Heart Felt Thoughts – Change is Good

Dear CWG Members.

As we had hoped, we have gotten a variety of new contributors and features for the blog.   Because of that we’re moving some stuff around.  From now on a member who wants  to post a review of a book they loved is welcome to do that on any Thursday of any month subject to editing, of course. In addition  Don Mulcare will continue to give us his great reviews that first Thursday of every month along with Julie Davis  and Victoria Ryan on the other Thursdays.  Thursdays will be book days.

We have new members of the editing/proofing team who are “young and fresh” as they say.  You can meet them on the blog on 1/31.  Every 4th Tuesday Dennis McGeehan will gives his wisdom and experience about “Freelancing”.  Due to a schedule glitch you can see his first installment today Thursday 1/29

We are lucky to have Karina Fabian join us with some great stuff.  Every second Saturday she will be posting her own personal writing wisdom by sharing with us first hand teachings she has given in writing workshops.  ……and every 3rd Saturday Karina will be flying the bomber.  ?????? I was confused too.   She will be selecting books written by our members and posting comments and ideas about the work and “bombing” the internet with posts that promote and advertise the book.   If I got that wrong someone will correct me!

We have a “potential” coming on who is a brand new DRE educated with an MDiv from ND who has some thoughts about the differences between what the books tell you about being a DRE and what’s it like in the real world.  Last, we’re working on bringing in a Young Adult who is a faithful Catholic who will be reviewing books that would be good reads for other YAs that have a theme (underlying or overt) of faith in the world and why it’s an important thing to have.   Whew……I’m tired.  Blessings and may the humility and love of Saint Valentine flood your life.


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Freelancer – The Mutt of Authors



Picture in your mind an author. Do you see Hemingway dressed for a day on the ocean, Tolkien in his study with his vest and pipe or Robert Burns penning a poem?  Do you see a widow writing a swashbuckling novel about a sea captain? *

Are you old enough to envision a typewriter?

Imagine in your mind a screenplay for a movie, television show or a commercial. Do you see yourself writing these?

Have you ever written your resume? Some people hire freelancers to write theirs.

Do you read the newspaper or magazines (hard copy or online)? Have you ever read a company’s ads? All use freelancers.

Do you know what a blog is? You happen to be reading one.

Do you read the patient information insert that comes with your prescription? Freelancer!

Would you like your favorite charity to receive a grant? As a freelancer you can write it.

Do you use the search engine on your computer? Freelancers are hired to write S.E.O.

Novelist, Biographer, Short Story Writer, Screenplay Writer, Technical Writer, SEO Writer, News and Sports Writer, Television/Movie/Play Reviewer, Grant Writer, Curriculum Writer – these are all jobs that freelancers do.

Food, Fashion, Beauty, Travel, Tech, Health, Fitness, Money, Medicine (Traditional and Alternative), Faith, Causes, Parenting, Family – all of these and more are topics that freelancers write about.

Agriculture to Zoology – there is a trade magazine for every profession and you can write about it as a freelancer.

Freelancers are hired to write lesson plans for Pre-Kindergarten to High School.

Freelance Ghostwriters are hired for children’s books, novels and biographies.

Niche Writers – are you an expert on the local restaurants? Do you know the best places for family outings, dates, hikes, etc.?

Translator – Japanese to English, Farsi to French, etc. These and more are opportunities for a freelancer.

Other freelancing jobs recently called for:

Copywriter, Copy Editor.

Video game story writer. Video game reviewer.

Speech Writer.

App writer. App reviewer.


Every job listed above has been advertised on websites that companies use to hire freelancers. Some of these jobs require a daily commute to an actual workplace, while many are telecommuting jobs. You can work from home in your sweats and t-shirt.

Some companies are looking for one article for a single issue, while others want you to write five to thirty articles per month. With some there is the potential for regular work.

The pay is across the board from less than one cent per word to over two dollars per word. The majority fall between five cents per word and twenty-five cents per word. Some pay different amounts for their online and hard copy issues. Some don’t pay in money but in free copies of the magazine. Some provide a byline, others do not. I will cover the details about compensation for freelancers in a future blog.

For those who want to prospect on their own see http://www.freelancewriting.com/freelance-writing-jobs.php

I suggest you concentrate on the top four sites listed plus the Craigslist site.

You can also check out http://www.freelancewritinggigs.com/

You may see the same job posted on multiple sites.

There are thousands of jobs available. The freelancer has to decide which jobs are worth his or her time and energy. There are also thousands of writers competing for the jobs from all over the world.

As a writer, you can aim your career in any direction. Freelancing jobs offer an opportunity to earn an income while you steer your career towards your goal. The many job opportunities also provide a reason to write regularly and hone your craft.

Age and mileage is a plus for freelancing. The more successes and failures you’ve had provide an expertise to tap. As a freelancer you can put your hard earned knowledge to work for you.

* Free word doc file or PDF of my book, The Diaries of Joseph and Mary, to the first three people who correctly identify the book. E-mail me at Abbax8@hotmail.com


Editor’s Note:  We are excited to have Dennis doing this new feature on freelance writing.   Although this first piece appears on a Thursday,  Dennis’ regular column will be appearing every fourth Tuesday on the CWG Blog.  Thanks Dennis, knowledge is power!      KC

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Monday’s Writing Tips – Let’s start editing!


So the first draft of your novel is done. You have put it away for a few weeks to free your mind. Now it is time to pick it up and start the second draft, but where do you begin? Let me share some of the steps that I have learned along the way.

Step One -Taking each chapter and usually starting with a chapter in the middle of the novel, I remove all unnecessary words, phrases, and descriptions. What do I mean? I usually pick a chapter in the middle of my novel and copy and paste it to a new page. I use a middle chapter because without the beginning or ending chapters, I can look at each chapter as it stands alone.

Taking my newly created document. I go through the chapter and delete every single adjective and adverb. Yes!  I do mean every single adjective and adverb. Once I have done this, I read my chapter out loud. (It is best to be alone when you do this! You can get a lot of writing done if you are put away, but you might miss your family!)

Reading out loud, you can hear what is awkward and just doesn’t flow. It is a wonderful way to start your second draft. You will notice things that you read  aloud that you would just skim over while reading silently. Would it be better if one scene came before the other? Would it be better if you deleted this paragraph and switched the action around? Somehow without the weight of adjectives and adverbs, it is easier to get to the heart of the story. Get it down to the bare bones. Does the sequence of events make sense? Does this chapter need to be put before or after the last chapter? Perhaps the point of view for this chapter would be better told through the eyes of another character.

Get down to the basics of the tale. Maybe you should eliminate a scene and tease your reader with another. You are telling the basic story now without all the fluorishes of flowery adjectives and defining adverbs. The secret is that if your story doesn’t work without the polish, it just doesn’t work. Tear this chapter apart. Treat it like a short story. No unnecessary description is needed. At this part of the edits, I often think of the old show Dragnet and Jack Webb’s famous line, “Just the facts, Ma’am!” The facts are what you are checking. Are you giving the reader all the information he needs to understand what is happening? Without the adjectives and adverbs, the basic tale may seem bland and dull. But should it? If your story is worth the telling, it should stand alone without all the polish.

As I read the chapter slowly one more time, I place a mark wherever I feel an adjective is needed. I try not to add any adverbs back, especially any adverbs that end in ly. I have a member of one of my writing groups who is adamant about the laziness of using words that end in ly. He says that if you feel you need to use words like softly, hurriedly, quickly, or loudly etc., you are just being a lazy writer. I think I agree with him, although there are times that no other word will do. When you remove the adverbs and adjectives something magic seems to happen. You are reminded that it is the story itself that needs to be shared. Oh there will be time enough to show off your writing skills. That will be the next step.

I recommend that you complete all three of the steps I introduced last week for one chapter before you move on to another chapter. Get your work down to the basic story as step one, and next week we will apply the second step: We will return and add needed adjectives, dialog, and descriptions.  See you next week!

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CWG Prayer Chain Post: January 25, 2014

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

Mark 1:14-20

After John had been arrested, Jesus went into Galilee. There he proclaimed the gospel from God saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the gospel.’ As he was walking along by the Lake of Galilee he saw Simon and Simon’s brother Andrew casting a net in the lake — for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, ‘Come after me and I will make you into fishers of people.’ And at once they left their nets and followed him. Going on a little further, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John; they too were in their boat, mending the nets. At once he called them and, leaving their father Zebedee in the boat with the men he employed, they went after him.

The power of prayer and the power of people praying.


Lord Jesus Christ, who, being made subject to Mary and Joseph, didst consecrate domestic life by Thine ineffable virtues; grant that we, with the assistance of both, may be taught by the example of Thy holy Family and may attain to its everlasting fellowship. Who livest and reignest, world without end. 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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The Life and Glories of Saint Joseph – Book Review

Among the classics of Catholic literature, The Life and Glories of Saint Joseph, is a book to be consumed, savored, and meditated on. Do not attempt large bites, rather enjoy each morsel, one paragraph, even one sentence at a time.

This book, written in 1888 by Edward Healy Thompson, M.A., is based on the earlier work of theologian Canon Antonio Vitali, Father Jose Moreno, and others. They in turn cite the works and opinions of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Saint John Chrysostom, Saint Bonaventure, Saint Augustine, Saint Bernadine, Saint Bridget, Ven. Maria d’Agreda, and others.

I purchased the book over twenty years ago and for over a decade it languished on my book shelf. Time and again I would begin to read it only to be rebuffed by its language and depth. It is a heavy read. Approximately ten years ago I had the opportunity to participate in a weekly holy hour. The silence was wonderful; however, my senses needed something to help me direct my mind towards God and not my pressing To Do list at home. I began to bring books with me to read and meditate on. The Life and Glories of Saint Joseph became my regular companion.

As a husband and father I have been drawn to Saint Joseph, believing he would be the best model I could choose for my life. I have other books on Saint Joseph but many are full of prayers to him rather than providing insight into the man he was. Growing up without a good male role model I deeply wanted someone to copy so I could be the husband and father I hoped to become. In the silence of the holy hour, one paragraph at a time, through the teaching of the Church Fathers, Saint Joseph materialized before my eyes.

As the book explicitly states, to dwell on Saint Joseph one must out of necessity also meditate on Jesus and Mary. They are (and these are my words) a package deal. Jesus of course can stand alone (except there is that matter of the Trinity). Jesus embodies the Divine and Human Nature in Himself, and Mary and Joseph are forever part of this Union.

Joseph, and the man he had to be to carry out the mission the Father gave him, is the main subject of the book, but to study Joseph is to be immersed in Jesus and Mary. The ancient Fathers deduced much as they meditated on the events of the Nativity of Jesus. The conclusions they arrived at they shared in homilies with their flocks. These conclusions are discovered by the reader of this marvelous book.

Nothing in the Bible is changed but the events are fleshed out to give a fuller picture of God’s work in our salvation. The reader is first privy to details of Joseph and Mary as youngsters. They are then provided with insights into their lives together including the visit to Elizabeth’s house (yes, the Church Fathers agreed Joseph accompanied Mary), their flight to Egypt, and their time spent there. Other familiar moments are studied such that the reader feels he is with them at the Presentation or on their search for the lost child. What I found most beneficial was the illumination of Joseph’s role as husband of Mary and father of Jesus. He is made real and tangible.

I cannot recommend this book enough. Embrace the man who first taught Jesus the Torah, the man that Jesus called Daddy.


 Editor’s Note  Think about your “winter read” this year.  Some times we just forget about the oldies but goodies.   In our resources of Catholic writing we already have stuff that is worth it’s weight in gold.  Thanks Dennis for this timely reminder!  KC

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The Rosie Effect, by Graeme Simsion

NY bridge


Don Tillman’s loyalty, self-sacrifice, and problem solving genius, make him welcome as a friend. We first met Don in “The Rosie Project,” (see warning below) the story of a high functioning Asperger’s individual in search of a “mate.” Don exhibits marvelous STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) skills, a phenomenal memory, but he woefully lacks social skills. He holds to an extraordinary rigid moral-ethical code, based on logic and conventional norms rather than religion.  Among his virtues or symptoms, Don could not tell a lie. Paul Levine, who also includes Asperger’s spectrum characters in his novels, subscribes to the same truth-telling characteristic. However, in “The Rosie Effect, Don, the compulsive truth-teller and honest man, learns to spare the feelings of others by shielding them from the truth. Unfortunately, he hopelessly tangles himself in the thickest web of deceit. His growing cohort of friends risk all to assist him extricate himself before the authorities and Rosie catch up with him.

In his first two, and extremely successful novels, author, Graeme Simsion shares moments of genuine hilarity as well as deep pathos. His intense research allows his Australian characters the freedom to walk, jog and subway about New York City, Columbia University, genetics, nutrition, human development, psychology, and the pub scene. Ask Don to make you a cocktail sometime.

The devious Simsion snaps snares, large and small, catching his readers off guard. Just when Don seems to have escaped one threat, the trapdoor drops Don, and often his friends, into a deeper quandary. Through the Rosie Effect, Simsion takes the reader for a ride to a most unpredictable destination. Getting there is more than half the fun. Looking forward to the further exploits of Don Tillman and company.

WARNING: Peripheral characters in both “The Rosie Project” and “The Rosie Effect” use vulgarities  and sometimes display a less than edifying attitude toward marriage. The protagonist rejects religion and may act aggressively toward religious practitioners. However, Don Tillman lives according to a strict moral standard, practices monogamy, demonstrates a selfless commitment to his friends, and like the “Good Samaritan” and “Abou Ben Adhem” assists strangers (who may later become friends) in various states of need. As James Henry Leigh Hunt might say of Abou Ben Adhem (and Don Tillman):

… “The names of those who love the Lord.”
“And is mine one?” said Abou. “Nay, not so,”
Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,
But cheerly still, and said “I pray thee, then,
Write me as one that loves his fellow men.”

The angel wrote, and vanished. The next night
It came again with a great wakening light,
And showed the names whom love of God had blessed,
And lo! Ben Adhem’s name led all the rest.


Review (© 2015 Donald J. Mulcare)

Brooklyn Bridge, Nancy Ann Mulcare, Alcohol ink on yupo (© 2015 Nancy Ann Mulcare)

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From the President’s Desk – January 23, 2015

photo copyright 2014 Ellen Gable Hrkach

photo copyright 2014 Ellen Gable Hrkach

Happy New Year to all new and long-time members of the Catholic Writers Guild!

For the past month, I’ve been busy sending out invoices to members who are not on auto-renew through PayPal. Many of these emails are coming back as undeliverable. To ensure that we have your most up-to-date email address, could you please send it to me: president(at)catholicwritersguild(dot)com.

If you haven’t paid in a while, you should have already received an invoice by now. The dues have increased to $40 a year for those of you who are not paying automatically through PayPal. If you haven’t received an invoice, we may not have your most recent email address.

Are you on Facebook? Please ask to be added to our members-only Facebook group! Lots going on there!

As always, we have a few volunteer positions opening up. The Catholic Arts and Letters Award committee and the Catholic Book News committee are in need of volunteers. We may also have an opening on the Seal of Approval committee within the next month or so. If you are interested in any of these positions, please contact me at the email above.

In personal news, today is my fourth son’s 19th birthday. A child’s birthday is always something to celebrate. When it comes to my two youngest sons’ birthdays, however, I always feel a special joy in my heart because we were told (ordered!) not to get pregnant after I nearly died from complications of an ectopic (tubal) pregnancy when my third son was 10 months old. In fact, one of the doctors strongly urged me to have my remaining tube “tied.” I refused. As faithful Catholics, my husband and I have only ever used natural family planning to avoid pregnancy. The decision to be open to having more children was not one that my husband and I made lightly, but it is a decision that we have never regretted. Read more about it here in a blog post from 2011. (And this post might be especially pertinent given Pope Francis’ recent statements on Responsible Parenthood…)

As always, if you have any concerns, comments or questions, please feel free to email me:
president(at) catholicwritersguild(dot)com

Ad Jesum per Mariam,

Ellen Gable Hrkach

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God’s Love Is The Best Beauty Treatment

© 1986 Túrelio (via Wikimedia-Commons), 1986 / , via Wikimedia Commons

© 1986 Túrelio (via Wikimedia-Commons), 1986 / , via Wikimedia Commons

“Do you think it’s wrong to have a facelift?” a girlfriend asked as we sat on the beach house sofa in our pajamas, sipping coffee and looking out the window at the boats in the harbor. We were on retreat with a wonderful band of women, and as it frequently happens with women, the subject turned to beauty.

“I had the same conversation with my sister just last week,” I replied. “I’ll tell you what I told her. I don’t think it’s ‘wrong’ to have a facelift, but my desire is to be so full of God’s love that it shines through my face so I don’t NEED a facelift,” I continued.

Our culture’s preoccupation with physical beauty is but one sign that we’re living from the outside in, instead of from the inside out. But as Christians, we’re meant to live from the inside out, letting the love of Christ inhabit us so fully that it radiates within us and shows up on our faces as “glory.”

Think about Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. She was not “beautiful” by the world’s standards. But she was one of the most beautiful women who ever lived. Why? She was overflowing with the love of God and it showed on her face.   Such beauty is not exclusive to women.

I often think of Moses, who enjoyed such personal intimacy with God that he spoke with God “face to face” (Ex. 33:11). Moses’ face became so radiant when he conversed with the Lord that he had to veil his face to come into the presence of the Israelites. That manifestation of glory foreshadowed the glory of Christ, who is the very “imprint” of God’s being, and who reveals to us in flesh and blood the face of God (Hebrews 1:3-4). If we want to see God, we are to look at Christ. And if we want to look like God, we are to become like Christ. How? St. Augustine gave us the secret: we become what we contemplate.

We contemplate Christ by spending time with Him in prayer, and by meditating on His Word and His presence. We contemplate Christ by making Him our best friend and top priority in life, and by learning all we can about who He is. We contemplate Christ by serving others, as Blessed Teresa of Calcutta demonstrated so wonderfully through her life’s work, wherein she saw the face of Christ in the “poorest of the poor.”

When we contemplate Christ, we become Christ-like, and we take on His beautiful countenance. Nowhere have I seen this truth manifested more evidently than on the faces of the recovering drug addicts of Communita Cenacolo, a lay Catholic Community that ministers to those in bondage to addiction. The residents of the Community usually arrive there looking beat up, strung out, and exhausted. And indeed they are. Their faces bear witness to the hell they’ve lived in the grip of drugs, which has become their main obsession.

I have pictures of my own son the day he arrived at Cenacolo, wearing black circles under his eyes and an almost palpable shadow of darkness on his face. His face looked markedly different when I saw him months later, not because he was being “rehabbed,” but because he was being “restored.” He was returning to the truth that he is a beloved child of God—a child in whom God delights—in large part by spending hours a day before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. He was becoming what he meditated upon, and his face told the tale. Over the years, I’ve heard many parents echo the same amazement when they see their children’s faces for the first time after they enter the Community, because the change in their faces is nothing short of remarkable.

Do you want to be beautiful? Unveil your face and gaze upon the face of the Lord, that He may transform you from glory to glory (2 Cor. 3:13). His love is a beauty treatment that’s not only free—it has lasting benefits.

Look to Him that you may be radiant with joy, and your faces may not blush with shame.   Psalm 34:6

Posted in Beauty, Catholic Writing and Publishing, Faith, Inspirational | 3 Comments

January Member Round-Up

roundupThese posts from the December work of your fellow Guild Members need readers!

Kassie Ritman not only writes family history, but makes a compelling case that you should, too! Maybe the young moms around us would see more clearly that their day-to-day lives and insights and inspirations are tremendously valuable to their descendants’ sense of self, if only the older history keepers in each family set the bar high and get those priceless memories recorded. Grandma may have only had a typewriter and onion skin paper, but we’ve each got a whole printing press and library archive on our desktops! Follow Kassie’s series, and match her memory for memory, and you’ll soon have a link across time to strengthen your children’s children.

Nancy Ward dropped everything for this event! I dare you to read this and NOT share it with everyone you know who runs, or teaches in a school! What a great idea, and what a lovely post about it.

I’m trying to post poetry on Mondays, and this one was perfect for the anniversary of the 50 Million Names Project launch. Have you ever found it difficult to breathe in the midst of trials?? Here’s my response…one I frequently turn to. Does anyone else pray in poetry?

What was your own favorite post during January?? Send it to me for the next Round-up by Feb. 16.

Posted in Blogging, Catholic Writers Guild, Catholic Writing and Publishing, Christian education of youth, CWG Member News, Encouragement for Writers, History, Inspirational, Journalism, Poetry | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Purveyors of Reality

iStock_000018106955XSmall          “Reality,” that’s a term that gets tossed around a lot these days. Self-help experts tout it, authors comment on it, politicos pontificate on it and television has umpteen channels devoted to it.  You know, reality TV.  I must admit that I have become a connoisseur of many of these shows:  I love “Gold-Rush,” “Mick Dodge” the guy who lives in the rain-forest of the Olympic peninsula, “Ax Men,”  “American Ninja Warriors,” “Moonshiners” and I was even watching “Hollywood Hillbillies” until it went off the air.  These shows fascinate me and yes, I know that they’re not actually 100% reality!  There’s the cutting room floor and prodding from the producers. They’re kind of like potato chips, though, catch one episode and you just have to see the next one.

As writers, what do you consider to be reality and does it have a place in what you put on the page?   The first thing to think about would probably the definition of reality in today’s world.   We have moved to a place in our society where everyone seems to have their own definition of reality and that seems to be O.K.   It’s perfectly clear: Reality is what pleases me and it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.  Politeness has “left the building” and if something hurts anyone else’s feelings, so what.  File a lawsuit!

As a writer, you should be clear that this myopic definition of reality is completely backwards.  This is a view that is rooted in self and then reaches out into the world. As a person of faith, our reality is just the opposite.  For the believer reality begins in the Living God and then trickles down to everything else.  Scripture teaches it this way:

“Take care, brothers and sisters, that none of you may have an evil and unfaithful heart, so as to forsake the living God.  Encourage yourselves daily while it is still ‘today,’ so that none of you may grow hardened by the deceit of sin. We have become partners of Christ if only we hold the beginning of the reality firm until the end” (Heb 3: 9-14).

Reality, then, begins when we become aware that we are in a partnership with God.  If we are clear about that, our perspective shifts.  When you write, be clear that you are not writing alone and that the reality of what winds up on the page comes from who you are in Christ.  Not everyone is in the same place in the spiritual life.  It’s not a matter of how spirituality sophisticated you are.  It does not matter if you are very familiar with the language of scholarly theology or not. What matters is the idea that you understand the only things which are real are those rooted in your partnership with Christ.

If you remember that, the very presence your writing will speak and teach others that all of the glitz, glam and ego being expressed in the world is simply false.   As a purveyor of true reality you actually have the power to change perspectives and lives.  Be proud of your partnership and be always ready to respectfully disagree with the things that many mistakenly call reality in today’s world.  For you, Catholic writer, that’s an awesome reality!


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