Thursday, April 23, 2015

Fabulous Friday Feature-A.J.Cattapan-To Make God Laugh, Make Plans

Today we welcome author: 
A.J. Cattapan

To win a copy
of A.J.'s's new release:

Scroll to the end of the post 
to see how to get your copy.
International readers are eligible, too!

Mary here. A.J. writes in one of my favorite genres. When I saw her debut novel I couldn't resist invited her to join us. And, as I read her post for today, I was surprised how many places we both have visited on our writing journey. Amazing what a small world!

I asked A.J. to join us and share how God has led her on her writing journey. Here is what she said:

To Make God Laugh, Make Plans

You know how they say that if you want to make God laugh, make plans? Well, at the rate I’m going, I must be God’s court jester. I’m sure my plans have him in stitches all the time.

When I was in junior high, I thought I’d have my first book written and published by the time I was 30. Ha! That didn’t happen. In fact, I didn’t even get serious about my writing until well after graduating from college, and then it took me another ten years to get to the point of having a book published. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s go back a little ways.

When I finally decided to get serious about writing, I knew it would have to be part-time. I couldn’t leave my full-time teaching job. Single women just don’t do that kind of thing. However, one day I saw an ad for a writing class in my mom’s Better Homes and Gardens magazine (I’ve always loved looking at floor plans), and they offered a “test” to see if you had what it took to be a children’s writer. Well, how could I resist? The test was free!

Needless to say, I passed. Good thing, otherwise, I’m not sure I could’ve continued to pull off the whole English teacher thing! That class led to my first article being published in a children’s magazine. Who would’ve thought my interest in looking at floor plans would lead to a writing class, which would lead to my first writing credential? See, only God could’ve thought up that one.

A few years later, I was ready to try my hand at novel writing. The school I took the first class at also offered a class for novel writing. I enrolled again. During the course of the class, I wrote a middle grade sci-fi novel that was going to be a cross between Harry Potter and Star Wars. Everyone would love it! It was a surefire hit!

Yeah, it never sold.

See, there I went making plans again, and God just laughed. So I wrote another novel. This time, a cozy mystery. Maybe God wanted me writing for adults instead of children.

Nope. Never sold.

Okay, God, I’ll try again. I started working on an idea based very loosely on a small Catholic school I had taught at that was forced to close. When you teach at a small school like that, you all become family. It was heartbreaking to watch our little family split. I thought if perhaps I wrote a story based loosely on that, it would please God, and He’d make my publishing dreams come true.

For months, I conducted research and tried to fit the pieces of my mystery puzzle together. I had planned to write the novel during November for National Novel Writing Month (NaNo), but as October 2011 drew to a close, I still couldn’t fit all the pieces together. God seemed to be laughing at my plans yet again.

Suddenly, on October 29, I got an idea for a different book. A young adult story about a girl who commits the gravest of sins. She takes her own life, and then must play guardian angel to another girl who is considering doing the same. It was a crazy concept. It will never publish, I thought. This story’s too religious for the mainstream, and too dark for the religious! But it was the story God seemed to have planted in my head and my heart. The outline rushed forth, and within three days, I was ready to start writing just as November began. By the end of the month, my story was finished, but what would I do with it?

For a month, I did nothing, but then a very brave woman opened up to me about her own suicide attempt. Was this God nudging me again? I decided to do some research. Believe it or not, I didn’t even know there was such a thing as Christian fiction. My research led me to ACFW, and there I found wonderful critique partners, who encouraged me to seek publication. Nearly two years later, I finally found a publisher willing to take a risk on my story, and even that seemed to be divine intervention. I didn’t find Vinspire through ACFW—or even SCBWI (the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators), which I’d belonged to for years. I actually heard about Vinspire through the Mystery Writers of America, which I’d joined when working on that cozy mystery!

So you see, God had a plan in all this. It wasn’t my plan. My plan would have had me being the next J.K. Rowling/George Lucas with my Harry Potter/Star Wars remix. But that’s not the story God wanted me to tell. He wanted me to write the story of a girl who struggles to see God at work in her life.

Because that’s the story I know.


One of my favorite places-
Choco Museo (Chocolate Museum)
 in Antigua, Guatemala

A.J. Cattapan is an author, speaker, and middle school English teacher living in the Chicago area. Her published works include the young adult novel Angelhood, a story in Chicken Soup for the Soul: From Lemons to Lemonade, and numerous short stories and articles in magazines for teens and children, including Highlights and Hopscotch for Girls. She will also be featured in a recipe and corresponding story anthology due out this summer.

Contact A.J. She loves to talk to her readers!


Angelhood ~

Seventeen-year-old theater geek Nanette believes her life is headed toward stardom on Broadway. But when her dream theater college rejects her and her best friend dies in a terrible accident, Nanette decides the world would be better off without her. Unfortunately, the afterlife offers something less than a heavenly situation. Trapped between alternating periods of utter darkness and light, Nanette is stuck following a high school freshman around. Soon, she learns she’s a guardian angel, and the only way she can earn her wings is to keep her young charge, Vera, from committing the same sin she did—taking her own life.

Unfortunately, Nanette is missing more than just her wings. She has no tangible body or voice, either. Frustrated by her inability to reach out to Vera and haunted by memories of her old life, Nanette wants to give up, but then she sees what happens when another Guardian at the high school turns his back on his charge. The shock is enough to supercharge Nanette’s determination. If she’s going to find peace in the afterlife, she’s going to have to discover what living is really all about.


To enter the contest for a copy of 
A.J.'s  new release: 
leave a comment (and email address)
AND become a follower of this blog, 
OR sign up to receive posts by email
if you aren't already.

International winner will receive an eBook. 
US winner will receive a paperback

The winner will be announced on my facebook page.

Thank you, A.J., for Joining us This Weekend!

We love chatting with you and are looking forward to reading your comments and questions. Or at least your hi, hello, hey, or ...

Thanks for stopping by!

Don't forget to comment!


Mary Preston said...

I love how you never gave up.


A.J. Cattapan said...

Thanks, Mary! Resiliency is a must in a writing career!

Anonymous said...

I am already a follower of this blog. I could sure use anything to encourage me. jrs362 (at) hotmail (dot) cim

Loraine Nunley said...

Wow! This sounds sooo interesting. I am going to check it out! Thanks for the interview and giveaway. I follow this blog. momrain(AT)aol(DOT)com

Mary Vee Writer said...

I agree Mary. This post is inspiring to all readers no matter what their calling is.

Mary Vee Writer said...

Good morning, Jane.
Yes, I know you have had a rough time with life. I am so sorry for that and will be praying for you. In fact, lets say a prayer right now,
Great Father above, I pray for your comforting Spirit to wrap your arms around Jane and sooth her heart. Help her with her needs and send a friend who can help her laugh. Let her know how much You love her.
Let me know if I can pray for anything specific, Jane. Love yah.

Mary Vee Writer said...

Good morning, Loraine.
A.J.'s book really does look interesting. The topic is unique and one that will touch many hearts.
I'm so glad you came today. Let's see, we have virtual coffee and tea ready to go. Which would you like? I'm sipping coffee and cream right now.

Connie Porter Saunders said...

A.J., I am so glad that you didn't give up as your different projects didn't take off. Angelhood covers such a timely and pertinent subject and it sounds like it will be a great book for the YA and adult market. I will be interested to read the passages dealing with the waiting places!
Mary, thanks for hosting A.J. Blessings to both of you!

A.J. Cattapan said...

Happy to pray for you! May you feel the Father's loving touch today and may you always remember that Jesus walks by your side.

A.J. Cattapan said...

Thanks for stopping by, Lorraine! I'm sipping a chai latte myself this morning. :)

Mary Vee Writer said...

Good morning, Connie! Nice to see you today.
Angelhood does cover a timely and pertinent subject. Sometimes I think we forget how important this is because our lives settle into someplace safe for a time. I'd go so far as to say this is a timeless subject, wouldn't you?
Thanks for joining our chat today, Connie. Love talking with you.

A.J. Cattapan said...

Thanks, Connie! I think God knew exactly when this book needed to come out!

Pepper Basham said...

SO SO excited for you, Amy!! And to have you on one of my FAVORITE people's blogs?!? That was like the best surprise!! Mary Vee is an awesome hostess and a super friend!

Can't wait to see what your book does, Amy! Wow! It's already making waves :-) YAY!!!

Mary Vee Writer said...

Hey, sweet friend, so happy to see you here.
I totally agree. A.J. has great ideas. She creative like you, Pepper. I think two super stars have hit the author lists. And I get to say I know you both:)

Anonymous said...

Good Morning ladies, I am joining in by drinking my lemon tea while you sip as well. Wow, I love how he is using you as a vechicle through your book to get such an important message out there. I know this book will touch and help so many lives. Mary Vee, it's wonderful to visit with you today and have you host A.J. Cattapan. She is definitely going somewhere with this book and I'd love to read it.

A.J. Cattapan said...

Thanks for stopping by, Pepper! I think I owe it to you that I'm on Mary's blog. :)

And Mary, did you know that Pepper and I had the Kindle versions of our books release on the same day? April 12! We're with the same publisher who worked some magic to get both of our Kindle books to release early.

A.J. Cattapan said...

Thanks for the kind words, Deanne! Your lemon tea sounds delicious.

Mary Vee Writer said...

Hi Deanne! I'm so glad you stopped by today. As for me, I have English Breakfast tea. No sugar. No cream.
I totally agree that this is the needed book for so many lives. I think A.J. will hear a lot about how this book has effected readers well after years pass. God has blessed her faithfulness.

Good to chat with you today, Deanne :)

Anonymous said...

Great post! I know that I have probably made God laugh numerous times with my plan making! I love to know what's going to happen in life and tend to have everything planned out. Haha! Praise God He is always so patient with us! :)
sylvesternator at yahoo dot com

A.J. Cattapan said...

Now if only I was as patient with God has He is with me. :)

Mary Vee Writer said...

Which causes me to wonder. I often think about what will happen when we're in heaven. Will we have a chance to sit down with God and have chats. If so, He could easily spend time saying things like.."Oh, yeah, and remember the time you... Your guardian angel had to work fast on that one." We'd laugh and I sit amazed at His patience and love.

I'm so glad you stopped by today, Laura. And thanks for becoming a follower. I look forward to more chats with you.