Posts by deniseym

Little Lamb Finds Christmas (A Book Review)

Posted by on Nov 12, 2014 in Book Reviews | 1 comment

Cathy Gilmore’s newly released children’s book Little Lamb Finds Christmas touches the heart and helps children (and adults) focus on the deepest meaning of Christmas.

Following Lemi, the “little lamb,” through his troubles, the reader witnesses moments of physical challenges, loneliness, fear, and confusion. However, the story beautifully counters these troubles with strength, companionship, faith, and miracles. As Gilmore has said, “Lemi is an ‘everylamb’ like all of us.” We struggle again and again in countless ways, but through it all Jesus is our “forever Shepherd,” and we “belong to a King”!

Illustrator Kim Wilson delivers a visual feast with her display of realistic images, texture, and color.  Her artwork mirrors the unique mixture of simplicity and depth of Faith. My favorite image is when Lemi bleats a “soft hello to the little King”…the hay beneath Jesus is dry, scratchy, and harsh, but He is comfortable in his soft swaddling cloths and so close to Lemi’s soft, warm fleece.

Little Lamb Finds Christmas is available from, Barnes and, and Catholic bookstores.

Check Cathy Gilmore’s website for a calendar of events and how to get free downloads of songs and activities.

Some upcoming events in St. Louis area, Missouri:

11/22  Saturday, Catholic Gifts and Books 11am – 2pm “Story time with Cathy and Sha-Baa the Shepherd”

11/29 Saturday, Catholic Supply Chippewa Store 11am – 1pm  “Story Time with Activities and Songs”

12/6 Saturday, Pauline Books and Media 10am – 1pm “Baby Jesus Birthday Party”

12/6 Saturday, Catholic Supply Manchester Store 2pm – 4pm.  Story Time with webkinz “Lemi” lambs only $4.95 with a book purchase.

12/13 Saturday, Catholic Supply O’Fallon Store 11am – 1pm. Story Time with Songs and Activities

(Gilmore is also the co-author of the popular picture book, Easter Bunny’s Amazing Day, in which a little bunny discovers that the best JOY of Easter is Jesus.)

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Thank you, Barbara Hall, I love “Father Ken”!

Posted by on Aug 24, 2014 in Church Militant Moments, Marriage & Family, The Catchall Category, Writing Thoughts | 0 comments

I have professed it repeatedly…I’ll say it many times again…it is such a shame, a creative and spiritual loss to the television viewing masses, that creator and producer Barbara Hall’s Joan of Arcadia never made it past season two!

Throughout the series (insert sigh of exasperation over the truncated life of this message-filled show), one of my all-time favorite mother characters Helen Girardi (played by Mary Steenburgen) prays, hopes and emotionally and intellectually struggles with her Faith. During one of her initial trials with her maternal-optimism failing her lonely, aching heart, she walks by and then quickly returns to chat with (interrogate, actually) a Catholic priest, Father Ken Mallory (played by David Burke). Ah, Father Ken…a realistic portrayal of a gentle, knowledgeable, humble, compassionate, Faith-filled, insightful man…a great priest! How absolutely refreshing to see a Catholic priest on a TV show depicting a priest (or many priests!) that so many of us know and love in our own real lives.Priest Collar

Watch a few episodes of Joan of Arcadia and listen to the love and wisdom of God in Father Ken’s own words. I especially cherish his words to Helen (in the episode “death be not whatever”) when she is confiding in Father Ken that she has been meeting with him behind her husband’s back (Will Girardi, the chief of police and fallen away Catholic, played by the amazing Joe Mantegna):

Father Ken: “Helen, I think what you’re touching on here is you should be talking to your husband and you miss being able to do that.”

Helen: “But you don’t understand what kind of job he has, and it’s especially bad right now. I just can’t make it worse for him.”

Father Ken: “I’ve married a lot of people, and I remember the words. You’re depriving him of the privilege of living up to them.”

Helen: “Well…when you put it like that.”

What an affirmation of the holy vocation of marriage!

So, thank you, Barbara Hall for your gift of Joan: the clever and provocative script writing, and the deep, realistic, intriguing characters, such as the beloved Father Ken.

And let’s all remember to pray for vocations and for our priests. We need them…our world needs them!

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On Tuscany Press Today!

Posted by on Jul 21, 2014 in DYM's Short Fiction, News & Events, The Catchall Category | 0 comments

Every year Tuscany Press calls for submissions to The Tuscany Prize for Catholic Fiction. This contest is a literary prize to “promote writers and great undiscovered stories of Catholic fiction.” To learn more about Tuscany Press, click here.

Excerpts from two of my short fiction works “Annie’s Life” and “A Package of SELF” are featured on the Tuscany Press blog today.

So, drop by and take a peek!

Head back to Tuscany on August 30th to read an excerpt from Donna Volkenannt’s “Salvage.”


Tuscany Press




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Blog Tour Day

Posted by on Jun 22, 2014 in The Catchall Category, Writing Thoughts | 0 comments

Welcome to Blog Tour Day in my little byte of the blogosphere. On this blog tour writers/authors answer a few basic questions about their writing process.

My author-friend Ann K. Frailey posted her answers last week  on her blog. Ann is a homeschooling mother of eight and author of The Road Goes Ever On – A Christian Journey Through The Lord of the Rings  and The Deliverance Trilogy.  Ann’s new book Georgios is due out fall of 2014.


What am I working on?

  • Several short stories (1,000-3,500 words)
  • Non-fiction Catholic homeschool book
  • A contemporary women’s fiction work

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Even though not much in art is purely original, for we humans immeasurably and ultimately share many of the same gifts, experiences, soulfulness, the writing experience and the fiction produced can still be unique. I write the type of fiction I enjoy reading, something to curl up with in bed to relax at the end of the day. For me, that is a story with heartache, hope, and healing told through good writing. My unique touch is that rather than sitting back to tell a story, I strive to illustrate vivid, living scenes unfolding via a voice/a life that can only come from my soul. In my novel and longer short stories, the narrative voice changes as the reader moves from the perspective of one very believable flawed character to the next. I sometimes incorporate flashbacks to show rather than explain characters’ life stories, what makes them the people they are. And, most importantly, my work has at its core a Catholic heart.

Why do I write what I do?

I have to write in order to complete who I am…corny? I don’t know, maybe, but honest. Writing is a burning passion through which I feel alive. I love the challenge of creating a world!

How does your writing process work?

After everyone is tucked in bed and sound asleep for the night, I open my MacBook Air and work on research, type out edits I have written in a bold color on my paper manuscript, and begin to fill in parts and pieces of my characters’ lives.

When I am just starting a new work, I begin with a single character. Not a situation or a location. As an English teacher, I must admit, the first draft is never a proper “first draft” (not even a half-draft…maybe a tenth of a draft), but my first round of writing a story (and even my novel) is just giving life to a character. As I explore a character, the storyline reveals itself.

I do not write chronologically; I add scenes where they fit. Looking back, it amazes me how much and how deeply the storyline, the characters, the life of the works evolve. (That is the Holy Spirit, not me!)

And I edit as I go. I know many who preach against the perfectionist approach to writing fiction, but this process works for me. I cannot move forward with my writing until what is already typed out, gets hand-edited several times. It’s just how my writing style rolls.

Thanks for dropping by to catch a glimpse of my writing world. I hope you visit again soon!


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The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks (Book Review)

Posted by on Jun 10, 2014 in Book Reviews, Writing Thoughts | 1 comment

I know I’m a bit late to the game on this contemporary women’s fiction novel, but I give five stars to Nicholas Sparks’s The Notebook because the story touched my heart.

The suffering involved in this beautiful story reveals (to a world that commonly and unfortunately links romance with Hollywood-hype) that true love, romantic love, grows via pain (emotional and/or physical). Sparks’s writing intertwines poetry, descriptions of nature, a fluid flashback narrative, and imperfect characters who (whether they know it or not) deeply trust that the human body is a temple of the Holy Spirit and that marriage is a union of souls. I can feel the Catholic heart of this novel…even though I do not hear any overt evangelization. It is a beautiful love story!

(and, no, I did not see the movie…I enjoyed the book so much and did not want to undermine the reading experience.)

Side-note: I think the original book cover art (on all Sparks’s novels) accurately reveals the book more than the movie still-shot book cover version. (That being said, I understand and respect the marketing effort.)


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