Month: March 2014

Wildcard Wednesday for March: To Rise

Here’s my March Wildcard Wednesday improv response (click that link for the rules and such).

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I could hear yelling coming out of the store before Mel even opened the glass door.  I hesitated in my penny loafers, felt my kilt hem brush against the middle of my thighs.  Mel, however, just sighed.  She gave me an apologetic look under her relaxed and curled bangs.

“I guess you’re about to meet my mom,” she said.  She reached for the scratched aluminum handle with the word “PUSH” embossed into it.

“Wait.”  I was really nervous.  “Maybe I should come back another day.”

“What for?  She’s just yelling at one of my brothers.  Let’s go see which one.”

I followed my friend into her family’s convenience store.  Bells attached to the door tinkled, announcing our arrival, but it was difficult to hear them over the shouting.

“You, young man, are a Dis!  Grace!”

Maman, I said I’m sorry!  It’s not like I took it from somebody else’s shop, anyway.  And I was gonna pay for it event–”

“Which brother is that?” I whispered into Mel’s ear.

“A DIS!  GRACE!  To our FAMILY!” Mrs. Valcour smacked the formica counter in front of her.  “To our NEIGHBORHOOD!”  Smack!  “To your FATHER!”  Smack!  “To ME!”

“Jean Christophe,” Mel whispered back, “second youngest.”

Jean Christophe winced each time Mrs. Valcour smackedthe counter.  Still, you could tell by his face he was happy that the counter was taking his place and he was just getting the verbal version.

Unfazed, Mel walked behind the counter, maneuvering her giant Esprit shoulder bag further onto her back so she wouldn’t knock over a display of Funions and Doritos.

“Hi, Ma,” Mel said.  She kissed Mrs. Valcour on her fury-paled cheek.

Bonjour, ma fille,” Mrs. Valcour answered, kissing the air now between them and shooing her middle child away from the present drama.

7QT: The “Momma Needs Spring” Edition

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Visit Jennifer over at Conversion Diary for the lovely habit of 7 Quick Takes Friday

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A Subtle Grace on Kindle:  Ellen Gable‘s latest historical romance is now available on Kindle!  I was privileged to read a draft in earlier stages, and I am confident in saying that the final version (available now on Kindle, in print in a few weeks) is a rip-roaring, tug-at-your-heart, whitewater rapid ride through the life and heartbreaking misadventures of Kat O’Donovan.  I have a review copy waiting for me, so I’ll leave you with that.

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Never Let Me Down Again update: I really need to buckle down on getting this sequel written.  Every Friday until the first draft is completed, it is my aim to post seven lines that I’ve written on NLMDA.  They’ll be out of context and thus spoiler-free (though you might meet some new characters along the way).  I’ll start with my favorite:

“Okay, well, is there any headway on the video game deal?”

“That’s actually why I was calling.”

“You weren’t calling to listen to a breast pump misfiring in the background?”

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Can you bully a celebrity?  I realize all the hubbubb has long since died down over John Travolta’s gaffe at the Oscar’s over the pronunciation of Idina Menzel’s name.  However, this has been weighing heavily on my heart, so I’m going to put it out there. It’s topical to this blog, as Don’t You Forget About Me deals with the topic of the scars left by bullying.

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Look, people, a bully is someone who gets satisfaction from making fun of someone who isn’t going to fight back.  If you go and “Travoltify” your name or make other jokes about the guy, John Travolta is not going to fight back.  This time, it’s not because the target of the bullying is too weak or cornered to get back at you.  It’s because he’s too successful to bother finding you and fighting back.  I’ve heard that the guy might even be dyslexic.  So you’re going to make fun of someone with a learning disability (or not–it doesn’t matter) for being successful enough to be asked to introduce another successful artist on the Oscars?  That says nothing about John Travolta, but it says an awful lot about you.    /rant

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Cryptography & Charlotte Mason:  We are so close to the end of our homeschooling year that I can taste the salt breeze of our first day on the beach while other kids are still in school.  The problem is that we are running out of steam, and when that happens, the first thing to suffer is math.  We use a rigorous math curriculum that is pretty much the only thing that sticks out of our Charlotte Masoning like a sore thumb.  After talking to some other homeschooling moms yesterday at our one club’s annual speech party, I’ve come to realize that my kids just don’t care about math, and that’s got nothing to do with them. It has everything to do with the fact that I’ve spent 10 years telling them to ask “why” about everything but never giving them an opportunity to ask “why do we need to know this math thing here?”  So I’m aiming toward taking a break and doing more real-life math.  Today we’re going to start making tiered skirts from ripped jeans, and First Shift of Kids (10yrs) will be doing all the calculating of fabric needs and costs.

