Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Remembering a Great Miracle Today!

I was pondering on my bed when I woke up at 3 in the afternoon today (slept lots to make up for lost sleep the night before while busy til the wee hours with food preparation). Just thinking about the matters relating to the birth of the Lord Christ, how the whole of history prepared and pointed to the moment of the Great Visitation. Then I prayed for the Church, that we don't take for granted the amazing gift of that child, who became that boy in the temple, wiser than his years allowed, who became that man who taught and healed and showed mercy to outcasts, who became that sacrifice for the redemption of mankind.

It's no wonder angels sang about that birth. His coming is a thing worth celebrating.

From the Gospel of Luke:
But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

"Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

May His favor rest upon all of you. AMEN!


*(The artwork is Murillo's "The Adoration of the Shepherds")

Saturday, December 22, 2007

A Parable Comes to Life

I loved this account of one pastor's putting a parable into action:

Pastor's Challenge Shocks Congregation

As soon as I saw a teaser saying that a pastor had handed out fifty dollar bills and made a challenge, I figured it was the parable of the talents. Very cool idea, releasing the ingenuity and creativity of the congregation.

What would you do if you were given fifty bucks and challenged to increase it many times over for charity in a short period of time?


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy

No fantasy on this tour. It's all about the science fiction. That's because this month we focus on Wayfarer’s Journal, a site with this stated purpose:

Our mission is to develop a venue to publish and review science fiction with a spiritual dimension. Now, that doesn't mean that the fiction will be "message" oriented. I'm a big believer in the old adage, "If you want to send a message call Western Union." What you will find here are good stories with strong characters and engaging plots. However, some of the characters may have a spiritual world view and some of the plots may take place at the intersection of the scientific and the numinous.

I was not wowed by the two offerings in the poetry section. But then, it's a new magazine, and probably doesn't have the volume of subs for poetry that established mags, especially secular ones, have. In time, I hope to see improvement, as I hold a big, big soft spot for SF poetry, along with a desire to find new and good Christian SF poetry. I will say that there are moments in Terri Main's poem "A Prayer Under A Strange Sun" that offer good images and emotional tugs, especially since I share the expectations of the narrator. Of the two up for you to read, Terri's is the more successful poem.

Terri happens to be no ordinary contributor, but also editor-in-chief of Wayfarer’s Journal . Now, you know. :)

Because my eyes are still healing, and I now have to use reading glasses--a pair I ordered haven't arrived--I have not been able yet to read except for brief moments at a time. (And imagine how that feels to a bookworm! It's AGONY!) So, besides the poetry, I sampled only two stories from the latest issue. The first was a brief one called "Changed Minds" by a familiar name, Alice Roelke. The concept is reminiscent of some classic SF tales and of Twilight Zone episodes (where people try to extend life by less than ethical means, where there is an obsession with beauty), as well as referencing back to the Beauty and the Beast tale. However, the story needed more depth to succeed. The ending feels abrupt and without sufficient foundation, and the characterization's too sketchy. And yet, it does give that nostalgia factor. Come on, who didn't love TZ and B&B?

Stoney Setzer, another familiar name to those who have read DEP publications, offers a story that takes on the idea of fear, aptly titled--especially for a science fiction novel set out there on a Martian moon--"Phobos." This is marred early on by As You Know, Bob and later by unintentinally comical dialogue. (Example: "Aiieee" and "AARGH." The latter I don't expect to see as an actual distressed sound coming from a human being.) I'd have preferred to see snapshots or other presentations of the actually outworking of the phobias. Still, it's a solid SF premise, that of facing our deepest fears, especially when that there is a civilization that can use those fears against us via special abilities. What can one trust? What can one believe? When will one succumb? Is autophobia your big fear? Stoney offers considerable conflict and a setting that space-oriented SF afficionados will enjoy.

Please drop by the magazine and read some of what's published. If you love it, let Terri know, so that she can get an idea of what readers want more of--or less of.

And be aware that Terri is moving away from the usual "issue" model:

One plan I have right now is to move away from the "magazine" model of a story site. This model is one which has "issues" coming out at a set interval. One of the advantages of the web is that you can update a site at any time. We get enough material to be adding some new material every month, but not enough to create a whole new issue. Simply updating the site when something new and interesting comes in would create a dynamically changing destination on the web. It would also shorten the time for writers between acceptance and publication of their work.

For those of you wishing to submit your creative work, the author guidelines for Wayfarer’s Journal may be found HERE. This is a modestly paying market--but hey, money. Money's good!

I wish Terri and WAYFARER'S JOURNAL plenty of great subs and long may she publish. It's always good to see another paying venue for Christian SF, no matter how modestly, and hey, I've volunteered and still do at modestly paying venues. I dream of the day our CSF mags/sites will be able to pay well and publish better and better and..the BEST!

Brandon Barr
Jim Black
Justin Boyer
Grace Bridges
Amy Browning
Jackie Castle
Carol Bruce Collett
Valerie Comer
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
Chris Deanne
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Marcus Goodyear
Andrea Graham
Jill Hart
Katie Hart
Michael Heald
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Mike Lynch
Rachel Marks
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirtika or Mir's Here
John W. Otte
John Ottinger
Steve Rice
Cheryl Russel
Ashley Rutherford
Hanna Sandvig
James Somers
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Jason Waguespac
Laura Williams
Timothy Wise

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Quick Update on Eyes and Stuff

The surgery went well.

My post-op check-up was good.

Baruch HaShem!

I have the expected haloes and starbursts, but no complication. I'm being careful, using my meds, not touching my eyes. I can't wash my face for A WEEK, and I have gunk stuck to my upper lashes, so that's gross. I can clean it from the corner and the lower safely (as the optometrist showed me), but I gotta live with the upper gunk for a spell. I have to sleep with goggles (and I've been sleeping sitting up on the couch), and wear safety glasses while doing chores like dishwashing and stuff, so nothing splashes in the eye during the first critical week of healing. (I'll wear them for a month, just to be on the safe side.)

I haven't showered since Sunday. Just sponge baths with the safety glasses on. I don't want to do anything to compromise the cornea or the flap. God's been good, controlling my allergies in the most amazing way, so that I have no had the usual itchy eyes and desire to rub them constantly. I itch elsewhere, but that's par for the course. I'm a dermatitis prone, itchy girl.

I am getting used to modified monovision (one eye corrected for mid-range use, so that I can see beyond arm's length (computer monitor, television) and one eye corrected for distance (so I can drive and see the trees, sky, etc). That means no perfect vision for everything, but decent vision for most. I will need reading glasses (and that was expected, since middle-aged folks gotta deal with presbyopia). I didn't get full mono (which lets you read until your eyes age some more, so a few years without reading glasses), cause I was afraid I'd be one NOT to adapt to full monovision.

Eyes get tired fast, so I'll leave this update as is. I"m already squinting at the light.

I'll get some good prescription reading glasses when my eyes stabilize. Until then, I bought two pairs of cheap generic ones at STAPLES. They kinda suck, but they'll do. Until then, my reading is seriously hampered. (Previous to surgery, I could see perfectly up to about six, seven inches from my face, so I could read all day, no problem. Couldn't see anything else!)

Thank you heartily to all who prayed.

ChrisD, if you haven't emailed me with the info for the cd yet, please do. John already got his.


Sunday, December 09, 2007

What a Person (Character) Is vs
What a Person (Character) Ought to be

An email conversation got me thinking about something, and I figure I'd better post it since, if I go through with the eye surgery, I won't have use of the computer from anywhere from 24 hours to more (Lord, help me!). (I read where complications had one woman off for 8 weeks. I would...die of withdrawal.)

No, no. NO complications. I will not even speak that into my life.

