WINNERS ANNOUNCED! 2022 Catholic Kidlit Writing Contest

Thank you to everyone who participated in this year’s writing contest! It was great fun reading your stories and reflecting on Lent and on service to God in a new way through your work. I’m also pleased to share that ALL participants will get a prize this year!

Scroll down to hear about our illustrious writers, their stories, and the prizes they’ve won! Also, feel free to share this post to celebrate the winners and to continue to encourage the creation of soul-building fiction and non-fiction for children.

Judging criteria considered:

To review, each of the entries needed to adhere to the following criteria:

  1. Kid-appeal/Kid-friendliness – remember, this is a story for kids!
  2. Creativity in using your service-inspired word
  3. Quality of story – basic story elements and a true story arc
  4. Quality of writing – use and flow of language, correctness of mechanics, excellence of rhyme and meter if you use it.
  5. Originality – I’d love to see something new brought to the table in this Catholic children’s space! ❤
  6. *Bonus* – I’ll choose the pieces that speak to me most, be they sentimental, sweet, meditative, funny, lyrical, scary, inspiring, or something I haven’t thought of. I’m excited to be surprised!

Prizes:

And now for the extra-fun part: the prizes!


Congratulations to Jen Sanders, you have won a manuscript critique from Colleen Pressprich!

I really enjoyed Jen’s rhyming meditation on the Passion. If you haven’t read it, find her entry at the contest page, here.

Picture Book manuscript critique from author Colleen Pressprich

Colleen is a former missionary and former Montessori teacher who seeks to use the lessons learned in the mission field and the classroom to help other families grow their domestic church. She is the author of Marian Consecration for Families with Young Children, the OSV Kids Stations of the Cross, and The Women Doctors of the Church. Colleen lives in Michigan with her husband and children. 

Congratulations to Ann Johnson, you have won a manuscript critique from Lindsay Schlegel!

I’m very curious where the rest of Ann’s mysterious Mass story is headed…I hope you continue to write, Ann! Read her entry here.

Picture Book manuscript critique from editor Lindsay Schlegel

Lindsay Schlegel is a daughter of God who seeks to encourage, inspire, and lift others up to be all they were created to be through editing, writing, and speaking. Lindsay has over 17 years’ experience in traditional book publishing, having worked at Borders, Candlewick Press, Abrams Books for Young Readers, a boutique literary agency, and Simon & Schuster (children’s division). She is the author of Don’t Forget to Say Thank You: And Other Parenting Lessons That Brought Me Closer to God and co-author of a forthcoming book from Our Sunday Visitor, tentatively titled, Quenching His Thirst: Amplifying the Voice of the Church in Substance Use Disorder Recovery. She’s also the host of the podcast Quote Me with Lindsay Schlegel. Lindsay lives in New Jersey with her family, and would love to connect on social media or at lindsayschlegel.com

Congratulations to Emily Robinson, you have won a manuscript critique from me!

Lent is a great time to reflect on Mary’s love for us and for Jesus as He went to death on the cross for our sake. In Emily’s entry, we hear about modern mothers’ love. Read her entry on the contest page here.

Picture Book manuscript critique from me, Theresa Kiser

Find out more about my manuscript critiques here.

Congratulations to Susan E. Schipper, you have won a copy of Kristina Lahr’s picture book, Candle’s Great Feast!

Susan’s love for teaching children about God’s love come through in her entry about giving and sacrifice. Check out her entry on the contest page.

Candle’s Great Feast by Kristina Lahr

The candle in the deepest, darkest corner of the candle shop longs for more than matching tablecloths. He wants to light a feast, the greatest feast. His dream comes true at his first Catholic Mass.

Learn more about this book on the Catholic Kidlit podcast.


Logistics

NOTE: If you have won a manuscript critique, please reach out to the author/editor assigned to arrange your critique. If you have won a book (Hi Susan!) then I’ll be working to arrange shipment with you and the author (Hi Kristina!) 😀

Thanks for Participating!

Huge congratulations again to our winners–thank you for participating, and I hope to see you again next year! Also, big thanks again to the authors who have sponsored this contest; it wouldn’t be possible without you!

I wish you all well in all your writing and wish you a blessed Holy Week!


Want to learn more about Arthur the Clumsy Altar Server?

Read about it and pre-order here, coming Fall of 2022.

Pre-order is now available

About Theresa Kiser

I’m Theresa Kiser, a speaker and award-winning children’s book author of the Arthur the Clumsy Altar Server Series (coming 2022), and the board books Seven Gifts of Baptism and A Little Catholic’s Book of Liturgical Colors and the fantasy adventure series The Manakor Chronicles. I love supporting other writers through workshops, writing contests, manuscript critiques, and one-on-one coaching. On a rare moment when I’m not writing or changing diapers, I might indulge in fruity teas, dark chocolate, and a good book.

Let’s nourish hope & love in young hearts…through books!


Submit your story below in the comments to enter! Good luck! 🙂

Thank you to our contest participants!

What a fun week! Thank you to all our contest participants! It has been great fun on this second year reading your creative work.

I’ll post in the next week or so to announce the WINNERS, and in the meantime, show your fellow writers some support and love by commenting on their uplifting stories and sharing the message of their work!

Wishing you all a blessed Lent, and I look forward to sharing the good news soon!


Lent Activity

In the meantime, check out an inexpensive Lenten activity to share with your family or catechesis students here, and get a free Ordinary time door hanger craft here.

Share this easy Lenten activity and prayer with a child in your life

Want to learn more about Arthur the Clumsy Altar Server?

Read about it and pre-order here, coming Fall of 2022.

Pre-order is now available

About Theresa Kiser

I’m Theresa Kiser, a speaker and award-winning children’s book author of the Arthur the Clumsy Altar Server Series (coming 2022), and the board books Seven Gifts of Baptism and A Little Catholic’s Book of Liturgical Colors and the fantasy adventure series The Manakor Chronicles. I love supporting other writers through workshops, writing contests, manuscript critiques, and one-on-one coaching. On a rare moment when I’m not writing or changing diapers, I might indulge in fruity teas, dark chocolate, and a good book.

Let’s nourish hope & love in young hearts…through books!


Submit your story below in the comments to enter! Good luck! 🙂

The 2022 Catholic Kidlit Writing Contest is Officially Open!

It’s time! Take a look at the prompt below and post your story in the comments to be considered for one of the fabulous prizes donated by authors and editors to support the creation of more Catholic kidlit!

To review how and why we’re doing this: This year, in honor of my upcoming picture book Arthur the Clumsy Altar Server, the theme is SERVING GOD! Let’s connect and have some fun writing Catholic kidlit!

GOALS:

  1. Connect to other Catholic kidlit authors.
  2. Spur creativity!
  3. Get in some fun writing practice.
  4. Learn from other writers who participate.
  5. Encourage the writing of stories told from Catholic tradition/with Catholic values…for kids!
  6. and more!

Here’s how it will work:

1. Write a 200 word children’s story! Write a poem, a story, a mood piece, whatever comes to mind that relates to Lent in some way. It can be Biblical, contemporary, mainstream, etc. It is welcome to but does not have to reference Catholic theology at all, as long as you follow the Lent-inspired guidelines below. Happy, sad, meditative, whatever you’d like for any kidlit age: board book through young adult. Maximum length: 200 words. To summarize, your piece MUST:

  • Include 0-200 words, (not a word more!), AND
  • Include one of the following service-inspired words in your text: serve, sacrifice, or give, AND
  • Be intended for any kidlit age (0-17), AND
  • Not contradict Catholic values or theology.

NOTE: You do NOT have to be Catholic to participate. This contest is open to all. The story simply must correspond with and be respectful of Catholic values/teaching. Can’t wait to read your story!

2. Between March 28 and March 31, 2022 11:59 PM Eastern Standard Time, post your response as a comment on the blog post you are reading now.

3. In your comment, please include: 

  • your name
  • the word count of your piece, 
  • the word or image you selected (see instructions),
  • age level of the prize you’d prefer (BB [board book, ages 0-3], PB [picture book, ages 4-8], CB [chapter book], MG [middle grade, ages 8-12], YA [young adult, ages 13-17]),
  • country you’re in, as some prizes are US only, and
  • contact info for if you win a prize (ie. twitter handle, facebook name, or email–sorry I haven’t figured out Instagram yet)

NOTE: One entry per person please.

4. Share, share, share! If you’re reading this far, you’re probably a writer, which means, like me, you probably love reading, especially original work. Let’s share to support and encourage more quality writing in the Catholic kidlit space. Share with your writing groups, on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. If we get a large response, it may continue as an annual thing.

5. Comment on this post if you have questions, comments, or just want to say how excited you are!

Let’s encourage serving God at Mass, in our homes, and in our communities!
Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

Judging criteria I’ll be considering:

  1. Kid-appeal/Kid-friendliness – remember, this is a story for kids!
  2. Creativity in using your service-inspired word
  3. Quality of story – basic story elements and a true story arc
  4. Quality of writing – use and flow of language, correctness of mechanics, excellence of rhyme and meter if you use it.
  5. Originality – I’d love to see something new brought to the table in this Catholic children’s space! ❤
  6. *Bonus* – I’ll choose the pieces that speak to me most, be they sentimental, sweet, meditative, funny, lyrical, scary, inspiring, or something I haven’t thought of. I’m excited to be surprised!

Prizes:

THANK YOU to the talented professionals who have contributed prizes! This is such an exciting moment, and you are offering your talents and time to make this possible! Your generosity is helping to bring us together and make better Catholic kidlit!

Picture Book manuscript critique from author Colleen Pressprich

Colleen is a former missionary and former Montessori teacher who seeks to use the lessons learned in the mission field and the classroom to help other families grow their domestic church. She is the author of Marian Consecration for Families with Young Children, the OSV Kids Stations of the Cross, and The Women Doctors of the Church. Colleen lives in Michigan with her husband and children. 

Picture Book manuscript critique from editor Lindsay Schlegel

Lindsay Schlegel is a daughter of God who seeks to encourage, inspire, and lift others up to be all they were created to be through editing, writing, and speaking. Lindsay has over 17 years’ experience in traditional book publishing, having worked at Borders, Candlewick Press, Abrams Books for Young Readers, a boutique literary agency, and Simon & Schuster (children’s division). She is the author of Don’t Forget to Say Thank You: And Other Parenting Lessons That Brought Me Closer to God and co-author of a forthcoming book from Our Sunday Visitor, tentatively titled, Quenching His Thirst: Amplifying the Voice of the Church in Substance Use Disorder Recovery. She’s also the host of the podcast Quote Me with Lindsay Schlegel. Lindsay lives in New Jersey with her family, and would love to connect on social media or at lindsayschlegel.com

Picture Book manuscript critique from me, Theresa Kiser

Find out more about my manuscript critiques here.

A Little Catholic’s Book of Liturgical Colors by Theresa Kiser

Introduce babies and toddlers to God’s LOVE through the symbolism of the liturgical colors!

Candle’s Great Feast by Kristina Lahr

The candle in the deepest, darkest corner of the candle shop longs for more than matching tablecloths. He wants to light a feast, the greatest feast. His dream comes true at his first Catholic Mass.

Learn more about this book on the Catholic Kidlit podcast.

Digital copy of award-winning novel The Firebrand Legacy (Book #1 of The Manakor Chronicles) by T.K. Kiser

for ages 10-14, “Best Juvenile Fiction” Gold Winner


I can’t wait to connect with my fellow Catholic kidlit writers and encourage more practiced craft for this important and fulfilling vocation!

Please be sure to support the writers, authors, and illustrators by checking out their links, buying their books, reviewing them, requesting a purchase from your library, and sharing about their books on Facebook and Twitter.

The contest is now LIVE! Go ahead and post your entry below to participate 🙂


How did it go last year?

In the meantime, check out last year’s contest page to see how it works and read some fabulous entries!

Want to learn more about Arthur the Clumsy Altar Server?

Read about it and pre-order here, coming Fall of 2022.

Pre-order is now available

About Theresa Kiser

I’m Theresa Kiser, a speaker and award-winning children’s book author of the Arthur the Clumsy Altar Server Series (coming 2022), and the board books Seven Gifts of Baptism and A Little Catholic’s Book of Liturgical Colors and the fantasy adventure series The Manakor Chronicles. I love supporting other writers through workshops, writing contests, manuscript critiques, and one-on-one coaching. On a rare moment when I’m not writing or changing diapers, I might indulge in fruity teas, dark chocolate, and a good book.

Let’s nourish hope & love in young hearts…through books!


Submit your story below in the comments to enter! Good luck! 🙂

You’re Invited: 2022 Writing Contest for Catholic Kidlit! (Just for Fun!)

Last year was a TON of fun hosting a writing contest on the site. This year, IT’S BACK and it’s open to EVERYONE! And, as announced last week, we’re less than two weeks away!

The general market has LOTS of contests, LOTS of community, LOTS of publishers, and LOTS of opportunity. The Catholic market (and therefore the Catholic kidlit writing community) has…less, which is no surprise given the small size of our segment.

This year, in honor of my upcoming picture book Arthur the Clumsy Altar Server, the theme is SERVING GOD! Let’s connect and have some fun writing Catholic kidlit!

GOALS:

  1. Connect to other Catholic kidlit authors.
  2. Spur creativity!
  3. Get in some fun writing practice.
  4. Learn from other writers who participate.
  5. Encourage the writing of stories told from Catholic tradition/with Catholic values…for kids!
  6. and more!

Here’s how it will work:

1. Write a 200 word children’s story! Write a poem, a story, a mood piece, whatever comes to mind that relates to Lent in some way. It can be Biblical, contemporary, mainstream, etc. It is welcome to but does not have to reference Catholic theology at all, as long as you follow the Lent-inspired guidelines below. Happy, sad, meditative, whatever you’d like for any kidlit age: board book through young adult. Maximum length: 200 words. To summarize, your piece MUST:

  • Include 0-200 words, (not a word more!), AND
  • Include one of the following service-inspired words in your text: serve, sacrifice, or give, AND
  • Be intended for any kidlit age (0-17), AND
  • Not contradict Catholic values or theology.

NOTE: You do NOT have to be Catholic to participate. This contest is open to all. The story simply must correspond with and be respectful of Catholic values/teaching. Can’t wait to read your story!

2. Between March 28 and March 31, 2022 11:59 PM Eastern Standard Time, post your response as a comment on the contest blog post (I’ll link it here on March 28th). Do NOT post your entry on the page you’re reading now, as it will not be considered.

3. In your comment, please include: 

  • your name
  • the word count of your piece, 
  • the word or image you selected (see instructions),
  • age level of the prize you’d prefer (BB [board book, ages 0-3], PB [picture book, ages 4-8], CB [chapter book], MG [middle grade, ages 8-12], YA [young adult, ages 13-17]),
  • country you’re in, as some prizes are US only, and
  • contact info for if you win a prize (ie. twitter handle, facebook name, or email–sorry I haven’t figured out Instagram yet)

NOTE: One entry per person please.

4. Share, share, share! If you’re reading this far, you’re probably a writer, which means, like me, you probably love reading, especially original work. Let’s share to support and encourage more quality writing in the Catholic kidlit space. Share with your writing groups, on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. If we get a large response, it may continue as an annual thing.

5. Comment on this post if you have questions, comments, or just want to say how excited you are!

Let’s encourage serving God at Mass, in our homes, and in our communities!
Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

Judging criteria I’ll be considering:

  1. Kid-appeal/Kid-friendliness – remember, this is a story for kids!
  2. Creativity in using your service-inspired word
  3. Quality of story – basic story elements and a true story arc
  4. Quality of writing – use and flow of language, correctness of mechanics, excellence of rhyme and meter if you use it.
  5. Originality – I’d love to see something new brought to the table in this Catholic children’s space! ❤
  6. *Bonus* – I’ll choose the pieces that speak to me most, be they sentimental, sweet, meditative, funny, lyrical, scary, inspiring, or something I haven’t thought of. I’m excited to be surprised!

Prizes:

THANK YOU to the talented professionals who have contributed prizes! This is such an exciting moment, and you are offering your talents and time to make this possible! Your generosity is helping to bring us together and make better Catholic kidlit!

Picture Book manuscript critique from author Colleen Pressprich

Colleen is a former missionary and former Montessori teacher who seeks to use the lessons learned in the mission field and the classroom to help other families grow their domestic church. She is the author of Marian Consecration for Families with Young Children, the OSV Kids Stations of the Cross, and The Women Doctors of the Church. Colleen lives in Michigan with her husband and children. 

Picture Book manuscript critique from editor Lindsay Schlegel

Lindsay Schlegel is a daughter of God who seeks to encourage, inspire, and lift others up to be all they were created to be through editing, writing, and speaking. Lindsay has over 17 years’ experience in traditional book publishing, having worked at Borders, Candlewick Press, Abrams Books for Young Readers, a boutique literary agency, and Simon & Schuster (children’s division). She is the author of Don’t Forget to Say Thank You: And Other Parenting Lessons That Brought Me Closer to God and co-author of a forthcoming book from Our Sunday Visitor, tentatively titled, Quenching His Thirst: Amplifying the Voice of the Church in Substance Use Disorder Recovery. She’s also the host of the podcast Quote Me with Lindsay Schlegel. Lindsay lives in New Jersey with her family, and would love to connect on social media or at lindsayschlegel.com

Picture Book manuscript critique from me, Theresa Kiser

Find out more about my manuscript critiques here.

A Little Catholic’s Book of Liturgical Colors by Theresa Kiser

Introduce babies and toddlers to God’s LOVE through the symbolism of the liturgical colors!

Candle’s Great Feast by Kristina Lahr

The candle in the deepest, darkest corner of the candle shop longs for more than matching tablecloths. He wants to light a feast, the greatest feast. His dream comes true at his first Catholic Mass.

Learn more about this book on the Catholic Kidlit podcast.

Digital copy of award-winning novel The Firebrand Legacy (Book #1 of The Manakor Chronicles) by T.K. Kiser

for ages 10-14, “Best Juvenile Fiction” Gold Winner


I can’t wait to connect with my fellow Catholic kidlit writers and encourage more practiced craft for this important and fulfilling vocation!

Please be sure to support the writers, authors, and illustrators by checking out their links, buying their books, reviewing them, requesting a purchase from your library, and sharing about their books on Facebook and Twitter.

I’ll be updating the blog with next steps for the contest, so check back before March 28, or sign up here to get an email when the next contest announcement comes out!


How did it go last year?

In the meantime, check out last year’s contest page to see how it works and read some fabulous entries!

Want to learn more about Arthur the Clumsy Altar Server?

Read about it and pre-order here, coming Fall of 2022.

Pre-order is now available

About Theresa Kiser

I’m Theresa Kiser, a speaker and award-winning children’s book author of the Arthur the Clumsy Altar Server Series (coming 2022), and the board books Seven Gifts of Baptism and A Little Catholic’s Book of Liturgical Colors and the fantasy adventure series The Manakor Chronicles. I love supporting other writers through workshops, writing contests, manuscript critiques, and one-on-one coaching. On a rare moment when I’m not writing or changing diapers, I might indulge in fruity teas, dark chocolate, and a good book.

Let’s nourish hope & love in young hearts…through books!


Will you be joining the contest? Let me know in the comments!

2 Weeks until the Catholic Kidlit Writing Contest opens! (Join the fun!)

Two weeks from today, on March 28, I’ll open up this year’s Arthur the Clumsy Altar Server-inspired Catholic Kidlit Writing contest! All the rules and instructions are coming soon, so you’ll be able to write your post ahead of time (stay tuned!).

Then, on the 28th (but not before), go ahead and post your entry in the comments section on the contest blog page (which will be posted on the 28th).

So for now, open a new document, get creative, and have fun!!

You can do it!

What exactly is this contest?

Goals:

  1. Connect to other Catholic kidlit authors.
  2. Spur creativity!
  3. Get in some fun writing practice.
  4. Learn from other writers who participate.
  5. Encourage the writing of stories told from Catholic tradition/with Catholic values…for kids!
  6. and more!

How did it go last year?

In the meantime, check out last year’s contest page to see how it works and read some fabulous entries!

Want to learn more about Arthur the Clumsy Altar Server?

Read about it and pre-order here, coming Fall of 2022.

Pre-order is now available

Check back soon for the contest to officially open!

In the meantime, sign up for my email list to get important updates, and check out Susanna Leonard Hill’s fantastic just-finished Valentiney Writing Contest in the second week of February each year for more writing inspiration and community.


About Theresa Kiser

I’m Theresa Kiser, a speaker and award-winning children’s book author of the board book A Little Catholic’s Book of Liturgical Colors and the fantasy adventure series The Manakor Chronicles. I love supporting other writers through workshops, writing contests, manuscript critiques, and one-on-one coaching. On a rare moment when I’m not writing or changing diapers, I might indulge in fruity teas, dark chocolate, and a good book.Sign up for emails

Let’s nourish hope & love in young hearts…through books!


How is the writing going so far? Let me know in the comments!

Join me at the Catholic Writers Guild Conference

I’m looking forward to sharing some very practical knowledge all about writing for children at this year’s Catholic Writers Guild online conference. Join us on February 11!

Navigating the Catholic Children’s Book Market with Clarity and Intention

Do you have a children’s book idea or manuscript? Do you want to make sure it gets into the hands of a publisher who will love it, and kids who will love to read it? In this webinar, we will demystify the children’s book market.

By the end, you will be able to pinpoint:

  • which size market your book is best suited for,
  • which age of children it’s best for
  • how many words/pages your book should be,
  • self-publishing vs. traditional publishing,
  • what information (illustrations, notes, etc.) you should include with your query,
  • which types of publishers you should query, and
  • how to include this important information in your query letter/sales page.

Let’s package your children’s book accurately to give you maximum clarity during the writing process and the best chance for publication and sales success!

New Podcast Episode: Non-Didactic Chastity in Teen Fiction with Author Carolyn Astfalk

In today’s episode, I speak with author Carolyn Astfalk. You’ll hear about:

  • Congratulations to Ariana, our Liturgical Colors giveaway winner
  • Ending of Season 1 of the Catholic Kidlit Podcast – Thanks for joining me!
  • Book launch updates for Arthur the Clumsy Altar Server and Seven Gifts of Baptism
  • Just a little longer to join the CKWC for 2022
  • How the true story of lost treasure in Pennsylvania inspired a teen romance author
  • How Catholic themes of chastity tie in with lost treasure
  • How fiction creates a launching pad for important conversation and big choices
  • A giveaway of the Catholic teen anthology, Treasures: Invisible and Invisible
  • And more!

**Affiliate disclaimer: Some links may be affiliate links where I earn a little money from your purchase at no cost to you. Thanks for helping an author out! 🙂

Congratulations to Our Winners!

Huge congratulations to Ariana, our winner of my board book, A Little Catholic’s Book of Liturgical Colors! Thanks for participating, Ariana!

Liturgical Colors and God’s love for babies!A Little Catholic’s Book of Liturgical Colors

Today on the show, we are speaking with an author of a Catholic book on the upper age end of kidlit, young adult. Her book Rightfully Ours came out in 2017 and I wanted to highlight it this season because it is important that we don’t forget our teen readers, usually voracious readers, if they are given books that they actually want to read.

So I’m very much looking forward to sharing our interview with you today. I also wanted to congratulate the winner of our Liturgical Colors, giveaway. Ariana, thank you for participating in our giveaway.

Today’s Giveaway

If you want to win a book, we have one more giveaway this season that is today at the end of this show, it is a Catholic Teen Books anthology that you’ll hear more about from Carolyn Astfalk.

Official Ending of Season 1 – Thank you for joining me!

I said that this is the last giveaway of the season, because this is the last regularly scheduled episode of the season. I may have some bonus episodes coming out later this year. But we’ll take a break after this episode. So make sure that you have subscribed to the show if you want to know when we’re coming back with some more interviews.

Catholic Kidlit Writers Club

There’s still time to join the Catholic Kidlit Writers Club until the end of February. We have a small group going there and I’m just excited that we’re together and we can lean on each other. It’s one of those things where you get out, what you put in. I have a feeling that in the group some people will use it more than others. But I’m just glad that we have a space where we’re starting to exist together. 

CWG Conference – February 11

Are you attending this year’s online conference with the Catholic Writers Guild? I will be speaking there along with other Catholic writers on the weekend of February 11th. My talk is all about, can you guess? Catholic children’s literature: writing it, getting it published, et cetera. So join me there. And and you can meet a bunch of other Catholic writers. There are also pitch sessions. If you want to pitch your book to Catholic publishers. 

Second Annual Writing Contest! Participate for free this Lent

Then this spring during Lent, I will be hosting a free kidlit writing contest. This will be our second writing contest on my blog at www.TheresaKiser.com. Take the writing challenge to try your hand at writing a very short 200-word or less story on a surprise topic that I will reveal on the blog.

Prizes will include books and critiques, and of course the comradery and fun of joining in on the challenge. So join me there. It’s all free. It’s all for fun. And it’s to celebrate Catholic kidlit. 

Book Launch Updates

Finally, an update on my books that are coming out this year. If you listened to the last episode, you have heard about the supply chain disruptions that have occurred in the publishing industry.

And they have come around and impacted my book launch. So Arthur the Clumsy Altar Server, which was originally scheduled for spring will be coming out in the Fall of this year which I’m very excited about. It gives us kind of more time to prepare and keep the suspense, but just stay tuned. I know if you were super eager for that just stay tuned on the blog and my website, because I will be revealing when the pre-order link will go up and I’ll be doing a cover reveal there.

I just got the proof back of what the inside is going to look like. And that was just a very exciting moment. It’s just all coming together. 

And then Seven Gifts of Baptism is coming out this year, too. It was originally going to be in the spring and it’s looked like it’s pushed back at least until late spring or early summer.

I don’t have a firm date on that yet. But just stay tuned because those are both books that I think can really just uplift some of our kids. So I’m looking forward to them being out. And I would love for you to join me on that adventure with those books. 

Want to be interviewed?

If you would like to be interviewed on the Catholic Kidlit podcast, if you have some insight into Catholic children’s books, if you are an author/editor, you can apply at Catholic Kidlit dot com or send me a message through the contact form.

Without further ado, I’d like to introduce our interviewee, Carolyn Astfalk. Here’s the interview and enjoy the show.

Now for the Interview with Author Carolyn Astfalk

Theresa Kiser: What got you into writing books and which book are you highlighting today? Which are you most excited about? 

Carolyn Astfalk: Well, I kind of got into it by accident just by doing a National Novel Writing Month and then kind of getting bitten by a writing bug. The book I’d most like to focus on is more a young adult book than my others.

And it’s called Rightfully Ours. It’s a coming of age story that is chastity themed actually. 

Theresa Kiser: It can be so impactful to read a novel like that at that age. I was blessed to read Carmen Marcoux’s Arms of Love when I was a teenager and it really impacted my whole view of romance.

So tell us a little bit about this book and its chastity focus. 

Carolyn Astfalk: Well, like I said, I started it during National Novel Writing Month and I really didn’t know what I was going to write. Just that I wanted to accept this challenge to write 50,000 words during the month of November. I looked for an idea and found a newspaper clipping.

It probably was an online newspaper clipping, but it was about some lost treasure in Pennsylvania. I still see news stories about it every so many months and it’ll pop up again. There was gold traveling to the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia during the battle of Gettysburg.

At some point they lost track of the men transporting the gold. The gold disappeared; the men were dead. It was just a mystery. They still don’t know exactly where this gold is, but there are active treasure hunters looking mostly in Northwestern, Pennsylvania, and then where my book is set is up in Williamsport, which is more central and Northern Pennsylvania.

So I just had this glimmer of idea and just started writing. And I really didn’t set out necessarily to write a romance, but that’s what it ended up being. And I hadn’t read romance heavily. So it was kind of an interesting thing. And after that, I did start to, so I could learn more about the genre and the conventions of it.

But that was sort of what was on my heart to write and what my other books ended up being: mostly contemporary Catholic romances. 

Catholic Author Carolyn Astfalk

Experienced Author of Contemporary Romance

Theresa Kiser: So your other books are mainly for adults or for teens? Was this your first teen book or… what’s the age group for all your books? 

Carolyn Astfalk: So for my other novels, there are four other full-length novels. 

They’re geared mainly towards adults. Now there’s nothing in them that I don’t think older teens can’t read. It’s just mature subject matter. But there are no explicit scenes of any kind or foul language or anything like that. But this particular book is geared more toward young adults because the main characters are teenagers.

And so it’s more appealing, you know, to that audience, as well as to people that like to read coming of age stories. 

Treasure Hunt

Theresa Kiser: That’s great. I am one of those people who likes to read coming of age stories. So these are teenagers who go on a treasure hunt?

Carolyn Astfalk: They do that. It’s kind of an accidental treasure hunt.

There’s a young girl, Rebecca. This young man, Paul comes actually to live on their property. His father has been deployed; he’s with his older brother who’s come to the area to take a job in the fracking industry where they’re mining natural gas. And they build a friendship and notice some kind of obstacles along the way. And a friendship grows into real affection for each other.

But they also at the same time have discovered what they think could be gold. And so that’s a kind of a parallel storyline, although it kind of comes together with a treasure that they’re discovering in the love between them and the treasure that there’s the physical treasure under the earth that could be there. Their dilemma is how you take things that are rightfully yours or not yours to take. And whether that means in a relationship being selfish or truly loving, or that means actual things that don’t belong to us, you know, objects, and how we treat them and how we respect others. 

Theresa Kiser: Oh, that’s great. I love that. That’s such a thematic tie in between the internal and the external conflicts. I’m excited to see how they would resolve that and what they would decide for each of those things.

Carolyn Astfalk: Oh, it’s funny. When I write a lot of that, I think, was subconscious. After I completed the novel, I’m rereading and that all occurred to me like, “oh, wait, that resonates with this.” And it’s, it’s really amazing how your subconscious and the Holy Spirit and everything works together. And sometimes subtle things in there that you didn’t intentionally put in there, really ring true. 

How the Book Came About

Theresa Kiser: When did this book come out?

Carolyn Astfalk: This came out in 2017. Yep. That’s right. April, 2017. And started writing it in that National Novel Writing Month in 2010. It was the first thing I had written and it took those seven years.

So I did a couple other books. Then I came back to that one with a little more experience and was able to rewrite it so that it was a more cohesive, better written story. 

Theresa Kiser: That is awesome. Yeah, you’ve mentioned it a couple of times, but National Novel Writing Month for people who haven’t heard of it, it is during the month of November. You have 30 days to write 50,000 words. And people from all around the country write down their stories on their computers. 

People meet up in cafes and try to write as many words as they can. They have Word Wars to try to get out words. And it’s a really fun way to, to write stories. Another young adult novel that was drafted during NaNoWriMo was Cinder, that kind of dystopian Cinderella adaptation.

I know there are several others, so it’s really cool to hear that that’s where your story was born. Once you came back to it, what was that journey like? How did you get it published? 

Carolyn Astfalk: Well, the story itself still stood on its own pretty well. It was all the mechanics of writing that I had learned along the way that I need to improve, whether it was dialogue or “showing and not telling” and all those little details that make it a much more enjoyable book to read. 

And by that time, I had published one book with Full Quiver Publishing, and I had had another one that I independently published and I went back to her with Rightfully Ours. And so she accepted that one and that was where that was published.

So I’ve kind of gone back and forth between taking books to Full Quiver. And then as I’ve become more experienced with doing my own, just doing it that way too and independently publishing. 

Theresa Kiser: That’s great. There’s so much to learn. One track informs the other track and vice versa. So that is awesome. 

Non-Didactic Chastity Themes

One of the challenges with writing for teens, especially with a kind of hot button topic, like chastity is how to share that message without preaching or moralizing. So what approach have you taken towards that? How does your story achieve that? 

Carolyn Astfalk: I think the most important thing is the story comes first.

I don’t want to create a story to serve some message I have to get out. I’d rather have the characters come alive in my imagination, and then they just play out whatever their dilemmas are. So they tend to be, I think, which are more interesting, very flawed characters or even mildly flawed, but certainly not perfect people so that we can all relate to them.

Besides that you also have the drama of their redemption, their self-discovery and improvement and that kind of thing. 

So the only time to have someone preaching in a book is if they’re actually a preacher. So you have a priest delivering a homily in a snippet…? Okay, well, he’s legit allowed to preach, but more often than not your other characters, aren’t gonna be preaching. If they are, it’s not going to come across well to the other characters, let alone the readers. 

So I just try to make it as real as possible in my imagination. Like: how would this play out in a conversation? How do people speak to each other? What does this character have to say to someone else in the context of their relationship? 

So in Rightfully Ours, some of the messages that are about the truth of chastity and what the church teaches come from the character Paul’s older brother who has his own experiences that he’s lived and regrets what he has. And he’s able to speak to genuinely to his brother in the absence of their father. Or from Rachel’s parents, who are trying to instruct her and through the way they live their lives and what they’ve brought her up to believe. So I think the more natural it is and the more it’s serving the story and not a message that the better it comes across.

The Value of Story

Theresa Kiser: I feel like that is the value of a story to bring a theme to the front of the mind… it’s that you don’t have to take it like a message. You can just explore the question through someone else’s eyes. Then the reader has time to think about, well, what do I want? 

Carolyn Astfalk: Right. And it’s a great for conversation too. I’m part of a group called Catholic Teen Books where some authors work cooperatively. And one of the things that we always share is that stories are a great way to open conversations too, because it’s kind of uncomfortable to talk directly about a subject, but to talk indirectly about fictional people in their problems is a great way to talk about things that are really important.

You get that little bit of distance. You build empathy by reading it, but you also have a distance because you’re not talking about yourself. You’re talking about Paul and Rachel and their circumstances. 

Theresa Kiser: So with your book having been out, have you heard about any of these conversations that families are having at home based on reading your book?

Carolyn Astfalk: Some of my favorite couple of reviews are when people say, “boy, I wish I had had this book when I was a teenager.” Because like you said, when you’re reading at that age, some stories are very impactful. And I read a few romances at that age, but they were secular. There are clean romances, but I never felt like they fit with what my worldview was developing to be and how I was being raised.

And so whether it’s for young people or adults, I think while there’s a place for books that really transport you and allow you to see totally different experiences, there’s also a place for you to be able to identify with a character and even their practice of their faith. 

So I read a lot of Christian fiction for Evangelicals that I love very much. It’s also, I really enjoy reading something that’s happened to where the characters do the things and practice their faith the way I do. 

And so I think for teens to, to see a Catholic who’s struggling to develop their own faith or make it a coming of age story, they’re really taking those values and making them their own for the first time. “I’m not just what my parents told me to do, what I was taught at school or whatever, but here’s what I believe. And here’s why, and this is how I’m going to behave accordingly.”

To see that and see it reflected with subtle Catholic nuances, I think is very affirming, especially to a young person. 

Theresa Kiser: Yes, absolutely.

What Age Reader?

One of the difficulties that I have encountered in the past with books for this age group is, okay, you have middle schoolers, some of whom are starting to crave reading a little bit about romance kind of thing.

But a lot of the books that are out there are kind of too much for you know, maybe. Middle school girl, who’s more chastity minded and wants to read a book that’s not boring, but also is not, and does have romance, but has also not. Just *too much* in that department. So what is maybe the youngest reader that would be able to read your book?

Cause I know it tackles some more advanced themes. But how does it treat it? Who would you feel comfortable reading your book at what age? 

Carolyn Astfalk: I would say generally speaking, I would say 16. Yeah. Every child is different and some kids are more sheltered. Now, if you have a 13 year old who reads contemporary romances or the secular YA’s, this will seem extraordinarily tame to them.

But if you have a very sheltered young man or woman that doesn’t have a lot of experience with romance then… With my own daughter, she hasn’t read my books yet. She’s read the short stories, but she’s going to be 14 and she would probably be fine with it, but I think she could wait.a little longer for that. 

So it’s an individual thing. 

It’s always great if parents read something first, but I know that that’s not always realistic when you have a bunch of kids and a bunch of books, and it’s just time consuming. 

One of the nice things we did on our Catholic Teen Books website is for the books that are there, we put up a content guide, and that is an aid to help parents or teens themselves gauge who they think this is appropriate for. So you get an idea of any violence or sexuality or anything that might be uncomfortable or that the teen might not be ready for yet. 

Catholic Teen Books

Theresa Kiser: That sounds like a great resource. Is it the books just by the by the authors which are reviewed or are there more books reviewed?

Carolyn Astfalk: The books that are all there are all books by our selected authors. So I think there’s about a dozen authors. And it’s not necessarily every book they’ve written because my adult books aren’t on there, or some other authors might do some non-fiction. It’s just fiction by these authors that we’ve all vetted in and put on the website.

