Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Gratitude

As a follow-up to my earlier post on Fear and Despair, I was grateful to be part of the St. Vincent de Paul food bank in Crystal Beach this December. Through the generosity of countless goodwill donations we were able to bring Christmas joy to almost 200 families-in-need by sharing with them Christmas Baskets chock full of turkey/ham, potatoes, carrots, canned fruit and vegetables, stuffing, candies/chocolates, toiletteries, and yes, TOYS... everything needed for sharing a home-cooked meal with friends and loved ones.

We had a joy-filled day meeting up with old and new clients, everyone coming together to help and share God's bounty.

Once again I witnessed our multi-faith community united in the sharing and distribution of this amazing multiplication of gifts!

St. Vincent de Paul Christmas Baskets
Merry Chistmas, and a blessed, happy New Year!

~ JT ~

Monday, December 29, 2014

Review: Thomas Merton: Faithful Visionary


Thomas Merton: Faithful Visionary
Thomas Merton: Faithful Visionary by Michael W. Higgins

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



This was a well-written, seemingly well-researched book on Thomas Merton.

Although this short biography presents a sympathetic view of the famous monk's life, work and influences, surprisingly, I came away with a very bad taste in my mouth.

From the first instance of Merton's hearing God's call to enter the Our Lady of Gethsemany Trappist Monastery soon after being conscripted for service in 1941, to his constant bickering with the Abbott in charge of the monestary, to his willfulness in continuing to be a celebrity writer while supposedly being a sequestered monk, to his secretely falling in love with a young nurse, I felt Merton's responses to all of these events and situations quite insincere.

What Higgins ultimately presents the reader with is a picture of Merton as a brilliant literary man yearning to be many things, to be the voice of anti-nuclear/pacifism for his generation, to experience a monk's solitary life of devotion to the Church, etc., but only on his own terms. Ultimately he wanted, and always remained, a writer, from his days as a student at Columbia to the questionable circumstances of his death as suicide/accidental death/assination in Japan, Merton wrote.

It seems that everything else in his life only served as material for his writings.



View all my reviews

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Inspiration strikes! New Release of St. Nicholas

St. Nicholas by JT Therrien
Yes, inspiration struck some time around December 6, the Feast Day of St. Nicholas in the Catholic Church. When I read up on his incredible achievements, inspiration directed me to share some of my new-found knowledge.

So, between stints at the local food bank, I researched and wrote a short story on Bishop Nicholas of Myra. There was so much material to write about, but I chose to limit the scope of my interest to his preserving the virtues of three young girls on the cusp of womanhood. This also seemed like a natural way to further explore St. Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body.

In retelling this sweet story, I also alluded to some of the bishop's other (miraculous) works and I added some historical tidbits as well. I found him to be an endearing, sharp-witted fellow with a big heart filled with compassion, grace, conviction and faith.

Obviously, the most significant aspects of Nicholas' life were the actions that have come down through history which have shaped our modern-day version of Santa Claus.

You can find St. Nicholas at all the usual e-book retailers, including AmazonSmashwords, iBooks, and Kobo.

God bless you. Merry Christmas.

~JT~

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Advent is Here!

Finally, the Christmas season is underway: Sunday November 30 is the first Sunday of Advent. Advent consists of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. Then we (Catholics) celebrate the Octave of Christmas, which consists of the eight days following December 25.


Advent wreath
I love the season of Advent for the simple reason that it prepares us spiritually for Christmas and the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. For the first two Sundays we witness the lighting of royalty-purple candles at Mass (and at home). The pink candle is lit on the third Sunday of Advent. The last Sunday before Christmas the last purple candle is lit.


Why a Wreath?

From Catholic.org:

The wreath's symbolism of the advent (coming) of Light into the world is clear. The gradual lighting of the four candles, one on each Sunday of the Advent season, combined with the liturgical colors of the candles (purple is the penitential color used during Advent and Lent; rose is a liturgical color used only on Gaudete Sunday in Advent and Laetare Sunday in Lent) help to symbolize not only our expectation and hope in Our Savior's first coming into the world, but also in his Second Coming as Judge at the end of the world.

The wreath itself is also symbolic. The circle of evergreen in which the candles are placed represents everlasting life. The seedpods, nuts and cones used to decorate the wreath are symbolic of resurrection, and fruits represent the nourishing fruitfulness of the Christian life.


Purple, Pink. What's in A Color?


From Catholicculture.org 
The rose or pink candle is lit for the Third Sunday of Advent, also known as Gaudete (rejoice) Sunday. The name is taken from the entrance antiphon or Introit "Rejoice (gaudete) in the Lord always, again I say, rejoice." It is reminding us that the end of Advent is almost here, and we can hardly contain our joy.

Blessings for this Season of Advent. I hope that you will find it to be a time of deep contemplation and renewal of faith.

~JT~ 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

5 Authors Blog Hop - Day One!

5 Authors Blog Hop

Welcome to the first stop on the 5 AUTHORS BLOG HOPWe are five authors of children/young adult fiction banding together to spread the word about our work. 

In our group you'll discover an array of children's/young adult stories for the whole family to enjoy.

I hope you'll follow this week-long blog hop and that you'll enter daily for a chance to win an e-copy of each day's featured author. 

The authors' links will be listed at the bottom of each post.



* * * * * *

My entry for the 5 Authors Blog hop features my latest release written for 6-12 year-olds:


SHADOW THE GHOST DOG

Blurb:
Matt's mother is working late again. With supper over, the boy takes a bath while his father scrubs the burned food off the pans. To pass the time Matt asks his dad to tell him a scary story. Although he doesn't know any scary stories, he tells Matt the true tale of Shadow the ghost dog, and of the beloved pet's heroic exploits.


* * *

Who is Shadow?
Shadow is a loveable black Labrador Retriever who, like children's imaginations, takes on many forms. She's always loveable, always a scamp, and she's tireless in her efforts to please her master, young Matt - who desperately loves his pet and best friend in the whole world. Unfortunately, Shadow's unbounded desire to please often lands Matt into trouble, as readers will see in the next installment: SHADOW THE CYBER DOG.

I hope that readers, parents and grandparents will enjoy reading these sweet Shadow stories to young children, and that the stories will give young ones an incentive to read them for themselves again and again.

Shadow the Ghost Dog is available from Amazon.com, Smashwords.com, iBooks, B&N and all e-book retailers. As one reviewer graciously shared: "This is a great story for the old and young alike."

For a chance to win an e-book copy of SHADOW THE GHOST DOG, please leave a comment (and contact information) in the comments section below.

Make sure to check out the rest of our blog hop's authors for more chances to win a daily giveaway!

The blog hop continues tomorrow, Tuesday December 2with a stop at
Molly Harrison's Facebook page! Stop by and say hi!


Blog Hop Schedule
Monday December 1, JT Therrien 
Tuesday December 2, Molly Harrison 
Wednesday December 3, Ben Woodard
Thursday December 4, Charity Kountz
Friday December 5, David Walker

Thank you for participating in the 5 AUTHORS BLOG HOP. Good luck winning a copy! 

~JT~

Friday, November 21, 2014

Fear. Despair.

News from the food bank:

We're approaching the end of November and I'm beginning to see something new in some of our clients' eyes. Fear. Despair. Christmas is coming and there's not a thing they can do about it. They could push it to the back of their minds back in the summer, those hot July and August months, but now - especially with that November storm to remind us - there's no denying it any longer - Christmas is fast approaching.

What is for many of us a time of joy becomes tantamount to torture for someone raising a family with little else but food from the food bank and hopes for better times to come.

These parents are scared.

Some can barely pay their utility bills and winter hasn't started yet. They have no "extra" money for presents and they're reminded of this "failure" every time a toy commercial comes on television; every time one of their children asks if they can get whatever new toy their friends are asking for; every time they see a happy family sit down for a turkey dinner on a television show, or any time they walk into a store displaying Christmas decorations.

Real life is not television.

The majority of our clients are struggling physically, emotionally. And even if they're lucky enough to have a job, they will probably have to work on or around the Christmas holidays. Many won't have a chance to spend the day with their family. All the pressures that we all feel about getting that perfect gift, those feelings don't go away with poverty. In fact, they're worse, because for them, there's no chance the situation will get better anytime soon. Meanwhile, the days and weeks keep ticking away...

Please remember to help the less fortunate this time of year. For some, all they will have for Christmas will be whatever food/supplies they receive from food banks. Others will rely on us to get their children a few modest toys, most will be grateful for new mittens and hats.

You can help!

As for our food bank, a record number of people have already signed up to receive our annual Christmas baskets. For many, this will be the one of the rare occasions during the year that they will get something to pamper themselves with, some cologne, brand soap. Knowing the need, it's also a scary time for us. We need donations (food and cash). With a lot of luck, the school food drives will bring in much needed supplies just in time for Christmas.

 
food bank empty shelf
food bank empty shelf

The above are actual (not staged) pictures from our food bank - taken last week. And we are still a month away from Christmas!

So, as you plan your Christmas list, please set aside some food, toys, or money for the needy. No amount of money or new toy/gift is too small. Speaking from personal experience, all of our clients are extremely grateful for everything they get.

Also, please consider donating the precious gift of your time, if you have a day here or there or even a few hours to spare.

On behalf of food bank clients everywhere, I thank you for your generosity.

Thank you!

~JT~

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Review of To the Heights: A Novel Based on the Life of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati


To the Heights: A Novel Based on the Life of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati
To the Heights: A Novel Based on the Life of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati by Brian Kennelly

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



I've often wondered what my life would've been like by now had I followed, as a young boy, the call of God's voice. Erroneously believing that a life of pain and hardship lay in that direction, I hardened my heart and adopted a more "realistic" attitude toward my future.

To the Heights, Mr. Brian Kennelly's novelization of Bl. Pier Giorgio Frasseti's life, showed me what such a life devoted to caring and loving, begun at a very early age, would have looked like. Pier Giorgio simply and humbly believed that no one is ever too young to love and to care for others, especially for the marginalized, the poor and the disenfranchised.

I found the life of Bl. Pier Giorgio Frasseti incredibly inspiring. I admit that before reading To the Heights I had not heard of this popular third order Franciscan. I'm not offering this observation as either a criticism or a complement, but having read Kennelly's masterful writing I still do not know where facts end and fiction begins. It simply doesn't matter.

Mr. Kennelly does a great job fleshing out Pier Giorgio Frasseti's love for his family along with his passion for the Catholic Church; his pious devotions to praying the Rosary, attending daily Mass and spending time in adoration of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. It is important to show, especially to young Catholics, the rewards of a strong lived faith. This book does just that. To the question: given the current state of the world, how can I believe in a God? Mr. Kennelly replies, through Pier Giorgio Frasseti's humble actions and words: take account of all the graces in your life. How can you not believe in God?

