Super Girls and Halos is Available!

Posted by on Apr 26, 2017 in writing | Comments Off on Super Girls and Halos is Available!

I’m so excited to let you all know that my second book with Ave Maria Press, Super Girls and Halos: My Companions on the Quest for Truth, Justice, and Heroic Virtue, is available for pre-order! Get yours early!

Now that the commercial is over, I want to gush over the fun of revealing the cover to you, plus, this is really a fun book that I started writing over 30 years ago, so it’s very cool for me to see it come to fruition.

My love for science fiction, comics, and fantasy stories started when I was a little kid, and by the time I was in college and majoring in literature, I was secretly writing what we know today as fan-fiction.

I got over the fan-fiction part when I started writing my own stories, but I still felt drawn to the fictional heroines I loved as a child and young adult. Recent reboots of Star Trek, new episodes of Star Wars, and film adaptations of books such as Hunger Games, and Fantastic Beasts and Where to find Them from Harry Potter grabbed my attention again as an adultAdd to that the Marvel and DC Comics universes brought to the big screen, especially the Wonder Woman film coming this summer, and I turn 12 all over again.

I’m a bit more discerning about my heroes and heroines today, but noticed that these strong female characters resonate with me because they exhibit human virtue. I wondered what would happen in real life if I adopted some of these traits. Could I live a heroic life?

What if I cooperated with God’s plan for me? Could I live a holy life? A life of heroic virtue?

I started to read about the saints, and noticed that there were many similarities. And significant differences. The saints operated with God’s grace. It made all the difference in their lives, and the lives of the people they touched.

If you like the strong women being portrayed on the big screen today, I invite you order a copy of Super Girls and Halos and read about those fun characters, and a little bit about some extraordinary real women who took heroism to holy heights.



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a favorite poem by marianne moore

Posted by on Jan 15, 2017 in writing | Comments Off on a favorite poem by marianne moore

Asking an English major for a favorite poem, and expecting an immediate answer might well be an exercise in futility. Melanie Bettinelli, who blogs about literature (and other things) at The Wine Dark Sea offered me the poet Marianne Moore as part of a Facebook game. Little did she know Moore is one of my favorites, along with two other poets from that era, William Carlos Williams, and Elizabeth Bishop. I can’t say I love Moore’s poems as much as I love their form, her style. It’s free and long and even as I write this long long sentence I see her influence in my writing. Maybe I should go back to writing poetry.

Here’s the poem I selected for the challenge because lately it seems all I do is stand “looking into the sea.” I don’t know what answers I seek there, or even if I know the questions, but the line “the sea is a collector, quick to return a rapacious look” resonates with me. Is my look so deep, so intent, that it violates? Maybe, like the movement of fishermen’s oars, I look at the sea as if there were no death.

A Grave

Man looking into the sea,
taking the view from those who have as much right to it as
you have to it yourself,
it is human nature to stand in the middle of a thing,
but you cannot stand in the middle of this;
the sea has nothing to give but a well excavated grave.
The firs stand in a procession, each with an emerald turkey-
foot at the top,
reserved as their contours, saying nothing;
repression, however, is not the most obvious characteristic of
the sea;
the sea is a collector, quick to return a rapacious look.
There are others besides you who have worn that look —
whose expression is no longer a protest; the fish no longer
investigate them
for their bones have not lasted:
men lower nets, unconscious of the fact that they are
desecrating a grave,
and row quickly away — the blades of the oars
moving together like the feet of water-spiders as if there were
no such thing as death.
The wrinkles progress among themselves in a phalanx — beautiful
under networks of foam,
and fade breathlessly while the sea rustles in and out of the
the birds swim through the air at top speed, emitting cat-calls
as heretofore —
the tortoise-shell scourges about the feet of the cliffs, in motion
beneath them;
and the ocean, under the pulsation of lighthouses and noise of
advances as usual, looking as if it were not that ocean in which
dropped things are bound to sink —
in which if they turn and twist, it is neither with volition nor

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3 happy links to other sandboxes

Posted by on Nov 10, 2015 in writing | 5 comments

Hi Everybody! Checking in to let you know I’ve been busy in some other places, and I’m having fun — whether it’s giving a talk about the rosary to the Marist Mothers Prayer Group…

Marist Mothers


or sharing my writing around the web. I’m featured this week at Women In the New Evangelization with a piece about gratitude, and last week I shared my story at CatholicMom.com about venerating St. Maria Goretti’s relics on the Pilgrimage of Mercy. I have two sets of holy cards to give to readers, so I’m happy to announce that Maria at CatholicMom and Karen T. on my blog will both be receiving those holy cards soon.

Finally, I’m interviewed in episode #197 of Among Women with Pat Gohn. It’s so much fun to join Pat on the other side of the microphone. Pat is a dear friend and a long time collaborator, and most recently she blessed me by writing the foreword to my book, My Badass Book of Saints. We have a lovely conversation that explains the book title, the structure of the book, some of my favorite saints…and Pat gushes over my selfie with the Pope. Give it a listen!

[update!] You’ll want to enter Pat’s contest, too, as she celebrates her 200th show with some giveaways! My book is included in a great group of women!

AW 200 Contest photo


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still unpacking from visit to Cuba

Posted by on Oct 8, 2015 in personal, writing | Comments Off on still unpacking from visit to Cuba


I’m still unpacking from my recent trip to Cuba. Tight schedules had me returning to work immediately, so it has been a challenge to put things away, sort through the very few souvenirs that I brought back, and return to the swing of things both at home and work. Routines are underrated. Just saying.

journalI also have emotional unpacking I’ll be doing for months to come. I wrote every day, partly to document the events, and partly to reflect on them. It was hyperspeed the whole way, and were it not for the daily opportunities to sit in a chapel and slow my mind down, and my heart, I think I would have just been a pinball, bouncing from place to place in a blur. The journal kept me focused on the moments, and it was easier that way — to enjoy each day and recap it at night.

It made for little sleep, though. I filled up this puppy. That’s a lot of journaling.

I’ve been writing in a few places, sharing some of my experiences and insights, and a little fun, too. I hope you check out my posts and interviews:

A series at Aliteia.org:

Return to Cuba: Carrying Heavy Baggage

I took a Selfie with Pope Francis

Pope Francis Fuels Hopes of Young Cubans

A fun guest post at CatholicDrinkie.com: Sampling Local Drinks in Cuba

The usual antics at Catholic Weekend: CW 290 Maria’s Cuban Pilgrimage

Too much fun with Hello Kitty and Pope selfies at The Catholic Hipster Podcast: Episoed 7

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for my love of stories

Posted by on Aug 24, 2015 in work, writing | 2 comments

I love stories, whether they are fantastical fictional adventures or true life confessions. Sometimes, the stories are something in between.

I was looking around for a video to share with my literature students this term, and found this gem.


Chimamanda Adichie, a Nigerian writer, discusses a deep subject — how knowing only one story about anything limits our ability to understand each other. While the TED Talk shares her personal experiences in the one-story pitfall, its universality makes it a must-see for all students.

The human condition is as varied and unique as the persons who comprise it. I love her perspective. I especially love that it is based on the dignity of the human person. Enjoy.

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shifting my focus to the pen

Posted by on Aug 18, 2015 in work, writing | 2 comments

One of the great things about working in an academic setting is the opportunity for intellectual engagement with colleagues across the various disciplines. This opportunity came up earlier this week at our faculty forum. A colleague presented a project on which we’ve collaborated, and we’re excited to implement during the fall semester.

The basic premise was developed in my composition class, where I’ve worked with students to develop a process essay based upon their dreams and turning those dreams into achievable goals. The students write their academic goals, including the steps they need to complete, in order to accomplish their goals. The handwritten part is essential — a process I insist upon based on research. A quick search will lead you hereherehere…and here.

The project requires students to carry a small print book with their handwritten notes and analysis of their academic progress.

A question about developing an online version led to a spirited discussion that started in the business division and ended in the early childhood education division. The consensus: handwritten analysis has a place in the modern college classroom as a complement to the technology we are all so inclined to prefer.

This TED Talk by Jake Weidmann addresses the issue beautifully and eloquently. Just like his lovely penmanship.


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