Monday, June 21, 2021

Excerpt from The Lacemaker: A Novel of St. Zelie Martin

 

Friday, December 15, 1876

It is nearly midnight and Louis is sleeping. I’m glad of it. I know that his heart is hurting and that I am the cause. And yet, what can I do? This illness is not of my making. I would not have chosen it. It hurts me a great deal to watch Louis and my children suffer, more even than the pain the tumor causes me. Emotional pain and physical pain are often two sides of the same coin. The emotional pain digs deeper. It sets its tendrils in the mind and heart and does not let go.

I went to the doctor today. I had put it off as long as I could. I had been taking the medicine my brother Isidore had recommended, but the pain and swelling kept getting worse. I tried to keep my worry to myself. There was no need to concern anyone before that concern was unavoidable. Now, my whole side is numb and there is a dull ache on the right side of the swelling. I cannot lie on that side anymore.

I doubted that there was anything that the doctor could do for me, but I felt I owed it to my family to make the effort. My suspicions were confirmed. He asked me if I’d be willing to have an operation. I told him that I would but that I felt that such an operation would only shorten my life rather than lengthen it or offer any relief. He agreed with my assessment. I asked him if there were even a one in a hundred chance that there would be a cure and he gave a noncommittal answer. That was all the answer that I needed. He did offer me a prescription. I asked if it would do any good. He said, “No. I prescribe it only to make the patients happy.” Needless to say, I will not be taking it.

I told Louis and the girls tonight. Perhaps I should not have done that. They all took it hard. Everyone was crying and grieving, even though I am still here. I will pretend I am fine. I will be strong for them. I told them that there are many others with similar conditions who have lived for many years like this. That seemed to offer them some consolation.

If God thinks that I am still useful on this earth, he will keep me here. I’ve prayed with every fiber of my being that he not take me from this world if my children still need me. I suffer from no illusions, however. God is God and sees and knows what I cannot. I cannot fight what he wills. Although, as much as I try to trust in God and pray to trust, I still struggle with it, even now when I know my time on the earth is most likely drawing to a close.


Part One

Alençon, France

Sunday, September 8, 1850

My heart is broken. My mother and I went to the convent to see if I might be considered a worthy candidate to enter the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul. All I’ve ever wanted is to enter religious life and serve the poor. God has called me to it, that I am sure of. Why then was the door shut before it even had a chance to open?

Mother Superior rejected me without even a second look. What was there about me that convinced her that I had no place as a sister? Why am I not enough? What do I do if God doesn’t want me? Mother Superior wasn’t unkind. She said, “God has plans for you, but not as a religious.” What plan? I do want to follow God’s plans for me, but how can I do that when I have no inkling of what he wants from me. I feel lost. Religious life was all I dreamed of. Who am I without that dream?

My mother said nothing to me as we made our way home, but I could feel the disappointment radiating off of her. I think she wanted me to be safely away at the convent as much as I wanted to be there. It would have solved the problem of what to do about Zélie. I lack both my older sister’s outgoing nature and innate goodness and my younger brother’s promise of a successful future. There are no young men interested in me, nor do I wish there to be. I am a burden to my parents and a lost cause if there ever was one. Is there no hope for me?

Élise tried to comfort me when I got home. She and I have always been the best of friends as well as sisters. She encouraged me to try other religious communities, to not give up so easily, but I always saw myself working with the poor and the sick. I don’t think I would be able to live in a cloister. I don’t have that kind of holiness. Plus, there was something about how the sister said God’s plans for me did not include my being a religious. I know in some way God was speaking through her and I must listen. I suppose there is nothing for me to do at the moment but continue to help my parents by working in their café. 

 

Purchase The Lacemaker on Amazon (affiliate link).

Monday, June 7, 2021

The Lacemaker: A Novel of St. Zelie Martin is now available!


 I don't know if all authors feel this way, but I find releasing a new book into the world to be terrifying, but here it is: The Lacemaker.

Those of you who have been following along with the process will notice that the cover has changed since my last post. Once I received the proof copy, I decided the cover needed a little more contrast. I'm happy with how this version came out!

Here is the official book description:

St. Zélie Martin (1831-1877) is best known as the mother of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, one of the most-loved saints of modern times, but she is also a saint in her own right. In this work of historical fiction based largely on St. Zélie’s letters, a compelling portrait of a working mother who always put God first comes to life.

St. Zélie is a saint many women can relate to. She suffered from anxiety, struggled with work-life balance, grieved the loss of children, cared for aging parents, had a child with special needs, and dealt with personal illness. Above all, she loved God and her family and had a deep devotion to the Blessed Mother.

In this intimate portrayal, you will come to know a complex woman who achieved holiness while living in the world and dealing with the stress of modern life. 

Please consider buying a copy for yourself or a friend! (Amazon affiliate link)


Friday, May 21, 2021

"The Lacemaker" Cover Reveal

 

 
It is always exciting when after months and months of work, a book finally has a cover. It means it is getting close to the time when a book ceases to be something only living in my imagination and becomes a tangible object ready to find its place in the world. This cover features a backdrop of Alencon lace with a photo of St. Zelie Martin in the foreground. 

The book has passed through the hands of a beta reader who offered some helpful comments. I made her recommended changes (which were thankfully minor), formatted the book, and uploaded it to Amazon. My proof copy should be here Tuesday. I'm looking forward to seeing it! 
 
Then, I will be able to do a final read, make any necessary changes, upload the corrected paperback file, create the Kindle version, and then, fingers crossed, have it go live and be available for sale. Have I ever mentioned a lot of work goes into creating a book? 
 
 

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

I Finished Typing The Lacemaker


 

It took about six weeks, but I finally finished typing The Lacemaker! It ended up being about 56,000 words. Next up is proofreading and then sending it out to be beta read by a couple trusted colleagues/readers. 

This has been such a project. All books are. I work as an editor in my other life. My life as a writer helps me understand the blood, sweat, and tears that have gone into what they are sharing with me. After all that work, it is hard to put a book out in the world. It is harder still to have it be rejected or ignored. What if no one reads it? What if no one cares? As much as I know that the work is not me, the prospect is still painful. My life goes on whether or not this book succeeds in the world, but all the work will feel like it was for nothing. All my time and effort will feel worthless. I have had this happen with other projects. I'm not sure I can bear it again. But for now, the work continues. For the moment, there is still hope.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

The First Draft of The Lacemaker is Done!

 

The Lacemaker First Draft
I was surprised to see it had been a year since I last wrote in this blog! That post was about how I wanted to write a novel about St. Zelie Martin. I spent much of the first portion of 2020 doing research. The writing began in earnest over the summer and I fully committed to it in the fall, trying to write every day. 

I prefer to write my first drafts in longhand in simple notebooks. It is easy for me to carry them when I am going places or to pull them out for a quick few minutes of writing when I have a chance. I finished the first draft last night! I ended up filling up one-and-a-half notebooks.

There is still a lot of work to be done. I need to type it up. I write my second draft as I do that, making changes as I go. I'm not sure how that is going to happen. It is much easier for me to pull out a notebook and scribble down a couple of paragraphs than it is for me to set up my laptop and type. I'm going to try to take 10 minutes out of my computer time each day (I usually work 2-3 hours a day on the computer) to work on it. I have no idea how long this will take. I am, however, a firm believer in slow and steady to get things done. If God wills it, someday this book will be done! Stay tuned . . . 

 


Thursday, February 27, 2020

A Potential New Work in Progress

It's been quite a while since I've worked on any fiction, but I've had an idea percolating for the past few months that I have been doing some research on. I want to write a novel about St. Zelie Martin, the mother of St. Therese of Lisieux. I have read a few books about her, including The Extraordinary Parents of St. Therese.



It soon became apparent that the book I absolutely needed was the one of her letters: A Call to a Deeper Love. 

I ordered this book from Amazon at the end of December. The ship date was a few weeks later, but I could wait. The day before it was to be shipped, I received a notice saying the order was cancelled and that they had no idea when the book would be available. I started looking for other outlets. I found a convent bookstore that had it for sale. I hoped that they had one on their shelf they could ship out to me. Unfortunately, that was not the case. The book was nowhere to be found (at least not for a price under $100). The publisher had to print new copies. My copy finally came in yesterday.

To be honest, I have tons of other work on my plate and don't know when I'll get to it. There are definitely some challenges I'm trying to work out before I begin writing this story. St. Zelie is human, but she is also a saint and comes across as nearly perfect in biographies. Her flaws make most people's good points look bad. To make a compelling story, she needs to have some conflict and something that she wants. I want to be honest to her character, but also to write an interesting story.

In any event, I look forward to spending more time with her and seeing where this project leads. I've never written fiction about a historical person before so it is a new challenge. I have tentatively titled the book "The Lacemaker".

I plan to blog about the process here. I hope you enjoy the behind the scenes look at my writing endeavors.  

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Register for Catholic Writer's Guild Online Conference

The Catholic Writers Guild has opened registration for its annual Catholic Writers Conference Online, the must-attend online event for Catholic writers.

The conference is scheduled for September 20-22, 2019. Cost is $30 for Guild members and $45 for non-members. Registration is open at the Guild's website: https://catholicwritersguild.org/cwco-member-registration or https://catholicwritersguild.org/cwco-non-member-registration.

This faith-focused, professional writing conference is being held completely online through webinars with audio-visual access. Attendees are able to ask questions of the presenters and receive knowledgeable feedback, and there is time between sessions for networking and socializing. The schedule is an immersive two and a half days covering all aspects of writing from idea conception to editing, publishing to marketing. Recordings and reference materials from the presentations will be available free to all conference attendees.

Authors will also be able to meet online with publishing professionals and pitch their finished writing projects. In the past, publishers from large Catholic presses, including Pauline, Ave Maria, and Our Sunday Visitor, as well as secular presses like Anaiah Press and Liberty Island, have participated.

This year's conference lineup is being developed. In the past, topics have covered the nuts and bolts of self-publishing, the importance of faith in writing, and nonfiction and fiction writing skills from characterization to plot, editing tips, marketing how-to and more.

"Each year, we try to get a mix of practical and philosophical - what it means to be a Catholic writer," says Karina Fabian, who has organized the online conference since its inception in 2008. "We're inviting back some of the favorites of our attendees, who always have great advice and a deeper perspective from the year before. In addition, we're seeking out new presenters in the areas of non-fiction, marketing and publishing."

Guild President Joseph Wetterling says, "The Guild exemplifies the Catholic 'both/and' with writers from every part of the world, in every genre, and from every walk of life. We're diverse in personality and style but united in our loyalty and love of the Catholic faith. Our writers' conferences provide a unique opportunity to come together in fellowship and sharpen each other toward our united mission: a rebirth of Catholic arts and letters."

"Every year we hear back from authors who finished a book, started a project, or got a publishing contract thanks to the Catholic Writers' Conference Online. Plus, people make contacts and good friends. It's a terrific opportunity, especially for those who can't afford to attend a live conference," says Fabian.

For more information about the Catholic Writers Guild, visit www.catholicwritersguild.org.