Foreword by Dolan; Artwork by Bach; My New Book Drops!

It was just about one month ago that I became aware of Jason Bach, and it was via this brilliant and timely cartoon that went internet-viral.

And I thought, “what a talented young man!” and I perused his archives and got in touch with him and saw more of his work and thought, “I have a new book coming out and I have no idea what the cover should be. But I know I don’t want it to be a picture of me…”

Why not? Well, because the book is a collection of essays and columns from 2005 to the present. They’re culled from print and online publications for which I’ve written (and there are two long-ago, very personal blogpost ideas that I have further fleshed out and included as well), and I think they make for some pretty fun reading as the days grow shorter and the fireplaces begin to glow.

But you know — I’m not George Will! While it was fun to pull the collection together (something I wouldn’t have considered had a number of people not asked me when I would) I couldn’t see a book with a photo of myself staring seriously into the camera with an expression that suggests I am something other than a goofball.

So, finding Jason Bach seemed like the answer to a prayer; a chance to make fun of myself while offering what I hope will be a worthwhile read, and here it is:

Cover art by Jason Bach

It’s brilliant, right? I think my Auntie Lillie, after assuring me that no one else would want me to be a hoo-er, either, would just love it because it has it all: the messy desk, the bottle of something worth drinking, the bookshelf, the Saint Benedict icon and the oratory crucifix I see all day. The typewriter is a nod to my age, along with all the shadows and sags. Jason Bach was terrific to work with, willing to take on any suggestion and work quickly (yikes! Very quickly indeed) for a deadline I’d sort of lost track of. A real trooper! And I love that the background is “Cardinal Red”. So, er, timely.

And then the foreword, by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, that was just a generous — too generous — bit of icing on the cake. I can’t even tell you how amazed and grateful I was to find that response to my bashful inquiry. I feel ridiculously catered-to and spoiled. When my Li’l Bro Thom read it he said, ‘well you might as well just die now, because no one is ever going to say anything that nice about you again, while you live.”

It’s too true! It would take a eulogy, and a deliberately overkind one, to surpass it.

If I seem a little scattered in how I’m presenting all of this to you, it’s because I am feeling a little unprepared. In fact, I feel a little like Simcha Fisher. It wasn’t very long ago that Simcha Fisher learned about just have fast things happen in the world of digital publishing. She hit a few buttons and before she knew it, she had unleashed what quickly became a Pope-surpassing, bestselling book on Natural Family Planning into the world, via

Although I am not operating out of Amazon with this book (I simply had to try out Patheos Press for myself!) something similar happened to me. While the published, dead-tree edition of some of my collected essays will be available in about three weeks, the digital dropped today, taking me just a little by surprise, as I thought we’d see it mid-week. I was working on a slow reveal, so I have nothing prepared to say about it except, “Squee! Can we love this cover any more than we do? And dig the foreword!”

And I hope you won’t mind when I suggest, later this month, that the book would make a nice Christmas gift, even with my batty face on the cover. Because I really think it would.

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