writing

Why NOT to review an author's books.

Why NOT to review my books.

yes-i-want-more-reviews

 

Advertisements

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.

PSA: New Release from Annie Douglass Lima

Hey there, readers!  Please welcome longtime blogfriend and Clean Indie Reads writer Annie Douglass Lima as she shares her latest publishing news as well as offers a free copy of one of her books.  Take it away, Annie!


I’m excited to announce that my young adult action and adventure novel, The Gladiator and the Guard, is now available for purchase! This is the second book in the Krillonian Chronicles, sequel to The Collar and the Cavvarach.

First Things First: a Little Information about Book 1: 

Bensin, a teenage slave and martial artist, is desperate to see his little sister freed. But only victory in the Krillonian Empire’s most prestigious tournament will allow him to secretly arrange for Ellie’s escape. Dangerous people are closing in on her, however, and Bensin is running out of time.  With his one hope fading quickly away, how can Bensin save Ellie from a life of slavery and abuse?

What is the Collar for, and What is a Cavvarach?


The story is set in a world very much like our own, with just a few major differences.  One is that slavery is legal there.  Slaves must wear metal collars that lock around their neck, making their enslaved status obvious to everyone.  Any slave attempting to escape faces the dilemma of how and where to illegally get their collar removed (a crime punishable by enslavement for the remover).  


Another difference is the popularity of a martial art called cavvara shil.  It is fought with a cavvarach (rhymes with “have a rack”), a weapon similar to a sword but with a steel hook protruding from partway down its top edge.  Competitors can strike at each other with their feet as well as with the blades.  You win in one of two ways: disarming your opponent (hooking or knocking their cavvarach out of their hands) or pinning their shoulders to the mat for five seconds.

Click here to order The Collar and the Cavvarach from Amazon 

for $2.99 a discounted price of just 99 cents through April 28th!

 

And now, The Gladiator and the Guard, with another awesome cover by the talented Jack Lin!

 

 

Bensin, a teenage slave and martial artist, is just one victory away from freedom. But after he is accused of a crime he didn’t commit, he is condemned to the violent life and early death of a gladiator. While his loved ones seek desperately for a way to rescue him, Bensin struggles to stay alive and forge an identity in an environment designed to strip it from him. When he infuriates the authorities with his choices, he knows he is running out of time. Can he stand against the cruelty of the arena system and seize his freedom before that system crushes him?

 

Click here to order The Gladiator and the Guard in Kindle format from Amazon 

for $2.99 a discounted price of just 99 cents through May 30!



Annie Douglass Lima spent most of her childhood in Kenya and
later graduated from Biola University in Southern California. She and her husband Floyd currently live in Taiwan, where she teaches fifth grade at Morrison Academy. She has been writing poetry, short stories, and novels since her childhood, and to date has published twelve books (two YA action and adventure novels, four fantasies, a puppet script, and five anthologies of her students’ poetry). Besides writing, her hobbies include reading (especially fantasy and science fiction), scrapbooking, and international travel.


Connect with the Author Online:

Email: AnnieDouglassLima@gmail.com

 


Now, enter to win an Amazon gift card or a free digital copy of The Collar and the Cavvarach

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Or find the giveaway at this link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/ad2fd99a3/?

 

Revisiting: How to Destroy Your Writing Career

WorthRevisitingWed

It’s Worth Revisiting Wednesday, hosted by Allison Gingras and Elizabeth Reardon–did I get that right?

In my quest to cut stress from my life before it takes another organ (and one I can’t live without), I’ve had to give up my volunteer position as chair of the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval Committee.  Of all the things I do in my life, that was the most stressful, conflict ridden thing.  I plan on blogging about what that’s like, having the Catholic writers cause you stress.  For now, though, you can take a look at this post from 2014. How to Destroy Your Writing Career.

DestroyWritingCareer

 

March on and Grab AN OPEN BOOK

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

We read. We talk.  We talk about what we read.

an-open-book

Soulless Creatures by Katharine Grubb

SoullessCreatures

With every sentence, Soulless Creatures kept me guessing. And while the story itself was surprising, the biggest surprise of all was the vital role the setting played. Who knew Oklahoma had so much to teach us? Not this East Coast girl. I love how the author took each character to the brink (or what “the brink” would be for a college freshman) and let him/her grow. The ending was unexpected and yet deeply satisfying. Highly recommended!

