Friday, December 24, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

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




Joseph Karl Publishing celebrates the release of a much-anticipated, epic autobiography, One Man’s Journey to Freedom: Escape From Behind the Iron Curtain


By Michele Bondi Bottesi

2010-12-20


“This brilliant epic memoir absolutely personifies our mission of providing exceptional, life-changing reading to a global audience."- Michele Bondi Bottesi, Joseph Karl Publishing, publisher


Rochester Hills, MI (PRWEB) December 20, 2010

Joseph Karl Publishing immediately recognized the immeasurable value of Gene X. Kortsha’s brilliant epic for humanity and announced today that it is releasing his powerful autobiography titled, One Man’s Journey to Freedom: Escape from Behind the Iron Curtain. Adding to the excitement and suspense is that this epic book has also been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.


Defining Freedom.



Freedom is defined many ways in the dictionary; being free rather than confined, exemption from external control or regulation, political independence, personal and civil liberty. To most people living in a free society, these are hollow words with no meaning. To Gene X. Kortsha, they are a harsh reminder of what he and millions of people were denied while forced to live under the crushing tyranny of communist rule during World War II and the brutal aftermath that followed.

Upon reading Gene’s autobiography, Michele Bondi Bottesi, publisher at Joseph Karl Publishing, immediately knew that Gene’s story had to be shared with the world. “Prepare to go on an amazing journey that will inspire you in a special way and touch your soul forever. This is a book you’ll want to share with everyone you know, and read more than once!” said Michele.


Mission Accomplished. Let Freedom Ring.


To hear Gene X. Kortsha tell it, his story sounds so simple and matter of fact. “The book was originally written for my family and now it will reach outsiders. “I hope that readers come to recognize that cruelty, evil as well as heroic bravery and spirit of sacrifice, know no boundaries and are found among peoples all over the world.” After reading Gene’s powerful story, the reader quickly realizes that Gene’s past is far from simple and is filled with a gripping testimony about overcoming unimaginable horrors and adversities that will have readers riveted from start to finish.

His first fifteen years 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. After being forced into brutal hard labor, he received intense physical conditioning as a result which led to a miraculous escape from the country after ten life-threatening attempts. He left behind his parents and his brother 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, first hand account of the heroic resistance against the destruction of humanitarian principals and persecution behind the Iron Curtain, and reminds us that history could repeat itself at any time and in any place.


Recognition.


Already, One Man’s Journey to Freedom: Escape From Behind the Iron Curtain has received the recognition it so justly deserves.

“This incredible true story shows the tenacity of the human spirit in the face of adversity. How faith guides and protects us, even in our darkest hours” says author Nancy Carabio Belanger.

One Man’s Journey to Freedom: Escape From Behind the Iron Curtain 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 Eastern Balkans,” commented Ardian Ndreca, a professor at Catholic University in Rome, Italy.

“This brilliant epic memoir absolutely personifies our mission of providing exceptional, life-changing reading to a global audience,” said Michele. With nominations for the prestigious Pulitzer Prize as well as other national and international book contests, including the 2011 Independent Book Publisher’s Association (IBPA) Benjamin Franklin Book Awards and the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada Book Awards, Joseph Karl Publishing’s vision is coming to life in monumental ways.



Joseph Karl Publishing was founded in 2009 by Michele Bondi Bottesi to help people address their deeply personal search for life’s meaning, especially during turbulent times. Its website http://www.godisatworkinyou.com offers reader’s reviews and opportunities to purchase life-changing books which are also for sale on http://www.amazon.com. For additional inspiration, visit Michele’s blog at http://www.godisatworkinyou.blogspot.com.

For more information on Joseph Karl Publishing please contact Michele Bondi Bottesi at 248-321-9865 or godisatworkinyou@gmail.com.

