Monday, November 29, 2010

St. Andrew Christmas Novena

November 30, the feast of St. Andrew,  is the day to begin the Saint Andrew Christmas Novena.  Try praying it together as a family.  This novena is prayed 15 times a day until Christmas. It can be prayed all at once or broken up throughout the day.  This novena asks God to grant our request in honor of the birth of Jesus.

Saint Andrew Christmas Novena

Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God! to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of His Blessed Mother. Amen.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thursday Night Pizza: Father Dominic's Favorite Pizza Recipes

Okay, this is on my Christmas wish list! I love making homemade pizza, so it's right up my alley! This is not a book review from me*, since I haven't read the book yet. But judging from the information from the publisher, below, I think it looks like a winner! In Olivia's Gift, Olivia and her dad spend a lot of time together cooking in the kitchen, and homemade pizza is one of their specialties! Mmmmmmm.......

After twenty years of testing recipes on his fellow monks, Father Dominic of public television's "Breaking Bread" offers a surprising variety of pizza recipes sure to please every palate. With his customary detailed and easy-to-follow directions, Father Dom shows you how to make the perfect crust (the real key to first-rate pizza), flavorful homemade sauces, and savory toppings. You'll discover a delicious reduced-fat sausage that is both easy and economical, the way to avoid soggy crusts, and a magic trick to have warm, crusty bread waiting for your breakfast the morning after pizza night. Recipes include six different doughs, seven sauces, and dozens of pizzas like Pesto and Prosciutto Pizza, Muffaletta Pizza, The Denver Diner Special, Mediterranean Vegetable Pizza, Pizza Diavolo, and Fig and Papaya Dessert Pizza.

*See my book review here.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Fun Day at the Archdiocese of Detroit Women's Conference

I had such a nice time at the Archdiocese of Detroit Women's Conference this past weekend. It was a day filled with Holy Mass, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and great speakers. Such lovely, faith-filled women came to say "hi" at my table and shared their stories. One of my favorites was from a mom who remarked happily that her daughter had kept re-reading Olivia and the Little Way. She was so excited to see that the sequel, Olivia's Gift, had just been released!

Another woman came over to tell me that she was so happy to see an author who was dedicated to writing Catholic fiction for pre-teens. "I just love what you are doing," she said emphatically. "Thank you so much, and keep it up!"

An older woman came to tell me how much her mother loved St. Therese. "When she was a little girl, my mother received roses from her," she said lovingly.

But my absolute favorite was a lady about my age who came to visit. "I have a great love for Saint Therese," I explained as I showed her my books.

She looked at me with the sweetest smile ever.

"I know," she said with a nod. "I can tell."

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Olivia's Gift Is Here! Deo Gratias!

Excuse me while I get a bit sentimental here, but I am so happy to finally hold a labor of love in my hands!  After over a year of prayer, writing, decisions, editing, and design, Olivia's Gift is published and ready to be enjoyed by readers of all ages.  

After countless hours researching Loggerhead sea turtles at the local library (I learned a lot!), meeting with talented artist Sandra Casali LewAllen to discuss her gorgeous illustrations (wait 'til you see these!), creating fantastic graphic design with Roseann Nieman, and going over manuscripts and galleys with my editor Erin Howarth at DDM Publications, it feels so good to see the finished product in front of me.  I labored a little longer over this book, and with good reason:  This book celebrates the gift and the sanctity of life, and I am proud to say that St. Therese guided me every step of the way as I crafted this tale of Olivia's.  Writing a pro-life book for 'tweens is no easy task; I wanted to get it just right. 

I also introduce the theme of modesty in dress and behavior for 'tween boys and girls in Olivia's Gift, and for that I make no apologies.  In the current culture we live in, it is imperative that we show our youth how to dress and act respectfully, now more than ever.

And in this culture of death and the occult, I feel so proud and happy to introduce the themes of pro-life and modesty in Olivia's Gift.  My hope and prayer is that 'tweens and teens will embrace these themes as well.  I am merely God's instrument here, and I feel called to provide books for this age group that celebrate our Catholic faith, modesty, the gift of life, and a wholesome childhood.  

Thanks to all of you for being so patient.  I so appreciate all of your e-mails and letters asking me to write another book about Olivia.  I was happy, humbled, and honored to do it.

And thank you to my family, for letting me write...and when it got too loud around the house, thank you to the neighborhood coffee shop where I enjoyed mango iced teas and decaf lattes! Armed with a tasty drink, once I put those earbuds in my ear, I let the music carry me away into Olivia's world as she spends her summer vacation on the beach in North Carolina. Sometimes I actually felt like I was there with her, and when I close my eyes, I still am.

And of course, thank you to Our Lady and St. Therese.  

And to God, who knows what is written on my heart.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Kids Can Get Involved In Pro-Life Movement Too, Catholic Psychologist Says

Catholic PRWire

Contact: Harvey House Publishing
Tel: 248/217-7495

Rochester, MI (November 8, 2010) - The pro-life movement isn’t just for grownups. The earlier kids get involved in defending life, the earlier they can learn the truth about the very real emotional, physical, and spiritual perils of abortion, says Michele Bondi Bottesi M.A., a Catholic psychologist, author, and mother of three.

“Abortion is the humanitarian disaster of our time,” says Michigander Bondi Bottesi, who takes her own children to pray on an easement outside an abortion clinic in a nearby town. “Our children are growing up in a world where the generation before them and their own generation has been impacted so profoundly by this act of violence against the human person since abortion became legal in the United States.”

Her children hold signs that say, “Pray to end abortion” and “Love all life; born and unborn.” She says her children, who age from 11-15, have learned from an early age that despite anything they may hear to the contrary, abortion is not a healthy option.

“Children can get involved in so many ways,” says Catholic pre-teen author Nancy Carabio Belanger, author of Olivia and the Little Way and its newly released pro-life sequel, Olivia’s Gift, both from Harvey House Publishing. “Whether it be writing essays, standing and praying peacefully outside of abortion clinics, praying the rosary for the unborn, or speaking at school about the evils of abortion, it is all important and all necessary.”

Carabio Belanger says the staggering number of abortions in the U.S. alone each year (1.3 million, according to the Pro-Life Action League) was one of the reasons she created a pro-life theme for the pre-teen novel Olivia’s Gift.

“It’s so important that kids know from a very young age that life is a gift from God. I felt that by writing about this in a delicate, yet direct, way as a fiction book, I could reach the kids at their level, in a style they would be comfortable with, through a girl named Olivia. You don’t want to scare them, but they do need to know that destroying life is never acceptable. The younger they learn this, the better.”

“It is vital that parents educate their children throughout their childhood about the destructiveness of abortion in ways that are developmentally appropriate,” says Bondi Bottesi.

Cathy Randazzo, a mother of two sons, agrees. “I believe that most of our behaviors are learned, so I simply try to consistently teach good behavior from an early age. I also believe that children rise to expectation; we should never underestimate the realm of their understanding and abilities,” she says.

The mother from New York takes her teenaged boys with her when she visits the elderly, takes the Eucharist to the homebound or hospitalized, and volunteers at the animal rescue center, in order to respect all stages of life. They also pray the rosary for the unborn, and discuss political candidates’ views on abortion.

“I believe pro-life is a reflection of a person’s morals, values, and respect for self and others. It’s a lifelong process that ultimately reflects who you are and it begins when life itself begins,” Randazzo says.

Carabio Belanger says she hopes her books will inspire kids to get involved in the pro-life movement.

“The pro-abortion people have been trying to ingrain and push their idea of ‘choice’ on our youth for decades,” she says. “As Catholics, we are called to stand up for those who cannot speak, and we can start doing this at any age, in any way we can. My way happens to be through the books I write.”

Monday, November 1, 2010

One Man's Journey To Freedom: Escape From Behind The Iron Curtain

Coming December, 2010
Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in Letters

I was recruited for the special copyediting team at Joseph Karl Publishing for this brilliant, vital book. This epic memoir is a true story.

The first 15 years of his life were spent in exile. After returning to Albania, he experienced firsthand the martyrdom of his homeland through World War II, the civil war that followed, and the subsequent brutal communist domination. He was forced to leave his medical studies, imprisoned, released, and then sent to work in one of the poorest regions in the North. While forced into hard labor he received the physical conditioning necessary for his tenth attempt at escaping the country. He left behind his family to risk a fate worse than death-—capture—hoping for a future and a life free from oppression.

The miraculous story of One Man’s Journey to Freedom: Escape From Behind the Iron Curtain provides a powerfully moving account of the heroic resistance against the destruction of humanitarian principles and persecution behind the Iron Curtain, and reminds us that history could repeat itself at any time and in any place.


“This book has all the ingredients of an exciting novel...drama, romance, suffering, hardship, friendship, sacrifice, betrayal, intrigue, human dignity, human savagery, endurance, expectation, surprise, illusion, disillusion, defiance, defeat, triumph, and much more. The book is full of such beautiful pieces to read along with very interesting events. All is skillfully and truthfully told." -Gjon Bucaj, M.D.
One Man’s Journey to Freedom is Gene’s detailed account of his life history…set against the backdrop of the martyrdom of his homeland. This book not only adds to American historical literature but sheds some light on a neglected part of American history in the Balkans. " -Ardian Ndreca

"One Man's Journey to Freedom shows the tenacity of the human spirit in the face of adversity: How faith guides and protects us, even in our darkest hours." -Nancy Carabio Belanger, author of Olivia and the Little Way and Olivia's Gift

“One Man’s Journey to Freedom is an adventure filled with intrigue, romance, and spiritual depth carefully woven into the life of one man’s journey which will tug at your heart. Gene has written a study of true history put together in a brilliant and succinct way. ” -Mrs. Ronald Schoenstein, M.C.
“Prepare to go on an amazing journey that will inspire you in a special way and touch your soul forever. This is a book destined for greatness, one you will want to share with everyone you know and read more than once!" -Michele Elena Bondi, author, psychologist

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