Monday, July 31, 2006

Shameless Plug:
Check out the Amazon Links on Sidebar

I've added twenty-six links to books I've enjoyed (or plan to) to my sidebar under all the blog links and site meters and what-not.

Do browse.

If these are books you want or intended to buy, do use my link. Anytime I can amass points toward free books, hey, I'm so there. And not shamed to beg.

I think I added a buck or two to Elliot's amazon coffers using links at Claw of the Conciliator. :: grin ::


And a few other folks, too.

Read My Poem: "Into The Heart"

My speculative poem, the one that won The Sword Review's poetry contest, is now up and ready for you to drop by and read it:

"Into The Heart"

Because hope may seem, sometimes, like madness.





Join the discussion of Christian Fantasy, Christian Science Fiction, or just Speculative Fiction from a Christian Perspective!

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Mel Gibson Loses Face...and Mind?

Well, the respect that Mel got from me for 1. being still married to his original wife and 2. having a large family and 2. being a vocal believer in Christ has pretty much evaporated after his disgraceful performance...in real life.

TMZ.COM reports as follows:

Gibson became agitated after he was stopped on Pacific Coast Highway and told he was to be detained for drunk driving Friday morning in Malibu. The actor began swearing uncontrollably. Gibson repeatedly said, "My life is f****d." Law enforcement sources say the deputy, worried that Gibson might become violent, told the actor that he was supposed to cuff him but would not, as long as Gibson cooperated. As the two stood next to the hood of the patrol car, the deputy asked Gibson to get inside. Deputy Mee then walked over to the passenger door and opened it. The report says Gibson then said, "I'm not going to get in your car," and bolted to his car. The deputy quickly subdued Gibson, cuffed him and put him inside the patrol car.

TMZ has learned that Deputy Mee audiotaped the entire exchange between himself and Gibson, from the time of the traffic stop to the time Gibson was put in the patrol car, and that the tape fully corroborates the written report.


Once inside the car, a source directly connected with the case says Gibson began banging himself against the seat. The report says Gibson told the deputy, "You mother f****r. I'm going to f*** you." The report also says "Gibson almost continually [sic] threatened me saying he 'owns Malibu' and will spend all of his money to 'get even' with me."

The report says Gibson then launched into a barrage of anti-Semitic statements: "F*****g Jews... The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world." Gibson then asked the deputy, "Are you a Jew?"


Lots of people become utter and total whack jerks when they're drunk. And I certainly knew that Gibson had a history of drunken behavior. I had hoped he was over it.

Clearly, he's not. And clearly, he's got some anti-semitism rooted in his heart, which belies a lot of what he said previously. (Yes, I know, he may have a persecution complex given the Jewish uproar over PotC. Still, come on!)

That doesn't take away from his excellent body of work, but it sure detracts from Mel the Man.

He's officially Mel The Jackass, now.

I hope he gets his act together.

Fortunately, his Christian faith does offer a path of repentance and restitution:

Repentance: He needs to take a good look at his behavior and smell the nasty coffee grounds. First, Mel, confess the sins--with a confessor, sure, but publicly--those sins of drunkenness and arrogance and obscene behavior and lack of respect to women and anti-semitism.

Restitution: I would advise he make some form of financial restitution for the intangible insults he spewed. Considering the woes in Israel right now, a $10 million dollar donation to help feed and shelter the displaced and suffering Israelis wouldn't be amiss, plus a nice chunk of change to the Police Benevolence Association of Malibu and a Women's Shelter.

And Mel, get substance abuse counseling, please. Go on the wagon, sir, and keep your nose squeaky clean from now on. You've shamed the Christian community that supported you, bro, and we're having a hard enough time right now without the added embarrassment.

Yeah, I pretty much think Mel tanked the reputation he'd worked so hard to gain, particuarly whatever he'd managed to keep within the Jewish community and much of what he'd acquired in the Christian one that backed him mightily in his fight to get PASSION OF THE CHRIST distributed. I don't think he's gonna get that kind of backing again, ever.

Mel, you've broken my heart, dude. And I think you've really hurt someone much more important than me--that Jewish guy you made a movie about.


(Hat tip to Margo Carmichael in whose comments section Bodie Thoene suggests that Mel make a movie where he plays Peter, the apostle. Hmmm.)

UPDATE:

He has apologized:

Mel Gibson's statement:

After drinking alcohol on Thursday night, I did a number of things that were very wrong and for which I am ashamed. I drove a car when I should not have, and was stopped by the LA County Sheriffs. The arresting officer was just doing his job and I feel fortunate that I was apprehended before I caused injury to any other person.

I acted like a person completely out of control when I was arrested, and said things that I do not believe to be true and which are despicable. I am deeply ashamed of everything I said.

Also, I take this opportunity to apologize to the deputies involved for my belligerent behavior. They have always been there for me in my community and indeed probably saved me from myself. I disgraced myself and my family with my behavior and for that I am truly sorry.

I have battled with the disease of alcoholism for all of my adult life and profoundly regret my horrific relapse. I apologize for any behavior unbecoming of me in my inebriated state and have already taken necessary steps to ensure my return to health.


I'm glad he used the right word: Despicable.

I just wish he'd been much more specific. My gleanings from blogs is that the Jewish community is not buying the apology, and I understand that and sympathize with them. Mel needed to say that straight on: I deeply offended all Jews with what I said, and to all Jews, I say I'm deeply ashamed and sorry.

The Sword Review Poetry Contest
Runner-Up: "After The Crash"

Would you like to read a truly enthralling, warm-spirited, sophisticated speculative poem on the subject of hope?

Take a moment today, Sunday, a day of special graces, to drop by The Sword Review and read Samantha Henderson's really terrific poem, "After the Crash."

Here, have a taste:

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, she read,
in something called Hebr that flickered in transient pixels
on the star-cracked handscreen.

Faith was the name of the ship,
Substance came in sealtubes,
but Hope had no referent.


The end is truly moving.

I'm always excited when I discover a poet who's new to me and whose work I want to continue to find, read, and enjoy.



Join the discussion the Christian Fantasy, Christian Science Fiction, or just Speculative Fiction from a Christian Perspective!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

The Patron Saint of Night Owls?

Someday I shall be a great saint - like those you see in the windows of magnificent cathedrals. I will have a soul made of sunlight and skin as clear as the stained glass panels that make their skin, and I will shine like they do now - I will shine with the glory that comes over those who rise up early and seek the Lord....

But I do not shine so now - especially not in the morning. In fact, I grimace until noon, I would never be mistaken for a stained glass saint, though at 7 AM I might be grey and grotesque as a gargoyle. By faith I accept that "God's commands are not burdensome," but right now, I am not grown in that measure of grace that frees me to exalt in this particular command to seek Him "early in the morning."


~ ~from "Washing At Dark" by Rich Mullins


I've been a night owl since childhood. I don't know if being born at 5:00 in the afternoon via Caesarean section has any relation to that sort of rhythm. Maybe it was a natural trait enhanced by being raised in the five-storey concrete and brick canyons of the South Bronx. There, very little light snuck into our first or second floor apartments. This in contrast to the fresh-air-and-bright-tropical-sun upbringing of my family in Cuba's eastern province. There's no getting away from the morning there.

I know that if left to my body's devices, I'd sleep until 3 or 4 or 5pm, and be ready to hit the sack at 8 am, missing most of the vitamin-D producing daylight.

This is not a glamorous thing, like Kate Beckinsale in her cool, black leather get-up enjoying the dark or Angel stalkiing broodingly and muscularly through the LA nights.

Try making doctor appointments and getting bank stuff done and having to go to a family brunch when you're sleeping until evening. I function on sleep deprivation on occasion, just to do what needs to be done. That messes me up for weeks.

I'm a freak.

Both of my parents were and all of my siblings are early birds. Even on weekends, my parents used to get up at the crack of dawn, clanging pots in the kitchen, making cafe con leche and fried eggs or corn meal mush. Even on weekends, my siblings get up at an hour the Puritans would have approved on, to tidy up or to go fishing or to head out for a walk or to shop.

Me. For as long as I can recall, waking up for school or mass or church or an appointment in the early morning has been torture. I remember how I'd perk up later in the day. I remember begging mom to let me stay up, while dawn was as pleasant to me as to a vampire. There I was, am, scrunched of face and heavy of eye, "gray and grotesque as a gargoyle."

I've battled it all my life. I've prayed God to make me a sun-up kind of gal. No luck.

My husband sees my efforts and says, "Just give it up, honey. You're not gonna win this battle."

I persevere. I want to be a daywalker.

Don't snicker. I'm soaked with gooey envy of all of who greet the sun with cheer and energy and naturalness. I think God made us to be morning folks. The world runs for morning folks. St. Vitus is your patron saint, you dawn babies. Patron saint of early risers, that one.

Although, really, all the renowned saints could easily fit the bill. Even Jesus himself would be up early, seeking the Father for some Dad-Son chit-chat. Certainly the fishermen apostles would be up very, very early.

Is there a patron saint for night owls? For late risers? For day sleepers?

Perhaps St. John of the Cross with his kindled soul and night wanderings and contemplations? I mean, this certainly has been my emotion over the decades of seeking Christ's company:

O night more lovely than the dawn!
O night that has united
the Lover with his beloved,
transforming the beloved in her Lover.


And just that bit, that familiar bit, reminds me of so many wonderful late nights I've spent with God the way others spend early mornings with Him. The pleasures of stargazing far into the wee hours--Jupiter's moons, Saturn's rings, nebulae, clusters, meteor showers, eclipses. I've sung to the moon in all her phases. I've created poems inspired by the way gardenias glow in the faint light of the night. Things you just can't see in the daylight.

And in the city, it's quieter. Three in the morning--oooh, you can hear yourself think. You can feel God listening to you pray in your darkened part of the planet.

So, all right, I'm a freak, but it's not all bad.

Still, if there is a patron saint of night owls, let me know.

Have candles, will light.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Messages from Maass

No, not Mars. This ain't a sci-fi post. Maass, as in agent, as in writing instructor.

Bonnie Calhoun of Bonnie Writes is doing all us unpubbed and newbie or struggling writers a favor. She's been giving tips from the useful bestseller, WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL.

Today's lesson continues on "low tension." Backstory is of special interest to me, cause I've put down a whole lotta books, never to be picked up again, because they went into some boring and lame backstory in chapter one or two. Sometimes, egregiously, on the first few pages!

(I have been guilty of this lame and boring offense, so it's not like I am above reproach.)

Hurry over and let Bonnie (channeling Maass) teach you a thing or five.

And wish her a belated birthday blessing.

What Book The Mir Wants to Read NOW

~






Pre-Order It:
Year's Best Fantasy 6


Join the discussion of Christian Fantasy, Christian Science Fiction, or just Speculative Fiction from a Christian Perspective!

Science Fiction and Fantasy Cliches

Two lists to add to wherever you've bookmarked the Turkey City Lexicon:

THE GRAND LIST OF OVERUSED SCIENCE FICTION CLICHES

THE NOT-SO-GRAND LIST OF OVERUSED FANTASY CLICHES

"Overused" is redundant in that context of the cliche.

I like some of these cliches a lot, actually. As Ms. Leslie Wainger, editor, would say:"It's all in the execution."

My Cranky Rant Is Up At
SPECULATIVE FAITH

Do drop by for my passionate outburst entitled:

Subtle Fictional Christianity: What and Why?


It's a wee bit rambly, but I got worked up.

Agree with me and cheer me on, disagree with me and take me on, enlighten me and dispel confusion, scream and run away from me, or just say, "Woman, I like you, but take a chill pill!"

Just come by and comment.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Supporting the IDF

Send a hug and a chocolate to an IDF soldier. For free.

(And yeah, I'm unapologetically behind Israel on their offensive against Hezbollah. If you don't dig that, kindly ignore this post and the above link and read some other entry at Mirathon.)

Please pray for real peace today. Yes, oh, yes, pray every day for true peace. Petition heaven fervently.

That's free, too.

And who knows? A mountain may, indeed, move.

July 27 Tip for Star Trek 2.0 Stock Traders

Chekov.

TV's Screwed Up Angelology:
FALLEN and the Absent Lord

Carmen of IN THE OPEN SPACE: GOD & CULTURE (a wonderful blog you should be reading regularly) has posted on FALLEN, the ABC TV Family pilot (for a planned 2007 mini-series) that aired Tuesday night. Catholic Online calls "'Smallville' for the Christian set," because it's about a teen coming to terms with his other-than-mere-human identity and special powers.

The story lowdown: There's this fallen angel named Zeke who goes about in the guise of a hobo. And there's this kid named Aaron, Nephilim (half-human, half-fallen-angel) who is Zeke's hope for redemption, cause Aaron's the "chosen one" whose coming has been foretold, the savior of the fallen angels. The backdrop is a big heavenly brouhaha over what to do with the Nephilim, protect or eradicate the "abominations."

So far, there's nothing inherently fresh or unique. We've seen angels in the guise of wayfarers and regular joes before. We've had a long tradition of chosen ones who will save. (One of my fave storylines, so I ain't knocking it. I do after all belive in the Chosen One who does save.)

I might even enjoy the show on some levels. (I like Tom Skerritt's acting, for one.)

But, because Christianity and traditional church faith (even debated issues such as who the Nephilim actually were) seems to spook the heck outta TV and film folks (when they're not actively ridiculing us), when I first heard about this program, I assumed it would not bother to have Biblically valid elements.

This suspicion of mine ties in with this observation from Catholic Online's article:

According to Catholic Online, “the program's pop-culture theology bears little in common with the Christian understanding of angels. Apart from the Judeo-Christian concept of a primal angelic rebellion (and the crossbreeding conceit culled from Chapter 6, Verses 1 and 2, of Genesis), the story makes no references to specific faith traditions, opting instead for a generalized spirituality epitomized by New Agey dialogue such as ‘God is such a limiting term.’” According to the Pittsburg Post Gazette, “executive producer Pete Donaldson said the goal was to make the story ‘more secular,’ so there's no explanation of where God stands on the battle between the angels.”


A secular story about ANGELS. Hmmmm.

God is not a limiting term. He's a limiting Lord--do this, do not do this, be so, do not be so-- and that's really what a lot of folks don't like. So, get rid of God resembling the real God and fashion one unto your own self-satisfied image.

Secular angels. Well, we've had secular demons:

Most of you know I'm a huge Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel fan. But I have to admit that it ticked me off that this fantasy Earth of Whedon's, a wonderful world full of exciting adventures and complex people, nevertheless exiles God. Oh, you have little relics of His power--holy water and the crucifix are efficacious against evil. But the reason for their efficacy is erased. While demons and demi-gods are abundant, God and Christ and the Spirit are not to be seen as active in the spiritual battle, except in symbols. Ministers and priests are inneffectual. Church-goers are cardboard, part of the set design now and then. Even prayer--so common an act here in the US and worldwide, so common in various faith traditions--is banished in favor of pep talks. It's beautiful to be gay in Whedon's Buffy World, but it's not okay to be a real Christian. But sure, wear the cross.

(I will say that one of the loveliest "Riley" moments was when he went to church cause he goes to church, not cause he heard of vampires on rampage there. We don't see him ACT like a believer in other areas--he boffs Buffy guiltlessly, he gets sucked off by a vampiress for kicks--but he is a nice, clean-cut, patriotic sort of fella, so I guess it was convenient to have him be a Sunday-go-to-church dude for one episode. Good excuse to have him on the spot. Let's not bother with making him a person of faith in other areas, noooooo.)

So, FALLEN seems to have a world populated by angel and angelic half-breeds, but no God or Christ.

It seems fitting for our degenerate, apostate times (as all times have been degenerate, I freely use the term): We don't want you God. Your rules bug us. Your judgment irks us. Your insistence on virtue and holiness offends us. And Christ, your blood fetish is tiresome. Go way. Leave us be. Stay out of our business. We just wanna have fun and party like it's 2099.

But hey, angels and demons. Cool. Can we keep them as toys?

Last time I checked, people tended to poop their pants when angels showed up. They couldn't get on their knees fast enough.

Biblical angels are not like those ridiculous, cupidic putti that you find on tacky frames and Victoriana sites. Lawdy, but I loathe putti. (This is a hint never to ever, ever send me a putti card or a putti ornament or a putti anything.) They don't inspire folks to just hang and have a beer. No, they inspire folks to perspire and wanna pass out or go mute or babble.

If FALLEN gives us angels with more gravitas and striking-of-the-fear-of-God about them--and it seems like it might from what I've read--that would be another thing in its favor.

Still, why have angels if you banish the Lord who created angels? Could as easily been an alien or a fairy or an elf or a "lost race." I just don't get having angels or demons and making God moot, except for it reflecting the internal desire not to have God exist at all.

This is my prayer today: Send down angels, real angels, God, and manifest them to the skeptical and scoffing. Bless more people with awe and poopy pants.

For your glory. Amen.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Holy Space Ghost, She Cried.

If you are a bit on the hypersensitive side, don't read this.

If you have a broader tolerance for religious humor, and especially if you are a fan of Space Ghost: Coast to Coast--oh, come on, Brak and Spacey are a hoot!--please proceed:


John C. Wright, writer and new Christian, knocked my socks off with his comments on his conversion. (Thank you , Elliot, for tipping me off to that.)

If you haven't read his testimony, you are in for a treat. No, really, your Christian footwear will be propelled across the room. Go here and read his two long responses in the comments section of a site reviewing one of his novels. If you don't feel moved, intellectually or emotionally, by his eloquent defense of his conversion, then, well, who are you? Where did you come from? Are you a pod dude or a Borg or what? Let me take your pulse.

So, I browse under his name to find his blog (assuming he has one, natch) and came across this post from earlier in the month, the topic being Pentecost, or Whitsunday, the holiday that memorializes the founding of the Christian Church. John has a tongue-in-cheek suggestion for making it a better known holiday:

Now if only there was a famous cartoon character, like Santa Clause or the Easter Bunny, to market this holiday, or if Charles Dickens had written a book about it, then it would be well known. My suggestion is SPACE GHOST. He could be seen descending in his Phantom Cruiser to give gifts to good little boys and girls, defeating Brak and Zorak the space-criminals, and using his Power Rays to energize the Seven Gifts of the Spirit: Fear of the Lord, Knowledge, Understanding, Piety, Fortitude, Counsel, and Wisdom. Blip the space monkey could appear in the form of a dove, with a double-forked flame glowing on his head. After the solemn festivities, and granting the gift of tongues to the Galactic Patrol, the Space Ghost returns to his Ghost Planet in the Omicron Sector. Jan and Jace go to Rome and get crucified and beheaded.


Maybe Scooby and the Gang could go to investigate a report of strange happenings in an upper room of a very old building, and find that it's actually tongues of fire and a rushing wind and a bunch of very happy, spirit-filled folks making a glossolalial ruckus.

Could work. Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinze, how do they look in flame orange? Are they available?

Last Day of CSFF Blog Tour:
Creative Members of Christian Fandom


You already know that Christian Fandom offers resources--reviews, interviews, bibliographies, discussion via mailing list--but it also offers some creative output by the members of CF themselves. Behold some art. To the above left is "Church of Deep Space" by Ronald B. Oakes. I really wish they'd make the image larger, so I could see the detail in the invitation board and what those creatures skimming by are. But it has a missionary charm.
To the right is a work that surely has a message for humans. It's called "Indifference" and it's by Frank Wu. I can see a story written for both these artistic efforts. Or an essay?

And speaking of stories and essays:

The stories by fandom members are here. And the essays--loads of reading fun-- are here.

Drop by the other blog tour sites. Have fun.



Carol Collett
Valerie Comer
Kameron Franklin
Beth Goddard
Rebecca Grabill
Leathel Grody
Karen Hancock
Elliot Hanowski
Katie Hart
Sherrie Hibbs
Sharon Hinck
Pamela James
Tina Kulesa
Rachel Marks
Shannon McNear
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Stuart Stockton
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith





Join the discussion of Christian Fantasy, Christian Science Fiction, or just Speculative Fiction from a Christian Perspective!

Science Fiction Films On The Way

You might want to read this article by Scott Bowles of USA Today: SCIENCE FICTION GETS REAL.

According to the article, Hollywood is steering away from horror and "rediscovering" science fiction.

For those of you who want deeper and darker and more relevant, or, given Hollywood's leanings, at least more agenda-driven, politicaly correct, this:

This isn't science-fiction-cum-fantasy, like Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. This is the stuff of H.G. Wells and Ray Bradbury: a glimpse at what's to come if we don't tend to the planet, keep an eye on technology and treat beings from other worlds with a little respect.


Perhaps a film of cloned, blond, actress tree-dwellers protesting on a planet slated for demolition to build a giant sporting complex? I know who to cast.

The article lists some upcoming flicks:

•Children of Men. Clive Owen stars in this film set in 2027, when humans can no longer procreate and are desperately searching for a way to avoid extinction. Sept. 29.


•The Fountain. The Darren Aronofsky-directed drama spans 1,000 years and stars Hugh Jackman as a man struggling to find immortality for himself and his wife, played by Oscar winner Rachel Weisz. Oct. 13.


•Mimzy. Two siblings discover a box of toys sent from the future and begin developing remarkable talents both terrifying and wonderful. April 4.


•Planet Terror. Rose McGowan, Josh Brolin and Lost's Naveen Andrews star in director Robert Rodriguez's retro-futuristic look at what happens when a flesh-eating virus becomes an epidemic. It's part of Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino's new Grindhouse double-feature (the second is Tarantino's Death Proof, about a man who kills with his car). Both are due April 6.


•Logan's Run. This remake of the 1976 movie, co-written by Bryan Singer, revisits theaters with the story of humans who are killed on their 21st birthdays to reduce overpopulation. 2007.


•Star Trek XI. Lost co-creator J.J. Abrams tackles the franchise with an eye toward returning it to its roots, when the William Shatner TV show was Earth-centric and a parable for our own political times. 2008.



Without looking into it at the moment, I'm guessing that "Mimzy" is a change of spelling (or misspelling) of "Mimsy Were The Borogroves." That's one of the first science fiction short stories I ever read. I hope they do right by it.

I had misgivings about redoing Logan's Run. I read the novel as a teen, and I remember everyone buzzing about the movie (notably the guys for the flashes of lady flesh), but I thought the flick was sorta lame. Then I saw Bryan Singer. Okay, let's see what he does with it. I'm ready to have fun with the runners.

Saw the poster for Planet Terror, that sillouette of MacGowan with a machine gun for a leg. Um...okay. Bizzarro Gore-world ahead. Rodriguez is the cutest director in Hollywood and he can be visually fun, but , well, we'll see. This sounds super-weird and icky.

Maybe those of you gifted with visual imaginations and verbal skills might wanna write that SF screenplay, like, now.




Join the discussion of Christian Fantasy, Christian Science Fiction, or just Speculative Fiction from a Christian Perspective!

Gripe O' The Week: The Non-Call

Okay, so there has been much repairing and stuff around Chez Mirathon. First the painters (who disappointed me with the lack of professional finish), and second the gutter guys.

All along, I've had to be the active one. Even after down payments, I have to call them and keep asking, "Um, when you gonna start?" I specifically chose the painter cause he had a professional manner, good references, and a good BBB file. He cost way more than the other estimates, but I figured I'd GET more. I still had to stay on top of everything and call constantly.

That's part of the non-call gripe. Here's the currently relevant part:

I specifically and repeatedly explain to the painter and gutter guy to call BEFORE THEY SHOW UP, as I cannot guarantee I'll be home 24/7.

Do they call before they show up? One guess.

No, they don't. They just show up.

Example: Painting the Doors

For the doors to be painted, they have to stay open to dry, right? Well, this is a four apartment building, meaning that I need to be awake to 1. get the keys for the upstairs apartments and 2. be vigilant, cause doors are open and theft can be an issue. (This is Miami. Theft is always an issue.)

Do they call. No. I have to rush out of bed, have hubby (who was on his way to work) open the doors and stay around until I'm washed and dressed and shod.

Argh.

Gutter Guys: I have been talking to them for weeks. Gave a down payment last month (half down). Was told to call when paint job started. Did. Then was told to call when paint job ended. Did that yesterday. He said, sometime in the coming week. And I again said, "Please call. I normally sleep days and am up nights, and a surprise at 8 am at my door, I don't need. Let me know which day you're coming and I'll be ready."

Eight-fifeen this morning, the banging of ladders outside my bedroom wakes me up.

I say to hubby (who's showering), what's that noise? He says, not sure. Is it the painters back?

No, it's the gutter guys. No call. No warning. Just bang.

I know for a fact they all have cell phones. How hard can it be?

Ah, well. I might as well accept that professionalism and courtesy is dead in the business sector down here.

I'll just have to hope the new gutters work well. August-September is mighty rainy and hurricaney down here.

Help Author Chris Well Have
A REALLY Happy Birthday!

Here's all you gotta do to make Chris' August 9th Birthday very special:

1. Go to amazon.com on August 9th
(Bonus Hours: 6PM Aug 8th through Noon Aug 10th)

2, Buy the zany redemptive thriller DELIVER US FROM EVELYN.(A book which I, the Mir, recommended on this blog and on amazon.)

3 Email the amazon confirmation code to Birthday06@StudioWell.com

Then you will get some presents from Chris, his way of celebrating in 2006.


Visit Studio Well to find out what you get for what you bought.

Hey, it's a really fun read and worth the price. I kid you not.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

And We're Off!

We've got our bona-fide first hot debate going over at the comments section of SPECULATIVE FAITH. This is the kind of thing we'd expected--and hoped for. And I imagine more will come.

So, go put in your two cents or your dollar fifty.

Or just sit back, read, and have fun.

Stranger Than Fiction:
Emma Cometh

I was just lately complaining of not getting enough of my fave actress, Miz Emma Thompson. (Kenneth Branagh is such a twerp for cheating on this woman!)

And today, I come across this preview:

Stranger Than Fiction

Looks promising. I gotta wait for fall? Dang.

Hat tip to Dave at Faith in Fiction.

Christian SF & Fantasy Blog Tour
Day Two: CHRISTIAN FANDOM
and the CONVENTION BUG

Christian Fandom doesn' only offer book reviews,bibliographies, interviews, and a mailing list.

It also offers a list of upcoming events for, um, Christian Fandom, ie Christians who enjoy genre fiction. Here's the current list:

2006
C.S. Lewis Summer Institute
July 7th-16th, 2006: Berkshire Mountains, MA
The C.S. Lewis Foundation offers a ten day conference on the theme of "Love Among the Ruins: On the Renewal of Character and Culture." (site details)

L.A. Con IV
August 23rd-27th, 2006: Anaheim, CA
2006 World Science Fiction Convention. Christian Fandom usually has a meeting at worldcons. (site details)

Dragon*Con
September 1st-4th, 2006: Atlanta, GA
Huge annual science fiction, fantasy, gaming, comics, literature, art, music, and film convention. Fans For Christ is planning to have a fan table and possibly a room party. (site details)

VCON 31
October 6th-8th, 2006: Richmond, BC
Vancouver's annual science fiction, fantasy, and gaming convention. Kathy Tyers has been invited as one of the pro guests, there will be a joint Christian Fandom/Fans For Christ room party and possibly a fan table. (site details)

2007

Nippon 2007
August 30th-September 3rd, 2007: Yokohama, Japan
2007 World Science Fiction Convention. (site details)


Right below that, you'll find links to convention listings on the web, such as the Locus Conventions List.

I have never been so fortunate as to attend a real, sprawling SF convention. I've been to various comic book conventions that came to town. I met Alan Dean Foster and got a gift from him way back in 1980. I met a serious boyfriend at one, and though he turned out to be a jerk--and I was a romance-addled idiot back then, so I take my share of the blame--I got to see a lot of nice original comic art courtesy of his business association with many top artists. I got corraled into the Hollywood Sportatorium to hear Gene Roddenberry talk and show The Menagerie. I headed downtown in the early 80's to meet George Takei and Nichelle Nichols, who were doing a promotion/signing thing.

I always dreamed of going to a World Con. It seemed the epitome of SF fervor. I used to weep reading the reports of the late seventies and early 80's conventions, tears of regret and quite a bit of jealousy. But, alas, I never did get the chance. When I was healthy enough to travel, I was flat broke. When I was semi-flush with cash, I was too sickly to go.

How unfair, eh?

Many of the authors I longed to meet are dead now--Sturgeon, Asimov, Herbert, Davidson. Now, I'm an oldish sorta-fogey who wouldn't dare rush up to a beloved author with the ebullience of youth, panting and eager to ask questions and hear answers and get autographs and, basically, slobber happily. I value my privacy so much now, that it strikes me as rude to gang up on someone, even at a convention where crowding around is the norm, perhaps. I don't think I'd be a fun time gal at a World Con these days.

No, I should have found a way to go when I was 18 or 22.

But maybe a Christian World Con. :) A gal can dream.

If you are young and poorish, take this as a cautionary tale: Find a way to get to these events and be ebullient and mildly rude and totally delighted. Even if you have to cut back on eating and book-buying for six months to do so. Don't lose out. The future may not make it easier for you. Go now.

Pleaes remember to visit the other members of this stop on the Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour:
Carol Collett
Valerie Comer
Kameron Franklin
Beth Goddard
Rebecca Grabill
Leathel Grody
Karen Hancock
Elliot Hanowski
Katie Hart
Sherrie Hibbs
Sharon Hinck
Pamela James
Tina Kulesa
Rachel Marks
Shannon McNear
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Stuart Stockton
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith




Join the discussion of Christian Fantasy, Christian Science Fiction, or just Speculative Fiction from a Christian Perspective!




Join the discussion of Christian Fantasy, Christian Science Fiction, or just Speculative Fiction from a Christian Perspective!

Read My Poem: "Monument"

I'm happy to say that "Monument" is now up at Dragons, Knights & Angels.

It's speculative poetry that gives one fantasy sort of answer to the question, "Why did Lot's wife turn around?"

It's got a dragon, for those of you who dig that sort of thing.

Drop by DKA and read it, would ya?

A Miracle Healing In Our Church

I won't name names--and I deleted any full names in the following account--cause this was one of those "pass this around" emails from my church. The gal healed is the one I usually sit nearby when Recluse Mir goes now and then to Clash Church. Hubby serves on the worship team there, since we moved away from our wee Southern Baptist church of many years.

Anyway, this is not a fable. This is a professional, Christian woman who was, indeed, in a bad vehicular accident recently and left in a condition of chronic pain and immobility. The church had been praying for her since her injury occurred.

Anyway, may her words give hope to others (like me) in a situation of illness:
 
I've been contemplating how to spread the word about my healing, because I know it will bring hope and encouragement to others in need of God's healing power. I've been ranting and raving to everyone who makes the mistake of asking how I'm doing, and I figured I needed to let those who've prayed with and for me to know that God hears and answers prayers. So, please help me tell my story.

As I mentioned when we last spoke, I experienced a miraculous healing last Monday morning (July 17th), and every bulging/herniated disc in my spinal column, every headache, numbness in my arm, twitching of my eyes, and neck/shoulder pain is gone! -- Praise be to Almighty God!

I experienced tremendous pain the weekend prior to my healing, and my last doctor's visit that Friday wasn't very encouraging. The doctor said he would have to come up with another treatment plan, because it appeared I had some neurological damage -- Naturally, I freaked out. I had immediate thoughts of somehow ending up in a wheelchair or crippled. So, I came home loaded up on Percocet with an extra Vicodin for good measure and started crying.

The pain was so bad I called my sister in Canada and my mom in Jamaica, and had them pray with me on the phone. The pain in my neck and head was so intense, I blinked uncontrollably and could neither turn my neck nor look down. The entire weekend was like that -- HELL!

On Monday the 17th, I got up and took Cory to camp...I wanted to spend the day praying and being close to God. I showered and popped in a CD (entitled Healing Scriptures) that Valerie had given me. The Narrator quoted what seemed like every scripture in the Bible on healing, and asked the listener to repeat a prayer and claim God's healing. It ended with some Praise and Worship songs.

After approximately 10 minutes, I felt something likened to an electrical jolt hit my right shoulder. It was just enough to get my attention. WITHIN SECONDS EVERY PAIN DISAPPEARED FROM MY BODY AND HAS NOT RETURNED!

I went from popping narcotic pain-killers and a muscle relaxer 4 times a day to not even needing an aspirin. My body feels like it did when I was a youngster and ran the 100m and 200m....my bum knee that was injured when I ran track is completely pain-free....my headache is outta here....the numbness in my right arm is history...I can turn my head in every direction painlessly...I AM HEALED!

I have told so many people, I think they may start avoiding me. But, I have a reason to give thanks to God and give him ALL the glory! I want folks to know medicine failed and the God of Israel hit a home-run in my life.

Please shoot this email out to anyone who may need a reminder that God is the Great Physician, and is still in the miracle-working business.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy
July 2006 Blog Tour:
CHRISTIAN FANDOM SITE

Get ready to visit one of Madame Mirathon's fave genre resource sites:
Christian Fandom.


If you're a believer and you love genre fiction, you're sure to discover a section that'll turn you into a happy-camping fool in Genre National Park. (Sorry, mystery and romance fans. Not y'all. But if you're a big mystery buff or romanceophile, get in contact with CF. I think they'd be happy to have a section if dependable volunteers step up.)

You'll know if you're in the right starting point by the color: The fantasy section's got a pale green background, and this blurb:

"Fantasy is quite a broad field, and we strive to include works in all the subgenres which fit within it, from the "high fantasy" of J.R.R. Tolkien and his numerous imitators, to fairy tales, to "urban fantasy" (stories set in contemporary settings, but which contain fantastic elements.) We also include some stories, such as C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters, which portray characters, such as angels or demons, which are part of orthodox Christian belief, not because we consider angels or demons to be imaginary or mythical beings, but because the stories themselves are imaginative tales which include details which no human can know in this life."


Cool light and dark blues mark the science fiction area:

"We use a fairly broad definition for "science fiction" including "alternate history" stories, near-future thrillers (set "the day after tomorrow"), "sociological" SF (which extrapolates present trends, not necessarily in an attempt to predict the future, but to warn what might happen "if this goes on"), plus the more familiar settings of space travel, time travel, space opera, and a couple of subgenres which seem to be unique to Christian writing: the "End Times" thriller, and time travel stories putting modern observers into Biblical settings."


They also have Christian horror, for those of you who enjoy a good, godly scare, and a giddy-yap corral for lovers of westerns.

You'll want to set aside time for the excellent reviews and interviews. I'm especially fond of the interviews. Writers who want to be published in CBA SF need to read the one with Steve Laube, who, btw, is now an agent, though he once was a very SF-friendly editor. I've yet to read a dud interview there, although--fess up time--I haven't read them all. Yet.

They have cool lists based on whether you're interested in film, stories, books, etc. You gotta give them props for starting the bibliography of books with The Divine Comedy by Dante.

Another resource you chattier fans of CSF might be interested in is their mailing list/listserv. (You gotta sign up, natch.) It's not hugely active, except for sporadic bumps in activity when a cool topic hits a collective nerve, so your inbox won't be deluged. But they have some smart cookies. Trust me. I have an I.Q. of 137, and I feel intimidated by the smarties on there. Good thing they're nice guys and gals and very, very helpful. You'll learn a lot by just lurking and reading the back-and-forthing during a hot topic.

Rush over to Christian Fandom today. Begin browsing. Oh, how much fun you're gonna have!

Support Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy! Visit the other sites on this blog tour:

Carol Collett
Valerie Comer
Kameron Franklin
Beth Goddard
Rebecca Grabill
Leathel Grody
Karen Hancock
Elliot Hanowski
Katie Hart
Sherrie Hibbs
Sharon Hinck
Pamela James
Tina Kulesa
Rachel Marks
Shannon McNear
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Stuart Stockton
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Fantasy Film Reviewed:
The Dark Yet Hopeful Charm
of NANNY McPHEE

On Saturday, Carmen of God & Culture posted her positive review of NANNY McPHEE. (Make sure to read her intelligent and brief remarks.)

I had always planned to see the flick, as I'm an unabashed ColinFirthophile and EmmaThompsonophile. The woman needs to make more films, cause, frankly, I'm not getting enough of an Emma fix of late.

She wrote the screenplay and acted admirably in this film. She also did this double duty (acted and wrote) in one of my favoritest films, one I've seen fifteen--maybe sixteen--times: SENSE AND SENSIBILITY. And Colin graces several of my fave films: LOVE, ACTUALLY; BRIDGET JONES' DIARY; and the series production of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE.

I figured NANNY McPHEE was going to be a double Brit-thespian yum for me.

Carmen's theologically insightful comments regarding the film got me to see it sooner: Sunday.

I really enjoyed it, I admit, even though the reviews were lukewarm, and even though it was quite a darkish film for a children's flick. Colin's "dad" was annoyingly inept at fathering. (But, hey, it's Colin Firth, and he makes you like him all the same, not to mention the whole swoon factor.) His love is not tempered with wisdom or fortitude or due discipline and attentiveness. The children were little demonspawns, but we see why they are so: They fear a wicked stepmother being foisted upon them, the type of horrible stepmother fairy tales teach them are ubiquitous.

The set design is garish. The colors of walls and furniture and dress and hair horrify the eye no less than the children's misbehavior terrorizes a succession of nannies (this has become something of a cliche, eh), and no less than Nanny's ugliness is stunning to behold. Even the imminent wicked stepmother makes your eyeballs quiver. There really is such a thing as too much pink.

But Nanny has her purpose, and we come to see that this foreboding creature, this instrument of merciless discipline, has the children's--and the whole family's and household's--good as her goal.

Magic is afoot, or rather, is a-stick.

The process by which an unyielding and unsinging Mary Poppins tames the chaos and teaches lessons is a fun ride, even if we see much of it coming from miles away.

I'll add that the film is dosed with enough humor (yes, I laughed quite a bit) to keep it from being too dark.

Carmen's theological point--that the chastisements of Nanny are parallel to the actions of God as described in Romans 1, where He "gave them up" to their sinful desires--is a wonderful observation. If you watch the film, you will understand what this means.

Nanny seemed to me, indeed, to be a God figure. She has powers. She has rules. She has a sort of omniscience. She allows the children to choose, but when they choose, she lets them sweat the consequences. Mercy is not lacking from her, nor great benevolence at the right time.

And, yes, we get a radiantly magical and happy ending.

I cried at the finale. It's the sort of ending that taps right into the sentimental portion of my heart. I am quite a romantic.

NANNY McPHEE: Recommended.

Sharon Hinck's Request

If you checked out the comments to the previous post, you must have come across or skimmed or read Sharon Hinck's prayer request. In case you didn't, I want to post it here. All of you who want to see more CBA fantasy, well, get some prayer behind this contracted series of Sharon's:

I'm deep into the developmental/substantive rewrites for my fantasy novel that comes out in June, and my brain wants to explode. But then I remember how much we all want MORE MORE MORE of these kinds of story--so I dig in and work some more. And Nav is doing a great thing taking a chance on something that they know could be tough to market (I've learned it's not just about READERS...they have to sell the book to the booksellers. If the booksellers don't order it, the readers never have a chance to find it.). Please keep praying!

Friday, July 21, 2006

My SPECULATIVE FAITH Post Is Up

As I mentioned, I'm the Friday Femme at SPECULATIVE FAITH. Drop by.

I'm long-winded today.

A BRAVE NEW MIRATHON

As you can see, the talented Heather Diane Tipton, writer and blog designer, has given me a makeover.

I told you a Red New World was coming. :)

There are a few tweaks in store, so this is where I ask for your help:

Is this readable. Are you having trouble seeing/reading this text, the links, etc?

Comment on any aspect of this layout.

Feel free to praise the gorgeous art by Slawek Wojtowicz. The painting of his used for the banner is called "Silent Cry." I love it madly. It has the sci-fi and the fantasy feel. Are you reminded of di Chirico in those haunted arches? Does that red make you think of Remedios Varo? Is that galactic sky not cooler than cool?

Revel in the red reality, baby!

But let me know what ya think, eh?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Mirathon Makeover

It's coming VERY soon.

If you don't really, really like the color red, you won't like it.

If you really, really like the color red, get ready for some major ruddiness.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Chip MacGregor's Tips For Writers

Today concludes Gina's terrific three-part interview of Hachette Group's Associate Publisher Chip MacGregor. Find it at Novel Journey. This is a guy who doesn't mince words and who has sass to spare, but he knows his job and you would do well to listen.

Here are his tips (from part two) for writers who want to take their work from ewwww or blaahhh to oooooh:

1. Improve your vocabulary. (It’s okay to find your readers occasionally have to get up and go get their dictionary while reading your book. Growth is a good thing.)

2. Find your voice. (This is my favorite writing topic, of course. Most writers seem to be pretending they are still writing an English paper. Kill the teacher in your head. You’re writing your life. You’re writing to a friend. You are NOT writing for a grade. You are NOT writing to show off. You are revealing yourself via verbs and nouns.)

3. Get organized. (Every book requires research and planning. EVERY book.)

4. Know your topic. (If you don’t, you’re wasting your time. And if you send it to me, you’re wasting MY time. I won’t waste it on you again.)

5. Learn to set the mood. (Your emotional tone should shine through your writing.)

6. Develop a sense of rhythm. (Short sentences speed up your pace.)

7. Refine your ability to use imagery. (Your images should be…as clear as a Siamese cat wearing a red coat and dancing the Highland Fling. Or something.)

8. Be clear.

9. Don’t belabor the obvious.

10. Learn to create strong leads and stronger closings. (Grab me. Then send me off to ponder.)

11. Meet great characters and reveal them on the page. (If you don’t know these people, if you don’t know their setting, you’re about to write a crummy book.)

12. Read your dialogue out loud to yourself. (Your ear will catch anything dishonest.)
13. Make sure you have a story to tell. (And remember that every story has conflict.)

14. Write in scenes, and let every scene raise the stakes. (Every story has beats to it. Learn to think in paragraphs.)

15. Show us the journey. (I want to be moved. I want to read your story and be changed.)

16. Write with verbs and nouns. (Stolen from ELEMENTS OF STYLE. Still the best writing advice I know.)

17. Work as hard on every sentence as you do on your lead. (Don’t get lazy.)

18. Shut up and listen to your editor.

19. Write every day. (Nothing will move your career forward faster.)

20. Read widely. (And read something different from your own stuff.)

21. Go back and rewrite. (Don’t assume it was perfect the first time.)

22. Depth is found when multidimensional characters that I can relate to face timeless questions in complex circumstances, then make decisions that are open to interpretation…so they may not be right. (THAT’S what causes me to learn, what helps me to understand myself, what leaves me thinking about your book. And this can’t be faked – so don’t write with an agenda. Nothing is more boring than to read a polemic. We’re tired of both Rush Limbaugh’s outrage and Al Franken’s posturing. They’re going to spend hell together, arguing their points.)

For FIREFLY and SERENITY Fans:
DONE THE IMPOSSIBLE DVD

One of the persons topping my list of "folks I'd love to see full-out filled with the Holy Spirit and writing for Jesus" is Joss Whedon.

Gosh, I love dat man. He makes me laugh. He gives me thrills. He has a great grasp of human motivation and needs. He's just a terrific writer.

And I'm still upset---STILL!--that FIREFLY got cancelled.

Excuse me while I get some tissues and wail at the sky.

Sniff. I'm okay now.

If you were deep into FIREFLY or really adored SERENTIY, you may be interested in this:

DONE THE IMPOSSIBLE, the DVD Documentary

The story of the rise and fall and rebirth of the cult TV show "Firefly,"
as told from the perspective of the fans who helped save it.

The creators of "Done the Impossible" are passionate about charity and using Firefly as a vehicle to effect positive change. As such, a percentage of the DVD proceeds will be donated to Joss Whedon's favorite charity, Equality Now.


I snipped out some bits of the DVD info. Head to the site for the complete story.

On a personal note: While I have big, big, big issus with the pro-abortion aspects of some of their work (ie, EQUALITY NOW), I am very much for the other stuff they do. So, I choose to believe my smidgen-of-proceeds goes to the non-fetus-killing variety of charitable work.

Two Very Bad SF Story Openers

A hat tip to Christy Award Super-champ, Karen Hancock, who posted on the sci-fi and fantasy winners in the 2006 Bulwer-Lytton Awards:

The fantasy fiction winner:

It was within the great stony nostril of a statue of Landrick the Elfin Vicelord that Frodo's great uncle, Jasper Baggins, happened to stumble upon the enchanted Bag of Holding, not to be confused with the Hag of Bolding, who was quite fond of leeks, most especially in a savory Hobbit knuckle stew. - Camille Barigar, Twin Falls, ID

And the science fiction winner:
"Send a message back to Command Central on Earth and ask for their advice, which we will be able receive immediately even at this great distance, thanks to the ingenious manipulation of coherent radiation through a Bose-Einstein condensate and the bizarre influence of the Aspect effect, which enables us to impart identical properties to remotely separated photons," Captain Buzz told the feathered Vjorkog at the comms desk, "and tell them our life-pod is going to explode in eight seconds." - Christopher Backeberg, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa


If that sci-fi entry didn't make you bark with hilarity, something's wrong with ya.

Or me, Barking Mir, aka, Mistress of the Purple Pen of Editing Doom.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Humor and the Speculative Mind:
David Brin

I was reading an interview of David Brin conducted by the terrific artist with the hard to remember-how-to-spell name, Slawek Wojtowicz. (Did I get it right?) While doing so, I came upon this little tidbit, which just sent me into a sudden fit of MIRthful guffawing:

DB: You know, there are some cultures where the natives only have words for one, two three and many. What if they developed high technology without going any further in their numeracy? It could have happened! You can imagine their count down: many, many, many, many, three, two, one… Blast off!


AHAHAHAHAH. There I go again.

If you want to read the rest of the interview, go here. While you're there, check out the fabulous art on display in his virtual art gallery. SILENT CRY is one of my new favest paintings, has been since I first saw it last month. Isn't it faboo?

Speculative Faith's First Week
Of Posting By "Regular Cast"

This week begins posts by Speculative Faith regulars. You may recall that I posted the introductory post, our vision and mission post. We'll probably have this week for introductory stuff. Soon cometh the meat.

Drop by and meet Stu-babe. He's Tuesday's guy.

Carol Collett is Wednesday's woman.

Beth Goddard is Thursday's dame.

And I'm Friday's femme.

It's quite possible that the smart and spiritual Miz Becky Miller will be Monday's missus.

We'll see.

~
UPDATE:

Thursdays will be covered by Beth and Shannon McNear, alternating.


~

ADDITION: WIN FREE BOOKS!

Stuart, Tuesday's Spec Faith Guy, is having a contest, and you can win one of two sets of four different Christian SF books. Get the lowdown at Jerkrenak's Den.

EUREKA:
A Promising-Looking Comedy-Drama
Series from Sci-Fi Channel

It doesn't take a genius to figure out I'm an aficionado of the Sci-Fi Channel.

But it does take a genius--a whole lotta them--to populate the town of EUREKA.

The Miami Herald's TV critic, Glenn Garvin, has this to say about the new show:

It's set in upstate Washington rather than the sub-tropics, but Sci-Fi's comedy-drama Eureka series, which debuts tonight, is surreal and then some. It stars Colin Ferguson (The Opposite Of Sex) as a federal marshal who blunders into a top-secret little town where the government stashes geniuses. Dads build time machines in the basement while kids work out quantum-physics equations with chalk on the sidewalk.

But just like Wisteria Lane in Desperate Housewives, Eureka has a few problems lurking behind the rose bushes. One home-improvement project has started chewing holes in the universe, and there are hints that spies have infiltrated the place, too. Ferguson decides to investigate. When you see the wit and style with which Eureka is written, you may, too.


If you want a peek at the fictional town's confidential history, drop by SFFWorld.

I'm tuning in. If I can stay awake, that is. This genetic nite owl has managed to reset clock, temporarily, to day hours, waking at 6 am and ready to zonk out by 9 pm. Yesterday, I went out like the cliche light sometime during a rerun of Dharma and Greg, right before 8pm. Out. Woke up one am and brushed my teeth and crawled next to hubby, with whom I drowsily chatted for a while. He was in an "I love you, love you, adore you, love you, you're special" sort of babbly mood.

Who was I to rain on his love parade, when it's so much fun to smooch and babble back?

But if my eyes are open, yeah, I'll be watching.

I have some lovely chicken cutlets from the gourmet shop that I'll be making into low-fat chicken parmesan with a side of roasted mixed veggies (also from the gourmet shop) for me and the hubster. It'll be nice to chow down during a fun show, if hubby makes it back from the worship team's meeting with the pastor before showtime.

Record it, you say?

I would if I had a clue about how to do that, which I haven't since we got digital cable. Sigh, says tech-dodo me. And hubby hasn't taken the time to figure it out, cause he's been superduper busy. I never remember to ask him to figure it out and show me when he's NOT superduper busy. Why? Cause that's when we snuggle and nap and act like totally googly-in-love sloths in a pizza-carbs semi-coma.

Um, what was I talking about?

Oh, yeah. EUREKA.

Watch it.

Let's discuss it later.




Join the discussion of Christian Fantasy, Christian Science Fiction, or just Speculative Fiction from a Christian Perspective!

The Painting Begins - - - finally!

As you can easily extrapolate, it's hell getting anything repaired on the exterior of one's house after the last two hurricane seasons.

My back room ceiling still leaks when it rains.

It took me months to get painters willing to give an estimate. And though I contracted with the current painter two months ago, the painting starts. . .

TODAY!

Or, more specifically, the prep work for the actual painting starts today, ie. the pressure cleaning part.

I expect the strong cleaning agents will cause my asthma to flare up as it did last time the building was pressure cleaned.

I also expect much pain writing the hefty check for the second installment on the balance once the cleaning is done. Paint jobs for two story, four-apartment structures aren't cheap.

Ow.

I am being totally unadventuresome. Our white building is being painted white. Our green front doors will be. . . green.

I'm creative with words, not colors.

Please pray these guys get it right and we have no bad rains for at least a week so they get this done nicely.

Thanks for letting me bore ya.


COMING SOON TO MIRATHON:

~ a return to weight loss topics, since I see the specialist on Thursday. (ugh)

~ the July stop on the Christian Fantasy and Science Fiction Blog Tour (wheeeeeee)

~ comments on Catherine Sasanov's ALL THE BLOOD TETHERS (ooooooh)

~ a review of...well....something SF
(aaaaaahhhh)

Monday, July 17, 2006

A Lame Press Release That Worked:
It Made Me Look

I was employing the Google Blog Search and came across a link to a rather uninspiring press release. It was so, well, lackluster, that I had to check out the book it was touting.

So, in a weird way, the release worked: It made me look at the product it promoted.

Problem: I didn't check it out from excitement at the novel's premise. I checked it out with this question in mind: Is the writing in the story as blah as in that press release?

Well, here's the release.

And here's the book's site. Find the link for the excerpt.

You judge.

Chip MacGregor at Novel Journey:
A snapping interview!

The gals at Novel Journey are doing such a fab job of providing insights into the Christian publishing world, what with all those interviews with authors and editors and agents and, well, anyone who is anyone.

Today starts a multi-part interview with Chip MacGregor, Associate Publisher at Hachette Book Group (think Warner Faith and Center Street). It is rivetting. Chip is not lacking in testosterone.

Now, I'm all antsy to read parts two and three.

Gina, you tease!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Snarky Avenger Interviews
Selena Thomason of DKA

Selena is managing editor of Dragons, Knights & Angels, "the magazine of Christian fantasy and science fiction." If you'd like to hear her interview with The Snarky Avenger, head here.

As you may know, I'm assistant editor/poetry editor there, so I get mentioned.

Heh.

One quibble: The avenger isn't all that snarky.

But then, I'm not as snarky as I used to be. It must be going around.

~

Friday, July 14, 2006

SPECULATIVE FAITH

Yours truly is now a member of a shiny new team blog:

Speculative Faith


Drop by and read what we are (and gonna be) about.

Leave a comment, suggestions, kudos, encouragements, predictions of doom, prophesies of great successes...whatever your wish. We'll be waiting for ya.


I promise. That's it. No more web sites for me for a while.

Um, No Snickering

I've finally made use of the domain name account I've had sitting around since I first thought, "Oh, I should have a web page about my writing stuff." I plan to keep it to track of what I'm subbing/pubbbing/contesting. Eventually, I want it to be a permanent (not scrolling, like this blog) resource of links and tips for Christian and SF writers and poets.

If you don't mind amateurish web home pages, check out my fledgling one:

Mir Fiction


~ ~ ~

Extra, Extra, Read It Here:
HTML and CSS Drive Mir Mad!

Well, I've been trying to figure out how to change templates, colors, etc, in Blogger for the Speculative Faith team blog we're forming.

(By "we," I mean wonderful peeps such as Beth G, Becky M, Rebecca G, Carol C., Shannon Mc., and the ever-darling Stuart S.)

Clearly, there must be a better, easier way to make template changes!

I've spent two days browsing the web for hours at a stretch in search of free images, backgrounds, tiles, and more. The stuff is out there.

WARNING: Some sites that promiese "Blogger ready, easy to install" templates are--and I say this with no twinge of regret--LYING!

After hours of trying to install according to the "so easy" method, and not having the result look as promised, I hollered for software programmer hubby to stop dressing for work and help me. He soon found missing code in one prominent supplier's template. That fixed one problem. After the-handsomest-engineer-in-the-universe drove off, I laboriously searched for solutions to the other problems. I found other code errors and omissions.(Trust me. I'm an html cretin. That means, if I found it, the person who made the code was just plain lazy to leave it out.) It took me a long time to get an ALMOST working new template. (The comments still don't work.)

So, now you know. There are some crap designers out there claiming they have "blogger ready" pretty templates, and what they really have is " blogger sorta-kinda-ready, be-prepared-to-hunt-and-fix-it-yourself" templates.

The reason this is of concern is cause these folks CHARGE TO DO THIS FOR A LIVING. Now, if they can't get a simple blogger template right--given how you can copy Blogger code for FREE--I'd worry that they could do a custom designed page properly.

Uh-huh. Not good business P.R. if your draw-them-in item is flawed in several spots.

You've been warned.

That said, there are lots of nice folks offering free tiles and backgrounds that work just fine. My advice: learn some html and CSS first. Don't be a jump-into-the-deep-end dolt like me. Yes, I know: I need to go back to the beginning. If it weren't for hubby, I wouldn't have known the code was whack. I'd have assumed I was whack. What I am is ignorant. Like code, that can be fixed with some hard work and time.

Hmmmm. I heard that snarky retort!

So, fine, I AM a little whack and a bit cranky.

BTW, why does Blogger have so few templates to choose from? Why not some easy way to change template colors and images?

Maybe they have it at a superpremium Blogger inner sanctum?

