7QT: 7 Books in 7 Days

7_quick_takes_sm1

Go on over to Jennifer’s place for 7 Quick Takes Friday!

Not this week but the previous, our family got a crazy-good deal on a beach house in the Outer Banks.

It was vacation.  An actual, real live vacation.  I made the choice to leave the laptop at home and refill on reading.  I had (well, still have) a large pile of review copies to go through, so I selected seven of these with the goal of finishing one book a day.  Did I reach said goal?  Read on, but if I did, it was in no small part thanks to these babies.  As the years have gone by, I’ve developed motion sickness, especially when I read in the car.  These “patchies” let me read in the car again for the first time in decades!  Yay!  Talk to your doctor to find out if these are right for you. Duh.

-1-

The Tripods Attack! (The Young Chesterton Chronicles) by John McNichol

I am no longer ashamed to admit that I cut my writing chops in the world of fanfiction.  Jane_E is a little bit fanfic-y, if you think about it.  Therefore, I will always have a soft spot in my cold, snarky heart for anything that could be called fanfic.  In this first book of The Young Chesterton Chronicles, we have a young, skinny (I know, right?) Gil Chesterton, born into a completely foreign universe. I mean, literally foreign:  he spent his childhood in Minnesota.  We also have his new buddy Herb Wells and this quietly tough little priest… Really, Tripods is a rollicking wooden roller coaster through a number of different fictional universes.  Hm.  Take that roller coaster and turn it into a “dark ride,” and voila!  Tripods.    Think fanfic for the Catholic soul.

Some caveats:  While I did enjoy The Difference Engine, I’m really not a fan of steampunk (#nerdshaming).  I’m also a girl.  While I spent a bit of my childhood (more than happily) playing the neighborhood Princess Leia, when things get violent, I do tend to watch through the slits between my fingers or just leave the room.  Tripods brought me lots of punchcards, steam power, and there was a considerable body count.  So, I admit, I may be more of a King’s Gambit sensibility.

That being said, if you like stuff more on the goggles-and-airships, high-body-count side, and you want to see your Catholic faith held up as a good thing and not a hindrance, Tripods might be just the ticket.  Also, if you have a young sci-fi reader who just can’t seem to stomach H. G. Wells straight from the, erm, well, or Chesterton straight from the, erm , chest? I can see Tripods piquing enough interest in the original work of both authors to turn the young reader on to same.

-2-

Trusting God with St. Therese by Connie Rossini

I posted about this when I started reading it, but it wasn’t until the aforementioned beach trip that I had the actual chance to finish it.  In Trusting God with St. Therese, Connie Rossini brings us the life of St. Therese chapter by chapter, retold with more clarity than, honestly, I found in Story of a Soul.  [Will I get in trouble for saying that?] As if this clarity weren’t gift enough, Rossini distills for us the lessons in trust and holiness that Therese learned bit by painful bit, then gives us a reflection from Rossini’s own, more modern life to help the reader apply Therese’s own lessons.  This last bit was done with great skill:  so often I get the sense that spiritual memoirs are written to stroke the author’s ego and not to lead others deeper into the heart of Jesus.  Trusting does not fall into this easy trap.  The questions at the end of each chapter are great for either personal journaling or for group study.  In the end, I’m glad Connie Rossini approached me with the offer of a review copy.  I’m even happier I accepted.  I don’t often review nonfiction, and this was a worthy exception.

-3-

Unholy Bonds by Leslie Lynch

Unholy Bonds is the sequel to Hijacked, which I reviewed here.  If you haven’t yet read Hijacked, I’m confident you can still follow along with Unholy Bonds, but still, go read Hijacked too, because it’s one of the strongest books I’ve read this year.

Anyway, back to Unholy Bonds.  We meet again with Ben & Lannis, now getting married and finding their way through their relationships and through their own hearts in the aftermath of crimes committed against them.  We also get a chilling view into the heart of a criminal (I can’t say much without spoiling Hijacked) whom Ben & Lannis worked together to bring to justice.  “Bring to justice” usually conjures images like the one you see on the cover of this book:  row upon row of prison cells.  However, in Unholy Bonds, Leslie Lynch gives us an illustration of the concept of restoratative justice, the goal of which is to bring dignity and hope back into the lives of not just the victim but the perpetrator as well.  This sounds like such a, well, dangerous concept–trusting criminals to promote justice?  Really?  But because she does it in novel, Leslie Lynch breathes life into the concept, giving us a view into how much one person’s courage could, possibly, breathe courage and hope and honesty into another–into the last person you’d expect, really.  This was shown powerfully, not just through the prisoner but through the growth and healing in the relationship between Ben and Lannis as well.

I do want to say that Unholy Bonds does feature a small handful of scenes that are a little more explicit than I will choose to read these days.  However, the overall illustration of hope and healing and justice is so very, very uplifting and strong throughout the rest of the novel.  I encourage you, continue breaking through all the chapters of Unholy Bonds.  You–and your view of humanity–will be better for it.   

-4-

Opal’s Jubilee also by Leslie Lynch

When I saw that Opal’s Jubilee was inspired by pardons granted to women incarcerated for defending themselves against domestic abuse, I found the rich opportunity for conflict irresistible and couldn’t wait to read it.  I was not disappointed.  Again we get another spot-on opening chapter from Leslie Lynch (she is good, people!) that pulls us right into the conflict:  good cop doesn’t want released felon working for  his sweet mom.  From the opening sentences all the way through to “THE END,” all of the main characters gripped my heart and wouldn’t let go.  Leslie Lynch’s sense of beauty in the broken, of hope in the darkness, and of justice through courage all carry through a sharp plot and a living setting to make for yet another powerful novel.  You too will celebrate Opal’s Jubilee!

-5-

The Grace of Yes by Lisa Hendey

Okay, so I got a review copy of The Grace of Yes at the CMN Trade Show last month, but from what I understand we’re not supposed to start promoting it until closer to the November 3 release date.  So this is me biting my tongue and not telling you anything.  ANYTHING.  (grittingteethsogreatyesIcriedandlaughedtooandfeelalotmorehopefulyetproperlyconvictedaboutmywobblypathtoChrist).

-6-

The Sinner’s Guide to Natural Family Planning by Simcha Fisher

Do you already know what Natural Family Planning is? Do you want to use it?  Are you not quite always happy about using it?  Do you wish NFP were easier on you?  Then guess what–you’re normal!  You’re also the target audience for this book.  If you could really use some validation for your struggles to live your Catholic faith obediently as it’s actually taught, then The Sinner’s Guide is right up your alley.  Not a page goes by that isn’t filled with honest, deliciously sardonic belly laughs (which, incidentally are my favorite kind of belly laughs).  I say this as someone who is clearly outside the target audience for this book (I can’t relate to worrying about having an easy time getting pregnant, for starters).  Still, if you’re a fan of Simcha’s blog, and you’re otherwise pretty normal, (horny husband, exhausted wife, ill-timed Peak-Type Mucus, and so on and so on), then I bet you’ll get a rip-roaring kick out of The Sinner’s Guide.  Go buy it!

-7-

And sometimes, you just don’t finish them all.  I had seven books to read on my vacation.  I started reading Book #7… and, honestly, it was written in a style that is really, really hard for my frazzled-Type A-mommy brain to manage.  As a matter of personal conscience, I (generally) don’t give reviews that are less than 4-5 stars.  First, I know it’s unpleasant to get a negative review, so there’s that. More importantly, I also see my own limits as a reader.  I’m not the be-all, end-all authority on What Makes A Good Story.  I do think I have a decent eye for structure, characterization, setting, blah blah blah.  However, sometimes there’s just no accounting for taste–including mine.  Including yours, dear reader.  So, I encourage you, consider your own humility a moment before you press “post” on that “honest and constructive” review.  Something to think about.  YMMV.  ASAP.  LOL.  Pronto.  Texting and scones.  Etc.

I went on a trip to New Mexico! Well, sort of.

Actually, I went on a trip to the Outer Banks…

 

to celebrate one last week of summer before we start back to regular schooling lessons.  While I was away, I made a virtual visit to The Back Deck Blog.  Mystery-romance-comedy-suspense author Amy M. Bennett poured me a cup of virtual pinon coffee and let me blab on about moi.  Thanks, Amy!  If you haven’t already, go check out her gracious hostessing skills, then go buy her books.  You won’t be sorry.  End of the Road and No Lifeguard on Duty are two of my favorites from this past year.

 

 

Family Foundations Cover

Erin McCole Cupp:

Well-deserved recognition for my editor, Ellen Gable!

Originally posted on Plot Line and Sinker:

Cover-FF2014.0910 I was recently interviewed (along with several other Catholics) for the September/October issue of Family Foundations magazine on the topic of the “New Evangelization.” Imagine my surprise when the editors asked if they could send a professional photographer to take photos of me for the article and cover! The photograph to the right was taken on a train at the station in Ottawa. Other photos for the article were taken at Madonna House in Combermere. Special thanks to Tim Baklinski of Two Trees Photography!

View original

Assets & Liabilities: 7 Quick Takes Friday

7_quick_takes_sm1

Come check out Seven Quick Takes Friday with Jennifer over at Conversion Diary.  

In case you’ve been reading here and haven’t noticed lately, I’ve been a bit down on myself. That is in no small part due to my lack of progress on the sequel to Don’t You Forget About Me.  I even made a list of all the assets to time I had when I wrote my first book (without kids) and then my second book (with two in school and one non-verbal who took two naps a day).  Then I wrote a list of all the assets I DON’T HAVE this time around (homeschooling 3, 0 naps, demanding preschooler).  It was kind of grim.  It was kind of hopeless.

And then my clumsy fingers accidentally fed those lists to my computer.

So I’m taking that as a sign that God wants me not to list my problems but to list the gifts I do have that will help me write the next book, as long as I start looking for gifts instead of focusing on the hardships.

-1-

I have a well-established morning wake time.  I wake up about an hour and a half before the troops come down for breakfast.  This was a hard-fought-and-won habit.  That battle to tackle the day before the day tackles me is already won.  I think I just need to change tactics and use that time for something else.

-2-

First Shift is now old enough to keep Second Shift busy and answer her INCESSANT questions.  I just need to schedule in time for them to do this. I need to figure out how much time isn’t too much.  An incentive of money if they keep their time with her relatively conflict-free may be in order.  Which brings me to…

-3-

My husband just got a promotion that makes us a little more financially comfortable, so that an extra bit of hush-money to the kids won’t push our budget past the point of no return.    Even without the promotion and the wiggle room that provides, my husband is awesome.  We have our rocky moments, but in the end, we rock.  It’s all about the end, anyway.  Thank you to him.  And thank God for him.  I won’t say any more because praise makes him squirm.

-4-

I have people who know what it’s like to be in these no-time shoes.  Go check out the 10-Minute Writer.  There’s nothing I could say that she couldn’t say better.  I just got welcomed into the 10-Minute Writer Facebook group as well as a couple of FB groups for Catholic bloggers, Catholic women bloggers, and so on.  I have support for when I get stuck.  All I have to do is get my own ball rolling a little bit here.

-5-

I have people who like my work and want me to succeed.  I don’t want to drop too many names, but I have to give out the most major of props to Cristina at Filling My Prayer Closet.  She is being an absolute darling and putting together a Street Team for my writing schtuff.  I feel like, because I’m drowning in life, I can’t support her as much as she supports me, and that makes me feel unbalanced.  I’m trying to let that go and just be grateful.  Believe me, I am grateful.  It’s the “just be” that trips me up.

-6-

I have a great relationship with a great, integrity-driven publisher who shares my view of what fiction is supposed to be.

-7-

I’VE ALREADY WRITTEN TWO BOOKS!  The me from ten years ago is looking at the me now and going, “SRSLY?  Dude, you’re what I want to be when I grow up.  You are LIVING THE DREAM, DUDE!”

Even putting that aside, I have the experience that comes with, you know, having written two books.  That’s gotta help out somehow.  I’ve done it before.  What’s to stop me from doing it one more time?

So now I just have to pull it together, take my own stinking advice, suck it up and get writing.  Butt in seat.  Fingers on keys.

I expect to take a few weeks off from blogging so I can get a little more caught up.  I’m sure you understand.  Have a great time.

Giveaways, Book Club, and more like “Wow Card Wednesday!”

Hey, Tomato Pie Peeps! This is going to be a fly-by. Things to do, people to see, breakfasts to cook, etc.

  1. Cristina at Filling My Prayer Closet has one part of an interview with little ol’ me, not to mention a giveaway of an ebook (Kindle, I believe) of Don’t You Forget About Me. BTW, this part of the interview reveals how the story came together, how endometriosis of all things played a part, and… outtakes. Books have outtakes. Oh yes they do. Cristina is a hilarious, warm and full of fresh ideas, so go check out this fresh, young lay Dominican.
  2. Tiffany at Life of a Catholic Librarian has another part of that interview and is giving away a hard copy of DYFAM. This part of the interview tackles the value of a Best Good Friend, how to write a mystery if you don’t really read them, and the question everybody seems to want to ask but is afraid to: Is Cate really just Erin with a different name? If I have learned one thing from homeschooling, it is the value of a good librarian–her value is above rubies, above curriculum catalogs. Go visit Tiffany, a lay Dominican Middle Eastern dancer. Yes, you can be both.
  3. WOW! We are getting in some fabulous flashes for Wildcard Wednesday. In case you missed it, WCW is a monthly fiction improv, and this month’s is an audition for an upcoming short story anthology from Full Quiver Publishing. It’ll take 10 minutes to write, maybe 5 to post/link, and you could get discovered. Oh, and the linkup doesn’t even close until September 6 at 1am. Q: What’s to lose? A: NOTHING!

And now I’m leaving you with my tall glass of cold, bubbly coffee.

20140828-063217.jpg

Wildcard Wednesday for AUGUST: The “Get Discovered” Edition

 

 

 

Surprise!  It’s that time again.

This time, however, there’s a little twist! This time, WCW participants have a chance at having their stories appear in an upcoming anthology!

WildcardWedImprovButton

 

So I’m helping Ellen Gable of Full Quiver Publishing glean stories for an as-yet-untitled anthology of short stories, all of which are to illustrate (not preach, illustrate) principles of St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.  If you link up your story here, there’s a chance FQP might pick up your story for the anthology.  It is my understanding that stories will be bought on a per-word basis, and all rights revert to the authors.  Even if your story doesn’t get selected, WCW is a great way to flex your writing muscles, to get your work noticed a bit, to help build your own mutual support society, and so and so.

It’s really not much of a gamble for you, if you ask me.  You in?

The WCW rules are thusly:  

  1. I post a writing prompt on a sort-of randomly selected Wildcard Wednesday.
  2. In 10 minutes or less, you write something based on that prompt.
  3. Post it to your blog.   After you’ve written your response to the prompt, add the link for your blog post to the list by clicking next to the little blue frog face below where it says “Add your link.”
  4. Please make sure that the URL you submit is to your response to the Wildcard Wednesday prompt, not to your main blog URL.
  5. Include a link back here in the post on your blog.
  6. If it’s PG-13 or better and you don’t have a blog of your own, feel free to enter it as a comment on this post, but please note that this is my house, so if I find your post offensive, it’ll be shorter by the head.  I love free speech, though, so take this as your opportunity to get thee to a bloggery.

I invite you to Tweet the link to your prompt with the hashtag #WCW so we participants can find each other on Twitter.  Another fun Twitter tag to try is #improv, which will connect you with anybody on Twitter doing any kind of improv. #amwriting is another goodie.

PROMPT:  In St. John Paul II’s teachings on the Theology of the Body, he points out four “originals”:  Original Solitude, Original Unity, Original Nakedness, and then Original Sin.  Your prompt today is to take one of those four Originals and spend ten minutes with it, creating a piece of fiction.  

A note on responding to the prompt:  Use the prompt as a jumping-off point and go from there.  Just write for ten minutes and share it.  Don’t worry about playing by writing rules, because I don’t have any here, and if you’re looking for rules to follow on improv like this, you’re probably looking for an excuse to not write, in which case, try another hobby.  Scrapbooking.  Quilting.  Swimming.  Anything but this, because writing brings new meaning to the term “hot mess.”

Now, here’s hoping the linkup stuff will show up here:

 

7 Quick Takes Friday – Articles, New FQP Book Etc.

Erin McCole Cupp:

Check it, Tomato Pie readers! My publisher has a new novel on the way! Amanda Lauer, the new FQP author is as sweet as can be and dresses like Jackie O on occasion, which is AWESOME!

Originally posted on Plot Line and Sinker:

7_quick_takes_sm1Lots going on. I’m connecting with other Catholic bloggers at Conversion Diary for 7 Quick Takes Friday.

1. Parenting Adult Children Who Have Abandoned Their Faith
My latest column over at Catholic Mom is entitled “Parenting Adult Children Who Have Abandoned Their Faith.” PACphoto

2. Five Little Souls in Heaven
I’ve posted this before, but this nearly 20 year old article started off my writing career and it also served as the basis for my first novel, Emily’s Hope.hrkach

3. A World Such as Heaven Intended
FQP’s new book (coming out in October) is entitled “A World Such as Heaven Intended” by Amanda Lauer. The Kindle edition will likely be released a few weeks before the print edition. Keep posted here, on Facebook and on the FQP website for more details.AWSAHI Final Cover

4. Lits
I love the architecture of Lits Department Store in Philly. Lits is mentioned in my first book, Emily’s…

View original 105 more words