Entertainment Age

moviesI know this is supposed to be The Information Age, but I think we have raced way passed that stage and slid right into the The Entertainment Age.  Take a look at some of the recent “News” (read: Useless Gossip) headlines-types, and current trends, and I think you will see what I mean: Famous Star Wows in New Dress, T.V. Shows Canceled, New Movie Release, WW III Pending, What’s Hot and What’s Not, Can You Guess Her Age? Russian-China Alliance Upsets the Balance, Is She a He? The Trendiest Foods to Keep You Slim… Nothing about the $18.5 trillion dollar national debt.  Little about world affairs unless it sounds alarmist and can sell a book. Apparently this is the stuff that gets clicked on the most.  Can I blame the “news services” for prioritizing fluff and scare tactics when that is what gets people to promote their sites?

Well, actually, I can.  I do.  I believe that services purporting to put out “The News” should use some modicum of discretion.  There used to be a name for journalists who only reported sensational glitz, but I refrain from being openly insulting when hinting at the obvious makes the point. Does that let the millions of readers who click on the sensational garbage off the hook?  Does the fact that no one will know when someone is clicking on “Famous Star’s Newest Indiscretion” keep them innocent of guilt in the matter?  No.  Guilty as charged even if no one sees.  It’s like pornography, in fact, these days there is little difference between some “news” reports and outright porn.  Its purpose is to titillate and sensationalize – even at the expense of the human beings involved.  Is it really okay for anyone to spend their time salivating over other people’s lives?  And then there is the whole gaping hole of responsible journalism which should take important issues like the $18.5 trillion debt issue a little more seriously. Today many of the news services have their own objectives – to sell their own agendas.  They heavily weigh their stories on trends which they support.  Who are “they”?  I don’t know, but I do know they lack objective professionalism.  Some of the men and women choosing today’s news headlines are not informing us; they are attempting to mold us.  Entertainment Age?  If that is what you want, you can have it.  Just remember – entertainment is meant to fill a few hours with fun, not fill lives with meaning.

Book Review Monday & Hollywood Book Festival!

I am happy to announce that Neb the Great made Honorable Mention in the 2014 Hollywood Book Festival in genre based fiction.  This means that every book of The Neb_Cover front cover onlyDeliverance Trilogy has won something.  ARAM won runner up for an Indie Publishing Contest.  Ishtar’s Redemption made finalist in the Tuscany Press Writing Contest and now Neb the Great has won this Honorable Mention in the Hollywood Book Festival. Also ARAM and Ishtar’s Redemption has won the Catholic Writers Seal of Approval while Neb the Great is under review for that.  What a great way to start a Monday!

Here are this week’s top picks!

There are very few books I would strongly recommend to Christians across the board but The Scholar’s Challenge qualifies. I found this book to be interesting as well as
Scholar's Challengevastly informative. It is really two books in one. Both are told from a servant’s point of view but the first is focused on Origen, the great third century Christian thinker and philosopher who did wonders to organize early church documents into a coherent whole. He did some serious speculating which put him into serious trouble but he was obedient to the Apostolic Tradition and bowed to church authority. The second book focused on Jerome, another early Christian thinker, who did a great deal to carry the message of Christ and the teaching of the church to the next generations, albeit, not always without controversy. I am not nearly as good a scholar as Julian Bauer so I can’t pretend to outline all his points but I found his book to be very insightful, well balanced, and engaging. I learned a lot from this book, though I’d need to read it over a few more times to pass any serious quiz. I have already put this on next year’s reading list for all my high school students. I can’t imagine a teacher who wouldn’t want to buy and share this book with inquisitive young minds. Wonderful job!

 

Generally I do not read romances as I tend to find them rather shallow and predictable but A Subtle Grace has more substance than fluff. There were some very interesting a Subtle Grace frontquestions raised and some serious issues addressed even as the reader is led through the events centering on a young woman (Kathleen’s) transition from childhood to womanhood. I found myself reading later than I intended, turning the pages over and over, wanting to know how the author, Ellen Gable, (also president of The Catholic Writers Guild and author of three other Catholic NFP romance books) would finally address some of the touchier points including: What qualifies real fatherhood/motherhood? How do the sins of the parents effect the next generation? and What defines true love? Excellent issues with honest characters.

Writing Fiction in the Real World

a Subtle Grace frontFirst off I want to thank Ellen Gable who invited me to do this Writing Process Blog Tour. Ellen is the President of The Catholic Writers Guild and is a very accomplished writer in her own right.  I have her book links at the bottom of this post.  Be sure to check them out! Here’s a picture of one of her latest books.

I am currently working on a new book that takes the conversation between God and man fast forward.But a little background to start with: I began working on ARAM because I was interested in exploring how humanity first began to realize that God is One and how humanity saw itself in relationship with Him.  The whole Deliverance Trilogy explores that journey from blind ignorance toward faith filled hope.  It is not only the journey of all of mankind, but the journey of an individual soul as well.  How do we come to terms with the God who made us and learn to accept His right and purpose in our lives?

The next books I worked on, Georgios I and II move the conversation forward into the revelation of Christ.  Georgios, a descendant of ARAM, is a young man searching for his father and runs head long into the strange, rather unbelievable, message of Christ – God has come to save humanity.  Georgios is set on the island of Patmos, on the open sea, in Rome and on the Celtic islands in the second century AD.

My next book, Melchior, a descendant of Georgios, is set in Briton in the fifth century right after the Anglo Saxon invasions.  It is a story that draws us into the formation of the church and her greatest scholars who kept the faith alive in a long trial of darkness. It is about a man trying to hold his family and his faith together, but finding hate and a desire for vengeance vying for control of his soul.

I have plans to continue the Melchior lineage, but I felt compelled to jump ahead to end of the conversation between God and man.  So the book I am working on now, The Last of Her Kind, concerns how God might draw humanity into the next phase of our existence. How would we respond if we seriously faced an end of the world as we know it – not through mass destruction but through…well, I don’t want to give that away yet.  Just know that the story ends well.  I have hope, and so does humanity, no matter how painful the challenge to accept an unknown future.  It is when we allow God to become Master of our Fate that we enjoy the greatest peace.

My work is different from  the most historical fiction in that I do not focus on particular historical events or persons, but rather on the stages of humanity’s relationship with God. Each books is connected in their shared lineage and though the setting is in the past or future, the issues and struggles are still ours today. We are all connected to the same genesis, traveling along the same journey. We all can trace our roots to the dawn of creation and we all face the same end. Humanity, whether we like it or not, accept it or not, is in this journey together.

I write these stories because they are the ones that attract me.  I once read a monk proclaim that the moment he accepted the truth of God’s existence, he had no choice but to spend his whole life getting to know Him.  I feel kind of the same way.  My writing is my weak and imperfect effort to get to know Him – and to take some friends along with me.

I write when ever the opportunity arises.  My usual schedule is to write after dinner when the kids are playing or studying.  After John died my schedule got muddled.  I have had so many things to attend to that I have had to focus on less literary issues.  But God seems to want to encourage me – He gave me several circumstances where I have had to wait for something (to get fixed or finished) away from home.  So I took my writing along and moved ahead.  Funny how that works.

Well, you know probably waaay more than you really wanted to about A.K. Frailey, but now I am now going to introduce some other authors who you really should get to know:

Denise Y. Montgomery is a Catholic wife and a homeschooling mama of six children (and one dog). She holds a Master of Arts in English Language and Literature with a focus on Creative Writing from SMU. When not teaching Algebra, changing diapers, and cooking meals, Denise writes short stories and is working on a homeschooling book and her first novel. On her website www.DeniseYMontgomery.com, she composes book reviews, thoughts on writing, flash fiction as well as conducts author interviews. In 2011 Denise formed the Catholic Writers of St. Louis group www.CWStL.wordpress.com

Visit Denise at:

www.DeniseYMontgomery.com

Connect on Linked-In

Follow on Twitter

Also I wish to introduce: Charlotte Ostermann.  She has a new book coming out very soon!  Keep your eyes glued – I am really looking forward to it!  Here are some links you can use to get to know Charlotte better:

Need encouragement and practical help to serve the Church as a writer? Catholics Communicate Christ
Do you need a speaker? CharlotteOstermann.com
Whatever My Interest Catches: Charlotte’s Web
Just Chatting: ChattyCatholicDoll

Souls at Rest: An Exploration of the Eucharistic Sabbath – Holy leisure is the key to human being!
Souls at Work: An Invitation to Freedom – Holy leisure is the key to human freedom!
And as I promised – here are the links to Ellen Gable’s award winning books.  Enjoy!!
Just released: A Subtle Grace 
(Amazon Kindle #1 Bestseller Religious Drama)
Ellen Gable Hrkach
www.ellengable.com
 
award-winning, bestselling author

book coach, editor, publisher
www.fullquiverpublishing.com
“Intense love does not measure; it just gives.” Blessed Mother Teresa
You’re not what you read – but what you read might just make you a better person. God bless!
Ann

Make Your Own Good Books Reading List

IMG_0239 (2)Teresa reading IshtarEvery summer I hear the same thing – at least for a while – “I don’t have anything to do.”  I can fix that problem easily enough with a chore list, but another more fun approach is to create a reading list. Since I have children at a variety of ages I have a variety of reading levels to consider, so I make up different lists.  I have one Read-Aloud list for the youngest kids ages 5-7.  Then I have another Read-Aloud/Read-by-Yourself List for the kids 8-12 and finally I have a Discussion-Book List for the older kids.

