Saturday, September 30, 2006

LAST CHANCE: Poetry Contest Ends TODAY!

You only have a few hours left to enter the DRAGONS, KNIGHTS & ANGELS Poetry Contest. I'll be one of the judges.

No entry fee and online submission. (Make sure you designate it for the "poetry contest" and it fits the guidelines and rules.)

Theme: revelation.
Type of poetry: speculative.

Do keep that in mind. This is not a religious poetry contest; it's a speculative poetry contest. However, we are a Christian SF magazine and enjoy spiritual content. I recommend you check out our vision statement.

"Revelation" doesn't mean, specifically or in any limiting way, the end-of-time-plagues-and-angels things. It's an intentionally broad theme.

First prize $75.00, second $40.00, third $20.00 All award winners will be published in DKA.

Note: We get several thousand hits per month. (June was in excess of 20,000 hits). People will come read your work at DKA.

GO HERE for details.

Friday, September 29, 2006

The Tardis and The Bard

I'm still upset about the departure of Chris Eccleston as the newish Dr. Who. Yeah, yeah, David Tennant will surely be fine. But he's not Chris.

Today, I got to watch a couple of season 1 episodes I hadn't seen the first time round on the sci-fi channel. They had a marathon of episodes, 'cause SEASON TWO premieres tonight here in the US.

Still, while we're watching the second round, shooting of round three is well underway.


Shakespeare To Appear On Who

Russell T. Davies, executive producer of the BBC's hit SF drama Doctor Who, told SCI FI Wire that the show's upcoming third season will again introduce a famous character from British history, in this case the author of Hamlet and King Lear. "William Shakespeare [played by Dean Lennox Kelly] is going to be in one of the episodes," Davies revealed in an interview in London. "And I think it's going to be one of those lavish, gorgeous episodes. We're really traveling around the country to get the right locations, because Elizabethan streets are not easy to come by, so the whole crew is going on the road. We're spending three nights in the Globe Theatre, which is the replica of Shakespeare's Globe, so it's a really big shoot. I'm very excited about that one and the script by Gareth Roberts, which is just gorgeous, so that's going to be very exciting."

The third season, which began shooting in July in the United Kingdom, will also introduce the Judoon, a clan of galactic stormtroopers, Davies said. "But otherwise, it's just too early to go into it yet," he added, declining to discuss other season-three spoilers.

Friday Femme on Speculative Faith:
Last Part of "Hell is the Absence of God"

Okay, so I finally finish up my comments on this story. Drop by.

AGE'S END: Prologue is Up at Mir Fiction

Can I just say that Meg Moseley rocks! The wonderful Meg, who kindly agreed to be my proxy at the ACFW award banquet, mailed me my winner's plaque. I got it in the mail today, and, despite the misspelling of my middle name, it's quite nice. Meg wrapped it in really elegant tissue paper with a pretty print, and she included a flowery, feminine card, too.

It felt like I had a second birthday!

You can read her post-conference blog over at Megawriter. She documents a lovely thing she did on my behalf (which I did not ASK her to do, mind you):
An answered-prayer moment: I had asked God to give me just one minute with a particular editor, not to pitch to him, but to ask if a friend could submit her work since she couldn't attend the conference, but she won her category of the Genesis contest. At breakfast on Sunday, he walked by. I said hi, and he sat down and said he had five minutes. That's five times what I'd asked for.

Ain't she a peach?

Do me a favor? Throw up a prayer on her behalf today? She's been working so very hard on her manuscripts. She's got a nifty agent and she's a very gifted writer. She just needs the right editor, I think. Ask God to send him or her Meg's way.

Anyway, for those who've asked to read some of my WIP, I've uploaded the very short prologue to Mir Fiction. Read it here.

If you like it, comment. If it hooks you into wanting to read more, let me know. If it's not working for you, or if you hate it, tell me why specifically. I like feedback. I'll try to be a good sport. Honest.

Okay, I'm behind writing my Speculative Faith blog post, so I gotta go do that. Later.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

JERICHO: After The Bombs Fall

I missed the debut of the CBS show JERICHO last week, but caught it on ON DEMAND last night. Also watched most of the second episode. I'm pretty much hooked, despite the kinda lousy writing, mostly to find out what's the deal with Skeet Ulrich's character. And also, I wanna see what the nuke-rain does.

Character and disaster. Those'll nab me, even when other things are a bit boring. But only for so long. It's The End of The World As We Know It blog said it rather adorably:
They had me at “mushroom cloud”.

But will they keep me?

Eventually, I expect them to get their footing and improve their game when it comes to making ALL the characters come to life and be interesting and finding non-predictable ways of handling the post-disaster landscape.

So, what didn't I like?

For instance, that whole running around for shelter: Boring. I can imagine some crack sci-fi writers could have made that interesting. But no. It was your run-of-the-mill stuff. Ho-hom. And the dialogue. Ugh.

And can someone tell me the fricken point of the prison escape? I mean, other than to add an element of some suspense (not much), what the hell was the point? (It may show up later. I may just be impatient.)

What did I like again?

Mr. Long-gone-son come home for his inheritance to aloof dad who is disappointed in him, though other brother makes dad pround. (Yeah, like I said, Prodigal Skeet.) I also liked the acts of kindness by the boy whose parents got blasted in Atlanta. There is a deep sadness and longing in that boy's face, and it makes you root for him. I also want to see more of the character who seems to be hiding an interesting, perhaps secret-agenty past. I call him the push-pin guy.

Now, for some specific lowlights and highlights:

One of the worst moments: Gerald McRaney being as wooden as possible while giving his rally-the-community speech from the school bus. They should have gotten an ace speech writer to do that bit. It was clunky. "We've got to work together." YAWN. I'd rather see them kill each other over gas than listen to that dull crap again.

Best moments:
~The little boy, playing hide and seek with his young sister, standing on the roof, and the camera goes behind him and we see what he sees--the mushroom cloud in the distance. (see pic above left).
~ The boy holding the answering machine tape who is asked, "What do you have there?" His simple, heartbreaking answer: "My mom."
~The mystery man pushing pins onto a map, major city after major city, and the big box of red push pins where his fingers keep dipping for more, and more, and more pins. Without a syllable of dialogue, we know the scope is huge and we're now in solid, post-apocalyptic mode.

I don't know if it's gonna get better or just be an accumulation of crap speeches by the mayor (McRaney) and people demanding to know what's going on (of the mayor). I don't know if the nukey rains will bring some kind of plagues to the town or be ultimately anticlimactic.

I just wish the people of Jericho were more interesting. Right now, I don't much care if 99.9% they croak from radiation sickness, starting with the I-have-only-one-expression-and-voice-volume-level mayor. That's not a good thing.

I do hope they don't squander the situation. Episode two was less interesting than episode one. That's not a good sign. But it ended well. I hope they manage to make this work, cause I really would like to see what's up with prodigal Skeet and I'd like to find out why the bombs fell.

Carmen at In The Open has had a couple of good posts on JERICHO. And she links to others discussing this new show. You'll want to get her take on it.

More Post Conference Blogging:
Beauty of Spirit and Vulnerability

I was telling my hubby yesterday how I will be praying that God heals me up enough to go to the ACFW conference next year. Not because I want to network and get a contract, yadda yadda. (That would be nice, but I couldn't even bring myself to sell chocolate bars in elementary school. The introvert in me just wants to die thinking about trying to sell MYSELF, in a way.)

No, I wanna go because I think this group of men and women who assemble for this event are admirable and fascinating and compassionate and very spiritual.

If you doubt me, then you haven't read Shannon's post today. Or the 9/27 one by Claudia the Ragamuffin Diva. You should go read that right now:

Ended up Saturday at Lisa Samson's Published Not Popular workshop, and I admit, once again, I started trouble. I joked that I was sitting in the Holy Ghost row (the front) and Marilynn made the mistake of sitting with me. Before Lisa is done I'm crying incessantly, but out of some kind of grateful JOY and then Mary breaks down, and then Lisa and Liz Curtis Higgs and practically everybody and we get a magnificent visitation that makes that little conference room HOLY GROUND. Lisa reminded us that we write out of love and obedience. It's the kind of word from God that strips you of ambition and makes you say, "Yes, Lord." Even if I never earn out my advance. Even if I never get off of food stamps. Even if I never get to buy my husband a new car, or have real medical insurance. I say YES, because I love you, and want to obey you."

It's the kind of conference where a well-known author says she was told by God to focus on praying for others. It's the kind of conference where people say they stop writing if God tells them to and don't restart writing until God says "Now! Write!" It's the kind of conference where someone will sit outside the area where editor/agent appointments go on and pray for those nervous souls inside. It's the kind of conference where the admonition to love one another comes to life. It's the kind of conference where money is not a priority, where fame is not a concern, but rather where the Holy Spirit himself drops in to move hearts and illuminate minds.

That's why I want to go.

What? Wouldn't that tempt you?

Other links to conference debriefings are posted at J. Mark's site.

Get Ready Now For 2007 Genesis Contest

As a disorganized, low-energy gal, I'm always amazed at people who can juggle many things at once and run on super-speed.

One of these people is the indefatigable, witty, generous Camy Tang, she of the Asian Chick Lit, 3-book contract with Zondervan fame. Camy will ONCE MORE coordinate the Genesis Contest for ACFW. She did a great job this year, and I expect with all this experience under her Japanese silk belt, she'll be even more brilliant in 2007.

Here is some info to get you all motivated to write and save your entry fee dollars:
The contest will open sometime in November, probably. Some of the rules will change, although nothing is solidified yet. The rules will be posted on the website when the contest opens. Postmark deadline will be Feb 14th 2007.

It's not likely I'll enter the contest, and it's even less likely that I'll enter in the SF category. I'm too buy with this current WIP and I'm a slow, slow, procrastinatingly slow, writer. But ya never know for sure, huh?

So, while it's still early, I propose that all of you who choose to write CSF enter the SF/F category, and that you get together and start praying for and offering feedback to others entering the SF GENESIS category.


Well, it never hurts to shine for the sake of the genre. But, also, I would love to see an SF work win overall best. YEAH!

If you've entered before, you know what to expect.

If you've never entered the ACFW contest, here's what you need to start doing now:

1. Be ready to have your first few chapters tight, captivating, and chock full of your "voice." Sounding fresh and non-generic will make you stand out. Cultivate your you-ness. (How many pages or chapters, you ask? This year it was the first 25 pages. I dunno if they'll make it longer or shorter. So, I'd say, think in terms of at least 25 pp.)

2. Have a coherent, entertaining, well-crafted, short synopsis ready to fly by April. And by short, I mean no more than 5 pages, and prefereably 2.

3. Work out a comprehensive proposal, in case you make it to the finals. This takes a lot of time, so thinking about and researching it now or soon can't hurt. Think in terms of chapter outlines, marketing platform, short bio, promotional ideas, hook, comparable novels, branding ideas, audience, etc. If all this is Aramaic to you, get someone who has done proposals to give you a sample. (If I find a good online workshop on it, I'll link to it later on.)

4. Find someone, or two to three someones, who can give you on-target and valuable critiques by the end of this year--or no later than mid-January--so you have time to revise before mailing your entry.
If you already have a finished novel and you plan to enter, then you still need to PPP: polish and prepare that proposal.

I recommend you read my Non-Comprehensive Tour of Trouble-Spot Tip-Offs, so that you can avoid THOSE particular prose pitfalls.

Get cracking, ye creative ones.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Affairs of Dragons...and Wizards

Shannon McNear continues to post on the ACFW Conference, and it's good reading--especially for CSF writers and readers.

I especially found charming the pic of the table art for the SF crowd, because the dragon has a silly smile and it sports one of my fave slogans, which you can see (I hope) on this bumper sticker (which you can purchase if you want to display fannishness on your car):

The sticker's dragon may be more artistically correct, but the table art one was more whimsical and fun. I wonder who got to keep it as a memento?

If you're wondering why the sticker may sound familiar, it's from LOTR:

“Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger.”

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

ACFW Conference Reports from CSFers

No one I knew did live-blogging, but some attendees of the ACFW annual conference have now posted. A few have things of interest to report for those of you writing CBA-targeted Christian SF/F. (And no, it's not particularly cheering.)

Becky Miller wrote on her blog that "we SFF writers heard more than our share of no’s. Nevertheless, I see some signs pointed in the right direction and think it’s important to build on those." She then proceeds to outline how we can take action, particularly via the CSFF blog tour. Ahe's also posted at SPECULATIVE FAITH:
Zondervan has hired a new editor, Andy Meisenheimer, who does not hide his own love of fantasy. He and some of the other younger members of the editorial community who also personally like fantasy serve as examples of one of the things I believe and have mentioned in my "Fantasy and a Christian Worldview" series: the twenty-something readers (and to a lesser extent the thirty-something readers) are hungry for SFF, and Christians are hungry for CSFF. In my opinion, this trend will only increase since a good many of these readers cut their reading teeth on Harry Potter.

Stuart Stockton has also posted on the conference at SPECULATIVE FAITH:
John Olson also taught two excellent workshops, the first was on Thrillers, though the basic principles of the session can be applied to any genre as needed. The second was on Writing science fiction and fantasy, or more appropriately, figuring out how to SELL science fiction and fantasy in the CBA market. As he said a few times throughout the conference, "Nobody is actively looking for fantasy, but they are acquiring it."

Shannon McNear is particularly moving as she openly and poetically writes about her emotions post-conference:
I weep intermittently, mourning the door You have closed to me. But what did I think I wanted? Being published? And why? Notoriety, approval, validation? I am already known--and loved--oh, Lord, you have made me loved--and given me those who love my writing--and opened other doors to me. What is it I lack?

A very different tone--humorous, playful--is taken by Beth Goddard at her blog, Writing With Fire:
I came away from the conference with two great ideas on how to make editors notice:

1) Change my last name from Goddard to Goddess (per Randy Ingermanson)
2) Write a scary vampire story (John Olson) Bad press is better than no press.

If anyone comes across any pertinent post-conference blog posts relating to the SF/F genre (or any really good stuff on other genres), please drop me a comment. I couldn't go, so I gotta get my fix vicariously.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Another SF Author Gone: John M. Ford

Sunday, John M. Ford died.

I just found out while checking my bloglines feed of Gaiman's journal. Making Light has a poem by Ford and plenty of links for this occasion. Here's an excerpt from the poem, "Entropy":

The universe winds down. That’s how it’s made.
But memory is everything to lose;
Although some of the colors have to fade,
Do not believe you’ll get the chance to choose.
Regret, by definition, comes too late;
Say what you mean. Bear witness. Iterate.

And his poem FINAL CONNECTION is over at Gaiman's in a post from 2003. It ends this way:

Up ahead, can you see, we've stopped for Emily,
There will be more as we pass.
Savor the journey, however you're going,
It's been your whole life to get there,
Someday I'll travel, without reservations,
I hope I've two coins for my fare.

Fitting, huh?

I own a hardcover copy of MASTERPIECES OF FANTASY AND WONDER, compiled by David G. Hartwell, a magnificent anthology from 1989 that you should immediately buy used. Amazon has some copies starting at a one cent. Ginormous bargain, that.

The first story is "Green is the Color", and it happens to be my favorite John M. Ford fantasy tale. It's gorgeously written. It's dark. It's romantic. It's mesmerizing.

Every year or so, I get an urge to reread it. So, I keep it in the bookshelf in the living room. That way, it's at hand when the craving strikes.

This is not fantasy for children, though a child figures prominently in it. There is a Phantom of the Opera quality to the dangerous male character. It's got the flavor of fairy tale, full of magic and dread, and it has a touch of paranormal romance woven in. The ending is as dark as its heart. It's, as I said, one that I feel compelled to read again and again over the years.

And I wonder if J.K. Rowling had a go at this story, because Wizard's Row is a street very reminiscent of Diagon Alley, only not as cute.

In honor of Mr. Ford's creative light--now extinguished--I think I'll reread it later today, after the errands are run and emails returned and blogs updated. Yes, it's best saved for when I can sit with a fresh cup of Italian coffee from the gourmet shop, and an almond cookie, and just be amazed all over again.

And then try very, very hard to write 1/100th as well.

Regret, by definition, comes too late;
Say what you mean. Bear witness. Iterate.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

An Uncensored Peek Into A Writer's Mind

Most of us tend to be awfully polite and decorous about rejections. After all, why boohoo on a global communications network (ie. the web).

I always get that momentary sinking feeling, and then, strangely, it passes rather swiftly. I think this is perhaps because none of the rejections I've had has yet been for something that I've truly labored long, long, long hours and weeks and months for, so that the investment ensures a bit of depression or a touch of fury at a turn-down.

Still, I doubt I'd be ridiculing editors should I ever have some massive enterprise snubbed outright, such as a 100K word long novel. I'm pretty sure I'd put on my game face in public and soldier on.


And that is why the September 20th post at Fair Writing was a fascinating hoot of a read. This is a blogger who has no trouble saying, "This is exactly what I think and burned bridges be damned."

If you don't mind utter frankness and enjoy snarky humor, you should drop by. But be warned, something there will likely make you bristle. And I think Chris likes it that way.

Update on Chip MacGregor : For Writers

Yes, some of you were very disappointed that Chip left Warner/Hachette Group.

But, there's good news. Novel Journey posted this:

I'm excited to announce that veteran of the publishing industry Chip MacGregor is forming his own literary agency—MacGregor Literary. Hopefully when Gina is back online she'll be able to tell us what, when and the where.

Gina, hurry up! We're all dying for the update.

And all you who went to ACFW, please give us updates, market news, anecdotes, tips, whatever. Some of us couldn't go and want a bit of a vicarious thrill.


You may see a familiar name (misspelled 'Ana'), if you scroll down a ways:

Contemporary Romance
1st Glynna Sirpless
2nd Kaye Dacus
3rd Kristian Tolle

Historical Romance
1st Audra Harders
2nd Andree Eisenberg
3rd Charlene Glatkowski

1st Cheryl Wyatt
2nd Susan Spencer-Smith
3rd Wayne Scott

Romantic Suspense
1st Jill Eileen Smith
2nd Robin Miller
3rd Kelly Ann Riley

Science Fiction/Fantasy/Speculative Fiction
1st Mirta Ann Schultz
2nd Rebecca Grabill
3rd Sherry Thompson

Women's Fiction
1st Marian Merritt
2nd Julie Saffrin
3rd Erin Keeley Marshall

General Fiction
1st Christina Miller
2nd Lynne Gentry
3rd MaryAnn L. Diorio

FaithWords Finalists (Top five scoring entries were sent to the FaithWords
editorial board. There were only four finalists because one withdrew from
the contest)
Andree Eisenberg
Audra Harders
Marian Merritt
Christina Miller

FaithWords overall winner (chosen by the FaithWords editorial team)
Marian Merritt

For the record, again: The middle name is Ana. Mirta Ana.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Fearing a Reclusive Friend is Dead:
A (maybe, maybe not) Eulogy

January of 1997, I met an amazing gentleman online. You know how you exchange keyed in words with someone and click? It was like this:

I was in a chat room. I was new to this chat room (I previously only hung in one for amateur astronomers and stargazers), and I didn't like the shallow and superficial tone of some of the comments. Three or four of the men in the room were clearly trolling for sex. Ick. One of the snerts was boasting about his good looks.

I promptly typed something like this:

MirAndaMia: I prefer a man who is beautiful on the inside and ugly on the outside to one who is beautiful outside and ugly on the inside.

And I suddenly got an IM that said:

EDesarmand: "That would be me."

That was his screen name back then, EDesarmand (ie, Erik Desarmand, his name). He changed it a couple of times until he settled on one that was descriptive rather than real: Grumpy Old E.

I asked him what he meant by "that would be me". He said he fit my description...ugly outside, etc.

A solid 13 hour conversation ensued. (And so did carpal tunnel syndrome.) And we became pals. I told my husband and sometimes Charles would drop into the chat.

French, British-educated, architect, and a person burdened with a host of medical problems, including a hereditary condition that left him with multiple deformities--that was Erik. Many of his deformities are evident in the childhood photo he shared with me. He refused to take pictures thereafter. He said he wanted no evidence of his deformities to endure past his lifespan.

We talked a lot--a lot--during the next year, less so during the two or three years after that, and sporadically until two years ago. His physical condition had deteriorated (quadriplegia is cruel).

I've met a lot of fakers online (people pretending to be something more or different than what they are), and I wondered at first if Erik was a hoaxer. But, he consistently surprised me with knowledge and advice that seemed to indicate he was who he said he was. My gut said believe him.

In any case, he was always a gentleman. That is not a small compliment. Unlike some males a gal might meet online, men who get salacious or nasty and one must immediately drop like a stone and never look back, Erik did not descend into crass, vulgar conversation. He wanted to talk about books, history, architecture, music, or just people being people. He did love his gossip. I suspect this was because he was denied regular social interaction that so many take for granted.

I, being the family recluse, understood his passion for privacy. We were both bibliophiles, and we both loved Art Deco, and we both didn't think much of all the cybersex fellow chat roomers seemed to obsess over. We did not talk about one divisive subject: religion.

He knew I was very religious. I knew he was very anti-religious. He was an outspoken atheist. We figured this was no man's land, conversationally. He would lose his temper if someone, anyone, said something like "I'll pray for you." He considered it offensive.

So, I respected that boundary. I prayed for him, but I never said so.

There were clashes at times, and sometimes hurtful things were said, but in general, we had pleasant conversation and mutual respect. I had much affection and admiration for his courage, intelligence, wry and dark sense of humor, endurance, and strong will. His diction delighted me--the British formality that an education at Eton and Cambridge bestows.

After a year or so, I gave up on chat rooms. Too many drama queens, idiots, neurotics... and too many perverts. I got tired of having to block IMs or post I ONLY TALK TO KNOWN FRIENDS DO NOT IM ME in my profile to discourage vile invitations. But I'd still email with Erik, and occcasionally he'd be up for an extended IM conversation. Except for him and two other male friends from the stargazer's chat room who had proven to be intelligent gentlemen and not trolls, I made a point to only email and IM with women for many years thereafter. (I've relaxed the rule somewhat since, but only because you get better with experience at spotting the "good guys" and knowing how to avoid the pervs.)

Over the years, I listened to wavs of his piano compositions, viewed GIFs of his restoration projects, and enjoyed photos of his elegant home and the towheaded, small-boned boy he came to love and consider family (his housekeeper's son, Gerard, who later became his legal heir). He shared his amusement at his British assistant Em's vivacity. I recommended novels he might enjoy and was grateful for his advice on wheelchairs and other tools and supplies for the paralyzed (after my mom became bedbound). I'll always remember his kindness in offering assitance--turned down, not needed-- after one of the bad storms of years past.

He taught me something of how severely deformed people are wounded by the callousness of others, how they see themselves and the world, and how they'd wish to be treated if humanity were closer to the ideal.

And I think he's dead now. Thought I can't know for sure.

Another gut feeling?

I wish I had a way to confirm it.

My last email (sent after the Parisian riots of last year) to him, then his assistant, Em, were not answered. Winters were always hard on Erik, brutalizing his body with bouts of pneumonia, and perhaps the past one was his last. His account is now gone. No profile. It was one way I kept reassuring myself he lived. I'd see if his profile was still online, if his web page with his fractals--beautiful, colorful, mathematical things he enjoyed creating--was still online. Profile gone. Fractals gone.

It's like water washed away some vital message on the shore.

I post this on the chance that someone, at some time, will do a google search for "Erik Desarmand"--the Paris architect--and that they may be able to tell me...something. Erik, Adele, Gerard...I wish I had printed out Erik's IMs. I wish I had more information. I wish I could write a note and ask someone.

I dreamed of Erik last night. I woke up with a sad heart and told my husband what I suspected of one of my earliest online friends, the brilliant Parisian recluse.

I think he's dead.

I wish he wasn't.

Sometimes, comments are as fun as the post!

You'll want to get a comfy chair and sit a spell over at John C. Wright's blog to read the comments to his post on the Chiang story. Quite mentally stimulating...and great fun. If you've got a pertinent Lewis or Chesterton quote that applies, you might wanna drop it into the discussion. ; )

Friday, September 22, 2006

300 Promo Trailer Pulled...Pity

Persian: Our arrows will blot out the sun.
Spartan: Then we will fight in the shade.

Well, I warned you it wouldn't last. I hope you got to see it yesterday. Warner's had the site pull the video.

Good thing I watched it 9 times. :)

Warners must have a bunch of doofuses in charge. That video was getting RAVE reviews, causing a flurry of blogging about the film. It was ready-made publicity. Raising a buzz. Probably sold some graphic novel copies. That trailer made you WANT to see the movie.

And the dolts pull it.

Well, maybe they don't want the buzz this far ahead of release. Still, don't tick off the fans, I say.

ETA: Found it here. Not as nice a version as the other link. This one's constricted, while the other had a larger pic and wider look, but hey. Something's something.

UPDATE, again: The great gals at have a nicer version--widescreen sized: 300 Promo Trailer

Leonidas: Spartans! This is where we fight. This is where they die!

