of lukewarm Catholics and brought them back into an active participation in the Church. They have also influenced countless conversions to Catholicism among their friends and others who have heard their powerful testimony.

My review: I’ve read the original of this book three times in the past and enjoyed it tremendously.  I picked it up again the other day and still found it as compelling as the first time I read it. Highly recommend.

 

FQP Sale – Books for 1.99 #socialisolation

On this Feast of the Annunciation,

here are the FQP books that are on sale for 1.99 until March 30th.

INO series Promo

O’Donovan Family Series by Ellen Gable

In Name Only (Gold Medal winner, 2010 IPPY Awards)

A Subtle Grace (Finalist 2015 IAN Historical, Romance)

each regularly priced 4.99

Father's Son Promo

The Father’s Son by Jim Sano

regularly priced 5.99

Lady Doc Promo

The Lady Doc Murders by Barbara Golder

Dying for Revenge

Dying for Compassion

Each regularly priced 4.99

Discovery Promo

Discovery by Karina Fabian

Regularly priced: 4.99

Huge #Sale of FQP Books on #Kindle #socialisolation

Looking for some cheap but quality reading during this time of social isolation?

FQP has reduced all its books for this one week sale to take place today through Monday March 30 at 11:45 p.m.

The following books are on sale for .99

(Tomorrow’s post will list the books on sale for 1.99)

99 cent promo FQP

A Channel of Your Peace by Veronica Smallhorn

Angela’s Song by AnnMarie Creedon

Rightfully Ours by Carolyn Astfalk

Stealing Jenny by Ellen Gable

Growing Up in God’s Image by Carolyn Smith

Don’t You Forget About Me by Erin McCole Cupp

Emily’s Hope by Ellen Gable (2006 IPPY Awards, Honorable Mention)

    The Lion’s Heart by Dena Hunt (CALA Winner)

Great War Promo

Great War Great Love Series by Ellen Gable

Julia’s Gifts

Charlotte’s Honor

Ella’s Promise

Heaven Intended Promo

Heaven Intended Series by Amanda Lauer

A World Such as Heaven Intended (CALA Winner)

A Life Such as Heaven Intended

A Love Such as Heaven Intended

Astfalk Promo

Stay With Me Series by Carolyn Astfalk

Come Back to Me

(Come Back to Me will be on sale for .99 early tomorrow morning)

Stay With Me  (IAN finalist)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Channel of Your Peace: Interview With Veronica Smallhorn

A Channel of Your Peace front coverI’m participating in the Virtual Book Tour for A Channel of Your Peace by Veronica Smallhorn.  Today, I have an interview with the author!

This is your first novel.  What inspired you to write a Catholic novel?

When I was ten, I wrote a story for my school’s ‘Book Week’ writing competition. I worked hard on it, and remember feeling quite thrilled and exhilarated when I finished it. I handwrote the title page before stapling it together — putting my story title, name, and a copyright symbol for good measure, and decided that one day I wanted to be published for real!

But as for writing something specifically Catholic, your own books, Ellen, were what inspired me. I always thought it would be unlikely I could ever publish the type of fiction I wanted to write. I didn’t realise it was possible to publish Catholic stories in our day and age. The first of your own books that I read were Emily’s Hope and In Name Only, and it wasn’t until then that the idea to write a Catholic story – one that focused on the Church’s teachings on marriage and family – started to form.

 Tell us about A Channel of Your Peace in two sentences.

A Channel of Your Peace is a story about love — not only the love that can exist between a man and a woman, but also, and more importantly, the love of God for each and every one of us. It is also about that wonderful virtue of hope; hope that God can, and will, draw good from evil if we put our trust in Him.

How much of you and your husband are in the characters of Katrina and Emilio (Erin’s sister and brother-in-law)?

While I didn’t base Katrina and Emilio on myself and my husband Pablo, I did draw a bit on the experience of our life together which made them easier for me to write — it’s something that I know. When I was in the early planning stages of the story, I knew Erin would need some convincing to make a long flight to Mexico. Having her family help her along seemed like a good way to get her there.

