I don't know why I'm so shy when discussing my books, even with beloved members of my family. I don't know why I feel the need to kind of put myself down and minimize what I've accomplished--especially when talking to a granddaughter who should hear from me that yes, it's very possible that if that's what she wants to do someday, she can--and might--actually do it. If Grammy did it, then surely she can. I will have to work on being more positive when discussing my "writing career" with her in the future. (See what I did there? I felt the need to add quotes, lest you think I take myself, or my writing, too seriously. Heaven forbid!)
My wonderful publisher, Cheryl Dickow of Bezalel Books, knows how much I struggle with the marketing/promotion aspect of being a published author. (A salesman I am not!) She has tried over the years to encourage me to put myself out there and proudly promote my work--because when it comes to Catholic fiction, she reminds me, it's not about the author. It's about the message. It's not about garnering praise or making buckets of money (thank goodness, or I would have to say it's all been for naught!); it's about getting inspiring works of fiction that spread the Truth of our beautiful Catholic Faith into the hands of those who could be touched or edified by it. Fiction can definitely be used as a tool for evangelization, because there are some people who would rather just read an entertaining story than tackle a Faith-based non-fiction work that they might consider too "dry." So Catholic fiction authors should be confident that promoting their work is not a vain enterprise at all; they should realize that if their fiction glorifies God and His Church, the more people who read it, the better!
But still, I struggle.
So I decided to put myself out there today (gulp!) and talk about my own books here at Carolyn Astfalk's An Open Book link-up.
Finding Grace, was published in 2012 and earned the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval that same year. (It was also a finalist for the Guild's CALA in YA fiction.) This lengthy novel, which I wrote over a period of almost five years (beginning when my youngest son started high school), is near and dear to my heart because it is set in Plattsburgh, NY, where I grew up and starting dating the high school sweetheart who has been my husband for 38 years now. (He might have even been the model I used to create the handsome love interest of the title character, Grace Kelly--wink, wink.) The book's target audience is teens/adults; because it deals with some difficult topics (underage drinking, premarital sex, abortion), I would not recommend it for readers younger than high school-aged. But rest assured, parents, that you will not find any cringe-worthily inappropriate scenes described in this pro-life coming-of-age love-story; it is safe for your teens to read. Mistakes are made and tough things happen to some of the characters, but these situations are handled with as much tact, compassion, and grace as possible.
Erin's Ring, was published in 2014. It was a recipient of two book awards from the Catholic Press Association in 2015: Second Place in Books for Teens & Young Adults, and Third Place in Books for Catholic Novels. This is a different sort of book than Finding Grace; written over a six-month period, this work of historical fiction (which goes back and forth between the early 1800's and the year 1998) is much shorter in length and geared toward a younger audience. It is appropriate for readers as young as middle school or junior high (but has been enjoyed by readers of all ages). Although my first "baby" might always be my favorite, this book is dear to my heart, too, because it is set in Dover, NH, where my husband and I lived for 27 years and raised our five boys. I've always been a huge fan of historical fiction, and I was able weave some of Dover's fascinating history into the tale, so this was a complete joy to write. If you're an inveterate Hibernophile like me, you'll love how this book is populated with a cast of plucky Irish characters (fictionalized versions of some real 19th-century immigrants) who brought their Faith--and a Catholic church-- to a small New England town.
But those two Catholic novels are real to Bonnie Babe, who I hope will read them one day. And they've touched at least a couple of young readers who have written me the sweetest notes. If God is pleased with them, if they have brought Him greater glory even in some teeny, tiny way, then my mission has been accomplished.
I may never write another book. But if I ever do, I'm pretty sure it will be fiction. If Bonnie Babe writes books when she grows up, I think they'll be fiction, too. And her Grammy will be cheering her on every step of the way.
(BTW: I just checked and today Finding Grace is marked down on Amazon, from $14.99 to $9.80. It would be a good time to get a copy, if you're interested!)
Before I sign off, here are two worthy works of Catholic fiction that I've read recently and for which I am currently working on written reviews: A Single Bead, a YA novel by Stephanie Engelman; and The Wideness of the Sea , by Katie Curtis. These are books that deserve a shout-out, and I hope to have a post about them finished in time for next month's installment of this link-up!
Okay, then. Now head on over to Carolyn's to see what all the other bibliophiles are reading these days!