Bird Face Wendy

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

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

AmyCattapan

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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Guest Marissa Shrock Tackles Heavy Topics in Fiction

FirstPrinciple   Today, the Bird Face Wendy blog welcomes Marissa Shrock, author of The First Principle. Ms. Shrock fills us in on how she handles controversial issues in her fiction: 

The First Principle is a young adult dystopian thriller that tackles some heavy topics. During the process of writing the novel, I wondered many times why I’d decided to deal with controversial issues such as government control versus personal liberty, pregnancy termination, and salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.

But these issues and beliefs are important to me, so it’s natural they worked their way into my novel. However, because of the divisive topics, one of my biggest challenges was making sure the story didn’t become preachy. Here are three rules I kept in mind.

  • A good story is more important than teaching a lesson. When I wrote my novel, my goal was to tell a compelling, fast-paced story that would appeal to teen readers. To do this, I studied the craft of writing fiction and used various techniques to create tension and suspense. I didn’t worry about teaching a lesson because….
  • The characters learn lessons through their struggles. My protagonist Vivica must comply with her country’s mandatory pregnancy termination law for underage girls or seek the help of a rebel group to save her unborn child. This is a gut-wrenching choice because she comes from a wealthy and influential family. The story’s themes emerge as Vivica wrestles with her choice in the sanctuary of a…
  • Believable, yet fictional, story world. There’s an inherent level of safety in science fiction, and I used this to give my readers the sense that what they’re reading could happen without blaming any particular group or government that actually exists today. I created a futuristic society with a government that attempts to control the population and other areas of citizens’ lives. I even had some fun inventing government branches such as Population Management, Health Management, and Agricultural Management.

Tackling heavy topics in fiction isn’t easy, but I’m glad I did. Keeping these rules in mind helped me craft a story that entertains and deals with controversy.

MarissaHead   Marissa Shrock is a middle school language arts teacher and the author of The First Principle, a young adult novel. Marissa’s writing has appeared in Evangel, Encounter, and Book Fun Magazine. She loves shopping for cute clothes, baking for family and friends, traveling to new places, and playing golf.

Find Marissa and more information about her book at  http://www.marissashrock.com and on Goodreads.

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