Recommended Reading: The Diaries of Joseph and Mary

McGeehan fills in the gaps.


March is the Month of St. Joseph. What better time to enjoy a little historical fiction starring the Holy Family?

diaries of joseph and maryDennis P. McGeehan’s book, The Diaries of Joseph and Mary, invites the reader to journey with Mary and Joseph from their early childhoods until Jesus sets out for his baptism at the hands of his cousin. These fictional diaries allow the reader to peek into the minds and hearts of Jesus’ mother and foster father.

McGeehan’s imagination is complemented by extensive research into centuries of Church scholarship regarding the Holy Family. He is careful to distinguish what we do know (from reading the Gospels) from what we can surmise (from reading history and Church scholarship). This book does not pretend to be anyone’s biography; it is clearly historical fiction with a basis in actual history and tradition.

While Mary has more pages in the book (since she lived longer than her husband)…

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Stay With Me Virtual Book Tour Wrap-Up

Carolyn Astfalk

It’s been a whirlwind eleven days since Stay With Me’s release!

For me, one of the most satisfying things is that characters that have lived for years in my imagination now live on in the imaginations of other people as well.

Stay With Me - Fissure

The 10-DayVirtual Book Tour wrapped up a couple of days ago. I’m gratified and humbled at all the lovely things people had to say about the book.

I hope you’ll take a few minutes to peruse the stops. It’s a lineup filled with talented and hard-working writers: bloggers, nonfiction authors, fiction authors, and even a radio show host! Please take a moment to explore their sites and writing as well.

Virtual Blog Tour


Stay with Me is a great blend of romance and faith witness and comes complete with a great set of supporting characters like Abby (Rebecca’s boisterous sister), Father John (who’s connected…

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Your Inner Fish, By Neil Shubin

Brief Review of Neil Shubin’s Your Inner Fish: A Journey Into the ...

Over centuries, comparative anatomists marveled at the complexity of form and function in animals. For example, nineteenth century anatomist Charles Bell believed that the “designed perfection of the human hand could only have a divine origin.” His contemporary, Richard Owens, proposed that the remarkably similar patterns in the hands and feet of animals as diverse as whales, dinosaurs, bats and birds fit “the plan of the Creator.” Charles Darwin suggested that a common ancestor generated this diversity of the descendants that shared variations on the original limb pattern.

The comparative anatomy of the limbs takes us only so far. What if animals lack “limbs?” Can they still be related to us? Anatomist Neil Shubin turned to paleontology in search of the common ancestor between our limbed cousins and the fish. He discovered a fossil flat-headed fish he called Tiktaalik, with fins bearing a primitive version of the bone pattern found in modern vertebrate limbs. This “found” link offers one of many associations between the limbed and the limbless, yet there are deeper connections than naked eyes can see.

Shubin pursues the origins of anatomical commonality beyond paleontology into the realm of the genetic controls that guide the development of fish fins and human hands. We take for granted that each hand comes with one thumb, and that the resting thumb points toward the body. Strangely, that doesn’t happen in some human limbs nor in the equivalent structures in some fish. The answer lies in the genes that establish the number and position of fingers and fin rays—genes subject to the same disruptive forces. Not only do humans and fish share profound genetic similarities in the formation of limbs, but so does the housefly when it comes to the mechanisms controlling wing development. In other words, we share these same genetic controls as “bugs,” suggesting a common ancestor.

Humans and other animals develop from segmented embryos. Our segments morph into vertebrae and their associated skin, nerves and muscles. Segments “know” their relative position in the embryo as they transform into the appropriate adult structures. The question arises, “How did our segments ‘know’ what they should become and how did typically human segments derive from the segments of our non-human, non-vertebrate ancestors?” It’s clear that vertebrates share the ancestral control mechanisms of invertebrates, because molecular geneticists swapped genes between the embryos of remote descendants of the ancient common ancestors and found that donor control mechanisms can cause the host organism to respond by producing the organ proper to the host species, not the donor species.

