Thursday, May 31, 2007

Robert J. Sawyer Story You Can Download

In light of the Prix Aurora Award being open for nominations, Robert J. Sawyer has offered his eligible story called "Biding Time" as a free Word download. Go help yourself. Sawyer has won the Aurora before, and back in '97, he had the double distinction of winning both the novel award (STARPLEX) and the short story one ("Peking Man").

The Prix Aurora recognizes science fiction and fantasy literary works by Canadians (in both French and English). (Snarky, you got anything eligible for nomination?)

Let me know if you spot other authors offering their works online.

Hurry Over to See The Cool Wedding Pics

Josh, our SF blogging pal, got himself all hitched up to a very lovely young lady. Terrific pics that got me all ferklempt are over at his blog. Drop by and say "Hey, married man! Congrats!" There's more than one pic entry, so scroll down.

I'm Dezombified and Ain't Love Grand?

Yesterday, my brain was useless. (Good thing I had written that film review and left it in "draft" form, so I had something to post.)

I got 3 hours sleep before I awoke Wednesday (yesterday) to go to the dentist for attempt #2 to get me numbed and work on the cracked too. After an hour and multiple shots, again, nothing. So, he consulted with a specialist, who suggested a couple new approaches. That did it. I got 99% numb, and I said, "Go for it. The pain is low enough to tolerate."

So, another spell of removing the old filling, inspecting, bonding the crack, refilling, temporary crown. He handed me a prescription strength Motrin, and off I went. Did 3 errands and went home where, with stomach grumbling, I had carrot juice and protein powder and crashed on the couch. Woke up to eat supper with hubby, read a bit in still zombie form, watched tv in zombie form, crashed again until 30 minutes ago. Woke up feeling sorta normal.

I've noticed that in my middle age (and 47 is creeping on the slide to senior citizen), that if I skip a full set of sleep hours one day, I'm pretty useless the next. I just don't function. And then I have to sleep in overtime. I miss youth's ability to rebound and take a lot of physical stress.

On the plus side, I woke up to two lovely little purple flowers on the kitchen counter. Hubby had snipped them from our garden and put them in water where I'd see them when I woke up. You know, after almost 24 years of marriage (June 11th is our anniversary), that little gesture means more than a dozen store-bought roses. I know how very busy he is this week and how rushed in the mornings. (Big, big, big presentation tomorrow to the head honcho, the CEO, of a multinational-corporation he works for, and he was only told Tuesday that this had been set-up!) So, that he took the extra minutes to go outside, get the flowers, get the glass, fill with water, and leave them for me, well, it means a lot.

I find it very romantic and thoughtful. What a cutiepie.

Anyway, time to catch up on emails and what-not that I had to let sit.

Did anything happen "out there" while I was glassy-eyed?

The Time of the Wolf:
Thoughts After Viewing

Yesterday, I caught a film from 2002, French with subtitles, called Le Temps Du Loup: THE TIME OF THE WOLF.
\

It's a difficult film to watch, but I found myself utterly engrossed. There is no way I could turn off the video after the harrowing opening scene:

A family of four, the Laurents, drive to their country home--mom, dad, son, daughter. Upon entering their cottage, they find that another family is squatting there: a man, his wife, and a boy. They are grim-faced and the man raises his rifle to the Laurents. As Mr. Laurent tries to be reasonable, speaking calmly, offering to share his food and water with the family, to work something out, the squatter shoots Laurent. We see blood splatter on the wife's face, played by Isabel Huppert.

The squatters take the supplies and cast the woman and children off with only a can of juice, some biscuits, what they are wearing and carrying in the mother's purse, and a bicycle.

Then we see the stricken woman-who is clearly in shock--visit the magistrate. He refuses to help--Don't you know what's happened? he says--and tells her to go away. Closes his door on the bereaved threesome. They knock on neighbor's doors in the village. None will open to her.

We know something is very, very wrong. She knows their names. They've been her neighbor for years. But none will let them in out of the cold night.

Yes, something is wrong. This is a film in the tradition of the post-apocalyptic story. Some sort of plague has hit this country (seems like France, but one could assume the wider world is stricken, at minimum Europe). Water is scarce. Food supplies are not moving as they used to. Hunger is rampant. Trains don't stop.

And now this family must find a way to survive.

The story follows them as they meet up with a feral youth--a boy who is a loner, who steals to survive, who will not join up with a group, but lives in the woods in solitary suspiciousness and pessimissm. The misanthropic survivalist. Then they meet up with a quarrelsome group at a train station. They hope a train will come. (At this point, it starts to feel as if WAITING FOR GODOT has become a horrifying sci-fi story, because we can only wonder if a train ever WILL come, and if they wait in vain.)

Terrible things are done. Amazingly kind things are done. I watched, mesmerized, horrified. I wondered: What would I do with MY back against the wall? Would I be like the kinder folks, and would I comfort and share? Or would I be one of the "me and mine" folks, and cast out the wanderer for pragmatic, if anti-Christian reasons? I can't say. I haven't been to that extreme. I know enough about human nature to know that when it reverts to the jungle, and it's yours against mine, we do tend to stick with mine. And that even intrafamilially, fights will break out when resources are slim.

But would I withhold water from a thirsting woman or child today, just to be able to give it to my own tomorrow?

I hope not. I hope that grace will abound.

But I do NOT know. I do not comfort myself with thinking I will be among the great and giving righteous on that day. I can only pray I will.

Part of the ongoing imagery in story and action and dialogue in the film harkens to the idea of the 35 Righteous of Jewish legend. Those 36 people who, by virtue of being on the planet and being of such goodness, that they keep the world from being destroyed. (Think of the story of Abraham's pleading for Sodom, how God could not really destroy a city with even TEN righteous souls in it, would he?)

And as if to prove that there is something to this, we see a woman bring a bit of warm goat milk to a very old man, who in turn takes not one sip, but gives it ALL to his frail wife, who drinks it up in silence, him holding the bowl to her lips.

And we see a woman offer to give up her bicycle, another to give up his watch, to get water for a woman with nothing left to trade except sex.

And we see an addled, shocked, silent boy ready to make the ultimate, horrific sacrifice if it will save the world.

Even in the midst of the selfish and murderous and quarrelsome, a few lights shine.

The movie is named after an era spoken of in Norse legend, the wolf-age, the time of the wolf. The age that precedes the end of the world. These lines are from the Norse poem Volupsa:


Brother will fight brother and be his slayer,

brother and sister will violate the bonds of kinship;

hard it is in the world, there is much adultery,

axe-age, sword-age, shields are cleft asunder,

wind-age, wolf-age, before the world plunges headlong;

no man will spare another.


These words are compatible with what we read in the eschatalogical writings of Holy Writ.

I was very moved by this dark and depressing film, and grateful that the director gave us some light in the darkness, the light that came through generosity and selflessness.

And let's remember those people who are living in their various geographical locations in "post-apocalyptic" seeming times, places where food and water and medicine and safety are non-existent or scarce.

Let's show them something of the lamb instead of the wolf today, in prayer and donations and actions.

And let's pray that should the Wolf Age come in our lifetime, we will not be those to add to the dark and the pain, but those who act like one of the 36 Righteous and keep light and life alive.

If you can bear it, I recommend LE TEMPS DU LOUP/THE TIME OF THE WOLF. It's not easy to watch, but I think there are lessons there worth viewing, and some very good scenes.

~~

Mix Your Own Song at HomeStar Runner

This was such fun. THANKS, Claw Man.

Watch the video first.

Then click here. You're the engineer and creative talent now. Enjoy mixing it up.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Holly Lisle's Request for Prayer

I don't drop by her blog daily, so I missed it when it was first posted last week. But it's never too late, I figure.

Go to this blog entry and read Holly's very personal request. The update says the crisis has passed, but it sounds as if they could still use prayers for the situation to have the best possible outcome for all.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Query Critiques by Agents

Bookends, LLC has been doing query critiques. If you like learning from such bloggy events (ie, literary agents taking queries and showing how to strengthen them), then head on over.

~

SF Blended Title Meme: Auto-Tagging Alert

As many of you know, I'm really picky about the memes that I choose to participate in. I hate, generally, being tagged.

However, if you're an SF fan, you may enjoy this one. And, in keeping with the format John of SF Signal set up, well, heh-heh, read on:


The idea is to blend two book titles together by using the last word of one title and the first word of the second title. If you want, you can blend the authors' names too.


Stranger in a Strange Land That Time Forgot by Robert A. Rice Burroughs
Ender's Game of Thrones by Orson Scott R.R. Martin
A Deepness in the Skylark of Space by Vernor E.E. Smith
Old Man's War of the Worlds by H.G. Scalzi
American Gods of Red Mars by Neil Stanley Rice Burroughs

Tagging others is hard when there are so many to choose from. So, if you are reading this, consider yourself tagged.


