Guest Post: Raina Nightingale & Kingdom of Light


It’s always so exciting for me when a friend puts out a new book! It was thrilling when I found out that fellow writer and blogger Raina Nightingale had released a book, and I was eager to learn more about it.

I asked her to write a post telling us about her novel Kingdom of Light and what inspired it. It sounds intriguing! I’m happy she agreed to come on as a guest blogger!

About the Book:

A kingdom of darkness where soldiers guard the people against wicked glowstones that attract nightmare monsters and death…

A young girl, terrified of the darkness and drawn to the light. What if the glowstones provide the only protection against the monsters of the dark? What if everything she has ever been told is a lie?

What if the Kingdom of Light is not confined to the afterlife, but can be found even in this world?

With her friends, Louisa discovers that the real world is unlike anything any of them could have ever imagined, and thousands follow…

Find Kingdom of Light on Amazon and other retailers!


When I first conceived the initial idea for Kingdom of Light, it came out of the fact that I was thinking about how Jesus is good. He is the maker and giver of all good things, and when we meet Him and follow His call, we receive His best. I was more than a little annoyed by a cycle of reaction and over-reaction that seems to be going on. I’ve no need to name names, and little business doing so since in most cases I know little more than the names, and my knowledge of this cycle is imparted through some associations I had with some evangelism-oriented groups, but there is an unfortunate situation, where someone claims that if one follows Jesus, then that’s the end of material shortages or difficulties of any sort, and if one has anything that appears to be a disability that, too, will be healed, and so forth, and others are at pains to reject this and make a lot of statements like, “God doesn’t care about whether or not you’re happy; He wants you to be holy,” or, “You can choose pleasure and happiness now, and pain and misery forever after, or you can choose pain and misery now, and have happiness and pleasure forever after,” (I’m pretty sure these quotes are not word-for-word).

I’m not going to write a lot of philosophy or talk a lot about theology or dogma here. There’s a place for that, and I could do so (and even have, in other places and at others times), but there’s a place for other things, and dogmatic statements and philosophical discussions have their weaknesses. I’m a firm believer that there are large areas of human nature that have to learn and understand through other means, and that without context – without reaching these areas of our beings – dogmatic statements can sometimes be worse than useless, and that one of these areas of human nature responds strongly to stories. I’m going to write about stories, and a little about why and how I wrote this story.

I have found stories to be an important part of my thought process. I learn what things mean, I discover what I think, and I understand more often than not through stories. Stories unite the concrete and the abstract. In stories, ideas come alive and are put to the test. In stories, concepts and thoughts are made relateable to more than the intellect – and sometimes even to the intellect – and we are more than creatures of pure intellect and logic. To many of us, intellect and logic is not even our first choice of mode of operation, and there is nothing wrong with that: our Lord has made us all unique persons, capable of interfacing with truth and reality, and relating to Him and to each other, differently.

For me, I really know what I think when I can put it into a story, and I often have to put something into a story before I have even the possibility of communicating it elsewhere. Stories point me to other people’s thoughts and ideas in a way that dry, intellectual communication can’t. The images of a story, the fact that it is story, not one moment, but a development, something in motion, sometimes with more focus on characters, sometimes with more focus on symbolic imagery, are all capable of what other modes of communication fail, and its limitation is often its strength.

A story does not make itself out to be dogma. A story can be “truth, so far as it goes,” – far more than metaphor – but it does not make itself out to be, “the full truth, nothing but the truth, succinctly and accurately characterized,” about anything. A story is a journey, a discovery, an exploration, not a “teaching.” A story is personal. A story provides context, meaning, life. A story is flexible, and its limitations and the ways in which it is vaguer and less clear than other things are one with its ability to convey vision and value that can’t be communicated in something less opaque and more clearly defined. There is a saying that “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” and to a large degree what is understood by anything – a story, a philosophical essay, a dogmatic statement – is within the eye of the one who sees and the ear of the one who hears.

A story does not bypass that, and it does not pretend that it does – if anything, a story brings that out, and it is easier and more natural for people to know that when they hear a story, what they hear is in part determined by what they are prepared to hear, whether that comes from within their own hearts or from the contexts of their environment. At the same time, a story has an ability to provide depth, to frame and color, to be an environment and context, that these other things do not have. A story has the potential to suggest the value and richness of knowing Jesus, of living in the Light of the World, without falling so readily into the dangers of platitudes which quickly become meaningless and then get tossed to and fro in a storm of reaction and little understanding.

So, I naturally turned to a story to express what I saw, and to hopefully point towards the truth the general discussions I saw were missing and help people to see and articulate what they might really understand, instead of repeating platitudes and doctrinal statements that had become meaningless in their present context. Kingdom of Light was first born with a rather simple image including the setting of the story and the initial journey and discovery of Louisa.

Louisa’s village – and the entire known kingdom – lives in complete darkness, using crude torches for what light they must have, and sleeping and going about their work either in the poor light of the torches or in complete darkness. Everyone is taught that their steadfastness will be rewarded with an eternity in light, but that if anyone keeps one of the rare glow-stones – which provide a brighter and steadier light, without the difficulties of torches and which are to be destroyed upon discovery – will be pursued and chased by monsters and spend eternity in darkness. Louisa is terrified of the darkness, and scared of the torches, and one Warm Time, while doing what gathering she can with her torch, she finds a glow-stone.

That is how Kingdom of Light started. It remained that, but it soon became far more, for how can one write a fantasy about an abstract, generalized ‘experience of goodness’? It will quickly become far more, so Kingdom of Light developed, following the personal journey of Louisa and two others through a variety of mystical experiences wherein they discover the real world – and while they see the same Real World, their experiences of finding, following, and trusting the Light are also very different, even when they are parallel. It soon became very mystical and symbolic, in a similar vein as Phantastes and Lilith by George MacDonald (I don’t know of a genre label for works of that sort, but if I did, I would say that’s the genre of Kingdom of Light).

It was a fascinating experience to write, as usually I have some idea of where a story is going, a sense of the approximate order of the scenes and of how it will end. Kingdom of Light I wrote scene by scene – sometimes even line by line. Beautiful scene by beautiful scene, rich with imagery, every image thick with meaning often deeper than I myself perceived or can say I grasp. The Lady Lily (the lady in pink whom Louisa meets in Ch. 8 “Beautifying Light”) was inspired by a figure in an ancient dream I had as a young child of going to Heaven. Most of the dream is vague and half-forgotten, nothing but a faint lingering sense of the wholesome and indescribable, with only that one image still clear in my memory, and even that image representative of a sense of awesome bliss and other things utterly unnameable that lie beyond my comprehension or memory.

I think the story begins its long, deep dive into the mystical and symbolic about the time of that first meeting. From that point on, though Louisa does not see the fullness of the Real World, she sees everything in the Light. She does not see all of the Light, or all things fully in the Light, and there are times when the Light is very dim, but nothing can ever be the same again. Eventually, even the Darkness is transformed by the Light.

“Taste and see that the Lord is good.”

Thank you for having me, Mariella!


About the Author

Raina Nightingale has been writing high fantasy since she could read well enough to write stories with the words she knew (the same time that she started devouring any fiction she could touch). She especially loves dragons, storms, mountains, stars, forests, volcanoes, a whole lot of other things, and characters who make you feel whatever they do. When she’s not learning and exploring either her fantasy worlds or this one, she enjoys playing with visual art, among other things. She will always believe kindness is stronger than hatred.

How Covid Affected My Faith


This is part one of a long testimonial that sprang from a single question. If anything, the virus has forced me to think hard about what I believe and why. I do not know when I’ll post the rest. If you’re interested, perhaps I’ll share.

Why is it so hard to talk about faith? I’ve had these thoughts sitting in a Google doc for over a week now, and though the world is hushed and starved for instances of true faith, I feel as if I am breaking some form of politically correct code in simply stating what most of my acquaintances know about me.

Why do we hesitate to talk about and commit to our belief systems? Two things might happen. We could find people who disagree, which is natural, and in a good situation it would end in discussion and understanding. We could also stumble on our own trains of thought and find that thinking about our faith discourages us rather than strengthen it.