Whatever.

My carpal tunnel syndrome is up and flaring. And I think I sprained my brain.

I may need to rest a few days with anti-inflammatories and ice and, oh, a good book.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Mirathon Miscellany

If you want to speculate on which two of the Harry Potter characters will be killed off by Rowling in the eagerly awaited (by me!) finale, drop by LaShawn Barber's Fantasy Fiction for Christians.




I can imagine the author of the ReaderCon 17 report here frantically scribbling notes.

It's a charming entry--charming for its human element: the imperfection in jotting quotes, the apologies for missed words, the embarassment at not understanding some terms. As you can guess, some Christian-bashing went on in the "War of the Worldviews" discussion. What's interesting is that what they consider "our" sci-fi is symbolized by LEFT BEHIND.




Is your sex life disordered in some way, or maybe just not fully in line with what you sense is the God-blessed pattern?

Yeah, you heard me. I said the "s" word. Chances are that someone dropping by my wee blog has "issues" in that private arena. If that's vous, why not watch some of these videos right now online:

John Piper on "Sex and the Supremacy of Christ"

Ben Patterson on "the Goodness of Sex and the Glory of God"

C.J. Mahaney on "Sex, romance, and the Glory of God: What Every Christian Husband Needs to Know."

David Powlison on "Making All Things New: Restoring Pure Joy to the Sexually Broken"


Head over to Apologia Christi for the links.




Souxsiepoet has some lovely quotes from a conversation she had with a priest. One quote that caught my imagination (and heart) was of an out-of-the-ordinary "stations of the cross"." The italics is the priest's quote and the regular type is souxsie's. (I clarify for those not used to souxsie's "ee cummings" style of writing. Me, I find it slightly annoying in prose):


we live in a rough area. we have motels that charge by five minutes. so when we did the stations this year, we made each station, one place of great concern to the church. we couldn't pray at the motel though, because we couldn't afford the rate.

this takin' it to the streets attitude is what the church is supposed to be about. and actually making the stations places of ill repute, is just brilliant. such a lovely idea. that is the church being light in the world. not just trying to see who's light shines brighter than the other lights.





Camy Tang, the Story Sensei, is having her "Fabulous Summer Sale."

If you have a synopsis, and can't figure out why you think it stinks; or you aren't sure if you have a good story structure; or your manuscript needs looking over by a sharp eye, well, then you'll want to hit that link and check out her sale:

From now until July 15th, I will be holding a fabulous contest for my Story Sensei critique service.

I will draw the names of TWO lucky winners! They will each receive:

A free synopsis critique – up to 10 pages single-spaced, a $40 value!

AND

A coupon for 25% OFF any manuscript critique – whether full or partial manuscript, any number of words. For a 100,000 word manuscript, that’s a savings of $250!

In addition, EVERYONE WHO ENTERS will receive a 10% OFF coupon for any service, whether synopsis, query letter, or manuscript critique (full or partial). For a 100,000 word manuscript, that’s a savings of $100, just for entering.

Christy Awards:
Karen Hancock Wins Again!

“Write with the integrity of a Christian. See the world with empathy and detail and love—and with all its dust.”
author John White's advice to Brett Lott


Brandilyn Collins has a nice recap post of the Christy Awards ceremony. I came across the above quote there. Drop by to read the list of the winners in each category. Karen Hancock has won multiple Christys. This is her fourth, I believe. And every single book in the Legend of the Guardian Kings series has won a Christy. I'm guessing the next entry to that series will be nominated and be favored to win.

Good news for those with Christian "visionary" fiction that's published this year: Karen won't be Christy competition at the next ceremony.

Monday, July 10, 2006

RHYSLING and SFPA Online Poetry Contest Winners Announced

Here's your chance to read some very good speculative poetry--for FREE!

Head to the SFPA site where they announce the winners, as follows:


1st Place: "Morning, Europa" by Malcolm Deeley
2nd Place: "Office Complex, 13th Floor" by Ree Young
3rd Place: "Mice Over Fallen Mirrors" by Duane & Cathy Ackerson



Scroll down to find all three winning poems for your reading pleasure.


I entered two poems. One, a math meets myth meets magic poem called "Mirror Symmetry." The other a lighter one with several double meanings: "Highlight on the Guided Tour of the Fairy Tale Museum." I didn't win or place (obviously), but I have been informed that the latter poem was ranked in the top five by one of the three judges.

Considering that
1. the contest received more than 240 entries
2. many of those entries were by published and experienced and award-winning spec poets, and
3. I've only been writing poetry for few months after a long hiatus of about twelve years,

and this news is very encouraging to me in my efforts writing verse. Especially if I add to the above the thrill of my win of The Sword Review contest. I'm not about to tell my poetic muse to shaddup.

Now, where to submit one or both of these?

~ ~ ~



The winners of the prestigious Rhysling Awards this year are:


SHORT POEM CATEGORY


3rd Place: Marge Simon, "South"
2nd Place: David C. Kopaska-Merkel, "Tsunami Child"
Winner: Mike Allen, "The Strip Search"



LONG POEM CATEGORY


3rd Place: Drew Morse, "First Cross of Mars"
2nd Place: Joe Haldeman, "Old Twentieth: A century full of years"
Winner: Kendall Evans & David C. Kopaska-Merkel, "The Tin Men"


*Trivia Question: Do you know, without googling, why they're named the Rhysling Awards?

Prayers for Well-Meaning Heretics

Got a visit today from members of a well-known heretical sect/cult of Christianity.

First, a bit of history for context:

When I was in my twenties, even early thirties, and my mind was a steel trap full of chapter and verse, apologetical arguments, historical quotes, etc., I'd invite these folks in, sit at the table with my Bible, and show them why they were quite in error.

One particular day two decades ago, one young lady--who visited every week for many months, debating with me on my front porch, both of us friendly and relaxed--came accompanied by her father. He'd decided to show up with her to prove to me, among other things, that the trinity didn't exist and break me down. He failed. He left and came back within a few minutes with the uncle. The girl's brother showed up after that. I had a bunch of folks in my living room, crammed on the sofa, getting quite vexed at my ready responses and refusal to cave or run out of refuting verses. (Can't do THAT anymore with my doodybrain.)

Finally, the father said, "Science has proven the trinity doesn't exist."

Now, back then, I was very up on my science. I had taken advanced science and math in high school, and gotten a chemistr award in college. I even read science mags for the sheer fun of it. (Been a while.) So, that did me in.

I laughed long and hard and explained why science could not do that. Ever.

They never came back. Mother was really relieved about that.

In subsequent years, I sometimes took the time to talk. Other times, when I was in a very curt and cranky sort of mood, I'd open the door wide enough to say something like, "Your doctrine is screwed up. And, btw, you do know that no matter how hard you try, ma'am, you're not going to be one of the 144,000. You ain't male and you ain't Jewish. Too bad for you. Later."

I didn't comment on the virgin aspect.

(I also didn't go into whether that was literal or metaphor, yadda yadda. I did say it was a baaaaad mood day, right?)

As you can see, I can be quite the royal b*$@*. I'm still ashamed thinking about it.

Now, back to this morning:

Two very nice ladies, an older woman and her daughter on their rounds, dropped by.

Picture this. I am in my black chemise when they knock--stinky in the pits, and on my way to the shower to do a full ablution. The woman says she's here to give me God's word. I say, thanks, I have it. Multiple copies. And I study it, too.

She goes on about how it's important for me to go knocking on doors obeying Jehovah. I say, "Did that. I don't have the gift of cold evangelism. I gave it up. My gift is elsewhere." She argues that everyone is supposed to that. It's in the Bible. I say, "No, there is nothing in there that says I'm supposed to knock on everyone's door. It says I'm to witness. That you can do without knocking on apartment doors. That you do by living and talking about what you believe and why, in various ways and places and times. Even in greeting cards."

I've done it on beaches, bus stops, malls. And trust me, evangelism ain't my gift.

I ask her what church she's from. She gives me a bit of a runaround, but gets to it. We have an exchange that I've heard more than once from their particular playbook.

After a few rounds of, "Show me your verse, I'll show you mine,"
I get one of those unspoken whispers in my ear--you know what I mean, right? I can't help it. I'm following orders: I grab the older woman's hand, look at her with a great deal of sympathy and affection--not fake, real feeling I'm having for her--and say, "May the Lord open your eyes and show you who His Son really is."

She gets defensive. I keep hold of her hand within both my own and say, "May the Lord open your eyes to the truth."

She says she knows the truth.

I say it again: "May the Lord open your eyes."

Her daughter is moving away and says with some abruptness that they have to go. The older woman shuffles a bit to the side, but doesn't seem to want to give up on me. She repeats that she knows the truth, but I don't, and I need to come and learn.

Something from God makes me say it again, even as she pulls her hand out of mine.

I sense she's ready to go, so I lift my hands in benediction over her head, and say, firmly, vehemently, lovingly, staring her right in her confused looking eyes, "May the Lord open your eyes to His truth."

And with some farewell pleasantries, they're gone.

After I locked my front door, I put off my shower. Instead, I raised my arms and interceded for them. My chest is still hot inside from the emotion. My hands still smell of the older woman's perfume. I've put off showering because I'm not ready to let that scent go. I think I may need to pray some more.

I hope you'll pray for them, too. That's why I've told you all this.

