Friday, April 24, 2015

The G Stands for Genius

Like his older Pearl cousins, G-Man seems to like having books read to him.  He seems to like it very much.   (Yay!  Grammy, a lifelong bookworm, is so happy about that.)
 
This is one of his current favorite titles:
It's adorable, by the way.  It's become one of my favorites as well.

While reading said book to G-Man yesterday (for perhaps the 6th or 7th time in a row), I just had to grab my phone and snap this quick (rather blurry) photo:
This was not staged, I promise you.  It was all the little guy's doing.
As this image clearly illustrates, my grandson is a genius.  He's only six months old, but he knows where his fingers are.

And I do love them.  I think he knows that, too.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

From Ascension Press: Altaration--The Mystery of the Mass Revealed

The world has undergone some frightening alterations.

Recently here at the blog, I told you about college scholarships that are being awarded to high school students who write the best essays explaining how human beings are destroying the planet and therefore how urgently government control is needed to curb population.  Those scholarships are being awarded right here, in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave--not in some communist country overseas. The group responsible is Negative Population Growth, and it's holding a carrot before American kids, trying to lure them with the promise of thousands of dollars in prize money.  Like the evil queen's apple in Snow White, there is hidden poison in that carrot; but many will look upon this group's scholarship offer as a good opportunity for our young people.

The world is in an altered state, my friends, where bad is good and good is bad.

As if brainwashing high school-aged kids about the supposed evils of allowing man to "go forth and multiply" (as he was instructed by God) isn't scary enough, there is also a children's book out there on the subject of abortion, called Sister Apple, Sister Pig, wherein the wiping out of unwanted offspring is painted as a good choice for families.  In this book, youngsters are being given the insidious, soul-killing message that human lives can (even should!) be snuffed out at any time, for any reason...and that this is a good thing.  The aborted sister of little Lee is described as a "happy ghost," and  Lee surmises that his mommy and daddy had to get rid of her so that there would be plenty of food for the rest of them, and so that his sister and he wouldn't fight and make their parents mad.

Children's books that paint abortion as a dreamy, happily-ever-after fairy tale...yes, the world is indeed in an altered state.  It is a world that I hardly recognize anymore.

When I first heard about this diabolical book, I logged onto Google and typed "children's book about abortion" in the search barin order to read more about it--to, as my husband and I call it, "research the enemy."  When I did so, I found another incredibly disturbing site: there was one of those question and answer forums, and a teenager had written, "I'm a 10th grade student and I have to write a children's book about abortion for my English class."  He went on to ask if anyone had any advice on how to proceed with his creative writing assignment.

Lord help us all, that is what constitutes a school assignment in the Brave New World we inhabit!

Yes, Lord help us all.  He is the only one who can.  Young people these days need to know Christ better, to understand that it is only through Him that we can ever be saved.  Even practicing Catholics (not just young ones, but those of my generation, too, whose formation in the Faith was far from adequate) need to know and love Him better, to more fully understand the Mass and all the graces it provides, to truly comprehend the awesome, life-giving (life-altering!) power of the Holy Eucharist.

Luckily, there are groups at work fighting against forces like Negative Population Growth and the abortion lobby--fighting those forces by providing much-needed teaching materials that should be in the religious education classrooms of Catholic high school students everywhere.  Over at Ascension Press, they have created a DVD series for teens called "Altaration--The Mystery of the Mass Revealed."
Here is the powerful trailer for "Altaration":
If you're interested in ordering the "Altaration" DVD set and other educational materials that go along with it, click here.