I really didn’t base Katrina on myself, but when I was choosing a profession for Emilio, I did draw on Pablo’s expertise – he has a PhD in philosophy. It was fun to give Emilio a position as a university lecturer in philosophy!

Your description of the Cathedral in Mexico and the miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe are very well done.  Have you been there before and, if so, what has been your experience? 

Thank you! Yes, I’ve been to the basilica four times, back when Pablo and I lived in Mexico when we were first married. We were very blessed to live only about three hours’ drive from Mexico City, so we used to make our own little pilgrimages. While I never experienced anything as obviously miraculous as Erin did, I can honestly say that each time we went the experience was most touching. Notwithstanding the crowds and tourists (on weekends and feast days it’s standing room only!) I always experienced a wonderful peace and joy in the basilica and found myself drawn irresistibly to the image of Our Lady. She really is present there. I always wanted to get as close as I could, so I would go back and forth on those travelators again and again.

It’s true that even the authentic replicas don’t quite do the original image justice. Seeing the real tilma is really quite an experience in itself, if you have faith. I think that’s what draws so many people there every year. In addition, I’ve always found it fascinating that this Marian apparition site is unique among her other apparition sites. At Guadalupe, Our Lady left something of herself behind on Saint Juan Diego’s tilma; that piece of fabric made from a cactus plant which shouldn’t have lasted more than a few years. And yet, here it still is, almost 500 years later. Extraordinary!

How would you describe the target audience for your book?

When I started writing the novel, I set out with young women in mind as my target audience, more or less around the age of my lead character Erin, who is about 27. It’s a love story, in large part, and we girls love a good romance! Although, it’s my hope the book may reach a wider audience. I was surprised at the positive reaction I received from the men who read the manuscript prior to publication, ranging in age between 30 and 80. The story carries a strong theme about the freedom we experience on embracing God’s teaching, which is essentially for everyone, even if the book may not be everyone’s preferred genre.

Tell us more about yourself and your family.

My husband Pablo and I have been married for 14 years. Pablo is Mexican, and we lived in Mexico for three years when we were first married and had our first child there. We now live in Canberra, Australia (my home city) and have three children; two boys and a girl. Pablo is an academic – he has a number of degrees and completed his PhD by way of multiple publications which appeared in journals all over the world. In terms of formal education, I’m the exact opposite to him as I never attended university. But our joint love of writing, albeit different forms of writing, is something that has been a lovely common ground in our marriage. I’m sure I would never have finished my novel if he hadn’t been cheering me on.

Our family life is pretty busy — anyone who has raised a family, or is in the midst of raising one, knows how intense a job this is! It seems to get more intense with each passing year as the kids move further along in their studies and interests. We have a fairly interesting, culturally-mixed family life and all our children are bilingual. I still don’t speak Spanish, but I do understand a lot of what I hear around the house; enough to be able to join an exclusively Spanish conversation – speaking in English, of course. It makes for entertaining listening (downright hilarious, actually, if I misunderstand something!) Pablo and I combined the names of our countries early in our marriage and often refer to our home as ‘Mextralia’!

The one thing that transcends all the cultural intricacies and differences is our faith. Weekly, or more-than-weekly Mass, regular Confession and the daily Rosary are pillars in our family life. Pablo and I try to present to the children the perfect example of the Holy Family of Nazareth as the one we should all be striving to imitate each day – though some days are definitely better than others! We’re just muddling through the best we can, just like everyone else. Which is all any of us can do, I think.

Download or purchase the book at this link.

 

An Open Book – March #openbook

Today, I’m joining with Carolyn Astfalk and Catholic Mom for An Open Book. Here’s what I’ve been reading for the past month.

A Channel of Your Peace front cover

A Channel of Your Peace by Veronica Smallhorn

New book by Full Quiver Publishing!

Synopsis: Would a God who truly loves you allow things to get this bad?

Lapsed Catholic Erin Rafferty has the life she always wanted. Or at least she did, till the moment her fiancé of five years announces he’s leaving her for another woman. Heartbroken and humiliated, a further devastating development leaves her wondering if she can ever live a normal life again.