 

Word by Word: Slowing Down with the Hail Mary, edited by Sarah Reinhard

WordByWord.jpg

Slowing down is not my favorite thing to do, which makes a book like this so vital. Filled with valuable reflections and fresh but faithful takes on some of the most repeated words in all of Catholicism, Word by Word filled me with hope, made me smile, and, yes, slowed me down so that I could learn something. It’s a versatile book that’s worth reading straight through and worth keeping handy for quick prayer times. Break out the highlighter!

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride by Cary Elwes

AsYouWish

What’s it about?  In case you didn’t know, “From actor Cary Elwes, who played the iconic role of Westley in The Princess Bride, comes a first-person account and behind-the-scenes look at the making of the cult classic film filled with never-before-told stories, exclusive photographs, and interviews with costars Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, and Mandy Patinkin, as well as author and screenwriter William Goldman, producer Norman Lear, and director Rob Reiner.”

If you’re wondering if this book is as good as it looks, wonder no more.  It is.  It’s even better.  It has hitherto for unknown bits about the making of the movie, yes.  The bigger surprise for me though was seeing the creative process through the eyes of immediacy as well as the eyes of memory and experience.  The Princess Bride was, initially, a flop.  Now it’s a classic.  Creatives? We’re in it for the long haul.  We have to be.  If we’re not, we’re going to remain mostly dead.

And some readalouds for Second Shift:

Fiona’s Lace by Patricia Polacco

FionasLace

I got this from the library as a St. Patrick’s Day readaloud.  It would’ve been a lot easier to read if I hadn’t been crying my eyes out from the second or third page.  This is the story of a family that had to leave hardships in Ireland only to show up in Chicago just in time for the Great Chicago Fire.  Young Fiona is a gifted lacemaker, and her skills just might be what her family needs to rise out of immigrant poverty, but when a terrible fire separates the family and destroys not just their home but their entire neighborhood, how will Fiona and her family ever find each other again?  You have to read to find out.  But do keep your tissues nearby–better yet, a lace hankie.

Raisel’s Riddle by Erica Silverman (Illustrations by Susan Gaber)

RaiselsRiddle

It’s a Purim Cinderella story! Orphan Raisel is raised by her Zaydeh (grandfather), who gives her a rich, scholarly education, even teaching her the Talmud.  When Zaydeh dies, Raisel must strike out on her own.  After much wandering, the rabbi in the big city makes his cook take Raisel on as her assistant, but Cook is not happy about this.  The story that follows echoes the Cinderella story, but instead of great shoes making the match, Raisel’s prince finds her because of her great mind.  I’m sure some feminist somewhere has something to say about how a smart girl shouldn’t get her happy ending by working in a kitchen and marrying a prince… but I’m not some feminist anywhere.  Raisel’s Riddle shows that a girl’s greatest gifts are kindness and wisdom, and by being clever and kind and generous, her true beauty stands out from even the loveliest Purim costumes.

3 Reasons the Faithful Writer Needs a Secular Writing Life

Call this post my Ode to Sisters in Crime, an international organization for women crime writers.

-1-

Moar Marketing Ideas!

This past Saturday I was able (at last!) to make it to my local chapter of Sisters in Crime.  Our guest speaker was Nicole Loughan.

I’m posting both pictures, because in the first, Nicole looks lovely but blurry and I just look like me, while in the second she looks lovely and clear, while I look like I’m plotting to kill hamsters.

AAAANYway, Nicole gave a great presentation on how to sell 10K books in one year.  Yes, this is the kind of marketing topic that gets covered at CMN/CWCL, but this had the benefit of being local (or, for me, local-ish, now that we live in a cornfield) and only took a morning rather than most of a week.

There’s also something I’ve noticed about secular  marketing strategy talks, and it’s a good thing: if you’re marketing secular fiction, you only have to worry about bad reviews.  You don’t have to worry about people mocking you personally for being a person of faith.  I don’t know about you, but I move past my fears better when I have someone who loves at least one thing I do (or three: writing, books, and writing books) giving me a to do list, even if I have to read that list to myself as, “Baby steps get on a bus.  Baby steps get on a bus.

Nicole had some great tips to share, and she’ll be sharing more at the 2016 Annual Winter Writers’ Weekend in Lambertville, NJ.  Maybe you can attend?  Check out her branding, too! Oh, and she has a Philly-based novel coming out next about an old North Broad landmark, the Divine Lorraine.  Look at this cover!

NicoleLoughanDivineHotel

::drool:: Gorgeous stuff. Thanks, Nicole!

