Bird Face Wendy

Things relevant to reading, writing, publishing or marketing teen fiction.

An Excerpt! YA Historical Romance for Music Lovers

If you love classical music, enjoy historical fiction with an Italian setting, and appreciate stories of young romance, this is a novel for you (and me)!

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I’m currently reading Playing By Heart from author Carmela Martino. This blog is the last stop on a blog tour celebrating the release of the book, and I was chosen to provide an excerpt. I hope you enjoy it as much as I’ve enjoyed reading this story.

First, a brief summary, and then we move on to the excerpt.

Emilia Salvini dreams of marrying a man who loves music as she does. But in 18th-century Milan, being the ‘second sister’ means she’ll likely be sent to a convent instead. Emilia’s only hope is to prove her musical talents crucial to her father’s quest for nobility. First, though, she must win over her music tutor, who disdains her simply for being a girl. Too late, Emilia realizes that her success could threaten not only her dreams for her future but her sister’s very life.

Playing by Heart is inspired by two amazing sisters who were far ahead of their time—one a mathematician and the other a composer.

First Movement: December 1736-January 1737

Chapter One: Iron Bars

The day I decided to take my fate into my own hands began much like any other. As soon as I was dressed, I headed to the harpsichord salon to practice. The maestro had finally returned from Venice and would arrive shortly. I was anxious to show him how much I’d learned in his absence. But when I turned the corner near Mamma’s sitting room, a clash of angry voices stopped me. Mamma was arguing with Father, something she never did. And something she shouldn’t be doing now, as she was heavy with child.

I tiptoed to the sitting room door. With one hand on the wall, I leaned close. The edges of the decorative plasterwork dug into my fingers as Mamma said, “Did Maria request this herself?”

My hand relaxed. They weren’t arguing about me. But knowing my sister’s fate was intertwined with mine, I pressed forward again.

“No,” Father replied. “It was my decision, one I would have carried out long ago if not for the Sardinian occupation. It’s time she had a tutor who specializes in mathematics, one who can nurture her natural aptitude for the subject. He will teach her astronomy as well.”

“Astronomy!” Mamma screeched. “Maria already spends too much time with books. Haven’t you noticed her pallor? The throat illness took a greater toll on her than the other girls.”

I pictured Mamma seated in the high-backed armchair near the window, her legs resting atop the footstool cushion she herself had embroidered. No doubt her normally calm blue-gray eyes flashed steely as she said, “Maria needs fresh air and physical activity, not more studies.”

“Very well,” Father said. “We will increase the frequency of her dance lessons. And I will order her to keep a window open in her study at all times. Come spring, I’ll have her tutors move her lessons to the garden.”

“They will simply stuff her head with more book learning,” Mamma said. “What of her real education, the one she would have received at convent school? Maria should be cultivating practical skills, such as sewing and embroidery, and how to manage a home—skills she will need to be a useful wife and mother.”

“There will be time enough for that,” Father said. “She is young.”

“Young? Perhaps her quiet manner has led you to forget that your eldest daughter is fourteen! Instead of hiring more tutors, you should be making arrangements for her future. For her betrothal, and Emilia’s, too.”

My betrothal! I clasped my hands to my bodice. It was the subject I’d both longed for and feared, especially since seeing Zia Delia last week.

At thirteen, I’d never heard either of my parents speak of my betrothal before. But that hadn’t kept me from painting a portrait of my future husband in my mind.

He’d be as tall as Father, if not taller, with mysterious dark brown eyes. And even more important, he’d love music as I did and encourage my meager talent.

I turned my ear to the wall so as not to miss a word.

“Though, I dare say,” Mamma went on, “given Maria’s religious devotion, she’d be happier as a nun”

“Don’t even suggest such a thing!” Father’s voice crescendoed. “I will not have her extraordinary talents hidden away in a convent.”

A chair scraped. Father must have stood up. “Do not concern yourself about our daughters’ futures, Woman. That is my responsibility. I assure you I will do what is best for them and for the family.”

Father’s staccato footsteps approached. I gathered my skirts and hurried away on tiptoe.

When I was out of earshot, I let my heels drop and continued down the drafty corridor to the harpsichord salon. Father’s words echoed in my mind. He’d promised to do what was best for his daughters and for the family.

