New Writing Adventure: Blogging a Book!

IMG_20140124_115240645Have I mentioned before that I’m hoping to blog a new book starting this fall? This is something I’ve been growing increasingly curious about doing, even though I suspect that I’ll eventually be able to traditionally publish it. I’m still figuring out the advantages, the disadvantages, and how I can make it work for me and for the readers.

Why on earth would I do this?

1) It’s something new and I love the challenge of exploring it and seeing how it works

2) It “fits” with my new role of writing for our Pauline digital department, especially the challenge of learning to write “short form,” but it also fits with my love of writing long form

 3) It’s a way of reaching out to and building an audience that I might not have been able to reach in the past. Especially since some of the target audience is young adults, and I don’t know whether they’d be able to find my book without a strong online presence.

4) The interactive possibilities–I’m hoping the blog can be interactive, with comments and insights from readers that offers additional enrichment–and helps me to stay in touch with the needs of the readers

* * *

How-to-Blog-a-Book-Cover-WEBTo begin preparing, back in January I started reading Nina Amir’s extraordinarily helpful blog, How To Blog a Book, which I found out about because Nina was featured on the Writer’s Digest website. Next, I borrowed her book from the library (as you can see, this is a very low-budget operation!), and not only read it cover to cover, but took extensive notes.

Next came brainstorming all the content I’ve developed on this topic over the years, trying to figure out a title and unique approach to the topic, and coming up with a very rough table of contents so that I could see how it might be possible to  break down the content into small, “bloggable” chunks.

This took me into mid February, when I had to put the project aside, due to other projects that became more than full-time.

But using the July 4th weekend, I was able to take a little time to explore this new project, and I’m now testing out the title and topics with potential readers. Next? To write a proposal for the publisher and come up with a real Table of Contents.

This has not been my usual route to develop a new book. If you have blogged a book or are planning to do so, I’d be delighted to hear your suggestions and advice.

Day 3 of Triduum of Prayer to Saint Paul

Day 3 of the Triduum to Saint Paul can be found here.

The beautiful reflection today invites us to see Saint Paul in the light of both the greatness and the suffering of his call, and to reflect on the greatness and suffering of our call as communicators and followers of Christ. How do we bear it? Like Saint Paul, we live every moment with and in Christ.

The LEGO Movie “Fits Together”

Snapshot

The LEGO Movie could be dismissed as a 100-minute commercial for LEGO toys, but it’s also true that the filmmakers went to a lot of extra trouble to make this film not just wholesome and fun entertainment, but to intertwine a couple of really good messages for kids into the story.

Strengths

The basic plot is your typical hero quest block-ified: an ordinary “LEGO” figure who finds a relic is mistaken as the prophesied “the Special” who will save the LEGO worlds.

Emmet is the most ordinary, generic LEGO personality you can imagine–a construction worker who follows his instruction manual to do everything, who fits so well into the LEGO world that he is practically invisible. Because he accidentally finds and becomes attached to a relic (a human artifact that is not a LEGO piece) Emmet is mistakenly identified as “the Special” who will save and bring freedom to the LEGO worlds.

Unknown to Emmet, the LEGO worlds need saving because President Business is really a mastermind criminal who seeks to control them, trying to bring perfection and order, rather than freedom and joy. After being captured for finding the relic, Emmet overhears that President Business is going to glue all the LEGO people/worlds in place, thus paralyzing everyone and everything. It will be the end of the world as he knows it. (And of course President Business doesn’t care who he has to eliminate to achieve his end.)

As Emmet is being rescued by WyldStyle from President Business, he discovers how uniquely unqualified he is to be “the Special” as she is repeatedly disappointed by his inability to build, to imagine, or to think for himself. As we explore the various LEGO worlds with Emmet, WyldStyle and the Master Builders (heroic LEGO figures like Batman and Robin Hood),  Emmet continues to be truly un-spectacular. Until almost the very end, when a new perspective helps Emmet believe that he truly is special. And not only has he discovered that he is special, he also discovers that everyone else is special too. Emmet reveals that we all have moments when our specific gifts are needed, when we are the special ones, when we can do amazing things. But our specialness can be lost if we don’t work together, if we don’t allow others to be special, too.

The plot in particular is outstanding: from the unexpected twist that reveals why everything doesn’t need to make sense, to the final resolution of dealing with President Business in a surprisingly beautiful way that “builds up” rather than tears down or destroys. Rich cultural references and great casting of well-known and familiar voices bring an extra richness to the animated characters.

On Saturday (June 28), the five-minute radio version of this commentary was broadcast on Salt + Light Radio. 

Limitations

I found an unnecessary amount of “LEGO” violence in the film–with the little brick figures falling, being smashed, hit, etc. Even though it’s so stylized–and honestly, what child hasn’t smashed a LEGO figure against something hard?–I wish there had been less, especially as this film will be seen by many very young eyes.

