Ella’s Promise Receives Seal of Approval

logo color CWG SOA

My book, Ella’s Promise, has just received the Seal of Approvalfrom the Catholic Writers Guild for quality and content!

All three of the series, Julia’s Gifts, Charlotte’s Honor and Ella’s Promise, now have the Seal of Approval!

Here is the link for all books in the series:  Great War Great Love Series.

Reviews for Ella’s Promise:

Readers will love this third installment in the Great War Great Love series with espionage, romance, faith, and determination all set amidst the backdrop of wartime France.” Carolyn Astfalk, author, Ornamental Graces

“Ella’s Promise is a story of love tested through war-time confusion and pain, enduring into a new hope for a better future.” A.K. Frailey, author of historical fiction/science fiction

An enjoyable read that fans of historical fiction are sure to love. ” Theresa Linden, author of contemporary romance, Anyone But Him

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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.

 

A Channel of Your Peace Virtual Book Tour

A Channel of Your Peace front coverToday I’m happy to be taking part in Veronica Smallhorn’s new book, A Channel of Your Peace.

Blurb:   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.

Review: “The story is masterfully written and was very hard to put down. I consumed this volume in three sittings over two days. I literally could not put it down.” Steven McEvoy, Book Reviews and More

Keywords:    Religious inspirational, Catholic fiction, Theology of the Body, Catholic married life, Pro-Life, Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine, Mexico, Australia

Buy Link Kindle:   https://www.amazon.com/Channel-Your-Peace-Veronica-Smallhorn-ebook/dp/B084GGSW8K/

Buy Link Print:    https://www.amazon.com/Channel-Your-Peace-Veronica-Smallhorn/dp/1987970144/

Categories:   Religious Inspirational Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Theology of the Body Fiction, Conversion Stories

Goodreads link:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/51079646-a-channel-of-your-peace

 Author Bio: Born and raised in Australia’s capital, Canberra, Veronica published her first work at age eleven when a Christmas poem she wrote was printed in the local newspaper.

Growing up, her two main focuses were her Catholic faith and music. After tireless efforts in these endeavours, Veronica is now resigned to being a deeply flawed though fairly devout Catholic, and a less-than-mediocre pianist.

She married her husband in 2005 and lived with him in his native Mexico for three years till they moved back to Canberra. After returning to Australia, Veronica ran her own one-woman resume and copywriting business for a few years till she decided she’d rather write fiction instead. The fruit of this labour is Veronica’s first novel A Channel of Your Peace, which was published by FQP on February 14, 2020.

Veronica and her husband Pablo have three beautiful children. She is a full-time homeschooling mum who enjoys reading and photography, hearing about her kids’ adventures in Minecraft, and spending some quiet time with her husband, preferably when they’re both awake.

Read more about Veronica at the FQP website:

https://www.fullquiverpublishing.com/about-authors/author-veronica-smallhorn/

 Virtual Book Tour Stops/Links

March 2: Plot Line and Sinker

March 3  Sarah Reinhard

March 4  Plot Line and Sinker (listed as part of Open Book)

March 5   Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur

March 6  Carolyn Astfalk, My Scribblers Heart Blog

March 7  Plot Line and Sinker (Interview with the author)

March 8   Steven McEvoy, Book Reviews and More

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.

Come Back to Me Virtual Book Tour #VBT

CBTM Blog Tour GraphicCome Back to Me Front

 Today I’m participating in Carolyn Astfalk’s  virtual book tour for the sequel to Stay With MeCome Back To Me.

Stay With Me is currently only .99 on Kindle.

Blurb: Alan Reynolds slid into marriage. When his wife kicks him out, it looks as if he may slide out just as easily. Forced to bunk with his newlywed younger brother and his pregnant wife, Alan gets a firsthand look at a blissfully happy marriage while his wife rebuffs his attempts at a reunion.

Caught in the middle, Alan and his wife’s mutual friend Megan grows increasingly unhappy with her own empty relationships. If that weren’t enough, her newly sober brother has found happiness with Jesus, a goody-goody girlfriend, and a cockeyed cat.

When Alan and Megan hit rock bottom, will there be grace enough in their bankrupt lives to right their relationships and find purpose like their siblings have?

Book trailer:

https://youtu.be/dgIpcjFqScg

Buy link Kindle: 

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B084DXJB1M

Buy link print:

https://www.amazon.com/Come-Back-Me-Stay/dp/1987970136

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/50547920-come-back-to-me

 

Author links:

Website: www.carolynastfalk.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CMAstfalk

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

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/c/CarolynAstfalk

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/carolynastfalk

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

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

Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/1FyiK1v

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/carolyn-astfalk

Author bio:

Carolyn Astfalk resides with her husband and four children in Hershey, Pennsylvania, where it smells like either chocolate or manure, depending on wind direction. She is the author of the contemporary Catholic romances Stay With MeOrnamental Graces, and All in Good Time, and the coming-of-age story Rightfully Ours. Carolyn is a member of the Catholic Writers Guild, Catholic Teen Books, Pennwriters, and is a CatholicMom.com and Today’s Catholic Teacher contributor. True to her Pittsburgh roots, she still says “pop” instead of “soda,” although her beverage of choice is tea.

