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7 Quick Takes with Chasing Liberty Author Theresa Linden

7QTlogoIt’s time for Seven Quick Takes Friday, a Friday linkup over at This Ain’t the Lyceum.

Today I’m delighted to bring you an interview with author Theresa Linden.  TLindenHeadshot

Theresa resides with her husband and three boys in northeast Ohio. She was born in San Francisco, California. Her father was in the Coast Guard, so the family moved every three years. This probably accounts for her love of traveling and desire to see the world. Living by the ocean and under the palm trees in Guam and Hawaii spurred her imagination. She began writing illustrated short stories with her sister in grade school, borrowing characters from favorite movies and shows. Now, writing is her passion. Her favorite genres include Fantasy, Western, Contemporary, Supernatural and Futuristic. Other interests: acrylic painting, drawing with ink, hiking, traveling and American History. Theresa is a member of the Catholic Writer’s Guild  and the Elyria Library Writers’ Group. She has an Associate’s Degree in Electrical/Mechanical Drafting and a Catechetical Diploma from Catholic Distance University. She is currently working on the last book in the Chasing Liberty trilogy.

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Tell us about Chasing Liberty.  How did the idea come to you?  How long did it take you from start to publication?

CHASING LIBERTYcoverChasing Liberty is the story of a young woman who seeks freedom in a society where the government controls every aspect of life. Nature is elevated above man. Developments in science and technology are not balanced with developments in morals and ethics. Faith, family and freedom have been lost.

The idea for this story came directly from the news. We used to watch Glenn Beck when he was on TV, and my jaw would drop at some of the stories on that show . . . disturbing things about the government watching you, about deep-green movements that think of humans as little more than parasites, about scientific advancements that cross ethical boundaries. Beck encouraged viewers not to take his word for it but to do their own research. So I did. The more I discovered, I kept thinking, “Wow, this can’t be real. It seems like fiction.” I wondered what our world, our country would be like if all this came to pass. As a writer, I don’t just wonder . . . I write!

From start to publication, Chasing Liberty took 2-1/2 years.

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Idea, research, editing, design…What was your favorite part of working on this project? What was your least favorite?

Favorite – I love developing characters and their relationships, thinking of ways to make them unique and bring them to life, giving them strengths and weakness, habits and quirks. I wanted Liberty to come across as strong and courageous, a person who doesn’t blindly go along with the culture but who is willing to stand against it. Even if she stands alone. She’s not afraid to speak her mind, even knowing the government is always listening and has programs that tag phrases considered “hate speech.”

Least favorite – While I enjoy all the different stages of writing, my least favorite part was the research, only because it opened my eyes to many evil ideologies in our world. I discovered how influential special-interest groups have been in our government and in world governments. Scary stuff.

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Tell us about how this work came to reach us:  did you go the self-publishing route or did you contract with a publisher?  What was that like?

If an author wants to have a publisher, I have learned, there is a lot of waiting involved. It took me one year to write the story, beginning in the summer of 2012. Then I spent several months looking for a publisher, several months waiting. Wanting to get my story out there, I decided to self-publish, and that was when World Castle Publishing offered me a contract. There was more waiting after that. Almost a year later, November of 2014, Chasing Liberty was released. My first published book! I am excited that the second book in this trilogy, Testing Liberty, will come out this fall.

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What other things in your life do you juggle in order to keep at your writing?  How’s that working out for you?

I am a homeschooling mother of three teenage, adopted boys, one of which has autism. During the school year, homeschooling takes up the bulk of my day. And of course there are all the daily chores which I am learning to share with my boys. At the end of the day, I try to do something related to writing whether re-reading a section I’ve written, or critiquing a friend’s work, but it’s often hard to focus on actual writing. So I look forward to the weekends for that. Most of my writing takes place over summer. This summer, I am working on the third book in the Liberty trilogy, Fight for Liberty. I have set myself some unrealistic goals in order to finish the first draft before school begins. Amazingly, have been keeping them!Testing Liberty Brown Red

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Setting, characters, plot, mood, tone… What would you describe as your greatest strength as a writer?

I enjoy developing characters, so I hope that is my greatest strength. I want my characters to feel real. Sometimes I do character interviews toward the beginning of developing a story, so that I can really get to know them. I even write scenes that will never make it to the final story, just so I can experience their past or moments in their lives that made them who they are.