Mark Ashcroft is a devout Catholic looking for an equally devout Catholic wife. A chance encounter with Erin leaves Mark completely captivated, yet deeply unsettled, knowing Erin is not in a place to accept him, nor is she the model Christian woman he’d hoped to start a life with.

A tentative friendship begins, and Erin finds herself questioning her long-held rejection of her faith, while Mark finds himself healing from memories of his own wounded past.

But as love grows, further tragedy in Erin’s life threatens her burgeoning faith and her hope for a future with Mark.

What follows is a difficult journey of love, surrender, trust, and faith in the ultimate knowledge that Christ is always in the midst of our sufferings.

 

Come Back to Me Front

Come Back to Me: Stay With Me #2 by Carolyn Astfalk

New Book by Full Quiver Publishing!

Synopsis: After his wife, Jamie, kicks him out, Alan moves in with his brother and sister-in-law, who are expecting a baby. As the days turn to months, the prospect of a reunion grows dimmer, and Alan is left to pick up the pieces of his broken marriage while bunking alongside blissfully happy newlyweds.

Megan, Jamie’s friend, is privy to both Jamie’s and Alan’s private woes, meeting Jamie to lend an ear and occupying a barstool next to Alan. Megan’s dissatisfaction with her own life—meaningless hookups, a brother who’s found Jesus, and an increasingly awkward relationship with Jamie and Alan—grows.

Alan comes to his sister-in-law’s aid when she goes into labor, forcing him to act with long-overdue maturity. Meanwhile, through a conversation with her mother, Jamie realizes a skewed perception of her father’s indifference and her own fears have led her to be harder on Alan than he deserves.

Forced to come to terms with her unresolved grief, Megan discovers the need to make amends and start fresh.

Stay with Me front cover

The prequel to Come Back to Me is Stay With Me (Stay With Me #1)

 

Though War Be Waged

Though War be Waged Upon Me

by Carol Puschaver

Synopsis: Make no mistake. Satan is very much alive — and hellbent on revenge. He is waging war against humanity, and indeed against all creation, with the reckless abandon of one who has nothing more to lose. Cast out of heaven; crushed at the foot of the Cross, he is multiplying evil and outrage and scandal to unprecedented effect as he “strikes at [the] heel” (Gen 3.15) of “fallen mankind” (St. Joseph Edition of the New American Bible, Revised Edition, 9).Without question we are living in a time of increasingly brazen evil. That is to say, a time of extraordinary and abundant grace also. Christ has already won the final victory over Satan. By His grace, we stand strong against the forces of evil. By that same ineffable grace, we stand in the company of holy angels — most especially the glorious Warrior Archangel Saint Michael. And the high ground belongs to us!

My review: This is a beautiful booklet dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel.  If you thought the only St. Michael prayer was the one we sometimes say at the end of Mass, then this book will be an eye opener for you.  Included is a history of the St. Michael prayers as well as a chaplet and reflections. Highly recommend.

The Day the World Came to Town

The Day the World Came to Town by Jim Defede

Synopsis: The True Story Behind the Events on 9/11 that Inspired Broadway’s Smash Hit Musical Come from Away

When 38 jetliners bound for the United States were forced to land at Gander International Airport in Canada by the closing of U.S. airspace on September 11, the population of this small town on Newfoundland Island swelled from 10,300 to nearly 17,000. The citizens of Gander met the stranded passengers with an overwhelming display of friendship and goodwill.

As the passengers stepped from the airplanes, exhausted, hungry and distraught after being held on board for nearly 24 hours while security checked all of the baggage, they were greeted with a feast prepared by the townspeople. Local bus drivers who had been on strike came off the picket lines to transport the passengers to the various shelters set up in local schools and churches. Linens and toiletries were bought and donated. A middle school provided showers, as well as access to computers, email, and televisions, allowing the passengers to stay in touch with family and follow the news.

