Christmas Grace, by Leslie Lynch

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Leslie Lynch breaks new ground in her second Christmas novella. Although she invites us to spend Christmas on the other side of Louisville, Kentucky, she warns us to steer clear of Gertie, Ella and Natalie—three generations of brokenhearted women who dread the holidays.

Recently widowed, awash in grief, and stumbling through the shambles of her life, Gertie, 74, gathers more grief than consolation from her daughter. She avoids the domineering Ella, 50, during the holidays.

Mason, Ella’s husband, bemoans the fortunes of his slumping law firm. He sees Ella more as a convenience than a consort. He expects her to drop her own plans to exhibit her ceramic creations in order to arrange the “traditional,” client-wooing Christmas gala.

Pregnant with Ella’s and Mason’s grandchild, Natalie, twenty-something, plans to ignore the holidays. They remind her of her husband, Connor, deployed to a war zone. She tells her mother, “I’m sorry, I won’t be able to help you…No Christmas for me…. I’ve just turned into a Grinch.” She cherishes her moments on Skype when she can almost touch Connor through her laptop screen.

Gertie proves the most imaginative, if reckless, in mending her broken heart, plunging into an extreme makeover, planning a sky-dive, and taking up with a guy on a turquoise motorcycle, she sparkles as she weaves and crashes through the story line.

The bulk of the novella measures the accumulated weight as each family emergency presses against Ella’s shoulders and forces her resentment to bubble to the surface. Obsessed with his declining client base, Mason ignores Ella’s plight. While squeezing the “Merry” out of “Christmas,” he snuffs out the embers of Ella’s love for him. He not only stifles his family-life but the flexibility essential for his company’s survival. Much to his dismay, Ella decides to dig in her heels.

Can Leslie Lynch, the award-winning romance author, snatch these harried “chestnuts roasting on an open fire,” before they go up in smoke? There’s no easy fix. Those who anticipate their own hectic holiday appreciate the pain of apparently insoluble family situations. Christmas Grace offers them hope, adjusts their frame of mind, and revives the meaning of the words Christmas, family and holiday.

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Roland West, Loner – A Character Interview

There’s a bit of Roland in all of us, looking for someone like Toby, Peter and Caitlyn to discover us and befriend us.

Carolyn Astfalk

Last week, my friend Theresa Linden released her Catholic teen novel Roland West, Loner, first in a series including the West brothers and their friends. It’s simply a great novel for teens of all ages, Catholic or not. The author deftly handles common teen experiences from sibling problems and the school social scene to first attraction and rediscovered faith.

  • Click here to jump to the book blurb.
  • Click here to jump to the Rafflecopter giveaway link and enter to win a free copy of Roland West, Loner.

What follows is a fun interview with the neighbor boy who befriends Roland, making him less of a loner. As you’ll see, Peter’s a charmer.

Character interview of fifteen-year-old Peter Brandt conducted by author Theresa Linden, age undisclosed. This interview occurred sometime after the story began . . .

Roland West, LonerAuthor: Thank you for agreeing to this interview, Peter. It’s nice to sit face…

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Top 10 Reasons You Will Love Catholic Teen Fiction!

Follow the tour.

Erin McCole Cupp

Thank you to Theresa Linden, author of the Liberty Trilogy and the newly released Roland West, Loner. In the style of Late Nights gone by, here’s…

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1.      Because reading Catholic teen fiction can be more fun than going to the movies.

2.      Because you might waste an entire day stretched out on the couch, reading, but you won’t need to feel guilty.

3.      You also won’t need to find that bookmark you lost because you won’t want to put the book down.

4.      And you won’t need to save your receipts or scraps of junk mail to use for bookmarks. Same reason as number 4.

5.      Because Catholic fiction reveals that there’s more to life than what we can see.

6.      Because of fun author names like Heckenkamp, Cattapan, and Peek.

7.      Because of fun story lines take the reader back in time or into the future, close to the saints, or close to trouble.

8.      Because books…

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An Interview with Theresa Linden, Author of Roland West, Loner

 

https://web.mail.comcast.net/service/home/~/?auth=co&loc=en_US&id=624964&part=2

A few questions for Theresa Linden:

  1. In Roland West, Loner and several of your other books, I’ve noticed that you have developed a palate of rich characters. I’m curious as to where you come up with these ideas and how long have you been writing fiction.

 

Ideas for story lines and characters come to me from life, books, TV shows, and my imagination. My father was in the Coast Guard so we moved every few years. I’ve lived in California, Guam, Oahu, and Arizona. I’ve experienced different cultures and situations, like surviving Typhoon Pamela on Guam and seeing the sights in Hawaii. The constant change gave me the impression that life was an adventure. I’m sure it’s the same with all writers; you store up details from people you meet and places you go. And your imagination takes you farther.

I started writing in grade school with my sister. We stole characters from TV shows and movies and wrote them into adventure stories. We took turns writing chapters, ending with a cliffhanger that the other one had to write their way out of. We stopped writing together sometime in high school. At that time my father retired here in Ohio. Having lived in California, Guam, and Hawaii, I found it hard to adjust to the cold. Life got hard, and the adventure seemed to end.

At some point in my adult life, I realized how I could reclaim the adventure. I had to write! I loved my Catholic faith, so I wanted to write fun faith-filled stories for teens. Roland West, Loner was actually the first full story I wrote. That was years ago, and it’s seen many changes, including the title. The final book is much different from the original, but I hope it accomplishes my original goal: to bring to life a little of the richness, depth, and mystery of the Catholic faith and to arouse the imagination to the invisible realities and the power of faith and grace.

 

  1. In Roland West, Loner Roland’s older twin brothers create a lot of conflict in this story. However, for being twins, they are nothing alike. How do you think a pair of identical twins can produce two totally different personalities?

 

I’ve always been fascinated by twins. They share a bond that is unique in sibling relationships. Identical twins have a pair of exactly the same genes, and they often have a similar upbringing, nurturing, and life experiences. So it might be natural to assume that they share personality traits. This, however, is not always the case. Even in situations where identical twins have been treated as two versions of one person, their distinct personalities emerge. This especially becomes obvious in teenage years when a person has more freedom to choose what to wear or to eat, and what to do with their time.

I think the phenomena brings to light the uniqueness of the individual that God has created. We are more than our genes and appearances. Each of us is a unique child of God. Our points of view and motivations, our choices and ways of responding to the good and bad in life are our own.

In Roland West, Loner, Jarret and Keefe are identical twins yet their personalities are vastly different. Jarret has grown into a leader, Keefe the follower. Keefe has developed a sense of right and wrong while Jarret tends to think selfishly. Their personalities complement each other to a degree. They know what the other thinks in a situation, and they rely on each other. But they both have room to grow.

 

  1. Not to give anything away, but one character seems particularly mean. What do you believe makes a person into a bully?

 

I am certainly no expert in what causes behaviors, good or bad, in a person. But a writer should do their research so they can present reasonable situations and believable characters. I think several underlying causes could result in creating a bully or a “control freak.” Perhaps a person had a difficult childhood with a controlling parent, or they experienced a deep hurt in the past that led to feelings of helplessness. Maybe they had unmet needs as a child or didn’t get the attention they wanted and so seek now make life revolve around them.

Each of the West boys experienced a significant loss in their life, during their childhood, and they’ve each handled it in their own way. This loss and their coping methods form a big part of who they are and what hurdles they need to overcome to grow in God’s grace. Mr. West has also been affected by the loss, as future stories in this series will reveal. While sufferings and tragedy affect everyone, the good news is, God can turn the loss into something wonderful if we let Him.

 

  1. This story begins early in the school year. The West boys, who have previously been tutored, must now attend public school. What are your thoughts about public education vs. home schooling and tutoring?

 

Growing up, we moved a lot, so I attended various public and Catholic schools, but I always wished we were home schooled. As a child, I wanted to remain close to home, but I learned to enjoy being with children my age at school. As a pre-teen and teen, I faced bullying, peer pressure, and other issues not related to learning. It is certainly not the case for everyone, but my education suffered because of it.

 

As a mother, I love home schooling my three boys. They get to learn in a safe and comfortable environment. Yes, we sometimes keep our pajamas on all day! They also receive a full education imbued with Christian values. The teaching of the faith isn’t isolated to a particular day. It’s weaved throughout the curriculum and taught in daily life. The boys can learn at their own pace without pressure. And I get to relearn all those things I’ve forgotten from school.

If you were to ask the West boys this question, they would each give a different answer. Jarret loves attending school. He’s extremely social and confident, so this is an opportunity to make friends and feed his ego. Keefe notices the work is easier. He’s been working at his own pace all these years, so he’s a lot farther ahead than the average 10th grader. But to Roland . . . “Every day at River Run High pushed him farther into the nightmare. He had no friends. He heard his name all the time, but not from kids wanting to talk to him. They were talking about him.” No, Roland does not like public school. And I’m sure he represents a group of students that just don’t feel like they’ll ever fit in.

  1. In this story, Peter often finds the behavior of his younger autistic brother a trial. What are the benefits and challenges of autism or Asperger’s Syndrome in a child?

 

I mentioned that life has felt like an adventure. Having a son with autism has become a big part of this adventure. Unable to have children, we adopted and now have three boys (all teenagers now). We felt called to adopt special needs children but had no idea our first baby had autism. We knew something was wrong because he always seemed uncomfortable.

Most parents of special needs children can relate to our story. We raced from one specialist to the next, researched everything we could, tried diets and supplements and various therapies. And some of these things helped. Most didn’t.

The hardest part has been the self-doubt, loneliness, and feelings of failure. Other moms gave me advice, but nothing seemed to help. As a new mom, I often felt like I wasn’t doing it right, and that maybe I wasn’t cut out for motherhood. But after a while, I stopped listening to the “baby advice” and worked on trusting God with this challenge. It was then that I learned to relax and enjoy our son for who he was without expecting him to act like others. I’ve come to accept that he will always have autism—unless God wants to change that via miracle—but it’s okay. While I continue to encourage behavior that will help him in life, I no longer worry about squelching all of his unique behaviors and personality quirks. They are a wonderful part of him.

It is easy for parents of special needs children to feel alone in their journey as they try to address the unique needs of their child. But God has chosen us to be their parents. He trusts us to raise these children to know, love and serve Him in their unique way. As soon as my son could walk, he wouldn’t sit still in church until the Eucharistic payers. Then he wanted to stand on the pews and watch. I let him, even when his size and age made it seem unreasonable. He hasn’t always been able to hold his body still, but he’s always been drawn to the Mass. And now as a teenager, he is the proudest altar boy at our church. He would serve every Mass if he could. And he does a fantastic job. I know he makes Our Lord very happy. And isn’t that all we really want for our children?

 

  1. Since Roland West, Loner is the first in a series, what comes next for these characters?

 

The second book in this series picks up where this one leaves off. The focus shifts from Roland to Caitlyn. Caitlyn has a crush on someone, but her parents have just announced that they expect her to practice old-fashioned courtship! To make matters worse, she’s got competition from a cute, bubbly girl with no restrictions. We’ll still get to see what the West boys are up to, but I can’t tell you now or I’d spoil the surprise! I can tell you that the characters face questions every young person faces as they come of age. Who am I? Where am I headed? How am I going to get there? And what’s love got to do with it? Facets of Theology of the Body, especially that human love is an expression of the eternal love to which God calls us, come to life through the choices and discoveries of these teenage characters.

Feel free to ask questions about Roland West, Loner. While you’re composing a question, try your luck in a raffle for an autographed copy of the book. Click on LONER  or West and travel to the raffle site. Good luck.

Please enter the rafflecopter for your chance to win an autographed copy! Entry form on several of the blog stops.

Tuesday, Dec. 1        Don Mulcare: Peace to all who enter here!

Check out the author interview and the book cover wrap.

Wednesday, Dec. 2  Erin McCole Cupp: Faith, Fiction and Love No Matter What 

Top 10 Reasons You Will Love Catholic Teen Fiction

Amy J Cattapan, Author & Speaker, Stories with Heart & Hope 

Book Review of Roland West, Loner

Thursday, Dec. 3     Barb Grady Szyszkiewicz at CatholicMom.com

Book Review of Roland West, Loner

Friday, Dec. 4          Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur: Spiritual Woman

Book cover, blurb and review blurb

Saturday, Dec. 5      Cynthia Toney

Book cover, blurb and quote from book

Sunday, Dec. 6        Karl Bjorn Erickson, Author

Behind the Scenes and First Chapter

Monday, Dec. 7        Carolyn Astfalk, Relevant Fiction for Body & Soul

Character interview-you won’t want to miss this one!