6 Dates to Disaster, by Cynthia T. Toney

6 Dates to Disaster, by Cynthia T. ToneyLife can be horribly unfair, especially if you are a teen. Or so you may think. Sometimes parents can be right, but not all adult decisions seem just and reasonable. Unfortunately, adults usually have the last word.

In her third book in the Bird Face series, 6 Dates to Disaster, Cynthia Toney weaves new story lines into Wendy Robichaud’s complicated life. Wendy doesn’t always start in a good place. She can be selfish, unforgiving, and greedy.  However, as in the earlier books of the Bird Face series, deep down inside, Wendy loves widely and deeply.

Her romantic love for David Griffin flourishes into something far beyond physical attraction. Her friendship with her stepsister Alice and her distant cousin Gayle deepens into tender generosity. Her concern for elderly Mrs. Villaturo, who moved away from their old neighborhood, drives Wendy to exhaustion as she tries to earn her way to Alaska to visit Mrs. V. and her grandson, Sam. Wendy’s former best friend, Jennifer, returns to her life, and Wendy realizes how much Jennifer still means to her.  Wendy even grows closer to her mother and stepfather, mainly through adversity, as their new family gels.

Penny-pinching comes naturally to mother and daughter. Wendy grew up in poverty. “Salvaging and recycling (are) in (her) blood.” Her mother furnished their tiny house with discards and flea market finds. When Cathy Robichaud married Daniel Rend (in the previous book), Wendy not only gained a stepsister and stepbrother, Alice and Adam,  but she also moved to a larger house and entered a world of greater affluence.

In 6 Dates to Disaster, when Daniel loses his job, Wendy shifts back to frugal mode and prepares to earn her way to Alaska. Although shunned by the “Sticks,” her wealthy and fashionably anorexic classmates, Wendy is good enough to tutor one of them, Melissa, on the sly.  For pay. What would people think if a “Stick” girl was seen with Bird Face? But word of Wendy’s abilities spreads among Melissa’s friends. Wendy exhausts herself making money in the service of the wealthy illiterate.  What could possibly go wrong?


Wendy suffers humiliation and rejection, but she thrives. She learns to trust, to forgive, and to share in ways that will challenge readers to grow up and step up. By the last page of the novel, Wendy stands taller and stronger in spite of the blows life has dealt.

6 Dates to Disaster calls out loudly for a sequel. There’s a continent of material from which to draw and many new adventures to fill the life of Louisiana’s Wendy Robichaud.

As with the previous Bird Face novels, Cynthia Toney personalizes Wendy’s story with discussion questions and resources that will help readers open discussions about honesty, dating, underage drinking, communication with parents, American Sign Language, and finding a mentor.

The previous volumes in the Bird Face series are 8 Notes to a Nobody and 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status.

(Cynthia Toney and I belong to the Catholic Writers Guild Fiction Critique Group. She provided me with a pre-publication copy of 6 Dates to Disaster for use in this review.)

Posted in Book Review, Editing, Faith, Family Life, Fiction, fiction, Hope, Humour, Juvenile fiction, Love, Mercy, mystery, Novel, romance, suspense, Volunteering, Young Adult Novel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Something Worth Waiting For

By Janice Lane Palko

Advent is upon us – a season of waiting. I hate to admit it, but I’m a bad “waiter.” I’m not too deficient with the day-to-day waiting of standing in line at the grocery store, or cooling my heels at the post office, or idling in traffic, or even pressing “1 for English,” pressing “2 for customer service,” and then pressing “7 to leave a message.”

No, it’s waiting on a larger scale that exasperates me. The last few years have been unusually stressful for my husband, three grown children, and me. Cumulatively, we’ve suffered illnesses, job losses, and heartache. Others have suffered through far worse than we, and thankfully through God’s grace, we’ve persevered and in most ways are much better today.

Looking back on those three years and what we experienced, there was one thing that all our difficulties had in common: each involved a period of waiting. Throughout our travails, a Greek chorus of questions sang in my head: When will the medicine kick in? When will they figure out what’s wrong? When will he get better? When will he get a job? When will they ever have a baby? When will this be over? When will life ever go back to normal?

