Why We Need Catholic Teen Fiction


Following is a guest post by award-winning author, Theresa Linden:

Catholic teen fiction is different from secular fiction because its themes, characters, conflict and/or story ideas come from and/or point to some aspect of truth given by Christ to the Church. While characters face temptations and challenges, like we all do, the message of where to find happiness is clear. Catholic teen fiction shows the beauty of morality and virtue in a fallen world. Finally, it not only entertains but lifts a reader’s thoughts to something greater than this world can ever offer.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church begins, “God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to man. He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength. He calls together all men, scattered and divided by sin, into the unity of his family, the Church” (CCC p.1).

That is so amazing! God is always drawing close to us and calling us to seek him, know him, and love him. Everyone. Me, you, every member of your family, all your friends, fellow students, and coworkers . . . everyone! Even the people who don’t believe in him or who have turned away from him.

God is always calling, but are we listening?

The voice of the culture is loud. Life is distracting. And crosses and challenges often blind us to the truth. We have responsibilities, goals, and dreams. And sometimes we develop habits or behaviors that speak louder than the still, small voice of God.

That is why we need Catholic teen fiction!

Catholic fiction can help refresh our minds and renew our vision. It can help us refocus on faith amidst the distractions of life and point us to God’s plan for our happiness. It can spark our imagination and open our hearts to life-changing spiritual truths. It can delve into things we can all relate to: human weakness and misery, struggle for redemption, and the awesomeness of unmerited grace. Fictional characters and storylines can help us grasp powerful truths.

The theme of Roland West, Loner, the first in the West Brothers series, is that you are never alone. You belong to the Mystical Body of Christ. All Christians are your brothers and sisters. And so are the saints in heaven. This story sheds light on the meaning and power of the Communion of Saints.

The second book in this series, Life-Changing Love, addresses relationship issues that teens face. With Saint John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body” weaved into the story, it challenges the culture’s views and shows the beauty of the Church’s teachings on love. We were, after all, made for love!

Battle for His Soul, the third book in the West Brother series, unfolds in the spiritual realm. Readers get to see the spiritual battle going on around Jarret West and the power of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.

Standing Strong, the fourth book in this series, comes out October 4th. This story picks up where Battle for His Soul left off.

Standing Strong is a beautiful testament to how God works—in the whispers, in the quiet moments, in the gentle guidance of our hearts. It’s a reminder that Jesus is with us in ways we may never understand, and that, if we allow it, the Holy Spirit will give us the strength to stand strong for God!” ~Lisa Mayer, author of The Aletheian Journeys Series  

Catholic teen fiction comes in a variety of genres. You can learn about several Catholic Teen fiction authors and books on CatholicTeenBooks.com

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   Theresa is giving away a copy of her soon-to-be-released novel,
STANDING STRONG

It’s book 4 of her West Brothers Series!!!
To enter this awesome giveaways, visit Theresa Linden’s website!

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Author bio:
Theresa Linden is the author of award-winning Roland West, Loner and Battle for His Soul, from her series of Catholic teen fiction. An avid reader and writer since grade school, she 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 will spark her readers’ imagination of the invisible realities and the power of faith and grace. A member of the Catholic Writers Guild and the International Writers Association, Theresa lives in northeast Ohio with her husband, three boys, and one dog.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theresalindenauthor/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LindenTheresa
Website: http://www.theresalinden.com

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Win a Copy of Theresa Linden’s “Standing Strong”: Book 4 in West Brothers Series!

Standing Strong, the next in the young adult West Brothers series comes out on the Feast of St. Francis, October 4th. And you have a chance to win a copy!!!

  Book blurb:

STANDING STRONG

When the path is not clear…
When temptation is near…
When God speaks in a whisper you can barely hear…

Ever since that life-changing night in the canyon, Jarret has felt the presence of the Lord in his soul. Now that presence is fading. Is it his fault? How will he remain faithful without it when he still struggles against the same temptations?
​Questioning whether he has a true calling, Keefe reads everything he can about St. Francis and the Franciscans, but he’s afraid to talk to his father about an upcoming discernment retreat because his father seems closed to faith. Is he ready to go all in?

Standing Strong is a beautiful testament to how God works—in the whispers, in the quiet moments, in the gentle guidance of our hearts. It’s a reminder that Jesus is with us in ways we may never understand, and that, if we allow it, the Holy Spirit will give us the strength to stand strong for God!”

~Lisa Mayer, author of The Aletheian Journeys Series

   Enter the contest: To enter this awesome giveaway, visit Theresa Linden’s website!

OR click image to pre-order your copy 


Author bio:
Theresa Linden is the author of award-winning Roland West, Loner and Battle for His Soul, from her series of Catholic teen fiction. An avid reader and writer since grade school, she 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 will spark her readers’ imagination of the invisible realities and the power of faith and grace. A member of the Catholic Writers Guild and the International Writers Association, Theresa lives in northeast Ohio with her husband, three boys, and one dog.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theresalindenauthor/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LindenTheresa
Website: http://www.theresalinden.com

Teaching Virtues Through Fiction Series: Faith

Find out what the Teaching Virtues Through Fiction Series is all about!

I think it’s safe to say that faith plays a fundamental role in all Christian fiction, even if the virtue is an underlying theme. You have to have faith in some capacity, otherwise the fiction itself would not be Christian.  But what is faith?

Faith is not a virtue easily defined. In one way, faith is our belief in God. In another way, faith is the trust we have in Him.  Faith doesn’t come from what we Catholics have seen as evidence. Instead, faith comes from what we have learned from scripture, the apostles’ evidence, our church teachings, saint stories, and so on.

Faith is also the belief in the goodness of God’s plan. So, we place our life and our worries in His hands with complete trust in the outcome.  Faith is relying on Him, not money, success, or fame. Faith is putting God in the forefront of our lives and allowing Him to lead us.

“…And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” (Matthew 21:22)

Faith is easy in good times. When we’re happy, and all is well, and life is going exactly as we “planned,” if not better, we’re more than happy to give thanks to God and put our trust in Him, right? But what about when things are not going our way? What about in times when you can’t even see the end of your struggle; when you cannot fathom a way out; when it seems completely impossible that any good, or any light, or any break will come your way? What about when our prayers are not being answered? What then?

Faith is so much more difficult in times of struggle. I mean, how can we easily believe in a loving God when bad things happen? How can we believe that this same God loves us when adversity consumes us? Wouldn’t He make sure that His faithful are protected from suffering? Wouldn’t He at least answer our prayers?

These are the questions that ten-year-old Benedict asks himself in The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch.  It’s very apparent that Benedict struggles with his faith.  He just doesn’t get it, because in his world of abandonment and pain, he never felt the arms of a loving God. He listens to Martha and David speak of God, and having faith that everything will be okay because God loves them, but it’s a language he doesn’t comprehend; especially when things start looking bad for everyone. Then ten-year-old Micah comes into the picture.

Now, Micah has suffered too by losing everyone that he’s loved, and yet he’s devoted to the Lord. He believes that everything works out for the good, and he understands that God always answers our prayers; and sometimes by not giving us what we ask for because His plan is so much better.

Again, Benedict cannot wrap his mind around this. He doesn’t believe it. He refuses to believe it. In one scene, he says to Micah:

“You think that it’s going to be okay because you don’t know what it’s really like. You haven’t been sent from one messed up house to another. You haven’t been hit, or spat at, or punched for taking an extra cracker at lunch. No, you’ve had grandpa who fished with you, and a mother who sang to you every night. You had it good, so no wonder you have so much faith.” (pg. 111 TDSR)

Micah is the epitome of faith. He remains devoted and thankful to God even when his world is dark. He just knows that God has a handle on his life, and he’ll happily take the good with the bad in the world, because he’s been taught that eternal joy is waiting.

 And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you receive it, and you will. (Mark 11:22-24)

Freeing Tanner Rose also introduces a character who lacks faith. Tanner Rose has been corrupted by Hollywood from a very young age, and although fourteen when she meets Gabriel, she’s lived an adult’s life. She’s lost in her world and blindly happy for it. She’s afraid of her real self and uses her fame and addictions to hide. But Gabriel introduces her to the Lord, and his faith inspires her. When things get too much for her, she seeks to know, love , and serve Him, but doesn’t know how. Gabriel’s mother tells her, “I had to learn how to believe, but faith seemed to come naturally to him.” (pg. 76-77)

Tanner puts her faith in herself and her own actions, and the stress of this leads her to her addictions. She doesn’t know how to let go. Near the end of this story, when Tanner visits Gabriel and his mother, the boy tries to explain the fundamentals of faith in his own unique style:

“Faith is not a drive-through restaurant, Tanner. You don’t say a prayer and pick it up from the window.” He heard a soft laugh and looked at his mother, who shrugged. “Well, it’s true. God knows what you need, Tanner. You have to trust that He’s taking care of it.” He goes on to say, “You know,” he added, “If you truly believe, whatever you pray for will be yours. Just don’t expect it to come packaged the way you want it to. It will come on His time and in His way. That’s where the faith comes in.” (198-199)

Times of struggle are a real test of our faith, for as we all know, we easily fall apart when things go south in our lives. The best way to get through the dark times is to remain focused on God. But in a world that thrives on immediate gratification, our patience wears thin quickly and our will is weak.

Having true faith is not going to be easy. But it’s not supposed to be. However, it does solidify our devotion to God. If we can remain strong in our faith in the midst of our darkness, our eyes always on our God, then He will be able to guide us out of the darkness. Martha in The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch and Gabriel in Freeing Tanner Rose work hard at trying to convince Benedict and Tanner of this truth. They know that without this faith, we can easily lose our way.

Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us.   Selah (Psalm 62:8)

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The books referenced in this post were The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch and  Freeing Tanner Rose from my Faith & Kung Fu Series. Free discussion questions are available for both:

The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch
Freeing Tanner Rose Discussion Questions
Saving Faith Discussion Questions

For more Catholic fiction reflecting this theme, check out the comments below!

Join the discussion!
Call out to Catholic authors of fiction for teens and young adults. Have you written a Catholic novel that encompasses the subject of faith? Please share in the comments below, listing the titles and including a brief description of how it’s presented in your fiction.

For more on the titles listed in this post and others, as well as their educational themes, visit Catholic Teen Books For Teachers 

“The Struggle is Real for Catholic Fiction Authors” – T.M. Gaouette Featured on Carolyn Astfalk’s My Scribblers Heart Blog


Hey friends, check out my guest post featured on CarolynAstfalk.com

As the author of Catholic fiction for teens and young adults, I find myself in a constant battle of the wills. There’s this desire to delight the reader with an entertaining and relatable story, while still remaining focused on pleasing God and sharing His Word. Some may not think this much of a challenge, but when you reflect on the world we live in, as well as what passes for entertainment these days, hardly a fraction of it would be considered godly. In fact, entertainment is so focused on stories that do everything but promote God’s word, or worse, indulge in ideas that are contrary to God’s word.

When it comes to teen fiction, it’s all about rebelling against everything that used to be considered good, promoting dark and destructive themes, and introducing attractive characters with sinister desires. I could throw out a list of examples, but that wouldn’t be fair, or even necessary, quite frankly. I’m confident you know what novels, past and present, I’m referring to.

That’s life, some people will rationalize. That’s the world we live in. Well, yes, it is. But is it the world we should be living in? Is it the world that God wants us to live in? Is it a world we should be promoting? Is it one we should be celebrating?

Scripture tells us that we should be careful about what we put before our eyes. In 2 Corinthians 7, St. Paul reminds us, “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, and make holiness perfect in the fear of God.” To cleanse ourselves means to ensure that nothing unholy fill our minds or our lives. That’s not easy for us to do when we’re constantly bombarded with unclean and unholy images all day long. There’s only so much we can control, but we can certainly limit the unholy and instill within us God’s glory in so many other ways, including the books that we choose to read.

So, does that mean that Catholics should only read novels about good people doing good things in a world where real life messy doesn’t occur? Well, of course not. That wouldn’t be realistic. And besides, Catholic authors are real people living in the real world. Regardless of how much some of us wish to isolate ourselves from this current post-Christian society, we feel deeply about our role in this world. We are aware of the real world issues that teens are dealing with, whether they’re emotional or physical. We understand temptation, loss, insecurity, loneliness, lust, heartbreak, crushes, drugs, premarital sex, depression, suicide and so many other dark aspects of the world that are confusing and consuming for teens and young adults. But we take the dark and we add light.

Writing is a vocation for us. It’s a ministry. Personally, I believe that the Lord sprinkled the gift of writing upon my head and now I must use it to glorify His name. I am to take the world as it is and place God into the center of it where He belongs. I’m to create real lives the way they should be lived in the hopes that teens are inspired and instill the virtues and values into their own lives. Continue reading…

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

Catholicmom.com: Sharing Christ’s Way in a Sexualized Culture, One Novel at a Time

The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch is Featured on CatholicMom.com

Are You Aware of This Sad and Naked Truth?

 

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Catholic Writers Guild Blog Finds ‘The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch’ “A Powerful Story with an Emotional Wallop”

The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch is featured on the Catholic Writers Guild blog. If you’ve read the book or like my work, please leave a comment and share it with others.

At age ten, Benedict carries massive chips on both shoulders. Having passed from bad foster homes to worse, he dreads the uncertainty of new surroundings and new rules. When he arrives at The Sunshine Ranch, he doubts the sincerity of his new foster parents, David and Martha Credence and withholds his affections lest he be ripped again from friends and security. Benedict sees the other foster children as rivals and doubts that his good fortune will last. Over the next four years, he remains aloof, not daring to trust that he has found a home and family.

When foreclosure threatens The Sunshine Ranch, Benedict’s doubts seem to be confirmed. Although David and Martha ask Benedict and their other foster kids to have faith that God will provide, Benedict refuses to believe. But Micah, Benedict’s roommate, and chief rival, keeps the faith. Eventually, Benedict realizes that The Sunshine Ranch gives him the only happiness that he has ever known, and that his constant worry and fear prevent him from enjoying it.

David and Martha Credence, and their many foster children embody generosity and unquestioning faith. Theirs is an impossible task — they welcome hard-case kids like Benedict and scrape together the resources to meet their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. Benedict, on the other hand, provides a counterpoint to everything the Credence family attempts to share. Too wounded by his early life experiences to accept the healing they offer, he’s likely to reject them and run away into the night. Micah, the optimist, has suffered as much as Benedict, but he always sees the bright side and attempts to wear down Benedict’s rough edges. Read more of this review and others at the Catholic Writers Guild blog…

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

Catholic Review of Books Finds “The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch” Interesting and Edifying For Young Readers!

Book Review: The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch -”I laughed, and I cried…very well written”

What are people saying about, “The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch”?

Teaching Virtues Through Fiction Series: Forgiveness (Mercy)

Find out what the Teaching Virtues Through Fiction Series is all about!

Forgiveness is the virtue of mercy. When we have the ability to forgive others for the hurts that they inflict upon us, we have the strength of assurance, not just in ourselves but also in God. We’re basically saying, “Yes, you hurt me, but I’m not going to let your hurt bring me down and I’m not going to hold it against you. I understand that you’re human like me, and that you’re prone to sin, like me. And so I will forgive you, because my God forgives me, and who am I not to do for you what my God has already done for me.”

Wow! Imagine being so confident in ourselves and who we are in our own eyes and in God’s, that we aren’t easily hurt, and when we are, we recognize that the flaw is in the one that hurts and not in ourselves.

“Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.” (Mark 11:25)

Forgiveness is unconditional. We do it because it’s the right thing to do. We do it because God asks us to do it. So regardless of what someone does to us, we forgive them, even if they’re not sorry for the pain that they caused us.

In my debut novel, The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch, a lot of forgiveness is necessary for the foster children at the Ranch. They have all been hurt by at least one parent. They’ve been abandoned, and that causes so much hurt and bitterness. This is especially true for the protagonist in this novel, Benedict. In the following snippet, he’s speaking with his foster father, David about their biological parents.

“Don’t do what? Be mad at them?” Benedict asked. He could feel his face reddening.

“No…no, you can be mad at them,” David said. “You can be mad all you want, but at some point, you need to let it go. You need to tell yourself that it doesn’t matter anymore. You need to forgive them for what they did and did not do, and you need to move on.” (DSR p.84)

The children in this story have to forgive their parents for their own sanity, but even beyond that, forgiveness is a huge sacrifice. In essence, forgiveness is a gift.

In addition to forgiving his own mother for deserting him, Benedict has to forgive himself for squandering his younger years. Even as an adult he holds in so much bitterness and anxiety, and he realizes that he simple can’t move on with such angst in his heart. He can’t go on allowing it all to “eat him alive,” as David had described it to them as children.

Forgiveness doesn’t negate the action that caused the pain. And often this is the reason why the majority of people have trouble forgiving others who have hurt them. They feel that in forgiving them, the person who receives forgiveness will be vindicated; their past transgressions will be null and void.

Later in the same book, Sebastian is faced with his estranged father who asks for his forgiveness (DSR p.92). His father can’t take back what he did and both he and Sebastian understand that.

Forgiveness is not meant to be easy, and that’s why it’s a virtue.

It’s easy to forgive someone we love. In Saving Faith, The second book in my Faith & Kung Fu series, Nina has to forgive her best friend, Faith. “In a heartbeat,” Nina said softly (p.108). Faith then has to forgive Christian for what he did to her, and she’s quick to give it because she has feelings for him (p.176). But forgiveness is often not that easy. Adam, Faith’s brother struggles with it, even when the pain comes from his sister being hurt. But he gives it anyway. Christian also struggles to forgive his father (p.161), but that’s only because his understanding of his parents’ divorce was conjured up by his own imagination and not the truth that finally comes to light as the story progresses.

We’re not always going to get forgiveness right. But it can always be fixed. The reality is that if we don’t forgive, how can we ever expect to be forgiven.

Forgiveness doesn’t place us above the person who hurt us. Because ultimately, we are all guilty of hurting someone at some point in time. So, who are we not to offer forgiveness when we expect it from others, and most importantly, when we were given it by Christ Himself for all our transgressions.

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The books referenced in this post were The Destiny of Sunshine RanchFreeing Tanner Rose and Saving Faith from my Faith & Kung Fu Series. Free discussion questions are available for both:

The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch
Freeing Tanner Rose Discussion Questions
Saving Faith Discussion Questions

For more Catholic fiction reflecting this theme, check out the comments below!

Join the discussion!
Call out to Catholic authors of fiction for teens and young adults. Have you written a Catholic novel that encompasses the subject of forgiveness and mercy? Please share in the comments below, listing the titles and including a brief description of how it’s presented in your fiction.

For more on the titles listed in this post and others, as well as their educational themes, visit Catholic Teen Books For Teachers