Just for Fun

WWRW: Catching Up

Don’t forget the Catholic Marketing Network Trade Show Selfie Scavenger Hunt!  It’s not too late to post those pics

Let’s link up with What We’re Reading Wednesday over at Jessica’s Housewifespice Place.

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It’s been months since I read these.  Now I’ll finally get around to reviewing them!

Shadow in the Dark (The Chronicles of Xan Book 1) by Anthony Barone Kolenc

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Here’s what it’s about:

The Shadow passed through the midnight chill, dark and silent. Two small boys peered down at it in terror. “It’s back,” one of them cried in a faint whisper.

Bandits attack a medieval village. A young boy is injured and loses his memory. He wakes up at a Benedictine monastery and is given the name Xan—short for Alexander. But when the monastery is raided and a monk is accused of a violent crime, Xan must uncover the truth. Could the raid be related to the one that destroyed his village? And what about the shadowy figure Xan has seen lurking on the abbey grounds at night?

Mystery. Danger. Adventure. It’s all here. And true forgiveness and courage too.

“A well-done mediaeval mystery, laced with plenty of action and a bit of downright spookiness.”-Colleen Drippe, Hereditas literary magazine.

“A brisk-moving and suspenseful tale. Kolenc has penned a masterpiece.”-Dan Flaherty, The Scholar.

“This could be the future standard for sound adolescent literature!”- Leo Madigan, The Weka-Feather Cloak.

I had fun reading this, and so did First Shift, a pair of eleven year-old girls who “aren’t girly,” for those of you who don’t know.  This little gem offers and more than delivers mystery, adventure, a richly imagined other world (after all, isn’t the past another world?), and characters who live and breathe in all their dimensions.  The red herrings even threw me off, which is a high compliment for a YA mystery novel.  The faith-related piece is handled organically and breathes along with the characters, feeling more like a part of the setting than of the plot.  I can’t recommend Shadow in the Dark enough!

Next up, confession time: these days I just wait around for authors to send me review copies.  It’s a very economical way of keeping one’s reading list affordable.  Specter, however, by John Desjarlais, I was not willing to wait.

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I preordered the darn thing.  WITH REAL LIVE ACTUAL MONEY. You’re welcome, Professor Desjarlais.  Your question, though, Reader, surely is, “Was it worth it?”  HECK YES!!!!

Selena De La Cruz would like to leave the past behind as she plans her wedding … but the past no longer sleeps. In 1993, a Cardinal was murdered in Mexico at the Guadalajara Airport. Nearly twenty years later, the Vatican revisits the case … and finds that Selena’s family might have played a key role. Selena is forced to confront her family’s ghosts … in more ways than one…

This story deals with ghosts of all things–ghosts!–in a totally credible manner. One of the ways Desjarlais makes this leap believable is through the eyes of Selena’s skeptic fiance, Reed Stubblefield, whom we also first met in Bleeder (which you should also go read).  Selena’s family (both living and otherwise), personal history, and culture are depicted so naturally that I felt like I was sitting at the table in her godmother’s house, watching it all, remembering it all with them and wanting to protect my own heart, not only from the danger I could see coming but from the surprises lurking around the corner of every page.  The red herrings in this one got me, too, which I don’t mind one bit.  The pace was lightning-fast, the conflicts heart-racing and heart-rending, and the ending… well, you’ll just have to find out for yourself.  If Amazon offered a sixth star, I’d give it to Specter.

PS: Don’t forget the Catholic Marketing Network Trade Show Selfie Scavenger Hunt!  It’s not too late to post those pics

CMN 2015 Trade Show Selfie Scavenger Hunt

ETA So many amazing prizes have been added that you will just have to scroll down to the bottom to see them all.  Thanks to Franciscan Media, Maria Morera Johnson, Lisa Hendey, Karina Fabian  and Melanie Rigney for joining in the fun.  


 IF YOU CAN’T MAKE THE TRADE SHOW, GET CREATIVE AND PLAY FROM HOME!
Who’s going to the Catholic Marketing Network Trade ShowI AM!

Last year we had a great time playing the CMN Trade Show Selfie Scavenger Hunt.  Who’s up for a repeat?

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Here’s how you play:

  1. Take a selfie at/with/doing any of the things in the list below.
  2. Post it to your Instagram, TwitterFacebook, Pinterest, blog, whathaveyou, including #CMNselfie2015 wherever you post it.
  3. Search the places listed above for #CMNselfie2015.
  4. Find like minds and hearts!
  5. Follow them on the places listed above.
  6. Get to know each other! Support each other! Share the love!

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And here’s this year’s list!

  1. Buying a book
  2. Getting breakfast
  3. With someone wearing a hat
  4. With someone in a religious habit
  5. With an artisan at his/her booth
  6. At the Catholic Writers Guild booth
  7. With someone wearing a Catholic t-shirt 
  8. With someone who has been on EWTN
  9. At the booth that is giving out your favorite freebie: this is not at all so I might find out more quickly who has the little glass bowl of Lindt truffles.
  10. Of course, with Paper Pope.  BTW, that doesn’t count double for #4.  Paper Pope is in a class by himself.

PRIZES AVAILABLE:

  1. Lisa Hendey has offered 1 signed copy each of Chime Travelers Book 1 and Book 2 to the first person at CMN to post a selfie taken at the Franciscan Media booth and tagged #ChimeTravelers and #CMNSelfie2015. Post in a comment below or tag and Tweet at moi (@erinmcop on Twitter and @erinmccolecupp on Instagram) and I’ll make sure she sees it.
  2. Maria Morera Johnson is offering a copy of her forthcoming My Awesome Beautiful Badass Book of Saints to the first person to post a selfie at the Ave Maria Press Booth at CMN! Post it in a comment below or tag it with #CMNSelfie2015 and tag/Tweet at moi (@erinmcop on Twitter and @erinmccolecupp on Instagram) and I’ll make sure she sees it.
  3. Karina Fabian has offered 1 signed copy each of Infinite Space, Infinite God I & II to the first person to post a selfie taken at the Catholic Writers Guild Booth with an officer!  Tag and Tweet at moi (@erinmcop on Twitter and @erinmccolecupp on Instagram) and I’ll make sure she sees it.
  4. Paper Pope Contest from Franciscan Media: Post a selfie with Paper Pope (a Pope Francis cutout) by11:59pm EDT on Friday, July 24, tagged with #CMNSelfie2015  and tweet/tag me  (@erinmcop on Twitter and @erinmccolecupp on Instagram) and you could win an amazing Franciscan Media Prize Pack, thanks to our friends at Franciscan Media.  [A winner’s name will be drawn from all the paper pope selfies thusly tagged.]  
  5. The first USA resident to comment below with a link to a blog post that includes ALL TEN of the selfies above will WIN a signed copy of my Don’t You Forget About Me and a copy of Melanie Rigney’s Sisterhood of Saints and the hot off the presses Blessed Are You: Finding Inspiration from Our Sisters in Faith.
  6. The first winner to comment below with a link to a blog post that includes ALL TEN of the selfies above who does NOT reside in the USA will WIN a copy of my ebook Working Mother.  

Help spread the word!  Pin! FB share! Tweet! Instagram! Etc!

7QT: The Twenty Years Young Edition

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Takes.  Seven of them.  This Ain’t The Lyceum.  You know the drill.  

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Twenty years ago today I met my husband.  There were fireworks that night.  No, literally, I went with a friend to see fireworks with her friends.  As that friend calls it, Happy Meetaversary to us.  Every year I’m surprised that we met on the feast of St. Thomas the Apostle, but I shouldn’t be.  Read here to find out why.  

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Meetaversary, not Meat-a-versary.  It’s Friday, so we’re supposed to skip the meat, right?  Well, we live in the good ol’ USA.  EagleFreedom

And it’s not Lent, so I get to pick my Friday penance.  Go educate yourself.

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 I’m the chair of the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval Commitee.  Four times a year, I really, strongly dislike my job.  Yes, I do get to work with some very gracious, classy authors.  And then there are the others.  Frankly, I’m not naming names, but I sure am scandalized by how unprofessional some writers can be.  Writing people, a rejection will not kill you.  It won’t. I should know.  So, if you’re calling yourself a Catholic writer, act like one.  Don’t just join in the tiny Catholic writing world because, “I’m too fragile of a snowflake to endure anyone correcting me, and the publishing world is a big, scary place.” ::looks around, sees CWG:: “There’ aren’t that many of them, and the go to Hell if they’re not nice!  They’ll have to accept me!”

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Yeah, we have to accept you.  We don’t have to accept unprofessional work.  We certainly don’t have to accept unprofessional attitudes.

Okay.  Rant over.  It’s been a rough week.

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On the sunny side of the street, I get to work with nice writers all the time, far more often than not.  NFP week is coming up, and I’m looking for guest posts from Catholics living with subfertility, aka The Captive Panda Club.  Look for some stuff from those writers here during the week of July 19-25.

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I’m also cooking up a blog hop I’m calling “Writers Read,” where writers will answer the question, “Who’re your influences?”

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If you get the reference, you win a cookie.

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Oh!  To do that blog hop, I’m checking out the wisdom from my friends the SITS girls, 10 Tips for a Successful Linky.

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I feel like there’s something else, but I’ve run out of time.  Gotta get my kids to the rink.  If you’d like some inspiration from the world of figure skating which, funny enough, has some similarities to the world of writing: the competition, the hard work, the practice, the falls and scratches…)…

Bronze medalist Joannie Rochette of Canada performs during the figure skating exhibition gala at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2010.

…visit my Pinterest board “Sk8rMom.”

Small Success Thursday: The Spoilers/Praises of Pinterest Edition

It’s Thursday, when we celebrate the good things of all sizes over at CatholicMom.com.  

Come join this week’s winners at life!Small-Success-dark-blue-outline-800x8001-400x400@2x

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I’ve been acting inside my head writing!  Did you see how last week I talked about using Through Line from Method Acting as a writing tool? Here’s how it looks in my little world.  If you look SUPER CAREFULLY, like with a magnifying glass, you’ll get some spoilage for Never Let Me Down Again, the tentative title to the sequel to Don’t You Forget About Me.

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Sorry.  Don’t know how I can make that bigger without blowing it out of proportion (literally).  Anyway, the way it works is the character’s name is in blue in the header.  The next cell down is the character’s motivation, WHICH MUST BE AN ACTION VERB.  Underneath that (and this part is a sunblock of my own invention) in brackets is the opposite of that motivation verb.  Why?  Because conflict is the engine of story, and every story must bring the characters up against the reality of having their motivations thwarted, complicated, and thrown into question.

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Moffat may drink our tears, but he knows what he’s doing.

Then the third cell down is a brainstorm of actions, body language, and/or images springing from the character’s motivation.  Want me to chat with your writing group about Method Writing?  Give me a holler. Let’s talk.  In the meantime, I pin Method stuff to my Writing-Related Pinterest board, so check that out as well.

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Top Secret: I’ve somehow kept up my habit of exercising a bit every morning. To keep it from getting monotonous and to address what it feels like my body needs most that morning, I’ve been keeping a stash of different quick circuit training workouts on a secret Pinterest board.  Why do I keep this one secret?  For dumb reasons. But it works, so I that’s how I do.

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Wheat in the heck? I try to live as authentically as I possibly can.  A bit of pride comes with that, in that I’m not one to follow trends, because they usually don’t feel sincere in my life.  But, hello, pride?  You know, the sin that says you’re better than everyone?  The Holy Spirit is always on the hunt for ways to get that sin out of my life so that I can really live without boundaries.  So my pride has gotten knocked down a bit in the past week, because now it seems my body wants to follow a trend.

I’ve been somewhat hypoglycemic all my life, but it got markedly worse after the birth of Second Shift.  I talked to my doctor last year in desperation and tried to follow all the hints for hypoglycemics: lots of fiber, low sugar, lowered fat, small meals, whole grains.  Nothing seemed to work.  So I’d eat a lower-calorie meal only to have my body 20 minutes later send me the message that IF YOU DON’T EAT A LOT OF FOOD RIGHT NOW YOU ARE GOING TO DIE.  You can probably imagine how hard that makes it to lose any kind of weight.  So in a year of trying to live like a hypoglycemic, I’ve thrown on about an extra twenty pounds.  It’s unbelievable, not to mention counterintuitive.

Last Thursday was very busy, and I’d eaten nothing but junk, junk, junk.  But it wasn’t until dinnertime that I realized I hadn’t had a single episode of low blood sugar.  I brushed it off as coincidence, but the next day when trying to pick something to eat for breakfast, I thought back to the previous day’s food choices:

  • Fruity Krispie treats for breakfast (with added artificial dyes and sugars to boot)
  • Hot dog & pineapple kebabs
  • Popcorn
  • Cheese slices
  • Corn chips & salsa
  • Chicken & rice with kale

and not a single bite of wheat.  Dreading the result, I decided to give up wheat instead of flesh meat for my Friday sacrifice to see what would happen.  By Saturday morning I felt better than I had in years.  Years.

Happy face!  Sad face.

So I don’t know how it happens, but it seems that I like wheat but my pancreas doesn’t. I’ve avoided wheat all week and with the exception of the beer I had with hubs on Father’s Day (which, made me feel horribly shaky…and hungry, of course, for the next 24 hours), and the Eucharist on Sunday, I’ve been avoiding wheat.  And, well, I’ve been feeling much better.  My belly also has lost a lot of bloat, and I have enough energy that my morning workouts are no longer such a pain.

There seems to be some sort of threshold (the wheat in Eucharist didn’t bother me, and I’ve had soy sauce with no reaction), so that’s good.  Also, knowing my body, I don’t plan on going cold turkey; the last time I cut an allergen completely out of my life, my next reaction to it was anaphylactic.  Um, thanks but no thanks.  So we talked about scheduling times when I’ll have, say, a donut, or tomato pie.

She says, looking wistfully at her book cover.  Anyway, if you have any favorite wheatless recipes Pinned, send them my way and I’ll add them to my Wheat in the Heck board.

What has gone right for you this week?  Join the Small Success Thursday linkup at CatholicMom.com! 

Small Success Thursday: The Befores and Afters Edition

Small-Success-dark-blue-outline-800x8001-400x400@2xIt’s Small Success Thursday over at CatholicMom.com, where we celebrate the things that went right this week.

Like I said earlier, we’re in house moving mode, so this will be quick and picture-laden.  I had (and still have) a ton of deep-cleaning to do before we list (probably, hopefully on Saturday).  The beautiful ceramic and glass tile backslpash my husband put in our kitchen was covered in missed grout, not to mention accumulated grime.

Utility blade + Kaboom + polar fleece scraps + elbow grease =

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Our fiberglass tub gets cleaned regularly, but not even washing soda and a cloth could eradicate the stains on the bottom of the tub: dull their edges, yes, but not eliminate them.  BEHOLD!

Low-odor oven cleaner + Magic Eraser + elbow grease = IMG_5415

20140801-070421.jpgLast but not least, I lost my beloved Ray Bans a few weeks ago.  My old frames were so pretty and comfortable and edgy and quirky and conservative all at once.  I loved them.

The only spare pair I have featured in the picture you see on this blog post.  Those are the glasses I wore when I was pregnant.  THE FIRST TIME.  IN 2003.  The pair before pregnancy shifted my astigmatism.  The pair before this nearsighted beauty needed to start taking her glasses off to read.  Can you say, “Welcome to migraine territory?”  They were enough to keep me street legal, though, so I adjusted and endured the tiny turn-of-the-millennium frames on my giant Celtic head for several weeks.

So, first I finally made it to the eye doctor, which was a success in and of itself.  I’m not afraid of the eye doctor, per se.  It’s more like an annoyance with the process that is so deep it runs to anger.  First, I get migraines from the dilation drops (the overabundance of light and eye strain that follow, rather).  Second, I have very sensitive eyes with a blink reflex so fierce that, the one and only time I tried to be fitted for contact lenses, the optician’s assistant endured my attempts for an hour and a half before she finally said, “If you give up and leave now, I won’t charge you.” All this means that I’ve never been able to have a complete adult eye exam.  That ring of blue light they have to put right on your eye?  No eye doctor actually got the thing close enough before my eye would snap shut on it.

I knew I was due for dilation, and I didn’t want to deal with the Blue Ring of Failure.   And then, THIS GUY!  I don’t know how he did it, but he said my pupils were naturally big enough that he’d try getting away without the dilation–AND HE DID!  And then he was able to get both eyes with the blue ring!  I don’t know how.  I did offer to be hooked up to one of those Clockwork Orange things:

Not my image.  Duh.

Not my image. Duh.

Alas, he was fresh out, but it didn’t matter!  He succeeded where countless others have failed.  And then, to ice the optical cake, they had my exact same pair of Ray Bans but in a more lightweight material that, I think, works better with my skin tones.  IMG_5420

Maybe next week’s Small Success will be finding time to wax my eybrows and do roots and makeup.

God is good.  All the time.  Sometimes He even makes it obvious.  What went right for you this week?  Link it up or comment it over at CatholicMom.com!  

Interview with Annie Douglass Lima

Today I bring you an interview with author Annie Douglass Lima.  Her latest book is out, so let’s hear more about it.  CollarCavvarach

Bensin, a teenage slave and martial artist, is desperate to see his little sister freed. But only victory in the Krillonian Empire’s most prestigious tournament will allow him to secretly arrange for Ellie’s escape. Dangerous people are closing in on her, however, and Bensin is running out of time.  With his one hope fading quickly away, how can Bensin save Ellie from a life of slavery and abuse?

What is the Collar for, and what is a Cavvarach?

The story is set in a world very much like our own, with just a few major differences.  One is that slavery is legal there.  Slaves must wear metal collars that lock around their neck, making their enslaved status obvious to everyone.  Any slave attempting to escape faces the dilemma of how and where to illegally get their collar removed (a crime punishable by enslavement for the remover).

Another difference is the popularity of a martial art called cavvara shil.  It is fought with a cavvarach (rhymes with “have a rack”), an unsharpened weapon similar to a sword but with a steel hook protruding from partway down its top edge.  Competitors can strike at each other with their feet as well as with the blades.  You win in one of two ways: disarming your opponent (hooking or knocking their cavvarach out of their hands) or pinning their shoulders to the mat for five seconds.

 
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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? 

I’ve just published a young adult action adventure novel called The Collar and the Cavvarach.  It takes place in a world very much like our own, except that slavery is legal there.  The main character, Bensin, is a teenage slave who is trying to protect and free his younger sister Ellie.  He’s an athlete, and he competes in a martial art called cavvara shil, with all the prize money going to his owner, of course.

It’s hard to say exactly how the idea came to me.  It just grew gradually in my mind until Bensin and the others were as real to me as my family and friends.  I drafted the novel in November 2013 for National Novel Writing Month, and I’ve been working on editing and polishing it ever since.

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

My favorite part was working on certain scenes in the first draft that just seemed to come to me on their own.  Though I had the story pretty well planned out before I began, there were some surprises along the way.  For example, a character named Kalgan Shigo, a City Watch Officer (the equivalent of a police officer) grew in a way that I did not anticipate.  I had planned two little scenes for him, one at the beginning and another near the end, and that was all.  His purpose in the story was to make it more difficult for Bensin to reach his goals.  But Officer Shigo decided he wanted more of a role than that, and he stepped forward and claimed it.  I don’t want to give anything away, but he appears a number of times now, and does much more than just make Bensin’s life harder.  The story is much better this way than it would have been, and it was exciting to watch that change.

My least favorite was the research I had to do before I could write certain parts.  Even though my book is fiction, I had to get my facts straight!  For example, since one of my characters is an athlete and another is his coach, I spent a lot of time researching training and workouts, healthy diets for athletes, types of martial arts, names of specific types of kicks, and so on.  Even though the martial art Bensin practices is made up, I wanted it – and his training regimen – to sound realistic.

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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? 

I chose to self publish.  I like having control over all aspects of my writing and publishing.

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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’m a fulltime teacher (5th grade), and while I love my day job, it leaves me with a lot less time to write than I’d like.  Most of my writing happens during school vacations and weekends, except on the rare occasions when I have enough brainpower left in the evenings.  This year I’ve started getting up early to put in an hour or so of writing before school, and that’s been working pretty well.

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

I think my greatest strength is creating characters and their dialog.  Most of the time I find it easy to get into their heads and know what they’re thinking, what they would say to each other in any given situation.

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

I would love to do better at making my characters’ lives worse.  Sounds awful, doesn’t it?  😉  A good story involves lots of problems for the characters, and I think sometimes I tend to make things a little too easy for them at first.  I mean, they’re so close to my heart that I want everything to go well for them, you know?  But I keep finding myself having to go back and change things to make it harder for them to attain their goals. It makes for a stronger story, but they would probably hate me for it if they ever met me!

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

Click on the links below to view or purchase The Collar and the Cavvarach for:

Additionally, here are some ways you can connect with me online:

It’s quiet. Too quiet.

Well, on my blog, anyway.  In my life?  Not so much.  We are getting ready to put our house on the market.

Those booze boxes are empty.  Now they are, anyway.

Those booze boxes are empty. Now they are, anyway.

Carpets and appliances and packing, oh my!  All of my creative energies have been invested in preparing the house.  And preparing the children:  that takes a LOT of creative juice, I tell you what.

Not my image.  Duh.

Not my image. Duh.

Anyway, precious little blogging is getting done around here, and even less novel writing, I’ll admit.  I’m one of those writers who is too busy to maintain a separate Pinterest identity for my real life, so if you want to see All The Pins, including stuff on how to stage a home on None The Money, by all means, visit my Pinterest page.  If you’d rather just see the writing stuff, just check out my writing board and ignore the rest.

If none of those interest you, but you’re just a nice person in general, please ask St. Joseph to intercede for us and for the family we hope will buy our home.  And before you ask, no we’re not burying a statue.

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What we are doing is, every time we go to church, we light two candles in front of the St. Joseph statue and offer one prayer for our family and one for the family who will buy our home.

If they buy it sooner rather than later, I’ll not complain!

Small Success Thursday: The Lent’s Not So Bad Edition

 

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Celebrate the good things in life with CatholicMom.com!

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Oldest Dumpling and I decluttered and reorganized the junk drawer.

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We’re going camping!  With the brutal weather we’ve been having, and with how far along we are in schooling as a result, we skipped formal lessons yesterday and started planning our spring camping trip. This will be our third year doing a girls-only road trip, and each year we get a little more ambitious.  The first year, we did a little study of the Appalachian Trail and stayed one night at the Harper’s Ferry Youth Hostel.  Last year we did two nights at a rustic cabin with our rat terrier, whom we discovered is so territory-attached that he makes a very poor camp dog indeed.

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This year we are working up an itinerary to do a tour of the first Catholic settlement areas in our state.  We are using The Catholic Community of Pennsylvania: Past and Present as our guide.  Having this trip to look forward to seems to have brightened our spirits around here.   I aim to include at least one girls-only roughing-it (as much as we can) trip each year to help our daughters build the kind of resilience and resourcefulness Mary and Elizabeth, the First Disciples, had.

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I’ve not been an utter failure at Lent, because temptation is stupid.  

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Apple image courtesy of WikiCommons/Abhijit Tembhekar.

The first good choice I made was to set tough but not ridiculous goals that gradually increase in difficulty throughout the weeks.  But the biggest help I’ve gotten from the Holy Spirit was the realization that I actually do have willpower and the desire to do God’s will.  See, I’d convinced myself that I never resist temptation, so no wonder I’m such a failure at growing in virtue–especially in outgrowing certain vices.  Then, one day in the checkout lane at the grocery store, I had the temptation to slip a candy bar into my purse.

Are you kidding me? I thought.  That’s a stupid idea.  A grown woman with kids, shoplifting?  That’s ridiculous.

I turned my back on the candy display, paid my bill, and went home, not giving that temptation a second thought.  On the way home, however, I gave my post-temptation thoughts some of my time.  I realized it was no trouble at all to resist the temptation to shoplift, because, come on, That’s a stupid idea.  The temptation fled because my next thought was an exact reason why that particular temptation was so stupid.

What if I told all my temptations that they’re stupid ideas?  The more I thought about it, the more I noticed that agreeing with temptation is the very path away from virtue and towards sin.  After all, take a look at Eve in Eden.  In Genesis 3: 6, we see, “The woman saw that the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eyes, and the tree was desirable for gaining wisdom.”  Sounds great, right?  By golly, that temptation sure has some good ideas!

Once I think a sin is a really good idea, I’m likely to do it.  This might be why I have no trouble, say, resisting the urge to scream at strangers who annoy me, but keeping my temper with my kids who do need my correction (“Yelling like this is a good idea, because correcting them is my job, and yelling will make me feel better, and feeling better makes me a better parent, right? Right? Right?“) is so much harder than leaving the Hershey bar behind at the checkout.

So this Lent I’ve been aiming to tell my temptations that they’re stupid.  It’s a little bit of Method Acting, really, using emotional memory to recall times when my character did the right thing and applying that memory to the present challenge.  It’s helping, I think.  Don’t get me wrong:  I still fail a great deal, especially at my favorite sins.  The biggest hurdle is the first one: to realize that my brain is saying stupid things.  However, since I’ve started this Method Resisting, let’s call it, instead of seeing my path to virtue as this long, grueling, Ignatian marathon that I could never possibly finish, each battle just looks like just that–a battle, and one with the grace of God I might actually win.

I hesitated there.  I didn’t want to type anything about me winning anything.  On the one hand, yeah, I really want to be humble.  When you wear your addiction on your body like I do, it’s a bit easier to keep the pride down.  But on the other hand, whenever one of us chooses Christ over ourselves, we become more integrated into His Body.  That’s win-win. There’s gotta be something good about claiming that.

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I almost forgot!  I’ll be giving a talk this Saturday to the he Central Jersey Chapter of The Catholic Writer’s Guild.  This talk will be held on Saturday, March 7th at 10 am at the parish center of St. Aloysius parish, on Bennett’s Mill Rd. in Jackson NJ. I’ll be speaking about -“A Fiction Ministry:  Using Stories in the New Evangelization”

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No registration is required and all are welcome. For information contact Karen Kelly Boyce at 732-928-7981.  Thanks for hosting me, Karen!

7 Steps to a Library Author Event

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.”

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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…

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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.

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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 SignupGenius.com).  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.

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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…

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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

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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!