On Saturday night at around 2:18 AM, I sent the final draft of the book to my agent. Even though there are many more steps to go in the process, I have a feeling that I might finally be out of the Sisyphean Wheel of Book Writing, and that at least there will be forward progress from here. (Though I’ve been mistaken before. If at any point you see a post pop up titled PLEASE KILL ME NOW, you’ll know I was wrong.)
I wanted to invite each one of you over to share a glass of champagne with me, but since I didn’t think you’d appreciate getting a call in the middle of the night where the person on the other line begins by saying, “Hi. I’m Jen. You read my blog. I Googled your name and found your number…” I took a screenshot instead.
Also, in a moment I will remember all my life, I was finishing up the last of the my husband’s major edits on Friday when I happened to check New Advent. There was a link there to a site where you could track the Pope’s flight to Mexico in real time. I clicked on it, and my thought process was something like:
Oh, cool, the Pope is over the south central United States right now…over Texas, actually…central Texas…[zooming in more]…OH MY GOSH THE POPE’S PLANE IS RIGHT OVER MY HOUSE RIGHT NOW!!!
I rushed outside. There was only one plane in that part of the sky, headed in exactly the right direction, exactly where the map said it would be. It was so weird to think that Benedict XVI, the Pope, the successor of Peter, the man who was so influential in my conversion was here in my area; that if he looked down, one of the dots he saw below would be my house.
And in a moment that shows you just how much I need a break from this writing process, I thought: If I’m ever audacious enough to write a memoir about writing a memoir, I just got an AWESOME closing scene.
A conversation I just had with my husband:
Me: I’m incorporating your edits to the book, and I don’t understand this note you wrote. You circled four paragraphs and commented, “Makes you seem insane.”
Him: Was that the part where you were interviewing the potential employee?
Him: The way it was written came across weird. It made it seem like you were rambling incoherently, and the candidate was angry that he had to be in the room with you.
Him: Wait. Was that accurate?
Me: Sort of. I mean, the scene is written exactly how it happened. Although I did leave out the part where he walked out.
That’s right, it’s editing time! At my request, my husband recently went through all 320 pages of my draft and offered extensive feedback. I’m now working furiously to incorporate his edits. And I’m not just praying the Litany of Humility, I’m living the Litany of Humility.
Some glimpses into the process:
So anyway, that’s where I’ve been this week. As always, the process of getting honest feedback is painful but tremendously helpful…and I’ll be very glad when it’s finished.
And now, time to get back to work…
UPDATE (3/5): The book has sold out on Amazon. I’m told there are still some copies available directly from the publisher here, and they’re getting more as fast as they can. Because of the delay, I’m extending the giveaway deadline to Wednesday, 3/14.
I sat down at my computer this morning to write a nice, leisurely post while sipping my coffee, only to find out that Amazon has started shipping Sex, Style, and Substance two days earlier than we expected. So I promptly spit out my coffee and began frantically typing. Let’s begin with the links to where you can get it. Here you go:
- You can buy the paperback version here
- You can buy the Kindle version here (currently discounted to be under $10)
Who’s up for a giveaway?
We’ve been working on this book for months, and now that it’s finally out, I’m in the mood to celebrate. I’m going to do a small giveaway with five winners: one will get a $25 Amazon gift card + a bookplate signed by all 10 authors, and four other people will get the signed bookplate. Here are the details:
- To enter, just leave a comment to this post.
- This is open to anyone who buys the book any time before Sunday, March 11, so if you pre-ordered, you’re eligible too!
- You don’t need to show any proof of purchase to enter; I’ll just ask that the winners have some kind of receipt-like thing showing they bought it on or before March 11.
- The giveaway will close this Sunday, March 11, at midnight.
(By the way: imagine, if you will, the logistical effort that would be involved with getting 10 women scattered all over the country to get pen-and-ink signatures onto the same document. Now multiply that by a thousand, and you have some idea. Which is to say: these bookplates are EXTREMELY VALUABLE.)
Why I think you’ll like it
This really is a fun book. It’s not meant to be a purely “Christian inspiration” style book that focuses only on the positive aspects of Catholic life; rather, it’s an informal, often funny, collection in which 10 women each take one area of life (marriage, sex, motherhood, the single life, etc.) and share their personal struggles, as well as what they’ve learned about how to make it all work.
Allow me to introduce you to my fellow contributors:
- Hallie Lord: Chief mastermind behind the book; professional style consultant; also known as Betty Beguiles.
- Danielle Bean: Author of a bunch of books that Catholic women are required by law to own; editor-in-chief of Catholic digest; homeschooling mother of eight; blogs at DanielleBean.com.
- Anna Mitchell: News director for the EWTN Radio network; my cohort in the children’s book series on the SonRise morning show; freelance writer.
- Rachel Balducci: Mom of five boys (and, finally, one girl!); author of the collection of humor essays How Do You Tuck in a Superhero?; blogs at Testosterhome.
- Simcha Fisher: Voted funniest blogger in the Catholic New Media awards; writer for the National Catholic Register; author of that “to the mother of only one child” post that every female on the planet read a few weeks ago; blogs at I Have to Sit Down.
- Betty Duffy: Columnist for Patheos; writer of deep thoughts; blogs at bettyduffy.blogspot.com.
- Barbara Nicolosi: Screenwriter; author; professor; tireless advocate for the return of beauty to Christian art.
- Karen Edmisten: Author of multiple excellent books; host of Poetry Friday; atheist-to-Catholic convert; blogs at karenedmisten.blogspot.com.
- Rebecca Teti: Former lobbyist; freelance writer; mom of four; masters in Political Theory; writes for Faith & Family.
Here are excerpts from some of the chapters:
Rebecca Teti on work:
To cite a silly example, when I first converted and was eager to “learn the ropes” of my newfound faith, it happened that three of the most faithful Catholic women I knew were much “girlier” than I was or am. They wore a lot of pink, and any time a faculty member turned up on our university campus with a baby in tow, my friends would squeal and coo and fuss over him as some women will. They seemed moved by an inner prompting not entirely within their control to squeeze and cuddle any child they ever saw. I had no hang-ups about babies, but I did not share this urge myself.
In all the wisdom and experience of my nineteen years (and a few whole months of Catholicism!), I saw all the women around me behave this way and, comparing their effusive affection with my reserved heart, concluded that I wasn’t feminine and wasn’t up to motherhood.
I carried this notion that I did not and could not measure up to what the Church expected of me as an unspoken wound in my heart for a long while, until a year spent teaching first-graders in Rome uncovered and developed my rapport with naughty little boys. What a relief to learn I was not a failure as a woman (at the ripe age of twenty-one), but simply had yet to discover my personal way of incarnating the vocation to womanhood.
Simcha Fisher on motherhood:
O modern woman, does the idea of receptivity make you a little itchy? You’re all in favor of the motherly virtues of strength and wisdom, good council and courage—all very valiant, very Joan of Arc. But receptivity? Isn’t that kind of…passive? Don’t you just imagine a reclining reed of a woman, her tentative profile framed in lace, trembling among the potted ferns as she waits for Life to happen to her?
I know: That’s not you. Even if such an image appeals to your romantic side, a soft fantasy like this comes rapidly unstuffed the first time you’re up all night wrestling among milky sheets with a baby who is as hungry as three frantic wolves, but somehow can’t figure out, after all this time, how to find the nipple. And when the sun rises on your sleepless face, you’re still supposed to get up and do stuff. Poof go the last feathery rags of that gentle mist of motherhood, and “Howdy!” barks the harsh, daylight reality of your new life as Mom.
Barbara Nicolosi on engaging the culture:
Serious Christians need to experience the cultural arena not as fans but as apostles. We should be brooding over today’s art and stories as signs of the times, not simply absorbing them like sponges. We have to fortify ourselves spiritually, philosophically, and ethically, so that we can enter into the cultural climate the way a doctor enters into a hospital. If we shun the hospital because there is some sickness there, it means that some of the souls entrusted to us will die.
But here’s the real rub: If we avoid the hospital, we will also die, because we aren’t just doctors to the times, we are also patients. We need the divinely inspired prophecy that all the modern popes have assured us comes through the arts. Just as much as our pagan neighbors, we need stories to lead us to wonder, hope, and compunction. If, in an effort to be safe from the corruption of modernity, we cut today’s stories out of our lives, we cut out the normal channel in which God helps human beings grow in psychological, emotional, moral, and intellectual depth and sensitivity.
Here’s the Amazon link again. I can’t wait to hear what you think. And as soon as you get your copy, don’t forget to enter the giveaway!
The Style, Sex, and Substance book comes out soon — like, any minute now. That’s the one that Hallie Lord edited, that has chapters by tons of fabulous contributors (and me). I’ll tell you more about why the book is good and post some excerpts later. What I want to talk about today is the fact that the trailer was removed and banned by Youtube. You can see it below, as it’s now hosted on another video site. Pretty scandalous stuff there, right? I’ve been having a bunch of email back-and-forths in which some of the other contributors and I have been speculating about why this happened, and here are our top guesses:
Top 5 theories about why the Style, Sex, and Substance trailer was banned from Youtube:
5. The medical community objected to Simcha Fisher’s statement that prenatal ballet makes babies resistant to bees.
4. It was the work of Mark Shea‘s minions, who were enraged that he was not asked to contribute to the book, even though he is not a woman.
3. Youtube was concerned about the juxtaposition of the picture of the knife with Rachel Balducci’s quote about using margaritas to deal with dark moments.
2. Word got out that Hallie’s husband Dan, who is the former lead singer of a punk band, created the music himself. One of the guys from Train works at Youtube, had a flashback to the time Dan and his bandmates band almost gave them a beatdown, and yanked the video out of spite.
1. Youtube was scandalized when they figured out that Betty Duffy’s Twister reference was, in fact, sexual innuendo.
Anyway, I was going to wait to bring all this up until the book is officially released, but there are murmurs going around that it might sell out on pre-order and I wanted to make sure that MY readers get their copies without delay (please picture me throwing my head back and cackling MWA-HAA-HAAAA as I typed that). So, go preorder it now, and talk amongst yourselves about why this video was booted off of Youtube*.
* I offered to try to sneak it back on there through my account. Hallie started to say yes…then she remembered the demographic breakdown of my Youtube followers, imagined her book trailer getting a thousand “Dislikes” and being flooded with f-bomb-dropping comments, and politely told me that she’d just go ahead and put it on Vimeo.