WWRW: A World Such as Heaven Intended

I don’t think she’s been doing it lately, but Jessica over at Housewifespice used to do a weekly book review linkup called

WWRWbuttonShe’s a busy lady, though, and still blogging otherwise, so go on over there and pay her a visit, even if WWRW isn’t available today.  She’s got some good stuff and some belly laughs.  Worth your time.

Anyway, I am super duper excited. I don’t often say things like “super duper” unless it’s to my children and followed by the words “messy in here.  Please clean up.”  So why am I deviating so greatly from my usual modes of speech?  Here’s why:

This is A World Such as Heaven Intended, the fabulous, charming, action-packed, engaging Civil War romance by new author Amanda Lauer and recently released by Full Quiver Publishing.

The Civil War tore the United States apart and many friendships and families as well. In A World Such as Heaven Intended Amara McKirnan and Nathan Simmons share a devotion to their Catholic faith but their loyalties lie on opposite sides of the conflict. Dedicated to the Confederate cause, Amara offers to help out at her uncle’s makeshift hospital in Atlanta. Fate brought Nathan to their doorstep and into Amara’s life. Little does Amara know that the wounded soldier she cares for harbors a secret that will not only jeopardize his life but hers as well.

Follow Amara and Nathan’s story from the heart of war-torn Atlanta to the Northern Georgia battlefields to the plains of East Texas as their lives become intertwined in a way that shatters the separate worlds they once knew.

Lauer brings us a well-developed setting, a neatly paced plot, and characters that live and breathe whom I couldn’t help but love.  In fact, instead of an Atlanta debutante, our heroine Amara is, well, kind of a nerd… which I LOVE! The reality of the shared faith of these two characters is completely organic, never obvious.  Their Catholicism is not flagrant but just a normal part of who they are and what makes them make the choices they must.  The settings are detailed without being burdensome or boring.  The action builds to a great pace.  The ending is sweet and satisfying.  All in all, I’m going to go ahead and call A World Such as Heaven Intended… heavenly!

 

In Name Only FREE Today Through Sunday!

Erin McCole Cupp:

Heads-up, folks!

Originally posted on Plot Line and Sinker:

INO My second novel, In Name Only, is FREE today through Sunday on Kindle. The sequel to In Name Only, A Subtle Grace, was published earlier this year.

Here are the links:

Amazon Kindle USA In Name Only

Amazon Kindle Canada In Name Only

Amazon Kindle UK In Name Only

Amazon Kindle Japan In Name Only

Amazon Kindle Germany In Name Only

Amazon Kindle France In Name Only

Amazon Kindle Italy In Name Only

Amazon Kindle Australia In Name Only

Philadelphia, 1876: Caroline Martin foresees a joyous future when she meets a wealthy, moral man. But unexpected tragedy topples her illusions, opening the way to a profound understanding of God — a moving tale with over 220 five and four star reviews on Amazon. In Name Only won the Gold medal in Religious Fiction in the 2010 IPPY Awards and has been an Amazon Kindle Top Ten bestseller since February…

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“I Am the Lost Princess”: A Respect Life 7QT

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7 Quick Takes Friday, brought to you by ConversionDiary.com

This is one of those things that has been banging around in my head, demanding to get out of its tower, and every time I try to work on writing stuff that actually has a deadline, this won’t leave me alone.  I’m going to trust that’s because God wants it shared, so I place it in Mary’s hands to clean it up before presenting it to Him.  I’m also going to lay aside my fears about sharing this much, because (a) it might help someone, and (b) chances are it won’t because the Internet is a hugely anonymous place, and the vast majority of people—like, vast majority and I’m not even saying this to be self-deprecating—don’t even know I exist.  There’s great freedom in the humility of that.

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Last Sunday, I took First Shift to the Mother-Daughter Fertility Appreciation Tea and Fashion Show, sponsored by our nearest group of Fertility Care Friends.

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We’ve also watched Disney’s Tangled twice in the past month-ish.

Stay with me.  There’s a connection.

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In Tangled, we see that Rapunzel’s been kept from Truth in order to keep someone else happy.  It’s a false happy (because we’re all going to get old and die) and it’s a temporary happy (see previous “because”), but Rapunzel doesn’t know that.  She’s only ever gotten Mother Gothel’s version of reality (see: relativism), and that’s the version that keeps Rapunzel up in a tower, raised by lies.  As soon as Rapunzel wants to see the Truth for herself (the floating lights), Gothel tells her that she can’t handle the Truth (Disney’s Jack Nicholson), and then she proceeds to twist what Truth is.

But, Truth eventually finds us, because it’s all around us, and even if we stay in our towers, sometimes it accidentally climbs to find us.  Rapunzel’s encounter and then adventure with Truth (led by a thief of all people) gives her the chance to find the clues of who she really is.  Finally, even when Gothel re-traps her with lies, the clues fall into place, and Rapunzel claims her identity.  She claims the Truth.

“I’m the lost princess.”

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I participated in a support group a long time ago.  One thing I remember about that group was that I was one of only a very small handful who wanted or had children.  “I don’t want to repeat the past,” the others said.  “I could never have kids.  I’m too damaged.”

Then I had kids.  I have never done a more healing thing.  See, up in my tower, I was told things like, “You’re making a big deal out of nothing.  You can’t take proper care of yourself, so that’s why I have to do these things.”  There were co-morbid lies, including but not limited to, “Fat people can’t do things like be loved, dress nicely, or exercise.”

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I didn’t realize it until last Sunday’s Mother-Daughter Tea, but my whole parenting style has been like this:  I work for a security system company, and it’s my job to install in my kids’ amazing brains a series of security alarms.  Whenever they hear something that is not objective Truth, an alarm goes off.

Whether the lie is, “Long division is too hard to learn.  I’ll never get it.”  BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!

…or something more like, “I need to be the center of attention, and getting people to look at me for my body will make that happen.” BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!

Because I’m Catholic and teaching them to be so, we have objective Truth available to us and cannot be threatened by it.  Frightened by it, sure, but we know it’s there to get us to the eternal embrace in the arms of our heavenly King, so the fear is something we can move past.

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Here’s what’s been so healing about being Security System Servicemom.  As I set those alarms in my kids’ heads, they’re being reset in mine.

“Fat people can’t do things like be loved…” BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!

“…dress nicely…” BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!

“…or exercise.” BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ! (Dude, that one’s so obvious, it doesn’t even need a link.)

I recently had a close relative from the tower demonstrate to me that the first thing you should notice about a person is how much weight he’s gained.  That would’ve seemed right and proper to me before.  Now?  BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!

I have another close relative from the tower demonstrate to me that he still relishes telling people how wrong they are.  Before I would’ve just gotten down on myself.  Now 1 Cor 13 rings in my head, and it rings with a loud, loving, Truthful BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!

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October is Respect Life month.  So many of us, raised in the tower and raised by lies, have bought the lie that we are too damaged, either by the past or the present, to be good parents. And so, come heck or high water, we’d better make sure we never have to parent.  Well guess what Security System Servicemom does?  She sets the alarms so well that even if she herself tells the lie

BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ! (The lie I seem to tell most is “I should yell at you like a banshee for your mistakes—sinful ones or not.”)

If you join up with the Truth in parenting, and if the Truth is the person of God Himself… how can you possibly be too damaged?  You can’t.  And if you tell yourself that you are, guess what you’ll hear resounding in all four corners of your mind?

BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!

“You’re making a big deal out of nothing.  You couldn’t take proper care of yourself, so that’s why I had to do these things.”

Nope.  BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!

You were wrong about the world, and you were wrong about me, and I will never let you use my hair again.

Then I run back into the arms of my true Mother, and the King, my True Father, embraces us both.

How did you get out of your tower?  

“So how has becoming a lay Dominican changed your life?”

Someone recently asked this question on Facebook.  I thought I’d post my answer here, too, as being a Dominican is as much a part of my writing life as having fingers that type or having an imagination.  

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That’s my little watchdog looking at my little watchdog statue.  

In my 20s, I went to a local retreat house. Emblazoned on a ceiling beam were the words, “To Praise, To Bless, To Preach.” I stopped short when I saw those words, and it was like I could almost hear something click into place in my heart. At the time, I didn’t even know what a Dominican is! Being a Dominican has taught me the value of speaking, of silence, of reading and writing. Dominican life has taught me to value myself as a precious member of a huge family that wants nothing but the best for me. I often say the Franciscans are the Hippies of the Church, but we’re the nerds. Being a Dominican has given me the gift of using my nerdiness for God instead of wishing I were one of the cool hippies.

If you would like information about what it means to be a layperson following Jesus in the school of Dominic, make with the clicky.

WWRW: Fatal Rhythm by R. B. O’Gorman

It’s Wednesday!  What are we reading?  What is Jessica reading?  What are all the WWRW readers reading?  Make with the clicky to find out!

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I just finished Fatal Rhythm by R. B. O’Gorman.

Sweet cover, right?  Fatal Rhythm is a medical thriller.  From the back:

In the pre-dawn hours of the graveyard shift, the ICU at the Houston Heart Institute is quiet, and quietly, patients are dying. Surgery resident Joe Morales must survive a two-month stint in an ICU rife with land mines—unexplained patient deaths, rival faculty, fellow-resident saboteurs, a cost-slashing administrator, a ruthless insurance executive, a seductive head nurse, a jealous wife, a critically ill son, an overprotective mother and an orderly distraught over his daughter’s death. Joe knows that an outstanding performance will secure a coveted cardiovascular fellowship. He must determine the cause of the suspicious deaths to salvage the career he’s always wanted.

Another powerful character is Dr. De La Toure, the head of the Houston Heart Institute and Joe Morales’s hero/nemesis.  Okay, nemesis is too strong a word, but you know how humans tend to pick someone to look up to and want approval from?  Yes, I just ended two phrases with prepositions.  Get over it.  I’m trying to.  Anyway, you know how we do that, humans?  Dr. De La Toure is that person for Dr. Morales.  Much of the plot is enriched by the interplay and complexities between these two characters: without spoiling much, Dr. Morales is shown in all the important facets of being a man–as son to a father-(figure), husband and father.  That piece was handled particularly well and came to a very heartwarming finish.

Speaking of finish!  This one had me guessing “whodunit?” up to the very last minute.  There were clues all over the place, and as soon as I thought, “Aha!  I know who’s the murderer!” that person would be exonerated, and then when we finally did discover the antagonistic forces behind the deaths, it was the kind of surprise that had me kicking myself for not having figured it out already.  All this makes for a satisfying ending.

I also loved the relationship between Morales and his wife.  I practically cheered out loud when the very things that would look like flaws, failings and imperfections in our characters were the very things that came to the rescue in the end.  I found this a lovely illustration of how humans may not be perfect, but we are valuable–a living tenet of Catholicism.

Speaking of Catholicism!  Our Lady of Guadalupe and the traditions around celebrating her played a prominent part in Fatal Rhythm.  This was done with a gentle hand steeped in culture, and the contribution this made to character development throughout the story was powerful–and believable.  Frankly, you don’t get that with most faith-based fiction.

If you’d like to read more about the author, I interviewed him on this Seven Quick Takes post.

 

 

Infant Loss Awareness Day – 2014

Erin McCole Cupp:

In memory of all those lost before they could be known, here’s Ellen Gable’s blog for the day. Thank you, Ellen.

Originally posted on Plot Line and Sinker:

Emily's HopeToday is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day.

I have lost four babies through miscarriage and three babies through ectopic pregnancy. My novel, Emily’s Hope, is the fictionalized true stories of myself and my great-grandmother, and the story of loss and triumph. This excerpt describes Emily’s loss of baby “Seth.”

“I need to push.” She wanted so desperately not to push, to allow her baby to stay inside of her, and for her to continue to nourish and nurture her child, but her body wouldn’t allow that. She pushed only twice and her small child was born. Emily heard a sound like a kitten crying, then realized that her baby had let out a small, soft, weak cry.

As soon as the umbilical cord was cut, the nurse immediately carried the baby across the room as the pediatric staff attempted to work on their child. Emily and…

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