Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch’ Category

     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

Read Full Post »

I find the task of creating fictional characters a fun experience, for the most part. I determine their physical aspects, personality traits, background information, aspirations, fears, joys, and so on. No-one can tell me how to design a fictional character, because each one is created by me.

But what if the character takes a life of his own…I mean, that’s great, right? It drives the story along, creates a more natural piece of fiction. But what if the character becomes uncontrollable?

It doesn’t happen with all of my characters, but every now and then the odd boy (or girl) takes it upon himself to reveal an idiosyncrasy or personality flaw that bends and twists my story-line in a fashion that redefines it. It’s not always a negative awareness. Sometimes it’s a good revelation, but one that ultimately affects the story in some way.

Still, I allow him to let loose, and all I can do is follow his lead and hope that he behaves as best he can. Should the revelation be a negative one, I find myself in a bind. In order to maintain the integrity of the story, I am forced to lay down the law.

I have to remind my character of what’s expected of him, to a certain extent, of course.

I’m like a controlling mother, with more children than the ones I gave birth to physically. These are the babies I gave birth to creatively, and they had better behave, or they’ll be put in a time-out…which, of course, means I’ll save them for when another story, more fitting their rebellious nature, is conjured up.

Have you ever had a rebellious character take control of your fictional story?

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

Image: Bill Longshaw / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

*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

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

“The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch reminded me of The Lion Cubs (another novel about foster children) and Cheaper by the Dozen (an autobiography of a large family that I enjoyed as a kid). I enjoyed getting to know each of the children on the ranch, and Gaouette has such a gift for characters that it wasn’t hard to keep Sebastian, Tommy, Eva, Micah, Benedict, Isabella and the younger children straight.”

Read more of this review and others at The Koala Bear Writer

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

Read Full Post »

duck-dynasty-season-4

I’m not the only one who loves the reality show “Duck Dynasty” or the Robertson family. That’s pretty evident, since the fourth season episode drew in 11.8 million viewers. That’s the largest audience ever for a reality show on cable television.

I’m not a big fan of reality shows. Most of them are filled with inappropriate content and language, and founded upon superficial values. But “Duck Dynasty” is the complete opposite.

There are many reasons why the show is popular. The family members are real and honest and have a great sense of humor. Although they’re wealthy, they remain grounded and haven’t forgotten their roots. They refused to “tone down” Christian references on their show, even after the network requested it. But most of all, they’re not apologetic about being Christian. They’re very open about their love for Christ. And it’s an honest devotion, not manufactured for television or ratings. It’s evident that they love God and they want to share that and the Gospel with their audience! This is why I find the show and the family inspiring.

If you haven’t had a chance to check out the show, here’s the sneak peak for season four:

The Robertson’s are God-loving people. Hollywood is full of characters who say they’re Christians, but their actions far from represent those claims. I believe that “Duck Dynasty” is so popular because finally we’ve been introduced to a family who live the Word.

The Robertsons are the kind of Christians I strive to portray in my novels -true Christians who live the Word. Martha and David and Eva from The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch are like the Robertsons. As is Gabriel in my upcoming novel, Freeing Tanner Rose. Their love for Christ is not just a hobby, it’s who they are. It’s natural. Scripture says you’re either with Christ or you’re against Him. And when you’re a Christian, there’s just no compromise.

“Duck Dynasty” and the Robertsons not only inspire my writing, but they inspire me to become a better Christian! What about you?

Friends, are you a fan of “Duck Dynasty”? Do the Robertson’s inspire you?

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

The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch: Chapter 1

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

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

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: