31 Days to De-Stressed Living: Day 5 – Celebrate Your Friendships

Image Almost every December on the third Sunday of Advent, I take out this special cake plate and make my family’s favorite chocolate pound cake. It’s time for Rose Sunday Tea (find the recipe here). Friends gather to sip tea laced with brandy, eat cake, and catch up with one another’s lives . . . and for a few hours, all the Christmas craziness melts away, leaving us de-stressed and ready to face life again.

Like most working moms, I find it tough to fit in everything I need to do to get ready for Christmas, and even this year I had to postpone this ritual a few weeks when a snowstorm extended a business trip unexpectedly. But the Downton Abbey premiere presents the perfect opportunity for a “do-over,” and my former Ascension colleagues have assured me that they are on their way. So today, I am baking.

As much as I love my husband (and children) — and I do — I’ve learned that I have more to offer them when I don’t lean on him too heavily. It simply isn’t fair to expect one person in your life to meet your every need. That’s what girlfriends are for. They have experienced the same milestones and many of the same challenges, and can usually add some much-needed perspective, as well as a few laughs.

Of course, having moved so many times over the years, many of the women I’ve come to love and admire most don’t live close enough to come for tea, so necessity becomes the mother of invention. I drive a few extra hours on business trips, send comfort boxes, and wine-and-Skype when I really need a fix.

What do you do, to get the time you need with your “girls”?

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The Law of Love (The Love Project, Day 24)

naughty kidAs the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.
John 15:9-10

Today at work I spent the day watching the DVD presentations and reviewing the workbook for Encounter, the new middle-school Scripture study based on The Bible Timeline. In the second lesson, on the book of Exodus, Mark Hart made an observation that made me sit up and take notice:

“God gave us the commandments not to control us, but out of love. The Commandments are for the soul what an X-ray machine is for the body: They show us where we are in need of healing.”

Well said, Mark!

Today’s Love in Action: When was the last time you made an examination of conscience, and availed yourself of the healing sacrament of reconciliation (confession)? Open yourself to the Divine Physician, who loves you no matter what.

CWCO 2009 Monday: Workshops and Mission Statements

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If you logged on today expecting to see the regular “Miracle Monday” feature, this might be a bit of a shock on your system … All this week, EMN will be featuring an overview of the Catholic Writers’ Conference Online, which is a joint effort of the the Catholic Writer’s Guild and the Extraordinary Moms Network.

Today’s sessions are dedicated to introducing the online workshops that are being held this week. These are run much like online college classes — the lessons are posted for you to work through and post your comments and/or homework. The leader checks in throughout the day to respond to any questions you might have. This year we are offering the following workshops:

“Creative Calisthenics” with Terri Main
“Description and Setting” with Kim Richards
“Dialogue” with Devon Ellington
“Everything by Writing” with Sue Lick
“Generating Ideas for Fiction” with Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff
“How to Sell Yourself” with VS Grenier
“Humor Writing” with Ron Berry
“Publisher-Quality Manuscripts” with Frank Creed
“Query Letters that Sell” with Melanie Rigney
“What Editors Want” with Lea Schizas
“Worldbuilding” with Karina Fabian
“Writing the Short Screenplay” with Kristen Johnson

Finally, if you are one of the lucky few who are able to pitch a book idea to one of the real, live editors who will be joining us on Thursday … I have a chat scheduled this morning to offer you a few pointers!  (If you missed it, the chats are available for viewing in the workshop forum section of the website until the end of the conference.)  Continue reading

Who’s Who in Catholic Publishing: CWCO Begins!

cwco_topicMonday morning at 9 am, the second annual Catholic Writers Conference Online kicks off with a little talk I’m giving about how to pitch a book idea to a publisher.

In preparation for this, I gathered information from the publishers who will be represented for the conference, to give attendees an idea of the distinctive “voices” of each house. This information was gathered from editors, publishing websites and the  CPA website

Why do publishing houses need mission statements? Here’s one excellent explanation from Michael Hyatt, President of Thomas Nelson Publishing. Someday when I grow up, I’d like to work for this guy. Bottom line: We need them to give us the “light at the end of the tunnel,” so we know how we fit in the great cosmos of the publishing world … and when we are accomplishing our corporate goals, individually and as a team.

Christian publishers distinguish themselves from other kinds of publishing in their desire to contribute meaningfully to the spiritual lives of others. Our brothers and sisters in Christ are our primary customers, service providers, and (not to put too fine a point on it) the reason we’re around in the first place. This year, an extraordinary number of editors and other writing professionals have stepped forward to donate their expertise. With your indulgence, I’d like to take a few minutes to recognize them here.

Ami McConnell (Thomas Nelson Publishing)
Arthur Powers
Andrew McNabb
Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Cynthia Cavnar (Servant/Saint Anthony Messenger Press)
Danielle Bean, (“Faith and Family” Magazine)
David Dziena (Our Sunday Visitor Parish Services)
Devon Ellington
Elena-Maria Vidal
Frank Creed
Heather King
Helen Gallagher
Brian Saint Paul, Margaret Cabaniss, and Christina Jopson (“InsideCatholic.Com” e-zine)
Jaquelyn (Jackie) Lindsey (Our Sunday Visitor, trade books division)
Jeff Gardener (Catholic Radio International)
Joann Alberts, Trinity Direct Marketing
Judith Costello
Karina Fabian (President, Catholic Writers’ Guild)
Kristen Johnson
Kyle Eller (“Northern Cross” newspaper)
Lea Schizas
Lisa Wheeler (Maximus Group)
Maria Rivera
Mark Brumley (Ignatius Press)
Mark Shea
Matt Pinto (Ascension Press)
Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff
Melanie Rigney
Michelle Buckman
Mike Manno
Miki Tracy
Patricia Punt
Paul Pennick (Twenty-Third Publications)
Sr. Maria Grace Dateno, Sr. Christina Wegendt, and Diane Lynch (Pauline Books and Media)
Pete Vere
Ron Berry
Sally Stuart (Christian Writers’ Market Guide)
Sue Brinkmann, OCSD (“Canticle” Magazine)
Sue Lick
Sylvia Dorham
Terri Main
Terry Whalin (Intermedia Publishing)
Tom Grace
VS Grenier
Vinita Wright (Loyola Press)

On behalf of co-chair Karina Fabian and myself, thank you for making this week possible, and for doing your part to cultivate the next crop of bestselling Catholic authors!