Catholic Writers’ Conference Live . . . Are you coming?

cwclSo far response to this opportunity has been slow . . . If you would like to attend but are unable to swing airfare, why not drive out with a friend?! Half the expense, twice the fun! (Right, Sarah?)

Somerset, NJ–The Catholic Writers’ Guild, in conjunction with the Catholic Marketing Network, will host its first-ever Catholic Writers’ Conference LIVE! at the Doubletree Hotel & Executive Meeting Center, Somerset, NJ, from Aug 5-7, 2009.

The conference will host publishers, editors and authors from all aspects of the Catholic writing world, including magazines and devotionals, novels and educational materials.  The panel discussions, presentations and workshops will cover all aspects of writing including generating query letters, crafting a good story, worldbuilding, marketing finished works and more. In addition, editors from several Catholic publishers will be on-hand to share their wisdom and hear authors propose their works.

The Catholic Marketing Network’s International Trade Show, held at the neighboring Garden State Exhibition Center (, will serve as the exhibition floor for the writers’ conference, giving writers a chance to browse the booths, meet with publishing companies, pitch their books to publishers, have their work critiqued at a private critique session and chat with the published authors at book signings at the Catholic Writers’ Guild booth. CMN will also be hosting daily Masses and rosaries at the Doubletree Hotel, and Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament at the exhibition center. Other CMN events including the seminars and inspirational talks scheduled for Tuesday, August 4 will be held at the Doubletree.

Presenters for the writers’ conference include: author/Sophia Press submissions editor Regina Doman (Angel in the Waters); Pauline Books and Media Editor Sister Maria Grace,  CEO of Ignatius Press Mark Brumley (How Not to Share Your Faith), Susan Brinkmann editor of Canticle Magazine, Lisa Wheeler, Executive Vice President of the Maximus Group (PR and marketing firm for The Passion of the Christ), author/Ascension Press publisher Matt Pinto (Do Adam and Eve Have Belly Buttons?), Claudia Volkman, General Manager of Circle Press, Tom Hoopes, Executive Editor of the National Catholic Register, and mystery author John Desjarlais (Bleeder) among others.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for both writers and publishers to connect,” said science fiction writer and Catholic Writer’s Guild President, Karina Fabian. “The CMN has been especially generous in offering to share it facilities and programs with us, which really enhances the quality of the conference for attendee and presenter.”

Conference Coordinator and CWG Vice President Ann Lewis adds “There will be a lot of good information, encouragement and learning opportunities for Catholic authors at our live conference. Our goal is to help good Catholic writers to get published. The world needs their words.”

The Catholic Writers’ Guild has hosted two highly successful on-line conferences.

To register or for more information, go to Registration is $80 through June 1st, $99 through July 31st and $110 at the door.


CWCO 2009: Weekend Edition


Are you enjoying the CWCO? If you’re free on Sunday evening at 6, be sure to stop by and chat with me!  I’ll be giving away a free copy of my book “Raising Up Mommy: Virtues for Difficult Mothering Moments”

Typically at EMN the weekend post is based on a personality from one of the readings that week. This week we have a real doozy: the daughter of Herodias, who conspired with her mother to bring about the murder of John the Baptist, the cousin of Christ. In the sixth chapter of Mark, we read:

Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man, and kept him in custody. When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed, yet he liked to listen to him.

[Herod’s unlawful wife Herodias, who hated John,] had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday, gave a banquet for his courtiers, his military officers, and the leading men of Galilee. His own daughter came in and performed a dance that delighted Herod and his guests.

The king said to the girl, “Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you.” He even swore many things to her, “I will grant you whatever you ask of me, even to half of my kingdom.”

She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?”

Her mother replied, “The head of John the Baptist.”

The girl hurried back to the king’s presence and made her request, “I want you to give me at once on a platter the head of John the Baptist.”

This Gospel reading has many useful applications in the life of a writer:

*  Truth creates as many enemies as friends.  Had John stayed out in the desert in obscurity, instead of taking his voice of truth into Herod’s court, he might have lived to old age. Instead, he fulfilled the task God gave him. It takes real courage to speak the uncomfortable truth, for we cannot always predict or control the outcome. But in the end, truth has a life of its own — and lasts longer than we do!

*  To win the war, we must be prepared to go behind enemy lines — and accept the consequences. Truth, spoken in love, is an irresistable force. And yet, every war has its casualties, and a soldier of the cross must be ready to forfeit even the good to obtain that which is best.

*  Herod was motivated by pride and lust; Herodias by vengeance. However, the girl was taken by simple sloth: She deferred to her mother’s evil influence, even when that meant doing an objectively evil deed. How often do we get swept along, doing evil simply because we are too lazy or too ill-informed to stand against it and do the right thing?

CWCO 2009 Thursday: “If You Send an Editor a Query Letter”

cwco_topic3Today is one of my favorite days of CWCO 2009: Real, live editors from Catholic publishing houses all over the country are going to be chatting with aspiring (and, in some cases, previously published) writers. Some writers pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars (I kid you not) for this kind of networking opportunity … and here at CWCO they get it for FREE!!!  (Of course, if an actual CONTRACT results from these discussions, you might want to make a donation of $20 or more to the CWCO coffers and get your a nifty conference e-book!)

In honor of today, I thought I’d dig out this little chestnut to entertain the troops while their waiting nervously for their turn.


Have you ever wondered what happens to the hundreds of query letters and proposals you have generated over the course of your writing career? Does some editorial assistant use it to line the bottom of her ferret cage? Do they cast shovels full of unsoliciteds onto the fire at the annual editorial weenie roast?


If you’ve ever wondered about this–or are just a fan of the full-circle themes of Laura Numeroff–keep reading. This piece, based loosely on the experiences of some editors I know (many of whom have exceptional assistants), offers a glimpse into the real world of editors everywhere. Enjoy.

If You Send an Editor a Query Letter…
(With thanks to Laura Numeroff.)
(c) 2004 by Heidi Hess Saxton

If you send an editor a query letter, she’ll want an SASE to go with it.

When she sees the SASE, it might remind her that she’s almost out of stamps. She is also low on Diet Coke and Excedrin Migraine. So Ms. Editor loads up her 1993 Toyota Tercel with three large bags of cans–last week’s soda supply–to take to the Piggly Wiggly on her lunch break.

On her way to lunch, Ms. Editor will pass the Fed Ex man, who is carrying a stack of boxes for her: three manuscripts (two of them late) and 260 proposals her cute-but-clueless new assistant requested while Ms. E. was out of the office last week. This reminds her to compose an ad to find Fabio’s successor.

As she faxes ad copy, Ms. E’s eagle-sharp editorial eyes will fall on her day planner: Meeting today at 3:00 with the publisher to discuss next year’s fall lineup. Ms. E. digs production quotes and sales projections for her top six proposals (including your query, which she skimmed with enthusiasm as she guzzled her lunch) out of the mountain of paper in her inbox, getting a paper cut in the process.

The blood reminds her of the last editorial planning meeting, when some hapless editor (never mind who) suggested going to contract again with a talented but unknown writer, whose last book sold so poorly that the warehouse was using remainders as door stops. Ms. E. shudders and combs her pile of proposals for evidence of marketability, leaving frantic messages for you to e-mail her sales figures for your previous books and a copy of your speaking schedule for the following year. While Ms. E. is on the phone, one stressed-out graphics designer and three unhappy authors leave their own frantic messages, on a line to which no one but her mother is supposed to have the number.

Thoughts of her mother will remind Ms. Editor of a manuscript her mother’s hairdresser’s nephew sent for review “when she has a free moment.” Ms. E’s mother has been gently chiding her daughter about it for the past month. It doesn’t seem to matter that the house Ms. E. works for doesn’t publish science fiction, or that the young man couldn’t write his way out of a paper bag. Ms. E. must convince her boss to publish it, or the hairdresser will make Mom look like she’s backed into a weed-wacker for her fiftieth high school reunion. Ms. E. reaches for the Excedrin next to her office clock, and sees it is now 3:05.

Late for the meeting, Ms. E. carries your e-mail between her teeth, proposals in one hand and her Diet Coke in the other, and sprints for the conference room. Her ideas are met with unanimous enthusiasm. Giddy, Ms. E. proposes to give you a six-figure advance and a three-book deal. Someone asks Ms. E. if she’s been sniffing glue.

The glue remark reminds her of the stamp on your SASE, which you so obligingly supplied. Ms. E. uses it to give you good news and bad news: They want to publish your book. But she doesn’t work there anymore. If you want the contract, Ms. E. adds, please send a full proposal and three sample chapters to her colleague, who was smart enough to keep her mouth shut during the previous editorial meeting.

A little surprised, you go ahead and submit the requested material, putting the new editor’s name on the envelope. Four weeks later, you get a form letter from the new-and-even-more-clueless editorial assistant. “Sorry, but we don’t accept unsolicited proposals. Next time you send a SASE… Be sure to send a query letter with it.”

Heidi Hess Saxton is the editorial director of, a freelance writing and editing business. She has ten years experience as an in-house editor, most recently as senior editor of a medium-sized CBA publishing house. For permission to reprint, contact Heidi at

CWCO 2009 (Wee Cook) Wednesday: Marketing!


***Today Matt Pinto (Ascension Press) is unable to be with us at 4:00 for his chat, but is planning to join us in August at the Live Catholic Writers’ Conference!  Have you registered yet?***

Wednesdays at EMN are typically “Wee Cook Wednesdays,” with a recipe designed to keep family happy and you on track. So … before you head on over to the CWCO conference today, why not throw something in the crock pot that will taste like you’ve been in the kitchen all day?!

Just head on over to my personal blog “Mommy Monsters Inc” and feast your eyes on three chicken recipes you can whip up in a jiff … “Deadline Chicken” is my personal favorite.  A couple of sweet potatoes, cans of corn and beans, chicken pieces (fresh or frozen), and a jar of salsa is all you need to make you go “Mmmm!”

Today CWCO is devoted to all things marketing related: From how to put together a proposal or query letter to how to promote your book once it hits the store shelves. And, since today is about marketing, I thought I’d take a moment to put in a plug for the “Extraordinary Moms Network,” an online resource I created for mothers facing extraordinary challenges — especially mothers of adoptive, foster, and special-needs families. I also have a special place in my heart for military moms and women in difficult marriages. Some of the most popular features include:

Miracle Mondays: Stories of moms who overcome tremendous challenges
Wee Cook Wednesdays:  Kid-friendly recipes for busy moms
Weekend Ponderings:  Reflections from Scripture for Extraordinary Moms

If you or someone you know would like to be on the EMN mailing list, just drop me a line at God bless you!

Okay, now let’s all head on over to the Catholic Writers’ Conference Online. If you haven’t already done so, be sure to make a donation and get a free copy of the conference e-book! (You can do this even if you aren’t registered for this year’s conference….) 


“The Role of Mass Communications in Evangelization” – Thanks, Lisa!

Today I picked this up on Lisa Wheeler’s Facebook page … I thought it a good one to share with CWCO attendees, and have taken the liberty of setting in bold some of my favorite quotes.

Archbishop Claudio Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, on the theme of “The Role of Mass Communications in Evangelization.”

I would like to begin my talk this afternoon with two quotations from the recently deceased Cardinal Avery Dulles. The first quotation sees Dulles grappling with the inner mystery of the Trinity: “The Trinity is communication in absolute, universal perfection, a totally free and complete sharing among equals. In generating the Son as word, the Father totally expresses himself … the Holy Spirit completes the intradivine process of communication” (The Craft of Theology, From Symbol to System. 1992). Continue reading

CWCO 2009 Tuesday: Fiction!

cwco_topic1Like many writers, I have a novel that is always floating around in the twilight of my daily ponderings, a sort of “Christy” meets “Out of Africa” based on my experiences the year I spent teaching at a mission school in Senegal, West Africa. (In my darker moments I contemplate writing in a character based on someone who has a knack for getting on my last nerve, and having that person die from some lingering, exotic disease.) But like many of my great ideas, the book has never seen the light of day.  Like many writers, I have lots of creative ideas … but lack the skills (most notably the discipline) to pull it off.

If this sounds like you, congratulations! Today’s conference is just what you need to give you that virtual kick-in-the-pants to get your most treasured ideas on to actual paper. Whether your interest is murder mysteries or historical fiction or short stories, there is something just for you!

In between chats, don’t forget to check out the ongoing workshops, where you can get a jump start by writing that pivotal scene … and getting instant feedback!

Break a finger!