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Archive for November 2014


Nearly every day I receive a picture, an email, or message about someone who is reading my memoir, Monastery to Matrimony.

Joan Buckles, a Board Member of COPE, Children of Pokot Education, sent a picture holding my book at the ICOM, International Conference on Missions in Columbus, OH. She was reading the book while working the COPE booth last weekend.  COPE was founded and is directed by Barb O’Donohue. Under her direction, COPE educates and feeds over 650 children.  Food is scarce. Books are shared. Donations are always welcome.

Ginger Manley sent a picture from England where she was reading Monastery to Matrimony.  Mike, from Impact Publishing in Wisconsin wrote that he enjoyed the book, commenting he learned more about nuns from my memoir than he ever learned from his 90-year old aunt who was a nun ’til she died. The book reveals what it was like behind convent walls in the 50s and 60s. Robin Spychalski sent a Florida beach picture where she enjoyed the read in August.  That book gets around.

Where are you as you read Monastery to Matrimony? Send pictures from far and near as you read about my journey.

Joan Buckles

Joan Buckles



What a novel idea! If you can’t write a whole novel, why not be part of writing a group novel. What’s a group novel? It is a novel written by several people.

One of the writing groups where I live – in The Villages, FL – have joined together several writers  to complete a novel where each individual contributes a chapter to the book.

Allen Watkins wrote the first chapter of a romance novel, but he never wrote the conclusion. No need, since there are 70 other authors from the area writing the rest of the book.

Watkins said, “It was interesting, because you’re writing in the blind. You don’t know what the person before or after you wrote. One person maps out the plot, writes character descriptions, and gives each author direction as to what their chapter is to do for the novel. Then he leaves the rest to them.

Chapters are read and feedback is given at the weekly meeting. Katie Lewis, a reporter for The Villages paper was excited to be invited to  join the group for her first novel-writing experience.

I see this as a perfect project for LWC, my previous writing group in Spring Hill, TN, an energetic creative group of serious writers. LWC could be the nucleus of writers while offering an invitation to other authors in the area. Of course, final editing would probably fall to Karen Aldridge, a professional editor and director of LWC.

What an interesting way to introduce writing prompts. It is a continuing exercise in following a plot and developing characters.

Let me know if you try this idea.





WRITE A BOOK IN A MONTH? Not in my lifetime. However, after reading the November/December issue of “Writer’s Digest,” I decided it was time I give this NaNoWriMo write-a-thon a try.

National Novel Writing Month is a challenge to writers to write 50,000 words of a novel in one month. Are you serious? That’s nearly 1700 words a day. Considering it took me about eight years to write my just published memoir, Monastery to Matrimony, (and that was my own life, something I knew well) how can I expect to write fiction for 30 days.

Well, of course, it is not meant to be a finished and edited manuscript. If I can get a very rough draft framed, I will be happy. I don’t do fiction easily.

This story has been tripping around my brain for a few years, but I have nary a key stroke to show for it. The story will be historical fiction, sort of a pre-prequel to my memoir. The setting is the same, St. Mary’s Convent in Nauvoo, Illinois. The time frame is 1872 to 1942, the lifespan of Sister Aloysia Beecher, an extroadinary woman whose family is said to have been closely related to Ward and Harriet Beecher Stowe.

The completed story will necessitate hours of period research, which I love to do. Obviously, the NaNoWriMo writing will not allow time for research. The bones of the book will come from an archived short story of the life of Sister Aloysia written by Mother Ricarda Gallivan in the mid 1970s.

Merely, writing this blog is a commitment to tackle thirty days of writing a skeleton story. I better get busy. The sun is setting on the second day of the month and the only thing I have written is a 286 word blog.

Feel free to respond and check on my progress.