I'm hoping to get ahold of a copy of the complete set myself, and when I do I'll give it a thorough review.  But after having seen the trailer, I feel confident that I can recommend "Altaration"--to Catholic educators, to parents raising young people in a world that has undergone disturbing alterations, and even to Grammys like me, who are concerned about the faith formation of their beloved grandchildren.  I commend Ascension Press (who also produced the "Chosen" series) for the beautiful evangelization tools they're providing for our teens.  May God bless their efforts, and may this series lead many souls to become true soldiers for Christ in this world...and ultimately, to Heaven!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Announcing the Giveaway Winners

Well, if you've been stopping by lately you know that I was running a giveaway in honor of National Library Week, and that if you commented before midnight on April 18, your name would be thrown into the hat for a chance to win a signed copy of either Erin's Ring or Finding Grace.
Yes, [sheepish smile], I realize it's the 21st already, and I'm a little late notifying the winners.  But here's what's been keeping me otherwise occupied.
Hugs.

Snuggles.
 
Selfies with my little cuddle-bug.
Oh wow...I've sunk to new lows to make excuses for my lazy blogmanship of late--because yes, I've been spending the weekdays as a full-time nanny-Grammy to my sweet little G-Man, and that leaves me fewer opportunities for writing at my laptop; but he and his parents went out of town last weekend, so I had ample time on Sunday to put together a post announcing the winners of the giveaway.  It's just been hard for me to focus lately, dear readers.

But without further ado [imagine a drumroll here]: 

Joy (of Joy in the Morning) has won a copy of Erin's Ring.
Annie (of Annery at Home) has won a copy of Finding Grace.

As an added bonus, I decided to give away one extra copy of Erin's Ring, to the reader who left the very first comment after I announced the giveaway on March 31.  And that one goes to Donna--who said she has some Irish ancestry herself and is therefore intrigued by the story.

Ladies, contact me via the "Email me" button down there on the sidebar, and let me know where I should send your prizes.  Thanks a million for playing along.  (And if you enjoy the books, a short endorsement on Amazon, if you're so moved, would be much appreciated.)   ;)


**Next Tuesday, we'll have  meeting of the Grace-filled Tuesdays book club.  And I think we'll talk about character development in my first novel, Finding Grace, if you'd like to join me.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Celebrating "Celebrate Teen Literature Day"!

It's still National Library Week, and I'm still running a giveaway here at the blog.  Leave me a comment anytime before midnight on April 18, and you could win one of two prizes: a signed copy of my first novel, Finding Grace, or a signed copy of my second novel, Erin's Ring.
This is a good day to talk about these two books, because today has actually been dubbed "Celebrate Teen Literature Day," and both of my novels fall into the teen/young adult (YA) category.  (Although don't let the YA tag deter you from reading them if you're a full-blown adult; I tried to write these stories in such a way that they could be enjoyed by readers from middle school to middle age.)

When I set out to write Finding Grace, I wasn't even sure it would ever be officially published as a book, with a glossy cover and professionally printed pages.  I thought that when I finished, I might run off copies for my boys, so that when they had children of their own, they could hand my homemade book down to them. (Then wonder of wonders, Cheryl Dickow agreed to give the manuscript the imprint of her company, Bezalel Books, and a work of fiction that I thought would only be shared amongst my family members was listed on the Amazon mega-site.  Life is amazing!)

I had no grandchildren when I began work on Finding Grace in August of 2007--but by the time I completed it in December of 2011, I had become a grandmother to identical twin girls.  I have five grandchildren now, and counting; and if any of them grow up to be readers, I hope they will enjoy and feel inspired by their Grammy's books.

Over the years during which I was raising my sons, in the '90s and '00s, I noticed a disturbing trend: the amoral secular mindset, with all of its anti-God, anti-organized religion ideas, was creeping into every corner of the entertainment world.  Moral relativism was becoming the order of the day--on TV, in movies, and in books.  As I have always been an avid reader myself, from the time I was a young, impressionable girl, I wanted to write something that might be a sort of antidote to that kind of poison--a book that might actually inspire teens to swim against the tide and fight the good fight.  Inspire them to achieve what has always been a difficult task, even before the world became so God-less: to become saints.  I thought I'd write something about teenaged characters coming of age, with a strong pro-chastity, pro-life message--with characters who show how beautiful it is to let their Catholic Faith inform their life decisions.  My dearest wish was that it might resonate with young readers going through similar high school experiences.  But since just about every adult was once an unsure, angst-ridden teen, I hoped that more mature readers would enjoy it, too.

Although it hasn't found a wide readership yet, I have been gratified by the comments of readers--some teens, but mostly adults (and even some male adults)--who have read and endorsed Finding Grace.

My heart goes out to the young, it truly does.  And to the parents who must raise them these days.  Just recently, my publisher sent me a link that just about broke my heart.  There is an organization called "Negative Population Growth" that is offering a lucrative college scholarship to students, for an essay (or photo) illustrating why our government should be involved in population control.  Here's what they're advertising online:

Provided by: Negative Population Growth
Award:
$2500
Deadline:
April 23, 2015
The Negative Population Growth Essay Scholarship Contest is open to high school seniors and college freshmen, sophomores and juniors. You must submit an essay of between 500 and 750 words on the following topic: "Should the United States' government pursue population policies to protect our quality of life for future generations?" You must also be a U.S. citizen or permanent legal resident to qualify for this award.
 
Is this what we've come to in the US?  Do we want to become communist China, and limit the number of children a family is allowed to have?  To storm into homes and force abortions on pregnant women who have gone over the legal limit?  To force sterilization on women who have had their quota of babies?  Have Americans any idea what getting the government involved in population control will really mean?  Have we abandoned the principles of our Founding Fathers, who created a country where its citizens were promised "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness"?
 
This scholarship offer makes me feel sick, people.  Not to mention terrified.   Earth worship--environmentalist fanaticism--has turned human beings into the enemy.  If you don't believe me about this group and their scholarship offer, check out their website: http://www.npg.org/scholarships.html

So in my own little way, with my small works of Catholic fiction aimed at teens, I hope to fight such anti-God, anti-life, anti-freedom forces at work in the world.  I hope these books can be, to use the motto of my boys' Catholic high school, Lux in Tenebris ("Light in the Darkness").

Because there is indeed darkness.  As if the Negative Population Growth scholarship story isn't disturbing enough, my husband and I were listening to Glenn Beck on the radio recently, and he was alerting his listeners about an incredibly awful book that he'd been made aware of: he was reading aloud from a children's book on the subject of abortion.

Yes, you read that right: there is a children's book about abortion out there that features a child named Lee talking about the sister his mom and dad aborted, referring to her as a "happy ghost" and putting a positive spin on the whole experience.  This abomination is called Sister Apple, Sister Pig.  Here's a little excerpt, if you can stomach it:

When Lee’s Papa asked, “[D]oes that make you sad or scared?” Lee changed his tune. “I’m not sad that my sister is a ghost! If you kept my sister, you would be tired, and sad, and mad!” When his father questioned why, Lee continued:
Because we would be wild and loud and sometimes we would fight. Mama might be scared that she could not buy enough food for us. Mama might not have enough time to read to me, to paint with me, to play with me, to talk with me…. 
Papa also noted “good reasons” Lee doesn’t have a sister “right here right now.” “Maybe you will have another sister when there is more time, and there is more money,” Papa said.

I have no words.  Only tears.  Imagine the tears in Heaven.
And that is one more reason that I may just keep on writing Catholic fiction for young people!  I thought I was a one-book author, that I would never write another novel after Finding Grace.  Then about a year ago, Cheryl Dickow approached me with a surprising offer to write another YA title for her company, and the result was Erin's Ring.  Published in November of 2014, it was a delight to work on from beginning to end.  "Okay," I told myself, "I'm a two-book author now.  But that's it.  Never again.  Now I'm in full-time Grammy mode."

However, I should never say "never."  Because when I hear about groups that are celebrating negative population growth and children's books that are glorifying abortion, I think there's a possibility that I'll keep on writing.  I'm too shy when it comes to the spoken word, so I don't I think I'm meant to spread the Good News that way.  But I do a little better with the written word.  And I'm beginning to get the feeling that that's the method God would like me to use, to add even a small flicker of light to the world's darkness.

Let's all celebrate teen literature that has spiritually enriching messages for our young people!  (And on that note, don't forget to enter the giveaway!) 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

It's National Library Week! And National Library Workers Day!

National Library Week is underway!  I blogged about this already (here's that post, in case you missed it), but I'm going to blog about it a lot more in the coming days.
I am a great believer in libraries--and in actual books, ones that have covers you can open, and spines with titles on them, and pages fashioned out of paper and ink.  Although I am not a great fan of John Dewey's progressive ideals, I do get nostalgic about my own school days long, long ago, when I used his Decimal System regularly.  We Stone Age types didn't employ an Internet search bar to find a book; we thumbed through index cards filed in the library's card catalog.

Dear reader, are you old enough to remember actually using these babies?



Card catalogs have pretty much gone the way of the dinosaurs.  I guess some  libraries still use them, but they are becoming an endangered species.  Although you can find them being repurposed in interesting ways on Pinterest and other online sites...

...and they look pretty cool.  Now that's home décor with oodles of character, if you want my opinion.

Card catalogs might become extinct before long, but I sure hope that doesn't happen to libraries.  Because as swell as reading books on Kindle might be, it would be a pretty sad world if all printed books disappeared forever.  In this woman's opinion, anyway.  (And hey, dear reader, are you old enough to remember actually using the word "swell"?)

This Tuesday of this wonderful week-long library extravaganza has been dubbed "National Library Workers Day," so you should show your favorite librarian some love...and what better way to do so than with a book?  Right?

And hey, funny coincidence: I just happen to be giving away a copy of my second YA Catholic novel, Erin's Ring, in honor of National Library Week...and Erin's Ring just happens to prominently feature a public library and a kindly and helpful librarian.   How perfect is THAT?  Wouldn't it make a great gift for that special library worker in your life?  (Or for you?  Or your daughter?)

Aside from a copy of Erin's Ring, I am also giving away a copy of my first novel, Finding Grace.   Both books are populated with plucky Irish-American characters, unabashedly celebrate the beauty of the Catholic Faith, and have chaste love stories thrown in for good measure.   If you are interested in entering to win a copy of one of these novels, just leave me a comment by midnight on April 18--and feel free to let me know which one you'd prefer.  (If you'd like to find out more about them, click on the images of their covers on the sidebar and those will take you to the Amazon pages, where you can read a synopsis and some reviews.)

Stay tuned for more on National Library Week.  But for now, leave me a comment if you're so moved.  I'd love to hear from you!

Monday, April 13, 2015

How Lucky I Am...

My husband and I have been away from home almost constantly since early January.  When we're not at our middle son's home in VA, babysitting for our adorable grandson, G-Man, while his mommy and daddy are at work, then chances are we're flying off to someplace else (other than our actual home in NH), to visit our other kids and grandkids.  My trusty roller bag (which my husband and I have affectionately dubbed "Old Pink") is getting so much use these days, it's starting to look a little ragged around the edges.
There's the old girl.  She's a work horse, that's for sure.

You know how they say that all the bags on the carousel at the airport look alike?  Well, we've never seen another one like this one (a designer number with a retail value of over $300 that I got for 1/10 of that price at BJ's Wholesale Club--and if I'd known how much use it was going to get, I would have bought a back-up for when this one wears out!).  She's no run-of-the-mill suitcase.

Good old Old Pink.  I bought this bag back when I started to become a true jet-setter, about the time our oldest son got engaged to sweet Regina--who, by the way, just gave birth to a fourth daughter on Holy Saturday.  Which makes four little girls under the age of four, two of them identical twins.  God bless her!

Anyway, it was tough leaving that sweet family yesterday, just a week after the birth of the new baby.  I feel like I'm always having to say good-bye to people I love--and I hate good-byes!

On the way to the airport, I was bummed.  (As two-year-old Little Gal would say, "I sad.  I crying.")  My son was driving and my husband was up front with him; I was sitting in the way back of the mini van, with Little Gal and the twins strapped into their car seats on the bench in front of me.  Little Gal started to call out for me, and I told her I was there and reached my hand over to pat her on the head.  She grabbed it and wouldn't let go for most of the ride.
Then Bonny Babe got in on the action.
Cutie Pie had fallen asleep by this point--otherwise, I might have had to lend her a hand, too.

Papa and I had so much fun during the week we spent with our granddaughters, keeping them occupied so that their mom could concentrate on healing after a difficult delivery and taking care of their new baby sister.  They are such animated, spirited children; even a simple trip to the department store is filled with wonder.  The night that City Girl was being born, we spent some time in the pet department at Meijer, admiring the fish.  It seemed every bit as exciting to our granddaughters as a trip to the zoo.
[Sigh...]  I miss those girls!  I miss their hugs and their smiles and their laughter.  I miss snuggling with them on my lap, reading them stories.  I miss watching them play, creating intricate worlds that spring from the active imaginations they've developed after perusing just about every book in the children's section of their local library.  I even miss their best-loved toys.  Horses!  Everywhere!

Yes, I sad.  Missing my darling girls is hard.  But no sooner had I said good-bye to them, and I got to say hello again to this happy little fella.
So as Little Gal (who wears every big emotion she has on her size-2T sleeve) would also say, "I not sad anymore.  I happy now!"

So I guess here's the thing:
I'm with you, Pooh Bear.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Granddaughter #4

On Holy Thursday, my husband ("Papa" to our grandchildren) and I ("Grammy") left VA, where we've been helping out our middle son and his wife for the past few months by watching their little guy, six-month-old G-Man, and where we'll be living until May (when his mommy plans to quit working outside the home).  We arrived in MI on Thursday night, and from the minute we crossed the threshold of our oldest boy's home, we began to pray fervently that the new baby he and his wife were expecting--with an April 9 due date--would arrive ASAP.  We had plans to stay for the week after Easter to help out, and the sooner the little one made his or her appearance, the better.  We wanted to be able to be as much help as possible.  We would have been crushed if the baby decided to come late and we'd had to leave before the big event.

Well, the wee one complied by making her entrance five days ahead of schedule, just two days after we got here.  In the evening on Holy Saturday, she was born at home (during a stretch where Papa and I, along with our youngest son, took the girls out to the park to play, to Pizza Hut for dinner, and then to Meijer for some super exciting one-cent rides on a big pretend horsey named Sandy but dubbed "Sammy" by our granddaughters).  Luckily, our daughter-in-law tends to have relatively short labors.  Before we knew it, we'd gotten the call that "City Girl" had arrived, mother and baby were doing fine, and we could come back to the house and meet her.  (I know it annoys some blog readers when bloggers give their kids and grandkids phony names--but that's just the way I roll here.  She lives in rural MI, but City Girl she is.)

How fitting that this little lass was given my husband's mother's name as her middle name; my dear mother-in-law died on Holy Saturday six years ago, eight months before our oldest son got married.

So!  We had an extra-special Easter present around here.  City Girl is a real beauty.  She's got the most perfect little face, with the most delicate, doll-like features (said her Grammy, in her typically unbiased fashion).  Her big sisters, the twins and Little Gal, are very taken with her.  They say things like "Listen to her sweet little cry," and "Aww, isn't she a little cutie pie?"  They are a trio of little mommies in the making.

It's so funny seeing our firstborn, who had four younger brothers and no sisters, surrounded by all these girls.  As my sister-in-law, a mother of four grown daughters who is married to one of my husband's younger brothers, assured him: "You will be your girlies' hero."

I believe he will.