Tour stops:

Mon., Feb. 24 – Sarah Reinhard, Snoring Scholar

Tues., Feb. 25 – Barb Szyszkiewicz, FranciscanMom

Wed., Feb. 26 – Ellen Gable, Plot Line and Sinker

Thurs., Feb. 27 – Patrice MacArthur, Spiritual Woman

Fri., Feb. 28 – Theresa Linden, Things Visible & Invisible

Stay With Me Only .99 on #Kindle #Bargain

Stay with Me front cover

Stay With Me Kindle Edition is on sale for only .99 today through Friday at noon Eastern!

Finalist in the 2016 IAN Book Awards (Romance)!!

Synopsis: With her sister Abby’s encouragement, Rebecca has moved out of their overbearing father’s home. When a chance encounter with Chris ends with an invitation, Rebecca says yes. The authentic way Chris lives his life attracts Rebecca and garners her affection.

Chris loves Rebecca and her innocence, but he’s confounded by the emotional scars she bears from her parents and an attempted assault. Her father’s disdain for Chris’s faith and career only make matters worse.

With the counsel of their friend Father John, can Rebecca and Chris overcome every obstacle and bridge the deepening gulf between them and her dad? Or will a crucial lapse in judgment and its repercussion end their relationship?

Review:
This is a warning: the book you hold in your hand is compelling and well-written and you may find it, as I did, impossible to put down. It’s a romance that’s not trashy in any way, one that illustrates what a novel of this sort should inspire in its reader. When you’re finished, you’ll be a better person. (And probably a very tired one, because you’ll have stayed up all night to finish it.) You’ll also be sharing this book with every woman you know!
– Sarah Reinhard, author and blogger at SnoringScholar.com

 

Reviews for Translated Books! #reviews

Les Cadeaux de Julia Front CoverjpgRecently, foreign readers have read my translated books, and here is what they had to say about them:

Les Cadeaux de Julia  Julia’s Gifts:

Five Stars. Je connais la réputation de l’auteur et je voulais voir la traduction Française. Celle-ci est fidèle et agréable à lire. Toutefois, au niveau de l’édition, je déplore que les mots soient coupés n’importe comment en bout de ligne. A lire dès le collège, bon aperçu de la 1ère guerre mondiale par le regard d’une infirmière sur le terrain. L’histoire d’amour, qui ne cherche d’emblée pas à être imprévisible, rend la lecture et la traversée de l’horreur de la guerre assez attractive à lire, et abordable dès 12 ans.

Translation: I know the reputation of the author and I wanted to see the French translation. It is faithful and pleasant to read. However, in terms of editing, I regret that the words are cut out haphazardly in the end. Read from college, good overview of the 1st World War through the eyes of a nurse in the field. The love story, which does not immediately try to be unpredictable, makes reading and crossing the horror of war quite attractive to read, and affordable from 12 years old.

Julia's Gifts Portuguese Front Cover JPGOs Presentes de Julia  Julia’s Gifts: (Portuguese)

Five stars: Que livro gostoso de ler. Apesar do romance se desenvolver durante um período de guerra, há relatos fortes e impactantes, mesmo assim, a história terna e apaixonante do casal, Peter e Julia, faz vc torcer e lutar, página por página para que tudo dê certo no final. Como tem que ser em um bom romance.
Embora o casal seja católico, mesmo sendo eu de outra religião, em nenhum momento me senti ofendida, pois o que a autora enfatiza é o amor ao próximo, à família e a Deus. A não sermos tão egoístas, a ponto de só pensarmos em nosso bem estar, pois quando a gente se doa, coisas boas acontecem. Não foi fácil para a Júlia e para o Peter, mas no final eles tiveram o seu “felizes para sempre” como todas nós sonhamos. Não é mesmo?
Recomendo a leitura. Pra quem gosta de romance hot, não indico.
É um casal sem “pegada” , mas nem por isso, menos interessante.
É um romance sútil, começa com os sonhos de uma menina, que ao longo da história se torna uma mulher forte, que encontra seu amado, não amor a primeira vista, mas no dia a dia, vão aprendendo a se respeitar, a se admirar e daí nasce um amor verdadeiro e forte.
Leiam! É muito bonito!

Translation: What a nice book to read. Despite the romance developing during a period of war, there are strong and impactful reports, even so, the tender and passionate story of the couple, Peter and Julia, makes you cheer and fight, page by page so that everything works out in the end. As it has to be in a good romance. Although the couple is Catholic, even though I am from another religion, at no time did I feel offended, because what the author emphasizes is love of neighbor, family and God. Unless we are so selfish, to the point of only thinking about our well being, because when we give ourselves, good things happen. It was not easy for Julia and Peter, but in the end they had their “happily ever after” as we all dream. Is not it?  I recommend reading. For those who like hot romance, I do not recommend. They are a couple without a “footprint”, but no less interesting. It is a subtle romance, it starts with the dreams of a girl, who throughout history becomes a strong woman, who finds her beloved, not love at first sight, but day by day, they learn to respect themselves, to admire themselves and from there a true and strong love is born. Read it! It’s very beautiful!