Friday, August 31, 2007

5 Things She Knows About World-Building
& I Discuss Infodump versus Exposition

The "she" being Sarah Monette. If you subscribe to SF mags, you'll surely have come across a story of hers.

Here's the world-building blog entry.

One of the five things she lists--and one we've all got to watch for, right-- is this:


2. Never world-build through infodump.


(N.b., there is a difference between an "infodump" and "exposition." Robin McKinley world-builds through exposition at the beginning of Spindle's End; Diana Wynne Jones world-builds through exposition at the beginning of Howl's Moving Castle. These are both markedly different from the infodump world-building at the beginning of the book I'm reading right now, James White's Ambulance Ship.)


I will say that the difference between infodump and exposition may come down to the talent the writer has with prose and the voice used. I read and loved both Spindle's End (one of my very fave fantasy novels, and perhaps my favorite based on a fairy tale) and Howl's Moving Castle (which also made for a terrif animated film by Miyazaki).

Years ago, the first pages of Spindle's End captivated me in the bookstore and I hurried home to read it. That's exposition that grabs, not infodump that bores. But it may be subjective, too. What you find exhilirating exposition may make me yawn. Ultimately, any writer who really has a voice and a handle on craft should be able to make the delivery of narrative into exposition rather than infodump. :::shrug:::

I know when I'm reading stories as an editor, I look to see if the information is strongly attached to character. If I'm getting the sense of a person's POV, even if it's a longish stretch of narrative, if it has that personality filtering through, then I don't count that as infodump. And it could be the voice/personality of the author or of a particular character. But I need to sense LIFE.

Infodump has a flatness, a sort of, "Here it is: I think you need to know this, so there. Read it. Now I can go on with the interesting stuff."

If it's compelling exposition, it has a sense of vibrancy, of a living thing behind it. It has a bit of depth or snap or sparkle--something that says this isn't just a report for a teacher or dry information. The difference, say, between:

The planet Alomus, a vacation destination for that sector of the galaxy and known throughout the cosmos for its dyes, was an astonishingly vivid blue. The discovery of Alomus had changed human wedding traditions. Brides stopped wearing white and started wearing Alomus blue. Honeymoon bookings for trips to Earth plummeted and Alomus became the intergalactic Niagara. The riches that the dyes and tourism brought in turned the planet into something that an old historian might have termed a den of sin.


That's not utterly horrible, and it does convey information about the planet, as well as a bit about the voice ("astonishingly" and "den of sin"), but it's not all that vivid itself.


And this:

Alomus glowed the exact blue of Korina's grandmother's eyes on those days when her grandmother was up to no good. On the ultimate day of mischief for her grandmother--the day she married Korina's grandfater--the bride had worn a gown of Alomus blue. They'd had to sell one of their vacation homes to afford it. There was irony there. Alomus, pleasure planet, the number one honeymoon hotspot, and the provider of priceless blue dyes. Why did everything end up having something to do with her dead grandmother and the planet waiting for her to land?


Or this:

Alomus blue. Now, there was a color for dreaming. Deep and alive, so famous and coveted that a citizen of my home planet would happily spend five years of overtime pay to afford a robe dipped in the dyes only found within the sea-floating vegetation of the pleasure planet. So desired that the number one justification for murder on the planet was poaching of the dye-waters. The number two was seduction of a newlywed.


Three different ways of saying a planet is blue and three different voices used in saying it. Granted, none of those bits is long enough to really count as infodump, but it was for example. Infodump would go on in the manner of example one--just throwing stuff out there. The others hint at things pertaining to people. To the characters viewing the planet.

Anyway, go see what Sarah M. has to say.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Blog Asks for Christian Fiction Suggestions

Why not drop by and offer some. :)

Feast On Books and Christian Fiction

~

Yes, I'm Alive, Kicking, & Even Rocking!

And that kicking part is literal. I've been back on the dieting and exercising bandwagon. Lost 7 pounds and have a bit of soreness. (Yes, the elevated liver enzymes spooked me.)

I've been eating veggies and fruits (and some green melange health juice my local organic health-nut restaurateur makes up) and drinking enough water to make me spend a fortune in toilet paper.

Between the Novel-That-Makes-Me-Spaz-Out and the Diet-And-Exercise, I've not really had time to blog here much. I've had things I wanted to blog about, things I wrote down notes for blogging about, but I just didn't get around to it.

So, hey, just imagine I posted a host of witty and delightful stuff and we'll both be happy. (Well, I am happy.)

On the happy-making things:

~God spoke to me this week. Had me do something. Made a crazy-butt coincidence make it totally confirmed and possible. And it's done. No details forthcoming. Just that, well, it's pretty cool when that happens. Baruch HaShem.

~My husband is still the handsomest, cuddliest, sweetest man on the planet and he still loves me madly. As such, he's bringing me home some Applebee's Weight Watchers Menu food for dinner. How sweet is that? Yes, he makes me very happy.

~I've picked my winners and HMs for the DKA Poetry contest, and now we judges get to haggle for the final placements. But, whoo, it's hard making those choices. We had some really super entries.



~Alien Dreamer Merrie calls me a Rockin' Girl Blogger. Well, woohoo. I do, occasionally, rock. And I'm a girl. And I blog. So, yes. Yes. I am a Rockin' Girl Blogger. I like that. THANKS, Merrie. You rock, too, and so does your blog.

Since the tradition is to pass it on, pay it forward, you get the idea...here are three Rockin' Girl Bloggers:

Miz Carmencita who is lovely, smart, and always out there IN THE OPEN!
Miz Heather--AKA Elfin Princess White-Wearer--who raises her glass TO LIFE!
Miz Claudia Mair who is not at all "lame" and is a Ragammuffin Diva!


All of the above let their personalities and strengths and fears and weaknesses and lives and faith shine through in their blogs. That makes them ROCK for me. Plus, they all are very, very good writers. And that is super-rocking!

So, who's your Rockin' Girl Blogger of the day?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Anti-Eating Face Mask:
What Earrings Go With This, I Wonder.

Abstract
An anti-eating face mask which includes a cup-shaped member conforming to the shape of the mouth and chin area of the user, together with a hoop member and straps detachably engageable with a user's head for mounting the cup-shaped member in overlying relationship with the user's mouth and chin area under the nose thereby preventing the ingestion of food by the user.


Accessorizing this is gonna be tough! But, at least you'll look so totally crazy that no one will offer you brownies or other no-nos. In fact, restaurants may lock their doors and hide their fava beans and chianti at your approach.

There's a short story in this, isn't there? Hmm.

hat tip to Diet Blog

Note: I've lost 5.5 pounds in the last 6 days. And without that ugly mask. Yay.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Ask Me How The Novel Is Going...


...and I will bite your lips off !

Can you tell I"m struggling? Oh, look. I just lost more hair...

I'm feeling like a total hack today. I'm feeling like a no-talent freak. I'm feeling like no one in their right mind would want to read this, much less pay to read it, much less walk to a bookstore to pay to take it home to read it.

Maybe I just need a walk on the beach or something.

Speedos are NEVER Appropriate!

A chuckly from WackyMan turned WackyTeacher Chris at The Wittenburg Door:

"Baptists, Catholics Draft Dress Code."

~

Yeah! I Want $$$ To Lose Weight!


Gianluca Buonanno, the mayor of Varallo, a town of 7,500 in northern Italy, wanted to lose some weight. In the process of losing weight, he came up with the idea of motivating his town's citizens to lose weight with a little cash incentive!!!!


I'll vote for the presidential candidate who will put a cash-for-pounds incentive on the platform. Why not? I've tried to vote for idealistic reasons. Now, I want MONEY like everyone else who casts a ballot for those who'll give them a piece of the budgetary pie. Screw idealism. Bring on the entitlements! Gimme!

(Just kidding. I remain with ideals mostly intact. And fat. Though I did lose four pounds last week. How much was that worth, I wonder, in lira?)

Read more HERE.
~

Oh, No...I didn't just see that!

Elliot, babe, I'm speechless, too.

Although, the "Will Work 4 Food" one has a certain relevance due to Matthew 25.

Hmmm...Guess I wasn't really speechless. Heh.
~

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Quote for the Day: By Faith, Not By Sight

We walk by faith and not by sight - not because we are blind, but because faith gives us the courage to face our fears and puts those fears in a context that makes them less frightful. We walk by faith and not by sight because there are places to go that cannot be seen and the scope of our vision is too small for our strides. Faith is not a denial of facts - it is a broadening of focus. It does not deny the hardness of guitar strings, it plucks them into a sweetness of sound.

--Rich Mullins, from "The Flight of the Philistine"

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Hugo Awards Official Site

I like the blue/gray simple, but "SF-ey" design for the new and official site of The Hugo Awards. Go look-see.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy Blog Tour: THE LEGEND OF THE FIREFISH



The blog tour focus for August 2007 is the adventurous Christian fantasy by Brian Polivka, THE LEGEND OF THE FIREFISH (Harvest House):

The Legend of the Firefish is a timeless tale of the pursuit of faith and honor.

Packer Throme longs to bring prosperity back to his decaying fishing village by discovering the trade secrets of a notorious pirate who hunts the legendary Firefish and sells the rare meat. Armed with the love of the priest’s daughter and a noble purpose, Packer stows away on the ship Trophy Chase bound for sea. But many tests of his faith and his resolve follow.

Will belief and vision be enough for the young man to survive?


For those who couldn't get into THE RESTORER for being too "chick fic," you won't have that problem with this "guy fic" story.


Read an excerpt of the novel. (pdf file)
Please visit my blog tourmates:

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
Russell Griffith
Jill Hart
Katie Hart
Sherrie Hibbs
Christopher Hopper
Jason Joyner
Kait
Karen
Dawn King
Tina Kulesa
Lost Genre Guild
Terri Main
Rachel Marks
Karen McSpadden
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Eve Nielsen
John W. Otte
John Ottinger
Robin Parrish
Lyn Perry
Deena Peterson
Rachelle
Cheryl Russel
Hanna Sandvig
Chawna Schroeder
Mirtika Schultz
James Somers
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Jason Waguespac
Daniel I. Weaver

If you'd like to join the blog tour--ie, you've got an active blog, you read Christian SF or are a fan of SF and would like to support CSF--drop by the official site of the CSFF Blog Tour for more info.

Got Any Multicultural Urban Fantasy Short Fiction Ready to Send to an SF Magazine?

Well, heh, then consider if it's up to the level of Realms of Fantasy.

The Slushmaster had asked us readers what we'd like to see MORE of. I gave five "I'd like to see" things, including "Multicultural urban fantasy."

His response:

So more stuff like "Dead Man's Tale" by Billie Aul, but with a more varied selection of ethnicities? Hmm. Like sword & sorcery stories, I don't these too often in our slush. Urban fantasy, sure. But multicultural urban fantasy? Not to so much, I'm afraid. I will say this though. I'm currently reading the back issues to Realms of Fantasy for a multitude of reasons. The issue of multiculturalism in speculative literature isn't a new one, and it doesn't just concern Realms of Fantasy. So as I read these back issues I am making it a point to see how often we run multicultural stories. I'm not keeping a tally or anything, but I'm paying attention, because I am curious. So far I haven't seen any, BUT I've only finished two back issues. I must have more than sixty left still demanding my eyeballs' attention. So I'll be on the lookout for stories of these sorts, because you do raise an interesting point.



There ya go. If your story fits that, send it off. Maybe I'll get to read it.

~

Friday, August 17, 2007

Illusion: On Demand Sci-Fi Channel

Well, other than the editorial roundtable thing, the initial programming doesn't grab me--I mean, Troma? What crap!-- but it's a start:

Illusion On-Demand, the first cable VOD channel dedicated to science fiction & fantasy, is set to launch this October. Offering a wide variety of programming which includes live-action premieres, award-winning films, anime and news, Illusion wants to define the new face of Sci-Fi culture.

Launching with a library of over 300 programming hours, Illusion is confident that Sci-Fi lovers will find a new top destination on their VOD lineup.

Included in Illusion's initial lineup fans will find the acclaimed anime series "Now and Then, Here and There", VOD premieres of several BBC series including "Strange", a monthly selection of camp in the form of the "Troma Creature Feature" and the original roundtable discussion series "Analog: The Science of Fiction" moderated by editors of the renowned Analog: Science Fiction and Fact magazine. Also included in the initial lineup will be award-winning features, shorts, mini-series and the first shows on television dedicated comic book news and interviews.



hat tip to Sci-Fi Storm

THE RESTORER: 1st Printing SOLD OUT!

I am really, really thrilled to report good news from Sharon Hinck's newsletter, which I doubt she'd mind my sharing here:


Sold out!My recent novel, The Restorer, sold out its first print run in less than three months and is going into the next printing. Industry analysts say Christian Fiction continues to be a growth area, as does Fantasy. The Washington Post 7/18/07 wrote: “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.”


I'm looking forward to the second book in the trilogy, and I hope if you haven't given THE RESTORER a try, especially if you like Christian women's fiction--which is a core audience for this type of fantasy--that you'll give it a try.

Why not drop by Sharon's blog and congratulate her. For a CBA fantasy novel to sell out its first printing that fast, well, that's something to celebrate. It cheers me no end. And we know Sharon put a lot of work into promotion and spreading the good work on SF as a genre in Christian publishing. So, good on you, Sister Sharon.

Here, use my portals to order your copy. And, hey, preorder the THE RESTORER'S SON!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Yay and Amen!

Flossie Loses Bite, Spares Big Island
Flossie loses bite, spares Big Island
The Maui News and The Associated Press MAKENA – On the Big Island, residents uncovering after a night under a tropical storm warning said Wednesday that they felt lucky.

Along the south shore of Maui, surfers disappointed at the flat ocean said they felt “skunked.”

Lay it all on a 30-mph high-level wind that sheared the top off Hurricane Flossie on Tuesday night as it passed south of the Big Island, dropping what had been a Category 4 hurricane, with winds blasting up to 140 mph, into a rapidly diminishing tropical storm on a track well south of the island chain.


Now, keep praying for Dean to die. :)

SF Gospel on the Solaris Book of SF

Excellent post by G. McKee over at SF GOSPEL as he reviews some of the stories in THE SOLARIS BOOK OF NEW SCIENCE FICTION.
That's a volume I've put in and deleted from my amazon shopping cart several times. I've wanted to read the godPod story for a while now, and it intrigues me that I'd heard it had many stories dealing with faith/religion. But I figured it would deal with them in a way sure to make me blow steam out of my ears, so I vacillated.

Still, the review makes me want to get a copy. If I hadn't just binged at the Yale Sale thanks to Elliot's link, I might do so now.

Maybe if I wait till next year, I can get it used for five bucks, used. :)

His remarks on "Last Contact," though, well, I may need to shopping cart it yet again.

Anyway, do drop by SF Gospel. It's a terrific site with a very smart postmeister. (Even if I think he's too rough on the megachurches. It's just to easy to diss them, you know. Almost cliche.)

Who Needs Network TV? Not Me!


With USA Channel becoming the fave in my household--what with the continually fun MONK, the superyummy PSYCHE (those two guys have more chemistry than most couples on the silver screen!), and the new and uberfaboo and snazzy BURN NOTICE.


TNT is making some good grades with THE CLOSER and SAVING GRACE (both notable for the female lead characters who are interesting and, importantly, played by actresses who can really, really ACT), and Sci-Fi Channel giving me DOCTOR WHO and EUREKA, well, who needs the old dinosaurs of original Networks?


(However, this past week we saw two shows, one SAVING GRACE, where some angelic being says, basically, you can believe in any God or god or religion or chant or whatever and it's okay, you get to heaven. Yeah. Right. P/C television theology.)


What do I bother watching on Network TV? Not a whole lot.


Barring the Law & Order: Criminal Intent episodes with D'Onofrio (fewer these days) and HOUSE (with my boy Hugh), I don't much visit the old, once-mighty networks. Well, okay, I'll check in with HEROES come the fall, and we do watch AMERICAN IDOL when it's on. But mostly, when hubby comes home from work and it's time for our couples tv viewing time, we click over to the forties (on our Comcast, ie USA and TNT are 45 and 42) or it's in the sixties (TOP CHEF on Bravo and Sci-Fi for DH and EUREKA).


But the Sci-Fi Channel has been sucking eggs of late. Why does someone not put PAINKILLER JANE out of her misery? Please! To give them their props, I say HOORAY for their cancellation of the dreckfest called THE DRESDEN FILES. (Read the novels. Forget the show. Trust me.) And please stop with the giant creature movie of the month. BASILISK alone is a solid reason for executing all your programming executives without mercy. And MINOTAUR. And ____________ (insert giant or mythic critter schlocky movie name here.)


BBC-America has been lackluster lately, too. They used to be one of my must-watch stations, with terrific Brit-mysteries and dramas, but the stuff they've had on lately--Hex, Robin Hood, Hollyoaks, and tiresome repetitions of COUPLING (which were great the first two or three times, yeah, but...)


Bleh. They need to get LIFE ON MARS back very soon so I don't forget they exist, and also some new WIRE IN THE BLOOD programs. Or Colin Firth...in Regency wear. Or Dawn and French spoofing Hex. Something!


Even A&E, which used to be so delightful is, well, easy to ignore now. They desperately need some fresh documentaries and mysteries or something.


So, what channels make you happy lately? Which ones went downhill? Do you even watch TV when dvds and online entertainment is so accessible?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Philip K. Dick in New Yorker


New Yorker article on Philip K. Dick, "Blows Against the Empire" by Adam Gopnik:

Of all American writers, none have got the genre-hack-to-hidden-genius treatment quite so fully as Philip K. Dick, the California-raised and based science-fiction writer who, beginning in the nineteen-fifties, wrote thirty-six speed-fuelled novels, went crazy in the early seventies, and died in 1982, only fifty-three. His reputation has risen through the two parallel operations that genre writers get when they get big. First, he has become a prime inspiration for the movies, becoming for contemporary science-fiction and fantasy movies what Raymond Chandler was for film noir: at least eight feature films, including “Total Recall,” “Minority Report,” “A Scanner Darkly,” and, most memorably, Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner,” have been adapted from Dick’s books, and even more—from Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil” to the “Matrix” series—owe a defining debt to his mixture of mordant comedy and wild metaphysics.


...While he served a fairly long apprenticeship—a series of almost unreadable realist working-class novels that he wrote in the fifties are now back in print—and struggled to make money, from the time “The Man in the High Castle” won a Hugo Award, in 1963, he was famous, admired, and read. He wasn’t reviewed on the front page of the Times Book Review, but so what? Reading his life—either in the reflective French version, by Emmanuel Carrère, or in the thorough and intelligent American one, by Lawrence Sutin—one has a sense not of a man of thwarted ambition but, rather, of a man burning up with ideas and observations who found in a pop form the perfect vehicle for expressing them.

Dick’s allegiance was not to literature but to writing and to the possibilities of writing as a form of protest and instant social satire.


It's several online pages. Check it out.

What Mir Is Listening To: BREATHE
"Songs to Live and Die For"

"You gotta see me, hear me,
I'm slowly waiting for you to drag me in
And start me revolving..."
The duo called Breathe is a new discovery for me. I really, strongly suggest you check out their 2003 cd SONGS TO LIVE AND DIE FOR.

Muy niiiiiice.

Hear some of their stuff at their site. Make sure you try "Empty Vessel," "Cold," and "Love Me." Ah, try them all.


Visions turn from gray to blue
Thought I could taste you, but I was confused
I hear morning, I see light.
I hear morning, I see light.

I hate myself for what I have become--
Empty vessel, little soul.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Mir's Review of GHOST RIDER

~Wish I had Eva Mendes' figure.
~Wish there'd been more of the overweight Goth-y gal who was flat-out hilarious in her two very small scenes.
~Some cool effects on the demons.
~Peter Fonda: totally awful as Mephistopheles.
~Actor who played Blackheart was cute, but they gave him lines that, well, I'm amazed he delivered with a straight face. Plus he looked familiar. (Ah, he was in THE FOUR FEATHERS.)
~A couple of amusing bits (the quirky interview scene at the stadium, for instance.)
~A lot of bad dialogue and predictable action. Did a 13 year old with Cliche Overuse Syndrome write this?
~Sam Elliot still has a voice that makes me think of hot men in the Old West (or, more specifically, hot men in a romance novel of the Old West.)
~Pacing? What pacing.
~Nicholas Cage was way too old for the part, had a terrible hairpiece, seemed to have been impersonating Elvis, must have thought he was in a parody film, and...is beyond weird. (Nice upper body and arms, though.)



Overall: Eh, pretty bad, but not utterly unwatchable due to likable Eva Mendes, cute Wes Bentley, listenable Sam Elliot, and the pure silliness of it all. It's easy to mock, so have an MST 3000 experience.


(You know, reviewing this review, it's pretty clear I'm ovulating. Hm. Happens.)

A "Dean" I'll Never Warm Up To


In the Atlantic, tropical storm Dean is set to become a hurricane. (Of course, if we get big prayer behind it, I'm sure we can get God's hosts to shred that sucker down to one weenie cloud!) (My bloggy pal Carmen also has posted on Dean.)

August is always stressful down here in Miami and other hurricane-target regions. Things heat up. Things blow and churn and get ugly come August. I still have flashbacks of the traumatic sort to the years when it seemed we were perpetually on Hurricane Watch or Warning. Urp.

My back room still leaks from Wilma.

So, as the season gets into its whirlywindy way, please remember all the islands and states and nations at risk. I do not believe prayer is worthless. So, DIE, DEAN, DIE!!!! And all your skanky storm brethren and sisthren with thee!

Um...yeah.

Hurricane Flossie:
Pray for Safety of Hawaii

Hurricane Flossie, while not expected to directly hit the island of Hawaii, is gonna sideswipe it. That's the current and best scenario--that it'll weaken and not hit directly. But you never know with these crazy things. (See pic left, with the small island on top left and the big storm to the right. Shudder.)

It's Category 3 right now, and that's scary enough! (We lost parts of our house in a Category 1 to low 2 hurricane a couple years back, and it was a very frightening day, that, with howling winds and pieces tearing off. We also rode out another category one a year before that. And we heard Andrew's howling for hours back in '92. I hate hurricanes!)

Pray for the 160,000 folks on the island, who I hope will be safe and with their homes intact when this is past.

Also, pray for a calm hurricane season in all oceans, especially ours, Atlantic and Pacific. Amen!

Monday, August 13, 2007

"One Afternoon, Missing" at DKA

David Misialowski's story "One Afternoon, Missing" is up at DKA. He previously published "Dust" with us (one of my fave in the last year at DKA.)

Here's the opening:

I want a new life."

"What is wrong with the life that you have, if you don't mind my asking?"

"I want to live in a world in which Christianity does not exist."

"I beg your pardon?"

He repeated his desire, and then briskly rubbed together his cold, blue hands, as if to warm them.

I looked around his Park Avenue office suite, and at the skyscrapers outside his window. He had framed photos of beautiful women on his desk and walls. These images were strangely disturbing, suggesting trophies in display cases or butterflies on pins.

Earlier, this self-made millionaire had made plain his core philosophy: money can buy anything.

I pondered his outrageous request, awaiting the snap verdict of my gut. But the jury down there was, for some reason, out.

"I know you can find that world for me," he said. "After all, you are the best in the business. You are"—he offered a lopsided grin—"The Finder."

Residential Aliens Issue #2



Check it out: RESIDENTIAL ALIENS

(Nice cover art by Sarah Perry, too. She also made a terrific cover for issue #1. Make sure to click at the RA site to see it enlarged.)

Got A New Listmania List up at Amazon

Cool Comics for Those Who Stopped Reading Them

Christian Fantasy Artists Addendum


After posting my post below about Christian SF art and artists I support--and hope you will, too--I happened upon Sci-Fi Catholic's post on Natalie Ewert.

Coincidentally, I own an ACEO of original fairy art by Natalie (CreatorNat on eBay). See it at left.

So, yes. There you go. Another artist you may enjoy.

Be sure to check out the angel/saints gallery and the Wonderland gallery--the Queen of Hearts is TERRIFIC. If you're a cat lover, check out the fantastical and whimsical cat art. And, naturally, don't miss the fantasy gallery at Ewert's site. Very cool stuff.

If you wanna plug a Christian SF artist, by all means, leave a comment and their website addy.

~

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Quote for the Day: Science Fiction & Faith

Does science fiction have a tendency to make a Christian question his faith? I should hope so. If the Bible can be driven out of your head by Flash Gordon comics, it is only a faith built on sand, a faith that is not faith at all, but merely mental inertia, that cannot stand a little light rain.

Science fiction, even the worst most hackneyed space opera, has the effect of making you lift your eyes up from the newspaper headlines of your day-to-day life and looking at the horizon and realizing things might be different. Your children will not live their lives as your grandfathers lived theirs.

...I have nothing against questioning one's faith, if by this we mean thinking seriously and deeply about the issue. I am a convert: and I did not convert for light or frivolous reasons, but only after years of studying and pondering (and, frankly, a miracle). A man in my position theoretically has less to fear than a man born and raised in the faith, because I already know all the questions a skeptic might ask--I used to ask those very questions.


--John C. Wright, "The Role of Science Fiction in Questioning Faith"

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Hey, Order Prints of My Painting or Get Your Own Art Created for Christmas


(I've had this sitting in my post file since late July, so I thought I'd best post it now since we've had lots of chatter here and there about "art".)

Regulars of Mirathon know I commissioned original artwork from the oh-so-so talented Sara Butcher as a Christmas gift (from hubby to me) last year. It's called "Warrior's Guardian" and it has a huge angel watching over a dragon and a knight. (Yes, the elements from the ezine where I've edited since early 2006, DKA.)

I had her professionally matted and framed (the frame is gilt and has a pattern almost identical to the pattern on the angel's bodice), and she hangs here, in my office, watching over me as I write my fantasies. And she's beeeeyooooootiful. She makes me happy.

If you want to order prints, they are $10 (5x7), $15 (8.5x11), and $25 (11x17) for archival quality art prints (will last at least fifty years in their true color beauty). It's got a trinitarian motif. See for yourself: look at the flowers, the light circles, the elements, etc. Support a Christian speculative artist. Buy the prints!


A pal of mine, and FBI agent and totally gorgeous babe, saw mine and got one of her own commissioned. It's terrific (and suited to her profession). "Angelic Presence." This angel kicks evil hiney! And looks quite fetching while doing it, too.

And if you want to give your loved one a truly exquisite and unique Christmas gift (and have about 300 to 400 to splurge), why not commission original art? Sara even does portraits (you send a pic). A friend of mine (after seeing mine and my FBI pal's beauties) recommended Sara to a co-worker who'd lost her sister. The resulting painting (a tributed to the deceased) was a gem. The painting made the sister look luminous, vibrant, beautiful, magical, and the expression was so wise and warm. I was in tears.

She does children's portraits, too, for those who want to commemorate your kids as angels or magical beings of fantastical sorts.

(The gift that becomes an heirloom. Think about it.

I have no kids, so I gotta figure out who gets my paintings in my will. I have several original fantasy art pieces, from the large to the ACEO sized.)

And she does business cards. Looky mine at right:

Not inexpensive, but great for super-special occasions when you want something truly different and high-quality.


I'm big on supporting Christians in the arts. Oh, right, you know that. The image left is of my original watercolor called "Dream of Fairies", by Carmen Keys, a painting I purchased because the expression in the eyes reminded me strongly of my mom, who adored flowers and was a gardening enthusiast. You should see it in the gorgeous framing/matting I had done on it. Ravishing. (Not cheap! Ouch!)

Yes, I'm super-big on supporting CHRISTIAN FANTASISTS in the arts. I hope you'll join me, if your budget allows after you've given to the worthy causes we all should support globally and at special times (Christmas gifts through World Vision or Samaritan's Purse or Habitat for Humanity or etc.) The extra cash that is for pure beauty, that feeds light into the soul via color and composition, well, I recommend collecting art.

And I've recently commissioned art from Hanna Sandvig. Something inspired by my WIP. So, the budget keeps getting strained for art's sake. Hanna may still be taking commissions for some affordable art to your order. (If you like cheerful, anime-influenced, girl-spirited art, you might wanna go see Hanna's portfolio. The link's at her blog.)
Her "Meow" is below:



She's got some wonderful, playful stuff with more details, and some charming stuff with kids and critters, so please check her galleries.

Ooooh, RED!

Hug an artist this weekend. Or buy their stuff and keep them in watercolors and monitors and archival quality paper.

Friday, August 10, 2007

SUBSCRIPTION DRIVE:
Support Short SF Fiction!

Yes, this is a shameless appeal for you to open your wallet, check the sofa cushions for change, or break that piggy bank. Don't leave. Be not afraid.

~Read on:


The short story is my favorite form of fiction to read. Period. It has been since I was a kid.

Yes, I enjoy novels. Yes, I'm writing one. But there is something so absolutely perfect about a well-shaped, imaginative story that one can read in less than an hour, sometimes less than half an hour, sometimes a handful of minutes. One brief, potent experience that takes little time but leaves a strong mental and emotional impression. Resonating in your head. Short fiction can be poetic or stylistically daring without wearing on one, the way a strongly stylistic novel can grow tiresome.

A short story can sustain one perfect note--one tone, one theme, one voice--and leave an echo for weeks.

And a collection or anthology has the wonderful benefit that a smorgasbord does. If you don't like one, just go to the next. Unlike a novel, where if you end up hating the voice or the character, you put it down and it's gone. Nothing else on the menu. Nothing to do but go on to another novel.

There are multitudes of beauties in the short story. (Read Doris Betts and see if you don't feel more alive and human and somehow expanded in your inner regions after reading something by her. Or Katherine Mansfield. Or Gene Wolfe.)

A small investment of time. A huge possibility for pleasure and, maybe, change.

I think short story writers have it tougher than novelists, too.

In a novel, you can pad it, have scenes that are kinda dull, but the overall effect can be enjoyable and excellent. In a short story, every word and sentence really counts. A novelist can build a great story from one germ of a good idea/premise, and said idea/premise can keep them busy for a year or more. A short story writer must come up with new characters and premises all the time, some dozens of them a year. It's a demanding form. Flaws are more easily seen because of the brevity.

And a writer is hard-pressed to make a good living from just short stories (although, granted, there are exceptions). Many must go to novel form to attempt to make a pro living at it.

Still, short fiction is the form that introduced me to some of the best of SF, and where some SF greats have shone their brightest: Harlan Ellison. Theodore Sturgeon. Connie Willis. James Tiptree, Jr. Robert Sheckley. Ray Bradbury. R.A. Lafferty. Cordwainer Smith. Kelly Link. Jorge Luis Borges.

Short fiction has also been a great springboard for many terrific novelists. Orson Scott Card's classic novel was first a short story called "Ender's Game." MORE THAN HUMAN started as a shorter work of fiction. So did A CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ. So did BLOOD MUSIC.

And most of the novelists I went on to read in SF, I first encountered in short story form in some anthology or in one of the SF magazines I could pick up at the bookstore or newsstand. It's a medium that nurtures talent, discovers it even, and makes the readers say, "Hey, I like this. Wonder if they have any books?"


Well, the short story in SF is in trouble, say many, including the SlushMaster of REALMS OF FANTASY who blogs over at Monstrous Musings. Here is a lengthy excerpt from the blog entry calling for a SUBSCRIPTION DRIVE:



I got to thinking just how depressing the numbers for the short story market have become. It's been on a steady decline for some years, and it's only growing worse. Going by these numbers Realms of Fantasy took a nasty hit, and we're in better shape than most. I'm hopeful our upgraded website will draw more subscriptions when summary for 2006 comes out. That remains to be seen.

Either way, the short story market is dying. We always talk about it, but very few people seem to do anything about it. So it got me to thinking about what I could do. I'm a novel boy at heart, but since coming to Realms of Fantasy I've grown to love the short fiction market. I want to see it go on. But if we keep going as we are, if people keep treating this market like America treats oil, it will dry up. Permanently. Yes, there are online venues and I'm all for them. Anything that promotes the genre is great. But at the moment these venues are fighting to create viable business models. Their ultimate success remains to be seen.

So again. What could I do? Well, it occurred to me how in recent years there have been subscription drives for Talebones and also The Apex Science Fiction & Horror Digest. I think there was also a drive of sorts to save Ralan.com. All three of these drives were successful. Mostly word spread the blogosphere. And people did something.

So I thought to myself, "Hey, what if we did a general subscription drive, to boost the magazines for general purposes? Every subscriber counts." The difference here is that I'm not talking about any specific magazine in danger of dying. There is no immediate urgency. Nothing right now. But like with oil, one day we'll wake up and the magazines could very well be gone. We need to do something now, before that happens.

So I'm asking people to do two things. First, spread this post throughout the blogosphere. Get the message out. Second, if you haven't subscribed to a magazine recently, unless you don't have the $$$ pick one and subscribe! At least one. Saying you don't have the time to read the magazine is a lame excuse. How many of us have books we bought years ago that we haven't read? I do. Add a few magazines to the pile. What's the harm? And if you just read novels, try short stories. Why have you only been reading novels, especially if you want to be a writer? Do you honestly think there is nothing to be learned from reading shorter works? And don't tell me you've tried all the magazines. New ones are always starting. And when a new editor takes over the helm, in many ways that magazine becomes new. (You can't very well tell me you've tried the new Weird Tales. Ann Vandermeer has been the editor a couple of months, sure, but the magazine has an inventory to get through. Her selections haven't been published yet, but they soon will be). Or you can ask for suggestions. I'll answer them. So will other people reading this post, here or elsewhere. The speculative community is cool like that.

Excuses are nothing but that. So pick a magazine. Again, it doesn't have to be Realms of Fantasy (although it can be). Make it Fantasy Magazine, or The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, or Weird Tales. Get your fantasy someplace else. I don't care. Just get it. Or get some science fiction from Asimov's or Analog. Or if you think online mags are the next wave, then go to Baen's Universe or Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show. Or maybe there is smaller magazine you're been kind of curious about. Subscribe. Help them take the next step in their publishing timetable, or help keep them alive. And if you're not sure which magazine to subscribe to, another option is to go to Ralan.com and see which one looks interesting.

Don't be that schmuck who litters because you figure someone else will clean up your mess. Everyone who reads this genre and isn't subscribing is making that mess, causing this market to wither and die. And don't tell me why this won't help. Just spread the word and subscribe. Now. If you don't, that's why this won't help. Because every subscription does help. Negativity and the word "but" are not welcome here.




I subscribed this past January to FANTASY. I also subscribe to MYTHIC DELERIUM. Some of my subs have lapsed (AOIFE'S KISS, DREAMS & NIGHTMARES). I prefer to buy my REALMS OF FANTASY because large magazines tend to get all deformed in my wee mailbox--torn and crunched up and just plain mangled, sometimes. I don't have this problem with JIM BAEN'S UNIVERSE, because the magazine is all online. (I renewed for a second year). Orson Scott Card's INTERGALACTIC MEDICINE SHOW is also an online read.

I edit at three online mags: two SF (mostly Christian SF) and one horror. I've scaled back how much I do lately due to busyness, but I still believe it's important to support artists of short fiction and poetry. I know what it's like to have a shrinking budget, cutbacks in what we offer. And we're a FTLOI publisher (ie, DEP). The majority of the monies to publish DKA, TSR, Fear and Trembling, etc, come from the staff. Like I said, for the LOVE of it.

Many FTLOI mags have closed the door. Darker Matter did so recently.

But pro magazines are the places where writers get a chance to qualify for membership in the SFWA. Pro magazines tend to be where the nominees for Hugos and WFAs and Nebulas come from. Pro magazines are able to offer some decent sort of pay for the creative labors of the best in the field(s).

You care about SF?

Then support the laborers.

So, I'm joining the SlushMaster in calling for a subscription drive.

Go now and sub to an SF mag. And I'd add this: Donate to one of the online mags who let you read their stuff for free, too. I'm sure that Strange Horizons, Ideomancer, Abyss & Apex, and MindFlights would love to have your spare change.

(Note: Strange Horizons is in in a fundraising drive, and donations are tax-deductible. Also, depending how much your give, you might qualify for some goodies, such as their artsy membership card. See pic right.)

And when you support some of these mags, you also support the artists whose work goes on the cover and sometimes in the interior of the publications. That's good, too!

And if you don't like SF, then go support a magazine that gives you the short fiction in the genre(s) you do like. Basically, just don't let the short story form fade away and die. Keep it breathing and dreaming!

So, you in on the drive? What are YOU going to subscribe to?

(Please REPORT your subscription here, so that they can see if the subscription drive is making headway in the blogosphere.

Guest Blogger for Spec Faith Friday



I think I've only had one guest blogger in all the time (a year and change) I've been posting weekly over at Speculative Faith. But, my energy level, a touch of burn-out, and my need to focus on writing right now, have led me to seek out nice peops to fill my Friday slot.

Today, Marcus Goodyear has the Friday seat with "Finding Faith in Secular Sci-Fi," his examination of the excellent and Hugo-awarded novel SPIN.

Jim Black will have some posts coming up, and Marcus may have some more as the weeks pass. If you would like a shot at a guest blog spot at Speculative Faith (read the articles, see if you have something that fits the "Christians Exploring Speculative Literature" tag), let me know. Email me at my AOL addy which is Mirathon at youknowwhere dotsy com. Make sure you put something in the header that's clear (so I don't delete you as spam), such as "I'd like to guestblog at Spec Faith" or somesuch.

I am especially keen on getting some of you Christian gals enthusiastic about fantasy and science fiction (and horror, if it's speculative) to volunteer. We used to have a female majority of bloggers when we started (only Stuart waved the flag for you he-types.) Now, it's reversed. We don't want to leave Becky alone over there for the XX team, do we?

Enjoy

Thursday, August 09, 2007

The Eternal Q: What The Heck Is Art?

Okay, so maybe that's not the eternal question--what is?--but it's one I've never seen a totally satisfying answer to, and maybe there isn't one. :::big shrug:::

Since I don't have time to come up with a spanking, new blog entry today, I'll repost a long-winded comment I just made to Becky's blog, where she's up to part 3 in her series on The Place of Art in Fiction:

You’re not gonna define art. Finer minds than I have tried and not really succeeded. To some degree, it’s what people who have studied art, steeped themselves in art, and understand what goes into art in terms of society and era and innovation and power and discovery and significance–what those people agree is art…is art…if history agrees. It takes time to see if a work really was just faddish or had influence and continues to exert power.

It’s sort of like fiction. Anyone can pick up a novel and enjoy it if they have the faculty within themselves to enjoy reading stories. (Which most of us have to some degree, but some don’t.) But not everyone can tell if writing is really skilled and highly effective beyond, “I liked that.” Not everyone understands how hard it is to get particular effects or craft sentences just so or have a character spring to real life. Not everyone gets how hard it is to tell a new tale. Some people like reading the same story, eseentially, over and over to get an effect, without a care for if the prose is superb and the characters multi-dimensional.

One can like bad stuff. Evidence: Junk food. Evidence: The music of Britney Spears. Evidence: An assortment of dreadful television programs.

But not everyone can appreciate a complex piece of music that asks the listener to do more than just tap their toes. That requires a listener, perhaps, to understand the thread of music history that led to this moment, building block upon building block, so that the music has true weight, so that they can sense the underpinnings and the homages and etc. Not everyone can appreciate a poem like THE WASTELAND. Not everyone can fully appreciate Shakespeare. Or Dante. Or…

So, universal appeal doesn’t necessarily make it art, as you well know. (again, think BAYWATCH’s popularity globally in its day), although a lot of art has so much beauty and power–because some artists specifically aim for the sensory pleasure– that even ordinary folks can walk by and stop and go, “Wow.”

My dad, an utterly unschooled man who probably never stepped a foot in a museum until I asked him to take me (and he was pushing 70), didn’t care a bit for Picasso’s surrealistic period or Willem de Koenig’s abstract women. But he sat down and stared and stared and stared and stared at that huge painting that has Washington crossing the river, that iconic painting. He found that stirring and powerful and riveting. And he couldn’t stop looking. That connected with my “hillbilly” pop. It had a narrative element and it had personality (in the historical figures) and it had a context important to, say, an immigrant who had to learn that Washington was the first president for his naturalization exam. So, the components were there.

But something else would have to happen for my dad to appreciate, say, The Starry Night or a Lichtenstein or, some of my faves, Joan Miro or Klee or Chagall. I couldn’t explain it to him. He’d have to get there himself.

But I think there IS something to the idea that it’s the masters of the field who get to judge something “art”, not the general public, and that time and the perspective time gives confirms or defies those choices.

This is not elitist. (Okay, strictly speaking, it IS elitist, but not in the negative way that word tends to be used, any more than saying only qualified and licensed and specially-trained persons should perform brain surgery is elitist. Some things need an elite to make judgments.) This is understanding that all creative endeavors spring from a matrix. There is a historical line that leads to painting today, fiction today, non-fiction today, poetry today, sculpture today. And part of understanding when something is groundbreaking or special is to understand what came before and to understand the components, not just the effect. The structure, not just the pretty visual of it. An architect can build a house just like a zillion other houses, or he can create something that has never been seen before and that changes our view of what a building could be. And that is making art out of craft. A painter can put something on a canvas that alters the way painters look at their work, that makes a new context. Hemingway helped to change the way we look at writing novels, and that made him great, even if we don’t connect with his characters or care about his plots. He was a stylistic force and his books are still read. (I don’t much like his novels, but I appreciate the art in his stories and his crafting of prose.)

I would say that a smaller circle judges what art is, and eventually it may spread and cause changes in society in terms of what comes after, and the general public doesn’t realize it except in hindsight, how X and Y and Z artists changed how A and B and C art forms evolve and are perceived.

And some, more egalitarian, say that art is whatever the artist says it is, and of course, anyone can call themselves an artist. But I’m not convinced this is so.

I am also sure that what I’m writing is not art. I’m just trying to get to decent craft at this point. If I can write something worthy of being called a true work of ART before I die, well….bury me happy. That means it will have affected others and, maybe, last after I’m gone to be with Artist #1.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Filling the Void

Okay, so clearly, that's one reason I write (maybe you).

I took an "art break" just now. Since the subject of a "vertical stripe" painting came up at Becky's blog (in the comments, see link below), I googled Barnett Newman and let myself browse images of his "zip" works. (The stripey ones you may recognize.)

I came across this quote, when asked the most difficult thing about painting:

"You are there all alone with that empty space."


That's me and the white page on a Word document. Me, alone in the room, either with music or in what silence an urban environment allows (not much). And I want to fill it with something worthy. And really, it never comes out as great as I have it in my head, which makes me nuts more days than I'd wish to recount.

But there it is. The empty space that needs to be filled, and how lonely it can be some days when that's exactly what you're trying to do, by yourself. In solitude. You and the empty page or the empty canvas or the big, empty, block of marble. It doesn't much matter the medium. It's still the void that you gotta fill and shape.

The creative impulse that just won't leave you alone.

Imago Dei, huh?

Let me offer you a pathetically small reproduction of one of the empty spaces Mr. Newman once filled with his unique, originally-ridiculed, now lauded vision--in this case, the 12th Station of the Cross:



I think there is something touchingly and theologically appropriate that his signature is on it, there, lower right. We all need to put our names on Christ's finished work for us. Yeah, I like that.

Okay, HEAVEN FALLS HARD is playing, and it's time to get back to work making the empty space come to life.
~

"The Place of Art in Fiction" Series Begins

Becky Miller has begun an intriguing series over at A Christian Worldview of Fiction blog.

I've already chimed in. It's something I'm pretty passionate about, not least of which because I covet artistry, and I'm not yet there. But I do want it...bad.

Go and join the discussion.

Here are snippets of my comments:

Responding to the issue fo style:
"Art depends on style. If the writing is generic, could be anyone’s, then it’s not art. It’s storytelling, and it may have solid craft, but it’s not art.

To be art, it must be distinctive, and that comes back to the voice and the style. We know it’s THIS artist or THAT artist, we can differentiate, because they are special in how they compose and express and what things they add and what they leave out.

Parody can be done because there is a style, and that’s why great art can usually be parodied. Something stands out as different, as “the style of the artist.”


Responding to the commenter's question about a blue line on a vertical canvas--is it art?:
Ah, but what an ordinary person can do with a blue line on a canvas is different than what an artist, a real artist, can do with a line of blue on a canvas.

As a child, I used to think Mark Rothko was crap. I’d see his stuff in books and in the museums in NYC, and I didn’t “get it.”

I grew older and one day I got it. I just saw that there was a particularly transcendent sense I got looking at particular Rothkos, noticed the details that my childish eyes missed. And I got it.

Same deal with abstract expressionism. I didn’t get it as a kid. I got it as an adult.

Some things, like some books, you have to grow up to get. Some things you will never get, but that doesn’t mean it’s not great. It means that you or I don’t hae the particular faculties developed to “get” the work. It’s like the Bible. The older I get and the more I read, the more complex and layered and deep and amazing it becomes. Things that I never noticed at 15 or 25 come at me now, because I have the lifetime of exposure that yields benefits.

Well, for those who have a lifetime of examining art, of learning about art, things open to them that don’t open to the rest of us...

Beth G. Interviews Stephen Lawhead

A nifty interview for you. Lovely Beth Goddard offers up a Q&A with author Stephen Lawhead at Residential Aliens:

BG: And that publisher, WestBow, brought you back to the Christian market with Hood. Can you share why your novels have typically published through the general market?

SRL: Well, I’m proud that they have been accepted in the general market! And I think the fact that they have been accepted there – all with very strong Christian messages – means that a well-written book will find an audience. As a writer, I think of myself as a missionary -- so of course I want to be a presence where I can do the most good.

BG: Then as a missionary what would you say is the Christian message in Hood?

SRL: As part of my missionary zeal, I have always tried to present the Gospel in a winsome way – perhaps not an easy option, but true and ultimately worth striving for. For those without faith, I hope that they will read my books and be confronted with the power of real goodness in the face of evil. As a matter of fact, I have had many letters from people who say that some ‘small’ thing in my books was the beginning of their journey to faith.

For Christians, who already believe and trust in God, Hood – and the other books in the series – may serve as a cautionary tale. In it we see Norman invaders who are deeply religious, and who would freely admit that they rule as God’s servants on earth. Yet their faith has become so institutionalized, politicized, and compromised that they think nothing of burning a village and killing innocent people, but would never dream of missing morning prayers.

Set against this practice of Christianity is our band of merry men – who definitely ‘get it’ when it comes to the Gospel message especially as it relates to justice, but who don’t display many of the outward niceties. All of this is seen in my Friar Tuck who is, in my mind, a sort of ‘sin boldly and trust God’ character. He’s absolutely committed to Christ, absolutely unsettling to the establishment of the day, and absolutely incorrigible by any standard.

I would hope that this story, and the characters in the story, could entertain first and foremost. But I also expect that the thoughtful reader will be challenged to consider his or her own posture before God as he or she reads.

The Latest News in CSF: In Spec

Read the latest issue here.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Very Nifty SF-ey Blog Header

Take a look at Merrie's header over at Alien Dream blog. Reminds me of old SF mag art. Niiiiice.

The Ethical Issue in "Deathly Hallows"

D.G.D. has a very good blog post on the subject. If you've read the last Harry Potter novel, go by and read it. If you haven't, be warned, there is a major spoiler.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Got Tagged, but I Ain't Answering FORTY-SEVEN QUESTIONS! About Half will Do

Because I just gotta do it my way, I'm picking some questions of the 47 I prefer to answer. And I'll try to answer it in the Mir-Way, ie, not the usual way.

Voice is queen, baby!

1. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE?
My mom, only she dropped the "h" in Mirtha (her name) to make mine Mirta. I thank her for it, even if I had to put up with years of folks unable to say my name right, which really irks me, ya know?

3. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING

Let's see. Do I like this thing that looks like a prehistoric bit of rune-making which not even I can decipher after a few hours of time have passed? Um...no. I fear it. I fear the power of my script, which is clearly of the devil. Nothing of God's would look like THAT! This explains my love of keyboarding. The devil cannot control my fingers here. hahahahaha. Take that, Lucifer!"

Penmanship was the only class in which I got a B in second grade. Otherwise, I was a straight-A Catholic schoolgirl.

4. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCH MEAT?

Boar's Head low-sodium ham, thin-sliced. Then that mortadella from Laurenzo's Italian Market, the one without the pistachios. Then super lean pastrami.


6. IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU?

Only if I could find a way to get me to open the door or answer the phone, which, barring the FBI or CIA adding their concerted efforts to the task, is not likely to happen, cause I'm pretty reclusive in real life and avoid people with all those germs that make me sick half the year if they get too near me. (I learned the hard way, after years of spending five to six months of the year incapacitated by infections.)

Unless you're sanitized from head to foot or are an alien without icky viruses and bacteria, you'll have a hard time getting near enough to befriend me. Unless you email.

7. DO YOU USE SARCASM A LOT?

No, never. Brilliant question, that.

15. RED OR PINK?

Take a close look at this blog. I think it speaks for itself.

16. WHAT IS THE LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF?

My lousy health is just ahead of my desire to be an Angel of Vengeance and wreak bloody havoc. It's not a lovely thing, this desire of mine to pretty much wipe out a good portion of humanity. But this happens when I read the news--and so little of soothes the spirit. Which, maybe, os something I should stop doing for my soul's good.

18. DO YOU WANT EVERYONE TO LINK THIS BACK TO YOU?

I want every sentient being in the universe to link back to me. And then I want them to link back to me A SECOND TIME, just to make sure.

19. WHAT COLOR PANTS (Or Kilt) AND SHOES ARE YOU WEARING?

Black. And my husband would point out that I own about 5 dozen pairs of assorted black slacks/leggings/jeans/pants/bicycle shorts. I am not wearing shoes, because I am home. Were I not home, they'd be black, to go with the slacks. Or maybe red, as I own several pairs of red pumps and flats and the combination of black and red is one of my eternal favorites in fashion, which caused me to get the nickname "Red" in 9th grade. (See question #15 above and see my South Park online avatar top-left, where I have the hair color I should have been born with. Ahem.)

21. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW?

The amazingly gorgeous, dreamy, haunting downtempo/electronica tune by SiA called "Breathe Me" from the album LADY CROISSANT. (If you watched THE FALLEN this past weekend, you heard a part of this song.) I have it on repeat.

"Enfold me
I am small and needy.
Warm me up and breathe me."


But I've got "Charlotte Sometimes" by THE CURE cued up. I love that tune based on a fantasy novel, no less. And Robert Smith has black hair, which is the best color hair, after all.

23. FAVORITE SMELLS?

My husband's thighs, the sea, gardenia blossoms on a night breeze, citrus, Vitabath Shower gel, cinnamon rolls baking.


25. DO YOU LIKE THE PERSON WHO LINKED THIS TO YOU?

I do, indeed. A lot.

26. FAVORITE SPORTS TO WATCH?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAAHAHAHAH
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH
AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!
(Sports. Ptui!)

27. HAIR COLOR?

My hair should be jet black. My real hair, the hair my soul demands, is jet black. God gave me dark, dark brown (now with bits of grey). I used to dye it jet black. Then soft black. Now, middle-aged, black doesn't suit me. Too harsh. I dye it a mix of darkest brown with mahogany (red overtone). It should be BLACK AS THE BLACKEST NIGHT. (sob, sob). Had they had lots of Goth style going around in the 70's in my high school, I would have dyed it black sooner than my late twenties.

31. SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDINGS?

Scary movies with happy endings.

33. WHAT COLOR SHIRT ARE YOU WEARING?
Black and white kimono style top.

39. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING NOW?

THE SOUL OF RUMI and HOW TO WRITE A DAMN GOOD NOVEL.

42. FAVORITE SOUNDS?

My husband laughing. My husband breathing softly when he sleeps. And all sorts of music, but especially cello music or haunting acoustic guitar. And the wind in the palm trees.

43. ROLLING STONES OR BEATLES?

Puhlease. LED ZEPPELIN!

45. DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT?

I can write a limerick at the drop of a hat. Whether that's special or not, well, you decide.


There once was a chica named Mir
Who lived with a germophobe's fear
of sneezing and hacking
and lung tissue cracking,
So Mir says don't dare come too near.


I just did that in 10 seconds. Likey?

46. WHERE WERE YOU BORN?

Bayamo, Cuba, the old province of Oriente. Which makes me "Oriental" by our country's reckoning. :) Interestingly, I'm the only one of my siblings born there, because I was a cesarean birth. The others were born in the hometown in the mountains of Eastern Cuba. I had to go and be different.


Becky Miller tagged me. She will pay. Heh. The full list of questions are on her blog (see preceding link.)

If you wanna play along, see all 47 questions at Becky's blog and then cherry-pick the ones you wanna answer--one or three or a dozen or ALL. And let me know if you were cool, funny, weird, funky, sassy, or insane. I like when people answer questions in unexpected ways. I'd especially like to see what Rebecca Grabill, Josh Vogt, Suz Robertson, Mike Duran, Heather G, and that lunatic Chris Mikesell come up with. But I invite all my bloggy pals to play along.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

THE FALLEN: You know, Not Bad!

I missed THE FALLEN (the first part) when it aired in 2006. But Nephilim show up in my WIP--Hey, I didn't plan it. They just snuck in there!--so I wanted to see how it was handled in these novels-made-tv-flicks.

There are three parts: The Beginning, The Journey, The Destiny. Parts one and two were highly intriguing. There's plenty of conflict. A bit of teen romance. Family values. Foes and allies. The sorts of things one expects in a fantasy that has a mix of coming-of-age and of fugitive story. And a bit of a quest in the Messiah/Chosen One/Destiny plot.

THE FALLEN refers to, yes, fallen angels. The Nephilim are depicted as angel-human hybrids, with the powers of angels but the souls of humans. Some of the regular angels are all angtsy, wondering why Heaven is silent.

You will notice things that harken to Paradise Lost (intentional on the author's part), and to THE PROPHECY (the one with Christopher Walken as a whack Gabriel and Viggo Mortensen as a terrific sexy-creepy Lucifer.) There's also a bit of an echo to the STAR WARS saga (but I won't mention which, or I'll give away plot points.)

The trilogy follows the awakening of a Nephilim youth's power (he turns 18, which is not just legal age of maturity, but it seems that even angelic destinies follow human laws in this regard). Aaron, an orphan who is part of a loving family (mom, dad, autistic little brother), starts getting strange powers. And, looky there, WINGS. He finds out that being a Nephilim is not a happy thing. There is an angelic organization called The Powers (I keep wanting to add "That Be", snarf) and they hunt down and slaughter fallen angels and Nephilim alike.

So, most Nephilim just don't live much beyond their 18th birthday. Maybe, oh, a couple days before....SLAM! Angelfire makes you go bye-bye.

Aaron, however, is no usual Nephilim. He's a prophesied REDEEMER, and we follow him as he gains more of his power, is pursued by The Powers, assisted by some fallen angels and one former Powers leader, and is aided by a slutty, narcissistic, and very sexy fallen angel named Azazel, who clearly cannot be trusted. And who reminded me and hubby both of Spike from Joss Whedon's Buffy and Angel shows. (And I loved me Spikey! So, yeah, Azazel had the most personality of anyone in this miniseries and the coolest accent and hair. Camael had the best voice.)

I found it very watchable and interesting. I will say that the build-up was way more entertaining than the showdown, which I found not very compelling. And even my husband was making some rather mocking remarks about the climax.

And I really wish that angels could do battle in a less than usual martial arts and swordplay manner. I'm a bit jaded on regular sorts of fights, sorry. And after so many really creative films like Hero and CT,HD and others, a fight has to be something really spectacular not to make me yawn. They dropped the ball on the ho-hum angel smackdowns, not to mention the "is that all?" big clash of Aaron against...well, I'll let you watch and see. Or read and see.

Oh, and the dog was a waste. I mean, you have this dog around for the WHOLE, DANG TRILOGY and he does not a whole lot more than make quips now and then. It got mighty annoying. I was hoping someone would just steal the dog or it would morph into a demon-chomping pooch or a dragon or actually be Lucifer in doggy-drag. Anything that would justify having it around, really. Ridiculous lack of use of a continuously present character, frankly.

Still, it was a fun, fantasy offering from ABC FAMILY for most of the six hours total. Could have used a much better actress for Vilma--the actress just had zip charisma and, while pretty, didn't do much by way of actually making me feel her character. She was decorative and not much more. Pity, cause the young guy who played Aaron did a good job, as well as the amazingly-voiced actor who played Camael, the "traitor" Powers angel.

If you like "apocalyptic" kinds of fantasies, or angel fantasies, or demon fanasies, this is not a bad entry. Not perfect, but it did keep me watching to the so-so end. That says something, I guess.

The Lambs Are Roaring Again...



From a Washington Post article titled "Evangelicals Start Push in the Arts", the following:
There are no crosses in Makoto Fujimura's paintings. No images of Jesus gazing into the distance, or serene scenes of churches in a snow-cloaked wood.

Fujimura's abstract works speak to his evangelical Christian faith. But to find it takes some digging.

"I am a Christian," says Fujimura, 46, who founded the nonprofit International Arts Movement to help bridge the gap between the religious and art communities. "I am also an artist and creative, and what I do is driven by my faith experience.

"But I am also a human being living in the 21st century, struggling with a lot of brokenness _ my own, as well as the world's. I don't want to use the term 'Christian' to shield me away from the suffering or evil that I see, or to escape in some nice ghetto where everyone thinks the same."

By making a name for himself in the secular art world, Fujimura has become a role model for creatively wired evangelicals. They believe that their churches have forsaken the visual arts for too long _ and that a renaissance has begun.
(hat tip to Mick Silva)

I'll have to take issue with the "no crosses" comment by article author Eric Gorski. See the image there? It's called "Sacrifical Grace" by Fujimura, and its composition relies on overlapping crosses. See the larger image HERE. It was the cover of IMAGE Journal issue #22, which has a very cool Romulus Linney short story called "The Saint and the Magician."

I'll be posting in future (as I have in the past) to urge you all, all of you who value literature and the visual arts, to continue or start actively supporting art from those of the Body, those with talent and who labor to raise the level of artistic merit in what they offer to God and man.

In the meantime, you can subscribe (as I do) to journals (which always have tight budgets) such as IMAGE Journal or donate to organizations such as ACT ONE, which trains Christians of all denominations for careers in film and television. Or support an artist by buying some of their work (I've got a post saved since last week to post on this.) BTW, if you're not familiar with the spiritual in the visual arts, IMAGE Journal always features some artist (sometimes more than one), including photos of representative works. It's not just excellent poetry and short fiction and non-fiction, it's also about painters and sculptors. It's worth investing in this publication. And they sponsor the Glen Workshop, which is in session right now as I type this. I've longed to go to one since I first found out about them years ago.

And there's also Mars Hill Audio, which often has guests from the music and art world, as well as literary types and philosophers. A wonderful compilation worth subscribing to with the goal of equipping Christians to thoughtfully engage the culture.

I'd also like to recommend BOOKS AND CULTURE, a Christian review. I subscribed a while back, but I was allergic to the paper they used and had to cancel. (It used to be sort of newspapery, maybe still is.) A very good resource for book lovers and for Christians-who-think.

Visit also the IAM site. They also accept donations.

Josh's Darkly Humorous Tale at DKA

The story says something about how the word human can be a synonym for something horribly inhuman:

"The Ways of Monsters and Men"

If ya like it, tell Josh so at the DKA forums or at his blog.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

SF Kissing over at Sci-Fi Catholic

DGD has posted some really terrific--and hilarious--examples of SF kissing over at his blog. Here are a few:

The Isaac Asimov Kiss: A thousand-year period of darkness is coming, during which kissing will be impossible.

The Arthur C. Clarke Kiss: You can kiss in hard vacuum if you're quick about it.

The Robert A. Heinlein Kiss: If you grok Martian, you can kiss anyone you want...and you should spend four years in the military.

The Hal Clement Kiss: An essay on the physics of kissing will follow the story.

The C. S. Lewis Kiss: "I cannot bear the least suggestion, no matter how sportive, of kissing between different species or even between children."

The J. R. R. Tolkien Kiss: As there is no room in the novel, the kissing has been relegated to an appendix.

The H. P. Lovecraft Kiss: "I have seen all that the universe has to hold of horror, and now even the kisses of pretty girls will ever afterwards be poison to me."


Find more at the blog entry and in the comments section. (Make sure to check those. Some very good ones there, inluding those of Mir's fave ninja-comics-reading blogger, Claw Man.)

I'm afraid I'm not in top comedic form today, but I still decided to play along. Here are mine:


The Joanna Russ kiss: She kissed her, and she thought that this couldn't be better, not with men, not with any man, because men suck.

The Patricia McKillip kiss: The tower raised its golden grandeur over the green land, its walls saturated with the light of the summer sun, and he knew it was only there, in the legendary chamber with the tapestries of the forgotten beasts of Kinuko, that he could kiss her and bring an end to the madness of battles and riddles. There, in the kiss, would be the answer.


Theodore Sturgeon kiss: Her pale skin seem to pucker, goosefleshed, beckoning, telling him how very lonely she'd been without him. His alien hands, scaly and blue, touched her. The touch broke him into fragments, and all of the pieces that made up his foreign flesh floated over her and kissed her, kissed her, kissed her: her hair, her eyes, her shoulders, her elbows, and her lips. She sighed and said his true name. At last, for that space of time when all they could do was kiss and sigh, they were not unknown and they were not alone.


The Tanith Lee kiss: My first kiss was forced upon me by the cold lips of the black-eyed lord of darkness, but then a vampire caught my eye in Paradys. But my truest kiss came with the taste of silver metal. Perhaps, someday, if I wish and pray and happen upon a kind fairy godmother, I'll get to kiss a normal man who just wants a couple of kids and a house in Vermont.

The Frank Herbert kiss: Mmmm. Spicy.

The Lois McMaster Bujold Kiss: She bent down, lower, lower, lower. There. Smooch.


So, who's got some entries into the SF Kissing round-up? Post 'em!

That Freaky Writer's Subconscious
& Coffee (or Choco) in Your Manuscript

A couple things over at Once Upon A Novel:

That Freaky Subconscious, which goes to show why writing every (or nearly every) day is a very good thing.

and

Coffee and Chocolate...Reconsider, Reinvent Your Character's Comestibles, where I quote editor Dave Long (Bethany House) on the overuse of coffee in recent proposals to him, and where I rant about the cliche of chocolate in Women's Fiction.

Friday, August 03, 2007

My Last Spec Faith Friday Post for A Spell


Drop by Speculative Faith for:

A Rowdy, Rip-Roaring, Speculative, Christian Parable: BLACK CHERRY, a Graphic Novel by Doug TenNapel

Next week, Marcus Goodyear will post on Friday. He'll have some comments about and observations from reading the faboo novel SPIN by Robert Charles Wilson.

Jim Black will also be guest-blogging on Fridays.

I'm sure you'll enjoy the posts by both these brothers who love things speculative.