Tuesday, September 18, 2018

In Praise of the Local -- Island Expressions

I always try to shop locally and one of the most wonderful things about living on Daniel Island is that everything I need is here. About the only time I leave the island is on Sundays to go to Latin Mass at Stella Maris. Yes, this is how small my life is and I like it just fine :) 

My interview with Heath Ellison of Daniel Island News is up. A friend of mine saw it before I did--our newspaper was soggy by the time I found it. I doubt many on the island will even see it because of Florence. I shouldn't complain when so many people have lost their homes in NC and upper SC. It's better to have a Cat 4 hurricane blow through quickly than this awful slow-moving Cat 1/tropical storm. The torrential rainfall has caused devastating flooding. 

Anyhow, newspapers are notorious for cutting off the ends of things if they're running out of space, so my book signing/meet-the-author event didn't show up. Locals: I'll be at Island Expressions on Tuesday, Oct. 9th from 4-6 pm. I hope to see you there. I picked up a dry copy of the paper from the lovely shop--it's the place I go when I need to get a unique gift. The best part is that many of the items are made by artists in the area. So thankful for local arts and crafts.   

 

Finally, here's a very useful website that lists all newspapers in the US: http://www.usnpl.com/  Local papers are always happy to publish community news so if you have a book to promote, never hesitate to contact your newspaper.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

A Summer of Shame



Where to begin?



For the past few weeks I've been struggling to process the news coming from the Church. It's bad. Very bad. And the rot goes all the way to the top. Bishops protecting their brother bishops, the Pope admonishing victims for gossiping and calumny. Can you imagine? It made me sooo mad. And now he has “no comment.” I know he doesn’t have to answer to anybody (except God), just like he’s not answered the dubia (going on 2 years now), but isn’t the beginning of wisdom the fear of the Lord? How about sacking the bishops who allowed the abuse to continue? How about cleaning up the house of God? It reminds me of the quote by St. Chrysostom: "The road to Hell is paved with the bones of priests and monks, and the skulls of bishops are the lamp posts that light the path."  ETA: It's his feast day today!


This is the
damning testimony from Abp. Carlo Maria Vigano. He had warned Pope Francis about Cd. McCarrick but what did Francis do? Lift the restrictions Pope Benedict had imposed upon McCarrick, thus allowing him to make appointments. I am sure all these allegations will be proven true in time. Then there's the Grand Jury report from PA. I've not read it--it's over a thousand pages--that's how bad it is. But I’ve learned from reading summaries that 80% of the cases are of male on male predation, like it was in the 2001/2002 scandal. By the way, we watched an excellent movie—Spotlight—that covers it. I don’t understand why the media is silent about this summer’s scandal. I don't care that the worst of it was in the 1970s and 1980s, it has to stop completely.

 
"Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of My pasture!" declares the LORD. ~ Jeremiah 23:1

The Church already has protocols. My understanding is that a priest who has affairs with women or has children with one is laicized. If a seminarian has homosexual tendencies, he’s not ordained. But clearly, these practices have not been followed in recent decades. It’s total rebellion against the Church’s teachings on chastity and sex. When Humanae Vitae came out, many in the Church were shocked. They thought that Pope Paul VI would get on with the times. When he didn't, dissenting priests taught against it. And now we see the fruit of rebellion. As shameful as all this is, I agree with the words of Pope St. Gregory the Great: "It is better that scandals arise then the truth be suppressed." Jesus Himself told us that the truth will set us free (John 8:32).
 


For the first time in my life, I am anxious about many things, but especially for the Church. How many will lose their faith because of this? How many good priests will be painted with the same brush as those who are wicked? Where will the sheep go when there's no shepherd? I am deeply troubled. Wounded. I know something about shame. I think of the victims--the children, the young women, and the young men who wanted to give their lives to Christ. What courage it takes to come forward when you are ashamed of what's been done to you. And what courage it takes to stay in the Church when her leaders fail you. I stay because Jesus, my dear Jesus, is in the Church. Because in the words of Peter: "Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life." John 6:68  Indeed. I won't abandon Him now, not after what He's done for me. I will help carry this Cross. I will remain faithful. But it's a FIGHT to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus in these stormy times. 


I heard this joke at one of the Marian Eucharistic conferences on how various people have sought to destroy the Church. So Napoleon and a Cardinal are in conversation. Napoleon, frustrated, says, "I have the power to destroy the Catholic Church." The cardinal says, "Your Majesty, we, the Catholic clergy have done our best to destroy the Church for the last 1,800 years. We have failed, and so will you." The best jokes really do have an element of truth in them, no? All joking aside, I am thankful that our good priests are asking for change and accountability in the way things are done. Please feel free to add your own signature to the letter. I humbly ask to please also pray for the Church and Her good priests. Thank you so much.

This is my favorite prayer for priests--from the Little Flower--St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus:


O Jesus, Eternal Priest, look down with love upon Thy priests.
Fill them with burning zeal for the conversion of sinners.
Keep them within the shelter of Thy Sacred Heart.
Keep unstained their anointed hands which daily touch Thy Sacred Body.
Keep unsullied their lips purpled with Thy precious Blood.
Keep pure and unearthly their hearts sealed with the sublime marks of Thy glorious Priesthood.
Let Thy holy love protect them from the world's contagion.
Bless their labors with abundant fruit,
and may the souls to whom they minister on earth be one day their joy and consolation in heaven.
Amen. 

PSS: An excerpt of a wonderful letter by J.R.R. Tolkein to his son during the 1960s. 

Last year I read and reviewed The Devil Hates Latin by Katharine Galgano. It now seems like thinly veiled fiction. 

Saint quotes are from Traditional Catholic Priest. A great resource. 

Sorry about the long and ranty post. I guess given enough time even I could bear to write about this. Parce Domine.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Déjà vu


Remembering the people who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001. Requiem aeternam.
  
September seems to be the peak of the hurricane season. I remember when we moved here seven years ago and closed on our house. Irene brushed by us. Now it seems like business as usual--prepare, wait it out. But this year, Michael and Dagny have gone down to Florida to visit with Max, have Dagny sit in on a few classes at Ave Maria, and have a little holiday. Praying for a safe journey for them and for all in the path of Florence. I really, really feel badly for the folks in NC who will take a direct hit. I am, of course, staying home with our pets, and have a writing retreat.

I love the pictures from space, how immensely beautiful it is to see the winds whirling about. This picture reminds me of last year when we had Irma, Maria, and Jose, all lined up. I know so many who've still not recovered from last year.

We fly to thy patronage, O holy Mother of God; despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin. Amen.  


 




Saturday, September 8, 2018

Happy Bits and Bobs

I'm sooo delighted to have Bound in the Pauline Books & Media store downtown Charleston as well as in Island Expressions, a beautiful little boutique shop on Daniel Island. It's wonderful to be amongst the greats. Books really are the only thing that break the space/time barrier so my book is happy to rub its spine against Flannery's. Up above were Tolkien and Lewis. 

I promised that I'd share results of my weekend sale for the e-book. It was a success. There were 18 downloads :) Don't laugh. When you've had zero in a week, 18 is progress. As you can see, my reach is very small. I know of people who get thousands of downloads when they have a sale. I don't know enough about advertising to throw $$$ at it yet. My hope is that those who read Bound will share it. That way readership will grow organically. 

Friends, I ask that you request Bound at your library whether or not you've purchased a copy. This becomes win-win for all. ISBN is 978-1983227417. Thank you. 

We've also had a bounty of jalapenos so Michael made ABTs. I made an Indian milk dessert--kalakand--from the gallon of milk left over. Oh my! It was a perfect antidote for the jalapenos. The cats, too, enjoyed licking the bowl. Here they are, sated!





I also received a newsy letter in this beautiful handmade card from my PhD advisor, Lin. I love how much care she's taken to choose a card (her sister is the artist) that fits with Bound. I can almost imagine it was made specially to highlight some of the themes in my book! She'd introduced me to Marcel Proust--there was a copy of Remembrance of Things Past in our tea room, where she also kept the two-volume Oxford English Dictionary. Even though I had to use a magnifying glass to read it, I loved it. It's such a rare scientist who enjoys using words precisely (I think it's a necessity no matter what field you're in). It was so good to catch up on her life and to know she enjoyed Bound so much she wants to share it with a long-time colleague and friend from England who comes every summer to do a few experiments with her. How I wish I could join them for a discussion. It'd be like old times. Happy sigh! 

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Labor Day Weekend Sale

I am determined to learn marketing this fall, so my first experiment is to play with pricing on the e-book. For this Labor Day weekend, I'd like for you to have the fruit of my labor for only 99 cents! 

I hope Bound reaches many new readers at this low price. Please spread the word. If the results are spectacular, I might even share them :)

The e-book is also now available on other platforms besides Amazon thanks to Draft2Digital. I've changed the price on all the platforms through Sept. 3rd. I'm not quite sure how to reach people who are on all these other platforms. But going wide is the first step. I have thought about joining KindleUnlimited but they want exclusivity. I'm a little leery of putting all my eggs in one basket (okay, I know it's only one small egg, but still).

I made the advertisement using https://coverssellbooks.com/ I don't know if I'll be doing paid advertising any time soon. I still haven't recouped the cost of hiring a professional designer. Still, given I'm in this for the long haul, it's a most worthwhile investment. Here's what James Egan, a guest judge, on the Book Designer said about the cover: A nice straightforward approach. I like how the lines of the title font mimic the lines of the illustration. A most educational website both on self-publishing and book design.

I hope you all take a rest from your labors and enjoy the holiday.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Back to School

Ready. Set. Go! My girl is ready to conquer this last year of high school. I think she might even have enough AP credits to skip a year of college. We'll see. 

And this school year, I will learn about marketing. I have a good handle on writing, I'm learning about publishing, but marketing feels like a mystery to me. To this end, a very busy writer-mama-of-six and I had a chat over several cups of tea about BOUND: my first interview! I enjoyed it so very much and especially the surprise. Please see:

http://faithehough.blogspot.com/2018/08/kitchen-table-chat-with-vijaya-bodach.html

Another friend sent me a list of places to reach out to for interviews. If they are as fun to do as with Faith, I'm game. If not, I'll learn to have fun. I am so very blessed to have friends who push me. 

What new things are you planning to learn this school semester? I have a feeling I'll keep to a "school" schedule even after Dagny flies the nest.



Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Reading



I love having my very first writing teacher--Peggy King Anderson--her voice in my head again. The journey of the Potawatomi's forced removal from their Indiana home to Kansas is told through the eyes of 11-year-old Simu-quah in Two-Moon Journey. What I loved best was how visceral this journey is, how I feel as if I were taking this journey myself (even my feet cramped from the endless walking), tending to the baby and the old and sick, many who die along the way (this is why it's called the Trail of Death), sleeping in strange places and hearing strange sounds, witnessing the violence the soldiers inflict upon her father and others, wondering and worrying about the future. But above all, Simu-quah has her family to guide her, hope, and is able to forgive, to begin her new life in Kansas. 
I am sorry to say I never learned about this in any American history class. I hope teachers will include this on their reading lists. It is a thoroughly researched and beautifully told story. 


Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough is an amazing debut (it is her 10th novel so take heart). Lyrical, it tells the story of the artist Artemesia Gentileschi as a young woman, how she painted, the horrific trial she endured, and the two women from the Bible, Susanna and Judith, whose stories gave her the strength to go on. This book is a masterpiece. Of course, I had to look up Artemesia's paintings and I'm not surprised that many of her works are about women mistreated by men. 
Alexander Hamilton's Guide to Life by Jeff Wilser is the one book about Hamilton you can't afford not to have. It's concise and filled with many of Hamilton's maxims. Ex: "'Tis my maxim to let the plain naked truth speak for itself; and if men won't listen to it, 'tis their own fault."  on self-improvement, career, romance, money, relationships and more. However, he had nothing to say about leisure except, "Employ all your leisure in reading." I was particularly fascinated by his facility at writing, how quickly and decisively he wrote. "All the genius I have lies in this...It is the fruit of labor and thought." It's a good guide to the writing life as well.

Acedia & Me: a Marriage, Monks, and a Writer's Life by Kathleen Norris is a difficult book to describe. I'd never even heard of this word, but by reading this book I've learned not only its meaning but its history, and the role it has played in the author's life. In short, acedia is indifference, and today more people than ever are suffering from it. The front flap says, "left unchecked it has the power to destroy the capacity for joy and to undermine commitments to work, marriage, friendship, faith, and community." The monastic tradition gives an answer on conquering acedia. If you've ever felt depressed or spiritually dead, this book might just give you a lifeline. Kathleen Norris writes like a poet.

The Art of the Wasted Day by Patricia Hampl is a lovely book full of memories of home and travelling. It is also a little bit sad because I realized partway that she is missing her husband, who passed away. She purposely recounts the visits she makes to places where people made leisure their goal. She begins with two Irish ladies who retire in Wales, followed by a visit to Mendel's monastery, and finally to Bordeaux where Michel Montaigne invented the personal essay. I've never read Montaigne but I found a copy of his essays in Max's pile of books. This book reminded me again of Leisure: the Basis of Culture by Josef Pieper. What's stuck with me is how the highest leisure is really that of contemplation and the fruits that arise from it--like music, art, stories. It is such a gift!
I'm happy to say this summer has brought plenty of leisure time. It's what allowed me to learn about self-publishing. I hope you all will steal some time to do what you love if you haven't already done so. Today is our 24th wedding anniversary. So thankful and blessed to be married to a man after God's own heart. I love you, Michael, especially when you make okra and tomatoes from the garden. Yum!
 




 




Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Gregorian Chant Workshop


This past weekend we went down to Florida to drop off Max for his sophomore year at Ave Maria University. Don't worry, they've not all gone mad at Ave to start school in July--Max is working on the orientation team so had to be there early :) And it just so happened that this was the same weekend for the Musica Sacra Florida


What a great blessing to immerse ourselves in Gregorian chant for three days. We listened to the priests chant Vespers on Friday evening followed by Mass of the Holy Cross. We sang two of my favorite Masses--Missa Cum Jubilo on Sat in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Missa de Angelis on Sunday. Heavenly!!! My heart overflows with thanksgiving and joy.

 
 

This was our little women's schola and the young women were so talented, yet humble. Same goes for the men's schola and the instructors. Dr. Treacy (middle, back row) is an amazing teacher, I loved the way she conducted, making it easy to sing without any organ support. How I wish I could go to school at Ave and learn everything I can from her. Given that Gregorian chant is the foundation for all Western music and is to be given a place of prominence in liturgy, I am surprised that many church choral groups do not invest in teaching this beautiful music. It is EASY!!! I had looked into buying A Beginner's Guide to Singing Gregorian Chant but our organist, Steve Collins, had already taught us the basics. We use the Liber Brevior because it has everything we need for all Sunday and Holy Day Masses and includes a section at the beginning on chant.

We had such a good time, meeting up with old friends, and making new ones. I got to see Max in his home away from home and enjoy the beautiful Florida sunshine and cloud formations. We had to hurry to unload all his stuff because those big beautiful clouds bring afternoon showers. We made it but it was rain, rain, rain all the way home. I was saddened to see many homes in Immokalee still covered with blue tarp. It'll take them years to recover from Irma, but I'm glad they still had their homes. We came across a little alligator, about 3 ft long, who was missing a front paw, but he crossed the road quickly with his tail snapping from side to side. It's good to be home and back to writing. 







 

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

First Reviews Trickling in for BOUND

It is so heartening to see the first reviews trickling in for BOUND. Once you release a book, it no longer belongs to the author, but the reader. Readers bring their own sensibilities to it and make it part of themselves. I still remember that when I was asked to write a biography for the first class I took at the Institute of Children's Literature, I ended up writing about the books that made an impact throughout my life. Oh, this is why I wrote BOUND. 

So without further ado, some quotes from those reviews:

"This book was such a surprise, and is food for thought... It is engrossing and well written, with characters so believable that I wanted to keep up with their journeys into the years beyond the book’s ending. Most of all, it is unlike anything I’ve seen in young adult books in many years." ~ VCarter


"This engaging story is a sensitive treatment of prolife themes including abortion, end-of-life issues, and eugenics. Appropriate for teenagers, this would make an excellent classroom read." ~BarbS

"I loved the way Rebecca's ideas and ideologies change as her character develops in the story--without a touch of preachiness, the author is able to present both sides of many difficult topics that the characters encounter. Look no further if you're interested in reading a story as diverse in its ideas as in its characters." ~ Faith

"Bound is the best fictional book I’ve read in a long time. The author wove a plot that kept me guessing until the end... I highly recommend it, especially for book clubs because it will ignite lively discussions." ~ Janeen

"The author helps us explore the most significant battle of our time – upholding the dignity of all human life from conception to natural death. We are privileged to witness this struggle through the eyes and culture of an immigrant family from India." ~ MichaelS

Read the full reviews on Amazon. And just this week, the paperback on sale so hop on over and get a copy for yourself or your cat :) They love being read to. Free preview here.