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:


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,, 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! 


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!


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

To the Heights buy links:

From Tan Books 

At Amazon

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