....Short updates from Regina

Monday, March 9, 2015

Historic Oakwood Cemetery figures in the new Higher Mysteries book Specter from Chesterton Press.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Acknowledging a Debt to the Fisher King

Photos copyright Columbia Pictures
Photos copyright 1991 Columbia Picture Corporation

Stories are made of so many bits and pieces from a person's consciousness, some of them conscious and some of them so unconscious that their influence leeches subtly and powerfully through your mind. Upon the regrettable passing of the comic actor Robin Williams, I find myself reflecting on the movie he starred in which most impacted my life, The Fisher King, and discovering links between Terry Gilliam's masterpiece and my own first noveThe Shadow of the Bear. It might make an interesting study to compare the film with my book, because I'm sure the debt is evident in many ways that even I am not aware of. 

(Side note to parents: this film contains strong language, crass language, adult situations, adult humor, and distressing scenes of violence. It is a good representative of what I would call a film for adults (as opposed to that hated euphenism "adult film," which really means a film for immature adults). The Fisher King is definitely not for children or young teens. But it is a good film for angst-filled young adults.)

The year was 1991. That year, I was a college student, a senior majoring in television production, and battling the most serious depression of my life. My survival tactic was to throw myself into my classwork, which as an upperclassman consisted of hours in the artificial light of the university's basement television studio, immersed in rearranging frames of video. I pressed out endless assignment papers, attended production meetings, and theatrical rehearsals, and did whatever else I could distract myself with, to hide the abyss gnawing at my psyche. The worst hour of the day was when the alarm clock went off, and I had to will myself to get out of the dorm bunkbed and face another empty day. 

It wasn't surprising that my thoughts were bleak, subsumed in a morass of misery. Grunge was in, and it fit my mood. I was drawn to topics that dealt with despair, because I desperately needed a reason to keep on living. Into the midst of this, I went to see The Fisher King with my fellow TV majors, and was completely transfixed. So much so, that I went back to see it again the same week, significant for this broke college student. 

The inciting incident in the story used two cross-currents in American culture. Howard Stern was making his fame as a shock jock, and American crime had entered that blurry period where mass murders by unhappy individuals had become a phenomenon but before Columbine took it to the level of psychopathic fame. What could be causing this senseless violence? Was American culture itself responsible, perhaps even the makers of that culture? The Fisher King tapped that raw nerve of guilt as Jack Lucas, a shock jock played by Jeff Bridges, makes a glib comment to a mentally-unstable regular caller, and the man goes on a shooting spree in a New York City restaurant.

A despairing Jack attempts to commit suicide under a NYC bridge by tying cement blocks to his feet. But in a dark Chestertonian twist, he discovers a sudden desire to live when two young thugs take him for a homeless person and decide to set him on fire. But before they can murder him, Jack is saved by another madman, a Quixotic homeless man named Parry (Robin Williams) and his band of crazy knights. Parry sees himself as a modern-day knight on a crusade to find the Holy Grail, which he believes is hidden in the hi-rise apartment of a New York millionaire. "The Fisher King" of the title recalls a medieval legend bound up with the knights of King Arthur and the Holy Grail they sought.

According to IMDB,
The legend varies, but all iterations possess three elements: the Fisher King was charged by God with guarding the Holy Grail, but later incurred some form of incapacitating physical punishment for his sin of pride, and had to wait for someone to deliver him from his suffering. A simpleminded knight named Percival, referred to in the movie as "The Fool", healed the wounds with kindness to the king, asking him why he suffers and giving him a cup of water to drink. The king realizes the cup is the grail and is baffled that the boy found it, as demonstrated in the closing exchange: "I've sent my brightest and bravest men to search for this. How did you find it?" The Fool laughed and said "I don't know. I only knew that you were thirsty." Echoes of the legend recur throughout the film, but in a continually shifting manner, so that it sometimes appears that Lucas is Percival to Parry's Fisher King, sometimes vice versa, and sometimes that one or the other is re-enacting part of the story with another character (most obviously in Parry's self-assigned quest to obtain the Grail from the man he believes is its guardian). (from the movie's  spoiler synopsis)

I was fascinated by this dark film with its cast of misbegotten characters, ranging from Jack's city Italian girlfriend who runs a trashy video store to an emaciated transvestite singer, from the wheelchair-bound veteran Jack befriends to Parry's maiden love, a gawky lonely spinster named Lydia. But under the influence of Parry's mad and joyful vision, they become transfigured into something greater than themselves, enacting a story that brings healing and the restoration of sanity, albeit with a typical 90s tinge.

Beneath the grit and William's characteristic potty-mouthed humor, I remember the movie as a series of haunting vignettes. The famous scene in Grand Central Station where the bustling crowd of commuters transforms into a ballroom of waltzing couples, as Parry's lonesome love, Lydia walks home from work. Jeff Bridges scaling the skyscraper in homemade armor. The chorus of madmen in the asylum celebrating Jack's triumphant quest.

Copyright Columbia Pictures

And I love the first date scene, where Parry walks Lydia home, and she expresses her fears to him: that his infatuation is just leading to a one-night stand. Parry, clad in a white suit reminiscent of a white knight's, responds to her with a pledge of steadfast purity that is remarkable in William's career. Terry Gilliam is best known for his cynical Monty Python and the Holy Grail, but for a character in his film to give such a defense of chaste love is remarkable, and to me, unforgettable.

Photo copyright Columbia Pictures

“Have you ever felt that there was something going on in life that not everyone was aware of? ...As though there's a story going on that everyone is a part of, but not everybody knows about? Maybe 'story' isn't the right word- a sort of drama, a battle between what's peripheral and whats really important. As though the people you meet aren't just their plain, prosaic selves but are actually princes and princesses, gods and goddesses, fairies, shepherds, all sorts of fantastic creatures who've chosen to hide their real shapes for some reason or another. Have you ever thought that?” my heroine, Rose, asks another homeless man, Bear, in The Shadow of the Bear . Like Parry, she envisions a life where people's actions mean something, where people's identity reflects a deeper reality. She doesn't know that (like Parry), Bear has taken up the gauntlet in a modern-day quest which some people would consider mad.

And I find this other quote also reflects themes found in the Fisher King, when Bear tells Blanche, “Every once in a while you just have to decide to do something very crazy and very right--just to dare yourself to live. I don't mean doing something stupid and destructive--just something fun and good and beautiful.” I even find echos of Bear and Blanche's dance to "Paper Moon" in Fisher King's emblematic refrain: "I like New York in June: How about you?" Somehow I felt my New York teen heroes just had to dance to big band somewhere in my story.

Photo copyright Columbia Pictures

Madness and sanity is a large theme in The Fisher King. Most of the conversations about madness don't appear in my book, but they are touched on in the audio drama we later made, which features more conversations between the brothers Bear and Fish, who wonder at times if they are mad to keep on living in poverty in order to continue to track a murderer the police have long ago given up on finding. The transformation of Jack from a cynical angry man to a laughing knight on a mad mission probably impacted me the most. I am sure that the character of Fish owes something to Jeff's Bridges' Jack, but it takes two more books for Fish to set out on his own mad quest and win a sword.

In conquering depression, victory is won not by a few large victories, but through many small ones. Small acts of getting out of bed, choosing to smile instead of to zone, starting a chat with a stranger in need instead of sitting alone. Jack's road out of depression back to sanity is also filled with many little choices: steps forward and steps back. But since this is Hollywood, we do get to see a few of the grand moments caught on film too. 

Photo copyright Columbia Pictures

So during my own dark night of the soul, The Fisher King came like a spark of hope that even in a grim, profane, and savagely violent world, medieval-style quests and even triumps were still possible. Love and sanity are precious things, frightfully assailed on all sides, but able to conquer. We need miracles, even the miracle of a good story. Two years later, I was living in New York, putting the finishing touches on the manuscript that would be my first published book, and about to meet the man who would become the love of my life, my own knight in fading blue denim.

Photo copyright Columbia Pictures

Rest in peace, Robin Williams, wounded knight. I pray you find your Holy Grail.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Chesterton's birthday! SALE!

Yes, I know, we rarely (okay, never) do sales at Chesterton Press, but today, during the morning Rosary, we realized it was G.K. Chesterton's birthday, and since we're Chesterton Press, after all, we felt we just HAD to do something to celebrate.

So today, May 29th, (and tomorrow, since we were late in coming up with this) we decided to give 29% off on everything you buy from the Chesterton Press website. That's right, EVERYTHING. So here's the link: 


whatever you purchase, 29% will be automatically deducted from your order, today and tomorrow only.

Happy 140th birthday, G.K. Chesterton! You continue to inspire us!

Peace and good
The Staff and Authors at 
Chesterton Press

Monday, April 14, 2014

Finally Saw Frozen and I Confess Myself Disappointed

Silly me, I was expecting a Pixar-level plot or at least something as good as TANGLED. I also kind of felt the bitter disappointment I felt when watching The Little Mermaid as a teen, seeing that the Hans Christian Andersen plot was barely homaged, more kind of exploited. But the Disney Mermaid has far more in common with Andersen than Frozen does. 

Here’s what I was most disappointed in (spoiler alert):

1) Because the climax wasn't adequately set up, it felt more like a bait-and-switch: it wasn't clear that ELSA had a frozen heart for Anna to sacrifice heserlf to melt, and that in this world, one can sacrifice oneself in order to bring ONESELF back to life. It would have worked better if Elsa had sacrificed herself for Anna, but the current climax just felt too much like rule-breaking. Better setup would have fixed that. Basically, it's a plot patched together and greenlighted because it was considered good enough for a marketing vehicle for kids (hey! Now Disney gets to sell TWO MORE Disney Princesses! Double profits!), but not for intelligent adults. Since the Pixar/Disney merger, it's been a while since I've had my children's intelligence insulted by a Disney film, but then again, I haven't been paying complete attention.

2) The song "Let it Go" (with beautiful lyrics and presentation) hogged the emotional weight of the plot, and nothing else came close to matching it in power and artistry. This is a problem, because even by the plot's own rules, the song is a negative song sung by the antagonist, and "letting it go" is NOT a good thing, but the thing that triggers the destruction of her home world. If Anna had matched that song with an equally powerful one of her own, it would have worked, but the same kind of half-done story work that botched the climax was at work lyrically, making this movie the equivalent of a Phantom of the Opera that included "Music of the Night" but not "All I Ask of You."  In Phantom, it's the second song that responds to and completes the first, making the play a masterpiece, but Frozen (all too typically) got the bad guy spot on, and left the perky heroine floundering metaphyiscally and plotwise. Writers, be aware that a powerful song is a force unto itself that can unbalance your plot.

3) The much-lauded plot twist regarding Prince Hans: What? A rich heterosexual white male turns out to be the villain of the piece? Now THAT's a trope we've NEVER seen before in a Disney movie! If that's what constitutes a daring and original plot twist, I'm more depressed about the future of Disney than I have been since Beauty and the Beast came out.

4) The Greek-tragedy-like speedy timeframe of the actual story action (everything happens in what? three days?) reduces the connection to the original Snow Queen so much that trying to connect it to Andersen's original is a hopeless exercise, even as a theoretical "true story of what became a myth." So, basically, the legend of the Snow Queen boils down to a girl with a misunderstood talent who for roughly 24 hours "let it go" and made herself an ice palace in the frozen north, but fortunately her heroic sister convinced her to come home and take her rightful place as a queen with a talent for snow entertainment (as opposed to administration, leadership, etc. says the sarcastic feminist in me).  Heroic Gerda and lost Kay have no place in this new mythology.

The original fairy tale featured a strong girl saving a boy, and not just a nice sensitive worthy boy, but a cold-hearted, exploitative, cruel boy: a story that genuinely would have been revolutionary and welcomed by the shortcomings and sorrows of our culture.

It would have been amazing to see a potentially strong character like Disney’s Anna take on Gerda's role saving a boy with the frozen heart of Hans (or even a reworked Kristoff), but that's now a story that we're never going to see on the silver screen with anything like the money and artistry of Frozen.  It's sad to think of the possibilities in the original story that are now going to be lost to a generation of children (probably several generations, if the marketing muscle longevity of Disney’s Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast is any indication). We're going to be surrounded by Made-In-China dollies, Broadway renditions, deep-sounding prattle about  the importance of sisterhood, and theme-park Snowmen in Summer for a long, long, long time. 

And that's about as depressing a Snow Queen Winter as I can imagine.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Any More Fairy Tale Novels? New Answers to Frequent Questions!

Now that Rapunzel Let Down, the sixth Fairy Tale Novel (and the first one we've labeled adult fiction) has been published, I've been asked frequently: so when will the next book be out?

The sad answer is: probably not for a while.  I have less time to write these days than I used to, and for several years now, I have been wanting to start a new series, for adults, based on the Bible. It wouldn't be modern, but set in Biblical times, and I hope to sell it to a mainstream publisher. That means I need to take a break from the Fairy Tale Novels in order to focus on writing these books, if I hope to write them at all. It also means that it could be as long as five years or more before they are available to read.  So yes, it's a long-term project and I realized this past summer that I simply can't do multitask on these new books: I have to focus on them and them alone. So that means farewell to the Fairy Tale Novels for the next few years.

I know this is disappointing news for many people, particularly younger teens who were already disappointed that Rapunzel Let Down turned out to be an adult book. But if anything changes, I will let you know. Who knows, it could all change if I get a really good idea. :)

Below are a few questions I've gotten over and over again the past few months, and I'd like to answer them here so that folks don't have to keep taking the trouble to write.

Will you write a fairy tale on Beauty and the Beast? What about Cinderella?

No, and no. Those are the two fairy tales I've been asked about the most, but I have no plans to rewrite either of these. So sorry.

Please PLEASE write another book about Fish and Rose! Or Bear and Blanche!

I'm sorry, but I have no plans for books featuring the wonderful foursome as main characters that would take place after Waking Rose.  For now, their story is over. I don't have any good ideas for any future books about them, and I think a lame sequel to Waking Rose would be just plain awful. So sorry, but no plans for right now. (Of course, this could always change if I get a really good idea, but nothing's come along so far!)

But wait, I thought you said there would be a book about Fish between Black as Night and Waking Rose based on Rumplestilskin...

Yes, I did, and I do still have plans for such a book, tentatively called "Goldspinner" which would elaborate on Fish's adventures at college and his mysterious relationship with a foreign girl, alluded to at the beginning of Waking Rose. But it would be a pretty dark book (like Rapunzel Let Down) and I'm not anxious to write another dark book just now, so I'm leaving it aside until I feel more inspired.

And what about Paul and Rachel's story? Are they going to get married?  Does Rachel convert? Does....?

Yes, I do have plans for another Paul and Rachel book too, which we've been calling "West of the Moon." But again, I'm kind of stuck on the book right now, and it seems too dark and not fun, certainly not a big climactic book like I'd like to write, so I'm setting that aside too.  I've thought about making a Paul and Rachel trilogy with another adventure in between, but so far, I haven't been inspired. So I'm going to leave it aside for now.  But I hope to come back and write a sequel to Midnight Dancers someday.  Oh, yes, and it would be based on the fairy tale "East of the Sun and West of the Moon."

And what about Alex and Kateri?

So far as I know, their story is done. For now.

But can't you make a book about Leroy?  Or Donna?  Or both of them?

This is an intriguing possibility but so far, no good ideas have come to mind. Thanks to all of you who've sent many suggestions, but so far nothing has gelled.  I've thought of using Donna as a minor character in another stand-alone book based on the Wild Swans, but I haven't really worked on that for a while.

Could you write a book on the Goose Girl? Or Robin Hood?  Or....?

Thanks to all of you who've sent suggestions, but so far, I haven't been inspired. And if you have a really good idea for a modern fairy tale featuring your own characters, go ahead and write it!  I'm not the only person out there writing modern fairy tales, so if you feel the urge, dive on in~!  (But no, you can't use my own characters. Sorry, no fanfiction.)

If I do write a book like that, will you read it and tell me if it's any good?  Or publish it for me?

I have been saying no to everyone who asks me to read manuscripts because I just don't have time. And no, sadly, my little company Chesterton Press, isn't accepting submissions. We just don't have the staff to read them, and what we do is very specialized.  But I wish you the best with your writing!  (And if you're looking to publish Catholic fiction, try Tuscany Press, or join the Catholic Writer's Guild to find more contacts.)

Can you give me some advice on writing? I really want to be an author.

I have tried to compile some of the advice I've given young writers over the years and post them on my website here. Please read this long article with all the questions first, and if you still have a very specific question (ie: NOT "How do I get published?" or something that you could find out about online), feel free to email me.

Could I interview you for a book report or school newsletter?

First read through all the links I've collected here and if you still have questions for me which you can't find the answers to online, yes, then send them to me.  I always like to see writers do their research first. :)  It's good practice. :)

Can I email you just to tell you how much I like the books?

Absolutely. Or comment on this blog. I always love hearing from you all, and I feel sorry that I can't write more books to keep you all satisfied!

So what other books can I read that you recommend if I've read all the Fairy Tale Novels?

A good place to start is my company, Chesterton Press, which specializes in fiction, especially Catholic fiction.  I manage the John Paul 2 High series for teens -- read these first!, help write Catholic Philosopher Chick, and oversee other adult books such as those by John Desjarlais and others. Some of these are for more adult readers, but I try to distribute other books that fit into the category "fun Catholic fiction" such as Zita the Spacegirl, books by MangaHero (whom I still write for), and classics by G.K. Chesterton.

I also recommend two books my daughter really likes, The Locket's Secret by Kara Heyne and the Riddle at the Rodeo by Claudia Cangilla McAdam, both Catholic teen fiction (the cover of the second book makes it look too young but it's a teen book!).

If you're a parent or teacher just looking for good books not necessarily written, edited, or endorsed by me, I always recommend Love2Learn.net, Bethlehem Books, or blogs that specialize in compiling good books for Catholic students.  Sadly, I don't read much fiction, so I'm not the best resource for recommendations, apart from what I distribute. (Obviously I think all the books I distribute or publish are fantastic!) There are folks who specialize in doing just that, though, so ask around online.  And if you have any suggestions for sources for me to recommend to others, send them!

Are you going to make any of the other books into movies or audio dramas, like you did with Shadow of the Bear? Could my friends and I make our own movie?

We did make an audio drama of Shadow (you can buy and download it here) and we did allow some students to make a movie of Shadow of the Bear (which you can buy here) but we have no plans for further projects like that right now.  It's just time and money. Sadly, we are not giving permission to any other groups to make films of the books, but we hope that someday a professional film company might be interested in buying the rights. (If you are a representative of such a company, email me.)

So that's some answers to the questions I've been hearing over and over again recently. I hope that you all will enjoy the Biblical stories when I eventually finish them, and as always, I want to ask for your prayers. Prayers help me to write faster, among other things, which is always a good thing, and I know they help in any event!  So thank you for reading, for praying for me, and for your constant encouragement!

Peace and good

Monday, September 30, 2013

Author's Note: I'm participating in a "blog hop" for authors writing young adult fiction. While Rapunzel Let Down is technically adult fiction, the rest of the Fairy Tale Novel series is for young adults.

What are you working on right now?  A new series, for adults, based on the Bible. Been planning it a long time. It's kind of tough going but I find it really inspiring. It probably won't be Christian fiction: I'm planning on publishing it in the secular realm.

How does Rapunzel Let Down differ from other works in its genre?  Probably the Catholic angle. Plus it's very gritty for what would normally be considered Catholic fiction, since it's a story about the consequences of mortal sin.

Why do you write what you do? 
Because I love telling stories and retelling old stories with my own twist on them. How does your writing process work? I usually write by synopsis but sometimes if I'm stuck I do some freewriting. It's a hard process no matter what!

Thanks for reading today's blog hop! And check out these blogs

by Henry Vogel:
 Storyteller site: http://www.henryvogelstoryteller.com/
Serialized online novel:http://cliffhangertwofifty.blogspot.com/ 

as well as the series that I manage:

 and a story by my friend Bill Powell:

Thursday, March 14, 2013

About Rapunzel Let Down

I have received some questions asking why I am saying that Rapunzel Let Down is a heavier and harsher book than the other books in the series.

In some ways, it's so very different from the other books that I seriously contemplated releasing it as a different series altogether.  However, it is still a Fairy Tale Novel, told in the same manner as the others, part of the same universe and involving some of the same characters.

However, it is clearly a book for older readers of the Fairy Tale Novels, and I am happy that there are now so many of them who are ready for a book like this one. Although I wrote this book in 2004, I am only publishing it now, because I feel many of the fans have grown up and are facing deeper and darker questions about human relationships and the problems of human sexuality. This is a book for them.

I will try to inform you of the contents of this book without giving away the story. Please forgive the abstract and ponderous and somewhat allegorical language as I attempt to do so.  The story is hopefully not as didactic as it may sound below.

This book presumes that the reader has already become acquainted with the sad state of human sexuality, and knows something of the sorrows and the burdens of the loss of innocence, and the banal sexual depravity that taints so much of our lives. This is a book for readers who are searching earnestly for answers to those problems, even subconsiously, and who need hope.

What does this have to do with the fairy tale Rapunzel? Everything.

Rapunzel Let Down is the story of a young couple in love who falls from grace and innocence into mortal sin, which lacerates and divides them, seemingly forever. Consequences of their actions deal them a stunning blow that plunges both of them into suffering and drives them forward on a dark and lonely journey. Each seeks to escape that wound, and along the way each encounters cunning and dangerous dragons who promise to solve their problems, the problems of human sexuality.

The dragons come out in their full colors in this book: prostitution, pornography, forced abortion, rape, lesbianism, homosexuality, child molestation, and vicious hatred of the other sex all make an appearance. Characters speak openly about sexual aberrations using blunt and profane language. While very little is graphically shown, many things are frankly discussed as possible solutions to the problem of man and woman, and their genius for wounding one another.

As an author, I usually try my best to use veiled language to convey harsher topics. In my previous books I was able to touch on some of the above subjects obliquely. But when I set out to write this book, I realized I was writing for a different audience entirely.

This book is not for readers who are innocent of the above dragons. Parents, please do not allow me to initiate your child into these particular evils! I have never had a desire to be edgy in order to be cool, to push the envelope, or to give a tour of secret sins, even to warn against them. If your sons or daughters are innnocent of any or all of the above topics, please don't let them read this story.  Read it yourself and judge when they will be ready for it.

But if your sons and daughters have already seen the dismal state of the human condition, if they are sad and struggling, if they are questioning and angry, then this is a good book for them. I hope to give some answers and some hope.