Okay, here are mine. I changed the rules for mine. (So, sue me.) Instead of perfectly blending, such as having one title plus the other title flow seamlessly into the other, I smooshed them up in a less perfect, but for me, more fun manner. Although granted, I did do a couple in the standard rule way. I am vast, I contain a multitude of silliness. Here we go:

NEVERENDING DUNE by Frank Ende
(which also says something about how I feel about the sequels plus sequels plus prequel)

NINE TITANS OF CHAOS IN AMBER by John C. Zelazny

SEEKER OF THE DEAD by Orson Scott McDevitt

SPIN DOCTOR BLOODMONEY by Robert Charles K. Dick

PARABLE OF THE LAST HAWK by Octavia Asaro

WHEN GRAVITY FAILS, THE FALLING WOMAN by Pat Effinger

LORD OF THE RINGWORLD by J.R.R. Niven

STRANGER IN A STRANGE WAY STATION by Clifford D. Heinlein

THE SHEEP STAND AND LOOK UP ON ZANZIBAR by John John Brunner

SOLDIER OF THE MISTS OF AVALON by Marion Zimmer Wolfe

THE HERO AND THE CROWN OF STARS by Kate McKinley

THE ANUBIS GATES OF HELL by Susan Powers

DANGEROUS DANDELION WINE by Harlan Bradbury

TITUS ALONE AGAINST TOMORROW by Mervyn Ellison

THE PHOENIX AND THE MIRROR OF HER DREAMS by Avram Donaldson

A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE UPON THE DEEP by George R.R. Vinge


Okay, your turn.

And you get bonus Mir points for keeping it to SF, but feel free to use the romance or mystery or Western or other cool genre. If you create some blended titles, drop me a note here so I can go check it out.

hat tip also to Literary Compass

What's "Good Sales" in CBA for an Author?

This is something a bunch of us have been wondering. It seems as if publishers won't or can't (for some good reason we aren't privy to) tell us.

I actually wondered this out loud--what is considered good to great sales for a CBA book, what's a breakout book's sales figure--over at Becky Miller's blog.

Well, Karen Ball stepped up to answer it from her perspective as AUTHOR, not as an editor, not as a publishing house rep. As an author. Still, that gives us at least a range, and that's one step out of the shadow of the Valley of Cluelessness. She wrote this in a comment over at A Christian Worldview of Fiction:



And I wish I was free to tell you what the publishers I’ve worked for consider strong sales, but that’s not possible. Why the big secret? I don’t know for sure. I know a lot of it has to do with the different companies’ financials, and that’s all confidential info. But what I can do is give you my goals as an author. The list below gives you my FIRST-YEAR sales goals/hopes/analysis, because that’s what publishers look at: first-year, out-the-gate sales numbers. So for each of my books, here’s what I think:

18-25K–if my books aren’t selling this in the first year, I don’t consider them successful.
30-35K–This is my break-out goal. If my books ever hit this level of first-year sales, I’d consider myself a strong midlist author.
50K–if my books ever hit this first-year sales figure, I’ll know I’m nudging best-seller status
70-80K–First-year sales in this category would definitely make me a best-seller. Not a blockbuster (I’d have to hit over 100K minimum for that)



Karen specifies this is her talking about her own sales as an author (she wears two hats, editor and published fiction author of bestselling CBA novels), and that CBA would differ from ABA, and one house from another.

But, hey, it's some kind of range.

Remember when there was discussion about what would constitute a "breakout" bestseller of CSF in the CBA: Well, now we know. It's gotta be above 100K minimum, methinks, and perhaps A LOT above that, considering the sort of stigma the genre has.

But there's more. It's not just the first year. It's within a shorter time frame that the great sales need to come in for it to really register. And we had come to this conclusion in our discussion. That the sales needed to be hot, but hot and fast, for it to be seen as a hit, a blockbuster, a breakthrough novel that would change perception. Karen Ball again:

So those are my numbers. Realize, too, that 60% of a book’s first-year sales happen in the first 2-3 months of publication. (Some houses say as much as 80%.)So using the 60%, for me to hit my first-year goal of, say, 20K, I need to see sales of 12K in the first few months. That’s sell-through, not sell-in.


So, here's to the CSF novel that's gonna blow out 250K copies before its first season is past.

Or, hey, 500K in the first year!

May it be soon.


(Oh, and that makes me wonder what Dekker sells, since he writes CSF, imo, and so does Peretti, imo, as does Bill Myers. And, hey, even LEFT BEHIND is in spec fic territory, cause not all of us, or even most of Christendom, believes in that scenario, ergo, that vision of Revelation is in the realm of utter speculation, yea, complete fantasy to legions of believers.)

Monday, May 28, 2007

An Addendum to Project Publish

Two posts down, I gave you info on Media Predict's and Simon & Shuster's cooperative PROJECT PUBLISH experiment slash contest.

Be sure to read THIS ENTRY by the Writer Beware! bloggers for their insights into the rules and pitfalls. If you enter, at least you enter with some advice in your noggin.

I've already read three of the proposals over there. One of the books I'd buy TODAY. It looks really good (non-fiction). I hope they sell. Another, a children's fantasy, well, it reads cliched to me in the proposal, but I can see it has elements that fantasy lovers could latch onto. It just needs its 8-13 year-old audience to like it. It could easily grab its young audience and sell really well. Interesting to wonder what will happen.

Holy Bearded Nuns, Batman!

I had never heard of the legend of Wilgefortis. But I dig it.

Elliot the Clawman has posted at Holy Heroes! about CASTLE WAITING's bearded nuns and the crucified Wilgefortis. These elements alone tempt me to get the graphic novel.

Thank You, Fallen Heroes. We Remember



Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
~~Jesus, John 15:13


O God, by whose mercy the faithful departed find rest, look kindly on your departed veterans who gave their lives in the service of their country. Grant that through the passion, death, and resurrection of your Son they may share in the joy of your heavenly kingdom and rejoice in you with your saints forever.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.
--Franciscan Prayer for Deceased Veterans

Some Great Stuff at Novel Journey
& Info on PROJECT PUBLISH

First, make sure you read the Monday blog entry by Mike "Decompose(r)" Duran entitled "Bambi vs. Godzlla." (Some of you may recognize the reference to THIS animated short.)The entry mentions yours truly and Speculative Faith.

When you're done reading--and I hope adding a comment--to that post, scroll down to an earlier entry of interest to writers, onethat refers to the Project Publish. Hey, for those of you who have a completed novel manuscript and can have a proposal ready to enter by the August 10th deadline, this may be a good contest for you. The judging is done in a novel fashion:

Book Proposals will be judged by members of the public who register to become traders in the Media Predict prediction market game. Scores shall be determined by calculating the Book Proposal’s average price in the prediction market game over the course of the trading period. Simon & Schuster will select 5 of the 50 top scoring Book Proposals as finalists in the Contest. In both selecting 5 finalists from the top 50 scorers, and in selecting a grand prize winner from the 5 finalists, Simon & Schuster editors will apply the following criteria when evaluating Book Proposals: non-fiction books will be judged on the basis of writing style, coherence of material presented, and originality, with equal weight given to each, and fiction books will be judged on writing style, originality, plot, characters, setting, and dialog, with equal weight given to each.


What does the winner get:

The grand prize winner will be awarded a book contract by Simon & Schuster (Approximate minimum value $2,000).


What if all the book proposals stink?

(d) In the event that Simon & Schuster determines that none of the 50 finalists are of publishable quality, Sponsor will award to the finalists with the highest scores, (based on the scores assigned by Simon & Schuster) a cash award of $2000 if such work is not otherwise placed for publication by Sponsor within 60 days of Simon & Schuster’s decision not to publish.


Note: If you win, make sure to get your agent to delete that contract bit that I posted about earlier this month and that's been buzzing on writing blogs all around us.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Romance Novels Can Change A Life

From Hirsi Ali comes this quote in a Jerusalem post article

"I could never comprehend the downright unfairness of the rules, especially for women. How could a just God - a God so just that almost every page of the Koran praises his fairness - desire that women be treated so unfairly? When the [Islamic teachers] told us that a woman's testimony is worth half of a man's, I would think, Why? If God is merciful, why did He demand that His creatures be hanged in public? If He was compassionate, then why did unbelievers have to go to Hell?"

In her words, "The spark of will inside me grew even as I studied and practiced to submit." Ali credits Harlequin romance novels for her initial mental deliverance from submission. These books, with their passionate loves and steamy sex scenes were her first glimpse at the possibility of freedom. The novels showed her that the emotions and desires she was told to repress were natural and could even be beautiful and right.


John C Wright, author of fabulous SF novels, in a blog entry on the article, says this:

The next time someone looks down upon romance novels as popular trash, just pause a moment to remember Hirsi Ali, who was lured toward a love of freedom by reading books about love.

The Romance, as an art form, is a Christian invention--even the name speaks of Rome. Marriage is romantic, and therefore a wild adventure: one may chose one and only one woman for life, and there is no backing out of the choice, or putting asunder what God joins together. It is dramatic the way all sacred things are dramatic. Polygamy is a matter of the convenience of the man, or a means of using women to signify alliances between families, or to breed heirs. It is less romantic than horse breeding. It is a trade, but less romantic than horse trading, with the bride's future as the trade goods.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Blast from the Past: Tom Snyder
and Star Trek Cast and Harlan Ellison

You may not be old enough to have dug Tom Snyder on THE TOMORROW SHOW way back when. But, man, he was fun. A terrific interviewer. That laugh of his was great.

I stumbled upon this bit of nostalgia-inducing video that is in FIVE parts. Here is part one. It's Tom interviewing some STAR TREK cast members, and more guests, including a younger and cuter Harlan Ellison. (Best I can guess from the clothes, hair, and discussion, it's 1976. Egads, I was 16!)

Know what's the strangest bit: Seeing a couple of them smoking, and the smoke curling up during the changes in camera angles. You don't really see that anymore on talk shows, huh?

I got this nice feeling seeing the classic ST actors, especially now that they've begun to pass on. Jimmy Doohan. DeForest Kelley. Sniff. (Adore Kelley's Southern accent!) Walter Koenig is also on the panel.

Enjoy this golden oldie of late night TV.

Ted Dekker Likes to Get Naked! (So do I)

On May 23, Ted Dekker, Christian fiction author of numerous CBA hot-sellers dealing with dark and dreadful and, yes, speculative things, wrote and posted "Why I Write Naked" at his official site:

It occurs to me that I tend to write Naked Novels. Meaning my characters are deeply flawed, struggling with real evil, living in worlds in which the darkness is dark and the light is anything but gray.

Why? Because it’s the naked truth.

Yet, while one reader sees as an authentic story which characterizes good and evil in ways that are consistent with their true natures, another sees that dreaded word which all but the younger generation fears:

Controversy.

We are terrified of getting Naked in the Church. Why, I’m not sure. To avoid offense, I suppose. But it strikes me that the gospel is Naked. Controversial. Offensive to all who don’t understand it. Persecuted. Thrown out and tromped on.

This very gospel that can save the world is often hidden behind the protective walls of our establishment for fear of offense.

Word to the wise: Those who refuse to be real for this very real generation that demands the respect of nothing less will go the way of the spin doctors.

Down the Drain.


Me, I want to see more controversial and daring fic in the CBA. Fiction that says, "Deal with this. Don't look away. Stop escaping into the safe and sweet and unruffled."

How about you? Can you write naked? Would you dare?

Note: You can catch a CBN interview with T.D. over at YouTube.

~~

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Gerard Buter and WATCHMEN: Is it Off?

I'm somewhat bummed to read the following at IGN:

With his dance card filling up fast, Scottish actor Gerard Butler doubts he'll be involved in 300 director Zack Snyder's big-screen adaptation of the graphic novel Watchmen after long being rumored to play the doomed Comedian.

When MTV.com asked about Watchmen, Butler grimly replied, "We've been talking about [Watchmen] for awhile, but [Zack's] never told me a character and to be honest, now I'm looking a little bit picked up ... I don't know if Watchmen is going to be happening."


I was so excited when the news got out he was considering the flick based on the classic Alan Moore graphic novel. I really enjoyed reading the dark, dense WATCHMEN, and so wanted our Gerry to be in it.

Well, at least our boy's got a full dance card. We'll be seeing him in something cool, if not WATCHMEN.

In the Wake of Genesis: A Terrific
Article by TSR's Marcie Lynn Tentchoff

There's lots of discussion around me since the Genesis scoresheets got returned. I offer this very clear-eyed and sensible (and newly posted) article by Marcie Lynn Tentchoff:

Criticism, Revision, and Concept Integrity


Her name may ring a bell. I mentioned her during the blog tour a couple days ago. Marcie's an editor at THE SWORD REVIEW, as well as a columnist and poet.

Any writer or poet who ever gets feedback from contests or crit partners or at writing workshops should read this article. I think it's one of the best I've come across on how to handle criticism--and benefit from it--without losing your vision for the work.

TeenAge Magazine Open for Submissions

TeenAge Magazine, the latest offering from Double-Edged Publishing, is now open for submissions.

This from the Head Honcho:

Still working out typos and some color nuance, but not a bad effort. This FTLOI market could use some subs of anything--essay, article, fiction, poem--that teens might like. And getting these from people who'd show some mercy if hiccups occurred would be a great start!


If any of you have a good essay on Christian fantasy and the teen reader or teen protagonists or something like that, maybe this is a good place to send it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Feast of Weeks/Shavuot/Pentecost

May 27 is Pentecost Sunday for Christians. But today (and tomorrow) is the holy celebration of Shavuot for our Jewish friends:

The word "Shavuot" (Ashkenazi pronunciation"Shavuos") literally means "weeks". The holiday falls on the sixth of the month of Sivan, 50 days after the second night of Passover. Shavuot 2007 falls on Wednesday May 23, 2007 (and Thursday May 24, 2007 outside of Israel). There are at least five names commonly given to this holiday: Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks, Feast of the first fruits, the harvest festival, "Atzeret" (the "ending", Passover being the beginning), and the Festival of the Giving of the Torah, are all biblical names for the holiday.
--Jewish Byte


It is the feast that celebrates the birthday of Judaism (via the giving of the Law, delivered by God to Moses) and the birthday of the Church (via the giving of the Holy Spirit, who writes His law in our hearts).

Here, from the Jews for Jesus site:

A firstfruits offering was actually presented at the end of Passover (Leviticus 23:9-14). Then, seven weeks after Passover came Shavuot. This feast literally means "weeks." Shavuot fell fifty days after the Sabbath which came during Passover (Leviticus 23:15, 16), thus in Greek it was called Pentecost, or "fiftieth."

After the Temple was destroyed in A.D. 70, the agricultural rites associated with the biblical feasts could no longer be observed. Jewish tradition made a connection between Shavuot and the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai, which was understood to be the fiftieth day after the Israelites came out of Egypt. The holiday also came to be called, "The Season of the Giving of the Law." To this day, it has become traditional to observe Shavuot by staying up all night and studying Torah.

In Acts 2 and 3, the New Covenant records that the Holy Spirit was poured out at Shavuot. As a result, 3,000 Jewish people recognized that Y'shua was indeed the Messiah, and they turned to God. These souls were the firstfruits of God's gospel harvest. Today, Jewish believers in Jesus participate in Shavuot in various ways, as you'll see in this section.



Some of those ways are 1. reading the Scriptures all night, including the portion of the giving of the law, the commandments 2. eating dairy and 3. decorating with flowers and grasses.

Well, there you go. Drink milk, eat cheese, read the Word of God, and offer up to the Lord beautiful flowers and greenery as a way to thank Him for his provisions. And for Christians: Read those pertinent passages in Acts, and to be grateful for the gift of the Holy Spirit, the seal of your salvation and your Comforter.

~

A Fair(y) Use Tale: Funny and Educational

So, Chris pilfers from Brenda. And I pilfer from Chris. Sounds, ahem, fair.

What did I pilfer?

THIS LINK for "A Fair(y) Use Tale."

It's delightful. Disney will have at least one cow. But it's also educational.

I think, unlike Chris, that 14 years is too few given our lifetimes. And, I bet that if he ever wrote the next blockbuster series of novels to compete with Rowling, his descendants would like the pieces of that pie to continue to pay off. So, I get the long copyright life. I am torn on this issue. I do think that for educational and critical uses, for homages and parodies, it should be fair game. It's really hard to critique poetry and not quote it. Come on!

Although, I did just go and edit my CSFF Blog Tour post to delete two stanzas I'd quoted. Really, I'm still so confused. Even after watching that cool little video.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Got My ACFW Genesis Contest Scoresheets!

While I intend to send thank yous (like last year) to my judges, I did want to send a big bloggy thanks to the three who did the crits/judging on ARCHANGEL ARMS in the SF catgory. Your remarks matter to me.

Let me say that I was nervous about entering this baby. These 25 pages were put together the week or so before I submitted the entry. Yes, last minute. Yes, rushed. Yes, I didn't have time to get much critical feedback. And thank you to the lovely gals who did give me some feedback! Muah. And to Josh who saw the first four pages of the utterly rough-rough draft.

For a rush job, first draft, it did really well. My scores were in a close range: 90, 93, 95.

Like last year. I didn't have wide deviations in scores in 2006, either. I seem to put my judges in a similar groove. Heh.

The woes: Too much backstory in the opening, they say. They're RIGHT. Too many digressions. They're right.

On the plus side, I got kudos for my voice and style. (And, rightly so, I think. I do have a good voice and non-cliche style. Heh, she says, immodestly.)

Some direct remarks:

You have a beautiful beautiful beautiful voice, and I LOVE your descriptions. This judge liked one scene so much, he asked his wife in to read it, too. Aw, me likey that. Thanks, Mr. Judge. You made me glow.

Another judge wrote, "LOTS of masterful writing" and thought the initial conflict was also "masterful." This judge found the next scene less intense and a bit confusing. Things to work on, yes.

The third wrote that there was some roughness in the beginning (can't deny it), but said: "once you get going, it is nearly flawless." She noted my strengths as "Story, characterization, conflict, dialogue, descriptions" and my weaknesses as that crammed opening. (Drat that!)

So, I need to make the opening less dense, smoother, more reader-friendly. Doable!

As it is, I've very cheered by the response. All the negatives are fixable, and all had highly complimentary and encouraging things to say about voice, style, description, conflict, and characterization. That tells me that the core elements are strong, and that, for a rushed entry, I didn't give birth to an incomprehensible mutant. And all these comments are helpful in the extreme because these are from people who don't know me and can only judge THE WRITING.

My great thanks and hugs to the judges. Feedback rules!

I hope everyone who entered and didn't final is appreciating the feedback, too. I loved the help I got last year, and I love the insights from this year. Just proves again that this is a terrific contest for getting important critical remarks from objective eyes, eyes of folks who love fiction. (And Jesus!)

Can't wait to see which of my online pals win in their respective categories. So many to root for!

~

A Fat Rant.


You know, I like this gal's attitude:

"We need to expand our souls."
"Stop putting life on hold."
"Now is all you've got."

Mir

HURRAHS to the GENESIS SF FINALISTS!

*Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Allegory*
Sally A. Apokedak
Valerie Comer
Rebecca Grabill
Shannon McNear
Chris Mikesell
It's lovely to see a fella in the crowd, particularly one we've had published over at DKA. And double congrats to SALLY A, who is a finalist in the Y/A as well!!
BEST OF LUCK in the next round, and may contracts be forthcoming!!!

Pray, Saints, Pray!

The title of this post is a fave exclamation of an online pal of mine, a devout Pentecostal woman who will email her periodic urgent prayer requests, then close each one with, "Pray, saints, pray!"

I know how she feels when she says that. I know cause I just read this:


National Weather Service forecasters said they expect 13 to 17 tropical storms, with seven to 10 of them becoming hurricanes.

The forecast follows that of two other leading storm experts in anticipating a busy season.

The likelihood of above normal hurricane activity is 75 percent, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.

"With expectations for an active season, it is critically important that people who live in East and Gulf coastal areas as well as the Caribbean be prepared," said Bill Proenza director of the national hurricane center in Miami.



Er, I live in Miami. I still have a roof leak in the way back room from Hurricane Wilma. (Sigh) I still have PCBHSD (post crazy-butt hurricane seasons disorder).

Excuse me, I have to go lock myself in my prayer closet for about six and a half months. With non-perishables. And a flashlight.

PRAY, SAINTS, PRAY!
~

What I'm Reading Now &
What I Pre-Ordered From Amazon

I am immersed in Sharon Hinck's THE RESTORER. Oh. My. Goodness. I am so looooving this fantasy novel !

I'm half-done, but I have a stressful day tomorrow (Can you say mammogram? Nothing like squishing my D-cup bosoms into pancakes to ruin the Mir's day). I have to go to bed. Bummer. I wanna stay up and finish. I just got to a major plot twist. Ooooooeeeeeee.

If you haven't gotten your copy yet, I think you had better. Sharon keeps the pace up. You rule, SH! This is one the female audience of the CBA can get behind. This adventure deserves to top the CBA bestseller list--and I say this only half-done with it. What does that tell you? (Well, if the second half holds up, I'll be posting a glowing review.)

I really only have two quibbles at this point:

1. I wish she hadn't used the term "soccer mom." That is so nineties. And overused. Yep, cliche even. I really, really hate that term. But this may simply be due to the period when this was written and trying to nail a demographic for the audience. I can understand that.

2. What's with the regular Earth names in an alternate world? I started wondering if it wasn't alternate but in her mind, cause the names felt so very much like a white housewife's daydream, not some actual foreign place. Reminds me of a kvetch of a romance reader on her blog recently, one that voiced a peeve with the overuse of Celtic names in romances, as if, hey, what, only Northern European dudes were hot or something. I started getting that feeling here, not the wholly Celtic thing, but the "oh, we're still in Euro-White homogeneous land"--Tristan, Kieran, Mark, Payton, Cameron, Dustin, Aubrey, Wade, Nolan. It was a relief to come across at least a rarer "Lukyan". I know. I know. I'm overanalyzing. But when you have a nation that's--what?--40% minority (ie, not descendants of Brits or Celts or Germans or other white Northern-Euro types), I start wondering when I'll see more people like me in Christian fiction books NOT written by blacks and Latinos and tagged "multicultural". Just, you know, naturally occuring non-whites hanging cooly with whites. How hard would it be to add a Conchita or a Mako or a Li Po or an Amitab or an Udako? Or, shoot, just go Southern Euro a bit: Lorenzo, Taki, Jacinta. Or some of those hard to spell Eastern Euro names. Maybe some cool Native peoples names--aboriginal Australian, American Indian, Mayan, etc.

I'm ranting, aren't I? Sorry. Sorry.

As I was saying: COOL STORY SO FAR...!!

What I pre-ordered: Tosca Lee's DEMON: A Memoir. (Speaking of uber-cool names! It's downright opera meets TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRDie.) I liked the info over at Tosca's webpage. I liked the sample of her prose at Where The Map Ends. I think this is a winner! It's like INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE done with a demon. Cool. This one may be a huge CBA seller. Oh, yeah. It doesn't hurt that Tosca is very smart, well-educated, and gorgeous. Don't underestimate the promotional value of good looks and educational "cred". She's the featured interviewee at Jeff Gerke's site, so go and read.

PW Article on Christian Fantasy

In case you haven't read it yet, here's the link for that Publisher's Weekly article entitled "It's a Fantasy", with the tag, "Speculative fiction is a tough sell in the Christian market."

Yeah, don't we know it.

The article includes quotes from our map-ender pal, Jeff Gerke, draconic author Bryan Davis, and NavPress Senior Fiction Editor Rod Morris. The latter "attended the Mount Hermon conference, and noticed that of the dozen or so teenage writers participating, the six or seven who were writing fiction were all working on fantasy."

It was an "eye-opener" for him.

Well, that's a step in the right direction.

I do hope more editorial eyes start opening. And not just for youth-oriented fiction. Already, what's available in CSF in the CBA seems to be heavily slanted toward youth, as if adults can't be bothered with SF.

I'm here to say that there's an adult audience who'd like books, too. They just need to tap into them and not assume they're not reachable.

The article is both pessimistic (about the current state) and optimistic (about the youthquake that seems a possibility in CSF in the CBA).

I'd like that quake to hurry up, please. And let is shake up both young and old. Oh, and middle-aged. Like me.

~

Monday, May 21, 2007

Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy Blog Tour: THE SWORD REVEW MAGAZINE

Wow. We've are starting our second year of blog tours. Imagine, from a handful of CSF enthusiasts in the American Christian Fiction Writers' Forum, we've grown into a larger, broader, wider group of speculative faith lovers with a heart for Jesus. Cool.

Our focus this tour is near and dear to the Mir: THE SWORD REVIEW.

Anyone who reads this blog with some sort of regularity knows that this online publication of SF became a great place of encouragement for me and my writing. I've won both of their annual fiction contests and their first poetry contest. (shiny smile) So, clearly, they cheer my heart and soul. The publisher/business manager/Big Boss, Bill Snodgrass, has also given me the opportunity to satisfy my editorial urges at sister magazine, DRAGONS, KNIGHTS & ANGELS. (While I've had my choice of which magazine to edit, DKA has called to me.)

So, yeah, I'm part of the team. I have and do and will support DEP/TSR/DKA with my time and money and skills and prayers.

I believe in the vision I first saw clearly embraced at THE SWORD REVIEW.

If you want to read my work over there, just visit my sidebar and click the links.

If you want to hang with other CSF enthusiasts, register (it's easy!) and visit the forum. Several of the staff and regulars have blogs, too.

If you're new to THE SWORD REVIEW, be prepared for a bounty. The magazine offers speculative poetry, fiction, essays/columns, interviews, and fellowship. I hope you will find new favorite writers and poets there, and that you will support the magazine. THE SWORD REVIEW exists because some folks are kind enough to donate to the work being done. The editors, business manager--the visionaries--donate their work and time and MOOLAH.

I know we've had to cut back on what we offer at DKA (and so has THE SWORD REVIEW), because the budget simply demanded it. Moolah matters. Never doubt it.

If you want to know how you can support Christian speculative fiction TODAY, well, support THE SWORD REVIEW and other DEP Publications. Go read. Go post. Go donate.

CSF's future is gonna include some writers already being published by THE SWORD REVIEW. Don't doubt it. Support them NOW.

Tomorrow: A tour of the poetical offerings.




Visit my CSFF Blog Tourmates:

Brandon Barr Jim Black Amy Browning Jackie Castle Valerie Comer Frank Creed CSFF Blog Tour D. G. D. Davidson Chris Deanne Kameron M. Franklin Linda Gilmore Beth Goddard Marcus Goodyear Russell Griffith Jill Hart Katie Hart Sherrie Hibbs Holly Heather R. Hunt Becca Johnson Jason Joyner Kait Karen Dawn King Tina Kulesa Lost Genre Guild Kevin Lucia and The Bookshelf Reviews 2.0 - The Compendium Terri Main Rachel Marks Eve Nielsen John W. Otte John Ottinger Robin Parrish Cheryl Russel Hanna Sandvig Chawna Schroeder Mirtika Schultz Steve Trower Speculative Faith Jason Waguespac Daniel I. Weaver
~~


If you have a blog and you want to support Christian Speculative Fiction authors, books, magazines, and websites, then join the CSFF BLOG TOUR!

Simon & Shuster Alert: For Those of You With Agents Shopping a Work Around

Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware blog has posted a warning blog entry--with some good information ALL writers should go read right now!--about some troubling changes in the Simon & Shuster standard contract. (I meant to post it Saturday, but, hey, I had a brain blank.)

Please read this entry, especially if you have a work making the rounds of publishers. You do NOT want to grant perpetual rights to S&S as currently enshrined in their contract. It's sneaky and nasty and S&S should be ashamed.

"Contract Alert: Simon & Shuster"

Got A Blog? Can You Review SF?

Well, then you can get a free issue of Jim Baen's Universe and have them link to your blog. Think of it. THEY link to YOUR blog. Uh-huh. Thought that might get your attention.

I joined JBU when it premiered, and I renewed recently, so it's not like I'd get anything extra. Oh, well. But maybe you can. Here are the specifics of their offer:

Are you a blogger? Do you have an established blog?

Would you write a review of Jim Baen's Universe in your blog?

We are offering a free copy of Issue 3 to bloggers who agree to post an online review by June 30. This issue contains Mike Resnick's Hugo-nominated story, "All the Things You Are" as well as stories by Gregory Benford and Gene Wolfe.

Here's how this deal works:

1--You send an email to blogstorm@baensuniverse.com with your email address and the URL where you'll post the review.

2--We email you a copy of Issue 3 (PDF and HTML versions).

3--You promise to post a review by June 30 2007.

4--We link to your blog.

There is no requirement that the review be positive (although we can hope it is), only that it be posted. We would like it to contain a link to the Baen's Universe homepage, too.

This offer is open to everyone, so feel free to spread the word.

Best regards,

Eric Flint
Editor in Chief
Jim Baen's Universe magazine

Well...huh...hmm...Dang.

I just read the opening passage of one of the Christy Award nominees, and the first paragraph had a grammatical oopsie. And then it got pretty, well, clunky.

Ain't naming names.

Just gotta say: Huh. Must get a whole lot better. (Hope so.)

~

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Tortured Heroes and Sexy Sell At Borders

From agent Kristin Nelson's blog, passing on info she gathered from a Borders' Romance buyer, Sue Grimshaw:

Some interesting romance-specific factoids:

1. Sexy covers continue to sell well
(so take that shirt off…but only if you are a guy)

2. Paranormal is still selling well. Readers like tortured heroes. Vampires are in abundance so think outside the box.

3. Sales for historicals are still flat.
(So if you are a fan and want this to reignite, go out and buy more books. Editors, however, are asking for historicals—as long as they are sexy).


I like tortured heroes. I like sexual tension. I get massively bored by lengthy and numerous nipple-and-manhood scenes. I guess I'm a maverick there. The majority of Borders romance-buyers seem to want multiple pages of heaving and moaning and liquefying, which I prefer to do in private, thanks. Ah, well.

That entry also has tips on marketing.
~

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Say it ain't so, Miss Snark!

The Mir is bereft.

This is why.

Video tribute here.

I Love Miss Snark!

Heck Yeah, I'll Take The Pill!

Author Athol Dickson (RIVER RISING) asks an interesting question over at his blog WHAT ATHOL WROTE:



If you could take a pill to make your troubles go away—your weaknesses, your insecurities, your ailments and your moral failings—would you do it?


This is my answer: Well, duh. YES!

Be honest: With no strings attached, weaknesses and illness gone-- would you turn it down?

I'll admit it. Growing up sickly and self-loathing and depressive hurt a lot. Watching the heartache of my parents as they longed for their homeland while working minimum wage factory (sweatshop) jobs hurt. Being prone to fits of anger due to who knows what--genetics and steroids--hurt. Being a sickly adult hurts. Seeing suffering among my relatives hurts. Watching my father suffer and decline, having to wipe his butt, help him pee in a cup in public, suffering his brain-degeneration-caused violent fits, then watching him die in my house, that hurt. Worse were the years of my mother's chronic, debilitating, incapacitating illness, then a couple years of pain so horrendous that I'd stuff my face to shut out the pain of Heaven ignoring my prayers for her healing of intractable, crippling pain--that hurt like hell. Having my eyesight and hearing and health get worse with age...hurts. Not living up to the holy standard hurts. Thinking about losing my siblings...hurts. Worries about terrorists, church persecution, etc...hurts.

So, if there was a magic pill that made all the suffering go away, all that suffering due to sin and sickness and weakness and insecurities, dang it, yes. I'd take it.

I'm assuming there isn't some dire consequence like you sell your soul to the devil or become a sociopath or revert to infancy or something. Just ...no more hurt...no more suffering.

YES!

Gimme the pill. I want it now.

And for those who say that's immature: Well, what the heck is it that makes Heaven or Paradise so appealing? Is it not--beyond the utter coolness of getting to kiss Jesus and hang in the presence of his delightfulness--an end to pain? An end to loss? An end to sickness, griefs, regrets, horrors, aging, death? And an end to sin?

To be done once and for all with sin! Do you have any idea how much I long for that? It's the daily cry of my soul and the daily yearning of my heart.

An end of pain and sickness and sin. Oh, yes.

Puhlease. We all want the release of suffering, and so much of suffering is because of the illnesses that strike our bodies and minds (depression sucks!). And so much is due to sin: wars, abuse, crime, etc. And think of marriages driven asnder by insecurities that cause jealousy, secretiveness, lies, and distance.

So, baby, I want NOT to suffer. I figure that's pretty sane. I figure that's what we would have had in Eden had our foreparents not screwed up. I figure that's what we get in Kingdom Come. No more suffering and sin. Lots of good times and happiness. And, hey, banquets and singing and meeting the greats, past and future, who now also are free of their pettinesses and darknesses.

There's a reason Revelation 21:4 is my favorite verse:



and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.


Maybe I'm just a wuss.

Maybe I just get tired of depressions and bad breathing days and loved ones in excruciating situations and separation and loss.

Maybe aging sucks--the loss of sharp memory, the loss of great joint action in the knee region, the sore feet, the blurry vision, the tinnitus.

Maybe I'm tired of reading the terrible stories of suffering in Voice of the Martyr's magazine or in the newspaper.

Maybe I just want us all to be done with tears! God bless us everyone with joy and ease and eternal life.

Excuse me, I gotta get me get a glass of water. I'm ready for my pill, doctor.

~

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Gerard Butler in SF FILM & Bear Update

Mir's fave cinematic hottie has been cast in an SF flick. IGN Movies says this:

Gerard Butler will star in the thriller Game for Lakeshore Entertainment and Crank creators Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor. Neveldine and Taylor will script and direct Game, which begins filming in January.
Er, CRANK was misogynistic and dumb. But, hey, it had Jason Statham, who I like watching ever since I caught him in THE TRANSPORTER, then saw him in THE ITALIAN JOB, and that SMOKING BARRELS flick. I like him. He has masculine appeal. But CRANK actually sorta offended me. Non-stop action, though. It's insulting, but it doesn't slow down enough to really bore. And, I suppose, that was the intent of its creators.

I hope GAME has a bit more mind behind the action. At least it has Butler, who rings my bells.

First Showing reports:

Game is a high-concept thriller that takes place in the near future, when mind-control technology has taken society by storm. In this dystopian world, the ultimate online simulation environment is the game “Slayers", where Butler plays Kable, the number 1 highest ranked warrior. With his every move tracked by millions, Kable's ultimate challenge is to regain his identity and bring down the system that has imprisoned him.


~~~


Bear Update:

Remember that charity auction where Gerard Butler signed--and slobbered on--a wee teddy bear? Sure you do.

Well, it may have started at five bucks, but the final bid was... $1225.00




Scottish hunk DNA is valuable, huh? I hope someone isn't cloning him from saliva remnants. Then again...a few more Gerry Butlers can be a very good thing. Send one to Miami!

Shakespeare Insult Kit

"Thou fobbing, fat-kidneyed flap-dragon!"

As you can see, I went for the alliteration. :)

Here, make your own insults with the Shakespeare Insult Kit. It's FREE.

hat tip to Crabby McSlacker

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Shameless Plea for Links

Okay, I checked my level over at The Truth Laid Bear and I"m a "lowly insect". Dang.

This is what happens when I refuse to join assorted blogrolls, I guess. (Mostly cause I'm not so good with old Blogger template, which this is, and fiddling with it gives me hives.)

So: Could you please post something with a link to me. Even if it's just, "That Mir is nuts." Just link me! And if you like this blog, sidebar link me, too.

I am not above begging.

Lowly insect. Huh. Thhppt.

Love isn't Love Without These

Visit Open-minded Carmen and read her terrific post "Food for thought: Love as Justice, Truth and Grace." She encapsulates some of what's found in a book called 3 Colors of Love by Christian A. Schwarz:

Schwarz is making a case that love is fully love only when all three dimensions of justice, truth and grace are in place. They each must exist in relationship with the other for the fullness of love to exist. It is easy to focus on one or two of these components, and forget about the others. When that takes place the light and love of Jesus becomes darkened.


I very much agree with the points. Our culture often demands the love without the truth--just watch any talk show to see this phenomenon. Doubtless, this has to do with the relativism of the times. But in churches, where truth should go hand-in-hand with love at all times, it's more important than ever to remember this. You don't give up truth in order to offer love. They go together. With justice and grace.

Thanks, Carmen.
~

J. Mark's Brief Brush with the Late Falwell

Drop by J. Mark's place to read about his sole encounter--short, amusing--with Jerry Falwell, who passed away this week.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A Christian "CBA" SF Alternative to Hugos?

Could happen.

If you read/write/enjoy Christian SF, head over to Speculative Faith, where Becky Miller is discussing how to address the lack of an SF category in the Christy Awards this year.

I've added my suggestions for award name and book nominees and a plan to add shorter fiction in the comments section.

Go add yours.

My Tooth, ACFW Genesis, & Squee!

Well, I cracked a tooth. Went to the dentist yesterday with a painful molar. My asthma had been acting up cause of the smoky air down here in Florida, so I, unfortunately, was in no shape for what he planned to do--remove the large filling and see how far down the crack went and if the tooth was salvageable.

So, Friday I have an appointment. If my breathing is normalized, he'll go excavating.

Please pray the tooth just needs some bonding and refilling. I really, really don't want a crown or, worse, a bridge if the tooth must go.

We just spent $3200 on hubby's car repair, and a couple thousand on hubby's tooth surgery (the crown expense is yet to come, and now this. Say bye-bye to savings!

In other Mir news, explaining my low-blogging output: I just finished sending off the last of my judged Genesis entries to the genre coordinator. Yippee! That tired my brain.

After a few days' rest, I'll tackle the DKA fiction contest entries.

On the reading front--not that I've done much given I've been judging 25 pages of fiction times five entries times 20 criteria each, plus text comments--I read the first bound volume of SQUEE! by Jhonen Vasquez. The guy is certifiable. Heh. But he made me laugh, in that dark and disturbed and confused sort of way you do when you come across something dark and disturbing and gross, but funny!

Me like to laugh.

Monday, May 14, 2007

For All BBW: "Sista Big Bones"

This video of Anthony Hamilton's song is for the big gals out there. Enjoy!

Nebula Award Winners

I've got the winning novel on a pile next to my side of the couch. I'll be getting to it..er...this year. And I was thrilled to bits about HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE getting its props. Loved that flick.

Here are the winners as posted at Locus Online, where you'll find a group photo:

NOVEL Seeker, Jack McDevitt (Ace Books)

NOVELLA Burn, James Patrick Kelly (Tachyon Publications)

NOVELETTE "Two Hearts", Peter S. Beagle (F&SF Oct/Nov 2005)

SHORT STORY "Echo", Elizabeth Hand (F&SF Oct/Nov 2005)

SCRIPT Howl's Moving Castle, Hayao Miyazaki, Cindy Davis Hewitt, and Donald H. Hewitt

ANDRE NORTON AWARD
Magic or Madness, Justine Larbalestier (Razorbill)

...James Gunn was presented the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award, and D.G. Compton was named Author Emeritus. Ronald D. Moore was Toastmaster. The SFWA Service Award was presented to Brook and Julia West.

Old Navy Kicks Fat Folks Out of Store

Guess who's not buying another Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic, etc, item again? Yep. Me.

Let me put this delicately: Screw you, Old Navy!

Here's why from Half of Me blog:

Old Navy will soon stop stocking its plus-size line in stores, relegating those sizes to online ordering only. An article in the The San Jose Mercury News confirms it in a blurb halfway down the page, saying "final shipments of apparel in sizes 22, 24 and 26 will be sent out during the next few weeks." (The article was written on April 28, 2007.) It also says Old Navy will "continue to carry women's sizes 16 to 20 as part of their regular collection."


Okay, so it's only the "fatter" folks who are getting the boot. The "just fat" get to shop there.

I suggest, in solidarity to the bigger folks among us, we tell Old Navy to stock comprehensively. If they can stock for the thinnest, they can stock for the fattest.

Like I said: Screw you, Old Navy!

A bit more from the Pasta Queen:

Gap spokeswoman Robin Carr gave this rationale for the decision: "We really wanted to showcase the Plus collection and felt the best place to do that effectively was online…online is everywhere." Which is probably the lamest excuse I've heard since that time I told myself Raspberry vodka was good for me because it contained fruit. If we follow Carr's reasoning, why should Old Navy bother having stores at all? If online is everywhere and it provides the best showcase for your clothing, you could significantly reduce overheard by shutting down all your brick and mortar stores. Old Navy also faces significant competition online from retailers who specifically target overweight women, treat them with respect, and have a good understanding of how to fit and flatter a fatter figure. If I'm shopping online, I'd rather give my money to one of those retailers.


She said it. Big, FATTEST ditto.

~

Friday, May 11, 2007

Pray for UKSteve's Little Girl

Here is UKSteve's latest update on "Her Babyship":

Her Babyship (or 'Naomi' to her friends) has always had bad skin: eczema, dermatitis from hospital sheets....Now it seems that the skin where they taped her legs up has become badly damaged, and if by Monday it isn't up to spending 3 months under plaster, they won't be able to operate.So, if you need to excercise those prayer muscles, we could still do with a few.



Previously in the Babyship saga, she had dislocated her hip and required traction for a week, then surgery. The surgery is needed, but this complicates the situation. See Steve's comments HERE or just read the comments on his last blog post.

Get cracking on the intercession, Saints.

No SF/Visionary Christy Award This Year?

It's one of those weeks when I think I'm wasting my time, keystrokes, and breath working to get more acceptance of SF in the CBA, and, to add heft to my grumbly cloud, here comes the list of Christy Award nominees and THERE IS NO SF CATEGORY THIS YEAR. Talk about raining on my fictional parade.

Okay, maybe there's a really good, sound reason and it's just not public--or I missed it.

But maybe it's just another kick in the teeth to the Christians who enjoy reading and writing SF.

I have to go growl at something now.

FUTURE WEAPONS OF WAR Anthology

Do you enjoy free online reads?

I do. If you're like me, head over HERE to sample stories from the upcoming anthology edited by Joe Haldeman and Martin H. Greenberg. (Oh, you know Haldeman is ideally suited to edit this, considering war is a recurring theme of his work, plus he's a kick-butt writer & poet.)

The link actually takes you to a listing of the table of contents, and it includes links to the introduction by Haldeman and to three stories: CRATERS Kristine Kathryn Rusch; ROCKET BOY by Paul J. McAuley; and JADE ANGEL by Dena Bain Taylor.

Referring to the stories (and the title), Haldeman writes in the intro's conclusion:

They all speak to the human condition, though, of which war has been an
aspect for as long as there have been divisions of humanity on the basis of
geography, citizenship, race, or religion. Perhaps we'll evolve out of it before
it destroys us.

For that, Albert Einstein may have had the final
word on the future of weapons:

"I don't know with what
weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with
sticks and stones."


Hat tip to SF Signal.

Speculative Faith Friday:Post is Up

Drop by for "The Obsolete Man" and the Absolute Book

Yeah, what can I say. I grew up watching--and loving!--THE TWILIGHT ZONE. And this episode is among my faves.

~

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Do You Currently or Plan To Start Querying? Consider the FOREVER Stamp

Well, postal rates go up Monday. I still haven't got my make-up stamps. Pain in the TUCHIS!

