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

***

   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!

***

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

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

Containing the Rebellious Character in Fiction Writing

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

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

new-release-saving-faith-tm-gaouette

“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…

 

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

*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

Do You Carry the Burdens of Your Past Like Benedict?

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