Although we and our embryonic segments look nothing like those of insects or jelly fish, we and those animals share the same genetic control mechanisms that position body parts. Shubin explains that it’s “like a cake recipe passed down from generation to generation—with enhancements to the cake in each—the recipe that builds our bodies has been passed down, and modified for eons.” It seems to the reader that Owen’s plan of the Creator remains intact after all these millennia, and is itself a sign of the God’s genius.

Speaking of recipes, Shubin provides the directions for extracting DNA from peas, chicken liver or other menu items, using ingredients, containers and machines found in most kitchens. Sounds like a wonderful home-school science project.

An excellent teacher conveys complex information in a form that is understandable, accurate and complete. Neil Shubin qualifies as a master among teachers as he integrates the wonders of geology, paleontology, zoology, anatomy, embryology, genetics, molecular biology and evolution in order to reveal your inner fish. You may view many of Dr. Shubin’s “Your Inner Fish” lectures on YouTube and PBS on-line.

A Future Without Family: Interview with Chasing Liberty Author Theresa Linden

Carolyn Astfalk

Chasing Liberty Cover

I’m thrilled to share this interview with author Theresa Linden. I highly recommend her debut novel, Chasing Liberty. You can find it on Amazonas well as my review.

I love the title Chasing Liberty and the name of its sequel, Testing Liberty. They are succinct and carry a dual meaning given your main character’s name, Liberty. Were the titles difficult to come up with or did they come about with the story idea?

My original working title was different. As the story developed, the title Chasing Liberty just made sense. It fit in so many ways. The main character, Liberty, is chasing her own freedom. She is also being chased, hunted throughout the story by the doctor who oversees the Breeder Facility where Liberty is supposed to go.

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Stay With Me, by Carolyn Astfalk

Stay With Me

Shopping for yogurt can change your life, especially when it brings together two strikingly attractive twenty-somethings. Chris immediately responds to Rebecca, setting up a first date. Could this be the result of the alignment of the stars, an inborn response to hormones and pheromones, or God’s using biology to call two people to the vocation of marriage?

Confident and heroically virtuous about ninety percent of the time, Chris asks Rebecca to trust him. Rebecca, a prime candidate for the Extreme Makeover TV show, believes in Chris and grows emotionally, despite her major hang-ups. Their casual meeting leads to love, as in: love God and love your neighbor as yourself. Unfortunately, Rebecca cannot love or forgive herself. How can she believe Chris’ “I love you?” Does she suspect deceit, seeing herself as unlovable?

Magnificently appealing, but blemished humans, Chris and Rebecca come alive with all their emotions as they ride the rocky road of romance. Their “Joyride” winds through some of Pennsylvania’s most scenic vistas and historical sites with the musical accompaniment of Dave Matthews Band, or something that sounds just like it.

Astfalk’s supporting characters include Abby, the public breast-feeding sister of Rebecca. Snarky Abby has all the best lines in “Stay with Me,” revealing the most intimate “female” secrets: the things girls never discuss in front of their boyfriends, never, never, ever! An equal opportunity dealer in irritation, she finds ways to embarrass Chris. Abby has something to offend everybody. To her credit, she can wax philosophical and offer comfort. While Rebecca cowers under the influence of their puritanical father, Abby flaunts her independence, perking up every scene in which she appears.

Fr. John Cavanaugh, contemporary and friend to both Chris and Rebecca serves as their spiritual advisor and confessor, especially as the couple’s attraction seems to overwhelm them. Fr. John proves as human as anyone else, coping with his own temptations and seeming failures. His liturgies serve as models with their warmth and their intimacy, a true love affair with his congregation.

As Carolyn Astfalk’s first published novel, “Stay with Me” bursts with realistic characters, scenic background, humor, heartache and jubilee. Stay with Rebecca and Chris as they complete each other.

Carolyn is a valued member of the Catholic Writers Guild Fiction Critique Group who has helped me with my own writing. She supplied me with an advance copy of “Stay with Me.”