Month: July 2014

Wanna play? CMN Trade Show Selfie Scavenger Hunt

Do you have a Twitter account but don’t quite know how to use it just yet?  Do #hashtags #baffle #you? What about finding like minds on Facebook?  

Learn by doing!  Join in the highly unofficial Catholic Marketing Network Trade Show Selfie Scavenger Hunt.  

Here’s how it works:

  1. Take a selfie at/with/doing any of the things in the list below.  
  2. Post it to your Twitter and/or Facebook page, including #CMNselfie wherever you post it.  
  3. Search on Facebook and Twitter for #CMNselfie.
  4. Find like minds!  
  5. Send them friend requests on Facebook.
  6. Follow them on Twitter.
  7. Get to know each other!

Questions?  Let me know in the comments.  Now, here comes the list.  Note that there are more than seven items on said list.  This is so, if you’re lazy pressed for time, you can also turn your selfies into a 7 Quick Takes Post.  

THE CMN Selfie Scavenger Hunt


  1. With Paper Pope
  2. With a presenter
  3. With someone who’s never been to the conference before
  4. With someone who’s been to the conference more times than you have
  5. With a bookseller and/or store owner
  6. At the Catholic Writers Guild trade show floor booth
  7. Buying a book
  8. With a koala (!)
  9. At Wednesday night’s author reception
  10. With someone you met for the first time at the trade show/conference

Let’s play!  


On your mark. Get set. CONFERENCE!

Tomorrow I will join the number of writers, editors, booksellers, and other creative Catholic types making the annual journey to the Catholic Marketing Network Trade Show.

Included in that event is the Catholic Writers Conference LIVE!
CWC live

Online registration is closed, but you can drop by the CWG registration booth for on-site registration. Did that register? I’m typing this on a register. Sorry. Just trying to register how many times I can use the word “register.”

This is my fourth year going, and I’ve never been more excited. I have to admit, though. I wasn’t always this delighted to be making this trip. The first year I learned that this event existed, I was just there to explore, kids in tow, and get the lay of the land. The highlight was meeting Gandalf John Michael Talbot.

The following year was far more nerve-wracking. I was about to room with an editor who had my manuscript in hand and thus wielded the power to crush my dreams yet again. And that room was CROWDED: four to a room. I think we were all too poor to complain. And if I wanted to escape, well, too darned bad, because home was a plane ride away. I was terrified, kind of like this:


Long story short, I learned that if you go to a writers’ conference, you’ll be SURROUNDED by introverts, so relax. We all understand.  Last year I was able to offer that sentiment to other newbies, so if you’re a newbie this year, you get to relax, too. Besides, where else can you go to network professionally then decompress in front of the Blessed Sacrament?

This year, I won’t be handing out free food…

Author Erin McCole Cupp distributing slices of Philadelphia-style tomato pie at the 2013 Catholic Marketing Network Trade Show

Author Erin McCole Cupp distributing slices of Philadelphia-style tomato pie at the 2013 Catholic Marketing Network Trade Show

But I will be stalking Catholic authors who are stalking Catholic authors…


…scoring book swag…


… hanging with Paper Pope…


…and La Guadalupana Papel…


I’ll also be joining with Ellen Gable and Karen Kelly Boyce as part of a talk on Wednesday on the Sorrowful Mysteries of Rejection. Come check it out, if you can. I can also guarantee you that I’ll be doing this at least once a day…


…because awkward is how I awkward.  Will you be there?  Would you like to participate in a CMN selfie scavenger hunt? I can’t wait to see you!

Short shorts and midriffs: dressing our daughters

I am reblogging this as a mom of two tall tweens. I’d never thought of the mall (a place we avoid in favor of thrift stores) would hold lessons in self-respect. Thanks, 8kids!

8 Kids And A Business

Posted at Catholic Insight

Brigit 2According to, girls begin a growth spurt around the age of 9 or 10, with the fastest growth at around 11 or 12 years of age. Typically, girls grow about three inches per year during this period. That’s what happened to my youngest child this past year.

At the beginning of summer, it became obvious that my daughter needed new clothing. At the age of eleven, she is at the tail end of a long line of six brothers and a sister who is thirteen years older. She isn’t familiar with the time-honoured tradition of hand-me-downs. For her, a trip to the mall is a necessary, sometimes expensive occasion.

Have you shopped for an eleven year old girl lately? Have you, like I, wondered why it has become acceptable to dress our daughters in clothing that is too short, too tight, too revealing, too adult?…

View original post 420 more words

7QT: Lessons Learned from Making Soap

7_quick_takes_sm1 (1)

Join up with Jennifer at Conversion Diary for Seven Quick Takes Friday!

We tried out our second First Disciples project, in order to draft a set of project instructions to send to our Beta Team Extraordinaire. As you may remember, our first project was learning how to make a fire and keep it going. Our second project was making the kind of soap that Mary may have used. What have we learned so far?


Herodian life seems, so far, to have been full of little trinities. In order to have fire, you need fuel, oxygen, and heat. Flint strikes metal and creates a spark. In order to make soap, you need lye, fat, and water. You can’t remove one of those things from the other and still have fire or a spark or soap. The more I work with these kinds of things, the more it feels on a very visceral level like the Trinity has seared His image into the basic stuff of humanity–fire-making, fire-tending, soap-making… I wonder, where else will we find the face of God in this process, peeking around the corner, smiling, looking to see if we’ve noticed?


Primitive success required primitive tools, or, Some things just don’t translate across eras. Before making our foray into the world of soap-making, we studied what felt like a gazillion bajillion YouTube videos on how to make soap at home. It all seemed simple enough to follow until we got to the part in most of the videos where the star says, “And now you get your stick blender…” Mary did not have a stick blender. Fine, we said. We’ll make the soap using our plastic vessels, but we’ll just stir it all by hand. What could go wrong?

I’ll tell you what could go wrong. The ingredients won’t reach “trace” (the point-of-no-return in the emulsification process) if they lose their heat too quickly, and no dollar store plastic bowl is going to retain heat the way, say, a warmed terra cotta pot would have while the Herodian housewife stirred the soap. And no hand held dollar store mixing spoon will whip the ingredients together as fast as a stick blender would, hence why a stick blender is necessary in a world of plastic bowls, but a wooden spoon will work just fine if you have a vessel that retains heat.

Our result after three hours of stirring, then re-heating in a low slowcooker, then stirring some more: lye-olive oil slurry that never reached trace. Doubtful, we poured our runny goop into the mold and set it aside to dry. Then we went to bed, because I doubt even Mother Mary wants to stir a greasy mess all through the night.


God chose to be born in a time when human life was hard. On my personal Facebook page, I left a few statuses about how our soap wasn’t seeming to come together. A couple of friends teased me with hashtags such as #teamstickblender and #WWJD #useastickblender. Ah, but He could have and very clearly chose not to! What does that tell us about our God? A lot, I’m sure, but the first thing that comes to mind is that He wasn’t afraid of hard work. So what excuse do we have? That’d be none.


God chose to be born in a time when human life was slow. The easiest soap to make in Mary’s time would have been either tallow (rendered animal fat) or vegetable (probably olive oil). We started by making the olive oil soap because it was what we have in the pantry (this may surprise you, given my previous admissions of obesity, but we don’t have actual lard on hand all that often). Olive oil is the softest soap you can possibly make. The recipe we followed promised it would be ready to cut into curable bars after 24 hours. We waited one day, and it had become sludge. Another day and it had remained sludge. A third day, and it became slightly thicker sludge. Finally, on Day 4, it was firm enough to crack out of remove from the mold…


…and cut into little bars and squares and such.


I’ve read these might take three weeks to five years to cure hard enough not to fall apart under a running tap and clog up our drains. This is slightly more time than it takes me to drive to the store and buy a bar of soap somebody else made more cheaply than we’re making ours. This is the schedule for which God volunteered? Thoroughly Modern Erin is all like, “Dude. Whoa.”


Becoming like a little child. Okay, so First Shift isn’t “little” any more (Ellen Gable, they very well may be taller than you–which, you may be irritated amused to know that Older Member of First Shift made that a goal last year when she met you at CWG Live). I digress. Anyway, I was ready to throw out the aforementioned sludge after the first 24 hours of not drying, but First Shift convinced me to keep it around and see what happened. Maybe we could turn it into liquid soap or something. I grumbled and placed the mold up up and away on a high shelf. If I had ignored their hope, we would have assumed failure, which fire taught us is always dangerous. Their living hope breathed life back into mine.


We learn patience by living as patient people did–and do. Whenever I tell someone new about the First Disciples Project, I often wonder how crazy they think I am for wasting time teaching girls skills that they don’t really need any more. Now that my kids have seen our slow, hard work and patient waiting turned into success, I see that taking the time to live, even in a small way, as a more patient people would have done, bears fruit in our modern world. First Shift learned by making fire that we have to keep trying, even when it looks like we’re wasting our time. I believe it was that lesson that inspired them to ask me to wait upon the un-emulsified sludge. Their practiced hope breathed life back into mine.


Stepping into Mary’s sandals brings us closer to her Son. First Shift knows lots of faith facts and prayers and a generous number of faith “whys,” because I’d always been big on “why.” “Why?” is the question that brought me to Catholicism, so I’m not about to stop anybody from asking it. Still, it wasn’t until we began First Disciples that my kids started asking their own questions. “Would Mary have gone to Elizabeth alone? Why not? But what would it have been like if she did?” “Did Mary know how to find edible plants?” “What would Mary have grown in her garden?” The fact that they’re seeing her as a girl so like themselves is a gateway drug, I hope, to seeing Jesus as a real person. Mary suffered a hard life to bring up Jesus. Jesus suffered for love of them, for love of us all. Appreciating that is what brings us into relationship with him, what helps us see that He doesn’t owe us a darned thing He didn’t already give us.

We’re still looking for a few moms with girls ages 8-15 to join our beta testing team. If you’re interested, please email me at emccolecupp at g mail dawt com.

NFP Week: Theology of the Body Fiction

Plot Line and Sinker (Ellen Gable, Author)

Full Quiver logoOne of my favorite ways to promote the Theology of the Body is to recommend novels with a great TOB message. My publishing company publishes novels with Theology of the Body themes.

Want to learn more about the Theology of the Body? Interested in promoting it? Read and recommend one of these books! This list is not all-inclusive:

Emily’s Hope (Ellen Gable)Emily's Hope

In Name Only (O’Donovan Family Book 1) (Ellen Gable)In name only much smaller

Stealing Jenny (Ellen Gable)Stealing Jenny

Passport (Christopher Blunt)passport

Angela’s Song (AnnMarie Creedon)AS Front Cover Final9-19

Don’t You Forget About Me (Erin McCole Cupp)Don't You Forget About Me FTcasefrontcover

A Subtle Grace (O’Donovan Family Book 2)(Ellen Gable) A Subtle Grace front cover Nov2013

The Lion’s Heart (Dena Hunt)Front Cover Final revisedsm

Do you have any favorite TOB novels to add? Please feel free to comment below!

Copyright 2013 Ellen Gable Hrkach

View original post