As a Vincentian, I was heartened to read of Bl. Pier Giorgio Frasseti's work in the St. Vincent de Paul Society. The spirit of caring and charity rings true on every page. In a moving passage Pier Giorgio explains to someone seemingly indifferent to serving the poor, “There is a special light behind the poor and unfortunate, one we do not have, one that has nothing to do with riches and health. I urge you to see that light tonight, not with your eyes, but with your heart.”

There are many echoes of past saints and sanctifying grace in the young man's life: his fondness for hiking reminded me of Pope St. John Paul II's passion for the outdoors; Pier Giorgio's love of the poor and the sick, and the selfless acts of kindness with which he filled his days, brought to mind St. Vincent de Paul and St. Thérèse of Lisieux (especially in his love of flowers), and his limitless charity towards the poor is exemplary of St. Francis' concerns.

But Mr. Kennelly also shows us that the tenderhearted and pious young man was no stranger to physical confrontations. Pier Giorgio (1901-1925) lived through WWI and the chaotic political aftermath in Italy which gave rise to Mussolini's infamous fascist (and anti-Catholic) Black Shirts. Pier Giorgio did not back down from unjust confrontations, although he would only fight when all peaceful avenues had been exhausted. In reaction to the Black Shirts, he remarked, "It's a sad day when Catholics cower to evil and treat the teachings of their Church as if they are merely suggestions, abandoning them without the slightest sign of a troubled conscience.” How prophetic and timely this warning, as our Church continues to face relentless assaults from the secular world.

I truly enjoyed To the Heights and I will be recommending it to everyone for years to come. Mr. Kennelly not only understood what was in Bl. Pier Giorgio Frasseti's mind, he showed us the care, love and charity alive in the blessed's heart. We are grateful to such a talented author for revealing these graces. I also enjoyed the book's short chapters, and I liked that Mr. Kennelly includes some actual prayers in the text, introducing some of the Church's treasures, such as the Tedeum, to readers.

If you know someone, especially a young person concerned about the plight of the poor or injustice in the world, you must inspire them to action with a copy of To the Heights.

Note: This review was originally published at AmazingCatechists.com

To the Heights buy links:

From Tan Books 

At Amazon


View all my reviews

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Faith A Cautionary Tale New Release

I'm pleased to announce the release of my very scary short story - Faith: A Cautionary Tale, from Fine Form Press!



Faith by JT Therrien


Blurb
In this disturbing new adaptation of Little Red Riding Hood Faith gets up late for school one day and comes face-to-face with her mother's wrath. It's going to be a long day. The good news . . . it will be Faith's last.

* * *

Faith: A Cautionary Tale is my not-so-subtle attempt to show how fragile faith really is, and how it is constantly being threatened from all sides. In this short story I personified faith to show some of those relentless threats and how easily faith in someone can be abused.

Even though I write about vampires (see my Dr. Farkas paranormal romance series) I think this is the most horrifying story I have ever written!

So, just in time for Halloween, and horrifying enough to scare you on any given day, I present to you Faith. I hope readers will truly enjoy this short story.

Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy!

Faith: A Cautionary Tale can also be purchased for 99 cents from all e-book retailers, including Amazon, SmashwordsiBooks, etc.

~JT~

Friday, October 10, 2014

Mary's Left Hand

A long time ago I set one of my favorite works of art (Michelangelo's Pieta) as my computer wallpaper, so I've had plenty of opportunity to meditate on this work. But only recently did Mary's left hand get my attention. And so I thought I'd share my thoughts about it with you.

The Pieta is Michelangelo's interpretation of the taking of Christ's crucified body down from the cross and laying Him in his sorrowful Mother's waiting arms.

Pieta image from wikipediae.com

As you can see, at the physical level, Mary supports Christ's body (His dead weight) with her right hand. Her fingers dig into the flesh of His underarm. She seems unwilling to let go of His cooling body, unwilling to let go of the physical proof of her miraculous life- and history-changing fiat, her faithful response, "Be it done to me according to Thy Word" to the archangel Gabriel's request on God's behalf for her free will assent to bear His son, to bring forth the Word into our corruptible and sinful world.

In the sculpture, Mary's right hand is on the skin of her Son, but look closely at her left hand. Her hand is open. Who holds an open hand? A beggar. Someone who either wants something placed in it, or someone who has just released something. In the context of the Pieta, Mary shows both states. She needs to release her physical hold on her deceased Son because His body and blood, after all, belong to the physical world, a world full of trials and tribulations and, for both Jesus and Mary and all humans, the realm of much anguish and sorrow.

But Mary's hand is also open, because she wants to receive something.

What can Mary possibly receive at this point in her life? What could any grieving mother want that would make the nightmare of holding her deceased Son remotely bearable? She can receive the only thing that she as a loyal servant has ever asked of God: His graces.

Mary lived her whole life – from the moment of her immaculate conception onward – for Jesus. What does she have to live for now, now that her only begotten Son has experienced such a gruesome death? As a mother, she must be despondent. Vicious Roman politicians and legionaries (compelled by the religious leaders of the day) helped to kill her Son, the miracle of life that once issued from her womb. And Mary was helpless to stop them.

But with her open left hand (and bowed head) she humbly accepts God's will, acknowledging her Son's soul and divinity. Mary has always understood herself as part of God's unfathomable Providence, and she knows deep in her heart that the death of Jesus is also part of the unfolding of His will. Not an easy situation to find comfort in one's faith.

But it is precisely Mary's perfect, although human, response to these horrific events that make us Catholics recognize her as our intermediary to Jesus and His Father. We love Jesus' Holy Mother, not as a goddess to be worshipped, but as the only perfect human being who ever lived (after Adam and Eve's fall) someone who always acted with love and who is "full of Grace", just as we should all live.

Mary understood! She did not sin, and submitted her whole life, her entire being, body and soul, to God's will. And through this submission to God's will Mary has shown us the unsurpassed strength found in the true love and humility of her son. As St. Louis Marie de Monfort observed, "To Jesus through Mary". And St. Maximilian Kolbe reminded us: "Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin too much. You can never love her more than Jesus did."


Mary constantly reminds us that although we live in this temporary world, that we will indeed suffer much physical pain and many hardships, she herself has experienced all of these sorrows and understands our distress. We pray to Mary to intercede on our behalf to her Son, as she once did at the wedding at Cana. Why? Because, when it comes right down to it, what son has ever refused his mother's sincere request?

We need to open that closed hand and stop grasping at things. God will provide for all our needs, if only we ask Him.


~JT~

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Shadow the Ghost Dog - New Release

I'm pleased to release the first in my new children's series of short stories from Fine Form Press: Shadow the Ghost Dog!



Blurb:
Matt's mother is working late again. With supper over, the boy takes a bath while his father scrubs the burned food off the pans. To pass the time Matt asks his dad to tell him a scary story. Although he doesn't know any scary stories, he tells Matt the true tale of Shadow the ghost dog, and of the beloved pet's heroic exploits.


* * *

Who is Shadow?
Shadow is a loveable black Labrador Retriever who, like children's imaginations, takes on many forms. She's always loveable, always a scamp, and she's tireless in her efforts to please her master, young Matt - who desperately loves his pet and best friend in the whole world.

I hope that these stories will spur imaginations while fostering a love of family and the special relationship between children and their pets.

Shadow the Ghost Dog is available from Amazon.com, Smashwords.com, iBooks, B&N and all e-book retailers.

~ JT ~

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Review: Fill These Hearts: God, Sex, and the Universal Longing


Fill These Hearts: God, Sex, and the Universal Longing
Fill These Hearts: God, Sex, and the Universal Longing by Christopher West

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



This is one of my favorite Christopher West/Theology of the Body (TOB) texts. In Fill These Hearts the complex theological doctrine of the TOB is simplified and rendered readily accessible. The theme of the book is how the ideas of the Theology of the Body pervade our popular culture, including lyrics in popular pop songs. West begins each chapter by quoting from such pop groups as U2 and Steve Winwood (among many others) and then discusses in a very informal way central points in the TOB doctrine that can be found in movies, songs and art - namely, in all facets of contemporary culture.

The informal way that the TOB is presented leads me to believe that this book grew out of a series of presentations. The book also contains some of West's personal experiences (humbly presented as lessons from real life). These are some of the book's best assets.

For the reader familiar with basic TOB doctrines, West's book shows how down-to-earth and realistic a role this theology is meant to play in a devout Catholic's life.

Fill These Hearts should be read by anyone interested in how Saint John Paul II's Theory of the Body is an attainable theological way of life. For those unfamiliar with the TOB, I would recommend reading some of West's more academic books on the subject before reading this one, but Fill These Hearts is a must-have addition to any serious Catholic's bookshelf.



View all my reviews

Friday, September 05, 2014

Author Showcase: Jan Romes

For my Author Showcase blog feature I am not interviewing the authors. I am showcasing people who have so generously taken the time to promote my own promo tweets on Twitter. In some cases, I have read some of showcase author's books, but in many instances I have only retweeted their links. (Unfortunately, due to the glacial speed at which I read, I cannot possibly read everything I want to.)

This month I showcase the inimitable Jan Romes, an author whom I have read and enjoyed. Her writing consists of creative story plots  with  entertaining and sympathetic characters. So, it's my pleasure to introduce an author who "writes contemporary romance with sharp, witty characters who give as good as they get!"


Jan Romes



Keeping Kylee
Jan Romes





Jan Romes is a hopeless romantic who grew up in northwest Ohio with eight zany siblings. Married to her high school sweetheart for more years than seems possible, she is also a proud mom, mother-in-law, and grandmother. She likes to read all genres, writes witty contemporary romance, is a part-time fitness trainer, and enjoys growing pumpkins and sunflowers.


JAN'S LATEST RELEASE!
Millionaire Quinn Randel is a world-class philanthropist and world-class ass. He has a perfect life and doesn't want to muck it up with marriage and kids. And then he meets luscious Kylee Steele; barmaid, single mother and college student. Kylee makes him nervous with just a look and her kisses take him completely out of his comfort zone. Can he stop being a jerk to find love? Will the secret he carries close to his heart keep them apart? Kylee Steele let her guard down once for love and received a broken heart, but also a beautiful daughter. Things are finally starting to go right. She's a hard worker with her eye on the prize - a PhD in psychology. Smooth-talking Quinn Randel comes at her with intense bedroom eyes and an attitude that he can have her despite her efforts to shut him down. His relentless pursuit puts her heart, head and body at odds. She wants him but he's a risk she can't afford. She wants him but guys like him are not in it for the long haul. She wants him...


GIVEAWAY : GIVEAWAY : GIVEAWAY : GIVEAWAY : GIVEAWAY 

Jan is offering to give away an e-copy of her novel Married to Maggie: Texas Boys Falling Fast, Volume 1

Please leave a comment for a chance to win an e-copy of Married to Maggie.
Good luck!


Look for these other Jan Romes titles:
  • STELLA IN STILLETOS
  • STAY CLOSE, NOVAC!
  • KISS ME
  • And numerous other witty romances


* * *

JAN ON SOCIAL MEDIA

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I hope readers enjoy Jan's romances as much as I have!

~JT~

Friday, August 29, 2014

Summertime Part IV

Wrapping up the summer fun, this is Part IV, the conclusion to my short story "Summertime", from my Guppy Soup literary short story collection. Enjoy.

Guppy Soup by JT Therrien

Summertime
Part IV

The cantor's lilting voice filled the church.
"Ave Maria..." the hymn began, the resounding organ notes raised goosebumps on Eugenia's back and arms. She wept, in part because this was her special song, but mostly because she could not express the overwhelming joy any other way.
The cantor continued:
"Gratia plena, Dominus tecum,
"benedicta tu in mulieribus,
"et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Jesus,
"Sancta Maria, Mater Dei...,
Eugenia wore the elegant white-laced wedding dress her mother had sewn and worked on for so many months prior to the wedding. It felt snug and heavy and perfect on her shoulders. She was constrained and comforted. If love had a physical presence, she reflected, it was this dress.
Zachary stood beside her, straight-backed, debonair in his black suit and new black shoes. She had already seen the grey felt hat he had bought for the reception. Eugenia examined her fiancé's face; two deep oases of bright blue amid a tanned landscape of desert sand. A thin nose divided the two halves perfectly, the whole scene supported by his confident jaw.
Through the pale fabric of memory, Eugenia saw herself dabbing at a falling tear with the borrowed silk handkerchief clutched in her gloved hand.
Father Grady's compassionate voice asked her if she would like to become Mrs. Zachary Adams. "I do," she answered. Yes! A thousand times yes.
Eugenia almost fainted when Zachary said his own I do, so overcome with joy had she been.
And then they kissed for the first time as man and wife…
So long ago. They had been so young and so full of love. Eugenia turned over in her bed and suppressed a startled cry. She stared in wonderment at the man beside her and wondered if she was dreaming again. Zachary lay on top of the covers, his blue eyes serenely looking at her. Her heart raced, once again like that wonderful wedding day so many years ago. In her bedroom the world got a little bit dimmer, a little bit darker, except for Zachary's intense gaze, refusing to leave her face.
She was suddenly afraid and craved Zachary's reassurance.
"It's okay," he nodded. "It's almost time for you to come home, Genie."
"Oh, Zachary," mouthed Eugenia, another tear rolled down the side of her face and disappeared in the pillowcase. Like all those tears shed so long ago. She blinked away the rest of the tears. "It hurts, and I'm frightened, Zachary. Please take my hand and stay with me, even just for a little while?"
"Anything for you, Genie," he promised, gently squeezing her hand.

* * *

       Eugenia convulsed violently, in the process kicking the covers to the floor.
"Mother Adams? Can you hear me?" Fanny's cold, bony hands shook Eugenia's shoulders.
She gasped in agony, her eyes tightly closed in a futile attempt to ignore the present, the excruciating jostling of her body that threatened to keep her alive yet one more day.
"Hey! Mother Adams? Are you okay?" Fanny asked in a voice laden with syrupy concern.
Eugenia realized the growing darkness helped her to cope better with Fanny. She would need more patience if she was ever to actually love Fanny, but time now proved to be as elusive to hold on to as handfuls of water.
With the last of her strength Eugenia willed her eyes open, even though it meant having to look into her daughter-in-law's stone cold gaze one more time. She saw the look of disgust on Fanny's face but chose to ignore it. Time had become something too precious to be wasted on lost causes. Instead, Eugenia yearned to say goodbye.
"Martin? Where is Martin?"
Fanny's voice took on a sharp edge and her speech slowed, as if she were addressing a small child who was hard of hearing and somewhat slow. "I told you earlier, Mother Adams. Marty went out to get you some groceries. All right? Now, why don't you take another one of these little white pills and we'll see if you can't get back to sleep."
Fanny had already tapped a morphine pill out the plastic bottle when Eugenia's vision darkened, the world disappearing in a black fog. Fanny's squealing suddenly mutated into Ethel's voice.
"Eugenia? It's time for us to be going."
"Ethel...?" whispered Eugenia.
"No, Mother Adams. There's no Ethel here. All right? Now listen to me. This is Fanny. Do you hear me, Mother Adams? It's me, Fanny!"
Eugenia felt Fanny's claws dig into her shoulders again. Her head rolled limply from side to side when Fanny shook her.
In a panicked voice, Fanny shouted, "Mother Adams? Do you need a doctor? Do you want me to phone Dr. Frennette?"
"Ethel?" Eugenia said. She knew that wasn't right, but she was so confused. "Tell Martin that I love him very much, will you?" Eugenia mouthed the words silently, her breath feathering Fanny's cheek.
"What are you saying, Mother Adams? Mother Adams? What is it that you want me to tell Martin?"
Fanny's voice drifted away again, drowned by canned laughter pouring out of the black and white Philco television. Fred, still warning Ethel that if she knew what was best for her she would return that fur coat. Lucy, with her hair-brained scheme, would mix everything up and Eugenia and Zachary, who were now sitting side by side in matching pine rockers, would get a big laugh out of the ensuing chaos.
"Zachary." She stretched out a hand to touch her husband's shoulder.
He turned to his wife. "Yes, sweetheart?"
"It's good to see you again, Zachary. I've missed you for so long." Eugenia couldn't help dabbing at her eyes with the blue handkerchief.
"And I've missed you, too, Eugenia," he replied.
"Can we stay together, now?"
"We will be together forever, sweetheart. I promise."
Eugenia closed her eyes and sighed, combining the past and the future in a single last breath.

THE END

* * *

I hope you enjoyed the conclusion of "Summertime". 

If, after having read the four parts of "Summertime", you absolutely must read the rest of the Guppy Soup collection of short stories, it's available for Kindle on Amazon and for all other e-book formats at Smashwords and all online e-tailors.

~JT~

Monday, August 18, 2014

Summertime Part III

Still continuing the summer fun, please enjoy Part III of my short story "Summertime", from my Guppy Soup literary short story collection.

Guppy Soup by JT Therrien
Summertime
Part III

"Marty? Yeah, it's me. She's awake and she's calling for you. I don't know why. No, not yet, she's fine... healthy as a horse... I told you, she's fine! Look, Marty, I'm just giving you the damn message, okay?"
Eugenia unconsciously clenched her teeth. Fanny's voice intruded upon the memory of the accident, shattering it as if it existed on flimsy celluloid.
When Fanny's whine faded, Eugenia's jaw relaxed.
"I'm telling you, Ethel, you're taking that fur coat right back to the store!" Fred yelled at his wife.
"I'll do no such thing! Why, Lucy told me that it looked—"
"Lucy! Lucy's crazy! You listen to me, Ethel. You take back the coat or you'll be going to that wedding accompanied by your screwball friend instead of me!"
"Fred! How dare you talk that way about Lucy. She's my best friend!"
Laughter, so much laughter.
Eugenia smiled, knowing that Lucy would soon be involved. Then all heck would break loose for sure.
"Look. I don't care what you do or when you get back. How long till the end of the game? All right, I'll tell her... something... I don't know what! Look... don't worry about it. You sit and finish your beer, I'll be fine!" Fanny slammed the telephone receiver so hard into its plastic cradle that the ringer dinged.
A moment later she heard Fanny's heels clicking neatly on the hallway linoleum tiles outside her bedroom. Eugenia closed her eyes, feigning sleep.
Fanny entered the room and strode directly to Eugenia's bedside, her body casting a shadow on Eugenia's face. She nudged the bed with a fleshy thigh. "Mother Adams? Mother Adams?" Eugenia tried not to gag on the cloying scent of Chanel No. 5 when Fanny towered over her.
When she coughed she opened her eyes and stared into Fanny's sun-wrinkled face, so close it seemed to draw the very breath from her lungs. Fanny's bulbous nose was in direct competition with her black-rimmed eyes for attention. Lifeless, loveless spheres, they absorbed life and discharged indifference in return. If it was true that the eyes were mirrors of the soul... Eugenia shivered at the thought of Martin staring into those eyes for the rest of his life.
Fanny smiled at her, flashing bright white dentures that were too long in the front, creating a buck-toothed grin that contrasted with her fashionable hairstyle, the bleached-blond strands tucked behind oversized ears, making her long equine face appear longer and even less attractive than it already was.
"Are you cold, Mother Adams?" Without waiting for an answer, Fanny dropped another layer of sheets over Eugenia's body.
"Where's Martin?" Eugenia asked weakly, pawing ineffectively at the heavy layer to get it off her sweltering body.
Even though there wasn't anything humorous in what Eugenia had asked, Fanny laughed as she answered, "Oh, you know Marty. He's out and about. Gallivantin' like he does. I think he went to get you a few groceries. You know," she said casually, looking down at her glossy blood-red fingernails, "that's probably the reason why you had that spell. You don't eat too good, living by yourself and all, in this big old house full of cold drafts."
Eugenia inhaled deeply again, trying to draw oxygen in her lungs. She turned over, away from Fanny and her dreadful cloud of perfume.
Fanny harrumphed and walked over to the other side of the bed, blocking Eugenia's view of the old willow tree. She struck a match and lit a cigarette, blowing a puff of smoke over the bed and across the room.
Eugenia coughed lightly.
"You don't mind if I smoke, do you, Mother Adams?"
Fanny inhaled deeply, a moment later releasing the smoke above Eugenia's bed. "You know," her daughter-in-law continued, "you should really think about moving into Glenwood Manor, that new residence in town. Did Marty tell you that we went over there last week, just to have a look-see?" Fanny's pencil-thin eyebrows raised inquiringly as she waited for Eugenia's response.
Eugenia remained silent, trying not to panic as she struggled to draw a much-needed breath.
"Well, anyway, we went there. It was Marty's idea, you know. And it was just so wonderful! They have dancing on Saturday nights, and there's a big TV, and a large common room full of picture puzzles and games. And… if you moved there you wouldn't have to worry about cleaning this big old house or walking up and down those nasty stairs."
And you could finally lay claim to my house and move in, Eugenia considered.
Her breath sounded as raspy going in as it did coming out. She closed her eyes to mere slits, the whole world reduced to a slice of grey.
Fanny stretched her hand out. Eugenia thought she was examining her latest manicure, paid for with Marty's hard-earned money. Twelve hours a day, six days a week, the poor boy sweated in that smelting factory. Fanny turned her face toward the sunshine and closed her eyes. "God, I hate the sunshine. Look what it's doing to my skin."
As Fanny left Eugenia's bedroom, sinewy strands of cigarette smoke trailed behind her like a long veil, torn into ribbons.

