Friday, November 22, 2013

Looking for an Interesting Idea for Your Next Story?

I love looking through old newspapers both for the historical portrait that they offer as well as their potential for story ideas. Newspapers.com is a new service which offers archives of many different papers from the 1700s to now - imagine the possibilities! It is a fee-based service, but it does offer a 7 day trial period. If you are a history buff or a writer searching for your next great idea, it might be worth a look.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie!

I saw this tote bag at a bookstore recently and burst out laughing. Turns out there is a whole CafePress shop dedicated to the merchandise! http://www.cafepress.com/+i-like-big-books-and-i-cannot-lie+gifts


Thursday, October 17, 2013

GrammoWriMo

I haven't posted on this blog in a while, but I saw this today and thought it was an interesting concept. Grammarly.com is trying to do a group National Novel Writing Month, in which different writers each add 800 words to a story. You have until October 25th to sign up to take part. Find out more at GrammoWriMo: Let's Get Ready to Write

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Joy of Having Written

Please welcome this guest post by Karina Fabian, author of the new book, Mind Over Psyche.

Every now and then, we have Tabata week at the gym I attend. If you don’t know Tabata, think of it as being in labor: 20 seconds of hard pushing and pain, followed by ten seconds of rest. Of course, drugs are discouraged and your trainer might not appreciate it if you snarl, “This is your fault!” but it only lasts an hour, and then you’re done until the next day. Sometimes, I enjoy going to the gym, but it had been a crazy week, anyway, and my motivation was low, even less so for Tabata, but I went. Why? Even though I didn’t look forward to going, I enjoyed having gone.

That’s how it goes with writing sometimes. There are plenty of times when I don’t feel like writing. Sometimes, other things in life seem much more important, whether planning a surprise for my husband’s retirement or doing dishes. Sometimes, it’s looking at my Amazon sales and realizing that, should something horrible happen to Rob, I would not be able to support my family on my writing. Rarely, but on occasion, a bad review or comment from someone will make me wonder why I bother. But why I bother in those moments is the same reason I bother to go to the gym: Even if I don’t want to write, I invariably enjoy having written.

There’s a definite satisfaction in a scene well crafted, a character who comes alive on the keyboard, or a sentence that makes your eyes sting with its poignancy. (Just wrote one of those today, in fact.) There’s getting that message out of the blue from a reader saying they loved my book, or from an editor asking when the next story is coming. There’s that hope that this story, this novel, will be the one to break through—but of course, that will never happen if I don’t write it. I know, too, that I’m in this for the long term. I love writing. I love having written, and I love going back over my own stories and marveling anew at the adventures I lived without ever leaving my chair.

After eight months at the gym, including four or five weeks of Tabata, I’ve lost 25 pounds. That puts me at just under 145. One of the ladies asked me what my ultimate goal was. I suppose I could go for 120 or 125, which is what my weight from my teens to my early thirties, but I realize that it doesn’t matter as much to me, any longer. Maybe I’ll get there, but if I can stay around 140 and keep going with my exercising, then I’m satisfied.

You know, I have to keep that same attitude with my writing. Someday, I may make the NYT best-seller list. I may find my Amazon sales grow enough to let my husband quit his day job. But if that never happens, then if I can keep writing and producing and find readers who love my work, then I’m satisfied. Even when my motivation is low, and things around me discourage me from my craft, I keep pounding away at those words, the same way I pound away at the weights (minus the labor-like groaning, of course.)

After all, the real satisfaction is in having written. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Remember These?

I was sitting at the computer card catalogue at my local library today and reached for a piece of scrap paper to write the call number on. When I flipped it over, I realized that this was what I was writing on - a small piece of library history.


Friday, August 30, 2013

Paying it Forward in Your Writing Career

I used Grammarly to grammar check this post, because even someone who edits for a living can use a second set of eyes.

No doubt most of you are familiar with the concept of “Paying it Forward.” In Catholic terms, it could be considered just good old-fashioned generosity. We are kind to others and try to help others, whether or not we receive any repayment for it. We trust that God will treat us with the same generosity we show towards others.

How, then, can we pay it forward in our writing careers? In the July/August 2013 issue of Writer’s Digest, thriller and young adult author Jordan Dane shares how she keeps a framed sticky note on her desk. It has one word on it: “Fantastic.”  It was written by bestselling author Sharon Sala who encouraged Dane and helped find her an agent. This is a beautiful example of paying it forward. Dane writes, “When I asked how I could repay her kindness, she said, ‘Do the same for someone else.’”


Not all of us are bestselling authors with the power of connecting a fledgling writer to an agent, but we all have the power to offer encouragement and support to our fellow writers. We can help other writers in a variety of ways.


Here are five ways to Pay it Forward:


1)      Write a (Kind) Review – I’ve written a lot of reviews in my life and I can usually find something kind to say about a book.  I’m not saying you should give it five stars if it doesn’t deserve it, but have an open mind and a kind pen. As writers, we can appreciate the hard work that goes into writing a book. Treat others’ works the way you want your latest book to be treated. If you truly cannot say something kind, sometimes the best thing to do is not review it. (This is usually the tactic I take). There are plenty of good books out there to promote. There is no reason to tear someone down.


2)      Buy a book – We all appreciate when someone buys our books. Especially now, with Kindle versions, it is often possible to spend 99 cents and support an author. Whether you intend to read the book or not, the price of a cup of coffee or a candy bar can go a long way in helping another author.


3)      Be a beta reader. This is where those criticism tools can really come in handy. If someone asks you to read and comment on her work in progress, it is a great honor. Yes, it is time consuming, but we can all use the honest feedback at the point in the story-writing process when one can actually make changes.


4)      Use Social Media to help promote other writings – I don’t know about you, but I hate shameless self-promotion. I find promoting other efforts much easier to do. So, go ahead and share about that great book you just read or about another author’s media interview or article.


5)      Connect writers with those who can help them. As I stated at the beginning, we don’t all have the power to introduce someone to an agent, but we can make the connections we do have. As our own careers progress, those connections become greater.


Living generously is good for the soul and for one’s career. Pay it forward in your writing career and you’ll be happy you did.
 

Monday, August 26, 2013

A Literary Wedding Dress

Looking for a different sort of wedding dress? How about one made of book pages? That's what designer Jennifer Pritchard Couchman did with this dress. Read more about it at The Dress Made of Books.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Review of "The Rose Ring" by Reader's Favorite

I submitted "The Rose Ring" to Reader's Favorite a while ago for review. They offer quick turnaround on reviews if you pay for them, but I chose to utilize the free service. I had used it with "Through the Open Window" and was pleased with the service, and I was just as pleased this time around. As a writer it is wonderful to know that someone has read and appreciated something one has written. And seeing that I designed the cover as well, I was gratified that she found it attractive. Truly, this review made my day.

Reviewer Brenda Casto had this to say.

The Rose Ring by Anne Faye is certainly a book with a pretty cover, but the story that unfolds is emotionally charged, keeping me riveted until the end. Julia Manning has carried the hurt of being left at the altar ten years ago by her then fiancee Zach Richards. To get through her days she works as an assistant manager at a bookstore and also volunteers to read at a local nursing home. Julia's mother pushes her to find a man and settle down and even fixes her up with Steve, a man who had a crush on Julia years ago. As the relationship between Julia and Steve starts to develop, Zach comes back into the picture, and Julia realizes she still has feelings for him. Meanwhile Elizabeth Phelps, a dementia patient at the nursing home sees Julia wearing a rose ring that she is convinced was her engagement ring given to her by the love of her life Joseph Wynn. As Julia befriends Elizabeth she can't help but wonder about the story of Joseph, and whether the ring might in fact be Elizabeth's and if so why she and Joseph never married. As Julia solves the mystery of Elizabeth and Joseph's story she will also figure out what path she should take for her future.

Anne Faye writes a contemporary story, that also has a firm foot in the past. While I enjoyed Julia's story it was the story of Elizabeth and Joe that was so emotionally charged I couldn't put it down. Journal entries and the letters that Joe wrote to Elizabeth transported me back to the mid-forties. The longing and hope that Elizabeth had as she gets each letter from Joe,and the excruciating news that she finally got took my breath away. Then the author provides a twist that totally blindsided me, but also allowed me to understand the need that Elizabeth had for granting forgiveness!

I honestly felt the emotions flow off the pages. The author does a wonderful job of transitioning between the past and present, providing two stories that ultimately tie together in the end providing a few life lessons along the way! The Rose Ring was far from predictable, providing a very satisfying story. I became so consumed by it I actually read it in one sitting. A heart touching story with characters that I won't forget! 



 

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Value of a Story

I came across this quote in A Step of Faith: A Novel (Walk) by Richard Paul Evans:



There are far too many people for us to think about each of them during our short stay on earth - like the thousands of books in a library we haven't time to read in an afternoon. But this is no excuse to cease browsing. For every now and then, we find one book that reaches us deep inside and introduces us to ourselves. And, in someone else's story, we come to understand our own.



Sunday, June 30, 2013

I'm so pleased to announce that The Rose Ring has been awarded the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval!



Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Odyssey Bookshop - My Favorite Independent Bookshop

My favorite independent bookstore is Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley, MA. I get to browse there on a regular basis due to a standing commitment in the beautiful. Village Commons where it is located. It is always something to look forward to. When I was there a couple weeks ago, I snapped this photo of their sign. I really think it is a work of art! If you ever happen to be in South Hadley, this bookstore is one place worth checking out!


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Prominent Catholic Writers to Speak at CWG’s Catholic Writers Conference in New Jersey



Several prominent Catholic writers will speak at the fifth annual Catholic Writers’ Conference LIVE taking place August 7-9, 2013, at the Garden State Exhibit Center in Somerset, NJ. 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 writers with a prime opportunity to meet and share their faith with editors, publishers, fellow writers, and bookstore owners from across the globe. The theme of this year's conference is “The Year of Faith.”

Speakers at this year’s conference include authors Patti Armstrong (STORIES FOR THE HOMESCHOOL HEART), Teresa Tomeo (Ave Maria Radio, WRAPPED UP, EXTREME MAKEOVER), Michelle Buckman (RACHEL’S CONTRITION, MY BEAUTIFUL DISASTER), Randy Hain (THE INTEGRATED CATHOLIC LIFE), Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle (EWTN, CATHOLIC PRAYER BOOK FOR MOTHERS), Ellen Gable Hrkach (STEALING JENNY), Regina Doman (RAPUNZEL LET DOWN), author, blogger and podcaster Pat Gohn (BLESSED, BEAUTIFUL, AND BODACIOUS) and many others.

The conference will give authors an opportunity to meet personally with publishing professionals and pitch their writing projects. Some participating publishers are Ignatius Press, Full Quiver Publishing, Ave Maria Press, Christus Publishing, Tuscany Press and Servant Books.  In addition, attendees have the opportunity to sign up for critique workshop with award-wining short fiction writer Arthur Powers, and attend a writing workshop with award-winning novelist Michelle Buckman. Information for these events can be found on the conference web site.

Maurice Prater of Missionaries of the Holy Family attended in 2012, and he says he did not know what to expect at first. “But, what I gained from attending the Catholic Writers Conference, in terms of personal contacts and what I learned, has proven to be one of the best decisions I have ever made." Author Ann Frailey, concurs. “I met writers, publishers, artists and a whole host of other people whose mission it is to transmit the message of truth and hope to the world in a living, vibrant manner.  It was an exciting adventure!”

The Catholic Writers Guild, a religious non-profit organization affiliated with the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, sponsors this conference in August, an online conference in March, and a writers' retreat in October to further its mission of promoting Catholic literature. "With members all over North America, these events bring our diverse membership together for fellowship and networking to promote our mission of creating a rebirth of Catholic arts and letters," says CWG President and award-winning novelist Ellen Gable Hrkach.

Registration costs $80 for CWG members, $85 for non-members and $45 for students. There's also a discounted combined membership. To register or for more information, go to http://www.catholicwritersconference.com.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

What You are Really Doing When You Buy a Book

A friend of mine posted this image on Facebook today. It's about buying a piece of art, but the same holds true for buying a book as well. Thank you to those who allow me to keep creating.


Monday, June 17, 2013

Private Tours of Edith Wharton's Library

I had the pleasure of visiting The Mount several (many!) years ago. At the time, it had fallen into disrepair and was undergoing extensive renovations, but you could definitely see the beauty. I'm sure that now it is truly breathtaking. I saw this advertised online today and must say that this has been added to my dream to-do list. A Private Library Tour at the Mount

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Catholic Imagination and You

Gene Logan has this to say about The Catholic Imagination:

Such an imagination is one that stems from faith – from a belief so powerful that it demands expression. It is something that needs to be shared in prose or poetry or any art form that bears witness to Our Lord’s presence in this world.

In prose writing, God’s interaction in human nature is often couched by the writer in a story that imitates life in a moving and plausible way. It is identifiable and relates to the readers as something familiar and reassuring about their faith and the nearness of God in their lives.

The leap of faith that sparks the Catholic imagination is instilled in artist. It inspires the desire to imitate that way of life embedded in God’s love and trust. It is a faith that is freely embraced and yearns to be given voice by the writer in words or more generally by the artist in some other form.

Please read the full post at The Catholic Imagination and You


Sunday, June 9, 2013

When Writing Loses Its Joy

Billy Coffey has an interesting guest post on Rachelle Gardner's blog: The One Thing Every Writer Needs

He writes:
Writing no longer brought me joy.

To admit that feels like a confession. Even a week later, I find I cannot not write those six words straight through. My pen stopped between “longer” and “brought.” My hand went to my forehead, as though I was trying to hide myself. Writing has become a pillar of my life over the years, just as much as family and faith. To have one of those pillars shake and buckle was not an easy thing to endure. Writing is what I do. In many ways, it’s who I am. To find the delight and purpose gone from it brought a sense of hollowness. . . 

There are few callings higher than that of a writer. We inspire through story. We remind others of truths that have defined humanity since the beginning. We provide a necessary break from the monotony of the everyday. We create worlds. The words we string together serve an invaluable function: They become a mirror the reader holds to himself. They show us not how we are so different from one another, but how we are so much the same.

Perhaps it is because that calling is so high that it is also so fraught with peril. Writing is not for the weak or timid. It requires courage to face the page every day. To send out queries that may not even be answered, to pour yourself into a story that may or may not be read, and to lay yourself bare to a world that may only reject you.

The full post is definitely worth reading. It is hard to keep pursuing any creative venture when the world rejects or ignores your years of effort. Why bother to keep at it? It is a question every artist must face on a regular basis, unless of course you are one of the blessed who has achieved worldly success. Perhaps even then one still asks the existential question of "Does what I do matter?" If the answer is "yes," than the only choice is to keep at it, whether the world ever notices or not. 


Sunday, May 19, 2013

A Place of Reading: Three Centuries of Reading in America

Neilson Library at Smith College in Northampton, MA is currently featuring an exhibit called A Place of Reading: Three Centuries of Reading in America.

This exhibition illuminates the rich history of reading in America that showcases—through books, broadsides, woodcuts, etchings, lithographs, watercolors, etc.—the places and events that particularly prompted the act of reading. By exhibiting these material and visual objects of the past, and in exploring the geography of reading, we hope to raise new questions—and answers—about readers and reading in America. A Place of Reading is a collaboration between the Smith College Mortimer Rare Book Room and the Center for Historic American Visual Culture at the American Antiquarian Society , which has loaned most of the items on display. Main themes of the exhibition include: the Colonial Home; Revolutionary Taverns; North/South/East/West: Newspapers, Periodicals, and the Popular Press; and Reading at the Front: The Civil War. In addition, a section called “Caught in the Act” highlights other places of reading, such as the kitchen, bedroom, bath, prisons, and public spaces.
 

To find out more, please visit A Place of Reading

There is also a corresponding on-line exhibition: http://www.americanantiquarian.org/Exhibitions/Reading/contents.htm

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Library Wishlists

I received the Friends of the East Longmeadow newsletter via email a few days ago. In it was a link to their Library Wishlist. This new site allows libraries to create "wish lists" and solicit donations for improvements they would like to make to their library. Check out http://www.librarywishlist.com to search for your favorite library and ways that you can help!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

More Adventures in Cemetery Exploration

Last week my explorations took me to the Springfield (MA) Cemetery where I came across this stone. I'm pretty sure that this is the oldest one I've ever found - it dates from 1664.

Another stone truly caught my interest however. It was almost as old - unfortunately the sun was very bright and the deep shadows wouldn't allow me to capture a good photo, but in front of it was a very modern statue with some flowers. Someone remembered that person - after all these years. I wonder what that story is.


Sunday, May 5, 2013

How (Not) to Record an Audio Book

If you'd like to read all the mistakes I made while trying to record an audio version of The Rose Ring, please read my post for the Catholic Writer's Guild: How (Not) to Record an Audio Book

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

An Audio Version of The Rose Ring

The saga of how this audio book got made is quite the comedy of errors, which I am sharing on the Catholic Writer's Guild blog this weekend. The best laid plans as they say . . .

But, here it is, The Rose Ring, read by yours truly. It's a huge file, but it works!



The Rose Ring Audio Version









Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Through the Open Window is at the Library!

Back when Through the Open Window came out, I sent copies to both the East Longmeadow and Springfield (MA) Main Library. The East Longmeadow library plays a prominent role in the story and the main characters also take a visit to the Springfield Quadrangle (of which the Springfield Library is a part). I had checked a while later and the book wasn't listed in the on-line catalog so I figured both libraries had simply given the book away. I hoped they found a good home.


Fast-forward three years. Just for fun, I plugged my name into the Cwmars catalog and lo and behold, there it was at the Springfield Library. Of course, I needed to go take a trip to visit my book. I may never see one of my books in a bookstore, but I got to see one at a library! I even checked it out! (I plan to bring it back tomorrow.)







Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Rose Ring, Chapter Six



Julia entered the nursing home, signed in on the volunteer form, and then, as was her custom, made her way to the chapel on the first floor. Ever since she had started volunteering there several years earlier, she had made a habit of stopping by to pay a short visit before embarking on her visits. Part of it was upbringing. Her mother took her to visits to Church all the time when she was little. They would go, spend a few minutes, light a candle and pray. She had always loved the quiet and peace she had found in those moments.
Part of it was fear. She loved to come and visit the residents, read to them, and listen to their stories. It gave her life a small sense of purpose and she was happy to help, but it took all of her courage to walk into those rooms. As she herself aged, she found it even harder. No longer was she an indestructible young woman. Well into her thirties, she knew that the years passed by like a speeding train and that this was what life might hold for you as you headed for your final destination. In the resident’s faces, she saw her own future. Time passed quickly and it scared her to death.
And so, she sat in the quiet and prayed for the strength to help bring some comfort to those who were lonely and suffering. She then picked up her stack of books and climbed the stairs to the third floor.
At the top of the stairs, she punched in the security code, unlocking the door, and entered the dementia ward. This was the hardest floor to visit, but Sr. Elaine, the volunteer coordinator, had assigned her one resident up here to visit with.
Julia rushed through the entry room. A few residents sat near the nurse’s station. Some stared into space. Others cried out to her, thinking her some long-lost friend or relative coming to visit. She kept her head down, avoiding eye contact. She never knew how to respond.
“Good evening, Julia.” Charlie, the nurse on duty, greeted her in his polite southern drawl. “How nice of you to join us this evening.”
“How are you doing tonight?”
“Can’t complain,” he smiled. “It’s a beautiful day and praise the Lord, I’m here to see it.”
“I don’t know how you do it. Every time I see you, you’re always so happy.” She looked around at the residents. “I wouldn’t be able to do it.”
“God’s in his heaven. What do I have to be sad about? My being sad isn’t going to help these people any.” Charlie radiated joy. Julia couldn’t help but smile.
“Going to see Miss Jennie?” he asked.
“Yes, sir.”
“She’ll be happy to see you. It’s the highlight of her day when you come.”
“That’s good to hear.”
Jennie, short for Eugenie, had been a stage actress when she was young. She had a  special love of English literature. It was for this reason that Sr. Elaine felt that Julia would be the perfect volunteer to visit with her.  Jennie never said much, nor did she remember Julia from visit to visit, but twice a week she would come and introduce herself and read to her from Jane Austen or Shakespeare and Jennie would close her eyes and smile and sometimes say the lines she had long ago memorized out loud, accompanying Julia while she read.
They were currently making their way through Sense and Sensibility. Julia was more than happy to spend some time reading about the plight of the Dashwood sisters. After reading for almost an hour, Julia wrapped up chapter eight and closed the book.
“That’s all we have time for this evening. I’ll see you on Thursday.”
“Oh, yes, dear, that would be nice.”
As Julia exited the room, she looked back and saw Jennie staring out the window at the evening sky. Julia walked with a purposeful stride toward the exit.
“See you next time,” Charlie beamed at her.
“Not if I see you first,” Julia said. Charlie laughed.
She was almost to the door when a hand reached out and grabbed her right arm.
“Where did you get my ring?”
Julia tried to release her arm to no avail. She looked up into the dark eyes of the white-haired woman who had latched onto her with a force completely incompatible with her frail appearance.
“I asked you, where did you get that ring?”
“It was my grandmother’s,” Julia stammered.
“No, it most certainly was not. It is mine. Joe gave me that ring.”
“I’m sorry. I don’t know what you are talking about.” She still couldn’t loosen the woman’s grip on her arm.
“Miss Elizabeth, you need to calm down.” Julia was so relieved to hear Charlie’s voice. “Let go of her arm.”
“But, she stole my ring.”
“No, she didn’t. It’s her ring. Please let her go.”
Julia relaxed as Elizabeth released her powerful grip.
“My Joe gave me that ring. He’s going to come back for me,” she insisted.
“I’m sorry,” Julia said as she started slowly backing up.
When she felt she was at a safe distance, she spoke to Charlie.
“Thank you. I didn’t know what to do.”
“Is your arm alright? It looked like she was squeezing mighty tight.”
Julia rubbed it. “Yeah, it will be fine.” She looked over at Elizabeth, who was sobbing with her head in her hands. “Will she be okay?”
“She’ll be fine. Her anger has passed. She’s just sad now.”
“I feel so bad. I didn’t mean to upset her.” She fingered her ring. “She must have had a ring that looked like this.”
“Don’t worry about it. Tomorrow, she won’t even remember.”
“Somehow, that doesn’t really make it better, does it?”
“No,” Charlie shook his head, “I suppose it doesn’t.”
“Do you know who Joe is?” Julia asked. “Was he her husband?”
“No, I’ve never heard her mention him before. She never married. No family ever comes to see her.” He paused. “No one ever comes to see her.”
“That is so sad.”
“That’s just the way it is – even with the ones who do have families. This floor doesn’t get a whole lot of visitors.”
Julia took a last look at Elizabeth, who was slumped over in her chair, and glanced at her watch. “I need to be going. I’m late for my next visit on the second floor.”
“Let me walk you to the door,” Charlie offered.
Julia nodded and they made their way to the exit. As they walked by Elizabeth, Julia heard her whisper through her tears. “That ring is mine. I don’t know who you are or how you got it, but when the war is over, Joe will come home to me.”