Author Talk! With Erin McCole Cupp

Author Talk! Unclaimed Edition with author

Erin McCole Cupp

In case you haven’t read my recent blog post (& why exactly haven’t you?!?), lately I’ve been enjoying a new take on an old classic-Unclaimed: The Memoirs of Jane E, Friendless Orphan. 

Today, you get a peek behind the curtain and into the mind behind the story-author Erin McCole Cupp.  She’s beautiful, smart, funny, and she’s a great writer.  If I didn’t like her so much…well, let’s not go there.

Anyway, here’s Erin!EMCHeadshot

Q: So what made you think you could get away with rewriting Jane Eyre?

EMC: I never expected to get away with it! I think of it as more of a translation than a rewrite, anyway, and when you’re reading a translation, you must always keep in mind that it is but a pale image of the original.  At any rate, way back in Y2K, I had spent the first part of the year reading a steady diet of William Gibson, Neal Stephenson and Bruce Sterling–the revered trifecta of the cyberpunk subgenre of science fiction.  When our summer vacation came around, I decided I’d take a vacation from reading for professional development as an aspiring SF writer and bought a bunch of books from the literary classics bargain bin at a boardwalk bookshop.  A few chapters into Jane Eyre, my mind kept throwing up these weird parallels between the character of Helen Burns as Jane’s spirit guide and the character of Molly as Case’s spirit guide in Gibson’s Neuromancer. I remember thinking, “Wow, Jane Eyre would’ve made great cyberpunk.” [beat] “Oh, crap, now I have to write it!”

Q:  That was sixteen years ago, and the first edition of Jane_E dropped a decade ago. What made you decide to revisit your first novel and rerelease it electronically? 

EMC: I just think (“hope” might be a better word) that the audience might be ready for it a bit more now compared to ten years ago.  I’d already been thinking of re-releasing it as a single book and getting a fresh cover, having it available in hard copy as well as electronic format.  However… it’s a long book when taken all in one slice! Jane’s story (mine as well as the Bronte version) also divides itself naturally into three parts: her early years, her developing relationship with her employer, and then everything that happens after that relationship catches fire, for lack of a better term (and those of you who’ve read Jane Eyre know of which I speak).  I figured that by breaking it down into smaller portions, a reader could take a chance on Book 1 (Unclaimed) without the commitment to some giant tome.  Of course if you want the giant tome, that’s still available.

Q: So when do the next two books come out?  

EMC:  I’m looking at October 7 for Nameless (Book 2)  and December 6 for Runaway.

Q: Why make us wait so long?!

EMC: Because I’m mean.  Ha!  Actually, there’s the cover art to take care of, thanks to Fiona Jayde Media.  I also wanted to give the text a little extra polish that may have gotten lost in the initial editing, which was done when I had infant twins.  I’m working with Rebecca Willen over at Our Hearts are Restless, and she’s great–reasonable, thorough, no-nonsense–but I’m also letting those aforementioned twins (now 12 and homeschooled) provide an additional level of copyediting.

Q: What’s that like, letting your children correct your work?

EMC:  You mean, besides the weird factor of letting them read something on the edgy side that came out of my brain before they were even born?  Actually, it’s a lot less stressful than I thought it would be.  It’s a good way to model humility, really.  I mean, I’m the one always correcting their work, and now I’m letting them turn the tables.  I think it’s good for all three of us.

Q: Any other projects in the works?  

EMC:  Always!  Besides the Jane E series, I’m a contributor to The Catholic Mom Prayer Companion, which is available on pre-order for an August 29th release.  I’m also working with Ellen Gable of Full Quiver Publishing on an anthology of Theology of the Body fiction and poetry tentatively titled Image and Likeness.  That’s exciting, working with so many talented authors, and that’s scheduled for a October 22 release.  Finally, I’m still pecking away at the first draft of the sequel to my murder mystery Don’t You Forget About Me.

SO, if you haven’t already purchased Unclaimed, what are waiting for?  Get on the Fan Wagon people.  This is good stuff. Seriously.

 

May Your Journey Be Blessed!

S.S. (Suburban Saint)

 

If Classic Literature and Sci-Fi had a Baby…

Jane EyerFinal-FJM_High_Res_1800x2700…it would be Unclaimed by  Erin McCole Cupp.

Intrigued?  You should be.  This novel holds a unique place on the bookshelf that not many can live up to.  In Unclaimed, Cupp manages to take a classic piece of literature, Jane Eyre, and incorporate not only sci-fi but, social justice issues such as child labor, third world poverty, and the lives of unclaimed embryos.

Despite that long list, Unclaimed isn’t a book of propaganda.  It’s a story about a girl who wants desperately to be loved  and to belong in a world that overlooks her at best and abuses her at worst. A look inside the mind and heart of a soul suffering the consequences of her ambiguous heritage, Unclaimed is a story told with love and with hope.  As a reader, you’ll find yourself rooting for Jane as she learns not only to survive but to thrive despite all that’s against her.

In case, you’re still not sure how I feel about this novel, check out my “official” review:

A mistake-everyone tells Jane E that’s what she is.  An unclaimed embryo born into the world alone, Jane lives with a foster family that doesn’t want her and who treats her with a mixture of fear and loathing.  Until one day, Jane finally has had enough.

So begins Unclaimed: The Memoirs of Jane E, Friendless Orphan-Book One.  This futuristic retelling of Jane Eyre is not only compelling and thoroughly enjoyable, it also evokes from the reader compassion for anyone who feels they don’t have a place in the world and helps them realize that all human life has value no matter how small or powerless. Are you a fan of science fiction? The classics?  Then you’ll love Jane_E!

So…what are you waiting for? Go! Read it! It’s on Amazon and everything!

Blessings for the Journey,

S.S.

Come see what all the cool bloggers are reading over at Carolyn Astfalk’s Open Book. You won’t regret it!

 

 

 

 

Striving for sainthood

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When I was a young girl, I would often daydream of one day accomplishing something so extraordinary, so valiant, that I would be decorated as a heroine for my bravery.  My longing was to “do great things for God,” and I saw this only through the lens of extraordinary martyrdom or extreme renunciation that many of my favorite saints exemplified.  Reading about them wasn’t enough for me.  I wanted to become one of them.

At the time, however, my untampered zeal had not been cooled by God’s embers of love.  My fervent ardor was, indeed, supplanted by God, but I was young and impetuous, not yet seasoned by life experience.  In my naivete, I did not acknowledge that my particular path to sanctification might be something rather undesirable – even loathsome – to me.

Naturally, my understanding of holiness was altered by both theological knowledge, as well as what became my reality of grief: betrayals from friends and ex-boyfriends, premature deaths of both family members and friends, the presence of addictions and mental illnesses in my family, and, now, raising two daughters with special needs.

My oldest daughter, Felicity, has developed severe sensory and psychological problems.  She is my invisible martyr, because her suffering cannot be detected by others. There are times I overlook her struggles, because, like the rest of the world, I tend to view her in lieu of her typical peers.  Sarah, my younger daughter, was born with a rare craniofacial condition called Apert Syndrome, which was not detected prenatally.  Her birth was dramatic in the sense that my husband, Ben, and I received the shock of a lifetime.  Sarah’s visible differences make it easy to love and care for her, but despite her sanguine temperament, she requires ongoing daily medical care that depletes me as the primary caregiver.

Over the past two years, I have acknowledged that my children are my highway to Heaven.  Caring for them will lead me to a path of constant self-denial and rebirth in Christ.  I’m not just speaking of caring for their fundamental needs as all parents are required to do, but instead caring for their needs while growing in virtue.  This is the challenge for me: to display patience, forgiveness, and charity while handling a hot-headed toddler who tries to kick me as I put on her orthotic inserts and special shoes or as my preschooler so easily sasses me without prudent thought.

I learn each day through my primary vocation as a mother that I must model the virtues I wish to instill in my daughters, and I so seldom succeed.  In my perfectionistic frustration, I am quick to judge myself rather than extend the same mercy I desire from Jesus.  He has shown me, however, that my myriad weaknesses are the tunnel for His grace; they are the means by which I will become empty so that He can fill me with Himself.

At the end of the day, I realize my entire life’s journey can be summarized thus: “God’s grace compensates for my lack.”  I do not accept this as an excuse for sloth on my part, but instead it is a statement that wells a renewed hope in me each time I falter.  My limitations are great, but God’s goodness and mercy is greater.  In the messiness of life, my path to holiness is strewn with rocks and thorns, but it concludes with gratitude for God’s pruning.

Text Copyright 2015 Jeannie Ewing, all rights reserved.

Image Copyright 2014 “Trappist Church” by Capecodprof on Pixabay and edited in Canva by Jeannie Ewing.

Jeannie Ewing is a writer, speaker, and grief recovery coach.  She is the co-author of Navigating Deep Waters: Meditations for Caregivers.  Jeannie was featured on National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition and Tony Agnesi’s radio show Finding God’s Grace.  She offers her insight from a counselor’s perspective into a variety of topics, including grief, spirituality, and parenting children with special needs.  Jeannie resides in northern Indiana with her husband and two daughters, both of whom have special needs.  For more information on her professional services, please visit her websites lovealonecreates.com or fromgrief2grace.com

God is My Rudder (on Catholic Mom)

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again-I’m a slow learner.  God usually has to hit me over the head to get me to pay attention.  But lately I’ve started to see His hand at work in my life in a different way than I’ve ever seen before.  I’ll tell you more over at Catholic Mom.  Come take a look!

May Your Journey Be Blessed,

S.S.

40Days40Ways_sm

“40 Ways” to Liven Up Lent

Featured imageThere may be 50 ways to leave your lover but Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio has 40 ways to inspire you to prepare for the Resurrection of the greatest Lover of them all. In 40 Days, 40 Ways: A New Look At Lent, Dr. D’Ambrosio gives the reader 40 ways to celebrate Lent that are creative, unique and fresh.  Don’t look for a page that’s about giving up chocolate for Lent because you won’t find one.  Instead you’ll find lots of suggestions to enrich your prayer life as well as ways to reach out to others in need.

For example:

  • Day 4-Cut back on purchases of luxuries and give the saved money to the needy.
  • Day 10-Learn the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.  Identify one to begin incorporating into your life this Lent.
  • Day 23-Reach out to the least important, least popular, most ignored person at school, home, or work.
  • Day 35-Learn the Prayer of Abandonment of Blessed Charles de Foucald.   Surrender your possessions, your future, and your life to God as you slowly pray it daily.

But this book isn’t just a list of 40 suggestions.  Each day and the idea that goes with it is paired with a meditation or deeper discussion of the day’s idea and it’s meaning and implications.

40 Days doesn’t end with Lent though.  It continues on to guide our thoughts during Holy Week and to help us celebrate the whole season of Easter-not just Easter Sunday.  Add to that the wonderful resources in the back of the book and you’ve got a slim volume that is jam-packed with knowledge, information, inspiration, and guidance all in Dr. D’Ambrosio’s signature accessible writing style.

In a nutshell, if you’re one of those people who struggle to come up with new ideas for your Lenten devotion, look no further.  40 Days, 40 Ways: A New Look At Lent will inspire you to dig a little deeper into your spiritual life.  I guarantee you won’t regret the purchase.

May Your Journey Be Blessed,

S.S.

A Little Game 2014

A Little Review of “A Little Game”

In general, a movie about chess would not normally motivate me to write a review.  But, “A Little Game” starring Ralph Macchio, Janeane Garofalo, F. Murray Abraham, and Olympia Dukakis isn’t just about chess.  Released January 20, “A Little Game” is about a girl named Max whose life is filled with changes that she doesn’t want but must learn to accept.  I quickly felt a connection with Max and her attitude toward change.  In our house, we often joke about how “change is bad.”  Of course, we know that’s not really true but sometimes it feels true.  So when Max began to ask questions like, “Why do things have to change?” It was as if someone had bugged our house and decided to make a movie based on what they heard! Max could have been one of my kids.

This gentle story is surprisingly funny given the serious themes and situations that it addresses.  When I sat down to watch it with my fifteen and ten year-old sons, they were less than enthusiastic about the idea.  But it wasn’t long before they started chuckling at the funny parts and commenting on its wisdom.  Believe me, I was as surprised as you are!

At first glance, “A Little Game” is a movie about a girl struggling with the death of her grandmother while trying to fit in at a new school and learning the game of chess from a grumpy old man.  But when you look deeper, themes of love, sacrifice, hope, confidence in yourself, and the importance of relationships become evident.  While not an overtly faith-based movie, I couldn’t help but feel that God was speaking to Max through the people she encountered.  Just like most of us, it takes Max a while to start listening and an even longer time to act on the words she hears.

I truly enjoyed watching “A Little Game” but the biggest compliment I can give it is that the more I reflect on it, the better I like it.  In fact, I want to watch it again to savor the characters and their wisdom.  Who knows?  I might even take up chess!

May Your Journey Be Blessed,

S.S. (The Suburban Saint)

“Keep Your Eyes On Your Own Paper!” at Catholic Mom

Come read how that sentence taught me a new lesson about the dangers of envy.  Check it out at Catholic Mom.

[For some reason the link to my Catholic Mom article is not working.  I apologize for any inconvenience.  Try this instead:  http://www.catholicmom.com/2015/02/03/keep-your-eyes-on-your-own-paper. ]

May Your Journey Be Blessed,

S.S.

(The Suburban Saint)

Warning: Listmaking May Be Hazardous to Your Spiritual Health

I love to make lists.  I’m a list maker. You know, one of those people who write “make a list” at the top of their list so that they can have the pleasure of crossing something off right away.  Yep, that’s me.  I love the feeling of order (real or imagined) and the sense of accomplishment (real or imagined) that I get from writing a to-do list and attacking one item at a time until it’s been whittled away to nothing. Recently though, I’ve noticed a dark side to my list making. It usually reveals itself when I’m listing either my accomplishments or my struggles.

Let’s say I’ve got a speaking engagement and need to send a bio for the introduction, or maybe I’m updating my resume.  When I sit down to make a list of my accomplishments it’s easy to look at the things I’ve achieved and feel a sense of pride.  After all, I’ve worked hard.  And as my grandfather used to say, “He that tooteth not his own horn, the same it shall not be tooted.” But that healthy sense of confidence that comes from looking at that list can quickly turn on me and blossom into full-blown pride.  My inner voice begins to say things like, “Man, I’m awesome! Look at all I’ve done!”  If I’m lucky that inner voice will be quickly silenced by the greater awesomeness of someone else.  If I’m unlucky, it will be silenced by an awesome failure on my part.  Either way, the voice does get silenced but often not as soon as it should.

But it can go the other way too.  Let’s say that things have been stressful in my life; that I’ve really been struggling with things in my personal, professional, or spiritual life.  That’s when I’ll often start another kind of list.  This one isn’t quite as nice as the last one though.  This is the woe-is-me list that I make in my head. This list is the one where I rattle off all the “horrible” things in my life that can range anywhere from health problems to running out of milk.They all get equal treatment.  My stubbed toe will get put on the same list as a family conflict or lost job.  It doesn’t matter at that moment that my toe is a very minor blip on the timeline of my life.  It gets equal billing with “major life crises.” The danger of this kind of list making is that it makes everything sound worse than it really is.  Heck, when faced with a list like that most of us just want to curl up into a fetal position and suck our thumb!

My point is this-the truth about my awesomeness or my trials is somewhere in between pride and despair.  There are a lot of details missing from both-like the time it took me to accomplish all of those awesome things. (Awesomeness doesn’t happen overnight!) Or the fleeting moments of joy I’ve experienced or lessons I’ve learned amidst the struggles.

So, heed my advice and beware of lists.  They may help you get things done but they could also be your undoing.

May Your Journey Be Blessed,

S.S.