Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Deathly Hallows Lectures by John Granger

If you love Harry Potter and really loved Deathly Hallows, then this is one book you'll want to get your hands on. Hogwarts Professor and homeschool dad John Granger has produced his seventh book on Harry Potter, fittingly enough, centered around Book Seven: The Deathly Hallows Lectures: the Hogwarts Professor Explains Harry's Final Adventure. Also fittingly, it contains seven essays on the literary and symbolic aspects of Book Seven, ranging from horcruxes to hallows.

Warning: for serious fans only. If you have questions or concerns about the Harry Potter series, I highly recommend the book that changed my mind on the subject, Looking for God in Harry Potter, also by John Granger. But if you've read and relished the world's most famous Septology several times, then this book will help you go deeper, and in some places, is just as fun to read.

There are essays on the significance of faith in the book: how the entire book pivots on Harry's nearly supernatural decision to trust a man who he now knows is flawed and fallen. The question of what role Christianity plays in the book is thoroughly and wonderfully examined from a faith-based perspective. There are some interesting speculations on the relationship of Snape's Lily to Dante's Beatrice. Mirror symbolism, the three levels of meaning of the book, the role postmodernism plays in Rowling's storytelling, and examining certain high-profile symbols such as triangles and eyes are additional fascinating pieces to read. Granger rounds off the book with 31 questions submitted by fans on his website,

And (most interesting to me) in the first two chapters, John Granger follows up on the exegesis he began in Looking For God in Harry Potter: the use of alchemical patterns in the book which in some ways determine the plot. In this way, Harry Potter, like Shakespeare's plays and Dicken's novels, follows an alchemical outline which turns on the purification, washing, and transformation of a human soul into spiritual gold. If you devoured Granger's theories on this subject in his earlier pre-Book-Seven analysis, you won't want to miss Essay 2: The Alchemical End Game.

I enjoyed this book over several summer evenings with tea and a comfortable chair, and it was delectable reading. I highly recommend it for everyone who feels that Book Seven was a triumph of storytelling. This book will give you more insight into why and how.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Joshua Michael, In Memoriam

Three years ago, on this day, my four-year-old son Joshua left this world for the next.

I still miss him so much.

My brother and sister just sent me this photo from baby Joshua's baptism. We didn't own a camera at the time he was baptized, so this was a gift our family truly appreciated. There are more photos on Joshua's website.

In this photo, my husband Andrew holds Joshua for the final blessing by our parish deacon, Richard Demers. Deacon Demers had the unusual privilege of baptizing Joshua and then, four years later, giving the beautiful homily at his funeral.

Please remember our family in your prayers today. Thanks so much.

The Shadow of the Bear Wins BEST Audio Drama Show of the Year

Press release from Chesterton Press.
July 8, 2009.

MP3 of Award Presentation. (Shadow begins at about 22 minutes into the show.)

Based on the book by Regina Doman, The Shadow of the Bear audio drama has won the Sonic Society’s 2009 Uni Award for Best Audio Drama Show.

The Sonic Society ( is a Broadcast/Podcast out of Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada. It showcases the very best of Modern Audio Drama from around the world. On their show during November 2008 the Sonic Society featured the entire 4-hour audio drama of The Shadow of the Bear, produced by Andrew Schmiedicke and written and directed by Regina Doman of Chesterton Productions (

At the end of May 2009, the Sonic Society invited its 50,000 listeners world wide to nominate their favorite show for its 2nd Annual Uni Awards. The finalists in seven different categories were chosen by popular vote and announced on the Sonic Society’s blog on June 9. The listeners then voted on the finalists. After all the votes were in, Jack Ward of the Sonic Society said, “The Shadow of the Bear won by a clear majority the "Best Audio Drama Show".

“I couldn’t be more delighted,” said Regina.

“So many people helped to make this happen,” said Andrew. "It was like God brought all these people together so it could happen."

Joe Miller donated the production studio and sound equipment to make the audio drama in 1999. Most of the cast came from Christendom College, Front Royal, Virginia; but there were also some from Canada, and Leonardo Defilippis of St. Luke Productions ( played both the villain and the victim in the show. The band Scythian ( gave permission for their performance of the “Drums of Belfast” to be used as the opening and closing music for the drama, and Johnny Doman ( and Francis Fast wrote and performed most of the music used within the drama.

Ken Fast of Northern Rain Studio in Canada ( handled all the post-production. After receiving the digitized recordings of the actors and actresses, Ken and his team edited and mixed the performance with music and sound effects. “I think it’s a great example of how we can all work together no matter where we are,” Ken said. “Through the power of the internet we can transfer it, and way up here in Alberta, we can do the sound track.”

And the result of this cooperative work is fantastic. Not only did The Shadow of the Bear win the “Best Audio Drama Show”, it was also a finalist in 4 other categories:
Best Sound and Editing by Northern Rain Studio
Best Script by Regina Doman (
Best Actress for Theresa Ford Fisher’s performance of Blanche Brier
Best Actor for Alex Fedoryka’s performance of Bear

The Shadow of the Bear is about a mysterious young man, who lands on Blanche and Rose Brier's doorstep in New York City. The two sisters have conflicting opinions on whether or not he is dangerous. Even as Blanche learns to trust him, her fears that Bear's friendship threatens their family prove terrifyingly true. A modern retelling of the classic Brothers Grimm fairytale, “Snow White and Rose Red”. For more information about this story and its sequels, visit

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Recommendation: The Scribbler's Guide to The Land of Myth

I first heard about The Scribbler's Guide to the Land of Myth because the author, Sarah Beach, and I are both fans of Janet Batchler's blog. I've really enjoyed getting to know the folks who hang out around Jan's site, and Sarah is one of them.

But the topic piqued my interest because of course, I'm a scribbler, and since I deal with fairy tales, myth and archetypes are a topic of perennial interest to me. So I bought Sarah's book. I assumed the high price was because it was a small publisher: I was not prepared for the 400+ reference tome that arrived in the mail from Amazon!

I could not have been more delighted with the Scribbler's Guide. It is a fantastic reference guide for any writer who dabbles in myth. I suspect the fantasy writer might need something more arcane, but for a contemporary novelist like myself, this book was perfect, a great way to bring depth and symbolism into my writing.

With copious references to many contemporary and classic films (Sarah's background is film/television), Sarah examines mythic elements ranging from the Hero's Journey to Archetypes to the Seven Deadly Sins to Mother/Father Figures to Symbols ranging from Fire to Autumn to Twins to Strength. Helpful mythological and historical references are included throughout. Sarah's Christian faith is operative in this book as she examines the mythological and symbolic significance of Christ, King David, and other Biblical figures.

For those interested in story structure, Sarah covers the Hero's Journey in depth, including an analysis of the differing versions (Joseph Campbell's, Christopher Vogler's, as well as five others), plus her appendix includes notes on the Anti-Hero's Journey, The Grail Quest Journey, Maslow's Hierarchy of Need, and other narrative structures. I can't think of a better tutorial or overview of the different quest narratives available to today's writer.

This book was a fascinating read, and one I know I'll be sending young and experienced writers to again and again. If you're a writer of any genre, pick up The Scribbler's Guide before you set off to write your next novel. For a reference book, you can't beat the price, and most reference books aren't half this much fun. Don't leave home without it!

Finished the Draft: Alex O'Donnell and the Forty Hackers

Just wanted to tell folks that yesterday after a mad day at the computer (working nearly 8 hours straight) I finished the first draft of what will hopefully be the next Fairy Tale Novel: Alex O'Donnell and the Forty Hackers. It's a LONG WAY from being publishable -- I couldn't even begin to tell you how much it needs to change. But the first rough draft is done, and that's the first step. We might be one-third of the way there!

What comes next? Well, in the case of this novel, lots of research. As you can guess from the title, this is my first 'tecchie' novel, and I'm no tecchie. So that means that I need to start learning. When I write before I research, I have a better idea of exactly what sort of research I'd need. I don't necessarily like to do research, but I've learned that a stronger book is worth the price.

So, lots of research to do. (And yes, I will gladly take advice from any tecchies out there who know anything about computer hackers who could help me out or help me fact-check. Email me at if you want to help.)

It also took an entire draft for me to figure out just what's going on in the relationship between Alex O'Donnell and Kateri Kovach. Now that I know, I have to go back and rewrite those parts (most of the book!).

So the rewriting commences now. After I finish draft one, I start re-reading the book. Whenever I get to a boring part or a place where something is missing, I start rewriting from that point. The next day, I read it again. (I've described this process at length here.)

How long will this take? Who knows? My goal was to get my rough draft done by August, so I'm way ahead of schedule, a rare occurrence! (I was very conscious of how many of you were praying for me during this draft, and I'm sure that had something to do with it.) So it looks like we may make a 2010 publiction date for the next installment of the Fairy Tale Novels. Stay tuned, and keep praying!

Oh, and I started this post for those of you who like to pester me with--I mean, ask me questions about the book. Check this FAQ (or better yet, the Fairy Tale Novel Forum post "And Everything Else") before you ask a question, then fire away!