Greater minds than mine have explored why God makes us wait. Some say it may be because we need a period of this sort to develop character, or that we need to learn to depend on God, or that we need to wait because the timing is off and God is working behind the scenes. The idea that there was a greater purpose to our waiting brought some comfort, but there were several other things that I learned that helped me, and I hope may help you if you find yourself living in limbo.

When I’m troubled, distressed, or need help, I often turn to the Bible. While exploring the scriptures, I realized that waiting is part of the human condition. Whether it is waiting to grow up, graduate, get married, have children, find the right job, be successful, be healed, etc., all humans experience periods of prolonged waiting.

The Bible is full of people who have had to wait. Joseph waited to be released from prison. David waited to take the throne of Israel. Sarah and Hannah waited to become mothers. Job waited for the black cloud to be lifted from his life. Mary waited for the birth of Jesus. Jesus waited three decades before beginning His ministry. The apostles waited to receive the Holy Spirit. We continue to wait for the return of Jesus.

However, the most astonishing thing I learned about waiting gave me the greatest reassurance of all. It is said that misery loves company. Surely then, the greatest company of all is the company of God, and I was heartened to learn that we are not alone in our waiting, not alone in our misery. I learned that God also waits.

In numerous passage throughout the Bible, we hear His people, annoyed with waiting, pose this question of God, “How long, O Lord?” But we tend to overlook that there are numerous passages where God often posed (and still poses) that same “How long?” question to His people. For what is God waiting? Since God is perfect and nothing can be added to Him, out of the abundance of His love, He tells us in the scriptures that He is waiting for us–for us to repent of sin, to keep his commandments, to seek His face, to trust Him, to love Him, to make him Lord of our lives.

As we embark on this season of waiting, this season of Advent, may we look forward to the time when all our “How Longs?” will be answered with “Now, my beloved,” when the waiting will be over for both God and us, when we will be united with Him for all eternity in glory. Now that’s something worth waiting for!

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Janice Lane Palko is the author of three Catholic novels: Most Highly Favored Daughter, a romantic suspense; St. Anne’s Day, a romantic comedy; and A Shepherd’s Song, a Christmas novel, as well as the romantic suspense, Cape Cursed. A writer for two decades, she is currently the featured writer at www.popularpittsburgh.com. For eight years, she was the executive editor of Northern Connection and Pittsburgh 55+ magazines, where she also penned a column and contributed regularly to the magazines’ content. Her work has also appeared in St. Anthony Messenger magazine, The Reader’s Digest, Guideposts for Teens, Woman’s World, and The Christian Science Monitor.
Visit her website at www.janicelanepalko.com or her blog at www.thewritinglane.blogspot.com
Email her at: janicelanepalko@gmail.com
Her books are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble & Smashwords

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Visiting Homebound Elder-Catholics—A Privilege and Sometimes, an Unexpected Challenge

I have been an EMHC (Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion) for over twenty years. I have had the honor and privilege of bringing Holy Communion to many people in many places: hospitals, nursing homes, hospice centers, assisted living facilities,and, of course, to the homebound. I love being part of this ministry and it has brought me in touch with some amazing people who have lived their Catholic lives quietly, faithfully and without fanfare or notoriety.

Most of those I visit are Elder-Catholics.These are the Catholic faithful who have, throughout their lives, supported their church, been active in various ministries and carried on the faith that was and still is, part of their very being. Some were born into the Faith and it was nurtured in them by their parents and oftentimes by nuns, brothers, priests and Catholic laypersons.  They in turn have passed it on to their own children. Some found the faith as adults and converted. (I so admire those people.) And so, as is the way of things, the Church continues.

I would like to share a story about one of these people. His name is John. I have been bringing  Holy Communion to John every Sunday for a little more than a year. He is ninety years old, an Army veteran who spent almost thirty years in the Far East and was married for sixty years. His wife, Mary, passed away several years ago. He loved her dearly and misses her greatly. John is not delusional, or suffering from dementia or anything like that. His mind is sharp and clear. Physically, John is  deaf (hearing aids help a tiny bit) and wheelchair bound.

When I arrive at his front door, I push the doorbell. I hear a chime; he does not. Inside, several strobe lights begin to flash, notifying him someone is at the door. He is expecting me and the front door is unlocked. I walk in and he gives out a big, “Hey, hey, good morning.”

I more or less holler back, “Hey John, how you doing today?”

He is always wearing  a smile. He says, “Well, I’m still here.” We both laugh.

John is facing a dilemma. He picks up the newspaper from a few days before and points to a story. “Have you gotten any feedback on this?” I look at the paper he has opened to an article dealing with the church’s newly revised guidelines on cremation. I shrug and tell him I have not. He says, “I have a problem and maybe you can help me out. I need some guidance.”

I am not “Father Larry” or “Deacon Larry”…I’m just Larry. I immediately feel a bit insecure because I do not like telling folks what they should or should not do when it comes to their personal faith issues. I quietly ask the Holy Spirit to quickly help me out. Then I say, “I’ll try, John. But I may not be able to. I will go to Father Anthony and ask him if necessary.”

Being part of this ministry can have unexpected rewards. God was about to bless me with a glimpse into the hearts of two Catholics, a man and a woman, people of faith who married in the faith and lived it and who shared a love that did not die upon the death of one–rather, it simply continued and still existed. John says to me, “You know, I am upset about this article. It says we Catholics must bury the ashes of loved ones in sacred ground.”

I said, “That isn’t anything new. Some folks are scattering ashes over the Gulf of Mexico or off mountaintops or sharing them among family members. Those kinds of things are not approved of.”

“Look”, he says. “I have Mary’s ashes here with me. I talk to her every day. I’m all alone and I feel she never really left and I get such comfort from that. Do I have to get her over to the cemetery?”

I’m looking at him and tears are filling his eyes. He wants to be a GOOD Catholic man and he loves his wife and wants to be loyal to her. He will give her up if the Church requires it even though the pain he will feel is unimaginable. It did not matter. He would be true to his faith no matter what. I was looking at a man who would have gladly embraced a martyr’s crown if he had been called upon to do so.

I knew that cremated remains are supposed to be kept intact and placed in a proper vessel. Nervously I began to answer but he continued. “I have a spot down at the VA for both of us. I made arrangements with the funeral home and when I pass they are going to take us together down to the VA and bury us next to each other.”

I breathed a sigh of great relief. Casting doubt to the wind, I told him, “John, that is great. She can stay here with you. She is encased in a vessel and is scheduled for burial. You will make the trip to the VA together. Don’t worry about a thing.”

I will never forget the smile that broke out across his face. I’m not sure if I gave him  proper “guidance.” No matter; in this case I am sure the Holy Spirit helped me out. I will check with the priest when I see him.

©Copyright Larry Peterson 2016. All Rights Reserved

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CWG Prayer Chain Post: December 4, 2016

The CWG Prayer Chain Post is a weekly post for members to include their special intentions by adding a comment.

Isaiah 11:1-10

A shoot will spring from the stock of Jesse, a new shoot will grow from his roots. On him will rest the spirit of Yahweh, the spirit of wisdom and insight, the spirit of counsel and power, the spirit of knowledge and fear of Yahweh: his inspiration will lie in fearing Yahweh. His judgement will not be by appearances. his verdict not given on hearsay. He will judge the weak with integrity and give fair sentence for the humblest in the land. He will strike the country with the rod of his mouth and with the breath of his lips bring death to the wicked. Uprightness will be the belt around his waist, and constancy the belt about his hips. The wolf will live with the lamb, the panther lie down with the kid, calf, lion and fat-stock beast together, with a little boy to lead them. The cow and the bear will graze, their young will lie down together. The lion will eat hay like the ox. The infant will play over the den of the adder; the baby will put his hand into the viper’s lair. No hurt, no harm will be done on all my holy mountain, for the country will be full of knowledge of Yahweh as the waters cover the sea. That day, the root of Jesse, standing as a signal for the peoples, will be sought out by the nations and its home will be glorious.

The power of prayer and the power of people praying.