Contact

* Michele Bondi Bottesi

Joseph Karl Publishing

248-321-9865

Email: Godisatworkinyou@gmail.com

Monday, December 13, 2010

Book Review of Olivia's Gift



The following review is from award-winning author Ellen Gable Hrkach, from her blog Plot Line and Sinker:


Olivia’s Gift is Nancy Carabio Belanger’s delightful sequel to Olivia and the Little Way. It continues the story of Olivia Thomas and her family. Again, each chapter starts with a beautiful and relevant quote from St. Therese of Lisieux. Olivia, now 12 years old, continues to find it challenging following St. Therese’s “The Little Way.”

The novel begins with Olivia noticing an ad in the newspaper about a little poor girl in Guatemala. She resolves to count her pennies, be more frugal and do whatever she needs to do to save money to sponsor the girl. Olivia and her family are given an opportunity to stay at an expensive beach house in North Carolina for an entire month of the summer. Her grandmother and her friend, Hayley, join the family on their trip. On the first day there, Olivia and Hayley meet new acquaintances: Brooke, Brandon and Abby. Much to Hayley’s dismay, Olivia tries to impress her new friends by lying about a variety of things.

Olivia soon becomes a mother’s helper for the next door neighbor, Mrs. Duggan, who is pregnant and has a young toddler son named Danny.

Circumstances cause Olivia and Hayley not only to re-evaluate their friendship with their new acquaintances, it also helps them to more deeply understand and appreciate the beautiful gift of life.

The climax which involves little Danny, Grandma and Olivia was so exciting that I was quickly turning pages to see what would happen next.

Again, Nancy Carabio Belanger has gifted the world of fiction with this gem. There are so many things I love about this wonderful book. Not only is it filled with pro-life metaphors, it also illustrates the sacred gift of life. It deals with many relevant issues pertinent to pre-teens and teens. I highly recommend Olivia’s Gift to everyone, especially children and pre-teens. It would make an ideal Christmas gift!

copyright 2010 Ellen Gable Hrkach


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sadly Seen In Stores: How Disrespectful!


Yes, sadly, it's another installment of Sadly Seen In Stores today, and this time I’ve got my protective back up. It makes me think of one of the many times I heard Father Donald Calloway MIC, a Marian priest with an amazing conversion story, speak at an event. If you have never heard his story of how the Blessed Mother saved him from a life of ruin and despair, you must! One day soon I will post a video clip or two here. He is such an inspiration to everyone who listens to him.


One day, he was talking about his great love and devotion for Our Lady, and how he is so protective of her whenever he hears anyone badmouth her. He talked about the anger he feels when this happens, and it is similar to the anger I feel now when I see a company try to reduce the Mother of God to a joke, a gag item. I saw the items below at a local book shop, and I was not happy.





It’s Our Lady as a sparkly, tacky coin bank. There are Jesus banks, too, which are just as ghastly. It’s making a mockery of Jesus and his Blessed Mother, and I don’t like it! Why do we Catholics put up with this inappropriate, disrespectful garbage?




Saturday, December 11, 2010

For Boys and Girls: Preteen Catholic Fiction Suggestions



Thank you to The Catholic Post Book Group for including Olivia's Gift and Olivia and the Little Way in its article, "Gift Book Suggestions For Young Readers." The entire article can be found here. *




"...Olivia’s Gift by Nancy Carabio Belanger follows Olivia in her summer before 7th grade, navigating friends, family and trying (and not always succeeding) to live out St. Therese’s “Little Way.” There’s a very powerful, but sensitively handled, pro-life theme here. The book is a sequel to the wonderful Olivia and the Little Way, that chronicles Olivia’s fifth grade year and her ups & downs. The books can be read independently of each other, but most girls will want to read both once they’ve read one."


*Both books are enjoyed by girls and boys alike. I have many boy readers who write to me to tell me how much they can relate to Olivia's struggles, as well as the boy characters in the book, Chad and Brandon. Both books are used in Catholic classrooms, home schools, CCD classes, book groups, and Catholic clubs. Teacher/parent discussion questions are available for free by contacting Guide@harveyhousepublishing.com.  Olivia and the Little Way and Olivia's Gift are both award winners from the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada, and have received the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval, which evaluates books on their faithfulness to Church teachings.



One boy wrote: "So glad we read Olivia and the Little Way in our class. I really liked your book and the fact that you included a saint. Your book has influenced a lot of sixth graders in our school, even my best friend!"


You can find Olivia and the Little Way and Olivia's Gift at many retail outlets, or order autographed, personalized copies at www.harveyhousepublishing.com

Friday, December 10, 2010

Interview With MyCatholicblog.com


Thank you to MyCatholicblog.com for the following interview. Check out this fantastic blog for inspiring interviews.  I've copied mine below, but it can also be found here.



Your admiration for St. Therese is seen through your blog as well as through the story of Olivia.  What is it that initially drew you to St. Therese?

Honestly, I think it was the fact that she struggled with holiness like any average person, just like I do.  She had her strengths and weaknesses; she was not perfect, nor does God expect any of us to be. Through the ups and downs of her life, Therese learned to embrace her littleness.  She teaches us that anyone can do something for Jesus, even the least powerful and the littlest among us.  She wrote, “Love your littleness and your poverty, it is that, as well as your blind trust in His Mercy, which pleases the good God.”


Mycatholicblog absolutely loves St. Therese’s words on loving others, which read: “Without love, deeds, even the most brilliant, count as nothing.” (Story of a Soul, Chapter 8). Do you have any words of St. Therese that stand out in particular as motivational or influential in your life?

My absolute favorite quote of hers is not one you see very often, but the first time I read it, it spoke to my heart. It is taken from a letter she wrote right before she died: “…you will not have time to send me your messages for heaven, but I am guessing at them, and then you will only have to tell me them in a whisper, and I shall hear you, and I shall carry your messages faithfully to the Lord, to our Immaculate Mother…and I shall be near you, holding your hand.”  WOW. I love that!

Another is something she wrote to an unsure, young seminarian she was corresponding with while she was in the convent. She was a spiritual mentor to him.  It is:  “Believe that I shall be your true little sister for all eternity.”  Those words are very powerful to me, and remind me that she, like the rest of the saints, is always there, waiting to be an intercessor for us in Heaven.

Olivia and the Little Way and Olivia’s Gift both focus on the pre-teen age group.  With so many distractions and temptations facing children and young 
teens today, what is one piece of advice you would give kids, or their parents/family, to help them achieve the sense of modesty that you advocate through your writings?

In Olivia’s Gift, Olivia has a heart-to-heart talk with her mother. I won’t give it all away here, but the essence of it is this:  From the moment of every human being’s creation, God has given us great dignity.  As young ladies and young men, what does He want you do with that dignity?  And if we ignore that dignity of the human person, how does that take away from our relationship with God?  Our dignity is a great gift God has given to us out of His immense love for us, to protect us from harm and not to be taken lightly; if we waste it and don’t show it respect, then what are we telling God?

Along these same lines, though both books are written with a “tween” audience in mind, who else can benefit from these books?

I have lots of families reading the books together at bedtime, which leads to great discussions among parents and children.  Also, I have so many grandparents who tell me they love the books because it reminds them of how they felt growing up. They also enjoy learning about the life of St. Therese that I weave into the stories of Olivia.  It is so sweet because, at book signings, they clutch these books and say to me with sheepish smiles, “I’m going to give it to my grandchild, but I want to read it first!”  I love that!

I also enjoy hearing from Catholic schools that are teaching the books as part of their curricula.  I truly believe that Olivia and the Little Way and Olivia’s Gift are great teaching materials for Catholic classrooms.  I have discussion questions to help teachers get started.  Teachers tell me that their students can’t wait to get to religion class when they are teaching the books. It humbles me that I can provide this for Catholic classrooms, and that the kids get so involved in the discussions.  With all of the pressures kids are facing today in school, they can really relate to the struggles Olivia goes through.  I get letters from students all of the time who tell me that they are now interested in following St. Therese’s Little Way, her path to holiness.  She is such a great role model for ‘tweens.  And parents and teachers alike love the fact that my books are wholesome and teach valuable lessons that are true to our Catholic faith.  With so many mixed messages being thrown at this age group, my books are safe places for kids to go to to learn about God’s plan for each of us.  Many homeschooling parents are also actively teaching my books.

We loved your article on catholicmom.com about Lent, in which you stress the importance and peace simplicity can often bring.  You also write about the characteristics of children — full of trust and able to love unconditionally, to name a few.  Have your own two children served as inspiration in your own quest for these traits?

I think parents can learn so much from their children.  Children may sometimes act like they want all of the latest and greatest things, but really, all they want is your time and love. I wish I could give my children everything they desire on the store shelves, but I know that spending time with them and really listening to what they have to say is worth more than anything I can buy them with my Visa card, and they know that too.  They are very bright and caring kids, and they love to help me with my writing.  My husband and I strive to teach them every day about how simple things are best and have the most meaning, more than anything else. Material things will always break and rust and fail you eventually, but God never will. Also, that trusting God for all your needs, and His Blessed Mother, is the key to a happy life.


Finally, what’s next for Nancy Carabio Belanger?

More books!  My goodness, have you seen the shocking material that is available at the public library or the bookstores for our children? Don’t get me wrong, there are many great books there as well, but I cannot get over some of the books I see on the shelves. It is very dangerous. I think a lot of parents just don’t realize what’s in those books. They’re just so happy their kids are reading…but at what cost to their children’s souls?  As a writer, I am a very small fish in a gigantic ocean; I realize that. This ocean is filled with writers who celebrate teen sex, disrespect, the occult, and immodesty, and they make big bucks from doing so. Perhaps these writers sleep just fine at night doing that, but I never could. I feel called to write quality books for youths that celebrate being Catholic and the gift of our faith.   And I’ll never water our faith down to please the masses; that I can promise you.  I am working on a ‘tween fiction novel right now with a troubled boy as the main character, and I love how it is turning out so far.  I will let God lead me and tell me what He wants me to do, and I know everything will turn out fine.  After all, I’ve got his servant Therese nearby, holding my hand!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Feast Of The Immaculate Conception


Immaculate Mary,
your praises we sing.
You reign now in Heaven
with Jesus our King.
Ave, Ave, Ave, Maria! Ave, Ave, Ave, Maria!

In Heaven the blessed
your glory proclaim;
On earth we your children
invoke your sweet name.
Ave, Ave, Ave, Maria! Ave, Ave, Ave, Maria!

We pray for our Mother,
the Church upon earth,
And bless, Holy Mary,
the land of our birth.
Ave, Ave, Ave, Maria! Ave, Ave, Ave, Maria!

We pray you, O Mother,
may God's will be done
We pray for His glory,
may his Kingdom come.
Ave, Ave, Ave, Maria! Ave, Ave, Ave, Maria!
Lourdes Hymn

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Sadly Seen In Stores




Welcome to another installment of Sadly Seen In Stores. Nothing extremely scientific here, just my observations as a Catholic mom and author who likes to shop, but doesn't always like what she sees for youths. At first I was embarrassed to pull out my camera phone to take pictures of items, but I quickly got over that. You see, it's all in the name of research, so parents know what is out there so you can do something about it if you so choose.

It started in this way: A friend of mine called me one day, disgusted.

"Nancy! You'll never guess what Claire's is selling!" I drove to the store with my camera. I found the item. I was disgusted, too. And a blog entry was born.

Another time, as I was walking through one of the big bookstores, I saw a book with a shocking title. Another blog entry was born. The ideas, unfortunately, were coming fast and furious for a series I have titled, "Sadly Seen In Stores."

The purpose of this series is not to rip on stores, but to make parents aware of what is in those stores, and what their children could be buying. Knowledge is power. As parents we must know what is out there, sadly being marketed to our kids.


