books

Updated: JPII Talk 1/24/15 in VA Beach

Anybody in the Virginia Beach area?  I’ll be giving a talk !  20140801-070421.jpg

Yep, that’s me on the right hanging with Frank.  I call him Frank because he’s totally cool like that.  A little two-dimensional, but still totally cool.  

Anyway, at 10:30am on Saturday, January 24 at JMJ Catholic Books & Articles, I’ll be presenting a (highly interactive) talk called “Entertaining the Catholic Conscience,” which unpacks St. John Paul II’s 1999 Letter to Artists.  I’ll also have copies of both Don’t You Forget About Me and Jane_E, Friendless Orphan on hand.  If you bring your e-copy of “Working Mother,” I’ll have some Sharpies and sign your Kindle-reading device, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Please spread the word!

The Quickest of the Quick Takes

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Join Kelly, the Professor and Maryanne over at This Ain’t the Lyceum for Seven Quick Takes Friday

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I spent New Year’s Eve at a Grown-Up New Year’s Eve Facebook party that was all about books.  And first crushes.  And music.  And alcohol.  And Speed Racer.  It was surely one of the best NYE parties I’ve attended.  Meanwhile I still got to stay home with the fam and play Bananagrams and Wii and finish off the chocolate crackers.

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Don’t try to go out for lunch on January 1.  It won’t go well.  The wait staff who do show up will be hung over, and those who don’t stayed home for being even more hung over.

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We took most of December off.  My kids wanted to start back to schooling LAST NIGHT.  #endtimes

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Speaking of homeschooling, after our first two horrible, HORRIBLE January-February spans (one of which even included a trip to Disneyworld, fercryinoutloud), I am tackling the post-holiday malaise head-on.  The month of January will be spent doing service projects (local orphanage, local food cupboard, nursing home, hopefully a trip to a Ronald McDonald House).  The month’s reading/writing project is a report on what life is like in one of the world’s poorest countries.   This morning First Shift spent over an hour looking on our globe for countries on that list, then requesting pertinent books & videos from the library.  January and February (and last year even most of March) have previously been defeated by a terrible, family-wide case of Poor Victim Me.  I’m hoping that getting a dose of gratitude will combat the symptoms and help us recover our sense of how good God is to us–and, perhaps, how good we should be to each other.

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Santa brought First Shift iPad minis.  I covet your recommendations for any middle school range learning apps that you have found effective.

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Working Mother” seems (seems) to be doing well.  I’m loving all the Working Mother Interviews.

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And now to get a few paragraphs done on the sequel to Don’t You Forget About Me.

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7QT: An Interview with A. K. Frailey

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It’s Friday, and it’s 7 Quick Takes over at Jennifer’s very own ConversionDiary.com!21

Today is my pleasure and honor to have a visit with Catholic author A. K. Frailey.

Author A. K. Frailey

Ann has a B. S. in Elementary Education and has taught in Milwaukee, WI, Chicago, IL, Los Angeles, CA, Wood River, IL and for Peace Corps in the Philippines. She was married to John Frailey who was an educator for many years. John died from cancer complication December 2013. Ann has eight children and she home educates them while maintaining a rural home – including chickens, bees, cats and dogs, apparently in early retirement.  Ann has a B. S. in Elementary Education and has taught in Milwaukee, WI, Chicago, IL, Los Angeles, CA, Wood River, IL and for Peace Corps in the Philippines. She was married to John Frailey who was an educator for many years. John died from cancer complication December 2013. Ann has eight children and she home educates them while maintaining a rural home – including chickens, bees, cats and dogs, apparently in early retirement

Ann is one of the first Catholic writers I really got to consider a friend after meeting her through the Catholic Writers Guild.  Her work is shot through with the dignity and integrity with which she lives her whole life, and you’ll be honored to get to know her too.  Let’s meet A. K. Frailey!

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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 wrote Georgios as a continuation in the “Conversation with God” theme I have in all my books.  It is a story about a young Greek boy named Georgios, growing up on the island of Patmos which is where St. John the Apostle spent some years in exile. I read an article about the island and thought it would be a great setting for a story.  It took me about a year to do the research and write the first draft of the story.  Then it took some months to get it edited and revised.

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

I enjoy coming up with the initial plot outline and then beginning the writing process after getting some research in place to back up the setting and the physical aspects of the story – like what people eat, how they dress and what kind of housing they might live in. My favorite part is when the characters begin to take over, usually somewhere near the middle of the book.  The characters become so real that they act the story out according to their own nature and I just come along for the ride.

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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 am a self-published author and I learned about this blog from the Catholic Writer’s guild.  I have met a lot of supportive writers through the guild and have become a better writer for the experience. Self-publishing is tough since you have to do or hire someone to do pretty much everything from writing the story to editing, and marketing.  But I do believe that as a self-published author I know the process from start to finish, and I not only have better skills as an author now, but I certainly appreciate other authors more honestly.

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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?

In addition to being an author I also home school my children.  I have eight children, though one is in college now.  I have had to learn how to balance my priorities so that I can fulfill my vocation as mother and manage my job as educator, yet still have some time for writing and the whole self-publishing package.  It is a difficult balance to maintain, but it is worth the effort.  I believe that my writing has made me a better person, more thoughtful and introspective, and also more certain of what I think is really important.  I have learned to take necessary risks and to accept defeat.  But I have also learned to keep moving forward even when things are beyond difficult.

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

I definitely focus on character.  I love humanity and I am constantly encountering amazing stories of real life heroes who strive for the best in themselves and others despite incredible obstacles.  When I engage in the process of forming a character I reflect the reality that I know to be true and there is a point when something new happens – something that is beyond my conscious thought – and it is there, that I as the author, learn something important. I love that.  I need that.

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

I wish I knew the secret world of commas and punctuation better…  It is morass which sends me into grammar hell on occasion.

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

My books are all available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble as both paperback and e-books.  There are other book sites which carry them but you’d have to Google them…

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On your mark. Get set. CONFERENCE!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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…scoring book swag…

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… hanging with Paper Pope…

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…and La Guadalupana Papel…

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

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

WWRW: No Lifeguard on Duty by Amy M. Bennett

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Whuddup?  It’s Wednesday, when we talk about What We’re Reading with the freshly-delivered-of-her-bebbeh Jessica over at Housewifespice!

Amy M. Bennett is back with another tale of murder, mystery, and man-which-guy-do-I-want-Corrie-to-end-up-with!?  

What’s No Lifeguard on Duty about?  

Summer is coming and at the Black Horse Campground in Bonney County, New Mexico that means warm sunny days, a cool refreshing pool, and… murder?   Corrie Black and her friends are ready to welcome the summer camping season with a party to celebrate opening the swimming pool… but murder becomes an unwelcome guest!   The shock of discovering Krista Otero’s body in the pool the morning after the party is bad enough… what’s worse is that Krista’s death wasn’t an accident. And what’s more confusing is that Krista’s closest friends all have something to hide.  Despite opposition from Bonney County’s finest, Corrie is determined to find out who used her swimming pool as a murder weapon and who is using her home as a base for illegal activities. But someone wants to keep Corrie out of their business… even if it means killing again!

Here’s my Amazon review:  

I loved this second book in the series!  If you’re looking for a clean mystery that will keep you guessing, keep you laughing, and keep you cheering, then No Lifeguard on Duty will be sure to satisfy.  After only two books, it’s like the people of the Black Horse Campground are already my family.  Corrie, Rick and JD have the most tantalizing yet non-trashy ongoing flirting triangle I’ve ever read.  The mystery itself is well-turned and hits all the right notes throughout.  Bring on Book #3!

This is the kind of book that a faithful Catholic can read without being scandalized and a person of no faith at all can enjoy without being irritated, preached at, or otherwise bored to tears.  Amy M. Bennett really knows how to turn out the UST, which is my favorite kind of ST to read.  I’ll also admit here that I was 100% sure I knew “whodunit” until about twenty pages from the end, and it turned out I was 100% wrong, so expect to be surprised by the twists and turns.  The characters all have their motives but nobody is demonized (well, except Corrie’s “date,” but he kind of deserves it…).

No Lifeguard does well as a stand-alone, but if you haven’t already read the first book in the series, I heartily encourage you to do so.  You can also read my interview with Amy here.