Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Links to Help in Writing A Novel Synopsis

Over at Once Upon a Novel.

And I'm using them right now!

Athol Dickson at Infuze: CBA & Craft

Read the whole thing HERE, and a snippet below:

Many authors speak of the progress made within the CBA toward good writing and relevancy to the mainstream fiction market. How would you view this? Would you say this is true?

It is absolutely true. Anyone who denies the great progress in Christian fiction was not reading it fifteen years ago, when most of it was not good. I remember attending Christian writing seminars where editors felt they had to tell us spiritual themes must arise organically from the story, and must not be layered on the surface as an afterthought. If you think about it, the fact they felt they had to tell us that was shocking. I mean, they actually found it necessary to come right out and say, “Propaganda makes bad fiction.” That’s where we once were.

These days that is simply not discussed, at least not by the experienced Christian authors I know. The vast majority of those who wrote propaganda back then have been weeded out by market forces, leaving those who understand the art of fiction still here to carry on. There are some exceptions, people who somehow manage to sell books in spite of mediocrity, but isn’t that the case in any genre? Think of all the awful novels one finds in airport newsstands.

I believe Christian fiction in general is now at least as good as all the other genres. I think this is slowly becoming an accepted fact, even among publishers and critics outside the Christian world. In fact, it seems to me most of the opinions one still reads to the contrary are from Christian writers who have not managed to get published, and one suspects their motives, to say the least. I say this as an extremely demanding reader. I do not finish about half of the novels I start, because I cannot bear poor craftsmanship or boring stories, regardless of the message. I will not support a Christian artist simply because he is a Christian. That would demean Christianity itself. But these days I find myself abandoning non-Christian novels with about the same frequency as Christian ones, so yes indeed, we have come a long, long way
.

Sample the Fare at Coach's Midnight Diner

Here ya go. First tidbit, you'll notice, is the Jesus vs. Cthulhu category winner.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Please Post Some Reviews At MINDFLIGHTS

I'd like to get some good reviews of Christian SF over at MINDFLIGHTS (the forum).

Here's what to do if you want to promote the genre there:

1. Register (You can't access the forums until you do)

2. Scroll down the forum main page until you get to the section called "Within MindFlights"

3. Click on "Reviews" to open that board

4. Hit "New Topic" and post your review

If you've got a review for any of the following (or others) please post them:

THE RESTORER
DEMON: A Memoir
THE DOOR WITHIN (or others in the trilogy)
THE LEGEND OF THE FIREFISH
THE LIGHT OF EIDON (or others in the series)
DRAGONSPELL (or others in the series)
THE LAMB AMONG THE STARS
OXYGEN
THE SHIVERING WORLD
FIREBIRD (or any in the series)
RELENTLESS (or FEARLESS)
BLACK/RED/WHITE (The Circle Trilogy)
..or any other CSF novel you wish to review.


We also welcome reviews of regular SF fiction and of SF poetry collections/anthologies/chapbooks.

Thanks.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Write Romance? Harlequin Contest For Ya

Got the following from Jordan Summers at Fangs, Fur, & Fey community:

Harlequin Super Romance is sponsoring a Conflict of Interest writing contest. They're looking for stories with "heightened emotional conflict that raises the stakes -- and the sexual tension -- for your hero and heroine." Submit the scene or moment that best illustrates the conflict between the hero and heroine, along with the first chapter and a synopsis of no more than ten pages. The contest is open to both published and unpublished writers. Prizes include a critique by a Superromance editor, a one-year's subscription to Harlequin Superromance (72 books) and the possibility of publication. Deadline to enter is October 31, 2007. For contest rules, see:
http://www.eharlequin.com/articlepage.html?articleId=1199&chapter=0.

Color Coded Rating?

This was an interesting analysis of film posters and colors. (Wanna comment on books and covers in a similar vein?)

Friday, July 27, 2007

Tammy Faye Died and I Missed It!

Man, I feel bad about that. It shows I've had my head in plotting and writing and synopsizing (and, okay, blogging) so much I haven't been keeping up with the news. (Is there a hurricane coming? Did I miss a warning? You'd tell me, right?)

I had seen the documentary on her battle with cancer, and found her immensely likable--and yeah, still sorta naive and over-the-top. But very likable. And a perky fighter. Part of me digs a person's ability to hope upon hope, as well as to just wear her heart right out there on her hot-pink sleeve. And you can tell she LIKES people, and not all of us do. I very often don't, frankly. It's an appealing thing when you see people-love oozing.

Bye for now, T.F. I'll get to say howdy some day when all our mistakes and excesses, yours and mine, are forgotten. I suspect there will be a surprising number of folks up there who got the gospel from a heavily-made up, mediocre singer who loved Jesus.

Visit the Ragamuffin Diva for a very cool sort of send-off.

Oops...I went on a rant

Yet again. Here.

Fabulous Post From RofF Slush Pile Editor


Ever wonder what will capture the eye of an established fantasy magazine's editor?

Well, here you go: "It Came From The Slush...and Survived!"

What makes this so very useful is that the editor posts the opening lines of fourteen stories that Realm of Fantasy accepted from the slush pile, and he explains what in those story openings he liked and kept him reading. Interesting stuff.

Here's an example:



6) It was raining when Noriko called me to her darkened room, the air sharp with jasmine incense. The house was open to the rain and it cut some of the jasmine’s bite, but Noriko’s room was closed, as it had been since the day I had come to Kojima. It was there Noriko told me Min was dead.

They found Min near the docks, her robes wrapped around one of the farthest pilings. She was the very color of those robes, Noriko said, as blue-black as the deepest ocean water. They pulled her out, but she was dead, her eyes gone from velvet to milk-white, her slim fingers puckered. They placed her in a boat and set it afire, allowing Min to drift wherever the ocean would take her.


--From “Indigo With Distance,” by E. Catherine Tobler, Realms of Fantasy, August 2006

Sadness is practically flowing from the words. The narrator never tells me she’s sad, but I know it all the same. I know it because of the way the author picks her details. The rain and darkened room in the first sentence become echoes of the narrator’s mood when we learn that Min is dead in the third sentence. That’s why she’s going into such vivid detail about Min’s death in the second paragraph, because Min was someone very important to the narrator. Without being told, I know the narrator cares. That makes me care too. If I care I’m going to keep reading. It should also be noted the author is conveying this mood (and let’s not forget the setting) with a very sparse style. She has an excellent command of the language, another way of building trust.

Non-SF Reading: Feeling For Bones; To Dance In The Desert; Sushi For One

Over at Faith in Fiction blog, Dave Long (editor at Bethany House) recommended a debut novel by Bethany Pierce with the fabulous title of FEELING FOR BONES.

I read the excerpt at christianbook.com. I'm ordering it. The writing in just that opening is terrific.

Thought I'd give you a heads up to a non-SF novel that's getting buzz, and a couple more below that interest me for 2007:

I also recommend to those who like general/litarary Christian fiction, that you pick up Kathleen Popa's TO DANCE IN THE DESERT (another novel going in my shopping cart). I have almost exclusively read SF in the last year, so when I make exceptions, you know it had something to really grab me. (And Becky Miller couldn't find a weakness in it. Or almost. She did find one minor, minor quibble. That's something! Heh.) Hit that link. Click for the chapter sample. It's gorgeous.

I'd also like to recommend the debut novel of the energetic, organized, delightful, smart, and beautiful Camy Tang. It's due out in September--and can you believe that's just over a month away? Dang. If you like Christian fiction and you enjoy Chick Lit, this is a title that may suit you quite well: SUSHI FOR ONE?

Use my portals and fatten up the Mir amazon kitty, please:

Speculative Faith Friday: "Moonshot" and MINDFLIGHTS and Messiah Harry

Come by Speculative Faith for my Friday post:

"Moonshot" and MINDFLIGHTS and Messiah Harry

See you there.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Heather Asks About Unmentionable Genres

Heather of the slender, graceful backly regions (see the pic on her blog) has asked why fantasy and international novels are The-Genres-That-Must-Not-Be-Named.

Voldemort genres. I like that.

Well, obviously, on this blog, fantasy is not only named, but it's got a good Latin name that goes around the block twice before it's done breathlessly blurting out its components.

But Heather (who in my mind goes by the moniker of "Elfin Princess White-Wearer") posts this:

So why, if it is true that fantasy does not sell, does Tom Shippey say (as quoted in From Homer to Harry Potter, an excellent book worthy to be read by writers, especially those of the fantasy bent, readers, and Christians, and eventually I’ll get a review of it up here), “The dominant literary mode of the twentieth century has been the fantastic”? (I believe he includes scifi and horror in the “fantastic” category.)Some Christians have a hard time with the magic and sorcery, and I want to respect that. On the other hand, as Homer to HP says, myth is the “embodiment of truth.” They want to get back to the true meaning of myth, not as something false, but as stories that express the identity of a people and their worldview (cf. C.S. Lewis’ The Discarded Image, another must-read, by the way). The gospels, then, are myth. But I digress. I’ve talked about all this before. And Mike Duran also had a lovely post about it as well. Back to a semi-point (does anyone have a pencil sharpener, preferably a metal one attached to a wall that gives your hand blisters when you turn the crank or crank the turn and only occasionally works and makes a horribly annoying sound so that the entire class stares you down as you sharpen your pencil in the middle of a math examine?), with the groundwork laid by Tolkien, Lewis, and Sayers, with the advantage that fantasy has to address real issues in a way that get lost in contemporary, “real” literature, with the resemblance of the gospels to fantasy with the presence of the supernatural invading the natural, why is fantasy in the CBA world off the beaten path?



I think you nice folks should drop by and give your answer to that.

(Ditto with "international" novels.)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour: FEARLESS by Robin Parrish



In the tradition of enjoying the last (or one of the last words) on the tour (so we can keep the links stretched out to the last few hours for Technorati ranking purposes), I hereby present my second post on the tour for author Robin "Infuze me!" Parrish.

Robin's a good sport. We can get mouthy on these tours. Remember the hoopla last time. Oh, yeah. But it got the adrenaline going, and that's not bad. It burns calories. It wakes you up.

This time, Becky caused some commenting to erupt on her blog (and for all I know in her email box) over her mixed review of FEARLESS, the second novel in the Dominion trilogy. (The first was RELENTLESS.)

I know Becky. She is about as un-meanie as you can get online without suffering from a lack of personality or sentience. She's much more tactful than, say, D.G.D or I. (All right, so I'm not at all tactful, thanks for REMINDING ME.)

I did want to clarify, in case anyone got me wrong, that if I say a novel seems to have a comics sense of pacing and action, that is NOT--I repeat NOT!--a putdown. I happen to love comics. I may no longer have (rotted in the garage) our collection of Marvel comics, and I've misplaced my box of 70's Doctor Strange goodies; but I'm amassing a shelf of more recent and very entertaining (and often hugely throught-provoking) comics and graphic novels by the likes of Warren Ellis, Alan Moore, J.M. Straczynski, Joss "Demi-God of Storytelling" Whedon, Neil Gaiman, Doug TenNapel, and Bill Willingham, to name some. (I forget who does the Walking Dead.) I even had a hard copy of Frank Miller's 300 before Gerard Butler put on a loincloth. And somewhere I have my original collection of Ellison's DREAM CORRIDOR series. And some Milk and Cheese for good measure.

So, if you can entertain me like those guys in novel form or on TV or in a flick, you're doing really well! When I link Robin to that sort of literary format, it's a compliment.

It's also interesting how the gender gap has been evident in the whole THE RESTORER versus FEARLESS discussion. (Me, I won't say versus. I was swept away by Hinck's tale and I'm thinking Robin's will take me away, too, as soon as I can sit down for a couple of hours and actually FINISH IT! Things are hectic here.)

Here's what it comes down to. The novels have a lot of cool reviews. Many of our SF loving Christian pals are enjoying it. For example:

From Live Like A King Blog:
Fearless kept me on the end of the seat. Maybe is should have been called Breathless because that’s how I felt at the end of the story. Even though I did not read the first book in the trilogy (which I will endeavor to do asap!), I was able to follow the story.


Daniel Weaver says:
Robin writes well and weaves a captivating tale.


Novelist Eric Wilson, in an amazon review, states this:
Parrish is a skilled writer, using strong verbs and prose to convey his tale. Although some of the relational aspects seemed to need more depth, he unfolds the story with great mastery and presents more than one surprise, while unveiling a uniquely spiritual premise. At its core, the story is one an identity crisis: Who am I? Deep down, in my soul, who am I really? And what is my purpose?

This is one of the better amalgams I've seen of suspense and fantasy.



My suggestion: Try them. You might like them. At the very least, try the first.

And if you read it and loved it, drop by Robin's blog and tell him so.


And do visit the blogs of my tourmates in the Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy Blog Tour:

Trish Anderson
Brandon Barr
Wayne Thomas Batson
Justin Boyer
Grace Bridges
Amy Browning
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
Karri Compton
Frank Creed
Lisa Cromwell
CSFF Blog Tour
Gene Curtis
D. G. D. Davidson
Merrie Destefano
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Linda Gilmore
Beth Goddard
Marcus Goodyear
Andrea Graham
Russell Griffith
Jill Hart
Katie Hart
Sherrie Hibbs
Christopher Hopper
Jason Joyner
Karen
Dawn King
Tina Kulesa
Lost Genre Guild
Rachel Marks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Eve Nielsen
John W. Otte
John Ottinger
Robin Parrish
Lyn Perry
Rachelle
Cheryl Russel
Hanna Sandvig
Chawna Schroeder
Mirtika Schultz
James Somers
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Jason Waguespac
Daniel I. Weaver


If you wish to purchase Robin's RELENTLESS and/or FEARLESS, please click through the following amazon.com links, and help the Mirathon kitty:

Pre-Ordering THE RESTORER'S SON and Noticed Something at Amazon re Sales and Rankings and Christian Sci-Fi and Fantasy

I wanted to pre-order the second novel in Sharon Hinck's women's fiction meets alternate world fantasy trilogy called The Sword of Lyric. (I thought Book One was great fun!)

I did a search to see what else her publisher had put out that was SF recently, so I did an advanced search using publisher/fiction/after 2006, and listed by bestselling status.

Well, looky there. The first three ranked are all speculative fiction:

1. THE RETURN by Austin Boyd (It's science fiction)
2. DEMON: A Memoir by Tosca Lee (already own it and have plugged it on this blog)
3. THE RESTORER by Sharon Hinck (THE RESTORER'S SON, a preorder only item, is ranked SEVENTH. Go, Sharon!)


That was NavPress, where Jeff "Map Ender" Gerke used to work before he went flying solo.

Now, let's take a look at Thomas Nelson, same search criteria (fiction, publisher name, books after 2006):

1 WHEN CRICKETS CRY by Charles Martin (seems to be general Christian fiction)
2.SAINT by Ted Dekker
3.THE FINAL STORM (The Door Within trilogy, Book 3) by Wayne Thomas Batson (aka The Hunkier Steven Seagal and one of the Fantasy 4 Tourmates)


Slots 4, 7, & 8 were also taken by titles that fit "SF" definitions (by Wayne again, and by Ted D., and Ted D. plus Perretti.) As well as 12 (Batson), 13 (Dekker), and 14 (Lawhead).

(Now, if we could only get that third BIRTHRIGHT PROJECT book so I, the Mir, can be happy.)

I don't expect this is the usual (it wasn't for another CBA publisher I checked, who has heavy hitters in women's fiction and suspense, or a third who publishes a lot of romances and WF). And it doesn't (or may not, I haven't checked) reflect anywhere like that on the CBA bestseller charts.

But, hey, it still cheers my SF-loving heart that for ONE publisher, SF is doing rather nicely at this one online site.

Whaddya think? Nice? Encouraging?

Okay, I've duly blogged. I've posted a positive one for the team.

Now, I gotta go eat lunch and right back to work. I got proposals to get out in some sort of kinda timely maybe manner. And I don't mean Cuban Time, which is my native groove. Lord, I wish I wrote as fast as Karen Kingsbury or Nora Roberts. Whatever juice they swig, I want the deluxe super vat version of it.

~

Found My Torreo Coffee Groove

Back in March, I posted on my sampling of some Torreo coffees.

After trying a lot of different single origin and blend type coffees from Torreo Coffee, I found the ones I liked best, ones I have been reordering, and they're not even the super-expensive, rare lot ones. This is good for the Mir budget, as I like my daily dose of java with breakfast almost as much as I like smooching my handsome husband. Well, okay, maybe not ALMOST, but it is one of the fine pleasures of life. Fresh ground coffee brewed to my preferred strength (medium). Ahhhh. :)

The blends I enjoyed most were:

~Yemen Mocha-Java
~Mountain Blend


The aroma of the Mocha-Java is exceptional. I like to stand right over the grinder and just get a whiff of it. Man, beeeyoootiful.

(The Franklin blend tasted too dark to me and the Breakfast Blend didn't feel interesting in my mouth. The House blend was okay, but whatever in my mouth goes for certain flavors, it liked the above two best.)

Of the single origin coffees:

~Yemen Mattari (fabulous--a gorgeous balance and a nice rich smell and flavor. Love it).
~Kenya AA (a far second place to the above, that's how much I enjoyed the Mattari)


Clearly, my taste buds dig what's happening in Yemen much more than Latin America (or Africa).

I tasted: Costa Rica Tarrazu, Guatemala Rio Azul, Colombia Huila. I even preferred the Yemeni coffes to the pricey Cup of Excellence ones I tried: Nicaragua El Progreso, and the highly-rated Colombia Hato Viejo. Hey, to each his own, right? I'm nowhere near a coffee connoisseur. I just like what I like.

Oh, and their espresso blend (not the dark one) is lovely. I grew up drinking espresso (as Cuban kids are wont to do from the time they can sit at the table, sharing a waterier version of the full-strength stuff that adults get), and I really enjoyed Torreo's offering.

So, there, my coffee update.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

What Gen X and Millenials See in HP

The following was posted over at The Intersection:

I was at a Theology on Tap talk Thursday night during which Mike Hayes, our speaker and author of the new book “Googling God,” pointed out that Generation X’ers and Millennials tend to want two different experiences out of religion and/or spirituality. Gen X (people born between 1963 and 1980) crave a sense of community. Millennials (born after 1980) yearn for mystery. I believe that statistic may explain the popularity of the Harry Potter franchise – especially the new film “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” - with people of all ages. “Harry” offers viewers/readers both community and mystery.

The mystery of course involves magic and the supernatural forces that allow the witches and wizards in this fantasy story to perform all kinds of spells. Much like the Christian view of the world, there is more going on around us than meets the eye or can be explained through science.


I'm delighted to hear it. The novel I'm working on, well, my goal has been to show a fragmented bunch of folks who have to forge a community in a very strange place full of mysteries of the supernatural sort, and because they do that, they're able to heal themselves and their wounded world. Maybe I'll appeal to post-Boomers.

hat tip Barbara Nicolosi and Claw Man

More New Free Fiction...YES!

Free Speculative Fiction Online has added new goodies. Included: FIRE IN THE MIST and SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL, both novels by Holly Lisle, and PLANET OF THE DAMNED by Harry Harrison. Also, quite a bit of Lewis Shiner short fiction and two novels by Jo Walton. Lots, lots more added in June and July. FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE. FREE!

hat tip to SF Signal

Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy Blog Tour, 07/07: FEARLESS by Robin Parrish



In the allegorical tradition of Tolkien and Lewis
comes a powerful new myth for a new generation.



This edition of the Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour features Robin Parrish and his Dominion Trilogy, with emphasis on FEARLESS, the most recent release. Robin may be familar to some of you Christian (a)Fiction(ados) for publishing Infuze Magazine online. I first discovered Infuze via the group at Faith in Fiction's message board, and I tended to return to read the articles on SF and comics. It was the first place I found online that had Christians talking about comics. I've found others since.

I've only just started reading the first novel in the Dominion series, RELENTLESS, and the chapters I've read definitely have a comics feel in terms of weird goings on and superpowers and action pacing. This should appeal to a certain part of the CSF audience, right?

Here is info on the first of the three Dominion novels:

Grant Borrows' life has just taken a drastic left turn. There's another man in the world wearing his face and living his life. What's more, the man he sees in the mirror is a stranger.

Somehow, he's been Shifted -- his whole life fundamentally altered, in the space of a single breath. But the changes don't stop at skin-level. Inexplicably, he's able to affect objects around him by simply thinking about them. And as he soon learns, he's become the central figure in a vast web of intrigue that stretches from an underground global conspiracy to a prophecy dating back over seven thousand years, that tells of his coming. Enemies and allies find him at every turn, but one thing they all learn very quickly is that you don't want to push Grant Borrows too far...

Can destiny be undone?


The story takes up in the second book, FEARLESS:

The world changed after that terrible day when the sky burned, and now every heart is gripped by fear...

Earthquakes, fire, disease, and floods pummel the earth, and its citizens watch in horror.

But in the darkness there is hope -- an anonymous but powerful hero whom the public dubs "Guardian." He is Grant Borrows, one of a chosen few who walk the earth with extraordinary powers. But while Grant enjoys this new life, signs of a dangerous ancient prophecy begin coming true, and those closest to Grant worry he may be hiding a terrible secret.

A search for answers brings Grant and his friends to London, where an extraordinary discovery awaits that will challenge everything they thought they knew. With a deadly new enemy dogging his steps, Grant realizes that the world's only hope may come from unraveling the truth about himself once and for all. But what he comes face-to-face with leaves even this most powerful of men shaken with fear.

Secrets will be revealed.
Friends will make the ultimate sacrifice.
And destiny will not be denied.


Excerpts for both novels are found at Robin's site.

An interview with Robin has been posted at Writing with Fire blog.

Robin's blog is over at Infuze. Drop by. Say hi.



If you wish to purchase Robin's RELENTLESS and/or FEARLESS, please click through the following amazon.com links, and help the Mirathon kitty:


And do visit the blogs of my tourmates in the Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy Blog Tour:

Trish Anderson
Brandon Barr
Wayne Thomas Batson
Jim Black
Justin Boyer
Grace Bridges
Amy Browning
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
Karri Compton
Frank Creed
Lisa Cromwell
CSFF Blog Tour
Gene Curtis
D. G. D. Davidson
Merrie Destefano
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Linda Gilmore
Beth Goddard
Marcus Goodyear
Andrea Graham
Russell Griffith
Jill Hart
Katie Hart
Sherrie Hibbs
Christopher Hopper
Jason Joyner
Karen
Dawn King
Tina Kulesa
Lost Genre Guild
Rachel Marks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Eve Nielsen
John W. Otte
John Ottinger
Robin Parrish
Lyn Perry
Rachelle
Cheryl Russel
Hanna Sandvig
Chawna Schroeder
Mirtika Schultz
James Somers
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Jason Waguespac
Daniel I. Weaver

Monday, July 23, 2007

EVERYONE BLOG: FREE The Adventures of Apocalypse Al by J.M. Straczynski!

I'm adding Mirathon to the voice of SF solidarity to release the radio drama whose title is in my post header--mainly cause Babylon 5 was fricken BRILLIANT and WONDERFUL and I love JMS for working so hard to put it on the air for us to enjoy ever thereafter. Blog for the release of the program to Canadian radio (Snarky and Elliot, you listening?) information:

FREE The Adventures of Apocalypse Al
We just don't think its right that completed and fully produced program not be aired. This is J. Michael Straczynski! His storytelling ability has been proven, the guy knows and loves radio drama. Let's get this show on the air, podcast, or at the very least released on CD. I, of coure, would love to have it podcast so we can all enjoy it.


I hope the decision is to release a podcast. I know I want to hear it, and I'm not in Canada.

The Snarkiest Website I've Come Across This Month...or even in a While

Well, you know it's kinda mean, but this is the reviewer so many love to mock. It was inevitable there'd be a blog about her:

The Harriet Klausner Appreciation Society

And I feel really guilty about laughing like a madwoman, especially at the comments preceding the photo of HK on the right sidebar. Oh, Lord, forgive me.

I can hardly count myself as a top-flight reviewer. I pretty much just start typing without any sense of balance of form or eloquence, and just say what I think off the top of my head. But, at least, I really do read/watch the thing I review. I have my doubts about HK, cause, four books a day? If you read four books a day for years and years, you have a compulsive disorder and need to see a shrink, okay? Especially if those generic feeling reviews are the best you can come up with.

Er, sorry, snark is contagious. My bad.

The Almost-Safe, Nearly-No-Spoilers Review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Okay, for those of you who didn't get to your seventh volume yet:

The story begins, as we expect, with the hoopla surrounding Harry's turning 17. This means he will no longer have the protection that has been his via the Dursleys and the house on Privet Drive. This means, he will be attacked. How? When? Where? Well, let's say there is a huge urgency. The Dursleys are taken away to be protected.

A rather clever plan is hatched to get Harry out of the house, but there are casualties in the ensuing chase. We know right off from these losses that Rowling has taken off the gloves. No beloved character may be safe, we realize. Anyone's life is up for grabs, because it's war. Voldemort and the Death-Eaters are about to take utter control of the ministry, and we know that Harry is prime target #1, and Hogwarts will not be safe. Nowhere will be safe.

As a result, there is much geographical change. Harry and Ron and Hermione, who are on the quest for the Horcruxes, must stay on the run. Unlike in earlier volumes, they simply cannot stay at places that are familiar, even with serious magical shields. Not for long. Wherever they stay, they put people in danger or the precautions cannot stand long.

And yet, they can't just hide. There is too much to do, and they must take huge, huge risks to accomplish their mission: destroy the Horcruxes, take Voldemort down. It feels like reading a spy-novel/thriller with all the undertakings. Very exciting.

Fortunately--and making life more complicated at the same time--they have been bequeathed objects from Dumbledore in the old man's will. Ron, Hermione, and Harry each get one thing that will prove important in their quest, and which will lead them to discover what the titular term Deathly Hallows means. The inheritances complicate the plot, while also melding with what's going on with Voldemort and with the Horcruxes. (Which, this being a non-spoiler zone, I will not divulge.) It's a credit to Dumbledore's skills of observation and understanding of his students' personalities and characters, that what each receives is best handled by its owner, used by its possessor.

Events such as the breakout from Privet Drive and the wedding of Fleur and Bill allow us to meet once more characters from the previous books. I was very happy to see Luna again, and to meet Luna's just as loony, maybe loonier, father. Dobby shows up later, too.

The pace is rather relentless. Being on the run, with a big reward on Harry's head, with DeathEaters able to summon Voldemort as soon as Harry is glimpsed, with mercenaries on the trail, with the government under dark command, without a safespace, the trio has to tap into their strengths more than ever and find deeper wells of resourcefulness in order to survive.

Fortunately, there are always allies, even if they can only help for bits at a time.

When the climactic event comes for Harry (which actually precedes the climactic event for Voldemort's), we love him all the more for it.

One thing that I appreciated so much in terms of characterization is that Rowling doesn't allow people to be one-dimensional. We saw Malfoy's hesitation in Half-Blood Prince, and we guessed he wasn't like Bellatrix or Volemort, even if he was hardly a good person. In this book, we learn things about Kreacher and Dumbledore that puts new light on both. We learn a bit more about Severus, too. Even the trio doesn't behave perfectly, and they wouldn't be anywhere near as interesting if they did.

Plus, we finally realize what it is that Dumbledore saw when he looked in the Mirror of Erised, and it wasn't stockings. I had wondered.

Voldemort ends up being less fearsome than he might have, much more ridiculous and simple-minded and shallow and unworthy, because those arrayed against him are so noble and well-rounded in comparison. We realize ever so clearly at the end that what is important is what we knew in the beginning of the tale to be important: friendship, mercy, self-sacrifice, courage, loyalty, generosity, endurance, trust, family...and, above all, love.

Although "Love conquers all" may be the overarching theme of romance novels, it may well be the clearest theme of Harry's saga.

For a very good non-spoilery review, check out Snuffles the Dragon's post at Sci-Fi Catholic.

Harry Finale ROCKED! (Huge Spoilers)

Well, you may find this really hard to believe, but I just slept for 24 hours straight. I had been feeling unduly fatigued since my bout with the asthma, but it hit really hard. I slept from 7:15 am Sunday through until 7:23 this morning. (And I napped for a while even before I fell asleep Sunday AM. )

It took me a bit longer than usual to finish Harry, as fatigue took over and I fell asleep while reading at one point on Saturday. BUT...it was in many ways what I expected.

SPOILERS FROM HERE ON:

What I expected: Harry is, duh, the seventh Horcrux and he has to die; Harry is our hero and he can't stay dead, ergo, some pseudo or real resurrection that makes the Messiah connection that much stronger; Severus was NOT a traitor to Dumbledore and he killed Dumbledore on the old man's orders; the big showdown had to be at Hogwarts; Dumbledore would make an appearance SOMEHOW.

What I didn't expect: The really touching way that Severus was depicted via memories; the way I'd get all upset when dear, annoying but likable Dobby died valiantly; that Lucius Malfoy would survive; how I'd grow so fond of Kreacher; that Hagrid survives (yes, I expected to lose our beloved half-giant); the secrets of Dumbledore's past; what the "Deathly Hallows might be--I was way far off in my theorizing about that; who finally takes down that bitch Bellatrix; and how Rowling would be so utterly brilliant about making Harry's end so much like Harry's beginning (a beautiful circle) and the maximized blessings that would spread to others from it. Harry becomes Lily, in a way, and so his having his mother's eyes is even more fitting than ever. The balance and symmetry of the finale (and how good deeds to even one's enemies ends up rebounding for unexpected good) was simply gorgeous. Gorgeous!

I would have loved a longer epilogue. That's really my only quibble. I wanted to see more of what became of everyone, and what they did. I expected Hermione to end up a professor or in the Ministry, I thought Harry might end up in some high office, too, but we're left to theorize. I spent thousands of pages with these people, and I guess I really wanted a bit longer in the happier-ever-after part.

I thought that gathering all the threads to make Harry the rightful heir of the Hallows was brilliant. And Harry really grew up. He took on the mantle of manhood, and he passed the biggest test. Hagrid's carrying his body was so touching.

The battle at Hogwarts was exciting and, in parts, funny (as we'd expect), and had its moments of awful loss. (I can't believe Fred is gone! My heart just went thump over that. I adored the twins! Poor George! I have yet to forgive Rowling for taking both Tonks and Remus. ARGH!!!!!!)

I will say that I was just a wreck over the scene of Severus weeping over Lily's letter (another lovely bit of plotting coming together, that letter thing). It broke my heart. My poor Severus. Sigh. I'm glad, at least, he didn't die utterly alone.

The mercy killing thing, well, I figure there'll be lots of discussion there. I saw it as an altered context, not a mere mercy killing--but I'll address that some other day.

But Rowling did not disappoint me. I haven't read other reviews or spoilers. So, I don't know if people are widely delighted with the finale. Me, I thought it was an emotional, action-packed ride, a fantasy treat of enormous proportions. If I weren't under the shroud of a fatigue phase, I'd have read it straight through the night. I dreaded reaching the final page, even as I couldn't stop myself from hurtling toward it.

I will certainly look forward to whatever new world Rowling chooses to create. I don't know if she can surpass Harry's world and story, but hey, you never know.

I will add that right before I dropped off for my marathon sleep session, I rewrote the ending to let Severus live and be honored as a hero. I even gave him a nice middle-aged professor lady to marry. I had to give him some happiness, poor man.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Not Happy

It's 10:30 EST and I still don't have my Potter finale.

I'm ticked off at UPS and amazon at the moment.

Humph.

EDITED TO ADD:

It's here. UPS delivered it to the USPS and my mail-lady brought it. She knew I was waiting for it from yesterday's chat with her, so she was delighted to hand it to me.

I'm GONE to Harryland. Whheeeeeeeeeeee!!!

Mir

Quote for the Day: Fantasy & Deep Matters

~

The strongest accusation against fantasy fiction is that it is escapist. Ironically, when it comes to deep matters, it may actually be much less escapist than some things marketed as realism.


--Chris Walley, from "On Fantasy and Theology"

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Movie I'd See This Weekend If I Wasn't Gonna Be Reading DEATHLY HALLOWS


Danny Boyle's SF film SUNSHINE is here.

And Gabriel McKee has a terrific review up that will surely tempt you to go see it. It did ME!

I'm not just an SF flick fan, I'm a Boyle flick fan, which has me extra excited. (If his name isn't familiar, think TRAINSPOTTING and MILLIONS and 28 DAYS LATER and SHALLOW GRAVE--the flick that introduced me to the scrumptious Ewan "Call be Obi Wan" McGregor and the terrifically-talented and homely-but-sexy Chris "Doctor Who" Eccleston.)

Reading McKee's review makes me think this film will be a great go-for-pizza or hit-Starbucks-for-lattes and discuss the ending sort of movie:

In the introduction to the script book for Sunshine, screenwriter Alex Garland states that he and director Danny Boyle had opposite interpretations of the film's spirituality. Garland intended the film to be a story about atheism and an illustration of the folly of mysticism and irrationality. Boyle, on the other hand, believed that film's scientific mission is, in fact, a mystical quest. This sort of disagreement would drive many a screenwriter mad, but Garland offers an insightful statement on the matter:

"I didn't see this as a major problem, because the difference in our approach wasn't in conflict with the way in which the story would be told. The two interpretations that could be made from the narrative were the same two interpretations that could be made from the world around us. In that respect, perhaps the difference was even appropriate."


McKee also offers the link to THIS NIFTY REVIEW.

Some of this disagreement shows through in the film, but thankfully it takes the form of complexity rather than confusion. The film's characters embody different approaches to the film's mystical themes, with ample room for viewers to draw their own conclusions.


And McKee adds this:

There are no easy answers in Sunshine, which is part of what makes it such an enjoyable film—it's happy to be complex. It's a good thing that Danny Boyle countered the atheism Alex Garland saw in his screenplay—the movie thrives on the multiplicity of its attitudes.


I like that. Sometimes, easy answers are fine. But, sometimes, easy answers just feel preachy in films and novels. And even atheist preach, so that's not a slam at religious folks, obviously. I fall into that trap myself a lot: wanting to just thrust the answers out there. I need to learn to work with more subtlety and to allow for mystery in my own work.

Of course, I'm not ashamed ot admit that it's that whole a "100% insane last act" that Peet Gelderblom refers to that really makes me wanna pay for a theater ticket ASAP. But this is Friday: Monk/Psyche night. Hubby and I order in Italian and we get ready to laugh. And tomorrow, as soon as UPS delivers, I'm booked, literally.

This is a Harry weekend.

Maybe next is a SUNSHINE one.

~

Edited to Add: Thanks to our dear Claw-Man, this delightful bit of puppet-singing silliness.

Speculative Faith Friday Post IS UP: 7/20/07

Show Me What I Haven't Seen /or/ Out of the Box and Far Into the Garden

Where I go on a ramble about a Joanna Russ story, Phariseeism, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, boxes, fantasy writing and Christians, and shoot, I'm just wandering all over the place. But I steer clear of Harry Potter. Sort of.

Drop by...

Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows:
JUST ONE MORE DAY!

I checked the UPS tracking info, and yes, yes, yes, my Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows has scanned in to the Hialeah UPS and is "in transit." I was guaranteed Saturday, July 21st delivery through Amazon Prime.

I have a hairstyling appointment for tomorrow. Oops. I need to go reschedule. I am NOT missing this delivery.

Honestly, I should have done what I did last year: pre-order through B&N and go down the boulevard and wait with the kiddies and retirees and all those in between, sipping a double-espresso latte and browsing the shelves until it was time to go home and crack the covers around 12:30 in the ayem.

But, okay, I get to sleep first this time.

Nobody better mess with me tomorrow. I'll be reading all day.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Wayne T. Batson, one of the Fantasy 4, will be on Fox & Friends Friday 8:45 AM EST

I'm going to repost here what Wayne posted over at Speculative Faith. I only just read that entry now, so I'm a little behind some of y'all. Still, he's asked for prayer on his behalf, and I'd like for us all to raise him up and support him spiritually.

Here's Wayne's report (the link is my insertion):

You might be looking at the calendar and thinking, "Oh, the Fantasy Fiction Tour Wayne is on is over." Well, that's what I thought. God {who is in the habit of doing so} had other ideas.

The first thing is: on the FRONT page of Today's (Wednesday) Washington Post, there is an article about Christian Fantasy, focusing quite a bit on my work with The Door Within and Isle of Swords.

Here's the link if you'd like to read the article online:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/17/AR2007071702182.html

( Christian Fantasy Genre Builds Niche Without Hogwarts, Muggles, or Spells }


Then, my agent, Gregg Wooding, calls in the middle of our last Tour Signing at the Timeless Treasures Store in downtown Manhattan. "Wayne, you might want to sit down," he says.

"I saw it, Gregg," I say, misunderstanding him. "The Washington Post put the Christian Fantasy article on the front page—my book Isle of Swords, right there on the front page."

He pauses, "Uh, yes, that was great, but there's more."

Stunned silence.

"Fox News just called. They want you to stay in New York so that they can have you as a guest on Fox and Friends, Friday morning 6:45 am."

More stunned silence, punctuated by rapid heart rate and shortness of breath.

This is real. God is making me into one of the small stones that starts an avalanche in the mountains. It's happening. Adventures are funny things...they may appear down a seldom trodden path or even arrive with...a phone call. But they always begin with the unexpected.

So, my friends and family, for those of you who pray, I ask you for this:


Emergency Prayer Request


Please pray that I would speak the words God wants me to speak. Please pray that I could be a spokesperson for God's agenda and not my own. Please pray that I do not develop lockjaw, strep, or some other such thing. ;-)

Funny thing: I'm sitting here now, in a little business lounge high in the skyscraping Hotel Pennsylvania deep in the heart of New York City. I'm now committed to being apart from my family for another two days. I miss my wife and my children. My Tourmates, Christopher Hopper, Bryan Davis, and Sharon Hinck have all gone home. I miss them already.

I am a very little man in a great big city. But I am not alone.

I am never alone.

Warm regards,

Wayne Thomas Batson

PPS: Please tune in to Fox Friday, 6:45 am, Eastern Time!



Edited to Add: The time of the appearance has been shifted to 8:45. Please pray that Wayne doesn't lose the slot, since that's close to the end of the show, and if something comes up, well, we all know what can happen. He won't have much time, so we want it to be really SHINY!

~

Hey, I sense a trend: Positive Article on Christian Fantasy in Washington Post

Not long ago, it seemed that every time we saw a news article or blog entry by an industry insider on Christian SF, it was bleak, most horribly bleak.

But in the last months, we're seeing something of an optimistic tone rising up amidst the dark predictions.

Hey, I'll take any scrap of hope they wanna toss my way.

And the latest cheering entry comes from the Washington Post:

"Christian Fantasy Genre Builds Niche Without Hogwarts, Muggles or Spells"

The first line asks: Could the next Harry Potter be a devout Christian?

Well, that ties in very nicely with the discussion that Becky Miller has been encouraging over at her blog, A Christian Worldview of Fiction.

From the Post article:

Christian fantasy, which had been a slow seller, has caught fire recently, industry analysts say, ignited by the success of the Potter series, which has sent some Christian readers looking for alternatives.

Secular and Christian publishers are churning out titles aimed at the lucrative and growing audience of readers, who are snapping up an estimated $2.4 billion in Christian books a year -- about a 30 percent increase in the past four years.


It goes on to summarize the Harry Potter controversy within Christian circles--and no, I'm not going there. You already know I'm a Potterphile, and if it's not your thing, fine. The apologetical arguments grow tiresome. If you don't like Potter, write something better without witches and with a church and prayer in it, but leave me to my Harry and alternate realities. Thanks.

TheFantasy 4 Fiction Tour gets a nice plug, too.

Then this:

More than a dozen Christian fantasy titles are due out this summer from secular publishers and large Christian publishing houses. Yesterday, Random House's Christian imprint, WaterBrook/Multnomah, which publishes several fantasy series, released "Dragon Fire," the fourth book in a series by retired teacher Donita K. Paul.

"This has definitely been a profitable genre for us," WaterBrook spokesman Joel Kneedler said.

One current hot seller is Fablehaven, a series by Mormon writer Brandon Mull that was the first Christian fantasy series to hit the New York Times children's bestseller list. The books feature a sister and brother who set out to save a preserve for enchanted creatures. Unlike the Harry Potter series, it pits people, not wizards, against evil beings.


Take note of the phrase "from secular publishers."


Those of us who have spewed our angst over where we belong--too much magic for CBA, too religious for CBA--may yet be able to hope that a secular imprint will see the benefits of publishing for the Christian readers who aren't afraid of the speculative that goes beyond allegory and the utterly uncontroversial.

We'll see.

I don't think it's a coincidence that over the past couple years--and most intensely in the last year--we've seen readers and writers of Christian SF band together, open blogs, discuss, support, encourage, promote books in blog tours, and challenge publishers to give us what we long to read.

What can I say? I'd like to see a thriving Christian SF genre before I head off to the pastures of Paradise. I mean, man, I've got grey hairs. Move it along, peeps!

In the meantime, I continue to pray for the Christian SF-supportive generation of editors to come up, the CBA Datlows and Windlings and Dozoises. (Yes, yes, someone out there give me some intercessory agreement!)

Anyone else have some nice positive reporting on Christian SF to link us up to?

~

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Orson Scott Card Analyzes One of Mir's Fave Characters: "Who Is Snape?"

The character that most intrigues me in the Harry Potter series of fantasy novels is, bar none, Severus Snape. (And how delighted I was that Alan Rickman played/plays him in the films. Me loveses Rickman.)

Of all the questions about what's to come in the volume 7 of the Potter saga, the main one I want to know, even more than how Voldemort gets it (and he MUST get it) or how Dumbledore (or if) he shows up again after dying or if Harry's scar is the horcrux and etc, is what Severus Snape will be and do.

I'm in the camp that says he IS loyal to Dumbledore and is on the side of defeating Voldemort. I simply will be very, very unhappy if it turns out otherwise. And while I wouldn't want him to die--I want his sacrifices for the cause vindicated, she says fervently--I understand that outcome, Severus dying to defeat the Big Baddie, is not artistically without merit.

But for me, the happiest ending is Severus helping Harry bring down the malignant freak.

However, a bestselling writer who knows his characterization and plotting has crafted a terrific analysis of Severus Snape (past and present and theories of Snape-yet-to-come) in the current issue of the Intergalactic Medicine Show.

Behold: "Who is Snape?"

Enjoy, since the time for speculations is almost at an end. Soon, all will be revealed. And won't we be a bit bummed about that when the last page is read? Sigh.

Unsettling but cool story at Heliotrope

The story mingles the fantastic and the creepy. It's a tale of a self-absorbed man willing to use his unborn twins to construct a hedonistic paradise for himself: "They Play in the Palace of My Dreaming" by Gerard Houarner. (One of my fave titles I've come across in the last year, maybe longer.)

An excerpt:

He flew and he fell, going higher and sinking deeper. The old man’s drumming guided him, and he learned the path he needed to take so he would no longer need Grandfather to show him the way. The universe expanded around him as senses that existed only in his dream state awakened, connecting him to the layers of reality inside and outside of him. He was alive once more, as he only knew to be in this heightened state of awareness.

His totem, the unborn fetus, appeared by his side to note the way.

“Tell me, is what I’m doing wrong?” Carlos asked.

The fetus opened its mouth and vomited blood. The trail of its discharge arced across the sky like an umbilical cord. Carlos looked, letting his vision bring to the here and now the time of his birth, the place of his womb. He watched himself emerge bloody and then blue from his mother, the doctor and nurses huddling around him. He heard his first cry, watched his tiny legs kick and arms wave.

“Alive,” he said. “Yes, that’s what I’ll be at last. Alive.”



The ending is both horrible and exquisite.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Tosca Lee's 2 Contests: Both for Christian Speculative Fiction (Novel Length)

Get the details at Tosca Lee's site, if you have a completed CBA-suitable work of speculative fiction (novel). (Literary agent Joyce Hart will be sent the winning entry for her professional consideration.)

Scroll down for details on the Novel Excerpt Contest for those of you with unfinished works. 15 pages of your WIP is all you may submit. (Jeff Gerke will give a crit of the excerpt for the winner.)

Both contests sound pretty cool, and each has a November deadline for entry.

New-ish Blog by Literary Agent

I stumbled upon this blog: Lyons Literary LLC

For those of you who like reading lit agent blogs...

If You've Wanted to Submit Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy to DKA...

Then you need to do it very soon.

We have about seven slots open, and some of those will be taken by stuff in queue at the moment. Once we've gotten our schedule filled through December, we shut our doors to submissions.

DKA will continue to offer stories and poetry (including the winners of our current, open for entries poetry contest) through the end of the year. Then, we bow out and point readers toward MindFlights, the new magazine. (Our DKA archives will remain online for folks to read. At least, that's the current plan. I recommend you catch up on what you've been putting off reading, just in case.)

Finish polishing up those stories and poems and submit by September. Sooner is wiser, since I obviously don't know when we'll hit our last acceptance.



~

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Get Ready! MINDFLIGHTS, A Magazine of the Speculative, is Nearing Take-Off

Here's the official announcement:

Two of Double-Edged Publishing's award-winning magazines are teaming up! Dragons, Knights, & Angels and The Sword Review are becoming one. MindFlights will combine all that is great about DKA and SR into one high-quality magazine.

We plan to launch in January 2008. Get ready. Soon, we'll be open for submissions.

Come by the new
MindFlights website. We're certain you're going to love it. While things are still in flux, we've made sure to make it an eye-pleasing experience. Click main contents and--voila!---find links to current features at SR and DKA, as well as to news and columns from all the DEP publications. After you've had a look around, let us know what you think in the forums. We want your opinions as we work to make the site a great place for you.

Big plans are in place to grow
MindFlights into a magazine that is second to none. We can't spill all our ideas yet, but we believe the future will be thrilling for both the readers and the contributors. Come! Join us on this new journey.


We're still scoping out images and working on design, so consider this transitional, interim, whatever.

Want to support Christian-friendly and Christian SF? Scroll down to the "Make a donation" button over at the new site. We are happy to accept whatever financial support you care to offer. More to the point, we NEED your support. Without it, well, MindFlights can't soar.

~

Friday, July 13, 2007

Interesting Zombie Stuff at SF Gospel



"What place does religion have in a world conquered by zombies?"

I suggest Audio Adrenaline's "Some Kind of Zombie" as background music while you read what G. McKee's got to say on the subject.

Oh, and, by big ole coincidence, I got my Botticelli's "Birth of Venus" Zombie from Monster by Mail today. She's creepy-cool!

~

Friday Spec Faith Post is Up

Dresden Files: Faith, God, Christians & the Fallen in an Urban Fantasy Series

Drop by.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Hard Work of Changing Point of View

Okay, after writing six chapters in third person, I came to the reluctant (at first) conclusion thatI needed to switch to first person. (I had trepidation, since I'd gotten some really righteously encouraging feedback from folks with the 3rd.)

I thought it would be a snap, given that I wrote it in a very deep third person,which isn't all that much different from first in the actual flow.

Oh, silly me. How naive.

It took me two hours just to switch FOURTEEN PAGES.

On the plus side, I like it much better. I really do. And I learned something new about my character because I used that 1st voice, and that revelation let me add a few new pages of conflict-riddled scene-ing to the front end.

On the negative side, I did have to chop out two short chapters. Ouch. Bye-bye. (Even knowing it's gotta go, it hurts. I mean, that was HOURS of days worth of work I had to ditch.)

So, anybody else on for the 70 Days of (Fictional) Sweat?

~

Writing Your FIRST Crime Novel? Here's a Cool Contest with a $10K Advance Prize

Interested? Click the link:

2007 St. Martin’s Minotaur/ Mystery Writers of America Best First Crime Novel Competition.

Want To Sign Up for a Writing Challenge? Here Ya Go: SEVENTY DAYS OF SWEAT

I would have called it 70 Days of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Agony, but hey, that doesn't have the same ring to it.

If you need that little extra push to get you to the finish line of your rough draft, why not consider throwing in with the SEVENTY DAYS OF SWEAT challenge? Allison Kent has posted and invited you to sign up. She writes:

I’m sure you’ve all heard of the National Novel Writing Month where the goal of the participants is to write 50,000 words during the month of November. You’ve probably also heard of the Book-in-a-Week first draft blast, and may have heard of the Book in a Year challenge at eHarlequin, or simply the One Page A Day method to getting a book written in 365. How ’bout a book in seventy days? Doable? You betcha.

Say you’re writing a 100,000 word single title. 70 days at 1500 words per day (approx 6 pages) is 98,000 words total. Say you’re writing a 60,000 word series romance. 70 days at 900 words per day (approx 4 pages) is 63,000 words total. Writing 4 - 6 pages every day for 70 days is a schedule anyone who calls themselves a pro can handle easily!


GO HERE TO SIGN UP

I just signed up, so I'm starting late. I'll do my 6 pages tonight, and this will count as day one (ie, Wednesday).

I don't want to freak about the lag. I've got several chapters done, and a good deal of solid plotting, so it's not like I'm all that behind. I just need to catch up on the time I missed being a wheezy puffer fish on the couch for almost two weeks.

Let me know if you're getting on board, too. I'd love to have some blogging buddies for company.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Finally, an upbeat article on Christian Fantasy

Hat tip to Becky Miller for the link to this:

"Move Over, Harry, Christian Fantasy is back."

It has both the negative and the positive, and those of us hungry to hear the positive can just lap it up. The article quotes authors and editors, and it mentions our intrepid Fantasy 4 Fiction Tour-goers.

And, some tips to upcoming releases:

In September, WaterBrook plans to release "Auralia's Colors," first in Jeffrey Overstreet's "The Auralia Thread" series, and next March will publish Christian singer-songwriter Andrew Peterson's "Lost Jewels of the Island King."

Davis, the "Oracles of Fire" author, believes the proliferation of writers working on Christian fantasy serves as a barometer of the supply of readers hungry for it. The power of the fantasy genre, he said, is its ability to create situations for heroism.

"Fantasy opens up the kind of vision," he said, "to be able to see beyond where we are."


(Note: I'm assuming all those titles above are novels and the use of quotation marks are a stylistic booboo.)

Botticelli's "Birth of Venus" Zombie


I ordered some original zombie artwork from MONSTER BY MAIL. If you'd like to see the creation of my wee bit of horror art, watch the video.

Now, who wants to write the flash fiction that goes with the art? A sonnet? Hmmm.

Monday, July 09, 2007

I'm Better. Thanks for the Prayers. Some Reading Suggestions from the Sickbed

Barring an exacerbation, I'm clearly on the mend. I was able to call my siblings today and actually converse, with only scatterings of throat clearings and phlegm clearings and coughing. And I was able to think clearly enough to catch up with some of my blogging pals and blog myself. And to do some discussion via email on a new project related to Christian and Christian-friendly SF (which I'll announce as soon as the head honchos have everything set up for that.)

It's nice to take a full breath (even if it's still not all clear in the pipes). And I lost four pounds. (Hard to eat when you're gasping. Tend to choke.)

What has it been? A couple weeks already. Well, I did a lot of reading, cause, basically, I was reclining on the couch nearly the whole day for all those days, sucking on albuterol and steroids in nebulized form. Got through all the Dresden Files novels in print. And I have one thing to say: READ THEM. Oh, man. They were so good they distracted me from my misery very well. Lots of interesting Christian-related stuff in there, including a terrific subplot with a demon entity.

Also read HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE, cause I adored the flick. I actually preferred the characterization of Sophie and Howl in the novel, and the fairy tale references to birth order and its effects. Diana Wynne Jones keeps a perfect light voice throughout. But I preferred how Miyazaki added the "compassion for enemies" and "Howl as Beast aspects." I heartily recommend both animated film and novel.

I also ordered and read the last few bound volumes available for FABLES. Excellent stuff. My boy Bigby Wolf and Snow White made me cry. Sniff. I won't say why, cause it would ruin a plot twist, but, sniff! (Bigby is my totally number one fave FABLES character.) Boy Blue surprised me, and I love to be surprised. Terrifically imaginative twists on characterization here and there. I've only got the special bound one on Jack's adventures left to read. If you love retold fairy tales or urban fantasy, you really need to get your hands on the FABLES comics. (I prefer to wait for the bound editions, myself). Some gorgeous art, too. Not shappy at all.

Okay. Now that I have to wait a year for Jim Butcher to thrill me yet again with the continuing character expansion and surprises in the Dresden Files--and oh, why didn't the Sci Fi channel put money into great mini-series or feature flicks of the novels, starting with GRAVE PERIL, so that I wasn't subjected to the crap one hour versions?--who's got a recommendation for a kicking urban fantasy series or a fairy tale land series. I like both genres a lot. (Don't suggest sword and sorcery, please.)

And, since my brain is back to working, all oxygenated and everything, it's time to get back to work.

Sees ya.

Fantasy 4 Fiction Tour OPENS

Well, as Becky reports over at Speculative Faith's Monday post, the Fantasy 4 are off to a bit of a rocky start, what with a missed flight, a sore throat, an a mysterious rash. So, I know they covet your prayers for safety, health, and a good time to be had by all.

In case you're in the dark, the Fantasy 4 Fiction Tour is an effort by four Christian fantasy authors to promote their books and the genre. They'll be traveling to various sites and spreading the good word. The Fantasy 4 are Sharon Hinck, Wayne Thomas Batson, Christopher Hopper, and Bryan Davis.

Atlanta is the first stop on the tour, and you can catch a video recap here.

And here's a shot of the Fantasy 4 with one of the tour sponsors:


(L to R) Wayne, Christopher, the sponsor and sword-provider (John Cooper), Bryan, and Sharon.

Rhysling Award Winners!

Oh, I am soooo happy. Two of my fave nominated poems placed!

Here they are:

3rd: Lawrence Schimel • Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Hole •
Helix 3 (Winter 2007) [published December 2006]
2nd: Joe Haldeman • god is dead short live god • Mythic 1 (April 2006)
1st: Rich Ristow • The Graven Idol's Godheart • The Shantytown Anomaly
2 (March 2006)

Long Poem:

3rd: Samantha Henderson • Sleepers • Dreams & Nightmares 75 (September
2006)
2nd: Catherynne M. Valente • The Eight Legs of Grandmother Spider •
Mythic 1 (April 2006)
1st: Mike Allen • The Journey to Kailash • Strange Horizons (1/23/2006)


Sam Henderson is one of my very fave speculative poets. I am superduper happy for her place in long form. Yes! Although, really, she should have won. Yes, I'm totally biased, but "Sleepers" and anothe of her nominated poems "Triptych.." were just superb. I voted for "Triptych..." as my favorite long poem, although I had jotted down "Sleepers" first. On repeated readings, I ended up liking the other just a scosh better. One is fantasy. One is science fiction. Both are faboo.

Mike Allen is hugely talented, so I cannot at all grudge his win. He's a cool guy and a real supporter of speculative poetry. Congrats to Mike, Samantha, and all the rest of the winners.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

More Poetry Content Goodness! AKA
Can You Write an SF Sonnet That Rocks?

Okay, so you poetic and speculative types already got the word on the DKA contest. Today, I'm spreading the good word on another contest, with even better prizes.

If you can write a speculative sonnet, that is:

SFPA Second Annual Poetry Contest

Prizes are very nice this year:

1st Prize: $80, SFPA web site publication, and a year's membership (or extension) to the SFPA , and a copy of Aberrant Dreams I, The Awakening, and a set of MYTHIC anthologies, (MYTHIC and MYTHIC 2) signed.

2nd Prize: $40, SFPA web site publication, and a year's subscription to Tales of the Talisman, and a copy of Aberrant Dreams I, The Awakening.

3rd Prize: $20, SFPA web site publication, and a year's subscription to Dreams and Nightmares, and a copy of Aberrant Dreams I, The Awakening.


I can't remember ever writing a sonnet. If inspiration hits, I might give it a go. Especially now that I'm well on the way to normal summer congestion rather than sucking-for-air agony.

So, do you have an SF sonnet in your noggin aching to come out and strut it's iambic pentameter?


~

Friday, July 06, 2007

DKA Second Annual Poetry Contest Announced

Hi, folks. I'm still recovering. The torturously wheezy wooly mammoth is officially moved off my chest, and it's just a small family of chronically throat-clearing and coughing hamsters residing there now. I can sleep lying down now. Yay. And I was actually able to have a telephone conversation without using up all my O2 and passing out. That's progress!

Another good thing: Our second annual poetry contest's rules, details, and guidelines are up, and I hope all you keen and nifty speculative poetry types will enter and give me a thrill. (Yes, I'm a judge, just like last year.)

No entry fee. A double theme this year. Up to two poems per entry. Blind judging. Cash prizes.

Get all the specifics HERE.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Write as if Your Mom Will Read It

Faboo author and defender of the faith, John C. Wright, has posted on why you should write as if your mom might read it (in response to some writing advice from Robert Sawyer with which he disagrees).

If you champion fiction without the profanity and gratuitous lustings common in our day, check out his blog entry.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Fantasy Four on Tour

Okay, I dragged my wheezy carcass off the sofa to come post support--as a founding member of the CSFF Blog Tour and someone whose been praying for SF to catch fire in the CBA and for Christian SF to have a larger place in the ABA--for some good peops who are on their way out there across the land to spread the word on their fictional offerings and the value of Christian fantasy:

Twelve Cities...
Four authors...
One tour...

The Fantasy Fiction Tour

The authors are Sharon Hinck, Wayne Thomas Batson, Bryan Davis, and Christopher Hopper.

Check out their tour schedule, and if you're near one of their stops, please go and say hi and buy a book.

If you aren't near one of the stops, then we ask you pray for their safe travel and that this is a blessing to them and to all who attend.

Okay, back to the couch and my jugs o' mucus-liquefying fluids.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

May Be Scarce This Week

Well, it seems right now all I can successfully manage is to prop myself up on the couch and try to get enough oxygen and not get too cranky about being useless.

So, see you when the respiratory system decides to work properly again.

:::gasp::::

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