Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Finding a "Momful" Balance

Is your "Mommy Monster" prowling? I just finished one of my RBTE treasures, Momfulness by Denise Roy (Jossey Bass Publishers, author of My Monastery Is a Minivan). The cover put me off a bit (which is a shame because it might deter some moms from reading it unnecessarily). However, if your week is anything like mine, this may be just what you need to attain serenity (not to mention save your voice). For the full review, click here.

Do you ever wonder if as Catholics we take ourselves a tad too seriously at times? Check out the June 20 post at "Streams of Mercy" and let me know what you think!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Remembering Ruth

Earlier today when I received word of her death, I took down an autographed copy of her Collected Poems, which lies on a special "fire shelf" in my living room (in the event of fire, the contents of this shelf will get snatched up as I exit the house, once my children and husband are safely outside), and touched a blue cut-glass bowl prominently displayed on a kitchen shelf. Both of these are treasures simply because they remind me of a singular experience, an afternoon spent in an unassuming cabin at the top of a winding, gated road in Montreat, North Carolina.

Mrs. Graham was considered by many the "first lady of Evangelical Protestantism." Almost sixty-four years ago she exchanged one holy passion -- to be a missionary in China, as her parents had before her -- for another: to be Billy's wife, and the mother of his children. This turned out to be a monumental undertaking, and in many ways her life might have been much easier if she had stuck with the original plan and wound up an "old maid missionary" serving in some backwater Chinese hospital.

However, "easy" was not something to which Ruth aspired. Neither was "glittering" or "world-famous" or "celebrated." Hers was an unmistakable presence of gracious warmth and sincerity. Sitting on the overstuffed sofas with Mrs. Graham and her daughter Gigi, it was easy to forget that I was sitting where the Grahams had entertained countless notables and celebrities from every walk of life. The carving on the fireplace mantle summed it up perfectly: "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God." It was Ruth who had made that fortress home.

Today I imagine them all gathered together in that place, and my heart aches for them. As Ruth herself observed in her Collected Poems (p.179),
A house
is not the same
when she
who made it home
is gone;
it looks
as it has always
and yet
There is an emptiness
a silence
where her chuckle was.
From now on
it is me alone
who once was "us."

I was still a "single career woman" when I met Mrs. Graham -- I married Craig almost exactly a year later, in 1999. Knowing what I know now about the challenges inherent to the vocation of motherhood, I can appreciate even more what a remarkable a woman she was, and how it took the steadfastness of a "missionary heart" to accomplish what she did. Her secret? She stayed as close as possible to the heart of God, drinking deeply of the Scriptures until her soul was fairly steeped in its revealed truth. And yet, somehow she didn't seem overly "religious." She was lively, she was adventurous, she was funny, she was warm ... she knew God intimately, and that is what kept her centered in a world spinning dizzily off-course.

And so, today I want to remember this dear sister in Christ. May her judgment be merciful, and her reward great ... and may the effects of the rivers of prayer that streamed from her while she was still on earth continue to touch those she left behind. How much more do they need those prayers now!

Grant eternal rest to her, O Lord,
may her soul fly to you unencumbered by sorrow, or regret, or fear.
May she see with uncompromised clarity
the fullness of your glory and the wideness of your mercy.
May she and the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Prayer Request for Donna O'Boyle's Daughter

I received this request today from Donna. Please join me in prayer for the ongoing safety of this young sister in Christ.

Please pray for my daughter Jessica in Bangladesh doing a research project where a monsoon just killed 130. I am praying to hear from her. Please pray. Thank you so very much,

Love, Donna

UPDATE: Received from Donna today (Thursday):

Hi Heidi,

I just heard from Jessica (email) and she is fine. Thank you dear Jesus!! Thank you so very much Heidi for your prayers and putting out the word for prayer. I am so appreciative. Let us continue to pray for the victims and their families.
Daily Donna-Marie: A Dose of Inspiration: My daughter, Jessica

Thank you, thank you, thank you!
God bless you!
Love, Donna

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Congratulations, Kate!

The long wait is (finally) over. Kate Wicker delivered a beautiful little girl, Rachel Marie. Kate writes:

...we welcomed our second daughter on Wednesday at 11:41 p.m. It was a beautiful birth-day. We are so blessed. She was considered full-term on Wed. and weighed 6 pounds 3 ounces and was 19 inches long. We came home yesterday afternoon and she is nursing beautifully. God is good!

Yes, He is, all the time. For pictures, click here. The one with big sisters Madeline is especially precious.

Wish List Alert

Can men and women just be friends? What about married men and women? Does the Church offer any guidance on where to draw the line between a spiritual friendship and a dangerous one?

Contact me with a "nut graph" if you'd like to tackle this subject.


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

New RBTE Catholic Writer's Conference Blog

Karina, Lisa and I are putting on the finishing touches for our new dedicated blog for the RBTE Catholic Writer's Conference. You will find all future posts about the conference here.

We are still looking for someone who can set up an actual website for us ... but for now, this should do the trick!

Finally, a couple of people have been in touch with us about other conferences that are going on in May 2008. We understand that some may have to decide which conference to attend, but because our conference is a track in the RBTE Conference, we cannot move the date. Thanks for understanding ... and we hope to see you there!

RBTE Conference: Would You Like to Speak?

It has been a little overwhelming to see the quantity and quality of publishing professionals (both writers and editors) who are interested in participating at this first conference of ours. To make it as fair as possible for everyone, here is how I propose we do it.

1. First, the bad news: Everyone -- speakers included -- will need to arrange and pay for their own accommodations and travel expenses to and from the conference. I wish we could afford to fly you all out first-class, but the truth is we're working (almost literally) on a shoestring. My goal is to make this conference as useful and as cost-effective as possible. That means that each person will need to contribute financially at least this much. Yes, even me.

2. Those who would like to give a talk (or would like to recommend someone else for a particular talk) are invited to submit a one-page list of "talking points" (one for each talk you have in mind). Be sure to include:
  • Title of talk
  • Experience level of target participant: beginners who need to know how to write a query, intermediates who have been published in some format, or advanced writers who are already supporting themselves with their writing but who want to learn more). (NOTE: Talks may appeal to more than one level of writer - if so, just say "all levels.")
  • Type of writer: authors of books, magazine articles, blogs, e-books, POD writers, etc.
  • Genre: inspirational/devotional, non-fiction, science fiction, chick lit, biography, etc.
  • What are three things participants will take away from your talk?
  • Brief bio (who you are and what your qualifications for this talk are -- professional background, publishing credits, etc.)

3. As soon as we get our website up and running, I will post all speaker submissions that I have received by September 1, and invite participants to vote for their top choices for different categories (fiction/non-fiction book publishing, magazine, marketing, etc.). Based on this feedback, Lisa, Karina, and I will make the final selection of speakers for the general sessions as well as breakout sessions for "niche" topics. We will then confirm the availability of each speaker, and post the results on the conference website.

4. In addition to these talks, we also plan to . . .

  • Give writers opportunities to talk with real, live editors (details to follow)
  • Arrange a pre-, post-, or extra-conference "road trip" so we can all enjoy a slice of real Chicago deep-dish
  • Hold a book signing and possibly a reading session for our published authors
  • Have a special parting gift for participants (details to follow)
  • Offer alternate (e.g. "less expensive") accommodation sites on the website

Questions or concerns? Contact me at

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Moi Meme... Tag, You're It!

I was tagged by Donna to participate in this "let's-get-to-know-y'all" blogging exercise. It's called a "Meme."

"What's a Meme," you ask? Well, you'll see... Here are the rules:

"For this meme, each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog."

And so ... TAG to:


So ... here are my eight facts/habits.

1. I spent a year in Senegal, West Africa as a short-term missionary, teaching English and playing keyboards for a band of African college students. During that year I developed a weakness for freshly baked baguettes and yoghurt with peanuts.

2. A few years later, I directed a group of college students on a bus tour across Poland. Half the team was Polish/charismatic (NOT Catholic), and half the team was American (NOT charismatic, mostly Quakers). Our bus driver was Hungarian, and the only language we had in common was German. (I had two years of it in high school.) At the end of the summer, I decided (a) I was not cut out to be a missionary and (b) Hungarians make the best ice cream in the world. (Our tour originated in Budapest.)

3. After graduating from Bible school (1987), I decided to take a trip by myself to spend time thinking and praying about what direction God wanted me to go. I hopped a cheap flight (from Mpls) to Aculpulco, and spent several weeks traveling by Mexican bus to the northern region of Matehuala, where I stayed with missionary friends. I knew exactly five phrases of Spanish, and packed my backpack with apples (to bribe the little old ladies to let me sit next to them) and toilet paper (need I say more?). To this day, it remains of the greatest adventures of my life.

4. My husband and I met at the University of Michigan Ballroom Dance Club. He asked me out because he liked my lemon tarts. I knew he was the one when he went out of his way to impress my dog. (see photo).

5. I'm the oldest of four girls, and was the last to marry (at age 35). If Craig hadn't shown up when he did, I was thinking about joining the Daughters of St. Paul.

6. My vocational aptitude test in eighth grade indicated that I should become a minister, a missionary, or ... a nun. (My Baptist parents were SO proud!) I studied Korean for two years to become a short-term missionary at a blind orphanage ... wound up in Africa instead when my student visa to Seoul was denied.

7. When I was eighteen I was seriously injured in a car accident. I still get nervous riding in snow storms.

8. White roses or gardenias, dark chocolate, and high tea with girlfriends: three indulgences I'm most likely to turn to when I need a little TLC.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

WISH LIST: Atlanta Eucharistic Conference assignment

Is anyone planning to attend this conference? If you are, please get in touch with me ( I'd like to talk with you about an assignment.



Friday, June 01, 2007

Calling All Catholic Writers: Mark Your Calendars!

Would you like to learn how to translate your "free"lance writing on blogs, online sites, and other non-paying endeavors into cash (if only occasionally)? Would you like to learn more about Catholic publishing, or learn how to put together a winning proposal for a book, or winning query for a magazine? Would you like five minutes with a real, live editor to pitch a book or article idea you just know would sell?

You would? Great! Mark your calendars, and plan to join us in Chicago May 29-30, 2008 for what I hope will be the First Annual RBTE Catholic Writers Conference, to be held in conjunction with the Religious Book Trade Exhibition (RBTE) the week following Memorial Day at the Pheasant Run Resort in Chicago, Illinois!

This conference is going to be hosted by myself (representing Canticle magazine), the Catholic Writer's Guild (Karina Fabian and others), and (Lisa Hendey). We also want to acknowledge Bob Byrns, who met with me a few days ago and is going out of his way to help us make this conference a pleasurable experience for everyone!

We are hoping to keep the costs extremely low (around $100, plus one night's accommodation), so even those with limited means can attend. Bring your whole family -- the resort has everything from golf to an indoor/outdoor pool your family can enjoy while you're at each session. Most rooms have a refrigerator and microwave, and the room rate is the same whether one or three adults stay in the room (kids are free). It is a Pepsi place (:-(), but cans of Diet Coke are for sale in the little gift shop. So grab a couple of writer friends and make a road trip!

Please e-mail me ( if ...

* You are planning to attend (and would like to help)
* You have a particular topic you'd like us to cover, or a particular editor to recommend
* You have any general feedback about our first conference (and would like to help)

Based on my experiences at the 2007 RBTE conference this week, I think a Thursday afternoon through Friday (May 29-30) would give us the biggest benefit in terms of the numbers of editors we could draw, and floor time we'd have available to us. However, the conference floor opens on Wednesday, and you can stay through the weekend, exploring Chicago with your family if you like!

Stay tuned for more information, which we will develop into a website (any volunteers?) as we have more information available. Thanks in advance to everyone who is going to help (please?), so that we can make this first conference a success!