Adages Every Freelancer Should Know

Writers, whether they are freelance magazine writers and bloggers or budding novelists, are always eager to learn something new that will propel their career to the next level. To that end they will scour the Internet for information, join forums, participate in chats, and travel to conferences.

They will spend money on subscription services such as newsletters or videos. They will fill their office with how-to books written by people who have succeeded. Since publishing is rapidly changing, the latest and greatest techniques are the viral must-haves.

But wisdom is timeless. Technology is changing the way the publishing business operates, but the core principles remain intact. Writers must deliver compelling content while making sound business decisions. They must use the skills and abilities they currently have while developing new skills and simultaneously improving their current skill set.

Modern organizations like to speak about Best Practices. Here is a list of Best Practices that have been proven time and time again.

From various sources:

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again! (William Edward Hickson)

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. (Origin uncertain)

Your reach should exceed your grasp. (Robert Browning, Men and Women and Other Poems)

Be nice to the people you pass going up the ladder; you will meet them again on your way down.

I am a firm believer in luck, and the harder I work the luckier I am. (Thomas Jefferson or Mark Twain?)

Brevity is the soul of wit. (Shakespeare)

Do not put off until tomorrow what you can do today. (Ben Franklin)

Poor Richard’s Almanack:

Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship.

If you were a servant would you not be ashamed that a good master should catch you idle? Then if you are your own master be ashamed to catch yourself idle.

After crosses and losses men grow humbler and wiser.

The learned fool writes his nonsense in better languages than the unlearned; but still it is nonsense.

Being ignorant is not so much a shame as being unwilling to learn.

Love your enemies, for they tell you your faults.

If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing.

All things are easy to industry, all things difficult to sloth.

Reading makes a full man, meditation a profound man, discourse a clear man.

Posted in Catholic Writing and Publishing | Leave a comment

The Twelve Steps to being a Spiritual Writer


Step Two – “Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore our writing to sanity.”

Do you believe in God? Do you really believe in God? You may bristle about the question, but there are so many layers and levels to faith that it seems like an appropriate query to me. When I was a child, I had an unwavering faith. I couldn’t understand doubt. I believed what my parents, the nuns and the adults in my little world taught me. It was faith, but it was the faith of a child. Some people grow into an adult faith without much trouble. Then, there are the rest of us. We rebel. We grow into teenagers who question everything, doubt everything we are told and give our parents long nights of despair. I was one of those.

I see parents worrying about their atheistic teenagers and  the children who never go to Mass. I tell them not to worry – just pray – pray not only for your children but for yourself. Pray that you receive a gift; the gift you need is the patience of God. He understands rebellion and young people. He has a lifetime to reach them. They will be back before you know it. It’s funny how the first real need or tragedy in their life brings them to prayer. What level of faith do you have? The only guarantee is that your faith will grow and wane over your lifetime. That is true for all people. As a spiritual writer, it may be even more true.

What is it about writers? We are different from other people. We live in our mind. Correction, not just our mind but in our imagination. We create people who don’t exist, who live in worlds that were never real. We  dream up situations that haven’t happened and set our imaginary friends in those emotionally powerful or action packed situations. Once our story is started, it is hard for us to return to the ‘real’ world. Standing in line at the supermarket, we don’t see the cashier, we envision our main character destroying the evil villain. While making dinner, we are lost on the alien planet of our latest novel.

While all the world is paying attention to the outside world, we are living on the inside. It came to me the other day, that what isn’t real often requires more of my time and attention than what is real. Is it hard to understand that our relationship with God can become part of that lost world. That our faith in a heaven can get lost in the flow of our own musings. Does God become just another character we conjure up? Do we believe in the true God or the image of our imagination? Do we believe in the God who created us, or the God we have created.

We, the story tellers of the world, can get lost in the story. That is why having an anchor like the Church to guide us is even more important for us than for the “sane” folks out in the real world. We can lose the true God in two worlds, the real world and the world of our imagination. We need the unchanging teachings of the Church to guide us. Are the angels in my books anything like the real angels? If I don’t have a guide, I am in danger of creating new-age renditions of angels much like the occult imaginings so popular today. Is Mary able to hear our prayers in heaven? The teachings of the catechism of the Church can answer that question. As spiritual writers we need to hook our imagination to the truth and that truth is found in the Catholic Church. We need to believe in a power greater than ourselves. I have a God of my imagination. He is a lot like Santa Claus. Soft and chubby, kind and joyful, he is there to pick me up when I stumble, and smile at me when I am sad. Your God may be judgmental and strict. Whose God is real? Probably neither.

The truth is that God is like a multi-faceted diamond. We focus on the facet that we need and know. He is beyond our understanding. However, just because we cannot have faith in the God of our imagination, we can have faith in the God who created our imagination. The trick is not getting lost in our own mind. We need the Church to guide us in the truth. We need to separate what we imagine from what is real. That is where the gift of faith comes in. And we as spiritual writers need faith in the Church and the real teachings of the Church to guide us. How do we stay connected to the truth and how do we reflect that truth in our work? There are numerous practices we need to follow to keep us on the narrow path.

In the next few blogs let’s talk about sanity and what that is. Let’s discuss the practices that will keep us living in truth. The truth about ourselves, our writing and our spiritual life.

Karen Kelly Boyce lives on a farm in New Jersey with her retired husband. She is a mother of two and grandmother of two. She and her husband raise Nigerian Dwarf goats and enjoy chickens, horses, and turkeys on their farm. They love camping and taking road trips around the country. Karen is an award-winning author of numerous novels, and a series of children’s books.

Posted in Catholic Writing and Publishing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

CWG Prayer Chain Post: November 22, 2015

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

Daniel 7:13-14

I was gazing into the visions of the night, when I saw, coming on the clouds of heaven, as it were a son of man. He came to the One most venerable and was led into his presence. On him was conferred rule, honour and kingship, and all peoples, nations and languages became his servants. His rule is an everlasting rule which will never pass away, and his kingship will never come to an end.

The power of prayer and the power of people praying.


O God, of Whose mercies there is no number, and of Whose goodness the treasure is infinite; we render thanks to Your most gracious majesty for the gifts You have bestowed upon us, evermore beseeching Your clemency, that as You grant the petitions of them that ask You, You will never forsake them, but will prepare for the reward to come. Through Christ our Lord.

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 | Leave a comment

CWG Book Blast: Cracks in the Ice, by Deanna Klingel

This month, the Catholic Writers’ Guild is touring Guildie Deanna Klingel’s book, CRACKS IN THE ICE. It has the CWG’s Seal of Approval.

Teaser: Gina Mangalli, niece of a mafia don, has a dream of Olympic Gold as a figure skater. What happens to Gina NOVEMBER-BOOK-BLAST-coverwhen her dream is lost?

Summary: Gina Mangalli, niece of a mafia don, has a dream of Olympic Gold as a figure skater. What happens to Gina when her dream is lost is what happens to many of our modern-day athletes when they can no longer compete. They lose their identity. Two people who never give up on her are able to turn her to the faith of her childhood, redirect her talents and restore her family.

Awards: It is a Selah Book Awards finalist.


Excerpt: Dear Diary, All I want is to be in charge of my own life and ice skate. Is that so much to ask? I mean I am fourteen. I think I can be in charge of something. It just isn’t fair. All I want to do is ice skate. Sometimes things happen that have nothing to do with me, but they change things in my life. I don’t think that’s fair. Now, I have all these other things I have to deal with. It makes me mad. Gina, 1954.

