Interview with Paul Ray

Meet Paul Ray —
the author and editor armed with unfailing faith and an incredible story to share

You claim you were “instantaneously healed” of alcohol addiction in 2002.  Would you be willing to describe for us in a little more detail of what exactly transpired?

What I say is true! In a nutshell, for this will be included in greater detail in my book, by the time I was 24 years old I was consuming roughly one liter of whiskey per day. As a result, my body began to slowly shut itself down. I ended up losing everything. Upon visiting a doctor because of all of the physical pain I was enduring he refused me treatment until I sought help for my addiction. He explained that if I continued at the rate I was going I would live no longer then six months to a year. However, by this time I was too far addicted and the mere withdrawals alone would’ve killed me and detox and rehab would take literally years. I basically awaited death. Not too long after this I was invited by my cousin to a Protestant Pentecostal church service. I was not seeking God particularly but went merely out of respect. At that church service, June 9, 2002, by an act of divine mercy and grace, the Lord Jesus Christ instantaneously healed my physical body from the damage the alcohol had caused and took away my desire to drink–completely and definitely, before the witness of the entire congregation of all present. I haven’t had a single drop of alcohol since that day nor have I even desired any! No withdrawals, no rehab whatsoever. Just the great physician Jesus Christ!

Besides no longer being addicted to alcohol, what other facets of your life have changed since that day in 2002?  Have any of your other beliefs or perspectives been altered?

My entire life changed completely that day! I was infused with a love so strong that I never knew existed or was even possible. My life was given perfect meaning. I saw authentic hope for the first time since I was a child. The Blessed Trinity revealed Himself to me in such a way that I knew He was real and alive! I knew that He loved me and He valued me for who I was. He didn’t come to me as judge, jury and executioner as I expected but, rather, as a loving Father yearning to embrace His son! It caused me to realize how precious life is and that the dignity of every human being is valued tremendously in God’s sight.

Tell us a little about your upcoming book, A New Voice for a Broken Soul: What was the inspiration behind it, and what was the process of writing it like?

A New Voice for a Broken Soul is a two part story. The first part is how our Lord delivered me from alcohol addiction. It will describe my background since childhood to my love for alcohol and eventual addiction to and deliverance from its bondage. Part two will describe how after this event our Lord led me from such a strong charismatic Protestant community to the doorsteps of Rome and the Catholic Church! A long and hard journey which lead me to the fullness of Jesus Christ and Christianity.

Congratulations on your (relatively) new blog!  What made you decide to start one, and what kind of information/stories should we expect to see on there?

Thank you! A good and dear friend of mine had encouraged me to write about what our Lord has taught me. I am able to express myself better through written word then in person so I thought it was the least I could do, for now, to advance the kingdom of God. It has turned into a blessing in disguise and I didn’t realize how “hungry” people are for the truth! The main focus I want to take with my blog is a practical way we can all live our faith day in and day out–how we can place God first in all that we do and arm ourselves with the proper weapons we need to fulfill our call to lead holy lives. Spiritual combat will be a running theme throughout.

We understand you enjoy Christian Heavy Metal.  Any bands in particular that you enjoy?

I was surprised to see this question! I love it! Contrary to popular belief there are many sincere and authentic Christian heavy metal artists. They reach a crowd that would probably otherwise never hear the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. The music itself speaks mainly about not allowing ourselves to get tied into the ways of the world and to always remain focused on the kingdom of God. The way in which heavy metal sounds fits perfectly as presenting, at least to me, the power of almighty God in the world and over evil! It has been a source of encouragement for me in many difficult situations. I like to compare music to the saints. All saints (music) are very inspiring in their own particular way but we all have a patron, one in which we can especially relate to the most. Mine just happens to be heavy metal and St. Polycarp! Some authentic Christian heavy metal bands well worth looking into are Demon Hunter, Becoming the Archetype, August Burns Red and Sleeping Giant. That’s just to name a few!

And finally, what is next for Paul Ray?

The will of God! Since I love to write I plan on writing a lot more after A New Voice for a Broken Soul is finished. My heart’s desire is to lead people to that same love in which I felt, and continue to feel, when I came to know my Creator. Whatever way He has in mind has yet to be seen but I’m expecting mountains to be moved!

Interview with Lisa Hendey

Mother, wife, author, blogger — meet Lisa Hendey, the woman responsible for and The Handbook for Catholic Moms, and frequent contributor to Faith&Family.

Why did you write The Handbook for Catholic Moms?  Was there a particular inspiring moment or event that made you think “Hey, there’s a book here!”

I had been thinking about writing a book for a few years – we’ve had a very active Book Club on for ten years now, and that brought me into contact with many Catholic authors.  I always desired the experience of writing a book, but frankly I lacked the confidence and the time.  Busy moms will understand how daunting the thought of finding any quiet time to write can be.

But through the website I came into contact with Tom Grady, the head of my publisher Ave Maria Press.  Tom and I discussed the possibility of creating a book that would serve as a companion to the website.  I loved that conversation and felt inspired to take on the challenge.  I’m so happy I did!  It’s been an amazing experience, and I think we’ve been able to create a resource that can help and support many.

Even though your book is written as a handbook for Catholic Moms, who else could benefit from reading your book?

Honestly, some of the best feedback I’ve had on the book has come from men.  Of course, they won’t admit to it if you ask them!

The book is divided into four sections – heart, mind, body and soul.  In each section, I encourage the reader to invest the time, energy and effort to care for herself so that she can better care for her family, her community and our universal Church.  So many of the aspects of the book are relevant to anyone who’s looking to grow in faith and to develop themselves personally.

In the book, you discuss Catholic marriage commitments.  In your opinion, why is it so difficult for men and women to commit to anything today?

I think it’s a few things – first of all, we’re living in the “i” generation – information comes in small bits from so many angles.  We’re connected to so many things that sometimes it can be difficult to fully connect with any one thing – or even with any one person.   “Friend” has taken on a whole new context, and the way wecommunicate with one another is vastly different than it was in the past.

I also fear that we are raising a generation who may not fully comprehend the sacramental nature of marriage.  We parents really have to fully commit ourselves to our domestic churches – which means that we accept primary responsibility for the faith formation of our children, including modeling sacramental marriage for them.

As parents/mentors/friends/employers and employees/members of God’s family — with all the roles we assume throughout the day, many of us seem to have frayed edges and appear over-worked and stressed.  What is your “recipe for prioritizing” your life?  What works for you?

This is so true!  We’re pulled in so many different directions!  My own father, who always begins his day with quiet prayer time and physical fitness, modeled my “recipe” for me.  I try to begin and end my day with prayer.  I do my very best to be physically active most days of the week.  I fully throw myself into the work I do, because I love it with all my heart, but my family is my top priority after my relationship with God.  So some days that means not getting through most items on the “to do” list – but work will wait and my time with my family is too precious to put on hold.  It’s always an incredibly difficult balancing act, which makes prayer an even more component.

Catholic Mom has grown by leaps and bounds over the years.  Did you
envision this community as it has unfolded over the years?  Does it match with what your first pictured, how has it differed?  And what is next for Lisa Hendey?

I never could have imagined the ways in which the community would grow worldwide.  It’s truly amazing.  We now feature over one hundred contributors.  Our resources are downloaded in over 110 countries around the world.  We have the weekly Catholic Moments podcast and have begun video initiatives.  It’s all a work of the Holy Spirit and a very committed team of volunteers who have really become my “online parish”.  I simply sit back and marvel when I see what my little “hobby” has grown into.  But God is good, and He definitely has a plan for this apostolate, so He continues to provide what we need.

What’s next for me?  I am at work on a second book – a devotional based upon the lives of the saints.  I’m also enjoying the opportunities I’m having to speak at parishes, with faith groups and at conferences.  My husband and I recently launched our first son off to college, but I still have a teenager in my home so being a good wife and mom continues to be my highest professional priority.

Thanks for the opportunity to share my thoughts with your readers!

Thank you, Lisa!

PS: Here is a photo of Thomas with Lisa Hendy from Catholic Marketing Network in August 2010 

Interview with Michele Bondi Bottesi

Mother, author, publisher and inspiration: Michele Bondi Bottesi shares her journey and talks about the process of creating Catholic literature and the importance of keeping faith.

I like the fact that when you are self-described first as a mother, then Catholic author and publisher, then psychologist.  I think our current society (2010) is wrapped-up in labels, and not enough in vocations.  How long have you been writing and publishing, and what (or who) inspires you to write?

I agree; we must be very careful to remain willing to do what God asks of us and not rely upon our own understanding.  Throughout the lifespan we are called to integrate multiple roles simultaneously.   The vocation that will always mean the most to me personally is the one that I was called to first and foremost, the Holy Apostolate of Motherhood.  I love that fact that that the job description is a mile long yet the title is humble, there are no prerequisites to getting the job, no degree is required, payment doesn’t involve money, God is the Boss, and He’s very nice.

As I child I loved writing and creating little books.  In elementary school one of my books was entered into a contest and I prayed that it would win first place.  That book didn’t win, but the event was prophetic.  Decades later, God commissioned me to write and publish a series of books that focus on our purpose in life from a Catholic perspective.  In the last three months, those books have been honored with four first place awards.

In between my writing as a child and then again as an adult, four pivotal events occurred that were crucial to my formation and prepared me for the work God wanted me to accomplish through Joseph Karl Publishing.

The first one was the death of my father during my senior year of high school, which led me to abandon my greatly anticipated plans of going away to school to study journalism.  Instead I chose to remain home with my mother, applied to a local university, and without even knowing why changed my major to psychology.

After earning a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in psychology, I was accepted into the doctoral program in educational psychology at the same university.  I completed the coursework and the written and oral exams required for the degree.  When it came time for my final requirement, the dissertation, I was surprised to encounter resistance by some members of my committee.  That resistance increased and my committee created extra requirements not given to the other students, and they seemed impossible to carry out.  I worked very hard and met them all.

Then the second pivotal event occurred.  I prepared my dissertation proposal, defended it, and my committee approved the work.  Later that day, the committee acted against the decision they made in good conscience.  They reversed their decision to accept the proposal and I was not allowed to finish that last requirement necessary to obtain my degree.  Even though I still had a one year grace period left to meet their requirements, I was denied that as well.  No formal justification was given to me, not even when I requested it in writing as I prepared to take the department to court.

It was as if roadblock after roadblock was placed directly in my path and eventually, there was no possible way to move forward in that direction. The court battle never materialized, because right after I was denied my degree, the third pivotal event occurred.  My three small children and I stopped by our mailbox on the way to the store and discovered that I had been served divorce papers.  They had been filed on my birthday.

For seven years before, during, and after my divorce my family was persecuted terribly, and it was during that time I experienced unprecedented supernatural events.  It was during my divorce that God summoned me to write a book.  He placed the contents of the book on my heart, and although I knew it was there, I did not know the contents of the book until I started writing it.

Being aware of the presence of the book helped prepare me over time for the work that was coming, and I had to wait for His most perfect timing to begin writing it.  It was impossible to begin the book immediately because for years my focus was on surviving each difficult day.  At the time I felt that my time, energy, and financial resources were being stolen from me, until I was granted an understanding that everything belongs to God, and my experiences were vital to the work that was coming.  What Satan meant for evil, God was using for great good.  All I had to do was cooperate.

Several years later I was standing by my computer in the living room reading a letter from Priests for Life when I heard, “I want you to do more.” When I inquired what I was supposed to do exactly there was no response, but it soon became clear that the time had come to write the book.  Things progressed rather slowly.  Then one day I learned of a man whose wife filed for divorce; in great despair he ended his life on Christmas Day.  That was a fourth pivotal moment, and led me to finish writing Your Personal Apostolate:  Accepting and Sharing the Love of God.

Those three pivotal events were catastrophic, and yet they had great purpose because they shaped and prepared me for the work God wanted me to accomplish down the road.  Each of us has an apostolate that begins the moment we are created.  We are called by God throughout our evolving apostolate to be sacrificial and obedient, always striving to love in greater measure. We are reminded that all we do should be for the glory of God and salvation of souls.

After that book was finished in the spring, I was at a children’s Mass when God instructed me to rewrite the book for teens, preteens, and younger children.  That summer my teen and preteen sons Andre and Nick wrote those books with me and they were published in December 2009.  God commissioned other books along the way, including God Moments:  Stories that Inspire, Moments to Remember and Our Treasure.  He also requested that One Man’s Journey to Freedom: Escape From Behind the Iron Curtain by Gene X. Kortsha be immediately prepared for publication for a global audience.  That life-changing book was just nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in Letters.

My writing mentor in heaven is Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.  Other intercessors have been Pope John Paul II, St. Pio, St. Therese, and Venerable Fr. Solanus Casey.  During our second year, St. John Bosco joined us to guide the work of our youth division.  St. Anthony and St. Michael have been of tremendous help to us this year.

This past spring, God instructed me to take my children to Holy Mass on weekends at Ss. Cyril and Methodius Slovak Catholic Church here in Michigan.  While that came as a huge surprise to me, we have already experienced tremendous spiritual growth as members of the parish, and Fr. Ben Kosnac has been instrumental in helping us achieve the work God wants us to accomplish.

“Do whatever He tells you” (John 2:5)

There is one more pivotal event that I did not mention. While I was still married, I asked God to make me a saint.

Do you think your background in Psychology and Neuropsychology helped shape your observations and paths along the way?

Without a doubt, Divine Providence led me to study psychology, for it is the study of human behavior that helps me so much in my work today.  Our mission is to know God, love Him, and serve Him.

The study of the development of the human person is so vital to our understanding, respecting, and serving each other throughout the lifespan. My absolute favorite theory is attachment theory.  The research clearly shows, and it makes perfect sense, that outcomes for people are best when they are loved and nurtured.  This coincides with what God asks of us, because we were created in love, to be loved, and to love in return.

A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
— John 13:34-35

How has faith helped to fill in the gaps that science may not have answers for?

The more we seek to accomplish our own will, the more limited is our understanding.  When we demand proof to satisfy our pride, or look to change what God has determined is Truth, we then see even less.  Pride creates a barrier between us and Truth, and that is why obedience is such an important virtue for us to acquire.

We must be on constant guard against arrogance.  Learning for the sake of serving God is honorable and accomplishes great good.  When we practice humility and obedience, and pray to the Holy Spirit for wisdom, we come to know the Truth we seek and are content to know and accept the Truth set forth by God.

Michigan has been hard hit in the last few years.  Even though I am in New Jersey, I have close friends that live in Lake Orion, Novi, Pontiac, Oxford. Thinking in terms of a personal apostolate, what can folks learn now as they see neighbors losing homes and may be struggling to put food on the table?   Faith is surely being tested.

We must ask God to help us see these circumstances from His perspective, and grant Him permission to work in us in good times as well as during hardships.  It is vital that we allow ourselves during times of great trial to grow in ways that at times are hidden from us.  From our perspective we may feel alone and inconsolable because our hearts are broken.  However, when we abandon ourselves to the will of God, much good is accomplished for ourselves and for others.  We must not rely upon our own limited strength and understanding to get us through these trials.

It is important to remember that every apostolate is constantly evolving through all the circumstances of one’s life.  A Nine-Day Novena to the Holy Spirit is very beneficial during times of discernment and also comforting during times of suffering.

What inspired Joseph Karl Publishing?

God founded JKP, He is the genesis of all of our work, and everything we do relies entirely upon Divine Providence.  By the end of this year (2010) we will have published six exceptional books and more life-changing reading is in development for 2011 and beyond.

Our mission is clear: to encourage, inspire, and continue the faith formation of the more than one billion Catholics around the world and to lead souls to Christ.  God wants every single one of us to know how much we are loved and valued, and that we are to recognize, accept, return, and share His love with one another.

How do you find the time to post on your blog so frequently (very impressive!)?

God inspires the stories, articles, interviews, videos, and photographs.  In the beginning, we shared a very sweet exchange every time He gave me an assignment.  It went this way:  He presented the idea and I responded by asking Him, “When am I going to have time to do that?”  Then He would provide more inspiration and I would end playfully with, “You write it.”   That playful banter helped me get accustomed to accomplishing God’s will through Joseph Karl Publishing.

During this second year there has been an increased sense of urgency to the work along with an understanding of how vital it is for us to cooperate with God’s will.  We must take heed, for often we allow ourselves to be fooled into thinking that there is plenty of time later for holiness, self denial, and service.   We must understand that our cooperation is not meant to benefit just ourselves, but also benefits others who may be in need of our cooperative response the present moment.   Our choices impact our own spiritual welfare as well as the spiritual welfare of countless others.  We tend to not realize, underestimate, or even reject the tremendous, incalculable impact our choices make on so many others.

This past year of increased urgency, we must pray that every individual be willing to “see” as God sees and not rely upon our own understanding.  He has a mission for every single person.  Each of us must strive to journey ever close to Him in order to properly discern our evolving apostolate and carry out the work He has for us to accomplish each day, moment by moment.

Being responsible stewards of our time is vital to our discipleship, and that is a tremendous challenge in our modern era.  In order for God’s will to be accomplished through me, my entire life revolves around participating in Holy Mass every day I can possibly attend.  Many people feel that they do not have time to go to Holy Mass, or like me, never even considered it.  I friend of mine recently observed very poignantly that when we put God first, He helps us through our day so we can accomplish what He asks of us.

Congratulations for bringing your young children into the writing as well, can you share a bit about their experience writing?  Did they enjoy getting involved?  I took particular notice of Andre’s blog post on “Why should I Go to Mass?”

What I love the most about Joseph Karl Publishing is that God is clearly the genesis of all our work; through the work we see manifested His unfathomable love for every single person.  The idea to include my children in the mission belongs to God, and was the answer to prayer.  As a parent and especially as a single parent, I am painfully aware of the forces of darkness pursuing our children in the modern era.

They are constantly tempted to spend time on useless activities and to seek joy in material things, while disobedience, arrogance, and selfishness are marketed to them as desirable behavior.  There are many activities which appear so appealing and seem so benign, but the reality is they are extremely harmful.   This is very, very alarming.

As I mentioned, the assignment to write the youth apostolate books was given to me during a children’s Mass.  That summer my teen and preteen sons worked with me on the text and wrote the personal reflections from a teen and preteen perspective.  We are absolutely delighted with those books because they share the apostolate message with young people, and encourage them to accept, return, and share the love of God throughout their lives.  In June 2010, Your Teen Apostolate and Your Preteen Apostolate were named Best Children’s Books of the Year and Best Family Life Books of the Year by the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada, and in September 2010, Your Preteen Apostolate was honored with a Purple Dragonfly Children’s Book Award.  Final placements will be announced in November 2010.

Allowing God to work through them to create these books has helped my children gain a greater understanding of the sacrificial nature of our walk with Christ.  They also have begun to develop time management skills as they consider their obligation to be responsible stewards of the time they are given.

Thank you for your kind words about Andre’s article.  Hopefully Andre and Nick’s accomplishments lead them and their peers to understand that God is at work in them, too, not just someday but right now.  Their contributions are already vital and contribute much to our world.

No wonder your blog is a success; you share your experiences with the reader — through words, photos, thoughts and actions.  What new topics are you looking to share with your blog readers?

Joseph Karl Publishing’s mission is to encourage, inspire, and continue the faith formation of Catholics around the world and to lead souls to Christ.  One vital way to accomplish that is to reach out people during very difficult, painful times in their lives.  Often times we do not realize the tremendous benefits that are obtained for us and others when we chose to do God’s will in the present moment.  My favorite ways of encouraging, inspiring, teaching, and leading souls into greater intimacy with Christ is through the use of short stories, photographs, and short videos.

I plan on writing more about major life changes including death, divorce and single parenthood, career transition, illness, and death.  I would like to offer more material for grandparents and seniors.  Also look for material that reaches out to those who have left the church, lukewarm Catholics, and those looking to become Catholic. We live in a time when so much information is available to us, but not all of it is true.  We must be willing to seek and accept Truth, which leads to authentic and lasting joy.

I also feel very strongly about encouraging the faith formation of devout, obedient Catholics pursuing greater Divine Intimacy.

By the way, I am so glad you posted Father Calloway’s presentation!

I am delighted that you enjoyed the video clips of his presentation. Fr. Calloway’s testimony is very powerful and demonstrates God’s great mercy and tremendous love for each one of us.  We are also reminded of the power of prayer to change lives, and that each one of us is necessary.

What can other folks do to help inspire and create new relevant Catholic content?

We must be open to allowing God to work in us. Often we stop or hinder this process because of pride, our faith is lacking, or we do not reverence His judgments.  How often we rebel, disrespect His timing, and refuse to serve Him in the present moment.   I encourage everyone to go to Holy Mass, receive the Eucharist, and go to Reconciliation often.  If we ask and then listen, God will tell us how He wants us to serve Him.  We must remember that it is very important for us to help others with their apostolate and not focus exclusively on our own particular mission.

What is next for you and for Joseph Karl Publishing?

We published the first three apostolate books in the series in 2009.  Our next book, God Moments, will be published and available the first week of October 2010.  Two more books are headed to publication by the end of the year.  Our Treasure is a keepsake picture book that reminds children that the Eucharist is our greatest treasure on earth.  The exceptional illustrations for this book are by gifted artist Kristina M. Pope.  One Man’s Journey to Freedom:  Escape From Behind the Iron Curtain by Gene X. Kortsha is a brilliant memoir and has been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in Letters.  This life-changing book will be available by December 2010.

Every book that we have published is an expression of Christ’s great love for every single person ever created.  We are eager to meet the people He will send to accomplish the work that is to come, as Divine Providence provides for our needs.  Four more books in the apostolate series, the sequel to God Moments, and a series of prayer booklets addressing specific trials are in development for 2011.

Our Interview with Lynn Goodwin, Author

B. Lynn Goodwin is the author of “YOU WANT ME TO DO WHAT?” Journaling for Caregivers and is also the Editor of Writer Advice, a website dedicated to promoting authors through its interviews. Her site publishes both experienced and emerging writers, showcasing fresh ideas and high quality writing.

I was blessed to have caught up with Lynn after we met in person at the Catholic Marketing Network Trade Show in August 2010 in King of Prussia, PA.

Lynn, thanks for taking some time from your busy schedule to catch up with us.

Tell us, why are caregivers so overly stressed out? Is it primarily because no one is listening (even ourselves), while we continue to commit to a difficult task?

Lynn: We caregivers are so stressed out because we give and give. At the same time we stuff our own needs into the back of the closet.

Please share with us why you feel it is worthwhile to keep a journal for our own mental health and stress relief.

Lynn: Caregivers need a place where our needs come first. A private journal offers such a place. When a caregiver writes in her journal she can vent, rant, explore, analyze, discover, and find hope. A journal never argues. It lets the writer finish a sentence. It can be come a confidant who makes no demands.

Lynn, your book actually unfolds like a journal, or workbook. Why is it so critical that caregivers write, instead of merely thinking through the responses?

Lynn: Sometimes thinking makes our wheels spin. We obsess. We stay stuck. While this can happen in writing too, there’s something about putting pen to paper (or fingers to the keyboard) and seeing our words appear on paper that commits us to a course of thought and a course of action.

Writing slows down the racing insanity of negative thoughts. It allows us to dwell in lovely thoughts. It gives us the time to think as we speak on paper. It is a lovely reflection of a moment in time.

In your book, you talk about your “personal record of emotional truth.” Why do so many of us try to run away and not face our “emotional truths?”

Lynn: Good question! Sticky subject. Our emotional truths are uncomfortable. We are ashamed of feelings that are not p.c. Pain, resentments, and a feeling of loss lead to shame. Who wants to write about shame or feelings of inadequacy?

But by writing about them, we can find our way through our obstacles and issues, discover a more balanced truth, and reacquaint ourselves with our dreams.

So, in your opinion, what are we afraid of?

Lynn: I can only speak for myself. I am afraid of my imperfections and the anger that sits bottled up in me for far too long. Writing is one of the safest ways I know of releasing anger, frustration, and fear. When I was a caregiver, I lost sight of the fact that life is a process, and I became afraid that I would never measure up to unrealistic standards I imposed on myself. Journaling helped me move beyond that, and I still do it today.

OK, Lynn. Let’s shift gears. Tell us about

Lynn: I am proud of the fact that Writer Advice will be celebrating its thirteenth anniversary at the beginning of October. Writer Advice began as a small e-mail newsletter with a mailing list of 35. Originally, I published an author interview and a few writing tips.

Writer Advice has grown into an e-zine with author interviews, reviews, contests, articles by noted authors, advice for emerging writers, and a purpose: we want to be of service and help writers tell their stories. We offer manuscript consultations and are available to answer short questions without charge. We welcome submissions–especially reviews. We have pages about You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers on the site. My mailbox is always open for your comments and questions.

Wow, congratulations on your success! Can you share with us a bit about What prompted you to begin your practice?

Lynn: Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages prompted me to start journaling. Life circumstances convinced me I should continue. If I can’t journal first thing in the morning, I do it later and tell myself, “It’s always morning somewhere.”

I seem to be on a unique path as both a writer and a writing facilitator. One day a writing partner told me she was going to put a book of writing prompts into the world, and about 36 hours later a voice, just outside of my head, said,”Journaling for Caregivers.” When I heard that voice, I knew what I had to do. For years I had known that everyone has great stories to tell and journaling is therapeutic. I knew that all caregivers needed was encouragement, simple instructions, and sentence starts, so they would never have to face the blank page.
The book, which contains over 200 sentence starts, includes all of that.

So…then what is the story behind the website, Writer Advice?

Lynn: I started Writer Advice because I wanted to talk to published authors. I wanted to learn from them. If I interviewed them, I wanted to guarantee that I could publish the article. I am overwhelmed by all of the gracious authors who have shared their experience and advice over the years, and I am thrilled with the way we have grown and expanded.

What is next for Lynn Goodwin?

Lynn: Right now I’m prepping the pages of the thirteenth anniversary issue of Writer Advice. It comes out in October. When I’m not working on reviews or interviews for Writer Advice, I might be journaling, editing, or working on a memoir, tentatively titled “After,” which explores life after my caregiving days ended.

Thank you so much for the opportunity to share my experience.

Lynn, you are quite welcome! Great interview!

Interview with Author Ellen Gable Hrkach

Listed below is an interview My Catholic Blog held recently with Ellen Gable Hrkach, the author of “Emily’s Hope” and “In Name Only“. We were very grateful that Ellen was able to spend some time answering a few questions for us, and we are very pleased to share the interview with you.

For more information on Ellen Gable Hrkach’s books, simply click on the book images.

Ellen, you cover a LOT of pertinent, relevant topics for 2010 in these books. In your book, “In Name Only” you seem to have a terrific grasp of historical settings. Tell us, were you a history student? Why did you choose 1870 Philadelphia as the setting for this story?

I was not a history student but I have always loved history. In particular, I find Victorian history fascinating because it was during this period that history was able to be captured photographically. I have a book on the Centennial Exhibition of 1876 (which took place in Philadelphia) with many photos. Several years ago, I was daydreaming about attending the exhibition and what it must have been like in 1870’s Philly. I thought it would make an interesting setting for a fictional story so I quickly jotted down an outline and within a year or so completed my first draft.

OK. Now, in Emily’s Hope, topics range from marriage today, difficult choices to be made, dealing with society issues, family relations, families. Can you share with us the feelings of fear and grief you started writing about in your journal years ago?

I began writing in a journal years ago after I experienced my third miscarriage. I naively thought that if my husband and I were open to life, then God would automatically give us as many children as we wanted. At the time, we already had two sons, but we felt called to have more. I was grieving and at times, I needed to talk (like in the middle of the night) and didn’t want to disturb anyone (least of all, my husband). So I began jotting down my thoughts and feelings. I did have a fear of having more miscarriages and there was part of me that didn’t want to try for another pregnancy because of the fear of possible miscarriage. But I knew I needed to trust that God knew what He was doing. We are now blessed with five wonderful sons ages 11-23.

Ellen, would you encourage others to write down (electronically or in longhand) their fears and worries? Can you explain how this process helps accomplish settling your mind and setting aside worries, fears?

Yes, I would encourage others to write down their feelings, fears and worries. For me, writing in a journal was like talking to a friend, and sometimes it was like talking to God. My notes eventually became somewhat of a prayer journal. That, combined with sitting in front of the Blessed Sacrament, helped me to grieve and heal and to be able to trust that God knew what He was doing and to stop trying to control every little thing that went on in my life. Sometimes, just the process of jotting down my feelings helped me to see things in a different light.

You have been busy. Congratulations on the recognition you have received for your work! But there is (apparently) more to Ellen Gable Hrkach. What is next?

Thank you so much. I am working on five different books to be published in the next few years by my publishing company, Full Quiver Publishing. The first is my third Catholic novel called Stealing Jenny. The second is called Come My Beloved: Inspiring Stories of Catholic Courtship. The third is a book I’m editing for parents written by Carolyn Smith. The fourth is an NFP Devotional Book. The fifth is a sequel to my historical novel, In Name Only. In the midst of it all, I homeschool my two youngest sons and my husband and I teach NFP, lecture at Marriage Prep courses in our Diocese and do chastity talks for young people.

Tell us about the Family Life cartoons, Catholic Mom and Amazing Catechists. And, by the way, you have a very impressive blog! I enjoyed the post about how you explain pronouncing your last name (her-cash)!

The Family Life cartoon currently appears in Family Foundations magazine and on the Amazing Catechists website. It is a cartoon which is based on our own family life with caricatures of us and our children. My husband is the artistic genius and I am the writer, the one who comes up with the ideas for the cartoon.

Amazing Catechists is an incredible resource for Catholic catechists. I write a column called “Sexually Speaking,” which discusses and explains Theology of the Body issues. I do a similar column over at Catholic Mom as well.

Did you think — twenty years ago — you would be here now? Is this what you imagined, and how has God helped shaped your path?

Although I have been doing freelance writing for 15 years, I never envisioned myself as a novelist. In early 2001, after having an experience in front of the Blessed Sacrament, I came home and told my husband and he suggested that I write a novel based on my life and my great-grandmother’s life. After writing my first book, I soon felt called to continue writing novels, especially novels with a strong moral message.

Ellen, may God bless you and thank you for a terrific interview!
You’re very welcome!  I appreciate the opportunity!