On Barb’s Bookshelf: Cracks in the Ice

Barb's Book shelf blog title

Here’s a novel that crosses YA/adult book lines; it’s great to share with a high-school student, but adults will enjoy it as well: Cracks in the Ice by Deanna Klingel.

cracks in the iceThis young-adult novel ambitiously covers about 30 years in the lives of a mother and daughter. The author was best when writing in the voice of a young teenage girl. The novel deals with a young figure skater who’s the niece of an organized-crime boss–and how her life unravels as a result. Excellent faith angle and treatment of addiction and recovery.

Having grown up admiring Olympic figure skaters from afar, I enjoyed the look inside the world of skating.

You can learn more about author Deanna Klingel at her blog, Books by Deanna, or her author page on Facebook. She has written historical YA novels as well as this contemporary one! I met Deanna this summer at the Catholic Writers Guild Conference and enjoyed hearing about her various projects; her books have covered the Civil War Era, Vietnamese refugees, and World War II-era Lithuania, among other settings.

If there’s a teenage girl on your Christmas gift list, this novel would make a great present!

Your purchase of Cracks in the Ice through my affiliate link helps support Franciscanmom.com but costs you nothing extra.

A Writer’s Conference, Friends Old and New, and More Selfies than You Can Shake a Stick At

CWCO_live_smMeet and greet: that was the name of the game at the Catholic Writers Guild Live Conference last week. (It’s called a Live Conference because there’s also an online version in the spring!)

I started right off meeting and greeting as I filled in at the registration desk, stuffing bags and checking in a few authors. My first conference selfie wound up being photobombed.

At the registration desk with Janet Willett. Photobomb courtesy of Ron O'Gorman.
At the registration desk with Janice Willett. Photobomb courtesy of Ron O’Gorman.

Why the selfies? There was a contest. That started off being just for fun, but then there were prizes!

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With Ellen Gable Hrkach, author and owner of Full Quiver Publishing, in the Trade Show booth.
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With the “Paper Pope” and volunteer coordinator Rebecca Willen. The folks at OSV were holding the “Welcome Pope Francis” sign.
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With @datechguyblog, a Catholic radio show host–who rocked the hat.

I am terrible at selfies, but it was fun.

More meeting and greeting continued at the Tuesday-night ice cream social. I got to meet my boss, Lisa Hendey of CatholicMom.com, who declared that I’m shorter than I appear on the Internet. Yes, before Tuesday, I had never met my boss or even spoken with her over the phone. Internet magic!


I got to meet authors and an editor at breakfast the next day. I wished I’d brought along my copy of Unleashed so Sonja Corbitt could have signed it. I suppose a hug will have to do.

With Margaret Rose Realy, Obl. OSB and Erin McCole-Cupp, OP.
With Margaret Rose Realy, Obl. OSB and Erin McCole-Cupp, OP.

I participated in a panel discussion on third-order religious life with Benedictine Oblate Margaret Rose Realy and Lay Dominican Erin McCole-Cupp.

The conference theme was Perseverance, and I listened to two excellent presentations on that theme.

From Pat Gohn:

God’s steadfast love is the basis for our perseverance.

From Margaret Rose Realy, Obl. OSB:

Schedules matter; if you’re consistently off-schedule that means your plan isn’t realistic.

So true. I know all about unrealistic plans.

I enjoyed lunch with Lisa, worked a couple of shifts at the Trade Show booth where I answered questions about what the Catholic Writers Guild does and recommended some of my favorite books by Guild authors.

The Wednesday dinner table included me, one kids’ fiction writer, two sci-fi writers, one horror writer, one poet, one Sherlock Holmes fanfic writer and two fiction writers. I’ll leave the conversation topics to your imagination and promise that it was even more outrageous than that.

With (rear) Nancy Ward, Lisa Mladinich, Pat Gohn, Karee Santos, Lisa Hendey, Leticia Velasquez, (front) Jeff Young (the Catholic Foodie) and Margaret Rose Realy, Obl. OSB.
With (rear) Nancy Ward, Lisa Mladinich, Pat Gohn, Karee Santos, Lisa Hendey, Leticia Velasquez, and (front) Jeff Young (the Catholic Foodie) and Margaret Rose Realy, Obl. OSB.

Thursday’s breakfast banquet offered an opportunity to meet some of the wonderful CatholicMom.com authors I work with. The only drawback: there was a banquet speaker, so we had to eat quietly and listen, but all we wanted to do was visit with each other!

My St. Francis "bag booster." It's even more gorgeous in person!
My St. Francis “bag booster.” It’s even more gorgeous in person!

I met an illustrator and was asked for feedback on her manuscript. I chatted with a bookstore owner about the need for good Catholic books for kids. I did a little shopping–got a St. Francis “bag booster” from CatholicArtWorks.com, a neat family business where Mom does the art and the teenage daughters do custom and unique beadwork. No two bag boosters are alike! And these are not cheesy plastic. That stained-glass piece is heavy and sturdy.

Tiny Nativity in a pottery "stable"--it fits in the palm of my hand!
Tiny Nativity in a pottery “stable”–it fits in the palm of my hand!

This little Nativity came from Ole Peru Imports. She had Nativity scenes of all sizes from Peru, Ecuador and Colombia. All are handmade and unique.

With notebooks by Jen Norton, illustrator. Her artwork is even more beautiful in person.
With notebooks by Jen Norton, illustrator. Her artwork is beautiful and unique.

And I purchased two notebooks from Jen Norton, who did the cover art for Sarah Reinhard’s Word by Word book, for which I was a participating author.

I met so many people whose work I admire, and so many others whose work I’m just beginning to know. It was a wonderful event!

Children’s Book Spotlight: Sisters of the Last Straw, Book 3

Today the Catholic Writers Guild turns the spotlight on a delightful children’s book for middle-grade readers (ages 7 through 10, or thereabouts.) I’m happy to help author (and fellow Jersey girl) Karen Kelly Boyce promote Sisters of the Last Straw: The Case of the Stolen Rosaries; I’ve read it and I thought it was terrific.


This installment of the middle-grade series “Sisters of the Last Straw” features more hilarious mishaps by the flawed-but-trying Sisters who want to pray and do good for others despite their own shortcomings. This mystery involves disappearing rosaries, which the Sisters sell to raise money to buy food for the poor. The book also features chickens, a cranky neighbor, and a very unusual birthday cake. This chapter book would make a great family or classroom read-aloud.

I love that the author shows the human side of the Sisters. Each of them has a flaw or bad habit that she struggles against; they don’t appear perfect all the time, because after all, nobody is! These struggles have some comic results, but the lesson is there that we can and should be patient with each other while we try to grow in virtue.

Read a few preview chapters here (warning: you’ll be hooked!) CWGSOA_200

Visit the author’s website here.

This novel received the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval in Fall 2014.

This book is available in Kindle or paperback format at Amazon.

If you purchase this book through any of the Amazon links in this post, it costs YOU nothing extra and gives ME a little extra!