Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Grace-Filled Tuesdays ("Meeting" #2)

Hello, readers!  Welcome to another installment of the Grace-filled Tuesday Book Club.  Last week's inaugural cyber get-together contained some general info to get us started.  (I've never joined a book club in real life--IRL, as they say, so I'm not quite sure how they're conducted.  If that first meeting wasn't super interesting, bear with me as I learn how this thing is done!)

There wasn't a whole lot of chatter in the comments section after last Tuesday's post; but then again, if you did stop by, you might be like me.  You see, I've never been very good at speaking up in a group.  (I was never the kid with my hand raised high in class, desperately hoping the teacher would "pick me, pick me!" to answer a question.  No, quite the opposite; I lived in dread of being called upon.)  If I had ever joined a book club IRL, I probably would have been too shy to jump into the discussion.

So maybe when we had our first meeting, you were feeling shy.  Or maybe you were running off to procure your copies of Finding Grace and Erin's Ring, so you would be prepared for future meetings!!  And you've been busy reading.  (If so, bless you and I hope you're enjoying them.)

Anyway, let's get this meeting underway.  Today I thought I'd just pose a question concerning Finding Grace (so if you haven't read it and want to, be warned that this post could contain spoilers).
Finding Grace is very much about grace--and not just Grace Kelly, the heroine for whom the book is named, but also the graces we all receive from God in our daily lives.  This book is filled with characters (even minor ones) who are desperately in need of, and ultimately do find, grace.  It is filled with individuals who are struggling under the weight of their unique crosses--staggeringly heavy burdens that are often not even visible to others--and searching for God's help, consolation, and mercy.  Sometimes without even being fully aware that that's what they're doing.

The first title I had in mind for this novel was Amazing Grace.  But before I was even finished writing it, I saw to my dismay that Danielle Steele had a new book out with that very title.  That got me thinking of other possibilities, among them The Path to Grace and Finding Grace.  My husband and I both agreed that Finding Grace fit the story best, as it can apply in a very literal sense (when Grace's love finds her at a special spot at the end of the story) and also more metaphorically, on a spiritual level (when characters who need it find the kind that comes from God).

So here's something we can discuss this week, if you're interested: which character's struggle touched you the most, and how did you see God's grace working in him or her?

By the way, this can also count as the second installment in my "Scenes from Grammy's Lap" series, because this is the selfie I took as I sat at my laptop, typing this blog post one-handed while G-Man nuzzled on my shoulder for his morning nap.  (I call this the very best sort of multi-tasking--and I think the muscles in my left arm are getting quite impressive.)
It's a good thing this book club is happening on-line and not in-person...because obviously, if we were sitting down together, IRL as it were, I would feel the need to shower, perhaps, and run a brush through my hair; and I'd also want to put a little blusher on my ghostly pale face (basically I would want to try to look a little less scary).  But here in the land of full-time, stay-at-home Grammyhood, there isn't always the time or opportunity for such luxuries!

Okay then, leave me a comment if you're so inclined.  I promise I'll get back to you.  And maybe we can get an energetic book club discussion going!


18 comments:

  1. Hi Laura! I related most to Grace herself. Her personality just reminded me so much of me at that same age. Her worries about fitting in and being seen in a positive light by the boy she likes...that just touches such a chord, because that feeling of vulnerability really makes an impression on a person, to be sure. And the way she strove to incorporate her faith more into her life, but worried how that would be seen by others, I also remember that so well. For cradle Catholics, Grace represents all of us.

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    1. Hi Tiffany! Thanks for stopping by, my friend. :)

      I'm glad you can relate to Grace. I think she's like a lot of girls her age--I, too, definitely remember feeling the way she does. I never thought I was good enough, never had enough confidence. (With four decades of maturing behind me, I've changed so drastically...or maybe not. ;))

      I grew up Catholic, attended Catholic school, went to Mass every Sunday. But I wish I'd been as sharply focused on the goal of sainthood as my little heroine is. I didn't read a whole lot about the saints--and they were not spoken of nearly enough back when I was a girl, even in our Catholic schools. My family had packed bookshelves in the living room, but they were not full of saints' biographies, like they are at Grace's house. But I read a lot about them now; and I definitely think our modern world needs to get to know them and use them as role models--and through Grace's character I hoped to inspire young readers to do so.

