Wednesday, December 19, 2012

What's On Your Bookshelf?

I was reading the December 2012 issue of Town and Country today and came across an article about My Ideal Bookshelf, a new book by illustrator Jane Mount. She interviewed 100 people to find out what was on their bookshelves and created images based on those selections. Thessaly La Force wrote the accompanying essays. "The point was to find people whose books gave you a sign of how they become who they are."

What's on my bookshelf? For a booklover, I actually own relatively few books. I give away books I've read so that they can enrich other people's lives and I mostly get books from the library. Still, I have a couple shelves of books that I've held onto over the years. The shelf I picked for this exercise includes my art history textbooks from college as well as "The History of Painting," and "Janson's History of Art" that I picked up at the library book sale for $1 this summer. I also have the quilting pattern book I got when I was nine years old at a school book sale. I begged my mother for that book and I'm sure it seemed a silly purchase to her at the time, but she bought it for me and fourteen years later, I fulfilled my desire to start quilting and I haven't stopped. In addition, I have an old (1960s?) Better Homes and Gardens "How to Sew" book, not that I sew particularly well (I have no idea how to use a sewing machine). I also have a screenwriting book on that shelf. Screenwriting is on the list of things I want to do.

What's on your bookshelf?


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The First Draft is Done

I finished the first draft of my latest novel on Monday night. In the end, it filled the entire five-subject notebook I was writing in. I finished the last chapter I wrote on the manila colored dividers just so I wouldn't have to start a new notebook. I had bought one, but I'll save that for the next novel.

I decided I did like writing longhand. It enabled me to write anywhere and I didn't have to worry about carrying around my laptop or finding an electric socket. I could just grab my notebook and go.

What's next for this work in progress? A second draft. I figure I'll do that while typing it out. It will be interesting to see how many words I actually wrote, because I haven't any idea. The story still needs a great deal of work, but that is what this next step is for. I think I'll take a break until after Christmas. I have a lot of holiday related stuff to get done between now and then. But the start of 2013 should find me hard at work. It will give me something to look forward to during the bleak January days.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Time to Stop the Hair-Tucking Madness!

I was reading Bookpage the other day and came across this passage that had me burst out laughing:

Dear Author Enabler,

Recently I've noticed that in every book I read, at some point, someone tucks a lock of hair behind the ear of another character. . . . What is going on? Is there now some kind of rule that EVERY novel has to have a hair-tucking scene? Is there some super-hair-tucking-editor somewhere who checks to make sure it's there? It's driving me crazy.

Kathleen Winkler

And the answer . . . 

I'm so glad that you brought this crisis to my attention. You are the Paul Revere of American readers, riding through the countryside warning us of an invasion of hair-tucking in fiction. And you are not alone in your concern. On May 25, Cyndi Tefft tweeted, "Almost every romance novel I've read has the guy tucking a stray lock of hair behind her ear, yet men rarely ever do this." There is an epidemic of hair-tucking going on in American novels, and it is up to us, the readers, to call attention to this imminent danger. 

Why did this make me laugh so hard, one might ask. Well . . . that would because my work in progress does include a hair-tucking incident, which I guess will need to be replaced by something else in the second draft. I honestly didn't realize this was such a cliche. I included it when two of my main characters first meet back in 1941. The guy reaches over and tucks her hair behind her ear. I included it because I felt it was a somewhat brazen act for two people that had just met - an act of intimacy that would be unexpected, yet - given the source, welcomed.

As for the assertion that men don't actually do this - yes, I would venture that is a correct assumption, but perhaps that is why it is the stuff of romance novels. Men do a lot of things in romance novels that they are not necessarily inclined to do in real life. That is why we call it fiction, and why, at least in part, women indulge in the romantic fantasy of a novel.

But, in order not to be trite, I will think of something else . . . back to the drawing board, at least for that scene.

For those of you working on a romantic novel - does your work-in-progress include a hair-tucking scene? Is this really as much of an epidemic as these writers seem to think?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Shop the Catholic Writer's Guild Bookstore

Looking for some great Catholic books? Check out the Catholic Writer's Guild Bookstore - featuring great reads in fiction and nonfiction (including my own book!)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Tombstone Saga Continues

I wrote before about finding this tombstone and being intrigued by it. I admit, in the intervening time, I haven't done anything about. It's kind of just been sitting in the back of my mind, along with the million other items that are collecting dust in there.

A few times a year, I submit my photos to an online service to order prints. I had one such order come in this week. I didn't open the box until Saturday night when I sat down to sort the photos and prepare to put them in albums/scrapbooks. When I opened the box, I discovered that (in error) I had been sent 300 copies of this one photo! I'm starting to wonder if the universe (God) is trying to tell me something . . .



Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Virtues of a Good Pen

I've been meaning to post about this article for a while. It's been patiently waiting for me in my "to be blogged" pile. Skip the Paris Cafes And Get a Good Pen was in the Wall Street Journal on September 29th.

In it, Mark Helprin writes:

The fewer tools the better, and they need not be costly or complicated. Whether you use a pencil, a pen, an old typewriter or something electrical is largely irrelevant to the result, although there is magic in writing by hand. It's not just that it has been that way for 5,000 years or more, and has engraved upon our expectations of literature the effects associated with the pen—the pauses; considerations; sometimes the racing; the scratching out; the transportation of words and phrases with arrows, lines and circles; the closeness of the eyes to the page; the very touching of the page—but that the pen, not being a machine (it does not meet the scientific definition of a machine), is a surrender to a different power than those of mere speed and efficiency. 

In short, a pen (somehow) helps you think and feel. And although once you find a pen you like you'll probably stick with it the way an addict sticks with heroin, it can be anything from a Mont Blanc to a Bic.. . . 

Still, don't hurry. Live dangerously. People love to look at the rough and scarred original manuscripts in the display cases of the New York Public Library or in facsimile editions. It's not just because it brings them to the kind of authenticity one cannot help but treasure but because they know that if there is, indeed, magic, it is here to be seen, in worn pages that glow with concentration, genius and love.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Concord Free Press: Giving Books Away for Free

I saw an article about the Concord Free Press the other day and was intrigued. How can a press give away books for free? Yet, this is what they do. All that they ask is that you make a donation (of any amount) to someone else, post it on their website, and then pass the book along to someone else.

So, I checked out their website. They refer to their project as "An Ongoing Experiment in Generosity." The writers don't get paid, the graphic designer doesn't get paid and they get reduced printing costs. They do accept donations to help offset the costs involved and sell some related items in order to raise funds.

Honestly, I have mixed feelings on this. The writers don't get paid. Now, I am the first to acknowledge that (most) writers don't make much. I wrote for free for years before starting to get even a small amount of payment for my work. Those of us who write do so out of love (and perhaps necessity - the words have to come out) first and the hope of remuneration second, but still, it's nice to have that hope. And on principle, I feel that writers should be paid. We work hard. We earn it. And, like everyone else we have bills to pay.

Still, I can understand the desire to have someone read one's words and this vehicle provides an audience. In addition, the writers retain the rights and have the ability to traditionally publish at a later date. And I understand the gift of generosity. In one way or another, the universe (God) rewards it. In light of the big picture, it usually pays off.

All in all, it is an intriguing concept. I wonder if it is something we Catholic writers could do in order to help promote and share our words and our works?

Friday, October 19, 2012

No Excuses

How long have you been working on your current project? A day? A month? Six months? A year? Ten years? Since the Reagan administration?


I'll be honest. The project I'm working on now I started in June of 2010, so I'm looking at two and a half years right now and isn't like I've been writing the next War and Peace. I've had to put it away for long periods of time. It can be disheartening to admit that, but I'm happy that I'm working on it on a semi-regular basis right now (at least once a week) and that I'm making progress. Maybe, before another two and a half years are up, I will manage to complete it!

I'm came across this quote today in the July/August issue of Poets and Writers which offered a good reminder.

"The truth is, if we're doing good work there is no need to justify it. No matter how long it takes; no matter how many revisions have been scrapped or how many agents and editors have rejected us, we shouldn't have to offer excuses for how we got here. Living a life (with its attendant mortgage payments, pediatrician appointments, and flat tires) and writing a great poem or story or essay or book are not mutually exclusive. Quite the opposite. The writing life is messy, and there's no secret to success. Instead there are many paths leading to where you want to go."

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Book Review: Books: A Living History

Books: A Living History
by Martyn Lyons
Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2011

Martyn Lyons, educated at the University of Oxford and widely known as a leading historian of the book, offers a fascinating survey of the printed word in "Books: A Living History." He examines the history of the book, starting with the advent of writing itself in ancient civilizations, making his way through the middle ages, the creation of the printing press, the modern era, and the digital age. He defines books as all forms of written communication, "from cuneiform script to the printed codex to the digitized electronic book."

There are many wonderful tidbits of information tucked within these pages. One thing I learned was where the terms "upper case" and "lower case" come from - they refer to the storage case for manual type for printers. Capitals were in the upper section and ordinary letters were in the lower section. It is possible all of you reading this already knew that, but I found it fascinating. Having worked in graphic design, I also found his discussion of the development of fonts very interesting.

Lyons also examines the development of literature, and the increase in demand for "cheap fiction" in the 1900s. He also looks at the publishing industry - the role of bookstores and libraries, the royalty system and how the digital era is changing the publication of books. 

The photographs that accompany the text are very instructive in themselves. One could learn much simply by looking at them and reading the associated captions.

"Books: A Living History" is an enjoyable book for anyone interested in history or the printed word.


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Work in Progress - Trudging through the Middle

I am at that place in my work in progress in which I want to set the manuscript on fire. Usually, this is only a figurative problem. After all, despite my sometimes tumultuous relationship with my laptop, I’m not likely to actually set it on fire. This time, I am writing in a notebook. I truly could live out this fantasy, and it is only the more level-headed side of my brain that is keeping me from following through.

Read more of my post on the Catholic Writer's Guild Blog

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Some Writing Inspiration

We writers all have those days when we are in desperate need of some inspiration and encouragement, a reminder of why we do what we do.

Writer's Digest has put together a list of 72 of the Best Quotes About Writing. You are sure to find at least one or two that speak to you today.

The one that speaks to me today? This one by Virginia Woolf:

“Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works.”


Check it out here: 72 of the Best Quotes About Writing

Monday, September 10, 2012

Delightful Picture Book for Book Lovers

Some picture books are as much of a delight for adults as they are for children. The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore is that type of book. The Academy Award Winning Short Film by the same name was based on this book by William Joyce. Honestly, I loved the video, but I love this book even more!

The story is one all book and library lovers will enjoy. "Morris Lessmore loved words. He loved stories. He loved books. His life was a book of his own writing, one orderly page after another. He would open it every morning and write of his joys and sorrows, of all that he knew and everything that he hoped for." After his home is destroyed in a storm, Mr. Lessmore begins to wander and encounters a lovely flying lady being pulled by a squadron of books. She sends him a book which leads him to a very unusual library where he soon takes up residence and spends his life caring for the books and continuing to write his own story.

The beautiful illustrations in this book enhance the story and make the experience that much more of a delight. I truly found myself wishing I could jump right into the paintings. "The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore" is a picture book to be enjoyed over and over again. 

For more information on the video, the book, or the app, please visit MorrisLessmore.com


Thursday, September 6, 2012

New Scholarship Available for MFA Students at Seattle Pacific University

For the first time ever, the Seattle Pacific University MFA program (which emphasizes the Judeo-Christian tradition in literature) has merit scholarships available!

All accepted applicants–beginning at the upcoming admission deadline–will be considered for scholarship assistance based upon the quality of their creative work. That’s good news: there’s no separate application for the scholarships!

The next deadline for admission to the SPU MFA is October 1, 2012.
Beth Myhr, an MFA alumna, said, “When I decided, after twenty years of writing, that it was time to go back to school, I looked for three things in a program: intellectual rigor, high standards for the art, and a program that would support what I consider a fact of art—that beautiful work is the soul of our culture. I needed a program that saw the spiritual practice in the writing process. The SPU MFA program was a perfect fit.”

To find out more about the program and determine its fit for you, check out the program website, read the brochure, and watch the series of video interviews on YouTube.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Some More Thoughts from Stephen King

I finished reading On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King. As I mentioned previously, I had been told that this book was a classic, and in surveying the myriad comments on Amazon, I have no reason to disagree. As with all classics however, not every reader loves them, and in this case, I fall into that category.





I think that I just wasn't King's target audience. First, I've only read one of his works in my life, so I certainly couldn't be called a fan, yet I greatly respect what he has achieved as a writer. I did find his autobiography very interesting, but I found his crass language something of a turn-off.

Second, his section on writing was very informative and I did pick up some good tips, but I think, being a man, he writes more for male writers. He suggests spending at least four hours a day reading/writing. I would love to, but there aren't many moms out there that have that luxury. I'm more in the "write whenever life offers you a free moment" category. It doesn't mean that I am not serious about my craft.

While this book did not speak to me as much as I would have liked and I will donate it at my local library in the hopes that it finds a more welcoming home, I will nevertheless leave you with some words of wisdom I culled from its pages:


Writing is a lonely job. Having someone who believes in you makes a lot of difference. They don't have to make speeches. Just believing is usually enough.

If you don't want to work your ass off, you have no business trying to write well - settle back into competency and be grateful you have even that much to fall back on. There is a muse, but he's not going to come fluttering down into your writing room and scatter creative fairy-dust all over your typewriter or computer station. You have to descend to his level, and once you get down there you have to furnish an apartment for him to live in. . . It's right that you should do all the work and burn all the midnight oil, because the guy with the cigar and the little wings has got a bag of magic. There's stuff in there that can change your life. Believe me, I know.

Talent renders the whole idea of rehearsal meaningless; when you find something at which you are talented, you do it (whatever it is) until your fingers bleed or your eyes are ready to fall out of your head. Even when no one is listening (or reading, or watching), every outing is a bravura performance, because you as the creator are happy.



Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Tombstone with a Story . . .



I love walking through cemeteries. I pray for the dead and explore the tombstones and wonder about the people remembered there. I posted on Twitter a while back that on a recent exploration I found this unusual stone. It is a flat stone set into the ground, obviously hand-carved by a loved one. It's unusual for two other reasons - first, there is no first name so I don't know if it marks the grave of a young man or a young woman; second, it has a smiley face (under the date). Who was this young person and who carved the stone? There is a story here, and I wish I knew what it was . . . If I get the chance, I might research obits from 1935 and see if I can find out. In the meantime, my imagination will continue to get the best of me.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Save the Date - September 29th is Smithsonian Museum Day

Get free admission for two on September 29th at participating museums. Here is the list for Massachusetts - I wish I could go see them all! http://www.smithsonianmag.com/museumday/museum-search/?c=y&page=1&state=Massachusetts

Find out more and print your ticket at: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/museumday/

Friday, August 24, 2012

Stephen King's 1st Payment for Writing

I'm currently reading On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King which was given to me and which I have heard is a classic writing book. I'm still fairly early in the book and haven't really formed an opinion of it yet, but I enjoyed King's telling of his first payment for writing.

He was in first grade (although he missed most of the year due to sickness) and started writing stories. He shares:

I eventually wrote a story about four magic animals who rode around in an old car, helping out little kids. Their leader was a large white bunny named Mr. Rabbit Trick. He got to drive the car. The story was four pages long, laboriously printed in pencil . . . When I finished, I gave it to my mother, who sat down in the living room, put her pocketbook on the floor beside her, and read it all at once. I could tell she liked it - she laughed in all the right places - but I couldn't tell if that was because she liked me and wanted me to feel good or because it really was good. . . 

She said it was good enough to be in a book. Nothing anyone has said to me since has made me feel any happier. I wrote four more stories about Mr. Rabbit Trick and his friends. She gave me a quarter apiece for them and sent them around to her four sisters. . . 
Four stories. A quarter apiece. That was the first buck I made in this business.

And that is why, as parents, we should ALWAYS support our children's writing efforts!



Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Can Writers be Replaced by Robots?

My answer to that question would have always been "No," but apparently I would have been wrong. Artificial intelligence has come a long way, and computers can now do some creative tasks - creating music, interpreting behavior, and deciding the value of written words.

This article in the Wall Street Journal - Automatons Get Creative - features some pretty scary information to think about. Creativity is one of the basic attributes and unique qualities of being human. And, yes, computers can only do what they are programmed to do. But, still, I can't help but wonder what kind of world our technology is creating and where humans will fit in the large picture.  We live in an age in which science fiction has become reality, and I for one, am a bit terrified by the prospect.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Contribute to a Book about Irish Heritage in Western Massachusetts

Our local newspaper, The Republican is compiling a book about Irish history in Western Massachusetts and is asking for help with the project.

They are searching for the following information:

We are thrilled to give our readers the opportunity to participate in this unique project. If you have photographs that meet our submission guidelines criteria, please download submission forms and bring them to one of our public-scanning sessions.

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES

  • Irish historic photos, such as: living, industry, commerce, society, public service, etc.
  • Photos taken from 1800 to today.
  • Photos only – preferably original photos (no newspaper clippings or photocopies).
  • Photos taken in the Alliance area
  • 10 photos per family.
For more information, please visit: The Irish Legacy

Friday, August 3, 2012

Tuscany Prize for Catholic Fiction

I wish so much that I could enter this contest, but no matter how I tried to schedule my life, there is just no way I would be able to get my work in progress done in time. But, for those of you who have a work done, or close to completion, this definitely seems like something worth checking out: Tuscany Prize for Catholic Fiction. The deadline is September 30, 2012 and there are categories for short story, novella, and novel.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

What Ever Happened to Sexual Tension?

Like many Jane Austen fans, I was horrified to hear that there is now an erotic version of some of her books. As if the whole Pride and Prejudice and Zombies thing wasn't enough. Poor Miss Austen must be rolling over in her grave.

One of the virtues of Victorian literature (and the movies based on them) is the sexual tension between the main characters. The dialogue is outstanding - the facility with language is far beyond anything one might experience today. It never ceases to amaze me the way an Austen character can deliver an insult or proffer a challenge while being unfailingly polite. It certainly beats the base language we tend to resort to when we are annoyed or angry today.

But, beyond the dialogue, it is what goes unsaid that often has the most power. Supposedly, in the new version of Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy are ripping off their clothes at every opportunity. (Truly, I don't even know how this fits into the story, seeing as they don't get together until the end of the novel. Regardless, I'm not going to read the new version to find out.) This reminds me of most movies today. Boy meets girl. They kiss. In the next scene, they are in bed together. Leaving the large issue of morality out of it, what ever happened to anticipation? To longing? To something worth waiting for?

The Victorians had all the same desires as we do today, yet perhaps they knew something that we have seemingly lost in our culture. Namely, that there can be as much (if not more) electricity in a look or a gentle brush of a hand as in a genital thrust. Little things can mean so much,  and the subtext lingering behind a conversation can reveal as much as the conversation itself. The promise of potential sexual union is a powerful thing. Sexual tension can go a long way in keeping a relationship going. In literature, it can keep a reader interested. Both in life and in fiction, it seems we are giving too much away much too soon.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Book Review: St. Anne's Day

St. Anne's Day
by Janice Lane Palko, 2012

Just in time for St. Anne's feastday (July 26th) comes "St. Anne's Day," a debut romance novel by Janice Lane Palko. Anne Lyons is a fiery-tempered twenty-nine year old nurse and has no interest in meeting a man when she is hired by handsome bar owner Gerry McMaster to care for his mother, Peg, who is recovering from triple-bypass surgery.

The older woman and Anne quickly bond and she encourages Anne to start praying to St. Anne, "Dear St. Anne, get me a man as fast as you can." She had prayed that prayer to find her own husband and trusts in its power. St. Anne seems to quickly get on the case as men start knocking on Anne's door. There is Luis, the cook at the bar, who flirts with her and even names a dish after her. There is Craig Love, a former classmate and plastic surgeon who comes back into the picture, and then there is womanizer Gerry, who is all wrong for her, but who dominates her thoughts.

This is a fun read - there were several times in which I was laughing out loud, especially at some of the things that come out of Peg's mouth. There are also several issues, such as abortion, dating abuse, premarital sex, and respect for those who are different, which are handled very well.  The only caveat I would offer is that there are some sexual innuendo and jokes in the book, which may offend some. Overall, however, I really enjoyed this story. It provided some great escapism and I was eager to see how St. Anne would help Anne find the right man for her. 


Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Anti-EBook Company

A while back, I took advantage of an introductory offer and purchased a $5.95 version of Huckleberry Finn from Easton Press. The press is dedicated to creating high-quality leather bound books. Truly, they are the anti-ebook company.

These are books for people who love the feel and look of fine books lining a shelf. They offer a surprisingly wide variety of books, from the classics, art books, and histories that one might expect, to those one might not expect such as the Star Wars Character Encyclopedia or a signed copy of The Help. Truly, there is something for everyone.

Sadly, the prices are quite steep. I think that compiling any sort of collection of these is out of reach of most people, myself included. But, choosing one might make a great gift for the book lover in your life for a special occasion. In any event, their catalog is beautiful to look at, and it is comforting to know that such appealing books are still being made. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

An Audience of One

Most writers (myself included) dream of having a large audience reading one's work, and hopefully being impacted by it in some way. But at the end of the day, it is possible to impact the world with just one reader. I know this blog doesn't get a lot of followers and my novel hasn't sold a lot of copies, and my next novel probably won't either, but I am incredibly thankful to each and every person who has used some of his or her precious time on this earth to read something I have written. I hope it was worth it!

Every creative effort makes an impact on the world. If we bring the best we have to our efforts, that is all we can do. The rest is really out of our control. God will use our work as He wills, and we may never know how something we said or did changed someone's life.

Kris Radish wrote an article for the July/ August issue of Writer's Digest, "An Audience of One." Radish tells of a booksigning where there was only one person in the audience. She sat with the woman and talked about her novel and her life and then asked about her life:

"A year ago I was homeless and living behind the bookstore," she told me. "I was a drug user and I watched people coming into the bookstore and authors, just like you, and one day I told myself that I would get straight and come back and sit here like this."


I took her hands and held them as she cried and told me how this moment, me taking time to sit with her, was the most remarkable think that had ever happened to her. I cried too as she told me about her new life plans.

Because she left her ego at the door, Radish was able to make a profound difference in that woman's life, and that woman left a lasting imprint on her as well. Each interaction matters. An audience of one. Sometimes that is all we need.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Reader's Favorite Review of Through the Open Window

A while back, I saw an ad (maybe on Facebook?) for Reader's Favorite, which offered to review books. All you had to do was send a copy. You could pay for a quick turnaround - the free service took about 12 weeks. There is no guarantee of a good review, only a review. The service seemed valid, and I had nothing to lose, so I submitted a copy of my book. I was very pleasantly surprised when I received the following review this week:

"Through the Open Window" is a heartfelt romance with all the ingredients to make it a wonderful tale. Doubts, uncertainty, attractions, and the exes are all well played out in this intelligent plot. It is a sweet romance that is worth your time and money. I was attracted to the sensible plot and characters from the beginning and loved it all the way to the end. Mike Duncan and Lucy had had their hearts broken before when those whom they loved had left them. The last thing they want is to find someone to complicate their present circumstances. So it comes as a surprise to them, when they meet each other in a NANOWRIMO meeting, how much they are attracted to each other. With the thought of not being ready for a new relationship firmly in their minds, they start a friendship that develops to becoming confidants and very dear in no time. Complications happen when Lucy finds out that her mom has terminal cancer about which she didn’t want her to know. Once before Lucy had left her studies to see her battle and win breast cancer. Now, a few years later, once again she leaves her dream job, her new home, and Mike, to take care of her. With the uncertainty of when, if ever, to come back, she dedicates herself to her mother’s needs and leaves her future in limbo for a time.

The story is nicely written. "Through the Open Window" will be liked by many, be it young adults or adults. Anne does a great job on this clean piece of romance entwined with great character development. It is really a fantastic light read for summer, or to cozy up with on a cold winter night. -
Anna D. for Reader's Favorite.



Become a Docent at the Springfield (MA) Museums

My hometown of Springfield, MA, has a wonderful treasure in its museums. We are fortunate to have two art museums, a science museum, history museum, and Dr. Suess sculpture garden, all located in one central area in downtown. I was there just recently and enjoyed two special exhibits - a LEGO castle exhibit and one featuring breathtaking Tiffany glass lamps and windows.

For those who want to volunteer giving tours in these museums, they have a wonderful docent training program. For free, you can get a great education in the items held in the Springfield collections. The museums are currently recruiting new docents. For more information, please visit the Museum website at Docent Programs.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Catholic Writers to Hold Conference in Arlington, Texas


The fourth annual Catholic Writers’ Conference LIVE will take place August 29-31, 2012, at the Arlington Convention Center in Arlington, TX. Sponsored by the Catholic Writer’s Guild and the Catholic Marketing Network (CMN), and held in conjunction with CMN’s annual retailer trade show, the Catholic Writers Conference LIVE provides Catholic authors with a prime opportunity to meet and share their faith with editors, publishers, fellow writers, and bookstore owners from across the globe.

The conference will offer “pitch sessions,” allowing authors an opportunity to meet personally with publishing professionals and pitch their writing projects. In addition, attendees have the opportunity to sign up for critique with professional editors and writers. Some participating publishers are Ignatius Press, Ave Maria Press, Christus Publishing, Tuscany Press, Ascension Press and Servant Books. Information for this event can be found on the conference web site.

This year's conference will focus on “Writing and the New Evangelization.” Speakers include EWTN personalities Teresa Tomeo and Father Andrew Apostoli, CFR, authors Ellen Hrkach (In NAME ONLY) and Patti Armstrong (STORIES FOR THE HOMESCHOOL HEART), Ann Margaret Lewis (MURDER IN THE VATICAN: THE CHURCH MYSTERIES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES), and author and blogger Sarah Reinhard (A CATHOLIC MOTHER’S COMPANION TO PREGNANCY: WALKING WITH MARY FROM CONCEPTION TO BAPTISM). More excellent speakers are still being confirmed.

In partnership with the Catholic New Media Conference, also taking place in the convention center, conference attendees will be able to attend a special track on blogging for $25. Information on this opportunity will be made to attendees upon registration.

“It's not just writing, it's not just fellowship, it's inspiration, too!” says 2011 Conference presenter Sarah Reinhard. “It was great to share the Eucharist and evening meals in person with writers who inspire me, encourage me, and motivate me the rest of the year.”

The Catholic Writers Guild, a religious non-profit organization affiliated with the Archdiocese of Indianapolis sponsors both this live conference in August and an online conference in February to further its mission of promoting Catholic literature. Says CWG President Ann Lewis, “These events are integral to our mission of ‘creating a rebirth of Catholic arts and letters.”

Registration costs $70 for CWG members, $75 for non-members and $40 for students. There's also a discounted combined membership. To register or for more information, go to http://www.catholicwritersconference.com.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Work in Progress

I hadn't realized it had been so long since I've posted here. I've come across some good articles on writing, but I've mostly just posted links to them on Twitter. If you want to follow me there, please visit: https://twitter.com/#!/AnneMFaye (I'm happy to follow back).

I've also returned to writing fiction, but due to time constraints, I'm not making the progress I would like. Since finishing up the non-fiction book I was under contract for, I've tried to move sleep a little higher up on the list of priorities, which means cutting out time for other things. I get the chance to work on my story in my head during the day while I'm engaged in other activities, but not having time to get things out on paper is frustrating. When I do have the time, I can't necessarily remember what I thought about and because I'm not writing regularly, I have to face my own fear when I do. It makes it seem like a bigger deal than it is. When I write every day, it is just something I do, and the words flow easily. When it happens maybe once a week, it is an event, and there is much more pressure attached to it and the words get stuck.

Well, it is still good to be back writing - however slow the process. It will get done if/when it should. And if it doesn't, the world will go on.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Does Cursive Still Matter?

We live in a world where almost everything is typewritten. It can easily be argued that it is much more important from a practical standpoint that children today be able to type well rather than write well. My local school system doesn't even teach cursive anymore.

In all honesty, my own cursive writing is atrocious. I pretty much failed handwriting in Catholic school. People forced to read my handwriting are subject to a puzzle of brain-numbing proportions. Thankfully, most of what I write is typed, but the one thing that I still hand write are my private journals. I've been keeping them since I was 15 and I have always planned to leave them to a grandchild someday, hoping that they may be interested. But, I recently realized, that yet-to-be-born grandchild may not even be able to read it, and not just because my handwriting is poor. He or she may not even know how to read cursive.

Children may not need to learn to write in cursive (with the exception of a signature), but if they don't at least learn to read it, we as a people will quickly lose the ability to decipher many historical documents. In May, Historic Deerfield in Massachusetts ran a special series of programs on handwriting. In the advertisement for this, the museum stated: "So much of what we know about the past has been learned from handwritten documents - letters, diaries, and account books are some examples. As we become more and more distanced from handwriting, we could lose an important skill."

The world will not suffer if no one can read my journals after I die. Heck, it might be the better for it! But, there is much to be lost if we don't at least teach our children how to decipher the writing style of the past.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Do You Suffer From Writer Envy?

It's only natural that writers have other writer friends on Facebook and Twitter (and any other social media that you may be keeping up with.) Out of necessity, writers use these tools for self-promotion to promote their books, latest successes, etc.,  but it can be downright painful to watch everyone else share their daily successes while yours are few and far between (if existing at all!). In "Writer Envy," in the March/April 2012 issue of Poets and Writers, Maura Kelly shares her struggles with the green-eyed monster:

A cultural shift seems to have occurred, so that Mark Zuckerberg's site is less a place for camaraderie than a platform for self-promotion. And a ton of people I'm connected to were getting a lot more successful, whereas it seemed I was only becoming increasingly resentful. . . That kind of information shrapnel tore through my small, petty heart. . . . If Sartre were around today, I imagine he'd say that hell isn't other people as much as it is Facebook. . . .


For the first time since I'd decided to become a writer, shortly after I graduated college, I seriously considered giving up. I'd indentured myself to a life of writing, initially, because I'd thought (innocently, cluelessly) that I could put down sentences that would outlast me. No longer. And without a beyond the grace goal to live for, there didn't seem much to recommend the monkish existence of a wannabe novelist. What made it especially painful (even more than the relative poverty) was the feeling of shame I had whenever I was reminded that so many other people were living the dream.

In the end, she discovered the cure was to immerse herself in her own work, to become the best she could be and try not to worry about what everyone else was doing. She took her cue from a Faulkner quote: "Don't bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself."

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Could You Turn Your Book Into a Museum?

Could you turn your book into a museum? That is what Nobel Prize winning author Orhan Pamuk did with his book, The Museum of Innocence . You can read about it here: A Nobelist's Novel Museum

While this particular book is about a museum (and no, I haven't read it) and lends itself to this idea very easily, it is a very interesting concept. What are the worlds that we create in our stories? What objects would represent them? I have been to author's homes which have been turned into museums, and it is always interesting to see what items influenced, or made guest appearances, in their stories.

We live in a physical world. Our stories do as well. Perhaps we lack the money to create a whole museum dedicated to one of our books, but it is an idea to ponder. If we could, what would we put in it?
 Pamuk reflects on his museum: "Novels are about preserving the ways we feel, detailing the ways we hold objects, the way in which we smell something," he explained. "Even in a novel of 600 pages, the details of objects fade away, but we never forget the sentiments those objects generate. "A novel generates these sorts of sentiments in us," he added. "This museum is more about those sentiments than the story."

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Don't Quit

I was feeling seriously discouraged yesterday. I was cleaning out a closet, purging a bunch of stuff, among them items related to failed career attempts. Some of this was from ten years ago, and I am sure no one cares, or remembers, but me, but I still felt like a failure. Then, I got a present-day career disappointment. All of which left me feeling, why bother?

Then I walked into my hallway, where I have this poem hanging. I first discovered this poem when I was a sophomore in high school. I typed it up (on a typewriter!) and made a frame for it and hung it in my bedroom. It helped keep me going through some very bad days. A few years later, I came across a framed print of it at a craft show. I bought it and it has been hanging in my home ever since. Most of the time, I hardly pay attention to it, but every now and then, it is just what I need.

I can't say that it totally brightened my mood. I still feel pretty discouraged, but it serves as a good reminder to keep going, even when all seems hopeless.

Don't Quit
When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh, 
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest, if you must, but don't you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don't give up though the pace seems slow--
You may succeed with another blow.
Often the goal is nearer than,
It seems to a faint and faltering man,
Often the struggler has given up,
When he might have captured the victor's cup,
And he learned too late when the night slipped down,
How close he was to the golden crown.
Success is failure turned inside out--
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far,
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit--
It's when things seem worst that you must not quit.
- Author unknown

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Lisa See on Writing

The June 2012 issue of Writer's Digest features an interview with Lisa See. I would be unfamiliar with this writer, except for the fact that one of my oldest and dearest friends sent me a copy of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan: A Novel . She said that it reminded her of me because it talked about two women who had been friends since they were very young. While it was not something I would have usually picked up, I did enjoy it very much.



In Writer's Digest, See shares:


"I would say what I've always said to myself, which is that you've got to write what you're most passionate about. You shouldn't think that writing will change your life - but what it can do is create passion in your life . . .

"Snow Flower and the Secret Fan was my fifth book. At that point I was what they called a "critically acclaimed writer." You know what that means? You get lovely reviews and nobody reads your books. . .

"And so I had in my mind a number. I thought, OK, if I'm lucky, 5,000 people will read this - but they're going to be the right 5,000 people. I just thought, I have to tell this story, and maybe if I'm lucky it will find this small audience. . .


"My point is, what really matters is that you're telling the story you're absolutely invested in. The outside stuff, some of that is just a matter of luck, a matter of timing, a matter of the economy of the world. You have to think of yourself as an artist first. What you're creating is all that matters, and you're trying to create the best possible story, and hope the right readers will find it."






Sunday, May 13, 2012

At the End of a Major Project

My alter-ego just finished a major non-fiction project and my first book for a traditional publisher - one day before deadline. The files have been sent. I wasn't sure how I would feel at this moment - whether I'd be doing a happy dance or feel exhausted. In reality, I don't feel anything at all.

I have devoted nine months to this project, working on it almost every day. The last four and  a half months have been particularly intense. I wrote over 120,000 words in that time.

The project came to me at perhaps the most unexpected time of my life - another illustration of God's impeccable sense of humor and timing. My spiritual director said it was my "chocolate" - my reward for saying "yes" to another of God's requests that changed my life. Could be. I said "yes" to this project without having any idea how I would get it done. I went to Church and told God if he wanted me to get it done, He had to help me have the time. He must have wanted me to do it. I took advantage of every available moment, without having to take time away from my family responsibilities and I got it done.

In many ways, this project has kept me going as I have adjusted to my new life. It gave me a sense of purpose. There were days I resented it, times when I wished I could work on something else, but overall I was thankful. I've been writing professionally for eight years now. I know an opportunity like this doesn't come along every day. It may very well be my one and only traditionally published book (I'll have to see what the future holds). I did the best I could with it in the time allowed.

 And now, it's just done. And life will go on tomorrow. I know that there will be editing on this project and more work to be done, but I'm  hoping that the publisher will give me a short breather. I have other things I have neglected that I need to do. I have a stack of books to read. I think I'll relax a bit - maybe get to bed a bit earlier, and then, who knows?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Catholic Writers to Hold Conference in Arlington, Texas

The fourth annual Catholic Writers’ Conference LIVE will take place August 29-31, 2012, at the Arlington Convention Center in Arlington, TX. Sponsored by the Catholic Writer’s Guild and the Catholic Marketing Network (CMN), and held in conjunction with CMN’s annual retailer trade show, the Catholic Writers Conference LIVE provides Catholic authors with a prime opportunity to meet and share their faith with editors, publishers, fellow writers, and bookstore owners from across the globe. This year's conference will focus on “Writing and the New Evangelization.”

