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Interview With Contributor AnnMarie Creedon

acreedon200x200Author Name: AnnMarie Creedon

Contribution to Image and Likeness: “This Is My Body”

Bio: AnnMarie Creedon has been married to her husband for almost 30 years and has five children. She is the author of Angela’s Song, a Catholic romance novel, and is currently working on her second book. AnnMarie homeschools the three youngest of her children, sings on a praise and worship team and also in her parish choir. A native New Yorker, AnnMarie has been transplanted to the Midwest, and has fallen in love with this region of the U.S. She and her family enjoy cooking together, watching superhero movies, and chatting about fandoms. Find AnnMarie on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Amazon.

About “This Is My Body”

How did you find yourself inspired to write this/these piece(s)?  

It concerns me, especially being the mother of girls, that society pushes the notion that women can and should “have it all.”  Not only that, but if we don’t want it all, then we are deficient or backward in some way. Now, I believe that women can raise children, marry, and have careers, but in the pursuit of worldly success, we sometimes lose ourselves, our identities, as feminine creations made for so much more than competing with other women, or even with men. I wanted to illustrate that the notion of sacrifice is not repugnant, that it can shape and form us into generous human beings; and in that generosity, we glorify and serve the Lord.

What drew you to writing about Theology of the Body in this way?  There is a lot of nonfiction out there on TOB, but the amount of fiction and poetry on the subject is certainly on the rise.  What is it, do you think, about fiction and poetry that lend themselves to illustrating the tenets of the Theology of the Body?  

To see this theology poured out onto a page, to immerse oneself in the fictional lives of those living it (or not living it, and suffering the consequences), speaks to the heart more profoundly than any treatise or essay ever could. So then our understanding of Theology of the Body transcends an intellectual knowledge of the subject, and speaks to us on an emotional and practical level.

Some TOB stories and poems can be evangelization tools, and some can be messages of encouragement to those of us doing the evangelizing.  Which do you think yours is, and why do you think that’s valuable to its audience?  

Definitely the former. During the writing of  “This is My Body,” I was thinking about young women, and the tremendous pressure society puts upon them to achieve. I’m hoping this story will encourage readers to examine their lives and appreciate the small sufferings. We are told so often to run away from pain or discomfort. I think it is valuable for people to be told that it’s okay to let go of the past,  to forgive ourselves, to love ourselves, to make sacrifices. It’s in doing these things that we imitate and embrace God.

Your story “This is My Body” has a powerful title that works on many levels.  Can you talk to us about all the levels that the title comes into play in this story?  

It has always stood out to me that the very words used by our Lord to heal us, to save us, to impart a life of grace upon us, are the same words used by those who defend abortion. We can make idols of our bodies, and forget about the soul. But is it the merging of the two that make us the image and likeness of our Lord. In this story, the protagonist, Sylvie, has an unhealthy love for her body, while harboring feelings of self hatred. She loves her body, but hates her soul.

What’s another story or poem in this anthology that spoke to you?  What in particular in that piece reached out to you?  

Two pieces really stood out to me; Erin McCole Cupp’s “Guess Who’s Coming to Sunday Brunch,” and Dena Hunt’s “Pear Trees.”  Both illustrate the potential horrors that can occur when we do not recognize the sanctity of sex. Sex is so life giving and life affirming, and these two stories, both extremely well written,  have an undercurrent of desolation that touched me emotionally. They stayed with me long after I finished them.

Look for discussion questions on “This Is My Body” on Friday, February 17.

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Interview with Contributor Ellen Gable

egable200x200Author Name: Ellen Gable

Contribution to Image and Likeness: “The Death of Me, the Life of Us”

Bio: Ellen Gable (Hrkach) is a freelance writer and award-winning author (2010 IPPY) and publisher (2016 CALA), editor, Marketing Director for Live the Fast, self-publishing book coach, speaker, NFP teacher, Marriage Preparation Instructor, and past president of the Catholic Writers Guild. Find Ellen on Google+, PinterestFacebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Amazon.

About “The Death of Me, the Life of Us”

How did you find yourself inspired to write this/these piece(s)?

This particular short story has been one I started to write years ago and it’s loosely based on a true incident that I witnessed.  I have been wanting to finish the story for years, but just never felt inspired to do so.  When it came time to gather stories for the Anthology, I wanted to contribute a story, but short stories are not my forte, so I finished the story and sent it to Erin McCole Cupp and Dena Hunt for their feedback.  Both helped me to polish it so that it would pack the biggest emotional punch (thank you, Erin and Dena!)

What drew you to writing about Theology of the Body in this way?

The story initially didn’t have a Theology of the Body theme, and yet it was the ideal way to help the protagonist in the story see how important it was to live her life.  The Theology of the Body does not just pertain to our sexual lives. It also pertains to how we live our lives every day and how we relate to others.