Remember the Sears catalog? Here's what young ladies were wearing in 1943:




Fast-forward to today:


Sears caption: Don't hold back; tell them how you really feel with this Hybrid graphic tee.


For those who do well in English class and want the world to know, check out the mousepad below:



But let's get back to the clothing, shall we? Otherwise I could be here all day!

For the young lady who has pre-teen or teen angst toward the 'rents, we have:


Sears caption: Ransom graphic tee shows the world your pain.


But I've saved the worst for last. Feast your eyes upon this sad gem. Really something to brag about, isn't it?



Sears caption: Sparkly glitter and neon colors help you warn the world of the fact that "I Make Good Boys Go Bad" on the front of this Ransom short sleeve tee.


Just...sad.




All photos and captions of merchandise are from the Sears.com website.

Monday, December 6, 2010

More Roses During The Writing Of Olivia's Gift!




Last time, I wrote about how St. Therese sent lovely "hellos" to me during the writing of Olivia's Gift. I have another story to share, this time involving artist Sandy Casali LewAllen at the school where she teaches.

On publication day, I texted Sandy in excitement: "OLIVIA IS HERE!"

Sandy hurried over to my house to see the brand-new shipment of Olivia's Gift books. We hugged and congratulated each other on a job well done while my husband and sons snapped photos. It is always a very emotional moment when an author sees her labor of love in print for the first time. It is the same with the artist who has so lovingly created her artwork and holds it in her hands for the very first time.



The very next day, Sandy received a special surprise on her desk in her high-school art classroom: a bouquet of lovely pink roses.

"It was a thank-you for helping them with the charity ball decorations," she told me later. "I was shocked, first of all, that high-school students would even do that." After the shock of the pleasant surprise wore off, she began to work on her computer. Then, glancing up at the roses for another look, "I made the connection. Roses. Hmmmm...."

I haven't told Sandy this yet, but I'm telling it to her here: I know this means St. Therese is happy with your gorgeous work, Sandy!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Roses That Came During The Writing Of Olivia's Gift

The other day, I was talking to my talented illustrator and friend Sandra Casali LewAllen about the creation of Olivia's Gift. We had a good time reminiscing about what a busy, joy-filled year it has been, creating this new book for pre-teens and teens. We fondly remembered how much we felt St. Therese's presence as we plotted and planned what would turn out to be a book of which we became very proud.

"Remember how strong her presence was at the restaurant that day?" Sandy asked me.

How could I forget it? It was so strong it was electrifying.

But as we sat at the cafe and planned out the illustrations Sandy would create, we couldn't help but feel a roadblock for one of the plot points. I just wasn't quite happy with one of the elements of the story that I had created. I wanted it to be better, more meaningful. We sat there for a bit, deep in thought. All of a sudden, inspiration hit us both at the same time.

"What if you put it this way?" Sandy suggested.

I picked up my pen and reached for my ever-present notebook. "And how about if Olivia does this instead?"

I scribbled furiously as Sandy and I discussed the pro-life theme of the book and the metaphor I could use. That afternoon, we created what we feel is the most poignant scene in the book. The ideas were coming so quickly that I could barely write them down fast enough. I look at my notes from that day and they are a flurry of ink: excited letter formations, messy arrows, and large circles. At one point, after we had created the scene together, we looked at each other in amazement. We just knew it was supernatural. When we looked at our watches, we were startled to discover that we had spent about four hours at the restaurant that day.

"Do you feel like she's here?" I asked Sandy at one point.

Sandy nodded seriously. "She is, no question."

Sandy eventually had to leave. "I want you to write this scene today," she said firmly. "And then e-mail it to me. I know you can do it."

I was a little nervous to write such an important scene, but I promised her I would. I also told her I was going to stay at the cafe and organize my notes into something more readable before I began writing.

I decided to move to a booth and ordered a salad. I neatly began to copy my notes, pleased with what Sandy and I had come up with. I was feeling very peaceful and happy, and I felt St. Therese's presence so strongly. I couldn't wait to get home and write the scene.

The cafe workers were near my table, busy preparing soups, salads, and sandwiches, and calling out the names of the customers who had ordered them. As I munched my salad and rewrote my notes, I had a sense of excitement I couldn't deny. This book was really coming together. And I had St. Therese to thank for interceding for me.

It was then that I heard the first name being called out.

"Theresa?"

So deeply involved in my notes was I that the name barely registered.

The worker called it out again, louder this time.

"Theresa?"

My head jerked up. Had I heard that correctly? I smiled. I supposed I had. That was really cute, I thought as I sipped my drink. Really cute.

I went back to my work, but St. Therese is very persistent. We all know that.

"Rose?" I heard next.

ROSE?! I nearly dropped my drink as an older lady named Rose went to the counter to pick up her sandwich.

Then I buried my head in my hands and shook my head. I instantly picked up my cell phone and punched in Sandy's number.

"Sandy? You are never going to believe this. She's still here!"

I went home and wrote the scene in record time. It looks exactly like it did the day I wrote it.

What a sense of humor our Little Flower has!

Coming soon: More "hellos" from St. Therese, this time for Sandy!

Olivia and the Little Way Makes Top Ten List







Special thanks to Cheryl Dickow of Bezalel Books for including Olivia and the Little Way in her article, "My Top 10 Catholic Books for 2010." She writes that Olivia and the Little Way is one of the books she would recommend for Catholic homes and classrooms. "Catholic books really can be tools of evangelization while they entertain," she writes, "and I believe these books will all be delightful additions to any Catholic home or classroom."

This is an excerpt from her article, which was published on The Integrated Catholic Life, as well as Catholic.net, Catholic News Agency, and Catholic Exchange. To read the entire article, click on any of these links.



Nancy Carabio Belanger has a real gem for kids with her award-winning book, Olivia and the Little Way, which is number seven on my list of Christmas books with which to stuff stockings. Having taught middle school for many years, I felt that this treasure would be most appropriate for kids, mostly girls, in third through sixth grade. Having said that, as Olivia, the main character, learns the “little way” of St. Therese, I found myself learning – or revisiting – some important concepts of the value of “offering things up” and the need to persevere and make good decisions. Like any well-written book for kids, Belanger has believable characters in real-life sort of circumstances thus allowing the reader discover skills through the ways in which the characters learn and grow. I loved how Belanger wrote in Olivia’s disobedience to her parents by getting her ears pierced and felt it was an honest depiction of the ways in which kids succumb to peer pressure. I am positive that this is the sort of book that parents will love as much as their children will and would encourage Catholic teachers to look into this treasure as well.

If Belanger’s book has great appeal to young Catholic girls, I would say that Patti Maguire Armstrong’s book Dear God, I Don’t Get It!, which makes my list as number eight, would have a huge appeal to young Catholic boys. Where Belanger uses the life of St. Therese as a role model, Armstrong’s delightful book uses saints as models as well, but in a more comical way as the main character gets the brainy idea to make himself a hero—just like the saints he has learned about in school. Armstrong, the mother of ten and best-selling author of many other books, has much to offer the young reader. I’m guessing because Armstrong’s kids have very well “been there, done that.” Dear God, I Don’t Get It! would be a great addition to any Catholic home or classroom. Both these books (Belanger’s and Armstrong’s) have charming black and white illustrations throughout which, when complementing the great stories, makes the books true standouts. I guarantee that mom and dad will enjoy this book as much as the kids!


Cheryl Dickow writes from the beautiful state of Michigan. She has been married for 25 years and has three sons. She is the author of Mary: Ever Virgin, Full of Grace. Her website is www.BezalelBooks.com where the focus is publishing great books for Catholic homes, parishes and classrooms. Cheryl co-hosted the EWTN 13-part television series “All Things Girl,” which was based upon the best-selling books published by Bezalel Books. She is a weekly contributor to the Catholic Vitamins podcast produced by Deacon Tom Fox and his lovely wife Dee.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...