Month: May 2014

The Feast of the Visitation

“Who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”

On this day that we remember the meeting of the two very first disciples, please pray for unity and truth between women of all ages.  On a less momentous note, if you could spare a prayer for the First Disciples Project, that would be a blessing, too.

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#WWRW: Palace of the Twelve Pillars

It’s time for What We’re Reading Wednesday hosted by Jessica over at Housewifespice.com.

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This week I’m working on Palace of the Twelve Pillars by Christina Weigand.

Palace is the first in a trilogy.  It’s super-high fantasy aimed at the YA crowd, but it’s certainly not written to turn off those of us, ahem, older adults.  It’s rich in the feel of Tolkien or C. S. Lewis–a fantastical otherworld accessible to all ages.

First off, the cover is GORGEOUS.

It’s not just gorgeous:  it’s effective.  So with a cover like that, what’s it about?  It’s not hard to tell, thanks to the excellent design.  In just one cover, you know you’ll be working with royalty, the classic good twin/evil twin archetypes at battle, all in a clear fight between good an evil.  Here’s the teaser:

The Peace Summit was in shambles, the prince kidnapped.

When the rival king realizes he kidnapped the wrong prince, hostilities escalate. Loyalties to each other and country are tested for the twin princes of Crato, Joachim and Brandan.

Joachim, captive of King Waldrom, faces deception and betrayal as he struggles to find his way home. Brandan, at home with a father focused on rescuing Joachim, wrestles with his own demons as he searches for his place in the world and the favor of his father.

Torn from the safety and peace of their childhood, they are thrust into a world where bonds of family, brotherhood and roles as heirs to Crato are tested. Through war, spiritual journeys, death and marriage, will they choose the path of good or evil? Who can be trusted, as the world they know slips into a whirlpool of chaos?

I’ve not yet finished, but I can tell that in Palace, Weigand brings us a wealth of characters and a richly imagined world that is foreign enough to give our eyes fresh perspective but familiar enough that we can find our footing there without too much dissonance.  I really get the sense that the author loves this place, loves these characters, and is passionate about telling their story.  I’m also getting the sense that you won’t have to worry about handing this book to your YA readers and fear that they’ll find something untoward:  the voice so far is pure dignity, pure class–VERY REFRESHING in this genre.

If you’d like to check it out yourself, please the Amazon Page for Palace of the Twelve Pillars and/or visit Christina Weigand’s author page.

My #WCW “This was going to be fun.”

It’s Wildcard Wednesday here at Will Write for Tomato Pie.  Check this post for the prompt.

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Other girls had come and gone.  Hers was the only face that stayed before his eyes every time he closed them.  His mother had kept telling her he’d find another girl.  He just had to open his eyes.  Why bother, when the one he wanted was right there.

Sort of.

Then congestive heart failure had crept up on her—crept up on her from behind while he stood before her, watching its slow progress, doing nothing.  Just waiting.  He could be patient.  He could no longer hear the tremble in her voice as she pleaded for him to take her to the hospital.  Time had washed that away, washed away his mother’s dreadful, whimpering voice.

But her face, Mary Cate’s face, remained.

It wasn’t just the face.  It was the hair.  Nothing like that hair, flames curling around his face, skin so pale he could watch her blood pulsing beneath it.  It fluttered behind her while others flew past on the Cardinal-Neumann High track.  He would watch her while she raced and lost, always lagging behind.  Why was she there in the first place, when she so obviously couldn’t keep up the pace?

She was slow.  Easy to catch.  A flame he could hold in his hands.  There would be no competition.  Not for a few years, anyway, but how was he to have known that then?  Just out of rehab, he’d been a seventeen year-old idiot sentenced to Catholic school.

“For the discipline,” his mother had said.  “That public school special ed program has done all it’s gonna if you don’t get yourself some discipline.”

He’d been suspended once for smoking in the bathroom—just for smoking.  One stipulation for being allowed to come back was to go to peer tutoring.  The senior honors English student who’d walked into his peer tutoring session had been reason enough to straighten up and fly right—or at least look that way.

She had slipped away from his hands before.  And now  she was practically being handed to him.  He’d tried to get her back once, twice before.  It had been a fight he’d lost both times.

But this time?  This time was going to be fun.

May Wildcard Wednesday: “For the fun of the thing”

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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.

PROMPT:  Today is Jim Thorpe’s birthday! Thorpe once said, “I have always liked sport and only played or run races for the fun of the thing.”    Today write about a character in a competition not to win, not to get a prize, but just for the fun of it.  

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:

 

Duc In Altum Reprise: Why attend a Catholic Writers Guild Conference?

The following is copied and freshened up from a previous blog post entitled Duc in Altum:  On Going Out, Catching Nothing, and Going Back Out Anyway.   Maybe you’re thinking about attending the Catholic Writers Guild Live Conference in Chicago this summer, but you’re having a hard time justifying the time or the expense.  If so, I hope my story below will encourage you and inspire you to go. If you make it, come find me and remind me of this post, and if you’re nice to me, I’ll buy you a pack of snack mix or something.  

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We all know the story, right?  Luke, Chapter 5?  That’s the one where Jesus finds Peter along the shore and tells Pete to “put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.”  I love Peter’s response at verse 5.  It’s basically a complaint followed by, “Suuuuure, I’ll do what you ask.  Watch what doesn’t happen!”

And then Pete gets to watch what does happen.  So does the crowd.

I’ve been there.  I had a novel out, but navigating through the preschool years and then into the school years with a set of twins and their (relatively minor but still consuming) special needs, and then a few health issues of my own, and then financial issues… well, let’s put it this way.  The novel wasn’t doing well.  Hardly any of my short pieces were finding homes at magazines.  Writing sure wasn’t bringing in the extra money our family needed to survive.  I had to take a series of desk jobs.  I’ll never forget the day I told the twins, then three, that Mommy was going to work at a desk at a local fitness center.

“But Mommy,” the younger one said, “I thought you were a writer!”

I don’t remember my response, but I do remember being glad that I was driving at the time, because they weren’t able to see me cry.

Fast forward three years later.  Second Shift of Kid came along, and just in time, God provided financially (foremost, He helped us pay off the minivan, which was a HUGE relief).  I didn’t need to work outside the home anymore, which was good, because with an infant again and two starting kindergarten, I really couldn’t.  I still had the itch to write but was doing precious little to scratch it:  a NaNoWriMo here, a press release for a sister in St. Dominic there.  But I was in the car a lot, toting my kids back and forth, so to make the most of that time I listened to a lot of Catholic radio.

This is where Jesus found me, along the shore, cleaning my net and calling it a day, thinking about dropping this whole fishing thing and picking up something normal like quilting or scrapbooking.  (Now picture St. Peter at a Creative Memories party.)

That summer, I heard advertised the Catholic Marketing Network Trade Show, which was being held less than an hour from my house.  I figured if my husband could take one day off to watch the kids so I could go, then that would be God’s way of saying He had something for me there.  He could, and so I guessed He did, so I went to a training day for booksellers, not because I’m a bookseller but just to find out what the booksellers knew.

They knew that there was a Catholic Writers Guild.

Less than two months later, we scrambled to make it possible for me to attend the Catholic Writers Retreat in Lansing, MI.  One stroke of the oar led to another, and to make a long story short, I met my publisher through CWG, which I would not have done had I not networked at the October 2012 retreat, which I would not have done had I not gone to the CMN show, which I would not have done had I not simply listened to Catholic radio.

Three years later, I’m now a CatholicMom.comCWG blog contributor, I’ve seen my novel hit #1 in its category the first 24 hours after its release, and that novel has received the CWG Seal of Approval.  Even my itty bitty first novel, a scifi retelling of Jane Eyre, has seen a steady little uptick in sales for the first time in years.  More importantly, I’ve made Catholic writer friends.  That may sound silly, but as someone with not many close friends to begin with, and whose dear acquaintances think that Catholicism is a bit on the crazy size… this is huge.  It’s a lot easier to feel Jesus by my side when I write now that I can think back to times that two or three of us have gathered to write in His name.  Forget the writing:  it’s easier to see Him by my side every time I open my Facebook page or check my email or get a text from a far-flung friend.

So, have I helped you make up your mind?  Are you ready to cast out into the deep?  If nothing else, you’ll come up with a net of snack mix.  What do you have to lose?  Go get yourself registered.  God willing, I’ll see you in Chicago in a couple of months.

7QT: An Interview with M. R. Zapp

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It’s Friday, and that means Seven Quick Takes with Jennifer over at ConversionDiary!  Go join the linka-dinka-do!

Today I have the pleasure of having someone else write my 7QT interviewing fellow Catholic author M. R. Zapp, who brought us Southern Trio:  Three Short Stories of the South.

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It’s a delightful read and only $.99.  Read on and find out more about this up and coming author!

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Tell us about your most recent work.  How did the idea come to you?  How long did it take you from start to publication?

 My most recent work – my only published book so far – is a short trio of stories with a southern feel to them.  For some reason my short stories tend to be character centered contemporary stories – literary fiction, I think.  I hate to say that I’m a doom and gloom person, but certainly my shorts tend revolve around people dealing with issues and and struggling to find that silver lining. Your wonderful review (post link?) gives a perfect description of them. Thank you for that!
My pleasure!
The stories were sent out to publishers, but I expect they just weren’t happy enough stories (or good enough for publication) and when I wanted to discover how difficult it was to indie pub I used these three since I loved them so much.  I thought they deserved to see the “light of day.”  That being said, excepting the amount of time where they lay fallow on my pc archive, it took about three months to publication.
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Idea, research, editing, design…What was your favorite part of working on this project? What was your least favorite?
My favorite part was, of course, the story creation part.  But what I love about short story writing is that so much of it, at least for me, is a fly by the seat of your pants type of writing.  I let my characters choose how the story is going to go.  Least favorite part was going back and editing, cutting prose that I loved.  Doesn’t every writer hate that though?  I remember reading a quote somewhere that writers want to write, not establish a collection of random beautiful prose pieces.  That’s helped me a lot in my struggle to know when to let something go.
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Tell us about how this work came to reach us:  did you go the self-publishing route or did you contract with a publisher?  What was that like?
As mentioned, I went the indie pub route.  It was surprisingly easy through Amazon Kindle.  After I had downloaded and read the manual that goes with it (typical me did after the fact), I realized I could have saved myself a lot of time and trouble with the formatting.  But it was so much fun coming up with the cover.  Nevertheless, in the future I might have my covers designed, just because I find a nice cover makes such a huge difference in my own personal purchasing experience.
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What other things in your life do you juggle in order to keep at your writing?  How’s that working out for you?
Well, I’m a mom first and it keeps me busy during the day.  My writing and editing has to come second to that, but I do make it a point to write or work on something having to do with writing everyday (no, facebook does not count! :P).  Since I have multiple works in progress, a vlog, a magazine, and my articles and short fiction going all at once, I wouldn’t say my progress is very fast.  Very snail’s pace.  I’m lucky if I get in 3,000 words in one of the novels in a given week. 
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Setting, characters, plot, mood, tone… What would you describe as your greatest strength as a writer?
  
Tough question!  Just like with our writing, I find it difficult to judge myself on something like that because I’m too close.  Hm… strengths…I have a lot of weaknesses! lol  Can I say my strength is coming up with story scenarios?  That’s the easiest thing for me to do.  For example, I’m an avid regency fan, so I often have regency ideas that come up like, what if a Catholic gentleman was shunned out of society for some outrageous faux pas, rusticates and connects back up with a girl from his childhood…but then she gives him a rejection because he doesn’t take his faith seriously enough?  Sounds good, right?  But when it comes to all the plot turns, action stuff…that’s my weakness!
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Conversely, if you could change one thing about your writing style, what would it be and why?
Aw, just one?  There’s my heavy tone (despite the fact that I’m a happy person), my stoic emotional detachment (not very empathic), my 19th c. sentence structure – the list could go on!  But since you are narrowing me down to just one I guess I would have to say I wish I had my own voice in my novel writing.  I definitely feel it more in my short stories, but discovering my own unique, original writing style is a struggle for me.  My plan is just to keep writing and expect that the more I write, the better I will become at writing.
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Lastly, where can we find your work, a. k. a. give you our hard earned cash? 
Southern Trio is available on Amazon kindle for the low, low price of $.99.  if you happen to pick up a copy, I sure would appreciate a review!
Thank you for your time and for your lovely book!

7 Quick Takes Friday: A Catholic Looking for the Rainbow Bridge

One year ago tomorrow our poor old Willow went to the Rainbow Bridge. In honor of the love she taught us, here are my Seven Quick Takes from the day after she left us.

Erin McCole Cupp

Join up with Jennifer at Conversion Diary for 7 Quick Takes Friday!
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I sort of have a built-in theme for today (not sure if that’s how we’re allowed to do 7QT, but I’m a rebel). Last night we put our older dog, Willow, to sleep.

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Putting a pet down seems like it would be a complicated matter for someone who is against euthanasia. It’s not. Pets are family… but they are not people. Pets cannot gain any spiritual benefit or moral strength or dignity from suffering. We can. That’s one of those things about being made in the image and likeness of God. Our suffering is never wasted–unless we choose to waste it.

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Pets are not made in the image and likeness of God, but like all creation, they do give us an image of God’s love for us, if we’ll just look. Did Willow ever give…

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#WWRW: Southern Trio by M. R. Zapp

Southern Trio

I recently connected with author M. R. Zapp and thus received the opportunity to enjoy her latest work Southern Trio: Three Short Stories of the South. In this bitty gem you”ll find stories of triumph over adversity, and who doesn’t need more of those? The first story is a tale of a girl and her mother, facing a present and a future tainted by alcohol. The second vignette shows us the story of a boy with nothing to lose who may or may not have a chance at a new life. The third story gives us a priest who must face the question: What do we do when everything we’ve done to serve God seems to fall to naught?

I have to say, the third story, “The Magnolia Bloomed,” was my favorite. In it, I learned an valuable lesson that I think all faith-based writers could stand to learn, and that is that unless the Lord builds the house, we build in vain. Nobody’s saying, “Hey! You! Stop building!” Still, we sometimes might need to get out of the way and let God build something beautiful with us as His living stones. A lesson learned at 99 cents? That’s a bargain at any price! Consider picking up a copy of Southern Trio.

Thank you, M. R. Zapp for this reviewing opportunity. The author blogs about the writing life over at Apostolate of the Pen.

#SmallSuccess Thursday with CatholicMom.com

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Join me and the rest of the optimists, the hopers of far-flung hopes and the dreamers of improbable dreams over at CatholicMom.com for Small Success Thursday.

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I’m being interviewed over at CatholicFiction.net!

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Make with the clicky to read more than you ever wanted to know about me. Thank you, CatholicFiction.net, for this opportunity!

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Mother’s Day has the potential to be very difficult for me, but my husband and kids always make it so beautiful and so much fun. At breakfast, hubby asked, “Are there any movies you’d like to see?”

I hemmed and hawed a bit. “Well, I’d like to see Mom’s Night Out at some point, and I”m pretty sure it’s family-friendly. I’ve heard nice things about God’s Not Dead and Heaven is for Real, though I’m not sure they’re for the kids–”

“No, I meant we arrange babysitting and go see a grown-up m–”

CAPTAINAMERICAWINTERSOLDIER!”

Image by Takk courtesy of Wikicommons

Image by Takk courtesy of Wikicommons

I don’t have time to post a real review, but we’ll just say I LOVED it. The plot was solid, the acting was spot-on, and… this might sound weird, but it was one of the best scores I’ve heard in a while (that may not be saying much–I don’t get to many movies these days). Anyway, it was the perfect end to the perfect day for a nerdy mom like myself.

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I took my kids to the pool yesterday and didn’t lose my mind with boredom chasing Second Shift around.  Oh, and nobody drowned.

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I let the older member of First Shift fix Second Shift’s toothbrush. It’s a kiddie spin brush, and fixing it involved using a jeweler’s screwdriver, so this is a big accomplishment for someone with low muscle tone, poor coordination, and resulting generalized anxiety. It’s not my success (well, I guess it is if you count me not doing it for her), but it’s so awesome it’s worth sharing.

15-word tag line? Sure!

Seems it’s time for me to figure out a 15-word tag line that describes/entices readers to purchase Don’t You Forget About Me.

What’s your favorite? Comment below and receive a FREE lifetime supply of air.

  1. Erin Brockovich meets The Breakfast Club meets Father Brown:  Don’t You Forget About Me
  2. Did the bullied murder the bully?  Erin McCole Cupp’s Don’t You Forget About Me
  3. Nuns, romance, and a little bit of murder:  Erin McCole Cupp’s Don’t You Forget About Me

Oh!  Also?  Free virtual slice of tomato pie for ya:

Do you see that?  The sauce is so thick that it just stands there like it's waiting for a bus.

Do you see that? The sauce is so thick that it just stands there like it’s waiting for a bus.