Month: November 2013

Review: Strange Gods

This book was an answer to prayer.  Rather, God provided an answer to prayer through it.  Strange Gods:  Unmasking the Idols in Everyday Life by Elizabeth “The Anchoress” Scalia is a book that I picked up at the Catholic Marketing Network Trade Show back in August. I was hesitant to crack it open at first because, well, I already know I have two idols that rule way too much of my life (those being food and social media, AKA the gods of comfort and ego).  I really dreaded going through the agony of finding yet more and having my nose rubbed in it, if you will.

No nose rubbing, people.  None.  It’s more like Elizabeth Scalia stepped out of the screen, put her arm around my shoulder and said, “God loves us both so much.  You keep turning away.  I keep turning away.  Let’s turn back towards Him together.”  The tone was always one of camaraderie, never of condescension.  The mood was one of hope in the face of the despair that is so easy to claim after repeated failings.

The timing of my reading even ended up being fortuitous.  I’m an abuse survivor, and I was going through (another) period of self-doubt of, “Am I doing the right thing, or should I just shut up and keep the peace so I can be a part of something again?”  It’s taken nearly twenty years to train my heart in the face of such thoughts to wait upon the guidance of the Lord to answer such questions.  You know what?  He always pulls through, usually within a day or two.  This time was no exception.  I really don’t want to spoil anything for readers, but I’ll just say that the answer to that question was in Chapter 9.

As scared as I was to read this the first time, that’s how eager I am to go back and read it again.  Most of the review copies I pick up at CMN get lent out to my friends after I’ve read them.  Strange Gods will not be one of those.  Go get your own!


Something for another, a little something for me!

Happy Feast of St. Catherine of Alexandria!  The Recovering Dissident has some gorgeous art of St. Catherine, including this one, which I think (think) may be of St. Thomas Aquinas kneeling before her as the patroness of Philosophers.

As St. Catherine is my confirmation saint, and St. Thomas is my Dominican saint… LOVE!

So on this special feast, allow me to recommend a little bargain of a book:  Fleeting Glimpses of the Silly, Sentimental and Sublime by Mr. Michael Seagriff, OP.

This is a lovely little treat of a book that is gentle on the brain and uplifting to the heart. I titled my Amazon review “Heartwarming,” because that’s exactly what it is.  For only $.99, it’s a very nice bargain.  I’m looking forward to reading more from this brother in St. Dominic!

I also received in my inbox that the Catholic Writers Guild has approved Don’t You Forget About Me for the CWG Seal of Approval.  It’s good news.  My first novel, Jane_E, Friendless Orphan, was rejected (click to read more), so I appreciate that this one did receive it.  It’s not an award, but it is a nice little balm to my soul–this time around.  I realize there may never be another “next time,” so I’m grateful for this moment.

Back to St. Catherine:  today also happens to be the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.  Considering Catherine’s story and that she was the original “girl power” saint, I can’t think of a more appropriate day.

St. Catherine, Spouse of Christ, pray for us.  

Small Success Thursday

Small Success Thursday

Join up with a whole bunch of (surprise!) Catholic Moms as we celebrate the little things on Small Success Thursday.

Did you see my 7 Quick Takes from last week? It was about the seven things I wanted to get done now that the bulk of the writing for the Don’t You Forget About Me blog tour is done.

1.  Here’s the success of the decluttering efforts.


See what’s on my coffee table?  Nothing but a decorative pumpkin waiting to be roasted for pies & soups.  And what’s on my kitchen table?


That’s right.  N O T H I N G.


And only the barest of essentials on the bathroom counter.  The sink isn’t even encrusted with anything.  Impressed?  You should be.

2.  I’m coming to terms with the boot.  My foot still hurts the rare times I’m not wearing the boot, but it’s no longer the kind of hurt that makes me say, “Funny, I don’t remember sticking a hot curling iron under my sock this morning.”

3.  The Don’t You Forget About Me Kindle freebie days have been successful beyond my wildest dreams so far.  Today is the last day, so please, help yourself–but quickly!


For those of you who’ve read DYFAM and were wondering “how much of it was autobiographical,” Laura at Green4God can relate!  She has been kind enough to interview me on her blog, and that’s one of the Qs.  To see my A (that would be A for “answer,” not some other A), check out Laura’s blog.

DYFAM free on Kindle through 21Nov13!

Yes, friends, Don’t You Forget About Me is free on Kindle through Thursday.

Um… I really don’t know how to elaborate on that.



Okay, here’s some elaboration.  The most frequent compliment regarding my writing that I get from people who know me in real life is, “I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the writing.”  That means, “I expected it to suck and it didn’t!”  If that doesn’t convince you to go get a free book, then I don’t know what will.


Write your Enemies: Today’s Blog Tour Stop

Today I’m over visiting A. K. Frailey, author of The Deliverance Trilogy.

Product DetailsProduct Details

Today’s post is called “Be Salt, Not Salty:  The Catholic Writer and the Non-Catholic Character.”  In it I say things like:

  I’m going to go a step further and put forth a challenge:  if you as a Catholic writer can’t bring yourself to write a character who is not a faithful, practicing Catholic… you may be having trouble with Jesus’ command regarding our enemies.

Wanna read more?

Another chance at free books!


Sarah Reinhardt is too good to us.  No sooner is the giveaway done when everyone’s favorite Snoring Scholar goes and does it again.  This week’s giveaway is a double-trouble Full Quiver Publishing prize pack, including one paper copy of Stealing Jenny by Ellen Gable paired with a copy of Don’t You Forget About Me by YT.

What, you’re still here?  You see the banner!  Get over there and enter by Novmeber 22!

7QT: Better Late than Never

7_quick_takes_sm1 (1)

Join Jennifer, The Skipper too, The Millionaire and his Wife, the Movie Star, and the rest, here on 7 Quick Takes Fridaaaaayyyyy!

About an hour ago I sent off my final scheduled DYFAM blog tour post to Celeste at A Perpetual Jubilee.  A few other bloggers have invited me over for interviews, but as of right now there’s nothing pressing on the calendar.  Some time in the relatively near future, I will have a post about How Not to Do A Blog Tour.  Because… dang.  I shot myself in the mental foot so many times I’ve lost count.  My hosts were all wonderful and gracious.  I just made this harder on myself (and, I’m sorry to say, on them) than it ever needed to be.  I did hit my primary goal of getting my posts to my hosts at least one week in advance.  Other than that, though…yeah.  I’m glad it’s winding down.

Anyway, here’s the list I’ve been treasuring in my heart over the past month of writing posts and commenting on them and otherwise promoting Don’t You Forget About Me. And that list is called…

7 Things I Will Do When This Blog Tour Is (Mostly) Done

  1. Make these cupcakes.  A friend at co-op made them for our Halloween party.  They are so worth making at home for no good reason other than, yay, I don’t have to write anything tonight.
    Ultimate Chocolate Cupcake
  2. Return to my pre-tour showering schedule.  Same goes for flossing.
  3. Get to the gym… though now that I’ve been given the boot, I haven’t quite figured out how to make this happen before my foot’s 4 week incarceration has been served.
  4. Mop a floor.  At least one.
  5. Declutter.  Though that’s like having the goal of “Flying to Mars on Wings Made of Fountain Grass.”
  6. Prepare for the upcoming holiday season. Cards.  Shopping.  Wrapping.  Decorating badly and cheaply.  Before you all whine at me about “It’s not the holiday season.  It’s CHRISTMAS, you soulless wretch,” I feel VERY strongly that nobody should be calling it a HOLIDAY SEASON moreso than we Catholics.  We have so many holy-days between now and The Baptism of Lord, that if that’s not a season of holidays, then I’m a wilted cabbage leaf.
  7. Educate my children again.  I haven’t taught math or Latin in nearly three weeks.  We’re already more than halfway through the number of hours our state requires us to log, so it’s not like I’m negligent or they’re truant, but the return to a structured schedule would be good for all of us.

