Monday, January 30, 2012

Catholic Schools and Mermaid Purses

It's Catholic Schools Week celebration. I am a product of a wonderful convent school education in India and we are so blessed that our children can attend the parish school. They are thriving. I hope that they'll be able to go to a Catholic college too. Must sell books! And may they be best-sellers!

Sometimes dollies ought to join our children at school and Mass, don't you think?

This weekend we went to the beach after our Bible study class (Genesis) and look what we found ... a mermaid's purse! Isn't nature amazing and marvelous? My daughter wants to hatch these shark eggs now, but this purse is drying on our porch along with other pretty shells and claws. You'll be sure we'll be hot-glue-gunning them in various combinations. Over Christmas vacation we made a few photo frames with popsicle sticks, shells and beads. Fun, fun, fun. I thank God every day for bringing us here.

Is this year flying or what? I can't believe January is almost over. Have a great week, all.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


I should be working on my novel revisions and little books (yes, I'm on deadline) but I just finished one set of them, so decided to share my thoughts on a couple of historical fiction books I've been reading. 

My Name is Not Easy by Debby Dahl Edwardson. What a fascinating and troubling bit of history. The story is based upon the author's husband's life when he was a boy growing up in Alaska. Luke, the protagonist and his two younger brothers are sent to a Catholic boarding school to get an education. It chronicles their relationships with each other, with the nuns and priests, and their fellow students. The novel has multiple viewpoints and although at first I didn't like having to switch between the different characters, by a third of the way through, the shifts no longer mattered. Their stories did.

One thing that really struck me is how mean one of the priests was. It made the boys wonder if God was like that too, judgmental and waiting to punish all the times they disobeyed. It reminded me of the time I read Roald Dahl's autobiography Boy. He talks about the terrible punishment inflicted upon the boys at his Catholic boarding school and he lost his faith because of it. I don't understand how any priest or nun could be so cruel in the name of shaping little heathens.

My experience has been the opposite. Priests and nuns were people of refuge. You could run to them at any time because you knew they cared. Yes, I've been spanked for sliding down the banisters or running in the hallways, but it was not a sustained beating. There was always love. They wanted me to be a lady, not a junglee. The nuns I knew fostered my faith. And so I wonder, if a priest behaves in such a way so as to undermine a child's faith (even though it's inadvertent in the name of discipline) I wonder about the judgment of God upon that priest. Because yes, there is judgment after death. We are all accountable, and just as I am accountable for my responsibility towards my children, priests have an even greater responsibility as they shepherd their flock.

Lord, have mercy.

Sometimes that's all you can say, as Ann Fay muses in Blue by Joyce Moyer Hostetter. The author writes about local history. It chronicles the time when Ann Fay's daddy goes off to fight Hitler and she's the man of the house. She puts on overalls and helps Mama with the younger kids, working in the garden, until polio strikes the youngest in their family -- her brother Bobby. Mom goes off to the polio camp with Bobby and Ann Fay is left to do the work of her mama as well -- the washing, cleaning, scrubbing, cooking and burning of toys. Yes, to rid the house of polio germs.

The voice of Ann Fay is that of a sturdy girl, a girl with a heart after her daddy. From the first page, I was hoping and praying for her daddy. Bring him home. Lest you worry, he does, bringing home a piece of something I didn't quite expect. Brought tears to my eyes.

Both books are beautifully written, with distinctive voices, of love and loss and of finding love again. They are stories about survival, stories that I'm so thankful the authors chose to tell. I hope you will pick these up.

Happy reading and writing, all.

Friday, January 13, 2012


I have signed up for my first Christian children's writing conference: Write2Ignite!  I don't know whether I can finish my revisions by then, but I am certainly going to try. I am not planning to shove it under any bathroom stalls (oh the stories I've heard) but rather to get to know Christian children's writers in the Carolinas and it would be lovely to say that I'm done. Of course, we know that until a book is published, the work is never done. In any case, if you are a writer in the Carolinas, and have a Christian mindset, check out this conference. It is very reasonably priced and I expect it to be small and intimate.

I'm carpooling with a woman whose work I've admired for many years -- Janice Green. She makes Bible quilts. When I first heard about her, I thought it was a brilliant idea. Like Dominic, she also sells coloring books.

I don't know much about the Christian market, since the bulk of the work I do is in the secular market, and I am changing directions as y'all know. It's gratifying to see overtly Christian movies like Fireproof or Courageous ended up in theatres across the country. Oh, how I long for Cecil B. DeMillesque great Biblical epics.

So, if I disappear for a little while in my revision cave, don't worry. I'll come out eventually. Know that I am working slowly and steadily on my book.
God bless you all.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Hopes, Dreams and Goals

I tend to be a very goal-oriented person and I am very blessed that my birthday falls at a time when I am naturally taking stock of the past and looking to the future. I almost always accomplish what I set out to do, even without knowing much. I have a feeling my guardian angel is always watching out for me. See, the year I turned nineteen, I told my best friend that I would have a summer romance. I did.

I didn't count on falling deeply in love but I did, and I cried buckets six months later when he left the sleepy little town in rural Washington where we ate ice cream and talked each others' ears off, where he serenaded me with Eric Clapton, Dire Straits, and Van Morrison, and where we made a thousand memories. I doubted he would ever care to come back to me with the glamour of California. But he did. Our love grew over the years even though we were apart most of the time, and finally after ten years, we figured out that we ought to get married. Yeah, I know. We're a bit slow ...

I said I would do plant pathology (after studying the minutiae of bacteria) and I did. I said I would become a writer, and I did. I said I wanted to have children, and was blessed with two.

Cocky, aren't I? I pretty much get what I want. But I've become a bit more humble over the years. I realize I am nothing without God. The very breath I take is because He allows it. I do nothing on my own. So, now my deepest desire is that my hopes, dreams and goals are what God wants me to hope and dream and work towards. 

This is what I hope for in my life this year. God willing, all these things will happen.

1. Bear another child. Yes. Really. I'm not kidding. It would be a miracle.
2. Have more peace between my two children. Have them grow closer to God every day.
3. Polish my current book and send it out. May the right editor love it enough to buy it.
4. Begin another book that's been percolating for a few years.
5. Develop a heart after God's own heart.

I can only see pieces of myself. I long to be the person God wants me to be.

You guessed right -- I've always wanted to be a magnificent tiger!

And so I pray. And I humbly ask for your prayers for these hopes and dreams of mine.