O Come All Ye Faithful

O Come All Ye Faithful
Joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem.
Come and behold Him,
Born the King of Angels;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

O Sing, choirs of angels,
Sing in exultation,
Sing all that hear in heaven God’s holy word.
Give to our Father glory in the Highest;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

All Hail! Lord, we greet Thee,
Born this happy morning,
O Jesus! for evermore be Thy name adored.
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

Please leave a comment with your intention. If you have problems adding an intention, email it to Mike Hays at coachhays(at)gmail(dot)com and I will add it.  God bless.

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CWG Prayer Chain Post: November 27, 2016

The CWG Prayer Chain Post is a weekly post for members to include their special intentions by adding a comment.

Isaiah 2:1-5

The vision of Isaiah son of Amoz, concerning Judah and Jerusalem. It will happen in the final days that the mountain of Yahweh’s house will rise higher than the mountains and tower above the heights. Then all the nations will stream to it, many peoples will come to it and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of Yahweh, to the house of the God of Jacob that he may teach us his ways so that we may walk in his paths.’ For the Law will issue from Zion and the word of Yahweh from Jerusalem. Then he will judge between the nations and arbitrate between many peoples. They will hammer their swords into ploughshares and their spears into sickles. Nation will not lift sword against nation, no longer will they learn how to make war. House of Jacob, come, let us walk in Yahweh’s light.


The power of prayer and the power of people praying.


O God, of Whose mercies there is no number, and of Whose goodness the treasure is infinite; we render thanks to Your most gracious majesty for the gifts You have bestowed upon us, evermore beseeching Your clemency, that as You grant the petitions of them that ask You, You will never forsake them, but will prepare for the reward to come. Through Christ our Lord.

Please leave a comment with your intention. If you have problems adding an intention, email it to Mike Hays at coachhays(at)gmail(dot)com and I will add it.  God bless.

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10 steps to Girlfriend Status, by Cynthia T. Toney

Adolescence is the most difficult time of life. How do we survive it? What with all the physical, emotional, external, and self-inflicted challenges, it is no wonder that many teens lose their way on the path to maturity.

In 8 Notes to a Nobody, Cynthia Toney’s first volume in the Bird Face series, Wendy Robichaud, with help from her friends learns to smile. As 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status follows 8 Notes to a Nobody, Wendy seems more confident. In fact, we see a daring and assertive Wendy. She grows close to her first boyfriends. She encounters the unstoppable forces that will separate her from Mrs. Villaturo, the only “grandmother” that Wendy knows. Wendy weathers the on-again-off-again friendship with her new step-sister Alice Rend. That’s enough stress for anyone.

As the title suggests, Wendy checks off each leap forward in her relationship with her boyfriend, David Griffin. Of course, for every step forward, there may be a step or two in reverse.

In addition to the “David loves Wendy” story, 10 Steps cleverly explores the emotional permutations of Wendy’s first year in high school. She moves in with a blended or step-family. She struggles to balance her parents’ rules while still enjoying dates with David. She suffers the slings and arrows of rivalries— Wendy vs. Alice, the David-Wendy-Sam love-triangle. She mourns as the erosive effects of Alzheimer’s Disease dim her relationship with Mrs. Villaturo.

Wendy resents parental and step-parental advice, even though her mom and “Papa D” share the scars of their own teen ventures into dating. Everything seems to fly out of control with no solution in sight until Wendy hears about the family secret.

Mrs. Villaturo rouses Wendy’s curiosity when she mentions a scandal involving Wendy’s great-uncle Andre. Detective/diplomat Wendy sets out to uncover and solve this mystery. “Inquiring minds want to know.” She deliberately invites Alice to a road trip to bayou-country where answers may dangle amid the Spanish moss. Besides, Alice has her own not-so-mysterious reasons to visit great-uncle Andre’s relatives and their neighborhood crawling with alligators and snakes.

Excitement, conflict, mystery, and infatuation march through the pages of 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status. The reader learns that Wendy’s heart is big enough to love selflessly and tender enough to ache and break as tragedies past and present unfold. The reward for her love-quest comes in the form of a closer and deeper relationship with every other character in the book.

Cynthia Toney caps off her engaging story with discussion questions and resources on the topics of teen dating, teens and Alzheimer’s disease, blended families, and stepfamilies.

She and I belong to the Catholic Writers Guild Fiction Critique Group. She provided me a review copy of 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status, which proved to be a joy to read.


Posted in Adventure, Book Review, Catholic Writing and Publishing, Family Life, Fiction, fiction, Hope, Humour, Juvenile fiction, mystery, Novel, Young Adult Novel | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Twelve Steps to being a Spiritual Writer


Step Five- Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

We are blessed to be Christians. We are especially blessed to be Catholics. Our Mother, the Church, guides us by the teachings of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Jesus, who created us and knows our character, set up the Church to meet the needs of our human nature. It is human to hide from God when we do wrong. Most people believe that the opposite of fear is courage. I believe the opposite of fear is truth. “But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.” (John 3:21). Our Lord teaches that we need to come out of the darkness. All things have to be held up to the light. In the light, we can not only admit our failings, but examine the reasons we have failed. Why have we thought, felt or acted wrongly? What feelings led to that action? What were our motives? What did this action or wrong thinking affect?

We are so blessed to have the Sacrament of Reconciliation. As a child I feared what we called confession. As an adult who had been away from the Church for many years, I spent months driving up to my church, sitting on the front steps and driving away – afraid to go to confession. When the courage hit me and I did enter the sacrament, it was as if a heavy weight had been lifted from my shoulders. Suddenly my heart was light. I walked with a spring in my step. The burden of admitting that I was a flawed human being had brought me into the light and out of the darkness.

It was not a fearful experience at all. It was entering a life of truth and only in that truth could I enter the light of love. Jesus himself gave us the gift of reconciliation in his instructions to his apostles, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:19). What a blessing it is to be forgiven! What a joy to live in the true knowledge that God has forgiven us and we are free from the burden of shame and guilt. However, although I didn’t realize it at the time, the sacrament gave me so much more than a new start.

In Part two of the Catholic Catechism, Chapter two, it states, “It must be recalled that . . . this reconciliation with God leads, as it were, to other reconciliations, which repair the other breaches caused by sin. The forgiven penitent is reconciled with himself in his inmost being, where he regains his innermost truth. He is reconciled with his brethren whom he has in some way offended and wounded. He is reconciled with the Church. He is reconciled with all creation.78

I became, once again, who I truly was. I regained my innermost truth. Wow, what a gift the Lord gave me when He instituted this sacrament. I smile when I see my friends paying thousands of dollars going to therapists to find themselves. I cry when I see the struggle of non-believers as they travel the world to find the ‘truth.’ The truth lies in a small confessional in every Catholic Church across the world. God leads us into the light of truth in such a simple yet profound way. And isn’t that the Way of God. He takes the most complex issue and simplifies it for us. Why, because He loves us. Not only does He forgive our sins in this sacrament, He gives us the grace to overcome our sin patterns. So when you have finished the fourth step, it is time to be freed from the pain of the past. Go to God. Go the church. Go to confession!

Being a Spiritual writer requires that we understand human nature. We can’t create lifelike characters without understanding the soul and spirit of the human being. We can’t write about truth without living in truth ourselves. We are on a journey as a soul, as a writer and as a child of God. Admitting the truth and then living in that truth will lighten the burden we carry on that journey. It will free us to be better writers and to convey the sense of the eternal in our work.

Remember, you are gifted. You have been given a powerful gift. Along with that gift of words you have been given the gift of being a Catholic. Be courageous by being the person and the spiritual writer that God created you to be. I will end with the words of E.E. Cummings, “To be nobody but myself, in a world which is doing its best night and day to make me everybody else, means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight and never stop fighting.”

Next week let’s talk about being truth to others.

Karen Kelly Boyce is a mother of two and grandmother of two who lives on a farm in N.J. with her retired husband. She and her husband love to camp and take ‘road trips’ around the country. She has published four novels and three children’s books. Her website is www.karenkellyboyce.com



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CWG Prayer Chain Post: November 20, 2016

The CWG Prayer Chain Post is a weekly post for members to include their special intentions by adding a comment.

Colossians 1:12-20

Giving thanks with joy to the Father who has made you able to share the lot of God’s holy people and with them to inherit the light. Because that is what he has done. It is he who has rescued us from the ruling force of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of the Son that he loves, and in him we enjoy our freedom, the forgiveness of sin. He is the image of the unseen God, the first-born of all creation, for in him were created all things in heaven and on earth: everything visible and everything invisible, thrones, ruling forces, sovereignties, powers — all things were created through him and for him. He exists before all things and in him all things hold together, and he is the Head of the Body, that is, the Church. He is the Beginning, the first-born from the dead, so that he should be supreme in every way; because God wanted all fullness to be found in him and through him to reconcile all things to him, everything in heaven and everything on earth, by making peace through his death on the cross.

The power of prayer and the power of people praying.


O God, of Whose mercies there is no number, and of Whose goodness the treasure is infinite; we render thanks to Your most gracious majesty for the gifts You have bestowed upon us, evermore beseeching Your clemency, that as You grant the petitions of them that ask You, You will never forsake them, but will prepare for the reward to come. Through Christ our Lord.

Please leave a comment with your intention. If you have problems adding an intention, email it to Mike Hays at coachhays(at)gmail(dot)com and I will add it.  God bless.

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CWG Book Blast: “10 Steps to Girlfriend Status (Bird Face book two),” by Cynthia T. Toney

This month, the Catholic Writers’ Guild is touring Guildie Cynthia Toney’s book, “10 Steps to Girlfriend Status (Bird Face book two) It is a SOA winner.

Teaser: When Wendy questions her neighbor about one 1960s photograph, she opens the door to triple trouble—a Cajun family secret, feelings for two very different boys, and a fight to keep a grandmother’s love. 

10 Steps to Girlfriend Status

Summary: This story addresses first innocent romance, a blended family, friendship with an Alzheimer’s victim, and an ancestral interracial relationship. 

Website:  www.CynthiaTToney.com

Blog:  http://birdfacewendy.wordpress.com

Facebook Author Page:  https://www.facebook.com/birdfacewendy

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/CynthiaTToney

Twitter:  @CynthiaTToney

Instagram:  @CynthiaTToney

Pinterest:  Cynthia T. Toney, YA Author

LinkedIn:  www.linkedin.com/in/cynthiattoney


[Chapter 1, scene 1]

Who would’ve guessed that looking through old photo albums could get me into so much trouble?

It happened to be Friday—the day before the wedding. No, not mine! I’m only fourteen, and this is Louisiana, not New Hampshire.

I arrived on time at LeMoyne High School, via the Mom-mobile, wearing a skirt that made the best of summer’s leftover tan. Baseball-player and heart-throbbing hunk David Griffin leaned against a tree on the front lawn.

Steps toward achieving girlfriend status:

1.     Meeting before school (Check.)

We’d known each other since last year, but at the start of ninth grade our friendship expanded like a Cajun cornbread hushpuppy in hot oil.

 “Hey, Wendy. TGIF,” he shouted.

Man, his grin killed me. “TGI-uh-TD-uh-BTW,” I countered. It was really hard to concentrate when he was all I could see.

He burst out laughing and ran a hand over his curly brown hair. “What?”

Thank goodness it’s the day before the wedding.” Like always, heat crept into my cheeks as I drew near him. I smiled big to camouflage the reason. 

Yeah, and I’ll be there with a tie and everything.” His green eyes dazzled me. “Unless you un-invite me.” 

Not a chance. I need all the moral support I can get.” I’d never tell him Mom allowed me to invite no more than two friends, and he was one of them. If he only knew how much I looked forward to seeing him away from his jock buddies. 

We started up the steps to the main entrance as the first leaves of autumn danced across our path in the warm breeze.

Well, I might mess up somehow and make you mad today.” He stuck an arm out and prevented someone who was coming down the steps from running into me.

You won’t wiggle out that easily.”

We reached an intersection of halls and turned in opposite directions.

See you later,” he said over his shoulder.

It took every ounce of willpower not to look back at him as he walked away. But too many pairs of eyes watched, belonging to too many of his friends and teammates who’d poke and tease him. 

We weren’t a couple—at least not yet. Why invite ridicule or ruin my chances? LeMoyne was three times the size of Bellingrath Junior High, and to say there were a lot of pretty girls here was an understatement of gross proportions.

Cynthia is a former advertising designer, marketing director, and interior decorator who holds a BA in art education with a minor in history. While employed by a large daily newspaper, she rewrote some ad copy without permission and got into trouble for it. At that point, she knew she was destined to become an author.

When she’s not cooking Cajun or Italian food, Cynthia writes historical and contemporary teen fiction containing elements of mystery and romance.

She has a passion for rescuing dogs from animal shelters and enjoys studying the complex history of the friendly southern U.S., where she resides with her husband and several canines.

The first edition of her debut novel, Bird Face, won a 2014 Moonbeam Children’s Book Award, Bronze, in the Pre-teen Fiction Mature Issues category and was awarded the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval. Under its new title, 8 Notes to a Nobody, the story again received the Seal of Approval, and so has her second novel, 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status.

Buy Links:

Tweet: A 1960s Cajun photo leads one 14-year-old girl into triple trouble. www.amzn.com/B014RC07HW #CatholicTeen #CWG #SOA


Posted in Catholic book blast, Catholic Fiction, Catholic Theme, Catholic Writing and Publishing, Faith, Family Life, Fiction, fiction, Hope, Juvenile fiction, Love, Mercy, Novel, Young Adult Novel | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The End of It All

"The Beginning" Road Sign with dramatic blue sky and clouds.


In November our Church calls us to remember the remarkable of the Church both recognized (All Saints) and those unrecognized (All Souls). We set up memorial tables, reverence the book of the dead and attend memorial Masses.  All the while taking comfort in the idea that we are doing our duty of remembrance for the dead.

If someone asks you if you are a saint what would you tell them?  Oh, no, not me, I’m not good enough for that.  Wrong answer!   The Church recognizes two types of saints. Saints with a capital “S” are those we have heard the heroic stories about.  Saints with a lower case “s” are all of us who were/are believers. That makes you and me a saint.  We are all in transition between the little “s” and the big “S”.  That’s what the journey of faith is all about.

Besides the Saints, November in the Church year contains other noteworthy things.  In the liturgical cycle this is also the month mirroring the “end times”.  It is the finish of Church year and the preparation for us to start anew.   In November we hear all of the serious reminders (Gospels) warning us that we are running out of time. The Church challenges us to seriously take stock.  The Gospel readings focus on being prepared, paying attention and meeting the responsibilities that are tied to the gifts God has given us already.

Most of us know the story of the “talents”.  But few of us know what a talent is.  In a bit of history you might be interested to understand that one talent was the price that ancient traders valued one amphora (clay jug) at. An amphora held 61 gallons of olive oil.  Even one talent was no insignificant amount of money.  Many people can quote some form of Luke’s version of this parable:

I tell you, to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” (Lk 19:27)

This strong rebuke from the King was pointed at the servant who, in fear, hid the talent he was given and returned it with no increase, not even interest from the safest form of investment.

If you don’t stop at: “I’m doing pretty well, the Lord has really blessed me.” ,the most important part of the lesson is in the rebuke. The parable is not a demo that some people get a lot of good stuff and others do not.  The amounts listed are not the point. The servant was called wicked because he exercised fear which stopped him from growing the talent. The Lord invests in everyone, some more some less.  He expects the same from all:  Do not hide any gift the Lord has given you.

“[The parable] emphasizes the severe treatment given to the man who dared to hide the gift received. (From the blessing of Saint John Paul II, Saint Peter’s Square, December 30, 1987)” 

As far as the duties of a saint in transition, what are your responsibilities?  As we approach “the end” we should take no false comfort in the idea that we have prayed for the dead in November and that our finances, home and family are in relatively good shape.  Rather it’s our duty, as well as responsibility, to be in communication with the Lord and to “do whatever he tells you.” (Jn 2:5)

“ To become a saint means to fulfill completely what we already are, raised to the dignity of God’s adopted children in Christ Jesus….” ( Pope Benedict XVI) The way we do that is to;”… use the gifts of God in order to make them fruitful, to “sow” and to “reap”.

  If we do not, even what we have will be taken away from us. (Saint John Paul II, Op. Cit.)”   Do not make the dangerous error of mistaking prosperity for permission to complacency. The call to the end is really the energy for the beginning.


©2016, Kathryn M. Cunningham, All Rights Reserved

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