Thursday, December 10, 2015

Update on Works in Progress

Another National Novel Writing Month is in the books - I hope all of you who undertook it achieved at least some writing progress.

My project for this month (plus a few days in December) was to work on two book projects. After I had finished The Rose Ring, my boys wanted me to write an action/adventure story with them. It took over two years of working on it every once in a while, and then it needed to be edited and formatted. This was really their story - I served mostly as a scribe and editor. The story ended up being about 20,000 words. During the past month, I did the final edits, proofread and formatted and gave them each a copy on St. Nicholas' Day as an early Christmas present:

One of them wants to write a sequel. I don't know if that will ever happen, but it was one of those projects that was fun to do and I'm glad that they can have a physical reminder of the experience.

As for my own project, my task was to revise the novel I finished several months ago. I started by reading Revision and Self Editing for Publication: Techniques for Transforming Your First Draft into a Novel that Sells which I found to be very helpful. It covers character development, plot and structure, scenes, dialogue and what to do on each read-through.

I finished my editing earlier this week and have sent the manuscript to three fellow writers to beta-read. I've asked them to have comments back by January 15th, so I will devote the next month to other projects and then, hopefully, return to put the finishing touches on this story. With any kind of luck, book #3 will be published in 2016.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

NaNoWriMo - Sometimes Life Imitates Art

Seven years ago, I embarked on my first National Novel Writing Month Adventure, writing a story that would ultimately become my first novel, Through the Open Window. In that novel, librarian Lucy Lyons finds a flyer advertising "National Novel Writing Month" at the East Longmeadow, MA library and decides to take the plunge. There is a writing group that meets at the library regularly during the month, which is led by Mike, who soon begins to take an interest in Lucy. At the time that I wrote that novel, there was no such group at the library, nor has there been in the intervening years.

But, yesterday, as I checked out my books at the East Longmeadow library, there was a National Novel Writing Month flyer right by the circulation desk. They are having free coffee and writing hours on Friday, November 6; Saturday, November 14; and Thursday, November 19, from 1 - 3 pm, as well as Mondays, November 23 & November 30 from 5:30 - 7:30 pm. I couldn't help but smile!

So, if you are looking for a novel about NaNoWriMo, please check out Through the Open Window, and to all of you taking the plunge this year, I wish you the best of luck and happy writing!

 As for me, the goal for my November is to revise novel number 3, which I started last November and finished in the summer.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Rose Ring is on the Catholic Writer's Guild Book Blast

Each month, the Catholic Writer's Guild chooses one book to "Book Blast" - featuring it on blogs, tweets, etc. This month, "The Rose Ring" was the lucky winner! But you don't need to be a member of the writer's guild to take part. If you'd like to help promote my book, please share a tweet or Facebook update or write a blog post to run this Saturday 8/22/15. I'd be so thankful!

Here is the relevant info to share:

It has the Catholic Writer's Guild Seal of Approval

Tweet or FB share: The Rose Ring - A heartwarming love story about the power of forgiveness. ‪#‎Catholic‬ ‪#‎fiction‬ ‪#‎romance‬

Currently on sale on Amazon - $7.99 on paperback and $.99 on Kindle

My website is:

The full description of the book:

Left at the altar by Zach Richards ten years ago, Julia Manning has buried her pain by leading a quiet life working at a bookstore, helping her sister, visiting residents at a local nursing home, and attempting to be a good daughter. When Zach suddenly arrives back in town and her overbearing mother fixes her up with the last man on earth she would ever want to date, Julia is forced to face her past, whether she wants to or not. A resident at St. Francis Nursing Home, Elizabeth Phelps suffers from dementia and becomes convinced that a ring Julia is wearing is actually her engagement ring from her beloved Joseph, who is away fighting in World War II. As Elizabeth waits for his return, Julia becomes determined to discover the mysterious story behind the ring and to do whatever she can to help Elizabeth heal. The Rose Ring is a gentle story of forgiveness and the power of love to overcome even the greatest obstacles.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Book Review: Libraries

Libraries (Roads Reflections) is a visual delight for anyone who loves libraries. An oversized coffee table book, it contains few words - only a paragraph about each library rendered in several languages, but the incredible photos do a great deal of talking.

Libraries from around the world from times medieval to modern are featured, with an emphasis on the unique architecture of each one. One can't help but wish it were possible to step into the pages and actually visit these beautiful locations. It definitely could prompt a bibliophile to add to one's list of dream places to visit in a lifetime.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Movie Review : The Rewrite

In the romantic comedy The Rewrite, Hugh Grant plays a screenwriter who won an Oscar fifteen years ago, but now is unemployed and broke. His agent arranges for him to take a job teaching screenwriting in a university in upstate New York. It's the last thing he wants to do, but he has no choice. There, he gets off to a bad start, sleeping with one of his students and insulting a tenured formidable member of his department, played by the amazing Allison Janney, by telling her he hates Jane Austen, her area of expertise (a fact made all the more funny due to Grant's prior role in the Austen classic "Sense and Sensibility"). He then meets a single mom played by Marisa Tomei who both challenges him and brings out the best in him. While it definitely has some morally questionable moments, this is a laugh-out-loud funny movie, filled with great supporting characters, and is ultimately a story of redemption. Those who have ever dreamed of becoming a screenwriter will find it especially enjoyable. It is unrated, but would probably be PG-13 for one swear and sexual suggestions.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Novel Living: Collecting, Decorating, and Crafting with Books

"Novel Living: Collecting, Decorating and Crafting with Books" is a treasure for anyone who loves books, both to read and as an artistic object. Lisa Occhipinti discusses collecting books, creating a library, preserving and conserving, and crafting with books. The accompanying illustrations add to the beauty of the text and will have any bibliophile smiling with delight.