And if you belong to this sect, please, take it kindly when I say:
May the Lord open your eyes to the truth about His Son.

Wanna Read a Sci-Fi Tale That Makes Your Heart Feel Good?

If you regulary read The Sword Review, then you may have already enjoyed Marsheila Rockwell's "The Short Bus." If not, then go over and read it now!

It's written from a variable POV, but mostly from the perspective of a boy with Down's Syndrome, who also happens to ride a rather remarkable bus to school, a bus unlike any you've ridden. Marsheila's done a great job in both coming up with a cool concept and adding a spiritual component.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

If Hollywood Posters Were Like Medieval Russian Woodcuts

Big hat tip to Elliot for the link to the adorable array of images such as the following:







I've listed the ones I figured out, or ones I THINK I figured out, but a couple elude me.

If you can figure out the ones I can't, or can read Russian and know for sure, please post a comment. I hate not knowing! My list follows, but don't look at it if you want to puzzle them out without my prodding:



1. King Kong
2. The Terminator
3. The Matrix
4. Lord of the Rings
5. Beats me. Some big crocodile and some guy
6. Spiderman
7. The Empire Strikes Back
8. Harry Potter
9. Dunno. Some guy in a freaky outfit sticking some computer doohicky into his butt. Johnny Mnemonic? AI?
10. A drug dealer and some drunk guys. Trainspotting? Help me out, people!
11. Fahrenheit 451
12. Anaconda, probably. Maybe Buffy the Vampire Slayer? What say you?
13. War of the Worlds

Biblical Allusions/ Formula Christian Fantasy

You'll want to drop by a couple of sites today for recent posts of interest:

First, over at A Christian Worldview of Fiction, Rebecca LuElla "Call me Becky" Miller is ruminating on the loss of Biblical knowledge and its impact today on allusions within works of fiction.

I've got a story--two, in fact--from my college days about that:

So, here I am, studying Shakespearean tragedies, finding it not too hard and lots of fun, up to my nose in essays and commentaries.

However, it quickly comes to the teacher's attention that most of the class is utterly clueless about the Christian terms and allusions that Shakespeare is using. She uses one class to cover basic terms so that they can better understand their OTHELLO and MACBETH. One gal, after class, complains that it's indoctrination and maybe she'll complain to the dean. I say, "What? Are you out of your fricken mind? It's education, not indoctrination. You can't tell the difference? Most of the class had no idea what certain passages meant without her explanation today."

The dorkette did complain. The professor, a medieval scholar's daughter and literary expert, was not fired. Huzzah.

Poetry class: I write a haiku about David and Goliath. (Don't ask me to post it. I don't remember anything other than "five smooth stones" and "that topples a Colossus.") I think "David" was part of the title. NOT ONE PERSON IN A CLASS OF TWENTY OTHER THAN THE PROFESSOR KNEW WHO DAVID AND GOLIATH WERE. This in a class with a couple of Jewish people. Clearly, nominally Jewish. It was an eye-opening moment of the depth and breadth of cultural ignorance about things historical and Biblical.

No wonder they sucked at interpreting poetry. How do these people get through Milton and Moby Dick?


~~~


On to our second link of the day:

Rebecca over at Of Making Many Books has posted an additional segment of her multi-part series on fantasy in the CBA: Night of the Evil Gnomes Part 7: Why Christian Fantasy Doesn't Satisfy.

"Act One: Christian in trouble. Nonchristian secondary character about to get in trouble.

Act Two: Christian gets into even bigger trouble but begins to figure a way out of it with a Bible verse and prayer. Nonchristian in deep shit they can’t escape without a miracle.

Act Three: Christian solves problem.


Let's see how that would work in secular fantasy:

Act One: Protagonist gets in trouble. Villain makes things worse.

Act Two: Protagonist gets into bigger trouble, but begins to tap into hidden powers and join forces with comrades to overcome the enemy. Villain pulls out the big magic guns to bring protagonist to his knees. Protagonist finds source of even greater strength (a friend, a wizard, a love, a memory, a magic word, supernatural courage) and beats back all threats.

Act Three: Knowledge gained or powerful act done allows for restoration of better kingdom, empire, or cosmos.


Yeah, so what's the point? Lots of fantasy books can be reduced to a formula, just as romances and mysteries can. It's what's done IN the formula that matters.

It's the rare artists, the special boundary-pushers, the especially genius who create works of unclassifiable natures. The rest is classifiable.

I happen not to believe that works that fit a formula are bound to be bad. Many of the books that are beloved classics or have won Nebula and Hugo awards in the secular SF world follow the hero's journey (ENDER'S GAME, LORD OF THE RINGS, WIZARD OF OZ, and DUNE) and are quite satisfying.

So, a formula does not mean that variation cannot lead to a great read with deeply moving characters.

It only makes sense that a higher being, a God, even a holy book, play a part in the formula of Christian Fantasy. If fantasy is a metaphor for our reality, only hyperbolized, the heroic and the evil larger than life, then if our reality includes a God and a Book, that will translate unconsciously into Christian fantasy.

It's the execution. It's the avoidance of simplistic answers. It's the avoidance of numbing cliches.

But you can work with formula!

Doubtless there are multiple factors explaining why recent Christian fantasy of the modern CBA sort hasn't been satisfying enough to break out into its own successful genre, as it has in the ABA. Granted, spec-fic readers do want the wonder and surprise and innovation and freshness. However, we do like heroes to win and villains to pay (even if definitions of heroes and villains can get murky at times), and that's a formulaic thing. Christians like for characters to show repentance, acqusition of virtues, and we like our heroes to pray and seek guidance and power from a supreme being. We're wired to believe that is part of the reality that fantasy can reinterpret.

Perhaps, reinterpret is the key.

I pretty much have stuck to Christian sci-fi in novel form rather than fantasy. (I'm not really a dragon, elves, dwarves kind of gal, except in short stories.)So, I really need for Rebecca to spell out three or six Christian fantasy novels that follow the above formula she's laid out, and specify if they failed specifically because of that three-act predictability, or if other craft elements did not work to make the formula come alive.

I ask, because that formula has sold a lot of CBA romances and women's fiction. And if women primarily read secular fantasies, then that formula should attract women who read Christian romances and women's fiction to fantasy in the CBA. But it doesn't in numbers one might think.

I would add that a strong God element would turn-off non-Christians, so any character reading the Bible and spouting verses, while totally accepted in CBA, would turn off non-Christian or ABA readers.

I happen to think that if you write a new world, one that is not our extrapolated future or our mostly-realistic past world (but with fantastical elements), you shouldn't drop in typical Christian-speak. Churcheses is jarring in those cases.

I don't want to be in another land, another world, and here comes John 3:16.

If it's sci-fi and you are in the possible future, then Christianity can be core Christianity with a future twist, one to suit the speculated times. If it's fantasy land, then you have to form a religion or ethos suited to that specific fantasy land's "persona." And yes, created lands have a personality. Southern Baptists don't fit in Middle Earth as Southern Baptists exactly are, and Roman Catholicism will be as different in 2506 as today's differs from it's 1506 version. Or more.

I do agree to one main point: The plot needs to be resolved with more than a verse and a prayer.

I really need to know the names of those modern Christian fantasies that resolved it with a verse and a prayer. No, really. Rebecca, lay them on me, girl.

God in the Fantasy Machine is as lame a conclusion (usually) as just magic in the box or the spell in the book or the wizard in the grotto. Characters should have to work at change in themselves and in their worlds. Fiction is about developing characters with voices with internal issues with external woes with companions and lovers and enemies and obstacles. All elements of good stories.

My heroine's faith journey is part of the plot. If she doesn't go on the journey, it changes the shape of her world. What she does and what she believes are crucial. So, she's gonna have to get illumined and have internal change. But she also has a heroine's journey, and I don't apologize for it having an ancient pattern.

There's a reason the hero's journey works. And I believe it goes back to Eden.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Space Opera Fans, Rejoice! RAY GUN REVIVAL Has Launched

Did you dream of being a Christian space pilot? Is Star Wars at the top of your fave list? Does the term "Lensmen" mean anything to you?

Well, you'll want to check out a new webzine that's just taken flight: RAY GUN REVIVAL.

Whether you just want to read some space opera, or you write it and want to submit some, go by and check it out. Don't forget your flight suit.

A Belated Happy Birthday Blessing

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. . .


God Bless You, Dear USA
And Keep You Strong and Free
Through 230 More Years . . . And Beyond



I had intended to post that yesterday.

However, I had a day out with my husband--one errand, a family visit, and a dinner "date" in Coral Gables. His beauty and the pleasure of his company have a way of making me forget everything else, even, yes, blogging.

But in the midst of our enjoyable meal at an Irish eatery, I thanked God for our freedoms and felt truly blessed to live here. And I remembered our soldiers to the Creator of life, the author of true liberty, and the One whose wisdom and holiness defines what is the highest happiness. Yes, I remembered our soldiers, who didn't have the benefit of a lovely restaurant or some fresh gazpacho on a breezy day in the subtropics, because they were and are too busy working and dying and trying not to lose their spirit in a faraway desert land.

I hope, somehow, they a laugh and a tasty treat and a moment of joy yesterday, and today, and something good can come out of the madnesses of war. Even as this nation came out of the madness of a war, and it is a good thing, indeed.