Some of my favorites for the little ones include such timeless stories as The Little House series, The Wind in the Willows, Charlotte’s Web,  Gramma’s Attic Series, Five for Victory, Canadian Winter, Happy Times in Noisy Village,Sign of the Beaver.

Some favorites for the middle group have been A Wrinkle in Time, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Anne of Green Gables, The Youngest Templar, Miss Mantle, Warriors, & Prydain Series.

Some favorites for the older group has been Hamlet, Macbeth, Flowers for Algernon, The Woman in White, pretty much anything by Jane Austin,  Uncle Tom’s Cabin, biographies and histories.

I have also discovered a new list which I’ll  call: Books by Catholic Author’s.  I refer these books to my older kids (if appropriate) or to other adult friends.  This list includes Ellen Gables romance stories: Emily’s Hope, In Name Only & A Subtle Grace, and other books she has worked on in some form or another –  Come My Beloved, Growing Up In God’s Image & Witness for the Atonement.  There is also Ann Marie Creedon’s romance Angela’s Song and Erin McCole-Cupp’s science fiction (one of the best of new sci-fi in my opinion) Jane E Friendless Orphan.  Linda Rawlins put out a mystery Sacred Gold and there is a teen coming of age story by Michael Rahlfs, Simple and Pure.  One of the most erudite historical fiction books I have read recently is by Catholic author Julian Bauer, The Scholar’s Challenge (Be ready to think and be amazed!).  A missionary journey story through Latin America was very intriguing, called In the Shadow of the Volcano. Casting a Shadow Over Rome is a Sister Gilmary thriller by Mary Klovers.

Of course there is my own work – a reflection on the Tolkien trilogy The Road Goes Ever On – A Christian Journey Through the Lord of the Rings which has an imprimatur and has received some pretty nice reviews.  My fiction work includes The Deliverance TrilogyARAM, Ishtar’s Redemption and Neb the Great.  I call these books historical fiction though they could also be classified as inspirational fiction, literary fiction or merely commercial fiction.  I like to think of the as “Stories to grow the soul – and have a little fun along the way”.  I am currently reading my kids my nbewest work – I’m not revealing the title quite yet.  The older kids are amazingly helpful critics and advisors – probably because they are so blunt and honest.

And along the way, after reading so many great stories some of my kids like to do a little writing of their own and we all sit around in the evening and hear the most recent chapters of their work.  Well, isn’t that the point of good writing – to inspire?

So when your child, or you hear a little voice in your head asking, What can I do?  Go for a book!  And enjoy.

Women’s Voices

flower end of seasonDorthy Day’s cause for canonization is being put forward by Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, the city where she lived and worked the later part of her life.  Dorthy Day always left me a bit flummoxed.  Her life was such a mix of great good, confused allegiance, and horrifying evil.  She grew up in a world renowned for its confusion and she was herself a reflection of someone moving from chaos into a more ordered world with more ordered thinking.  Early in life she had a series of relationships, attempted suicide, and aborted her first child; not the marks of a a future saint.  But then – few saints knew what was coming. Dorothy later embraced Catholicism and offered her life serving the poor and the disenfranchised.  She did a great many heroic things, things most of us would not choose to do; stand against war, identify with the poor, begin a newspaper called The Catholic Worker.  But as popular, and unpopular, as some of her actions were she did live her vocation, attempting to do God’s will in her life – to the fullest.  One thing that can be said for Dorothy, she was no coward.

When I think of Dorothy Day, I also think of other women’s voices.  I think of Flannery O’Conner (author of several short stories who also spoke and wrote about being a Catholic writer) and Sigrid Undset (author of Kristin Lavransdatter-Nobel prize winner and a Catholic convert.) both Catholic women authors who had a lot to say about the world and humanity in general.  They too offer different paths in their approach to God but they did approach and that is the amazing thing.

There are other examples of famous Catholic women who were brave and saintly but these three stand out in my mind not because they were the best – but perhaps – because they were not the best.  They stand out because they overcame so much and tried to see through such incredibly murky depths.  I guess, for me, the fact that Dorothy Day is being considered for the cause of sainthood – coming as she did from so troubled a past into so heroic a future – says a great deal about the power of God.  After all…people have been committing sin for an awfully long time.  It seems in our day and age that it is somehow politically incorrect to admit that, but it is true.  Abortion – slaughter of the innocent – is crime.  Yet from such terrible reality as killing one’s own unborn baby, a woman can be reborn.  Eve came to be redeemed not only by Christ but by another woman – Mary – the one who said yes to her unborn baby and lived that yes in every heartbeat of every day.  What God can do with a willing heart!

I do not know the state of Dorothy Day’s soul.  I hope she is in the arms of Christ.  I hope a lot of people are in the arms of Christ.  I don’t get to make those decisions. Rather,  I get to look at their lives through the lens of time, be amazed that they ever approached God…and try to do so as well.