There is a lot of nonfiction out there on TOB, but the amount of fiction and poetry on the subject is certainly on the rise.  What is it, do you think, about fiction and poetry that lend themselves to illustrating the tenets of the Theology of the Body?

Jesus taught with parables.  Teaching with stories can often be more evangelizing than with nonfiction.  I’ve certainly learned this from writing novels with Theology of the Body themes.  In the first few years after my novel, Emily’s Hope, was published, I received a letter from a 20 year old college student thanking me for writing Emily’s Hope because it helped him to understand the Church’s teachings on sex and marriage better than any textbook he had read.

Some TOB stories and poems can be evangelization tools, and some can be messages of encouragement to those of us doing the evangelizing.  Which do you think yours is, and why do you think that’s valuable to its audience?

Probably more of an evangelization tool about how we live our life and how grief and guilt impacts us.  Its value is in how the male protagonist gently tries to help the female protagonist understand the value of life and the value of the relationships around us.

In your story “The Death of Me, The Life of Us,” you show us the power of love to heal the heart.  How do you think Theology of the Body fiction helps us to build healthier attitudes not just about life but about death as well?

Death is a natural part of life. The minute we are conceived, we begin to die. For some of us, it will be 80 or 90 years. For others, it will end in the womb. The experience of losing someone affects everyone in different ways.  Accepting the death of a loved one is not easy.  Grief is a tricky thing.  Guilt is also a tricky thing. Some people are uncomfortable with how others grieve.  Grief is very personal and individual. By living the Theology of the Body, we can experience marriage — and life — more fully. While death is a part of life, life is still life.  While we are alive, we owe it to God and others to live our lives as fully as possible.

What’s another story or poem in this anthology that spoke to you?  What in particular in that piece reached out to you?

Pear Trees by Dena Hunt was beautifully written and is powerful. With its language and characterization, the author jolts us into understanding what it means to be a sex object rather than a woman — a human being even — to be cherished.

Thou by Gerard Webster is also beautifully written and illustrates the beauty of free, total, faithful, fruitful married love.

Look for discussion questions on “The Death of Me, the Life of Us” on Wednesday, January 16.

Discussion: “Movements” by Michelle Buckman

mbuckman200x200“Movements” by Michelle Buckman

See our interview with Michelle here.

Discussion Questions

  • If you were in Gert’s situation, what would you have done?
  • Did Gert’s pregnancy influence your reaction to how she handles the kitten?
  • How do you think this experience impacted Dottie?

 

Interview with Contributor Karina Fabian

kfabian200x200Author Name: Karina Fabian

Contribution to Image and Likeness: “Cries of the Innocents”

Bio: Karina Fabian writes fiction and nonfiction, secular and religious. Her stories include spacefaring nuns, a dragon in the employ of the Faerie Catholic Church, a zombie exterminator and a mad psychic who must save two worlds. Her nonfiction varies from advice articles and writing webinars to devotionals and saint stories. She helped found the Catholic Writers Guild and has been an officer as well as the mastermind and coordinator of the Catholic Writers Online conference. Her latest book, Discovery, a Rescue Sisters novel, was recently added to the Full Quiver Publishing catalog. Find Karina on Google+, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Amazon.

About “Cries of the Innocents”

How did you find yourself inspired to write this piece?

It was a contest, actually. Write a flash fiction that started with this line, “Throughout the night, I heard their screams of pain.” It gave me the idea of an abortionist who had mentally distanced herself from what she was doing, but at night, the horror seeped through. The story, which ran in a secular blog, won first place. I was glad to beef it up some for this anthology.

What drew you to writing about Theology of the Body in this way?

I wasn’t thinking of Theology of the Body. St. John Paul’s writings hadn’t even come out when I wrote this. I was thinking of writing something creepy, and the innocents crying to willfully deaf ears fit the bill. It’s interesting that just today, I saw a study that asserts babies feel incredible pain during the abortion process. You’d think that’d be a no-brainer, but again, willfully deaf ears need to be made to hear.

There is a lot of nonfiction out there on TOB, but the amount of fiction and poetry on the subject is certainly on the rise.  What is it, do you think, about fiction and poetry that lend themselves to illustrating the tenets of the Theology of the Body?

Fiction and poetry can bring a point home on a different level, or through a different vector, than nonfiction or even personal stories. Both nonfiction and personal stories can hit an emotional tone as well as intellectual, but readers can get defensive, feel they are being talked to, or dismiss with, “Well, that’s her, not me.” Fiction and poetry let the imagination do its work, putting the person in the role of the character or reaching the heart in a different way.