-2-

Moar Research

Through SinC, I’ve met a local mystery writer who also happens to be a prosecuting attorney, watched cadaver dogs train (and incidentally got to smell what a cadaver smells like to humans–an unearthly stench unlike any other), met a state trooper who worked on the Johnston Gang murders, found out about ways to connect with readers instead of just writers, and on and on.  If you write in a genre, and you want to enrich your writing, your nearest genre-based writing group can be a bottomless resource for you.

-3-

Moar Humans

There’s a certain danger in being a writer in any faith-based genre, and that’s the danger of wanting to circle the wagons.  In a faith-based writing group, I can really let my hair down. I can talk about the pope as he is and not how the media portrays him.  I can talk about 10KLAD over Chipotle and have nobody bat an eye.  I can relax.  I don’t have to hold my breath and feel the sweat bead on my palms as soon as everybody starts talking politics.  I don’t have to answer the unspoken question, “But you’re not like those Catholics, right?”

However.. Jesus?  Not the wagon-circling type.  If you circle the wagons, though, you won’t ever reach your destination.  The hard thing to remember is that the destination is not the cross, it’s the resurrection.

So I go to a secular writing group as often as my time allows.  My life is enriched by the marketing tips and the research opportunities and the fresh ideas both spawn, but my heart and soul are enriched by getting out of my little Catholic bubble, by having my them-against-us tendencies challenged.  “Them” are just folks, just like me, and in the scheme of eternity, I’m not that much closer to God than anybody else.  I’m reminded once again that, no matter what we believe, not a one of us gets out of this alive, and we’re all in this together.

3 Reasons a Faith Writer Needs a SECULAR Writing Group

Have you found great resources and wonderful people in your secular writing group?  Do you know of any secular writers’ organizations that might be helpful to others?  Or do you need help finding one for your genre?  Comment below, and let’s talk about it!

AT THE CROSS ROAD: New from Amy M. Bennett

I am so excited to read the latest installment in the Black Horse Campground Mysteries, a series of cozies from Oak Tree Press author and fellow Catholic Writers Guild member Amy M. Bennett.  This series has characters that really come alive, the kind who make you cheer and cry and laugh and laugh and laugh.  I can’t wait to read this latest tale, At the Cross Road, which is an intriguing title given how the last book in the series, No Vacancy, ended: the mystery was wrapped up, but the relationships were only getting messier!

Without further nattering from me, here’s what you can look forward to from Amy and At the Cross Road!

At the Cross Road: Book 4 in the Black Horse Campground Mystery Series by Amy M. Bennett (Oak Tree Press)Trouble often comes in threes. It’s no different at the Black Horse Campground.

On his first day as detective with the Bonney Police Department, J.D. Wilder finds three cold case files on his desk—three women who have disappeared over a fifteen year period at five year intervals. It seems that no one has ever taken the cases seriously… or even properly investigated them.

Then J.D. receives a visit from two former colleagues who inform him that he’s about to receive another visitor; a woman from his past who is in trouble and needs his help. Again. The timing couldn’t be worse, since he’s finally about to ask Corrie on a date, but then Corrie also has a visitor from her past show up… someone who’s hoping for a second chance with her. In the meantime, Sheriff Rick Sutton has his hands full dodging his ex-wife, Meghan, who insists on discussing personal business with him… business that has to do with digging up a painful past.

When three bodies are discovered that prove the missing women were murdered, J.D.’s investigation reveals that all of their visitors have some connection to the victims. But which one of them killed three women… and is prepared to kill again?

When trouble comes to Bonney County, Corrie, Rick, and J.D. band together to protect each other and their community. But can they solve the mystery before the murderer strikes again?

And now for an excerpt, this one from Chapter 14 of At the Cross Road.

J.D. returned to the Black Horse more wide awake than he had been in days. Amato’s words rang in his ears, while a voice in his head warned him that if he didn’t get some rest, he was going to be completely useless when the time came to have his wits about him and his energy. Still, a night spent in mostly inactivity wasn’t going to allow him to rest. He went into his cabin and changed into his running clothes. He needed to release some tension and energy if he was going to rest at all.

He slipped out of the cabin, casting a glance toward the campground store. It was almost six thirty a.m. and Corrie’s apartment light was on but the store’s lights were still out. He had missed the Friday night fish fry dinner, but he hoped to be back once she was open and be able to talk to her more. And get a decent breakfast.