Cute skirt

Scattered Thoughts of A Crafty Mom

After that I want to introduce them to some practical cryptography (aka leaving your sister notes that your mom probably can’t read).  We already read plenty of books in which characters know how to sew.  Can anyone recommend any books where kids use cryptography?  KIDS, people.  The first person to recommend Cryptonomicon for my tweens will get a smack upside the head.

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MOMS Club(R):  Today I’m hoping to make some headway as the publicity person for my local chapter of MOMS Club(R) International.  I originally joined because I wanted to find playmates for Second Shift of Kid, a singleton six years younger than her siblings.  I kept hearing about “all the friends you’ll make through the club!” Honestly, I brushed that aside, thinking, “Pft.  I have friends.  I need friends for my kid.”  Then, as the years passed, I noticed that it would sting particularly badly when I saw myself getting left out of social stuff the other club moms would have to which, through pictures on Facebook, I’d find my child and I had not been invited.  Now, as our club struggles with dropping involvement, I find myself saddened.  Hm.  Maybe I had been hoping for friendships of my own and hadn’t put myself out there, knowing how hard a time I typically have making and sustaining female friendships.  Anyway. /pondering

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Lenten Anemia: Speaking of failure, ever since Lent started, I have found myself more exhausted than I’ve ever been, and I’ve been suffering fatigue off-and-mostly-on since 1989.  At first I thought it was a bit of seasonal affect disorder that would disappear once the snow pulled back some.  It’s even gotten to the point that–GASP!–I’m thinking about going to the doctor, which life has since taught me that going to the doctor with a complaint of “fatigue” is just about always a fatiguing waste of time.  Then I was talking to another mom who happens to be a nurse, and she suggested I ask specifically about anemia.

Duh.  It started right when I dropped meat all but out of my diet.  Crud.  So.  Pray for me as I see what happens by adding more leafy greens and what beans I can tolerate into my diet.

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Money is tight.  Please buy a copy of Don’t You Forget About Me.  Already did?  Please leave a review encouraging others to buy it.

 

Wildcard Wednesday–March

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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.

Last week I gave two chat presentations at the Catholic Writers Conference Online.  One of them was “A Writer Prepares:  Using the Principles of Method Acting to Build Believable Characters.”  If you were there, this exercise might sound familiar.

PROMPT: Write a piece based on a “to-” action verb–the kind of verb that moves a human body.  Examples:  To Run.  To Stand.  To Jump.  To Fall.  To Lean.  To Play.  To Convulse (that one’s from my husband).  To shiver (also from him).

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:

A Gift from St. Patrick

As you’ve probably guessed from the maiden part of the last name, I’m more Irish than anything else.  We usually do something to celebrate the feast of the saint who brought Jesus to my ancestors and, by extension, to my husband and our Dutchy offspring.  This year, however, it doesn’t feel like there’s much to celebrate:  not much material for a celebration, anyway.  We might have had the budgetary wiggle room to buy a nice ham and a six-pack of Guinness if it weren’t for that pesky Lenten almsgiving.  I can’t even make champ with fresh chives, as our chive clumps, wherever they are,  just received a fresh coating of snow.  The most we could do was, last night, we watched Patrick:  Brave Shepherd of the Emerald Isle with the kids.

Patrick - Brave Shepherd of the Emerald Isle DVD

I won’t lie:  that video is pretty cheesy, and not in that Kerrygold Dubliner way.  In it Patrick has this dramatic dream and tells his Christian parents that he’s going to become a priest so he can go back to Ireland and bring Jesus to the Irish–the very people who’d enslaved him and abused him.

Cheesy or not, after morning prayer this morning, I was meditating on Patrick’s bravery in going back to the people who abused him as a youth, just so he could bring them Jesus.   After all, that’s the kind of love we’re called to live as Christians.  It’s the kind of love Christ gives us, after all.  Is that how I’m supposed to bring Jesus to people from my past–people who, frankly, I’ve cut out of my life because I don’t want to expose the aforementioned Dutchy offspring to the kind of abuse those past-people saw fit to give me (or don’t think is any big deal)?  Am I being cowardly?  Am I being hateful towards my enemy?

Look, I have these thoughts every other week or so.  That’s an improvement.  I used to have them every hour of every day.  When these thoughts pop up, I have developed the habit of freezing in place and just praying, “God, whatever you want me to do, make it obvious, and make me courageous enough to do it.”  So I called that habit into play this morning.  Seconds later, the thought popped into my head:

Priests are celibate.

Um…okay?

In the cheesy movie, Patrick said, “I’m going to become a priest, and THEN I’m going back to Ireland.”

So he became a celibate priest, first.  So what?

