Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Responding to Feedback (and Update!) on John Paul 2 High...

Someone just did the (rare) thing: they gave me some negative feedback on the first chapter of John Paul 2 High, and they also left their email address. Now, I'm one of those people who actually is interested in negative feedback. (Not that I don't appreciate the positive feedback!) So I'm interested to hear what sort of criticisms people have. I guess it's not my business to make everyone like John Paul 2 High (it really comes down to a matter of taste!), but I admit I can't resist answering some criticisms.

So I thought I'd share what I wrote to the person. Also, many of you have written to ask me when the books will be out, and the letter contains an update. I did promise you a September release date, and many of you have been wondering: so why aren't we seeing more information on the books? Well, I couldn't answer any questions because I was waiting to find out myself. But now I finally have some information, and I can say that we're looking at an October release date. But hey, since one key moment in the book involves a showdown at a Halloween dance, maybe it's appropriate...

------------

Feedback Form: 9/17/07
Age: 14-17
School: Catholic school
Rating: Okay

Comments: There's pretty much no Catholic fiction out there, and I'm happy that there are plans to get some out there, but... it wasn't fantastic. I'm always a little weary of books containing instant messages (or emails, websites, etc.) because usually they're not realistic at all... they're just used as an attempt to be "modern" and "cool". In this case, the message itself was pretty realistic, but don't you think a girl would call her friend (boyfriend? I couldn't tell) with news that important? If he's that close to her, I don't think she would tell him over the internet.other than that, I liked it. I would be interested in reading more... I'm afraid I probably wouldn't buy it, not for lack of interest, but because I don't have enough money to spend on extra things like this. If a copy made its way to my public library, I'd definitely read it.

-----------

Dear ****,
I wanted to thank you for your comments on the John Paul 2 High feedback form. Not everyone gives comments (and also leaves an email address!) so I like to respond to those who do send both.

You know, it's funny, but we've gotten more negative feedback on the IM conversations than anything else so far! But usually the criticism is, "Those don't sound like teenagers talking," or "the teenagers sound too dumb." So, on behalf of the actual real teenager who wrote the IM conversation for Christian Frank, I want to thank you for saying it was "realistic."

We tried to make the conversation reflect the personalities of the actual teens doing the writing: because, after all, most teens have widely different IM styles. As for trying to be modern and cool... well... I guess we used IMing because it's a fact of most teens life these days. (At least, my younger teenage sister seems to do nothing else!)

Regarding whether or not Allie would tell her boyfriend a matter of such importance over the internet -- I can only say that it accurately reflects the kind of strange relationship she and Tyler have...

Again, thanks for the feedback. I can't promise you the book is going to get into your local library (unless you request a copy, which I'd definitely encourage you to do!) but hopefully the book will be reasonably priced (under $10) so the average teen can afford it.

We're now looking at an October deadline for the series, due to a recent setback (deep sigh). So if you think of it, say a prayer for smooth sailing from here out. I personally think the book is pretty fantastic, especially now as I'm proofreading the final chapters, but hey, that will be for you and other teens to judge.

Thanks for reading!
Peace and good
Regina Doman
John Paul 2 High Series Editor

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

We're going to have to wait a whole month longer??? NOOOOOoooo!!!!

Anonymous said...

holy snap! what is it with these crazy people and IMing???? i really don't get them at all, not that i IM but i email like crazy and you can't assume a persons relationship in the first chapter, in fact the fact that she didn't call him to tell him should tell you what kind of relastionship they have [sorry, i'm a ranter] anyhow, i thought it was good... i'm catholic and my only problem is with the story is that i hang out with a lot of other young catholics [we're almost all homeschooled] and i don't know, maybe its because we're all so catholic that we don't really have to talk about it that much, so i guess my problem is i think without meaning to be a lot of catholic [and christian] fiction is overly preachy if you will, and i'm worried [though not a lot] that JP2High might be that way too. i know its hard because the books [and all books] should have a message, but how do you make that message known with out sounding preachy sometimes, i dounno. that's my thought, maybe there's one character that nobody would mind if they were preachy cause that's their character but when everybody's preaching the storyline kinda gets lost. okay, i'm going to stop commenting now, thanks for all the great stories :)

Anonymous said...

Look, all I can say is with Regina Doman behind these books they are not going to be mediocre.
~Mae

Anonymous said...

GAH! i can't wait that long!!!!!! sorry for ranting earlier... :)

regina doman said...

Anonymous 1: hopefully not *much* longer! I can tell you the wait is just as hard for me! I did finishe proofing what I hope is the final draft of the manuscript today at 7:30 PM (been doing it since yesterday evening), and hopefully it'll be back in the publisher's hands by Thursday (Christian Frank has to sign off on it first: he's writing book 3 now but of course he's making Book 1 a priority...).

Anonymous 2: You wrote:
i guess my problem with the story is i think without meaning to be a lot of catholic [and christian] fiction is overly preachy and i'm worried that JP2High might be that way too.

You know, you really make some excellent points here. I wish a *lot* of Catholic authors would read your post.

Well, I can say that we didn't develop these books because we think you kids need to "learn a lesson" or "be taught chastity" or "know how to defend the faith" or anything like that. We're developing them (Christian Frank and the team members and I) because right now, there are not many books out there about teens like you. I mean, there are barely any books where the main character is a girl or guy, living in the year 2007, who shares your faith, your morals, and also your dreams, your heartaches, your particular struggles -- there's no fiction that's really "your own."

And since we, too, never had fiction that was about "teens like us" when we were teens, we decided to write some. For you all. (Aren't we nice? :-) )

I mean, think of it: regular secular teens have tons of books about kids like themselves. Protestant Christian kids now also have tons of books about kids who are like themselves. But we Catholics don't.

So that's what the heart of John Paul 2 High is about. Yeah, the Catholic stuff is there because it affects our lives, makes us uncomfortable, gets us to do the right thing, gives us comfort and gives pointless bad stuff meaning. But God is hard to introduce as a character: we try not to do it too frequently. Of course, He's always there, but not at center stage.

I'm not going to say that you won't see kids in the books struggle with doing the right Catholic thing and then eventually end up doing the right Catholic thing (though sometimes in a sloppy, half-hearted manner). But is that preaching, or is it just showing struggle? You decide.

The books aren't going to be *exactly* like real life. We won't bore you with real life. Fiction is supposed to be more interesting than that. :) Hopefully they will be, overall, really good stories.

It's hard, because a strong selling point for parents and teachers would be if we could say, "These books will teach your teens about the faith" or "they will teach your teens to be chaste." And who knows: maybe the publisher will have to say those sorts of things in order to get schools and catalogs to buy the books.

But in the end, the books are going to be just good stories. About Catholic kids, who hopefully will resemble you, or who you can at least relate to. It's been lots of fun (and hard work!) to write them: I hope they'll be just as much fun to read. (And hopefully not work at all!)

Pray for us!

And Mae -- I am honored. :) Thank you! It's great to hear that at the end of a long day.

Emily said...

Were you serious about the price? That would be really great! I've read the first three chapters, and I am dying to read more! It looks like it is going to be an awesome, awesome book.

regina doman said...

I really hope to make it under $10. I believe the publisher is going to work hard to make that possible. He understands that it's hard for teens to shell out money for a $15 book.

Anonymous said...

We are a protestant family and I have yet to find good "protestant" fiction for teens/young adults. We love your fairy tale books and my kids (and myself) can all relate the the faith aspect in them. I'm sure we will delve into this new series too. I think that people of faith (who take their faith seriously) can identify with these characters.

Rebecca said...

Actually, it's a good thing the books are more than $10; otherwise, we'd be buying books all the time. Buying = reading till the book's finished = not giving school much priority. ;-)

Looking forward to the release!

Anonymous said...

Yeah I'm really hoping that the book is around $10, because I'm from Australia, so the price makes it just about double for me..and I don't think I could afford another book at the same price of Waking Rose!! So yes, I'm really glad about the price, because that means I may be able to afford it!
They will be able to send over to Australia won't they? I hope so!

regina doman said...

Oh, Sophia Press will definitely ship to Australia. They can send to Australian bookstores too, so ask yours to order it when it comes out!

Anonymous said...

Oh Sophia press are doing it? ok!
So bookstores over here might get it then, that might be the cheaper option (saves the shipping fee!)
Thanks for letting me know!

Anonymous said...

About the iMing, I think Allie did it so she wouldn't start Tyler wouldn't hear her if she started crying.

Like the 1st three chapters!