TO BE CONTINUED...

* * *

I hope you enjoyed Part III of "Summertime". Look for Part IV in the next few weeks.

If you absolutely need to finish reading "Summertime" before I post the other parts, you can find Guppy Soup for Kindle on Amazon. The literary short story collection is also available on Smashwords for all other e-formats, including Kobo, ibooks, B&N, etc.

~JT~

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Review: A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories


A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories
A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories by Flannery O'Connor

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



I enjoyed this collection of odd short stories. I was, unfortunately, looking for Catholic-themed fiction, which was why O'Connor was on my to-be-read pile. Sadly, I fall into the camp of readers who do not see the Catholicism displayed (either textually or sub-textually) in any of the stories.

As an author whose fiction promotes the New Evangelization of the Church, along with central themes of St. John Paul II's Theology of the Body, I question O'Connor's methodology of choosing to show readers what some ignorant characters think the Catholic Church is about. I refer here to the last story in the collection: "The Displaced Person". Through my fiction, I prefer to explicitly show the doctrines of the Church. I believe that the message is more clearly presented that way.

O'Connor's "Catholicism" seems to be of the type Good vs Evil. Well, yes, that is a theme covered in the Catholic Faith, but it is also a theme that can be found in every good piece of literary fiction (and non-fiction, if we include the Bible and many other books).

When questioned about her fiction, O'Connor reportedly said that since she was a Catholic, she could write no other way. Just because one is a Catholic does not mean that everything one writes has Catholic overtones.

While I'm at it, I might as well say that the sentiments expressed (along with the southern dialect) distracted my reading. And this is coming from someone who absolutely loves William Styron's prose! We are only sixty years removed from most of these stories, and I think their voice is already dated.

These stories are definitely worth a read, however. They are interesting, and I guarantee you will never meet such a collection of bizarre characters in any other anthology.

My quest for entertaining Catholic fiction continues...

~JT~

View all my reviews

Monday, August 11, 2014

New Cover and Giveaway for The Betrothal

The Betrothal has recently received a make-over! Here is the new whimsical cover from Fine Form Press. You go, Lego couple!

The Betrothal by JT Therrien

Blurb:
When Benjamin takes Sarah out to celebrate their four-month dating anniversary, he wines and dines her at Calabash, London's best restaurant. After a wonderful meal, he has another surprise for her: his prepared lecture at the National Gallery, where he presents Sarah with a unique and entertaining interpretation of the love story between feisty Giovanna Cenami and Pieter Baes, Jan van Eyck's young assistant at the time van Eyck painted the famous Arnolfini Betrothal Portrait.


GIVEAWAY!
The Betrothal is always available at Smashwords and Amazon for 99 cents! You can leave a comment below to receive a free e-copy. I'll probably need your email address. :-)

~JT~

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Summertime Part II

Continuing the summer fun, please enjoy Part II of my short story "Summertime", from my Guppy Soup literary short story collection.

Guppy Soup by JT Therrien
Summertime
Part II

The wind blew dust in Eugenia's eyes, making her blink spasmodically. When she opened them again she found herself squinting up at a clear blue sky filled with bright sun. She had been told more than once that her green Irish eyes turned a shade lighter, sparkling like emeralds haloed with golden threads, when they reflected the brilliant sunshine, and that thought always made her happy to be outdoors in the summertime.
The car she rode in, a shiny blue convertible with whitewall tires, traveled swiftly down a country road, in the process spewing pink billows of dried clay into the air. She inhaled, enjoying the heady potpourri of fragrances conspiring, along with the colorful patchwork of wild flowers growing on the roadside, to overwhelm her.
She quickly glanced to her left, suddenly remembering, her heart skipping a beat. Eugenia gazed at the man sitting beside her in the driver's seat, a contented smile on his face.
Zachary!
Black hair, cut just like after his release from the military, following his stint with the Van Doos. Beneath the tanned skin, a square jaw and clean-shaven face that seemed to somehow exude both ruggedness and tenderness. Zachary's callused hands, hardened by years of difficult farm work, rested comfortably on the steering wheel as he guided the '57 Meteor down the serpentine roads. The wedding band glinted rays of sun. Yes, her Zachary was there beside her. Of course he would be.
"Zachary," Eugenia sighed, love and devotion warming her voice.
"What are you smiling at, sweetheart? Surely not at my ugly mug?" Zachary glanced at her.
She returned his smile. His gazes made her feel like a treasured prize freshly won at the county fair.
"It's just that..." Eugenia's voice became somber as she added, "I've missed you so much, Zachary." The rushing wind tossed strands of Eugenia's hair into her eyes and she was momentarily surprised at its length and color; the dark henna of her youth, grown out over her shoulders. She marveled at Zachary's crew cut, obstinately resisting the onrush of air in the convertible.
Eugenia leaned over and grasped her husband's free hand. She gave it a tender squeeze before resting her head on the leather seat and closing her eyes against the pressing wind.
The car went over a small rise in the road and she exclaimed, "Ooh... That tickled my tummy!" She laughed easily and slid closer beside him, feeling the warmth of his body through her dress.
She spotted a crow sitting atop a fence post and a feeling of dread darkened her mood. She ignored it when Zachary smiled, perfectly beautiful.
"You still haven't told me where we're going." Eugenia's small voice was all but lost in the roar of the wind and the rumble of the car's powerful engine.
"Port," Zachary replied, keeping his eyes fixed on the road.
"Port?"
"Port Colborne. To look at the boats sailing through the canal," he added after they had driven a few miles further down the scorched road.
"The boats!" Eugenia exclaimed, clapping her hands in jubilation. "Oh, I just love to watch those big ships squeeze through the canal. It's been such a long time since we've gone to see them!" She tugged on the sleeve of Zachary's white shirt. "Remember the last time? We spent the whole afternoon just watching the huge, grey ships float by on their way to the east coast? Or was it the west coast?"
"It was both. They go both ways, Genie." Zachary laughed, his deep baritone making her blush at her forgetfulness.
They rode in silence, happy to be in each other's company, until Eugenia asked, "When are we stopping for lunch?" She glanced at the Lady Timex he had given her for her twenty-second birthday, hardly a month ago. Soon after she'd announced the news. He had it inscribed: To keep track of the seconds when we're apart. "It's going on quarter to twelve and I'm getting a bit hungry. How 'bout you?"
"I'm hungry enough to eat—" Zachary stopped talking. The sudden change of expression on his face made Eugenia turn to face the front.
A black and white Holstein lumbered across the road. As if running out of momentum, it stopped suddenly and blocked their path.
"Hold on!" Zachary stomped on the brake pedal, but...
"Oh, Zachary..." whispered Eugenia, feeling the familiar tears roll down her cheeks.

TO BE CONTINUED...

* * *

I hope you enjoyed Part II of "Summertime". I'll be continuing the story over the next few weeks.

If you absolutely need to finish reading "Summertime" before I post the other parts, you can find Guppy Soup for Kindle on Amazon. The literary short story collection is also available on Smashwords for all other e-formats, including Kobo, ibooks, B&N, etc.

~JT~

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Summertime, Part I

For some summer fun, I'm posting my short story "Summertime", from my Guppy Soup literary short story collection.

Guppy Soup by JT Therrien

Summertime 
Part I

Bright sunlight filtered into Eugenia's bedroom as she lay in bed dying. Her aged and decaying body shook with each labored breath. At ninety-six, this was surely her final battle with cancer. She couldn't sleep, hadn't slept in weeks: the sharp pain in her lungs too insistent to ignore. And what would happen when she couldn't feel the pain anymore?
She groaned, softly pressed her ear against the wallpaper, a field of repeating pink roses framed with a spray of white Baby's Breath. If she listened hard enough she heard Fred and Ethel Murtz, arguing about plumbing or a leaky pipe. Eugenia was unable to make out any of the details.
"Fred and Ethel," she whispered, pushing stale air through parched lips.
"What's that, Mother Adams?"
Fanny's high-pitched voice felt like an ice pick piercing Eugenia's eardrum. Eugenia groaned again. She pressed her fingers against her temples in the hopes of averting further agony. Fred and Ethel's voices faded away, dispersed by the sickening throbs in her head. Through a veil of rising nausea, Eugenia reluctantly let them go.
Even though Fanny had been married to Martin for twenty-one of her son's fifty-four years on Earth and, as the mother-in-law, Eugenia had made the required effort to welcome the loud and selfish woman into the family, admittedly mostly in the beginning, Eugenia had never gotten used to Fanny's grating voice. Whenever her daughter-in-law spoke Eugenia's skin would crawl, making her feel like a nervous cat coiled, ready to pounce. Upon further consideration, she had never taken much of a liking to her daughter-in-law's given name, either. Who in their right mind would name their daughter "Fanny"?
Eugenia sighed deeply, straining to lift the layer of oppressive hot air weighing her down and suffocating the life out of her. There was a time, a long, long time ago, when the hot summer weather had been much more enjoyable. Eating sweet, juicy watermelons, and swimming in the cool running waters of a shallow creek. That's what summers were all about.
"Round up my son for me, will you?" Eugenia asked Fanny without raising her head off the pillow.
Long, thin motes of dust, like wispy marble columns, swayed in the sunlight as Fanny harrumphed and left to fulfill her errand. Not one to be told what to do, that one, thought Eugenia as she chuckled to herself. Too bad. She'll have the run of the house soon enough.
She closed her heavy eyelids and waited for Martin. Slowly, tentatively at first, as if loitering at the frayed edges of consciousness for their cue, Fred and Ethel returned. The subject under discussion, a full-blown argument really, was a wedding. And a fur coat. Yelling, threats and loud tin-can laughter periodically drowned out the angry couple's voices.
Eugenia laughed.

TO BE CONTINUED

* * *

I hope you've enjoyed this post. I'll be continuing the story over the next few weeks.

If you absolutely need to finish reading "Summertime" before I post the other parts, you can find Guppy Soup for Kindle on Amazon. The literary short story collection is also available on Smashwords for all other e-formats, including Kobo, ibooks, B&N, etc.


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