Thursday, May 28, 2009

Souls at Rest by Charlotte Ostermann

Souls at Rest is a profound exploration of the meaning and practice of Sabbath for contemporary Catholic readers. The restful, poetic tone of Souls at Rest provides a counterpoint to the speed and noise of today’s world – a cure for its primary woes. The ancient, worldwide understanding of cyclical rest is blended with the formal Jewish Sabbath law, then made intensely new and relevant in the light of the Eucharist. Readers are invited to cultivate interior freedom by designing a contemplative, personal, non-legalistic Sabbath practice. Avoiding a bullet-point, sound-bite style in favor of a layered, conversational approach, Ostermann draws forth a genuine, meditative response from her reading audience. Book discussion groups are sure to appreciate the truly thoughtful questions in the Study Guide. If you think Sabbath is a dry, old, narrow – even over-done – subject, think again. In Souls at Rest we find a Sabbath refreshed by sacramental understanding, shining new light into surprising corners – evangelism, education, poetry, and community, for instance. Even the experienced Sabbath-keeper will find some new insights in Souls at Rest.

Direct order link:

What inspired you to write the book?

Years before I wrote, I encountered Josef Pieper's "Leisure, the Basis of Culture", and began to yearn for the capacity for leisure he describes. Easier said than done, however! Not until 2005, when my family was blessed by an extended sabbatical in Europe, did I experience the deep restedness and wholehearted comprehension of the source of this capacity - the Eucharistic Sabbath. Yes, we were Catholic, and yes, I was prayerful - even involved in a comtemplative Carmelite studies group - yet God apparently needed for me to have nine months of 'be still and quiet and wait on the Lord' before I could fully grasp His message for me! My book is an attempt to give Sabbath back to the Catholic soul, and interest others in the kind of cultural change this makes possible.

What was hardest about writing it?

The process of completely rethinking all my notes and proto-books and homeschool workshop notes and how-to-change-the-world thoughts with Sabbath as the central, unifying core of it all was wonderfully difficult. I say 'wonderfully', because the Holy Spirit seemed to help and guide at every step, inviting me to let my whole being be 'reorganized' by this one theme. We have five kids still at home, and hit the ground running when we returned from Europe, so finding time seems impossible, but God made a 'way where there is no way' (as He says in Isaiah) for this book to happen.

What do you love most about it?

I love the fact that I've seen my own priest respond to it so enthusiastically. He tells people he's a 'convert' to real Sabbath rest, and I've heard it in his preaching and seen it in his much more relaxed demeanor. Also, I love the fact that I still am reading and responding to it - needing its message as much as anyone else, and real-izing it daily more and more.

What do you hope readers will get from it?

Karina, I long for people to get even a hint of what is possible in their interior life - the life of the soul, mind, creativity - if they will enter into the the Sabbath rest of God. The Eucharist is ALL, and Central - the sine qua non - but, as I point out in SAR, it is like a jewel that needs, or is beautified and realized more fully, in the setting of Sabbath.

What's next for you?

I have a 'plethora of projects'! Next on this front is the rest of the Sabbath story. In "Souls at Work" I want to write about the development of interior freedom and the capacity to bear tension - the struggle to work out our salvation that is another facet of the soul at leisure. In "Souls at Play" - the last in this series, I want to discuss the cultivation of desire and imagination, the risks of creativity, and the need for a foundation in truly human leisure to support the promulgation of beauty in arts, relationships, cultural change, and evangelization. There is a taste of each of these next books in SAR. I have two children's books written - beautiful stories that need a publisher/midwife! I'd like to self-publish a collection of my poetry (most already published individually) with essays reflecting and expanding upon them as we do within my "Living Poem Society". I am writing "Sabbath Simplified" for those without the wherewithal to
read/study/question on the level of SAR. I have a fun book going out as a free serial just for the delight of sharing it: Elizabeth of the Epiphany - about a year in the life of Epiphany...a liberative arts university.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Seven Archangels: Annhiliation by Jane Lebak

Heaven is forever---or so we thought.What would happen if Satan could obliterate a soul?

All angels have known since their creation that they cannot be killed--but now the enemy is convinced the impossible can be done. Demons abduct and are able to tear apart the Archangel Gabriel's soul, leaving Heaven in stunned grief. If angels can be killed, where is God's justice? Can Gabriel be saved from the void? How can Satan be prevented from achieving a final victory against God by stopping others from loving Him forever?

Jane Lebak's breathtaking novel, Seven Archangels: Annihilation, is a storm that encompasses all Heaven and Hell before it's over, a question of what it means to be eternal, what it means to die forever, and what it means to love someone when you know it might cost you everything.

1. Why did you write this book?

I had written it the first time in 1989 in ten days as a reaction against a toxic professor who seemed to be destroying my creativity. I rewrote it in 2005 because I knew I could do better now, and because there was so much good stuff even in that horrid first draft.

2. What was your favorite part to write?

Not my favorite, but the most intense part for me to write was when Beelzebub "took care of the problem" with Mephistopheles. I set the kids up with the TV, started a playlist on my iPod, and the next thing I knew, the kids were coming back upstairs and the scene was written. I was mentally gone through that whole writing.

3. What was most challenging?

The most challenging part to write was Remiel's gradual loss of her sanity. It was difficult to see her slipping away as she dealt with Gabriel's situation at her own expense.

4. What do you hope readers get from it?

I would hope the readers are as entranced by angels as I am and answer the question for themselves of how involved angels are in our everyday lives.

5. What's next for you?

My current work in progress is about the growing pains of a string quartet. It's quite mundane, but just as fun.

For more information:
Jane's weblog:

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I Loved Thy Creation by Maya Bohnhoff

This collection of short fiction is woven together by the theme that creation is driven by a pre-existing love of the creature and of the very act of creation itself.

The stories in this volume were originally published in the United States and in the United Kingdom in such magazines ans Analog Science Fiction, Amazing Stories, Century and Interzone.

All the stories are speculative in nature, and range from science fiction to fantasy to magic realism. They are bound together by the fact that they contain references to the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh in the form of inspiration, characters, and themes.


I Loved Thy Creation
contains stories that made it to the major science fiction magazines, and it's easy to see why. Maya has a direct and engaging style, writing stories that are deep without being heavy-handed, complex without being convoluted, and always a good read. Even when my own experiences made it hard to believe the premise of the stories ("Hand Me Down Town" and "Heroes" come to mind), I enjoyed the stories and appreciated the sentiments behind them.

I Loved Thy Creation
has a little for everyone. I enjoyed "Marsh Mallow" for its imaginative worldbuilding and well-thought out aliens; "A Tear in the Mind's Eye" makes a very sound case for genetics vs. environment in mental illness; and as a military wife and mother, the antics of the children in "Home is Where" made a good reminder that I need to pay attention to my kids' feelings about moving again!

Maya follows the Baha'i faith, and is quite frank in her introduction that these stories stem from her beliefs. Sometimes, her religion is central to the story, like in "The White Dog." Don't expect to find preaching, however; the faith in her stories flows very naturally. "The White Dog" made me tear up, so touching was the story. As the last story, it left me with a warm, satisfied, wistful feeling that
my favorite books usually do.

I've loved Maya's creations since she contributed "A Cruel and Unusual Punishment" to my anthology, Infinite Space, Infinite God. I'm glad to see more of her stories brought together in a collection and I encourage sci-fi readers to check out I Have Loved Thy Creation.

To order:

Monday, May 18, 2009

Catholic Writers Conference Live Aug 5-7

(I'm helping organize this event. Should be terrific!)

Catholic Writers Guild, Catholic Marketing Network Hold Writers’ Conference

Somerset, NJ--The Catholic Writers' Guild, in conjunction with the Catholic Marketing Network, will host its first-ever Catholic Writers’ Conference LIVE! at the Doubletree Hotel & Executive Meeting Center, Somerset, NJ, from Aug 5-7, 2009. The conference will host publishers, editors and authors from all aspects of the Catholic writing world, including magazines and devotionals, novels and educational materials. The panel discussions, presentations and workshops will cover all aspects of writing including generating query letters, crafting a good story, worldbuilding, marketing finished works and more. In addition, editors from several Catholic publishers will be on-hand to share their wisdom and hear authors propose their works.

The Catholic Marketing Network's International Trade Show, held at the neighboring Garden State Exhibition Center (, will serve as the exhibition floor for the writers’ conference, giving writers a chance to browse the booths, meet with publishing companies, pitch their books to publishers, have their work critiqued at a private critique session and chat with the published authors at book signings at the Catholic Writers’ Guild booth. CMN will also be hosting daily Masses and rosaries at the Doubletree Hotel, and Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament at the exhibition center. Other CMN events including the seminars and inspirational talks scheduled for Tuesday, August 4 will be held at the Doubletree.
Presenters for the writers’ conference include: author/Sophia Press submissions editor Regina Doman (Angel in the Waters); Pauline Books and Media Editor Sister Maria Grace, CEO of Ignatius Press Mark Brumley (How Not to Share Your Faith), Susan Brinkmann editor of Canticle Magazine, Lisa Wheeler, Executive Vice President of the Maximus Group (PR and marketing firm for The Passion of the Christ), author/Ascension Press publisher Matt Pinto (Do Adam and Eve Have Belly Buttons?), Claudia Volkman, General Manager of Circle Press, Tom Hoopes, Executive Editor of the National Catholic Register, and mystery author John Desjarlais (Bleeder) among others.

"This is a fantastic opportunity for both writers and publishers to connect," said science fiction writer and Catholic Writer's Guild President, Karina Fabian. "The CMN has been especially generous in offering to share it facilities and programs with us, which really enhances the quality of the conference for attendee and presenter.”

Conference Coordinator and CWG Vice President Ann Lewis adds “There will be a lot of good information, encouragement and learning opportunities for Catholic authors at our live conference. Our goal is to help good Catholic writers to get published. The world needs their words.”

The Catholic Writers’ Guild has hosted two highly successful on-line conferences.
To register or for more information, go to Registration is $80 through June 1st, $99 through July 31st and $110 at the door.

CSFF Presents: Tuck by Stephen Lawhead

"Pray God our aim is true and each arrow finds its mark."

King Raven has brought hope to the oppressed people of Wales--and fear to their Norman overlords. Along the way Friar Tuck has been the stalwart supporter of King Raven--bringing him much-needed guidance, wit, and faithful companionship.

Deceived by the self-serving King William and hunted by the treacherous Abbot Hugo and Sheriff de Glanville, Rhi Bran is forced to take matters into his own hands as King Raven. Aided by Tuck and his small but determined band of forest-dwelling outlaws, he ignites a rebellion that spreads through the Welsh valleys, forcing the wily monarch to marshal his army and march against little Elfael.

Filled with unforgettable characters, breathtaking suspense, and rousing battle scenes, Stephen R. Lawhead's masterful retelling of the Robin Hood legend reaches its stunning conclusion in Tuck. Steeped in Celtic mythology and the political intrigue of medieval Britain, Lawhead's trilogy conjures up an ancient past while holding a mirror to contemporary realities. Prepare for an epic tale that dares to shatter everything you thought you knew about Robin Hood.

Stephen R. Lawhead’s Web site -

*Participants’ Links:
Brandon Barr
Jim Black
Keanan Brand
Rachel Briard
Grace Bridges
Valerie Comer
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Alex Field
Beth Goddard
Todd Michael Greene
Ryan Heart
Timothy Hicks
Christopher Hopper
Joleen Howell
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Dawn King
Terri Main
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Caleb Newell
Eve Nielsen
John W. Otte
John Ottinger
Epic Rat
Steve Rice
Crista Richey
Hanna Sandvig
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Robert Treskillard
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler
Jill Williamson

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Review Wrap-Up for Magic Mensa and Mayhem

I'd like to thank all the folks who participated in the Magic, Mensa and Mayhem blog tour in April. Because of house-hunting, moving and a sudden (and paying!) assignment, I didn't get a chance to post these earlier, but here are the reviews from the tour.

Reviews Mad About Magic, Mensa and Mayhem

"This book will take you back to times long past, when a bedtime story had you begging for 'just one more chapter'." Joyce Anthony in Books and Authors

"Ms. Fabian peppers her story with wry social commentary and puns galore, assuring a chuckle on almost every page... I’d recommend this book on its entertainment merits alone, but something else struck me as I finished the last few pages. Underneath all the yuks and puns and magical farce is a very profound story of personal transformation..." Frederation

"... thoroughly entrancing... this book is just plain fun. Lots of humor, weird and wonderful imaginings, and a cast of characters that'll have you splitting your sides." Peter Grant

"good, clean fun. If you love dragons, elves, pixies and other Faerie folk, make sure to put this on your list of books to read." Penny Ehrenkranz

"This book is an inspired read. Fabian writes with a quick witted fresh approach that will keep you thoroughly entertained and rolling on the floor laughing. You have to pay attention – you don’t want to miss any of the humorous one-liners or groan-worthy puns in this truly enjoyable tale." Ask a Cybrarian Book Reviews

"In true intellectual style, many topics are sideswiped, considered, and passed by on the helter-skelter ride to the climax - issues such as temporal philosophy, interspecies morality, the Inner Child, and even semi-professional counseling as Vern comforts a failed wannabe actor. ... a tall tale destined to become a part of modern legend if the reading public has any sense, and a real-world fantasy with a kick that's as funny as it is preposterous." Grace Bridges

"If you would like a vacation from the real world into a land of pure silliness, this is the book for you." Cindy Emmet Smith

"I DID indeed laugh out loud while reading this book. It's witty, sassy, cynical, and extremely funny. If you're looking for a light-hearted read, full of laughs, puns, and fun, then look no further than Magic, Mensa, and Mayhem!" Caprice Hokstad

"A wonderful mix of gut-wrenching laughter and endearing characters, I've added Ms. Fabian to my must read author list. Well done!" Brynna Curry

"The strength of Fabian's writing lies in creating memorable characters populating improbable plots that seem perfectly credible as you read them. She has the unique ability to wrap a parody around a strong believable plot. ... I can recommend this book heartily, but be warned: Don't read it in a library!" Wayfarer's Journal

For more about Karina:

Friday, May 15, 2009

Cry of the Cuckoos by John Cargile

The cuckoo bird is a master of deception, fooling other species in their race to copy their chirping begging call. Donald Drummond and his wife, Anne, chase after the killer of his father, Henry Drummond, but find themselves up against a radical right wing supremacist organization called the Society of Southron Patriots and, like the cuckoo bird, deception is the Society’s mission. The couple unravels a terrorist plot aimed to kill Washington dignitaries at the Super Bowl and delegates at the United Nations. Donald, a retired news reporter, and Anne, a retired school teacher, unfold the mystery leading them on a wild chase from Alabama to Texas. And one of the many murder suspects is Donald’s biological mother, Betty Jo Duke, who he only just met after his father’s death. Donald and Anne are hired as informants by the FBI to unravel the mysterious case and they get a lot more than they bargained for.

Interview with Author

1) Why did I write the book? My late mother, whom the book is dedicated to, and I were working on a historical fiction novel involving her and my father. She gave up custody of me when I was 1 1/2 years old. My father raised me. I saw her only in the summers. After she died, I felt compelled to write a mystery novel. The similarities in my novel somewhat characterize part of the book's mystery. It was not meant to be a mystery until after she died.

2) What was my favorite part? The main character in the book finally unites with his mother for the first time. She is a suspect in his father's murder. This is 61 years later when they meet one another. The first eye-to-eye meeting between the two was awesome.

3) What was the hardest part to write? My father was nothing like the one in the book. He was the exact opposite. It was actually hard because it felt like I was writing about my father and lying about him. I could go into that a little deeper in an lengthy interview, but you would have to read the book first.
4) What do you hope people will get from this? The theme of the book is deceit and foregiveness. No matter what someone else has done to you, you have to be able to forgive, turn the other cheek.

5) What is next for me? I am writing a sequel. The main character is wealthy, getting over a brain stroke. He becomes a New Age writer. The main character will follow his son and new daughter-in-law as they journey into a flawed relationship. His daughter-in-law is actually a half-cousin and the couple have a retarded son. It puts pressure on their marriage, but father is there, and Father Knows Best.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Dark End of the Spectrum by Anthony Policastro

DARK END OF SPECTRUM will make you think twice before turning on your cell phone or PDA!

