7 Quick Takes about your awesomeness, saints working through Youtube, and me buying you a banana suit

May 2, 2014 | 42 comments

— 1 —

Something Other than God

It’s the first 7 Quick Takes Friday since Something Other than God has been released! Thank you so, so, so much for the tremendous outpouring of excitement and support. It has been ridiculously fun to hear everyone’s thoughts as they read, and it’s fascinating to see which parts resonate with different people. And all sorts of hilarious and wonderful pictures have started to come in now that the book is arriving in the mail! I’m checking the #SOTG hashtag all the time, so keep them coming!

— 2 —

I noticed a bunch of bloggers mentioning the book in their 7 Quick Takes posts, so I wanted to throw in a special giveaway as a thank-you for you all! If you mention my book in your 7 Quick Takes post from last Friday, this Friday, or next Friday (4/25, 5/2, or 5/9), you’ll be entered to win a $30 Amazon gift card and your very own banana suit!


The only requirement is that you mention the book with a link to somewhere where people can buy it. And to make it extra easy, there’s nothing you need to do to enter! I’ll pick a Quick Takes entry at random when we pick the other contest winners, and if that person didn’t mention the book I’ll pick another one at random, and so on.

On the off chance you don’t want the banana suit (“I already have two” being the only possible acceptable reason), you can exchange it for another $20 gift card (which I would hope you would spend on the hot dog suit).

— 3 —

The release date for Something Other than God happened to fall on the feast of St. Catherine of Siena, which was thrilling to me. Back in the summer of 2008, I got the huge news that my literary agent would represent the book if I wrote it. I was excited and extremely motivated to get going, and just as I started making good progress, I found out I was pregnant.

At first I was stressed and frustrated because I thought the pregnancy would derail my big writing plans, but as I thought and prayed and talked to wise spiritual directors about what I was going through, it ended up being a transformative experience in which I got a much needed smack upside the head with the clue-bat about what really matters in life. St. Catherine of Siena played a big role in that pregnancy, and so I’ve always assumed that her prayers were behind a lot of those lessons.

In the days leading up to her feast day and the book’s release, I did a novena (a nine-day series of prayers) in honor of St. Catherine of Siena that asked for her prayers for this project. When the big day rolled around, I eagerly waited to see how the novena would bear fruit.

Many wonderful things happened that day, including great sales and wonderful support from everyone, but perhaps the biggest answered prayer came when I finished the video of the writers reading excerpts from the book.

I thought I was going to die of exhaustion by the time I put the finishing touches on the video on Tuesday night, and I uploaded it to Youtube as fast as I could. I paid no attention to which clip was shown as preview image; I let it default to whatever random spot it chose.

The video is 406 seconds long and includes footage of 33 people. When I saw that the sample image just so happened to be from the mere five seconds that Joe appeared in the video in his banana suit, I felt certain that that was my answered prayer.

— 4 —

But the intercession of the saints doesn’t stop at making sure that people dressed up as oblong pieces of fruit appear in Youtube screenshots! A few of my wonderful, amazing friends and family members sent flowers on Tuesday, and this card that was tucked into one of the arrangements pretty much summed up the whole day:


— 5 —

I am typing this post from my hotel in Birmingham, where I came to begin the media tour with some tapings at EWTN, and to speak at a conference out here.

I’d been all over Twitter telling people to check me out on EWTN Live, but when I got to the studio I found out that the episode isn’t going to air until Thanksgiving. For a moment I wondered if I had the name of the show wrong — I’d been saying it as EWTN Live (rhymes with “jive”), but maybe it’s EWTN Live (rhymes with “shiv”). Evidently it is normally a live show, but they pre-recorded mine since the host, Fr. Mitch, will be out of town that week in November.


I did some other great TV and radio shows as well, and you can hear my interview with Register Radio today (Friday) at 2:00 PM ET on EWTN Radio or SiriusXM Channel 130.

The folks at EWTN were so sweet and generous and it was a pleasure to work with them. The only bad thing about the November air date is that I got my first “deep conditioning” treatment at a salon before I left, and I wanted to have a long and detailed discussion where we all go over the footage and talk about whether we think these treatments make a difference. I’ll see if I can get preview clips so that we don’t have to wait six months to tackle this weighty subject matter.

