Month: February 2014

Surprise! DYFAM FREE through midnight on Kindle

Come ‘n’ get it!  Don’t You Forget About Me, free on Kindle through the remaining hours of Thursday, February 27.


Mary Catherine Whelihan made it out of Walkerville alive once before. Can she pull it off this time?   Bullies, sexual harassment, finding a corpse in the local creek…. Cate’s childhood in 1980s Walkerville was murder! So what could possibly tempt her to return? A cryptic email from Eugene Marcasian, MD, her grade school crush, might do the trick. Can Cate and Gene find the cause of the mysterious illness afflicting nearly all of the girls in their graduating class, including Cate herself? Or will corporate bullies continue to take down anyone who gets in their way? More importantly, can Cate stay alive long enough to get one more slice of tomato pie?

 Some reviews:

“This book has all the elements that make a book addictive: a compelling story told well with characters who are unforgettable. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll stay up all night reading.” Sarah Reinhard, author, and A Catholic Mother’s Companion to Pregnancy

This captivating murder mystery made me laugh, cry, and crave Italian food; ‘80s pop tunes are still stuck in my head. If you like mysteries that offer a good mix of suspense and science, don’t miss this book.”  Barb Szyszkiewicz,

“Don’t You Forget About Me…is a rollicking fun and exciting cozy murder mystery.  The author’s strong and clever command of the written language makes this book an entertaining page-turner. I recommend this highly-enjoyable, cozy, clean, lively mystery to all readers!” Therese Heckenkamp, award-winning author, Frozen Footprints

A quirky, fun, mystery-romance that will tickle your funny bone while making your hair stand on end.” AnnMarie Creedon,best-selling author, Angela’s Song

The book has all the elements of a good novel, with its principal charm resting in Erin McCole Cupp’s affable and believable characters.  I read (it) in a single sitting, and then put the book down with the wistful feeling of someone departing a gathering of friends.” Celeste Behe

“It’s easy to identify and sympathize with protagonist Cate Whelihan as she returns to her hometown and faces not only the classmates who bullied her in school but also her junior high sweetheart and fellow nerd, Gene.  Readers will be chuckling one moment…and biting nails the next as she faces threats, corrupt police, and the business end of a gun.” Daria Sockey, author,The Everyday Catholic’s Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours


Recommendation: Mystery and Manners

My Review on Amazon:

Mystery and Manners:  Occasional Prose has everything that I needed to find but didn’t know I needed in a book on writing. This was not a “how to” for the aspiring writer, per se. Thankfully, however, it wasn’t a mere diatribe against “bad” or (::shudder::) “unimportant” fiction. Flannery O’Connor never gives a single handy checklist, not one pretentious evaluation of an obscure work, nor a single heartless criticism against the world of budding writers. She simply does what she says all good writers ought, which is render hard reality with a compassionate yet honest eye. Compassionate, honest rendering of reality is exactly what we should be after as writers, and to have an author bring her observant eye to bear on the very act of observation is indeed a gift–a gift to us all. Highly recommended.

Some of the quotes I am trying to gather before I have to return the darn thing to the library:

“The sorry religious novel comes about when the writer supposes that, because of his belief, he is somehow dispensed from the obligation to penetrate concrete reality.”

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I think she nailed the reason why so many people do not want to read Christian fiction–or, who having read it previously, never want to encounter the stuff again.  I know that’s why I tend not to enjoy most of it.  The Real tends not to be present in it–not as present as it ought to be.

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A literature for [Catholics] alone is a contradiction in terms.  You may ask, why not simply call this literature Christian?  Unfortunately, the word Christian is no longer reliable.  It has come to mean anyone with a golden heart.  And a golden heart would be a positive interference in the writing of fiction.

Hopefully I’ll be back with a few more quotes once I own an actual copy of this chunky monkey.  It’s not all that often I’ll part with my hard-earned money to buy a book when I have the library at my disposal and, admittedly, now that I get so many review copies at the Catholic Marketing Network and through the evaluator program for the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval.  However, it looks like the estate of Miss O’Connor will shortly be making off with some of my meager earnings.

Wildcard Wednesday Fiction Improv–February


The 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: The groundhog stared at the radio.  

A note on responding to the prompt:  Use the prompt as your first sentence.  Or don’t.  Just use it as a jumping-off point and go from there.  I don’t care.  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: We’re on each other’s team.

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Join Jennifer and friends over at Conversion Diary for Seven Quick Takes Friday!

  1. Love your local librarian! Meet Sherrie from Sherrie’s Scriptorium.
    Sherrie is a writer, but she’s also one of the lovely faces we see at one of our local libraries. The picture above is of the day she pulled me out of a kids’ activity to show me that my book had arrived at their desk and she was putting on its library outfit. Friends, that is a cool moment, actually watching your book get put into circulation.
  2. Sherrie is also a member of the Wordwrights Writers Group at the Barnes & Noble in Exton, PA. She very kindly worked with the management to get me, small press author that I am, into an actual B&N for an actual talk. I wasn’t selling books at the talk, per se, because that would’ve been solicitation…
    I’m pausing here, because being arrested for “public solicitation” sure would have made an interesting impact on my career as a faith-based writer.
    …but there is still value to me as a writer because I get so energized when talking with other writers about how great it is to write.Thanks, Sherrie and Wordwrights, for welcoming me last night.
  3. Besides hanging out with Sherrie, I met the other Wordwrights, including (but not limited to) Kelly (whose blog link isn’t coming up for some reason–sorry, Kelly! Comment with it and I’ll correct the link), Walt (um, same for your blog…), and Chris, author of Puppy Mill Dogs SPEAK! Pardon me while I go wipe my eyes after reading the description of Chris’s book–heartbreaking.
  4. I asked the attendees what sorts of things they read and write, and several folks were talking about an urban fantasy author whose work they adore. I should have written the name down (John something?), but I was too busy mentioning Karina Fabian and her DragonEye, PI universe. Karina, I think Vern and Sister Grace may be getting a few fans in short order.
  5. After the conversation waded through my back-in-the-day, naive journey with an agent who asked me for a one year exclusive, Walt pointed me in the way of the Absolute Write Water Cooler, a series of forums for writers to pass along info regarding negative–or positive–experiences with agents, editors, and other writing professionals. Think Preditors & Editors but with a slightly more interactive feel. Thanks, Walt.
  6. We only have one week left in the month, and we haven’t had a Wildcard Wednesday Fiction Improv Linkup yet.
    When will it be? When will it be?
  7. Before I left last night, my husband asked me if I was as nervous as I’d been for the radio show segment the morning before. I wasn’t. “I’m going to a writers group. It’s like coming home.” Is there another field in which people are supposed to be competing against each other but still get together to help each other improve? We’re all awkwardly waiting for our debuts, and we are all our different varieties of obscure, but still, “We’re on each other’s team.”

Recommending One of Two More Books on Writing

Writing the Breakout Novel delivers advice to the would-be novelist in a friendly format that is easy to understand, even when it delivers blows to the pride of the writer who can’t imagine why his/her work isn’t already of breakout quality. I especially appreciated the unassuming tone and the wide variety of references to narratively successful works. Some of the complaints Maas makes about the poor authors whose work he rejects could have been stated with better grace, perhaps. He also seems to imply that simply by writing with great skill there is no possible way your work could fail commercially. Putting those issues aside, which you can do easily as long as you love writing more than you love your ego, I’d call this a solid addition to one’s reference desk.


“Today, though perhaps not in Shakespeare’s day, the resolution never to behave like Macbeth does not inevitably carry any clear implication of what to do instead.” John Gardner, On Moral Fiction, p. 107.

Reading the first two chapters of On Moral Fiction filled me with such hope. After all, I had just finished with The Art of Fiction and found it to be self-congratulatory bombast. My hopes were not high on opening On Moral Fiction. But, soft! At last, here was serious writing on the purpose of art, on the high aims a writer can take to improve the world by offering his (almost always “his,” but what of that?) gifts through story. Here was genuine consideration of the idea that we might–GASP!–learn how to be more human through fiction, both reading and writing the stuff. I was ready to set aside my anger and look anew at Gardner on fiction. Alas, what followed after that was more of what was to be found in _The Art of Fiction_: pompous put-downs and inflated verbiage. As Gardner noted in the quote with which I opened this review, there’s value to be had in the excoriation of those artists who provide a list of “what not to do.” There is much more value however, in shining the light on examples of what TO do. Macbeth fell short of that. So does Gardner in On Moral Fiction.

Breakin’ the law, breakin’ the law….

Bad review, bad review, whatchagonnado?  Whatchagonnado when you post one, too?

You know I’m cheesed off if I take the time to write anything less than a four-star review anywhere.  I just posted the following to Amazon regarding The Art of Fiction:  Notes on Craft for the Young Writer. Below is the text of my review.