You see, my purpose is not to inform readers of these evils: I'm telling this tale for those of us who are already sick at heart over them. The only reason I'm offering to walk readers through this dark valley is to show them the passionate glory of the heights and mountains that lie beyond it. There is something of the epic about this tale, and perhaps that's why I felt that for once, the dragons had to be shown in their true size and shape.

Some stories just come along, seize the author by the throat, and demand to be written. Rapunzel Let Down was one of those tales. It was a terrifying roller-coaster of a book to write, and I hope it will be to read. And I would be grateful beyond words if it helps readers of either sex find healing, forgiveness, and courage in their relationship with one another.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Coming in 2013 ... the next Fairy Tale Novel

I apologize for having neglected this blog for so long (but aren't all blogs neglected these days in the drift towards Facebook and Pinterest?) but at times, a web log can be the perfect venue for making a public announcement, and this is one.

For those of you who have been waiting for the next book in the Fairy Tale Novel series, I have good news! The next Fairy Tale Novel is on its way, at last.  I can't tell you a lot, but here's what I can tell you:

The title:  Rapunzel Let Down: a Fairy Tale Retold
Tentative release date: Easter 2013
Tentative retail price: $20.00

As for the last item, the $20 price means we think it will be a book at least as long as Waking Rose, which is the longest and hence the most expensive of the Fairy Tale Novels.  However, the eBook will be $5, just like the other Fairy Tale Novels.

What else can I tell you about it? It involves new characters you've never seen before.  It takes place several years after Fish and Rose's wedding, and also after Paul and Rachel's wedding, which could mean that it's between four and five years after the events of Alex O'Donnell. (I won't get more specific so that I can change my mind if I need to.) Paul has a cameo in the book, and Fish appears as a minor character, often unseen, in several scenes, where he gets to be very Fish-like. (What a great guy he is.)

I also need to tell you that this is a more serious and heavier book than the others. The subject matter is harsher.  It's about premarital unchastity.  It's about an out-of-wedlock pregnancy.  It's about serious (ie: mortal) sin. It's probably not appropriate for 14 year old readers to read without their parents.  One reason why I've been holding off publishing this book is because I've been worried about you parents out there who have honored me so much by trusting me to entertain your young teens.  I don't want to violate that trust.

But these past few years, I've been having conversations with many of you parents, and many of you have encouraged me to go forward with this book.  Also, I realize that many of my readers have grown up. Some of you might have been 14 when you first read Shadow of the Bear, but you're in college now.  I feel confident that many of you will appreciate this book.

Why, you may ask, am I writing such a dark book?  Well, it strikes me that while there are quite a few books that focus on premarital unchastity from a girl's point of view, I don't know too many books that tell the story from the point of view of the guy.  That's what this book is about: it's about a prince who fails.

Read the original story of Rapunzel (the original Grimm's, mind you).  That handsome prince was no hero. He messed up: and messed up big time.  You've got a girl trapped in a tower by a witch. A prince discovers her. Why doesn't he rescue her? Isn't that a prince's job?  So why does he leave her there?

Why indeed.

Notice how harshly he's punished: how hard his penance is, and how his beloved suffers because of his sin. And notice how the happily-ever-after only happens after he and Rapunzel are reunited and she forgives him.

We live in a world that doubts that men and women are much good for one another. Why else is the very definition of marriage being called into question?  It's because men and women are so exquisitely adept at wounding one another so very deeply. Given how deep that hurt can go, I personally can understand why some want to give up on the opposite sex altogether.

So is a fairy tale still possible in today's world?

I believe it is.  And that is what this book is about.

So I hope you will pray for me as I prepare this book for publication.  And I hope that when it comes out, you'll make sure it finds its way into the hands of the appropriate readers.  I'll do my best in the cover design to flag the book as a story for more mature readers. Tangled, this ain't.

There's a lot to be done: I need to do the final story edit, I need to get permission to use a beautiful poem by Carl Sandburg, and we need to do photo sessions with the models we've picked (yes, we already have our cover models!) and design the cover.  Anything could go wrong along the way and cause delays, so keep us in your prayers.

And I can take some more questions on the book, but I won't give out too many details yet. Remember, we haven't finished the final story edit.

I'll start out by answering a few other questions I've been asked quite a few times in the past year or so:

Q: When will you write/ why won't you write another book about Fish and Rose (or Blanche and Bear, or all four?)?

A: I don't know, because I don't have a really good idea for a new book about them yet. I know I would hate to write a bad or stupid book about them. (And I know you'd hate it even more!) And thanks to all of you who've sent me ideas and suggestions for new books, but none of them have kindled my imagination yet.  But I do promise you this: if and when I do get a good idea, I will write another book.

Q: What about the Fish book based on Rumplestilskin you promised, Goldspinner?

A: It's still in the works, but I haven't been able to work on it much, and the book on Rapunzel is already mostly finished. So we're going with Rapunzel Let Down first.  In order to do Goldspinner, I need to do some research, and since I haven't done it methodically, I haven't found out the answers I need to find. Yet. At some point I may get more serious about research and finish it, but that time hasn't come yet.  Plus, believe it or not, I have yet another series I want to find time to write.  The first book in that series needs to be written soon.  So, it may be a few years before another Fairy Tale Novel comes out after Rapunzel.

Q:  Why is all this taking so long?

A: Actually, none of you have asked me this directly: you are much too polite to do so! But I guess there is an answer why there's been a delay in the release of the next Fairy Tale Novel.  You know my editorial duties have taken up more of my time these past few years. I have loved being the editor of the John Paul 2 High series and I've enjoyed co-writing Catholic Philosopher Chick and the first book of the still-in-process Ruah Chronicles (see the Chesterton Press Facebook page for details). I also love my work editing for Manga Hero. But time spent editing is time not spent writing.  I love to edit and I need to edit: it's a passion, plus it's a job that pays bills.

The other big reason I am slowing down on my writing is that my family is larger. I no longer only have little kids crawling over my computer keyboard: I have (three!) teens of my own who will come up to me and say, "Mom! I need to talk to you about my life RIGHT NOW."  I love them tons and they won't be under my roof forever, so I need to spend time with them.  Also means less time to spend writing.  Right now.
But what is really good news for you is that these teens love my books and want me to write more. So don't worry: I won't be giving up writing Fairy Tale Novels.  It just might take me longer.

Q: So what did you think of the Disney movie Tangled?

A: Oh, it was delightful. But not much like the real story in many respects, and thankfully, not much like my book at all.

So ask away ... on my Facebook page, on the Fairy Tale Novel Forum, and on this blog. I'll try to answer your queries as soon as I can.  If there's a delay -- remember, I take longer to do things these days, but blessed be the Lord, I'm still here.  Just not online.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Habemus Papam Cover Art!

Wow!  So here's the cover art for my first-ever manga on the life of Pope Benedict XVI from MangaHero.  I love Sean's magnificent style.   His first draft for the cover was also good, but I like the more welcoming image of the newly-elected Pope Benedict.  Plus, this ties this cover visually to the short version of Habemus Papam by Gabrielle Gniewek which MangaHero did for World Youth Day.  My version is a 225 page graphic novel with a pretty cool appendix.  One small point: the cover is oriented towards the left, not the right, because Japanese books read from right to left, so this book will open "backwards" - that is, from right to left.  It's an interesting exercise to help compose a cover this way, especially since we Westerners still read the words on the cover from left to right. Seeing this cover brings home to me that the book is more than 75% drawn, and that we may just be seeing it in print soon!  

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Getting into Manga...

For nearly a year now, I've been working with Manga Hero, the company that created Many are Called, Paul, and Judith (all about to be released on new editions).  I started editing for them about a year ago, and this past fall I was asked to rewrite their comic on Pope Benedict XVI, which was an honor and a neat opportunity.  We're finishing up that comic right now, and I'm about to start on a new project for them, an original comic based on the book of Esther. I've been writing it for about a month now.

I'm really enjoying the challenges of the manga format, which to me seems like a meld between the novel and the screenplay.  I like visual writing, since I tend to think in images.  But screenplay writing has many strict conventions which I'm still struggling to learn.  Writing a manga, at least for a small company, doesn't seem to be so strict.  So long as I'm communicating to the artist, we're good.

Readers regularly ask me if I'm planning another Fairy Tale Novel (specifically, another Rose/Fish or Blanche/Bear book). The answer is, not now.  Between starting Chesterton Press, managing John Paul 2 High and various other projects, and writing/editing for MangaHero, I think I'll be busy for the next year or two.  I like to think of this as a nice transition, because I've got something totally new I'd like to start writing.  Right now I'm stuck behind a writer's block that's about a mile thick (or so it seems), but I really hope I can start writing in earnest soon.

So when I do come back to the Fairy Tale Novels, it will hopefully be with a fresh mind and some new plot ideas.  But for now, I think it's time for a rest.  If you can call it a rest... ;)

In the meantime, I hope to post more on my progress on Esther soon!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Introducing: Fish & Rose T-Shirt!

For Christmas, I have a VERY special t-shirt that I'm posting on Zazzle for you. Created by artist Mary MacArthur, this shirt features both Fish and Rose in an imaginative setting that captures their passionate love and innocence. The opening words of the book "I love him more than poetry ... I love him more than song" are quoted on the shirt. Rose, arrayed as a princess, plays her violin in a thorny clearing while Fish, revealed as a knight, approaches.

When Mary first posted this image a few years ago on the Fairy Tale Novel Fan Forum, I knew I wanted to buy it from her. And now we have it: just in time for Christmas!

The shirt can be printed on a short or longsleeved shirt of the pastel color you choose in the size you want. The shirt shown is only $21.95 from Zazzle. Click here to buy it. Order by Dec. 15th for guaranteed Christmas delivery. (Order right now using order code DECDELIGHT11 and get 15% off!)

Happy shopping, and look for more products with this image on it from Zazzle! (PS: Email me if you have something in mind you want to see this image on.)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Buying a Kindle? Stock it with Catholic Fiction!

Buying a Kindle this Christmas?
Buy it stocked with Catholic Fiction!

Click here to see a list of our books!

Not doing e-Books yet?
For signed copies (the kind printed on paper)
visit us at our new website
PS: Let me know if you'd be interested in posting this ad in your own blog sidebar or post! Thanks!

Friday, October 14, 2011

PRE-ORDER JP2 High Book 3: Summer of My Dissent

Toward the end of September I obtained the rights to publish the John Paul 2 High series. We are working like crazy to put new covers on the books and release Book
3: Summer of My Dissent by November 1.

All three books are available for PRE-ORDER at http://www.fairytalenovels.com/RetailOrders.cfm#JP2H

We plan to release Book 4 by Easter 2012.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Christian Manga: Many Are Called...

A wedding is prepared... a lost princess is sought ... an enemy is faced ... all before dawn...

As a longtime Christian, I've seen LOTS of retellings of Christ's parables, and I'm sort of used to how the storyline of such retellings goes. No surprises, heavy morals.

If that's true for you as well, I invite you to experience MANY ARE CALLED.

This offbeat steampunk manga is a compilation of Christ's parables of the End Times like you've never seen them before. Think the parables of Ten Bridemaids plus the Two Servants. Plus the overarching narrative of The Parable of the Banquet. And oh yeah, there's a villain and a lost princess as well. And a prince and his loving Father who remind us greatly of ... well, you can guess.

Now, a disclaimer. I'm a professional fiction editor, and I do work for the company which published this book, Manga Hero. However, this book was in prodution when I was first hired so I had nothing to do with its creation.

The narrative, written by Gabrielle Gniewek, is original and inspired. As for the artwork, veteran manga artist Sean Lam tops himself in this highly-detailed rendering. This is manga at its best: showy, gritty, flash and fire.

Sure, there's a message: what parable doesn't have a message? But instead of snatching at trying to be "relevant," the creators keep the message timeless, as Christ would have wanted it. They allow the parable to speak for itself. "Many are called: few are chosen." Sad, but true.

If you (or someone you know) can't get enough of the Japanese-inspired comic books called manga, check this one out. You'll be in for some nice surprises. In particular, I liked the obscure but tantalizing glimpses of Christ and his apostles in the frame of the story, including two Sons of Thunder and a eyeglass-wearing Apostle Matthew. If Gniewek and Lam revisit Christ's parables in manga form again, I hope we'll see more of them.

MangaHero is known for their comic book series on the apostle Paul and the Biblical heroine Judith, as well as for their recent comic on Pope Benedict XVI (read it online for free!). You can find more of their books at www.mangahero.com and you can ask for the book at your local Christian bookstore or order it on Amazon.

So as we head back to school this fall, keep your eye out for this new book! Speaking of school, teachers, parents, religious eduction directors, youth group leaders, anyone who works with Christian youth: MANY ARE CALLED is one manga comic you've got to get your hands on!

Pass the word!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Catholic Writers to Convene August Conference in Valley Forge

Press Release

June 9, 2011

Contacts: Ann Margaret Lewis, Catholic Writers Guild President

Phone: 317-755-2693 email: annlewis@joesystems.com

Karina Fabian, Catholic Writers Guild Secretary

Phone: 719- 924-5578 email: karina@fabianspace.com

Writer: Clare Bills, Catholic Writers Guild Publicity - email: clarebills@live.com

For Immediate Release

Catholic Writers to Convene August Conference in Valley Forge

Valley Forge, PA--The third annual Catholic Writers’ Conference LIVE will take place

August 3-5, 2011, at the Scanticon Hotel Valley Forge in King of Prussia, PA. Sponsored by the Catholic Writer’s Guild (CWG) and the Catholic Marketing Network (CMN), it will be held in conjunction with CMN’s annual retailer trade show. The Catholic Writers Conference LIVE provides Catholic authors with a prime opportunity to meet and share their faith with editors, publishers, fellow writers, and bookstore owners from across the globe.

CWG President Ann Margaret Lewis said this year's conference will, “focus on marketing and selling one’s written work.” Highlights of the conference include:

· Over 30 sessions taught by professionals in writing, marketing, blogging and publishing

· Pitch Sessions where writers may meet privately with representatives from four publishers

· One-on-one coaching sessions. For $35 an author can have a 30 minute private consultation with a specialist who will review their manuscript and guide them toward publication.

· Rapid-fire readings. Published authors will each have five minutes to read a selection from one of their books. A mass book sale and signing will follow.

Lewis says the conference comes at a modest cost. “Registration for the jam packed three days is only $90 for CWG members or $100 for non-members. And we have a special price of $42 for students. Our conference allows you to connect personally with Catholic publishers and retailers, to show your work, learn the craft and network.” Priests and religious are invited free of charge, but must register at the email address: http://www.catholicwritersconference.com.

This year’s conference speakers include:

· Catholic publishing representatives Claudia Volkman of Servant Books/St.Anthony Messenger Press,

· Regina Doman, author of numerous young adult and children’s books and acquisitions editor for Sophia Institute Press,

· Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle, EWTN TV host of "Everyday Blessings for Catholic Moms" and author of numerous Catholic books including “Mother Teresa and Me,”

· Michelle Buckman, author of the young adult novel “Maggie Come Lately” and the adult drama “Rachel’s Contrition,”

· Angela Breidenbach, author of “Gems of Wisdom” and

· Patti Armstrong, co-author of the best-selling Amazing Grace book series and author of “Catholic Truths for Our Children, Stories for the Homeschool Heart.”

Past attendees gave glowing accounts of their experiences at the conference:

· Carol Bannon, author of the children’s book “Handshake from Heaven,” said, “Attending this conference has been the best thing I have done for myself professionally.”

· Writer Melanie Cameron concurs, “I recommend this conference as a resource for any author (or wannabe) at any stage. You will walk away empowered!”

· Maureen Martin, a consultant and trainer said she attended to connect with other professional Catholics. “It was such a wonderful, nurturing environment where we could share our faith and our love for literature.”

The Catholic Writers Guild, a religious non-profit organization, sponsors both this live conference in August and an online conference in February to further its mission of promoting Catholic literature. “Our conferences are totally focused on encouraging faithful Catholics to share genuine Catholic culture and faith in their writing no matter what genre,” says Lewis. “These events are integral to our mission of ‘creating a rebirth of Catholic arts and letters.”

Also at this year’s conference, the CWG will be presenting its first ever Catholic Arts and Letters Awards (called the “Lilies”) for the best in Catholic fiction. This award will recognize one book in the adult market and one in the children’s market for its literary merit.

Information for the Catholic Writer’s Conference can be found on the conference web site: http://www.catholicwritersconference.com.

The CWG is a professional group of writers, artists, editors, illustrators, and allies whose mission is to build a vibrant Catholic literary culture. The organization is loyal to the teaching authority of the Roman Catholic Church.

- End -

Interviews and further information available upon request.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Shadow of the Bear in POLISH!

I am pleased to announce the release of Shadow of the Bear in its first foreign translation: POLISH!

Yes, Cień Niedźwiedzia: Wspotczesna Basn is available now at Polish sites online.Since my husband is half-Polish and our family has a devotion to both Saint Maximilian Kolbe and Sister Faustina Kowlalska, both Polish saints, we were delighted when we were approached by the Polish publisher for this edition. When we discovered that they are the diocesan publishers for the Diocese of Katowice, the original diocese of Karol Wojtyla, later Pope John Paul II, we were even more thrilled.

We just received six copies of the new edition in the mail today, and they are beautiful, with thick glossy covers and beautiful inside flaps, a detail not often seen on American paperbacks. The publishers did their own typesetting, including lovely sihlouettes of dark and light roses on the chapter headings:

And, what is even more charming, they used a dark rose to indicate sections in Rose's viewpoint, and a white rose to indicate Blanche's, as you can see from this section of the climax:

Thus we are very excited about our first foreign translation. To some authors, a Polish translation of their work might not be a big deal: a Spanish translation might yield a bigger market. But for me and my family, who owe so much physically and spiritually to the Polish people, having the first foreign translation be into the native language of John Paul II is simply fitting. One might even say perfect.

So if you have any Polish friends, please let them know about this new translation! And tell them that there's more to come: the publishers hope to bring out the rest of the "Snow White and Rose Red" trilogy as well within the year. Black as Night is up next for translation.

In the meantime, we have been contacted by a Spanish Catholic publisher, and I understand I have some Mexican fans who would love to see a Spanish edition.... I joked to my husband that we'll have to ask St. Josemaria Escriva (and Teresa of Avila and Blessed Miguel Pro) to help us out with that one!

And check out the : we had fun reading the Google translations. (There's no Amazon for Poland, but it looks like it can be ordered through Amazon Germany)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Regina speaking at Catholic Writer's Conference at Valley Forge in August!

Catholic Writers to Hold Conference in Valley Forge, PA
Press Release: please re-post and pass this on!

The second annual Catholic Writers’ Conference LIVE will be held August 4-6, 2010, at the Scanticon Hotel Valley Forge in King of Prussia, PA. Sponsored by the Catholic Writer’s Guild and the Catholic Marketing Network (CMN), and held in conjunction with CMN’s annual retailer trade show, the Catholic Writers Conference LIVE provides Catholic authors with a prime opportunity to meet and share their faith with editors, publishers, fellow writers, and bookstore owners from across the globe.

This year's conference will feature presentations on such topics as market tips and time management for busy writers, poetry, creating evil characters, working with an editor, creating winning proposals, journaling and much more.

Speakers include Catholic publishing representatives Claudia Volkman - General Manager of Circle Press, Regina Doman - acquisitions editor for Sophia Institute Press, and Tom Wehner - Managing Editor of the National Catholic Register, all of whom will also hear pitches from writers.

Among the other speakers are Mark Shea (Mary, Mother of the Son), Michelle Buckman (My Beautiful Disaster), Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle (Mother Teresa and Me), Susie Lloyd (Please Don’t Drink the Holy Water), and Publicist Lisa Wheeler from the Maximus Group.

Regina Doman (author of Alex O'Donnell and the 40 CyberThieves) will speak on "How to Create Evil Characters if You're a Good Catholic," "Working with an Editor," and will be participating in the Fiction Writing and Publisher Panels.

Additionally, the Catholic Writers Guild will present its first-ever achievement award for excellence in Catholic Arts and Letters to Rick Hinshaw, editor of the Long Island Catholic.

“Attending this conference has been the best thing I have done for myself professionally,” Carol Bannon, author of the children’s book Handshake from Heaven, said of the 2009 conference. Her fellow writer Melanie Cameron agreed, saying she left the last conference re-energized. “I recommend [this] conference as a resource for any author (or wannabe) at any stage. You will walk away empowered!”

The Catholic Writers Guild, a religious non-profit organization, sponsors both this live conference in August and an online conference in February to further its mission of promoting Catholic literature. “Our conferences are totally focused on encouraging faithful Catholics to share genuine Catholic culture and faith in their writing no matter what genre,” says CWG President Ann Margaret Lewis. “These events are integral to our mission of ‘creating a rebirth of Catholic arts and letters.”

To register go to catholicwritersconference.com.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Alex O`Donnell and the 40 CyberThieves!

Alex O'Donnell and the 40 CyberThieves - a fairy tale retold by Regina Doman
Remember this guy?  He was first introduced in Waking Rose, but even first-time readers will quickly warm up to the sword-wielding Alex O'Donnell and his adventures with his nearly technophobic girlfriend Kateri Kovach, and yes, forty cyberthieves in this high tech thriller. 

Alex returns from college to find that his dad, a hacker-turned-software programmer, has developed the Mouse Catcher; tracking software with a cute Super-Cat interface.

But more ominously, his dad has discovered a mysterious website which leads to sudden wealth. But at what cost? Read the Prologue to find out more.

Samurai Security Cat  
Mouse Catcher
Other computerized cats are featured in the book, including the most unusual override computer protection program ever invented: an animated samurai security cat who prevents other people from using the internet until they have defeated him in a virtual swordfight.
Kateri Kovach 
Practical, hard-working Kateri Kovach is suspicious of all this high-tech hoopla and tries desperately to keep the O`Donnell family running smoothly, mainly by cleaning up after them. One of her biggest worries is finding a job and figuring out how to break up with Alex. Yet, she finds herself evermore immersed in the O'Donnell family activities - playing video games with Alex and his younger brothers Sam and David, caring for their mother suffering from MS, and battling the samurai security cat. Mayhem, martial arts, and murder ensue even as Alex pursues marriage with Kateri who wonders why she's letting herself be a part of the madness. But in the end, it might just be the anti-technological Kateri who saves the day... 
Curiosity Killed the Cat... Open Sesame