Friday Femme at Speculative Faith:
Part II of "Hell is the Absence of God"

So, it's Friday again. Come by my sixth-day nook at Speculative Faith, where today's second parter posts interview quotes from the author of the story, Ted Chiang, before I go off into the wild forests of story analysis, trying to make my own little clearing for a literary picnic.

I bring the sandwiches. You bring the Coke Zero.

See if you think my comparison is on the mark. Discuss. Pass the potato salad.

Edited to Add Update:
John C. Wright, author of ORPHANS OF CHAOS (which is on my to-be-read list and sits even now on my clogged-with-stacks-of-books coffee table) has, coincidentally, also posted on this story (highly critically) on his most excellent blog. It's part of his "Separation of Church and Spaceship" series, and I recommend all installments.

Thanks to Elliot the Clawmeister for the heads up. (Although I would have gotten to it, as I have Wright on my blogline feeds. You should, too.)

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Three Terrrific Songs In Three Cool Videos

I can be obsessive. (Or is that compulsive? I do confuse these terms.)

That's why I have thousands of books, too many magazines stacked haphazardly, too many cds (is there such a thing?), and I can't stop kissing my husband some days until my lips are all swollen up.

When a song or album gets under my skin, I play it for hours on repeat mode. It's one of the sweetest traits of my snooky-hubby that he will tolerate me using his iPod for my obsessive repetitive endeavors in his car when we're riding around. Last time it was Kelly Clarkson's "Addicted" that got played like 8 times in a row on the way to my brother's house. Prior to that it was Ashley Cleveland's version of "Gimme Shelter" (and some months ago it was her version of "The Needle and the Damage Done"), and prior to that it was Chingon's version of "Malagueña Salerosa," and before that it was Cat Stevens' "Sad Lisa," and I think it was Sting's "Fortress Around Your Heart" before that.

Well, I'm getting that way with videos (especially music ones) on YouTube.Com.

So, to share my obsession with y'all, here are some videos I play and repeat and repeat and repeat. The reason? These are songs I own on cds that I've played and repeated and reapeated and repeated. Click on the group/title to see the video:

1. Chasing Furies: "Thicker"

I have two copies of the Chasing Furies debut (and only) cd, WITH ABANDON. It's a thing I do with cds I end up playing and carrying about a lot. One to listen. One to keep in storage in case the first goes bendy, melty, or scratchy. I was mighty put out when they broke up. I had found a kicking, rocking, alt CCM band with a female lead singer...and they do a one-timer. How irritating is that?

You can get the cd for less than a buck over at amazon. Lucky you.

This is my fave song from the cd. I wish I had the voice and range to sing this. I don't.

2. Evanescence: "Bring Me To Life"

I bought the cd FALLEN before it hit it big. I'd sampled it in a Christian bookstore ,never having heard of the band, and went, "Wow!" The combo of ethereal soprano rocker with hard driving band, whoa. Loved it. Then they also hit me with a "here's our record that you'll love, and, oh, we're done now, bye" routine. ARGH! This video got heavy rotation on MTV/VH1 when the song was hot around the time the crappy DAREDEVIL film was out.

3. Within Temptation: "Angels"

This band hasn't pulled a one-er, thankfully. I bought their cd, SILENT FORCE, and have been very happy with it. It's got a nice, semi-permanent spot on my carousel. I recommend it if you like the soprano gal doing rock combo.

Apparently, if one is going to be a soprano rock chick, there's a rule one must be dark-haired and lovely?

Or I could be generalizing. :)

In any case, go, and enjoy sharing my obsession/compulsion.

Un-Fricken-Believable!~The "300" Promo

"Spartans! Tonight we dine in Hell!"

Hurry yourself to catch the kicking trailer for the upcoming Gerard "Abs of Glory" Butler film, 300. It'll probably go bye-bye rather fast, as it has at other sites. I'm guessing the studio hasn't given the go-ahead on distribution. I could be wrong.

But go see it now HERE.

I thought it looked amazing. Call it SIN CITY meets BRAVEHEART meets GLADIATOR. Wow.

Gerry Butler, babe extraordinaire, does a lot of screaming (I hope he doesn't damage those manly vocals of his) and is nearly unrecognizable in Kingly Leonidan beard and hair. He also can't fully hide the Scottish accent, as much as he might have wished. Who cares? I like burrs with my brawn. And this movie delivers on brawn. Whoo.

Hey, God made me a girl. I'm supposed to like that stuff. :D

The picture is all about warrior ferocity and the stunning visuals, looks like. No surprise. It is, after all, based on a graphic novel by Frank "Sin City" Miller, that is itself based on a famous historical event. (See my previous post on this.) Expect action and violence and intense emotion and super cool eye dazzles.

"Before this battle's over, the world will know that few stood against many."

Oh, I did say hurry, right?

(For the record, let it be known that I loved the noir brutality of SIN CITY, because there was this odd nobility and vulnerability and heroicism and heart mixed into the freakishness of the cruelty and degradation. It's an awful lot old neighborhood in the Bronx, only with better looking people. Although, sheesh, I'm so tired of religious folks--priests and ministers--being the baddies. Watched a not-so-fabulous film called ULTRAVIOLET this week, and that's another one where the religious element is perverse-i-fied.)

By the way, you other Butler Babes out there, I decided to take my drooly posts on the subject of things Gerardish to a new blog: Butlerian Crushgirl.

That way, Elliot and Chris and David and the other males who drop by don't have to put up with constant Mir-gushing over my fave bit of yumsy Scottish beefcake. Well, except for here. And now and then, when pertinent. Heh.

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ACFW Conference 2006 Underway

Many of my online writing and blogging pals are off to the 2006 American Christian Fiction Writers Conference, whose keynote speaker this year is Liz Curtis Higgs, and whose key verse and theme are as follows:

Isaiah 43:19
"Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it?
I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert." KJV

New Beginnings

Dallas, Texas
September 21 - 24, 2006

If you can spare some prayers in the next few days, I hope you will ask God to bless the attendants with safety, good fellowship, guidance, good networking, and answered prayers. A lot of hopes get packed along with banquet wear and comfy shoes, hopes for stories of the heart, for many-times-revised manuscripts, for new friendships, for an understanding counselor, for mentors, for enthusiastic editors.

I wish all my pals who are going traveling mercies and much, much more.

And I ask for special prayers for my critique pal, Meg Moseley (whose entry won the overall fiction contest prize at last year's conference), as she is being kind enough to be my proxy at the awards banquet, on the long shot that I land a spot among the winners.

If any of the lovely ACFW folks post updates (editorial requests or changes, new lines, etc), I will try to remember to link them up for those of you out there who are writing Christian fiction and desire market news. I'm sure some will be live-blogging. I'll check around.

You might want to check some of these blogs in the coming days or next week for conference info-goodies:

Camy's Loft
Sonoran Saga
The Eloquent Mr. Bertrand
Forensics and Faith
Robin's Writing World
Ronie Kendig
Michelle Sutton
The Master's Artist
Lisa Samson

And for those who wished they had gone, couldn't, but want the tapes or CD-ROM, you can get it here.

Hannibal Lecter Returns This December

The new novel by Thomas Harris will take you to an earlier time in Hannibal the Cannibal's life. I'm guessing it will have gross stuff to spare in each of those 1.5 million copies of the first printing.

From CNN:

"Now, in 'Hannibal Rising,' readers will at last learn of Lecter's beginnings and will see the evolution of his evil," Irwyn Applebaum, president and publisher of the Bantam Dell Publishing Group, said Tuesday in a statement.

Harris' novel was originally titled "Behind the Mask" and was supposed to come out in the fall of 2005. Applebaum declined comment when asked by The Associated Press why the book took longer than expected, saying, "Sometimes, that's how the process works."

Harris was simultaneously writing the screenplay for a film version of "Hannibal Rising," due in early 2007.

I have to admit, I really enjoyed--enjoyed might be the wrong word, though--THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS when I read the paperback way back when. I had bought it because, previously, I had read and something-like-enjoyed-but-not-quite the other novel with Lecter, RED DRAGON, as well as seen the Michael Mann flick based on it, MANHUNTER.

I don't know if I could stand a ratcheting up of the gruesome aspects. I didn't read HANNIBAL after hearing some of the reviews re: contents. Not that I'm overly squeamish. I watched the film (love me Hopkins and, heretically, prefer Julianne Moore's "Starling" to Jodie Foster's) and didn't puke. Maybe I'll wait for the film again.

I wonder who'd they get to play younger Lecter? Long, wide shoes to fill after Hopkins take on it. It's gonna be crucial to find the right actor.

Any ideas who'd be good?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Closet Sci-Fi Geekiness Over Star Trek TOS

I don't know how closeted one's geekiness is when one blogs about it--is that an oxymoron, closeted blogging?-- but Closet Sci-Fi Geek (whose postings I enjoy and who happens to be quite cute--go see her pic) has got the full set of original series STAR TREK as a birthday goody. The review of "The Naked Time" is quite enthusiastic. Considering the VHS cover left, it was more like "The Half-Naked Sulu."

This is the episode that inspired an homage follow-up in Next Generation: "The Naked Now."

Naked is such a loaded word next to the word "now." Dang.

I hope she blogs on more episodes. I have a warm spot in my geeky heart for ST: TOS. Partly, this was because 1. I thought the idea of traveling the universe was amazingly wonderful, and 2. when I was eight, I wanted to marry Spock. Come to think of it, I still wanted to marry Spock when I was 13. That may be one of my longest teenybopper crushes.

For Spockettes, "The Naked Time" is a key episode, along with "Amok Time" , "All Our Yesterdays", and "This Side of Paradise." Any episode where we could get some yummy angsty or lusty emotion out of our fave science officer, hooray!

Remember, this week is the 40th anniversary of the debut of the original series opener, "Where No Man Has Gone Before." It first aired September 22, 1966. I was 61/2 years old. Yoiks. Times does indeed fugit.

You'll also want to check out the trailer for the remastered ST. High def, baby. Sounds and looks good! See if it's gonna show on TV in your area (or already has).

ETA: Sci-Fi Geek Gal has posted a review of "Tomorrow is Yesterday," for you Trekkers who wanna keep track.

CSFF Blog Tour, Day Three, featuring:

Apologies for flaking out on Tuesday. Feeling fatigued (hugely) and lethargic and ear achey (which I have no idea if it's a sinus thing coming on or the TMJ acting up.)

I feel BLEH! If you feel bleh, too, cheer yourself up by visiting, EDENSTAR, our featured blog site.

Today, I'm zero-ing in on the Potter section. As an unapologetic, stand-in-line for reserved copy, waiting for finale like a drooling dog for a bone, Potterhead, I had to click the "On Harry Potter" link. Some of the tasty offerings include:

~~A Charmed Life : the Spirituality of Potterworld [Paperback]
by Francis Bridger

In A Charmed Life, Francis Bridger, a theologian and pastor, argues that far from promoting the dark arts, the Potter books are firmly based in Christian values, and offer valuable insights into our characters, our relationships, our priorities, and our spirituality.

~~Looking for God in Harry Potter [Hardcover]
by John Granger

John Granger, a devout Christian, teacher of classic literature, and father of seven children, first read the Harry Potter books so he could explain to his children why they weren't allowed to read them. After intense study, however, he became convinced that the books are underestimated as literature--and reflect important Christian truths. "Looking for God in Harry Potter" gives parents and teachers a roadmap for using the Harry Potter books to teach Christian truth to children.

~~Faith Journey Through Fantasy Lands: A Christian Dialogue With Harry Potter, Star Wars, and the Lord of the Rings
by Russell W. Dalton

Faith Journey through Fantasy Lands engages popular culture in the hugely successful stories of Harry Potter, Star Wars, and The Lord of the Rings. Russell W. Dalton guides the reader through these contemporary fantasy stories, illuminating them with light from the Christian faith journey. He also takes on the issues within the stories that have led some Christians to reject them.

And, being a fair site, books that critique and warn of the dangers of Potterness are also listed, such as:

~~Harry Potter and the Bible: the Menace Behind the Magick [Paperback]
by Richard Abanes

Harry Potter and his magical adventures as a wizard-in-training continue to mesmerize millions worldwide. In "Harry Potter and the Bible", Richard Abanes provides a hard look at America's not-so-subtle drift toward paganism and examines the reasons why God says "no" to occultism.

If you're a Potterhead, you'll want to browse.

Then check out Becky Miller's multiple choice Edenstar quiz. Oh, come on, it'll make you feel 15 and high school-y again.

And now, my blog tourmates. They welcome you with open blogs:

Jim Black
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
Bryan Davis
Beth Goddard
Leathel Grody
Karen Hancock
Elliot Hanowski
Sherrie Hibbs
Sharon Hinck
Jason Joyner
Tina Kulesa
Shannon McNear
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Cheryl Russell
Speculative Faith
Stuart Stockton
Steve Trower

Monday, September 18, 2006

Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy
Blog Tour for September 2006:EDENSTAR

Good morning. It's MONDAY. And it's BLOG TOUR TIME! For the next three days, we'll be touting our subject du month.

Sharon Hinck's post for this blog tour relates a personal incident in her writing journey:
I was struggling. I felt a deep call to write, but wasn't sure which direction or which genre to pursue. One talented writer in the group, Cheryl Bader, read chapters each month from her youth fantasy, MAKER'S POOL.

It turns out that Cheryl Bader--who inspired Hinck to follow her muse into speculative Christian fiction--and Cheryl's hubby, Bill, are behind the site that's the focus of this stop on the CSFFBT: EDENSTAR BOOKS AND GAMES. You can read Becky Miller's interview with Bill Bader right now over at Speculative Faith.

Today, I'd like to point you to the reviews section of the site. (Sidetrack Note: I had originally intended to point out their games section, but my gaming-enthusiast, game-testing textbook author, engineer hubby snorted that it's pathetic. My reply: Well, if they're not writing Christian-themed SF video games of the highest quality, then that's not the site's fault. It's the industry's. And maybe, just as we wish to have better and more Christian SF in fiction, some folks need to get behind more and better Christian SF games, films, etc. Okay, so it touched a nerve!)

To read the assorted reviews, go here. They also courteously provide links to reviews at other sites.

Do drop by EDENSTAR and the bloggy homes of my other blog tourmates:

Jim Black
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
Bryan Davis
Beth Goddard
Leathel Grody
Karen Hancock
Elliot Hanowski
Sherrie Hibbs
Sharon Hinck
Jason Joyner
Tina Kulesa
Shannon McNear
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Cheryl Russel
Mirtika Schultz
Speculative Faith
Stuart Stockton
Steve Trower

Have browsing fun!

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Sunday, September 17, 2006

RIP: Charles Lewis Grant

Charles L. Grant has died. If you're a fan of speculative fiction, you'll likely recognize this name. He's appeared in many anthologies you must have happened upon over the years.

I'm fairly certain the first story of his I ever read was "Glow of Candles, A Unicorn's Eye." Isn't that a memorable, imagistic, gorgeous bit of titling. The novelette won a Nebula. A couple of his stories are up at SciFiction (archives), and you can read them sans cost:

~"A Crowd of Shadows"
~ "Temperature Days on Hawthorne Street"

Neil Gaiman posted something of a eulogy:

The last time I saw him he was grey (hair, skin and beard) and gaunt and sick. Now he's dead, I find I'm thinking of him as I first knew him, meeting him at a British Fantasycon in about 1984, smart and funny and sharp, with a dark beard and dark hair and dark eyes, and I was in awe of him because he'd written some of the most gently evocative horror short stories I'd ever read and he had a Nebula Award and had written books and he had pseudonyms and everything.

And now I'm just thinking about Time, and what it gives us, and what it takes away.

And I've Read Not A Single One Of Them

Literary News:

Six authors were named yesterday to the shortlist for the $93,700 Man Booker Prize for Fiction. The winner of the prize, Britain’s leading literary award, is to be announced in London on Oct. 10. The surviving candidates, chosen from a group of 19, are Kiran Desai for “The Inheritance of Loss” (Hamish Hamilton); Kate Grenville for “The Secret River” (Canongate); M. J. Hyland for “Carry Me Down” (Canongate); Hisham Matar for “In the Country of Men” (Viking); Edward St. Aubyn for “Mother’s Milk” (Picador) and Sarah Waters for “The Night Watch” (Virago). Last year’s winner was “The Sea” (Picador) by John Banville.

And here I am, reading comic books. Er...

So, what are the chances I'll read any of the Booker nominees within the next year. Take a guess. Answer below.*



John C. Wright on the
"Separation of Church & Spaceship"

Wow, I had a brain burp. I thought I posted the below last Thursday. Instead, I hit "save as draft" and it was sitting there, unpublished, all this time. Let me correct this oversight right now (with changes to include latest post):

John C. Wright has a terrific trio of posts over at his blog. If you do SF, you should drop by.

From the first entry with the title "Separation of Church and Spaceship":

Portrayal of religion as a divine institution is very rare, for the very simple reason that belief in divinities is widely regarded as an unscientific belief, not the proper subject for science fiction speculation. The 'Outsider' in NIGHTSIDE THE LONG SUN by Gene Wolfe is arguably an honest-to-goodness God; but the other gods are computer imprints of dead tyrants: ghosts. Fakes.

Science Fiction takes at least some of its inspiration from Mark Twain. Reading nearly any book from the early days, one recognizes the Connecticut Yankee and his Yankee can-do know-how, or a close cousin, Heinlein's Competent Man. Science Fiction in general regards religion much as the Connecticut Yankee regarded the black magic of Merlin: hokum. Bunk.

And this from part two:

For example, I think C.S. Lewis in OUT FROM THE SILENT PLANET and PERELENDRA does an admirable job of depicting a planetary romance in a solidly Christian mythology.

But please notice what he does: In order to depict Christianity in SF, you need to change the names. In the same way the Japanese call Jehovah "Kamisama", the men of other worlds and times are expected to call God by names suited to their background. So instead of talking about angels, for example, C.S. Lewis talks about "eldil".

Also, Gene Wolfe has a very strong Catholic sentiment running through his books, and in IN GREEN'S JUNGLES a character has a religious experience handles as being no more extraordinary -- and no less -- than falling in love or having a baby or any other ordinary, extraordinary event in human life. He pulls the same trick of names in SHADOW OF THE TORTURER. Jesus Christ is called "The Conciliator" -- which, by no coincidence, was a Medieval euphemism for a torturer.

Part three has this:

Now, I can think of at least two SFF books where God or His Angels are characters in the tale, and they are either senile or outright frauds:
HIS DARK MATERIALS by Phillip Pullman

Oddly, I cannot think of a single science fiction story that treats the Christian mythology in the same respectful way, even when lighthearted, as HERE COMES MR. JORDON. Maybe God makes a cameo appearance in Heinlein's JOB or in James Branch Cabell. There may be a few fantasy or Urban fantasy stories that have angels in them—I haven't read that much by Charles de Lint or Megan Lindholm. Usually these days even the good supernatural beings are fairly new-age, neutral, or culturally relative. There is, for instance, a Power of Light in A WRINKLE IN TIME, that seems like a nondenominational sort of goodness.

So Christianity seem more well represented in the mainstream than it does in SF.

The folks at Speculative Faith and Where The Map Ends are part of a smallish, but rather fervent, group that hopes to change that. Prayers welcome.


Pope Speaks, Muslims React As Usual

Oh, look. A familiar sight: Muslims protesting in the street and leaders all riled up. What piddling thing's got their blood up now?

I've been feeling out of physical sorts, so I've not been reading or watching news, so I'm playing catch-up. If you've been snogging or napping or lost in a long novel and haven't heard about this news bit I'm about to rant on, stay and I'll catch you up. I came across the issue on Elliot's blog, and immediately I headed for google.

First, the CAUSE:

In the seventh conversation edited by Professor Khoury, the emperor touches on the theme of the holy war. The emperor must have known that surah 2, 256 reads: "There is no compulsion in religion". According to the experts, this is one of the suras of the early period, when Mohammed was still powerless and under threat. But naturally the emperor also knew the instructions, developed later and recorded in the Qur'an, concerning holy war. Without descending to details, such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the "Book" and the "infidels", he addresses his interlocutor with a startling brusqueness on the central question about the relationship between religion and violence in general, saying: "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached". The emperor, after having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. "God", he says, "is not pleased by blood - and not acting reasonably (F×< 8`(T) is contrary to God's nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats... To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death...".

(excerpted from September 2nd speech by The Pope)

Okay, so there you have it. Pope Benedict XVI (a guy who I think is pretty cool so far, and I'm not a Catholic) said some things in a speech at the University of Regensburg, Germany. Cause.

Now, the EFFECT:

You guessed it. The Muslim global community starts shouting and burning stuff. Ho, fricken, hum. Not that it takes much to get those effigy-burning juices going in the lands of the Religion of Peace.
Christianity Today's weblog has this, and I quote in part:

The Muslim world is outraged by Pope Benedict's criticism of "violent conversion" and references to the siege of Constantinople. A lawmaker from the Turkish ruling party said Benedict's speech on the universality of reason "looks like an effort to revive the mentality of the Crusades" and that Benedict "is going down in history in the same category as leaders such as Hitler and Mussolini." Pakistan's parliament unanimously condemned the Pope and his remarks. In Srinagar, India, a group of Muslims burned an effigy of Benedict and shouted, "Those who dare to target Islam and the Prophet will be finished!"

"This is not an effective way to argue against someone who has questioned your religion's relationship to violence," notes Catholic blogger Amy Welborn.

"Honestly, the thin-skinnedness of many Muslims is getting awfully tiresome," agrees Rod Dreher at Beliefnet's Crunchy Con. "How on earth are we ever supposed to be able to have a dialogue if the non-Muslim side has to walk on eggshells to avoid offending the wounded sensibilities of Muslim leaders, who seem very eager to take gross offense at anything critical?"

Following the speech, Rod Liddle had this easy prophecy to make:

You can bet your life that by the time you read this, some Catholic priest toiling away in a godforsaken, dusty hellhole — Sudan, perhaps, or Turkey — will have been smacked about a bit, or had his church burnt down or been arrested without charge. The Pope should have been aware that Islam always reacts to western allegations that it is not a peaceful religion by mass outbreaks of vituperation, denunciation and acts of jihadic violence.

That this is a paradox seems not to be even remotely recognised by many Muslims. Commenting on the Pope’s speech, Tasnim Aslam, a spokeswoman for the Pakistani foreign ministry, came out with this little piece of doublethink beauty: “Anyone who describes Islam as a religion as intolerant encourages violence.”

Well, he said what we all figured was coming. (Flashback to the Danish cartoon uproar.) And he and we were right:

This elderly nun's death in Somalia is possibly part of the furious payback since it occured hours after a prominent Somali cleric denounced the Pope's remarks. Note that this woman dedicated her life to serving the poor in Mogadishu. But, hey, Catholic. Fair game for several round of bullets in the back. Her bodyguard was also killed. Note that a nun needs bodyguards in this hellhole.

There's also this:
An Iraqi insurgent group threatened the Vatican with a suicide attack over the Pope's remarks, according to a statement posted yesterday on the Web.

"We swear to God to send you people who adore death as much as you adore life," said the message posted in the name of the Mujahedeen Army on a Web site frequently used by militant groups. The message's authenticity could not be independently verified. The statement was addressed to "you dog of Rome" and threatens to "shake your thrones and break your crosses in your home."

And this from (which you now will always soften things to the pro-Muslim side):
Local Christian officials said a stone church in Tulkarem built 170 years ago was torched before dawn on Sunday.

Another church in the village of Tubas was attacked with firebombs and partially burned.

On Saturday, attackers had hurled firebombs and opened fire at five churches in the West Bank and Gaza, sparking concerns of a widening rift between Palestinian Muslims and Christians.

So, then those effects become the CAUSE of another EFFECT, the Pope's reaction:

Pope Benedict has tried to calm Muslim anger over his comments on Islam. The head of the world's one billion Catholics used his weekly prayer to say he was "deeply sorry" about the reaction to his remarks, but he stopped short of a retraction demanded by some Muslims.

"I am deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries to a few passages of my address which were considered offensive to the sensibility of Muslims," he told pilgrims at his summer residence. "These, in fact, were a quotation from a medieval text, which do not in any way express my personal thoughts. I hope this serves to appease hearts and to clarify the true meaning of my address, which in its totality was and is an invitation to frank and sincere dialogue, with mutual respect," he added.

Not that the apology is sufficient to quell the fury:
But the Pope's apology by proxy was not enough to quell a string of attacks against Christian churches on the West Bank and in Gaza. And Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood demanded a direct mea culpa from the head of the world's 1.1 billion Catholics.

The New York Times is calling for Pope Benedict XVI to grovel. (I see some Qu'ran kissing suggestions coming from the lunatic lefty columnists soon.)

Me, I think a recap will show that the Pope shouldn't need to apologize:

1. Pope gives speech with quotes that don't paint Islam too peacefully.
2. Muslims get pissed (again) and are riled out of peaceful slumbers.
3. Death threats made toward Pope (yeah, sounds like a broken record)and churches torched and a nun killed.
4. Said threats and prove the original point.

Irony is apparently lost on the Muslim community, yet again.

And not just irony, but the POINT is lost. Captain's Quarters posted this, which does get the point:
If one reads the speech at Regensburg, the entire speech, one understands that the entire point was to reject violence in pursuing religion in any form, be it Islam, Christianity, Judaism, or Bahai. The focal point of the speech was not the recounting of the debate between Manuel II and the unnamed Persian, but rather the rejection of reason and of God that violence brings (emphasis mine):

The decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion is this: not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God’s nature. The editor, Theodore Khoury, observes: For the emperor, as a Byzantine shaped by Greek philosophy, this statement is self-evident. But for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality. Here Khoury quotes a work of the noted French Islamist R. Arnaldez, who points out that Ibn Hazn went so far as to state that God is not bound even by his own word, and that nothing would oblige him to reveal the truth to us. Were it God’s will, we would even have to practise idolatry.

This is really the crux of the argument, which is that argument, debate, and rhetoric are absolutely essential in forming any kind of philosophy, including religious doctrine. The words of sacred text do not cover all situations in the world, and therefore development of a solid philosophical body of thought is critical to growth and wisdom. That requires the ability to challenge and to criticize without fear of retribution, a difficulty that most faiths struggle to overcome.

Islam, on the other hand, doesn't bother to try. Benedict never says this explicitly, but Islam's demands that all criticism be silenced turns doctrine into dictatorship, which rejects God on a very basic level.

So, to conclude, I'm with Mario:
And that's why we should be defending the pope, said Italian Mario Mauro, one of 14 vice-presidents of the European Parliament. "Let us defend the Pope without ifs or buts, let us defend reason," he said. "The monstrous attempt on the part of many Islamic leaders, even the so-called moderates, to distort the Pope's reaching out to all religions (through the lecture), in order to hit out at Christians and the West shows us the gravity of the danger we are facing."

Saturday, September 16, 2006

"From the sea a hero"

Check out the preview of BEOWULF & GRENDEL over at

Looks like a lot of violence (duh) and gorgeous Icelandic vistas. Click on the button that gives you the larger screen version for full Butlerian enjoyment. Definitely looks like a guy flick overall, but Gerry is there to make the female hearts go boomshackalacka!

The added appeal of this video: It's set to "Out of this World" by Bush. One of my all-time fave songs from the Buffy years. It hugely enhances a particularly sensual and tense silent scene in the 2002, season six episode titled "Dead Things." Spike and Buffy and mucho angst. The song is perfect for the scene.

When we die, we go into the arms of those who remember us.
We are home now, out of our heads, out of our minds.
Out of this world. Out of our time.
Are you drowning or waving? I just want you to save me.
Should we try to get along. Just try to get along.
So we move. We change by the speed of the choices that we make.
And the barriers are all self made. That’s so retrograde.
Are you drowning or waving? I just need you to save me.
Should we try to get along. Just try to get along.
I am alive. I'm awake to the trials and confusion we create.
There are times I feel the way we're about to break.
When there’s too much to say.
We are home now out of our heads out of our minds.
Out of this world. Out of this time.
Out of this time. Out of this time.

The movie is based on the oldest surviving epic in British Literature,Beowulf, which I read, what, 15 plus years ago. I think I just barely got through it.

from Prologue of BEOWULF

You have heard of the Danish Kings
in the old days and how
they were great warriors.
Shield, the son of Sheaf,
took many an enemy's chair,
terrified many a warrior,
after he was found an orphan.
He prospered under the sky
until people everywhere
listened when he spoke.
He was a good king!

Shield had a son,
child for his yard,
sent by God
to comfort the people,
to keep them from fear--
Grain was his name;
he was famous
throughout the North.
Young princes should do as he did--
give out treasures
while they're still young
so that when they're old
people will support them
in time of war.
A man prospers
by good deeds
in any nation.

I pre-ordered my copy of the video earlier in the week via amazon. Its release date is in ten days or so. Maybe I'll review it later on.


Friday, September 15, 2006

To Read: Modern Haiku, Summer 2006

I recommend you check out the samplings from the latest edition of Modern Haiku online.

The haiku and senryu section has some lovely offerings. Don't skip the tiny beauties by Patricia Neubauer and w.f. owen.

Before you head off to that poetry site, let me put you in the mood with one from Basho (the master):

Now the swinging bridge
Is quieted with creepers
Like our tendrilled life

And one by Issa:

A world of dew,
and within every dewdrop
a world of struggle

And this by Mayuzumi Madoka

a shooting star --
in love with someone, not knowing
where it will lead me

I admit that I'm not very good at writing haiku. (I tend toward more expansive poetry.) But I think that one of my writing goals next year will be to learn to write them. The kind of concentration and focus haiku requires in order to find the observation that carries a resonance, that small drop that ripples out--it's not a bad thing to practice for a writer/poet.

If you enjoy creating haiku, then consider this contest, with a March 2007 deadline.

Since I love SF, I pass on to you one that Deb Kolodji (new president of the Science Fiction Poetry Association) posted recently on her blog:

life story told
as if from another planet
science fiction

Friday Femme at Speculative Faith:
Analyzing "Hell Is The Absence of God"

I've begun my analysis of Ted Chiang's "Hell is the Absence of God" over at Speculative Faith. Here's the start:

This novelette won the Hugo and the Nebula awards. And what an exhilaratingly plotted story with a horrifying and perplexing and brilliant and vexing conclusion. It's a complicated story told in a clean, simple prose. I'll need at least two, maybe more sessions to go through it.

But first, the beginning:

“This is the story of a man named Neil Fisk, and how he came to love God.”

Do join the discussion, whether you've read it or not. Expect spoilers. You can download and read the story for a very modest charge here.

We had fun discussing the previous story. Let's have fun with this one, too.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

I Guess I'm Hopelessly Twee & Dreamy

Neil Gaiman hates its, to quote directly from his blog, "nightmarish horribleness." But I could imagine living there. I love wood and stone and old fantasy world charm. Yeah, I wouldn't turn away a free one of these babies. Of course, it depends on how well the designs are executed. Cheap looking fantasy cottages can be pretty horrid.

I must have misplaced my taste sensor today, or maybe I just have read too many fantasies with woods and cottages.

What say you? Would you live in The Shire if they handed you the keys? Or the Big Test: Would you buy one?

Edited Sunday, September 17, 6:27pm to add:

Someone wrote to Neil Gaiman about The Shire. This is up at Gaiman's blog--
Not a question, but a comment: I lived in Bend up until a few months ago and I think it's awesome that you linked to the Bend Shire development.

I wish more developers and builders would take as much time planning their subdivisions as the folks behind the Shire obviously have.

They seem to have had a lot of delays in getting the project out of the ground. I'm not sure why that is, but it's not in the most desirable part of Bend and the homes are definitely more expensive than most people can afford--not that price seems to matter much in Bend.

The whole thing might be a little campy with Bilbo's house and the community auditorium, but the materials and design elements that the builders are using are quite forward thinking.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Speculative Poetry Contest, Cash Prizes--
Seventeen Days Left For YOU To Enter

Full announcement at DKA Magazine's website.

PURPOSE: -to encourage quality poetry submissions to DKA magazine
-to support the speculative poetry community
-to entertain our regular readers, who deserve the best
-to attract new readers eager for excellent speculative verse
-to please God, who takes pleasure in creative endeavors

THEME: Revelation

Be creative. Avoid clichés. Explore your associations of this wide-open theme. Surprise us. Move us. Enlighten us. Wow us.

While DKA is a "Magazine of Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy," we do not require overt Christian terms or metaphors, and in fact, we get bored of shallow and predictable treatment of spiritual and moral concepts and characters. Be fresh.


All winning poems and honorable mentions (if any) will be published in DKA magazine. In addition, these cash prizes apply:

First. . . . . . $75.00
Second. . . . $40.00
Third. . . . . .$20.00

Honorable Mention(s): If the quality and number of the poems received allow for one or more honorable mentions, each would receive only the usual $5.00 regular publication payment.


Entries must be original, unpublished works: no reprints. Poems may be in any form and up to 25 lines. Poems longer than the line limit will be automatically disqualified. Each poet may enter up to 3 poems, but each poem must be submitted separately. Poems must contain a science fiction or fantasy element.

All entries should be submitted using our online submissions process. Please indicate in your cover letter that your poem is for the contest. Please put the full poem in the intro section.

Instructions on using our online process can be found in our guidelines. Please read them.

We ask that you respect the magazine's audience and tone. Please, no profanity, no graphic sexual content, no gore, and no belittling of any person of the Godhead, as the term is understood in traditional Christian theology (ie. Father, Son, Holy Spirit).

No member of the DKA staff or judging panel may enter this contest, nor any family member of a DKA staffer or judge.


All entries must be received before midnight September 30th (Eastern US Time).

We plan to announce winners at the end of October and publish them in November’s issue.

RV Saunders
Mirta Ana Schultz (Yep, that's The Mir)
Keesa Renee Dupre

The decision of the judging panel is final. Unlike regular DKA procedure and the fiction contest, the judging panel will not be offering critique feedback. We will only contact the winners, HM's, and those persons whose poetry interests us for future issues.

Mir Note: Entries have not been numerous. That means your chances of winning or placing are not too bad, eh?

Is This The Next Peter Jackson SF Film?

First hobbits then a giant gorilla and now Peter Jackson is turning his hand to an air force of dragons, manned by crews of aviators. Téméraire, a historical fantasy book series that sees squadrons of dragons fighting in the Napoleonic wars, has captured the imagination of the Lord of the Rings director.

The plot centres on British naval captain Will Laurence, who seizes a French ship and discovers an unhatched dragon egg - a gift from the emperor of China to Napoleon. When the egg hatches, he is forced to become the dragon's keeper. The monster is called Téméraire (meaning "Daring" in French).

from "Peter Jackson Enters Dragon's Den"

Jackson's interest comes from the series of novels by Naomi Novik. The Guardian article quotes Jackson as saying this: "As I was reading these books, I could see them coming to life in my mind's eye. These are beautifully written novels, not only fresh, original and fast-paced, but full of wonderful characters with real heart....
Téméraire is a terrific meld of two genres that I particularly love -
fantasy and historical epic."

Novik is quoted in the article stating that, "Jackson has not yet decided whether he will make one movie or three or if the books can be introduced by other media first. He is using his own funds to option material before approaching any studios with his plans."

Something to look forward to, eh?

Mir's Latest List of Linky Goodness

Becky Miller continues her series of posts on Postmodernism:

So the first red flag indicating a misuse of Scripture, I think, is someone claiming they know completely. By that, I do not mean we cannot know what God has revealed about Himself—about His nature, His purpose, His work of redemption.

I’m talking about things like “knowing” I’ll be published because Jeremiah 29:11 says God has a plan for my welfare. Or “knowing” that God created the earth in six days when the sun didn’t even exist on the first “day.”


Chris "Nifty Novelist" Well posted on a new crime fiction anthology due out in October and titled THOU SHALT NOT..."where someone breaks one of the Ten Commandments with dire, deadly, or disastrous results."


Mirathon pal, Mikey D., has moved his excellent (and visually stunning) blog DeCOMPOSE to a new address. Those of you who have him bookmarked should note the new address:

Check out his latest entry regarding Islam. Food for thought in both he and another blogger's comments:

Camassia suggests that we’re “ceding too much ground to the pluralists to judge religions not by their truth, but by whether you’d want one as your next-door neighbor or not.” While I’m all for judging religions by their truth, I think it’s also wise to keep a good eye on your next door neighbor. Especially if that neighbor has it out for you.


The brilliantly opinionated J. Mark Bertrand is having his suit lined in kevlar for the upcoming ACFW Conference. Apparently, some of his opinions have ruffled feathers. He has a sense of humor about it, as usual, but there is something serious to consider in his post:

Church conflict is a funny thing. When you're convinced that you're right and that your detractors have misread and misinterpreted you, there's nothing you welcome more than the opportunity for confrontation. You imagine yourself standing Luther-like before your accusers, refuting their charges and bringing down the judgment of history on their heads while a halo of divine approval blinks on your brow. If only I could have my day in court, you think. Then I could justify myself! (Job, of course, thought along similar lines, and it turned out to be the wrong impulse.) In my experience, though, one never has the opportunity to face one's accusers in church conflict. Things aren't done directly because the direct route would so quickly expose, well, the sin at the heart of the controversy.


If you haven't ever visited Sugar Frosted Goodness, then drop by today. Lots of artwork on display. Veggie Run charmed me. Scroll down for the cute and sweet Our Farm, and scroll further down for the performing critters in Bug Attack. Pig Ride is so oddly charming and makes me feel six years old again. Look around. Something for every taste, I imagine.


For my fellow Butlerian CrushGirls: A not-new video of G.B. on Craig Ferguson's show. Funny stuff and an abundance of Scottish accenting--which I have long, long considered the most fetching accent on Earth--including amusing mimicking of Sean Connery. Plus about 3 seconds of His Hunkiness Highland flinging. Some mildish naughty language for those who are super-sensitive to such things. Enjoy.


Monday, September 11, 2006

300: Coming in 2007

A bit history lesson, a bit movie preview, a bit Gerry Butler: 300

Says Wikipedia,"300 is a historical epic film directed by Zack Snyder, scheduled to be released in 2007. The film is adapted from Frank Miller's graphic novel of the same name about the Battle of Thermopylae. Miller is involved as an executive producer. The film stars Gerard Butler, Lena Headey, Rodrigo Santoro and David Wenham."

A brief video of the behind the scenes fighting training is interesting. I can't figure out if there's some torso cosmetic stuff or if those guys are really that buff in the midsection. Wow. Neat red cloaks, too.

Poem and Verses:
Remembering the Unforgettable Day

The towers at one.
The silent prongs of a tuning fork,
testing the calm.

Then a shudder or bump.
A juddering thump or a thud.
I swear no more

than a thump or a thud
But a Pepsi Max jumps out of its cup.
And a filing cabinet spews its lunch.

And the water-cooler staggers then slumps.
Then a sonic boom and the screen goes blue.
Then a deep, ungodly dragon’s roar.

In the lobby, the lift opens up,
and out of the door
the tongue of a dragon comes rolling out.

Then the door slides shut and the flames are gone.
Then ceiling tiles, all awry at once.
Then dust, a soft, white dust

snowing down from above.
We are ghostly at once.

~excerpt from "Out of the Blue" by Simon Armitage

~ ~ ~

Psalm 25:2-3
In you I trust, O my God. Do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame, but they will be put to shame who are treacherous without excuse.

Psalm 119:114

You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word.

Psalm 147:3
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

Lamentations 3:20-23
I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

For more, here.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Happy Frijoles Negros To You!
Happy Tamal en Hoja To You!
Happy Valrhona, dear Sister.
Happy Wolverine Action Figure to YOU!!!

Friday was my older (not oldest) sister's birthday. I took her out to lunch at a Cuban restaurant: Wajiros. She was craving masitas de puerco. Me, I'm always up for black bean soup and a tamal en hoja--Cuban style*, not Mexican. And thick, foamy, sweet Cuban cafe. We also ordered mariquitas with garlicky mojo for dipping. And a forgettable omelette with very nice chorizo filling (also sweet plantain, ham, onions, green peppers, and cheese in it).

For some reason, the olive oil tasted of anise. My sister liked it and joked with the waiter that someone must have spiked it with El Mono. I did not like it, just as I don't like El Mono anisette. (And I don't like licorice, either.) I do, however, like anise tea, but that may have more to do with me associating it with comfort and tummy relief, since it's the tea my mom would brew up whenever we had digestive upsets.

I gave her a lovely, feminine frame for her to put her first photo of our first grandniece, who is due to be born in a month. I also gave her some Burt's Bees products and Valrhona dark chocolate (which she enjoys muchly.) Saturday, we got together at my older brother's house, played scrabble, had applie pie and some Amaretto. Hubby and I gave her another present: A fully articulating Marvel Legends WOLVERINE action figure. (Middle sister and I both have loved Wolvie since the seventies.) Our grandnephew, Xavi, promptly said it was a gift for both he and middle sister. Yeah, kids. I may get him the masked one for his birthday, if I find it locally.

Today, I stayed home to recover from the socializing. Hermits such as I are drained by social events, no matter how pleasant. It's just how introverts are. I wish I were more extroverted, but God didn't make me that way.

I hope you'll check out the recipe links. Maybe you can try something Cuban at home,if you've never had it before.

I hope your Sunday was restful and blessed and that God spoke something wonderful to your soul today.

*Gluttony Note: Even as I type, there are thirty, home-made tamales en hoja in the freezer of my (eldest) sister's house. I ordered them from one of her in-laws, who happens to make the best tamales in Miami. (That I know of.) Naturally, I will be sharing with siblings. Some.