Month: August 2014

Assets & Liabilities: 7 Quick Takes Friday


Come check out Seven Quick Takes Friday with Jennifer over at Conversion Diary.  

In case you’ve been reading here and haven’t noticed lately, I’ve been a bit down on myself. That is in no small part due to my lack of progress on the sequel to Don’t You Forget About Me.  I even made a list of all the assets to time I had when I wrote my first book (without kids) and then my second book (with two in school and one non-verbal who took two naps a day).  Then I wrote a list of all the assets I DON’T HAVE this time around (homeschooling 3, 0 naps, demanding preschooler).  It was kind of grim.  It was kind of hopeless.

And then my clumsy fingers accidentally fed those lists to my computer.

So I’m taking that as a sign that God wants me not to list my problems but to list the gifts I do have that will help me write the next book, as long as I start looking for gifts instead of focusing on the hardships.


I have a well-established morning wake time.  I wake up about an hour and a half before the troops come down for breakfast.  This was a hard-fought-and-won habit.  That battle to tackle the day before the day tackles me is already won.  I think I just need to change tactics and use that time for something else.


First Shift is now old enough to keep Second Shift busy and answer her INCESSANT questions.  I just need to schedule in time for them to do this. I need to figure out how much time isn’t too much.  An incentive of money if they keep their time with her relatively conflict-free may be in order.  Which brings me to…


My husband just got a promotion that makes us a little more financially comfortable, so that an extra bit of hush-money to the kids won’t push our budget past the point of no return.    Even without the promotion and the wiggle room that provides, my husband is awesome.  We have our rocky moments, but in the end, we rock.  It’s all about the end, anyway.  Thank you to him.  And thank God for him.  I won’t say any more because praise makes him squirm.


I have people who know what it’s like to be in these no-time shoes.  Go check out the 10-Minute Writer.  There’s nothing I could say that she couldn’t say better.  I just got welcomed into the 10-Minute Writer Facebook group as well as a couple of FB groups for Catholic bloggers, Catholic women bloggers, and so on.  I have support for when I get stuck.  All I have to do is get my own ball rolling a little bit here.


I have people who like my work and want me to succeed.  I don’t want to drop too many names, but I have to give out the most major of props to Cristina at Filling My Prayer Closet.  She is being an absolute darling and putting together a Street Team for my writing schtuff.  I feel like, because I’m drowning in life, I can’t support her as much as she supports me, and that makes me feel unbalanced.  I’m trying to let that go and just be grateful.  Believe me, I am grateful.  It’s the “just be” that trips me up.


I have a great relationship with a great, integrity-driven publisher who shares my view of what fiction is supposed to be.


I’VE ALREADY WRITTEN TWO BOOKS!  The me from ten years ago is looking at the me now and going, “SRSLY?  Dude, you’re what I want to be when I grow up.  You are LIVING THE DREAM, DUDE!”

Even putting that aside, I have the experience that comes with, you know, having written two books.  That’s gotta help out somehow.  I’ve done it before.  What’s to stop me from doing it one more time?

So now I just have to pull it together, take my own stinking advice, suck it up and get writing.  Butt in seat.  Fingers on keys.

I expect to take a few weeks off from blogging so I can get a little more caught up.  I’m sure you understand.  Have a great time.


Giveaways, Book Club, and more like “Wow Card Wednesday!”

Hey, Tomato Pie Peeps! This is going to be a fly-by. Things to do, people to see, breakfasts to cook, etc.

  1. Cristina at Filling My Prayer Closet has one part of an interview with little ol’ me, not to mention a giveaway of an ebook (Kindle, I believe) of Don’t You Forget About Me. BTW, this part of the interview reveals how the story came together, how endometriosis of all things played a part, and… outtakes. Books have outtakes. Oh yes they do. Cristina is a hilarious, warm and full of fresh ideas, so go check out this fresh, young lay Dominican.
  2. Tiffany at Life of a Catholic Librarian has another part of that interview and is giving away a hard copy of DYFAM. This part of the interview tackles the value of a Best Good Friend, how to write a mystery if you don’t really read them, and the question everybody seems to want to ask but is afraid to: Is Cate really just Erin with a different name? If I have learned one thing from homeschooling, it is the value of a good librarian–her value is above rubies, above curriculum catalogs. Go visit Tiffany, a lay Dominican Middle Eastern dancer. Yes, you can be both.
  3. WOW! We are getting in some fabulous flashes for Wildcard Wednesday. In case you missed it, WCW is a monthly fiction improv, and this month’s is an audition for an upcoming short story anthology from Full Quiver Publishing. It’ll take 10 minutes to write, maybe 5 to post/link, and you could get discovered. Oh, and the linkup doesn’t even close until September 6 at 1am. Q: What’s to lose? A: NOTHING!

And now I’m leaving you with my tall glass of cold, bubbly coffee.


Wildcard Wednesday for AUGUST: The “Get Discovered” Edition




Surprise!  It’s that time again.

This time, however, there’s a little twist! This time, WCW participants have a chance at having their stories appear in an upcoming anthology!



So I’m helping Ellen Gable of Full Quiver Publishing glean stories for an as-yet-untitled anthology of short stories, all of which are to illustrate (not preach, illustrate) principles of St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.  If you link up your story here, there’s a chance FQP might pick up your story for the anthology.  It is my understanding that stories will be bought on a per-word basis, and all rights revert to the authors.  Even if your story doesn’t get selected, WCW is a great way to flex your writing muscles, to get your work noticed a bit, to help build your own mutual support society, and so and so.

It’s really not much of a gamble for you, if you ask me.  You in?

The WCW 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:  In St. John Paul II’s teachings on the Theology of the Body, he points out four “originals”:  Original Solitude, Original Unity, Original Nakedness, and then Original Sin.  Your prompt today is to take one of those four Originals and spend ten minutes with it, creating a piece of fiction.  

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:


7 Quick Takes Friday – Articles, New FQP Book Etc.

Check it, Tomato Pie readers! My publisher has a new novel on the way! Amanda Lauer, the new FQP author is as sweet as can be and dresses like Jackie O on occasion, which is AWESOME!

Plot Line and Sinker (Ellen Gable, Author)

7_quick_takes_sm1Lots going on. I’m connecting with other Catholic bloggers at Conversion Diary for 7 Quick Takes Friday.

1. Parenting Adult Children Who Have Abandoned Their Faith
My latest column over at Catholic Mom is entitled “Parenting Adult Children Who Have Abandoned Their Faith.” PACphoto

2. Five Little Souls in Heaven
I’ve posted this before, but this nearly 20 year old article started off my writing career and it also served as the basis for my first novel, Emily’s Hope.hrkach

3. A World Such as Heaven Intended
FQP’s new book (coming out in October) is entitled “A World Such as Heaven Intended” by Amanda Lauer. The Kindle edition will likely be released a few weeks before the print edition. Keep posted here, on Facebook and on the FQP website for more details.AWSAHI Final Cover

4. Lits
I love the architecture of Lits Department Store in Philly. Lits is mentioned in my first book, Emily’s…

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Small Success Thursday: The Confidence Edition

It’s Thursday.  You know what that means?



Go celebrate the good and link up with


My first novel, Jane_E, Friendless Orphan:  A Memoir, is available for a Goodreads giveaway through tomorrow.

Artwork (C)2006 by Anthony Volpe

Artwork (C)2006 by Anthony Volpe

I have to admit that, ever since this book was turned down for the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval, I’ve been reluctant to promote it.  I’m not ashamed of my work on this book or anything.  I just thought that since it didn’t make the SOA cut, that meant I just shouldn’t promote it.  However, in the meantime, I’ve heard other folks say that even Flannery O’Connor probably wouldn’t have made the SOA cut.  Then, while at the CWG Live conference earlier this month, I had a generous handful of readers come up to me and tell me how much they enjoyed this book… and none of them seemed to be prancing towards the gates of hell for having read Jane_E.  That and I had occasion to admit that still, eleven years after closing the first draft of this book, I will go back and re-read the last two chapters to watch Jane and Thorne get their just desserts…. so I’m re-promoting it.  If you like dark romance and dystopian futures but still prefer your characters to have (or grow) a moral compass, you might enjoy this one.


I have a novelette coming out!  It’s called Working Mother, and it’s my attempt to answer the question, “What if Mary, the Mother of God, had to get a job?”

I wrote it while working a series of desk jobs to pay for First Shift’s therapy and therapeutic activities, all the while feeling like a failure because I wasn’t the stay-at-home, homeschooling, warm-and-fuzzy mom that all good radtrad Catholic girls are supposed be growing up, right?  RIGHT?  So I was praying for our family situation to change and heard, “Go to Mary.  She’ll understand.”

I answered that voice, “Mary couldn’t understand.  It’s not like she ever had to go out and get a job.”

That other voice answered back, “Are you sure about that?”

Working Mother will be an ebook priced at only 99 cents.  Look for it this Holy Family Sunday.


There are two new Amazon reviews for Don’t You Forget About Meboth positive!


As someone whose love language is Words of Affirmation by an absolute landslide, this is balm to the weary soul. Especially balming (balmy?  enbalming?  No, that’s definitely not right…) is this review over at Our Hearts are Restless.  The author has offered to interview me, and I intend to take her up on that!  So go subscribe to her blog and stuff.


Speaking of other bloggers, last week I delivered a hard copy of DYFAM to Cristina at Filling My Prayer Closet.  She and Tiffany the Catholic Librarian are a pair of lay Dominicans (like yours truly), and they have teamed up to host a giveaway of said hard copy as well as a book club (am I giving too much away?  I hope not…) at their blogs.

Anyway, first, go subscribe to their blogs so you can be kept informed.

Second, Cristina has offered to form a Street Team for, well, um, me!  A Street Team is a group of readers who volunteer to help promote the stuff I write, and in return you get exclusive stuff.  We’re still in the planning stages, and frankly I’m in the “nobody’s going to want to do this for me, who am I kidding, I am delusional” stages.  Getting out of that last bit will be a feat.  The first step is to completely realize, “HEY! A PERFECT STRANGER LIKED MY BOOK SO MUCH THAT SHE WANTS TO ROUND UP OTHERS TO HELP PROMOTE IT!”

I reread that sentence, like, five times, and I’m still sitting here going, “Wait, seriously?”  Like I said, a feat.  But I’m all about feats, as you’ll see in Small Success #5!


Yesterday I took both shifts of kid into Center City Philadelphia to meet up with Barb of Cook and Count (whose blog you also ought to follow).  We’ve been friends for over a year now, ever since she was one of my roommates at CWG Live last year.


There she is, lay Franciscan that she is, embracing another lay Dominican.  Anyway, we kinda just hung out with our kids and snacked our way through Reading Terminal Market.  This is a success because Barb has known me for a year and still wants to hang out with me!  The other success though is that I feel like I’m teaching my kids something important.  All day yesterday, they watched their mom navigate public transportation in a busy city with only one flub-up.  I forgot one El stop didn’t have an underground bridge from the east side the the west side.  Oops.

First Shift has made it clear that they hate cities.  “It’s stinky.”  Keep in mind, this is coming from a pair of children who regularly have manure spread on the farm across the street.

I grew up in suburbia.  My high school friends lied to their parents that they were “going to Erin’s house,” when really they were coming to my house to get dressed in going-out clothes so we could walk to the train into the city.  And it’s not like we were going into tough neighborhoods or anything.  We were just growing in the confidence of being able to navigate public transportation without looking like incompetent tourists.  Today I am grateful I can offer my kids the example of a mom who can drive in the city or not.  It is my hope that, stinky or not, they aren’t afraid of going to places that are bigger than our block, because they see me taking them there without fear.

That and it was nice to take my kids somewhere that they have the accents and I’m the one who sounds right asking for “four bottles of wooder.”


I have been dreading starting up hardcore homeschooling again.  My biggest fear isn’t that they’ll fall behind academically.  No, my biggest fear is that I won’t be able to handle another year of the demoralizing complaints and anxiety-ridden freakouts that come from my children, all while getting little to no positive feedback from anyone.  See above where I admitted I need Words of Affirmation to thrive?  Homeschooling provides little to none in the here-and-now.  I put a lot of effort into modeling how to give positive feedback.  I do it for others every day.  Every.  Day.  But just like I model good table manners and still have ten year-olds who can’t eat without getting food all over their faces… they’re just not intuiting it.

Colleen Duggan wrote a piece that very closely mirrored what I have been feeling.  Though I admit my dread isn’t, “Can I educate them?” It’s, “Can I survive educating them?  I am not strong enough.  I will break.”  Still, Colleen’s piece about pushing against the stone spoke to me.  I won’t see the long-haul benefits until I’ve been in this for the long haul.

Believe me:  the haul has been feeling pretty long of late.  Bloggers like Colleen help.  Thanks, Colleen.  Go subscribe to her blog, too.


Speaking of long(ish) haul payoffs, First Shift of Kids is comprised entirely of competitive figure skaters.  After over a year of training, on Tuesday they passed their first figure skating test!  For them that means they learned a long, complicated pattern of moves to perform for a judge, that judge thinks they did well enough on those moves to compete reasonably against other skaters who can perform those moves.  Oh, and now they can move on to learning jumps and spins.  For me, this means NO MORE EARLY MORNING ICE TIME!  They’ve “leveled up” such that they can practice in the afternoons.  ::happysigh::

Hooray for successes, large, small, and all points in between!

7QT: Interview with Connie Rossini

7_quick_takes_sm1 (1)

It’s Friday! That mean’s you don’t get your actual weekend until you link up with Jennifer at Conversion Diary for 7 Quick Takes.

Today I have the honor and pleasure of interviewing Connie Rossini.

Image of Connie Rossini

Connie blogs over at Contemplative Homeschool in addition to having not one but two books available now! Five Lessons from the Carmelite Saints That Will Change Your Life is a free ebook (FREE, people!). More recently, Connie saw the release of her latest book, Trusting God With St. Therese.


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

The seeds for Trusting God with St. Therese were planted in December 2012. I was reading The Way of Trust and Love by Jacques Philippe. He quoted from one of St. Therese’s letters that I didn’t remember having heard about before. What she said really struck me. Essentially she said that when we sin, instead of getting down on ourselves and expecting God to punish us, we should ask Him for a kiss. I had been getting down on myself for my lack of progress in the spiritual life for years. I wasn’t quite on the edge of despair, but I was distraught and frustrated.

I decided to start asking God for a kiss every time I sinned. I wrote a post about it on what was then my new blog. As the new year drew closer, I decided to make 2013 the year to focus on trusting God. I would read up on St. Therese’s teaching, meditate on it, and blog on it.

When I wrote my free ebook, Five Lessons from the Carmelite Saints That Will Change Your Life, I made trust the subject of lesson five. Almost as soon as I published that book, I started working on my book on trust. My official publishing date was this August 6, so it took about fourteen months to write, if you don’t include the original blog posts.


Idea, research, editing, design…What was your favorite part of working on this project? What was your least favorite?

I loved so many aspects of this project. Perhaps my favorite was learning more details about the life of St. Therese. I had read Story of a Soul a few times, and a few books on the Little Way. But I had never read her letters or Last Conversations. And I hadn’t read a biography that pulled them all together.

The nuns of the Lisieux Carmel have posted many resources online that aren’t otherwise available in English. I was able to ask them for clarification of a few points by email. When I found out that one quote I ran across on the internet had not officially been translated into English yet, I chose to translate it myself after discussing the meaning of the French with the nuns. (I have a degree in Modern Foreign Languages.) That was a really cool experience.

My least favorite part was formatting the text for the print version. I used Microsoft Word, and it wasn’t easy. I had repeated problems with the headers and footers.


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?

Due to the success of my free ebook, which I self-published, I chose to try self-publishing with my longer book. I did almost everything myself. My husband, who has spent years as an editor for Church publications, edited it. Self-publishing was a lot of work, but very rewarding. I had the assurance from the beginning that the book would reach publication. I didn’t have to try to shop it to publishing companies.


What other things in your life do you juggle in order to keep at your writing? How’s that working out for you?

I homeschool our four young boys. (Well, the youngest is still just three, so ABCs are about as much as he does for school so far.) We’ve done more worksheets over the last year than I like to do. But my next writing project is a plan to help children grow spiritually, so I’m implementing that in school and writing about it as we go.


Setting, characters, plot, mood, tone… What would you describe as your greatest strength as a writer?

Although I’m not writing fiction right now, my book is creative non-fiction. I wrote scenes from St. Therese’s life, presenting it as a story. Each chapter also has a corresponding memoir. Since all the stories are based on fact, I didn’t have to do much with plot, but I did have characters, dialog, etc.

I think my greatest strength, though, is being able to see the greater theme of trust being played out in Therese and my lives, and to carry more minor themes throughout the book. I like to do that in miniature in my blog posts as well.

But readers, including my husband, say the memoir sections are the best part of the book. That’s ironic, because I didn’t originally plan to do them at all.


Conversely, if you could change one thing about your writing style, what would it be and why?

I’ve never been great at writing realistic dialog. I think it’s because I was so shy for my first twenty years or so that I didn’t have enough experience with dialog in real life. That probably sounds strange. But in my family, we more often took turns speaking monologue than really dialogue with each other. I had to learn the fine art of chatting after I got married. Writing realistic dialog that moves the story along is still difficult.


Lastly, where can we find your work, a. k. a. give you our hard earned cash?

Trusting God with St. Therese is currently available in digital and print formats from I hope to see it in some Catholic bookstores and public libraries soon.

Thank you, Connie! This sounds like a wonderful, edifying book on a subject I know I could use to study and implement more deeply in my own relationship with Christ.

#7QT Dominican Saints Edition

Cristina said it better than I could. A day late, enjoy these 7 Dominican saints!

Filling My Prayer Closet

Today is the feast of St. Dominic. That’s a pretty huge deal around these parts, as I am going to be received this evening as a Lay Dominican Novice. My husband and children are coming with me for support. They like St. Dominic, but let’s see how much they love him when they’re in a room full of black and white wearing 3OP lifers! I am supposed to be called up, with my new name, just after mass at 5PM, or maybe just after evening prayers. Regardless, your job is to pray for me. Pray for what? That I don’t trip or that I don’t drop pasta sauce on my black and white cardigan – those are good prayers for me today. I will be on retreat the rest of the weekend. Given this is such an important “saint aligned” day for me, I thought we’d review some of…

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WWRW: Trusting God With St. Therese

It’s What We’re Reading Wednesday with Jessica over at Housewifespice!  And I have a grown-up book to share!


When I dropped my e-reader and it broke, I was in the middle of reading Trusting God with St. Therese by Connie Rossini.

I’m not finished yet, I’ll admit. However, I am liking it so far.  Rossini has an easy, conversational, but not-too-familiar style, much like a modern Therese!  Reading Trusting God even as far as I have, I’ve seen the saint’s life in a whole new light.  This has watered and fed my growing devotion to Blessed Zelie and Louis Martin.  If you’re looking for an uplifting read, check out Trusting God with St. Therese by Connie Rossini.  And now excuse me while I get this goodie loaded onto the family iPad.  

Texas Friends? Go visit Catholic Book Exchange!

As I go through the business cards I collected at the Catholic Marketing Network Trade Show, I came across one from Kimberly at Catholic Book Exchange.  Who is she?  She’s the bookseller who won a copy of Don’t You Forget About Me by saying, “Sure!” (or something like it) when I asked if I could take a selfie with her for the CMN Selfie Scavenger Hunt.  


I went and checked out their site, and it looks like the kind of place that I wish were in my hometown.  New AND used books, which makes people like me and Laura at Green4God (soon to be Suburban Sainthood) super happy.  It looks like she also promotes local artists and musicians!  ::applause applause applause::