writing

The Sisters and I! A Guest Post from Karen Kelly Boyce

Welcome, Tomato Pie Fans! I’m taking a hiatus from blogging to finish the sequel to DON’T YOU FORGET ABOUT ME. Meanwhile, I have a series of guest bloggers taking care of the place. Let’s hear from today’s guest, Karen Kelly Boyce.


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The Sisters and I!

Last week I found myself sitting with a group of fallen Catholics. We were instructed to go around the table and talk about our faith in God. The first woman announced that she was an atheist – an intellectual. She claimed her education did not allow her to believe in a fairy tale-like God. Then she went into a tirade about how the nuns in her grammar school abused her and were responsible for her loss of faith. Her cover of intellectualism quickly turned to a revelation of anger as the true source of her lack of faith.

As we went around the table, the theme continued as an attack on the nuns. The poor Sisters were blamed as a cause or excuse for not attending church or believing in a Supreme Being. Years ago, I might have been hesitant to reveal my deep faith in God and my devotion to the Catholic Church. Luckily, that is no longer the case. I silently prayed to the Holy Spirit for guidance, and found myself announcing that I was sure there was a God because He has worked so many miracles in my life. Looking around at the shocked faces around me, I told them that I read my Bible and meditate on His word for an hour each morning and that I can hear Him talk to me in my heart. I told them that I have a great peace and sense of love since I have the tenets of the Catholic Church to guide me in all my decisions. I thought the people there would fall off their chairs when I announced that I credit the kindness and loving teaching of the Sisters of Mercy who taught me the deep foundations of the Catholic faith for the joy in my life. After a few minutes of stunned silence, the last man spoke. Apparently a fundamentalist, he reddened with anger and shouted something about man-made laws and eating fish on Friday. Spitting his hatred of the Catholic Church across the table, he attacked me personally and my faith especially. I think my smile made him even angrier. I had to smile. My faith gives me peace and trust in the Holy Spirit to reach those who lack faith. His faith made him angry and more intolerant of Catholics than the atheists around him.

On the trip home I thought about the Sisters who taught me, the Sisters who wore heavy veils and clothing without air conditioning. The Sisters of Mercy packed sixty rowdy children into a small classroom and taught us the wonders of God and His Mother.  They taught us about the saints and the teachings of Jesus. They taught us that we were blessed to be Catholics and in the meantime threw in advanced teachings in English, math, and history. Was I grateful then? No, but I am now.  I was one of those rowdy kids who took every opportunity to be a class clown. I even wrote songs about each nun, singing them to my classmates delight during recess. One day, as I was singing about the flaws of the roughest nun, Sister Mary Jean (the kindest nun) was standing behind me. She quickly corrected me and that was the last song I ever wrote about my teachers. However, God has a sense of humor and knew that I would be writing about the Sisters again!

With hindsight, I now realize the wonderful education and faith that the Sisters of Mercy gifted me. Most of the Sisters were kind, hard-working, and faithful. I remember them with great delight and I am grateful for them. I realize now the sacrifices they made. Yes, they were human and got weary, uncomfortable, and sick. As an adult, I understand that nuns are human beings with virtues and flaws. Perhaps that is why God inspired me to create characters who work hard to overcome their human failings. In my children’s series, Sisters of the Last Straw, Sister Krumbles loves animals and all of God’s creatures but is disorganized and clumsy. Mother Mercy is protective and a born leader but struggles to control her temper. Sister Lovely struggles with addiction but is kind and generous. Sister Lacey is rough and tumble a hard-worker who fights an impulse to ‘cuss’ with silly rhymes and exclamations. Sister Shiny is vain and fussy but keeps the house spotless. Sister Wanda is always getting lost but never loses her gentle personality. All of them are good, all of them human.

I hope the books teach children to be forgiving. I know the series make children laugh. It makes me laugh to think about God’s sense of humor. I’m a senior citizen now, but I haven’t changed much. I am still writing about nuns. However, with an adult faith and trust, I can be much kinder than I was as a child. I can present the Sisters and the faith with truth, humor, and gratitude. It goes to show that what they taught me must be rubbing off.

KBBheadshotKaren Kelly Boyce lives on a farm in New Jersey with her retired husband. She has two grown children and two grandchildren. When she retired as a registered nurse, she rekindled her love of reading and writing. She has written for Canticle and Soul magazines. She has four published novels– According to Thy Word, Into the Way of Peace, Down Right Good and In the Midst of Wolves. The first three have received the Seal of Approval from the Catholic Writer’s Guild. Down Right Good received the 2012 Eric Hoffer award for commercial fiction and was a finalist for the Montaigne Medal. In the Midst of Wolves has just been published.
When her grandchildren were born, Karen started a children’s series. The Sisters of the Last Straw is a series of humorous mysteries that are solved by a group of misfit nuns. There have been three volumes published by Chesterton PressThe Case of the Haunted Chapel, The Case of the Vanishing Novice, and The Case of the Stolen Rosaries.
Karen is a columnist for the CWG Blog and her column “Writing Tips” appears every Monday. Her personal blog can be found at www.karenkellyboyce.com.

She is currently working on future books while enjoying farming, camping, and road trips with her husband.

The Librarian Who Writes: A Guest Post from Sherrie Palmer

Welcome, Tomato Pie Fans! I’m taking a hiatus from blogging to finish the sequel to DON’T YOU FORGET ABOUT ME. Meanwhile, I have a series of guest bloggers taking care of the place. Let’s meet today’s guest, Sherrie Palmer of Sherrie’s Scriptorium.

How Does Being a Librarian Inform My Writing?

Sherrie at the library putting DYFAM in its library suit.

Sherrie at the library putting DYFAM in its library suit.

I’ve been giving it some thought and I’ve come up with a few things.

First I have to disclose that I am not a certified librarian; I’m a library assistant. Working in a library influences me the same way working as a bookseller did. It can be good and bad.

I’ll start with the cons which aren’t many.

The main one is looking at all those books and wondering why the world would ever need another one. Also, while reading great writing by amazing authors I can lose confidence about ever coming close to the talent that is already in print. I mean who do I think I am? Battling paralyzing fear and lack of confidence are probably the biggest negatives.

Then there are the pros.

Having access to unlimited writing in every possible style and genre is awesome. As they say, knowledge is power, and what better place to become informed than the material available through libraries? I’m pretty sure that I can learn about anything by using a library. No matter what I’m writing, I know how to find the answers to the many questions that may come up, and if I can’t, I know there is a reference librarian who can.

Another benefit to working in a library is reading. A lot. Reading everything and anything. We never stop learning, and that helps our writing.

Reading something that isn’t very well written is a great ego booster and motivates my writing like crazy! We’ve all read something and thought we can do better, right? Few things make me feel better than realizing that if something that bad got published so can I! (I know it’s a little catty and I’m not proud of feeling that way, but I do. I’m being honest.)

I love being surrounded by all those books, words and writing. It makes me feel like I’m absorbing knowledge just by spending so much time in a library. That is motivating.

If I’m having a dry spell all I have to do is find an interesting topic and start reading. The next thing I know I’m filling a page with notes for a story and I’m off and running.

I think the best thing that influences my writing is the people. Each of the patrons that use my little library are entire stories themselves. It would be easy to judge people but instead I am absolutely fascinated by them.

I’m basically a curious creature, so each person I meet pings my interest. Everything from the books, movies and music they check out to the stories about their lives that they share with me are gold to store away in my imagination vault. And just when I think I’ve seen and heard it all, something new comes up.

I don’t think I will ever run out of things to write about while working in a library. Many days I stop, take a deep breath, look around at all the books and people and think how lucky I am. Then I say ‘What if’ and I write.

I’m Sherrie Palmer and I love to write and share ideas. I facilitated the Wordwrights Writing Group for ten years. Check out theWordwright’s Blog for more information about the group and writing.  I have been a member of the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) and worked as a bookseller for nine years. Now I work as a library assistant. I write mostly fiction, leaning towards fantasy and science fiction but I dabble with essays and very bad poetry. I have written a YA fantasy novel called Two Worlds, a middle grade chapter book called The Vegetarian Vulture.I’ve been focusing on short stories and hoped to be published soon. When I’m not writing I love reading and discussing books. I love RVing, playing Wii, gardening and going to Renaissance Faires. I have a lot of interests, so you never know what will show up here!

Beyond My Comfort Zone: A Guest Post from Barbara Hosbach

Welcome, Tomato Pie Fans! I’m taking a hiatus from blogging to finish the sequel to DON’T YOU FORGET ABOUT ME. Meanwhile, I have a series of guest bloggers taking care of the place. Let’s meet today’s guest, Barbara Hosbach.

BarbHHeadshotI’m working on my first novel and wondering what I’ve gotten myself into. I’ve been blogging twice a week for several years. I’ve had two scripture-based books and a number of magazine articles published. But this is different. This is fiction.

Fiction seems harder to write than non-fiction—at least to me. For one thing, non-fiction writers have a head start—reality’s already been created. Fiction writers have to start from scratch. It’s been said they’re like sculptors who have to make their own clay. More than that, the world fiction writers create has to be—or at least seem—more credible than the real world. Reality, no matter how implausible, has automatic validity. It really happened. Not so with invented stories. But most of all, when you’re making things up, the sky’s the limit. That can be intimidating.

It can also be exhilarating. I’ve already finished my first draft. That feels good, but it’s just the raw material. Now I get to shape that clay, to build up some parts and pare down—or even eliminate—others until the story’s just the way I want it. To guard against intimidation, I’ve given myself permission to take all the time I need with this process.

There’s a lot to consider in revising fiction. What’s working best for me is focusing on one thing at a time. The story I want to tell begged for a certain point of view and voice. So far, so good. I’m happy with the characters who presented themselves, but I’ve learned that characters acting at random doesn’t make a story. Their actions need consequences that lead somewhere. Shaping the overall plot and making sure the chapters and scenes lead from one thing to the next is taking some time. I’m letting that be okay. Fine-tuning and proof-reading will come later. As I said, this is my first work of fiction, so I’m no expert. Other writers may work differently, but if I tried to do it all simultaneously, I’d get overwhelmed. Then, instead of wondering what I’ve gotten into, I might be looking to escape. And there is no way I want out of this adventure—even if it is beyond my comfort zone.

Barbara Hosbach, writer, speaker, and retreat facilitator, blogs about scripture at www.biblemeditations.net . Her articles have appeared in a number of Catholic periodicals. Your Faith Has Made You Well: Jesus Heals in the New Testament, her latest book, explores what happened when Jesus healed and what it means for us today. Both this and Hosbach’s first book, Fools, Liars, Cheaters, and Other Bible Heroes, received the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval.

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The Homeschooling Writer: A Guest Post by Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur

Welcome, Tomato Pie Fans! I’m taking a hiatus from blogging to finish the sequel to DON’T YOU FORGET ABOUT ME. Meanwhile, I have a series of guest bloggers taking care of the place. Let’s hear from today’s guest, Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur.

Finding Time to Write as a Homeschooling Mom

I am the mother of three children, two boys ages 14 and 12, and a 4 ½ year old daughter. I started writing on a professional basis over ten years ago, when my boys were both very small. I had a Masters Degree in Applied Theology and through the process of working with a spiritual director discerned that God was calling me to write. Eventually, God called me to be not only a work-at-home writing mom, but also a homeschooling mom.

I will soon be starting my eighth year of homeschooling. My oldest is starting high school this year. I feel almost as scared about homeschooling high school as I did when I first took the plunge and began homeschooling my second and first grader so many years ago. If you feel so inclined, please say a prayer for me. I can definitely use the help.

So, that being said, how do I find time to write, given that so much of my life is spent taking care of my children? Here are some tips that work for me:

1) Start every day with prayer

There are people in this world who can wake up before their children and spend quality time in prayer before their day kicks into high gear. I’ve been blessed with children who are light sleepers and have supersonic hearing. If mom’s up, they are up as well. (Note: this is no longer true of my teenagers whom I frequently have to drag out of bed.) I know that I need that twenty minute prayer time in the morning. If I don’t get it, the day will go downhill quickly. I’m not above allowing my daughter some screen time first thing in the morning so that I can have some relatively uninterrupted time. Once I’ve prayed, I’m ready to be a better mom and to deal with whatever they day is going to hand me. One of those prayers is that I do the work I should each day. I’m not always satisfied with the amount I accomplish each day, but I have to trust that I’ve done what God wanted me to.

2) Take advantage of every available minute

Over the years, I have worked in many unusual places while waiting for my children at an activity. I have written in the car, in the hallway of a social center, sitting on a stairwell, by the side of a soccer field, and in a gymnastics gym. I write many book reviews, so I always have a book close by in case I get a few minutes to read. I carry one in my purse. I have one on the kitchen counter. I can’t tell you how many books I’ve read utilizing five and ten minute windows of time. I do the bulk of my computer work after my daughter goes to bed at night. The teens entertain themselves. I work for a couple hours and then go to bed around 10 p.m. It probably goes without saying that I don’t watch television. I also don’t spend a lot of time on social media.

3) Keep a to-do list

I have one notebook on my kitchen counter for my household to-do list. I have another for work-related items. If I get an idea for an article, I write it down. If there is a deadline to meet, or an on-going project, it goes on the list. It gives me a great sense of accomplishment to cross items off that list. Every Sunday night, I start fresh with a new page of the notebook, carrying over items that still need to be completed. This keeps me organized and on task.

4) Keep a Sabbath rest

This probably seems to disagree with taking advantage of every available minute, but I have found it to be a great blessing in my life. From 5 pm on Saturday to 5 pm on Sunday, I don’t do any work-related activities. I don’t check my email or Facebook. I watch a movie with my husband and teenagers on Saturday night while I work on quilting or scrapbooking. We go to Mass on Sunday morning. I might read during the day, but I read purely for pleasure. This day of rest gives me a much needed mental break. God made it a commandment for a reason. Yes, we moms never truly get a day off from our mom duties, but we can try to take it at least a little easier on Sundays. I have found that God allows me to accomplish more in my other six days since I began this practice a few years ago.

How do you balance homeschooling and whatever outside work you may do? Please share. I’d be happy to hear your tips.

MacArthur PhotoPatrice Fagnant-MacArthur is a homeschooling mom of three. The editor of todayscatholichomeschooling.com, she blogs at spiritualwomanthoughts.blogspot.com. She has been a longtime columnist for Catholicmom.com and is the author of “The Catholic Baby Name Book.”

The Writer’s Online Presence: A Guest Post from Marianne Sciucco

Welcome, Tomato Pie Fans! I’m taking a hiatus from blogging to finish the sequel to DON’T YOU FORGET ABOUT ME. Meanwhile, I have a series of guest bloggers taking care of the place. Let’s hear from today’s guest, Marianne Sciucco.

How Important Is An Author’s Online Presence?

All the publishing pros will tell you that having an active online presence is an author’s most important asset. How else will readers discover your work? How will those interested in what you have to offer locate you? How else will you stand out from the rest of the crowd? I recently experienced firsthand how imperative it is for an author to be available to an audience online. I consider myself to have a solid online presence and what I saw when I researched other authors baffled me.

A few weeks ago while at work at a community college in upstate New York, I got a call from Dorene who works in our continuing adult education program. She asked me to help her locate the author of a book she wanted to purchase for a class. She wanted to buy the books directly from him. I teach a few classes in self-publishing at the college, so although I am officially a campus nurse Dorene figured I’d be able to help.

“Did you look him up on LinkedIn?” I asked.

“No,” she said. “Great idea.”

We looked for him on the site and came up with nothing. We checked his Amazon page, but there was no author profile and no contact information listed. We looked for him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, all the usual places authors set up an online presence, but did not find him. We did a Google search and came full circle back to the Amazon page with no info.

Stumped, I apologized and said, “I guess he doesn’t want to be found.”

She was disappointed. “We’re looking at another book, and that author is approachable, so I guess we’ll go with him.”

I felt bad for the author who lost the opportunity to put his book into the hands of a classroom of students. If he had simply set up an author profile on his Amazon page with contact info, he would have made a nice sale.

Not long after that I was talking to Gail, my contact at Thrall Library who works with me to coordinate the library’s Local Authors & Illustrators Showcase, coming in September. She had an author she wanted me to invite to the event. She gave me a slip of paper with his name and phone number.

Before I contact an author for this event, I check him out online to make sure he fits with the program and to see what he can offer to our patrons and the other authors attending. And although I had a phone number for this guy, I wanted an email address, my preferred method of communication for this event. As you can imagine, coordinating 20+ authors can become confusing and overwhelming. An email trail keeps me organized and sane.

So I did my research on all the usual sites and discovered this author had no online presence other than his Amazon page with no author profile. Bummer. I resorted to calling him, and after we played some telephone tag he agreed to participate. He gave me an email address, and we are now communicating online, although he says he does not have internet service at home and visits his local library once a week to take care of his email.

After our initial conversation, I shook my head, amazed that the author of five print books would opt out of an online presence. We live and work in a global market. There’s no telling who might be interested in what this author has published or who might want to invite him to an event where he can share his work with an audience and perhaps sell a few copies. Again, a profile on his Amazon page including contact info is all he needs to avail himself of opportunities.

A year ago, I attended a local author event at another library (it’s where I got the idea for the event in my hometown). I met a few authors of children’s books. I’m in need of these authors to round out my program so I thought I’d invite them to join us. I had the event program and lots of info I’d collected (bookmarks and postcards) from these authors and sat down to do some investigating.

I was shocked to find that although many of them had some online presence – a Facebook or Twitter page,  a website –  many of them were inactive and had not posted or updated their sites in months. What was going on? Were they interested in getting out there with their books? None of them had listed an email address. Of the five I checked out, two looked promising, so I reached out to them via their Facebook accounts, but we are not friends, and such messages get sent to a secondary inbox. I learned this when I reached out to a blogger for a possible interview and didn’t get a reply for months because she didn’t realize she had mail waiting for her in this box. I imagine my messages to these authors will lie undiscovered, and they will miss out on an opportunity to connect with readers and other authors, and sell books.

One more story regarding my locating authors for this event: I learned of a local guy with a new book and decided to invite him. He had a great online presence – Amazon profile, and Facebook, Twitter, and About Me pages – but I couldn’t find an email address. I decided to contact him via Twitter and he responded! Happy ending! But I shouldn’t have to work so hard to get in touch with someone who has recently published a book.

What’s the moral of these stories? If you’re serious about your career as an author, indie or otherwise, it’s imperative you establish an online presence. You can do this for free. At the very least, build an Amazon author profile. Then start a Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, About Me, or Google+ page (one or all, your choice, but at least one.) Create a webpage, your home on the web. On every site, include an email address. If you don’t want to use your personal email address establish a new account specifically for your author activities. Remember to check it daily. Update your Amazon page and social media pages frequently. It’s important to look active and engaged to potential readers and those looking to establish a relationship.

Publishing is a competitive business. Discoverability in a field of millions is difficult. Don’t make it hard for people to find you. Not everyone will be as patient and determined to track down an author as I am.

Marianne Sciucco, Author

Marianne Sciucco is not a nurse who writes but a writer who happens to be a nurse. A lover of words and books, she dreamed of becoming an author when she grew up, but became a nurse to avoid poverty. She later brought her two passions together and writes about the intricate lives of people struggling with health and family issues. Her debut novel, Blue Hydrangeas, an Alzheimer’s love story, is a Kindle bestseller, IndieReader Approved, a BookWorks featured book, a Library Journal SELF-e Selection, and winner of IndieReCon’s Best Indie Novel Award, 2014. A native Bostonian, she lives in New York’s Hudson Valley, and when not writing works as a campus nurse at a community college. She loves, books, beaches, and craft beer, and especially enjoys the three of them together.

Here’s more about Blue Hydrangeas by Marianne Sciucco:

Blue Hydrangeas, an Alzheimer’s love story by Marianne Sciucco

What if the person who knew you best and loved you most forgot your face, and couldn’t remember your name?

A nursing facility is everyone’s solution for what to do about Sara, but her husband Jack can’t bear to live without her. He is committed to saving his marriage, his wife, and their life together from the devastation of Alzheimer’s disease. He and Sara retired years ago to the house of their dreams and operated it as a Cape Cod bed and breakfast named Blue Hydrangeas. Jack has made an impossible promise: He and Sara will stay together in their beautiful home no matter what the disease brings. However, after nine years of selfless caregiving complicated by her progressing Alzheimer’s and his own failing heart, he finally admits he can no longer care for her at home. With reluctance, he arranges to admit her to an assisted living facility. But on the day of admission, Sara is having one of her few good days and he is unable to follow through. Instead, he takes them on an impulsive journey to confront their past and reclaim their future. In the end, he realizes that staying together at any cost is what truly matters.

On Amazon + Amazon UK + An Interview with  Author Marianne Sciucco + Audible + Barnes and Noble + Facebook  + Goodreads + Google+ + iBooks + Kobo + Linked In + Nook + Pinterest + Scribd + Twitter + Website

Words that Harm or Heal: A Guest Post from Jeannie Ewing

Welcome, Tomato Pie Fans! I’m taking a hiatus from blogging to finish the sequel to DON’T YOU FORGET ABOUT ME. Meanwhile, I have a series of guest bloggers taking care of the place. Let’s hear from today’s guest, Jeannie Ewing.

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SENSITIVITY IN LANGUAGE: WORDS THAT HARM OR HEAL?

Although most people don’t know it, my oldest daughter, Felicity, was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder at eighteen months of age.  She appears to be “normal,” so to speak, but her levels of sensitivity to environmental stimuli of all sorts truly varies from day to day.  Because SPD is neurological in its origin, there’s no way (short of having an MRI) to know how or why – or even what – triggers her sensory aversions.

I have to say that this has made me acutely aware of the need for sensitivity in my writing.  Some may say that people are too afraid of offending others when we live in a society that perhaps needs a forthright message.  And this is very true.  But I am definitely more candid by nature, often to the point of abrasion, so learning to be sensitive in the written language has been helpful as an author/blogger.  It’s interesting how something like a child’s diagnosis can translate into a generalization, but in my case, it’s true.

Because Felicity is so easily overwhelmed, I’ve learned to pick up her nonverbal cues of discomfort and anxiety.  Pausing for a few seconds, stepping outside of myself and placing myself in her little brain helps me as a mom to discern how best to respond to her needs.  Sometimes she has inappropriate outbursts when explosive laughter erupts during a dinner conversation, and that is promptly (and privately) addressed with her.  But other times I see the build-up of tension in her face as she places her hands over her ears, and in those situations, I am able to avert a potential meltdown from her simply by whispering in her ear and pulling her aside to give her options for dealing with the anxiety (e.g., deep breathing, calming down in a quiet place, etc.).

This unique aspect of my parenting has transferred into my gift of writing.  I usually write uncensored, because I believe it’s critical to be authentic when expressing myself and my heart.  I still believe that very much.  But instead of instantaneously publishing what I write, I allow it to sit for about twenty-four hours and revisit what I wrote.  Then I can see it with fresh eyes and insight, usually considering my word selection.  There have been times when particular sentences or words I choose could be blatantly offensive to some people, particularly if it refers to one’s cognitive ability or aptitude.  But if I take the time to pray beforehand to the Holy Spirit, He graces me with humility to see how my language may inadvertently hurt someone.

I’m not saying that we always have to be careful of every small word or sentence we say.  There is such a thing as false humility, in which a person is so deliberate and timorous in sharing anything at all with someone or expressing a personal opinion.  We should speak and write both clearly and confidently while keeping in mind the importance of truth in charity.  Praying before we write or speak, then pausing for a few moments truly makes a significant impact in the delivery of our message.  Then our words can heal, inspire, and encourage rather than harm or shame others.

ONE-MINUTE THOUGHT:  How do my words hurt or heal others?  What can I change about how I speak, write, and relate to others today?

Text Copyright 2015 Jeannie Ewing, all rights reserved.
Image Copyright 2015 “Grasshopper” by FeeLoona on Pixabay and edited in Canva by Jeannie Ewing.

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Jeannie Ewing is a writer, speaker, and grief recovery coach.  She is the co-author of Navigating Deep Waters: Meditations for CaregiversJeannie was featured on National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition and Tony Agnesi’s radio show Finding God’s GraceShe offers her insight from a counselor’s perspective into a variety of topics, including grief, spirituality, and parenting children with special needs.  Jeannie resides in northern Indiana with her husband and two daughters, both of whom have special needs.  For more information on her professional services, please visit her websites lovealonecreates.com or fromgrief2grace.com.

Follow Jeannie on social media:  Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn | Google+ | Pinterest

7 Quick Takes with Chasing Liberty Author Theresa Linden

7QTlogoIt’s time for Seven Quick Takes Friday, a Friday linkup over at This Ain’t the Lyceum.

Today I’m delighted to bring you an interview with author Theresa Linden.  TLindenHeadshot

Theresa resides with her husband and three boys in northeast Ohio. She was born in San Francisco, California. Her father was in the Coast Guard, so the family moved every three years. This probably accounts for her love of traveling and desire to see the world. Living by the ocean and under the palm trees in Guam and Hawaii spurred her imagination. She began writing illustrated short stories with her sister in grade school, borrowing characters from favorite movies and shows. Now, writing is her passion. Her favorite genres include Fantasy, Western, Contemporary, Supernatural and Futuristic. Other interests: acrylic painting, drawing with ink, hiking, traveling and American History. Theresa is a member of the Catholic Writer’s Guild  and the Elyria Library Writers’ Group. She has an Associate’s Degree in Electrical/Mechanical Drafting and a Catechetical Diploma from Catholic Distance University. She is currently working on the last book in the Chasing Liberty trilogy.

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Tell us about Chasing Liberty.  How did the idea come to you?  How long did it take you from start to publication?

CHASING LIBERTYcoverChasing Liberty is the story of a young woman who seeks freedom in a society where the government controls every aspect of life. Nature is elevated above man. Developments in science and technology are not balanced with developments in morals and ethics. Faith, family and freedom have been lost.

The idea for this story came directly from the news. We used to watch Glenn Beck when he was on TV, and my jaw would drop at some of the stories on that show . . . disturbing things about the government watching you, about deep-green movements that think of humans as little more than parasites, about scientific advancements that cross ethical boundaries. Beck encouraged viewers not to take his word for it but to do their own research. So I did. The more I discovered, I kept thinking, “Wow, this can’t be real. It seems like fiction.” I wondered what our world, our country would be like if all this came to pass. As a writer, I don’t just wonder . . . I write!

From start to publication, Chasing Liberty took 2-1/2 years.

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

Favorite – I love developing characters and their relationships, thinking of ways to make them unique and bring them to life, giving them strengths and weakness, habits and quirks. I wanted Liberty to come across as strong and courageous, a person who doesn’t blindly go along with the culture but who is willing to stand against it. Even if she stands alone. She’s not afraid to speak her mind, even knowing the government is always listening and has programs that tag phrases considered “hate speech.”

Least favorite – While I enjoy all the different stages of writing, my least favorite part was the research, only because it opened my eyes to many evil ideologies in our world. I discovered how influential special-interest groups have been in our government and in world governments. Scary stuff.

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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?

If an author wants to have a publisher, I have learned, there is a lot of waiting involved. It took me one year to write the story, beginning in the summer of 2012. Then I spent several months looking for a publisher, several months waiting. Wanting to get my story out there, I decided to self-publish, and that was when World Castle Publishing offered me a contract. There was more waiting after that. Almost a year later, November of 2014, Chasing Liberty was released. My first published book! I am excited that the second book in this trilogy, Testing Liberty, will come out this fall.

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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 am a homeschooling mother of three teenage, adopted boys, one of which has autism. During the school year, homeschooling takes up the bulk of my day. And of course there are all the daily chores which I am learning to share with my boys. At the end of the day, I try to do something related to writing whether re-reading a section I’ve written, or critiquing a friend’s work, but it’s often hard to focus on actual writing. So I look forward to the weekends for that. Most of my writing takes place over summer. This summer, I am working on the third book in the Liberty trilogy, Fight for Liberty. I have set myself some unrealistic goals in order to finish the first draft before school begins. Amazingly, have been keeping them!Testing Liberty Brown Red

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

I enjoy developing characters, so I hope that is my greatest strength. I want my characters to feel real. Sometimes I do character interviews toward the beginning of developing a story, so that I can really get to know them. I even write scenes that will never make it to the final story, just so I can experience their past or moments in their lives that made them who they are.

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

This is a hard question to answer because I feel like my writing style changes with each book I write. I write constantly, and I often read articles and books on how to improve. By the time I finish writing a story, I can always go back and find things that I could strengthen or do differently. I hope my writing style gets stronger and stronger over the years, but I know there will always be room for improvement.

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

Chasing Liberty is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or your preferred online bookseller.

If you like book trailers, check out the trailers for Chasing Liberty and for Testing Liberty.

I have a summer blog, Virtual Tour of America, for anyone who enjoys reflecting on the early history of our country.

And I can be found on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.

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!