Friday, September 28, 2018

You Are Enough

I’ve been blogging for ten years, yet never entered a writing contest on someone’s blog…until now. Positive Writer is hosting You Are Enough writing contest:  I hope my entry achieves what it’s meant to do—to make you believe in yourself and your writing abilities.

You. Are. Enough.  

Read those words slowly. Believe. If you have a desire to write, know that you already have what it takes to write. I know because this truth has been borne out in my life many times over and I have observed it in others as well. I’m not a brilliant scientist, yet I foster my curiosity about the natural world. I’m not much of a musician, yet I sing and make a joyful noise, lifting my heart and mind to God. I’m not a great writer, yet I have stories that only I can tell, and so I write. I believe that every deep desire is written upon our hearts by our God and He would never place that desire without the necessary graces to make them happen. However, we must cooperate with Him. 

What does cooperation look like? It’s working towards those dreams. You want to be a writer? Then write! No time? Steal it. Write during a lunch break. Get up fifteen minutes earlier. Treat it like you would a lover. No space? Write at the kitchen counter. In your car (when it’s parked!). Or your bed. No money? You only need a cheap notebook and pen. You can get a free education at the library. Sacrifice something else. When people say they have a passion for something, it means they are willing to suffer for it. That’s passion. So. No excuses! Remember, you are enough. Take the example of Mother Teresa, who did what she could, where she was, with what she had, and God blessed it enormously. 

We tend to be our own worst enemies. We have doubts. Fears. These are all real and legitimate. But when we make decisions based on our doubts and fears, we end up choosing the wrong thing. I know because this truth has also been borne out in my life many times over. I love medicine, but was afraid to be in debt, so didn’t pursue it. I love children, but was afraid of the time they take to raise, so stopped having children. I have stories that burn inside me, but I’m afraid of what others might think of them, so tear them up when they show up on the page. But I feel the most alive when I’m cultivating the gifts God has given me, when I write what I believe, what I know to be true, even if it frightens me. So I’m learning to place my trust in God, asking him to be with me when I write. Who shall I fear when God Himself is with me? 

You say you want to write. Then write!

You. Are. Enough. And may God bless and prosper the work of your hands.

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:  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.

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 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.