Of the seven children in our family, four were girls, with perhaps another on the way. It would be burdensome—if not impossible—to provide marriage dowries for that many daughters. At least two of us would end up nuns, whether we had a calling or not. Such had been the fate of Zia Delia, Mamma’s youngest sister.

In my mind, I saw again the long, narrow convent parlor where Mamma and I had visited Zia Delia last week. The parlor was separated from the nuns’ quarters by two large windows. Iron bars covered the window openings, crisscrossing the space where glass should be. A linen drape hung over the bars on the nuns’ side.

When we’d arrived that day, Mamma had eased herself into a wicker chair facing the first window, directly across from Zia Delia. We couldn’t actually see my aunt, only her shadow on the drape. I had stood with my hand on the back of Mamma’s chair as she’d tried to make conversation. The other nuns talked and laughed with their visitors. Zia Delia said nothing.

Mamma began describing Father’s recent name-day celebration to Zia. “After the meal, we adjourned to the harpsichord salon. There, we listened to Maria recite two epic Greek poems she’d translated herself. Carlo said it was the best present she could have bestowed upon him.” Mamma gave an exasperated sigh. “Really, he praises that girl too much! If heaven hadn’t blessed Maria with such a humble nature, she’d be unbearably prideful by now.” Mamma shook her head. “Afterward, Emilia gave a spectacular performance on the harpsichord, but Carlo barely thanked her.”

So Mamma had noticed, too.

As I recalled Father’s disappointment, the room started to spin. I gripped the wicker chair tighter and breathed in deeply until my bodice stays dug into my ribs.

“Carlo’s behavior was terribly rude,” Mamma went on, “especially compared to Count Riccardi’s impeccable manners. He praised Emilia profusely, saying how he’d never heard anyone her age play so beautifully, boy or girl.”

I took another deep breath. Mamma didn’t understand. The count was just being polite.

Zia Delia’s shadow shifted. “What did you play, Emilia?”

Surprised by her question, I released my grip on the chair. “Three of Scarlatti’s sonatas and Rameau’s Suite in A Minor.”

Zia bowed her head. “Secular music is strictly forbidden within these walls.” Her voice held both sorrow and longing.

How could such beautiful music be forbidden? I shivered at the thought.

I stepped forward and pressed my hand against the iron grille. On the opposite side, Zia stood and raised her hand to mine. She pressed hard, as though she could make our fingers touch through the linen drape. But I felt only the cold iron bars.

Zia whispered, “Don’t let them do this to you.” Her shadow gestured behind her, toward the nuns’ quarters. “Don’t let them lock you away from the music.”

I shivered again then shook my head Father would never do that to me.

Now, as I neared the harpsichord salon, I wasn’t so sure. Especially not after what I’d just overheard. Or rather, what I hadn’t overheard.

When Mamma had mentioned arranging for Maria’s betrothal and mine, Father had said nothing of me. He’d spoken only of Maria. A spark of envy flared in my chest. Heaven forgive me, I prayed silently as I took a quick breath to extinguish the flame. Even if envy wasn’t a sin, I owed Maria too much to blame her for Father’s favoritism.

I pushed my thoughts aside. Time was running short. I had to prepare for my lesson—my first with the maestro in nearly three years.

Not long after the Sardinian invasion, Maestro Tomassini had accepted a temporary assignment in Venice. The maestro was a stern taskmaster, but I’d sorely missed his instruction. His return made me grateful Milan was again under Hapsburg rule. I’d be doubly grateful if the maestro’s time away had somehow softened his disposition.

I hurried into the harpsichord salon. Paintings of various sizes covered the walls here as in the other rooms. Most depicted scenes from the Bible, though there were also a few landscapes, seascapes, and still lifes. But this room held a work of art not found elsewhere in our palazzo—a harpsichord.

This morning, sunlight from the window fell directly on the harpsichord’s open lid, illuminating the painting there of a small white ship sailing across a blue-green sea. The waves carved onto the harpsichord’s side panels continued the nautical theme, as did the lovely mermaid figures hugging the base of each of the three legs.

Naldo, our manservant, must have been here already, for fires burned brightly in both hearths, chasing away the December chill. I sat down and began as I always did, by pressing the high-C key. As the note rang out, it merged with the sensation of the quill plucking the string to send a quiver of delight through me. I loved both the sound and the feel of the instrument.

