Open Book & Sabbath Rest Book Talk (November 2016)

Carolyn Astfalk has a first Wednesday of the month book review linkup!

Fiction is Good for You: Sabbath Rest Book Talk meets An Open Book book review linkup bit.ly/SabbathBooks

In the interests of being as efficient with my time as I possibly can, I’m killing two birds with one stone.  In addition to reviewing books for #OpenBook, I’ve started a monthly event on Facebook Live over at my author page.  It’s called Sabbath Rest Book Talk, and in it I’ll talk about a few of the books I’ve read in the past month in terms of how they, as fiction, help us grow in humanity.

This month’s focus was on The Power of Story, or how fiction has the power to reach us in ways that real life just can’t.

October’s SRBT Featured Fiction:

Readaloud: Dragon Was Terrible by Kelly DiPuccio

Sabbath Rest Book Talk: THE POWER OF STORY with Dragon Was Terrible by Kelly DIPucchio, Illustrated by Greg Pizzoli

YA: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and Siobhan Dowd

(Special thanks to Sherrie of Sherrie’s Scriptorium for the recommendation via BookTuber Chelsea Palmer)

Sabbath Rest Book Talk: THE POWER OF STORY featuring A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, inspired by Siobhan Dowd

Adult: Image and Likeness: Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body, co-edited by Ellen Gable and Erin McCole Cupp

Image and Likeness: Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body available from FQP. See St. John Paul II's teachings on the meaning of human love in a whole new way. #shortreads #poetry #fiction #TOB

And here’s the November 2016 Sabbath Rest Book Talk video!

What are you reading?

Don’t forget to link up YOUR #OpenBook reviews over at Carolyn’s!

Image and Likeness Launch Day

At last, today is the day I’ve had in mind for nearly three years, when Ellen Gable first asked me if I had anything that might work for an anthology of Theology of the Body short stories.

Image and Likeness: Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body available from FQP. See St. John Paul II's teachings on the meaning of human love in a whole new way. #shortreads #poetry #fiction #TOB

As I’d warned a few weeks ago, I’ve been spending most of my time on the Image and Likeness page.  Here, however, is where I get to speak not as an editor representing the whole work and all the authors whose pieces appear within the collection.  Here’s my author page, where I get to speak as just another author who has stories to tell, two of which got caught up in this anthology.

I’ve been working pretty hard.  I’m wondering if, in the world’s eyes, I’m working “smart.”  Am I working in a way that will give me some sort of return on investment?  I’ve poured a lot of time into this anthology, maybe even a bit of my health.  Will it be worth it? Will I break even in some fashion?

I don’t know.  I’ve done as many of the supposedtas as I possibly can, just as I have for all my other books.  Only this time I also have a troupe of other authors reminding me of all the supposedtas, giving me more, and correcting me when I fall short.  (BTW, that was not a type of pressure I anticipated coming into this project.  It’s been humbling, which is never a bad thing.)

Am I just selling stuff very few people want to hear? Nobody wants to hear that birth control might actually kill you.  Nobody wants to hear that we shouldn’t farm people.  And people aren’t exactly lining up to read that Mary, the Mother of God, was so much like us that it gives us very few excuses to pity ourselves.  Why should they hand over their cold, hard cash to find out that abortion just might be destroying people, that our definition of “love” might be pretty badly tweaked, that marriage is so bloody difficult even when your bodies do have corresponding shapes?

I mean, seriously, why? Who’s gonna fork over the Washingtons and the Lincolns to have someone point out that… they just might be wrong?  And hurting other people?  And hurting themselves?

Who?

Man, life is hard.  Writing is even harder.  Writing warning signs, “HEY, YOU ARE ABOUT TO DRIVE OFF A CLIFF INTO THE VERY MAW OF HELL, SO STOP DRIVING THAT DIRECTION, OKAY?” is hard: making the signs good, and true, and beautiful, knowing they’re so very likely to be ignored.  Every day as a Catholic writer is a bit of the Agony in the Garden.  I’ve heard it said that Jesus wasn’t sweating blood because he was afraid of the pain of the crucifixion.  No, he was sweating blood in Gethsemane because he knew, he knew and loved every single soul who would know of His sacrifice… and who wouldn’t give a crap about it and prefer to just die anyway.

It’s so easy to get sucked into that maelstrom, to stay in that garden and keep sweating blood.  It’s a heck of a lot harder to look for the consoling angels and listen to them and focus on those who will listen and care and let their own hearts break, too.

But broken hearts let in so much light.

If you have let your heart be broken along with mine, if you have been one of my consoling angels, I thank you.  From the bottom of my broken, tired heart, I thank you.  Let’s keep writing the good fight.

If Jesus, the Lord of the Universe, lifted His head and carried His cross, then I have no excuse not to do likewise.  Thank you for walking with me.  Thank you for reading my signs.  Thank you for standing behind me in the garden, helping me to go on.

That return on investment isn’t on this side of the cross, anyway.


Image and Likeness: Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body is officially available today.

You are invited to attend the IAL Launch Party on Facebook on October 27, 2016 from 8-10pm Eastern Time.

Update: Image and Likeness

IALTwittter.pngJust an update: for the next several weeks, most of my blogging energies will be spent over at Image and Likeness: Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body. It’s a collection of short reads, poetry and prose, that will breath life into St. John Paul II’s teaching on human and divine love in ways you’ve never dreamed possible.

The release date for Image and Likeness is October 22, that great saint’s feast day.  The anthology’s website will soon after populate with author interviews and in-depth discussion questions, almost like a book club that you can participate in as you’ve read each story or poem and as you have time.  I’m honored to have worked on editing this project with Ellen Gable and Full Quiver Publishing.  Do check it out!

STAY WITH ME romance by Carolyn Astfalk

Welcome, Tomato Pie Fans! I’m taking a hiatus from blogging to finish the sequel to DON’T YOU FORGET ABOUT ME. Meanwhile, I have a series of guest bloggers taking care of the place. Let’s hear from today’s guest, Carolyn Astfalk, whose novel Stay With Me is hot off the presses–and when I say, “hot” I do mean “HOT!” A hot Catholic romance?!? Read on for more….


As I make the rounds on my virtual blog tour promoting my brand-new novel Stay With Me, Erin has graciously offered me a spot here in her absence. Since she’ll be sharing another post of mine later in the month, I’m teetering on squatter status at this site. And I intend to take full advantage before an eviction attempt is made.

STAY WITH ME, spicy but clean romance from Carolyn AstfalkStay With Me is my first published novel, and I’d like to share a little about its genesis. It all began with the perfect meet-cute. Wikipedia defines the meet cute as: “a scene in film, television, etc. in which a future romantic couple meets for the first time in a way that is considered adorable, entertaining, or amusing.”

The opening scene in Stay With Me is the meet cute between Chris Reynolds and Rebecca Rhodes. It  takes place in a grocery store where Rebecca’s attempts to pacify her young niece while Chris restocks dairy products.

While grocery shopping myself, I’d encountered an extremely helpful, handsome young employee who inspired this scene. Being that I’m married and this man was likely almost young enough to be my son, there was no meet cute here, only a springboard for a fictional romance.

In many ways, writing a novel is like designing and fitting together the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Another part of the Stay With Me puzzle was a column about abstinence education written by Catholic blogger Simcha Fisher in which she highlights the destructive messages about marital love that can be conveyed through well-intentioned but misguided sexual abstinence programs.

At the same time, in an effort to read more in the genre I’d been writing, I’d been consuming a heavy dose of Christian romances. While I enjoyed many of the books, overall, I’d found that most glossed over the realities of sexual temptation. Despite developing love relationships that relied heavily on physical attraction, there seemed to be little temptation to move beyond a heated kisses before the starry-eyed couple made it to the altar.

The only authors I discovered who did more than hint at the real struggle that maintaining pre-marital chastity presented for young, healthy, loving couples in a secularized society were Tammy L. Gray and Julie Lessman. I knew I wanted Stay With Me to tackle the issue head-on in as realistic (but non-pornographic) a manner as possible.

Over many months, as I developed Chris and Rebecca’s characters, their back stories, and the arc of their relationship, I added a smattering of decadent-sounding desserts and an ongoing thread about the Dave Matthews Band. My jigsaw pieces firmly interlocked, a novel was born.

I hope I’ve piqued your interest about Stay With Me. It’s available from Full Quiver Publishing through Amazon.com.  Thank you, Erin, for hosting me.  I hope I’ve left the blog in as good a shape as I’ve found it.


Carolyn Astfalk, author of spicy clean romanceCarolyn Astfalk resides with her husband and four children in Hershey, Pennsylvania. She blogs at My Scribbler’s Heart, and her debut novel, Stay With Me, is available from Full Quiver Publishing.

Interview with Working Mother Ellen Gable Hrkach

Here at Tomato Pie, we’re celebrating the release of my biblical historical fiction ebook “Working Mother” by celebrating the working mothers among us. Today is the Feast of the Holy Family.  What better day for a book release and to meet my editor, working mother Ellen Gable Hrkach!

 

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Ellen Gable Hrkach

Tell us a little bit about your family. 

I’ve been married to James for 32 years and now work alongside him in our publishing company. We have five sons ages 15 to 27 (three sons are still at home) and we live in rural Pakenham, Ontario Canada.

 

Imagine you’re at a dinner party.  Someone asks the question, “So, what do you do?”  What’s your answer?

I’m an author of five books and President of the Catholic Writers Guild.  That usually starts an interesting conversation either about what sort of books I write and/or the Guild.

How do you think God uses your job to help shape you into all He made you to be? 

The writing life is full of deadlines.  This helps me to get things done in a timely manner and forces me to prioritize.

 

What benefits (besides the economical) have you seen to your family that are a direct result of your work away from home? 

This is a hard question to answer since I don’t work away from home. However, having a full-time writing job at home means that I have more freedom to plan my own schedule.
How do you balance any guilty feelings you might have in the tension between your workplace and your homespace? 

I do have occasional guilt sometimes when I have to finish a deadline because “housework” usually does not get done…or I don’t have as much time to help my teens with their homework.

What is one thing that you would ask the people in your life to do to support you more? 

Help with housework.

 

Thank you, Ellen!  

Are you a working mother?  So was (and is) the Blessed Mother!  If you enjoyed this interview and would like to celebrate working motherhood some more, please consider getting a copy of my $.99 historical fiction ebook, “Working Mother.”  

Giveaways, Book Club, and more like “Wow Card Wednesday!”

Hey, Tomato Pie Peeps! This is going to be a fly-by. Things to do, people to see, breakfasts to cook, etc.

  1. Cristina at Filling My Prayer Closet has one part of an interview with little ol’ me, not to mention a giveaway of an ebook (Kindle, I believe) of Don’t You Forget About Me. BTW, this part of the interview reveals how the story came together, how endometriosis of all things played a part, and… outtakes. Books have outtakes. Oh yes they do. Cristina is a hilarious, warm and full of fresh ideas, so go check out this fresh, young lay Dominican.
  2. Tiffany at Life of a Catholic Librarian has another part of that interview and is giving away a hard copy of DYFAM. This part of the interview tackles the value of a Best Good Friend, how to write a mystery if you don’t really read them, and the question everybody seems to want to ask but is afraid to: Is Cate really just Erin with a different name? If I have learned one thing from homeschooling, it is the value of a good librarian–her value is above rubies, above curriculum catalogs. Go visit Tiffany, a lay Dominican Middle Eastern dancer. Yes, you can be both.
  3. WOW! We are getting in some fabulous flashes for Wildcard Wednesday. In case you missed it, WCW is a monthly fiction improv, and this month’s is an audition for an upcoming short story anthology from Full Quiver Publishing. It’ll take 10 minutes to write, maybe 5 to post/link, and you could get discovered. Oh, and the linkup doesn’t even close until September 6 at 1am. Q: What’s to lose? A: NOTHING!

And now I’m leaving you with my tall glass of cold, bubbly coffee.

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Wildcard Wednesday for AUGUST: The “Get Discovered” Edition

 

 

 

Surprise!  It’s that time again.

This time, however, there’s a little twist! This time, WCW participants have a chance at having their stories appear in an upcoming anthology!

WildcardWedImprovButton

 

So I’m helping Ellen Gable of Full Quiver Publishing glean stories for an as-yet-untitled anthology of short stories, all of which are to illustrate (not preach, illustrate) principles of St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.  If you link up your story here, there’s a chance FQP might pick up your story for the anthology.  It is my understanding that stories will be bought on a per-word basis, and all rights revert to the authors.  Even if your story doesn’t get selected, WCW is a great way to flex your writing muscles, to get your work noticed a bit, to help build your own mutual support society, and so and so.

It’s really not much of a gamble for you, if you ask me.  You in?

The WCW rules are thusly:  

  1. I post a writing prompt on a sort-of randomly selected Wildcard Wednesday.
  2. In 10 minutes or less, you write something based on that prompt.
  3. Post it to your blog.   After you’ve written your response to the prompt, add the link for your blog post to the list by clicking next to the little blue frog face below where it says “Add your link.”
  4. Please make sure that the URL you submit is to your response to the Wildcard Wednesday prompt, not to your main blog URL.
  5. Include a link back here in the post on your blog.
  6. If it’s PG-13 or better and you don’t have a blog of your own, feel free to enter it as a comment on this post, but please note that this is my house, so if I find your post offensive, it’ll be shorter by the head.  I love free speech, though, so take this as your opportunity to get thee to a bloggery.

I invite you to Tweet the link to your prompt with the hashtag #WCW so we participants can find each other on Twitter.  Another fun Twitter tag to try is #improv, which will connect you with anybody on Twitter doing any kind of improv. #amwriting is another goodie.

PROMPT:  In St. John Paul II’s teachings on the Theology of the Body, he points out four “originals”:  Original Solitude, Original Unity, Original Nakedness, and then Original Sin.  Your prompt today is to take one of those four Originals and spend ten minutes with it, creating a piece of fiction.  

A note on responding to the prompt:  Use the prompt as a jumping-off point and go from there.  Just write for ten minutes and share it.  Don’t worry about playing by writing rules, because I don’t have any here, and if you’re looking for rules to follow on improv like this, you’re probably looking for an excuse to not write, in which case, try another hobby.  Scrapbooking.  Quilting.  Swimming.  Anything but this, because writing brings new meaning to the term “hot mess.”

Now, here’s hoping the linkup stuff will show up here: