Monday, April 30, 2007

TRIBULATION HOUSE by Chris Well

I started laughing I think by page two of Chris Well's TRIBULATION HOUSE . And the first encounter of baddies with God-fearing shopkeeper was quite amusing. Chris' writing is smoother than in his debut, the very enjoyable FORGIVING SOLOMON LONG. He's even improved since the terrific DELIVER US FROM EVELYN. Crime fiction with humor and spiritual content--Chris is owning his piece of real estate in that niche and building a huge house, too.

I've posted my review--a bit rambly, maybe, but I'm really mentally pooped today--over at amazon.com. Do go check it out.

If you've ever shaken your head in disgust or snorted in disbelief at the endtimes lunacy that ovetakes some folks who spend a lot of time trying to decode or decipher or infer or chart or whatever the date of the Rapture or of the parousia, then you'll love this novel. Chris skewers that sort of eschatalogical craziness and shows how very dangerous it can be in the mind of someone who is neither mature nor self-controlled. Add in his kooky crooks and trying-hard-to-do-right cops, including my fave Charlie the comics defender, and it's a fast and fun read that says some important things about Kingdom living.

Oh, and Chris, you just about killed me with that inside joke line on page 16:

(I still can't believe it's not Kingdom Come.)


Note to readers not in on it: Chris originally titled the novel KINGDOM COME, but it went through changes, obviously. For those of us who followed that process, well, we saw it mirrored in the opening pages. When you read those pages, knowing the background, you'll get it. Cute.)

Now, click on the book image below and get YOUR copy. Then you can start chortling, too.


Elliot and Miss Snark Run off to Tahiti?

This is how terrible, awful, horrible rumors get started, I'm guessing. Someone--say ME, for instance--says something jokingly, but, boom, someone takes it seriously.

But, you know, Elliot and Miss Snark are on "hiatus" or "retreat" at the same time. Hmmm. Mmmm. So, does that mean Elliot is really George Clooney and Miss Snark has bagged her dreamboy? Or is Miss Snark actually Mrs. Elliot and they're snogging happily and marriedly even as I type my wild speculations?

Or, maybe, I just need to go get some sleep, since I've been up for, oh, 19 hours, and for me, that's like a marathon of wakefulness. Yeah, that's it.

Well, happy hiatus-ing for both the snarky bloggy agent and the lovely Claw-Man.

Nancy Fulda at TSR Gives Writers Tips
On How To Rise Up Out of the Slush Pile

Vist The Sword Review to check out Nancy Fulda's Three-Step Guide to Gerring Out of the Slush Pile. Nancy is an editorial associate at Baen's Universe, one of the better paying pro markets for writers of science fiction and fantasy. The three steps are:

1. the right hook
2. a focused mid-story
3. a wrap up with resonance

Read the article at TSR for the explanations of each. Examine your latest story and see if it has all these, or ask your crit partner(s) if they see this in your work.

Nancy also offers lots of writing advice over at Baen's Bar. (Registration is super-easy, just username and email and, wham, they send you your password and you can sign on right off. Took me 30 seconds.) Sam Hidaka offers great links for Baen's Bar tips HERE.

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Editors and Writers on YouTube

YouTube isn't just about webisodes or film trailers or music videos or homages to hunky Scottish actors. You can spend time with assorted editors and writers there.

EDITORS:

Dave Long of Bethany House talks on writing

Joe Casada of Marvel Comics

Allison Janssen, editor at Bleak House Books

Jeff VanderMeer interviews Sebastien Guillot, editor at Calmann-Levy (Paris), about publishing books with magic or fantastical elements

Jukka Halme, Finnish SF editor

WRITERS:

Ray Bradbury on life and writing

Paul Levinson on the History of Science Fiction

Philip K Dick interview footage from 1977

Others, like Stephen King, also are interviewed there. Do your own YouTube search and see what you come up with. Share fun or insightful or informative vids of editors or authors or agents by leaving the url here in a comment.

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Mir's "DNA"



Sofisticat, worker bee, junkie monkey, love bug? Well, love bug, yeah. :) They should have had a Pre-Raphaelite painting there, a Burne-Jones or something, to peg me better. And my treat would be chocolate mousse or a killer platter of cheese enchiladas. As for "my music", if they'd had a chamber music quartet in a lovely Japanese garden, or a folk singer with a guitar under a tree in a grassy spot, and I'd be so there. As far as travel: Just plunk me down in the middle of some gorgeous museum in Paris or New York or London or Madrid, or set me down in Tuscany with some bean soup and crusty bread, or let me off at St. Mark's square for espresso and winged-lion-hunting.


Thanks to Carmen, that dreamer-escape artist-back to basics-home soul, for the link.

SF Gospel: Esther in a SF Story

Gabriel at SF GOSPEL has posted an interesting blog entry called Inspiration from Scripture in Richard A. Lovett's "The Sands of Titan" (Analog, June 2007)

"The Sands of Titan" is a fine example not only of how religion can be used in SF; it's an excellent reminder of the continued relevance of religion (and religious stories in particular) in our lives. Floyd's computer can tell him how fast or slow to walk to best conserve his air, or which rock on the horizon to point himself toward to find the capsule, but those things are not enough. It is not until she offers support to the needs of his soul as well as his body that he is able to muster the will to survive across Titan's landscape. The story of Esther is the direct reference made in this story, but in the end it's an illustration of Matthew 4:4: "Man does not live on bread (or compressed air and recycled water) alone."


I gotta get that issue!

I also recommend G's book, which I just ordered from amazon.com: The Gospel According to Science Fiction

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Lost Genre Reviews SHIVERING WORLD

Over at the Lost Genre Guild, Grace Bridges (whose name is a sentence, how cool is that?) has posted a review of Kathy Tyers' THE SHIVERING WORLD, a science fiction novel by the author of the FIREBIRD TRILOGY. (I believe it was on the long list for the Nebula, too, if my memory serves.)

She liked it.
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Quote for the Day

"A believer who allows himself to be formed and guided by the Church's faith, no matter what his weaknesses and difficulties may be, ought to be a window opened onto the light of the living God; and if he genuinely believes, that is what he is. The believer ought to be a force of opposition to the powers that keep the truth a prisoner and to the wall of prejudices that prevent people from seeing God."

--Pope Benedict XVI


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Speculative Fiction...in Song

One of my fave Loreena songs:

Loreena McKennit sings "The Bonny Swans" live

To find out more about the ballad that Loreena used for her version, go here.

Patricia Wrede, fantasy author, was inspired by Loreena's "The Bonny Swans" to write "The Cruel Sisters", telling the story from the POV of the third sister, which the song alludes to in "he had daughters-one, two, three."

Mir's Favorite Childhood Painting


Over at Elliot's blog, he posted a detail of Flora from PRIMAVERA by Botticelli.

It reminded me of the hours I spent looking at this painting in a huge book of World History. I believe it was around page 720 or so, a two-page spread of PRIMAVERA that my sickly, little girl self used to escape the misery of a body that didn't work so well, but a mind that worked fine. (Ah, to have the robust mind of my youth.)


I thought surely those were the loveliest women ever painted, and the loveliest gowns, and that if we had never fallen in Eden, the world would be populated by people dressed in flowery gowns and tunics picking flowers and fruit and dancing and just having an eternal springtime.

Okay, I was young and dreamy.

But part of me still has dreams like that, if not so often, and if much less Greekly mythological.

That book of World History and my dog-eared volume of Bulfinch's mythology got me through various episodes of bronchitis and flu and pneumonia. And when I closed the pages of that history tome, I'd dream of going to Florence, to the Uffizi, and seeing this most wondrous of works in real life.

And I believe my love affair with spec fic began early with fairy tales and was consilidated, later, with those great paintings of gods and goddesses and those myths.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Expect Light Blogging, Mebbe

The Mir is not feeling so good. Slept almost all day yesterday. Still feeling on the lethargic side. And I dunno yet if it's endo stuff or the beginning of a downturn into one of my periodic blues.

Prayers welcome.

Fantasy Novelist's Exam: Take the Quiz!

I'm pretty sure I posted this last year, but, honestly, I can't remember. So, since Miss Snark posted it on hers this week, I figured, why not a revisit to:

The Fantasy Novelist's Exam

You will giggle by the time you get to #33, then #53, then the last two.

Of course, I just read that terrific trilogy where, in the first book, a character (more than "a") is secretly a god. (#9) So, one could answer "yes" to some of these questions. I don't think we'll ever tire of novels that have a character who is "the one", although we don't have to call them "The One." (Babylon 5 did just fine with several The Ones, and that, itself, broke the cliche.) The messianic character will always have power, depending on what all goes on around and with him/her. I like "the ones."

But this quiz is not a bad tool to see if one has fallen into the Derivative Rut or the Well of Cliche.

~

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Belated Linky Revolution Solidarity:
International Pixel-Stained Peasants Day

I made myself a note more than a week ago to cheer on IPSP Day. I forgot. Yeesh.

But you can still find operative links to the offerings of the "webscabs" (as departing SFWA vice-president calls them), but which I call generous writers of good cheer!

Jo Walton, Mistress Instigator, posts this on her blog entry:

cheshyre has suggested that non-writers celebrate not only by an orgy of reading, but by posting about writers they've started reading because they discovered them online, which seems to me a splendid idea.


If any of those linked stories thrills you, or you find a new writer to love, well, give them their props. Cool?

Three Cheers for the Pixel-Stained Peasants and the fruit of their keyboards!

"Pol Pot's Beautiful Daughter"
& More Hugo Nominees Online

You can now read this Hugo-nominated story for free:

Geoff Ryman's "Pol Pot's Beautiful Daughter"

See which other nominees you can read for FREE.

Strong Badia's Unnatural Disaster

Where the answer to this question is found:

What is the culinary opposite of chicken wings?


Then find out 1. How Strong Bad wants to be funeralized and 2. The year of the Zombie Uprising: HERE.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix- NЕW third trailer For Film

Wow. A very cool trailer. Thanks to Carmen for the heads up.

This was a very dark Potter book, hard to read, while impossible for me to put down. The stifling sense of the repression. I think the trailer captures the dark dread of that book, even if Staunton is nowhere near as comically repulsive as the book's villainous, sadistic Umbridge.



Bonus: Watch a 6 1/2 minute YouTube vid of behind-the-scenes on Order of the Phoenix.
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Flynn's EIFELHEIM: Read it FREE!

Well, I have the hardcover on the couch, calling to me after I get through my current read. But you can enjoy the Hugo-nominated novel gratis in pdf format:

EIFELHEIM

Rhyming Poem by our Snarky up at DKA

Read "Beyond the Abattoir" by Chris Miller at DKA.

Nice bit of fantasy metamorphosis...and a cool ending.

~

Two New SF Markets: Story & Novel

Staffs & Starships magazine is looking for "literary quality speculative fiction" with strong characters and sound plots, and where the fantasy "leans toward the traditional" and the science fiction leans toward the hard side of the SF spectrum. If that's up your alley, go read the guidelines. Pay is minimal.

Sheer Speculation Press: "Our intent is to publish quality pieces within the genre that take the time to enlighten the reader, rather than shock them. Stories submitted to Sheer Speculation Press should be literary in nature – in other words, send us stories that you would feel comfortable sending to a non-genre review or magazine but which are still easily discernable as taking place within the boundaries of the two genres."

Thanks, Lord, For All The Fish (& Biscuits)

Our fave Brit blogger, Steve of Old Testament Space Opera, offers a nice summary of a portion of Doug Adams' SO LONG AND THANKS FOR ALL THE FISH (in the Hitchhiker's series). And he links to a sermon that references it, too, and to a very Biblical sort of message:

Like the stranger in the station, we are called to share, and not necessarily receive any thanks.


I think you should go read it, and thank God for all the Rich Teas, metaphorically speaking, He's shared with you and for which you've neglected to say "thanks."

My New Amazon LISTMANIA! List:
"Memorable Forgetfulness"

In case you're interested, drop by and view my DVD list for amazon.com:

"Memorable Forgetfulness: Amnesia in Film"

I'm gonna make one for novels, too.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Gushing Again Over TITANS OF CHAOS,
Only A Bit More Coherently This Time

I know that my previous review of Titans of Chaos was comprehensive, so detailed as to make your brain overflow, and I really needed to add not one more word. (Ahem.) Nevertheless, I'm not done blabbering praise, so you will simply have to allow me to gush a bit more.

I posted a review of TITANS OF CHAOS over at amazon.com. Do help my ranking by going over and clicking that it was helpful. Come on, help the Mir out.

I give no story/plot details, no big spoilers. I think this is one volume where you just have to trust me that it's faboo and go off to your fave reading chair and prove me right or wrong in my enthusiasm.

Here's a slightly edited version of that amazon review:

WARNING: Spoilers for books one and two of The Chronicles of Chaos

Ever read a novel and the adrenaline starts spurting in your body and you keep going, "Wow!" as you read? Well, this conclusion to the fabulous fantasy series by John C. Wright did that to me. Now, that's not to minimize the fun, smarts, and utter enjoyability of books one and two in the Chronicles of Chaos. It's simply to assert how slam-bang and adventuresome and satisfying this one was: A perfect, awe-inducing finale.

So, in book one we met our "orphans", who, through great smarts and innate powers (only just blossoming), manage to escape the clutches of the mythological beings holding them captive, including the sexy-bad-boy Boreas, alias Headmaster Boggin, and a really creepy Grendel. They've figured out they are much older than they seem to be and that they aren't students, but prisoners. They can't remember their true identities, but they have remnants of memories, and those memories bespeak of origins that are strange and wondrous. Despite their valiant attempt at freedom, they are recaptured, and their memories are erased. Ah, but a bit of Amelia monadal fiddling makes sure that we get to book two...

...where Amelia begins to regain her memories. Eventually, a successful escape ensues, along with further discoveries by our heroes and heroines of who they are and what they can do. Plus, a truly titanic encounter with the monstrous and beautiful and very, very dangerous Echidna (kicking scene!), before that book ends with the Olympian martial fleets coming at our intrepid heroes and heroines: Amelia (the first person narrator and inhabitor of multi-dimensions at will), Victor (Amelia's big first crush, our man of logic and matter manipulation), Vanity (the lovely one whose dreamship aids in their escapes and adventures, and whose boundary stone does some tres cool stuff), Quentin (our Dr. Strange of sorts, our magic-man with an honorable soul if some nasty apparati), and Colin (our randy bad-boy who needs to stay inspired to accomplish wonders, and who seriously wants him some Amelia).

So, we open with our fugitives trying to escape the clutches of Mavors' (Mars/Ares) army of lizard-men and Atlanteans, and the mountainous, pyramidal ships of the war god that I thought were a delight to visualize. And I will offer no big spoilers here of a truly terrific series of adventures, discoveries, and mind-boggling battles. Just about anything I say would be a spoiler, given how packed this novel is and it's breathless pace.

I will say that we get some lovely mixes of the fantastical-mythological with the science fictional, so that we are tripping in a real best called science-fantasy (in one sense of that classification), that gorgeous hybrid that Mr. Wright manages with dazzling deftness, and in particular in a segment of the novel that thrills with imaginative space travel. I dare you not to go, "WOW!"

You'll see our fugitives in San Francisco, LA, back in England, on a deserted island, up beyond the stratosphere, down in dreamland, and wherever they go, trouble follows in ever-increasing and astonishing measure. I've never had such fun reading showdowns. I mean, geesh, wait til you get a load of these Maeanads. It gives girlpower a whole new spin.

Along with some wonderful intellectual musings, some Christian allusions (oh, lord, how I felt utterly moved by the magnificent intrusions into the prelapsarian world), some randy coming-of-age antics, some very funny bits that had me barking--one has to adore Colin with his war cry of "Amelia Windrose!"--and some truly dark and terrifying moments when it seems as if there is no way our kids can win the day, then even darker and scarier ones when you think, "Okay, THIS TIME, they're done for," even if you know better. When the climactic showdown with the one who has manipulated people and events and plotted the demise of our "orphans" finally arrives, it's like being on the wildest, craziest ride in some fantastic amusement park run by a lunatic genius.

But all rides end. Sigh.

A quieter, but no less of a battle, conclusion lets us feel a true denouement (but not without leaving room for more Chaos stories, which I hope will come). The reader can feel satisfied because love, loyalty, cooperation, abilities, friendship, sacrifice, hard work, brilliant problem solving, and audacity do, indeed, bring an ending to smile about. Oh, happy day.

Well, you can tell I loved TITANS OF CHAOS, right?

If you like the dazzle of superpowered heroes in comic books, if you like science-fantasy, if Zelazny's AMBER series zinged you, if you like intellect that isn't stuffy, the high mixed with the low, if you want to see what Cupid/Eros would be like if he lived on the West Coast and had entrepreneurial leanings, if you loved Harry Potter and want to see how it might be fashioned if there were five Harrys, not just one, and the enemies were much more numerous and powerful than Voldemort, if you want to see what happenes when "kids" who can destroy an entire universe have to figure out the way to walk the tightest of tight ropes in order to survive themselves and not destroy Earth, this is the series for you.


Looking for the Next LEFT BEHIND

Not me. Sorry, but I couldn't get into the LB books.

But this SF Gate article looks at HarperSanFrancisco (a HarperCollins imprint) and their new line Avon Inspire, and into the Christian fiction genre and its audience:

The success of LaHaye's books has prompted publishers to experiment with different Christian genres and to develop prolific "star" writers, such as the Rev. Rick Warren in nonfiction and Karen Kingsbury in fiction.

"The Purpose-Driven Life" -- a self-help book written by Warren, pastor of a Southern California megachurch -- sold 22 million copies even before it became the unlikely hinge of a 2005 news story. By reading aloud from the book, an Atlanta woman was able to persuade a gunman to set her free.

Kingsbury, the nation's top-selling Christian romance author, is a former Los Angeles Times sports reporter who now publishes three inspirational novels per year.

"Historical fiction as a genre is growing, and Christian romance is huge," said Fensterman, of BookExpo America.

In June, the fair is planning a panel for booksellers on how to buy Christian fiction, plus a panel on secularism versus Christianity.

"I was in a bookstore in Alabama, and their Christian fiction section was as large as their general fiction section," Fensterman said.

The genre is popular because "evangelical Christians can buy these books and know they fit their lifestyle," he said.


Well, I'm hoping part of that explosion covers more than "romance", of course.

Algis Budrys Gets to the Point

Looking back on your career, what do you believe has been your biggest contribution to SF literature?

Budrys: The teaching. I write, as I said, very well, and I admire myself no end. But I don't write much; I've only written something like 10 books in my life. They're good books, and there are still people who come up to me and say, "Gee, that was a good book." But I don't think that's anywhere near as enduring as the teaching. I've got, or I think I've got, probably a thousand people who have learned from me. And that's really something!
--from a 2001 Science Fiction Weekly Interview


Because it came up in the article linked in the previous post (on Doctorow's tips), I looked up Algis Budrys' seven-point plot structure. Budrys, a name that may be familiar to SF fans, is the author of WHO?, ROGUE MOON, and THE FALLING TORCH, also wrote WRITING TO THE POINT, the non-fiction book where his seven points are delineated and expounded upon:

1. a character
2 in a context
3. has a problem
4 s/he tries to solve the problem
5 and fails — tries and fails twice more, stakes escalating
6. victory or death
7. validation (denouement)


The first three points go in the beginning. Four through 6 make up the middle. And 7 is the ending section.

Cory Doctorow's Writing Advice

Information Week's blog posted an article with author Cory Doctorow's tips on increasing writing productivity.

Here are some excerpts:

Writing every day, he said, creates a smooth communication channel to your unconscious, where all the real writing gets done (he didn't use the word "unconscious.") For example, he said, he described how he worked on a novel for several years, only to have to put it aside for a long time because he couldn't think of an ending. One day, he thought of one, wrote it up, and then set out with a heavy heart to do the unpleasant task of rewriting the novel so that the ending would make sense and was properly foreshadowed. But when he re-read the novel, he found that no revision was necessary -- the ending was already foreshadowed; he'd been leading up to that ending all along, without being aware of it.

He suggested you should "park on a hill" -- stop writing each day just before the end of the scene, or, even better, in mid-sentence, so that when you sit down to write the next day, you know how to begin.


My discipline in keeping to a daily schedule is shabby, but when I have done so, it's true. You seem to get clearer, better ideas when you stick with something day in and day out, your whole imagination getting caught up in the premise/scenario and with the characters, so that your subconscious does seem to bubble up more stuff. Can't disagree with that.

And I'd heard the "parking" suggestion before, though, honestly, when I did that, I just came back frustrated. Hm.

A bit more frm the blog article:

If you miss a day writing, don't compound the problem. Just get it done the next day. It's like your job: If you come in late for work one day, that's done, you can't undo it, but you should be on time the next day.

He doesn't go in for elaborate outlining or formulas of story construction (like Algis Budrys's seven points). Instead, he writes what he calls "treatments," descriptions of things that should happen in chapters, not necessarily in any order. And his basic formula is to write likeable characters who do intelligent things, but at every turn the situation keeps getting worse through no fault of their own. This is, he said, tricky because it's easy to dig your characters in so deep that they can't ever get out of trouble.


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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Mir Reviews TITANS OF CHAOS

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH
MYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY
GOSSSHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Why are you not reading this?

OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
MYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY
GOOOOOOOOSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHH!

Okay, clearly, I have not come down from my TITANS OF CHAOS high sufficiently to write calm and lovely sentences about the novel.

But I feel sorry for those of y'all who have not read books one and two, so you could be reading book THREE this minute!!!

John C. Wright just rocked my world like nobody's business!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Locus Award Nominees Announced

Winners will be announced mid-June. Here are some of the Locus Award categories with nominees:

Best Science Fiction Novel

Blindsight, Peter Watts (Tor)
Carnival, Elizabeth Bear (Bantam Spectra)
Farthing, Jo Walton (Tor)
Glasshouse, Charles Stross (Orbit; Ace)
Rainbows End, Vernor Vinge (Tor)

Best Fantasy Novel

The Jennifer Morgue, Charles Stross (Golden Gryphon Press; Ace)
The Last Witchfinder, James Morrow (Morrow)
The Privilege of the Sword, Ellen Kushner (Bantam Spectra)
Soldier of Sidon, Gene Wolfe (Tor)
Three Days to Never, Tim Powers (Subterranean Press; Morrow)

Best First Novel

Crystal Rain, Tobias S. Buckell (Tor)
The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters, Gordon Dahlquist (Bantam; Viking UK)
The Green Glass Sea, Ellen Klages (Viking)
The Lies of Locke Lamora, Scott Lynch (Gollancz; Bantam Spectra)
Temeraire: His Majesty's Dragon/Throne of Jade/Black Powder, Naomi Novik (Del Rey; Voyager); as Temeraire: In the Service of the King (SFBC)

Best Young Adult Book

The Keys to the Kingdom: Sir Thursday, Garth Nix (Allen & Unwin; The Chicken House)
Magic Lessons, Justine Larbalestier (Penguin/Razorbill)
Spirits That Walk in Shadow, Nina Kiriki Hoffman (Viking)
Voices, Ursula K. Le Guin (Orion Children's; Harcourt)
Wintersmith, Terry Pratchett (Doubleday UK; HarperTempest)

Best Novella

"Botch Town", Jeffrey Ford (The Empire of Ice Cream)
"Lord Weary's Empire", Michael Swanwick (Asimov's 12/06)
"Map of Dreams", M. Rickert (Map of Dreams)
"The Mars Girl", Joe Haldeman (Escape from Earth)
"Missile Gap", Charles Stross (One Million A.D.)

Best Novelette

"I, Row-Boat", Cory Doctorow (Flurb 1, Fall '06)
"The Night Whiskey", Jeffrey Ford (Salon Fantastique)
"Pol Pot's Beautiful Daughter (Fantasy)", Geoff Ryman (F&SF 10-11/06)
"The Singularity Needs Women!", Paul Di Filippo (Forbidden Planets [Crowther])
"When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth", Cory Doctorow (Baen's Universe 8/06)

Best Short Story

"How to Talk to Girls at Parties", Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things)
"In the Abyss of Time", Stephen Baxter (Asimov's 8/06)
"Nano Comes to Clifford Falls", Nancy Kress (Asimov's 7/06)
"Sob in the Silence", Gene Wolfe (Strange Birds)
"Tin Marsh", Michael Swanwick (Asimov's 8/06)


Best Anthology

One Million A.D., Gardner Dozois, ed. (SFBC)
Salon Fantastique, Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling, eds. (Thunder's Mouth Press)
The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: Nineteenth Annual Collection, Ellen Datlow, Kelly Link & Gavin Grant, eds. (St. Martin's)
The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Third Annual Collection, Gardner Dozois, ed. (St. Martin's)
Year's Best SF 11, David G. Hartwell & Kathryn Cramer, eds. (Eos)

Best Collection

The Best of Philip José Farmer, Philip José Farmer (Subterranean Press)
The Empire of Ice Cream, Jeffrey Ford (Golden Gryphon Press)
Fragile Things, Neil Gaiman (Morrow; Headline Review)
Galactic North, Alastair Reynolds (Gollancz)
The Ladies of Grace Adieu and other stories, Susanna Clarke (Bloomsbury)

The Tarot of Jane Austen

Not that I do tarot reading or encourage it or anything, but these are COOL!

hat tip to Samantha

Friday, April 20, 2007

No One Tagged Me, But I'm Still Playing!

Name up to three characters (from books)...

1). You wish were real so you could meet them.

~~Quentin (Chronicles of Chaos)--cause I have a crush on him
~~Paul Muad'Dib (DUNE)--cause I had a crush on him
~~Aragorn (LoTR)--cause I wanted to marry him

Hang on, I sense an estrogen-drenched pattern here...


2). You would like to be.

~~Amelia Armstrong Windrose (Chronicles of Chaos)--cause she's ubercool, slender enough to wear a mini with panache, and has that whole fourth-dimensional power that I covet. Plus, she got to fly with Quentin and that hot red-winged, redheaded Boreas. (Okay, I must be fertile or something today.) I can even excuse the whole looking like a squid thing. Maybe.
~~Death (SANDMAN), cause she's hot-looking, has cool black hair, and has the ultimate POWER! (My inner empress is stirred)
~~Galadriel (LoTR), oh, come on, beautiful and powerful and deathless and constantly surrounded by handsome elfin types. What's not to like?


3). Who scare you.

~~Dementors (Harry Potter) No, really, they do. More than Voldemort
~~Marsuvees Black (Showdown) :::shudder:::
~~Other Mother (Coraline) The creepiest maternal figure I have ever encountered. :::hiding in closet:::


I tag Josh Vogt, Solshine7 (Karen), and Eve Nielsen Do leave a comment if you play along. And anyone else who wants to answer the questions, DO IT. I tag you, too!!! Let me know if you blog amusing answers. I like to giggle.


~

The FemiNerds Recommend Comics

If you enjoy comics or graphic novels (or just never tried some and want to), the FemiNerds have compiled a list of 12 recommendations.

I own and enjoyed (enjoy) five of the twelve: the ASTONISHING X-MEN series by Whedon (three vols, bound, which I recommended on this blog a year ago or more), the complete SANDMAN (of course), FRAY, the two issues out on BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER's SEASON 8, more than half of the bound volumes of FABLES (which anyone who loves urban fantasy and retold fairy tales should check out!). Oh, well, so I'm behind. Heh.

I did see Whedon's name attached to RUNAWAYS, which makes me wanna get it very, very soon. And the girl-power of BIRDS OF PREY appeals to me. Need to vist VILLAINS (my local comics shop) again soon and check those out.

Which ones on that list have you read and enjoyed?

Are You Brave Enough To Email Elektra?

For those who thrive on getting feedback, here's another resource for you to send your synopsis, query letter, or first ten pages, etc: The Crapometer.

All that's necessary to submit is sending whatever you'd like critiqued--synopsis, query, first chapter (please keep it to around 10 pages or so)--to crapometer@gmail.com as an attachment.


I heard about The Crapometer over at Miss Snark, in this post which included the following answer to the question, "How does a writer know if he / she is any good?"

You don't. And it doesn't matter. "Good" is a term we throw around a lot but it's meaningless mostly.

I always say write well, but that's just to get out of the slush pile and to get you to quit obsessing about margins and times new roman. What I look for is work I can sell. Mostly that's "good" but not always.


If you really have no sense of whether your work is lucid, clear, compelling or cogent and persuasive take a writing class. First, it's fun, and second, most colleges have writing labs where you can take your term papers or essays and some poverty stricken graduate student will snark you into improving. I learned a LOT about good writing in undergraduate school from those guys.

Lots of the commenters will suggest a crit group:
A critique group is only as good as the people in it, and you'd be surprised how much crap comes out of crit groups. I got a huffy letter from querier once (back in the days of trying to be helpful---long gone I assure you) telling me my advice to seek out a crit group was clearly stupid cause she'd been in one for years. I got a good laugh from that. If you're in a crit group and people tell you need a crit group after they see your writing, you need a new group.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Requests for Prayers & for an Update

I posted over at ACFW forum about it, but I'm linking to Val's blog, cause she has a nephew who needs prayer.

I could use some, too. I've not been feeling terribly good, and I'm sleeping too many hours again out of unnatural fatigue.

Now, the update request: Has anyone heard from Dee Stewart? Since that post on Master's Artist more than a week ago, well, I'm kinda worried. So, if there's any update or news you can pass on, please do so. Or just email me at Mirathon atsy aol dotsy com. And yes, let's remember to pray for Dee.

Giving: Memorial Funds for VA Tech

The HOKIE SPIRIT MEMORIAL FUND is taking donations. The funds will be used to assist the victims and their families and help with the counseling and other activities needed during the healing process.

Michael Bishop's son will be remembered through a scholarship fund for German studies at VA-T. Those who want to donate should keep an eye out for more information (I googled and couldn't find anything yet). I expect an update at Mr. Bishop's site will give information in days to come.

The Science Fiction Poetry Association is collecting donations in memory of Jaime Bishop, whose dad won a Rhysling Award. If anyone is part of the SFPA, but haven't been keeping up with the listserv, please check the SFPAnet posts for information on giving (how, where, what for).

~~
~

Winner of Karen Hancock Book

Pixy, alias Rachel M, got selected in the Mir's random drawing. I think she must have sprinkled the monitor with pixydust, but since the rules do not disallow such blatant use of magical properties to sway the "hand that picks", there's not much I can do about it.

Thanks to Dona and Matt for playing along. If y'all want a blog design, take a chance at Eve's blog. Maybe you'll win that one. (I recommend borrowing Pixy's bag o' magic dust.)

Pixers, email me your address babes. I know you want book 4, so, your move. (Oh, okay, I'll email you like I promised to do in the contest rules. Sheesh.) :)

Are You A Heinlein Fan? CENTENNIAL TIME!

Eve passed along a request to spread the bloggy word about the ROBERT A. HEINLEIN CENTENNIAL celebration coming up in July of this year. (It caught my eye cause I was just reading some excerpts from my copy of GRUMBLES FROM THE GRAVE while, er, bathrooming a couple days ago.) I'm not a huge, huge Heinlein fan (I WILL FEAR NO EVIL pretty much killed my urges to read him way back when), I know the dude was influential and that I probably should just read his older novels or the short stories and avoid the latter stuff that made my temples throb. (Plus the whole sexual philosophy of SiaSL still irks me.)

And if you hurry, hurry, hurry, you may be able to get your name in the drawing for a free blog design. (Eve is still taking names, but maybe not for long.)I'm partial to TREE and RED METAL.

A Query in 40 Simple Snarkian Steps

Miss Snark's post has made the Mir guffaw:

How To Write A Query in 40 Simple Steps

Number 7 describes my main action anytime I have to write a hook, a blurb, a pitch, etc.

Number 22 made me bark.

Only one problem I can see: I tasted gin in 1977. I hated it. I think it's dreadful and do not understand why anyone's taste buds can tolerate the stuff.

Can I substitute a nice carafe of Sangria heavy on the tangerine and lime? Or Coke Zero?

~

The Geek Hierarchy:
Whew, I'm Not at the Bottom!


While hanging over at John C. Wright's livejournal, I got a link from one of the comments with an extended Geek Hierarchy Chart.

I'm doing better than expected. I haven't written any erotic fan fiction, although B-5, with the double-whammy of John Sheridan and Marcus Cole in later seasons, could have tempted me to cross the fan-fic line, had I not been embarrassed at the very thought of keyboarding any such thing. (If I could blush, I might be doing that now.)And the only thing remotely fan-ficcy that I did was a Dune-related poem. I don't count that at all. No, really, it doesn't count.

I never dressed up as a character. I haven't role-played since my brief time playing D&D (extremely badly) in 1981, and I mostly did that cause the guys I played with were so funny, I didn't mind getting killed early just to hear them do accents and quip and be hugely amusing and obsessive.

So, really, I'm in that first long tier, the one right under SF LITERATURE FANS

So, either I'm a failed geek, or I'm an almost lit-elitist. Hmm.

Where are you?

~

Speaking of John C. Wright: My TITANS OF CHAOS, amazon.com assures me, is on its way. I'm almost tempted to put on aviator goggles and helmet, but then I'd lose my high ranking on the Geek Hierarchy. :::must hold onto dignity, must hold onto dignity:::

~

What Rebecca Germany Wants

If you write Christian romance, you'll want to take a look at the post over at Edit Cafe called "Editors' Panel." In it, Becky Germany (of Barbour/Heartsong) give you a bloggy version of an editors' panel at a writing conference. She states what she's looking for:

If I were at a conference with you, I would most likely be sitting on an editor’s panel, answering questions about what I’m currently looking to buy in fiction. My needs for full-length fiction really haven’t changed in the last year. I want broad appeal topics with strong romantic plots. (I wouldn’t classify our books as women’s fiction but romances.) For our readers, settings have a strong appeal, so we use location in marketing a story. We also find that our buyers have continued interest in historicals with American settings. I like to see historical events play out alongside the romance. (Carol Cox’s An Affair to Remember series is a good example of weaving history into a story almost like it was another character.) I’m most likely to look at historicals from the 19th century. The readers that our books seem to connect with are those who are seeking a respite from the fast pace of modern life.