Anyway, the subject: What people and characters ARE as opposed to what they OUGHT to be.

I read a review of a particular novel that said that a character did not behave in such a manner that testified to a true conversion. (Oh, and that he deserved some bad thing that happened afterwards as a consequence of disobedience.)

At first, it didn't much speak to me. I mean, I know what the reviewer meant. It's a sort of narrow idea of behavior that I've seen before, particularly from readers and writers with a high sense of Christian mission in writing and preference in reading. (Maybe it's the same with Muslims and Orthodox Jews, etc, but I'm not much in fellowship with writing circles and reading groups of said faiths, so dunno.)

And I bet I've said and written the very thing myself in the past. I didn't mean ill by it, just using a sort of "Well, it's a heroic character and if they had a conversion, lemme see some spiritual and virtue-associated heroism of character."

Biblically, conversion means there should be a change. I won't dispute this.

However, conversion doesn't mean you suddenly become a paragon of virtue, acting consistently with revelation at every turn.

Um, not in this cosmos!

However, those words in that review had a chilling effect on more than one person who read the pronouncement on the character. And I understand that as well, because it touches on something I've brought up in reviewing novels with uber-squeaky people who say and do uber-squeaky things. Hallelujah, I've been saved and now sin touches me no more. That sort of thing. It may have come up when I reviewed, say, BLACK CHERRY (can't recall, but mebbe). It certainly applies to WIND FOLLOWER, where the process of moving toward truth is gradual and includes human missteps and poor judgement.

I believe there is a sort of fiction that offers charm by virtue of having the uber-sqeaksome. It's a sort of naive, gentle, fantastical in its own way, heart-warming ideal. And for some genres, subgenres, certain works of certain tone, it's just right, like Goldilock's porridge.

For most works, I think it's misleading and blinkered.

I converted to the faith decisively and zealously several decades ago. It changed me in a fundamental way--the way I saw, the way I understood, the way I perceived, the way I hoped. But it didn't perfect me. I was a screw-up in many ways after I said, "Yeah, Lord, here I am, I repent and I believe." I still sinned.

What changed was the battle in my mind and spirit.

If I knew I was tempted and gave in to the desire--be it an uncharitable thought, a lustful thought, a greedy thought, a covetous though, an envious thought, or an action in relation to any of those--my interior domain was not a peaceful place. I warred in my internal parts. Okay, maybe the war was often more like a lazy skirmish followed by a quiet nap full of self-justifications, but having been sealed by the Spirit did something: It never allowed me to sin without knowing and feeling ill at ease to some extent (be it minor or major), except in cases where I was still learning about the boundaries, where I was scouring the gray areas with my limited vision. (Still learning, scouring, and pondering to this day and will unto my dying day, no doubt.)

If I lied, no matter how benign the motive, I twinged. If I suspected I might have an ulterior motive for a benevolent act, even if I wasn't totally sure, I twinged. If I had a malicious thought, I was aware that this was not holy, even if I continued to indulge it long, long, weeks before caving and confessing.

Even during the years I was openly backslidden--Well, as backslidden as a goody-two-shoes like myself gets backslidden, which by the holy standards of YHWH is abominable, but by a materialistic and hedonistic society such as ours is a sort of "Oh, ho-hum, is that all?" sort of rebellion-- I knew it. I would wake up and think. God, I know I'm messing up, but I'm tired of the fight, and sorry, I'm just gonna go with the sin flow. I can't fight the flesh right now. I didn't kill, didn't go burglarizing, didn't shoot up drugs bought with money I pilfered from kin or employer, didn't pathologically lie to aggrandize myself, didn't smack around babies, didn't worship idols (other than myself, I suppose), didn't blaspheme the name of God, didn't abuse widows and orphans, etc. No, I just did stuff no one would think about twice in the US were they not fixated on the pristine glory of the Word and the Lord.

(I'll add that along with gluttony and lust, selfishness has always been a besetting sin. I am overly self-protective and reclusive, and that has a way of cutting people out. The Mir is a work-in-progress. Unfortunately, my culture is one that encourages selfishness (hence the consumerism, the ads making one feel justified in getting the self-serving goodies, the explosion of boob jobs and nose jobs and butt jobs, the billions spent on fashionable clothes and make-up, etc. Yeah, we're a selfish set.)

Still, I knew it. Knew I had fallen into a muddy, slimy place and was allowing myself to wallow.

When I came back, got all clean, revived, renewed, it was because I decided fighting was better than wallowing, even if I got really, really exhausted of the constant battle, the war against the world, flesh, and devil.

It can still get tiring, but one thing happened as I got older (maybe wiser, don't put it in stone) is that I got a greater sense of the overwhelming, surrounding, invasive, refreshing love of God. I just had this sense that as much as a slimebasket as my thought life might be some days, as vengeful as my heart might be some days, as judgemental as my brain might be some days, as willful as my spirit might be some days, through every single one of those flaws and days...I was utterly and irrevocably loved.

I remember reading how Rich Mullins came to a similar realization and it utterly, devastatingly changed his perspective.

Well, yeah. It does. It makes the battle no less a battle, but it gives you sustenance, and the surety that if the wound is bad and you fall, even of your own doing the wound, the Lord does not flee your side. He is there, saying, "I see your spots and scars and the specks that mar your vision, and I still love you." And He washes me up again and I go on.

I want my characters to be like me. They can mess up royally, even after a radical conversion, and still feel that love is there, unchanged, unreserved, patient until the day of consummation and perfection.

A reviewer who expects characters to suddenly live up to the highest sort of virtue, human impulses aside, is a reviewer who does not give grace to the people of a book. And if not to those ficitonal characters, then how to real-life screw-ups like me? Or like most of the people in the Bible--including the drunks, the adulterers, the gossips, the whoremongers, the liars, the backbiters, the causers of dissension, the selfish of the New Testament church that Paul chastised with such energy, but which God continued to unwaveringly call His saints and beloved ones by the Spirit that spoke through Paul. To the saints...to the saints...to the saints... All those letters to screw-ups called saints.

I'm not a saint cause I"m perfect. I'm a saint cause in His infinite grace He has set me aside for His purposes and to be His own.

I want my characters who are "saints" NOT to be perfect. I want them to mess-up. Sometimes, really, really horribly: To lust and fall. To lie to save face. To steal from the church missions fund or their best friend. To cheat on a spouse or on taxes. Even to kill. To be gluttons and fat as a barn. (Um, I'm on a diet. Honest.)

Because it's when they think, desire, and maybe do such tings, and when we see how they respond to both their resisting of temptation and their falling to it, that's when we can see the effects of conversion in the most realistic of ways. Not perfection from day one, all heroic and spotless--which is God's attribute, not mine. But struggle not to sin, and if sin comes, then second thoughts, battle, internal crisis, shame, remorse, repentance, reconciliation.

Saints sin and know it. Saints sin and pay a price inside for it, and sometimes outside. (Yo, David!)

If a reviewer expects a perfect decision from a converted character faced with overwhelming temptation at their weakest point--full frontal Satanic attack on sorest spot--does that reviewer live a perfect post-conversion life that justifies that view? Or is it merely a question of idealization in art, when life is not ideal?

Are your characters reflecting how people ARE or are they what you think people ought to be post-conversion? How do you judge them, and how do you judge flesh and blood folks like them?

It's okay, imo, to idealize in certain stories for certain effects. It's a tool of the craft, like anything else. But I question the sort of criticism that does not allow characters to be...human. There is a merciless quality, a lack of grace there for the human condition.

And I have tossed that stone out myself. Maybe this is a stone, too, though it's intended to be something much less hard and unforgiving.


Saturday, December 08, 2007

Monday, Dec 10th, 3:30 EST: Wanna Pray?