For the non-LEGO fan, especially the adults, the bright primary colors, constant transformation of LEGO constructions into other LEGO concoctions, and the various loud, unrelenting chases can be a bit much. However, for LEGO fans, I’m guessing the nostalgia value would be quite high. Several allusions to history and legends and many clever nods to the pop culture of the 80s and 90s–from Batman and Star Wars to Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter–add another level of enjoyment for adults and older kids.

A Window to the Soul

TheLEGOMoviecoverSome reviews have pointed out that Emmet’s self-sacrifice near the end could be an allusion to Christ. I agree, although I think that it’s better described as a powerful image of selfless, Christ-like love, rather than a great metaphor for Christ as our Savior. (Elements of a Christ-figure metaphor don’t carry through to other parts of the story.) However, where this film really stands out is its twofold message about yearning to be special. Being special is such a fundamental desire that even grown-ups can resonate with Emmet’s pain when he’s harshly told that he’s not special. But Emmet doesn’t just discover that he’s special (an important message in itself for young viewers). He also discovers how his “specialness” fits with his being part of a community, part of a team. We are all special and unique, and yet we best express how special we are when we “fit” together and work with each other. This second message is delightfully reinforced by the ending, which is refreshingly nonviolent.

This film’s theme could be described in various ways:  the tension between creative types vs. organized types; individuality vs. conformity; that the balance between conformity and creativity is true teamwork where all are recognized for their unique specialness, etc. Overall, this film explores what it means to be both individual and part of the human community. For the more reflective viewer (or for a family discussion), The LEGO Movie could open a window to the beauty of what it means to be a member of a family, or what it means to be a member of the Church, belonging to the Body of Christ.

A great Scripture passage to reflect on after seeing this film is Saint Paul’s beautiful chapter from 1st Corinthians (1 Corinthians 12).

Day 2 of Triduum Prayer to Saint Paul

Day 2: Continue to pray this Triduum of Prayer to Saint Paul with us here! I am keeping all your intentions in my prayer today.

I also want to share with you our new digital magazine celebrating the Centenary of the Foundation of the Pauline Family. You can read it online, or download it for later. Most people know about one or two institutes of the Pauline Family, but the prolific James Alberione didn’t just write and do a lot, he founded 10 institutes–and all of them have a couple pages in this magazine. Whether you are called to being single, married, priesthood, or religious life, there is a Pauline institute for you!

 

Join us in three days of Pauline prayer

To celebrate the very special feast of Saint Paul (June 29th is the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, and June 30th is the Feast of Saint Paul for the entire Pauline Family), our sisters have put together a three-day triduum of prayer to Saint Paul. You can use it as a prayer of thanksgiving for the gift of Saint Paul to the Church  or another special grace you have received, or you can also use it to pray for special intentions through Saint Paul’s intercession. Below is just the beginning of the Triduum, but I encourage you to pray it in its entirety: it will only take a few minutes:

I am praying this Triduum for the intentions of  Catholic communicators, and for other communicators of good will, and that we will communicate the beauty of the truth in a compelling way that will touch people’s hearts and change people’s lives. Please feel free to post your intentions below, or email them to me.

Full first day of Triduum: http://visit.pauline.org/ifollowlight/2014/06/27/st-paul-triduum-day-1-june-30/

 

 

 

Praying with Saint Paul

The sisters are posting up a lovely Novena to Saint Paul, which started several days ago. You can join in now, or start from the beginning today and continue on after Saturday!

You can follow the entire novena here (click on subscribe so you receive the daily notifications), and you can also post your prayer intentions so that we can pray for you as we continue the novena!

 

Update on Archbishop Sheen’s Cause

This weekend I enjoyed myself so much celebrating the Feast of Corpus Christi with the parish of  St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish in Somersworth, NH. Since our sisters were sharing our mission with the people at the parish, the pastor invited me to lead a couple of short meditations on the Eucharist during the Corpus Christi celebration in the afternoon. The afternoon consisted of time for adoration, Scripture readings, a procession,  three stations (in honor of the Holy Face of Jesus, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and Divine Mercy), and Benediction. I felt so blessed to be able to celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi in such a beautiful way.

Archbishop Fulton Sheen (1895-1979), prolific writer who used mainstream radio and television to evangelize in the 1950s with his Emmy-award-winning “Life is Worth Living” series, is further along the road towards being declared a saint. In March, the Vatican’s medical panel officially approved the miraculous nature of the recovery of an infant who was stillborn but recovered after his parents prayed to Archbishop Sheen to heal their son. He is now a healthy three-year-old. This past week, the Vatican’s theological commission also acknowledged the miraculous recovery of the baby. Read the full story here and here.

Of course, you can find many episodes of his radio and TV shows online, as well as read his books. If you have seen favorite shows of Archbishop Sheen online, please share them in the comments below! To find out more about Archbishop Sheen’s life and cause, visit: http://www.archbishopsheencause.org/

You can even download an app to listen to talks from Archbishop Sheen! (Some talks are free, others require payment.) The app is available on iTunes for the iPhone and on the Google Play store for Android phones.

A one-hour documentary was produced about Archbishop Sheen a couple of years ago. The trailer is below: