Thursday, January 31, 2008

Catholic Writer's Conference on Catholic Moments

Lisa Hendey interviewed Karina Fabian (chair of the Catholic Writer's Conference Online) on her podcast here.

Have you registered yet? It only takes a moment ... and the conference is free. So now, while you're thinking about it, go get your calendar and mark off May 2-9. Then click here to register!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Excellence Award - Sites to help you write

I was touched and delighted when both Kate Wicker and Elena Maria nominated "Silent Canticle" for the Excellence Award (Kathleen made her original nomination for both SC and "Mommy Monsters," and I posted her award -- along with the rules of the award -- here).

Rather than name ten more "Excellence Worthy" mom blogs (and there are at least that many), I'd like to give this award to a number of sites that I've found especially helpful as a writer. The "blogs behind the blog," if you will. They are: A never-failing source of article ideas (and real-life advice) on adoption and foster care.

People of the Book: News and other tidbits on the publishing world -- including a master list of contact information for various Catholic publishing houses. (Jim Manney of Loyola Press, author)
Catholic Writer's Guild: This networking group for Catholic writers is co-hosting (with Canticle) the first-ever Catholic Writer's Conference Online May 2-9.

Catholic Online: The entire site is a "must browse," but I find their "Feasts and Angels" listing particularly helpful.

Dignity of Women: A helpful website for those who want to better understand the Church's teaching on the role and vocation of women.

Online An online resource for newspapers from all over the world. The online listing of Catholic diocesan papers is here.

The Vatican: Includes translations of papal encyclicals and Church documents (including the "Catechism of the Catholic Church" and "Code of Canon Law") as far back as you'd care to read.
Index is here. The New American Bible online is here.

Writings of the Early Church Fathers: Although the site was compiled by a Protestant organization, the documents themselves are a helpful resource for anyone wanting to better understand Church history. Another excellent resource for early Church documents here.

Virtual Book Tours: This is a useful service for published authors who would like to help their publisher sell books. It's not free ... but it is a creative and much-needed service in today's publishing market.

Christian Writer's Marketplace: Written by the author of the indispensable resource Christian Writer's Marketplace, Sally Stuart, this blog gives up-to-date information and news items of interest to writers.

Have you found other websites particularly helpful? Please add a comment!

Veritas suggests "Catholic Education."

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Prayer Request: Suicide

I received an urgent prayer request today from Pat Hershwitzky, a regular "Canticle" contributer. Her friend, Phil, committed suicide by shooting himself ... right in front of his wife, Marian. She is understandably in shock. It sounds as though this comes at the end of a life full of darkness and depression. Pat covets your prayers on behalf of both these individuals, and asked that I share with you my initial response to her request:
I'm so grateful our spiritual leaders now understand the dynamics behind a suicide, the mental anguish that mitigates the circumstances and enables us to entrust that soul, too, to the mercy of God.

Dear, Sweet Jesus: Take this troubled sheep, Phil, into your Sacred Heart. May he rest, safe and without a care, in your tender arms.

Blessed Mother: You watched your Son die violently before your eyes, and can identify with this sorrowful widow. Intercede powerfully before the throne of grace for this couple, that he will be at peace ... and her sorrow will turn not to bitterness, but to love perfected.

Please pray for Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle

Donna-Marie and her daughter were in a car accident, and need your prayers and love sent her way. She says her guardian angel was on duty, because EMP workers were right nearby, and neither of them came away with anything more serious than whiplash (though *ouch*).

For more information, go to Donna-Marie's blog here.

Here's an update.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

On Golden Pens ... and Empty Pockets

I recently encountered this resource for those who are interested in becoming stronger bloggers. Enjoy!

If you want to get fur flying (or at least a spirited discussion going) in a writer’s group, ask the Million Dollar Question:

“Should a writer allow his or her work to be published
without receiving monetary compensation for it?”

Very quickly, two camps emerge: Those who are trying to pay the bills with their craft, and those who write for reasons that are less tangible, but (at least to them) just as less important: serving God and His Church, or cultivating a “writer’s platform” – a consistent readership that demonstrates to prospective publishers an author’s ability to market his or her own books. Still other writers are simply trying to hone their skills, or express their views on a particular issue.

Much of the time, I tend to fall in the second category – as do many people who publish their work online, either on blogs or websites such as Catholic Exchange. Our labors are rewarded with something less tangible than a paycheck. The payoff varies from one individual to the next. Most days I consider writing a form of ministry; and yet, part of me enjoys other “perks” as well: seeing how many (and/or what kind) of comments are posted in response to an article, how many (and whose) blogs have me on their blogroll, or how much traffic my blogs generate.

This kind of sleuthing can backfire: Occasionally I’ll scan the blogroll of a site I visit regularly and obsess over why my blog isn’t listed on their blogroll – and feel as though I’m in high school all over again, upset at not being invited to the “right” parties. (A friend of mine – who is listed on almost every Catholic blogroll I’ve ever encountered – wisely counseled me to concentrate on producing good-quality content, and the rest would come in time.)

Sometimes my writer’s angst manifests itself on a more pragmatic level. Like many freelance writers, I depend on a handful of long-term clients, from which I generate most of my income. The other day I panicked when it looked as though I might lose one of my larger clients due to budget cuts. As I took stock of the situation, I began to wonder if I had been unwise to put so many eggs in one basket – if it had truly been God’s will, rather than my own, that I invest so much of my time this way. Happily, the situation resolved itself in my favor … but still I wondered if it might be wise to diversify my time more, so I wasn’t so dependent on that particular source of income.

As I pondered the situation (“praying about it” would be stretching it a bit), I noticed an e-mail from a second client – someone who had used my services regularly a few years back, but stopped when he was promoted to a different position within the organization. He wanted to check on the status of an invoice for a project I had done for them two years ago, generating fees of nearly two thousand dollars. It turned out that my computer system had switched over around that time, and I’d lost track of that particular invoice. He promised to process the payment immediately.

I could feel a gentle tap on my heart as I tapped out a quick e-mail of thanks to the editor. See? You don’t have to worry, that still small voice reminded me. You just keep doing your best work where I’ve planted you, and leave the finances to me.

Throughout the Gospels, we read of men and women who were given certain talents and held accountable – for better or worse – for how they used those talents. Those who hid the talents in the ground were chastised; those who used their talents to the best of their ability were blessed with their Master’s favor. While this spiritual principle does not always translate into a steady stream of cash, this much is certain: The Master we serve has promised that, if we are faithful, He will supply all our needs.

Do you have a “way with words” that you would like to develop? Are you interested in learning more about the publishing industry – how it works, and how you can be a part of it? Or would you simply like to learn more about current communication technologies – blogs and podcasts and virtual booktours? Join us for the first annual Catholic Writer’s Conference Online, hosted by the Catholic Writer’s Guild and “Canticle” Magazine. The conference, which will be held May 2-9 and conducted entirely on the Internet, is free of charge – but registration is required. For more information or to register, click here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

See you at the conference?

Karina Fabian, Ann Lewis, and I have been working to put together the first-ever "Catholic Writer's Conference Online," which will be held May 2-9. For more details, click here.

This is an excellent opportunity for all writers who want to "polish" their skills; in addition to forums targeting those who want to write books and magazine articles, editors will be hosting chat rooms in which you can actually pitch your ideas and get useful feedback. (I will be hosting forums on writing query letters and good writing habits, as well as a chat where you can pitch me ideas for "Canticle".)

Best of all, it's free! Early registration is highly recommended, as sessions will be filled on a first-come, first-serve basis. You can sit at your computer all week ... or just for an hour here and there, as suits your schedule. To register or for more information, click here.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Welcome, Sue Brinkman, OCDS!

Susan Brinkmann, OCDS, author and journalist, has joined Living His Life Abundantly & Women of Grace as Staff Writer.

Susan is a member of the Third Order of Discalced Carmelites and comes to us from "The Catholic Standard and Times," the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, where she served for six years as a Correspondent. She has won numerous national awards for her work and has published several books, including two historical fiction novels, a book on Carmelite prayer entitled Lord Teach us to Pray and a book on the fraudulent research of Alfred C. Kinsey entitled The Kinsey Corruption, published by Ascension Press.

Sue has devoted her life and talents to building up the Church and tearing down the culture of death, and is pleased that the Lord has called her to LHLA/Women of Grace to continue this vocation. Susan is single and writes for us from her home in Horsham, Pennsylvania.

Songs to Love Life By...

Elizabeth Schmeidler (songwriter and recent contributer to "Canticle") sent me this link to the top "pro-life songs." She writes: "I'm so glad the word is spreading ... I think we have momentum here!"

From your mouth to God's ears, dear Elizabeth. Enjoy, all!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Best Movies/Books Posted on "Streams of Mercy"

The other day a friend of mine was having a tough time with her young children, and (not being close enough to hug her in person) I suggested she go out and get my new favorite movie, The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio. Well, one thing led to another ... and (long story short) I have now compiled a list of ten books and movies that have made a lasting impact in my life. I invite you to check it out. For your convenience, I have put all these resources in a "Recommended" list that links directly to (I just became an "Associate.)

Normally I'd have posted something like this at "Mommy Monsters," but I have a review on there right now that I want to keep at the top for another day or two. So click on my "converts" blog ... and enjoy! And if you have a chance, why not share your own "top 10." If you do, be sure to leave a comment here so we'll know to check it out!

A Reason to REJOICE!

Today as I was proofing the Lenten issue of Canticle, I was reminded of an e-mail I received a few weeks ago from Denise Bossert, who regularly contributes her articles to our magazine.

This year she received an unexpected gift at Christmas: Her husband slipped her a note in the middle of Mass, which said that he had been going to RCIA classes without her knowledge, and that he was preparing to enter the Church at this Easter Vigil! She writes:

This, from a husband who said (rather vehemently) that he would never become Catholic.

I had no idea that while I was reading When Only One Converts, he was studying the Catechism. He made my RCIA leader (from two years ago) - who is now his RCIA leader - promise not to say anything until he was sure.

This is a miracle that I prayed for, at every Mass and during my hour of Adoration (Friday mornings between 3 and 5 AM). I will not ramble further. Just to know that I came home in 2005 - the daughter of a Presbyterian minister and the (annulled) former wife of a UM minister. And I had been told by my Baptist husband that I would never share the joy of Our Eucharistic Lord with him. In fact, my defense of the faith (when directed at him) was a great annoyance. I could convert. And he relented and said our daughter could join me. But he never would. And that was a

It was an ache that didn't go away. I have written inspirational articles for many venues, but the one I longed to see come home had assured me that my words and efforts were a pure waste of time when it came to him.

And I suppose they were, until you factor in grace.

Christmas miracles do happen even today. I know, one of the greatest miracles happened in my family.

Yes, God is good. All the time. Please remember in your prayers the Bossert family as they prepare for her husband's big day!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Story Time!

Today on Mommy Monsters (my adoption blog), I've posted some tips on how to share your child's adoption story, including a useful resource for parents who aren't confident in their story-telling abilities. Since this is a blog for writers, I thought you might find this particularly relevant in your life no matter how God brought your family together.

Happy reading!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

About the next issue...

Yes, you heard it here first, ladies!

If the March/April issue of "Canticle" feels a bit heftier than usual, it's because it will be ... eight pages, to be exact. We are going to be including a special "Easter insert," with articles to help you get more out of the Easter season. We've designed it so you can pull out the insert (when you're done with it) and give it to a friend or family member who might benefit: a new convert, someone interested in the Church, or a neighbor who never seems to return your issue when the postman puts it in her box by mistake!
We are offering "trial subscriptions" now to those who call in and request them (800-558-5452). We will send the first issue free, along with an invoice that you can pay to get the next issue, or write "cancel" and return. What a deal, eh?
The photograph with this post is from a feature story in the next issue by Lisa Hendey on the "spirituality of knitting." Some knitters have discovered that knitting can be a great way to pray and serve at the same time. (Food for thought: Why not consider ordering a few extra copies to give to the crafty people in your life?)

Monday, January 07, 2008

Light Crossing... and Writerly Advice

Today I got an e-mail from one of my contributing writers, Deb Richards, who had some constructive comments on my "Wifely Insurrection" column. I share it with you here in hopes that it might help someone else as well ... particularly the part about writing "ahead" of where we live, where we know the truth to be. Deb writes ...

I read your "insurrection" column and loved it! I hope you see the true humor in it. And thanks for putting yourself "out there" like that! It will help others. Also, it reminds me that always, always, we write beyond the place we are able to fully live. We "know" the truth; we see it. It's part of what leads us forward by faith. Writing keeps us accountable!

Tips, Hints, and Wishes...

I couple of months ago I encouraged some of you to join "Helium" as a way to turn writing into actual cash. This week I sold an article through Helium Marketplace, to an online magazine called Here's the link. If you'd like more info about Helium, send me a line. (It wasn't a load of cash, but considering how much writing we do for free, every bit helps, right?)

Karina Fabian is hard at work on the Online Writer's Conference that will be held the week of May 9. We have a number of excellent presenters already ... For more information, or to register (it's free ... donations accepted), click here.

This week I came across two great online resources you might like to know about. First, the Catholic Media Review, which is a great source of information not only about movies but television and other blogs as well. They directed me to the second resource, CRI (Catholic Radio International), which has started a new show called "Cover to Cover." This weekend I listened to the autobiography of Emaculee Ilibagiza, Rawandan genocide survivor, entitled Left to Tell. I'd been meaning to read it ... and thanks to this site, I got to listen to it for free!

Last but not least (if you're still reading), I need an article about Pentecost and the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer for the May issue of "Canticle." Any takers?

Friday, January 04, 2008

Moments of Beauty

Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur has come up with an inspiring project, which she calls "Moments of Beauty." Read more about it here.

So the next time you step outside, or into the playroom, and find a moment worth sharing, whip out the old Brownie (or whatever the Digital equivalent might be) ... and pass along the blessing.

I'll post one here, to get you started. Thanks, Patrice!

Catholic Media Review

With equal parts creativity and intelligence, six stellar bloggers have responded with faith and constructive outrage to the recent atrocities coming out of the USCCB media office: The Catholic Media Review (CMR). For more information, click here.

Warm, hearty congratulations to these pro-active Catholics!

Jean at Catholic Fire
Letitia at Causa Nostrae Laetitiae
Scott at Good News Film Reviews
Julie at Happy Catholic
Christine at The World ... IMHO
March Hare at The Mad Tea Party
I thought you might like to know about this -- Adah was our "Woman of Grace" in the January 2008 issue of "Canticle." Please remember Adah and her family in your prayers.

Dear Heidi,

I'm not sure if Katie Wicker advised you that our dear angel, Adah Gerardo, died on December 27th surrounded by her family. I wanted to let you know how very touched Adah was by the Canticle article. She cried tears of joy as I read it to her. Also, it is a wonderful legacy for her family. Many thanks for bringing joy and comfort to the last days of this beautiful woman's life.

Eileen Pankow

Thursday, January 03, 2008

A (paying) writing opportunity for you!

Today I received a notice from Rhonda Hogan, compiler/editor of the "When Miracles Happen" series by Guideposts Books. Each book in the series will be a collection of 40 true stories that describe how someone’s life was changed in an extraordinary way. Each book will be a wonderful exploration of the many different ways that God intervenes in our lives.
Upcoming titles in the series and submission deadlines for each are as follows:

Miracles of Nature, 1/20 -- this one can include the wonder of nature as well as storm stories, mountain stories, river stories, and the like. Try NOT to make it so much about "rescues" since we already have a Miracles and Rescues book. And try NOT to do animal stories, since we already did Miracles and Animals.

Miracles in Tough Times,
2/11 -- this can be about staying close to God in spite of losses, such as the loss of loved ones, money, health. It can also be about marriage difficulties, racial conflicts, teens/homeless living on the street, single parents, social alienation, and much more.

Submitting a Story for When Miracles Happen

We are accepting submissions of stories anywhere from 1,200 to 2,200 words in length. Each story should be a first-person narrative written in a simple, dramatic, anecdotal style with a spiritual point that the reader can "take away" and apply to his or her own life. The story may be the writer's own or one written in the first person for someone else. Each story should be authentic and genuine, and any concrete facts should be true and verifiable. NOTE: Any article submitted will be considered in final form and approved by the author and the person featured in the story, except for minor editorial corrections as necessary to comply with standard grammatical rules and Guideposts' in-house style. Rights and fees will be negotiated upon acceptance of manuscript.

For additional details, send me an e-mail and I'll forward the full e-mail to you.

Happy writing!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Catholic Carnival #153

Sarah Reinhard ("Just Another Day of Catholic Pondering"), a regular Canticle contributer, hosted the most recent Carnival today. Go pour yourself a cup of tea and settle in for a good read. You'll be glad you did! HAPPY NEW YEAR!