Monday’s Writing Tips – Selling Potatoes



During the last blog we asked you to think of your novel as a potato. As silly as that may sound, I want you to continue to think of your work as a potato. Why? Because now that you have your finished product – a polished manuscript – you need to change your mindset from being an artist, writer, and inspired author into that of a salesperson. In order to become effective as a salesperson, you need to cut your emotional ties to your work.

Your work is a product – like any other product. Let’s go back to the potato farmer. Sure he is proud that the potato he grew is the best potato he has ever seen. The planter thanks God for all the inspiration and raw material He sent to help him grow such a magnificent potato.  However, after he admires his potato and harvests it, he knows it is time to sell it. It makes no sense to grow a potato that no one is going to eat. The potato was grown to give nutrition to a waiting consumer. It is the same with your product. If no one reads it, it was a waste of time for you to write it.

A potato goes through a middle-man before it is offered to the consumer. The farmer offers his potato to producers who then sell their potato to the distributor who ships the potato to the market. The market offers the potato to the consumer. It is no different with your product. Your job as the grower is to find the right producer and in your world of writing that is an agent. Agents are notoriously difficult to find. I have been looking for one to handle my potatoes for the last eight potatoes (books). I have yet to find one but I never give up. With each potato, I offer it to a few producers. Someday, I just may find one and it would make my professional life a little easier. I could concentrate on growing the potatoes instead of finding a distributor. Be Tenacious.

Luckily, even though I haven’t found a producer, I can offer my potato directly to the distributor. My job is to find the right distributor (publisher).   First, I know the distributors are out there – looking for just the right potato. It’s important to them to find the best. They want the market to trust them in the future with potatoes just being planted. They are not the farmer’s enemy. So many writers are so emotionally tied to their product that they bristle with anger when a distributor (publisher) turns them down.

The initial mistake that many new farmers make is taking their potato to all the wrong distributors. Stand back and take a good look at your potato. It is a potato after all. Why would you offer your potato to a bean producer? Yet everyday writers offer a product to a publisher who doesn’t market what they are selling. Again, you may have a great potato, but a bean factory is not going to change all their automation and advertising for just one potato. Don’t send your novel to someone who only publishes non-fiction. Don’t send your Christian novel to someone who only publishes horror.

Assess what kind of potato you have. Is it Russet, red, or sweet? Find a distributor who markets your kind of potato. Look them up on line and follow the instructions (submission guidelines) carefully. Don’t be upset if one or many more distributors turn you down. Maybe they already have a ton of sweet potatoes. You wouldn’t get angry or discouraged if it was a ton of potatoes you were trying to market. It is the same with your book. Keep looking. Next time we will discuss what to do when no one wants your potato.

Karen Kelly Boyce lives on a farm in NJ with her retired husband Michael. She has two grown children and two grandchildren. She is an award-winning novelist and writes a children’s series for Chesterton Press

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CWG Prayer Chain Post: April 26, 2015

The CWG Prayer Chain Post is a weekly post for members to include their special intentions by adding a comment.

Acts 4:8-12

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, addressed them, ‘Rulers of the people, and elders! If you are questioning us today about an act of kindness to a cripple and asking us how he was healed, you must know, all of you, and the whole people of Israel, that it is by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, and God raised from the dead, by this name and by no other that this man stands before you cured. This is the stone which you, the builders, rejected but which has become the cornerstone. Only in him is there salvation; for of all the names in the world given to men, this is the only one by which we can be saved.

The power of prayer and the power of people praying.


The Gloria
Glory to God in the highest. And on earth peace to men of good will. We praise You. We bless You. We adore you. We glorify You. We give You thanks for Your great glory. O Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father almighty. O Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son. O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father: you Who take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. You Who take away the sins of the world, receive our prayer. You Who sit at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us. For you alone are holy. You alone are the Lord. You alone, O Jesus Christ, are most high. Together with the Holy Spirit in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

Please leave a comment with your intention. If you have problems adding an intention, email it to Mike Hays at coachhays(at)gmail(dot)com and I will add it.  God bless.

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From the President’s Desk – Mediocrity

Copyright Ellen Gable Hrkach

Copyright Ellen Gable Hrkach

“Do not be satisfied with mediocrity.” St. John Paul II

Any person who settles for mediocrity in terms of his or her spiritual life is setting himself up for failure.  Reaching high for the virtues and striving for perfection isn’t always easy, but it’s always worthwhile.  None of us will ever be perfect, but we must try.  Most of us will fall short frequently, but as Catholics, we’re blessed to have the Sacrament of Reconciliation to give us the grace to be better people.

Authors who settle for mediocrity with regard to their writing are also setting themselves up for failure.  Articles and books that have not been professionally edited will frustrate readers. These authors can become known for their mediocre writing, and readers may not return for more.  If you’re posting to a blog, ask a writer friend to be your second pair of eyes. If you’re traditionally publishing a book, your assigned editor will help make your book as professional as possible. If you are self-publishing, please hire experienced and professional editors to edit your book. Most importantly, humbly consider any and all suggestions from your editor.

Don’t settle for mediocrity in either your spiritual life or your writing life. Strive to be the best you can be!

Special thanks to CWG member Allison Gingras for featuring my third novel, Stealing Jenny, during her radio show, A Seeking Heart, this week!  Check out a few of the shows here:

And, today, I’ll be live on A Seeking Heart from 10:00 until 10:45.  Listen live here at this link:

If you’d like to call while we’re on the air, here’s the number: Call 1-855-949-1380

CWG News:
We  have an upcoming live conference in July in Somerset, NJ (July 22-24) and registration is now open.

The Catholic Writers Retreat is taking place in late October.  Your Word is my Delight takes place October 25-29, 2015 at the St. Francis Retreat Center, 703 E. Main Street, DeWitt, Michigan 48820. Register on line at here at this link, Click on Other Offerings, or call 866-669-8321. $490 for five days.

As always, if you have any questions, comments or concerns, please do not hesitate to email me: president (at) catholicwritersguild (dot) (com)

In Jesus and Mary,

Ellen Gable Hrkach

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Birthing Grace

Photo Credit: Judy Klein

Photo Credit: Judy Klein

I wish I could have captured that moment in time. Forever. It was silent, sacred, sacramental.

I stood at the bedside of my daughter, Gaby, on Holy Saturday morning as she prepared to give birth. The room was cool and dimly lit, filled to the brim with the anticipation of new life. As I closed my eyes to pray for a safe delivery between Gaby’s instructed pushes, I entered into the sacrosanct silence of the room; the quiet hush of awe and reverence that comes in waiting for a child to be born.

Only one sound pierced the stillness—the steady beat of the baby’s heartbeat registering on the monitor rhythmically: thump, thump, thump.

Standing with my eyes shut tight, listening attentively to the baby’s heartbeat, I sensed the heart of Jesus pulsating with love for the world. Thump, thump, thump, I heard the God-man’s heart ringing out. I thought about the meaning of Holy Saturday—a day of anticipation, a time of looming rebirth, a period of waiting for the full bloom of love to burst forth from God’s heart, the same heart that had been silenced on Good Friday. It was a fitting day for Rose Grayson to be born.

Rose’s annunciation came the week before her father learned he had cancer, ushering in what would become a “Triduum” kind of year. A young family discovering they were pregnant and facing the reality of human mortality in one sweeping breath, moving from happy excitement to fear and grief, embracing the mysteries of life and death all at once. The hopeful expectation of a new baby, made present alongside the agony of not knowing the outcome of a cancer diagnosis. Baby readying, and the accompanying labor of cancer testing, surgeries, and waiting for results. The paradox of the cross, presented with penetrating clarity.

Then came the final prognosis: cancer free! And the news: it’s a girl, the first to join three brothers! I watched the little family move from Good Friday to Easter Sunday as healing rays came and life resumed its course with renewed vigor and purpose. And now it was Holy Saturday, the day of Rose Grayson’s birth.

The womb is not unlike Jesus’ tomb, I pondered, waiting to see Rose’s tiny face. In a place of dark silence, an enclosed border establishes a clear boundary with the world, and life secretly does its bidding until the darkness is overcome with a burst of brilliant light. Suffering offered and labor pains become cries of joy: He is Risen! It’s a girl!

In the silent enclosure of a birthing room, I gave thanks to God. Grace has ushered in the Resurrection. And God has given us “Rosie Grace.”

 Your death, Lord Jesus, is our life. Your grave the womb of radiant light.

Hymn for Holy Saturday Evening, The Vigil of The Resurrection

Posted in Catholic Writing and Publishing, Easter, Faith, Resurrection, The Mystery of Suffering | 4 Comments

It’s Not About Me!

iStock_000018106955XSmallDo you remember the first time you looked through a magnifying glass?  It was an amazement to find out that in the small area covered by the glass things were nothing like you thought they were at first glance!  I have a couple of graduate degrees and have spent years reading and studying just to “keep up” with teachings about our Church. In that time I have found that Father Robert Barron,for me, is kind of like that magnifying glass.  He has a way of zoning in on the heart of the matter in his teachings, like no one else I have read.  That includes the Church Fathers.  He shoves aside all the flotsam and jetsam and always gets to the point clearly and succinctly.

I was thinking about the readings for Cycle A and the 23rd week the other day.   Week 23 combines Paul’s definition of love and our responsibilities for fraternal correction. Good thinking Church! I was prompted to these readings because of my new responsibilities for  the CWG as a custodian of all things Blog. I am very proud of what our writers have done in this forum. It is a constant supply of witness which is so needed in our crazy world. I think that the new order of things with bloggers and editors is a good arrangement for both bloggers and editors. Therein lies the rub.

If you are at all familiar with the publishing biz you know that editing and the position of editor is de rigueur, the way it’s done.  In CWG, as persons who are outwardly Catholic and inwardly spiritual there’s more to it than that.   No doubt, the invitation to work as an editor is complimentary in more ways than one.  It is a recognition of skill and a certain level of accomplishment.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing but it should come with a caution.

A person who works as a commercial editor is someone who is expected to achieve a level of perfection, a document free of error.  It’s no different in production of a high quality blog but there are additional responsibilities here because we are functioning in a different arena. As Catholic bloggers and writers we are overshadowed, in a very strong way, by the teachings of Jesus.  A Father Barron commentary strikes directly at the heart of how we are to function when we are given the privilege of correcting others.  In his homily on the 23rd Sunday he teaches: “[This work] (Love) is willing the good of the other as the other and then doing something about it.”  It’s not about correction, or perfection or making a work better. It’s about using one’s talents to actively will and put into practice the good of another person.

As a matter of summary, Fr. Barron reminds us that our very act of the will is really: “The fulfillment of the law.”  As an editor in the Catholic context, it is very much NOT about me and how correct, efficient or skilled I am as an editor.  It is about the person being edited and how I can minister to them the one obligation that Jesus holds us all to.  The obligation is to love them and nothing else! With this thinking, mighty things can be created and works reflect a standard of perfection that just doesn’t happen in the secular world.  Isn’t that where we all want to go?  That’s why they call it witness.

Note: The readings referred to in this piece are from The Lectionary, Cycle A, the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary time as seen in the New International Version. They are: Romans 13: 8-10 and Matthew 18: 15-20.




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CWG Prayer Chain Post: April 19, 2015

The CWG Prayer Chain Post is a weekly post for members to include their special intentions by adding a comment.

Psalms 4:2, 4, 7-8, 9

Children of men, how long will you be heavy of heart, why love what is vain and chase after illusions? Be careful not to sin, speak in your hearts, and on your beds keep silence. Pause to my heart you are a richer joy than all their corn and new wine. In peace I lie down and at once fall asleep, for it is you and none other, Yahweh, who make me rest secure.

The power of prayer and the power of people praying.


The Gloria
Glory to God in the highest. And on earth peace to men of good will. We praise You. We bless You. We adore you. We glorify You. We give You thanks for Your great glory. O Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father almighty. O Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son. O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father: you Who take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. You Who take away the sins of the world, receive our prayer. You Who sit at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us. For you alone are holy. You alone are the Lord. You alone, O Jesus Christ, are most high. Together with the Holy Spirit in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

Please leave a comment with your intention. If you have problems adding an intention, email it to Mike Hays at coachhays(at)gmail(dot)com and I will add it.  God bless.

Posted in Catholic Writing and Publishing | 3 Comments

In the Company of St. Michael are lucky to have Mike Hayes who has been our faithful keeper of the prayers.  Why is he alone?  We can do better than that.  Announcing the formation of the CWG Prayer Team.  This will be good for Mike and the rest of us.  Join us as a CWG Prayer Warrior.   Send me your name to agree that you are on the Team: blog@catholicwritersguild(dot) (com)   After that, agree with me that you will promise to check out Mike’s prayer intentions and set aside a few minutes to consider and pray about the intentions listed there, before midnight on Sunday. That way we will have an army agreeing before the day is gone.  Probably wouldn’t hurt if you took another look during the week too!




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Poetry Sunday from Katie O’Neil


For Easter, I feel like the focus is joyousness–both spiritually and in the natural world around us there seems to be more joy, strength and life. More sunlight raises the level of general happiness in most people so there’s even internal ‘renewal’!  Shelley’s “The Isle” is a poem in this mood:

By anemone and violet,
Like mosaic, paven:                                                                   
And its roof was flowers and leaves
Which the summer’s breath enweaves
Where nor sun nor showers nor breeze
Pierce the pines and tallest trees,
Each a gem engraven;—
Girt by many an azure wave
With which the clouds and mountains pave 
A lake’s blue chasm.

Canadian poet Archibald Lampman [1861-1899]

provides an Easter Attitude in his smaller, more evocative in tone pieces “Sight” or “March”


The world is bright with beauty, and its days
Are filled with music;
could we only know
True ends from false, and lofty things from low
Could we but tear away the walls that graze
Our very elbows in life’s frosty way
Behold the width beyond us with its flow,
Its knowledge and its murmur and its glow,
Where doubt itself is but a golden haze.

Ah brothers, still upon our pathway lies
The shadow of dim weariness and fear,
Yet if we could but lift our earthward eyes
To see, and open our dull ears to hear,
Then should the wonder of this world draw near
And life’s innumerable harmonies.


Over the dripping roofs and sunk snow-barrows
The bells are ringing loud and strangely near,
The shout of children dins upon mine ear
Shrilly, and like a flight of silvery arrows
Showers the sweet gossip of the British sparrows,
Gathered in noisy knots of one or two,
To joke and chatter just as mortals do
Over the days long tale of joys and sorrows;
Talk before bed-time of bold deeds together
Of thefts and fights, of hard-times and the weather,
Till sleep disarm them, to each little brain
Bringing tucked wings and many a blissful dream,
Visions of wind and sun, of field and stream,
And busy barn-yards with their scattered grain.


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Jean Heimann and Seven Saints – CWG April Book Blast

This month, the Catholic Writers’ Guild is touring Guildie Jean M. Heimann’s book, Seven Saints for Seven Virtues. It’s been awarded the CWG Seal of Approval. Check out this collection of seven stellar saints who model heavenly virtues that inspire us to lead holy lives.

Seven Saints for Seven Virtues

Jean M. Heimann

Summary: To live a virtuous life might seem like a daunting task, but we are fortunate to have examples to follow—the saints who have faced sin through the embodiment and exemplification of virtue. In this book, the reader will meet seven saints who lived seven virtues, and will discover concrete ways that they can live those virtues in their own lives. Each chapter will include:

  • A quote from the saint
  • A personal reflection on each saint
  • A brief biography
  • A discussion on the spirituality of each saint, and concrete examples how to emulate this saint and grow in the virtue that saint models
  • A prayer to conclude each chapter, asking for the intercession of that saint

Seven Saints for Seven Virtues covers a wide range of spirituality and life circumstances, demonstrating that everyone, in every role of life, has the opportunity to live a virtuous life.

Find it Amazon —

Or Servant Books —

Check out Jean’s blog, Catholic Fire:, to learn more about the saints.

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A Soldier Surrenders by Susan Peek — A review by Teresa Frailey


A Soldier Surrenders tells the amazing tale of the conversion of Saint Camillus de Lellis. Inspiring and interesting, this book will not be easily forgotten by its readers. For my own experience, it was a wonderful opportunity to meet a great saint who, I must admit, I’d never heard of before.

The author did a laudable job of bringing Saint Camillus to life for the reader and his story to our hearts. The book centers on his conversion—one that I believe will inspire people in every walk of life. It was not a dramatic, lightning-from-heaven, instant conversion. It was a slow conversion, stretching across the length of years where God never gave up on the soul of an Italian mercenary soldier.

Camillus is far from sainthood in the beginning of the book. As a mercenary, he sells his services to the highest payer—who happens to be at one point, the Turkish sultan. The Moslem Turks were fighting the Catholic Italians and were enemies of pretty much all of Christendom. When Camillus joins the Sultan with his father, he was turning on Italy—and, in eyes of many, Christianity. He is soon forced to leave the Sultan’s army, but guilt haunts him for what he’s done. And the fact that he turned traitor haunts his life in many more tangible ways as well.

Camillus was a drinker, a gifted gambler who won, almost without fail, through either luck or cheating and had a temper.   That was his bane throughout the years of his conversion. All in all, Camillus de Lellis, as we first meet him, is not exactly material for a saint. A stunningly beautiful thing expressed through this tale, however, is that God uses the most surprising people, the most unlikely individuals, to do his will. The tale is a transformation of a soul—from one that has stooped to the lowest form of humanity to one that achieves the highest goal, sanctity.

Even while Camillus de Lellis is a soul with numerous vices, the reader glimpses profound saving graces in this individual. His heart has infinite room for compassion, for those he sees dying about him on the battlefield, for those he meets in the squalid streets of Italy less fortunate than himself and for the sick, who perhaps first cultivate in him the inner virtues of compassion and love that Camillus finds within himself.

Repeatedly, in this slow conversion, Camillus realizes how wrong he is, but his pride and restless spirit and temper keep turning him from complete conversion of heart. He is repentant, he confesses his sins…and then somehow the world leads him away. As his friend warns him once, he has become a slave to his vices. These words from his friend, Curzio, haunt Camillus on the battle field and as he finds himself committing and recommitting the old sins. These words are his nemesis, or rather, perhaps one of the greatest graces in his life.

Camillus must reach the end of his rope, desperation itself, before he can slowly start climbing back up toward sanctity and salvation. His pride his taken from him. He suffers from a very painful ulcer on his leg that humiliates him. His friends turn on him. His luck at gamboling seems to forsake him and he loses everything. He becomes nearly lame by the infection on his leg so he is unfit to join any army. His career as a soldier in the armies of Italy, are over. His career as a soldier for God, and a servant to the poor, especially the dying, begins.

Once his vices are stripped from him, he releases himself. He surrenders entirely to God. For the first time in his life, Camillus de Lellis truly finds joy and is finally able to uncover the potential holiness that is possible in every human heart.

One of the things I found most beautiful about this saint was his profound desire throughout his life, but especially after his conversion, to help the dying, to comfort them on their last journey. He started a religious order with the particular mission to help the poor and dying. They made the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, but also to find and care for the victims of the plague.

This book was a great read, one of the best young adult stories I’ve read in a long time. It drew me into the life of a very unique saint with vices that entirely fell short of his virtues. One thought I was particularly left with: God never gives up on a soul in this life. He never gave up on Saint Camillus; and he won’t give up on you or me either or any soul on earth. Until the day a soul leaves this world the possibility for salvation exists.

Sanctity is a struggle—a struggle Saint Camillus had to fight for over and over and over again.

And Saint Camillus de Lellis won.

Teresa Frailey


Editor’s Note:  Author Susan Peek read Teresa’s column and contacted our young writer directly.  Susan has published many Young Adult books and this book is her newest.  She was excited to be reviewed by our talented young writer.  Teresa…..we are PROUD!

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