Patrick didn’t have biological kids to leave behind to protect.  He was going to Ireland for his kids–his spiritual kids.  Celibacy freed him to serve the children God had chosen for him.  Marriage empowers you to serve yours.  

…. Oh.

I am humbled that St. Patrick would intercede for me, for me to receive understanding and wisdom, even though I am countless generations removed from descendants of his first convertees, even though I didn’t even ask him specifically to pray for me.  Like any good spiritual father, St. Patrick saw what his littlest child needed and went out to bring it to her.

God’s plans for us may not make sense at first glance, especially when glancing from the eyes of a culture that tells us, unless we’re having sex of some sort or another, there is something super duper wrong with us.  However, thanks to the intercession of St. Patrick, I have a new appreciation for the gifts given to our faithful, holy priests.  I don’t need beer to celebrate that.

Lá Fhéile Pádraig sona daoibh.  Pádraig, go raibh maith agat.

Bears Repeating: A Writing Quote


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“If we intend to encourage Catholic fiction writers, we must convince those coming along that the Church does not restrict their freedom to be artists (the restrictions of art are another matter), and to convince them of this requires, perhaps more than anything else, a body of Catholic readers who are equipped to recognize something in fiction besides passages they consider obscene.”

Flannery O’Connor, Mystery & Manners:  Occasional Prose

 

I thought I didn’t like clam chowder.

IT WAS… THE SALMON MOUSSE! Hop on over to my meatless Friday blog for a Lenten recipe special enough for a birthday.

Mrs. Mackerelsnapper, OP

It turns out I just don’t like canned clam chowder. We have two Lenten birthdays in the Mackerelsnapper household. No matter what we do, those birthdays will always be in Lent. One year when we were dating, Mr. M’s birthday fell on a Friday, so I invited him over to my apartment to make him dinner. I was just starting my cooking career, and it was so long ago that I couldn’t go to the internet to find recipes, because it was mostly AOL chat rooms and X-Files fanfic and whatnot. Anyway, I went to my trusty Betty Crocker Cookbook to find a dinner that would be easy yet elegant, romantic but not overbearing, and special enough for the agnostic steak-lover but meatless enough for me to eat alongside him.

“What is this?” he asked as I served him his dinner.

“Salmon mousse in puff pastry,” I replied, waiting for…

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Joyful Hope: The Sorrowful Mysteries of Rejection

Hi, there!  This post is set to appear around the time I give a chat presentation at the Catholic Writers Conference Online.  That particular chat is called, “Joyful Hope: Growing Through Rejection .”

Rejection is a fact of the writing life, but how can we put this painful experience to work for us? How can we maintain our hope in the face of repeated discouragement? Most importantly, what is the point of pursuing our writing when, in the world’s eyes, we may have nothing to show for it? This workshop will help participants see the value of rejection, especially through the eyes of our faith in the crucified Christ.

If you participated in the chat, please take 30-60 seconds to complete an evaluation!

Take some time to visit my books on Amazon.

Lastly but certainly not least, please take a minute to visit the pages of the people who responded to my crowdsourcing, when I asked some good writing friends to give me their thoughts and experiences on rejection.  Thank them for their courage.  Remind them to keep writing the good fight.  Buy their books. And don’t forget to pray the Litany of Humility.

Kate Basi

AnnMarie Creedon

Nicolle French Bailey

Ellen Gable Hrkach

Dena Hunt

Barb S., OFS

Mr. Michael Seagriff, OP

Summer Reading: Calling All Authors!

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Doesn’t that look delicious?  Strange to be telling you that I posted that picture to warm you up about something related to… ice skating.

No, seriously.

My kids are going to be in a “theatre on ice” show at the end of April.  As a fundraiser, their figure skating club raffles off baskets.  The raffle helps families like mine afford a rather pricey sport.  If you have a spare book you could include in the basket, comment below (or email me if you have my addy) and we’ll work it out.

THANK YOU!

Erin McCole Cupp Makes First Profession!

We interrupt this Catholic Writers Conference Online to bring you a pic from my Dominican chapter’s blog. This is our promoter, Fr. DuPont, OP, who heard me and blessed me as I renewed my temporary promises yesterday. One more year, with God’s help and yours, and we’ll see if I will be permitted to make permanent promises.

St. Thomas Aquinas Chapter #410

Sunday, March 9, 2014 was a beautiful early Spring afternoon.  It was the first Sunday of Lent.   And it was the day that Erin McCole Cupp made her First Profession.  The ceremony took place in the chapel at the monastery of The Cloistered Dominican Nuns of the Perpetual Rosary as part of mid-afternoon prayer.

Congratulations Erin!

Erin McCole Cupp and Father Bernard Dupont, Religious Assistant

Erin McCole Cupp with Father Bernard Dupont, Religious Assistant

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