Showing posts from 2017

"Fully Fashioned Lingerie"

Dialogue of the Day from the sequel to Judging Angels. I wonder who is speaking to whom? And where do you think they are?

Ginger in Follow the Fleet (RKO 1936)

Follow the Fleet (1936) RKO: Three out of Five Salmon ***

Follow the Fleet is not the one I would recommend as an introduction to the famous screen partnership. (That would be Swing Time.)

Follow the Fleet is a different sort of movie. Part of it is the un-glamorous setting. Fred's a swabbie on a battleship and Ginger is the failed half of their previous dance partnership. Harriet Nelson (of Ozzie and Harriet fame) is Ginger's plain sister who falls in love with Fred's buddy, played by Randolph Scott.

The plot revolves around getting Randolph Scott and Harriet Nelson together so he can be captain of the ship her seafaring father left her. (And, it goes without saying, getting Fred and Ginger back together.) Harriet's rival is a married rich woman played by a cute and curvy yet elegant Astrid Allwyn. Fred torpedoes that affair and Scott suddenly decides he loves Harriet Nelson after all.

Forget the unforgettable Adrian gowns. There is only one number (in a show-within-…

Radio Days and Audiobook Progress

Three Audiobook Chapters Finished
Three chapters are under my belt for a proposed audiobook, read by the author. (You can hear Chapter 1: Last Things HERE.) Let me know what you think.

The next chapter is going to be the biggest test so far because of the large cast of characters, including the debut of a major one who poses... unique challenges. I am learning the trick is not to go all out trying to impersonate the different characters, but give each just enough of his or her own voice  to clearly distinguish them.

An excited six-year-old girl still tries my dignity, though.

Tech Stuff and Radio Memories
I am using Audacity as my recording program, which has a lot of nice features, running on a Surface Pro 4 with Windows 10.

The main tool of the trade is a Samson C01U condenser USB mic with headphone jack for zero latency when recording narration. This is a very nice mic for close in work, and I mean close. When I get into a character's mind, I drop my voice and move in nearly clo…

Judging Angels & Author Featured in Dappled Things

I am pleased to pass this one along: Judging Angels received very kind treatment in the current issue of the Catholic literary quarterly, Dappled Things, which you can read here. The author was licking his chops over an interview with the sort of Catholics who understand what he was trying to accomplish with his genre-bending epic.

A while back, the author of the piece Jonathan McDonald and his now-bride met us for the traditional Latin Mass at the Oratory in St. Louis and both couples enjoyed lunch afterwards on the St. Louis landing. It was a pleasure to meet such a lovely and erudite pair of young Catholics.

As a firm believer that redheads are undeniably God's greatest gift to the eye of man, and having been married to his own "dappled thing" for 40 years, it is particularly gratifying to appear in a fine journal with the seeming inevitable name. (For the record, the redhead in Judging Angels does not have freckles, which fact alone should call into question her ori…

Hallmark Cards - Judging Angels Versions

Aw, isn't that sweet?

And for some redheads it's blood sport.

Chapter 1: Last Things Read by Author

Here is a little treat - the audio of Chapter 1: Last Things, read by the author. 

Curl up in your favorite chair, turn down the lights, and enjoy the psychological thriller element of the novel, as you are introduced to George Able - a disgraced lawyer who is being divorced by his wife and disbarred by the state. When he celebrates Christmas Eve with some dangerous company - Messrs. Daniels, Smith, and Wesson - you just know things are not going to end well.

At the present, there is no audio version of Judging Angels and this is not necessarily the version of Chapter 1 that will be used should that project get the green light. Just another way of sharing, and a little experiment to see if I could pull it off.

NOTE: SoundCloud does not provide a way to disable autoplay. If you are creeped out at the end of the reading, my Russian Orthodox Epistle chant or maybe something will definitely get your attention! So you might want to stop the player after the chapter ends.

A chapter takes a…

Writing Character Background

I love to write. Whatever the opposite of writers block is, that is what I have. Writing is the easiest thing in the world for me.

Too easy. I want to jump right in and start recording the adventures and character revelations in my latest novel.

But a good novel must have a good foundation. So what I have been up to lately is developing characters. The motives of characters don't come out of the thin blue. They - like yours - come from their background, what their culture values, even their secrets. How have they been hurt? How have they best gotten by in their world? What are they like when no one is looking, and how is it different from when they are before an audience?

The motives of characters drive plot. I think characters should come first, and the plot should flow organically from them. Otherwise, you get a story where stock characters are plugged in so it rolls along and makes a certain sense but it rings false and the characters are not interesting.

Every character is ge…

Finally: One Answer to the Blacklist

One Catholic media outlet was kind enough to provide an answer as to why they declined to acknowledge Judging Angels. I do sincerely thank them for the courtesy.

Without going into details, the sense was that they preferred positive stories where Catholics victoriously lived out their faith.

And, that's nice, I agree.

I have to wonder, however, what service they imagine they are providing to Catholics who may not be victoriously living out their faith. There may be Catholics who are confused, tempted and even lapsed.

I don't know. Perhaps I have it all wrong, and all Catholics except me are victoriously living out their faith and Catholic novels should solve characters' problems in a few gentle pages of rosaries and counsel from their kind and wise parish priest.

But, they have one thing right. I didn't write Judging Angels for Catholics without doubts, without temptations, and without sin. I suspect their victorious Catholics would not find much value in practical le…

Another " ***** " Review

I want to thank an FOB (Friend of Bear) who took the time to leave a review at Amazon on Judging Angels. Of course, it was all the sweeter for the pretty stars.

I know you get sick of hearing this, but reviews like those are what people rely on in this day and age. They really do matter enough to warrant the nagging. No, not nagging. I have my self-respect, you know! Let's call it... begging.

 I don't know much about publishing except it seems to be a "top down" process of people buying promoted books, rather than a "ground up" one of good books growing in popularity and attracting attention. My wife and I were discussing books she has recently read and did not enjoy very much. But they are the ones that are heavily promoted.

I get the model and am 100% for people making money.

The community's voice is a wonderful way to gain an audience for good books that bypasses big-money promotion and blacklisting. (See previous re: EWTN.) It is grassroots marketi…

Judging Angels Sequel Stats


48,500 words, or over 1/4 of original Judging Angels competed in first draft.

30 scenes in four general settings: Washington D.C., Washington D.C., Cascade, WI, and Other.

Approximately 30 characters depending on what constitutes "a character" sufficient for counting - here an actor with lines - but of course only a few of those are major characters.


Additional major new characters are already planned I think you'll enjoy.

There is a high probability of piracy on the high seas.

The original narrative continues three weeks after the first book ends and blasts through one action-packed week involving familiar characters and answering questions left over from the previous book. Well, most of them. Some of them, but the really, really big ones.

Then there is a flashback that begins on the original Christmas Eve, 28 days before the end of the original book involving new characters and bigger plots.

The two timelines, with their own sets of characters and…

Tim Capps on Fiat Ministry Show

Here is Tim Capps's splendid interview yesterday on the Fiat Ministry Show with Kent Kuholski. Listen to Tim as he discusses his death penalty defense work from a thoroughly Catholic point of view, as well as his newly-released novel Judging Angels which presents the broadest readership with a full-throated defense of traditional sacramental marriage in the face of temptation.

Departed for a Season - Book II in the Rubricatae Chronicles

A very short prologue to Book 2 takes you to the beginning of the Rubricatae Chronicles -1952. The Dante Project makes its first move. It is referred to only as "The DESS File," a public triumph covering a disaster that makes it a nation's most closely guarded secret.
The narrative proper starts three weeks after the end of the first book. The cozy little family drama of Judging Angels is broadened to show how one flawed man's decisions can have consequences beyond what he can possibly imagine.
The little things make headlines in Heaven. Also, it turns out, in Hell.

In fact, a Hell of a lot has happened in those three weeks. Mysteries left over from the ending of Judging Angels are answered, but overwhelmed by new and deeper ones. 
Characters old and new people a chessboard spanning two worlds. The squares seem to dissolve into a gray and uncertain moral battlefield. Characters will need unusual discernment to stay true to their colors. In Judging Angels, they were …

Five-Star Reviews, Catholic Information Control Failing

UPDATE: Remember Egg-Gate from 2015? The Bear got his book sent to the Vatican, too! Just like the children's book about the merits of gay penguins and lesbian rabbits as parents. If your memory is fuzzy on Egg-Gate, here is the real story. A touching saga of a blacklisted author who appealed directly to Pope Francis with an explicit request for the Vatican to weigh in on her pro-homosexual books. She got a kind letter from Msgr. Peter B. Wells of the Vatican Secretariat. Just something the Vatican sends out to every author as a courtesy? If so, Bear can't wait to get his!  (Above or below his autographed picture of Ginger Rogers? Hmm...)

Or do you think that was different and the Bear should probably not hold his breath? You be the judge.

Youcould not pay me money to do this [beg]. But I would do it to help a book that is a missile aimed at every prince of the power of the air, throne, dominion and goofball with a mic in his hand who can't stand sacramental marriage and who…

Book Signing for Afternoon Shipment

Everything You Need to Know About Judging Angels and How to Get Your Autographed Copy
Right now, the 500-page trade paperback edition of Judging Angels is available through St. Corbinian's Bear's ephemeris at the cost of $29.99. That is the same price one would pay through Amazon Prime for a non-autographed version.

As part of the roll-out promotion, the Bear will not charge U.S. customers (only) shipping costs for orders placed between now and June 30th, 2017. In other words, the Bear will eat the shipping charges (i.e. his profit) for a limited time to put the book into your hands. The Bear would love to extend the same offer to all of his friends, but international shipping costs can be outrageous.

Purchase through the regular yellow Buy Now button in the sidebar. Please tell the Bear to whom and how you would like him to autograph your copy of Judging Angels. The idea is to fill out the box above the Buy button before sending. I have noticed PayPal seems to have dropped one o…

Our Shipping Department is Now Ready to Serve You

Everything You Need to Know About Judging Angels and How to Get Your Autographed Copy
Right now, the 500-page trade paperback edition of Judging Angels is available through St. Corbinian's Bear's ephemeris at the cost of $29.99. That is the same price one would pay through Amazon Prime for a non-autographed version.

As part of the roll-out promotion, the Bear will not charge U.S. customers shipping for orders placed between now and June 30th, 2017. In other words, the Bear will eat the shipping charges for a limited time to put the book into your hands.

The Bear will also, for the same limited period, include an original Super Fun Happy Bear Doodle on the autograph page, unless you tell him not to. He has spent hours mastering this and other Bear doodles to district his editor from, well, editing his markups.

Purchase through the regular yellow Buy Now button in the sidebar.* Please tell the Bear to whom and how you would like him to autograph your copy of Judging Angels. (You pr…

Judging Angels Book Club Questions

It's bound to happen. Badgers, bunnies, lions, tigers and Bears will be gathering in clearings, dens and Starbucks to discuss their kind's novel, Judging Angels. To get the discussion going for book clubs, here are some suggested questions.

Q: After reading the book, which of the weapons in the story would you choose to defend yourself (it's your story, so you can tell it however you want) from a village of heavily armed rednecks high on Nazi meth?

Q. Can you accurately recite from memory the directions for making Nazi meth? (That isn't covered in the book, so you might want to keep quiet if you can. Book clubs are all infiltrated by the FBI.)

Q. You have asked your doctor for a prescription for Adapt, haven't you? If not, why not? It's pretty cheap through informal channels if your doctor has not yet been sufficiently... educated on its benefits. [Bear discloses he is a paid spokesanimal for Hermes Pharmaceuticals and the world's number one drug, Adapt. &…

Some Chapter Headings & News

First off, Judging Angels is listed at 15 7 and 19 10 in top 20 Hot New Christian Fantasy books, Kindle and trade paperback respectively. Yes, Christian Fantasy, but not your grandmother's Christian Fantasy. When a woman picks up a gun, it is not a flintlock rifle, she is not in a Conestoga wagon, and she might just be having a really bad day.

Secondly, here are some Chapter Titles I thought I would share.

Last ThingsHermann Goering's WatchAn Occurrence on Highway 21A Phantom of DelightA Siren of WolvesGood Cop - Good CopA Family MemberGood News from Parrot Bay, WisconsinCharm OffensiveCats and DogsForensics and Fortune-TellingFolly, Sex and the Last Cup of Coffee

World Building

I am setting writing on the sequel to Judging Angels aside for a bit so I can make detailed notes on the Judging Angels universe. I need to be certain that everything is and works the same in all books in the series. Not as exciting, but very necessary now.

I don't want anyone saying, "Wait a second. I thought x couldn't do y."

There is a lot of background to be laid down, too. I always like to know why everyone does everything, and part of that answer depends on shared assumptions of people in the character's culture. This raises issues of religion, status, laws and customs. Moreover, it is not enough to just develop a world. Everything must also provide a commentary.

All characters are like us, no matter what else; all places are like home, no matter what else. The mirror may have been filched from the fun house, but it's still a mirror.

Who Killed Superman?

By all accounts, handsome, athletic George Reeves was a likeable, happy guy who always had time for kids who wanted to meet Superman. (Even when one pointed a loaded .38 at him for a few tense seconds.) However, playing Superman on the dubious new medium of television wasn't the greatest career move for an actor whose first appearance on screen was in the blockbuster Gone With the Wind. (One of the twins.) But from 1952 through 1958, the Man of Steel was nicest guy in Hollywood..

At two a.m. June 16, 1959, he died of a gunshot wound to the head. It was ruled a suicide despite some dodgy details.

Some books give the impression that nobody ever died of natural causes in Hollywood, and only a few knew the real story about anything. I get it. It sells books. Right now I'm working on a theory about Rin Tin Tin and a rival studio's dog, Pal. I just don't trust a dog who identifies as the opposite sex and goes by an alias. Pal a.k.a. Lassie.
So, some say George Reeves was mu…

Milestones & Merging the Two Stories

I've got 11,000 words written, so I'm on a good pace. I just finished Chapter 3: "Laikas" (see previous).

The first part was originally intended to be short, and fill in the important events of a 12-day gap between the end of the action in Judging Angels and the beginning of Judging Angels 2. I am finding there is no way to do that in a chapter or two.

So we start with a short flashback, and the new characters are aware of the events going on at the same time in the original novel, but are quickly overwhelmed with their own problems.

But also, the "fill-in" chapters are pretty interesting on their own, if I say so for myself. The new characters deserve to have their story told, too, and the Judging Angels universe will continue to be developed. I'm excited about moving the new material toward its inevitable merging with the characters and situations of the first novel in the series.

It's going to be some collision.

As usual, lots of twists and surpr…

Laika: Poor Soviet Space Dog

The sequel to Judging Angels is about Laika. Sort of.
Laika was shot into space by the Soviet Union in November of 1957, when I was just three months old. She was a stray, probably part Samoyed, and part Terrier. She was the first animal to orbit the Earth.
The Soviets, however, did not give Laika a round-trip ticket. The circumstances of her demise was long a secret, and too sad to relate here.
The world is full of Laikas: people other people shoot off into the worst places in the world, and they can never come back. Not really. Laikas are the abandoned people who can do nothing to help themselves.
Laikas are waiting for a hero. 
Is there a part of you that is moved by Laika's tale, and wish there was something you could do to give it a happy ending? The sequel's theme is that moment when you realize you're working for the worst people in the world, and decide to rescue as many Laikas as you can. It pulls back for a wider picture of the events begun in the first novel, …

Meet Joey Catania: the Catania Elephant

Joey was not in the Navy, although he had tailored Navy uniforms he seldom wore, but wore well when he did. His business card read, “CDR Joseph Catania, U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, Environmental Health Officer.”

He reported only to the Surgeon General of the United States.

Yeah, I know. "Surgeon General" just screams thrills and intrigue. And who wouldn't be interested in the adventures of an Environmental Health Officer? Radon gas discovered in some mortadella's house!

Sure, for the sequel to Judging Angels I could have picked the CIA, or Seal Team Six or something. It would write itself. What can anyone do with Joycelen Elders?

But, that's exactly what they want you to think.

Does it help if Joey used to be known as l'Elefante di Catania?

When you're a fixer for your boss, who is himself a fixer for your mutual associates, there might be a bump or two in the dark after all. Even for an "Environmental Health Officer."

Just …

The God of Crows

First of all, I'm really excited about the tens of visitors to this blog. Hey, it's getting more traffic than St. Corbinian's Bear, a Curious Entertainment for Catholic Ladies and Gentlemen of Discriminating Tastes, did at first. (See sidebar.)

Some may wonder what I'm up to. (Probably not, but let's pretend.)

While JA is still in editing, I have been hard at work on a sequel, working title, "Departed for a Season." This is how the King James Version describes the devil's retreat after tempting Jesus. A holy man once said something to the effect that, "You will struggle against sins of the flesh until the day you die. Even then you will struggle against them."

A little holy hyperbole, no doubt. I think he was Orthodox.

You never beat temptation. The devil may flee if you resist, but you can bet he'll be back, having only departed for a season.

The definition of an optimist is writing a sequel before the first book is even published. I…

What's Up with the Death Penalty?

The Role of the Death Penalty in Judging Angels
I am a former death penalty lawyer. I am in what has to be a very small club of lawyers who have both prosecuted and defended death penalty cases. Naturally, there are sorta elements of the death penalty included in Judging Angels.

Judging Angels does not take a position. Those who might be expected to be against the death penalty are. It is not a theme, nor is any effort made to resolve it as a moral or political question.
The protagonist is not even practicing law. There are no trials, and the line between good guys and bad guys... gets scuffed.
If it makes any real point about murder cases, it is that prosecutors and defense lawyers both (and the profession in general) might put the macho image aside and address the effect a decades-long diet of mayhem and murder is having on their psyches.
Some Thoughts on the Death Penalty
But since the question is reasonably on the table, let me give my thoughts. No one was ever persuaded on this mat…

In the Beginning

Judging Angels starts with a short, portentous sentence that has more than one meaning. Perhaps Catholics will understand.

"It was a day of very last things."

What does it mean to be human? To live, to love, to try to do the right thing and fail, because everything is against you? And, yes, to die? "Last things" indeed.

Judging Angels is about playing the game called "Being a Human" on hard mode. Everything is a puzzle, including identities, and characters may not be who they think they are.

Also, what does the criminal justice system do when 2 + 2 = 5 no matter how many times it adds up the numbers? I am a death penalty defense lawyer, after all, so you can expect a dollop of police procedural whipped cream on this puzzling pie.

What is the real story? The exciting adventure/crime narrative that propels the characters along a dark road of self-discovery? Why are main characters constantly warned about "the real story?"

What is your "real s…

Status and Beware of WHAT?

Judging Angels status: in editing. I'm guessing a May roll out date.

More to come. In the meantime, one finds the strangest things our our place. Like this pizza delivery box. Oh, how I would love to know the story behind this!