7QT: Interview with Connie Rossini

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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.

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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?

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.

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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.

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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?

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.

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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?

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.

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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.

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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.

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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 Amazon.com. 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.

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