DARK END OF THE SPECTRUM is a frighteningly plausible and headline ripping tale of the real threats that loom in cyberspace and beyond with a Michael Crichton realism. Based on the author's years of research into the hacker culture.

DARK END OF THE SPECTRUM is a thriller that will connect with everyone with a cell phone, PDA or wireless device.

When a group of digital terrorists known as ICER take over the US power grid and the cell phone network, they give the government an ultimatum - bomb the borders of Afghanistan and Pakistan with nuclear weapons to put an end to Al-Quada or they will start downing commercial airliners. When the government refuses, ICER destroys most of the downed aircraft in airports all over the country. When ICER sends a pulse that will kill most people on the East Coast, only security expert Dan Riker can stop them, but ICER has kidnapped Dan's family. Will Dan save his family or will millions die?

Interview by David Talman (posted at author's request):

1) I like to start with a bit of background information, could you share with us how you became interested in writing?

ASP: My writing career started when I was 11 years old and submitted a story to Reader's Digest. It was promptly rejected since Reader's Digest did not print fiction. My first rejection letter. In my freshman year in college, the writer’s itch started again and I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I worked on the college newspaper – the rest is history.

2) When you first started out writing, did you believe that it would become such a major part of your life? And on the same note, from concept to completion, about how many hours do think you put into your novels?

ASP: Yes, I knew writing would be hard, but when you love what you do nothing is difficult. I devoured every book on writing I could find in the library and in bookstores. One of my BAs in college was Creative Writing. I also have rejection letters from over 400 agents. So it took a great deal of time and effort.
As for how many hours I put into my novels…well it’s more like years. I would say a good two years maybe three for each novel. What I know now, I could probably do a novel in six months provided I wrote everyday, but it is not easy.

3) You have two mysteries out at the moment, what are they? And where we could find them?

ASP: Absence of Faith is about a small town with highly religious residents who begin having negative near-death experiences and who believe they went to hell, especially when they wake up with burnt skin. They lose faith in everything and chaos ensues. Matters get worse when a Satanist cult seizes the opportunity and wins over residents.

Dark End of the Spectrum is about a group of well-organized and well-funded hackers who take over the US power grid and cell phone network. They demand that the US bomb the borders of Afghanistan with nuclear weapons to put an end Al Quada. When the government refuses, they destroy most of the commercial aircraft in airports all over the country. Security expert Dan Riker is the only one who can stop them, but they kidnapped his wife and daughter. When the hackers decide to kill millions on the East Coast with a directed energy pulse, Dan has to choose between saving his family or millions of lives.

Both books are available in Kindle format on and in other ebook formats from Absence of Faith is available in print from Dark End of the Spectrum will be available in print shortly.

4) Dark End of the Spectrum is a high tech thriller, how much research went into the story line? And how did you go about garnering it?

ASP: I was a project manager for Ericsson so my background is in wireless technology and mobile phones. I still test phones and accessories for Sony Ericsson and that exposes me to the latest advances in wireless technology. This exposure gave me the ideas for much of plot – I just extended the technology and imagined things it couldn’t do today. I also read as many books I could on hackers and cyber threats, and I used the Internet for other pieces of information I needed to write a plausible novel.

5) Who are the main characters in Dark End of the Spectrum and who did you model them after?

ASP: Dan Riker is one of the main characters, a thirty something, discontented computer security expert who doesn’t fit into the geek stereotype. He is what every geek would like to be both socially and professionally.

Harald Friedheld is the other main character, a fifty something technology visionary with top-secret connections to the right people and the President. Harald is how I think most people fifty and over should be…wise, future-oriented and ready to embrace change. Most people fifty and up are stuck in the past and use their age as an excuse to limit their possibilities.

I guess you could say he’s like Steve Jobs in his thinking only. All my other characters are composites of people I know, people I worked with, and sometimes strangers who made an impression on me.

6) How plausible is the plot line, do you think it is just a matter of time before hackers really try something like ICER did in Spectrum?

