Month: February 2015

7 Steps to a Library Author Event


I got your quick takes RIGHT HERE!  And so does Kelly over at This Ain’t the Lyceum. 

Last Saturday I took part in an event for local authors at the happiest place on earth.happiestplaceonearth_thumb

No, not there. Our local library!  How did we make this happen?


Get to know your local librarian!

Sherrie at the library putting DYFAM in its library suit.

Sherrie at the library putting DYFAM in its library suit.

This is Sherrie, who blogs over at Sherrie’s Scriptorium.  She’s also the welcoming face we see at one of our local libraries.  She loves books and more than tolerates people, which makes her the best possible person to have behind that desk.  I had a relationship with Sherrie before my book came out, so that once it was available, I already had an ally in the fight to get my book in the hands of readers.


Network with other authors.  I joined the Catholic Writers Guild ages ago and more recently joined my local branch of Sisters in Crime.  Both organizations gave me a connection to other authors for times like this.


Come up with some cockamamie theme, ideally having something to do with a holiday.  Holidays mean shopping for gifts.  Books make great gifts.  An author event themed to a holiday sounds like a winning idea to me.  And thus…


Design holiday-themed activities to include in your event that get people to mingle and not just stand around feeling shy and awkward.  Bookworms and the people who write for them are not exactly known for their extraversion, after all.  Valentine’s Day means dating.  Speed dating with books (3 minutes with one book, then you have to move on to the next) and blind dates with books (wrapped in brown paper and purchased unwrapped for a donation to the library) were the order of the day.  We’re already talking about a possible summer reading event, “Beach Book Bingo.”


Give yourself enough time.  Please, people, never do something like this (forgive the language) half-assed and last minute and then complain that nobody showed up.  Your audience for this event needs time to hear from you repeatedly, find out which of their friends are going, and then commit to attending themselves in order for your live event marketing to have a hope of working.  You could still have a flop, but at least it won’t be for lack of trying.

Sherrie & I threw this together in about six weeks from idea to event.  This was as tight a time frame as I’d ever want.  I’d prefer to start 8-12 weeks from idea to event.  Why so much time?  You need to…


Get your librarian and her library on board.  You may need time to get the library’s board of directors to approve your event, and that can be tricky, especially during seasons when weather is likely to cancel board meetings.


Organize, mobilize and publicize.  Recruit authors from your network to take part in the event, because many hands make light work, and variety has a bigger draw.  Organize who’s doing what when (we used  Send out press releases 4-6 weeks before your event.  Create a Facebook event (if you’re as lucky as I am, your Sherrie will do this for you).  Tweet. Instagram, if that’s your thing.  Encourage your fellow participating authors to do the same.  Together we had a longer reach, and by including other authors in this stage of the game, I got several new media contacts to whom I was able to send the PR, which is always a good thing.


Enjoy your event!  The weather was not great, but we still had some readers come join us.  Most of us sold books.  I showed up with two boxes of items for my display table and left with just one!

Here’s the speed dating table…


Copyright 2015 Sherrie Palmer. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

I also suggested people bring a food to share with readers that connects to your book.  Top left corner has your tomato pie, fo sho, but also take a look at the little “A Good Book” sandwiches another librarian on staff that day made with tortillas.  Deliciously cute! Carolyn Astfalk, whose book isn’t even out yet, brought “Rebecca’s Fantasy Fudge,” which is part of her forthcoming novel, and bookmarks with the recipe on them, fantastic ways to get potential readers to hang on to your info and keep you in mind when your book release date gets closer.

Copyright 2015 Sherrie Palmer.  All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Copyright 2015 Sherrie Palmer. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

So, even though we did not have a HUGE crowd, we had some crowd.  Best of all, though, we writers had an opportunity to share our writing lives with others.

Copyright 2015 Sherrie Palmer, All Rights Reserved.  Used with Permission.

Copyright 2015 Sherrie Palmer, All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission.

Many thanks to Sherrie and the Atglen Public Library for hosting us! Let’s do it again some time. Also, do check out Sherrie’s blog, where she’ll have a list of links to all the “Fall in Love With a Good Book” participating authors.    Have you ever put together an author event like this one?  Do you have any tips to add?  Do you need some additional ideas on how to organize your own event?  Comment below and let’s share brains!  


#showusyourlist Mardi Gras


Today’s the day! Did you complain about 50 Shades of Anything?  Then #showusyourlist. 

Are you tired of Catholic media telling you what not to watch or read but not giving any suggestions of what is worth reading?  Have you had it with struggling to find entertainment that doesn’t downright soil your mind, heart and soul?  Do you wish that Catholic media would spend less time complaining about the popular and scandalous and more time celebrating positive entertainment?  Then #showusyourlist. 

Are you tired of having our Catholic media promote the  malnutrition of the Catholic imagination?

Then #showusyourlist. 

Check out the bloggers who’ve already shown us their lists:

Ellen Gable

Barb S. at Franciscan Mom

Allison Gingras at Reconciled to You

Carolyn Astfalk

A. K. Frailey

Sarah Reinhard over at Catholic  Mom

Christine Johnson at Domestic Vocation

Chris Weigand

…and more are on the way!  We’ve even had some RTs from a big name or two in the media world, and the day is just halfway done.  Please pray that this effort will open the eyes of our Catholic media to the importance of fiction. Computers can spit out non-fiction.  Only humans bloom through stories.

This tells me that maybe fiction is one of those things that sets us apart as being in the image and likeness of God.

This tells me that fiction is important.

St. John Paul II, playwright, poet & pope, pray for us!


Think the Mother of God Didn’t Work? Think Again: Interview with Working Mother Author Erin McCole Cupp

Carolyn Astfalk has been kind enough to host me at her blog today! Thanks, Carolyn!

Carolyn Astfalk

Meet Erin McCole Cupp, fellow writer, Catholic mother, Pennsylvanian, and Catholic Writers Guild member. (We also share the same publisher, Full Quiver Publishing.) Working Mother and Don’t You Forget About Me are two highly different works, but both worth your time. Working Mother is her latest, and you can find it on Amazon along with my review as well.

We know so little about the Holy Family from the Bible. We read the infancy of Jesus, mention of his being lost in the temple, and then we jump ahead to his public ministry. Where did you get the idea for Working Mother, which takes place during those hidden years?Working Mother by Erin McCole Cupp

I actually wrote “Working Mother” about seven years ago. Our family took some financial hits, and my freelance writing income was scanty and unreliable. I had to go back to working outside the home. I remember the day I told…

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Are you in? #showusyourlist


“[…E]ven in situations where culture and the Church are far apart, art remains a kind of bridge to religious experience. In so far as it seeks the beautiful, fruit of an imagination which rises above the everyday, art is by its nature a kind of appeal to the mystery. Even when they explore the darkest depths of the soul or the most unsettling aspects of evil, artists give voice in a way to the universal desire for redemption.”  —St. John Paul II, “Letter to Artists”

Here’s a follow-up to Friday’s post, “50 Shades of Me, Angry at Catholics.”  Apparently, that post inspired Barb, Franciscan Mom, to make her own list in her post “Read This Instead:  50 WAY Better Novels.”  Christine at Domestic Vocation made a list of things to do besides enjoy the glorification of sexual assault.  And, it seems, the three of us are not the only ones sick of trash entertainment taking center stage while faithful fun gets ignored—by the faithful themselves.

Are you tired of Catholic media telling you what not to watch or read but not giving any suggestions of what is worth reading?  Have you had it with struggling to find entertainment that doesn’t downright soil your mind, heart and soul?  Do you wish that Catholic media would spend less time complaining about the popular and scandalous and more time celebrating positive entertainment?

Then #showusyourlist. 

Are you in?  Here’s how it works:

  1. Make your list.  Blog a list of at least three works of quality fiction that illustrate truth, beauty and goodness.  These can be books, movies, podcasts, whatever, but they MUST BE ENTERTAINING and they MAY NOT BE NON-FICTION.  Seriously, people, non-fiction already gets plenty of help from Catholic media.
  2. Include some version of the following:  “I challenge anyone who complained about 50 shades of anything to now spend some time and energy promoting entertainment that is true, beautiful and good.”
  3. Also, kindly include a link back to this post just for clarification as to where this whole cockamamie idea originated.  Blame me, people.  And feel free to use the logo at the top of this page.
  4. Pick at least three people who work in Catholic media and find their Twitter handles.  Go for the big names.  Don’t be afraid.  The worst they can do is ignore you.
  5. On Tuesday, February 17, 2015, Mardi Gras, a day originally designed to be a festival of joyful entertainment, Tweet the link to your blog post to those Catholic media folks, using the hashtag #showusyourlist.
  6. Note:  Say that hashtag out loud.  Sounds like something said on Mardi Gras for illicit purposes, doesn’t it?  And that’s the point.  We have the power to turn the bad to God’s service.  It’s high time we did so.

Anyway, this will not work if it’s just me doing this.  One whacko tagging with a lone hashtag will be dismissed, and rightfully so, as just that:  a whacko.  If you want the faithful to have entertainment options, YOPP it up, people! Demand more than complaints over the scandalous!  Promote the celebration of the good, beautiful and true!

My list is back here, but there’s another one here, and you can even get another version by clicking here.

Saint John Paul II, pope and poet, pray for us.

Please God, Send Me a Man! The Story of How We Met

Lovely story!!!

Plot Line and Sinker (Ellen Gable, Author)

Since this is Valentine’s Day, today’s post is an excerpt of James and my courtship story (which was the basis for my first novel, Emily’s Hope.

Ellen: Because I was very young looking, I did not date in high school or for the year or so after. I longed to meet someone, that special person with whom I could spend the rest of my life. Every night I prayed, “Please God, send me a man.”

During my first visit to Canada in 1978, my pen-pal asked if I wanted to go with her to a jam session where her brother would be rehearsing with his rock band. When we arrived, the band was taking a break. One boy, however, was crouching, with his back toward me, a guitar in front of him, and he was playing the same three or four notes over and over again. I…

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50 Shades of Me, Angry at Catholics

It’s 7 Quick Takes Friday, hosted by Kelly over at This Ain’t the Lyceum.


I know.  You saw the title and are all, like, “Whuuuuuut?”  Why would I be angry at myself?  You thought I was all buddy-buddy with Frank and whatnot, didn’t you?20140801-070421.jpg

Warning:  Uncharacteristic rant ahead.  

I had been meaning to put something out here today in protest against packaging sexual abuse and calling it “romance.”  After all, that’s what all the cool bloggers are doing, right? And then I realized I’m not a cool blogger, so that took the pressure off, and I decided I wasn’t going to post a darn thing about anything at all today.

And then, I listened to Catholic radio during my 2.5 hour errand-running experience this morning (I won’t name which shows, as I’m about to rant about them, after all).  All 2-plus hours of it was about how nobody should read that trash, nobody should watch that trash, please reach out to others who think that trash is treasure, if you want to protest at your local movie theater we’ll help you out, why is the culture normalizing this stuff, why doesn’t Hollywood understand that family films grossed more last year than anything else…?

And that’s when I got ticked off.

See, when I first heard about The Book (and now Movie) That Everyone’s Talking About, I wasn’t offended as a Catholic.  I wasn’t offended as a Christian.  I wasn’t even offended as a woman.

I was offended as a writer.  

I remember when I wrote fanfic back in the day, watching my stories get modest attention and lovely, hugely positive but rather low-volume feedback.  Meanwhile, the erotica stories got a gazillion hits and lots of awards and so much attention… and I kept hearing about how poorly written most of them were.  I found it frustrating.  Petty jealousy, though.  I brushed it aside, learned the “Litany of Humility,” and kept writing.

But I found it even more frustrating when The Book (and now Movie) That Everyone’s Talking About got all this attention… enough attention for me to hear without even reading it that the darn thing was just so poorly written:  flat character, bad dialogue, laughable descriptions… all those things I kick my own butt to avoid and let myself be humbled by editors and beta readers so that I don’t inflict them upon readers, and this Book (and now Movie) That Everyone’s Talking About gets away with it, makes bazillions of dollars, and promotes abusive relationships?  Are you freaking kidding me?!?!

That’s okay, though, right?  I consoled myself.  I write clean fiction.  I strive to write excellent fiction.  I read it, too.  Surely the target market for clean entertainment will ignore trash and promote treasure.  Right?


Instead, writers like myself send media releases and go to conferences and try to connect with the JMJ Catholic Books VIRGINIA Beach, VAmedia types who could help us share something of (hopefully) better value, both artistically and spiritually… and those same media types ignore our contacts so they can SPEND AT LEAST TWO HOURS COMPLAINING ABOUT TRASH WHEN THEY COULD BE PROMOTING POSITIVE ENTERTAINMENT!!!!!

So I’m cheesed off.  In both my professional and my non-writing life, I put a lot of energy into accentuating the positive, eliminating the negative, and tuning in to the affirmative.  I try not to be That Author.  I spend a lot of time reading and promoting as best I can fiction that is well-written and  entertaining.  I’m blessed to work with a publisher who does the same thing.  I am active in the Catholic Writers Guild, and we’re all about promoting fiction that is both excellent and Excellent.

The media that is supposed to share our goals, however? Right now it looks like they’d rather complain about the popular and scandalous than promote the positive and affirming.

Okay, each of the three shows I heard did give at least brief mention to Old Fashioned as a positive option for moviegoers this weekend.  Yes, it’s a start, but that’s all it is:  a start.

Here’s my challenge.  The likelihood of this challenge being heard is miniscule, but here’s my “YOPP!”   For every minute you spent complaining about The Book (and now Movie) That Everyone’s Talking About, spend at least half as many minutes promoting some kind of positive entertainment.  

And now, the fruits of that Litany of Humility:  I’m going to take my own challenge and promote more than seven positive books, in no particular order.

  1. A World Such as Heaven Intended by Amanda Lauer (historical romance, specifically Civil War)
  2. Opal’s Jubilee by Leslie Lynch (mystery/romance–and THIS one is anti-domestic violence, so take THAT!).  Let me add Hijacked by Leslie Lynch (more romance, but ALSO anti-sexual assault, so take THAT!)
  3. End of the RoadNo Lifeguard on Duty by Amy M. Bennett (mystery/suspense with a little bit of a nice, clean love triangle thrown in there for you)
  4. A Subtle Grace by Ellen Gable (historical romance/suspense set in Golden Age Philadelphia)
  5. Two Statues by Brian Kennelly (a buddy-priest mystery; the ending needs a 3 Kleenex Warning)
  6. The Lion’s Heart by Dena Hunt (literary, genre-busting)
  7. Viper and Bleeder by John Desjarlais

Readers, can you add any others that I may not have read yet (or just ran out of numbers for a 7QT)?  In the event someone actually reads this whose radio show I heard this morning:  why, why, WHY don’t you spend more time highlighting godly entertainment?  I hear plenty of whining about scandalous secular movies and books.  I hear lots and LOTS of interview with non-fiction authors.  WHY ARE YOU PROMOTING THE MALNUTRITION OF THE CATHOLIC IMAGINATION?!?!

Lord have mercy on me.  I’m about to post this.

Small Success Thursday

Small-Success-Thursday-550x330A link-a-dink-a-doo for link-a-dink-a-you over at!


I am crazy behind in letting the world know that I had an interview post last week (I know, LAST WEEK!) over at Our Hearts Are Restless. Thank you to the lovely hostess for having me over!


The Working Mother Interview Project seems to have been a lovely success!  Thank you to all my interviewees for sharing their experiences.  I learned a lot from you: mostly that we are all united by a wish that someone would just help us with the housework.


I’m making slow, painful headway with the sequel to Don’t You Forget About Me.  I have had to do some heavy reading for research.  I’ve gotten so scared about where the story line for this one is going that I’ve stopped myself from writing so many times along this way that I’ve lost count. See, let me tell you a story.  In August of 2001, I was drafting my first novel, Jane_E, Friendless Orphan: A Memoir.


Not to spoil too much, but that August I wrote a chapter that included a side plot of bioterrorism.  Did you check the timeline there?  August 2001?  I am pretty sure I gave that chapter to my critique group in the first week of September 2001.  We met again around the time of the “Amerithrax Attacks.”  I was horrified that something had come out of my imagination that ended up being in the vein of others had actually done.  It’s one thing imagining The Bad Guys and their Evil Ways and putting them in a fictional world where they can be discovered, defeated, and everything turns out more or less okay–changed forever, but okay.

It’s something else to see it happen–only without the guaranteed Good Guys.

Rationally I know that I had nothing to do with Tom Brokaw needing a script for Cipro.  Rationally I know that there are not enough people reading my books that anyone is likely to get “ideas” from even the darkest thing I could possibly write.  On top of that, the people buying books like mine are probably not plotting plots or scheming schemes.

And I’m still scared that I imagine such things.  I imagine them in a world of good people who fight the bad, but I still imagine them.

You’re probably asking, “Okay, so what’s the success here?” I’m asking the same question.  I guess the success is that I (a) saw the thought-shattering humility in seeing that I am just as much a sinner as a terrorist, and that none of us is beyond God’s mercy, so that’s Good News, and (b) That reminder of my own frail humanity was enough to get me to reach out to three writers (two friends, one complete stranger from whom I expect to hear nothing, but that’s okay) asking for advice and prayers.


In the midst of all this, I had occasion to look up the word “poop” in the thesaurus. God has a sense of humor.

Interview with Working Mother Amanda Lauer

Here at Tomato Pie, we’re celebrating the release of my biblical historical fiction ebook “Working Mother” by celebrating the working mothers among us. Today we’re interviewing working mother Amanda Lauer!
What’s your name?
Tell us a little bit about your family.
My husband John and I have been married almost 34 years, we have three daughters and one son ranging in age from 23 to 29, we have a son-in-law and a daughter-in-law, and a precious 2-year-old grandson.
Imagine you’re at a dinner party.  Someone asks the question, “So, what do you do?”  What’s your answer?
The short answer is that I have a career in journalism and a mission to spread the word about true health through living water. The longer answer is I am an author (my book A World Such as Heaven Intended came out October 29, 2014 and has been on the best-seller list for Amazon for its genre several times in the last two months), I write and shoot photos for the Green Bay Diocesan newspaper The Compass and The Business News, I proofread for Saint Norbert College, and I am an independent distributor for Enagic Corp/Kangen Water.
How do you think God uses your job to help shape you into all He made you to be?
Every day I am challenged to learn and grow through both my career and my mission. I’m always trying to be a better version of myself and God has brought many extraordinary people and circumstances into my life that have helped me do just that.
What benefits (besides the economical) have you seen to your family that are a direct result of your work away from home?
I would not be the person I am today without all of these experiences that have caused to me grow in my knowledge, communication skills and faith.
How do you balance any guilty feelings you might have in the tension between your workplace and your homespace?
Because I work from home, there is really no separation between home life and work life which can definitely be a challenge. Between my career and my mission it’s almost like having two full-time jobs. Each is equally important because they are a means of evangelizing for me so that does help assuage the guilt a bit. My goal is, when I step into my office or go to outside appointments, to completely focus on the work that needs to be done at that moment. When I close my office doors for the day, my goal is to focus on my husband and our time together and connecting with our kids, who all live out of state. It’s not always easy because the office is so close by and there’s always something I can be doing there. It’s a work in progress.
What is one thing that you would ask the people in your life to do to support you more?
When I’m feeling overwhelmed by all the tasks on my plate, give me the time and the space to do what I need to do to get a handle on everything. If you can’t give me that, then give me chocolate.

Great suggestion!  Thank you, Amanda!  

Interview with Working Mother Emily Borman

Here at Tomato Pie, we’re celebrating the release of my biblical historical fiction ebook “Working Mother” by celebrating the working mothers among us.

Today is the feast of St. Brigid of Ireland, so we’re interviewing another woman who finds herself having unexpected conversations in the name of Christ.  Let’s meet Emily Borman!


What’s your name?

That one is easy, Emily Borman.Displaying CWW-15 proof web.jpg

Tell us a little bit about your family. 

I have been married for 27 years to my husband Bill and we have 3 children.  Our daughter is our oldest.  She just graduated from college in May and is pursuing a graduate degree in education while teaching 5th grade in FL.  Next, is our son who is a junior in college; away from home. Last is our youngest son who is a senior in high school living at home with us in VA.


Imagine you’re at a dinner party.  Someone asks the question, “So, what do you do?”  What’s your answer?

I run a non-profit for Catholic women called Conversation with Women. Then depending on my company I would gage the look on their face and decide whether or not to continue.  If there was any interest at all I would continue with,

It is a ministry that centers around a blog that consists of anonymous stories submitted by women who have struggled with Catholic teaching in the area of marriage, sexuality, and fertility but ultimately have found peace and joy by following church teaching.

If the person hasn’t walked away yet I might follow with:

The idea behind the blog is to:

  1. provide support and conversation for women who might not have like-minded friends to confide in, or might not be comfortable confiding in their friends.

2.provide kindling for real life conversations.

  1. give encouragement to any woman trying to live the faith…yes it can be difficult but it can be done and is worth it.

And then also, I am a part time barista and baker at Trinity House Café. It is a really cool coffee house run by the John Paul II Fellowship to promote Christian community and culture in the public square.

How do you think God uses your job to help shape you into all He made you to be? 

Wow.  This is a deep question.  Conversation with Women has really required that I trust God.  There are so many things that I have learned to do with the blog that I didn’t know I could do….but there was no one else to do it so I prayed and tried. I have fund raised, written press releases, designed the visual appearance of the blog, edited the blog, spoken to groups of women and learned about using social media.  I need to start writing articles promoting the blog.  That is what is next on my list.  In all honesty I’m afraid that I might look foolish trying to write an article…but then I think of the parable of the talents and I think I better just try and do my best and leave the rest to God.
What benefits (besides the economical) have you seen to your family that are a direct result of your work away from home? 

My work with Conversation with Women has always been flexible so at times it remains invisible from my family.  My job as a barista and baker has helped me set some healthy limits and boundaries with my family.  One example is that my son used to miss the bus 3 or 4 days a week.  When he knows that I am not home to take him, he doesn’t miss the bus at all…nada…zero!  I was so happy to see him step up to the plate like that…and also a little sheepish about realizing that I must be a push over to have been driving him to school so often.

How do you balance any guilty feelings you might have in the tension between your workplace and your homespace? 

I usually pray.  I’m never entirely confident that I am balancing responsibilities well.  I pray about my motives…Do I really need to run out to the grocery store tonight to get that last ingredient so that what I bake tomorrow will be amazing (forfeiting family time for pride)?  Or am I sincerely trying to do His will?  I pray for His will, not mine, and for His priorities, not mine.

What is one thing that you would ask the people in your life to do to support you more? 

I need to work on this.  The thing about part-time work is that you can arrange it so that the rest of your life does not change much.  Over Christmas I realized that I have done that to a fault.  I have added an 18 hour commitment to my life but I am still trying to do everything I used to do.  It’s not working.  I have been feeling the stress lately.  So I guess that I could use some help in figuring out what I need to drop from my list in order to be at peace.

Thank you, Emily!  

Are you a working mother?  So was (and is) the Blessed Mother!  If you enjoyed this interview and would like to celebrate working motherhood some more, please consider getting a copy of my $.99 historical fiction ebook, “Working Mother.”