Wednesday, September 25, 2013

On Preparations for SCBWI Carolinas Conference and Angelic Warfare

As I prepare to drag some participants of the SCBWI Carolinas into the world of children's magazine and nonfiction writing, I am also preparing for High Mass for the Feast of the Holy Angels. This is an especially important Mass since many in our parish (including my husband and I) are also committing themselves to Angelic Warfare. It is an apostolate of the Dominican Friars to promote chastity and purity with help from the Angelic Doctor, Thomas Aquinas, and the Blessed Mother. And it just so happened that last week, Chris Stefanick, came to speak at our Catholic High School about chastity and moral relativism. It was perfect timing.

Alas, what is perhaps the worst timing, we just discovered that our minivan has big troubles brewing. Transmission problems. Oy. Thankfully, there are friends coming to help us while we get it fixed. My husband doesn't think we'll have a catastrophic failure, but I don't want to take any chances, not on the freeway with the children. I see how instinctive it is to protect and preserve ourselves, but when it comes to matters of love, we are terribly reckless. My husband and I didn't even consider the ramifications of giving ourselves to each other without a commitment, and of the dangers of a broken heart. We were made to love and care for one another, not to use each other. And so we pray that our children and young people today will flee instinctively from counterfeit love and learn to discern and choose authentic love. Hence our commitment to Angelic Warfare.

I love the music our priest and choir director have chosen ... a beautiful Gregorian-style Mass by Rene Quignard. The hymns too, are beautiful as we call upon the three archangels and the Blessed Mother to come to our aid. Our organist is very talented and arranges much of the music for us. He is also fluent in Latin, so we often get a Latin lesson during choir practice. We are so very blessed to be bathed in so much beauty in our little church.

We pray the St. Michael prayer daily but until today I didn't know it was a short form. A good friend recently shared a Audio Sancto sermon that explains in greater detail who angels are, the powers they have, and how they help or harm us (yes there are bad ones too). At the end, the priest prays the entire prayer composed by Pope Leo XIII. If you have fifteen minutes to spare, I think you'll find it fascinating ... and perhaps find yourself criticizing children's literature featuring angels in completely absurd ways.

As you can see, my brain is again full of stuff. I am looking forward to the conference, the High Mass, and taking it easy for the next couple of weeks before polishing the historical. I ask for your prayers this weekend as we make these many preparations.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sunday Sweets

Sweet … moi? I’m more of a salty person … But Faith nominated me for "Super Sweet Blogger Award" and I accepted. Because I can be sweet sometimes …

The rules copied from Faith: answer the following five sweet questions and nominate five sweet bloggers. Easy-peasy.

1. Cookies or Cake? Cookies! Ideally, ginger snaps. I cannot resist a little sweet something, probably to counteract all the salt and spice.

2. Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate. A luscious Belgian chocolate (I got spoiled living two years in Belgium). But I’ll settle for a Cadbury.  

3. Favorite Sweet Treat? Fresh mangoes. It's as if I've died and gone to heaven.

4. When Do You Crave Sweet Things The Most? In the afternoons, when I need a little pick-me-up.

5. Sweet Nick Name? My brother nicknamed me Winkie and it has remained. I tried to teach my husband a few Indian terms of endearment, but not one stuck. But he need only look at me ... and I melt.
Five bloggers who've added sweet goodness to my life (and who've not yet rec'd this award).

Marcia Hoehne, a dear, dear friend with whom I discuss life, faith, and writing.
Mgsr. Charles Pope, a holy priest who has taught me much about my faith.
Kristi Holl, whose Writer's First Aid is a great gift to all of us who are writer-mamas.
Verla Kay, who created the Blueboards, the best community for children's writers to support one another in their journey and where you can find me moderating/procrastinating.
Shannon Grogan, a writer from WA who sent me a copy of a book featuring my poem, and who is coming out with a new YA suspense FROM WHERE I WATCH YOU.
Becky Shillington, is a writer whom I'll get to see this coming weekend at the Carolinas SCBWI conference.

Is that six? Shucks, I can't count ... as it was quite apparent at choir practice last Wed.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Prodigal Son ... Coming to His Senses

Today's readings are so good. If you have ten minutes to spare, please read. You see, I am the lost sheep; I am the lost coin; I am the prodigal son.

These verses strike me particularly:

I tell you, there will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents.


Coming to his senses ... “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”


While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion.

I didn't realize until today that it is the Father's gaze that allows us to come to our senses. Even when we leave, He doesn't stop looking at us with love. Oh, we hurt Him, but when we return we are bathed and baptized in His very tears. So, my friends, if you've been away, let the Father's gaze draw you near Him. It is never too late to come home.

MURILLO, Bartolomé Esteban (1667-70). I have this painting of the Return of the Prodigal Son on a prayer card, the act of contrition, but of course!


Saturday, September 14, 2013

Car Talk Guys discuss the Pope's Renault

These are just some of the comments that had me laughing:

  • I always thought the Pope would drive a Christ-ler
  • The pope can easily handle a flooded engine. Even if it’s of Biblical proportions.
  • I haven’t seen car trouble like this since we tried to fit all the Apostles in one Accord.
  • It’s either burning oil, or you’ve just been replaced.
  • “A little black smoke is fine, just watch out for the white smoke”.
  • Look the Vatican acquired a new relic.
  • “The Spiritus Sancti made manifold…”
  • “Well, sir, it keeps overheating because the water in the radiator keeps turning to wine…”

  • Read the full article here:

    Wipes tears!

    I love this Pope! He's keeping everybody on his toes.

    Friday, September 13, 2013


    This evening, I finished a grueling round of revisions on my historical that has taken me over a year (in fits and starts). The holes are filled, the characters deepened, and I understand my story better.

    I'm looking forward to taking a break from this for a couple of weeks, concentrate on the upcoming conference and other short stuff I'm writing. The next round will not take nearly as long as I'll be revising for pacing and clarity, but tonight, I am so thankful to be done with this revision.

    This historical has a long history. It's the first novel that I ever attempted to write, when I had no skills. The ideas were nebulous. There wasn't a burning question in my heart, just a desire to understand something that happened in India's history when I was ten years old. I can't say I do now, but over the years, I collected books and read articles, which made me ask even more questions. Much like when you do science.

    I abandoned the novel almost as soon as I started it, because I didn't know how to write a novel, and decided to focus on short stories. I love the form because my head is full of stuff and it was a way to explore many different ideas. But at least once a year or so, for about a month, I worked on the historical. And each time I picked it up, I eliminated one of the plot threads because there was just too much going on ... I mean, you can't have a political intrigue, love, betrayal, industrial accidents, religious conflicts, and assassinations all in one book. Oh, and there was time travel too ... because I love time travel books. You can see the problems with this novice writer ...

    This went on for five years. I'd work on the historical for a month and put it aside since I was busy with my young family and almost always on deadline doing work-for-hire. But this is not the ideal way to write a novel. Then for five more years, I put it away completely. I worked on a different novel, a contemporary. It took me three years to finish. I spent the second half of last year querying. But it was a disappointing experience. Even the agents who praised the book, didn't love it enough to take me on as a client. Three new novels were percolating in my head. But this historical wouldn't let go. I told myself I owed it to myself to finish this.

    I am so happy I did and the timing couldn't be more perfect. The novel is so much richer now for having sat in a box for five years. I am no longer the same person I was five years ago, and the insights I gained have not just been linearly incremental, but exponential. My critique partner asked me whether I have intentionally put this book aside because I'm afraid. It is such a personal book.

    Short answer, no, not intentionally. But I do think there is a right time for everything, and this is the right time for it, and not a moment sooner. I'm a better writer now. And being a Catholic makes all the difference in the world. Thank you, Lord.

    Have you ever resurrected an old manuscript after many years?

    Monday, September 9, 2013

    Surprise Mail

    I've had quite a bit of writing inspiration from daily chores, including laundry. I know many women who bemoan having to do the wash, but since I have a washing machine, it is no trouble at all. I try to do one load a day and now that I have a clothesline, I hang them up ...
    As a stay-at-home mom, I've tried to do the household work with my children. They loved sorting through socks, and this little poem was the result. Ladybug published it first in Dec. 2005. Those Ladybug readers are now reading Spider or Cricket, but I am delighted that a new batch of kids gets to have fun matching socks. There's also a matching game your children can play online. But, psst, it's better for them to do the real thing ... life skills and all, you know! 

    I love this illustration by the amazing and multi-talented Laini Taylor ... and I think there's only one Laini Taylor. Pink-haired, fresh, funny, and a superb writer. I've listened to her speak about writing and I have especially enjoyed her posts about the writing process. Thanks Laini, for adding dromedaries to a simple poem. And thank you, Ladybug, for reprinting the poem.

    This little package certainly brightened my day!

    Tuesday, September 3, 2013

    Spectacular Thunderstorms and More

    Sept. started off with a bang! We've been enjoying the spectacular thunderstorms from our back porch. My son has been shooting many pictures and I hope you can *hear* the crack of thunder in them.

    I'm starting Sept. off with a bang too! I have the heroic minute where I get up early to work on my novel. That's the only way it's going to get done amidst all the other writing I do.

    We have many birthdays in the family to celebrate too!I love Sept.

    Sept. will also end with a bang. The SCBWI Carolinas conference is set for the last weekend in Sept. and I am so excited as I prepare for it. If you are going, please find me. The Blueboarders are planning a get together Sat. evening and I'd love for you to join us. Sunday afternoon, I shall be hurrying back to sing for a High Mass for Feast of the Holy Angels. Oh, and if you are curious, our little church was mentioned in this article. So, if you're visiting in Charleston, you know where to find us.

    Here's wishing you a Sept. filled with lots of bangs! The good kind :)