Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Another Blog for Christian Writers

Check it out: Seekerville A lot of lady scribblers I know over there!

~

Apex Halloween Raffle Closes in Hours!


I only just found out about the APEX DIGEST Halloween Raffle. (I don't really DO Halloween, but I DO books!)

The selection of items that you can buy "raffle tickets" for is pretty interesting. For those of you who write short fiction of the horror/fantasy/science fiction sort--Joshie, you reading?--you really want to look at the critiques by authors/editors that are available.

I have no short fiction I'm working on at the moment, but even I couldn't resist on bidding for a critique by Nancy Fulda of BAEN'S UNIVERSE. Several APEX DIGEST editors are offering in-depth critiques of short fiction (length limits range up to 10K). For a buck a bid, not a bad thing, especially since the items are donated and the proceeds to go a good cause, one we readers and writers can get behind: The National Center for Family Literacy.

I also bid on books signed by Ray Bradbury and Orson Scott Card, and a copyedited manuscript of TITAN by Ben Bova. It's the "copyedited" part that got me interested. :) I also bid on one piece of original art and one print of fantasy art.

I repeat: Each bid is one buck.

Interested?

Let me know what you bid on, especially if you went for any of the stuff *I* bid, you competitive nemesis, you.

Happy Halloween Bidding!

Goya in Miami and The Mir's Day Out



Francisco Goya was the most important artist of the late 18th century and early 19th century Spain. His methods and style, which followed a long and successful career, span from the late Rococo to Romanticism, and remain influential even today. He was particularly active as a painter to the Spanish royal court, and completed commissions for the church, as well as pieces for private collectors. He is perhaps best known for his paintings and series of prints depicting contemporary society, war and violence, including Los Caprichos and Disasters of War. His painterly style reflects his admiration for the painters Velázquez and Rembrandt.

~ ~ ~


Yes, I felt up to an outing. Or, rather, the object of the outing gave me a boost of energy. 1. I finally got to go into the Freedom Tower in Miami, where Cuban refugees, like my family, got processed, a place my mother would pass with a sigh when we drove through downtown, and 2. I got to experience the work of a master artist on an autumn afternoon.

I had slept poorly and gotten only 4 hours of rest, but after a bit of prayer, after a bit of "should I, shouldn't I?" I washed my hair, put on some Gothy-blackness (and my most comfortable red suede flats) and headed out to the Freedom Tower with hubby and next-older sis to see GOYA!

Art has a way of getting me out of the house. Especially if I really, really, really wanna see it. I really, really, really wanted to see the Goya etchings. One, cause there is the fantasy-horror element in the Caprichos; two, cause I wanted to see "The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters" in person, after so many years of seeing it in books (see pic above right) (above left is pic of my sister and me flanking "Sleep of Reason" with HunkyPoo's shadow on the glass protecting the famous etching); three, the era demanded the experience of Disasters of War.

Well, and...GOYA! Yeah!

So, fortified with generous quantities of anti-frizzing hair products (it was super-gusty and scattered showers threatened) and my medieval Goth top with embroidery and satin panels and a bottle of cold water and a red umbrella, off we went. (It is no coincidence this blog is black and red, btw.)

We actually chose a fine day for it. Few people were at the exhibit on a Tuesday at 1 pm. So, I could stick my nose as close as I wanted to see the details in the etchings.

The first large room had the Caprichos, which one can translate as "caprices" or "whims" or "flights of fancy":
Tiepolo and Giovanni Battista Piranesi had already created a series of such capricci. Under this title artists could permit themselves creative freedom, escaping the conventional themes and rules of art. Sense and nonsense, gravity and satire were all possible. Goya took out an advertisement in a Madrid newspaper and announced that in the Caprichos he was depicting human folly, prejudice, and deception. Obviously, he added, any similarity with living people was purely coincidental. Nevertheless, his contemporaries immediately recognized specific references in many prints. Biting social satire and demonic fantasy combine in the Caprichos to create a nightmare from which there is no escape.

Number 1 in the series is the self-portrait of the Aragon-born Spaniard himself: Franciso Jose de Goya y Lucientes ((March 30, 1746 – April 16, 1828). We, of course, took our pictures with the famous fella. Above left is my HunkyPoo with #1 Caprichos. (Sadly, they did not allow flash shots, so we had to take pics with the cell phone, ergo, iffy quality here. See a better Caprichos #1 at top of the blog entry.)

The first room, nicely lit with lots of tall windows on either end of its length, contained timelines and a printing machine (of the type used to make prints of the etchings) and all the Caprichos. These were of particular interest to me due to the macabre/fantasy/horror content, the snarky sarcasm of Goya (yes, if he were a blogging artist today, he'd be off the Snark-o-Meter), and the familiarity of some of the pieces. You can see some fine examples of the series HERE. The exhibit was suitable for a Halloween week visit, given the witches, monstrous bats and owls and such. A couple were very hard to look at, notably for me the ones showing people wearing the outfits for the auto-da-fe (robe and pointed hat), being condemned for nothing, like "Aquellos Polbos". Difficult for any person of faith, I would think.

The second room (or last, depending which way you chose to go next from the main salon) had either the bullfighting etchings--La Tauromaquia--or Los Proverbios:

~~La Tauromaquia--Bullfighting's not my cup of tea, though I remember my dad rivetted while watching the sport on television when I was a kid. However, three or four were quite outstanding and actually had me stop and study them a while. They actually started to tell a human interest sort of story, as you realize that the bullfighters you were seeing just there, now here are being killed in action by the fierce creatures. One, possibly my favorite or second fave, hard-pressed to say, was noticeably different in scenario (depicting the stands, rather than the ring action), and captured in Goya's lines for history the moment the mayor was gored to death by a rampaging bull, titled (translated) "Dreadful Events in the Front Rows of the Ring at Madrid and the Death of the Mayor of Torrejon."

~~Proverbios--I had hubby take two pics of me with pieces in this exhibit that I liked. This one with a tall, light character so like the "death figure" we use in our culture is called "Folly of Fear." (Bigger, clearer image below.) See others in Los Proverbios/DISPARATES series HERE.
The next one, with the winged contraptions, is called "One Way to Fly." This etching is another that I'd seen before. It was even the featured etching in one of the press releases for the Miami exhibit. We all dream of flying, I think, and all envy Superman a bit, and maybe even Icarus for those few glorious moments before the fall.




No pics were taken in the bright central salon that featured The Disasters of War--Los desastres de la guerra (1810-1815). It really was too sombre and too overwhelming. I actually got just very deeply moved and upset. Yes, I'd seen some of these before in books and online. But there's something about doing the circuit--seeing it build, one awfulness after the other. And the stand-outs for me--the mutilations, the rapes, the executions--how can you stand next to that and say cheese? No.

What I found especially moving in juxtaposition to the images was the way Goya titled these creations. "I saw it." "Is this what you were born for?" "Why?" "It happened" "This is still worse" and "What Heroism! Against Dead Men" are two that are particularly horrific and, yes, the latter is one I recognized. One turned darkly ironic by its title was "This is not to be looked at." You can view some selections HERE and HERE, if you are up to it. They will leave you with an urgent need to pray for peace.

I actually was pressing my hand to my chest as I walked out of there. No, we couldn't take pics. It would have felt like an insult to stand next to one of those and pose.

After we left the floor with the Goya exhibit, we visited another room up a flight of stone stairs from the lobby, which had an exhibit of sound art by Janet Cardiff called The Forty-Part Motet:
Cardiff's piece, for those not familiar with this well-traveled sound installation, is a recording of Thomas Tallis's polyphonic choral work from 1575, Spem in alium. Tallis's Latin text translates this way:

I have never put my hope in any other but in you God of Israel who will be angry and yet become again gracious and who forgives all the sins of suffering man. Lord God Creator of Heaven and Earth look upon our lowliness.

For this piece, Cardiff recorded each of the forty unique vocal parts individually. The installation consists of forty speakers arranged in an oval, each speaker playing back a voice of one member of the Salisbury Cathedral Choir. Cardiff's advanced recording and playback technology creates the experience of a live performance that typical two-channel playback cannot. The elliptical installation gives visitors the ability to move around and through the sound in a way that is not possible when the piece is performed by a live choir.


It was just the three of us in this room with dark gray Corinthian columns liberally arranged in the space, a vaulted ceiling reminiscent of monasteries or European old churches, and an aging and peeling bit of map wall art (sad that). Two dark benches set in the middle of forty speakers (go HERE to see what the speakers look like) and a dark floor. It was a moody setting, acoustically interesting. A very cool aural art experience.


Afterwards, with the wind whipping my hair into some crazy mass that kept wanting to hide inside my mouth--ptui!--we headed up Biscayne Boulevard and had a late lunch at The Gourmet Diner. Blew the diet with the luxurious French Onion Soup, double pork chops with roasted potato and steamed broccoli, and, er, chocolate mousse. But that mousee was worth every bit of saturated fat and sugar. Dang.

Goya and chocolate mousse, all in one day with my sister and my soulmate for company. Life is sometimes really good.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I AM LEGEND Trailer Disappoints

Yep. The trailer bored me. How pathetic is that?

Let me say that as a kid, I really liked THE OMEGA MAN. Loved me Charlton Heston kissing up Rosalind Cash. (Gave dusky-skinned, frizzled hair gals like me hope that we, too, could inspire raging desire in the bosom of a Ben-Hurian, Mosaic hero.)

Saw the flick again as a grown-up and found the baddies rather campy. Still dug Heston and Cash. Heston's chesty muscles alone could repopulate a continent with manly men and swoony women.

Enter Will Smith. A multi-talented man who is mighty easy on the eyes of this female. Nice choice. He does action great. He does drama great. He does comedy great (not that I imagine comedic moments being numerous in I AM LEGEND.) A classic post-apocalyptic tale, romance, power in the blood, mutant enemies... and all that added up to a boring trailer. How can that be?

Ah, well. Watch it and see.

~~

Monday, October 29, 2007

Winner of INFORMED CONSENT is...

TRISH!

Thanks to all who entered. Your names went through the usual Mirathon random name selection routine, involving a typed list, scissors, and a bag, followed by shaking thoroughly and fingers plucking out a slip of paper. Low-tech, but it works.

Trish, you need to email me by Thursdays's end at my Google Mail addy, which is MirtikaS atsy gmail dotsy com. (You get the drift.) I'll be forwarding your name and address to the author, Sandra Glahn. So, I'll need all that info (name, snail mailing address) to pass on. OK?

If I don't hear from Trish by Thursday, November 1st, I've got a name in reserve as runner-up, and that person will become the winner.
~~

Violence in Christian Fiction

Drop by Spoiled for the Ordinary, where Jason is discussing this topic which came out of a blog tour for ILLUMINATED by Bronleewe. This topic has come up now and then since Christian publishers began to allow more grit and edge into the works that are being offered to readers.

Join the discussion if this topic is pertinent to your work or to the material you read. I left a comment (which I proofed and tweaked to copy here, cause I never proof my comments and I end up looking like a semi-literate yokel):

Some readers cannot tolerate any but the most minimal level of violence. Others can take more.

I want the violence in fiction to have something actually to do with the theme/characterization. I don't want violence thrown in just cause, "Oh, the book was getting slow, so let me shoot someone in the face."

People are violent. A quick look at any history of humankind, Biblical or secular, or any morning paper clears doubts about that fast. And the nice people who live around you will become violent given the right circumstances. As long as we can be well fed, housed, etc, we can fool ourselves that we're non-violent. But have someone come up and put a knife to your kid's throat, and most so-called pacifists are gonna start looking for a gun or rock or whatever.

And if there's only one loaf of bread left to eat in the city, people will kill to make sure they are the ones who get to feed their own bellies or their kids' bellies. Even nice grandmas will find a way to rip their way to that loaf of bread.

So, fiction, which distills the human experience, whether it's joyful or horrific, has room for the most violent and offensive of human behavior. How does one write about, say, inner city life, a war zone, the Holocaust, a riot without violence? To do so is to whitewash the horror that being human sometimes can become. And the heroic behavior of some is less heroic if we don't properly depict the awfulness in which they act heroically? If someone risks their life to save someone in the midst of a shooting spree, it is deceptive not to show the real awfulness of that shooting spree. Or that bomb. Or that riot. Or that home invasion, etc.

I think that any level of violence is acceptable if it's warranted by the story's genre, tone, the characters, and the situation--that crucible in which we place characters.

For those who don't like the awful truth, there's always escapist fiction of the sweet sort. That has its place and purpose, too. :)


If you wanna see/buy some of the books that have gotten "violence in fiction" discussions going, here they are:

Christian Fantasy: "Small, But Growing"

Read Chip Mac's interview with Dave Horton (Bethany House Publishers), where I noticed THIS, emphasis mine:

You've been in the industry since, um, the Harding Administration, I think. What changes do you see going on in Christian fiction these days? And is there anything about the future you can tell us about?

"Yeah, me and Warren G go way back. One change I've noticed is that the Christian fiction 'box' has expanded a great deal, especially in the past ten years. Make no mistake about it, we're not generally 'outside the box' yet, but in terms of genres (or sub-genres), time periods, settings, character types, subject matter in general, and writing quality, things have changed considerably. Christian fiction is harder to define (or completely dismiss), its realitic intended audience is broader, and the number of writers being published successfully has increased dramatically. Recent encouraging signs: Fantasy fiction has a small but growing audience, historical fiction no longer has to be deadly serious, and wildly imaginative work is making inroads where once it was completely marginalized.


I hope within a year or two that "small, but growing" is "huge and astoundingly avid."

I'm a dreamer!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Christian Fiction: Free Online
"The Novice" by Christina Askounis

Do you like literary fiction, a story told with impeccable prose and deep characterization? A gently-paced story about humans that has an ending to make you sigh and look up to quietyly worship?

Okay. Read "The Novice."

And enjoy the lovely artwork that accompanies the story. Such a gorgeous celestial blue.

~

"Bad Sushi" by Cherie Priest,
"Hello Cthulhu" & More CfC Eps


Was dipping into Apex #10 and read "Bad Sushi."

Okay, the titles sucks. But I liked this short take on Cthulhu with its rising suspense. The dread Old One is not mentioned by name, but come on. Tentacles. Under the Sea. Eats your soul. Eye on world domination and destruction of humanity? Who else can this be?

Nice to read an elderly character (in this case, a 78 year old man born in Japan) who is not afraid to kick ancient bu--er, squooshy appendage.

Well written, creepy, a minority protagonist of advanced age, and some interesting connections between past and present. Thumbs up.

If you like Chthulhu-ish silliness, enjoy HELLO CTHULHU I did.

Oh, and if you missed the more recent uploads in comedic puppet series called CALLS FOR CTHULHU, go catch them now. Find out what Cthulhu's bedding is made of and which is his favorite "Old One" in episode 6. (Oh, this one has a 40 second or so preamble, so be patient.) Xenu shows up.

In episode 7, you'll notice that the names of the Old Ones--such as Shub-Niggurath and Yog-Sothoth--just aren't suited to the Name Game. And Xenu, the Supreme Leader of the Galactic Confederacy, returns. Also, you find out what prize you get if you survive the first wave of Cthulhic devastation and what beverage goes best with tasty human souls. And Cthulhu's mom and dad call into the show.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Query Letters for Fantasy Novels that Sold

Visit Fangs, Fur & Fey and browse some recent blog entries. Their authors are posting the query letters that got attention for books that DID sell. Makes for interesting reading.

If you write fantasy, particularly urban fantasy, this is a mini-class in query letters.


~~

Becky and Fantasy Friday Round-Up

Becky had a great post yesterday with news from the Christian SF world, including a request for prayer for Kathryn Mackel who's had an injury, a link to a nifty interview of Gina (Novel Journey) by Chip MacGregor, and the good sales for the second novel in Polivka's adventure-fantasy trilogy. And more!

Head over and catch up Fantasy Friday.

~~

Win a Copy of INFORMED CONSENT!

NOTE: Originally posted 10/24, I'm altering the date to move it higher for those who still wish to enter.


I tried to edit my previous entry on Sandra Glahn's INFORMED CONSENT, but Blogger is being screwy tonight and won't let me. Dang.

Okay, fine. I'll post the info here for ya.

If you'd like a chance to win a copy of the Christian fiction medical thriller, leave your name (or online moniker) in a comment to this post. I'll choose a name at random and announce the winner by/on Monday, October 29th.

Easy, right?

So, what you waiting for. Comment!

And come back to read my review tomorrow.

~

Edited 10/26 to Add: The names of those in the giveaway as of 4pm today:


Selena of MindFlights
Carmen http://intheopen.blogspot.com/
Karen www.homeschoolblogger.com/3rsandahug
Trish http://2c33.blogspot.com/
Ymp http://writtenwind.blogspot.com/
QTpies http://qtpies7-goodstuff.blogspot.com/
Sally Apokedak
Laura Williams http://laurawilliamsmusings.blogspot.com/
Ashley R http://godslightuponme.blogspot.com/
Lesha http://pinkpeonyboutique.blogspot.com/
Gunny http://gunny93.blogspot.com/



If you want your name added, you have until 4 PM Monday, Oct 29.
If I somehow missed your comment (yes, I can have brain blips), drop another comment right here. I'll check daily.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Creative Christian Fiction Promotion &
How Would YOU Promote Your Book

I just read an article about Allie Pleiter--Christian fiction author--and her research and promotion activities. I thought this was interesting, (emphasis mine)and it's certainly not anything *I* would have thought up, given I am not a craftsy person:

Pleiter will introduce "The Perfect Blend" at the second annual Live Audiobook Knit-In at 7 p.m. today at the coffee bar/yarn store Knitche, 5150 Main St., Downers Grove.

Guests can work on knitting projects (and, of course, drink coffee) while Pleiter reads from the book. The event also will include a short presentation by Intelligentsia Coffee Roasters about fair trade.

The Live Audiobook Knit-Ins first were offered last year to introduce "My So-Called Love Life," Pleiter's seventh book. Both the author and that book's heroine share a common passion for knitting, so it seemed a natural fit.

Even though "The Perfect Blend" doesn't include anything about knitting, the events were so popular that store owners invited Pleiter back.


A knit in. Whoa. People still knit?

That's pretty cool. My mom used to. I have no idea how to.

I think my novel (should the Lord grant it be published) will require an energetic Latin-Dance-in (to get the blood flowing to the brain), followed by an eat-in during which I try to read out loud with a Cuban bocadito sandwich stuffed in my mouth, capped by a 20-minute nap-in, with the provision of promotional fluffy pillows that flaunt the book's artwork on the pillow covers.

Then an extended diet-in begins the next day, when I email all attendees low-cal cookie and sandwich recipes for my next event: the Nouveau Miami Tea-In. Doily hats are de rigeur.

Once we're all thin and pale, we'll have the Goth-In, where we get to wear black leather, lace, and humongous silver crosses (I own three!), sport "Midnight Madness" nail polish and blood red lipstick, while I read the moodier parts of the story as everyone sips black coffee laced with some dark chocolate liquer.

Then I guess we create snarky, broody reviews to post to online bookseller sites.

Gosh I'm tired and I haven't toured yet.

What's your promotional fancy?

No, really. If you had your novel all ready to sell, out there, gorgeous cover, blurbs, flyers, bookmarks, etc. In an ideal world where you have lots of energy and lots of moolah for promotional events, what would YOU like to do that's uniquely YOU?
~~

When Real Life Is Like Good Fiction

We try to get fiction to be like real life, only more interesting and cohesive. What we long for in real life--safety, tranquility, health, a love that sails smoothly forever--don't make for great fiction. Terrific fiction needs surprises, discord, eccentricity, and tragedy, even.

Sometimes, a blog post about real life is like reading a very cool story.

Here is one. Go read it. You'll love it! And I felt so warm in my heart for people I'll never meet.

Thanks Michelle. Whatever you write to publish, make it have this sort of life and humor in it, and an editor will snap it up but fast!

~~

The Mir's Christmas Present is Ordered


Last year, I coveted the Sony Reader.

This Christmas, hubby's getting it for me. Well, a bit before Christmas. We're taking advantage of the free overnight shipping (offer ended yesterday) and the free 100 ebooks (ends in early 2008, that offer).

I chose the dark blue one.

The Brontes and Miss Austen will be downloaded into this baby. And plenty of SF and poetry. And some non-fiction classics I never dipped into. I'll be looking for writing craft downloads, too.

I hope my reading ability is back to total normal by the time it arrives. I'm gonna wanna gorge on words!

Oh, joy.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A Mir Review of INFORMED CONSENT

Sandra Glahn's latest novel seems to me to be miscategorized. The blurbs on the back cover and comments I've seen around the web (including mine in the overview post of Wednesday) refer to it as a medical thriller.

Let me correct that. This is really a medical-family drama. This is not, per se, according to The Mir, a thriller. For it to be a thriller, I need to be swiftly and consistently on the edge of my seat thinking something utterly dreadfall is about to happen around nearly every corner. Thriller's have a fast-pace, throttling suspense, spine-chilling events, well, you get the drift.

So, yes, INFORMED CONSENT is not a thriller. It's a very enjoyable Christian medical drama with an element of mystery and a light touch of suspense. That isn't a diss. That's a recategorization so that readers know what they are getting.

You can find a blurb for it easily enough by googling, by visiting the amazon.com page (see link below), or by reading my previous post on it. But, you're here, so let's see what I can do to help ya decide if this is the book for you:

INFORMED CONSENT takes you into the world of Dr. Jeremy Cramer, a man with trouble in his marriage, traumas of the accidental deaths sort in his past, two children--one of whom will form the crux of Jeremy's dilemma later in the novel--an insufferable superior, and assorted colleagues (good and bad, mostly good). He's also a bright man who happens upon a glimmer of an idea that ends up becoming highly promising medical research that offers hope of restoring health to the end-stage AIDS patients and, well, other good things.

Because of the conflicts in his life, Jeremy is a man under stress. He's also a man of iffy faith. He also seems to be this sort of Jonah. People die around Jeremy. (This, actually, was one of the more interesting things about him. Hah!)

So, the novel delves into familial issues (workaholic dad, neglected-feeling mom, kids who want to see more of daddy) and marital issues (the separation, emotionally, and the hidden dark feelings that can come between a man and wife) and emotional issues (due to tragedies and mishaps). This is really what drives the novel, not the "thriller" aspect. If you don't like the sorts of novels that run on emotion, forget it. If you do like these sorts of conflicts, then read on, this may be for you.

The book opened in such a way that I went, "Oh, this is nice. It's gonna be a literary sort of emotional read." But then it changed. And, in fact, the opening chapters--I have cataloged the weirdness of several Christian fiction novels that just don't seem to get their footing for many chapters, and what is up with that?--feel episodic, bouncing from here to there, with occasions of early dialogue that feel like infodump (here's my research in this character's dialogue!), and the tone not gelling. But gel INFORMED CONSENT eventually does! And very well, too. By mid-book, I was totally, totally hooked. The pace is excellent once it gets that footing after several chapters, with multiple issues giving narrative drive to the story, and people being...people. :)

Characterization is just enough to keep the story going, better in some spots, some that shine, notably when Cramer interacts with Barlow and when Cramer's wife interacts with Barlow's wife. (Barlow's wife ends up being a bit of a surprise, too.) It's not literary novel level characterization. Jeremy actual never gets totally rounded, I think. But Jeremy and his wife are well-drawn enough that you'll care about their pains and problems, which is what a reader wants to do. Care.

There was something that bothered me later in the book: There's this very big contrast between the initial emphasis on Jeremy's memories of family in the beginning and the latter portions, where the concerns of the past just drop off at points when you expect they will be slipping in. That seemed to be an imbalance in the structure to my ubercritical eye. BUT..the epilogue ROCKED. The way the ending referred back to events in the beginning was satisfying, although, again, Jeremy's father really seemed to have vanished in the later part of the book from Jeremy's mind, when he was so uppermost early on, nearly obssessively so.

I found myself at points really interested in a secondary character--Dr. Barlow--and his wife. That's a storyline that I was sorry had to be kept minimal, as I wanted to spend more time with them and their issues. This is a good thing, btw. :) A plus. I like it when the secondary stories get my attention.

Another plus: Minority characters. The main character, as I mentioned in the overview Wednesday, is half Asian Indian. One of the less likable characters is, ahem, Latino. One of the more lovable characters is a black woman born in Aruba. Unfortunately, the bits of culture that are given in the early chapters relating to Jeremy are all the culture we get. His "Indian" part seems to have no effect on his characerization later on. This confused me a bit, as the set-up made me think it would be more important.

Giggles from: The "urinating kidney." Also, the Bee Gee's "Staying Alive" playing in the morgue.

INFORMED CONSENT also does something pretty interesting with DNR orders, and I will say no more in order to avoid spoilers.

This Christian fiction novel is not preachy. Matters of faith are present, but not bang-over-your-head noisy. Because ethical issues are dealt with--DNR, lawbreaking, medical dilemmas--there is some religious context for some characters, but it's not sermonizing.

I read a review somewhere, forget where, that said something similar to what I opine now: There is some distance in the voice. In fact, in a couple spots, there is a jarring use of the term "the father and son" when it's the POV of the father that is used (third person). That threw me out each time. But other than that, there is a sort of alternation between a bit more internal closeness and a clinical distancing, a dryness in the prose. I assumed it was intended since the setting is scientific in part and the protagonist is a doctor-researcher.

CONCLUSION: A solid, enjoyable family/ medical drama with good conflicts and a satisfying resolution. There is some good tension, but not to the level I'd deem "thriller." I'd recommend this for those who like family values fiction with a dose of mystery/suspense and some nice "healing" moments.

If you'd like to have a chance to win a copy of this novel, please leave a comment with your name (or online moniker) under this post or under yesterday's "giveaway" post. Either one. I'll take names until Monday, the 29th.

~~
Read a short excerpt of INFORMED CONSENT.

Wanna buy the book? Here ya go:

Who's Doing NaNoWriMo 2007 with CSF?

If you're doing a Christian spec fic novel this November for NaNoWriMo, leave a comment. Let's buddy up for support. And if you're one of my pals doing any kind of novel for NaNo, ditto. Christian fiction. SF, secular. Chick Lit. Whatever.

If I know you and you know me and you wanna say hey, I'll be there as user "Mirtika." Surprising moniker, huh?

It's good to feel almost normal again. I hate being a Sickly Zombie Girl of Doom.

Note: It's been tough getting onto the site to set up a profile. Be warned. Everyone and their storytelling grandma must be gearing up for the month-long frenzy of CTS-aggravating novel-writing. Ice packs, anyone?

Edited to Add NaNo Names of those Doing NaNoWriMo and In What:
Suzan Robertson (spec fic)
bwwb (comedy)
Selena (maybe)
ZMM (Michelle P)

RGR Inteviews FIREFLY's Jewel

For you FIREFLY fans out there--and if you're NOT a FIREFLY fan, I can only ask WHY?!--drop by Ray Gun Revival. Issue 23 offers an interview by Paul Christian Glenn (RGR co-founder) with Jewel Staite, the cute gal who played Kaylee, the "saucy" mechanic.

Wanna Read Robert Sawyer's AURORA-Winning Tale? I Mean GRATIS?

The link for "Biding Time" is at his blog.

Or try this.

Opening lines:
Ernie Gargalian was fat—“Gargantuan Gargalian,” some called him. Fortunately, like me, he lived on Mars; it was a lot easier to carry extra weight here. He must have massed a hundred and fifty kilos, but it felt like a third of what it would have on Earth.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy Blog Tour: Rogers' BARK OF THE BOG OWL


Rogers takes biblical fiction to a new level in an imaginative fantasy rendition of the story of King David that both enchants and entertains.
--
Publishers Weekly


The blog tour this month sets it's many eyes and blogs on the first of the WILDERKING TRILOGY by Jonathan Rogers, THE BARK OF THE BOG OWL.

I haven't read the books (they are tagged for ages 9-12 or so), but I've heard much praise for them, notably from my pal Sally Apokedak, winner of this year's GENESIS CONTEST in the SF category (and finalist in the Y/A category). Read Sally's interview of Mr. Rogers.

What I want to know is how should I pronounce WILDERKING as in "Wilder King" or does the "wilder" sound like the last two syllables of "bewilder?" Can someone tell me? I really have wondered.

If you want a taste of the "voice," here's a snippet I (shamelessly) sto--er, borrowed from Eve N's blog:

"I don't want no civilizers around my boy!" Mrs. Turtlebane repeated. Then she broke into a greenish grin. "But for them what saves his life, I can make an exception."

She went to work on the vines that bound his feet. When she had gotten him free, Mrs. Turtlebane fell on Aidan with a hug so fierce it nearly squeezed the breath out of him.

The terrible she-feechie was now sobbing. "Hawww, hawww, hawww! You saved my Dobro. Hawww, hawww, hawww. Bless your head and liver. You rescued my sweet Maypop from that bad old panther."


I have to admit. I LIKE that. I may need to read this "kid's" book, after all.

Anyway, drop by the CSFF Blog Tour site for the list of those who blogged about it this month.

If you want a chance to win a copy, rush over to Deena's blog and enter. She's gonna pick a winner by 10/31.

If you want to purchase the books, here ya go:

INFORMED CONSENT by Sandra Glahn:
Christian Fiction & Medical Ethics

Today, I'm shining the spotlight on a novel tagged as a Christian fiction and "medical thriller" that's authored by Sandra Glahn, a writer who has been nominated for a Christy Award (for LETHAL HARVEST) and who has authored a series of well-received Christian Bible study books with delightful titles having to do with one of my favorite beverages, coffee. Mocha on the Mount. Espresso with Esther. Java with the Judges. You get the idea. (Wish I'd thought of it!)

But those aren't the focus today. Today it's INFORMED CONSENT.

I'm giving an overview now, and tomorrow I will post a review. I will note that, in line with my previous two posts, this book features a protagonist whose mother was Asian Indian and an Hispanic secondary character.

A little about the author:

Sandra Glahn, Th.M., is adjunct professor, Christian Education and Pastoral Ministries, at Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS), her alma mater. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Aesthetic Studies (Arts and Humanities) at the University of Texas at Dallas. In addition she serves on the board of the Dallas/Fort Worth Christian Medical and Dental Associations, the Evangelical Press Association, and on the advisory board of Hannah’s Prayer.

Sandra is editor in chief of Dallas Seminary's award-winning quarterly magazine, Kindred Spirit. She has also contributed to numerous magazines including Reader’s Digest and HomeLife.


Read her full online bio HERE.

Now, a little about the book:

Jeremy Cramer, M.D. is the next Einstein of infectious disease research. While working on a way to revive water submersion victims, he makes a breakthrough discovery in AIDS research that thrusts him into the center of a media frenzy. But the publicity turns negative and his marriage reaches the breaking point when he accidentally infects a colleague and his negligence allows his son to contract a lifethreatening disease. The viruses test the limits of his new formula and his ethics.


The title refers to a medical term defined thusly : "Consent by a patient to a surgical or medical procedure or participation in a clinical study after achieving an understanding of the relevant medical facts and the risks involved."

The author talks about the "what if" moment in an interview you can read at Jennifer T's blog:

How did you come up with this story? Was there a specific 'what if' moment?

The story had a thousand or more “what if” moments. I'’m pursuing a PhD in Aesthetic Studies, and I worked on the setting, characters, a lot of the plot, as well as my narrative voice during three novel-writing classes taught by a novelist who writes fiction reviews for Publishers Weekly. And I got some great feedback from fellow students who don’'t believe in Christ about ways to address faith issues more naturally. I also took a Dante class, which influenced my choice to give my characters five of the seven deadly sins. (I'’m saving the other two for a future work.)

But the elements in the plot designed to keep readers up at night came through a brainstorming session with medical doctor, William Cutrer, with whom I’'ve coauthored three medical novels.


Read a short excerpt of INFORMED CONSENT.

Wanna buy the book(s) mentioned here? Here ya go:


Read other entries in the blog tour for INFORMED CONSENT, for example:

23-Oct Michelle Pendergrass
25-Oct Elaina Avalos
26-Oct Becky Laney
27-Oct Jenny Cary

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

More on Multi-Culti & Black Spec Fic


Valerie gave me a heads up in a comment under yesterday's post to an entry over at the Lost Genre Guild on the subject of minority spec fic.

Christian and black and Specfic--oh my!

Carole McDonnell is very open and detailed in her concerns, especially regarding her experience and perspective as a black woman, one who writes SF. I suggest you get on over there and read the post. I could quote her, but I'd rather you read the whole thing. I don't care if you're white-majority or brown-minority (or yellow-minority or red-minority)--check it out.

Carole has a book out, WIND FOLLOWER Order it! (I plan to.)

Monday, October 22, 2007

Black Writers of Speculative Fiction

"Black Science Fiction and Fantasy."
Farai Chideya talks with fantasy writer Tananarive Due, science fiction writer Steven Barnes, and speculative fiction editor Sheree R. Thomas.

I'm listening to this as I type. It's an NPR program from August 13, not that long ago, and it includes a comment from the late Octavia Butler. I'm multi-racial, and as such, the depiction of minorities in fiction is a subject of some interest to me.

I remember when I was a teen reading SF, I could not think of any SF author of color other than Delany, and I'm not a huge Delany fan. Sorry. Jewish authors abounded, atheist authors abounded. But for a devout Christian Hispanic gal, finding folks like me was, well, a quest worthy of a fantasy novel. I had the same problem reading romances and Christian fiction. Those worlds tended to be very, very white.

Snippets & My comments:

Due: "You want to read work that reflects yourself. If you don't see it on the page in front of you, as a writer, you're challenged to write it yourself."


I know back in the late 80's and early 90's, when I was a romance reading fiend, I didn't see Christian people who were devout except, occasionally, in a historical novel (medieval, Western, etc). I would talk on romance reader boards about how romance was "functionally atheistic." Christian romance filled a void. Christian SF fills another, because ABA SF tends to reflect a secular view (the majority I've read), with occasions of outright hostility or sneering at the religiously devout, especially of the "conservative Christian" sort. When you don't see yourself reflected in the genre you enjoy reading, then you are challenged, as a writer, to fill that void, and you're frustrated as a reader, unless you can (as many of us have had to learn to do) just put up with the absence of the major world religion or the hostility to it.

Due: "Categories are a fact of life."


Being labeled a "Christian SF author" can be very limiting and, to some, irritating, just as some don't want to be labeled by their minority status: Hispanic fantasy novelist, Black supernatural suspense novelist, Asian Chick Lit novelist. With the emphasis on branding, I don't know how to escape this. If a publisher feels that the Hispanic market (a growing sector of the US population) is underserved and ready to be tapped more broadly, then they will seek that "Hispanic X-Genre Novelist." Or if you're Christian, you may be tagged by that little cutesy branding phrase that sets you apart as a Christian suspense or Christian prairie romance or Christian edgy thriller writer.

Good or bad? Limiting or smart? I'm divided.

Due talks about being marketed at first to black women (Terry McMillan readers), but branched out, attracting horror and mystery readers.

Due: "Even though there is an attraction to the supernatural, because of what people have in their own backgrounds culturally, I think there's also been a reticence on the part of some black readers to open my books, because of the sense--either because of religious reasons or stories their grandmother told them--that somehow they're inviting an evil into their world. So, I hear from book clubs that they have to fight sometimes to get my books on the list"

Well, that sounds familiar? :)

Barnes: "Science fiction and fantasy are very much the mythology of the 20th and 21st century, and the central mythology of any group of people is "God created us first and loves us best." So, science fiction is absolutely 99.9% white people and their imaginary friends. They don't believe that about themselves, they don't believe they're heir to the same perceptual problems that the rest of the human race has. But they do. So, if you put a non-white person on the cover of the book, you'll hurt the sales."


I agree with this. And I think it's sad. But there's a lesson in it beyond race and for all writers: Be careful about exclusions. Yes, write what you know best, but stretch a bit. If you're a Christian writer, be aware of not demonizing non-Christians. If you're an atheist writer, beware demonizing non-atheists. If you're white, do you have books by minority authors on your coffee table? If you're minority, are you depicting those unlike yourself in a fair manner?

I would happily retire the sneering, "Dead White Men" phrase from criticizing the canon--literary or SF or Christian. It shouldn't matter that they were white or men or that they're not alive. If it's good, it's good. Dead (and living) white men and women have given loads of reading pleasure.

But we live in a time very conscious of bigotry and wrongs committed (on all sides, in all countries) because of prejudice. It never hurts to self-examine and see if we're painting a limited world out of fear or prejudice or, well, just habit.

Barnes: "I know that as time goes on the aversion factor, the sense of the other, the sense of guilt based on things that happened in the past, all of those things combining with the natural human tendency towards just considering your group to be more beautiful and wonderful and intelligent than whatever the other group is--and these barriers take time; and it takes education. And, you know, hope springs eternal."

~~

Friday, October 19, 2007

This May Be Too Small For My House...

...but it sure would suit me as a Writing House-let. I mean, a mini-house behind or to the side of the main house, as a writing/meditative retreat.

Yes. Yes. This could work.

hat tip to Elliot for the link to the houselet.

~

Coming Out of the Haze

Looks like I'm starting to feel better. I was actually able to mop my kitchen floor yesterday. This is a good sign.

Today, I'm going to see if I can read. I got a book for promotinal purposes--and I'll be posting next week. I need to be ABLE to read it.

I know, that sound odds, but I haven't been able to read a novel without an exceedingly massive effort since, well, do the blog math. Focusing, concentrating, that whisked away "lost in it" thing--these have eluded me. I've had to stick with nonfiction that I can read in short spurts. I have barely been able to write anything creative. I couldn't edit worth a dang.

I did get to a few MINDFLIGHTS submissions this week, but tired quickly. And I don't mean tired sarcastically. I mean actually got brain tired.

A wonky liver and endocrine system plus family issues make for major suckage. Plus, a touch of depression from the body being off balance and the emotions in a bit of turmoil. Thankfully, the Big Blues stayed away. This was a chamber music version of the blues, and not the major symphonic one.

So, I hope you missed me. A little.

Trying to get back on this bloggy horse feels weird...

Anyone have terrific news I missed? Do clue me in. Link me to your news or something.

Next week brings a new CSFF Blog Tour. Soon, many of you will be NaNoing away (what, two weeks away?)

On the plus side: I've lost like 14 pounds. Some went off in a not altogether pleasurable manner (ie, I got some nasty, short-lived virus.) Oh, and I have a new pic of hubby. Since his face makes me happy, maybe it'll make you feel good, too. Voila:



He's so hot he makes me get all woozy. (No, that's not the stomach bug.)

I also got him some Halloween Art from Len of MonsterByMail.Com, titled "Count Chuckula, the TechnoMaster Vampire of Miami":


On the brain-stimulation, spirit-nourishing front, I just pre-ordered this baby:



Amazon has it at a nice, reduced price and if you pre-order it now, you get an additional 5% off.

I also ordered these:



I'd gone through a really apathetic state, hardly able to read the Word. Now, I'm like a woman crazed with thirst. I'll take thirst over the apathy any day!

The Mir is (kinda) back.

Lemme see about getting myself re-oriented.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Winners in my Book Giveaways

Yes, yes, I'm late in selecting and posting. The Mir still is not feeling her normal self, hence the minimal blogging.

But, I finally did the cut-strips, put names, pick random winner thingie, and here they are:

For the SUSHI FOR ONE? giveaway:

Linda Schab
Linda, you didn't put an email, so you need to leave a comment here with your email (disguised in the usual ways to prevent spambots from nabbing you). If I don't hear from you by Thursday, Oct 11, I'll choose another winner in this category. I need to have the winner's name in to the author by Friday, so it's imperative you give me your personal contact info ASAP.

For the AUSTIN BOYD or CSF giveaway:

Matt Mikalatos

Edited to Add: As of Wednesday, noon, I still have not heard from Linda.
Matt, your book is on its way as I type.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Novel Giveaways:
Do you want your name here?

So far, my entries for the CSF giveaway:

Dona Watson
Fantasythyme
Matt Mikalatos
Katie Hart
dbe/db3b2000
ForstRose
Sarah
Brittanie

And for the SUSHI FOR ONE? giveaway:

Karen P
Linda S
Carmen Andres
Lesha

(Scroll down to earlier posts on the specific giveaways. The limitations and details on how to enter are in previous posts from this week.)