ASP: Absolutely. I monitor the Internet for news stories on hackers and cyber threats and there are eight to ten new stories every day. Most of the articles report that cyber crime and hacking are on the rise. Identity theft, stolen credit card numbers, and shutting down websites are just the tip of the iceberg. I believe hackers will take over one or more infrastructures like the power grid or communications and wreak havoc on our society. And if you don’t think it’s possible, read the story Wired magazine ran in 2007 about how hackers forced tiny Estonia to shut down the country’s entire Internet to prevent further damage to their infrastructure.

7) Your newest release is Absence of Faith, what’s the story line behind it? And who are the main characters?

ASP: My wife and I were discussing what would happen if people lost all hope, all their faith and the result was Absence of Faith, a modern day medical mystery thriller. Several people suffer negative near death experiences in a small, highly religious town causing many of its residents to lose their faith, and their belief in the future. When some residents wake up with burnt skin, they believe they went to hell and that God has abandoned them. Matters get worse when a local cult uses the opportunity to promote their beliefs and win over the town residents. The result is an absence of faith. You can read more about this on my blog, Writing is About Putting Yourself to Words.

The heroine of the story is a twenty-something woman, Chantress, who discovers what she is capable of when looking in the face of pure evil. Another main character is Doctor Carson Hyll, a thirty-something intern who never loses his faith and believes the near-death experiences are a medical problem, not a spiritual one.

8) When you are creating your characters do you build complete back histories for them? What scripting methodologies do you use when planning out your novels?

ASP: For characters, I put their entire descriptions on index cards from their physical attributes to their idiosyncrasies and their personalities. This way when I’m writing about a particular character, I refer to the index cards so the characters don’t do or say something out of character. As for character histories, I make them up as the plot goes forward. I ask why a character would do something and weave a history that would explain his or her actions.

As for planning the novel, I start with a single premise, a what if question. The more I think about the question, the more plot begins to form and I write it down freely and quickly as the thoughts enter my mind so I don’t lose it. I don’t worry about form or organization I just write. It’s really stream of consciousness writing. I place what I wrote in the first chapter and begin writing above it. As I start the chapter, my thoughts and ideas are just below it and I refer to it often as I write the book. As I finish a chapter, I move the information to the next one. When I’m not near a computer and get ideas, I use a voice recorder that is built into my cell phone.

9) The written word can be very powerful, as you noted in one bio that I read. Words are immortalized in books and so are their creators and their beliefs and doctrines. What mark would you like to leave behind with your works?

ASP: I would hope my books help people live better lives, better understand the universal and individual problems we all suffer through, and at the same time be entertained. I would hope they would come away with an epiphany of some sort, a revelation that helps them solve a problem, or makes them happy, or just gives them a sense of peace. Absence of Faith is about hope…hope in the now, hope in the future and that we can never lose our faith in whatever we hold most dear.

Dark End of the Spectrum is more analytical and addresses a serious and growing problem we face as we become more technologically advanced. It shows that no matter how good technology gets, family and love and people are more important than machines and virtual realities. It also shows the negative side of technology when it is used for evil.

10) I like to end all my interviews with one common question, what’s next for you? Where do you see yourself a year from now, five years from now and beyond?

ASP: In a year, I hope to have two more novels published. I’m writing my fourth novel now and I plan to revive my first novel that I wrote twenty years ago.
In five years or less, I hope to be a full time writer. I think all writers of fiction hope they can make a living writing, but the reality is that only a handful make it full time. But I will continue to reach for that goal.

As always whether it is today or ten years from now, I hope to be a writer that is recognized for inspiring people to new heights, for illuminating new paths of understanding and for making the world a better place.

Visit Anthony's Website:

Monday, May 04, 2009

Savanna's Castle by Martha Hite

Every week the castle drew Savannah like magic.

She longed to have it.

Over the centuries the castle drew others, too. No one until now could see the truth or had the strength of heart to act. Making an unselfish choice is hard, especially for a little girl. Savannah has to decide between having what is her heart's desire, or doing the right thing for someone she doesn't even know.

Learning the secret of the castle pushes Savannah in a difficult direction. Is the secret real or just a story? Should she listen to her heart or her mind?

Written for children in kindergarten through third grade, 'Savannah's Castle' tells the story of a courageous little girl and her moral choice. Set in the modern world, this children’s fantasy is a new look at an old problem.

See the Video: