Working on faith and family: Wahlund pens ‘The Catholic Working Mom’s Guide to Life’

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Posted: Friday, July 12, 2019 6:00 am

Since the age of 5, JoAnna Wahlund has talked about writing a book.

More than 30 years later, the 1999 Hillsboro graduate has made her dream come true.

Wahlund recently published “The Catholic Working Mom’s Guide to Life,” a 176-page walk through religion, family and work issues. 

“The first five chapters are more theological in nature, then the remaining six chapters are more practical – like about home management and maternity leave,” Wahlund said Wednesday.

“I’m hoping Catholic moms can find greater joy and contentment from the book.”

For Wahlund, the book represents the culmination of years of experience in the book’s subject area.

However, the guide also marks a milestone in her career in the English writing field.

After graduating from Hillsboro, Wahlund attended school at the University of Wyoming for two years before transferring to the University of Minnesota Twin Cities to pursue an English degree.

“It was always my goal – my dream – to write a book,” she said. “My intention was to work hard to achieve it.”

After college, Wahlund worked as an editor in various capacities for 13 years.

She worked at Integreon Managed Solutions in Fargo as a proofreader before moving to Arizona, where she proofread for eight years for three different employers.

During that time, Wahlund and her husband, Collin, were busy raising six children, now ages 2 to 14. 

She said her experiences with a full-time job while raising a large family led her to starting a Facebook support group for Catholic working mothers.

After its first year in existence, the group had around 400 members.

Now, that number has grown to nearly 6,000.

“A year after I started the group, I thought that there wasn’t really a lot of books that focus on Catholic mothers who also work,” Wahlund said.

“For example, how do you find good child care if you are a Catholic mom?

“I didn’t know of anyone else who was planning to write a book like this, so I figured I’d take a stab.”

Wahlund sent in a book proposal and a sample chapter to publisher Our Sunday Visitor Press in February 2018, around the same time she was laid off from a copy editing job at a media company.

After a month, the publisher responded that the company wanted to publish her book.

“I was super excited,” Wahlund said. “There were a lot of early mornings and late nights, and lots of weekends writing at the library.”

Her contract with Our Sunday Visitor required her to write a minimum of 40,000 words.

“I thought there was no way I’d be able to write 40,000 words, but my finished manuscript was 55,000,” Wahlund said.

Her husband helped wherever he could with the project, including taking the kids on weekends while she went to work writing at the local library.

With an Oct. 1 deadline, Wahlund finished the manuscript Sept. 30.

“It went through three rounds of edits, and in the end it ended up being about 40,000 words,” she said.

Having worked in the editing and proofreading business, Wahlund said she mostly knew what to expect with the publishing process, though she admits the title Our Sunday Visitor chose for her book took her by surprise initially.

“I could offer my opinions, but the final decision (for the name) was theirs,” she said.

“I was iffy on the title at first because I thought it made me sound more confident than I felt,” Wahlund added with a laugh. “I’m still trying to figure all of this out myself. It’s a guide – not a sure-fire solution.”

Still, she’s pleased with the book and the reception she’s received so far.

“This was a huge bucket list thing for me,” Wahlund said. “This is something where, ‘I wrote this. This is mine.’”

Wahlund’s book was released May 10, and is available in paperback format or on Amazon’s Kindle device. 

It also can be found on the publisher’s website, www.osv.com, or on Amazon.

Wahlund donated a copy of her book to the Hillsboro Public Library, as well.

Feedback has been favorable for the book; 18 of 19 reviewers on Amazon gave it five stars. 

Wahlund is currently trying to promote her book while she is in between jobs, and she hopes her words can help readers across all walks of life.

“I hope readers find some useful advice and guidance with their lives and vocations,” Wahlund said. 

“If they’re not a Catholic working mother, I hope they can help support those who are.”

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