Over the course of those four days, many of the passengers developed friendships with Gander residents that they expect to last a lifetime. As a show of thanks, scholarship funds for the children of Gander have been formed and donations have been made to provide new computers for the schools. This book recounts the inspiring story of the residents of Gander, Canada, whose acts of kindness have touched the lives of thousands of people and been an example of humanity and goodwill.

My review:  This was an enjoyable read of a group of passengers from 38 planes who were diverted to Gander, Newfoundland on 9/11.  It shows the contrast between the horrific terrorism of that day and the generosity of the people of Gander to welcome strangers into their homes and lives.  9/11 made me proud to be American. This story made me proud to be Canadian. Beautiful book.

Dead Wake

Dead Wake by Erik Larson

Synopsis:  #1 New York Times Bestseller!   From the bestselling author and master of narrative nonfiction comes the enthralling story of the sinking of the Lusitania.

On May 1, 1915, with WWI entering its tenth month, a luxury ocean liner as richly appointed as an English country house sailed out of New York, bound for Liverpool, carrying a record number of children and infants. The passengers were surprisingly at ease, even though Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone. For months, German U-boats had brought terror to the North Atlantic. But the Lusitania was one of the era’s great transatlantic “Greyhounds”—the fastest liner then in service—and her captain, William Thomas Turner, placed tremendous faith in the gentlemanly strictures of warfare that for a century had kept civilian ships safe from attack.

Germany, however, was determined to change the rules of the game, and Walther Schwieger, the captain of Unterseeboot-20, was happy to oblige. Meanwhile, an ultra-secret British intelligence unit tracked Schwieger’s U-boat, but told no one. As U-20 and the Lusitania made their way toward Liverpool, an array of forces both grand and achingly small—hubris, a chance fog, a closely guarded secret, and more—all converged to produce one of the great disasters of history.

It is a story that many of us think we know but don’t, and Erik Larson tells it thrillingly, switching between hunter and hunted while painting a larger portrait of America at the height of the Progressive Era. Full of glamour and suspense, Dead Wake brings to life a cast of evocative characters, from famed Boston bookseller Charles Lauriat to pioneering female architect Theodate Pope to President Woodrow Wilson, a man lost to grief, dreading the widening war but also captivated by the prospect of new love.

Gripping and important, Dead Wake captures the sheer drama and emotional power of a disaster whose intimate details and true meaning have long been obscured by history.

My review: I’ve just discovered this author and plan to read every book he’s written. He writes non-fiction like it’s fiction, but everything is fact-based.  I knew very little of what happened during the sinking of the Lusitania, and this is a fascinating account of all the events leading up to it and the people who were involved. My only criticism is that there were no photos and in a book like this, there should be photos. Highly recommend!

Jesus Perfect Love

Jesus Perfect Love Lawrence Jakows

Synopsis: Jesus tells us and shows us how much He loves us and how we can return this amazing love. Appreciate and learn more about His love through His Sacred Heart, His Sacraments, His Saints, His Holy Scriptures, His Cross, His Death, His Resurrection. Jesus, the second person of the Most Holy Trinity, has boundless love for everyone. It is our Christian obligation to discover His Holy love in our hearts. Then respond to and return His love so that we may be found worthy for sainthood in heaven for eternity. Many saints and martyrs of the Catholic Church have written beautiful prose and poetry describing and understanding God’s most powerful and amazing love. Several saintly excerpts are included herein to encourage our spiritual growth and piety. Learn about His love from the following saints, and many more: St. Augustine of Hippo, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Frances de Sales, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Bridget of Sweden, St. Therese of Lisieux. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.

My review: This is a beautiful book with a collection of essays about God’s Perfect Love, Jesus.  The author includes quotes from Scripture, saints and prayers.  This is an excellent book that describes how we can adore, believe in, hope in and trust in this Perfect Love through the sacraments, Adoration, the holy Rosary and spiritual reading.  My only criticism of the book is that Fasting is only mentioned through Scripture and not in any way explained. Fasting is truly one of the most important tools for spiritual growth and love of God, especially in this culture. Highly recommend.

 

 

 

 

 

Interview With Carolyn Astfalk

Come Back to Me FrontWhat inspired you to first start writing fiction?

Looking back, I’ve always had a rather cinematic imagination that allowed stories to play out in my mind. However, I wrote strictly nonfiction until 2010, when I gave National Novel Writing Month a shot. That manuscript, after many years and much revision, became Rightfully Ours. Once I started writing, the stories flowed more easily, and I enjoyed the challenge of taking all of those words and making something meaningful out of them.

What inspired you to write a sequel to Stay With Me?

Initially, I was looking for something new to write, and the characters from Stay With Me were still active in my imagination. I knew there was more to Alan and Jamie’s story. Initially, I’d considered that Alan may have had a problem with pornography, something I ended up developing with different characters in All in Good Time.

Tell us about Come Back to Me in one sentence.

A separated couple and their mutual friend must master their selfishness and immaturity to find purpose and grace enough to start over.

Are Alan and Megan based on anyone you know or are they totally fictional characters?

Alan and Jamie were inspired by the experience my husband and I had with Catholic Engaged Encounter. In 1996, on the weekend retreat we attended in preparation for our own marriage, we were one of only three couples who weren’t already living together. Oddly enough for a church-sponsored event, the six of us were put on the defensive about it by the other couples and bonded pretty quickly. When we later got involved with Engaged Encounter as volunteers, most of the couples coming through the program were living together already too.

Statistically, couples that live together before marriage, especially those living together without plans to marry, are more likely to divorce. So the couples on those weekends, though they desired happy, long-lasting marriages, were putting themselves at a disadvantage. Alan and Jamie let me explore why couples in those situations are more likely to struggle.

Megan is entirely fictional although I’ve observed a family implode much like Megan’s did following the death of a child. Everything and every member of the family was turned on its head.

Do you have specific rituals when you write?  A certain place or time?  Music that you listen to?  A special beverage?

I’ve always had to write whenever I could grab a few minutes either while babies were napping or kids were otherwise occupied. Lately I’ve been less inclined to write amidst constant distractions, so I’m grateful that I now have some quiet time to write—when I can discipline myself to do it. We’re pressed for space in our house, so my writing has always been done on my laptop at the dining room table, sometimes with a Spotify playlist to set the mood. Though I’m naturally a night owl, I prefer to write earlier in the day and read at night. I typically have a mug of hot tea next to the computer.

Of the now five novels you’ve written, which is your favorite and why?

Ornamental Graces is my favorite. Dan and Emily had a lot of obstacles to overcome, but their intentions were good, and though it took time for Dan to get to a place where he could be the man Emily needed, their love never really faltered, even when they tried to fight it. Though the book spans every season, I think the Christmas setting that bookends the story makes it that much sweeter.

What do you like to read?  Who are some of your favorite authors?

I read a variety of genres, but I always come back to character-driven contemporary Catholic and Christian romance. I enjoy reading books by the many Catholic authors I consider friends, such as Theresa Linden, Leslea Wahl, and yourself. Elizabeth Byler Younts, Courtney Walsh, and Denise Hunter are a few of my favorite Christian authors. I also try to slip in some classics, though not enough. Willa Cather is one of my favorite classic authors.

Tell us more about yourself and your family. Are you working on any more novels?

My husband and I have four children ages 7-16. We try not to overextend ourselves with activities, but even so there is plenty to keep us busy with Scouts, 4-H, sports, musical instruments, and other extra-curricular activities. I’m chairperson of a national pro-life organization based in Pennsylvania, and now that the children are all in school, I’ve been able to volunteer more often at our school and parish and attend a Bible study. I should probably be spending more time cleaning house.

I have two novels in progress that I hope to complete in 2020. One, which I call Lost and Found, is a contemporary romance set in the New River Gorge of West Virginia involving an adventure guide/amateur Bigfoot hunter and a girl who’s defined her self-worth and others’ by their weight. The other is a second-chance contemporary romance between a man and woman whose paths cross time and time again in ways they are sometimes unaware. I’ve been calling that one The Light Between. After that, there’s a Young Adult novel I’ve been developing in my mind that I’ve yet to put on paper.