Sunday, September 30, 2007

One of Mir's Happy Songs:
Sonic Flood's "Cry Holy"



A praise song for a Sunday.

This is one of my "happy songs"--songs that if I'm feeling pooped or blue or angry will help improve, sometimes restore, a good mood. I can't help it. It comes on and my hands go up--and I have to sing.

Hubby keeps it on the iPod in case of emergencies while away from home. Heh.

Enjoy.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Scroll Down to Enter Book Giveaways

Whether you like Christian speculative fiction or Women's Fiction, I've got something for you. See posts below for how to enter.

J Mark Bertrand and Our Becky M:
Worldview, Writing, and Culture

J Mark, over at Rethinking Worldview, had a post yesterday where he mentions and links to the CSF's community's champion extraordinaire, Becky Miller.

JM's always worth reading, and certainly this post is no different:

When we think of the way culture influences us, too often we assign malign motives to the process. The fact is, some of the most influential people aren't attempting, first and foremost, to corrupt your thinking. They just believe in what they're doing and try to do it as best they can. The resulting influence--for better or worse -- is a by-product of that effort.

As a Christian, I want two things. First, to be aware of the shaping influence of culture in my own life, so that I can live more deliberately. I'm a consumer of culture -- there's no getting around that -- but I want to be a conscious consumer, and a critical one at that. Second, to make a positive, truthful contribution to the culture so that whatever influence I have is for the good.




Drop by and read the whole post. Then let's affect our culture through well-written, heartfelt stories from our Christian worldview.


(And I love that pic of JM. Looks good!)


Oh, and if you haven't pre-ordered it already--I have!--get thee swiftly to amazon to purchase JM's nonfiction book, soon to be released (and maybe some other worldview books of note):

Friday, September 28, 2007

Wanna Win Austin Boyd's THE RETURN
or Another Christian SF Novel? Here's How !

Here's your chance.

The Mir is trying to make up for missing the blog tour this month. As such, I'm offering a chance for one ofyou to win a copy of an Austin Boyd Christian SF novel in the Mars Hill Classified trilogy (NavPress). The featured novel for September's tour was THE RETURN. If you want it, enter for a chance to get one gratis. But if you need the first in the series, or the second, and you win the giveaway, you can the one of your choice.

However, since it's past the blog tour and I am feeling flexible, I am willing to offer the giveaway winner a choice of any Christian SF title of comparable cost to THE RETURN, which is listed on amazon.com at $10.19 today. So, any book of your choice up to roughly that amount, give or take a buck. If you've got the Boyd novels and prefer to try something else in Christian fantasy or science fiction, just mention that in your comment.

If you missed posts from the tour, visit the Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy Blog Tour official site for links and information. Feel free to join if you have a blog and enjoy speculative fiction by Christian with Christian themes/ideas/concepts/worldview.

How to win:

1. You must live in the area designated by my long-standing sidebar note. Lower 48 states of the continental US.

2. You must leave a comment with your disguised email (ie, I don't want you spammed, so alter your email so a bot can't steal it. Example: JaneDoe atsy aol dotdot com)

3. If you want a book other than THE RETURN by Austin Boyd, please note which Boyd or other author novel you desire that is in the Christian SF genre and is priced comparably at amazon.com (from which I will be sending it to you.)


That's it. Pretty simple.

Come on. Let's see some entries. Comment away!

NOTE: I am concurrently holding a giveaway for a copy of the Christian Romance/Women's Fiction/Chick Lit novel SUSHI FOR ONE? by Camy Tang. See a couple posts below for the way to enter. You may freely enter both giveaways.


~

Jennifer's Notes from ACFW

Good post at Jennifer's Writingfor quick notes on what the editors had to say.

~

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

What CBA Editors & Agents Want & Misc
Post-ACFW Conference Blog-Chatter

Over at Praise, Prayers, and Observations blog, Jessy has posted entries that serves as quick snapshots of what each editor and agent who sat on the ACFW panel sessions said they were looking for from writers.

Chip MacGregor gushed over the conference:
Probably the best conference I've ever been to in terms of content. I saw more publishable manuscripts than I've ever seen at a writing conference. The team of people who put this together are to be commended for creating such a strong gathering of writers.


I recommend you visit Chip's blog to see his equation, the one that lets you know if you're ready to do writing full-time. Math for writers!

If you get the conference sessions on audio, be sure you listen to this person if it's available: Margie Lawson. I've been hearing a buzz about how good her session was, including this from Brandilyn Collins:

I met a new great friend at the conference. Teacher Margie Lawson wowed her students in the early bird session with her unique characterizing and editing techniques. Keynote speaker Jim Bell sat in her class and was quite impressed--and he knows a few things about characterization himself. Margie is a psychologist and uses much of that knowledge in her ways of characterizing.


If you google up the conference, you'll maybe find notes from attendees on what tips they picked up or what market news they took note of.

To all who went, oh, I wish I could have gone. To all who won in their categories, congratulations. To all who got requests, blessings on your proposals. To all who didn't get requests, triple blessings of encouragement and hope and persistence. To all who signed agents: HURRAH! To all who didn't sign agents: Keep trying and don't give up. Ever.

Like Romance, Chick Lit, Christian Fiction? Here' s a Giveaway for YOU!


Here you go. How you can get a copy of SUSHI FOR ONE? at no cost to you.

1. You need to live in the US, the lower 48. I'm cheap about shipping costs, sorry. Plus, disclaimer on my sidebar's been there nearly a year.

2. Leave a comment under this post with your email DISGUISED (I don't want you spammed.) So, something like JohnDoe atsy Gmail dotsdots com

3. If you want to get an extra entry (two shots for one comment!) tell me which of the numbered reasons in my review below is the one that most makes you wanna read SUSHI FOR ONE? If your reasons is none of those, hey, let me know why you're interested. I think both Camy and I would love to know.

4. That's it. I'll pick a name at random and you'll get a free book.

I'll pick a winner next Wednesday and announce it.


Now, don't leave me hanging. ENTER TODAY!

Loud Asian Chick Lit?: A Review of
SUSHI FOR ONE? by Camy Tang

(See next, non-review post, for how to enter to win this book for your own reading pleasure!)

Debut novels a good portion of the time--not always, but often enough that I've taken notice--start off on unsteady legs, and it takes the author a while to get in the groove.

SUSHI FOR ONE?,by ACFW whirling dervish of writing energy Camy Tang, was this way for me. The first chapters really didn't involve me. They had a certain amount of strain and confusion. The humor seemed to just miss the mark. The characters were unlikable to me. The dialogue faltered.

Then, things started easing, fitting, coming together. The writing became more effortless to read, rather than causing eye-hitches, as I call them, those stumbles to the reader when sentences are bumpy or metaphors dont' quite fit.

I think--strictly theory here, I have no mind-reading spiritual gifty--it's because the writer stops trying superhard to fit an expectation or a mode or, in a multicultural work, cease to focus on how much cultural stuff to cram in or, in comedic writing, feel more comfy behind the wheel and push less for the humorous line; and at that point, simply lets his or her people tell their stories with more naturalness. And that's ALWAYS when books get good. Writers ease up. Characters ramp up. Conflict gets going.

First chapters can be obessive things for writers--don't I know it--so we just fill them up, redo them, redo them some more, and sometimes they just become unwieldy and overworked. For me, that happened here.

Fortunately, as I've seen happen before as well, things improve. I actually checked the page when the story started warming for me, and it was about a fourth of the way in. I won't say the page, or you'll start looking for it as you read. But trust me, Christian Women's Fiction reader, it happens.

That's when it clicked and I started to really enjoy Sushi for One?

That's when I got to care about Lex. Which I didn't from the start.

Who is Lex?

Lex Sakai, a single Asian-American female from a large family where intruding into personal affairs is par for the course. Especially when it's grandma and grandma wants NO SINGLE granddaughters. Only married ones, preferably with lots of babies for grandma to boast over. So, Lex, single and averse to intimacy due to her past, becomes the focus of grandmas's persistent, life-inverting efforts. While brother and grandma and others bring unwanted and unsuitable suitors in often comic and definitely vexing fashion into Lex's path, the unlikely suitor just may be the one who will heal Lex's hurts and open her heart.

This is the month for the blog tour for Camy Tang's debut novel, labeled Asian Chick Lit. It's the first in a three-book series--the "Sushi Series"-- And here is why you may enjoy this novel:

1. The heroine is not a perfect role-model or a girly-girl. She's sporty and flawed. Her acquaintances and relatives include the sports-oriented and the most-definitely flawed. It's nice to see non-perfect folks, because, honestly, Chick Lit wouldn't exist without screwed up human beings valiantly pressing on and..making things worse before they get better.

Confession: I am not sporty. Never have been. I detest sports. I am the one in the middle of weekend gatherings complaning about the men dominating the television with sports events. I almost pray for the tv to blow up. So, for me, I'd sort of skip over the sporty stuff unless it was the office-stuff that came riddled with conflict. Without doubt, there is some good "politics" stuff here, and I can put up with sports stuff for dramatic conflict.

2. As the title suggests, the heroine is not "white bread," if you'll pardon the term. I'm a minority gal and when I began reading "women's fiction" and romance in my teens, it was all about the white women. When I became a romance genre junkie starting in 1987 and lasting through about 2000, when I read several romance novels a week, sometimes more than one a day when I was bedbound, I pretty much had to put up with the milky skin, blue eyes, perfect figure obsession of romances. Hey, I understand. There is a lot of fantsy in the genre, and the primary fantasy of Western culture in the female form is curvy, slender, and fair. White writers make for white heroines. White readerships make for white heroines, even from some non-white writers in the past. (that is, you wanna sell, write white.)

It was only while my romance jones was waning that multicultural heroines started making an appearance. Still, finding romance heroines who look like me is not an easy thing.

Here is a heroine who doesn't look like me, but doesn't look like the Irish or English roses of most romance novels, either. She's Asian and she doesn't have the nipped in waist or the alluring bosom. She's muscular and sleek (definitely popular in our culture, as opposed to fat and jiggly), but she's not white. Okay, so she's beautiful, and that's a par for the course in romance. We can't knock down all the conventions at once, can we?

Along with this non-typical heroince comes the culture--the food, the familial responsibilities, the customs, the language, the dress in some occasions--all with the aroma of the Orient overlaying the American contemporary scene.

I would recommend this novel to Christian romance/fiction readers just so you get into a culture that isn't your own. Get out of the white ladies' club one afternoon and try something flavored with a different spice. The CBA needed this kick of wasabi, if you ask me. (I know, you didn't, but I'm pushy and mouthy.)

3. Energy. Because Lex is an active person, her voice has an energy that, while not always propped up by the perfect prose, is definitely different for the CBA. The same sort of scenes you might have read in CBA women's fiction--the office scene, the dining scene, the job interview scene, the friends hanging out scene, the coffeeshop scene, the family gathering scene, etc--have a different aura because Lex has this sort of muscular, zippy personality. She's not one to drown you in her flowery ruminations. (And I say that as someone who has been known to spit out floral ruminations like nobody's business.)

4. It almost nails the Chick Lit voice. I know, Camy is about to poke me in the eye with her chopsticks, but the Chick Lit voice is very, very, very hard to get right. And 95% of the Christian Chick Lit I've read or sampled drops the "voice" ball. Part of the reason I think this has been so in the CBA is that the writer who wants to write in proper Chick Lit persona must feel the freedom to be sarcastic, snippy, and snarky. They must feel at ease with hyperbole and caustic wit. Or at least doofus-wit. Or some sort of snappy wit. In other words, it requires that Christian writers take off the "I'm a nice girl who doesn't want to offend or seem to be mean" mantle and take on the "I'm a mouthy modern gal" label jacket. It requires lavishly observing and poking fun at human foibles, while retaining a fondness for humanity and an ability to laugh. It also requires that the other points--the romance, the family relationships, the buddy issues--be handled with a laughter AND tears. All that is hard to do right in proper proportion.

And in the church, we want everyone to play nice. Chick Lit encourages us to let a bit of acid flow with the honey. And it's hard for Christian ladies, I think, to, as Lex and Nike would say, JUST DO IT. It takes balls. (And that's a volleyball pun in honor of Lex and her sports obssession.)

Camy almost gets there, but not altogether and not consistently. The CL tone comes and goes, so that we have a novel that reads like regular Christian romance here, regular Christian women's fiction there, and Chick Lit in spots. I loved THOSE spots where the humor and the attitude work really well. Example: The pre-op scene. That worked very, very well in C-L mode. I guffawed.

I think her next books will show if she lets herself take up the Chick Lit regalia and walk the Chick Lit runway with full abandon. It takes a certain chutzpah to really carry off CL. I applaud that she tries, because, man, as someone who loves the snap and crackle of a good Chick Lit narrative, I've not been satisfied by what the CBA has offered. Because Camy is not afraid to be called "loud," she is ahead of the game, Chick Lit-wise.

5. Pain. Characters in pain are interesting characters. Lex is in pain. And people around her are, too. And I like a lot Lex's unguarded, vulnerable moments. Every now and then, there is a lovely unexpected touch from the secondary characters, too, in those moments when our gal is hurting.

6. For those who read romance, the therapist/patient scenario is not a new one. It's one that forces the hero/heroine into contact and allows for physical contact legitimately, adding to sensual tension. The physical therapy scenes, which I feared might be dull--come on, we've read dead medicalese scenes--are anythning but. I was engaged and I found the conflict worked well. Good scenes, and they added to the relationship's gentle progression, as well as addressing a central conflict believably.

7. The Christian content is not preachy. Yay. It's relevant to the theme/plot, but it's not a constant patter of prayers and sermons. This means this sort of book can have crossover appeal, and that's a good thing.



On the weak side, the hero is really not vivid for most of the book. His gentle, good-guyness is appealing and, basically, just what Lex needs. Still, since the story is told in two POVs--Lex's and Aiden's--we could have seen more of Aiden's world.

Also, the grandmother needed to be filled out more EARLIER given her centrality to the premise and the machinations. While her plotting needs to be behind the scenes, there still was a sense of her being a stereotype and not a fully-fleshed love-her/hate-her relative, which is really what she is. The pushy kinswoman who means well and is bound by her own needs and traditions, but who we love out of duty and out of familial connection and less out of full understanding. I wanted more in the few scenes we see her.

I suspect book two will be even stronger. Debut novels let writers start to feel their true feet. Following novels let them walk with more confidence. I'm looking forward to the second book, ONLY UNI, because the protagonist is a troubled one, both in spirit and in relationships in SUSHI FOR ONE? , and spiritually and relationship troubled characters are intriguing characters. Although, honestly, I really wanted to see Mimi's story. :)

My hope is that the subsequent novels by Miz Camy let the C-L voice really rip, no holding back.

And my other hope is that you will get yourself a copy, be forgiving about some rough patches at the start, and enter the world of Lex Sakai, who will find love and a career and herself...and even a path laid out by a Higher Hand in SUSHI FOR ONE?

Even if you have never read a Christian women's fiction/Chick Lit/romance with a minority heroine and characters, take a chance. Diversity in the body, even the storytelling part of the body, is a good thing and not to be feared.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

If You Want A Shot At Free Books...

Then stay tuned.

I'm not back to full Mir-Power, but this week I'll be giving away a copy of SUSHI FOR ONE? by Camy Tang. See Wednesday's post for the particulars. This book will appeal to women, so this is for the XX set. Because I've been so out of it, my interview with Camy will be delayed. (Sorry, Camykins not to have sent the Q's. My bad.)

Later on, it's the XY's turn. I'll be giving away a copy of an AUSTIN BOYD book--to make up for missing the CSFF Blog Tour--and his brand of SF with suspense is, I hear, one that's right up the male alley.

So, watch and enter.

Monday, September 24, 2007

SF/F Genesis Winners!

I've been feeling really out of sorts. Good news is welcome. So, some good news...

Here are the winners in the SF/F category for the 2007 Genesis Contest of the ACFW:


1st place: Sally A. Apokedak, The Kisses of an Enemy
2nd place: Chris Mikesell, Revival
3rd place: Rebecca Grabill, Out of Darkness


I have to admit, I thought Chris would take it. A lone male voice among a sea of lovely ladies, and what with his particular brand of humor, etc. I figured it'd give him the edge, make him stand out. (Okay, so Chris naturally stands out. He won the DKA fiction contest both years it ran.)

Still, I think Chris will forgive me if I admit I'm DELIGHTED that my pal Sally won. Sally has worked so so so so hard, and she's had a year of great difficulty. I hope this result is not just a balm to the pain, but the first step to a career of many publications. Sally, I'm so happy for you! I remember emailing you after readin the first few chapters and saying, "I think this one is going to do it for you." And hey, lookee! First place! (Also, she ranked in the Young Adult category. Way to go!)

I hope in the very near future that you'll be holding in your wee hands your first published novel. I send you cybersmoochies.

Hey, it couldn't go wrong, really, not for me as an observer. All the finalists are people I like or, okay, love. So, no matter who won, I was going to get my portion of joy. But Sally's win just feels so right today, so uplifting. And I want to celebrate, bloggy style.



Hugs to Chris, Rebecca, Shannon, and Valerie. Long may you create.

~~

Friday, September 21, 2007

Dang. Has it been more than a week?

Josh Vogt, one of my fave online peops, emailed me to see if I was okay.

I knew I hadn't posted in a while, but, man, it's been NINE days.

Time flies when one is eating less and not sleeping well and stressed about some family stuff. Makes me go to the Flaky Side. I was supposed to post for the CSFF Blog Tour (as I mentioned to Becky Monday), but I went zombie. Apologies there, too.

Focusing has been a bit of a problem. I haven't been able to sit and read a book for a week. Just a page here and there. Doubtless, that goes back to the sleeping and stress issues. And eating fewer than half my normal calories. Also might be medical stuff in addition to the sleep disturbances (ie, thyroid or liver). I get bloodwork next week to check the liver...

Anyway, apologies if I've worried anyone. I never turn away prayer. :::hint, hint:::

And, well, I hope to be back to normal Mir-self soon, which means I sleep a bit TOO much, rather than a lot too little.

Oh, and I forgot this is ACFW Conference week. I'll need to remembe to pray for our writing peops who are raising the good banner for Christian fiction and, especially, Christian SF over there. I look forward to seeing which of our fine, admirable nominees get the GENESIS in the SF/F.

Happy conferences, happy blogging, and, well, see you soon. Next week, I'll have something for you for sure on the debut novel of one of my ACFW and blogging pals. So, if you like Christian Women's Fiction, please stay tuned. I'll be doing a giveaway. In fact, I may do two in order to make up for missing the blog tour this week.

Smoochies to any to have been worried about moi. Especially our handsome, newlywed CSF writer and all-around amusing godly guy, Joshie, and insightful, spiritual, eloquent Latina-babe Carmen.

~~

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Kate Bush - Wuthering Heights

Performance artsiness from the pop-rock past.

Still love the song after all these years. I'd love to have an updated version with Kate singing in a less stratospherical Cathy-Hysteria voice. But, hey, then it wouldn't really be Kate doing Cathy, huh?

Still dig her 80's wide-eyed, waifish style. Have no idea what she's looking like these days.

Now, must go listen to "The Man with The Child in His Eyes." (I wrote a poem, still in revisions, called "The Man with the Universe in His Eyes," and yes, I got the idea for the title from Kate's song.)

Give in to the low-budget enthusiasm of "Wuthering Heights." Enjoy.