      That being said, ever since I joined the Catholic blogging world, I've been heartened to see that there is a strong and ever-growing group of young Catholics who are embracing the Faith with the kind of zeal that I thought had died decades ago. They are having larger families, some are homeschooling, and they speak of their devotions to different saints with such love and reverence. It makes me glad that I started this blog, because I've been deeply inspired all these young Catholic bloggers (like yourself) whom I've gotten to know in the process.

      I may need to revamp the format of this book club--what do you think? (It was suggested to me by several of the men in my life that it might be good to choose one of the books, give people a couple of weeks to get it and read the first few chapters, and then use the next "meeting" to discuss those particular chapters. And then assign a few more and discuss those at the following "meeting," and then continue to work our way through the book together. Does that sound like a better idea?)

      Thanks again for taking the time to comment!

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  2. I was sure that after lasts week's inaugural "Grace filled Tuesdays" there would be so much traffic on this weeks blog that it might shut down the server. I was initially shocked that there has only been one comment so far, and then I realized...it is impossible for people to think of just ONE character that they could relate to and it is taking everyone a very long time to craft an appropriate response.

    It also may be intimidating for people to make comments and be in communication with their favorite author. I will admit I am one of those. I have been secretly stalking the goings on in this blog trying to pluck up the courage to comment. And I finally overcame that hurdle. You are my favorite author mom! Whoops, I mean Laura.

    I would have to say that the character I relate to most would have to be Tom. (Although some of the things Grace's brothers said and did are eerily similar to things me and my brothers said and did. ) A guy growing up and attending catholic school and playing sports and all the struggles and temptations that go along with that are very real and I think the book captures that better than I can articulate myself.

    Ok people. Once you've finished your long and insightful comments I would love to read more :)

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    1. You are so sweet, kind stranger who just happens to be a huge fan of my books (and of me, too); how nice of you to stop by and leave such wonderful comments! You made me laugh (LOL, as they say) quite a lot as I was reading those first two paragraphs, which I'm sure was your intention. Mission accomplished, faithful reader!

      What you may not realize is that in the process of writing your witty observations, you exposed yourself as a rather accomplished wordsmith yourself. :)

      As for being able to relate to Tom: yay!! I love to hear from male readers of Finding Grace. I know it seems like a chick lit book, with its female main character and the feminine cover artwork; but I tried really hard to create some strong male characters as well. Such as those five brothers of Grace's that you mentioned, who do sort of remind me of five fine young men I know very well...hmmm, strange coincidence! But aside from the brothers, some of my favorite characters in the book are guys--Jack, Tom, Jimmy. And I tried to show some of the struggles teenaged boys have as they're growing up, too. I'm glad that at least in your very unbiased opinion, I was able to do that.

      Thanks for stopping by (and right at this minute, you have earned "favorite" status--again, mission accomplished).

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  3. I was hoping my comment would be shown as anonymous...I guess the jig is up. But it's true, you are my favorite author!

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  4. I was really touched by Kate Pomeroy's story. The temptations and peer pressure she experienced are familiar and oh so common for young people. She made a mistake, and yet the foundation of faith that her parents had given to her prevailed. She trusted in God through some very hard times, and He carried her through. I found so much hope in her story.

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    1. I'm so happy to hear this! Both Kate and Irene are very dear characters to me. The things that happen to them are so heart-wrenching--and though they both make terrible mistakes, I hoped to show the true beauty that was inside these girls. I wanted them to be lovable. It's easy to love Grace, who hardly makes a wrong move. But I do agree that Kate's story is very touching (and I love the way it ends ;)).

      I was hoping to get across the idea that people often make big mistakes, especially when they're young (succumbing to not only peer pressure, but in this day and age, pressure from EVERYWHERE, to do things that will harm them, body and soul)--but that doesn't mean they're lost causes. God never gives up on anyone--no sheep is truly lost, because He'll search high and low to bring it back to the fold.

      Anyway, I'm glad you found hope in Kate's story. (And I hope readers find hope in Irene's, too.)

      Thanks for stopping by, fellow book-lover. <3

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  5. Hi Laura, not Finding Grace chat but Erin's Ring chat, just wrote my review:)
    http://sevenlittleaustralians.blogspot.com.au/2015/02/catholic-novels-for-young-ladies.html

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    1. I just went over to your blog and read your review--thank you so much, my friend! I'm thrilled that you enjoyed Erin's Ring. It is different than Finding Grace, isn't it? I was asked to write something a good deal shorter than Finding Grace and appropriate for a younger reader audience, and that was a challenge for someone who tends to be, shall we say, a bit on the WORDY side. Personally, I like really long books that I can really sink my teeth into, and even then, if I'm enjoying them I hate for them to end. It's funny, people have commented that Finding Grace is a LONG book; but when I finished writing it, I wondered if it was long enough!!

      Erin's Ring is a quick read, but it was my hope that it would be able to convey a big message with a small number of words. If that worked, I'm pleased.

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    2. Well as you know I loved both books, and yet they are very different. It still amazes me that you were able to write such very different books, not only plot but writing style! Finding Grace wasn't long at all! In fact I can think of people I want to know more about, such as Grace's brother and her friend from school, I'd love you to write their story. Well I thought Erin's Ring was a quick read cause I sat down and didn't get up till finished, enjoyed it!:) Well done{{}}

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    3. There is a part of me that would love to write a sequel to Finding Grace. But when I think of how long it took me to finish it (almost five years!), I'm overwhelmed by the prospect. Of course, I was at a different point in my life back then; I wasn't yet a true empty-nester, and I had a lot more distractions and family obligations (and things to do that were a lot more important than writing). So perhaps I could write a book of that scope and length in less time now. I do think it would be neat to follow up on the Shane and Kate story, as well as the stories of Irene and some of the other characters...who knows? Right now, I just think of it as a stand-alone book, but never say never, I guess--because I was SURE I was never going to write another one.

      When the publisher approached me about writing a second novel, she definitely wanted something much shorter in length, and more appropriate for an even younger reader--a true YA-type novel. So as I was writing Erin's Ring, I was very conscious of not going on at length about things, about trying to say what I wanted to say using an economy of words (a hard thing for me to do!). I set myself a cap of 3,000 words per chapter. And I truly felt God's help as I worked on it, because all the chapters ended up being 2,000-plus to right around 3,000 words long, without my having to go back and edit them down.

      But you know, after I signed the book's contract, the publisher took it to Adoration. Wow, huh? I felt God's presence--I felt the strength of those prayers--as I worked on it, and I'm still in shock that I was able to complete even a relatively short book in about six months. I never thought that would be possible. With God, all things really are possible!

      Thanks for reading both books, and for your support. I just hope they find themselves into the hands of young readers who might be inspired or edified by them. Even just a few.

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  6. I was able to connect with both Grace and Irene. Both of their struggles, though very different, were very hard for each of them. Grace having been in love from afar and Irene's struggles (so hard) were both terrible in their own ways. I was really pulling for Grace and Tom throughout the book!

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    1. Like I said earlier, I'm so happy that readers connect with both Grace and Irene. The last thing I wanted was to give the idea that one character was the the "good" one and one was the "bad" one. I think people struggle with different crosse and some make bigger mistakes than others, big we are all "fearfully and wonderfully made" and God loves us. His grace is available to all, even those who have fallen the furthest away--if they choose to accept it.

      Thanks for joining the club. (I knew I could count on you!)

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    2. I typed the above comment on my iPhone, never a good idea! It should read "but" we are all fearfully...not big.

      Also--I was rooting for Tom, too. But I know several people who were rooting for Jimmy. I tried to make it unclear which one it would be til the end. ;)

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    3. *crosses, not crosse (Boy, I really should avoid typing comments on my iPhone!)

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  7. I knew that's what you were doing, but I was rooting for Tom anyway! I think you portrayed all of your characters and their struggles wonderfully. And I do believe God loves all of us, even if we make huge mistakes ... which I know I did throughout my life! Luckily he forgives if we ask for forgiveness. I love your stories because I believe they convey that.

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    1. Can I just tell you how much I love YOU?

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