A Writing Jumpstart: Catholic Writers Conference Online

Has your writing dream stalled on you?  The jumper cables have arrived!

Does your writing need a jump? Don't miss the 2017 Catholic Writers Conference Online, January 17-19.

Join us! The Catholic Writers Guild will hold its 6th Catholic Writers Conference Online February 17-19, 2017.  From the practical to the sublime–and probably some ridiculous thrown in there just for fun–this conference will give your writing dreams and goals a boost all from the comfort of your own home.  CWCO features low registration cost and NO costs for travel, lodging and meals (I mean, unless you want to take your laptop out for dinner and drinks).

If that’s not enough to tempt you, my first CWCO is where my publishing career got its start. Seriously.  I’d been stalled for about six years, then someone invited me to CWCO. That’s where I was contacted by FQP, and that’s what got me the contract for Don’t You Forget About Me.  You can read that story here.

Maybe you need more of a tow truck than a battery jump? Hopefully I can be that tow! Humble presenter, at your service…

The Other Side of the Desk: What Being an Editor Taught Me About Being a Writer

(Friday, February 17, 1:30-2:30pm)

Did that editor get my submission? How important are all these formatting rules anyway? Most of all, WHAT IS TAKING SO LONG? Writers have lots of questions when submitting work to and coordinating with editors.  This presentation will demystify several aspects of the submission and publishing process while giving you the tools you need to build stronger relationships with the editors in your life, from acquisitions time all the way through those final copy edits.

I attended my first CWCO because someone invited me.  This is me inviting you! What are the reasons you think you can’t participate in this conference?  Give me a shot at helping you find a way through, and put your “can’ts” in the comments!  

I got my first publishing contract thanks to this online conference. What's stopping you? Inspiration, practical tips, and frienship all for one low cost: Catholic Writers Conference Online

Open Book January (December’s Reads)

Carolyn Astfalk has a first Wednesday of the month book review linkup!

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Cured by Lol Tolhurst

CURED by Lol Tolhurst, reviewed at Erin McCole Cupp's #OPENBOOK review“On our first day of school, Robert and I stood at the designated stop at Hevers Avenue with our mothers, and that’s when we met for the very first time. We were five years old.” So began a lifelong friendship that fourteen years later would result in the formation of The Cure, a quintessential post-punk band whose albums-such as Three Imaginary Boys, Pornography, and Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me-remain among the best-loved and most influential of all time….

Cured is not only the first insider account of the early days of the band, it is a revealing look at the artistic evolution of the enigmatic Robert Smith, the iconic lead singer, songwriter, and innovative guitarist at the heart of The Cure. A deeply rebellious, sensitive, tough, and often surprisingly “normal” young man, Smith was from the start destined for stardom, a fearless non-conformist and provocateur who soon found his own musical language through which to express his considerable and unique talent. But there was also a dark side to The Cure’s intense and bewildering success. Tolhurst, on drums and keyboards, was nursing a growing alcoholism that would destroy his place in The Cure and nearly end his life. Cured tells the harrowing and unforgettable story of his crash-and-burn, recovery, and rebirth.

Hooray! I’m so old that the bands I listened to as a teen have earned the cred to write their memoirs! Seriously, though, I saw this at the library and hesitated at the idea of picking it up.  The Cure was one of those bands I lurrrrved in high school but stopped following by young adulthood–frankly, once I’d achieved a certain measure of mental health (not saying that if you still like The Cure you’re bonkers; just that I liked them when I was not in a good place, so there are associations involved there).  I figured, though, it’s the library! It’s free! What do I have to lose, even if I don’t actually get around to reading it?

Needless to say, Cured didn’t go back into the book return unread.  In fact, I flipped open to the first page in the library parking lot while waiting for my brood to finish buckling up and was irritated that I had to, you know, STOP READING AND DRIVE THE CHILDREN HOME.  I finished Cured in the space of 72 hours.  I’m sure it helped that I had so many memories that connected to the author’s tale.  After all, Lol Tolhurst is the reason I had such a hard time in the 90s adjusting to the idea that LOL means “laughing out loud,” not a nickname for “Laurence.” It turns out Lol also is the name of a compelling memoirist.  Alcoholism doesn’t set many people free, especially those who descended so deeply into is as Tolhurst did.  He writes from a space of honesty, regret and hope all at once.  Cured is more than just a memoir of the post-punk age or even just an apology letter to a world wounded by alcohol addiction.  It’s the story of the pressures of creativity from within and without and of the power of a soul’s potential to break through even the heaviest bonds.  Even if you didn’t tease your hair into wild spikes, wear red lipstick and black eyeliner and powder your face white a decade before the word “goths” came into use as it is now (ahem, like I did, ahem), I still recommend Cured.

I’ve also picked up Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me for the first time in mumblemumble years….

The Secret of Glaston Tor (Book 1 of The Glaston Chronicles) by Donal Anthony Foley

The Secret of Glaston Tor, Book 1 onf The Glaston Chronicles by Donal Anthony Foley, reviewed at Erin McCole Cupp's #OPENBOOK reviewFifteen year old Matt Bergin is staying in Glastonbury for Christmas with his cousins, Luke and Annie Martin. Matt feels drawn to Glastonbury Tor, and St Michael’s Tower, which crowns its summit. The cousins learn the secret of Glaston Tor and find themselves propelled back in time to 1940s France and the Second World War.  They are given a mission by an enigmatic stranger, who asks them to help a young German couple and their son escape from wartime France. But the fearsome Gestapo are on their trail. Matt and his cousins will discover that their destinies are intimately linked to this family, and to a mysterious young stranger who will stop at nothing to learn their secret.

I was approached by the author with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.  It didn’t take much arm-twisting to get me to accept. British time travel with a Catholic twist, geared towards teens (two of which I now parent)?

HairTrembles

I am relieved and delighted to say this was a rip-roaring good time of a read! Besides the fast-paced adventure, the story illustrates a number of big questions that the YA audience is just starting to tackle: Does God matter?  Does prayer actually make a difference?  Why doesn’t God always answer our prayers?  Highly recommended for the YA set… and maybe even for yourself!

Angelhood by A. J. Cattapan

Angelhood by A. J. Cattapan, reviewed at Erin McCole Cupp's #OPENBOOK reviewSeventeen-year-old theater geek Nanette believes her life is headed toward stardom on Broadway. But when her dream theater college rejects her and her best friend dies in a terrible accident, Nanette decides the world would be better off without her. Unfortunately, the afterlife offers something less than a heavenly situation. Trapped between alternating periods of utter darkness and light, Nanette is stuck following a high school freshman around. Soon, she learns she’s a guardian angel, and the only way she can earn her wings is to keep her young charge, Vera, from committing the same sin she did—taking her own life. Unfortunately, Nanette is missing more than just her wings. She has no tangible body or voice, either. Frustrated by her inability to reach out to Vera and haunted by memories of her old life, Nanette wants to give up, but then she sees what happens when another Guardian at the high school turns his back on his charge. The shock is enough to supercharge Nanette’s determination. She’s going to find peace in the afterlife…as soon as she can convince Vera that living is what life is all about.

I won a copy of this book from the author, no strings attached, and I’m also delighted and relieved to give it a hearty endorsement.  The pacing is spot-on, the characters are well-drawn and well-motivated, the parents are a living (is that a pun?) and breathing part of the plot rather than just add-ons.  One caveat emptor: I am concerned about how the resolution of the story might make light of the permanence of suicide, especially in the minds of young readers who are on the more impressionable side.  I don’t want to give anything away, but I did want to put that out there as something for parents to consider when thinking about sharing Angelhood with their young readers. That said, it’s well-written and well deserving of all the awards it has received!  I’m looking forward to my next Cattapan read.

8 Notes to a Nobody (Book 1 in Birdface series) by Cynthia Toney

8 Notes to a Nobody, Book 1 onf BIRDFACE by Cynthia Toney, reviewed at Erin McCole Cupp's #OPENBOOK review“Funny how you can live your days as a clueless little kid, believing you look just fine … until someone knocks you in the heart with it.”  Wendy Robichaud doesn’t care one bit about being popular like good-looking classmates Tookie and the Sticks–until Brainiac bully John-Monster schemes against her, and someone leaves anonymous sticky-note messages all over school. Even the best friend she always counted on, Jennifer, is hiding something and pulling away. But the spring program, abandoned puppies, and high school track team tryouts don’t leave much time to play detective. And the more Wendy discovers about the people around her, the more there is to learn.When secrets and failed dreams kick off the summer after eighth grade, who will be around to support her as high school starts in the fall?

8 Notes was a quick, engaging read that dealt with a number of heavy issues in a compact story. And isn’t adolescence like that, really? It’s such a short time when so much happens to the heart, mind and soul. 8 Notes tackles all those issues with courage and truth and not too heavy a hand.  Wendy’s characterization was honest, as was the depiction of life in late middle school and the landscape of all the changing relationships therein.  The pacing felt right, and the development between and within the characters was engaging.  After this first book I have the rest of the books in the Birdface series now on my TBR list!  [I received a complimentary copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.]

Juuuust in case you’re wondering… what’s going on with Sabbath Rest Book Talk?

Sabbath Rest Book Talk: a monthly live interactive event where we talk about the value of fiction in developing compassion, empathy, and healthy relationships

The first four months of SRBT were, frankly, far more successful than I anticipated they’d be.  Taking that experience, I’m hoping to expand on it and develop something that is more useful to you as a reader.  If you want updates on that, do subscribe to my EMC Reader Newsletter.

Don’t forget to link up YOUR #OpenBook reviews over at Carolyn’s!

Global Perspective in the Homeschool

[I know, I know.  I’m not keeping a consistent brand, veering off here into homeschooling when I’m supposed to stick with Faith, Fiction, and Love No Matter What.  World poverty is anything but fiction.  Still, as a lay Dominican, I’m called to contemplate and share the fruits of my contemplation.  Hence the breakdown in branding.  Anyway.  Read on, if you’d like.  Buy books or review them as I’d like.]

2017 is bearing down on us.  Christmas holidaying is once again threatening to turn my kids into self-centered brats (threatening;  they’re still pretty amazingly caring people, even after a lot of chocolate and no alarm clocks for a week])  We are so behind on school that I almost skipped our January Month of Service.  Almost.  I’m now scrambling to put it together.

The older kids during January month also get an assignment to research a country or region that has been scarred by poverty and stripped of opportunity.  In 2014, they had to pick one of the 50 poorest countries of the world and answer a series of questions about life there.  Last year, same thing but for a Native American reservation.  This year we’ve been going through the first volume of TAN’s amazing resource, The Story of Civilization. I highly recommend this history curriculum.  We just got to Greece after spending the first part of the year in the ancient Levant.  What better time to have the kids research one of the countries of said region?

Promoting Global Perspective in the Homeschool: A Project Idea

Modern child labor. [ By Яah33l – Flickr: Day 198/365, CC BY 2.0, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons]

I’m sharing this year’s research questions here in case you’re looking for something similar.  I took our questions from the 50 Poorest Countries project and made some minor modifications.  You can do the same.  Just keep in mind that the goal is to help kids learn to care about the suffering of others and see themselves connected to that suffering.

Get to Know Another Country

What country are you researching?

 

Where is this country located? [BONUS: Copy and paste an appropriate map of this country into this document, or include a link to a map.]

 

What’s the country’s official language?

 

What is the infant mortality rate?

What is the life expectancy?

 

What are the most common causes of death in this country? 

 

What are the most common diseases in this country?

 

What is the median annual income in this country? How does that compare to the median annual income in the United States?

 

How do people acquire food in this country? What is their diet like? How many times a day do they eat?

What are the country’s natural resources?

 

How would you describe this country’s current system of government?  Has there been a change in government in recent times? 

 

What does it mean for a country to be politically stable? 

 

Look up your country on the Global Economy ranking for political stability (make sure you’ve set the year to the most recent year available). What is this country’s ranking overall?  Has the ranking gone up or down over the past five years?  Compare this country’s ranking to the political stability ranking for the United States for the same year.

How has this country’s level of political stability affected its infrastructure: roads, hospitals, public transportation, cars, electricity, running water, radio, TV, internet access, etc.?

 

How are children educated in this country?

 

What are some reasons children in this country might not receive a good education?

 

Is this country at war?  Has it been at war in the past 100-200 years? What were the effects?

 

Was this country ever colonized by another country? By which, and for what years?  What mark has colonization left on this country? 

 

Would you want to be a child your age in this country today?  Why or why not? 

 

If you were in the government of this country, what changes would you make to help the people of your nation?

What other questions would you add, Dear Reader? Have you done something similar to this with your kids?  What was the result?

 

The Saga Concludes: VANISHED RELEASE DAY

The Jane Eyre reboot not to be missed: THE MEMOIRS OF JANE E, FRIENDLESS ORPHAN by Erin McCole Cupp

In this final book of Jane E’s memoirs, Jane has finally found the love she’s always wanted, but can her love for Thorne survive the deepest of betrayals? Celebrate and reexamine the continued relevance of a literary classic, as Jane E shows the Dear Reader that self-respect and honest love are worth a fight, regardless of where–or when–we live.

Get VANISHED for your Kindle here.

Get VANISHED for just about everything else here.

Jane Eyre rebooted: THE MEMOIRS OF JANE E, FRIENDLESS ORPHAN by Erin McCole Cupp

Kindle readers:

Get Unclaimed (Book 1) and Nameless (Book 2)or leave a review if you’ve already read them.

Just about all other e-readers:

Get Unclaimed (Book 1) and Nameless (Book 2)or leave a review if you’ve already read them.  

December’s SRBT & Open Book

Carolyn Astfalk has a first Wednesday of the month book review linkup! To which I’m arriving typically late, but what of that?

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In the interests of being as efficient with my time as I possibly can, I’m killing two birds with one stone, I link up my video Sabbath Rest Book Talk with Carolyn’s Open Book.

Sabbath Rest Book Talk: a monthly live interactive event where we talk about the value of fiction in developing compassion, empathy, and healthy relationships

This month’s focus was compassion, and our featured fiction is…

Ornamental Graces by Carolyn Astfalk

Inspirational Romance that brings the reader the joys of Christmas all year long: ORNAMENTAL GRACES by Carolyn Astfalk

Christmas Hope by Leslie Lynch

Sabbath Rest Book Talk for December 2017 with Erin McCole Cupp

The Strangers at the Manger (Chime Travelers #5) by Lisa Hendey

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and as-yet-unread shoutout to Unearthing Christmas by Anthea Piscarik

Sabbath Rest Book Talk for December 2017 with Erin McCole Cupp

See the video here or click on the thumbnail below.

Don’t forget to link up YOUR #OpenBook reviews over at Carolyn’s!

Advent Anticipation = Delays

Advent 2016 Updates from Author Erin McCole Cupp

By Andrea Schaufler (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

 

On-the-ball news

Tomorrow, December 8, is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. It’s a perfect day to read “Working Mother.”What if Mary had to get a job? WORKING MOTHER #ebook by Erin McCole Cupp

“Working Mother” is my novelette that answers the question, “What if Mary had to get a job?” It’s only 99 cents, and it’s a quick read, but if you struggle with Mommy Guilt of any variety, “Working Mother” will be a balm to your soul.  I promise.

Updates on Passed Deadlines

Sabbath Rest Book Talk for December has been moved to Sunday, December 11 at 7pm Eastern.  God willing.  Click on the SRBT link at the start of this paragraph for more information.  This month’s focus will be COMPASSION.  This month’s featured fiction will be: Chime Travelers Book 4: The Strangers at the Manger by Lisa Hendey (Children’s); Christmas Hope by Leslie Lynch (YA/clean New Adult); and Ornamental Graces by Carolyn Astfalk (adult romance).

Vanished, Book 3 (as in third and final) in The Memoirs of Jane E, Friendless Orphan is now scheduled for a December 28, 2016 release.  We ran into some scheduling snafus with the cover designer… and with the author, if we’re being truthful here.