Bio: I was a child in a small town in the 50’s. It was a time when kids amused themselves with paper, scissors, magazines, paste, crayons, and books, while listening to the radio. That’s when I wrote and illustrated my first books, lacing the pages together with shoe strings. Writing wasn’t something I dreamed of doing “when I grow up;” it was something I was already doing. I wrote plays for my classmates, wrote for the school newspapers, yearbook, tons of letters of correspondence with relatives and pen pals. I recently found a yellowed poem I wrote for the Michigan State University newspaper. Don’t remember it, but there it is! After I had kids (7) I wrote puppet plays and stories for them, edited school newsletters, and projects, plays and news for Scouts and church. I wrote all the time. I made scrapbooks, diaries and kept journals. I hadn’t figured out that I was a writer, or an author. That didn’t happen until after the children were grown and I began writing travel books for  my grand children. Then one day it happened. I woke up and said, “I have a story in my head, and I think it wants to be a book. I guess I’ll try to write a book.”

Buy Link: Available from independent booksellers, as well as online at …



Tweet: We skate deliberately over the wide dangerous cracks, where lesser skaters might fall & never recover. #teenfiction

Posted in Catholic Fiction, Catholic Writing and Publishing, Fiction, Inspirational, The Mystery of Suffering | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Writers Read

Photo by clarita,

Photo by clarita,

Dear Catholic Writers Guild,

We’re trying READING on for size this month. Instead of Rounding-Up your favorite blog posts, we asked for your thoughts about what you’re reading. Here are a few gems from your fellow Guild members:

Carolyn Astfalk reviewed  a fast-paced dystopian trilogy that addresses the supernatural reality of good and evil and a Christian romance in which the hero is obsessed by demons. Not your typical love story! I’m handing her review to my teen daughter, and this should give us a lot to talk about! I would have utterly ignored these books but for her truly interesting reviews.

I think we actually need one another’s help broadening our reading, and this would be new territory for me. But dystopia isn’t news to Theresa Linden, who wrote for the Guild blog this month about why Catholics should be interested in this strange-sounding space. Carolyn Astfalk’s own book  is reviewed by fellow Guildie Don Mulcare.

I got so excited about Matthew Crawford’s new book that I have recommended it at every opportunity.

Also for the Guild, Don Mulcare, Teresa Frailey, Nancy Ward, Theresa Linden and I (Charlotte Ostermann) wrote reviews of books for a range of ages and interests.

Please, please, please READ, and please let me have links to your November book reviews or posts by December 7 for the next issue of Writers Read.

With heartfelt thanks to all who do still read, and who share their thoughts for our edification




Posted in Book Review | 1 Comment

Not Quite Perfect


We all go through our trials and tribulations. At different ages the trials and tribulations change.  It sometimes seems that the more grown up we get, the more complicated our trials get.  The more stuff we have, the more things there are that can go wrong. As we age, we shift from the importance of appearances to the importance of the interior.  Sometimes we might even feel like we are pretty close to having it all together.  In an imperfect world that might not be so hard to achieve.  As Catholics we have a unique set of tools that we can use in this never-ending challenge aimed toward true peace and love of God.  Most likely these are things that have been gifted to us very long ago.  Maybe we haven’t looked at them since we were kids, or maybe we have just come to a new awareness of them that comes with maturity.  I’m talking about the ancient prayers and faith Traditions of the Church.

These are our battle tools.  Padre Pio called the Rosary his “weapon”.  Pope Leo XIII created the St. Michael payer as a literal defense against the enemy and his minions.  Did you know that when you pray this payer it is actually a minor exorcism?  All novenas are rooted in the tradition that the Apostles, along with Mary, were in the Upper Room for nine days after the Ascension while waiting for the power of the Holy Spirit.   There are literally hundreds of these tools that we have access to.  Most are deeply rooted in the Traditions and Teachings of the Church and have been included in our history and practice because they have been studied, prayed about and scrutinized by Church scholars.  In other words, our traditional prayers are in line with Church doctrine.  There are two traditions, however, that seem particularly appropriate for November:  The Act of Contrition and The concept of Purgatory.  We all hope to get to heaven and are dwelling in the concept that those who we love are there already.

These two tools are lynch pins that firm our resolve and bolster our hope that the destination is possible for each of us who are still on the planet. Each of these is firmly aimed at the idea that nobody is perfect enough to stand unscathed in the radiance of God.  The Church has a benevolent feeling about the human condition, and in a very real way, both of these practices could be called a kind of “do over”.  God knows that being human is hard and being sinful is always attractive. So we have Confession preceded by the Act of Contrition before death and the concept of Purgatory after death. Opportunities to be sorry, to cling to God, to be loveable, to be worthy.  Some people scoff at the idea that there is a sort of ante-room for heaven and that God loves us so much that this idea of waiting and preparing is silly.  I don’t agree. I can only liken the idea of Purgatory to perhaps an invitation to be in the personal presence of the Pope.  Would you take up the invitation by going directly from a strenuous work day in soiled and sweaty clothes or would you want to have fresh garments, a neat haircut and the confidence that you have done your best to prepare?  Purgatory is the spot to prepare.  The Traditions of Contrition as well as Purgatory are not short-term thoughts in the Church.  Purgatory was first discussed and contemplated at the Council of Florence in 1439 and the idea of formalizing contrition was first discussed at the Council of Trent in 1563. These two practices have roots in faith and power.  Their potent benefits are not understood by today’s faithful as well as they should be.  These are not “pie in the sky” practices that someone dreamt up.

This point was solidified for me when I heard the story of “a priest who in 1926 knelt down to make an Act of Contrition while in Pompeii.   [He had the overwhelming need] to ask for the forgiveness of sins committed in 60 or 70 B.C. [he] understood that these souls could be saved by his act of contrition.  He had this deep faith that this act of contrition was not useless.” (Fr. Maurice Zundel,   † 1975, Swiss mystic, poet, philosopher.)  In a similar way, a teacher friend of mine had an experience that stays with her still.  One morning as she drove to work she had an overwhelming desire to say the act of contrition over and over, which she did.  The date was 9/11 and the hour was the moment that the first plane hit the first tower.  She had not really thought of this prayer for years.

Stunning power we don’t really understand, blessings from another realm, all at our finger tips.  What gifts could be greater and how can we be thankful enough?  None of us is perfect and all we can do is practice our traditions, but that’s enough to get you to heaven, wow!



Copyright© 2015, Kathryn M. Cunningham


Posted in Catholic Writing and Publishing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CWG Prayer Chain Post: November 15, 2015

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

Psalms 16:5, 8, 9-10, 11

My birthright, my cup is Yahweh; you, you alone, hold my lot secure. I keep Yahweh before me always, for with him at my right hand, nothing can shake me. So my heart rejoices, my soul delights, my body too will rest secure, for you will not abandon me to Sheol, you cannot allow your faithful servant to see the abyss. You will teach me the path of life, unbounded joy in your presence, at your right hand delight for ever.


The power of prayer and the power of people praying.


O God, of Whose mercies there is no number, and of Whose goodness the treasure is infinite; we render thanks to Your most gracious majesty for the gifts You have bestowed upon us, evermore beseeching Your clemency, that as You grant the petitions of them that ask You, You will never forsake them, but will prepare for the reward to come. Through Christ our Lord.

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 | Leave a comment

Karina Teaches Worldbuilding 201 – Lesson 3

Over this year, Karina is going to share some of her writing seminars on the blog, with the lessons and references for further study. We’ll be posting these once a month. There’s no assigned homework, but if you have questions, please ask them in the comments. Her first workshop is worldbuilding. This is Worldbuilding 201, Lesson 3.  Follow this link to Lesson 1 and Lesson 2. Here are the links to Worldbuilding 101 Lesson 1, Lesson 2, Lesson 3, Lesson 4, Lesson 5, Lesson 6, and Lesson 7.

Karina teaches monthly webinars as well. Please check out her current schedule, or if you’d like her to teach at your writing group or class, see what courses she can offer.

The best worldbuilding supports characters and stories, not the other way around. Otherwise, people revert to nonfiction, whether National Geographic or D&D manuals. So whatever your world is like, you need your people to be products of your world.

We’ve already seen some of this in previous lessons. In Lesson One, we saw that Team Leader Garsul was an alien with multiple stomachs which is probably a prey species rather than a predator species. In Lesson Two, we learned something about Rachel through how she saw her world. I’d like to give two more examples:

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

I remember him as if it were yesterday, as he came plodding to the inn door, his sea chest following behind him in a hand-barrow; tall, strong, heavy, nut-brown man; his tarry pigtail falling over the shoulders of his soiled blue coat; his hands ragged and scarred with black, broken nails; and the sabre cut across one cheek, a dirty, livid white. I remember him looking round the cove and whistling to himself as he did so, and then breaking out in that old-sea-song that he sang so often afterwards–

“Fifteen men on the dead man’s chest–Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!”

How could you NOT know we’re in a seedy dive near the docks where there be pirates, aarrrr?

When you read this one, ask what the world feels about its superheroes: Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman

Damsel crosses through the computer room from the roof deck. “Are you really watching that thing? God, look at my eighties hair.” But she doesn’t hang around. I wouldn’t either, knowing what was coming.

I feel like skipping the wedding spectacle, but Lily makes us watch every treacly second of it. It was practically a national holiday at the time, but watching it now feels painful, the way the two of them glare at each other. CoreFire was the best man, Galatea the maid of honor.

At least we got to fast-forward through a compilation of painful Saturday Night Live appearances–there was no way to make Galatea funny. The best part was John Belushi in a red leotard and plastic cape, expectorating mashed potatoes all over a gamely smiling CoreFire. It think he was supposed to be Doctor Impossible.

As you write, remember: You did not build this world for yourself or even for your readers. You built it for the characters that inhabit it. If you want to entice your readers to be a part of it as well, then you need to make sure your characters are truly products of their world, and that we see the world through their eyes.

Posted in Writing Tips and Tricks | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thanks, Committee Chairs!

Giving Everything and nothingby Nancy Ward, Coordinator of Committees

As we approach the season of gratitude and giving, I have a word for our committee chairs: THANKS!

  • Thanks for your dedication to CWG this past year.
  • Thanks for letting the CWG members know what you are doing and when you need help.
  • Thanks for committing to continue as committee chairs next year.
  • Thanks that all CWG members benefit from your devotion and perseverance.

Here’s the latest committee news:

Blog: Kathryn Cunningham and Dennis McGeehanThe blog is humming along and the editor/blogger setup is working out very well. We have a couple of slots that are reserved for “guests” but would like to fill them with committed bloggers. I am surprised that more of our members are not willing to try their hand at guest blogging at least once. People loved the guest blog that was posted on Dystopian Fiction and Catholic Writers.

BookNews: Dawn Witzke – The November issue of Catholic Book News will feature The Well by Stephanie Landsem and Saint Magnus, The Last Viking by Susan Peek.

CALA (Catholic Arts and Letters Award): Carol Ann Chybowski – The judges and authors have all received their CALA invitations. Four judges have said yes. I’m waiting to hear from the other two. Elaine Lyons Bach and Cheryl Wills are a great help. Ann Lewis has started getting books in the four categories of 2014/2015 books.

CWCO: Ann Lewis, Karina Fabian and Laura Lowder – Due to a miscommunication, the conference website was completely erased. We have a new one in WordPress set up. The Online Conference will be launched in Jan and Feb. Right now we are looking for our presenters and getting them to do some quick interviews with us to promote the conference in full come January.

Facebook: Karina Fabian is cutting down on the Facebook posts and taking Nov and Dec as a sabbatical. Many thanks to the watchdogs of our Facebook page to help keep it private for CWG members only.

Book Blast: Michael Fraley is taking over the Book Blast and did his part swimmingly this month.

Membership: Maureen Smith – Four new members have joined in the last month. And four the month before.

Newsletter: Barb Szyszkiewicz – Newsletters will be published following board meetings so that we can include committee reports in the newsletter.

Retreat: Ann Lewis and Margaret Rose RealyThe retreat was well attended and retreat attendees literally begged us to have the retreat yearly. The Board will consider providing more opportunities for national or regional retreats.

SOA: Erin Cupp – We will be taking off next quarter to train our evaluators. The next submissions period begins April 1, 2016.

Speakers Bureau: Dennis McGeehanNames of CWG members who are speakers are being added as requested.

Zenit: Dennis McGeehanSuggestions were submitted to Zenit News Service from blogs 10/1 to 10/31/15 on 11/3/2015. We could use one more person to review submissions for Zenit.

CWG Fiction Critique Group : Contact Don Mulcare.

CWG Non-Fiction Critique Group: Contact Nancy Ward or Connie Rossini.

For other concerns and suggestions about our fabulous committees, contact Nancy Ward, Coordinator of Committees.

Posted in Catholic Writing and Publishing | Tagged | Leave a comment

A Book of Scars (The Breen and Tozer Mystery Series, Volume 3), by William Shaw

Detective Sergeant Cathal “Paddy” Breen of the Metropolitan CID (Marylebone Police Station, London) can’t seem to avoid disaster whether he’s rescuing a cat from a tree, investigating a crime scene or chasing a bad guy. To his aid rides Helen Tozer, a Woman Police Constable who wants to do more than fetch tea and biscuits for her male counterparts.

The introverted Paddy dabbles in art, rendering accurate sketches from memory. He methodically covers the floor of his apartment with scraps of paper—clues representing the puzzle-pieces of his murder inquiries. His mind shuffles snippets until, hopefully, a pattern emerges. He was born before WWII and fits well with the older generation and their methods of operation.

Although only a few years younger, as a post war baby boomer, Tozer stands on the opposite side of the canyon known as “the generation gap” from Paddy Breen. The more intuitive and “with-it” Helen, a farm-girl from Devon, belongs to the Beatles Fan Club, plays a guitar and likes to drink. She calls Paddy, not Cathal, but “Careful Breen,” because he rarely tempts fortune, letting misfortune come to him, and come it does. Paddy’s “old school” perspective blocks his access to witnesses, after a nanny and her charges find the murdered body of a Beetles fan, whereas Helen speaks their language and earns their cooperation.

A Book of Scars begins with the injured Paddy convalescing at the Tozer farm in Devon. Bored out of his mind, he looks for a case to solve, a cold case, such as the brutal death of Alexandra, Helen’s sister. He finds the coroner’s report that describes the horrible nature of Alex’s unsolved murder. The report spurs Breen and Tozer to track down the sadistic killer and determine the killer’s motivation, especially when it seems that the same horrible death awaits others.

A Book of Scars begins as a murder-mystery, but it dips into the horror genre. Although, it serves up generous portions of “who done it” suspense with a full slate of suspects, the heavy handed violence in Africa, the Biafra/Nigerian War, the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya and the dark side of the drug trade between Europe and North Africa spill over into the character’s lives and the story lines.

As witnesses to local examples of this unthinkable violence, Breen and Tozer realize that methods justified elsewhere during an “emergency,” have returned home with the ousted colonials to terrify their inventors. The novel includes descriptions of brutal torture. Unfortunately, these savage acts are based on actual testimony of victims of similar atrocities—atrocities committed with a wink and a nod from the colonial authorities.

Despite the grim aspects of the final volume, trilogy fans will enjoy the progress in Breen and Tozer’s personal relationship. A Book of Scars opens more doors than it closes, raising hopes that William Shaw turns the trilogy into a much longer series. He has almost fifty Paddy and Helen years in which to weave a lifetime of sequels for enjoyment of his readers.

The US titles for the first two volumes in the Breen and Tozer Trilogy are She’s Leaving Home and The Kings of London. The final volume, not readily available in the USA goes by the UK title, A Book of Scars.

For reviews of She’s Leaving Home and The Kings of London, press control/click on these titles.

Posted in Book Review, mystery, Novel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment