Invitation to Pray: “The World at Prayer” Digital Prayerbook

The World At Prayer CoverIn our Discover Hope News Notes this past Saturday, Sister Kathryn Hermes put together a digital prayerbook to support our faith and efforts to build a world of peace. You can find The World At Prayer here, but you may also want to read her beautiful reflection in these days when terrorism seems to threaten to reshape the world: In the Face of Terror: Keeping the Faith of the World Alive.

We help to bring about Christ’s ultimate victory over sin and death every time an act of hatred is prevented, every time we respond to senseless acts of violence and hatred with love, compassion, and prayer.

 

Blogging a Book: Challenges

Photo: Irene Robert Wright, fsp. © Daughters of St. Paul

Photo: Irene R. Wright, fsp © Daughters of St. Paul

Three-day weekends when we can take two days in a row to really relax are rare in convent life. Often Saturdays, Sundays, or holidays are times when we participate in special events or pastoral projects. However, since I’ve been assigned as a writer for digital media at our publishing house in Boston, I’ve had two three-day weekends (July 4th and Labor Day), and both have allowed me to move forward with my newest writing adventure: blogging a book!

With the news just days old that my book has been accepted for publication both as a blog and as a book, I was especially excited to dive in. I want to complete blogging the book within a year. Usually with that kind of a deadline, I’d be worried about finding the time to write it. But this time I face other challenges:

  • Keeping to the overall length. Initially I proposed that the book be about 52,000 words. (About 1,000 words a week, give or take!) But I’ve been asked to keep it to 40,000 words. I’m not sure how to do that and still cover most of the approved table of contents in sufficient breadth and depth.
  • Writing about spiritual topics in byte-size posts. The publishing team also told me that short entries are better, even in print form. I imagined 250-500 words an entry; they are recommending closer to 250 words. How do I deal with spiritual topics in only 250 words? And when I revise the blog into a book, do I really want to keep each blog post separate? The “experts” recommend weaving it together, but the publishing team is recommending keeping the book in “byte size” chunks.
  • Engaging readers so that the blog is truly interactive. This is by far the most exciting part of blogging my book. To do it, the blog needs lots of readers–readers who are really engaged and who comment, share, etc. I have lots of ideas for how to make the blog engaging, but I have no clue which ideas will work. I suspect that marketing the blog and making it truly interactive will be harder than writing the book. But it will be amazingly fun if I can connect with readers as I’m writing the book, and allow them to shape the content. For me, this seems the ideal way to communicate Christ–not a one-way communication, but a true dialogue so that the readers actually become co-creators of the book, and so that what I write about is truly helpful, and really resonates with the readers.

If any readers have successfully blogged a book, or developed a book from a website, or are thinking of doing it, I’d love to hear any questions or advice you’d like to share! (From the number of people reading and following my entries on this topic, I think a lot of the readers would be eager to hear further advice as well.) 

Adventures in Blogging a Book Continue!

IMG_0047On July 9th, I posted about a possible new writing adventure that I was quite excited about: blogging a book! In that post, I talked about the resources I used in developing my ideas (especially How To Blog a Book by Nina Amir), and my first “baby steps” in this new venture. Several of you let me know that you shared my excitement and that you were praying for this new initiative. Thank you!

In the past two months I’ve taken quite a few steps in moving this project forward from idea to reality:

  • developed a complete table of contents, and then revised it; and then revised it again;
  • wrote half a dozen blog posts to play around with length, tone, and topic;
  • wrote a proposal for the editor;
  • discussed the project in a fair amount of depth with the editor;
  • shared the proposal and four blog posts with a small group of the target audience for feedback;
  • researched recent books that have developed from blogs or websites;
  • met with the Editorial and Marketing teams at Pauline Books & Media to explore what blogging a book means: benefits, risks, issues to keep in mind, etc.

And during that meeting, they decided right then and there to accept the project!

As the author, I don’t usually meet with the Editorial and Marketing teams at a decision-making meeting for a project that I’m proposing to write–and normally, I wouldn’t recommend it. But this meeting was so much fun, with about 15 people in the room who were all interested in helping this book be the best it can. I left the meeting totally energized and excited.

The name of the blog is still being researched (titles are not a strength for me, but I think I came up with several good suggestions). Hopefully a name will be decided upon in the next few weeks, which is when I’ll put up the blog page. I can give you a clue about the topic, though: I’ll begin the new blog on November 30, the first Sunday of Advent and the opening of the Year of Consecrated Life (November 30, 2014-February 2, 2016). (Feel free to guess in the comments!)

I will still continue blogging at Windows to the Soul, but instead of posting more often as I’d been planning to do, I’ll continue posting here once a week during the next year. However, I’m delving deeper into my studies and reflections on the theology of communication, so I may not be able to help posting here a little more often!

Tidbits to Inspire

MusicistheLanguageofSoulpromoLast week I took a delightful vacation with my mom. One way we usually enjoy our time together is to pick out great music and listen to it!

Rest and relaxation is an important part of the creative cycle, just as silence is a crucial part of communication. But while I’ve been relaxing, some of the sisters have been quite busy. Check out the following links for fun, inspiration, and info!

YourLoveCarriesMepromoThis issue of our Discover Hope newsletter features our Daughters of Saint Paul’s newest album, Your Love Carries Me. The music is really beautiful. I just started listening to it myself, and at the moment my favorite song is Glorious Day. Enjoy these “behind the curtain” stories of the choir sisters, as well as the music clips!

UnderstandingLoveSpinelloDr. Richard Spinello, author of PBM’s new book, Understanding Love and Responsibility, was a guest on EWTN’s “At Home with Jim and Joy Pinto” on August 15, 2014. Listen in to his remarkably accessible and cogent “take” on Pope St. John Paul’s Theology of the Body in this downloadable podcast.

One of my favorite Pauline blogs, the Pauline Cooperators blog, has relaunched, and will feature a variety of Paulines who will blog, both religious and lay. Check it out and subscribe if you’ve enjoyed the “Pauline twist” of many of my posts here.

SrMargaretKerrySr. Margaret Charles Kerry, fsp, has guest blogged a wonderful post on living the New Evangelization at CatholicMom.com. I enjoyed “We Are Gospel: A Living Evangelization” immensely for its Pauline themes of transformation in Christ and how she links Pope Francis’s integrated way of speaking of Baptism and Evangelization with our Pauline spirituality.

 

Letter of Saint Paul to the World

This year is the 100th anniversary of the entire Pauline Family, and next year, 2015 is the centenary year of the founding of the Daughters of Saint Paul. With all these anniversaries, some of our young sisters in formation have created some wonderful digital presentations about our anniversaries.

The Pauline Family, founded by Blessed James Alberione, is made up of ten institutes. Alberione gave all of us together the mission of being Saint Paul alive today. This video is how one of our sisters envisions the Pauline Family being a letter of Saint Paul to the world:

For more information  about the Pauline Centenary and our Founder, Blessed James Alberione, visit: www.MediaApostle.com.

 

Together we communicate…

IMG_0011Chosen and loved in Christ Jesus, together we communicate the Gospel to everyone (cont’d)

Jesus Way, Truth, and Life, is the center and heart of our lives and vocations as Daughters of Saint Paul. Our prayer together has a wonderful way of uniting us. After prayer, in our day to day living, we sometimes struggle with our differences: of personality, opinions, likes and dislikes, ideas, ways of doing things–even the way of cleaning the kitchen! But no matter what else is going on in our lives, what always brings us together is our mission.

Together we communicate the Gospel to everyone. 

One of the keys to being effective communicators in today’s media culture is the ability to collaborate. I see this lived out frequently in my community, the Daughters of Saint Paul, but I recently witnessed an extraordinary example of collaboration by some other wonderful Catholic communicators.

CathTVlogoPauline Video and Catholic TV are collaborating to create a TV/DVD program, and we recently had a week-long shoot. As with any production, the schedule was demanding, but this program’s was especially so, with many elements that made it much more complex to shoot. Each day required trying something new and often called for new talent, including children.

Despite the long hours, repeated takes, falling behind schedule, and the need to sometimes take a new approach when something wasn’t working, the entire staff at Catholic TV were calm, creative, making suggestions, and working together to make every shot its best. I was so inspired to be there with them and to witness the director’s leadership and the entire team’s generosity and persistence. They encourage me to be a better communicator.

Sometimes “how” we communicate is even more important than “what” we actually say. The love and patience of the staff at Catholic TV will come across in the program itself: not just in the quality shots, but in the creativity, in the focus on the message of Christ, and in the joy visible onscreen. The staff’s very personal witness to the Gospel was not just to the eventual viewers of the program; they also witnessed to me, the other sisters, the talent, and each other.

Cherished Time of Prayer

ConcordRiverFullwTreeHere by the river is one of my cherished prayer-spots during this past week’s retreat, where God made his presence felt.

I was touched to receive prayer intentions from so many of you last week. I dedicated a certain day to each prayer intention, as well as praying for everyone through the week. Some of you offered prayers for me and for the other sisters making retreat–your prayers were certainly answered! Thank you so much for sharing this cherished time of prayer with me–through your intentions and prayers.

It was a profound, beautiful, comforting and challenging week…all the things that retreats should be. Most of all, it was a delight just to be able to focus on the Lord and listen to his loving voice. I know I will continue to “unpack” the spiritual fruits of my retreat in the coming weeks and months. One of the Scripture passage that spoke to me especially was Matthew 6:25-33–that if we set our heart on the Lord, we do not need to worry because he will provide for us.

I also prayed for all the new media initiatives coming up…among many others, especially: my newest book Soul of Christ: Meditations on a Timeless Prayer (November release!), the two upcoming digital magazines that we’re just starting to prepare, several new developing sections for our www.pauline.org website, the new DVDs about Our Lady of Fatima and Pope Francis (releasing in August!), and the soon-to-be released film about our Founder, Blessed James Alberione, Media Apostle.