He started out, following the path he’d taken a couple days earlier. The cool morning air was amazingly refreshing, helping clear his mind while invigorating and relaxing him at the same time. His breathing eased as his strides became more purposeful. He was near a breakthrough in the cold cases. He could feel it. Officer Amato had information that could help reveal the truth about what happened to the three women. After that… he’d have to wait and see.

He rounded the curve where he had seen the small cemetery the last time he had run this path and he slowed to a stop. He had pushed it to the back of his mind and had all but forgotten about it until this moment. Now was as good a time as any to pay his respects. His run had already accomplished its purpose. He knew he’d be able to sleep when he got to his cabin and he’d probably stroll back to the campground after this. He allowed himself a grin as he left the path, picking his way through the tall grass and brush to where the grave sites were.

Unlike most small cemeteries he’d encountered, there was no fence surrounding this one. In fact, there were only three wooden markers, crosses, all of them uniform but in different stages of weathering. He stopped when he got close enough to make out the lettering and suddenly the breath rushed out of him, leaving him feeling weak and dizzy with shock.

The first marker, the most faded, bore the name Carla Sandoval. The second, Rosalie Edwards. The third, the one with the least amount of weathering and the least faded lettering, read Benita Rojas.

Beside the one for Benita Rojas was an open grave. A plain wooden cross lay nearby. Both looked recent. Only a few days recent.

J.D. stumbled back, afraid that his eyes were playing tricks. He fumbled for his cell phone and let out an expletive when he realized he’d left it in his cabin when he changed his clothes. He reached the path and took off at a dead run back to the Black Horse Campground.

He’d been right; there had been more to the disappearances than what was common knowledge.

He hated it when he was right.

Don’t know Amy? Get to know her!

IMG_6271Amy Bennett’s debut mystery novel End of the Road started as a National Novel Writing Month project in 2009.  It went on to win the 2012 Dark Oak Mystery Contest and launched the Black Horse Campground mystery series, followed by No Lifeguard on Duty and No Vacancy, both of which have been awarded the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval. At the Cross Road is the fourth book in the series.

When not sitting at the laptop actively writing, she works full-time at Walmart of Alamogordo (not too far down the road from fictional Bonney County) as a cake decorator and part-time at Noisy Water Winery in Ruidoso (where you can find some of the best wines in the state of New Mexico, including Jo Mamma’s White!)  She lives with her husband and son in a small town halfway between Alamogordo and Ruidoso.  Visit her website at www.amymbennettbooks.com and The Back Deck Blog at http://amymbennettbooks.blogspot.com

7 Things I Learned from Writing This Stinking Book

I’m baaaaaack…. Many thanks to all of my wonderful guest posters who filled in for so much longer than I anticipated.

Anyway, I was busy.  Busy writing, busy learning.  Whether your thang is writing, auto repair, particle physics, or building castles out of pipe cleaners chenille stems, each new project has something unique to teach you.  The sequel to Don’t You Forget About Me is already teaching me a lot, and I still have a ways to go, even with the first draft done.  Here’s hoping some of these lessons might speak to you in whatever your thang might be.

Whether your thang is writing, auto repair, or particle physics, each new project has something unique to teach us.

-1-

What works for you may not work for me. “Just sit down at the keys and write! No excuses! That’s how I wrote my novel!” Well, once upon a time, that’s how wrote  my novel.  It wasn’t working this time.  I have a very large file full of rewrites just to get to the end of the first draft, because for the better part of a year, every time I forced myself to write, nonsense came out.  I was writing myself in circles, wasting time I don’t have.  It took a lot of courage to admit the “butt in seat, fingers on keys” approach was doing nothing but breaking my heart and getting me nowhere.

-2-

What worked last time might not work this time. See above: I had to find another approach for this project.  I’m a creature who thrives on routine, so the idea of changing tactics was frightening.  Lesson learned: flexibility is valuable.  Another lesson learned: to value that my creative energies are a gift from God, not an award I get for hard work, and that they are not an unlimited resource.  If my family needs my creative  problem solving energies, they get dibs. The writing will have to wait, and that’s okay.  

-3-

Thinking time is writing time. Second Shift is a particularly talkative child who literally can’t stop talking for love or money.

Me: If you can stay quiet until we get home, you can have an M&M

2nd Shift: Okay.

Me: [Counting in my head one, two, three, four, five, six, seven–]

2nd Shift: Mommy?

Me: Yes?

2nd Sift: I don’t want an M&M.

She really just. Can’t. Stop.  Sharing.  And needing to know she’s been heard.  Future blogger, I guess.

As indicated above, the “don’t think, just write” method was failing me.  When I wrote DYFAM, it was in a three-month haze of enthusiasm while First Shift was in school and Second Shift was napping.  Times have changed: I homeschool all three now.  Second Shift’s naps are looooong gone, and her loquacity takes up a very large amount of my creative energy.   Like, by 9:15am on a good day.  (Speaking of which, if you have any kinesthetic phonics activities to share, you know where to find me.)  The times when I could sit and “write in my head” while Second Shift napped in the car have gone the way of her naps.  If my writing time is 5:30am-6:30am, and I don’t know what to write, I have every right to lay lie in bed, stare at the ceiling, and think about what happens next, and that’s okay too.

-4-

Ask for help.  You just might get it. I spent some time developing a Clean Routine that shares more of the housework with the kids, and having a reduced-clutter living space helps with EVERYTHING, including the writing. I also have become better about asking my husband if I can get away from the house somewhere and write.

I’m the person who is happy to help others, but when I need the help, I feel like my cries fall into nothingness.  Thus, I rarely ask for it.  But this time, I worked up the chutzpah to ask a number of writing and reading friends, all found through the Catholic Writers Guild, to beta the first draft for me.  All but three of them said yes, like within hours.  I asked them because I know I can trust them to be firm but kind.  Ask help of people with whom you already have a rapport of trust.  

-5-

There’s a YouTube playlist for that.  Probably.

-6-

Sometimes, you’ll start out with C work.  That doesn’t mean you’ll end that way. Never before in my life as a legal adult have I knowingly handed in anything but the best possible thing I could turn out.  In sophomore year of college, I basically withraw-failed two honors classes (English and Theatre–ha!) rather than hand in something that wasn’t my best.  For the NLMDA draft, however, I handed it off to Team Beta knowing it is chock full of problems: unanswered questions, fuzzy motivations, plot holes, impossibilities, even a fire alarm that I’m not sure I ever turned off… or on for that matter.

And that’s okay.  It’s not the end of the story.  Chances are pretty good that I’ll survive letting people see that I’m okay with showing up knowing that I already need to improve.

-7-

I learned how to make espresso on the stovetop.  It’s changed my life.

So, question for you, Dear Reader: Did ANY of these resonate with you? Or is it just me and Second Shift out here sharing (First Shift dwells only in Surly Preteen Land)? What are some creative habits you’ve formed and then re-formed?  What are some ways you recharge your creative energies?  What is your favorite way to make coffee?

I’m doing this for #MondayBlogs, but since they’re Quick Takes and there are Seven of ’em, I’ll link this on up at This Ain’t the Lyceum.

Seven Quick Takes Linkup

 

Top 10 Reasons You Will Love Catholic Teen Fiction!

Thank you to Theresa Linden, author of the Liberty Trilogy and the newly released Roland West, Loner. In the style of Late Nights gone by, here’s…

 

Top

1.      Because reading Catholic teen fiction can be more fun than going to the movies.

2.      Because you might waste an entire day stretched out on the couch, reading, but you won’t need to feel guilty.

3.      You also won’t need to find that bookmark you lost because you won’t want to put the book down.

4.      And you won’t need to save your receipts or scraps of junk mail to use for bookmarks. Same reason as number 4.

5.      Because Catholic fiction reveals that there’s more to life than what we can see.

6.      Because of fun author names like Heckenkamp, Cattapan, and Peek.

7.      Because of fun story lines take the reader back in time or into the future, close to the saints, or close to trouble.

8.      Because books don’t need batteries but Catholic books still shed light.

9.      Because you ARE a Catholic teen, so reading fiction for Hindu octogenarians might not be your thing.

10. Because Catholic fiction can stir your heart and give you courage… and direct your soul to God.

Bonus reason: ‘Cause you really don’t want Roland West to stay a loner. That would be sad.

Win your copy of Roland West with this giveaway!

More about Roland West, Loner:

Roland West, Loner is a contemporary Christian story of a fourteen-year-old boy who finds himself friendless at a new school and the subject of cruel rumors. Despised by older twin brothers, he feels utterly alone but not without hope. If he can avoid his brothers while his father is away, he might have a solution to his problem. When his brothers lock him away, having a plan of their own, he gets rescued by an unlikely pair: a neighboring autistic boy and his brother. Struggling to trust his new friends, secrets, rumors, lies, and an unusual inheritance put him on a journey that just might have the power to change the life of this loner.

See the trailer here!

Roland West, Loner addresses loneliness, sibling relationships, facing fears, autism, and the Communion of the Saints. Susan Peek, highly popular author of saint stories for teens, including A Soldier Surrenders said, “A heartwarming tale of friendship, faith, and forgiveness. Linden had me laughing on one page and crying on the next. The story stayed with me long after I closed the last page. Simply put, Roland West, Loner is the best Catholic fiction I’ve read in ages.”

Theresa Linden, author of the Liberty TrilogyTheresa Linden, an avid reader and writer since grade school, grew up in a military family. Moving every few years left her with the impression that life is an adventure. Her Catholic faith inspires the belief that there is no greater adventure than the reality we can’t see, the spiritual side of life. She hopes that the richness, depth, and mystery of the Catholic faith arouse her readers’ imaginations to the invisible realities and the power of faith and grace. A member of the Catholic Writers’ Guild, Theresa lives in northeast Ohio with her husband, three boys, and one dog. Her other published books include Chasing Liberty and Testing Liberty, books one and two in a dystopian trilogy.

The Itty Bitty Soul: A Guest Post from Jim Fellows #mondayblogs #adoption

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, Jim Fellows, author of the author of the children’s book The Itty Bitty Soul.  It is a children’s story that explains adoption from a unique perspective.


The Itty Bitty Soul by Jim Fellows, a book about adoption

Tell us about your story

The Itty Bitty Soul is, at its core, a story about adoption.   The main character, Jimmy, is having a conversation with God prior to being born.  God tells him that there is something special that Jimmy can do for him on Earth. And while we’re not privy to what that task is, he whispers it to Jimmy.  He then shows Jimmy the two people  who will teach him what he needs to know.  This is when he’s first introduced to his mom and dad.  God shows Jimmy what both his parents do and all the people that they love and care for.  When Jimmy asks, if God is sure they would have room for him, God tells him that he is so loved already that his mom and dad would go to the ends of the Earth to find him.  And they do.

Is this a different interpretation of the adoption story?

I haven’t found a children’s story that approaches adoption in this way.  At one time I studying to be a therapist I learned about a therapeutic technique called reframing.  The purpose of reframing is to take an event in your life and look at it from a different perspective.  You don’t change the facts, you cast a new light on them.  Storytelling can be a powerful tool in reframing events in our lives.  “I never looked at it like this” is a comment I get often after someone reads the story.

What has been the reaction to the story?

Many people who have read my story were touched by it. Most people have had wonderful things to say about the story.  There are some who wished I had touched on other aspects of adoption in the story. But no one story can touch on everything.  I’ve gained a great deal of respect for the fact that adoption is a deeply personal event for people. I’m thrilled that so many people who read my story connect with it.  It’s a blessing that it’s being shared with their children.

What inspired you to write The Itty Bitty Soul?

When my two best friends in the world decided to create their family through adoption, I got to be one of their sources for support.  For a couple of years, we would regularly sit in their kitchen and I would listen to all the stories about the journey.  They would talk about how vulnerable they felt at times, how frustrating the process can be, and how heartbreaking it can be.  People who were trying to console them would say things like “I knew a couple who adopted! But then they were able to have one of their own!”  Statements like that made me realize that there were still some social stigmas to adoption that shouldn’t exist.  Adoption is viewed by so many like it was a consolation prize.  The purpose of The Itty Bitty Soul is to show that children are not “given up” for adoption, they are sought after!

Why the blog tour now?

I am partnering with a wonderful organization called Gift of Adoption.  During the month of November, I’m donating $1 from every book sold to them. Their purpose is to help families close the financial gap that usually incurs with adoption.  It’s heartbreaking that some families are prevented from becoming a family because the cost of adoption can be too great.  Gift of Adoption has been a big supporter of the book and I love partnering with them!  

If you would like to purchase a copy of The Itty Bitty Soul visit www.ittybittysoul.com.  If you order during the month of November, $1 will go towards Gift of Adoption Network and go to help a couple to realize their dream and build their family!

Jim Fellows, author of The Itty Bitty SoulJim Fellows is a storyteller and a public speaker. He lives in Woodbury MN with his wife and stepdaughter. Jim has spent much of his life working with teensand young adults. In his spare time, Jim is a avid Minnesota Twins fan and an amateur sheepherder with his Australian Shepherd Baxter. He is a strong advocate for pro-life issues.