Theresa Linden, author of Anyone But Him, Interview #VBT

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Theresa Linden is the author of the New Christian Mystery, Anyone But Him.  Check out my previous blog post for my review and more information about this wonderful book!

Anyone but Him is told entirely from Caitlyn Summer’s perspective. What is Caitlyn like?

Caitlyn is one of the characters in my West Brothers young adult series, but she is all grown up in this new adult story. She is a faithful Christian who loves her life and her family, and she’s always been full of bubbly hope. She doesn’t swear, never did drugs, and she had always intended to save herself for marriage.

In this story, she wakes up in a nightmare situation, and she just can’t come to terms with it. She is miles from home and she is married to a boy she never even liked in high school. He’s vain and egocentric. And he’s always had drastically lower standards than her. And because she’s always romanticized her future, knowing what kind of man she would one day marry, she can’t believe this is her life.

Action scenes takes place in woods that seem unfamiliar to Caitlyn. And another scene takes place on the beach. What made you choose North Carolina for the location in this story?

For the story to work, I needed a location that was far away from where Caitlyn grew up, in South Dakota. As a young woman, I spent one summer in North Carolina with friends. I loved the beauty and diversity of the landscape, with forests and beaches and orange dirt. And I enjoyed the relaxed pace and listening to the southern accents. So North Carolina seemed like a perfect fit for this story!

What makes this mystery romance different?

Well, at first it doesn’t seem like this story will have a detective, but it does. And while all mysteries have elements which remain unknown or unexplained until the end, this story has more than a few elements. For one, Caitlyn wakes with amnesia. She has no idea what caused the amnesia and no one else seems to know either. The even bigger problem for her is this man she wakes up next to. He claims to be her husband, but she can’t imagine how she would’ve married a man like him. The stakes are raised when her husband’s younger brother arrives on the scene. She remembers being in love with him. Why hadn’t she married him? Throughout this story, while trying to solve these mysteries, Caitlyn finds herself evaluating her faith and her understanding of what marriage truly is.

While trying to understand how she ended up married to him, Caitlyn’s most important question becomes “Who changed?” Has she discarded the values she cherished or has her husband become the kind of man she dreamed of? What lesson is there for all of us in how we see each other, particularly those we’ve known a long time?

Sometimes it is easier to overlook faults in a stranger than in one who is close to us. It can be easier to offer kindness and mercy to a stranger as well. We see our loved ones’ strengths and weaknesses day after day. We expect them to act a certain way in various situations. So it can be difficult to recognize when someone we think we know so well has changed for the better. We too often jump to conclusions based on a person’s past behavior. I suppose this is because we have a vested interest in our family members. We feel responsible for them and want to help them become better people. But it’s important that we recognize the work of God in their lives as well.

What do you most want readers to take away from Anyone But Him?

We’ve all made mistakes and sometimes very big ones, but God is bigger than our mistakes and He can lift us up and set us on a new and beautiful path. I hope this story offers readers hope and encouragement that stays with them for a while.

You’ve written discussion guides for your other books. What extras do you have planned for this one?

This book will also have a book club discussion guide and discounts for bulk purchases. Visit my website for details. I also plan to share the recipes of the food that characters prepare throughout the story, including Chicken Florentine, apple crepes, and authentic Mexican tamales. I’ll share these recipes on my blog and website. Oh, and readers will finally get to find out what Jarret put in the eggs, as mentioned in chapter 3.

What is coming up next for you?

I am currently writing the next two books in the West Brothers series. The first one, Roland West, Outcast, is about a shy teen who fears speaking up, but when his best friend begs him to look into the vandalism of an outcast’s house, his detective skills may be the only way to find answers. The second one is a Confirmation story. I don’t have a working title or story blurb for that one yet, but I want it to really bring the grace of the Sacrament of Confirmation to life through the West brothers.

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Newearth: Justine Awakens

JustineNewearth: Justine Awakens
 
Found guilty of war crimes, Justine Santana, a Human-Android hybrid is shut down. Taug, an alien from Crestar, must eliminate his father’s mistake—a Human-Cresta crossbreed named Derik. When Taug awakens Justine and charges her with the assignment to kill Derik, he never suspects that she might discover the meaning of love and her intrinsic humanity.
 
Cerulean from Last of Her Kind  (currently free on Kindle) aides Newearth in her first tottering steps toward freedom…
 
Now, after the last war crimes trial, Cerulean would finally be free to help humanity resettle on Newearth.  But this trial must come first. After all, Justine is human too….
 
Taug, an alien from Crestar, becomes entangled in inter-alien politics and is amazed by human decency.
 
His tentacles released the delicate equipment; Mitholie looked Taug in the eye. “The High Tribunal simply wishes you to…purge your father’s unfortunate experiment. That done, I’m sure this messy business can be consigned to the dark waters.”
 
Meet Bala and his wife Kendra, a couple joined by heaven who must endure the pains of hell—but despite every adversity—intend to make Newearth a better world for everyone.
 
“Kendra, Max would like to know why we had so many.” With a sweep of his hand over the children, he clarified his point.
Kendra’s nearly frantic chewing slowed to glacial speed as one eyebrow rose. “Well, you see, it’s our pleasure. We enjoy bringing new life into the world and training them to become wonderful citizens of Newearth.”
Bala stared at Kendra, his eyes rounding into orbs. “The truth? You told him the truth!”
 
Newearth: Justine Awakens
 
For more information about other science fiction novels by A. K. Frailey, visit her website.
 
Or check out her full line of novels, short stories, scripts, children’s book, and inspirational works.
My review: I enjoyed this book very much.  Frailey’s characters are well-defined and the continuing story in the Newearth world is compelling.  Highly recommend the entire series!

Anyone But Him by Theresa Linden VBT

9780997674743-main.jpgA New Adult Mystery Romance

Caitlyn Summer had always followed the straight and narrow path. Her perfect husband would love Jesus more than her and love her because of her love for Jesus. He would be faithful and gentle and have a heart for others. So how did she end up marrying the bad boy who got her high school best friend pregnant then pressured her to abort?

​Unable to remember the past three years or understand why she would’ve moved so far from home, Caitlyn can’t believe she willingly married such an overprotective, bossy, and jealous man. In this emotionally-charged, new adult mystery romance, ANYONE BUT HIM, Caitlyn struggles to solve the mysteries of her amnesia and her marriage. Suspicious circumstances surrounding her husband tempt her to leave and start life over, but they also challenge her Christian faith and convictions.  ​

The arrival of her first love, her husband’s younger brother, intent on helping her regain her memory, offers a glimmer of hope. Together they uncover secrets involving her coworkers and the local abortion clinic, but nothing to explain why she married this man. Who changed – him or her?

My review:  I absolutely loved this book!  It pulled me in immediately and kept me enthralled until I finished it (yes, in one sitting!)  Caitlyn is a character that has been prominent in some of Linden’s other books.  In Anyone But Him, she wakes up with amnesia and discovers she is several years older and married to a man who, in high school, got her best friend pregnant, then pressured her to abort.

The characters are believable and well-developed, the story engaging, and the setting visually made me feel like I was experiencing the story.  As with Linden’s other books, the writing is high quality.

I only figured out the mystery of how Caitlyn was injured a few pages before it was revealed.  I especially appreciated the author’s illustration of how the husband and wife fell in love through letters, flashbacks and memories. The truth is, anyone (even a callous, selfish, lustful man) can begin life anew in Jesus and become a saint-in-making.

Anyone But Him is exactly what Catholic Fiction should be: enthralling, entertaining, believable and with a beautiful pro-life message. Highly recommend!

Links:

The book is available in hardback, paperback, and Kindle:

https://www.amazon.com/Anyone-But-Him-Theresa-Linden/dp/0997674741

Author website: www.theresalinden.com

FB: https://www.facebook.com/theresalindenauthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LindenTheresa

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7537721.Theresa_Linden

Book trailer: https://youtu.be/A-R_7IagmV0

Author Bio:

Theresa Linden is the author of award-winning Catholic teen fiction. Raised in a military family, she developed a strong patriotism and a sense of adventure. Her Catholic faith inspires the belief that there is no greater adventure than the reality we can’t see, the spiritual side of life. She has six published novels, and two short stories in Image and Likeness: Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body (Full Quiver Publishing). She holds a Catechetical Diploma from Catholic Distance University and is a member of the Catholic Writers Guild and the International Writers Society. A wife, homeschooling mom, and Secular Franciscan, she resides in northeast Ohio with her husband and three teenage boys.

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An Open Book – April 2018

Open Book

I’m joining with Carolyn Astfalk and Catholic Mom for An Open Book.

Here’s what I’ve been reading during the past month!

9780997674743.main

Anyone But Him by Theresa Linden

Synopsis: A New Adult Mystery Romance   Caitlyn Summer had always followed the straight and narrow path. Her perfect husband would love Jesus more than her and love her because of her love for Jesus. He would be faithful and gentle and have a heart for others. So how did she end up marrying the bad boy who got her high school best friend pregnant then pressured her to abort?

Unable to remember the past three years or understand why she would’ve moved so far from home, Caitlyn can’t believe she willingly married such an overprotective, bossy, and jealous man. In this emotionally-charged, new adult mystery romance, ANYONE BUT HIM, Caitlyn struggles to solve the mysteries of her amnesia and her marriage. Suspicious circumstances surrounding her husband tempt her to leave and start life over, but they also challenge her Christian faith and convictions.

The arrival of her first love, her husband’s younger brother, intent on helping her regain her memory, offers a glimmer of hope. Together they uncover secrets involving her coworkers and the local abortion clinic, but nothing to explain why she married this man. Who changed – him or her?

My review:  I absolutely loved this book!  It pulled me in immediately and kept me enthralled until I finished it (yes, in one sitting!)  Anyone But Him is exactly what Catholic Fiction should be: enthralling, entertaining, believable and with a beautiful pro-life message. Highly recommend!  (Longer review coming soon!)

Eugenios

Eugenios by Julian Bauer

Synopsis: Eugenios is a novel for those interested in early Christianity and the environment in which it began. Most interesting is a tale of Christ’s burial shroud, how it came to be weaved and how it came to be used. The importance of this shroud is pointed out in the book’s epilogue: “The largest extant piece of textile that has come down to us from antiquity is the shroud of Turin, a linen cloth displaying a negative image of a crucified man bearing all the wounds corresponding in every respect with the gospel’s account of Christ’s wounds. Virtually no one believes that a Middle-Ages forger could have conceived of, much less designed and produced, such an image. It is a mystery. Is this evidence of His resurrection?”

My review:  I enjoyed this book, although it is very thick historically, with numerous historical facts and backstory.  However, it is written well and I learned a lot. 4 out of 5 stars. Recommend for those who enjoy historical/biblical fiction.

Paul's Prayers

Paul’s Prayers by Susan Anderson

Synopsis: Paul’s Prayers is the story of a moderately autistic young man navigating life with a spiritual intelligence that runs further than most people can walk. Written by Paul’s mother, this insightful memoir gives readers a unique look at the challenges and joys of raising her autistic son in a large Catholic family.

The first of six children, Paul’s early years were an exciting and confusing time for his parents. At the time, very little information on autism and its early signs was available, and the fact that the disorder is a spectrum ranging from mild to severe was not widely known.

Throughout this intimate memoir, every day is a challenge to be met with creative thinking, patience, and faith. Paul finds comfort in contemplative prayer and the support of his family when the world around him becomes too chaotic. As her son grows up, Susan Anderson learns how to cope with autism and embrace the importance of faith in the things unseen. Her family’s experience is a beacon of light for those who find themselves on a similar path.

My review: I enjoyed this sometimes heart-wrenching memoir of a mother with a son who has autism.  Some sections were enjoyable and others were difficult to read. Overall,  it is an interesting account of what it’s like to raise an autistic child.  Recommend.

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Taking Care of Your Family’s Health and Well-being, Saints to Turn to and the Catholic Faith by Cascia Talber

Synopsis: Combining healthy living and the Catholic faith in a book has never been done before until now.

Using diet recommendations for your age group, learning how to spot mental health issues, exercising your brain and body and praying to the saint or saints who are patrons for your health issue, can bring peace and possibly healing.

We are all on a journey to sainthood. We can use the examples of the saints to teach us how to better understand how to have a healthy mind, get proper nutrition, and get enough physical activity. They are also our friends and will intercede for us when we are troubled, in times of need or struggling with a health issue. This book introduces readers to special saints that can help us on our journey towards healthy living, happiness and eternal life in heaven.

My review: I enjoyed this book, which is more like a “How To” book on health and well being.  It is filled with recipes, exercises, saints’ stories and other helpful information on how to take care of yourself and your family.  Four out of five stars.

Justine

Newearth: Justine Awakens by A.K. Frailey

Synopsis: Found guilty of war crimes, Justine Santana, a Human-Android hybrid is shut down. Taug, an alien from Crestar, must eliminate his father’s mistake—a Human-Cresta crossbreed named Derik. When Taug awakens Justine and charges her with the assignment to kill Derik, he never suspects that she might discover the meaning of love and her intrinsic humanity. Her freedom hangs in the balance. Is she a woman—or a weapon?

My review:  In Justine Awakens, (Newearth #2), Cerulean, a character from Book 1, Last of Her Kind, aides Newearth in her first tottering steps toward freedom. The human android hybrid, Justine, is a multi-layered character. I enjoyed this book very much.  Frailey’s characters are well-defined and the continuing story in the Newearth world is a fascinating one.  Highly recommend both books in the series.

Dynamic Women of Faith Conference

I was excited to be a vendor at the Dynamic Women of Faith Conference at the John Paul II Polish Cultural Center in Mississauga this past weekend!   It’s hard to believe that we started with one book 13 years ago and now we have over 20 books in our catalog. #catholicfiction #ToBTalk #ToBFiction

Ellen at DWF Conference 2018

Don’t Be Fooled by Those Who Are “Re-interpreting” Humanae Vitae #HV50

By Christopher West

This July 25 marks 50 years since Pope Paul VI shocked the world when he issued his encyclical letter Humanae Vitae (Of Human Life) reaffirming the traditional Christian teaching against contraception. Although he was mocked and scorned globally – both from outside and, sadly, from within the Church – his words were prescient. He warned that a contracepting world becomes a world of rampant infidelity; a world where women and childbearing are degraded; a world in which governments trample on the rights and needs of the family; and a world in which human beings believe they can manipulate their bodies at will (see HV 17).

Is there any doubt that this is the world we live in now?

We will never climb out of the sexual confusion and gender chaos in which we are now immersed until we recognize that the modern disorientation of sex and the eclipse of the very meaning of gender began when we started rendering our genitals unable to generate. Based on its Greek root, the very word gender means “the manner in which one generates.” We see the same root in words like genesisgenerousgenitalsprogenygenes, and genealogy. We no longer see the gender-generation connection today because we are viewing ourselves through condom-colored glasses: erase the manner in which one generates from the sexual equation and the very meaning of gender is eventually erased.

In a 1984 interview, the future Pope Benedict XVI predicted that we will atone in our day for “the consequences of a sexuality which is no longer linked to … procreation. It logically follows from this that every form of [genital activity] is equivalent. … No longer having an objective reason to justify it, sex seeks the subjective reason in the gratification of the desire, in the most ‘satisfying’ answer for the individual.” In turn, he observed that everyone becomes “free to give to his personal libido the content considered suitable for himself. Hence, it naturally follows that all forms of sexual gratification are transformed into the ‘rights’ of the individual.” From there, he concluded that people end up demanding the right of “escaping from the ‘slavery of nature,’ demanding the right to be male or female at one’s will or pleasure” (The Ratzinger Report, pp. 85, 95).

Again, is there any doubt that this is the world we now live in?

Tragically, there are people in high places of the Church who have not been paying attention to the painful lessons of history – nor to the extensive and gloriously illuminating reflections of Saint John Paul II on the theology of the human body. As the 50th anniversary of Paul VI’s lifesaving encyclical approaches, they are raising their voices in a new wave of attacks against it. The operative language is that of “re-interpreting” Paul VI’s encyclical in order to keep it “dynamic” and “applicable” to “new realities.” But that is code for dissenting from it.

Perhaps you heard about a widely reported speech given by Father Maurizio Chiodi, a newly appointed member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, at a conference at the Gregorian University in Rome at the end of last year. Therein he argued that a proper development of Paul VI’s teaching on “responsible parenthood” can actually obligate a couple to use contraception. There are cases, he argued, that make the practice of natural family planning “impossible or impractical” and, hence, “other forms of responsibility must be found” that require “other methods of birth control.”