If you can set aside time that day and hour--adjusting for your time zone if you're no in the Eastern zone--Kristy Dykes' family is asking for prayer in desirous expectation of a miracle.

Some of you know Kristy or have heard of her situation--brain cancer--so I put this out for those who will and can take time out for the Monday prayer kaboom.

I'll be undergoing my own minor surgery at that time (if I don't panic), and I'll probably have so much adrenaline pumping that I won't remember, but who knows? I might get this spiritual nudge to remind me. At 3:30 EST.

Stranger things have happened.

(Those of you who've had that imperative nudge from God and seen confirmation thereafter know what of I speak:

Eg: You hear an internal voice saying, "Put $80 in X person's Bible when they're not looking," then you find out the next week that they couldn't pay an $80 energy bill and their utilities were gonna be shut off, and they'd been praying for the means to pay. *Happened to me. We put the 80 bucks in the Bible as directed when they left it in the pew and went to the fellowship hall for snacks pre-service.

Eg: Or you get a clear voice saying, "Tell X that YZ," and you think, "No way, God. Are you joking?" But you get in the car and go and tell this person you haven't seen in almost a year that God said, "YZ," and they smile with joy and whoop because two other people came and told them, "God says to you that are to YZ," and you don't know THOSE people did THAT, too, cause you hadn't seen one of THEM in almost a year and you didn't even know the other person; but you all gave the same message to the first person, who, coincidentally, had been asking God for an answer to a life-altering question and seeking guidance and validation of God's will. *Happened to us, after I'd spent more than a year as an invalid and had barely left the house and hadn't been to church, but I was outside in my jammies praying before bed on a warm night and got the clear message, went inside, told hubby, who, being the trusting full of faith soul he is, said, okay, let's go and deliver the message when I insisted we had to cause I got a clear Word.

May not happen often, but when it happens, it's pretty dang uplifting and utterly cool and totally freaky. Yay, God.)

Read about the family's plea HERE.

Ocho, yes, Eight Random Mir Facts

Well, I'll try to be random. I'm shaking up my brain as I type, trying to disorder it up a bit in there.

I got tagged by D.G.D. aka The Sci-Fi Catholic (or maybe Snuffles, or maybe Lucky, not sure). I am a little jealous of Snuffles having a heap of unshared gold, and of the oreo orgy over there of which I am not allowed to partake, but, really, D.G.D. needs to do something about those virgins. Like, rescue them and get them good husbands. It's just not right that Snuffles keeps them hoarded that way. It almost makes me wanna call N.O.W., except I don't like N.O.W., and if I called they might say something to make my head explode.

Oh, wait, I should have saved that for the random facts.

With the cabeza all nice and shook up....here goes (even though I'm pretty sure I did this one a while back, but I forget):

1. I forget which memes I've done.

2. When I dream of myself, I have long, curly hair that has a life of its own sorta like the comics villainess/superheroine MEDUSA, only not red. In fact, I'd give up non-essential organs to have hair like that.

3. I firmly believe that one's temperament is nature more than nurture,though the effects of toxins/etc in the environment (as well as abuse or great love) play their part. I say this because I had temper tantrums from a very young age--throwing myself off the sofa at age 1 to land on my head. Which explains much, I think. By the grace of God, I never murdered anyone. And I'm much better these days, thanks so much.

4. If I could only eat one thing on the afternoon of my execution--er, had I committed some dread crime for which my life was forfeit--I'd be in big trouble, cause I've never had just one favorite food. But I"m thinking pasta made by Molto Mario.

5. My favorite film that I watched this week is EVAN ALMIGHTY. If God appeared to me, I'd want him to look and sound like Morgan Freeman, who I adore in a non-idolatrous sort of way, and I'd want Him to dance with me under a palm tree. That would be cool.

6. The best cookies are NOT Oreos, although, yes, Oreos are pretty darn good. Snuffles has limited cookie vision. The best cookies are, of course, chocolate snaps. Second best are ginger lemon cremes. Third best are chocolate creme wafers. And those butter cookies from the Puerto Rican bakery in the South Bronx with the apricot filling that my mom used to buy, those are in the top five, for sure.

7. I hate humidity. It makes me cranky and my hair frizz and my eyeglasses condense.

8. I'm really, really scared of being a widow. This is why I pray almost daily that I go first or simultaneously with hubby. I'm talking about full-out panic at the notion.

9. I married the world's sexiest man. And no, I didn't marry Gerard Butler. My husband is sexier.

10. I want to go on a pilgrimage to Iona and Lidinsfarne. But I'm afraid to fly. And I get sick in hotels/motels/inns. This is a problem.

I don't know if I should tag anyone. They might get mad at me and begin to hoard chocolate snaps and kidnap Mario before he can feed me. And DGD already tagged Elliot and SteveT. Humph. But, one must take risks for life to be an adequate adventure.

So, if you're reading this and you aren't, you know, demon-possessed or a Pullman fan--or both--consider yourself memed, in the nicest way. Comment with a link if you do the list, so that I can read about how odd you are.

"Compass" Quote for the Day

In the end, if a fairy tale doesn’t bring joy and hope, it isn’t much of a fantasy. With no God, no good, no eternal life, there is no living happily ever after in the world of “The Golden Compass.”

Pullman only seeks to give us hell, and seems pleased to bring it, making concrete the old cliche that misery truly loves company.
--from The Golden Compass: How can it look so good and be so wrong? by Msgr. Eric Barr


The Mir's Eyes Need Prayer

Well, posting next week (at least early in the week) may be zilch. I'm going Monday to get eye surgery. I'm scared and on the point of chickening out, but, well, odds are I will show and get the deed done.

I'm hugely myopic and have presbyopia, too. So, it's unlikely that I'll be glasses-free. But I'll have improved vision and won't be blind sans glasses, which is what I am hoping for. Being able to get up and not bump into things without glasses or shower and actually see the body parts I'm lathering or shaving.

I'm a real wuss about eye stuff, so I'm in a half-terror at the thought of complications. Prayer most welcome.

But I'll post if I ran screaming from the doc and came back to my bifocals.



Friday, December 07, 2007

For those who love Christ & the Arts

Visit Intersection

I've joined. (Member number five.)

I've got a page up. The picture's 9 years old, and my hair is less poufy, but it's got my red lipstick mojo going. (I have about 40 sticks of assorted red lipsticks. If you meet me and my lips are bare of color, that's NOT me. It's a Pod Mir.)

Visit. See if this is a community that suits you.

I've been a little less active online than in the past, but I keep the hope that my energy will increase and I'll have something to say on lots of things. Meanwhile, another place where art and theology can ... er....intersect. And this one has been created by the Elfin Queen Blue-Bearer-formerly Elfin Princess White-Wearer, but she got a promotion and a new dress--which is a good thing.

I'm hoping my SF loving and Christ worshipping pals will come and make it a vibrant place. Me, not so vibrant lately. But I'm taking my vitamins religiously.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Why The Mir's National Geographic Subscription Form Goes Into the Trash!

Thanks to Elliot for a link to THIS ARTICLE, which has convinced me not to subscribe to National Geographic. I had been tempted by the low price and free world map offer. (Yes, the world map is tempting, oh, so tempting.)


Carole's Plea to Christians...and Mine

It's a really pathetic thing that she needs to even make this plea, but here goes, from her blog Dark Parables:

Wind Follower has six sex scenes that have been giving some -- not all-- Christians a tough time. Only about ten pages in all, but some folks have gotten way bent out of shape about them. If you find you don't like the book, you can pass it on to someone else or donate it to your local library. Don't throw it into the garbage or anything. Just being honest. I know how we Christians can be about our responsibility to the world and our duty to rid the world of any kind of evil.

That said, it's a good book and many Christians like it.