I make it a habit never to post a review that would be less than four stars, mostly because if it’s not worth four or five, it’s not worth my time.  In this case, I’m irritated enough to make an exception.  I am blessed enough to have received an academic background that allows me to be familiar with a majority of the works Gardner held up as examples, so my displeasure is not for lack of previous reading.  However, once one removes the dated language, pompous complaints, and other assorted bombast, all that remains is enough material to fill out a few articles that might get picked up by Writer’s Digest. Might.  The two stars are for the fact that there *is* some good advice in here, but by the time one has finished reading even half of the writers Gardner references as successful or (far more frequently) as failures, one would hope that the reader has long since intuited those points and brought them to bear in her writing.  I would caution any writer who receives the advice to read this book:  the advisor in this case probably is trying to make you think he/she is as smart as Gardner wants you to think he is.

I am so glad I did not come across this as a wide-eyed undergrad, because I probably would have felt compelled to agree with both Gardner and whatever self-important professor handed it to me as writing advice.  I do agree with Gardner on one thing, and that is the concept of mastery:  you won’t improve your writing except through the slow process of reading good fiction, writing bad fiction, reading more good fiction, then writing better fiction than you wrote the last time.  Mastery also will give you a type of confidence that books on writing and writing conferences cannot do (though I promote the use of both of those things); mastery will give you the experience to sniff out when a writer is giving you the generous gift of his experience and when, less fortunately, the writer is trying to impress you with how much you don’t yet know.

Do you have a book on writing that has helped you improve as a writer?  What was it, and what gift did you receive from it?   How have you seen your writing grow through networking, conferences, writing advice sources, or just plain old practice?  

Small Success Thursday: Dishpan Hands and Electric Kettles


It’s Small Success Thursday over at CatholicMom.Com.

  1. We are now one week without a dishwasher.  So we’ve been washing dishes by hand.  As of tomorrow, we will be one week without a water heater.  We have had two severe winter storms and one full day without power, so trying to see success in the past week is hard.  The fact that I’m making the time to write this post is a success in and of itself.  
  2. I’ve been contacted by a local radio station for an interview regarding the talk I’ll be giving at the Exton Barnes and Noble at 7pm on February 20.  The talk will mostly be about writing, publishing, marketing and the like.  The radio segment is set to air at 7:40am on February 19 on 1520AM out of West Chester, PA.
  3. My kids and husband have done all the shoveling and ice removal, which has been a relief.  I’m mostly over my bronchitis, but my lungs are still easily inflamed, so this was a huge blessing.
  4. I’ve been able to “meet” some more characters for the sequel to Don’t You Forget About Me, tentatively titled Never Let Me Down Again.  That’s one of the most enjoyable, least agonizing part of the writing process for me.  I love developing characters.  How do I do that…?
  5. Come find out in the chat presentation I’m preparing on Creating Believable Characters for the Catholic Writers Conference Online.  Speaking of which, register for that one by tomorrow, peeps.  You won’t regret it.
  6. Back to DYFAM, I was so excited to get the 27th Amazon review!  Even better, it’s another 5-star, which is balm to the winter-weary writer’s soul.
  7. When you try to find just three successes in an otherwise FAIL of a week, you often can end up finding twice as many.

REJECTION? Let’s talk.



Time is running out.  Have you registered for  THEEEEEEEE online conference of the year?  Catholic Writers Conference Online



Have I mentioned it’s my favorite price: FREE?

Have I mentioned it happens in one of my favorite places:  THE COMFORT OF YOUR OWN HOME?

Have I mentioned the dress code:  PAJAMAS?  Well, that is, if that’s your sort of thing.

As part of The Catholic Writers Conference Online, I’ll be giving two chat presentations.  On Monday, March 10 at 10am EST, I’ll be chatting with youse guys about how “A Writer Prepares:  Using the Principles of Method Acting to Build Believable Characters.”  Then on Wednesday, March 12 at 1pm I’ll be giving a chat presentation about “Joyful Hope:  Growing Through Rejection.”

That’s where I need your help.  If you’re reading this, you probably are interested in writing and have experienced (or are paralyzed by a fear of experiencing) rejection.  Actually, if you’re human, you’ve experienced some kind of rejection.  What kinds of rejection does the writer face, in your experience?  Can you comment below with a story of a time you faced some kind of rejection in your writing life?  Did you keep going or freeze in your tracks?  How long did it get you to get moving again, or are you still looking for that nudge back onto your creative path?  

If you’re still with me and you’d like to participate in any part of the CWCO conference, registration is due by February 7.  So, do get registered!  CWCO is how Full Quiver Publishing found me, so I’m big on attending these things.  Give it some prayer.  I hope you’ll give it a try.