Instead of starting with one of my usual practice pieces, I played the opening allemande of Rameau’s Suite in A Minor. I’d hoped the challenging opening would distract me from the dark thoughts hovering at the back of my mind. But playing Rameau only reminded me of Zia’s words, “Don’t let them lock you away from the music.” Which would be worse, to be deprived of music or of love?

My fingers slipped, striking an ugly chord that set my teeth on edge. I dropped my hands to my lap.

I didn’t understand—why couldn’t Father let Maria take the veil? She would truly welcome a life of devotion to God. Yet Father’d been angered by the mere suggestion. I will not have her extraordinary talents hidden away in a convent.

The chiming of the Basilica bells pulled me into the present Maestro Tomassini would be here any moment. I raised my hands to the keys and began my first practice piece—a piece the maestro used to have me play blindfolded.

Suddenly, I knew what I must do. I had to make Father feel the same way about my talents as he did Maria’s.

My fingers stumbled again as a voice in my head said, But you’re not good enough.

To which my heart replied, then I must become good enough.

Attention, readers! This is the last day to enter to win a copy of Playing by Heart. Enter here

PR BW portraitCarmela Martino is an author, speaker, and writing teacher. She wrote the middle-grade novel, Rosa, Sola (Candlewick Press), while working on her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College. The novel was a Booklist “Top Ten First Novel for Youth” and received a Catholic Press Association Book Award in the “Children’s Books” category. Her second novel, Playing by Heart (Vinspire Publishing), took first place in the Young Adult category of the 2013 Windy City RWA Four Seasons Romance Writing Contest. Carmela’s credits for teens and tweens also include short stories and poems in magazines and anthologies. Carmela has taught writing workshops for children and adults since 1998, and she blogs about teaching and writing at www.TeachingAuthors.com. Read more about her at www.carmelamartino.com.

 

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It’s Release Day and I awoke to a nice surprise!

This morning I awoke to find The Other Side of Freedom at #9 in its category of books for children in Mysteries & Detective stories. So I’m very excited today for a number of reasons. 🙂

This is the book I wrote while waiting for publication of my very first book, Bird Face, which later became 8 Notes to a Nobody and started the Bird Face series.

My inspiration for The Other Side of Freedom:
“Possibly orphaned but definitely impoverished, one of my great-grandfathers journeyed from Sicily to America as a young boy with a family not his own, and he grew up with their children. He established the strawberry farm that inspired the setting for this novel.”

If you are a fiction writer, my advice to you is: Always have a manuscript in progress as you work to get another book published. You never know which one will become your favorite or the favorite of your readers!

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Coming Soon! 1920s Historical Novel for Tweens and Teens

Something new is coming in October, and it’s

  • My first historical novel
  • My first crime drama
  • My first novel with a male protagonist

When the reward is the most costly sacrifice of all …

In a southern farming community in 1925, thirteen-year-old Salvatore and his Italian immigrant father become involved against their will in a crime that results in the murder of an innocent man and family friend. Will Sal keep the secrets about that night as his father asks, or risk everything he and his family cherish in their new homeland, including their lives? 

Amidst bigotry, bootlegging, police corruption, and gangland threats, Sal must discover whom he can trust in order to protect himself and his family and win back his father’s freedom. Sal’s family, their African-American farmhand, and the girl who is Sal’s best friend find their lives forever changed as dreams are shattered and attitudes challenged in a small community called Freedom.

 

Let’s visit the 1920s like you’ve never seen them before! I hope to meet you there!

 

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10 Steps to Girlfriend Status is 99 cents!

10 Steps to Girlfriend Status FC Med   Through July 31st, my favorite book of the Bird Face series, 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status, is on sale for the first time! Even if you have not yet read book one (8 Notes to a Nobody), pick up the Amazon digital book two at 99 cents while you can! You will easily become familiar with the return characters and will understand the ongoing plot threads of the series.

And if you live outside the US …

Australian, Canadian, and UK friends, catch the equivalent sale price on Amazon for your countries. Please keep US time zones in mind before the sale ends.

I hope we become friends! Wendy

 

 

 

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A Story of First Love, Buried Treasure, and Waiting

Rightfully Ours Front  Author Carolyn Astfalk is enjoying the release of her first Young Adult (YA) novel, which I am looking forward to reading. I wonder if she notices the parallels between elements of the book’s story and her journey as an author, which she recently shared with me.

Until now, Carolyn’s published titles were adult inspirational romance, Stay With Me and Ornamental Graces. I’m always curious about authors who try writing a different genre, so I asked her to explain how that happened. Here’s what she said:

“Although Rightfully Ours is my third published book, it is the first novel I wrote, before my two new adult/adult inspirational romances. Most of the first draft of Rightfully Ours was written during National Novel Writing Month in 2010, which I began without a clue as to what I was doing and only a newspaper clipping for inspiration. Because the story involves a treasure hunt, both literally and figuratively, I think young protagonists were a perfect fit. Teens generally have a natural optimism and enthusiasm that open their hearts to discovering truth, beauty, and the possibility of treasure unimpeded by the cynicism and practicality that many of us adults have adopted.”

These are some of the similarities I notice between Carolyn’s journey and the description of this book:

This YA novel about first love was her first manuscript! Dare I say YA might be her first true love among genres?

Like the treasures in the story, this treasure of a book had to be discovered in the right way at the right time.

Finding a treasure requires patience. Waiting. Nothing about treasures is supposed to be easy, is it?

Sixteen-year-old Paul Porter’s relocation to Pennsylvania is a temporary move during his dad’s deployment. Or so he and his brother think, until devastating news lands on their doorstep. 

Paul’s new home with the Muellers provides solace, especially in the form of Rachel, his friend and confidante. Their abiding friendship deepens as they work side-by-side to uncover what could be lost treasure. 

Will they acquire the strength of character and virtue to take only what rightfully belongs to them or are they in way over their heads, with more than a few lost artifacts at stake? 

The teen characters in Rightfully Ours learn to wait as they strive for premarital chastity. The author: “…it will touch the hearts of young people trying to discover the truth and beauty of human sexuality … this book’s journey has come to fruition just as my oldest child is on the verge of entering high school.”

Some might call it coincidence that this novel achieved publication so many years after being written. Others might call it fate or the simple result of the author’s determination to see this YA book in print.

But Carolyn says, “God’s timing is perfect.” I must agree.

Enjoy this trailer for Rightfully Ours. Learn more about Carolyn Astfalk and her books by visiting her website.

Let’s welcome Carolyn to the exciting world of writing for teens!

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Why Readers and Authors Should Use Goodreads Listopia

If you’ve used the site called Goodreads but haven’t used its feature known as Listopia, you’re missing a fun and easy way to find exactly the books you’d like to read. And if you’re an author, you should make sure your books appear on Listopia lists where new readers can find them.

Joining Goodreads.com is free, so do it if you haven’t already.

Once you’re on the Goodreads Home page, go to “Browse” in the menu and drop down to “Lists.” You’ll see a page similar to this one, with featured and popular lists. In the upper right hand corner, you can search for names of lists. I always search for “Teen” and “YA.”

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Farther down the page, you can search for a tag that a list-maker may have placed on the list when it was created. Search keywords associated with books you enjoy, such as a particular sport or art.

Be as broad or as specific in your searches as you like. When you find a list that interests you, peruse the books, which will be listed according to the number of votes they’ve received from readers.

Here’s a list that 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status is on, “Best Books for Christian teenage girls and young women.” It is currently 23rd on the list, with 7 votes. And look at what good company it’s in!

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Goodreads no longer allows authors to add their books to lists or to vote on their own books. But authors can create lists when they see the need for one, as I did for the list “YA novels with a hearing impaired teen character.” (At that time, I was allowed to add 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status to it myself.) I made some of the readers I know enjoyed the novel aware of this particular list, hoping they would vote for my book. A few did.

When you go to any single book’s Goodreads page, such as for 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status, scroll down through its reviews until you see “Lists with this book.” This is the example from that novel. As you see beneath those two lists, you can find “More lists with this book…”

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If you like a book, you will find books similar to it by looking at its lists.

When you find a list that contains books you’d like to read and some you’ve read, other readers will appreciate your voting on the ones you’ve enjoyed. Votes help other readers decide which books to read next.

Authors will appreciate those votes, too.

Do you use Goodreads Listopia lists? In which way and how often?

 

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A Christmas Sampling of Good Books

Over the past several months, I’ve probably read the largest variety of books for children and young adults ever for me. It was hard to narrow down a selection of only a few to include in this post. Out of fairness, I chose works from authors I’ve never before featured on this blog. And they happen to include books for audiences ranging from young children to college-age. I hope you enjoy learning about them and consider them for Christmas gifts this year!

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FINDING PATIENCE (Adventures of Faith, Hope, and Charity)

The author, Virginia Lieto, describes her illustrated book: For children, waiting for anything seems endless! Faith Livingstone, age eight, would agree, having just moved to a new town and about to enter a new school. Faith wants so badly to make new friends and feel like she belongs in her new surroundings. It all can’t happen fast enough for Faith! Journey with Faith as she struggles to make new friends and learns an important lesson in the value of the virtue of patience.

The author’s website: http://virginialieto.com

My reaction to this book: This story is so sweet, I almost cried! It can help children understand that their needs won’t (and shouldn’t) always be met immediately. Some things they want and need are worth waiting (and praying) for. The ending is perfect and took me by surprise, which is not easy to do. I recommend this book as a gift any time of year, and if you purchase it well before Christmas, it may help a child practice patience before receiving other gifts.

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PALACE OF THE TWELVE PILLARS (Book one of the series by the same name)

The author, Christina Weigand, describes this novel:

The Peace Summit was in shambles, the prince kidnapped.

When the rival king realizes he kidnapped the wrong prince, hostilities escalate. Loyalties to each other and country are tested for the twin princes of Crato, Joachim and Brandan.

Joachim, captive of King Waldrom, faces deception and betrayal as he struggles to find his way home. Brandan, at home with a father focused on rescuing Joachim, wrestles with his own demons as he searches for his place in the world and the favor of his father.

Torn from the safety and peace of their childhood, they are thrust into a world where bonds of family, brotherhood and roles as heirs to Crato are tested. Through war, spiritual journeys, death and marriage, will they choose the path of good or evil? Who can be trusted, as the world they know slips into a whirlpool of chaos?

The author’s website: www.weigandchris.com

My reaction to this book: I like a number of things about this novel to make me recommend it. And bear in mind that I seldom read fantasy. 🙂

This author uses character and place names that I can pronounce in my head and remember. Many times I’ve tossed aside a fantasy novel because the names were too odd, complex, or similar to one another.

I enjoyed the plot. It holds just enough action and romance for my tastes.

I appreciate that the language and writing style are simple and straight-forward, and the novel is shorter than some in length. I’m always on the lookout for books that teen boys might be interested in reading and would stick with, and this is one I think they’d like. And so would girls who enjoy reading about princes.

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A SHEPHERD’S SONG: A Christmas Romance

The author, Janice Lane Palko, says this about her story:

Tom Shepherd is anything but a hero. A senior physics major at Three Rivers University in Pittsburgh, he just wants to make some easy cash. On the last Sunday in November, he arrives to sell the Christmas season’s hottest toy, So Big Sammy, for three times its retail price to a buyer, but a snafu lands him in the middle of a bone marrow drive benefitting four-year-old Christo Davidson, who has leukemia. When everyone there—including the media covering the event–assumes that Tom has come to give the toy to the sick boy, Tom has no choice but to give it away.

Lauded by the media as a hero and bestowed with the nickname The Good Shepherd, Tom finds himself an overnight celebrity. As a toy scalper and liar, he knows he’s unworthy of the honor. When Gloria Davidson, a fellow student and Christo’s relative, seeks out Tom to thank him for being so kind to her little cousin, Tom, bewitched by her beauty, embellishes his character and lies to further impress Gloria, portraying himself as a big-hearted philanthropist. Tom asks Gloria out, beginning a relationship that will lead him to examine everything he believes or doesn’t believe. On Christmas Eve, Tom finds himself facing choices that will affect not only himself but also Gloria and Christo. Tom must choose between sacrifice and honor, love and loneliness, life and death.

The author’s website: http://www.janicelanepalko.com

My reaction to this book: Although this is a Christmas story, it could simply be a great story that takes place any time of year. The Christmas setting and Christian/Catholic elements make it more special if you are a Christian or enjoy Christmas-theme fiction. I love that Ms. Palko tells this tale from a male point of view only. I get right into the main character’s head and stay there. She makes college student Tom Shepherd believable, and she has him grow from a character the reader might at first dislike, but then pity, and finally find endearing. This novel is more than a Christmas romance, and I recommend it for older teens/young adults and new adults in particular.

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Release Day! First Scene Preview: 6 Dates to Disaster

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My publisher featured 6 Dates to Disaster today on the Write Integrity Press blog with the first scene for your convenience. I hope you enjoy reading it!

This is the third book of the Bird Face series, and Jennifer is back in Wendy’s life, although not shown in the first scene. The story addresses honesty and how dishonesty can damage a teen’s relationships and future.

Be sure to check out all three of the books so far in the series on my Amazon author page! (The original Bird Face book, which is out-of-print, is still listed there, too. That story became 8 Notes to a Nobody.)

Thank you for reading.

Cynthia

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New Summer Reads for You or Your Teen

I’m excited to tell you about some new middle-grade and young adult releases for summer reading. There’s a variety here in realism, both contemporary and historical. And lots of real-life drama for both girls and boys.

LifeChangingLoveCover.jpg Life-changing Love by Theresa Linden releases tomorrow!  I recommend this novel about dating to the older female teen rather than a middle-schooler, but if you are a middle-school parent know that it addresses some serious issues.

Caitlyn Summer, soon to be fifteen, must practice old-fashioned courtship with high parental involvement, but she has a terrible crush on shy Roland West and she has competition from a girl with no restrictions. As Caitlyn struggles to remain faithful to God, her parents, and herself, her best friend gets pregnant and might get an abortion. When Caitlyn discovers her mother’s past mistakes, she begins to resent all the guidelines her parents expect her to follow. The characters in Life-Changing Love face the questions: Who am I? Where am I headed? How am I going to get there?

Theresa Linden is also the author of the dystopian Chasing Liberty trilogy. Find out more about her and her work at www.theresalinden.com

JustClaire Cover Available now, Just Claire by Jean Ann Williams, is  a story that takes place in the 1960s, so it is considered historical. Boy, am I old.

The setting is rural northern California, and I particularly enjoyed the main character’s descriptions of the people and things around her. I think you will, too.

ClaireLee’s life changes when she must take charge of her siblings after her mother becomes depressed from a difficult childbirth. Frightened by the way Mama sleeps too much and her crying spells during waking hours, ClaireLee just knows she’ll catch her illness like a cold or flu that hangs on through winter. ClaireLee finds comfort in the lies she tells herself and others in order to hide the truth about her erratic mother. Deciding she needs to re-invent herself, she sets out to impress a group of popular girls.

Jean Ann Williams comes from a large family, and Just Claire is her first novel! Visit the author at her blog to learn more.

 

7RiddlestoNowhere2 500x750 (1) If you love Chicago and its architecture or, like me, have always wanted to visit the windy city, pick up Seven Riddles to Nowhere. A seventh-grader and his friends go on a quest that takes them through Chicago’s historic Catholic churches and cathedrals. Maybe there’s one cathedral and the rest churches, but anyway the reader is taken on a learning adventure. It would be equally entertaining for girls and boys. I thoroughly enjoyed the advanced reader copy of this book I received from author A.J. Cattapan. Look for its release this coming August.

A.J. Cattapan is a bestselling author, speaker, and middle school English teacher living in the Chicago area. You can follow her writing and travel adventures at www.ajcattapan.com.

TheRoseandtheSword You poets will love this one! The author of The Rose and the Sword, Gina Marinello-Sweeney has a beautiful way with language, and her novels include poetry. ( Her name is rather poetic too, don’t you think?)

Rebecca Veritas is a new college graduate, eager to pursue her dreams as a clinical psychologist. After receiving a full scholarship for an internship recommended by her old professor and friend Dr. Everson, she leaves the quiet suburban town of Cedar Heights for the big city of Los Angeles. As she adjusts to her new surroundings, beginning to work with her assigned mentor and a wide variety of clients with all the enthusiasm of a fresh intern, she finds solace in a mysterious antique bookstore. Yet, as her thoughts still linger on someone from her past, she is unaware that the present has the potential to haunt her the most.

Although the main character is out of high school, this is romantic suspense that is suitable for high school teens, in my opionion.