So they put them there with outlines, there’s links to discussion questions, or study guides, the content guide. That kind of thing helps teens and parents discover not only what they like, but what’s best suited to them. 

Theresa Kiser: That sounds really helpful. 

So what message do you want readers to take away about your book?

Carolyn Astfalk: I think that Catholic fiction, first of all, is a thing for adults and teens and for young children too. But it exists, and it’s not necessarily preachy or boring or pious, but it’s actually fun and adventurous and can be a fun supplement to your other reading that it can be part of what you enjoy.

Theresa Kiser: Absolutely. 

Giveaway

Well, thank you so much. Carolyn has offered up to give as a giveaway, a copy of Treasures, Visible and Invisible, which is an anthology by eight Catholic Teen Books authors. So can you tell us a little bit about the anthology?

Carolyn Astfalk: So this project was so much fun. We had done a couple other anthologies where we each contributed a short story, and there are a variety of genres.

So we have saint stories and we have historical fiction. We have romance, we have mystery. We have dystopian.. All these things together that all the different authors bring. And what was so special about this book is that we decided we wouldn’t just tie them by a theme but by an object. 

So there is a Relic of St. Patrick that moves through each one of these stories and they cross continents in Europe and north America a couple of times. And it moves from, you know, like 300 A.D. all the way up into the two thousands. So it was really a fun project to see how that, that object moves through each of our stories so distinctly. 

Where to Find the Author

Theresa Kiser: Really fun. Well, thank you so much for offering that. And if you are interested in reading some of these stories yourself we will have a giveaway going on. So check the show notes for that. And Carolyn, for those who are interested in reading your books where can they find you?

Well, the easiest places to go to my website, which is Carolynastfalk.com. I have all the links to my books and audio books and anthologies there. And I do a lot of reviews of Catholic fiction. So there’s a lot of that on my blog as well. So you can find more than just my books.

a Rafflecopter giveaway https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Carolyn Astfalk: Awesome. All right. Well, thank you so much!

 Carolyn, as you heard is the author of several books and has a lot of experience with indie publishing and traditional publishing with Quiver Full. So if you want to hear some tips from her, come and join us in the Catholic Kidlit Writers Club for our exclusive interview with Carolyn about writing.

So we will see you there in the meantime join our giveaway. And thank you so much, Carolyn, for joining us today on the podcast. 

Theresa Kiser: This has been Theresa Kiser with the Catholic Kidlit Podcast. 

The best way to support the Catholic kidlit creator you heard from today is to buy their books, leave reviews, and spread the word on social media and in person.

If you want to write meaningful children’s books with a Catholic heart, check out the Catholic Kidlit Writers Club at CatholicKidlit.com. 

Together we can create and discover books to nurture children’s souls.

Thanks so much for tuning in, and see you next time!

What fiction has helped shape your values? Were you connected with non-didactic teen books at that age?

Let me know in the comments!


About Theresa Kiser

I’m Theresa Kiser, speaker and award-winning children’s book author of the picture books Arthur the Clumsy Altar Server (OSV, Coming Fall 2022), Seven Gifts of Baptism (Holy Heroes, coming 2022), and Liturgical Colors (Holy Heroes, 2019), as well as the fantasy adventure series The Manakor Chronicles. On a rare moment when I’m not writing or changing diapers, I might indulge in fruity teas, dark chocolate, and a good book.

Let’s nourish hope & love in young hearts…through books!


New Podcast Episode: 2021 Catholic Publishing Year in Review

In today’s episode, we’re looking back at the huge changes which have taken place this year in the Catholic children’s book market! No transcript today so you’ll have to listen in, but I have some helpful links and bullet points here to guide you through:

  • Celebrating the Catholic Kidlit Podcast’s 1st year
  • Giveaway for my Catholic board book Liturgical Colors (Holy Heroes, 2019) – ENTER HERE
Enter the giveaway to win a chance to have Liturgical Colors on your family’s bookshelf!
  • Still time to enter the giveaway for My Grandma Is a Lady by Jalissa Pollard
  • My year: 4 book contracts! Arthur the Clumsy Altar Server (Books 1 and 2) and Seven Gifts of Baptism
  • Publishing backlogs and supply chain constraints
  • New and exciting market disruptions (good ones!): TAN Academy, OSV Kids Magazine, Ascension Kids
  • More Indie-publishing in the Catholic market: Kickstarters, Indie-published PBs and even BBs
  • Changes happening in the Catholic Writers Guild
  • Catholic Kidlit Writers Club is launching on January 1st, the first space for Catholic children’s book writers to get together. We’re starting out with some exclusive interviews including: Self-Publishing with Kristina Lahr, Creating the Catholic Magazine with Our Sunday Visitor, and Publishing Insight from editor Lindsay Schlegel. Our goal is to support YOU to create excellent Catholic children’s books. You can sign up to join the 2022 cohort at catholickidlit.com. Enrollment ends February 28, 2022.
  • Question Answered: How do I negotiate an author contract if I’m not also a lawyer?
Catholic Children’s Publishing 2021: Year in Review

**Affiliate disclaimer: Some links may be affiliate links where I earn a little money from your purchase at no cost to you. Thanks for helping an author out! 🙂

What Catholic kidlit developments are you excited about? And what did I miss?

Let me know in the comments!


About Theresa Kiser

I’m Theresa Kiser, speaker and award-winning children’s book author of the picture books Arthur the Clumsy Altar Server (OSV, Coming Spring 2022), Seven Gifts of Baptism (Holy Heroes, coming 2022), and Liturgical Colors (Holy Heroes, 2019), as well as the fantasy adventure series The Manakor Chronicles. On a rare moment when I’m not writing or changing diapers, I might indulge in fruity teas, dark chocolate, and a good book.

Let’s nourish hope & love in young hearts…through books!


Advent Meditation: When Dependence is Beautiful

When Dependence Is Beautiful

“There’s something so beautiful, almost palpable, about that love between a mother and her baby. And why is it that we look at this new, wrinkly, helpless creature and find him beautiful too?

In other contexts, such helplessness and vulnerability seems unattractive; it’s seen as a bad thing, something to avoid at all costs. 

Christ became helpless and vulnerable on the cross, yet we don’t feel the same surge of warmth looking at a crucifix as we do when looking at a crib…” Read the rest

Christ made Himself dependent…

Don’t forget! There’s still time to win a free Catholic children’s book in our giveaway 🙂

How do you view your limitations and dependence this year? With frustration or joy?

Let me know in the comments!


About Theresa Kiser

I’m Theresa Kiser, speaker and award-winning children’s book author of the picture books Arthur the Clumsy Altar Server (OSV, Coming Spring 2022), Seven Gifts of Baptism (Holy Heroes, coming 2022), and Liturgical Colors (Holy Heroes, 2019), as well as the fantasy adventure series The Manakor Chronicles. On a rare moment when I’m not writing or changing diapers, I might indulge in fruity teas, dark chocolate, and a good book.

Let’s nourish hope & love in young hearts…through books!

SERIES ANNOUNCEMENT! And a New Podcast Episode: Sharing the Faith through Family Stories with Author Jalissa Pollard

In today’s episode, I speak with author Jalissa Pollard. You’ll hear about:

  • An exciting SERIES announcement for Arthur the Clumsy Altar Server
  • How Jalissa’s Grandmother inspires her faith, life, and writing
  • Finding community in a Catholic lay movement
  • Representation in Catholic kidlit
  • How family stories can be as important to share as saint stories
  • Inspiring takeaways from the author: You are not alone!
  • A giveaway of her book, My Grandma Is a Lady
  • And more!