Just for the record:

That a man gets an erection when he desires a woman is not obscene. That a woman gets wet when she's having sex with her husband is not obscene. That women have nipples is not a disgrace.

Humans burp, cough, sneeze, fart, because the body is constructed BY GOD to do such things when there are appropriate stimuli (gas, mucus, pollen, etc). When an object of strong desire is in view or proximity, the human body has reactions. (Can't speak for you, but my parts are in working order.) These reactions are not dirty. These reactions are not something to get worked up over and censor away. They are part of having blood and nerves and hormones and emotions and all sorts of normal connections a la homo sapiens.

I am very glad my lubricating parts work and my husbands erectile tissue is functional. God made us to work that way. Love and desire expressed in story is not necessarily a crime or a sin. God himself inspired erotic poetry. If you think that's bad, tear Song of Songs out of your Bible, would you? Spare yourself the undue excitement.

If you can read a story where someone kills or lies or gossips or gets angry out of bounds or cheats on a spouse or judges harshly, why can't you read one where a husband and wife are naked together? So many sins are okay to read bout, but a non-sin is not? Oops, she's out of her nightgown, RUN FOR THE HILLS! We're being corrupted by...er...nipples?

What is wrong with this picture?

I also say: Ponder it. Stop with the knee jerk and think about it.

Something is very, very wacky when an author, a Christian author who has penned a God-honoring, well-crafted Christian fantasy with loads of wise teaching within its dialogue and exposition, which points unerringly to YHWH, has to make that sort of plea I copied and pasted. It's so sad, really, that I can barely express myself cogently. I want to scream.

We look like a bunch of dorks when we throw a book in the trash because it dares be as true to life as, well, Scripture. (The marital scene evokes Solomon's writing; the rape scene evokes the story of Tamar.) Being a novel, it has deeper characterization and more "real time," but it's hardly pornography.

Yanno, God's probably going, "Oy, vey!" up there over this. I know I am down here.

Oy, vey.

Buy Carole's book. Terrific story drenched with the author's love and worship of God.

And if it's not your cuppa tea, pass it on to someone whose it might be. This is not a book for the trash heap.


Winners of the Raven CDs

Since I only got two entries, I'll skip the random selection and give away two cds. Simplifies things, eh?

So, Chris of Write and Whine and John of Grasping for the Wind, please email me at MirtikaS (remember that "S") at my gmail dot com addy. I'll need your mailing addresses (and full names, natch).

Each of you will get a copy of Vol 2. (Amazon.com did an oopsie with labeling and they had to cease sending Vol 1 cds out.)


Thursday, November 29, 2007

About the KING RAVEN CD Giveaway

I'll extend blogging about Scarlet (to qualify for the cd) from the current Saturday deadline through to next Wednesday (the 5th). That gives it a week from yesterday's post.

I'll pick a winner and announce who Monday, December 10th.

So, you have a bit longer to enter. See rules at the end of yesterday's CSFF Blog Tour post.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour: HOOD, SCARLET, Reviews, a Robin-like Saint, and a Music Giveaway

Sorry to spaz out yesterday, but I had stomach woes and urinary woes, and I got a bit out of sorts.

So, this will be longish to make up. (Stay tuned to the end to find out how to enter the giveaway for the MUSIC inspired by these novels.)


So, on to Robin Hood and Will Scarlet, the folkloric figures that inspired Mr. Lawhead's KING RAVEN TRILOGY novels: HOOD and SCARLET.

Who doesn't have some inkling of the Robin Hood tales? The story is so widespread in our culture. There's even a show currently on cable tv's BBC-AMERICA, yet another dramatisation of the story of Robin and his "Merry Men" and their battles with the bad Sheriff and Sir Guy.

How did this folklore develop?

It seems as though every schoolchild knows who Robin Hood is: a noble outlaw in Sherwood Forest who fights the oppressive evil of Prince (or King) John by robbing from the rich and giving to the poor. The earliest appearances of Robin are at odds with this romantic notion, as Robin is a violent yeoman who steals from the dishonest and helps those whom he pleases. Perhaps the one constant feature of the legend is his placement in the center of England, in the Sherwood and Barnsdale area. This first case presents some of the venues in which Robin Hood appears. The earliest tales of Robin Hood largely focus on Robin encountering someone in the forest, and either fighting with them or inviting them to dine, after which they would be asked to pay for their dinner. These tales were often collected in books called “garlands” (see the first text in this case). During the Tudor period, Robin was gentrified by Anthony Munday, in his two plays The Downfall of Robert, Earle of Huntington and The Death of Robert, Earle of Huntington (both 1601). Today, most people first encounter Robin through films or children’s books, like Howard Pyle’s work.
--Read the rest of "Robin Hood: Development of a Popular Hero."

It was probably inevitable that Robin would morph, even as fairy tales have morphed from their devastatingly dark and violent origins into friendlier, gentler, more likable Disneyfied fare. We want the hero to be good and noble, much better than the villain, and we change him (or her) to be what we want, suitable often for children we wish to keep away from shady reality.

At the end of the above-mentioned article, you find a reference to our blog tour subject:

Lawhead attempts to historicize the tale and adds a spiritual element to Robin Hood by placing his novel in Wales during the reign of William II (Rufus, 1087–1100). He spent much of his reign extorting money from his subjects and the church in an effort to wrest Normandy from his elder brother; this situation resonates with the modern idea of (Prince) John raising taxes to ransom Richard I (1189–99) or simply for his own purposes when king (1099–1216). An unpopular king, William also continued his father’s attempts to take Wales by granting its land to his barons. In Lawhead’s book, Robin is one of the dispossessed Welsh nobles who fights back.]

In adding spirituality, Lawhead merely returns to where Robin has been. Read this excerpt from one of the earliest texts on the Robin myth, A GEST OF ROBYN HODE:

"A gode maner than had Robyn;
In londe where that he were,
Every day or he wold dyne
Thre messis wolde he here.

The one in the worship of the Fader,
And another of the Holy Gost,
The thirde of Our dere Lady,
That he loved allther moste."

That's a lot of masses. That's a devout hero!

Now, since the trilogy features the Robin character (King Raven) and Will Scarlet (with a name variant), let's see how these kinsmen meet, from "Robin and Will Scarlet," another old ballad based on the folklore:

"I met with a stranger," quoth Robin Hood then,
"Full sore he hath beaten me."
"Then I'le have a bout with him," quoth Little John,
"And try if he can beat me."

"Oh, oh, no," quoth Robin Hood then,
"Little John, it may be so;
For he's my own dear sisters son,
And cousins I have no mo.

"But he shal be a bold yeoman of mine,
My chief man next to thee,
And I Robin Hood and thou Little John,
And Scarlet he shall be,

"And wee'l be three of the bravest outlaws
That is in the North Country."
If you will have any more of bold Robin Hood,
In his second part it will be.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson also dived into the lore with his play "The Foresters." I particularly like how he SHOWS (Act I; Scene III) the personality--the humor, the rascal quality--of Will Scarlet:

Let be the 'Earl.' Henceforth I am no more
Than plain man to plain man.

Well, then, plain man,
There be good fellows there in merry Sherwood
That hold by Richard, tho' they kill his deer.

In Sherwood Forest. I have heard of them.
Have they no leader?

Each man for his own.
Be thou their leader, and they will all of them
Swarm to thy voice like bees to the brass pan.

They hold by Richard--the wild wood! to cast
All threadbare household habit, mix with all
The lusty life of wood and underwood,
Hawk, buzzard, jay, the mavis and the merle,
The tawny squirrel vaulting thro' the boughs,
The deer, the highback'd polecat, the wild boar,
The burrowing badger--by Saint Nicholas,
I have a sudden passion for the wild wood--
We should be free as air in the wild wood--
What say you? shall we go? Your hands, your hands!
[Gives his hand to each. You, Scarlet, you are always moody here.

'T is for no lack of love to you, my lord,
But lack of happiness in a blatant wife.
She broke my head on Tuesday with a dish.
I would have thwack'd the woman, but I did not,
Because thou sayest such fine things of women,
But I shall have to thwack her if I stay.

Would it be better for thee in the wood?

Ay, so she did not follow me to the wood.

Then, Scarlet, thou at least wilt go with me.


How has Lawhead's new vision of the Robin Hood story gone over?

Well, it isn't unanimous. I've seen divergent reviews. From very low scores, calling it plodding and overly full of description and historical detail. And I've seen gushing praise, calling it thoroughly entertaining and great fun. So, how you enjoy it may depend on what you're looking for (or not) in a new take on an old tale.

Here are examples of the reviews:

A critical that gives it a lowish rating, but also offers nifty observations and quotes--and therefore is worth reading--is at Inchoatus.com Here is one of the things I enjoyed in that review:
One interesting point is this notion of the deadly sin of wrath that Bran exhibits at times. He literally becomes confused and blinded by rage. The Robin Hood of contemporary myth is a rake and a rogue. He is the James Bond with the quip and the Hannibal Smith of the A-Team with his regard for personal profit. There is no Wrath in these characters just as there is seldom Wrath in Robin Hood. But what causes Robin Hood to be Robin Hood? A man who is willing to "rage against the machine" even if it just taxes and he does it with a wink of the eye as he does in these legends certainly bespeaks a kind of fury that is buried deep beneath the surface and never dies. While our Bran in this book is certainly justified in being angry over the loss of his birthright--a tired plot device--how that wrath infects and reinterprets the legend is a fine achievement.

Another interesting effect is how Christianity is used. As some of the critics mentioned above, each "side" uses it to justify their actions. But it's more than that. Particularly courageous for this author who publishes on Christian themes and using a Christian publisher, he shows how religion--at least organized religion--becomes merely another political tool to be used for oppression, for gain, and for dim justification for raiding, for taking, and for the general acquisition of more power. Just like the conquistadors of Spain ravaging the new world for Glory, God, and Gold so we see the Normans invading for very similar reasons under the guise of God. Opposing this corruption of the Holy Church is only the heathenish magic of the Welsh (though doubtless will ultimately be revealed as the same source). Can Christians cheer for the pagans?

From Grasping For the Wind, a positive review:

The novel is well-written; it is fast paced, with excellent fight scenes, and makes a good lunch hour read with its short chapters and varying perspectives. Odo provides a surprising character and interesting plot twist that makes this book even more fun to read. And of course, this is still the legend of Robin Hood, even if the setting is different, so many of the adventures are in the vein that fans of the Robin Hood legend have come to expect. Arrow flights abound, close shaves are common, and brazen acts of valor are to be expected.

Scarlet makes for a good read, although it is not Lawhead's best work. Fans of Robin Hood will enjoy Lawhead's unique take on the legend, as well as his commitment to historical accuracy. Fans of fantasy will question the novel's fantasy label, as well they should. But there is an element of magic in the person of Angharad and in the strange King Raven that Bran becomes when on a sortie, so the fantasy fan will not be disappointed. Fans of historical novels of medieval times will find much to love in both Hood and Scarlet, and Lawhead devotees (such as myself) are going to find all of the same things they have always loved about Lawhead's writing in Scarlet. This is a novel worth your time. The legend of Robin Hood is brought closer to its historical truth, and given an added Celtic flair that only Stephen Lawhead can provide.


Of religious interest, there's a saint with a serious Robin Hood vibe,
Originally an apprentice shoemaker in Moscow, he adopted an eccentric lifestyle of shoplifting and giving to the poor to shame the miserly and help those in need. He went naked and weighed himself down with chains. He rebuked Ivan the Terrible for not paying attention in church, and especially for his violent behaviour towards the innocent.

When he died on August 2, 1552 or 1557, St. Macarius, Metropolitan of Moscow, served his funeral with many clergy. Ivan the Terrible himself acted as pallbearer and carried his coffin to the cemetery. He is buried in St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow, which was commissioned by Ivan and is named after the saint. Basil was formally canonised around 1580. His feast day is celebrated on August 2.


Yes, I decided that, in the giving Spirit of Christmas, I will have a giveaway. Not of the books--I'm sure someone on the tour is giving some away. Check the links. I'll be giving away one of the cds based on the King Raven Trilogy by Stephen R. Lawhead.

The music is by a Christian musician who has found much inspiration in the works of Mr. Lawhead: Jeff Johnson.

Many years back, I acquired, when it first came out, Johnson's first SONG OF ALBION album. I never finished the Lawhead books which inspired those soundscapes, but I still have the cassette somewhere in my chaos.

This week, I acquired both of the KING RAVEN cds that are out. You now have a chance to win one.

How to enter/rules:

1. See my sidebar note. I'm only accepting entries from folks in the 48 contiguous states. Why? Cause that saves me on shipping via amazon.com. That's it. It's all about the budget. Sorry.

2. What you gotta do: Blog about Scarlet, and use the url we've been using during this tour to promote it. You don't have to be a member of the CSFF Blog Tour. But you need to have a blog, and you need to post something about SCARLET (and HOOD, too, if you wish) at some point during THIS week (which ends Saturday). It can be a one sentence post, as long as it contains a link to the amazon url that we use to promote the novel. This is the url for SCARLET:

If you have a thing against amazon, a link to Mr. Lawhead's official site counts as an acceptable substitution in such a case.

3. Post a comment UNDER THIS BLOG ENTRY with the url/link to where you mention Scarlet ON YOUR BLOG.

4. Check back next week. I will choose a winner based on a random selection. I will need your name and address IF you are the winner in order to send the cd to you.

Rules Recap: 1. live in the lower 48 states. 2. Blog with the Scarlet url. 3. Comment here with a url/link to your qualifying blog post. 3. Wait for me to choose a winner next week.

(If you are a member of the tour, your CSFF Blog Tour posts count, as long as you fit the above rules with regard to location, posted urls, and comment to this post.)

This post is oberlong, so please refer to my Monday post for the list of tourmates. Visit them. See what they have to say.

Happy reading! (And listening!)


For the second time in 47 years, I do believe I have a bladder infection.

I guess I'll be calling up the doc. Sigh. It's hardly a biggie, but I'll take prayer, if you're so disposed. I'm not terribly comfy in my nethers. Ow.


NYT's 100 Notable Books of 2007

Ready for the coveting to begin? At least, the higher-brow sort of coveting for bibliophiles?

Here ya go: The New York Time's 100 Notable Books of 2007

Their Top 10 of 2007 will be available on their site online tomorrow, the 28th.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Picked out My 2008 Wall Calendar --
Look Upon It and Be Entranced

Continuing with the art vibe--and I'm not done, beware--I've found the wall calendar for my bathroom! Yay! (Yes, bathroom. It's there, first thing after I wake up, unavoidable as I, er, void, reminding me of doc appointments, weigh-ins, birthdays, holidays, events, hubby's business trips, etc).

It's a beauty! It can't help but be, cause it features the stunning artwork of Kinuko Y. Craft, whom I've mentioned several times on this blog as one of my MOST FAVEST artists working in SF. I started reading Patricia McKillip cause of a Craft cover. Lucky writer.

(If I ever become heiress of a fortune, Miss Craft will be visted by yours truly and an acquisition frenzy will ensue. Oh, yeah!)

Here it is. Feel free to sign and drool with envy. Or just order your own.

I also preordered the paperback version of the book on Kinuko's art. It is to swoon.

Such gorgeousness makes one thank God loudly and repeatedly for having eyes to see, even stinky obermyopic and now presbyopic eyes like mine. It really does.

Madeline Von Foester's Fantasy Art

In my unquenchable thirst for more visual stimulation of the artistic and fantastical sort, I've come upon an artist I hadn't heard of before, and man, is her stuff wonderful. It's got the fantasy vibe mixed with a style that evokes centuries past. The modern meets the historical... and it works. Two of my favorite artistic influences color her work--the Pre-Raphaelites and surrealism. Add a touch of tapestry beauty here and the flavor of the Flemish masters, and you get...Madeline Von Foester's creations.

Visit her gallery. Browse. Go, "Wow."


Christian Fantasy Authors:
Drop by and Chat with Space Marine...

...and give him an answer to the question in his post:

Where are all the Christian fantasy authors? And no, I don't want an allegory.

Are we just to read Lord of the Rings over and over?

No recommendations for allegories, please.

Monday, November 26, 2007

For Writers: Lots of Calls for Subs

Over at DARK PARABLES, a looooong blog post offers you a list of various publishers calling for submissions. Go see.


Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy Blog Tour: Stephen R. Lawhead's SCARLET

Well, I and hubby have been searching the house for over a week, looking for my copy of HOOD, the first book in the KING RAVEN TRILOGY by Stephen Lawhead.


Because today begins the three-day tour for SCARLET, the second book in the trilogy.

I wasn't about to buy and read the second when I can't find the first, which I already bought. YEESH.

So, here I am. I haven't read HOOD (which, I BOUGHT months ago!) or SCARLET. But, that's never stopped me from blogging on a book tour before. After all, this is about promoting and publicizing, not just reviewing or critiquing.

For fans of Christian fantasy, Stephen Lawhead needs no introduction. Even if you have never read any of his books--TALIESIN, BYZANTIUM, SONG OF ALBION trilogy, MERLIN, ARTHUR, etc--you must have come across the author's name. If you regularly scan the bookshelves in the fantasy section of megastores, you must have come across several of his titles. He's always there. At least, in my experience.

I hesitated before buying HOOD. I'm kind of burnt out on Robin Hood tales. I was never a huge fan of them, anyway, despite enjoying the Errol Flynn/Olivia de Haviland match-up as a kid; despite Sean C and Audrey H in Robin and Marian; despite the cool Clannad soundtrack for the television import with a really handsome dark-haired Robin from, oh, back in the '80s. (Everybody sing: "Robin...the hooded man!");despite the magnificent Morgan Freeman stealing the whole show from Kevin "I can't keep an English accent going for more than two syllables" Costner in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. No. I'm just not a Robin Hood sorta gal.

But you might be. So, pay attention during the tour. Visit the sites. Buy the book, if you think it's up your alley.

Here's a snapshot of each novel:

HOOD, : In Book One of The King Raven Trilogy, Bran ap Brychan finds his world ripped from its foundation as invaders topple his father's kingdom and send the young prince fleeing into the forest. Readers will be spellbound with this entirely fresh take on this legendary figure--where the familiar and unexpected collide into something wholly original.
From the ashes of ruin, a reluctant hero begins to emerge . . . yet his greatest enemy may be himself.

Read an excerpt from HOOD.

SCARLET: The second installment of a completely re-imagined epic of the man known as Robin Hood--told in a far more eerie, earthy, and elemental way than ever before.
As the story of King Raven continues, the stakes grow ever higher and the lives of Bran's band hang ever more in the balance. Will Scarlet is about to be hung and Bran discovers a secret that leads them to a desperate sea voyage to France through a vicious storm in a daring attempt to reveal the plot against King William by his brother, Duke Robert, and the greedy Baron de Braose.

Will Bran's loyalty re-gain him the throne of Elfael? Or will his efforts only increase the sheriff's determination to destory King Raven?

Read an excerpt from SCARLET.

Tomorrow, some interesting stuff on the Robin Hood folklore and tangents. Wednesday, something on the MUSIC that was inspired by the trilogy. I may have a cd giveaway. I am undecided. My budget is frowning madly at me. Let me think about it some more.

Now, go forth unto my blog tourmates, many of whom have actually have an organized library and have read these novels, which they have not disgracefully and ungallantly misplaced:

Trish Anderson
Brandon Barr
Wayne Thomas Batson
Jim Black
Justin Boyer
Grace Bridges
Amy Browning
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
Chris Deanne
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Linda Gilmore
Beth Goddard
Marcus Goodyear
Andrea Graham
Jill Hart
Katie Hart
Sherrie Hibbs
Timothy Hicks
Christopher Hopper
Becca Johnson
Jason Joyner
Dawn King
Tina Kulesa
Mike Lynch
Karen McSpadden
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirtika or Mir's Here
Eve Nielsen
John W. Otte
John Ottinger
Lyn Perry
Deena Peterson
Cheryl Russel
Ashley Rutherford
Hanna Sandvig
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Rachelle Sperling
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Robert Treskillard
Jason Waguespac
Daniel I. Weaver
Laura Williams
Timothy Wise

Wanna buy the novels and the cd? Here ya go:


Or we're doomed!


Sunday, November 25, 2007

TORCHWOOD: "Captain Jack Harkness" --
Jack Smooches Jack in a Moving Episode

Well, the preview had showed a glimpse of a gay smooch, and the show indeed showcased a very passionate male-male kiss.

What was more surprising to me--given that I was bored by the previous time rift episode and tuned out before it was over--is that this one ended up ranking as my second favorite TORCHWOOD episode of the four or five I've seen. I dunno, maybe even tied for favorite with "Small Worlds." (I thought the climactic scene in that latter episode, the one with the fairies, was a great moment of making a tough decision. And the final shot referring to the Cottingdale photos, a nice touch. Plus, hey, FAIRIES! They're cool.)

Mostly, though, I don't get why TORCHWOOD is so popular. Unless it's the fact that John Barrowman is so ridiculously good-looking that he appeals to all factions: straight men (who want to look that hot), gay men (who want to date him) and women (who drool when he's onscreen).

(What is in the water in Scotland! My goodness some amazing men come from yonder stock!)

Other than serving it up for those who want regular doses of omnisex promiscuity with their SF, it's pretty unimpressive. The acting, well, it can get really hammy or stiff. Even Barrowman as Jack is quite uneven. The best he's done in the show was in the most recent episode(ie, yesterday's "Captain Jack Harness"). None of the principal characters convinces me that he or she is actually a sharp, competent investigator/computer expert/scientist/whatever. They all just seem so...stupid. And easily distracted. And stupid.

Tosh and Owen continue to be endlessly annoying. And Gwen, with her open-mouthed brain dead look, isn't adding any oomph to the show. Ianto is disposable. Jack, well, he's sometimes intense and on the job. Someone has to be.

This is supposed to be a very cool, elite, secret group, and they're a bunch of idiots with overactive hormones. We've already had Tosh (previously hot for one of the men on the show) getting frisky with the blonde alien in female flesh, an episode that showed some amazingly bad acting/writing/directing. Then Owen going gaga over time-displaced chick, and his stupidity thereafter. (Maybe he's gonna get it on with Ianto next, just to keep up the omnisex vibe.) The foolishness that ensues when sex comes into play--look at Owen and the rift machine or Ianto and metal-miss--makes me think that they need to all take a vow of celibacy before being allowed to enter Torchwood headquarters again.

People can actually have a romantic life and retain their maturity level, right?

But back to the Jack-Jack episode: It worked. Mostly. When it was about Jack/Jack and set in the past. When it was set in the present, egads.

It worked because there was real, wonderful, consistent conflict and human drama going on between Captain Jack of Torchwood and the real Captain Jack (whose identity has been stolen by the 51st century "Jack"). The yearnings were well-played and powerful when mixed with the dread of one Jack knowing what the other did not: death loomed for the real Captain. I could actually believe that the Real Captain Jack was totally falling in love with Torchwood's Capt. Jack. Not just lust, which is understandable, but love. The actor conveyed this well, in addition to a growing urgency as time ran out. And Torchwood's Jack showed he had a heart. Sometimes, he doesn't seem to, so this was refreshing.

The kiss scene was touchingly done, but it was also a big fat unbelievable lie in its given context. And while it was obvious in its gay acceptance agenda; it was, as drama, nicely played out. One couldn't help but feel the terrible pains and frustrations of the two men, each for different reasons. However, I just don't see a roomful of 1940's military guys and Brit gals just standing by quietly while two men swap serious spit in the middle of a dance floor. Someone was gonna whack someone, or at least yell some very nasty names. It was impossible to swallow. And it damaged the scene, the moment. I think the dance and kiss in a more private setting would have worked and been more credible. But the whole, "We're gonna do it in the open and you better deal with it" political stance/metaphor may have been what justified setting it thusly. I understand the politics. It was crap logic, though, to not let there be consequence.

The genuine feeling that passed between Jack and Jack during the episode was the most mature stuff I've seen on TORCHWOOD, and by mature I mean "deep" and not "graphic." It ended up being about a doomed man and a doomed romance.

It was good gay romantic drama. It was lousy SF.

I watch TORCHWOOD inconsistently, and I only started watching cause of my warm fuzzies for the new Doctor Who. Jack the Immortal is a character with some interest for me. But, if they can't make the next season more grown-up--and by grown up I mean make the characters smarter and less skanky-dumb--I'll give up on it. No matter how telegenic Captain Jack is.

After all, David Tennant may not be nearly as hunky, but he's a better actor with better scripts and an exuberance that's delightful. I usually feel good with Doctor Who. I usually feel like I need a disinfectant and a brain booster after TORCHWOOD.

Time Again to SPEC THE HALLS

Spec the Halls is a contest for speculative winter holiday-themed fiction, artwork, and poetry. The holiday may be fictional or real; it may be Christmas or Yuletide as we know and love it, or it may be something much stranger.

If I remember rightly, my pal Chris got a story pubbed at RGR, one he initially wrote for the Spec the Halls contest.

If you're up to entering--fiction, poetry, or artwork--get the specifics: SPEC THE HALLS

Free entry if you post it in a public site (your blog, your website, etc). Entry fee if you want to send it via email and keep it off the public viewways.

Pixy, I hope you're entering something. You, too, Chris-Man.


Saturday, November 24, 2007

In Case You Need More To Read:
The 3-1-6 Journal

Noticed two familiar names in the list of contributors to Issue #2:

Heather (aka Elfin Queen Blue-Bearer)
Mikey D (The DeComposer).

Check it out here.


Hillbilly Fairy Stories?

Since hillbilly fairies actually exist (and Holly Durr's seen 'em), I just wanna know where the hillbilly fairy tales are archived.


Friday, November 23, 2007

I AM LEGEND: Stephen King Gushes

Stephen King and Frank Darabont have a little interchange over at SciFiScanner, talking about SF books that influenced them, that made me giggle. I think it's the boyish enthusiasm that comes through.

Tell me this doesn't make you want to find your copy and reread it (or read it for the first time):

KING: The biggest influence on my life, and it’s gonna be a movie [again] in December, I am Legend by Richard Matheson. I read Poe and all those guys, and I thought that they were good, but I didn’t have that kind of visceral connection where I thought oh yeah, this guy is doing it on my block, I like that.

DARABONT: That’s one of my top five favorite books.

KING: I love that.

DARABONT: It’s high on the list.

KING: And it’s on the best seller list again now too.

DARABONT: Is it really?

KING: Yeah.

DARABONT: Oh good, they’re reading the book ‘cause—does [the new movie] really look like I Am Legend or does it look like kind of a remake of The Omega Man?

KING: I haven’t seen the movie, they’re reading the book.

DARABONT: Yeah, that’s great, that’s awesome.

They mention many familiar names familiar to those of us who grew up watching/reading SF: Beaumont, Block, Bradbury ("a god"). Even Walter M. Miller, Jr. gets a shout-out. Modern writers get mentioned as well, including Alan Moore and David Mamet (for dialogue). Kelly Link's the only woman mentioned, as I recall, but even a luminary such as Gene Wolfe has praised Miz Link's imagination and prose, so, not surprising. :)

Christian Author Jeffrey Overstreet Responds to Pullman's HIS DARK MATERIALS

“I’m trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief.”
--Philip Pullman, describing his fantasy trilogy to The Washington Post in 2001.

Thinking Christian "strongly" recommends Jeffrey Overstreet's (AURALIA'S COLORS)blog entry: "THE GOLDEN COMPASS: Questions I've Been Asked--Answers I've given."

I also strongly recommend it. It's a balanced series of posts, with negatives and positives, even wondering how much responsibility we, The Church, should take for Pullman's negative views. I liked his discussion on the "straw God" Pullman has set up.

Some quotes:

In a time when the slightest question about Islam sets off a wave of anger about political incorrectness, it’s amazing how Pullman is celebrated for openly, aggressively, and ignorantly slandering Christianity. In a time when you can get in trouble for praying in school, or for showing religious intolerance, isn’t it interesting that no one has questioned the presence of these books in school libraries since Pullman started saying these things back in 1995?

If we respond with wrath, condemnation, and protest, we play right into Pullman’s naive caricature of Christianity. I’m not saying we shouldn’t point out where he is wrong. His story is deeply flawed, and his religious bigotry is shameful. We should not ignore that. But we also should not ignore the excellence of his artistry. And should speak the truth in love, as Christ commands us. We should respond with truth and grace.

I also recommend we pray for Mr. Pullman's radical conversion. He's on my list, right there with Dawkins. After all, the same God Clive Staples--whose Narnia Pullman finds repulsive--once rejected, is the same God Mr. Lewis eventually raised up among readers throughout the world.

May the Hound of Heaven run swiftly and tirelessly...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

"Tsunami of Grace" and Prayer Requests

People heard about Kelli's need, and it has been met, with extra dollops. She calls it a tsunami of grace. All her medical expenses--current, past, and in the near future--are covered by the donations given by the Christian and writing/publishing community. I've seen the generosity of this community more than once, particularly in the RWA and ACFW, and I view it as a privilege to do a small part in spreading the word and offering my pittances. I believe every bit counts--prayer, money, blogging, good will.

Read the terrific post, see the video, and pray for Kelli and her new pal Kathy, whose hubby is in a bad way with cancer. And continue praying for Kristy Dykes, who has been diagnosed with malignant brain cancer. Her husband has been blogging for her lately, and it's a beautiful tribute from a man who loves his ailing wife.

Poetry and Spirituality in NUMB3RS:
"The Death-Bed" and Zen-Boy Fleinhardt

I really enjoy a well-placed bit of verse in a film or in a television show. I remember the thrill of hearing "And Death Shall Have No Dominion" by Dylan Thomas in BEAUTY AND THE BEAST many years ago. And a Rilke piece--"Archaic Torso of Apollo" --in Woody Allen's ANOTHER WOMAN, and another of Rilke's in ONLY YOU ("You Who Never Arrived") Then there's the goreousness of Neruda's verse ( "La Muerta" ) in TRULY, MADLY, DEEPLY (which made me buy the VHS when it went on sale a couple decades ago), and in IL POSTINO.

Well, those are some examples.

