Tag Archives: glass halo

Pope Benedict XVI, palms, and Ash Wednesday

Full Moon Over Los Angeles Palm

Photo by James Baca Photography

As a former communications officer for the Archdiocese of Denver, one of my duties included directing the production of an annual Catholic liturgical calendar. The calendar hinges on full moons, Spring Equinox, symbolic colors, and also plants—particularly palms.

Today, a collision of past occupations and current preoccupations occurs. My fresh post on my Examiner.com page, where I serve as Denver Flower and Garden Examiner, draws a circle encompassing a number of topics.

Why are palms so important in all of this?

This Mardis Gras, I recall the year I celebrated Fat Tuesday in New Orleans, which leads me to another article about a garden that a friend and I planted while doing Katrina relief work


The liturgical calendar serves as the framework for my first novel, “Glass Halo,” a Finalist for the Sante Fe Literary Prize.

Glass Halo by Friday Jones Publishing can  be found at these local retailers or  on Amazon.


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Reading Novels: “The Cat’s Table” and “The Paris Wife”

Reading novels, actual books in three dimensions, remains one of the great joys of my life. Thanks goodness for my book club, which holds me somewhat accountable for a book a month, and often picks fiction. I read lots and lots and lots and lots of nonfiction in my line of work as a writer and a journalist.

I’m a novelist, too—the author of Glass Halo, an acclaimed finalist for the 2010 Santa Fe Literary Prize—and so novels can feel like work, too.

But there’s something different about novels, something more magical, more true.

Recently, I finished “The Paris Wife” by Paula McLain and the month before that “The Cat’s Table” by Michael Ondaatje. Both books enthralled me, and I found myself making time to turn pages again.

These two novels came back-to-back after a period during which I’d struggled with reading. Even fiction. Books seemed so dense to me, my mind wandering, distracted by Tweets and Pins and Likes and the like.

The simple pleasure of curling up with a book won me over again.  I read on the front porch and in the back yard. I carried the novels in my purse for stolen moments standing in lines here or there.

Literary fiction can sound intimidating, but the genre essentially favors characters over plot. I missed the characters once the books drew to the ends. Therein lies the magic of fiction: Characters who seem as real to us, as true to us, as those inhabiting our daily lives.

Curiously, both “The Paris Wife” and “The Cat’s Table” included elements of truth. “The Paris Wife” included historical figures: Ernest Hemingway and his first and second wives, Gertrude Stein, Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald and others. Michael Ondaatje did indeed board a ship to make passage while a young boy, and ocean liners named Oransay were noted in actual shipping logs.

But in the end, in my mind, fiction rings more true than fact. And is, of course,  less strange.

Don’t be a stranger to books. The entertainment and educational value of reading—whether fiction or nonfiction, whether a book or an e-reader—is tough to beat.

If you’re looking for a steamy summer read, try Glass Halo, available through FridayJonesPublishing.com, bookstores everywhere, Amazon.com, or as an e-book. 

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Glass Halo: An Ideal Easter Novel

Glass Halo, my first novel, is an ideal book to read during Holy Week. In fact, Glass Halo culminates during Holy Week. The book’s final scene occurs on Good Friday. (Glass Halo includes an epilogue titled “Eastertide.”)

Glass Halo makes a fitting Holy Week read because the book ultimately is about personal Paschal Mysteries on a smaller scale: the many ways in which we die and are reborn. Metaphorically speaking, in this case, of course, characters must repair their broken lives by returning to their callings.

The novel’s main characters are Nora Kelley, a stained glass artisan, and Father Vincent DiMarco, a Catholic priest. The two meet when a tornado forces them to take shelter in the basement of the historic Denver cathedral where the priest serves as pastor and rector.

The love story builds upon the armature of the liturgical calendar of the Roman Catholic Church. The Church assigns various feasts, memorials of saints, and solemnities to practically every day of the year. The Catholic liturgical calendar begins not on January 1, but with the first Sunday of Advent, the weeks prior to Christmas.

Glass Halo begins in spring on the Eve of Epiphany, moves to Advent, through Lent, and culminates during the Triduum—the three days beginning with the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, the Good Friday death of Jesus Christ’s crucified, and Holy Saturday.

Glass Halo provides insights into Catholic rites and rituals, as well as the Gothic cathedral’s Munich Glass windows. The novel makes an ideal book for readers during Holy Week.

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Glass Halo: Tornadoes in the news, in the novel

With all the terrible tornadoes in the news, I can’t help but remember my own frightening experiences in tornadoes. I’ve survived several tornadoes both in my home state of Iowa, and also in my current Denver home.

Growing up in Iowa, we learned at an early age the warning signs or tornadoes. We learned to keep an eye on the sky. We knew to take cover in a basement, away from windows. We heeded the alarming sounds of tornado sirens.

The first tornado I remember hit my uncle’s farm when I was a child of elementary school age. My siblings and my cousins and I played at the farm while the adult men and a veterinarian helped a cow with a breech birth.

I remember the winds coming up, tossing dust and straw around the farm. Curious, I watched the poor mama cow struggling, heard her bawling. My dad and my uncle nervously watched over the shoulder of the vet. The vet had his arm inside the cow, blood soaking his shirt all the way to his armpit.

The humid day turned cool. Winds whipped harder. I remember a piece of tin flying by, nearly hitting my father.

“That could have decapitated you!” my uncle said.

I wasn’t sure what “decapitated” meant, but I learned from context.

I don’t remember the storm. I do remember all of us gathered around the television—probably black-and-white in those days. We listened to a special report about tornado touch-downs.

“Could that be J.L.’s farm?” I asked my grandmother.

“No,” she said, but she balled up her apron in her fists.

The next thing I remember, my aunt burst through the door in tears, shouting, “It’s all gone! It’s all gone!”

The storm devastated their home and barn, we saw the next day. I remember seeing oddities: my cousins’ toys strewn everywhere in the rubble. I remember hearing of livestock flying, breaking legs. My uncle’s Budweiser cans wound up at a neighboring farm.

Subsequent tornadoes were not as damaging, but I learned in my first tornado to respect storms.

Tornadoes in Denver left such an impact upon me that I decided to open my first novel with a tornado. In Glass Halo, the tornado destroys priceless stained glass windows in a historic Denver cathedral.

The storm also forces a meeting of the novel’s two main characters, driving Nora Kelly—a stained glass artist—and Father Vincent DiMarco—the cathedral’s rector and pastor–into the church basement for shelter.

The tornado kicks up a stormy love story with many twists, but the destruction in the novel’s beginning results in creation and rebuilding both of the cathedral and the characters.

Glass Halo is available as a limited edition hardcover novel, beautifully designed in the Arts & Crafts tradition. The book also is available with full graphics as an e-book on Amazon.

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Independent publisher Colleen Smith wags her tale at the Friday Jones Publishing blog

WAG YOUR TALE ~ I’ve always had an independent streak;
and in 2009, I founded an independent publishing company,
naming my underdog literary venture
in honor of my late, beloved, 3-legged rescue best friend: Friday.

So far, Friday Jones Publishing has published two of my books:

Friday Jones Publishing celebrates three-legged underdog spirit;
and also books, music, art, plants, animals, skiing, yoga, swimming pools,
and, in general, the joys of living.

I’m an award-winning, freelance writer/art director
and a compulsive communicator.
I believe entertaining and informative communications
help take the bite out of life.

With an upbeat attitude, Friday Jones Publishing’s trademarked tagline—Wag your tale—
allows for random posts, anecdotes, and stories from everyday life.

In addition to regular posts on Facebook (“Like” Friday Jones Publishing),
Tweets on Twitter (Follow @FridayPublisher),
and Pins on Pinterest (Colleen Smith or FridayJonesWags);
on the Friday Jones Publishing blog
I’ll share small publisher tales,
inspired and inspiring design,
practical news you can use in your home or garden,
and easy yet efficient ways to support ourselves,
our communities, and even our world.
Friday Jones Publishing also advocates for books and reading.
We’ve donated copies of our books far and wide to people or organizations in need.

What’s your story?

Wag your tale!

Friday Jones Publishing blog departments:

  • “Wanderlust” ~ Travel reports, photos, tips
  • Laid-Back Skier” ~ Snow skiing reports, photos, tips
  • “Stuff My Yoga Teachers Say” ~ Reflections on yoga from a practitioner with nearly 20 years of practice in traditions including Iyengar, Bikram, and Baptiste Power yoga.
  • “Treble Clef” ~ A lifelong music fan, I’ve published a number of features on major musicians. I’m a reporter for The Denver Post music blog, Reverb.
  • Gardening ~ For the last 15 years, I’ve reported on gardens.
  • Architecture & Design

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