— 6 —

And this trip. OH MY WORD, this trip. Norse epics look like episodes of Dora in comparison to my voyage to Birmingham this week.

I was going to hit a couple of highlights here in 7 Quick Takes, but Lisa-Jo had the brilliant suggestion that I dedicate an entire post to it…and have Heather from Mama Knows illustrate it!!!! It is as if I was destined to go on this trip from all eternity, just so that Heather could create drawings to represent what I experienced.

You don’t even know how good this is going to be. Just wait.

— 7 —

A big thank-you to everyone who properly appreciated the gif in my contest announcement earlier this week:


For those of you who missed it but now understand from the image above that this is the best thing to happen to you all year, you can find all the details here.

And for those of you who realize that I now know how to Photoshop animated gifs and are fearful for what this means for the internet, you may want to disconnected your online service now.

Speaking of the contests, here’s a tip: the only contest that doesn’t have many entries is the one for buying more than two copies before 5/13, and the prize for that contest is an iPad Mini. If you had it in the back of your mind that you might get gift copies for someone else at some point, you should do it now, since the odds of winning the iPad are currently about 1:20! (Details for how to enter in the post I linked to above.)

Have a wonderful weekend, and thank you again for making this release week everything I dreamed it could be!



  1. Hevel

    Being so happy for getting your book inspired one of my friends to get her own copy, too! 🙂 In addition to getting it’s own Quick Take, your book is about to get its own post. Only 22 pages left!

  2. Renee

    Waiting to see if it is at the local shrine’s book shop. I have to shop local, when I can.

  3. Kathleen

    I bought my book after seeing the trailer video, so it really does work as a marketing tool. I am looking forward to reading it, because I live on a street in a neighborhood where very few of the families are religious, but I feel like this book is something I could pass on to them, especially my next door neighbor. I am confident this book will change hearts and minds and I’m disappointed I don’t have a blog, because I could really use a banana suit in my life!

  4. Erika Marie @ Simplemama

    Great takes!
    Is there a way to set up alerts on my Feedly so I don’t miss that epic-sounding post with Heather’s pictures and your story? Hey, on that idea, I wonder what it would like if she turned your SOTG into a graphic novel? Can you “picture” it?

    Also, don’t be worried about my blog post’s title – I really think everyone SHOULD read it, of course, especially those whom I said shouldn’t. I really enjoyed SOTG. The only problem is that it went by too quickly 🙁 But, that’s what I love about the blogging world. I can still keep up with the ongoing story through your blog. Reading your book makes me wish I’d been a reader since the beginning. I would have loved to have been along for the conversion ride the whole time. Is this current blog the same as the one you started with in your book? If so, you should do some “Flashback Thursdays” with it and pull up some of those key posts that got your mind turning. (This is my lazy self asking you to do this for me so I don’t have to spend time searching for it myself.)
    God bless you and your family and continue pulling you deeper and deeper into His great and beautiful Mystery!
    ~ Erika Marie

    • Dorian Speed

      Ooh, I really like that idea of her featuring some flashback posts.

  5. Lynne

    After spending the last 48 hours giving my house a tour-de-force cleaning, I’m so ready to put my feet up and read. Right now my only option is Bonhoeffer, since your book didn’t arrive in yesterday’s mail. I like Bonhoeffer, but I’m still hoping for a special delivery today. My two oldest sons are coming home (with girlfriends) so our whole family plus to will be together for the first time since Christmas, we’re having homemade tiramisu for dessert on Saturday–if only the book comes, my weekend would be utterly complete!

    As a reverse offer, what if people who pre-order the book and love it give YOU a special offer? You could win dessert with the entire family PLUS grandma and grandpa! You get to fly to my house (well, fly to the airport and then drive two hours to my house), then eat dinner with seven children other than your own, plus two girlfriends and two grandparents! My husband and I will be going out. That’s right–YOU are the babysitter! 😀 (like I’d give dinner with you to my kids?!?) I’m pretty certain you will qualify to win, so better buy a ticket today.

    • Donna S.

      Bonhoeffer was great wasn’t it! I read the biography, and when I was in high school the Cost of Discipleship. I highly recommend In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larsen to give more persecutive on Nazi era Berlin – I read it right before the Bonhoeffer book. (And anything by Larsen–Isaac’s Storm in particular).

      • Lynne

        Thank you! I will look these up. Having my son’s Jewish girlfriend here has really impacted my reading of Bonhoeffer. I’d already been thinking I’d like to read more on the subject.

        • Donna

          Just noticed autocorrect typed persecutive when I meant to write perspective!

          I just noticed there’s a new book on Bonhoeffer out. The one I read is the thick one just called Bonhoeffer. He was amazing–able to be open-minded about many different points of view without losing his faith. His experience with the African-American church made him realize how narrow the German view toward the Jews was.

          Another awesome read, a book called Defiant–I found it reading the obits in the New York Times! The recently deceased author was a resistance fighter during WWII.

          • Donna

            Actually, it’s The Defiant. It was actually under “T” when I searched for it, as they had filed it under “The”.

          • Donna

            *Jewish* resistance fighter. Jennifer–please allow edits to Reply–aagh!

  6. TheresaEH

    I received your book yesterday, woohoo! I LUV Heather drawings and humor.

  7. Kathy H

    Love that bouquet from St Catherine! She’s always been a special patron of mine, even though I’m Katherine with a K. The saints really do watch out for us, in small ways and big ways!
    Amazon says my copy of the book arrives tonight! Yippy!

  8. Smoochagator

    I would just die of the awesome if Mama Knows illustrated your epic travel post.

  9. Agnes

    I am sincerely hoping I find SOGT on my doorstep this afternoon as soon as I get home. Amazon is being a little slow. I’m so anxious to start reading!!! By the way, I love your #SOGT gif Jen…it’s way too cool. Also, great pictures with EWTN…also can’t wait til it airs. The intercession of St. Catherine of Siena for your book is very impressive and inspiring. Love it. I visited a St. Catherine of Siena church in Colorado…the one where JPII stopped by during his pilgrimage to the US, and in the back of which he hiked (so they names the hiking trail in the back after him). The retreat center in the back of the church burnt down not to long ago but the room where JPII stayed and his relics spread throughout the building were untouched. I wrote about that here:


  10. Stephanie Y.

    Ok, you have to be kidding me that Youtube randomly selected Joe in the banana suit as the screen shot. I mean, that’s just too much.

    I totally noticed that when I read the post too, thinking, “how cute of Jen to use Joe as the screenshot preview.”

    Yes, someone is definitely looking over you.

    By the way, the gif of P.Diddy on a post about a book about a conversion to Catholicism book could ONLY work on your blog.

  11. Lisa-Jo

    You’re actually going to DO MY IDEA???? I’m crazy excited and will need at least a 65% royalty cut when it’s made into a made for TV Hallmark channel movie one day 🙂

    heh love you – travel home safe(r).

  12. Paige

    SOOOO excited to get my hands on a copy of SOTG! It’s at the top of my summer reading list (just have to get through final exams now). I also recommended it to the leader of my church women’s group as an option for the next book we read and discuss. Can’t wait!

  13. TaraSz

    Whoever sent the Catherine of Siena note with the flowers…I want that person to be my BFF! How awesome!

  14. Joan


    Watching your YouTube video gave me chills and made me tear up a bit! I am so excited to read your book, and thank you for sharing your beautiful conversion story with the world! 🙂

    And, I loved that Joe’s caption read “Lawyer, banana.” 🙂

  15. Nella

    I read the book in 20 hours. It could have been less except for the being a mom to 6 children part. It was worth the wait!

  16. Annery

    Loving the book! Who doesn’t need a banana suit?!?

    • Michelle

      Maybe me, lol

  17. Francine

    Since I have access to a banana suit (and its counterpart, the gorilla one) the Amazon gift card will suffice. I’ll be thinking of you tonight when I mix my first Fulwiler margarita, btw. (I got it from Grace Patton by promising to name a kid after her… okay, fine, I already had a kid named Grace and she was just nice enough to share.) I’m getting ready to have my mind blown after hearing all the hype!

  18. Juliet

    I am half-way through the book and completely riveted. I have to admit, waiting for it to come out was like waiting for JK Rowling to finish book 7 but beyond worth the wait. Thank you for writing this and taking so much pain to make it perfect. Wonder Pets on Netflix was created for a day such as this.

  19. Anne McD

    So, I ended up with a stern, “get off your feet now, mama” last night from my OB, and your book just HAPPENED to show up on my doorstep today, so…. I guess I’ll just HAVE to read it now. (BTW, just got to the point where Joe proposed, both that and the Starbucks dates had me with happy sighs. Love it so far. 🙂 )

  20. Jennifer Short

    I own a banana suit. Really I do!

  21. Amanda

    Love the bit about St. Catherine of Sienna! The Saints are such sweet friends!

  22. Jennifer G Miller

    What a goof I am! I wrote my post but didn’t add it to the link up until now!

    My book arrived yesterday and it’s killing me that I can’t read it yet! But I know I will be sucked into the vortex and not be able to put down so I’m trying to make sure I pick it up way before bedtime!

    I didn’t realize I bought hardcover, so I was pleasantly surprised! The book looks and feels so nice!

  23. J.R. Baldwin

    I cannot wait for my copy to arrive!!!!

  24. Donna S.

    Jennifer I’m reading your book now and can’t put it down! I’ve been following your blog for a couple of years and really enjoyed your reality series–hope there will be more! I’m a convert from various Protestant denoms with a circle through Wiccan spirituality. I just got to the part in the book about Tupac and it touched me deeply. This has been my question too–fear of hell and all that. The second day after my bilateral knee replacement surgery the pain management failed completely and i was in agony for several hours. I was also pretty drugged and fuzzy but I vaguely remember sort of praying that I wouldn’t blaspheme the Holy Spirit. I do remember sitting up and screaming at the nurse, who seemed to not be helping me at all; and they had to bring in a nurse supervisor who just lectured me. All I can think is–is there *any* hope for the bad thief on the cross? No one ever says anything about him. What if I die after behaving particularly badly? Thank you so much for sharing your life and thoughts with us–I look forward to finishing the book–but I don’t want it to end!

  25. KimP

    My husband left yesterday about 5:20 pm for a weekend fishing trip, and about 15 minutes later, SOTG landed on my doorstep from Amazon. By 11:00 pm, I was finished reading it – what a great story! Well done, Jennifer!

  26. Sandy

    Stepping out in faith: my (pre-ordered) copy from Amazon has not arrived yet, but after reading some blog posts from readers I’m ordering a second copy, this one for my atheist daughter. She reminds me of you, and I think is the reason I was led to you – (I was researching Lovenox years ago and “Reluctant Atheist” came up on the list. I’ve followed you since. There’s more to the story, but I’ll relate that another time.)
    And if you’ll indulge me, I’d appreciate prayers for both of my adult children, for their return to the faith.
    I am anxiously awaiting my copy of SOTG! Maybe Monday! Thank you, Jen, and continued blessings to you and your family.

  27. Mark S.

    Hurray, my preordered, back ordered copy of your book arrived today. About to start reading. Alas I have no interesting picture location other than my hands to display your book. One desperately important question: will you be in the Philadelphia area for a book signing?

  28. Robin

    I started the book this morning, finished this evening, and can’t wait for a sequel. 🙂 It made me love our Church all over again, reading your story. I am going to sleep tonight happy and at peace and pleased that I spent the day “with you”. Thank you! I will be checking out your blog as well!

  29. Joanne

    Your book has been distracting me from laundry duty all day. My husband thanks you : )

    Super bummed I won’t finish it tonight.

    First page of Chapter 17 had me laugh out loud : )

  30. Lynne

    I am 100% alone in my house. My options are a) wash the dishes from last night’s dinner. b) go for a run since my marathon training schedule says I must or c) sit down and devour the book which came in yesterday’s mail but only this moment got discovered in the mailbox. If only I had the audio version I could do c) while completing a) and b). Dang it! Follow my heart or my brain….

  31. Julia

    I already commented on Heather’s blog, and I’ll share here, too, that finding out she’s doing drawings for an upcoming Conversion Diary post is like finding out that two of my favorite television shows are having a crossover episode. And I’m a bigger fan of both of your blogs than I am of anything on TV, so this pretty much made my day.

    As for the contest tip, I guess it’s time for me to put down my (pre-ordered) copy and finish ordering my mom her Mother’s Day present!

  32. Jen

    I am loving your book…it FINALLY got here Saturday. My Father in law loves your blog and got his book a week before I did! I couldn’t put it down. I stayed up waaaaaaaaaaaay too late reading it last night! 🙂

  33. Annette Nellums

    My only complaint is that I can’t read fast enough…and I’m a fast reader! Love it so far!

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