Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Grace-filled Tuesdays (Book Club "Meeting" #21): Shelf Esteem

Today over on the blog, we had another "meeting" of the Book Club.
I shared some exciting news about where I've spied copies of my two Catholic novels, Erin's Ring and Finding Grace, recently.  Head on over to String of Pearls if you're interested in finding out where my books are currently enjoying a little shelf esteem.  Come on--join the club!  Because Tuesday's child is full of Grace, as you know...and Erin, too!
And don't forget about the giveaway!
I'm giving away five free copies of Erin's Ring.  Just share this post on your blog, on Twitter, or on your Facebook page, and contact me to let me know that you've done so.  I'll throw your name in the hat, and on Nov. 1 I'll announce the lucky winners.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Grace-filled Tuesdays (Book Club "Meeting" #20): An Erin's Ring Giveaway!

The Grace-filled Tuesdays Book Club met today over at my flagship blog, String of Pearls. We talked about my second YA Catholic novel, Erin's Ring, recipient of two book awards from the Catholic Press Association.
If you haven't read Erin's Ring yet and would like to do so, you might be interested to know that I'm hosting a giveaway.

I'm giving away five free promo copies of Erin's Ring,
with the winners to be announced on Nov. 1. 

If you'd like to find out how to enter, head on over to String of Pearls for more information.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Grace-filled Tuesdays (Book Club "Meeting" #19): For the Love of Boys

Hey, readers, the Grace-filled Tuesdays Book Club met today at String of Pearls.  Just thought you might like to know.

What did we talk about, you ask?  Well, if you're interested in joining the club, click here and head on over.

I'll give you a hint about what the topic of discussion was: the importance of writing what you know, and the fact that what I know the most about is having a family with five boys in it. You'll be let in on my not-so-secret secret: that these are the guys who inspired me to create Grace Kelly's five older brothers in my first novel, Finding Grace.
My boys, in birth order from R to L.
For the love of boys, please join us!  We'd love to have you.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Talking about Erin's Ring with Allison Gingras

On July 15, I was honored to be a guest on Allison Gingras's "A Seeking Heart" radio program (a sort of online Catholic book club).  Allison kindly invited me on to talk about my second YA Catholic novel, Erin's Ring (published by Bezalel Books in 2014), a 2015 recipient of two book awards from the Catholic Press Association.

Before we discussed Erin's Ring, we covered lots of other topics--including our shared experience of having married our high school sweethearts!

Although very nervous beforehand (and hoping to find a way to chicken out and reschedule the interview for a later date!), I loved visiting with Allison.  She put me right at ease, and I wound up feeling as if I was chatting with an old friend over coffee.

If you missed the show and are interested in listening to it, here's the link to the podcast.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Grace-filled Tuesdays (Book Club "Meeting" #18): A Little History Lesson

As bad as I've been about keeping up with my firstborn blog, I've been even worse about keeping up here at The Write Stuff!  My writing output has been mediocre at best lately!

I did blog yesterday at String of Pearls, though.  The book club "met," and we talked about the history of the area where my husband and I grew up--Plattsburgh, NY, which sits on the shore of Lake Champlain and just happens to be the setting for my first novel, Finding Grace.
At yesterday's "meeting," I posted a short excerpt from Finding Grace, one that gives a little history lesson about some islands in Lake Champlain that played a part in the Revolutionary War.  If you missed yesterday's "meeting" and would like to join the club belatedly, click right here.

So, did you read that post?  And if you did, does it make you want to read Finding Grace

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Grace-Filled Tuesdays (Book Club "Meeting" #17): Last of a Four-Part Series

Over at String of Pearls today, we had our 17th meeting of the Grace-filled Tuesdays Book Club.
For today's meeting, I posted the last installment of a four-part series that originally appeared on the blog in 2013 and 2014.  This series was called "Where Real Life and Fiction Intersect," and its purpose was to answer any questions readers might have about which parts of my first novel Finding Grace were loosely autobiographical and which parts were entirely fictional. 

The subtitle of Part 4 of the series is "I Can Relate to Grace."  How, you ask?  Head on over to find out.  Join the club--we'd love to have you!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Grace-filled Tuesdays (Book Club "Meeting #16): Third of a Four-Part Series

I know, I know...it's Thursday, not Tuesday.

But I forgot to tell you that we had another Grace-filled Tuesdays book club meeting over at String of Pearls last week. It was the third installment of the "Where Real Life and Fiction Intersect" series, wherein I tell you which parts of my first novel Finding Grace are loosely based on my real life and which parts are totally fictional.  Originally posted in 2013, when I had about 10 readers, I thought it would be fun to re-post the series, now that there are dozens of you stopping by that blog--DOZENS!  (Are there any other "Arrested Development" fans out there who get that reference?)
Anyway, if you'd like to check it out, click on this link

There's one more episode before this little series concludes--so stay tuned, readers!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Numbers Game

Here's what I posted over at String of Pearls today, copied and pasted for your convenience:

Well, I just realized that I missed a national holiday yesterday.
I'm sure you were all whooping it up like crazy, making and eating infinite amounts of pie--because what better way to celebrate a number that stretches on into infinity than by finding a dessert with the same name?

Truth be told, I've never been good at math and I don't really "get" pi.  (But then again, I don't really get pie, either, when there's a much better option: cake!)

But in honor of Pi Day, I thought I'd play the numbers game a little here and share my Amazon stats with you.  I just happened to check my author ranking on Saturday (something I rarely ever do, because it's not as if it's a huge confidence-booster or anything!).  Well, my friends, I say move over Nicholas Sparks, John Grisham, J.K. Rowling, et. al., because [drumroll please!], as of a few days ago,
Yeah, baby, that's right: my author rank on Saturday was #64,146.  Read that number and weep!  (Just for grins, I checked again today, and I've already moved down the list to #79,477.  Yikes, it doesn't take long to have 15,331 authors pull ahead of you!)

After checking my author rank, I decided to check out the sales ranks for each of my novels, and this is what I learned: Finding Grace was ranked #269,893; and Erin's Ring was ranked #148,276.

So needless to say, my books won't appear on the New York Times bestseller list anytime soon...or ever.  But I did look up another number, which makes me feel a tad better about my rankings: the Amazon website lists 32.8 million book titles (when you add up everything they carry--hardcover, paperback, Kindle, audio, and children's board books); so in light of that number, my rankings don't seem quite so dismal.

I know that my novels, written with the specific purpose of inspiring young readers and hopefully helping them to grow in knowledge of and love for the Catholic Faith, won't make me rich or famous, and I'm 100% okay with that.  I also know that without the help of the Internet and generous eFriends (some of whom I've never even "met") who promote these books on their blogs and websites, I would have trouble getting copies of Finding Grace and Erin's Ring into the hands of the readers for whom I wrote them.

Case in point: not long ago, I was informed by my online friend Nancy Carabio Belanger (a talented and successful Catholic author) that my books had been mentioned in a recent blog post over at Shower of Roses.  Jessica, a homeschooling mother of seven, wrote that she had put together stacks of books for each of her children this past Christmas, and look what her 12-year-old daughter's stack included:
I want to thank Jessica from the bottom of my heart for her support.  And I absolutely mean it when I say that if my novels touch even one reader--her 12-year old, for instance--then my mission has been accomplished.

It doesn't matter what the numbers say about my books, because when all is said and done, chasing worldly success is a game with no meaningful score. There is only one literary critic I've ever worried about pleasing anyway.  And I think you know the Guy I'm talking about.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Public Speaking/Book Signings

In early January of this year, I had the privilege of speaking to four different classrooms of students (5th through 8th grade), at two different schools, about my two Catholic YA novels, Finding Grace and Erin's Ring.  I traveled down to Tampa to be a Confirmation sponsor for two of my nieces, and while there, my sister-in-law arranged for me to visit the Catholic school that her 8th grade triplets attend and also the one where she is a 5th grade teacher.

This was the second time I've been given the opportunity to speak to students in a classroom setting.  In May of 2015, I visited my niece's 4th grade class in Chicago, to talk to her students about Erin's Ring after they'd read the book together.  (I blogged about the experience here and here, if you'd like to read those posts.)
This guy--my best inspiration and my biggest fan--was there to cheer me on, as always.
I can't believe I'm about to say this (gulp!)...but if you would be interested in having me come to speak and/or do a book signing at your school or parish, please leave me a message.  There is an "EMAIL ME" button on my home page over at String of Pearls, if you want to contact me that way.  Although I am often busy traveling to visit my kids and grandkids (none of whom live right down the street!), I might be able to make something work out.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Grace-filled Tuesdays (Book Club "Meeting" #15): Second of a Four-Part Series

It's Tuesday--so that means it's book club day!
Today over at String of Pearls, I posted the second installment in the "Where Real Life and Fiction Intersect" series.  I originally wrote this series in 2013, about a year after Finding Grace was published, to satisfy any reader who might want to know which parts of the book were inspired by real people and events in my life and which were strictly fictional.
If you'd like to attend our meeting today, grab yourself a cup of coffee (I've got mine!), sit down in your comfiest chair, click on this link, and join the club!

Peace and grace, dear readers!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Grace-filled Tuesdays (Book Club "Meeting" #14): First of a Four-Part Series

It's Tuesday.  And as you know, Tuesday's child is full of Grace [Kelly, the main character in my novel Finding Grace!].  That's right, it's book club day over at String of Pearls!  If you'd like to stop in and join me for a "meeting," I'd love to have you!

Today, I'm revisiting an old post from 2013 (long before I decided to start the Grace-filled Tuesdays Book Club).  It's the first in a four-part series called "Where Real Life and Fiction Intersect."  If you're interested in hearing which parts of Finding Grace are slightly autobiographical and which parts are completely fictional, this is the series for you.  I plan to post the next three installments in the coming weeks.

Okay then, click on over and join the club!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Grace-filled Tuesdays (Book Club "Meeting" #13): Reader Feedback, with Some Spoilers

The book club met today, over at my flagship blog, to talk about Finding Grace.  I received a lovely email from an 8th grade reader, a young lady whose class I visited in January; I couldn't help but share some of what she had to say with club members in hopes of starting a lively discussion.

Head on over to String of Pearls, if you'd like to read more.  (But be warned: if you haven't read Finding Grace and you plan to, there are some spoilers in the second half of the post.)

Friday, January 29, 2016

Dreams Really Do Come True!

Yesterday, I boxed up three copies of Finding Grace and five copies of Erin's Ring, to fulfill a new order I'd gotten, and then I headed to the post office to mail them to a bookstore.  You know, not a virtual bookstore (like Amazon), but an actual bookstore--with shelves and displays and cash registers and everything.
But the bookstore that put in this order wasn't any old bookstore, no-sir-ee!  It was the Hammes Bookstore at the University of Notre Dame!
That's right!  My books are going to be for sale at Our Lady's university out in South Bend, IN.  I am so excited about this that I'm tempted to hop on a plane to see it with my own eyes (it would be, as Rudy's father said when he saw the football stadium for the first time in the movie Rudy, "the most beautiful sight these eyes have ever seen!").  But I think I'll just try to get one of my two nephews, who are currently students out there, to snap some cell phone pics and forward them to me once the books make it onto the shelves.

Back when Finding Grace first came out in 2012, I contacted the ND bookstore to see if they would be willing to carry it.  (After all, Notre Dame plays a part in that story--and there is even a great scene at the Grotto.)  When nothing came of that, I thought, "Well, I tried."  I'd always known it was a long shot, and I had no plans to try again.

Then last fall, the whole Pearl clan was out at Notre Dame for a football weekend, and when one of my Pearl sisters-in-law and I were in the bookstore together, we passed a table filled with Irish-themed books.  "Your books belong here," she said.  I told her I'd looked into that years ago, but she countered with, "Yeah, but that was before you were an award winner!"  (My Pearl sisters-in-law are the best cheerleaders in all the land, they truly are.)

Bolstered by my sister-in-law's confidence in me, I decided I didn't have anything to lose; and this time I struck gold (or blue and gold).  It took a while to take care of the business end of things, but the books are now on their way out to the Midwest.  And I am left here in NH, pinching myself, and realizing that sometimes, dreams really do come true!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Grace-filled Tuesdays (Book Club "Meeting" #12)

Today I had a "meeting" of the book club over at String of Pearls.  In that post, I tell you about the December 2015 issue of Catholic Library World, and how it featured some Catholic publishing houses.  Among the publishers mentioned was Cheryl Dickow's Bezalel Books, the publisher of Finding Grace and Erin's Ring.  And Erin's Ring got a nice shout-out on page 106!
If you want to read the full post, click on over and join the club!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Should I, or Shouldn't I?

Write a sequel to Erin's Ring, that is.

These Chicago fourth-graders have answered with an enthusiastic "YES!"
As much as I'd like to please these darling students who gave me such a warm welcome when I visited their classroom last May, I'm just not sure if I should write another book.  I've been mulling it over, and playing around with the idea...

Well, I did blog about this whole can of worms over at String of Pearls today.  If you're interested in reading it, here's the link to that post.  (If you do read it, let me know what you think.)