And if you haven't visited Edit Cafe, why not stop by and see what Becky, Susan, and Joanne--all Barbour editors--have to blog about.

Did You Hear My Squeal of Joy Last Night?

You must have. I shook the rafters when they voted off Sanjaya Malakar. Finally, I can watch American Idol and not have to grit my teeth or leave the room as I did during his previous performances.

Now, I give him points for poise. He's had a lot of snarking about him, and he's kept his cool. So, good for him. But really, much better singers were voted off.

And I hope the folks at Vote for the Worst all get monumental cases of the piles for keeping him there that long.

It was great to see Melinda Tuesday back in fresh form. She should win. But Jordin is gaining on her. I remember seeing Tuesday's Jordin performance and thinking, "Oh-oh. She might win." When Simon Cowell echoed that, it was rather eerie. Jordin has a couple of things on Melinda: she's younger, she's cuter. Melinda has seasoned and consistently fine vocals. But American can be swayed by a pretty face with a killer smile, and Jordin has that and a good voice and bubbly spirit. Watch out, Miz Doo.

I can't wait to see what Kiki (Lakisha) does to get back in good with the audience. Her choice of a Carrie Underwood song ("Jesus Take the Wheel") was a very, very bad choice. The first Kiki performance I had to go, "Oooh, that note was not nice." Country was just not good for the team. I figure Phil is hoping real hard that the Vote for the Worst people take him on and get him a few million votes. Phil's the frontrunner in their poll. Sigh.
~

Why Keith Strohm Hates SF

I urge my fellow CSFF Blog Tour guides and Spec Faithers to respond, in agreement or debate.

Why I Hate Christian SF

Pulitzer Smiles on SF this Year

So, an SF novel wins the Pulitzer Prize this year: Cormac McCarthy's THE ROAD. The novel has sold more than a million copies. (Oprah's backing no doubt had something to do with that.)

And Ray Bradbury, the esteemed author of classic works such as FAHRENHEIT 451 and THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES and THE ILLUSTRATED MAN, to name just three of so many, gets special kudos for “his distinguished, prolific and deeply influential career as an unmatched author of science fiction and fantasy.”


The Mir likes when SF gets its props. Yes, indeedy.



~~

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Gunman Spews Self-Pitying Crap on Video

The gunman-student culpable for the massacre at Virginia Tech on Monday blames his victims and everyone else on video for his being a walking dungheap of a loser.

Interesting, because it seems that lots of folks cut him slack and were trying to get him help. Some psych will likely say paranoid-schizo. But the rant sounds like someone seething with envy, so filled with hate for those who had "everything", as he puts it, mentioning even a luxury car in that context. The crappy writing done by this student also shows a sense of not having enough money and, perhaps, holding others (his father, the system) for his not having everything HE wanted. Class warfare takes on a horrifying literal sense in his rant and actions.

If he had real mental illness, then someone dropped the hugest ball ever, beginning with mom and dad. But I wouldn't be surprised if this was mental illness and that something else--a total self-absorption that hates whoever has what one wants, be it money or love or sex or popularity or success or all of the above.

There's a lesson in that sort of obsession for all of us. Don't let envy consume you. Don't let anger feed and feed. Don't focus on what others have in their lives that you want until you lose sight of your own life and possibilities. One doesn't have to be mentally unsound to be taken over by dark feelings. We're all at risk. Well, all except maybe my husband, who doesn't seem to have a mean or envious bone in his body.

Envy and coveting and wrath and lust have driven more than one person to heinous acts. Seems the gunman (whose name I refuse to type and who is, quite likely, in an utterly damned spot right now) suffered from numerous deadly sins. Unfortunately, they weren't deadly only to his own self.

He may think he died like Jesus, but he's sadly mistaken. Jesus didn't slaughter anyone to make himself feel better, and Jesus didn't retaliate against those who spat on him, beat him, whipped him, or crucified him. He still calls out to all,"Come and love and be loved forever," even to those who fervently curse his name. He interceded for them from his cross . He DIED for others, even his enemies. If the gunman had died for another, even HIS enemies, if he had self-sacrificed like Liviu Librescu, the gunman would be a hero and we'd be praising his name and giving honor to his memory.

Instead, he died full of resentment, accusations, and wrath, which may have begun with a bad childhood or been nursed by mental unbalances, or perhaps began with his own dark heart. He suicided with nearly 3 dozen murders on his soul, and numerous other terrible injuries at his feet. When he comes face to face with that very Jesus he links his actions to, he's gonna have the worst moment of his existence, worse than the one where he blows his head off.

He's gonna see truth, and it's gonna hurt really, really a lot than any of us can begin to imagine.



~

Pixy on CBA Editors and the "F" Word

Yes, reading Pixy's post today makes The Mir want to SCREAM really LOUDLY in someone's FACE, preferably someone editorial!

But, I shall be a lady and control myself and merely make semi-discreet growly noises at the monitor. Here, read the following and grrrr along with me:

First off, this tour has proven to me that CSFF is surely not dead--and it's not doing so bad on sales either. And so here's where the publishers say, "That's just Karen", cause, well, she's Karen. Talented and Christy-winning Karen. :)

But the truth is Karen isn't alone. Our own tour members, Wayne Batson and his contemporary, Bryan Davis are doing VERY well on the sales as well. So, here's where the publishers say, "Those are Teen books. Adults who buy CBA don't buy fantasy."

But I have another point. Sitting at dinner one night at Mt. Hermon I got to talking numbers with an editor whose house had published some fantasy a while back. Fantasy that supposedly bombed. But the numbers told a different story. And I asked this editor if the numbers were really that bad. He said, "No those are about the sales of an average book." Average book--like the next Lori Wick novel or Love Inspired. Average. Not horrible. Not even bad. Just average.

So, here's my conclusion: editors only want fantasy that will go BANG. This is why they never pick it up. Unless it's a sure-fire hit, they say, "Oh, it just doesn't sell." What they really mean is: it doesn't sell like Dekker or Left Behind.
--from TOAD-HOUSE HAPPENINGS


Actually, it would be really cool of Love Inspired did romantic Christian fantasy, huh?

Day 3, CSFF Blog Tour: Karen Hancock
& LEGENDS OF THE GUARDIAN-KING

"Yes, my theology totally impacts my writing. What I believe directs how I think and live – often in a very conscious way – and my life directs my writing."
Karen Hancock in an interview by Shannon McNear


Today we conclude this Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour round with a look at the last two novels in the four-part LEGENDS OF THE GUARDIAN-KING series. (Make sure to read all the way or scroll down to find out how to enter book giveaways from the author and from me.)

Before we go to the books themselves--what others say, excerpts, etc--one can ask oneself, "Why write a Christian fantasy series?"

Hancock speaks to this on her blog:

Fantasy is full of great analogous tropes, and so I’ve chosen it for the foundation of my work. The essay, In Defense of Fantasy on my website goes into this in detail so I won’t here. I enjoy using those stock elements in building a story that can fairly directly communicate what I’ve learned and what I value.

Of course life and especially the spiritual life is far too vast, complex and mysterious to be able to codify all the elements in a tidy, coherent one for one pattern. Even assuming I could understand it all, which I can’t. So I set up a few general parameters for the world and the magic, parameters that reflect essential truths in our real world, and go from



The place at which she arrived works for many readers. Over at KC Reviews, this:
Not since Tolkein have I come across such a well-devised world. Kiriath is no Middle Earth, nor is it Narnia, but it made me think of Camelot or some such landscape. Knights, coups for the kingship, religious fanatics, sea battles, slavery, dragons, disguises, sword fights and rescues rule the day. And let me tell you, the plot is thicker than a twelve-layer cake.


And the spiritual aspect of the saga, particularly RETURN OF THE GUARDIAN-KING, the grand finale, rouses Kameron to post:

Throughout the series, Abramm is subjected to trial after trial. He is not the only one, but his suffering takes center stage as the central character. While Karen Hancock did a masterful job of getting me emotionally involved in Abramm’s struggles, a shadow of discontent steadily grew as I read. That discontent steamed from my perception of what the author was saying about the nature and purpose of suffering.


(Kameron, I still can't comment on your blog, even when I"m logged into wordpress. ARGH!)


One of the more intriguing comments from Karen regarding the spiritual aspect of the series (to me, anyway) came in her interview over at Shenandoah's Eclectic Musings:
The Guardian King series is meant to represent the stages of spiritual growth an individual believer passes through from salvation through babyhood and adolescence to spiritual maturity. It is entirely consistent with that objective that RotGK, the final book in the series, would be heavy on the spiritual element because that is what defines the life of a spiritually mature believer. He has come to the point of being occupied with the things of Christ.


I doubt any believer would quibble that such a journey is worthy of its own story in four-parts.

On to the books:


SHADOW OVER KIRIATH

Christy Award Winner
On Christian Fiction Review’s list of best Christian novels for 2005


Sharon Hinck reviewed it in 2005, and said:

Abramm faces his most glorious victories and his darkest suffering—all with a new level of maturity and wisdom. I especially enjoyed his blossoming relationship with Maddie, and the swashbuckling adventure of the story.

I was also inspired by the example of a man who battles the same temptations I do—fear, doubt, confusion and constant awareness of scars and weaknesses. Hope grew in my own heart as I read about a man who comes to the end of himself and finds he is never alone.

EXCERPT:
"Abramm Kalladorne will fall, Vesprit." The rhu'eman warhast Hazmul did not speak the thought aloud, but the breath of his host body fogged the window glass before him anyway, blurring his view of the snow-dusted Grand Fountain courtyard below. In the gray light of the foggy early-spring morning, a lengthening line of gleaming carriages queued up at Whitehill's front entrance to his left, preparing for the coronation procession. "If all goes as planned, that fall will begin today." He sipped from his porcelain teacup, then added, "All is going as planned, I trust?"

Though his rhu'eman underling, Vesprit, stood behind him, Hazmul didn't need to see him to sense the pleased confidence rippling through the underwarhast's essence. "It is, sir," Vesprit replied.

"You've cracked the stone and awakened the miniol?"


~~

RETURN OF THE GUARDIAN-KING

Shannon mentions the following in her review, which I especially liked:

However, this was a hard read in some aspects—just too personal and intimate to be purely entertaining. We delve so deeply into Abramm’s spiritual journey—and indeed, this is more about his spiritual walk, manifested in the natural, than daring exploits and heroic military maneuvers—that I’m afraid some readers will complain that the author has been too heavy-handed and preachy. For me, I stand in awe that this work, begun close to two years ago (if I remember correctly), speaks so deeply to right where I am in my walk with God, now. And, because I’ve been struggling so hard against the waiting in my own life, it was hard not to be ticked at seeing the characters have to wait, too … the delays, the side trips, God’s “no, I want you to go here and learn this lesson first.”


Excerpt:

"I dream of the meadows, green-gold 'neath the sun, sweet with the dew of the morn ..."

The bell-toned voice drew Abramm Kalladorne into the sunlight of the open meadow, a yellow butterfly zigzagging ahead of him above a patch of purple lupine. He pressed through the bloom-laden stalks into rippling grass, following the plucked notes of a lirret and a voice as familiar as his own. She must be just beyond that primrose at the meadow's far edge.

Children's laughter echoed in counterpoint to her sweet voice, and his pace quickened. Ian would be over two by now, walking well, maybe even talking in phrases and sentences, while Simon would have left all his toddlerhood behind, a real little boy at last. Then there was Maddie. Abramm ached for her so badly sometimes he could hardly bear it. Now finally, that was behind him. All the worrying about threading the high passes before winter closed them had been for naught. In a moment he would step around that bush and there she'd be, her gray-blue eyes widening with surprise at the sight of him an instant before she'd cast her lirret aside and fling herself into his—

His foot slipped, and he lurched to regain his balance, gripping his walking staff hard as he drove it into the snow. The misstep jolted his entire body as the vision winked out and the dark, icy reality of the blizzard-swept heights filled his senses again. She wasn't here. His boys weren't here. There was no meadow. The passes were not behind him, and winter was very definitely closing in....

Realization slammed him so hard he reeled to a stop, struggling to breathe as he felt again the cold and the exhaustion and the misery. Wind screamed around him, pelting his heavy woolen cloak with slivers of snow and flapping its snow-caked hem about his legs. For a moment the desire to give up was so strong he nearly collapsed.



~~

As I mentioned yesterday, Karen is having a giveaway AT HER BLOG. Here is how to enter:

If you would like to be in the drawing for a complete autographed set of Legends of the Guardian-King, please leave a comment for me today through Wednesday saying so. I'll choose from the entrants' names Wednesday evening and post the winner Thursday. You only need to leave one comment telling me you want to be in the drawing. If Blogger won't let you comment, you can send me an email through the address given in the profile. Be sure you put something like Blog giveaway in the subject line so it won't get lost in the junk mail.


Better yet, buy them all. Here are the product links. If you plan to buy them, please use my links and help my "Mir Book Fund" at amazon. Or if you prefer CBD, buy them there. But pump up the sales of the LofGK, especially the new book, RETURN OF THE GUARDIAN-KING, and those sales will encourage editors to continue to acquire and supply us with quality Christian SF.

So, enter Karen's giveaway at her blog or BUY THE BOOKS, but, either way, GET THEM.



MIR'S GIVEAWAY: And if you've dropped by here and read this blog tour entry, you should know that *I* am giving away a book, too. Maybe you never bought the first. Maybe you have the first two or three, and want novel #3 or #4. Whichever one you want or need, if you win the giveaway, you get to pick ONE BOOK from the four titles listed ABOVE in glorious amazonish color.

How to Enter to win one LEGENDS OF THE GUARDIAN-KING book: Leave a comment saying "I WANT A FREE BOOK" and leave me your email in that address. Also, mention which in the series you want: 1, 2, 3 or 4.

Note:Disguise your email (example: JohnnyDoe atsy gmail dotdotdot com). Just for your safety.

Note #2: US RESIDENTS ONLY. See the note on my sidebar that's been there since 2006.

I will take all the names and choose one at random, and I'll post the winning name here Friday, and I'll contact you at your email to get your snail mail addy. I'll wing your book to you within a couple of days thereafter. So, commence with the commenting.


When you're done commenting, visit my delightful tourmates:

Nissa Annakindt, Wayne Thomas Batson, Jim Black, Jackie Castle, Valerie Comer, Karri Compton, Frank Creed, CSFF Blog Tour, Gene Curtis, D. G. D. Davidson, Chris Deanne, Janey DeMeo, April Erwin, Kameron M. Franklin, Linda Gilmore, Beth Goddard, Marcus Goodyear, Rebecca Grabill , Andrea Graham, Jill Hart, Katie Hart, Sherrie Hibbs, Sharon Hinck, Christopher Hopper, Heather R. Hunt, Becca Johnson, Jason Joyner, Karen, Dawn King, Tina Kulesa, Lost Genre Guild, Kevin Lucia and The Bookshelf Reviews 2.0 - The Compendium, Rachel Marks, Rebecca LuElla Miller, Shannon McNear, Caleb Newell, Nicole , Eve Nielsen, John W. Otte, Robin Parrish , Rachelle, Cheryl Russel, Hanna Sandvig, Chawna Schroeder, Mirtika Schultz, James Somers, Tsaba House Authors, Steve Trower, Speculative Faith, Daniel I. Weaver

SF Author's Son Among the Victims at Va Tech

I have not been able to blog about the massacre at Virginia Tech. It's not that I have not been physically able, I just don't have anything profound to say, beyond what I sat in my car saying when I heard the news:

Oh, my God. Oh, my God.

When I first heard, the count of victims was much smaller than it is now. The sadness grows.

I felt an additional connection when I read just now that Jamie Bishop, son of respected speculative fiction author Michael Bishop, was one of the victims killed by the sicko-depraved and twisted-evil piece of human crap who went on rampage after recording his twisted fantasies into his assignments. (I'm not really sympathetic to excuses and explanations yet, maybe in a few months.) I suddenly have this urge to both weep and curse up a storm. Okay...calm, calm.

I extend my heartfelt sympathies to all who are grieving and have suffered loss, which are numerous given the injured and the dead. Condolences to Mr. Bishop, Mrs. Bishop (Jeri), and Jaime's widow, Stefanie Hofer on losing Jamie. I can't even begin to understand what it is to lose your child. I know the pain of loss, but not THAT particular loss. It's got to rank among the absolute worst things in the universe.

You know, this may sound odd, but it is beyond weird to read about this tragedy and think, among the various thoughts when one is boggled by evil, "Oh, I pre-ordered his book." Bizarre. Surreal.

The announcement on Mr. Bishop's website specifically asks for the Bishop family to be remembered in prayers. I think that's the least we can do.

And, at the risk of crossing a line, and yeah, I'm gonna say it anyway, I hope you'll consider ordering A Cross of Centuries as a small sign of support. I figure, we can't sit beside the family and weep with them, or bring them a covered dish, or the things close friends might do, but this is one small thing that say, "Thinking of you."


I'd also like to ask for special prayers for the family of Liviu Librescu, an Israeli engineering and math lecturer, and a survivor of the Holocaust (his family was in a camp and in a ghetto), who was killed after he protected his students' lives by blocking the doorway of his classroom from the gunman. The man did a heroic thing, and I intend to honor him by having his name here and on my lips in petition on behalf of those loved ones he left behind. God rest the honorable soul of Liviu Librescu, a man who clearly learned in the dark days of his youth how wrong it is to do nothing in the face of hateful violence against the innocent. He died on Yom HaShoah, the day in which the Holocaust is remembered in Israel.

And God help us to have the wisdom and guts to do something sooner about the troubled ones the next times, because there are always "next times", instead of just brushing off the warning signs of a troubled mind and soul, many of such signs having been evident in this gunman, whose name I will not utter on the same blog as a hero and a grieving father.

The Snarkster vs. The Casino

I found Snarking Chris' vacation story about the jackpot that wasn't enough quite fun to read. And funny in spots. And the ending is cool. Go see.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Stuff for SF Fans on Auction for Cancer

The "LisaWalks" auction is underway to raise money for breast cancer. My boy Gerard Butler is leading the pack: His autographed bear is at a $300.00 bid so far. (To put that in perspective, the other auctions are way, way less, most in the 20's and 30's.) Maybe it's the fact that his spittle and superb DNA come as a bonus with the bear and siggie. (See pic, left)

For SF Fans, there is an autographed LOST hat; a pink boxing glove signed by Nathan Fillion (aka Captain Mal from FIREFLY and SERENITY); a head shot signed by A. S. Head of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (ya know, Giles); a couple of bears John Hancocked by BATTLESTAR GALACTICA stars Mary McDonell and Edward J. Olmos (still to be put up, but coming). And later one, expect a bear signed by BABYLON 5 creator J.M. Straczynski and one by Kevin "Hercules" Sorbo.

Lisa's Auctions: http://www.lisawalks.com/auctions.htm
and http://auctions.yahoo.com/user/lisaspoavonwalk
~

Edited to Add: Links should be cool now. Also, Gerard's bear is at $610, and Nathan Fillion's glove is at $122.50 (3:01 pm Eastern time). Mary McDonnell bear is at $42, and the signed LOST hat is at $25.
~

CSFF Blog Tour, Day 2: Karen Hancock
& LEGENDS OF THE GUARDIAN-KING

Welcome back to the Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour edition that's focusing on Karen Hancock and her LEGENDS OF THE GUARDIAN-KING historical fantasy series. While her most recent release is RETURN OF THE GUARDIAN-KING, that's the last in the series. I want to go back a bit for this post. (BTW, for information on the giveaways, Karen's and mine, make sure you read to the end-or cheat and scroll there.)

Today, I want to give you some information on the first two in the four-part series, in case you haven't read or are unfamiliar with the works.

First: LIGHT OF EIDON. (I would like to know how one pronounces that. Is it like Eye-done? EE-done as in the Garden of Eden? Like the name Aidan, as in Aidan Quinn? I say it all sorts of ways.) Here are some of the honors this novel received:

Winner of the Christy Award.
Winner of ForeWord Magazine’s 2003 BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARD (Silver)
A Romantic Times 4 ½ star TOP PICK
One of Booklist’s Top Ten Christian Novels 2004
Christian Fiction Review’s Best of 2004


Elliot gave LoE 3 out of 5 stars:
LoE is set in a fantasy world that's loosely modelled on Europe and Africa, with monsters and magic thrown in. It concerns the adventures of a young man named Abramm, also known as Eldrin (his monastic/'baptismal' name), as well as those of his twin sister, Carissa. They're of the house of Kalladorne, the royalty of the northern kingdom of Kiriath.

I don't want to give away too much of the plot. One thing I appreciated about this book is that it kept me guessing, and I don't want to spoil that for potential readers. For the first third of the book I thought Hancock was one of those authors who telegraphs her plot twists miles in advance - but then she pulled the rug out from under me. And then she did it again, and again. The twists I expected were, pleasantly, not the twists I got.



Now let's hear from Heather Hunt at Absolute Write:

Hancock’s archetypal world includes the familiar motif of twins destined for greatness, but she gives it a unique twist in having the sister, Carissa, be the one who sets out to rescue her beloved brother, Abramm. Hancock writes with confidence, perfect pacing, and a welcome economy of words. (I often find books of this genre to be somewhat florid and lengthy.)

Though this tale begins a series, its main story comes to a definite ending at the end of this book. Several other storylines are left open to be explored in future novels. So the promise is there but not the frustrating gimmick of the cliffhanger. The Light of Eidon is a swashbuckling tale that satisfies on its own terms while pointing to further exciting adventures from a talented new writer.


A very brief excerpt from THE LIGHT OF EIDON:
I will touch no weapon of warfare.

Violence feeds the Shadow.

He swallowed. Could he really kill another man? And if he did, was he any better than his opponent?

He watched the men laughing up at him, listened to the crowd, calling for his blood, remembered the Dorsaddi just before him, heart blasted out of his chest. And knew the answers to both questions.

Yes. And Yes.

As he pulled his blades free, something changed within him--his pent-up frustration finally found release. Suddenly he was no longer helpless. Alloying with all he had endured and seen this day, his anger forged a fierce determination to deflate their self-righteous assumptions of superiority.


~~~

The second novel in the series is THE SHADOW WITHIN:

Here are some honors won by the novel:

Christy Award
Borders Best of 2004 "Religion & Spirituality”
Romantic Times Top Pick 4 ½ stars
Nominee for Romantic Times Best Inspirational Novel 2004
Christian Fiction Review’s Best of 2004


Heather Hunt at SF Reader says of The Shadow Within:

The pacing of these varied plots is masterfully handled. Each thread builds its own inner tensions, and the strands come together in surprising and satisfying ways.

The ultimate climax of the story is breathtaking, unpredictable, and gratifying while still leaving loose ends to be picked up by the next volume


Elliot's review says:

Though this book is slightly more predictable than the first one (the identity of the romantic interest is more obvious, for example) Hancock remains adept at subverting a reader’s expectations. Abramm’s destiny seems genuinely uncertain. At times he reminded me strongly of Rand al’Thor from Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time books (not to mention Harry Potter): heroic young leaders who struggle to establish themselves and to prepare their people to face great evils, while being plagued by politics, magical assaults, and the puzzling affairs of the heart.



Excerpt from THE SHADOW WITHIN:
His senses keyed as tightly as if he’d just stepped back into an Esurhite arena, Abramm Kalladorne stood on Wanderer’s quarterdeck with his two liegemen, nervously scanning the leaden waters of Kalladorne Bay. As the white cliffs guarding the bay’s mouth slid silently astern, he wondered if the other men’s stomachs had just done the same little twist his own had. Probably.

It was one thing to boast of slaying sea monsters and sharing fabulous rewards in the warm, smoky haven of a Qarkeshan tavern, quite another to sail alone past a gaggle of crudely made warning buoys into the quiet, empty waters of what had once been the busiest harbor in Kiriath. Off the port gunwale, a broken mast listed in the spray-plumed rocks at the base of the western headland. With shredded canvas still fluttering from its yardarm, it stood in silent memorial to all the vessels lost to the monster since spring—six of them fully rigged merchantmen weighing over five hundred tons. Large, strong, stable ships.


~~

As I mentioned yesterday, Karen is having a giveaway AT HER BLOG. Here is how to enter:

If you would like to be in the drawing for a complete autographed set of Legends of the Guardian-King, please leave a comment for me today through Wednesday saying so. I'll choose from the entrants' names Wednesday evening and post the winner Thursday. You only need to leave one comment telling me you want to be in the drawing. If Blogger won't let you comment, you can send me an email through the address given in the profile. Be sure you put something like Blog giveaway in the subject line so it won't get lost in the junk mail.


Better yet, buy them all. Here are the product links. If you plan to buy them, please use my links and help my "Mir Book Fund" at amazon. Or if you prefer CBD, buy them there. But pump up the sales of the LofGK, especially the new book, RETURN OF THE GUARDIAN-KING, and those sales will encourage editors to continue to acquire and supply us with quality Christian SF.

So, enter Karen's giveaway at her blog or BUY THE BOOKS, but, either way, GET THEM.



MIR'S GIVEAWAY: And if you've dropped by here and read this blog tour entry, you should know that *I* am giving away a book, too. Maybe you never bought the first. Maybe you have the first two or three, and want novel #3 or #4. Whichever one you want or need, if you win the giveaway, you get to pick ONE BOOK from the four titles listed ABOVE in glorious amazonish color.

How to Enter to win one LEGENDS OF THE GUARDIAN-KING book: Leave a comment saying "I WANT A FREE BOOK" and leave me your email in that address. Also, mention which in the series you want: 1, 2, 3 or 4.

Note:Disguise your email (example: JohnnyDoe atsy gmail dotdotdot com). Just for your safety.

Note #2: US RESIDENTS ONLY. See the note on my sidebar that's been there since 2006.

I will take all the names and choose one at random, and I'll post the winning name here Friday, and I'll contact you at your email to get your snail mail addy. I'll wing your book to you within a couple of days thereafter. So, commence with the commenting.


When you're done commenting, visit my delightful tourmates:

Nissa Annakindt, Wayne Thomas Batson, Jim Black, Jackie Castle, Valerie Comer, Karri Compton, Frank Creed, CSFF Blog Tour, Gene Curtis, D. G. D. Davidson, Chris Deanne, Janey DeMeo, April Erwin, Kameron M. Franklin, Linda Gilmore, Beth Goddard, Marcus Goodyear, Rebecca Grabill , Andrea Graham, Jill Hart, Katie Hart, Sherrie Hibbs, Sharon Hinck, Christopher Hopper, Heather R. Hunt, Becca Johnson, Jason Joyner, Karen, Dawn King, Tina Kulesa, Lost Genre Guild, Kevin Lucia and The Bookshelf Reviews 2.0 - The Compendium, Rachel Marks, Rebecca LuElla Miller, Shannon McNear, Caleb Newell, Nicole , Eve Nielsen, John W. Otte, Robin Parrish , Rachelle, Cheryl Russel, Hanna Sandvig, Chawna Schroeder, Mirtika Schultz, James Somers, Tsaba House Authors, Steve Trower, Speculative Faith, Daniel I. Weaver

This tour concludes TOMORROW!

If you have a blog and want to join the CSFFF Blog Tour, visit the official website to find out how: www.csffblogtour.com
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DKA FUNDRAISING METER: Feed Me!



I'd like to add a dragon tail and dragon mouth, all wide open, to that meter, with a "Feed me!" dialogue balloon. Heh.

Anyway, that yellow line shows how much we've raised for the 2008 budget. We're hoping to raise pay, have more stories and poems per month, and just, in general, be more fabulous. However, you can see that we've not even fully funded a season.

Selena's made a fundraising announcement.

Come on, CSF-ers. Cough up the dragon feed!

~~

Christian Writers Guild 2007 Contest

If your novel will be completed by the end of September 2007, and you're willing to follow the rules for a chance to win $20,000 and get published--and one of the rules is you gotta become a member of CWG--then here ya go: OPERATION FIRST NOVEL.

You can sample pages from last year's winner in fiction HERE.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy Tour:
Karen Hancock and her Award-Winning
Legends of the Guardian-King Series

When asked in 2003 about the motivation behind the four-book project that has become the Legends of the Guardian-King, Karen Hancock said:
While other genres are excellent for demonstrating the way knowing Christ can affect one’s relationships and for showing the emptiness of a life without Him, it is speculative fiction that most lends itself to exploring the bigger picture of why we’re here. I believe that's to resolve the invisible supernatural conflict mentioned in Ephesians 6. The Light of Eidon was conceived decades ago as not only a way to portray this invisible conflict in more visible form, but also to explore the deceptions and distortions that blind the unbelieving to the truth. It is, in this sense, the tale of one man’s journey into Light. Like my first novel, Arena, The Light of Eidon’s allegorical elements are woven into a page-turning adventure peopled with characters who struggle with their own relationships—with each other and with their god.


No living writer of Christian fantasy and published by a "CBA" publisher has been as lauded by the Christian publishing community as Hancock, who has won four Christy awards. So, we're proud to feature her Guardian King series on this Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour, particularly since the final book in the series, RETURN OF THE GUARDIAN-KING, is now out for viewers to enjoy.

It hasn't been easy being a Christian fantasy writer in an SF-unfriendly CBA environment. Hancock says this at her blog:

As I mentioned in the interview on Chris's blog, when I arrived at Mt. Hermon with Arena in proposal form in 1999, no one was doing fantasy. In fact, I was told that fantasy was a bad word and shouldn't even be used. The moment you said you were doing fantasy, you would immediately be compared to Tolkien or Eddings and no one can stand up to that. So, as I think some of you know, I called it "Speculative Historical Fiction."

When I sat at the tables with various editors and agents and it was my turn to say what I was writing, some of them literally shrank away. The lights went off, the shades were drawn and they went quickly on to the next person. Several editors were kinder -- they told me that they themselves loved the genre, but they'd never be able to get it past their editorial board.


Fortunately for her fans and aspiring CSF writers, Karen's series got picked up and all of it got published. (As opposed to the incomplete job Westbow did with the Birthright Project, which still makes the Mir go GRRRRRrrrrrrRRRrrr!)

The next few days, various blogs in this tour, including, naturally Mirathon, will focus on the assorted books of the series, including interviews with Karen H. I strongly encourage you to browse the sites that are on board this month, because CBA CSF pioneers like Karen should be supported by all of us who'd like to follow in her footsteps.

With that, I'm going to admit that I have purchased all the books in the LEGENDS OF THE GUARDIAN-KING series. I have not read them. I wanted to wait until all the books were out. I learned my lesson from Harry Potter. If I got really, vividly into the world, I was gonna be mighty impatient waiting for the conclusion. So, this year, I get to read the whole saga. Yipsy Yay!

If you have not read or purchased any of the novels, you have a chance to win a complete set. Karen is having a giveaway. Here is how to enter:

If you would like to be in the drawing for a complete autographed set of Legends of the Guardian-King, please leave a comment for me today through Wednesday saying so. I'll choose from the entrants' names Wednesday evening and post the winner Thursday. You only need to leave one comment telling me you want to be in the drawing. If Blogger won't let you comment, you can send me an email through the address given in the profile. Be sure you put something like Blog giveaway in the subject line so it won't get lost in the junk mail.


Better yet, buy them all. Here are the product links. If you plan to buy them, please use my links and help my "Mir Book Fund" at amazon. Or if you prefer CBD, buy them there. But pump up the sales of the LofGK, especially the new book, RETURN OF THE GUARDIAN-KING, and those sales will encourage editors to continue to acquire and supply us with quality Christian SF.

So, enter Karen's giveaway or BUY THE BOOKS, but, either way, GET THEM.



And if you've dropped by here and read this blog tour entry, you should know that *I* am giving away a book, too. Maybe you never bought the first. Maybe you have the first two or three, and want novel #3 or #4. Whichever one you want or need, if you win the giveaway, you get to pick ONE BOOK from the four titles listed ABOVE in glorious amazonish color.

How to Enter to win one LEGENDS OF THE GUARDIAN-KING book: Leave a comment saying "I WANT A FREE BOOK" and leave me your email in that address. Also, mention which in the series you want: 1, 2, 3 or 4.

Note:Disguise your email (example: JohnnyDoe atsy gmail dotdotdot com). Just for your safety.

Note #2: US RESIDENTS ONLY. See the note on my sidebar that's been there since 2006.

I will take all the names and choose one at random, and I'll post the winning name here Friday, and I'll contact you at your email to get your snail mail addy. I'll wing your book to you within a couple of days thereafter. So, commence with the commenting.


When you're done commenting, visit my delightful tourmates:

Nissa Annakindt, Wayne Thomas Batson, Jim Black, Jackie Castle, Valerie Comer, Karri Compton, Frank Creed, CSFF Blog Tour, Gene Curtis, D. G. D. Davidson, Chris Deanne, Janey DeMeo, April Erwin, Kameron M. Franklin, Linda Gilmore, Beth Goddard, Marcus Goodyear, Rebecca Grabill , Andrea Graham,  Jill Hart, Katie Hart, Sherrie Hibbs, Sharon Hinck, Christopher Hopper, Heather R. Hunt, Becca Johnson, Jason Joyner, Karen, Dawn King, Tina Kulesa, Lost Genre Guild, Kevin Lucia and The Bookshelf Reviews 2.0 - The Compendium, Rachel Marks, Rebecca LuElla Miller, Shannon McNear, Caleb Newell, Nicole , Eve Nielsen, John W. Otte, Robin Parrish , Rachelle, Cheryl Russel, Hanna Sandvig, Chawna Schroeder, Mirtika Schultz, James Somers, Tsaba House Authors, Steve Trower, Speculative Faith, Daniel I. Weaver

This tour continues TOMORROW!
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