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!