Category Archives: Aspiring to Write

An Amazing Week

I had an amazing week last week. Filled with networking, inspiration, and a little media attention, it was quite the departure from my normal life of cleaning dishes, shuttling kids, and changing diapers.

Tuesday, I headed to Schaumburg, IL for the Catholic Marketing Network’s annual trade show, and Catholic Writers’ Conference Live. This was the first such conference I’ve attended and, while some of my expectations were not fulfilled (like the ridiculous notion that I would have time in the evenings to write), other expectations were far exceeded.

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From L-R, Me, Jeannie Ewing, and Amy Cattapan

One of the best parts was meeting lots of other authors whom I’ve previously known only through social media, most notably Jeannie Ewing (author of From Grief to Grace) and A.J. Cattapan (author of the YA novel, Angelhood.)

Then there was the fact that I

I gave Fr. Calloway (and many other influential figures) a copy of A Single Bead, and got this picture. He was so nice. Prayers that the many books given away bear fruit!
I gave Fr. Calloway (and many other influential figures) a copy of A Single Bead, and got this picture. He was so nice. Prayers that the many books given away bear fruit!

got several  advance reading copies of upcoming books. How cool is that??!! Not available in stores yet, y’all, but I’ve got it sitting in my pile of “Books to Read ASAP.” The two I’m most excited about are Kelly Wahlquist’s Walk in Her Sandles – Experiencing Christ’s Passion Through the Eyes of Womenand Fr. Don Calloway’s, Champions of the RosaryI’ll do my best to post reviews once I finish each book!

One of the many beautiful mosaics at the Shrine.
One of the many beautiful mosaics at the Shrine.

Daily Mass four days in a row was lovely, and there was an adoration chapel right there at the trade show. We also did a pilgrimage to  Marytown, and the shrine of St. Maximillian Kolbe.

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With Bonnie Rodgers of Catholic TV

As far as that media attention goes, first, I spoke with Bonnie Rodgers of Catholic TV, America’s largest online Catholic television network. Bonnie is one of those people that has the gift of making you feel like you are one of her dearest friends from the moment you meet her. As you would expect under such circumstances, I think the interview went well.

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With Doug Keck, on EWTN Bookmark

Next came an interview with Doug Keck of EWTN’s Bookmark. This was an interview that almost didn’t happen, since EWTN rarely covers fiction. Fortunately, the producer gave me a window of opportunity to present A Single Bead to Mr. Keck. I had a long while to wait before I got to speak to him, all the while sitting perched on a chair in the booth and feeling rather awkward. I spent the time praying that if God wanted me to be on, Mr. Keck would be open to it. And, Voila! I got on.

Finally, on Thursday, I was interviewed on a local Chicago Catholic radio station, WFSI fm.  I confess that by the end of three shows, I started to feel a wee bit repetitive, but in this show I had a chance to share the story of God’s providence through our recent family events. I feel so blessed to be able to look back and see His hand so clearly, and love sharing!

All three interviews will air sometime in the next month. I’ll keep you posted!

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Posing with my favorite book, wearing a fabulous consignment store find.

Wednesday evening, there was a “Meet the Author” book signing event, during which I signed about 150 copies of A Single Bead. Believe it or not, my hand barely got tired, although my handwriting did get rather sloppy. It was actually a lot of fun – if exhausting – to get to talk to so many people about my book, share my  “elevator pitch,” and hear a little bit about their lives and the people who they thought might enjoy reading about Kate and her grandma’s rosary bead.

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With Sr. Martha and Sr. Susan, at the Pauline Books and Media booth

I had a wonderful dinner with two sisters from the Daughters of St. Paul, and was blessed to hear the stories of their callings into religious life. I shared several meals with likeminded Catholic authors, from whom I was able to learn and be inspired.

It was an insanely busy week. I didn’t think it was possible, but I came home feeling even more exhausted than before I left. However, I was also rejuvenated and exhilarated, determined to develop a family schedule that will support family peace and my writing, with lots of new ideas for promotion and marketing of A Single Bead and future projects, and ready to face writer’s block (or “writer’s dam,” as author Karina Fabian prefers to call it)!

May it all be done for the Glory of God!

 

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A Single Bead is Finally Here! (A Belated Announcement)

Seriously. What blogger has a new book release and doesn’t even get around to blogging about it until more than two weeks after release?

Ummmmm. This one.

A Single Bead CoverI was all excited back on November 18th to do my cover reveal. I set up a Rafflecopter giveaway, posted the cover to Facebook, and wrote a long blog post about how the book came into being. I had great plans for posting the cover to my blog the following day, tweeting, posting to the Books for Catholic Teens Facebook page, etc. etc. etc

I was also scheduled to spend three days at the National Catholic Youth Conference, right here in Indy, which ran from November 19th to the 21st. I was even going to be interviewed for CatholicTV’s “This is the Day” program while I was there. Ray had taken time off work to watch the kids so I could be at the conference.

But God had different plans. Instead of spending his vacation watching the baby, Ray spent those few days essentially comatose following a heart attack. Cover reveal forgotten, A Single Bead was placed on the back burner, as our family dealt with realities that would have been unthinkable only a few days before.

God works in mysterious ways, though. Because of those disrupted plans, Ray had a whooooole bunch of religious sisters from the Daughters of St. Paul praying for him, along with the people from CatholicTV, and goodness only knows who else, that would have otherwise not even known who he was.

And, even as I walked through the worst of this difficult time, I was able to recognize how writing A Single Bead, which explores the power of faith to bring us through the most challenging of circumstances, had actually prepared me for this experience.

In the sixteen days since it was released, I’ve been blessed to hear from many people who have read the book. Many of them never would have even heard of the book if the “Pray for Ray” mantra hadn’t spread across Facebook. What a blessing to realize that a book that had been pigeon-holed as Catholic, because the story revolves around lost rosary beads, has inspired and blessed people from many different faiths and backgrounds!

In her review, author and grief coach, Jeannie Ewing, says, “If you are hurting over trauma or tragedy, or if you know someone who is, purchase A Single Bead.” Ruth Anne Holloway at Holloway Family North said, “The book does a great job of “showcasing” the power of prayer in a simple and easy to follow way.” Barb Szyszkiewicz at Franciscan Mom called it “compelling” and “refreshing.”

If you haven’t ordered your own copy yet, you can click on the picture below to order it from Amazon. It is available in paperback and electronic formats. If you’ve read it and enjoyed it, please consider writing a review, and telling your friends about it. Thank you!

 

The Story Behind the Story

A Single Bead

Today’s the big day… I finally get to share the cover of my book, A Single Bead, with my friends and readers! I hope you love it! Most of all, I hope you’ll read it, and tell your friends about it!

At the bottom of this post, you’ll find the link to go to my Facebook author page, view the cover, and enter to win one of three books that my publisher, Pauline Books and Media, is generously giving away. First, though, here’s the story of how the story of A Single Bead came to fruition.

Just over two years ago, I thought I knew what God wanted me to do with my life. I recognized two special talents I had been blessed with – writing and speaking. I also had developed a deep love and appreciation for God’s Word, and for Christ’s Church. I saw a scarcity of Bible studies written for Catholic women, by Catholic women, and I wanted to fill that gap.

There’s one thing about Catholic Bible studies, though. The authors always have letters behind their names. So I thought I’d better figure out how to get a theology degree. I quickly realized that was going to cost a fair penny, and I knew that I would have to find a way to pay for it without tapping into our already tapped out finances.

I had written a children’s book on the Rosary, but never found a publisher. So, I thought that maybe, just maybe, I could get that published and make a little money to at least help pay for a theology degree. I went to the website for one Catholic publisher – Pauline Books and Media – and saw that they were seeking Catholic young adult fiction. That struck a chord. But it was utterly ridiculous. I was going to write life-changing Bible studies, not frivolous fiction!

So, I laughed (literally, out loud) and said, “Well, God, if you want me to write young adult fiction, you’re going to have to give me the idea. Because I sure as heck don’t have one!”

And, though I didn’t hear him at the time, God laughed back.

A week or so later I got a tweet from @Catholici_T: “@afewbeadsshort, but have you ever pondered the power of just a single bead of the Rosary?”

I responded something along the lines of, “How true! I think I’ll write a blog post on that!”

But two hours later, the realization struck: It wasn’t a blog post. It was the title of a book, and the answer to a prayer.

One moment, I had nothing. The next, I knew that I was meant to write a story about a teenage girl who had lost her grandmother in a plane crash. At the memorial a year later, the girl finds a bead from her grandmother’s personalized rosary, but it’s not just any bead. It’s the bead bearing the girl’s initials. She would set out to find more beads, and there would be miracles and mystical events surrounding the beads that she found.

At the time, that was it. I knew there had to be a conflict, but I wasn’t sure what it was going to be. But, God had given me a start, and I was going to run with it.

Thanks to a writer friend (romance author, Kyra Jacobs), I knew that NaNoWriMo was coming up. NaNoWriMo is a friendly competition in celebration of November, National Novel Writer’s Month, in which authors challenge themselves – and each other – to write a 50,000 word novel in the 30 days of November. Anyone and everyone who reaches 50,000 words “wins”. I knew myself well enough to know that this sort of “all or none” approach was a good one for me. And so, the same day that I received that tweet, I resolved to write a novel in November. A novel about a teenage girl and a single bead. God would provide the rest.

And, indeed, He did. Somehow, I found the time, and, somehow, every time I sat down to write I actually had something to write. By the end of the first 30 days, I had just over 50,000 words. I finished the book on my birthday, which also happens to be the Feast of St. Stephen, AKA the day after Christmas. It was the best birthday present I’ve ever received.

I edited it, and then sent it to a couple of friends for thoughts and suggestions. My sister was afraid to read it because she didn’t want to have to tell me that it was awful. But, when she finally buckled down and read it over spring break, she texted me with the news. She loved it. In fact, it was one of the best books she’d read in a long time.

A little more editing, and I submitted it to two publishers, one of whom was that same publisher that originally inspired my wry prayer to God: Pauline Books and Media. A month later, they let me know they were considering it. And, on October 7th – the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary – they contacted me to let me know they wanted to publish it.

When I meditate on the Transfiguration, I often think about how Peter volunteered to make tents to house Jesus, Elijah, and Moses. But, tent making wasn’t what Christ wanted him to do. Similarly, I was all set to write Bible studies, but that wasn’t what God wanted me to do. At that moment, at least, He wanted me to write fiction for teens.

Ready to see the Cover?

The Realities of Writing

Like most wanna be authors, I went into this whole idea of writing a book – and getting it published – with a sweet naiveté akin to a toddler approaching a pit bull that was trained by a backwoods psychopath.

Pit Bull with baby 1892

All it takes is a great story, well written, with likeable characters and some good imagery, right?  A wonderfully intelligent and inspired publisher will pick it up and – voila! – I’ll have myself a contract, with plans for publishing the whole series.

Oh, how wrong I was.  There’s so much more to it.  First there’s the editing process, which I am beginning to realize could go on for years.  Every time I reread a passage, I want to write it a little bit differently.  And, as I’ve received reviews from a few friends (which, fortunately, were generally very promising), I recognize still more passages that need improvement.

Then there’s the question: to agent, or not to agent?  I was blithely on the path toward submitting to publishers without an agent, but then a talk with my friend Kyra Jacobs made me doubt the wisdom in this.  So, I’m now in the early stages of researching and querying agents.

Another thing to consider:  Publishers want an author who already has a national platform.  My blog gets an average of 375 hits a day, about 80% of which might actually be people.  Honestly, I can’t imagine who these 300 people are.

Hello? lo…lo….lo…

Hello? lo…lo…lo…

Did you hear the echo?  Try it yourself.  I swear there’s an echo.

Seriously.  Sometimes I don’t think anyone’s really out there.  I’m convinced that I have five friends who read the blog, but perhaps a publisher can be convinced otherwise?

Honestly, though, when I looked at my numbers today and compared them to those from a year ago, I realized that my traffic has actually increased by about 2.5 times.  Do I have the national platform publishers want?  I’m not sure.  But, I’ll celebrate the growth, and thank the readers who are out there for their ongoing support. (Now, would you please, please, pretty please add a comment, so I know you’re really out there?  I swear I hear crickets chirping.)

Regardless, I need to continue to grow this platform, so now I’m researching how to increase blog readership.

Then, there’s the fact that my hubby isn’t a big fan of my “work” that has yet to bring in any real money, so I also need to make a better effort to monetize the site.  How to do that?  (Note the new Google ad.  My old blog was still somehow drawing in a few pennies a month from a Google ad, even though I haven’t posted to it in a year and a half, so I figured I’d better throw one on this site as well.)

Then there’s the fact that I need to get out and network with other writers, to share in the joys and sorrows of this biz, learn from them, and hope that – maybe – they can even learn a little something from me.  I think I’ll enjoy this aspect of author life, but for now I’m just struggling to figure out where, how, when, and with whom I should do it.

So, that’s the reality of writing.  It’s one tenth creative art and nine tenths research, marketing and administration.  The creative art fills me up to overflowing, makes me feel that I am fulfilling my purpose in life, and using my God-given talents for His glory.  The research, marketing, and admin part sucks me dry, uses up what little spare time I possess, and leaves me feeling that I’m peddling and peddling but my tires are bare and I’m going up the road to Mt. Evans.

Don’t worry, I’m keeping the faith.  I believe this is God’s work, and He will provide everything I need.  Nonetheless, I ask for your prayers, encouragement, and any advice you may have to give!

P.S. Thanks to my friend, author Kyra Jacobs, who has very generously shared her time and knowledge with me. If you enjoy a good romantic suspense novel, grab a copy of her book, Armed With Steele!  The cover may seem a little steamy for my readers, but I promise it’s quite tame by romance standards!  🙂  And as an added bonus, it’s set in my hometown of Ft. Wayne, IN!
And, yes, that’s an affiliate link. Monetize, right?