Speakers include Catholic publishing representatives Claudia Volkman of Servant Books/St.Anthony Messenger Press, Mike Marshall of FAITH Catholic Publishing, authors Ellen Hrkach (In Name Only and Stealing Jenny) and Patti Armstrong (Catholic Truths for Our Children, Stories for the Homeschool Heart), Ann Margaret Lewis (Murder in the Vatican: The Church Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes), and EWTN personalities Teresa Tomeo and Father Andrew Apostoli, CFR. More excellent speakers are still being confirmed.

 The conference will offer “pitch sessions,” allowing authors an opportunity to meet personally with publishing professionals and pitch their writing projects. In addition, attendees have the opportunity to sign up for critique with professional editors and writers. Information for this event can be found on the conference web site. In partnership with the Catholic New Media Conference, also taking place in the convention center, writers conference attendees will be able to attend a special track on blogging for $25. Information on this opportunity will be made to attendees upon registration.

 “It's not just writing, it's not just fellowship, it's inspiration, too!” says 2011 Conference attendee Sarah Reinhard, blogger and author of Catholic Family Fun: A Guide for the Adventurous, Overwhelmed, Creative or Clueless and several other Catholic family books. “It was great to put faces with names and personalities with suspicions. It was also great to share the Eucharist and evening meals in person with writers who inspire me, encourage me, and motivate me the rest of the year. I enjoyed it so much I'm afraid I'm addicted.”

The Catholic Writers Guild, a religious non-profit organization, sponsors both this live conference in August and an online conference in February to further its mission of promoting Catholic literature. “Our conferences are totally focused on encouraging faithful Catholics to share genuine Catholic culture and faith in their writing no matter what genre,” says CWG President Ann Margaret Lewis. “These events are integral to our mission of ‘creating a rebirth of Catholic arts and letters.”

 Registration costs $70 for CWG members, $75 for non-members and $40 for students. There's also a discounted combined membership. To register or for more information, go to http://www.catholicwritersconference.com.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Fabric for Book Lovers

I was at my favorite local quilt shop, picking up some fabric for my next quilting project when I came across this novelty fabric. I have no use for it at the moment, but my younger son had picked up the bolt and carried it around the store. I didn't notice until we were at the register and he said, "Come on, Mom, you know you want it!" So, I am now the proud owner of one yard of Timeless Treasures Fabrics - Library CM8214. Maybe I'll make a pillow out of it or save it for some later quilting project. In any event, I do like the pattern!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Home for a Book Lover

The Wall Street Journal ran an article on Jane Friedman's homeThe House That Books Built. Don't you love that bookcase? - It is called "The Tree of Life." Book references even spill into the bathrooms. An upstairs bathroom is papered in wallpaper that resembles bookshelves, displaying the spines of fiction paperbacks such as Jack Kerouac's "On the Road." Downstairs, Ms. Friedman had another bathroom's walls covered by old manuscripts and pages from books such as "The Stranger."

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Local Book Signing for Fans of Holyoke, MA, History

I've always been fascinated by these local history books published about almost every city in the country. They offer interesting photos and text and shed light on some little known aspects of local history. The Barnes and Noble in Holyoke is offering an author event April 14th at 1 pm with Craig P. Della Penna, the author of the Holyoke book. For more info on the event, please visit http://store-locator.barnesandnoble.com/event/3226415

Saving Old Books

This comes under the heading of "Really Cool Jobs."

The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article on "second careers." One of those profiled is the owner of Milagro Bookbinding. Dr. Jerome Goss was a cardiologist in his previous life. After he retired at age 69, he decided to devote himself to "saving old books." He attended a training program in Scotland for a year.

Today, he runs Milagro Bookbinding, a one-man venture specializing in restoring leather books from the 1600s and 1700s. Using only hand tools, he works on books from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day in a specially designed bindery studio on his property in Corrales, N.M. . . .

Dr. Goss says he has built up a steady clientele of book collectors and dealers who value his attention to detail and willingness to scout out rare materials. Recently he took a trip to Florence, Italy, just to buy marbled paper.


Read the full article here: Every Patient Has a Story

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Saturday Evening Post Short Story Contest

From the Saturday Evening Post;

In its nearly three centuries of existence, The Saturday Evening Post has published short fiction by a who’s who of American authors including F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, Kurt Vonnegut, Ray Bradbury, Louis L’Amour, Sinclair Lewis, Jack London, and Edgar Allan Poe. Now you have the opportunity to join that illustrious line-up by taking part in the 1st Annual Saturday Evening Post Great American Fiction Contest. The winning story will be published in the Jan/Feb 2013 edition of the magazine and on our website. The winning writer will receive a payment of $500. Five runners-up will be published on our website and receive payment of $100 each.

Entries must be character- or plot-driven stories in any genre of fiction that falls within the Post’s broad range of interest—one guided by the publication’s mission: Celebrating America, Past, Present, and Future. “We are looking for stories with universal appeal touching on shared experiences and themes that will resonate with readers from diverse backgrounds and experience,” says Joan SerVaas, publisher of The Saturday Evening Post.


Find out more here: Saturday Evening Post Fiction Contest

Friday, March 23, 2012

Shakespeare and Co. a Book Lover's Dream

Reading today's paper, I came across this article by Barbara Bernard: Paris Bookstore Shakespeare and Co. is a Bibliophile's Dream

She tells how she came to experience the bookstore and it's owner, who recently passed away:

George Whitman was delightful. He was a few years older than we, and this article reported he was 98 when he died.

He was a true bibliophile who had gained the name of “Don Quixote of the Latin Quarter.” He had little money and lived in a small apartment above the book store with his daughter Sylvia and his cat and dog. He decided more than a half century ago that he wanted to have a haven for book lovers and a place where writers and would-be writers would always be welcome.

My husband told him that I was a journalist, and he immediately introduced me to several people sitting in various spots in the bookstore, reading or chatting and interesting. All were writers, some still unpublished but not discouraged.

The bookstore was also a library, and anyone was welcome to borrow books to read. I know he sold some books because I found a modestly-priced, small collection of Shakespeare that I couldn’t resist. In the many times we visited, though, I would hardly say I found it to be a booming book-selling business.

Whitman had a number of comfortable chairs tucked around the rooms of the store, and sometimes someone would be asleep in one with a book opened flat on his chest. Other times, you might find someone in a discussion with a person sitting in a chair opposite him.

I have never seen so many books. They were stacked from floor to ceiling with a system that only Whitman and his daughter seemed to understand. If you asked for a specific book, they could amazingly find it for you. Every year when we visited, Whitman had added a stray animal, usually cats that would wander the store and were apt to climb up into your lap while you were sitting in a comfy chair perusing a book.

The store was open long hours, and Whitman was always there. He was remembered in the obituary for “his free spirit, his eccentricity and his generosity.” Written on one of the walls of the store were some of Yeats’ words which summarize these qualities: “Be not inhospitable to strangers lest they be angels in disguise.”


I also found this article about the history of the famous store: Down and Out in Paris

Thankfully, the bookstore is continuing, under the direction of Whitman's daughter Sylvia.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Book Review: Girl Reading

Girl Reading: A Novel
by Katie Ward
NY: Scribner, 2012



I had seen very positive reviews of Girl Reading: A Novel by Katie Ward and decided this was a book I definitely wanted to read. A novel about the stories behind works of art that depicted girls reading? This was a combination of several of my favorite things - history, art, and reading. When I saw a copy on the "new" shelf at my favorite local library, I grabbed it with enthusiasm. I eagerly delved into its pages.

The first chapter, based on Simone Martini's "Annunciation," painted in 1333 reminded me a bit of "Girl with a Pearl Earring" by Tracy Chevalier. The story was engrossing, but one thing kept jumping out at me. There were no quotation marks and no attributions to speakers of any kind. It was incredibly distracting. While my brain finally adjusted to the literary device and it became less noticeable, it still seemed to distract from the mission of the book - to reveal the secret lives behind the works of art.

A second question that presented itself was why this was called a novel when it was actually a collection of short stories. Admittedly, they were all united by theme, but that can be true of a short story collection as well. It wasn't until the last chapter that the stories were tied together and I understood why this was, in fact, a novel.

It turns out "Girl Reading" is actually science fiction! The last chapter takes place in 2060 when people live largely in a virtual world known as mesh. They wear i-specs almost all the time which allow them to interact with people and places in a simulated fashion. The previous chapters have been courtesy of "Sybil," a type of artificially intelligent being that could look at art (only these selected few works so far) and reveal glimpses of the mysteries existing beneath.

In many ways, the last chapter serves as a cautionary tale of what may happen if we continue to neglect real places and people in order to cultivate virtual relationships. In this future world, no one gets to experience the real art anymore. It is only available virtually so that it may be "preserved," rather than experienced up close.

"Girl Reading" was billed as inventive and unique. This it certainly was. I can see it as a good Book Club read - Ward touches on many feminist issues such as pregnancy as a result of rape, lesbianism, and a young girl coming into her sexuality. It would certainly foster much debate. I found this novel intriguing, if not what I expected. It definitely made me think.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Be the Invisible Author!

I've been reading the March/April 2012 issue of Writer's Digest. In "5 Story Mistakes Even Good Writers Make," Steven James writes, "Believe it or not, you don't want readers to admire your writing: You want them to be so engaged in the story itself that they don't notice the way you use words to shape it."

The story is what matters, and while all readers appreciate good writing, they don't want to be beat over the head with it. Anything that takes the reader out of the story is bad. I've had that experience recently with two books I've read. One author was so determined to make sure that the story took place in a given year that he threw in all sorts of unnecessary facts about that year. It took me out of what was otherwise a very good tale. A second book doesn't use quotation marks or attribute statements to characters. While I eventually adjusted to that, it was very disconcerting and detracted from the story.

As a reader, I want to lose myself in a story, escape from the world for a while. As a writer, I want to take this advice to heart. I should be the invisible author, weaving a memorable story without ever showing my face.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Some Writing Advice from Tom Clancy

I recently read the 1992 version of The Writer's Digest Handbook of Novel Writing (I picked it up in a library - there is a 1998 version on Amazon, but I don't think it is the same book.) It is basically a collection of articles that had appeared within the pages of Writer's Digest back in the day. While some of the advice has definitely changed, especially when it comes to how the publishing world works, the writing advice remains valid.

I liked this passage by Tom Clancy:

The only way to write is to write. You can dream about writing, make notes, make outlines, or sketch out your characters all you want, but the book will not get written until you write it. . . Success is a finished book, a stack of pages each of which is filled with words. If you reach that point, you have won a victory over yourself no less impressive than sailing single-handed around the world. Maybe you'll get published. Maybe you won't. . . What success really means, I think, is looking failure in the face and tossing the dice anyway. You may be the only person who ever knows how the dice come up, but in that knowledge you have something that millions of people will never have - because they were afraid to try.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

This is a lovely short animated film for anyone who loves books or libraries! It won the Oscar for the Best Short Animated Film.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Catholic Writer's Guild is Looking for Editors

The Catholic Writer's Guild is creating a database of editors to provide for its members. You don't need to be Catholic to be listed, but you need to be supportive of Catholic writing. If you would like to be included, please fill out this survey:

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/RGZBXKV.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Are You Tarcher/Penguin's Next Top Artist?

One of my favorite books on nurturing creativity is The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of its publication, Tarcher/Penguin Books is offering a National Creativity Competition!

It is open to any writer with an unpublished fiction or nonfiction manuscript and there are no entry fees. The deadline is March 2nd. Find out more at www.TarcherTopArtist.com.

Register for the FREE Online Catholic Writer's Conference

Just a reminder that the Catholic Writers Conference Online is March 17-31 at http://catholicwritersconference.com. This is a free online writers conference covering everything from writing to publishing to marketing. We will have the workshop section, where you have a week to work in forum on various topics, from March 17-24. March 24-31 will be devoted to one-hour informational chats. Remember, the conference is here for you--you can attend as much or as little as you wish and your schedule allows.

If you have NOT attended in the past two years, then you need to register before March 1. Registration is easy. Go to http://catholicwritersconference.com and click on Register in the banner area (lower left of the banner, above the menu.) (Please note that being registered with the Catholic Writers Guild does not automatically register you for the conference. They are two different websites.)