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Conversely, if you could change one thing about your writing style, what would it be and why?

This is a hard question to answer because I feel like my writing style changes with each book I write. I write constantly, and I often read articles and books on how to improve. By the time I finish writing a story, I can always go back and find things that I could strengthen or do differently. I hope my writing style gets stronger and stronger over the years, but I know there will always be room for improvement.

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Lastly, where can we find your work, a. k. a. give you our hard earned cash?

Chasing Liberty is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or your preferred online bookseller.

If you like book trailers, check out the trailers for Chasing Liberty and for Testing Liberty.

I have a summer blog, Virtual Tour of America, for anyone who enjoys reflecting on the early history of our country.

And I can be found on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.

WWRW: Catching Up

Don’t forget the Catholic Marketing Network Trade Show Selfie Scavenger Hunt!  It’s not too late to post those pics

Let’s link up with What We’re Reading Wednesday over at Jessica’s Housewifespice Place.

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It’s been months since I read these.  Now I’ll finally get around to reviewing them!

Shadow in the Dark (The Chronicles of Xan Book 1) by Anthony Barone Kolenc

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Here’s what it’s about:

The Shadow passed through the midnight chill, dark and silent. Two small boys peered down at it in terror. “It’s back,” one of them cried in a faint whisper.

Bandits attack a medieval village. A young boy is injured and loses his memory. He wakes up at a Benedictine monastery and is given the name Xan—short for Alexander. But when the monastery is raided and a monk is accused of a violent crime, Xan must uncover the truth. Could the raid be related to the one that destroyed his village? And what about the shadowy figure Xan has seen lurking on the abbey grounds at night?

Mystery. Danger. Adventure. It’s all here. And true forgiveness and courage too.

“A well-done mediaeval mystery, laced with plenty of action and a bit of downright spookiness.”-Colleen Drippe, Hereditas literary magazine.

“A brisk-moving and suspenseful tale. Kolenc has penned a masterpiece.”-Dan Flaherty, The Scholar.

“This could be the future standard for sound adolescent literature!”- Leo Madigan, The Weka-Feather Cloak.

I had fun reading this, and so did First Shift, a pair of eleven year-old girls who “aren’t girly,” for those of you who don’t know.  This little gem offers and more than delivers mystery, adventure, a richly imagined other world (after all, isn’t the past another world?), and characters who live and breathe in all their dimensions.  The red herrings even threw me off, which is a high compliment for a YA mystery novel.  The faith-related piece is handled organically and breathes along with the characters, feeling more like a part of the setting than of the plot.  I can’t recommend Shadow in the Dark enough!

Next up, confession time: these days I just wait around for authors to send me review copies.  It’s a very economical way of keeping one’s reading list affordable.  Specter, however, by John Desjarlais, I was not willing to wait.

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I preordered the darn thing.  WITH REAL LIVE ACTUAL MONEY. You’re welcome, Professor Desjarlais.  Your question, though, Reader, surely is, “Was it worth it?”  HECK YES!!!!

Selena De La Cruz would like to leave the past behind as she plans her wedding … but the past no longer sleeps. In 1993, a Cardinal was murdered in Mexico at the Guadalajara Airport. Nearly twenty years later, the Vatican revisits the case … and finds that Selena’s family might have played a key role. Selena is forced to confront her family’s ghosts … in more ways than one…

This story deals with ghosts of all things–ghosts!–in a totally credible manner. One of the ways Desjarlais makes this leap believable is through the eyes of Selena’s skeptic fiance, Reed Stubblefield, whom we also first met in Bleeder (which you should also go read).  Selena’s family (both living and otherwise), personal history, and culture are depicted so naturally that I felt like I was sitting at the table in her godmother’s house, watching it all, remembering it all with them and wanting to protect my own heart, not only from the danger I could see coming but from the surprises lurking around the corner of every page.  The red herrings in this one got me, too, which I don’t mind one bit.  The pace was lightning-fast, the conflicts heart-racing and heart-rending, and the ending… well, you’ll just have to find out for yourself.  If Amazon offered a sixth star, I’d give it to Specter.

PS: Don’t forget the Catholic Marketing Network Trade Show Selfie Scavenger Hunt!  It’s not too late to post those pics

WWRW: Liberty & Virtue

Don’t forget the Catholic Marketing Network Trade Show Selfie Scavenger Hunt!

Long time no review!  Let’s link up with What We’re Reading Wednesday over at Jessica’s Housewifespice Place.

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I’ve had it for months, now, but I finally got around to Chasing Liberty by Theresa Linden.

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Once I got started, it didn’t take me long to finish it, either.  If you’re looking for characters you can love, love to hate, or hate to pity… you’ll find them in Chasing Liberty.  

Here’s what it’s about:

Liberty 554-062466-84 of Aldonia lives in a responsible society that cares for the earth and everyone on it. They have learned to balance resource consumption with replacement initiatives, unavoidable pollution with clean-environment efforts. Science ensures that every baby born is healthy. The government ensures that every baby born is needed. All are cared for, taught, and given a specific duty to perform, their unique contribution to society. Why is Liberty so unsatisfied? In less than two weeks, Liberty must begin her vocation. Every girl in Aldonia wishes she had Liberty’s vocation. Liberty would rather flee from Aldonia and live on her own, independent of the all-controlling government, the Regimen Custodia Terra. The high electrical Boundary Fence crushes any thought of escape. The ID implant imbedded in her hand makes it impossible to hide. She has no choice but to submit. Liberty is slated to be a Breeder. As vocation day draws near, a man with an obsession for Liberty attacks her and injects her with a drug. She’s about to lose consciousness when someone comes to her rescue, a man in a mottled cape and dark glasses. She wakes in an underground facility where people watch over Aldonia with an array of monitors and surveillance equipment. These people are full of secrets, but she discovers one thing: they rescue a man scheduled for re-education. They rescued him. They can rescue her.

I love how Linden handles the suspense in this one.  She knows how to end a chapter, that’s for sure.  She also has a good hand with the dramatic irony, which uses the two points of view (first-person Liberty vs. 3rd person subjective with the bad guy) to play off of each other, one cranking up the tension on the other in one scene, and then vice-versa in the next.  Another thing the author handled well was the Liberty’s motivation for putting into action the final sequences, hurtling the characters into their point-of-no-return.  I was not left wanting for why things were happening, but neither were things ever dragged out.  The conflicts were clear and engaging.  The numerous characters were so clearly drawn that I never felt there were too many, which is a hard thing to manage.  Kudos to Theresa Linden for Chasing Liberty.  I can’t wait to get my hands on the sequel!

I’ve asked Theresa for an interview here, so check back for that.  In the meantime, go buy her book and you’ll be in for a rip-roaring thrill ride that will rip out your heart and stomp on it!

Today’s second book is The Virtuous Jane Austen: Short Reflections on Character by Rhonda Ortiz.

The Virtuous Jane Austen: Short Reflections on Character by Rhonda Ortiz

What a charming little book! Yet it’s still a bargain at 99 cents.  Why?  Because it offers something sweet but new.  I’ve seen Austen often discussed as a writer of manners, but when seen as a writer illuminating virtue, Austen’s work takes on greater life, depth, and import. Well done!  Come back next week when author Rhonda Ortiz shares her own story about character building… through NFP?  It’ll make sense next week.

What’s on your summer reading list? 

PS: Don’t forget the Catholic Marketing Network Trade Show Selfie Scavenger Hunt!

WWRW: Unleashed by Sonja Corbitt

It’s baaaaaack!  It’s the What We’re Reading Wednesday linkup over at Jessica’s Housewifespice!

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I’ve had the distinct honor to be part of the CatholicMom.com Unleashed book club.  And guess what book we’re reading!  No, seriously! YOU’LL NEVER GUESS!

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Why, yes, it’s Unleashed by Sonja Corbitt! What’s it about, you ask?

Sonja Corbitt was an evangelical Baptist before she converted to Catholicism. In Unleashed, she shares her passion for the scriptures by weaving the Word of God with her own experiences to show readers how the Holy Spirit flows through their lives in relationships, prayer, and even in times of suffering.

Sonja Corbitt’s passionate faith and natural storytelling ability combine to create a refreshing message of how God, in his continual pursuit of us, speaks to us through the positive and painful circumstances of life, relationships, and his Word.

In Unleashed, Corbitt testifies that prayerful and regular study of the scriptures is the key to hear the voice of God, to see the Holy Spirit at work even in times of suffering, and to receive all the graces God wants to give.

Corbitt has been captivating Catholic women across the country with her message about God and his desire to know them in a deep and personal way. Endorsed by her bishop as a “credit to her faith,” Corbitt inspires Catholics everywhere to engage with the scriptures with renewed vigor and energy.

This is another one where I wish Amazon had six stars to give.  I admit I took this book on with great trepidation.  Part of that is because Snow Crash has freaked me out about anything charismatic (not AT ALL the fault of the charismatic movement but the fault of a buttkicking fiction story).  So a book dealing with the Holy Spirit?  I was a bit, “Um.  Okay.  Deep breaths, Erin.  We can DO this!”

First, I have to clarify that Unleashed is not about the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit.  Rather it is a step-by-step guide for discerning how the Holy Spirit is speaking to us without words but through repeating patterns that not only spring forth from our own hearts but from the hearts of those around us.  In this book, Sonja gives us sort of a listening device for making out the guidance of the Holy Spirit more clearly, more thoughtfully, with greater peace and confidence.

It’s tackles complex issues with deep-cleansing-breath simplicity.  It holds a mirror up to the soul behind the face in the mirror and says, “Yes, you have work to do, but you don’t have to do it all today. Still you can do something today.”

Do something today.  Get to know the Holy Spirit, not as an abstract monstrosity but as a solid, loving friend.  Perhaps picking up your copy of Unleashed will be that something you do today.

7 Steps to a Library Author Event

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I got your quick takes RIGHT HERE!  And so does Kelly over at This Ain’t the Lyceum. 

Last Saturday I took part in an event for local authors at the happiest place on earth.happiestplaceonearth_thumb

No, not there. Our local library!  How did we make this happen?

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Get to know your local librarian!

Sherrie at the library putting DYFAM in its library suit.

Sherrie at the library putting DYFAM in its library suit.

This is Sherrie, who blogs over at Sherrie’s Scriptorium.  She’s also the welcoming face we see at one of our local libraries.  She loves books and more than tolerates people, which makes her the best possible person to have behind that desk.  I had a relationship with Sherrie before my book came out, so that once it was available, I already had an ally in the fight to get my book in the hands of readers.

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Network with other authors.  I joined the Catholic Writers Guild ages ago and more recently joined my local branch of Sisters in Crime.  Both organizations gave me a connection to other authors for times like this.

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Come up with some cockamamie theme, ideally having something to do with a holiday.  Holidays mean shopping for gifts.  Books make great gifts.  An author event themed to a holiday sounds like a winning idea to me.  And thus…

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Design holiday-themed activities to include in your event that get people to mingle and not just stand around feeling shy and awkward.  Bookworms and the people who write for them are not exactly known for their extraversion, after all.  Valentine’s Day means dating.  Speed dating with books (3 minutes with one book, then you have to move on to the next) and blind dates with books (wrapped in brown paper and purchased unwrapped for a donation to the library) were the order of the day.  We’re already talking about a possible summer reading event, “Beach Book Bingo.”

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Give yourself enough time.  Please, people, never do something like this (forgive the language) half-assed and last minute and then complain that nobody showed up.  Your audience for this event needs time to hear from you repeatedly, find out which of their friends are going, and then commit to attending themselves in order for your live event marketing to have a hope of working.  You could still have a flop, but at least it won’t be for lack of trying.

Sherrie & I threw this together in about six weeks from idea to event.  This was as tight a time frame as I’d ever want.  I’d prefer to start 8-12 weeks from idea to event.  Why so much time?  You need to…

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Get your librarian and her library on board.  You may need time to get the library’s board of directors to approve your event, and that can be tricky, especially during seasons when weather is likely to cancel board meetings.

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Organize, mobilize and publicize.  Recruit authors from your network to take part in the event, because many hands make light work, and variety has a bigger draw.  Organize who’s doing what when (we used SignupGenius.com).  Send out press releases 4-6 weeks before your event.  Create a Facebook event (if you’re as lucky as I am, your Sherrie will do this for you).  Tweet. Instagram, if that’s your thing.  Encourage your fellow participating authors to do the same.  Together we had a longer reach, and by including other authors in this stage of the game, I got several new media contacts to whom I was able to send the PR, which is always a good thing.

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Enjoy your event!  The weather was not great, but we still had some readers come join us.  Most of us sold books.  I showed up with two boxes of items for my display table and left with just one!

Here’s the speed dating table…

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Copyright 2015 Sherrie Palmer. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

I also suggested people bring a food to share with readers that connects to your book.  Top left corner has your tomato pie, fo sho, but also take a look at the little “A Good Book” sandwiches another librarian on staff that day made with tortillas.  Deliciously cute! Carolyn Astfalk, whose book isn’t even out yet, brought “Rebecca’s Fantasy Fudge,” which is part of her forthcoming novel, and bookmarks with the recipe on them, fantastic ways to get potential readers to hang on to your info and keep you in mind when your book release date gets closer.

Copyright 2015 Sherrie Palmer.  All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Copyright 2015 Sherrie Palmer. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

So, even though we did not have a HUGE crowd, we had some crowd.  Best of all, though, we writers had an opportunity to share our writing lives with others.

Copyright 2015 Sherrie Palmer, All Rights Reserved.  Used with Permission.

Copyright 2015 Sherrie Palmer, All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission.

Many thanks to Sherrie and the Atglen Public Library for hosting us! Let’s do it again some time. Also, do check out Sherrie’s blog, where she’ll have a list of links to all the “Fall in Love With a Good Book” participating authors.    Have you ever put together an author event like this one?  Do you have any tips to add?  Do you need some additional ideas on how to organize your own event?  Comment below and let’s share brains!  

Updated: JPII Talk 1/24/15 in VA Beach

Anybody in the Virginia Beach area?  I’ll be giving a talk !  20140801-070421.jpg

Yep, that’s me on the right hanging with Frank.  I call him Frank because he’s totally cool like that.  A little two-dimensional, but still totally cool.  

Anyway, at 10:30am on Saturday, January 24 at JMJ Catholic Books & Articles, I’ll be presenting a (highly interactive) talk called “Entertaining the Catholic Conscience,” which unpacks St. John Paul II’s 1999 Letter to Artists.  I’ll also have copies of both Don’t You Forget About Me and Jane_E, Friendless Orphan on hand.  If you bring your e-copy of “Working Mother,” I’ll have some Sharpies and sign your Kindle-reading device, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Please spread the word!

It’s Almost My Birthday!

It’s my birthday in 10 days!

Is money tight? Just can’t think of what to get the girl who has everything? I’ll give you a hint–nay, a wishlist. Don’t You Forget About Me has 58 reviews on Amazon as of today.

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Can you and one other person make that 60 by the Feast of St. Andrew/the First Sunday of Advent? Pretty please?  

7QT: Interview With Author Amanda Lauer

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Welcome to Seven Quick Takes Friday, hosted by the lovely and talented Jennifer over at Conversion Diary  Jess at This Ain’t the Lyceum.

Remember when I reviewed this book?

The author of A World Such as Heaven Intended has stopped by the tomato pie shop to have a little chat with us.  Let’s welcome Amanda Lauer!

ALauer-headshotAn avid reader and history buff since childhood, Amanda Lauer fulfilled a lifelong goal with the publication of her debut novel, A World Such as Heaven Intended. Lauer learned the technical aspects of writing as a proofreader in the insurance, newspaper and collegiate arenas. Over the last ten years she has had more than twelve-hundred articles published in newspapers and magazines throughout the United States. Lauer is the co-author of Celebrate Appleton, A 150th Birthday Photo Album, and contributed to the books Expressions of ITP…Inside Stories, and Living Virtuously — Keeping Your Heart and Home. In addition to her writing career, Lauer is involved in the health and wellness industry, striving to spread the message of true health — physical, mental and financial. Residents of northeast Wisconsin, Lauer and her husband John have been married thirty-three years. They are involved in their church and community and in their spare time travel for business and pleasure, play golf, run, bike, read, and further their education in the area of personal development. They are the proud parents of four young adult children, have a son-in-law and daughter-in-law, and are grandparents to one grandson.

And now, without further ado, here’s all you ever wanted to know about Amanda Lauer and A World Such as Heaven Intended!