Recently, in the episode (a kicking good episode) called "The Janus List", NUMB3RS ended with Judd Hirsch's character, sitting in the company of his two sons, the brilliant mathematician and the effective FBI agent, reciting lines from "The Death-Bed" by Siegfried Sassoon. I couldn't recall the poem's title, but it was evident that it was a WWI era poem, verses of war.

They're lovely. Here they are:

Light many lamps and gather round his bed.
Lend him your eyes, warm blood, and will to live.
Speak to him; rouse him; you may save him yet.

But death replied: 'I choose him.' So he went,
And there was silence in the summer night;
Silence and safety; and the veils of sleep.
Then, far away, the thudding of the guns.

Read the whole poem.

And if that episode repeats, catch it. It's a very, very good one, rated 9.5 out of 10 at TV.Com.

And my fave character on the show is the physicist, Larry Fleinhardt, who went off to join a trappist monastery before "re-entry" into society after his space trip. His zennish advice and quirky personality--I adore eccentrics!--are delightful to behold.

Why is it that Peter MacNicol is such as scene-stealer for me? He stole CHICAGO HOPE (as "The Eel") right out from under the intense and very sexy Mandy Patinkin, and he steals the scenes in NUMB3RS from anyone with whom he shares dialogue. Love dat man. Plus the spiritual discussion is interesting, given how scientific and pragmatic Charlie and Don are, respectively. He's an excellent part of the show, and I'm glad he's back.


New BEOWULF: More Anti-Christian Crap?

DGD reviews BEOWULF, and if the tv ads weren't enough to get me to skip it (they were), then his review surely pushes me deep into the heartland of, "more offensive Hollywood bigotry against Christians that I don't wanna pay to see" territory.

Read his review here.

I wonder how Gaiman--a writer whose talent I admire and whose tomes adorn my library shelves--would feel if someone revised his fictional material so it was anti-Semitic or homophobic or something else he'd find offensive? But some reviewers have chortled at the anti-Christian elements in the Beowulf script. The very same who would organize boycotts and marches in the street were some favored group of theirs belittled in such a blatant way.

And the hate goes on...

For a non-scathing review from a Christian venue, see Christianity Today.


What I Won, What I'm Listening
To, & What I"m About To Order

I won a book.
Tamera Alexander emailed me that I won a giveaway for BOO HUMBUG by Rene Gutteridge. YESSSSSSSSSSSSSS, free holiday fiction! Thanks, Tamera!

I'm listening to an audio book.
In my continuing quest to lose a significant amount of adipose tissue, I'm turning to behavioral modification using cognitive therapy techniques taught by Dr. Judith Beck. Stop snarfing.

I'm about to order a cognitive therapy workbook.
I really meant it about the snarfing. Cut it out.

Here they are, in case you want 'em:

Unlearning Italics?

Andy M. of Zondervan says, yes, unlearn italics.

I"m glad he gave an out for the "thought in the head" italics usage, cause I use that, a lot, and I'm not about to give up such usage unless someone arm wrestles me and wins big or sends me a year's supply of dark chocolate covered sugarless marshmallows. (My new addiction.)

For a counterpoint, see Nicole's post at INTO THE FIRE.


Monday, November 19, 2007

New Fantasy With Half-Latina Protagonist

I'm an excerpt-hound. I was visiting one of the blogs on my sidebar, FANTASY DEBUT, and ran across a link to Phaedra Weldon's site. (That is such a nifty author's name. Made me think of Fay Weldon with mythological attitude.)

My name is Zoe--that's with a long e. Not the pronunciation like toe. Martinique. Irish mother, Latin American father. Which means I have darker than usual skin for an Irish Catholic, a mass of brownish hair, very light brown eyes, a wicked mean temper and love of bawdy pub-songs.

My mother insists I look like my father, whom I'd always sort of imagined as resembling Antonio Banderas. Okay--so Antonio's not Latin, but Spanish. He's still one beautiful man. But you know how it is, how a daughter always imagines her father as being the most beautiful man in the world. A hero. A legend.

But according to my mom, the only legendary thing my dad did was vanish from my life. As to the whereabouts of one Adiran Martinique, can't help you. Haven't seen him since I was four. Mom refers to his absence as necessary.

Anyway, it was nice to see a semi-Latina as the shetagonist.

The excerpt is here for WRAITH from Ace/Berkley.

The amazon reviews were quite mixed--8 each of five and four stars, and 5 each of one and two stars. That's why I hadn't ordered it, though I regularly check to see what amazon has by way of fantasy, and especially urban fantasy.

I'm still debating whether to get or not, but that semi-Latina bit adds one more to the "pro" column.

Art Bonanza in Mail Today!

Whoa! The mail carrier just brought me loads of goodies. I got one book (a Ron Hansen book of essays) and lots of artsy stuff, including:

1. Several prints of Melanie Weidner's spiritually uplifting art
2. My glossy print of Hanna's painting of Selah
3. My bookmarks and free prints (one that was owed to me, one that came free with this purchase) from Sara Butcher

Me so happy!

I plan to have a longer blog post this week on Melanie's art, including some images of the prints I purchased (I have her permission to post those). And I also will be giving away a print of one of her pieces that anyone who is a storyteller would enjoy. So, keep an eye out for that post and the giveaway.

Bryan "Dragons" Davis' Tour Pics

I talked about how God has guided me through my author's journey, and I gave them good reasons to believe that reading Christian fantasy is an excellent way to grow closer to God.

Bryan posted some pics from his tour. I love that he got to speak to so many young people. Go check it out.


Friday, November 16, 2007

Christmas Question: What Are You
Giving Jesus This Year For His Birthday?

It's almost that time again. Just a bit over a month away. Maybe you're wondering what to give certain folks for the holidays. Maybe your co-workers or some folks at church, etc.

Well, I just did half of my Christmas "shopping" in one of my usual end-of-year habits: I dropped by a Christian charity and gave donations as gifts.

Let's face it: Most of us don't need another box of chocolates or another bottle of perfume. Or maybe you've always felt that along with the usual gift-giving, something was missing.

I suggest what was missing was a gift to the actual Birthday Boy. It's not our birthday, though we certainly can benefit from the generosity in the air. I like presents. Who doesn't? I give traditional presents. I get them. It's nice to see the boxes and ribbons and bows and to hear the kids squeal!

And yet think of all those gifts that really don't do much other than add more luxury to our lives. (Yes, I'm very guilty of this. I'm also guilty of the "I gotta buy so-and-so a gift" syndrome. Gotta get, as opposed to delight in getting. It adds stress and just results in more Wal-Mart crap being sold.) The stats on how much people go into debt to make Christmas happen, well, it's hardly the sort of thing to be proud of.

Christmas is all about one of the greatest miracles of all time (and non-time). God was born from a human womb, born into the fallen world, born to live and die as a man for the sake of us all. It still gets me all ferklempt.

And that's the the God-Man's birthday. He should get the goodies. He says when we give gifts to the needy, in His name, we give it to Him. He made it simple.

So, go give to the needy for His sake and in someone's name (or just to give). Some organizations, like Samaritan's Purse or World Vision offer holiday gift catalogs and will provide "honor cards" that you can give people to let them know you helped feed an orphan or shelter a family or provided livestock in their names. They have gifts for every budget, from $4 to provide milk to a child all the way to tens of thousands of dollars. (You can build a medical clinic, a school, a home, a church, if you're loaded!)

I also use Habitat for Humanity for my Jewish friends' donation gifts.

And it's easy. All the above have online donation features.

That's just one way. Your community has loads of people who could use help this winter--from a hot meal to a new set of shoes to a bit of shelter from the elements. The opportunities abound for those who want to "wrap up" things that are both really useful and needful as gifts for the Savior born in Bethlehem. Remember him when you shop for toys and clothing and electronics and jewelry.

So, what are you giving Jesus for his birthday?