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One of my readers wrote to me after reading The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch. She said that she found the book valuable because of its many teachable moments.

So I thought I’d take a moment and list some of these teachable moments for homeschooling mothers, teachers, and youth group leaders looking for a novel to use for instruction.

Overcoming Past Adversity: The story is about foster children who have all experienced past adversity. Benedict, the main character has the hardest time getting over his past. In fact, his fear stands in the way of his happiness.

Finding Strength in God: The biblical verse that carries this novel is Philippians 4:12-13.

I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Every one can relate to this verse because we have all had our ups and downs. This novel demonstrates that with God strengthening us, we can get through the worst of times.

Staying Pure in Love: Tommy and Faden discover that they have an emotional interest in each other. But how do two Christian teens deal with their emotions? I love how these characters come together, and as their relationship develops, they teach young teens how love can grow without compromise.

Patience in Foster Parenting: Unconditional love is easy when the children are your own, but what about foster children? David and Martha Credence are the epitome of love and patience. How do they do it?

Holding onto your Faith in Times of Struggle: Martha and David teach their foster children about loving and understanding God. Their mantra is, “have faith.” But even those who are strong in their faith feel forsaken when trial follows struggle after pain.

Following Your Dreams: Even when your dreams seem unreachable, never let them go. Continue to strive for them. There are many moments in this book where a character questions their own dreams and abilities. But this story promotes following your dreams. They may be God’s gift to you and your way of glorifying Him.

Accepting Jesus Christ as Your Lord and Savior: This isn’t easy to do for Benedict. His fear is as strong as his faith is weak. This story doesn’t preach. It doesn’t tell the reader to follow Christ, but it demonstrates the pain when He’s missing in your life, and it reveals the joy that comes with opening your Heart to Him.

These are the main teachable moments that are offered in The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch. This novel provides additional opportunities for teachers and youth group leaders to use for instruction. If you’re using this book to answer other questions, please share them with us here.

If you haven’t read The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch, you can get your copy from this site.

Image Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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*Note to youth leaders and teachers: You can pick and choose the questions depending on the purpose of your instruction and the age group of your students/readers.

Character development:

Characters-specific: Determine which characters you wish to discuss, either from the list given or others- Gabriel, Tanner, Miss Ruth, Alicia, Nina, Faith, Adam

How did temptation affect each character?

How was temptation dealt with as the character developed?

How important was modesty in this novel?

In how many ways was modesty presented?

Compare and contrast the characters Miss Ruth and Miss Alicia.

Explain the relationship transition between Gabriel and Tanner.

Explain how kung fu helped Gabriel remain focused on his faith.

Why was Gabriel not interested in competing?

In what ways did Gabriel live his faith?

Did Gabriel ever struggle with his faith? Explain.

Why do you believe that Gabriel continued to have a recurring dream about his father?

Why was it so difficult for Tanner to return to Hollywood?

Do you believe that Tanner could continue in her career without compromising her new found faith?

Which character was your favorite and why?

Which character do you feel was the strongest emotionally and why?

Characters-general:

Were you able to relate to any of the characters portrayed and in what way?

Were the characters believable?

Was there any experience in the novel that you feel you can apply to your own life experience?

Do you find this novel valuable? Explain your response.

Which character made the biggest transition, in your opinion?

Which character made the smallest transition, in your opinion?

Spirituality:

In your opinion, how well does the author portray the presence of God in the everyday lives of the characters?

Is the author successful in presenting faith in a relevant and relatable way?

Give an example of each of the following Christian values and explain where they were best presented:
forgiveness, strong faith, honesty, loyalty, perseverance, purity, charity, compassion, tolerance

 

Book Structure:

Discuss some of the narrative devices that the author uses? E.g. Flashbacks, foreshadowing, third person narration, plot twists, dialogue, and imagery. Do they work?

Do these narrative devices help move the story along or are they just distracting to the story?

Style:

What can you say about the author’s writing style?

Discuss the narrative style.

What are some of the noticeable themes in the book? How did the author develop these themes? Were these methods effective?

The Author:

How well did the author take you into the story?

Was the use of description effective?

Could you envision each character?

Could you envision the setting?

Did you find this novel enjoyable?

Would you recommend it to a friend? Explain your response.

Does this book prompt you to want to read more from this author?

 

Quotes:

Which character quote did you find most effective?

Which character quote do you feel is the defining message in the novel?

.PDF VERSION of book study for Freeing Tanner Rose

Image Credit: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

You may also be interested in:

The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch-Book Study Questions for Homeschooling, Youth Groups, and Book Clubs

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This is a note to all homeschooling parents looking to include my novels in their home education program. Surprisingly, many parents don’t take the time to read first the books they assign to their children. I feel that this is a great disadvantage to them and their children. My suggestion before assigning any of my teen novels to your children is to take the time to read them yourself for the following reasons:

  1. You can determine whether the novel is appropriate for your child. All my novels are great learning tools for teens, but some do introduce controversial themes. I’m not graphic in descriptions of controversial topics, but I do touch upon those issues enough to get necessary perspective. And so, I do feel that only a parent can decide if their child is ready to learn about certain issues. For example:
    • Themes for The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch include: Past adversity, emotional abuse, and loss.
    • Themes for Freeing Tanner Rose include: Addiction, loss, immodesty, and purity.
  2. You can set up a lesson plan that meets your current curriculum. Because of the many themes intertwined in each book, it offers many opportunities for learning. Whether you want to introduce a topic or work on writing techniques, you can establish a plan that’s unique to your child’s personal needs.
  3. You know what your children are reading and can respond to their questions accordingly. This would go hand in hand with number two. In setting up your lesson plan, you should also have the answer to the questions that will inevitably arise.

If you’re looking for feedback from readers and information to help set up your reading curriculum, check out some of the following links:

THE DESTINY OF SUNSHINE RANCH:

What Are People Saying About The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch
Amazon Comments
Author Profile 
Book Reviews and More (also posted on Catholic Dads Online)
Guest Post @ CatholicMom.com
Interview @ProjectInspired.com

The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch- Chapter 1
The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch-Book Study Questions for Youth Groups, Schools, and Book Clubs

FREEING TANNER ROSE (Bk. 1-Faith & Kung Fu Series)

Review @Ourvillageisalittledifferent.com
Amazon Comments
Guest Post @ CatholicMom.com
Interview @ProjectInspired.com

I will try to keep this page updated. And don’t forget to “Like” me on Facebook for updates, news, and reviews of my current and upcoming novels…just click the “like” button on the right panel!

If you have the time, please share your feedback on lessons for any or all of my books in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.

Best and blessings, and happy homeschooling. TMG

Image Credit: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

*Note to home-school parents, youth leaders and teachers: You can pick and choose the questions depending on the purpose of your instruction and the age group of your students/readers.

Character development:

Characters-specific: Determine which characters you wish to discuss, either from the list given or others- Benedict, Micah, Isabella, Sebastian, Tommy, Eva, Faden, Roy, David, Martha, Mr. Jones.

How did adversity affect each character?

How was past or current adversity resolved as the character developed?

Why did Benedict have such a difficult time letting go of his past?

Why did Micah have such a strong faith?

Why was Isabella really called “mama Bella”?

Why did Sebastian resent his father?

What was Tommy most afraid of?

Why was Eva so afraid to sing?

How well do you think Faden handled his feelings for Tommy?

What do you think David’s biggest challenge was?

What was Martha’s biggest fear?

How important was Mr. Jones’ character and why?

How did Roy demonstrate that an adverse past can create a positive future?

Which character was your favorite and why?

Which character do you feel was the strongest emotionally and why?

Characters-general:

Were you able to relate to any of the characters portrayed and in what way?

Were the characters believable?

Was there any experience in the novel that you feel you can apply to your own life experience?

Do you find this novel valuable? Explain your response.

Which character made the biggest transition, in your opinion?

Which character made the smallest transition, in your opinion?

Spirituality:

In your opinion, how well does the author portray the presence of God in the everyday lives of the characters?

Is the author successful in presenting faith in a relevant and relatable way?

Give an example of each of the following Christian values and explain where they were best presented:
forgiveness, strong faith, honesty, loyalty, perseverance, purity, charity, compassion, tolerance

Book Structure:

Discuss some of the narrative devices that the author uses? E.g. Flashbacks, foreshadowing, third person narration, plot twists, dialogue, and imagery. Do they work?

Do these narrative devices help move the story along or are they just distracting to the story?

Style:

What can you say about the author’s writing style?

Discuss the narrative style.

What are some of the noticeable themes in the book? How did the author develop these themes? Were these methods effective?

The Author:

How well did the author take you into the story?

Was the use of description effective?

Could you envision each character?

Could you envision the setting?

Did you find this novel enjoyable?

Would you recommend it to a friend? Explain your response.

Does this book prompt you to want to read more from this author?

Quotes:

Which character quote did you find most effective?

Which character quote do you feel is the defining message in the novel?

.PDF VERSION of Book Study for “The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch”

Image Credit: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

Following is an author interview by Catholic Fiction.net. Check it out!

CatholicFiction.net: Why do you write?

T. M. Gaouette: It’s inevitable. Hemingway famously stated that, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” He wasn’t kidding. Writing is as much thrilling as it is draining, and there have been times when I’ve been so disheartened that I’ve contemplated giving it up. But I can’t imagine not writing. I have stories to tell and a nagging desire to share God’s amazing grace within each one. So, I’ll plug away and pray that God gives me the words and the aspiration to continue on. At least until I’m no longer consumed with stories to tell.

CF: What first inspired you to become a writer?

TMG: I don’t recall that first moment, but I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write, whether it was my own thoughts in a diary as a child or short stories and poems.

CF: If you were a critic writing about your own books, how would you describe the defining characteristic of your writing style?

TMG: Deep, descriptive, and refreshingly pastoral.

CF: Is there a favorite place you have to write?

TMG: I’d love to share some romantic image of myself gazing out at an idyllic afternoon scene as I blissfully tap the keys of my laptop, but the reality is that I write late at night when my four children are asleep. I’m usually sitting on my couch with my laptop burning my lap. I do have a more attractive schedule that seemed feasible at the time of its conception, but parenting, home-schooling, working, gardening, canning, farming, cooking, and cleaning have since extended beyond their allocated timeframes and pushed my writing into the wee hours.

CF: What is your cure for writer’s block?

TMG: Read the work I’m writing or focus on another novel. I always have a few books on the backburner and sometimes writer’s block is an opportunity to take time away from the current novel and work on another. When I’m ready, I’ll return my focus to the current novel with a fresh approach.

CF: What is your cure for procrastination?

TMG: I don’t get much time to write, so when I’m at the computer, I just get down to it.

CF: Describe in your own words what the “Catholic imagination” is – or alternatively, what it means to be a “Catholic writer.”

TMG: When it comes to writing my novels, I have a desire to write about God-loving people in a tainted world. I feel that my need to write is my God-given gift, and all gifts should be used to glorify Him. And so as a writer, I present the world, with its messy and complicated and destructive nature, and then I introduce the characters, some of whom know Christ and some who don’t. And then they meet. The rest is…well, you have to read my novels to find out the rest!

CF: What three writers – alive or dead – would you like to invite to dinner? Why?

TMG: Undoubtedly, Tolkien, Lewis, and Chesterton, and for numerous reasons. But primarily for the conversation. Such an interaction would be awe-inspiring. We’d talk about writing and faith. I’d have loved to hear Tolkien’s compelling arguments with Lewis that caused the latter to convert.

CF: What is the “best thing” about being a writer?

TMG: Clearly, the best thing is when my readers are inspired by my novels. When they find comfort in them. I honestly see my work as a ministry and when the final product brings someone closer to Christ, that’s an awesome feeling.

CF: What is your latest book about?

TMG: Freeing Tanner Rose is about a Hollywood teen diva who is uprooted from her celebrity lifestyle, as a result of her destructive vices, and sent to the boonies to stay with her mother’s friend who’s a devoted Catholic and mom to a gorgeous and Godly, Kung-fu loving teenaged son.

CF: What inspired you to write this story in the first place? Where did the story line come from?

TMG: Our pop culture prompted me to write about the immorality of Hollywood, as well as the desire to introduce young, attractive characters who are beautifully Catholic. I feel as if Hollywood, and its sexualized nature, has taken such a hold on our young people. I’m disturbed that it’s so appealing, and Hollywood entices our children with everything immoral. And so, I wrote Freeing Tanner Rose to demonstrate that God and His way are so much more appealing, and in essence, we are all imprisoned without Him. This is the first of four novels that will touch upon issues that our teens and young adults have to deal with today.

CF: Did you hold onto the idea for a long time before giving it shape, or did it come together in a flash?

TMG: All my ideas are written down immediately in a notebook or flashcard so that I don’t forget them. And then the plot develops over time. I continue to write down my thoughts, but when the story begins to take shape with a plot and characters, that’s when I write down a layout and synopsis. Freeing Tanner Rose took a few years to take shape.

CF: All fiction comes from a mix of past influences and impressions –things we’ve lived, seen, imagined, or read. Can you talk about some of the elements that came together to shape this particular fiction?

TMG: It was a culmination of things lived, seen, and imagined. I’ve studied Kung-fu, so I’m familiar with the art. My own personal voyage toward a more devout existence also influenced the novel’s journey of faith. And the destructive nature of our pop culture inspired me to write about what would happen if Hollywood was stuck in a small town.

CF: How does this book differ from either a) previous books you’ve written or b) other writing work you’ve accomplished?

TMG: I have been told by some readers that Freeing Tanner Rose differs greatly from The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch. I believe that primarily it’s the dynamics of the relationships that make a difference. In the former, there is more focus on Tanner and Gabriel’s developing relationship.

CF: What was the most challenging aspect – a character, a plot point, etc. – of writing this book?

TMG: The biggest challenge, when it comes to writing in general, is in creating a work with both plot and characters that are appealing to the youth of today. And when their usual literary intake is comprised of bad boys corrupting good girls or gorgeous vampires in compromising positions, all set in a godless world, it makes the challenge all the more difficult for authors seeking to offer edifying novels that glorify the Almighty. However that’s a challenge I accept willingly.

CF: Which characters in this book did you find most challenging to work with, and what was it like to write with them? Conversely, do you have any characters that came particularly easily to you?

TMG: I knew my characters before introducing them. Knowing them came easier than describing them in words in some cases. When it came to Tanner Rose, I wanted my readers to gradually change their feelings for her as the story and her faith journey progressed. And the transition that she experiences had to be realistic. Gabriel was equally challenging. He had to be an authentic character. He had to be pure in his beliefs and actions, even though he wasn’t perfect. And he had to be unruffled in his demeanor and unapologetic in his piety.

Read the whole interview at Catholic Fiction.net.

If you loved this, then you’re sure to like…

Book Reviews and More on “Freeing Tanner Rose”: “One of the Best Catholic Fiction Stories for Young Adults I Have Ever Read”

“Freeing Tanner Rose” Featured on Project Inspired – Check it out!

T.M. Gaouette – Author Profile Featured on Book Reviews and More and CatholicDadsOnline.org

 

I love conversion stories. They are great in explaining the Catholic Church to non-Catholics and non-practicing Catholics alike. They also remind me how awesome it is to be a member of the One True Church!

Thank you Jesus!

The sun was still hot, wearing him down. But the breeze was intoxicating and he used it to pull him onward like a soldier crossing the desert. While he couldn’t remember a time when he was free of worry, he had never experienced this level of anxiety and it scared him. He stopped and gazed up at the blue sky, begging for relief. (The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch)

Have you ever felt an anxiety this strong? Poor Benedict. He’s the main character in my novel, The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch. From such a young age, Benedict carried the burdens of his past. He constantly looked back and couldn’t bring himself to to be positive about his future. It’s the life of the average foster child. Moved from one home to another, without any sense of stability. Until eventually, a home is just a unattainable dream.

This is the essence of the book. How do we deal with past adversity? All the Credence foster children have experienced some form of past adversity. But it’s how they deal with it that makes the difference.

Philippians 4:13 is the crux of this novel. “I can do all things,” Paul writes, “through Christ who strengthens me.” And that’s the foundation of our faith and the faith that the Credence family members must adhere to in order to cope with and overcome their adversity. With Jesus we can do anything, regardless of the circumstances that we are dealing with at the time.

Oftentimes, adversity occurs when we are children, but we take it with us into adulthood. For Benedict, it becomes consuming until the ache is just unbearable. I don’t want to ruin the story for you, but I will definitely like to come back to this subject.

Well, my story is told, and you can find out what happens to Benedict and his foster siblings. After reading the book, come back and tell me why you think Benedict struggled with his past.

Do you have a past adversity that’s been difficult to overcome? Has your faith helped you move on?

Image: Maggie Smith / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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