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Tell us about your most recent work.  How did the idea come to you?  How long did it take you from start to publication? 
My debut novel, A World Such as Heaven Intended, was released October, 2014. I’m a freelance writer by trade and one of my jobs is writing for local newspapers. I had written an article about a family’s Civil War memorabilia and the gentleman told me the story of his great-great-great uncle’s experiences in the Civil War and I thought it could be the basis for an excellent book someday. An acquaintance of mine was working on a book herself and she challenged me to write one chapter of a book each month and we’d get together and copyedit each other’s manuscripts over coffee. So it took two years to write the book, then two years to find a publisher. In that time frame, I only queried twelve publishers because our daughter was a Make-A-Wish Child, so most of my energy was spent caring for her. About a year ago I queried Full Quiver Publishing and was offered a contract earlier this year. In total it was about a six-year process.
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Idea, research, editing, design…What was your favorite part of working on this project? What was your least favorite? 
My favorite part of working on this project was writing the dialogue between the main two characters, Amara and Nathan. I was literally laughing out loud as I wrote some of the lines and at times crying when the conversations got deeper. I also really enjoyed researching and learning more about the Civil War. I’m a history buff and it was fascinating delving further into this subject. My least favorite part was all the revisions. I realize now that every bit of feedback that I got made helped turned this book from a good story to a fantastic novel but it was a little disheartening at times. One particularly harsh criticism about the book literally had me walk away from the project for nine months; it was daunting considering what had to be reworked. But again, it made it the book it is today.
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Tell us about how this work came to reach us:  did you go the self-publishing route or did you contract with a publisher?  What was that like? 
From day one I was determined to go the traditional route and find a publisher who believed in this work as much as I did. While I could have done self-publishing since I am also a copy editor and proofreader, I never pursued that seriously. I had thought about getting an agent at one point, but did not want to put the time and energy into that endeavor either. By the grace of God, my book made its way into the hands of Ellen Gable Hrkach of Full Quiver Publishing. She is a fantastic publisher and editor, and her insight really brought this book to life.  Plus her husband James did an outstanding job creating the book cover. If this book turns out to be a million seller someday, I will have that team to thank!
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What other things in your life do you juggle in order to keep at your writing?  How’s that working out for you?
In addition to working on novels, I write for the Green Bay Diocese newspaper The Compass, I write for The Business News, I proofread for Saint Norbert College, I do product testing for a local personal product manufacturing corporation, I write product reviews online, I do commercial acting and modeling, and I own my own business that promotes true health — financial, mental and physical (www.KangenWisconsin.com). There’s never a dull moment around here, but I wouldn’t trade my life with anyone, I thank God every day because I’m so blessed with all these opportunities.
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Setting, characters, plot, mood, tone… What would you describe as your greatest strength as a writer?
My greatest strength as a writer is the technical aspects of writing. Years of proofreading other people’s works helped me to figure out the mechanics of writing so I feel that I see the big picture and attend very closely to details. I do love writing dialogue, especially lines that reflect my sense of humor!
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Conversely, if you could change one thing about your writing style, what would it be and why? 
Having worked in the newspaper arena for many years, my writing is very concise. We are generally limited to 800 words per story. I would love to be able to enhance my work more with descriptive wording but that just isn’t my style at this point.
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Lastly, where can we find your work, a. k. a. give you our hard earned cash? 
My book is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Thanks for your support!
Thank you, Amanda, for chatting with us!  Now, readers, go pick up your copy of A World Such as Heaven Intended!

7QT: An Interview with R. B. O’Gorman

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It’s 7QT Friday with Jennifer over at ConversionDiary.com!

I’m excited to share with you an interview with R. B. O’Gorman, nice Irish Catholic doctor that he is… sorry, ladies–he’s taken!

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His novel Fatal Rhythm just dropped, and it has so many good readers saying so many good things about it, I just scooted it up to the top of my dance card.  I met him at CMN/CWG back in August, so allow me to introduce you!

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R. B. O’Gorman grew up in Texas where he developed a devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe. He obtained a PhD in Biochemistry from Rice University and studied cardiovascular surgery under Dr. Michael E. DeBakey. His debut novel, FATAL RHYTHM, is a medical suspense/mystery based on his training experience. Currently, he lives in Mobile, Alabama, where he writes, teaches, and practices medicine. He and his wife stay busy with their six children and first three grandchildren.

And now for the questions!

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Tell us about your most recent work.  How did the idea come to you?  How long did it take you from start to publication?  

The annual celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe begins with Las Mananitas, and my experience at St. Anne’s Church in Houston touched my soul. I felt compelled to translate that experience into words. Some two decades later, Fatal Rhythm was published.

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Idea, research, editing, design…What was your favorite part of working on this project? What was your least favorite?

The favorite part was the initial writing. I even enjoyed the editing experience. My least favorite was negotiating the publication process.

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Tell us about how this work came to reach us:  did you go the self-publishing route or did you contract with a publisher?  What was that like?

I was listening to “The Son Rise Morning Show” on EWTN and heard about a new Catholic publisher who was sponsoring a contest. That prompted me to take down the novel from the proverbial shelf and submit. I was a finalist in that contest and was offered a contract. Ultimately, I did not publish with that entity, but the external confirmation of the book’s worthiness was invaluable.

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What other things in your life do you juggle in order to keep at your writing?  How’s that working out for you?

It is always a juggle. I work as a cardiovascular surgeon, I’m married, and we have six children and three grandchildren. It is hard to resist the temptation to “do it all,” and I’m blessed that my wife lets me slide on some of my jobs (the yard, the garage) when I’m particularly focused on a writing project.

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Setting, characters, plot, mood, tone… What would you describe as your greatest strength as a writer?

I think my greatest strength is in mood/tone. I hope I have a compelling plot and believable characters, but if my work doesn’t convey my chosen themes, it has no value.

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Conversely, if you could change one thing about your writing style, what would it be and why?

I wish I could write faster.

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Lastly, where can we find your work, a. k. a. give you our hard earned cash?

FATAL RHYTHM is available through Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com in both digital and trade paperback.

Thanks, Ron!  Readers, have you picked up Fatal Rhythm yet?  

Cyber Monday Book Recommendations

Attention Web-mart shoppers!  Today is commonly called “Cyber Monday,” the sequel to Black Friday.  In other words, people are shopping–today, mostly online.  If you’re looking to get the reader in your life a little sumpin-sumpin, take a look at the following recommendations below.  If they’re helpful, go on over to author Declan Finn’s page, because sharing this kind of list was totally his very brilliant idea.

Forgive me for getting myself out of the way first, but for the mystery lover in your life, there’s always Don’t You Forget About Me.  Then there’s Jane_E, Friendless Orphan:  A Memoir for the science fiction adventurer on your list.

Then for the kiddos I recommend:

  • Dear God, I Don’t Get It by Patti Maguire Armstrong.  My review is here.  Buy the book on Amazon here.
  • The King’s Gambit by John McNichol.  My review is here.  Buy the book on Amazon here.
  • The Shubert the Firefly series by Dr. Becky A. Bailey, illustrated by James Hrkach.  My review is here.  Buy the books on Amazon here.
  • Stout Hearts and Whizzing Biscuits:  A Patria Novel by Daniel McInerney.  My review is here.  Buy the book on Amazon here.

Non-fiction for the grown-ups in your life:

  • Strange Gods by Elizabeth Scalia.  My review is here.  Buy the book on Amazon here
  • Fleeting Glimpses of the Silly, Sentimental and Sublime by Michael Seagriff.  My review is here.  Buy the book on Amazon here.
  • God’s Bucket List by Teresa Tomeo.  My review is here.  Buy the book on Amazon here.
  • Cultivating God’s Garden Through Lent by Margaret Rose Realy.  My review is here.  Buy the book on Amazon here.
  • Race with the Devil by Joseph Pearce.  My review is here.  Buy the book on Amazon here.
  • Classroom Management for Catechists by Jennifer Fitz.  My review is here.  Buy the book on Amazon here.
  • Dog in the Gap by Lisa Delay and Doug Jackson.  My review is here.  Buy the book on Amazon here.

Last but not least of my personal recs, here’s some fiction, a.k.a. “brain candy”:

  • Death Panels by Michelle Buckman.  My review is here.  Buy the book on Amazon here.
  • Bleeder and Viper by John Desjarlais.  My reviews are here (BleederViper).  Buy the books on Amazon here.  
  • Treason by Dena Hunt.  My review is here.  Buy the book on Amazon here.
  • Murder in the Vatican: The Church Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes by Ann Margaret Lewis.  My review is here.  Buy the book on Amazon here.
  • Sons of Cain by Val Bianco.  My review is here.  Buy the book on Amazon here.
  • Stealing Jenny by Ellen Gable.  My review is here.  Buy the book on Amazon here.
  • Angela’s Song by AnnMarie Creedon.  Buy the book (and find my review) on Amazon here.  

Now for some other books I’ve not read yet but which are getting heavy buzz on the Catholic Writers Guild Facebook page:

Happy shopping, my Advent-agious peoples!