**Affiliate disclaimer: Some links may be affiliate links where I earn a little money from your purchase at no cost to you. Thanks for helping an author out! 🙂

Congratulations to Our Winners!

Huge congratulations to our 2 winners of Ascension’s giveaway for My First Interactive Mass Book. Stick around today for another book giveaway from our guest, author Jalissa Pollard.

My Catholic Kidlit Christmas Gift Round-Up

I have finished my kids gift shopping and am super excited about my finds:

The book buying is so much fun, but even better when the kids enjoy the gift you picked out. I’d love to hear what books YOU have bought for your beloved little ones this year!

Arthur the Clumsy Altar Server ANNOUNCEMENT!

As for Arthur the Clumsy Altar Server, I have laid eyes on the cover!! It is very cute, and I’m looking forward to sharing that with you soon.

And even more so, because it is now OFFICIAL that Arthur the Clumsy Altar Server is going to be a SERIES!

The first book, simply called, Arthur the Clumsy Altar Server, is coming out in early summer 2022. It’s a book about serving God, finding your way to serve God when maybe you don’t feel that you’re up to the task.

The SECOND book in the series is all about the Real Presence of the Eucharist, and should come out in 2023. That one is tentatively titled Arthur the Clumsy Altar Server Rings the Bells. So to say I am excited about this boy’s adventures in faith is an understatement. His stories have been in the works a long time, and now they’ll be able to be shared with kids, which is the whole. entire. point.

I am so grateful to be where I am in this writing and publishing journey, and am looking forward to helping my fellow writers in our Catholic Kidlit Writers Club this coming year in 2022. If you haven’t signed up yet, this is a great time to do so, so that you’ll have the benefit of our behind-the-scenes talks and community for the duration of 2022.

All the fun starts January 1, so sign up now. Our group is small and mighty, which I’m anticipating to mean that we will have a fierce level of connection with and support for each other. You can unlock exclusive webinars, interviews, community, and information in the writers club at Catholic Kidlit.com.

New Book from Author Jalissa Pollard

Our guest today has a family story to share, and has also shared with me that since our interview, her second book The Faithfulness of Daniel, in the Black Bible Series for Children, has also been released. 

The Faithfulness of Daniel is a story about the excellent spirit of Daniel, whose love and trust in God surpassed all, even in the face of lions. Daniel teaches us that getting in the presence of God sets one apart for the best.

The Faithfulness of Daniel by Jalissa Pollard

So my huge congratulations to Jalissa on her second book! Again, Jalissa Pollard is offering YOU a chance to WIN a copy of My Grandma is a Lady through our giveaway. So without further ado, here’s our interview!

Interview: Sharing the Faith through Family Stories

Theresa Kiser: Welcome Jalissa to the Catholic Kidlit podcast. Thank you for joining us today. 

Jalissa Pollard: Good afternoon! Absolutely. I’m so excited to be part of this podcast. It is so refreshing to be a part of a mission that is set on nourishing children’s souls. So I’m just so glad to be in that number. How are you, how are you today, Theresa?

Theresa Kiser: Great. I’m excited. This book is really cool. So tell us a little bit about the book and then we want to hear about you also. 

Jalissa Pollard: Absolutely. Well, My Grandma Is a Lady was published in 2019, so we were we just had our second birthday. And this was an ode to my grandmother who raised me as a child, and my sister and my brother and just a testament to her Catholic faith and what I witnessed and what I’ve observed through the eyes of a child.

She was a member of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Knights of Peter Klaver, and so I wanted to share that story that I figured would be familiar to others as well. 

Theresa Kiser: I love grandma appreciation. My grandma was crucial to me in teaching me the faith and she’s somebody that I just have a strong relationship with.

And now that she’s passed, you know, it’s so special to carry on her memory. So tell us about your grandma. Like tell us about what, what mattered to you, what impacted you about her. 

Her Inspiration…Her Grandmother!

Jalissa Pollard: Okay. So absolutely. My grandmother, Mildred Charles, actually just celebrated her 91st birthday. And when I say she is still like kicking, like last weekend, we went to an event and she was dancing, like she got on the dance floor.

So my grandmother is just the most perfect lady to me. And I always looked up to her and always appreciated. At a very young age, I was able to discern that our life wasn’t quite like everyone else. Her daughter–her first daughter, my mother–had passed and my sister and I were three and four years old.

So I knew that I was being raised differently. So it was very strict, it was very you know… we had to dot our I’s and cross our T’s. And so with that, we definitely attended to church every Sunday. We were very integral to our faith community, St. Anne’s and Diocese of Lafayette.

And I just loved it. It was the life that I knew. And so I wanted to share that testament and appreciation as I grew older and moved away. When I would look back and reflect on my life, I was like, “Oh my goodness, my grandma just did all of these wonderful things that has molded me to the person who I am today.”

And I wanted to thank her. 

Theresa Kiser: Has she read the book?

Jalissa Pollard: She’s read the book. When I told her that… she’s read the book, people have come up to her and like at the local post office and told her about the book and at church. And she’s like a local celebrity at home now. I absolutely love that she’s basking in the glow of her story, her history.

Now funny story: when I showed her the cover of the book, the first thing she said was, “You know, I don’t really wear red lipstick.” I was like, “okay, grandma, I’m sorry.” She’s that type of lady where she’s like I said, she’s still kicking, attends Mass every Sunday. You know, just a wonderful person. 

Jalissa Pollard with My Grandma Is a Lady

Grandma’s Life Lessons

Theresa Kiser: So what kind of lessons from her life do you hope that the children reading your book pick up on? 

Jalissa Pollard: Okay. So absolutely. So the lessons that I would like for them to pick up on are that family is very crucial and very important.

It may not look like everyone else’s family, but it’s still valid. It’s still genuine and authentic. And no matter who is in the house with you, those who celebrate God and praise God and serve God are the people who are going to lead you in the right direction. Also lessons in that it’s okay to be with your family.

It’s okay to embrace that. T his is something that is forever. And so celebrating it, praising it, cultivating it…That’s something that we should continue to do, in today’s age, especially.

Theresa Kiser: That’s one thing that I really like about this book from a Catholic standpoint. We are so used to telling the stories of the saints who have done great things and served God and in great ways. But there are a lot of people who serve God, who haven’t been canonized and maybe never will be because they’re just one of the many people serving God.

So I’ve really liked this connection to your family history, that you’re recognizing the people in your family and passing on the family stories so that they can feed others. 

Community in a Lay Movement

One of the things that stands out to me about your book is this lay movement that your grandmother was a part of. A lot of Catholics aren’t aware of the lay movements and, and this one in particular, tell us a little bit about maybe what drew her to it and what it’s meant for her life.

Jalissa Pollard: Okay. So Ooh, interesting question. So she’s a member of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Knights of Peter Claver. And she hasn’t said this openly, but I don’t know if at one point, if they could have joined, you know, Knights of Columbus. So I’m thinking it was something like that. Like we had our own lay organization, fraternal organization for African-American Catholics.

My Grandma Is a Lady by Jalissa Pollard

So that’s probably, it may have been her only pathway at that point. But it was, but I love it because this was her professional organization. My grandmother, she was a custodian at USL for 30 years. She was the manager of the entire building, but she stopped going to school –91 years old–at sixth grade and she had to stay at home and work.

Even though she didn’t have the formal education, I saw her as probably one of the most polite, well-mannered sophisticated women that I knew. And so I wanted to like embody that and you didn’t have to…you know, maybe your brother and sisters were able to go to school, but you turned out to be a lady just like them, you know, without that at all. 

Theresa Kiser: So she found in this lay movement, that community, and that place for her to thrive in her faith and be herself. 

Jalissa Pollard: Absolutely. 

Theresa Kiser: That’s great. Yeah. There, there are a number of lay communities maybe listeners don’t know… there’s the two that you mentioned.

But there are plenty of others with devotions to particular saints or that kind of follow in the steps of different charisms of the church that are all Catholic. So that’s really great that she found that and that was at her local parish. Is that right? Okay. That’s awesome. So when you kind of went through to tell the story, what was that process?

This was telling this is a biography of someone who is living and close to you. So how did you do the research for that? Or was it more kind of thinking through your background? Tell us a little bit about that process. 

Telling Her Grandmother’s Story

Jalissa Pollard: I really was interested in I would see the garb that she would wear: the all white and they would have the merchandise, if you will.

And so I would see her necklace here, this here…

 So I was researching that and which led me to a rabbit hole. I didn’t even realize… I’m 33, but I didn’t realize that there were so many black Catholics! We were in Youngsville and there was like, you know, maybe 12.

And then I go online to research for my book and it’s nationwide. And so that’s the message that I wanted to leave to black Catholic children that, “Hey, it’s not just your church and your grandmother. It’s like California, east coast, west coast across, you know…across the world! Like it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s you know, the Church. Realizing that it’s not just, you know, in, you know, in your, in your town, 

Theresa Kiser: so where you grew up and where your grandmother was, it was a minority in the parish, and you found that there’s this whole…

Jalissa Pollard: You know, I didn’t even realize that it existed. So, so affirming. So: yes, this is who I’m meant to be. Absolutely. So, and then now on this journey: researching, speaking, I’m seeking pastoral wisdom… I felt like I was back in grad school, like, “Oh, you know, this is wonderful!”

But that yes, you do belong. Like, yes, actually you’ve been here. Like where have you been like, sorry that we didn’t get the message out. Let’s get the message out.

Representation in Catholic Children’s Books

Theresa Kiser: So that’s another thing that kind of has been, is beautiful about this book. In the Catholic market of books, there’s not a lot of representation. It’s really nice to see that branching out. I think that’s something that is happening, that a lot of publishers are starting to see the need for it. There was just a bunch of board books that came out that were showing saints from different cultures and backgrounds. And so is that something that you thought about when you were putting this book together? Did you see the need or would you have put this out kind of regardless?

Jalissa Pollard: I definitely saw the need because as a lover of reading and writing, I loved reading books about myself. And so I wanted to share a story about my faith as well. Faith is like integral to my everyday life.

And so I want to create the story to demonstrate how woven through our daily life from when we wake up in the morning, when we say the rosary, whenever we bless ourselves before we eat… and just how it’s so ingrained into our lives and just showing all the different ways that God shows his face.

Musical Inspiration

Theresa Kiser: In the beginning of your book, you have the quote, “I will go, Lord, if you lead me.” Why did you choose that quote? What does it mean to you and to this book? 

Jalissa Pollard: Okay, so after sitting many years in the pew at St. Anne’s Catholic church… Whenever we go to receive communion, that is the song that they would play, like all the time.

It’s actually a lyric of a song. I will go, Lord, if you leave me, I will hold your people in my heart. And so that always… the music lately has just been cracking me like an egg. Like every time, I think about Pope Francis and when he says “the gift of tears.” For the past 10 years, every time I go to Mass, every time I hear a Christian song, the tears are flowing. And so that’s like my testament, that song, like, “I will hold your people in your heart.” Every single time I even hear a song it’s like, it’s taking over me.

So I’m definitely holding his people in my heart. Definitely holding his people in my heart.

Validation

Theresa Kiser: So, what has been the most rewarding part of this book publishing process for you and telling the story? 

Jalissa Pollard: The most rewarding process of My Grandma’s A Lady is validation. Validation as a Catholic, validation as an educator, validation as a sister… My grandmother herself just that she is such a wonderful woman and I felt that she needed to be celebrated.

The woman who–in hard times–took over her a set of raising her daughter who passed, their children and was still able to instill that faith and our religion. And we wanted to keep continuing to keep that going. 

Theresa Kiser: Wow. I mean, it sounds like you guys have been through so much together and that she’s shared the most important thing with you.

And for you to share that with the world is a real gift. Your enthusiasm for the faith and for writing and books just really comes through. So I’m excited for any children that are able to read this book. What message do you want listeners to come away with today? 

You are Not Alone!

Jalissa Pollard: So absolutely.

Absolutely: share your story. Original stories are often, you know, the vest and because someone else is going to be share your story because there’s going to be someone who needs to know that they aren’t alone. That it’s not just their church building. That there’s a whole world that has the same rules, the same Scriptures as you every Sunday… We’re all one Body. 

Theresa Kiser: I think there’s nothing more important than knowing that you’re not alone. And I love the way that you’re getting that across and have your spirit that’s such a part of what you’re doing. So where can listeners connect with you and find you?

Jalissa Pollard: Oh, awesome. Listeners can definitely follow me on on Instagram at @Jayybouquet. And I’ll drop the links for that, but they can also find my books at Barnes and Nobles, Amazon, and on our publisher’s website

Giveaway!

Theresa Kiser: Well, Jalissa has been so kind as to offer a free copy of her book, My Grandma Is a Lady, to a winner of our giveaway. So if you are interested in reading this book take a look in the show notes for instructions on how to enter that giveaway and get your copy of this book which is just sharing. Jalissa’s lessons from her grandma and the life that her grandma shared with her…and faith, of course! 

So head on over to the show notes, to see that, and we will continue talking. This has been a big journey of self-publication, writing, editing, revision. I’m sure that you have a lot of lessons learned to share with us. 

Click to enter the giveaway

Jalissa Pollard: Yes. 

Theresa Kiser: So so to hear more about those come and join us over in the Catholic Kidlit Writers Club.

And we’ll be able to kind of unlock some of the hard won experiences and lessons learned and takeaways from, from this experience so that you can write your story as Jalissa is encouraging you to do, to, to share with others. So join us there for that. And I’d like to say a huge thank you to Jalissa for joining us. This has been a pleasure. And we’ll see you in the Catholic Kidlit Writers Club

Jalissa Pollard: Awesome. Thank you so much. So wonderful. 

Theresa Kiser: This has been Theresa Kiser with the Catholic Kidlit Podcast. 

The best way to support the Catholic kidlit creator you heard from today is to buy their books, leave reviews, and spread the word on social media and in person.

If you want to write meaningful children’s books with a Catholic heart, check out the Catholic Kidlit Writers Club at CatholicKidlit.com

Together we can create and discover books to nurture children’s souls.

Thanks so much for tuning in, and see you next time!

What family story has inspired YOUR faith? And what Christmas books have you bought this year?

Let me know in the comments!


About Theresa Kiser

I’m Theresa Kiser, speaker and award-winning children’s book author of the picture books Arthur the Clumsy Altar Server (OSV, Coming Spring 2022), Seven Gifts of Baptism (Holy Heroes, coming 2022), and Liturgical Colors (Holy Heroes, 2019), as well as the fantasy adventure series The Manakor Chronicles. On a rare moment when I’m not writing or changing diapers, I might indulge in fruity teas, dark chocolate, and a good book.

Let’s nourish hope & love in young hearts…through books!