I think I'm gonna start buying FOREVER stamps and just use #10 envelopes and call it a day. I'm sick of having this collection of old stamps (I still have 37 cents ones) cause they raise the rates:

In 2007, the U.S. Postal Service will issue the Forever stamp, which will always
be valid as First-Class postage on standard envelopes weighing one ounce or
less, regardless of any subsequent increases in the First-Class rate.


If you query agents or editors, and you include SASEs, consider getting FOREVER stamps. That way, if a postal increase occurs when your query is still under consideration, it's got the proper postage.

Lakisha Leaves and Jordin's McPhee Grin Irks

Well, Kiki got booted. I liked Kiki. She had an amiable manner and she represented for the fat gals. I hope she gets offered a contract. The woman is talented and likable.

Jordin has perfected the fakey McPhee smile--big smile, teeth slightly parted, flashed to the camera. It looks really plastic, but, considering it's on a face of great beauty (and McPhee was superlovely as well), it's bound to keep her at the top, maybe even let her beat the talented Doolittle. Beauty and a great smile count for a lot in the music industry.

Jordin's lucky to have that face and those teeth. She had a dreadful performance last week--horrible!--and she had one awful one last night. Those looks save her. That and the fact that when she's on, when she gets it right, it's very enjoyable. She can sing! But she's inconsistent.

But hey, she perfected the fake McPhee "Look at me, I'm so into you, and aren't I just adorable" half-open smile.

I still hope Melinda wins--I love her!--but I'm gonna miss Kiki and that Jordin smile is gonna keep annoying me. Although Jordin would make it as a diva. She's got pipes and she's beautiful and with the right managers and songwriters and stylists, she'll devastate. Plus, she's real young, so she has time to mature into a killer singer. I just wish those stupid gee-whiz, girly, camera-sucking-up-to smiles didn't trump genuine personality and grit.

Oh, yeah, Blake. He's okay. Like the brown hair, liked his "You Should Be Dancing", but didn't like his second song. And he needs to know how much beat-boxing to add. Just enough works. A bit too much grates. And he tends to go into the "bit too much" territory.

And what is it with the plugging Fantastic Four? I just wanna know who is out and who is in!

Also, Pink--who looked faboo in ther b&w skin-tight outfit, bored me to death with that song. Unusual, cause I like Pink. Yawn. (But hey, girl's toning routine WORKS.)

Barry Gibb--saw him and his brothers live in '79--is still very likable. But his voice is sorta going. Shame. I always enjoyed the Bee Gees, even when they sang sappy stuff like "Melody Fair" and "Run to Me." And how fun was it to dance to their disco stuff? Loads! Brother Maurice had a paintball thing not too far from where I live, and I sat across from him once at this diner he used to frequent (and I used to drop by about once a month), but he, sadly, died too early. I felt quite sad when he passed on. And I remember wearing a cast-off terry bath robe that used to be Andy Gibbs' (rescued from a trashcan by my best pal's Andy-obsessed sis). He used to live south of here, in a rather modest house. He's gone, too, and way too early. Drugs suck. However, the biggest ache to my fannish heart comes from Robin. Man, that boy let me down, what with all his weird porno and occultic crap. Ah, well. Pray for Robin.

Oh, I got sidetracked.

Go, Melinda!

~

Weigh-In: McDonald's Southwest Salad

I've heard the buzz on this--the commercials, some online chatter--and it seems to be a dieter hit.

Anyone out there tried it?

I can't remember the last time I visited McD's. I'm just not wild about their food. And the last time--a few years ago--I had a salad there, it sucked.

But, I may go back to try this one. I think the clincher phrase in the ad for me was "cilantro lime". I can dig cilantro and lime. Mmmm.

So, if you've tried it, lemme know what you thought.

Here are the stats on it, courtesy of Diet Detective, who tagged the dish as a "calorie bargain"--although that bit about "liquid margarine" worries me (ie trans fats?) and the sodium is pretty high:

Ingredients: Salad Mix, Grilled Chicken Breast Filet, Southwest Vegetable
Blend, Cilantro Lime Glaze, Shredded Cheddar/Jack Cheese, Limes, Chili Lime
Tortilla Strips, Liquid Margarine

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving:
320 calories
9g fat
30g carb
30g protein
7g fiber
970mg sodium

Note that this calorie count doesn't include dressing or
croutons. So skip the Butter Garlic Croutons, which are 60
calories. And ask for Newman's Own® Low Fat Balsamic Vinaigrette or
Newman's Own® Low Fat Family Recipe Italian Dressing--which have about half the
calories of the creamy dressing that the salad usually comes with.

Bradbury on Science Fiction vs Fantasy

Science-fiction is the law-abiding citizen of imaginative literature, obeying the rules, be they physical, social, or psychological, keeping regular hours, eating punctual meals; predictable, certain, sure.

Fantasy, on the other hand, is criminal. Each fantasy assaults and breaks a particular law; the crime being hidden by the author’s felicitous thought and style which cover the body before blood is seen.

Science-fiction works hand-in-glove with the universe.

Fantasy cracks it down the middle, turns it wrong-side-out, dissolves it to invisibility, walks men through its walls, and fetches incredible circuses to town with sea-serpent, medusa, and chimera displacing zebra, ape, and armadillo.

Science-fiction balances you on the cliff. Fantasy shoves you off.


~~(From the Introduction to The Circus of Dr. Lao)

hat tip to Scott M. Roberts


Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Quote for the Day: Sort of Writing Related

~

Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly until you learn to do it well.

-- Steve Brown

~

Dee Asks: "What Would Jesus Read?"

I posted my comments: "Anything with beauty, power, honesty, hope, and truth" and "You. Me. And everyone else. We're the stories he's reading."

You know what that means? Jesus is reading stuff that's pretty racy and dirty, full of curses, clogged with perversion and abuses, depressing with chronic illness and tortures, brimming with violence and hatred and vengefulness. And he's reading merciful acts, kind words, unselfish reactions, blessings, miraculous forgiveness, generous impulses, loving embraces, patience, pure love, and all sorts of good stuff along with the bad stuff.

That's how books should be, too. Like us. Dark and light. Good and bad. Nasty and noble. Selfish and generous. The hateful supping with the compassionate. The blasphemer residing next to the worshipper. The damaged living with the whole. The mundane and the sacred chatting.

Why not drop by and let her know what you think?

What would Jesus read?

~
~

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

I'm Doubly Tagged: 8 Random Mir Facts

I've been hit from the left and from the right. Both Jason and Becca got me on the 8-Random-Facts thing. But this doesn't mean I gotta do 16 facts, right?

Right. How can we make this SF-ey?

Hmmmm.

Got it: I'll step into the transporter, whereupon I am split into good Mir and bad Mir--or is that strong Mir and weak Mir, given what happened to Cap'n Kirkie?

Whatever. Becca and Jason, this Mir's for you.

First, the rules:

1. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
2. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
3. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
4. Don't forget to leave them a comment telling them they're tagged, and to read your blog.


I'm not gonna do 3 or 4. I hope this doesn't bring a dread curse upon me, cause, you know, I'm just feeling all slacker today. Posting at eight different blogs sounds exhausting.

Okay, since I'm one of those that prefers the bad before the good (you know, the bad news/good news thing), I'll start with...

Strong/Cranky Mir:

1~~I hide weapons all around the house. A hatchet here, a sharp cleaver there, a long kitchen knife under that, a medieval mace behind this. I grew up in a very bad neighborhood, and I learned early never to be far from a means of self-defense. (If hubby would let me get a gun, I'd have a few of those all around the house.) And when I open the front door, I keep a knife or club or something within reach.

Oh, stop looking at me like that!

2~~I pick at scabs. If I get a booboo, it's nearly impossible for me to just let the darn thing heal. I wanna rip off the scab as soon as it forms. Sometimes, I'm not even aware that I do it. And I rather like lapping the blood. Yeah, I know...gross.

3~~I pray just about every day for Fidel Castro to drop dead in great pain and agony. (And then I gotta confess about it. It's a total schizo drag.)

4. I almost killed someone once. This was back when I had terrible dark urges and a temper that, when it flared, was a dangerous and horrible thing. I'm really glad I didn't take a life. But, to be honest, she was such a scheming lowlife skank. (Ahem, I mean, I forgive her.)

Good/Wussy Mir:

5~~I'm afraid of the dark. Not as badly as I used to be--back when I needed full wattage even as I slept, or as bad as when I needed a closet light spilling into the room. No, I can sleep in a mostly dark room. But if it's pitch black, I start freaking. How wussy is that?

6~~I cry at romantic endings--in books or movies. When the guy gets the girl and that sappy music starts playing, or when they have the great smoochy last scene when virtue is rewarded and true love wins out, I, Wussy Mir start bawling. Hubby just tosses tissues at me and looks both perplexed and amused when this happens.

7~~I held our pet hamster Oblio in my hands when he drew his last rodenty breath. And then I bawled worse than I do at the end of romantic movies.

8~~I've never been out of the Eastern time zone. Born in it, raised in it, live in it, and must actually venture out of it before I die...mebbe.


Now, I bet you're real sorry I got tagged.

~

Monday, May 07, 2007

Drop by DKA and read "Dust"

We have a new story up, and it's one that resonated with me for several reasons. It's one I hope you enjoy:

"Dust" by David Misialowski

He had arrived in late spring, the start of heat. The heat made men hallucinate, and even he had seen visions and heard voices. The names of the villages bore the color and clangor of bronze, and when he heard them for the first time, he shut his eyes and saw prophets on mountains and hermits in caves. The desert was named Dust.

As dust filled his shoes, death did his days. Over time, he acquired an inventory of vivid mental snapshots: A withered woman whose arm dangled over the side of a bed, IV drip still uselessly inserted into it. A dying man’s final eruption of bloody vomit. A pocked peasant harrowed by sores that looked like an infestation of eyes.

An assistant, a native, told the doctor of a friend who had been born blind. “Still, he sees.”

“Sees what?”

“Golden thrones. Elders in white robes. A rainbow like an emerald. He says he looks forward to seeing this world, to find out how it compares with his.”

“What makes him think he’ll ever see this world?”

“He is convinced that someone will grant him sight. I told him about you, doctor, and he wants to meet you.”

“Why?

“He thinks you will grant him sight.”

“I don’t want to meet him.”

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Six Steps To A Good Weight Loss Outcome

According to master NLP weight loss coach Kathryn Martyn, these are the six steps to getting what you want in terms of weight loss:

1) State what you want (not what you do not want). "I want to weigh 135 pounds."
2) Determine whether you can achieve it (do you believe it is possible?).
3) What resources do you have and what do you need (time, money, gear, clothes, equipment, coaching, whatever).
4) Check whether anyone else is involved and any potential obstacles that may come up regarding others. Think of everyone involved in your day-to-day life.
5) Picture yourself "as if" you've obtained what you say you want and see if that picture fits. Do you like what you see?
6) Put together a plan of action for the achievement of your outcome.


Well, I've got 1 and 2 and most of three done. :)

~~

Saturday, May 05, 2007

In Case You Didn't Know: Portion Sizes

I remember the first time a friend and I read what a portion of pasta was. You probably heard the howl in your town.

I remember, too, one visit to the nutritionist--the Mir has had a lifelong battle with adiposity, which began when I got a couple years of steroids right before puberty, which was not a happy time, I can tell you--and the Haitian fella in the room I was passing on the way to the other client office. He had this incredulous tone when he said, "That's what you call a serving of rice? That's ridiculous. THIS is a serving of rice!" As he said the last, he made a shape with his hands depicting a sort of bowl, a generous bowl. I'm guessing half a cup of rice as a serving was not in his paradigm. (The guy was slender, so I assumed it was a blood sugar thing he was consulting about, ergo the concern for carbs, mebbe.)

Well, his portion of rice was what I used to consider a portion of pasta. This big old bowl that held maybe 2 to 3 cups worth. And my idea of juice for breakfast was like 12 ounces, not the half cup they call a serving. And, being Cuban, my idea of a serving of black beans was closer to two cups. (Mmmm, black beans.)

You can see where the Big Mama Mir's bigness came from, yes?

Suffice it to say, it's not easy being portioned control. The span of my butt is exhibit A.

If you've never actually read or looked or measured what are considered standard portions, prepare to be astonished and enlightened (or not):

A Mayo Clinic Slide Show of Portions

Was that a snicker I heard?

Ah, can you tell I"m starting an "eating plan" again? Sigh.

~~

Friday, May 04, 2007

Can Someone Translate This For Me?

USPS Statment about New Prices

I have a degree in English. I got a score of 760 out of 800 on the English section of my SAT exam. And I read that statement from the USPS and went, "Huh? I just wanna know how much a fricken first class stamp is gonna be." I didn't give a hoot about "shapes"--unless it's how I can reduce mine. What? Is a triangular piece of mail verboten now or something? Octagonal costs twice as much? ::joshing, but only a bit:::

Come on. Was that really the best announcement they could come up with? Geesh.

Well, it took a google search to get the info: 41 cents. There ya go. You'll need to get your make-up stamps or new first class one before May 14.

Maybe next time the USPS peeps can get someone who talks like the rest of us to write their statement. Cause, really, I think they got a politician to write that one, which seems to say absolutely nothing useful for several paragraphs, and when it does say something concrete, it's really sort of a letdown. And you still dont' know the most basic bits of info when you get there.

~~

"Christian Novelists on the Rise"

In the May issue of Aspiring Retail, you can read a couple of the entries that should be of interest to Christian fictionados.

"Christian Novelists on the Rise" features photo and prose snapshots of various authors in Christian fiction, from Chick Lit-ers to SF-ers. The futuristic/fantasy/supernatural category includes Robin Parrish, George Polivka, Tosca Lee, and Steven Cleaver, whose Saving Erasmus sounds really cool, and I need to go get more info on it.

You'll recognize some familiar names from ACFW, such as our Camylicious Mrs. Tang and Marilynn "M-Nog" Griffith.

The hop over to the interview with Carol Johnson, Editorial VP for Bethany House Publishers: "Passionate about Christian Fiction"

The links are to the left in the sidebar of the main page (see link above). You'll need to have cookies enabled. I had trouble opening and keeping the site open, but had it available long enough to read it. I have no tech skills, so, I hope it opens and reads fine for you. If not, sorry. It sometimes says "restricted site" and sometimes not. Have no idea what that's about.

~~
hat tip to Chris Well

Spec Faith Friday Post: Lady in the Water


Archetypes and Spiritual Gifts in LADY IN THE WATER: The Story that Saves A Life
:


I finally got around to catching M. Night Shyamalan's much reviled LADY IN THE WATER. Guess what? I had a good time watching it. I think I was sufficiently snagged by Cleveland Heep, the protagonist, that I cared about the outcome to his story (pun intended), that I could suspend hypercriticism of the later flaws in the tale and weak characterization of secondaries. There's a lesson there, I think: Give the reader/watcher a sympathetic character, and that will cover a multitude of story sins. The other thing that kept me intrigued was the use of classic types, types familiar from fairy tales and legend and myth and fantasy. For an SF-lover like me, just throw an archetypal sounding character at me, and I'm gonna want to see what you do with it.

LOTS OF SPOILERS. If you haven't seen the film and want to remain ignorant, proceed no further.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

American Idol, May 1: Lakisha's Back
on Rocker Night & Melinda's Not Matronly

I dropped into an apparent coma around 6:30 pm yesterday, and didn't wake up until about 5 am, so I missed AI. Ah, well. I'm not a fan of Bon Jovi. Really, I can't think of any of their videos or songs that I didn't hurry to switch away from.

But, thanks to YouTube, I can catch up.

Wanna watch Lakisha bring down the house--and get smooched by Simon--for "Ain't a Love Song"? Well, go here. Woohoo, my girl is back! Me loves Kiki.

Jordin was, sadly, disappointing. She's just adorable--cute as can be and the best smile ever on Idol--but "Living on a Prayer" did her in. She couldn't do those low notes and I never felt convinced by her performance. Can we say "pitchy"? Her worst performance yet. Ew. I do like the crazy-wild hair. Also, did they purposely find the two shortest guitarists they could get? It looked as if either someone stretched up Jordin or shrank down the g-men. Weird.

Blake has done a makeover (totally changed hair), and he's back to the sound effects school of singing on "You Give Love A Bad Name". You know, I didn't think it was bad at all. At last he made the song his own, a Blake-i-fied Bon Jovi. And I even like the new hair. (But I so hated the old hair, I'd probably like a bald look compared to the slicked-up baby chick thing he had.) Makes him look much cuter. Could have used a bit more actual singing, but hey, worked for me, even with that sort of slightly annoying breathlessness.

Phil Stacey's "Blaze of Glory": The first lines felt a bit over-emoted, but then Phil got better. He still doesn't connect with me. ::shrug::: Glad he ditched the hat this week. Still needs a good stylist to take him in hand and make the most of his particular look. He always seems "not quite there", sartorially. Granted, this week is better than many others. And Paula Abdul is on some really good stuff if she thought that was the best opening of the season. What? Chick's high.

Chris Richardson did "Wanted Dead or Alive." Well, he wasn't as irksomely nasal as he's been in the past--did he find his diaphragm?--but there's a quality in Chris' voice that I just don't much like. A sort of weak gruffness or hoarseness that makes him occasionally drop a note or fail to complete it. that is not appealing to me. The last notes of the song were...er...painful. Ew. So, I wouldn't mind seeing him head out tonight.

Miz Melinda closed the show with "Have a Nice Day". You can tell this wasn't her musical genre, but man, she worked it. She had attitude, ferocity, passion, a bit of growliness in her voice. And she ditched the matronly wear for more youthful clothing which suits her and her sleek hair. I noticed two parts where she was just a skosh off tempo, but, who cares. She was what she is--a terrific performer and vocalist.

If You Read Christian Fiction, Tell Karen

Over at Karen's Journal, Karen is wondering who the heck reads Christian fiction. She also has some comments after reading a bunch of Christian fiction as a judge for an Evangelical publisher's association.

If you read Christian fiction, drop by and say "hi" and tell her why you do.

~

My Gerry Blog Got the Nielsen Treatment

Hey, wanna see what I won in Eve Nielsen's Quest Writer contest?

Okay, go over to my Gerard Butler appreciation blog and see: Butlerian Crushgirl

I'm all renovated! Like it? I do!

I thought the tree motif with the greens and gold was perfect, given that we--we being the Gerry Butler dot Com gals--had donated last year to give Gerry a special birthday gift: several thousand to plant trees in Scotland in Gerry's name as part of a reforestation of the Highlands project. We raised enough that a grove got named after him. Cool.

Gerry's family lives in the Highlands, and Gerry has those faboo green eyes, so...er...okay, I'll stop before I'm in a full-fledged Gerry-gush.

Thanks, Eve!