Gina lives in southern California, where she is at work on the next volume in The Veritas Chronicles, as well as a short story collection. Visit www.ginamarinellosweeney.com for more information.

 

If you pick up one of these, let me know how you like it!

 

 

 

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Author A.J. Cattapan: What is it about Christmas and angels?

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What is it about Christmas and angels? The two seem to go together like peanut butter and chocolate. Nice on their own, but even better together.

Of course, we have the angels within the Christmas narrative itself. First, there’s the angel Gabriel who appears to Mary and says, “Rejoice, O highly favored daughter! The Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women.” (Luke 1: 28) And then the angel hits her with the big news that she’s about to become the Mother of God.

The second angel in the Christmas story came to Joseph. Once Joseph found out Mary was pregnant, he was planning on divorcing her until an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and told him, “Joseph, son of David, have no fear about taking Mary as your wife. It is by the Holy Spirit that she has conceived this child.” (Matthew 1:20)

The third angel arrived after Jesus’s birth. This angel appeared to the shepherds to let them know what was going on. “I come to proclaim good news to you—tidings of great joy to be shared by the whole people.” (Luke 2:10) And then a whole multitude of angels showed up singing!

No wonder we see angels hanging over nativity scenes and topping Christmas trees. We send out Christmas cards with depictions of angels and sing songs about herald angels singing. If you’re like me, you’ll indulge in at least one viewing of It’s a Wonderful Life this Christmas to see if Clarence earns his wings. Maybe you’ll even hang some angel ornaments on your tree, too.

Christmas angels 2015

I’ve gotten into the habit of buying angel ornaments for my tree whenever I travel. This past year I picked up a handmade beaded angel ornament in Guatemala during my spring break trip. Then in September I visited the adorable small town of Geneva, IL, and I bought a silver angel with a harp. Finally, in November when I was in New York for my investiture as a Dame of the Order of Malta at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, I bought a pretty white angel with her hands folded in prayer.

So what is it beyond their inclusion in the Gospel stories of Jesus’s birth that makes us love angels so much at Christmastime? I think it’s because they remind us of our closeness to Jesus in a number of ways. First, they are His messengers. They are heavenly visitors that come to bring us God’s word, His comfort, and His guidance.

Second, and maybe most importantly, they remind us that Jesus chose to become one of us. He didn’t become an angel. He became human. He chose to walk this earth, not fly around it with wings like angels. He ate our food and wore our clothes. He had a mother and an earthly father. He slept, he woke, he worked hard. He had friends, and he traveled with them. These are all things Jesus has in common with us, not the angels.

This Christmas, I think that thought humbles me more than anything else. Jesus became one of us in order to save us. He sent His angels to tell of His coming, and He continues to send His angels to guard us and guide us, but He became one of us, not one of them. And for that, I have much to give thanks this Christmas.

About the author:

A.J. Cattapan is a bestselling author, speaker, and middle school English teacher living in the Chicago area. Her debut young adult novel Angelhood won a Gold Medal in the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards for Young Adult Fiction—Religion/Spirituality and an Honorable Mention from Readers’ Favorite Book Awards. She’s also been a Chicken Soup for the Soul contributor and had numerous short stories and articles published in magazines for teens and children, including Highlights, Pockets, and Hopscotch for Girls. Her goal in writing is to empower young people so that they may live extraordinary lives filled with heart and hope.

Website: www.ajcattapan.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/acattapan

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJCattapan

Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/author/ajcattapan

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About the book:

Seventeen-year-old theater geek Nanette believes her life is headed toward stardom on Broadway. But when her dream theater college rejects her and her best friend dies in a terrible accident, Nanette decides the world would be better off without her. Unfortunately, the afterlife offers something less than a heavenly situation. Trapped between alternating periods of utter darkness and light, Nanette is stuck following a high school freshman around. Soon, she learns she’s a guardian angel, and the only way she can earn her wings is to keep her young charge, Vera, from committing the same sin she did—taking her own life.

Unfortunately, Nanette is missing more than just her wings. She has no tangible body or voice, either. Frustrated by her inability to reach out to Vera and haunted by memories of her old life, Nanette wants to give up, but then she sees what happens when another Guardian at the high school turns his back on his charge. The shock is enough to supercharge Nanette’s determination. If she’s going to find peace in the afterlife, she’s going to have to discover what living is really all about.

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