If we consider the teaching of Humanae Vitae only as a precept to be imposed on people’s weakness, we are, indeed, placing an “impossible” and “impractical” burden on people. As Saint John Paul II insisted, “Love and life according to the Gospel cannot be thought of first and foremost as a kind of precept, because what they demand is beyond man’s abilities. They are possible only as a result of a gift of God who heals, restores, and transforms the human heart by his grace.” Living according to the demands of the Gospel, then, is “a possibility opened to man exclusively by grace, by the gift of God, by his love” (Veritatis Splendor 23, 24).

The Church does not only lay down the demands of God’s law and then leave men and women to their own resources in attempting to carry it out. As Pope Paul VI stated very clearly in Humanae Vitae, the Church “also announces the good news of salvation, and by means of the sacraments flings wide open the channels of grace, which makes man a new creature, capable of following the design of his Creator … with love and true freedom, finding the yoke of Christ to be sweet” (HV 25).

Yes, human beings are weak and must contend with the strong pull of concupiscence (the disordering of our passions that resulted from original sin). As human experience attests, this makes following God’s law a real struggle. But it is precisely that struggle that urges the heart to cry out for God’s grace, and God’s grace is sufficient for us (see 2 Cor 12:9)! As Saint Augustine put it in a wonderful turn of phrase: “The law was given so that grace might be sought; and grace was given that the law might be fulfilled.”

“Re-interpreting” Humanae Vitae in light of human weakness may seem like the “kind” or “pastoral” thing to do, but in the end it empties the Cross of its power. Instead of saying, “By the power of Christ, come higher,” those who are re-interpreting Humanae Vitae are actually saying, “Sorry, Christ’s power is not available to you, so stay lower.” Instead of saying, “God’s grace is sufficient for you to fulfill his law,” those who are re-interpreting Humanae Vitae are saying, “In your case, we need to adjust God’s law according to your concrete possibilities.”

“But what are ‘the concrete possibilities of man’?” asks Saint John Paul II. “And of which man are we speaking? Of man dominated by lust or of man redeemed by Christ?” He continues:

This is what is at stake: the reality of Christ’s redemption. Christ has redeemed us! This means he has given us the possibility of realizing the entire truth of our being; he has set our freedom free from the domination of concupiscence. And if redeemed man still sins, this is not due to an imperfection of Christ’s redemptive act, but to man’s will not to avail himself of the grace which flows from that act. God’s command is of course proportioned to man’s capabilities; but to the capabilities of the man to whom the Holy Spirit has been given; of the man who, though he has fallen into sin, can always obtain pardon and enjoy the presence of the Holy Spirit. (Veritatis Splendor 103)

This is one of the most potent proclamations of the power of the Gospel I’ve ever heard. And thanks be to God that I heard it! Thanks be to God that Saint John Paul II was bold enough to proclaim it!

We serve no one by watering down the truth. In fact, we keep people in their chains. What’s needed is not a re-interpretation of Humanae Vitae. What’s needed, as Pope Paul VI himself said, is a “total vision of man and of his vocation” in order to understand this teaching in all of its beauty and fullness (HV 7). And this is precisely what Saint John Paul II gave us in his marvelous Theology of the Body. If you want to be equipped to address today’s sexual chaos and gender confusion with clarity, insight, and compassion, take up a study of it. You will not be disappointed.


The Cor Project exists to help men and women learn, live, and share the Theology of the Body. To learn more, watch Christopher West’s short film here.

Christopher West, is a lecturer, best-selling writer and author of multiple audio and video programs which have made him the world’s most recognized teacher of John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body.” He is founder and president of The Cor Project, a global membership and outreach organization devoted to helping men and women learn, live, and share the Theology of the Body in compelling, life-transforming ways.

Exciting News for Stealing Jenny

Stealing Jenny

My fourth book and third novel, Stealing Jenny, will soon be available on Audible as an audio-book.  The producer/narrator is currently working on it and is scheduled to have it ready for May 5.

Also, Stealing Jenny is in the process of being translated into Portuguese through Babelcube.  That will also be completed by the beginning of May.

Stealing Jenny (as well as Angela’s Song) will also be translated into Lithuanian through a Lithuanian Catholic publisher.  Both books should be available soon.

And last — but certainly not least — as many of my followers also know, my husband and I have written a script for Stealing Jenny and a Christian Hollywood producer has expressed interest in financing and producing it.  He’s had the script for several years,  but we’ve been told that sometimes in Hollywood, projects can take many years to finance and produce. We’ll see where that goes!