Monday, September 10, 2007

National Book Festival Poster: Me Likey



The National Book Festival poster for 2007 is by Mercer Mayer. And I think it's terrific. I wish I had one.

Anyway, for info on the festival, go yonder.

Double Dinosaur Surprise!



Yes, two surprises.


The first: One is never too old to fall into the dino-craze.

I went to see the newest exhibit at the Miami Museum of Science on Saturday: The Dinosaurs of China. (Above pic)

This is a small, modest museum. A little toe compared to, say, the Natural History one in New York City. And it has a warm spot in my heart, cause I used to hang there in the early 80's (they have an observatory and I was a total sky geek), and my hubby taught there in the mid-80's (computers for kids).

But tiny, modest space and budget aside, this exhibit was just fabulous. It's all about the beasts. All about the bones.


It was like gazing upon fabulous bone art. I'm not joking. I, for the very first time in my life, experienced a touch of dinosaurophilia. Several rooms with a Chinese ambiance guide your through various types of big beasties, mostly herbivores (but, man, were they enormous). One "rex-ie" with big, big teeth. And seeing the spine of the stegosaurs was a treat. They were my faves as a kid.


I just stared and stared at the assemblage. One, an 85 foot long Mamenchisaurus--my total fave in the exhibit-- was like a fossil roller coaster ride. The pleasure of seeing it! Oh, lawdy. The way the neck and tail and spine bones curved was sheer, glorious perfection. The lighting made the shadow fall just so on the black high wall. Nifty silhouetting. (That's one example of a Mamechisaurus on the left, but not the museum I went to. I think the one at our little museum was more gracefully, artfully arranged to maximize the beauty of the curves.)


And the thigh and leg bones. And the claws. EGADS. I wouldn't want to run into one of those, especially not if I smelled all herby and edible. ; )


Surprise number two: A scientific one in this article whose link I got from the Claw Man.

Britney Spears at the VMA:
Where's the Family Intervention?

Boy, the chatter is loud on the Britney Spears on VMA performance of "Gimme More."

I didn't watch the VMA awards. I didn't even know it was on. I never watch it. Oh, celebrities patting themselves on their overpaid and arrogant backs yet again. (Yawn.) But as I was visiting some of my regular blog haunts, I saw posts here and there. I went over to YOUTUBE to see if it was the disaster the blogvine says it was.

Well, okay, it was bad.

It was bad for many reasons:

1. A tedious song. Not that Britney was known for great music, mind you. But this one was really, kinda pathetic. It should do well in gyms, though. I can see it useful for exercising, but why you'd want to play it on your car radio, I dunno.

2. Another hootchie mama performance from another female performer. One more amidst the multitudes. Despite sufficient good looks and talent to carry the day, Shakira and Beyonce insist on making themselves pure sex objects when they don't have to. A real pity. So, Britney, less talented, but still hot enough to get plenty of males fantasizing, can't seem to just be cute and sing. No, got to faux-hump all over the stage.

Women as sex objects in the music industry: nothing new, I know. But doing the ho-down so POORLY? It's like regression from an already regressed state.

Britney, a young woman with a fair share of good looks, a huge fortune, success, and two healthy babies (ie, a woman who should be very grateful for what-all she has) looks in the performance like a textbook case of jadedness, of ennui. She looks bored. Listless. Maybe it's just a very bad hangover. Still, she looks like she doesn't care. She looks like she is going through the motions, poorly (At least before, she went through the slutty motions with enthusiasm and on the beat.)

(Note: One of the blogvine says she was out clubbing til 3:00 am, which makes this performance seem like a hungover one on little sleep, yep.)

3. The trashy blonde wig: Okay, the using-a-wig deal, that I understand. When you've had a meltdown and shaved off all your hair--and look really UNglamorous without hair, unlike some celebs who look great bald--cosmetic measures must be taken prior to national fake-performing. But if you're gonna go on tv and you need a wig, why do you get one with big ole dark roots, one that looks dirty and stringy? Maybe it was part of the whole hootchie-hooker-momma look. (That black underwear was the sole cover-up above the knee. It's like she forgot to put on her costume or something.)

Dang. Bad hair on purpose? I didn't think we gals did that. Okay, we don't. NOrmally.

I dunno. I see this girl who just seems to be self-destructing and who should not have gone on TV. Someone decided, yeah, let's put the hungover, underdressed wench out there for entertainment. Someone who had to have noticed that she could barely talk or walk (in the video, she's clearly unsteady and barely opens her lips to, er, synch.)

I will say in her defense that the gal is NOT fat.

I'm tired of the "Look how out of shape she is" carping and wailing. It's what makes anorexics of celebrities and regular gals. No, Britney is NOT fat. Britney may not be the thinnest she's been or the most gym-toned ever, but she is not a bag of blubber on that stage. Yes, the listless movements, the bad lip-synching, and the ho outfit deserve criticism. But let's not get on the fatphobic thing here.

I wish her family would just have an intervention-a-day-athon or something. This gal is scaring me. The fact that she's been a role model for young gals scares me. That she has two boys of very young and impressionable ages worries me. (That Kevin Federline seems the saner parent is spooky.)

And that the VMA people let her go on like that makes me mad.

Ratings above all, even sheer common sense and a bit of good judgment, I guess. Even if it means taking advantage of a trainwreck celebrity who, clearly, just can't make good decisions at the moment about anything.

Okay, rant over.

I'm clearly in " a mood."

DKA Poetry Contest: The Winners

The announcement was posted today at the Dragons, Knights & Angels site:

DKA is thrilled to announce the names of the winners in our second annual poetry contest.

This year's double theme of inferno/paradiso inspired many excellent entries. The judges had a heavenly time reading them, but a devil of a task in narrowing down more than forty entries to get one top winner, a second place honoree, and two honorable mentions. So hellish, in fact, that we added an extra honorable mention to ease our pain. We will also seek to publish others that shone brightly among the entries that did not place. Yes. Lots of wonderful poems await our readers.

We would like to add that, sadly, some fine poems had to be left out of consideration for the top spots, not because they lacked skill or great merit, but because they were not sufficiently speculative. That was a biggie among the judging criteria; we had to adhere to it, no matter how reluctantly.

Our thanks to all who submitted their works. Win or lose, you labored creatively and offered us your good work. That's always something to be proud of.

Now, our winners...

Honorable Mentions go to:

"Paradise" by Jenny Schwartz
"Black Hole" by C.K. Deatherage, PhD
"Atlantis" by Karen A. Romanko

Second place and a prize of $20:
"Sky Vendor" by Holly Dworken Cooley

And our first place poem, with a prize of $50, is awarded to…
"Separado" by John Kuhn

Since this is the second time John has won our poetry contest, let us point out that this was a blind competition. The judges did not know the names of the poets until after the selection of the winners. Obviously, John melds the speculative and the Christian so well with his poetic skill that his work suits the DKA vision perfectly. It's a pleasure to publish him once again.

Look for all the winning poems in our October issue. And expect some other terrific entries to show up in subsequent issues in 2007.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Our Lady of Weight Loss:
Send and E-Card to a Dieting Pal

As regular readers of Mirathon know, The Mir is back on the healthy eating plan she discarded months and months ago.

Every bit of motivation helps. Behold:

Our Lady of Weight Loss--an art-oriented, humor-filled, motivational site for those on the journey to fat loss--has e-cards you can send.

Know a pal online who needs a dose of motivational art and humor?

There's a great e-card at left. It's the "Love Thyself" card, and the little scribblngs say:

"Exercise is my middle name."
"Yes, I can."
"Fruit over cake."
"No matter what, I'll stay the course."
"Love Thyself."

~~and my fave of all:
"I do not accept delivery of my ancestors' fat genes."



While the e-card is free, there are cool greeting cards and motivational objects for sale, and I just bought a bunch of them.

I especially am wild about the one at right. It's not ARTISTICALLY the neatest one. But the message is spot on. When you make a mistake. When you eat that bit of crap food. When you go over your calorie count. Sit, take a breath, assess the whys of it. Think of strategies for future avoidance and triumph. But, most of all, remember to say:

"All is Forgiven. MOVE ON."

Don't get ovewhelmed. Don't get depressed. Don't beat yourself into a bloody psychological pulp. "All is forgiven." You are human. You are complex. You have to struggle and strive. "Move on."

I am human. I am complex. I must struggle. And I must strive.

And I must move on.

Love that. Good to remember. Always, keep moving on. Leave the guilt and shame behind and MOVE ON and tackle the next snack, the next meal, the next hour, the next day, the next weigh in.

ALL IS FORGIVEN...Move on.

That works for more than dieting.

Oh, and dig the one on the left here. I keep wanting to put a "Thou shalt" in front of what's written: "Turn a deaf ear to cake."

Snarf.

And, oddly, I don't find this disrespectful. I guess I always imagine Mary being supremely poised and cool and with a healthy sense of humor. I mean, geesh, you get to be the mother of the Son of God and watch him grow, utterly perfect and full of grace. And he scolds YOU, instead of vice versa.

You HAVE to have had a sense of humor to get through that!

I think Mary would approve. And giggle. And add that, "Well, every once in a while, have some cake. But not that often."

So, you gonna send someone an e-card?

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Original Art for Mir: Tormented Female Novelist Alien at South Beach Cafe


You can tell how I was feeling when I commissioned this. Snarf.

I'm not blonde and I don't drink martinis, but I do love laptops and outdoor cafes with an ocean view.

Enjoy the video of the making of "Tormented Female Novelist Alien at South Beach Cafe."

Monday, September 03, 2007

Hugo Awards

I would have blogged this sooner, but, hey, I've been lax lately. A bit tired. Maybe it's that halving of my caloric intake. ; )

Anyway, go to the official site for the full report.

Highlights:

Best Novel: Rainbows End - Vernor Vinge
Best Novella: "A Billion Eves" - Robert Reed
Best Novelette: "The Djinn's Wife" - Ian McDonald
Best Short Story: "Impossible Dreams" - Tim Pratt
Best Related Non-Fiction Book: James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B Sheldon - Julie Phillips
Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: Pan's Labyrinth - Guillermo del Toro
Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: Doctor Who -
"Girl in the Fireplace" - Steven Moffat (writer) & Euros Lyn (director)

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Tiny Ninja Talmud Came To MirTown

"No small parts. Only small actors."



The Tiny Ninja Theater was in town last week. We didn't make it, but the performance was Tiny Ninja Talmud.

It had to have been beyond a blast and oh-too-cool.

If they come to your town, you might want to check them out. Unlike, er, us.

I think Elliot would have enjoyed this a lot.

Get Your Original Humorous Alien Art!

Monster by Mail is at it again. Zombies are so early summer. Now, it is time for...ALIENS TO ATTACK!!!!

And yes, I decided to reward myself for my total weight loss so far (ie. 8.5 pounds) by ordering me up another bit of kooky art.

Hit the link above and you'll see the current list. I'm the one as follows:

Tormented Female Novelist Alien at South Beach Cafe

I'll let you know when the video is up at YouTube, the way my Botticelli's Birth of Venus Zombie was. And as soon as I get an image sent to me, I'll post it.

Oh, and my Zombie Venus is the featured image in the A Little About Monster By Mail post.

Maybe someone you love would enjoy an original alien bit of art named by you and created by Monster by Mail? Ooooh, yeah. Let's see, for Sharon Hinck, a Soccer Mom Alien Author Goes on a Book Tour. How's that? What would your alien art be named, even if you don't order it. Comment away!

Bonus! See some of the alien artwork already uploaded:

Vampireanarchy Alien
iXenu, Supreme Ruler of Planet Mac
Attack of the Alien Octopuses from Octotopia

Such calorie-less, SF-ey, artsy fun!