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     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.

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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

The following video is made up of clips from the movies, The Passion of the Christ and The Nativity Story. The song is “New Again,” sung by Brad Paisley and Sara Evans. It’s an old video but it’s a fantastic reminder of the Passion. God gave His only son for us! What an amazing sacrifice. What an amazing love. Let us be deserving and let us never forget this Lenten season and always. God bless you all!

 

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“God Made a Farmer:” A Quality Superbowl Commercial

Amazing Image of Christ the Redeemer Statue on Corcavado Mountain

Carrie Underwood Sings “How Great Thou Art” With Vince Gill. Amazing!!!

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

In 2014, I released the first in my four book Faith & Kung Fu series, Freeing Tanner Rose. This past February, I released the second in this series, Saving Faith. Where in the first book, readers were introduced to a worldly Hollywood starlet who comes to know the Lord, this second book takes a devoted cradle Catholic, Faith, and dips her in a desire to be a part of the world.

Faith is bored with her life. She’s looking for some excitement. And she meets a boy from her school named Christian who can fulfill these sudden desires. But Christian is deep in the world, lost in arrogance, bitterness, and anger. Faith comes to see that this is reflected in all aspects of his life.

And then there’s Gabriel, who in the first book teaches Tanner Rose how to know, love, and serve the Lord. Gabriel, who looks like the picture of perfection from the outside, but feels the complete opposite emotionally. Only a few are aware of his inner turmoil. Miss Ruth, his mother, is one of them: “I understand you, Gabriel. I understand that you think that you’re not worthy. And every time I say that you’re amazing, a multitude of not so amazing things come to your head.” Read more.

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?

 

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

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

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

 

*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

saving-faith-cover

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

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