In Recognition of National Foster Care Month: Overcoming Adversity in “The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch”

     Previously published in Catholicmom.com August 6, 2012

“Then why are we here?” Eva asked.
“You are here…” he began to say, and then wondered how much should really be said.
“You are here because God sent you to me.”
“Oh David!” Benedict protested and was about to walk away.
“It’s true,” David insisted, looking back at the boys. “Your mothers and fathers, for some reason or another, couldn’t do it right.”
“Do what right?” Tommy asked.
“Take care of you…they just didn’t have it in them. They weren’t strong enough.”
“Smart enough,” Tommy muttered.
“Sober enough,” Sebastian said.
“Stop,” David said gently. “Don’t do that.”
“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.”
“What if I can’t do that?” Tommy asked.
David thought a moment before answering. “If you can’t forgive and move on, then your feelings will grow and fester and they will eat you alive.” (The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch)

This is a snippet of the dialogue in a pivotal scene from my novel, The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch. It comes in the middle of the book and is between David and five of his foster-children, Sebastian, Eva, Tommy, Benedict, and Micah.

It was a heart-wrenching scene to write, and I confess that I cried a little as it played itself out. But it needed to happen. Recognizing the children’s cynicism is essential to the story. My hope is that young readers find the exchange emotionally stirring, although tears are optional.

Equally, I hope readers share the feelings of anguish and sorrow as each character expresses these sentiments. Why? Because if they allow themselves to feel the depths of hurt, then the opposite feelings of hope and exhilaration will be enhanced in all the moments of joy and love and relief.

My desire in this novel and future books is to capture the hearts and minds of all my readers, especially those who have experienced past adversity or those currently dealing with it. In The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch, I had to offer feelings they can relate to. And tweens and teens experience so many emotions as they transition from child to adult. Imagine the additional torment that a foster child experiences, or a child dealing with loss or abuse or neglect.

It’s possible that many of my readers will recognize themselves, or a fraction of themselves, in one or all of the characters. If they’re able to form such a relationship, they can tag along as each character journeys through the trials and tribulations that eventually deliver them to God and His unconditional love.

I’m an advocate for overcoming adversity. It’s not an easy endeavor, even in the least extreme circumstances. But nothing is impossible with God. And the premise of this novel is based on, 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 strengthens me.”

My prayer is that The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch is an inspirational read and that each young reader gets from it what they need. So far, I’ve had positive feedback. One reviewer, author, Holly Michael recently wrote:

“This heartwarming novel leads readers, along with the characters, on a route toward God, toward His love, and toward healing and the hope of living a fulfilled life. And for those already rooted in Christ, the novel will surely be a faith-strengthener.” (Writingstraight.com)

Another reviewer, homeschool mom, and blogger, Catherine wrote that this novel has worthy teachable moments. I concurred in a post titled, The Many Teachable Moments in “The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch,” and listed them out. They include finding strength in God, staying pure in love, and accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Catherine added:

“In addition to a delightful read, there are a few uplifting messages revealed in these pages.  For me, the most important was that faith is the only sure anecdote for anxiety.  Coming in closely behind were the ideas that God waits – and that where there is life, there is hope.” (Ourvillageisalittledifferent.com)

One thing I didn’t expect when writing this novel was that it would be inspiring to adults. I’d intended the story to be for tween, teens, and young adults, but grandparents and parents alike have voiced their positive feedback. Additionally, homeschooling parents have praised the book.

I had many hopes, prayers, and dreams when writing The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch, and I believe that the final story exceeds my ultimate expectations. This was primarily because many of the scenes, although inspired by me, came to life and directed themselves. I didn’t know the whole story until it was written. I didn’t know the characters until they introduced themselves to me. I didn’t even know how God would make His appearance within the story, until He revealed Himself in my words.
It was a pleasure to write this novel, and I hope that it’s as much a pleasure to read.

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

“Saving Faith” Featured on Catholicmom.com Book Notes

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

The Many Teachable Moments in “The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch”

Visit me on social media for more news and reviews on my Catholic fiction or just to say hi:
Facebook: facebook.com/TMGaouette
Twitter: @TMGaouette

Book Trailer for “Saving Faith,” Bk 2 -Faith & Kung Fu Series

Hey friends! Check out my book trailer for my recent release, “Saving Faith.” Enjoy!

 

You may also be interested in:

Freeing Tanner Rose-Book Study Questions for Homeschooling, Youth Groups, and Book Clubs

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

 

Saving Faith-Book Study Questions for Homeschooling, Youth Groups, and Book Clubs

*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, Faith, Christian, Nina, Adam, Miss Ruth, Tanner

How important was self-control in this novel?

Compare and contrast the characters Faith and Nina.

Explain the relationship transition between Faith and Christian.

Compare and contrast how Gabriel and Christian used Kung Fu.

In what ways did Gabriel struggle with his own advice?

Describe how Christian’s lack of control was destructive, specifically when it came to kung fu and his relationships with his father and Faith.

Describe the struggles of each of the following characters and how they relate to each other and the theme of the book as a whole- Faith, Gabriel, and Christian.

Why was Faith’s transition so difficult for Nina to endure?

Do you see any similarity between Faith’s struggle with her faith and Gabriel’s? Explain.

How do you feel about the return of Tanner Rose?

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:

How is the verse Romans 12:2 reflected throughout this story?

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 Catholic values and explain where they were best presented in the novel: chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness, humility

 

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 Saving Faith

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

You may also be interested in:

Freeing Tanner Rose-Book Study Questions for Homeschooling, Youth Groups, and Book Clubs

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

Book Reviews and More on “Saving Faith”: “Another Great Book”

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Saving Faith is featured on Book Reviews and More. If you’ve read the book or like my work, please leave a comment and share it with others.

