Thursday, June 27, 2013

A giveaway in celebration of my 1st anniversary!

Tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of the publishing of my book, The Life I Dreamed

Unfortunately, I'm not on the New York Times best seller list and I have yet to make a million dollars, so things haven't gone as I had hoped....  (I am TOTALLY kidding, I PROMISE!)  

The first year of being a published author has been surprising in almost every way.   But in reality, the experience of writing, self-publishing, marketing, and selling my novel has far surpassed even my wildest imaginings.  Seeing my very own words in print, holding my completed novel in my hands, hearing from others that my book touched them, receiving the CWG Seal of Approval, reading positive reviews of my writing and my story.  It has all been indescribably overwhelming and amazingly humbling.  To know God has used me and my story has made this past year a year like no other.  

And I am so grateful.

So to celebrate 12 months of God blessing me through this experience and in an effort to thank Him for His gifts, I will be offering the Kindle version of my book FREE tomorrow (June 28, 2013).  Please go to Amazon to download your own copy and tell your friends and family all about the opportunity.  

And thank you so very much to all who have supported me, encouraged me, and helped me spread the word! 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Throwing in the towel....

            I embarked on a mission this summer.  Just 20 days ago, I wrote a post all about how I was going to spend this summer accomplishing a goal that I had set back last fall.  I was going to, out of sheer determination if nothing else, finish editing the novel I wrote back in November.  I would succeed at any cost!

November was a crazy month.  Despite having just started a part time job (my first outside-the-house job since having children), I signed up for NaNoWriMo 2012.  I knew it was a long shot- trying to write a novel while working and home schooling the children.  I knew my story idea was very vague and undeveloped too.  But one of the mottos of NaNo is “No plot?  No problem.”  It’s all about writing just to get the words on paper.  The hope, I guess, is that plot will come as you go along.   

            After I’d finished and “won”, I knew my story needed lots of work though.  The “No plot, No problem” attitude really did ring true for the duration of the month.  But in the months that followed….having 50,000+ words of a rough, plot-less, first draft, was a major obstacle to story success, of course.  I had my doubts even then.   I figured it was a good effort but not worth trying to fix.  I put it aside for the winter- both physically and cognitively.

But, I am not a quitter.  When I start something, I see it through to the finish.  So, over the spring, I kept thinking about that unfinished story and I talked myself into tackling it as a summer project.  The basic skeleton of a story was there (or so I told myself as I remembered my efforts)- so with time and patience and perseverance, I knew I could make something great of it.  I committed myself wholeheartedly to the task.  I was optimistic, excited, and, above all, determined.  I would succeed.

From day one, I was plagued with problems.  The story was just lacking.  It had no clear focus.  My characters didn’t know what they wanted or where they were going.  I liked the characters and who they were.  I had the tiniest details of their personalities and their lives worked out, but I didn’t have the big things worked out.  I kept getting caught up in the details and running into mental road blocks whenever I tried to work out the big issues.  I checked out books from the library all about novel writing and read them cover to cover.  But, the books, rather than shedding light on my editing efforts, ended up illuminated even more problems.

Anyway, suffice to say I was driving myself (and my husband who patiently listen to me rattle on and on about my struggles each and every evening) CRAZY.  It was an emotional process of trying to make something work in a story that nothing was working in.  I was fighting a losing battle but refusing, REFUSING! to give in.  I just wouldn’t fail and I wouldn’t quit.  

 Still, it wasn’t working.  So, I prayed and prayed and agonized and agonized.  

God told me what He wanted.  He asked me to give it up.  He reminded me that I need to be a mother first and that He wanted me with my children this summer, emotionally as well as physically.  (Incidentally, God speaks to me a lot- through Scripture, through the words of others, and through countless other sources too.  He gets His points across, if only I am willing to listen) 

I got the message loud and clear.  But, at first, I was still refusing.  I wanted to press on anyway.  I could do it.  I knew I could.  “I am committed to success,” I told myself.  But, that “no plot” thing is really obstinate when it comes to editing and God kept patiently calling me away.  

So, finally-- I threw in the towel on my 2nd novel.  

It was not worth the emotional struggle, not worth the time and energy.  My summer is now on a different track.  No more mission.  No more mountain climbing.  No more stubborn refusal to succeed at any cost.  

I am focusing on my children instead, and on enjoying writing (when I can) and on relaxing.  It is not what I planned or what I thought I wanted, but life is full of sacrifices and sometimes real success comes in being willing to fail…..

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Anecdote to Sin

           I turn on the television and it is on every show.  I open a magazine and it is in every headline.  I flip through the local radio stations and every song promotes it.  Sin is running rampant through our world.  And ours is a world that not only accepts sin, it seeks to normalize it, at times, even celebrates it.

It’s true that we all fall prey to sin.  It is an unavoidable part of the human condition.  I remember reading once that even Bl. John Paul II, seeing his own sinfulness, went to confession every week.  But, though, we cannot avoid all sin, all the time despite even our very best efforts, we must never give in to the belief that sin is acceptable, or normal, or worthy of celebration.  Sin is evil, pure and simple. 
           But there is hope!  read more.....

Monday, June 17, 2013

An unexpected lesson in greatness....

            Saturday evening, we found ourselves at the 4 p.m. vigil Mass.  We don’t normally attend Mass on Saturday but one of the scheduled altar servers had fallen ill, so my son stepped up to take his place.  When we entered the church, we saw an invitation to all parishioners posted in the narthex.  

 “Please join us following the 4 p.m. Mass in the Parish Hall for a reception celebrating the 70th anniversary of ordination for Fr. Basil,” it said.  

             Fr. Basil has been a retired priest at our parish for 26 years.  Being present at the Mass celebrating his 70 years of priestly service was just incredible.  He is nearly 97 years old and has lived an unbelievably extraordinary life…..  

Coming from the Byzantine rite, he was married before being ordained to the priesthood.  He and his wife were blessed with three children but seven months after the birth of their third child, his wife died.  As tragic as that was- it was only the beginning of his struggles.  

He lived in Romania at a time when Catholics were persecuted.  When he refused to deny allegiance to the Pope, he was jailed.  His still very young children were sent to an orphanage.  He was physically tortured.  Still, he held fast to his beliefs.  After many years, he was released and allowed to reclaim his children.  In time, he was able to come to America but his children were not.  He was forced to leave them for a second time.  

Amazingly, his middle child, Sergio, followed in his footsteps and became a priest.  Along with our pastor and associate pastor and, of course,  Fr. Basil, Fr. Sergio was one of the four priests celebrating the Mass.  I couldn’t help but think, there was so much meaning in those two men- father and son- standing next to each other celebrating Mass.  There was so much significance in the two of them, both as priests (Father and Father), sharing this celebration together after all the heartbreak they’ve both experienced in life. 

            On our way home after Mass, there was so much I wanted to say to my children.  I wanted to ask them….

What did you think of that Mass?  Did you see the beauty and the symbolism in the four holy priests con-celebrating together, all joined around the altar of the Lord?  Could you see heaven touching us here on earth as they prayed the words of Consecration together?  Did you realize that together those four holy men represented at least 150 years of consecrated service to Our Lord?  That we were truly in the presence of greatness and holiness- as we are at every Mass?

When our pastor gave his homily and shared the life story of Fr. Basil, did you find yourselves wondering- could I do what he did?  Could I stand strong in my faith and lay down my life so completely?  Could I go to jail and give up my comforts and even my own family rather than renounce my Catholic faith?   Would I undergo torture for my beliefs? 

Were you surprised to hear his life story and to learn of his strength, while seeing him sit there looking so safe and ordinary?  Were you inspired to greatness yourself by looking at that frail, humble man who has given so much to Our Lord?  

            I wanted to take the opportunity to drive home so many lessons but I decided to just let the experience, and Fr. Basil’s story, speak for itself….

Monday, June 10, 2013

A little plug for a fabulous short story.... "Convicted"

What if a man could go to jail for the rest of his life…..for murdering a dog?  That is the topic of the short story I wrote and entered into the Tuscany Press story contest.  My story is entitled “Convicted” and an excerpt of it is currently on the Tuscany Press blog.  If you are interested in reading the excerpt, please check it out here—and be sure to leave a comment at the site. 

The good people at Tuscany Press are sharing the excerpts of all the contest entries in an effort to create a little excitement about the stories before any final decisions are made and before the winning stories are published and available for purchase (sometime around Christmas 2013)….

FYI-- The comments will not affect the outcome of the contest- 
they will just serve to create a buzz about it all…..

 photo credit: <a href="">Kitsadakron</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

My summer goal- a little mountain climbing

            We are three days into our summer break from home schooling.  I have encouraged the children to come up with some summer goals.  I am encouraging (read- requiring) them to enter at least one contest this summer.  I have heard about three so far- one is a writing contest for the local library, which I, myself, am planning to enter as well, the other two are home school contests- a photography one and another writing one.  Here are some links if you are interested… one, two, and three.

My own summer goals include, first and foremost, editing the novel I wrote back in November during NaNoWriMo 2012.  My 53,000+ word effort has been sitting untouched in my “my documents” folder for months and months.  This summer, I have no excuses- no schooling to keep up with, no more trips planned, no outside distractions pulling me away from my computer.  This is the time to tackle that monumental project that has been quietly calling me for months and making me feel overwhelmed and guilty all at once.

The problem with editing is that it requires a bit of distance-- an ability to be detached and unemotional and willing to cut.  I struggle with that.  I read my words, the words I so painstakingly chose and sculpted into a story (albeit a really rough slipshod one at this point) but I feel so attached to them.  Even the parts of my story that really aren’t working, I feel a strange sort of connection with.   

I scrutinize many of the sentences that I made and the paragraphs that I formed and even though they add nothing to the plot, I hate to cut them loose so cruelly.  I look at the story as a whole and it needs so much work and so much revision, but I look at each little sentence by itself and I sort of like what I see.  I just can’t seem to bring myself to reject those superfluous, gratuitous sentences and paragraphs, even though I know they really must go.  They are like an old acquaintance- I met them, I sort of liked them, and though I have not really spent any quality time with them, I feel like they might still have the chance to find a place in my life story.

I have a few other goals I’d like to accomplish but this one- this mountain of editing and revising that I must climb- will likely take up my every waking moment for the next 2 ½ months.  I will have to really work to let go of the bad parts of my story and really work to find something so much better to take their places or my 2nd novel will be doomed to failure- forever remaining in the “my documents” folder unloved and unread.  It’s going to take a lot of tough love (and hopefully the gentle encouragement of an unemotional, outside source) but I WILL accomplish this- even if I accomplish absolutely nothing else…..

 photo credit: <a href="">kevin dooley</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>


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