I like that she advocates both keeping books and giving them away. "A book on your shelf is tangible, finite, and yours alone, and keeping it is the surest way to preserve its power." She acknowledges, however, that a personal library is a "living thing, always evolving, growing, and shedding, only to expand again. Thinning out is a necessary part of collecting books and maintaining a library.

I loved her various ideas on how to shelve and display books and while I don't have the energy to take on the book art projects she describes, I'm now eager to find some book art to liven up my home. Novel Living is very inspiring.

Monday, February 16, 2015

#ShowUsYourList My Picks in Catholic Fiction

With so many people complaining about a certain movie currently in the theaters, Erin Cupp has challenged Catholic bloggers to post their lists of recommended books/movies on Shrove Tuesday a.ka. Mardi Gras with the hashtag #ShowUsYourList. "Blog a list of at least three works of quality fiction that illustrate truth, beauty and goodness.  These can be books, movies, podcasts, whatever, but they MUST BE ENTERTAINING" and then challenge those complaining about the current state of fiction to promote what is good!

So, these are my picks:

Rachel's Contrition (Chisel & Cross Books)
 - by Michele Buckman - winner of the Catholic Arts and Letters Award a few years ago, this is hands down the best Catholic fiction I've ever read. I read it twice and both times was riveted.

Rachel Winters had nothing, won it all, and then lost everythingAfter the death of her daughter, grief-spawned delusions cause Rachel to lose her husband, her home, and custody of her son.
Help arrives from two unlikely sources: a young teen, Lilly, battling her own demons, and a tattered holy card depicting Saint Therese of Lisieux.

As Rachel grows closer to Lilly and comes to know Saint Therese, unbidden memories from her edgy past reveal fearful mysteries of seduction, madness, and murder . . . and a truth that will haunt her forever.

A.K.A. Genius
and Genius Under Construction
 by Marilee Haynes -  These books are just pure fun - designed for Middle Schoolers but adults will laugh out loud, too, especially if you happen to have pre-teen or teen boys in your life.

Thirteen-year-old Gabe Carpenter is just like any other middle-school boy at St. Jude Academy...well, except for the fact that based on his scores on some seventh grade test, he is considered a "genius" and is placed in an enrichment class with other gifted students. But he sure doesn't seem like a genius-after all, he can't even open his own locker and his brain stops functioning when Becca, his sister's best friend, comes around. 

As if these problems aren't enough to deal with, he is convinced that one of his arms is longer than the other, he has yet to grow a mustache, and his second best friend is mad at him. Even worse, his nervousness causes some pretty embarrassing bodily functions. And at home, his dad expects him to be some kind of basketball star athlete instead of a science nerd who predicts the weather. 

Join Gabe as he navigates the trying times of middle-school, wonders what it means to have brains, and learns what it truly means to be himself.

The Life I Dreamed
 by Kari Burke - Unlike so much Catholic fiction which can sometimes be preachy and unrealistic, this book presents a mother truly struggling with her vocation. I could definitely relate.

Motherhood is a gift.
Children are a blessing.
Marriage is a sacrament.
Emmy O’Brien knows all that. There was even a time she fought to promote those very values and beliefs. After having four children in rapid succession though, the demands of home and family have blurred her strong convictions. Tired, overwhelmed, and dissatisfied much of the time, she struggles each day to meet the needs of those around her. When her husband receives a phone call from a 16 year old girl, unexpectedly pregnant and suddenly homeless, Emmy’s world is turned upside down and she must now decide, are her old-fashioned values and beliefs still worth fighting for?

Catholic Philosopher Chick Makes Her D├ębut
  by Regina Doman and Rebecca Bratten Weiss  - this is another fun book - the intellectual Catholic woman's chick lit. Brush up on your Aquinas and Latin and then dig in for some great fun. A sequel, Catholic Philosopher Chick Comes on Strong
is now also available.

Traveling to Texas to study philosophy, Catelyn Frank encounters a plentitude of dilemmas, including the roommate from hell, a classful of seven chauvinistic men, and a bewildering feeling that the Perfect Guy is close at hand...

But with her trusty Summa, the prayers of the Angelic Doctor, and her eclectic friends, Cate is sure she can win her classmates' respect--even when they try to use her beloved Aquinas against her!

Obviously, I haven't read all the Catholic fiction out there. I'm sure the other #ShowUsYourList picks will feature some excellent books. I would be incredibly honored if someone mentioned one that I have written! The point is that there are wonderful books out there that there are definitely worth reading and movies worth watching. You just need to look for them! Ignore the bad stuff and search for the good!