An Embarrassment of Links!

It’s been a busy week here on the Don’t You Forget About Me blog tour.

In other news, I think I’m kind of under spiritual attack since the book came out.  My asthma has been flaring off and on for weeks; I’ve had a parade of sick relatives, including kids; a parade of bad behavior (primarily kids); computer problems beyond my power to address; and now this:

I’ve taken the approach to all this that whenever another discomfort, inconvenience, annoyance, or (in the case of the asthma) threat to my life or ability to sleep comes my way, it’s because someone reading the book needs some kind of intercession.  So, if that’s been you, please rest assured that I’ve been offering it up for you, whoever you are.  I do hope it’s paid off for you!  I don’t suffer as gracefully as I wish I did.

Mr. Celli: In Honor of Veterans Day

If you have ever been a member of a Catholic parish in the United States, dollars to donuts you have met a Mr. Celli.  You’ll recognize your Mr. Celli from church, because a Mr. Celli is always an usher.

At the front of the line, directing people which way to go around the casket, were two ushers. One was a white-haired, stooped old man in a navy blazer, black pants, and scuffed oxblood loafers. I didn’t even need to see his face to know it was Mr. Celli, our widower neighbor two doors down when I was growing up, and head usher at Seven Dolors. Still. Wow. It would be true to say he hadn’t aged a day since I’d last seen him twenty years ago, but even then he had been old enough to have seen the first fish sprout legs and walk out of the primordial lake.

Don’t You Forget About Me, Chapter 3, “Small Town”

 Mr. Celli was that usher who always seemed just a bit on the overbearing side.

Honestly, I wasn’t all that fond of Mr. Celli, though he’d always been fond of me. Not in a threatening way, mind you, just in that, “You Irish don’t eat enough! Here, take these meatballs home. My Nonna would call you a vampire!” way.

Don’t You Forget About Me, Chapter 3, “Small Town”

 You still don’t recognize your Mr. Celli?  Well, he dresses something like this:

Mr. Celli was wearing a blood-red Hawaiian shirt covered with a sailboat print, green polyester shorts, and, yes, brown socks with black sandals. He doffed his white straw fedora to peck me on the cheek.

Don’t You Forget About Me, Chapter 12, “Danger Zone”

When I had this character show up in Don’t You Forget About Me, I had no idea what he was doing there until the very, very end.  I had no idea what kind of hero he would end up being.  I guess I had a feeling, though, because I named him after someone I had met at work.  There was a gentleman in his 60s who habitually wore a US Navy cap, referencing the boat on which he served (I’ve since forgotten which).  When he walked in on Veterans Day one year, I thanked him for having served.  He then told me the story of why he joined the Navy.  He remembered being a very small boy when the American soldiers came to liberate his village in Italy.  He said he never forgot them, and from that moment he wanted to grow up to be just like them.  His family moved to the US not too much later (his accent was as Philadelphian as mine), and he joined the Navy as soon as he could, because he wanted to be just like those soldiers who had risked their lives to liberate him and his family.  Every year since, I’ve thought of that Mr. Celli (so different from the Mr. Celli of Don’t You Forget About Me), and his story reminded me of why we need to value and appreciate our armed service members for all they have done, still do, and will continue to do for us in the future.

I think of all the characters I met in the writing of this book, I am perhaps the most fond of Mr. Celli.  I saw in him that daily faith of a bygone era, the era lived by The Greatest Generation.  We may be inclined now to wrinkle our noses at their fashion sense, but we cannot be anything but amazed by their courage.

So, for all our Mr. Cellis… we will never forget you.



CatholicMom.Com is doing a giveaway of a Full Quiver Publishing Prize Pack:  one copy of Don’t You Forget About Me paired with a copy of the lovely Theology of the Body romance Angela’s Song by the genuine and talented Annmarie Creedon, Roman(tic) Catholic.

What are you waiting for?  You only have until November 15!  Vite!  Vite!  Thanks to our friends at for sharing the love!