Some TOB stories and poems can be evangelization tools, and some can be messages of encouragement to those of us doing the evangelizing.  Which do you think yours is, and why do you think that’s valuable to its audience?

Oh, good question. Because of the origin of the story and its topic, I’m not sure it’s either. Part of why I wrote it was to get in the head of an abortion doctor to try to figure out why they could do what they do. It might give some understanding to those who protest and encourages them to remember that they aren’t just saving the souls of the unborn or the mothers, but also of those involved in the industry.

Your story “Cries of the Innocents” gives us parallel characters–an abortionist and her brother who gave his life in service to our country.  There is a rich space for contrasts, conflict, and, perhaps most remarkably, compassion between the two.  What are the similarities you see between these characters, and what do you think they signify to readers?  What about their differences?

I feel they were both raised to serve others. The doctor in the story truly believes she is making women’s lives better and protecting children from terrible fates if they are born, and with the patient she is a good example of why she feels justified. Of course, her brother definitely put others before himself even to the point of death.

They are both in jobs that involve killing others, but the reasons couldn’t be more different.

What’s another story or poem in this anthology that spoke to you?  What in particular in that piece reached out to you?

There were several that spoke to me, each one reaching to my fears as a parent and saying, “Yes, I understand. I know this pain, but it can be all right. God can make it all right.” I don’t feel I can get into details, but let’s say there are several tissues wet with good, needed tears, and leave it at that. I was not expecting that from this book. I’m glad I read it and am proud to be a part of it.

Look for discussion questions on “Cries of the Innocents” on Wednesday, November 16.

Contributor Interview: Leslie Lynch

llynch200x200Author Name: Leslie Lynch

Contribution to Image and Likeness: “No Turning Back”

Bio: Amazon Bestselling author Leslie Lynch gives voice to characters who struggle to find healing for their brokenness—and discover unconventional solutions to life’s twists. Leslie lives near Louisville, Kentucky, with her husband and a rescued, feral-turned-sweetheart cat. She’s written three full-length novels: Hijacked, Unholy Bonds, and Opal’s Jubilee; and two novellas: Christmas Hope and Christmas Grace. She is an occasional contributor to the Archdiocese of Indianapolis’s weekly newspaper, The Criterion. A member of Catholic Writers Guild, she posted monthly content to the group’s blog for years. Find Leslie on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Amazon.

About “No Turning Back”

How did you find yourself inspired to write this piece?  

“No Turning Back” grew out of the coincidence of two events during my first Spalding University Master of Fine Arts in Writing residency in Louisville, Kentucky. We were given a homework assignment: to write a paragraph utilizing lyrical language (incorporating the five senses, colors, numbers, poetic imagery, and specific details, etc.) On the first weekend morning of the residency, my first class did not begin until nine; I decided to make a quick run across the Ohio River on an errand. My route took me past Louisville’s abortion clinic, which I had long known to be a hub of activity on Saturdays, though I had never joined the Pro-Life Catholics who pray and bear witness across the street. As I drove by, distracted and half-forgetting that it was Saturday at the clinic, I glanced over and caught a glimpse of the visual that inspired my homework assignment: two groups of people, clad in safety vests proclaiming them to be on one side or the other of the issue. A scattering of pray-ers were in place, some with signs, some not. The mood was intense yet non-confrontational. I whizzed past, my imagination and conscience pricked. I’ve always prayed as I drive by the clinic; that morning, I prayed even more fervently. I used the image to write the assignment, then turned it in and forgot about it (the assignment). Until I realized that I could expand it into a short story that adds a great deal of dimension to my current novel-in-progress (as yet unnamed). “No Turning Back “will appear as bonus material in that novel, once completed, unless I change the novel’s format into one of linked short stories, in which case “No Turning Back” will hold its own place in the longer story.  

What drew you to writing about Theology of the Body in this way?

Since I had already written Annie and Christian into my novel-in-progress, it seemed logical to write this bit of their back story. I can best explain my choice to write the story this way with Pope Francis’s words as he began the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy: “How much wrong we do to God and His grace when we speak of sins being punished by His judgment before we speak of them being forgiven by His mercy.” It is in that spirit that I approach the subject of abortion, which is a source of deep grief for me—but I have dear friends who have had abortions. I consider it a great honor that they have trusted me with this information; I am thus afforded the opportunity to pray for specific people and situations of which few are aware. Acknowledging our shared humanity in prayer and bringing our frailties to the foot of the cross helps me remember to trust in Jesus; at the same time, I’m reminded it is not my job to judge, but rather, to love. I’ve also known young women in Annie’s position: the pressure to abort is ubiquitous and suffocating. Shame and convenience too often override the ideas of adoption or other solutions. The answer isn’t always as clear cut to a frightened woman as it is for someone not mired in the situation (and often, the decision is made out of ignorance, which is not a sin); I wanted Annie and Chris to face and grapple with their circumstances.

There is a lot of nonfiction out there on TOB, but the amount of fiction and poetry on the subject is certainly on the rise.  What is it, do you think, about fiction and poetry that lend themselves to illustrating the tenets of the Theology of the Body?

Fiction and poetry reveal truth in ways that nonfiction just flat can’t, whether the subject is Theology of the Body or any other theme. Human beings are hard-wired for story; story is a powerful vehicle for understanding and growth. The spare beauty of poetry, the images created in verse can express profound and universal emotions or truths in a way that no other form can. Personally, I relate to fiction and poetry more readily than I do nonfiction; I suspect many people do. Nonfiction is for gaining knowledge; fiction and poetry are ways to explore (in beautiful ways) what to do with that knowledge. This concept meshes well with a subject as deep and varied as Theology of the Body.

Some TOB stories and poems can be evangelization tools, and some can be messages of encouragement to those of us doing the evangelizing.  Which do you think yours is, and why do you think that’s valuable to its audience?  

I hadn’t really thought about it. I guess I see “No Turning Back” as both. The character of the man who speaks to Annie on her way into the clinic is based on a man in my parish. He and several others spend every Saturday morning at the Louisville clinic, talking to women, offering alternatives and support; most times they return with stories of a number of minds and hearts changed. In that regard, “No Turning Back” is an encouragement to those who do the work of the faithful. In another way, “No Turning Back” can be a tool for evangelizing. Hopefully, it is a story that conveys understanding and empathy, a story that allows a breath, a space. For thought, for options. For the potential of change. For healing.

Your story “No Turning Back” has a bit of a controversial ending: it’s not necessarily a cut-and-dried approach to the conflict a woman faces in an unintended pregnancy.  Tell us a bit about what led you to end the story with so many paths still available to your character Annie?  

Life is not cut-and-dried. Faith is not “having an answer”; it’s doing your best to muddle through a swamp when you can’t see your way out but trusting that God is there with you. It’s all about trusting something much bigger than you, and knowing that in accepting our crosses, we must accept the consequences of our choices along with doing the hard, human work of growing. Anne Lamott, in Bird by Bird, says, “…I used to think that paired opposites were a given, that love was the opposite of hate, right the opposite of wrong. But now I think we sometimes buy into these concepts because it is so much easier to embrace absolutes than to suffer reality…Reality is unforgivingly complex.” I wanted the reader to wonder what Annie would do, what she would choose, how she would go about implementing her decisions at the same time she does. Nothing is clear for Annie—yet. Nothing is fully decided—yet. So, with Annie, and with me, just imagine…  

What’s another story or poem in this anthology that spoke to you?  What in particular in that piece reached out to you?  

Oh, my. There are too many to narrow down to just one. (And how can I answer this without having to say “spoiler alert”?!!) I loved “Nice” by Gerard Webster, because it was such a nice, normal story about (mostly) nice, normal people with normal expectations—and then he turned the normal idea of strength on its head with the twist at the end. Erin McCole Cupp’s “Guess Who’s Coming to Sunday Brunch” has a great twist (revelation) at the end, but the best part is the simultaneous, unspoken decision to enter into a state of utter and complete denial. Anything by Arthur Powers is amazing; “Claudio” is a lushly written and subtle treatment of emotional infidelity. I could go on, but I’ve already exceeded the limits of the question! I admire or was touched by something in every piece included in Image and Likeness.

Look for discussion questions on “No Turning Back” on Wednesday, November 3..

Anthology Coming Soon: Image and Likeness

Image and Likeness: Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body

ial-releasedate-ig

If St. John Paul II ever summarized his Theology of the Body, it may have been when he said, “Man cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself.”  But how does this sincere gift look when lived out by human beings with all their failings?  What happens to our humanity when we withhold that sincere gift?  What does life require of us when we give most deeply?  

Full Quiver Publishing brings you this moving collection of poetry and prose, featuring some of today’s brightest Catholic literary voices, including award-winning authors Dena Hunt, Arthur Powers, Michelle Buckman, Leslie Lynch, Theresa Linden, and many more.  By turns edgy and sweet, gritty and deft, but always courageous and honest, the works contained in Image and Likeness explore countless facets of human love—and human failure.  Readers of Image and Likeness will experience in a variety of ways how humanity, in flesh as well as spirit, lives out the image and likeness of a God who created human intimacy to bring forth both our future and to illustrate our ultimate meaning as human persons.  

With a foreword by international Theology of the Body voice Damon Owen, Image and Likeness puts life and breath into St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body in ways that readers won’t soon forget.