Sometimes when you return to a series, especially if it has been more than 2 years there is a little trepidation. I have read many series that ended up going downhill after the first book. Especially if the first book, Freeing Tanner Rose, was so good that at the time I considered it one of the best Catholic Young Adult book I had read. That was not the case this time. And returning to the small town and characters in the Faith and Kung Fu series was like visiting with friends that you have not seen in a long time.

Like book 1 in this series this is an intense read but for very different reasons. Instead of being about someone who has not ever really interacted with people of faith, and helping them turn their life around. This book is about a girl named Faith, who has always been a Christian, a good Catholic girl. He brother is a Catholic and her parents raised her well. But all of a sudden she is making some bad choices, some very bad decisions. She has started blowing off her closest friend. She is making jokes and disparaging remarks about things she believed and was committed to previously. She is interested in a guy with a wicked temper and who has hurt her and left bruises. The boy she is interested in named Christian, is on a Kung Fu Scholarship at their Catholic school. He does not have any faith, and a lot of anger. When he is suspended from school for fighting, Faith has the idea that he can continue to train with Gabriel at the local dojo. And like his namesake the angel, maybe Gabriel can save Faith, even from herself, and maybe, just maybe even be able to influence Christian to help his change course.

There are a number of strengths to this book and the series. First are the characters. Gaouette does an excellent job fleshing out her characters. They are real, and very well written.   Read more of this review and others at Book Reviews and More

New Release! Saving Faith. Book 2- (Faith & Kung Fu Series)

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“Saving Faith” is the second book in my Faith & Kung Fu series and it follows the first story, “Freeing Tanner Rose.” In this new novel, we see more of Faith who is feeling very confined in her faith. The story explores many subjects including worldliness, self-control, friendship, dating, and forgiveness, among many others. I will be discussing this novel further and including a list of book study questions.

You can find free book study questions on my previous novels: Freeing Tanner Rose and The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch.

Blessings, TMG

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

 

Introducing, “Saving Faith: Faith and Kung Fu – Book 2”

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I begin this  post with an apology. I’ve been out of commission for a while now, not just regarding this website, but also on my author Facebook page. The last few months have been crazy with Christmas festivities, homeschooling responsibilities, being a parent, wife, farmer….you know the drill. And on top of that, I’ve been working hard to complete my second book in my kung fu series, Saving Faith. So, I had to choose to either write about the progress of the book or just write the book itself. I decided on the latter.

My initial plan was to complete this novel by the end of 2016. But God laughed at that plan. I’d left the completion too late in the season and too close to the holidays and I just ran out of time!!!!  But I’ve been praying hard since, and pulling some crazy late night writing sessions in order to get this done before planting season begins. And it’s almost done. I have a cover ready for you to see and a book description and I plan to launch next month (which begins in two days). Of course, God could laugh at me again, but here’s praying He shows me some mercy!

Saving Faith book description

With Tanner Rose gone, Gabriel is left to settle back into the God-devoted life he’d become so accustomed to. Except that his best friend’s sister, Faith, has decided that a life for the Lord is just way too confining. In an attempt to live a little, Faith focuses her interests on a handsome, but worldly, boy from her school, who has major self-control issues in and out of the kung fu arena. When things get too deep for Faith, she looks to Gabriel for help. Can Gabriel save Faith from self-created destruction or is he just too lost in his own worldly struggles to lend a hand? 

So, let me know what you think about the book description and cover design.

Thanks for visiting.

Blessing, T.M. Gaouette

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

 

Freeing Tanner Rose-Book Study Questions for Homeschooling, Youth Groups, and Book Clubs

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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

Final Round of Proofs for “Freeing Tanner Rose”

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I’m at the last stage of proofing for, “Freeing Tanner Rose.” Here is a copy of the book. I’m very pleased with the cover.

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As you can see, I’m still making changes. I’m confident that the majority of authors share that same reluctance to let a novel go. I could definitely continue to edit as long as I’m given the opportunity. But it’s time to let go!

How difficult is it for you to let go of a novel?

More about “Freeing Tanner Rose”…

Letting Go of a Novel After Years of Laughs and Tears!

“Freeing Tanner Rose” – Book Description

Revising Woes for “Tanner Rose”

 

Revising the Novel “Freeing Tanner Rose”: A Love-Hate Process

Saving Tanner Rose-cover sneak peek
Ahhhhh…revising is the most frustrating, exhilarating,  tedious, exciting process, is it not? It’s an oxymoronic experience, for sure!

I’m right at the end of revising Freeing Tanner Rose, but there’s still a few more full revisions to do. The story is complete and I have a reader on it. I only have a moment to breathe, and then I’ll get a list of questions that came up during the read. I’ll fix those. Then I’ll reread the whole thing to elaborate, add, and adjust where necessary. Then I’ll do another full read for a final edit. This is why writers get sick of their own stories, while still in awe of their own accomplishment.

During the revision process, I’ll love and I’ll hate what I wrote. And then when it’s done, I’ll have to let it go. And that’s a whole other emotional phase in the writing process.

While the end is close, it feels so far away! I hope to preview the first chapter soon.

Thanks for checking in.

Best and blessings to you all, TMG

Do you have a love-hate relationship with your novels?

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Revising Woes for “Tanner Rose”

“Freeing Tanner Rose” Update: Jumping into Chapter One When Writing Fiction Novels

I Want to Write a Novel, But Where Do I Start?

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