I’ve always thought faith was a spiritual gift of mine, though. Based on the Rock as it is, it might have taken a swing or two in bad times, but I’ve never lost it. Simpler faiths have not tempted me. I highly doubt a simpler faith would get me through things such as a worldwide pandemic.

Following months of Covid and plague, a dramatic election, a controversial vaccine, and lots of angry conversations with people suffering in ways I can’t see physically–after all of that, I’ve been seeing posts asking a very important question.

How has Covid affected my Catholic faith?

It would be a lie to say Covid has not affected it. It would be a waste not to use my voice if I can steadily phrase my situation. It would be cowardice to keep it to myself because people are allergic to faith lately. I’m sure more people are looking for a visible, sturdy faith lately than they’d readily admit.

The answer is simple on the surface. People who were already struggling with Catholicism probably lost what little faith they had when thousands of people began to die. People like me who had better-rooted faith are still struggling. I promise there is a struggle. It looks different, though.

When 2021 began, I wanted to do a “positivity hashtag” using JPII’s context of Be Not Afraid. Reality hit me, and it sank in that I could not spread a worldwide message of hope alone when I myself am still human and caught in the uncertainty. I did not give up on the message, but allowed it to affect me. Instead of shoving a hashtag at people, I drank the message in small gulps until I was able to remember God’s faithfulness on the darkest of days.

Sometimes when I pray, I feel like I’m not speaking to a room full of angels and divine intervention. That’s okay–I’m not meant to feel that every day. On occasions when I feel that my words are just words, I keep saying them. I might be tired, and it might be difficult to ‘hold the phone’ for me sometimes. However, for God it never is–and I rely on His strength, not mine, to hold the phone.

I therefore feel the need to rearrange my message to the world right now. Be afraid–but don’t let it stop you. Yes, we have reasons to be afraid right now. God is still holding the phone; He is still turning the proverbial wheel. We can be afraid, but when we are, we should always turn to him.

How, then, has Covid affected my Catholic faith? I debated which blog to post this on. My missionary blog has been quiet because I am indeed human and the creative cycle can only do so much when I can’t see peoples’ faces. I’ve managed to write a tiny amount of fiction, and 1k lately is a great writing session.

How has Covid affected my Catholic faith? I no longer feel the need to separate myself the author from the religious believer. I question my choice last year of creating a separate blog to talk about my brothers and sisters, the Saints. I’m not a nice person anymore, because I have opinions that might upset people.

I once saw someone comment somewhere, “I’m a Catholic, but I don’t let it define me.” I suppose I can answer the opposite quite frankly: I am a Catholic, and I do let it define me.

Last week I saw someone say “Being Catholic and being Christian are not the same thing.” I agree; being Catholic means I’m still on the rock that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 16. 

I’m not intending to step on toes, but when other people are thoughtless on dropping a comment on the flip side, I don’t understand why I have to be nice and keep the response to myself–because it is not the right thing to do, and you don’t put a lamp under a basket.

I’m not a nice person because people keep ignorantly stepping on my toes, believing in a Jesus built on personal interpretation on a book that was modified to reformers’ liking. However, I digress. My personal faith and another’s will look different. If you agree it’s not Christlike to step on someone’s toes unprovoked, we can move on.

Except maybe we can’t–because I’m getting into history now. History lines up with my testimony. I pay attention to history because we are told to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind. Since this digresses majorly from the Covid topic, I’m going to meditate before I share the rest. Now at least I know I answered the first question.

To Be Continued (Maybe)…

The Catholic Project – November Digest


Back in July I announced that I would be using my gift of writing to talk about my Catholic faith. It took a few months for me to decide how to do just that and where. Though I shared my conversion story here, I want this blog to focus on book reviews and other literary things. Aside from a monthly update on what’s going on in my missionary blog, here I will focus on books.

Consider these monthly summaries newsletters. My missionary blog, Write Catholic, is where you will find my posts about Catholic Saints’ lives, Catholic book reviews, and–sometime in the near future–lives of the greatest Popes, as well as conversion stories. We are given gifts and expected to use them to build the Kingdom. I want to use my passion for writing to draw people nearer to Catholicism and teach what we really believe.

Without further ado, here are some of my favorite posts from the month of November. Great sites such as Ignitum Today and Catholics Around the World have been kind enough to feature some of them.


November 8 – St. Cecilia: Listening to Heavenly Music

Saint Cecilia by Jacques Blanchard

Saint Cecilia is the Patron Saint of music in the Roman Catholic Church. She is patroness of music because it is said that she heard heavenly song in her heart. She might not have played the piano, though works of art often depict her doing so. Nonetheless, musicians ask for her intercession. Read more…


November 8 – St. Therese of Lisieux: Who’s That Nun?

In the month of October, many non-Catholics scratch their heads as their Papist friends fill their feeds with images and quotes of a nun. She died long ago, and is a Saint in the eyes of the Church. Despite her popularity, many people cannot fathom how a normal-looking girl became a Saint. Read More…


November 20: Sts. Louis & Zelie Martin: A Love Story

St. Therese’s family was close to God from the moment of her parents’ marriage. Her mother, Zelie, prayed that she would have many holy children–and all of her daughters became nuns! In this story, the graces did not begin when the Martin daughters chose to become nuns. This story begins with their parents, a tale of love written by the hand of God. Read More…


November 25 – Six Famous Carmelite Saints

When you say “I saw a nun” or “I saw a monk,” can you name which Order they belonged to? Benedictines, Jesuits, and Dominicans have different habits and ways of serving the Church. Some choose the cloistered life; others are missionaries, serving the poor. The Carmelites are one of the most famous Religious Orders. Here are six great Saints who came from this community. Read More…


November 27 – St. Nicholas Owen & His Priest Holes

Priests were targeted by priest hunters, who searched for these servants of God and arrested them. If a priest was spotted, he was given forty days to leave the country or be punished for high treason unless he renounced Catholicism. Many brave priests chose to stay and feed Christ’s sheep. They would take refuge in the homes of the faithful, hidden in tunnels or “priest holes” built by men like St. Nicholas Owen. Read More…


December 4 – St. Maria Goretti: Only The Strong Forgive

The surgeon tried to save Maria’s life, but the wounds were too deep and too many. He soon realized that he could do nothing for her. It is said that he asked his patient, weeping, to pray for him in Heaven.
“I will gladly pray for you,” Maria said.
Who is the true warrior–the one who survives and lives as a coward, or the one who falls with courage? Read More…


Conclusion

These are my favorite articles that I wrote in the month of November. I must say that, since I started this project, I have never felt so fulfilled. I am finally using my gift to serve the Church and introduce my Heavenly siblings to the modern world.

I have already published my first Saint biography for December, the story of St. Maria Goretti. I plan to write about St. Nicholas, St. Francis of Assisi, and St. Agnes this month. I post on Wednesdays and Fridays, so if you’re interested, join me on my journey to learn more about my faith.

I believe that in rough times, people need stories of heroes who also endured trials. The Saints are perfect. Comment if you have any ideas, or if you are a convert and would like to share your story!

Happy Advent, and I hope you have a lovely Christmas season!

My Catholic Conversion Story


I just realized that, as a Catholic blogger, I’ve never shared my conversion story.

I love hearing others’ stories about how they discovered the joy that that can only be found in the Church; how they found that, in Jesus’ flock, there is a cloud of witnesses—so many Saintly brothers and sisters looking out for us that we are never truly alone!

It was the year that St. Pope John Paul II died, and it was my dear mother who made everything happen.

I remember that he was giving his Easter blessing that night—trying, as he could no longer speak without difficulty—and my mom knew that his time on this earth was almost at an end.

She went to the bedroom and woke up my brother and I; she turned on the television so that we, too, could see him for the last time.

The day of our baptism!

I still thank my mother, to this day, for making sure I had that last holy glimpse of him. The next time I saw him was after he had died, during his funeral.

Soon after this, Mom decided that my brother and I, who had not been baptized in any church yet (because half of our family are LDS, we were to be given the chance to choose for ourselves) needed to be part of a faith. She asked us to pray about it and decide what we wanted to be.

I didn’t have much to think about, really; I remembered feeling protected when my grandmother on my mom’s side would visit with her little saint statues.

These were visual reminders that there was something else. I wanted to know what that other thing was.

We went to church for the first time in our lives. I remember being awed by how big the church was, not just the building, but the sense of joy and unity within.

Not long after that, my brother and I were baptized. We received our First Holy Communion. We were home.

After my baptism, I entered a frenzy of wanting to learn more about the Church, the saints, the sacraments, history, and devotions. Perhaps I tried to get into theology too early, as I burned myself out on all of the things to know, and lost interest as a teenager. Recently, though, I have grown interested again. There is so much to know!

In rough times, when I have thought the Church perhaps too demanding or judged myself as wanting in the Communion of Saints, I’ve felt myself comforted by Mother Mary and the Saints—particularly St. Thérèse and my patron saints, Rose of Lima and Catherine of Siena. I think that St. John Paul II has also been watching over me; after all, he is the first “saint” I knew of before I was baptized, and I did see him alive.

I’m in love with the Church and all it has kept for us over the centuries. I acknowledge that there have been bad Popes, that the human aspect of the Church has led to decisions that were not Christlike. This does not change my love for her.

Until we are all in Heaven, we will all make mistakes.

What’s your story?

The Catholic Series: My Next Challenge


The Communion of Saints

Wondering what the Communion of Saints is? Read this article!

As a writer, what I love most about telling stories is that it allows you to create people. With enough practice, you can make them so lifelike that readers will feel them to be like friends.

This month, I’m wrapping up my trilogy on merpeople. It might have a spin-off trilogy later, but I’m satisfied to tell Rose’s story in three books, or possibly piece them together so that they are one. It depends on what might happen when I edit them.

Because I have written about magic for so long, I’ve decided to try something different when this trilogy is finished. I’m in a phase of discovering my faith again, seeing the beauty of being a Catholic striving for sainthood. I’ve been mulling over a new project—and this week decided to go for it.

I want to write tales of everyday Catholics who believe in the Sacraments—and especially in the Real Presence. I want to prove that faith can be captured in fiction writing. The stories will vary, but the main characters will have Catholicism in common.

It won’t all be perfect faith; I will write about the soul whose faith falters with as much care as he who believes. The point of this project is to write about realistic characters; every believer has doubts.

These stories will not be long. I predict they’ll be the length of a short story or a novella. If one does make it to “novel length,” I’ll be thankful, but shorter stories often have the most impact.

Don’t neglect your spiritual reading. – Reading has made many saints.

St. Josemaría Escrivá

As for POV, tense, or outlining, I don’t know what the stories will look like. I’m in collecting mode, gathering stories from people whose grandparents were devout, or those who believed that God would keep His promises and waited on Him until He did.

I have a few ideas; in my mind, I see these “small” acts of faith as the signs of future Saints. We can all be Saints.

They might be written in the form of a diary, or letters being exchanged; through this project, I am exploring new ways of storytelling.

We all know the tales of St. Thérèse and St. Joan of Arc; there are thousands of known Saints. I hope that the stories I write will remind us that we can also become Saints by living simple lives.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

Hebrews 12:1, NIV, italics mine

If you know someone with a good story about faith, love, vocations, anything that would make for an inspirational short story, please share. I can make stuff up, yes, but real people add life to the narrative.

I am eager to set aside the magic and see life through the eyes of faith. I’m going to learn a lot, writing these stories.

Nothing is stranger and more beautiful than real life, nothing more marvelous than His Sacrifice.

What wonderful majesty! What stupendous condescension! O sublime humility! That the Lord of the whole universe, God and the Son of God, should humble Himself like this under the form of a little bread, for our salvation…In this world I cannot see the Most High Son of God with my own eyes, except for His Most Holy Body and Blood.

St. Francis of Assisi on the Eucharist and Real Presence of Christ