Thursday, November 29, 2007

About the KING RAVEN CD Giveaway

I'll extend blogging about Scarlet (to qualify for the cd) from the current Saturday deadline through to next Wednesday (the 5th). That gives it a week from yesterday's post.

I'll pick a winner and announce who Monday, December 10th.

So, you have a bit longer to enter. See rules at the end of yesterday's CSFF Blog Tour post.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour: HOOD, SCARLET, Reviews, a Robin-like Saint, and a Music Giveaway

Sorry to spaz out yesterday, but I had stomach woes and urinary woes, and I got a bit out of sorts.

So, this will be longish to make up. (Stay tuned to the end to find out how to enter the giveaway for the MUSIC inspired by these novels.)


So, on to Robin Hood and Will Scarlet, the folkloric figures that inspired Mr. Lawhead's KING RAVEN TRILOGY novels: HOOD and SCARLET.

Who doesn't have some inkling of the Robin Hood tales? The story is so widespread in our culture. There's even a show currently on cable tv's BBC-AMERICA, yet another dramatisation of the story of Robin and his "Merry Men" and their battles with the bad Sheriff and Sir Guy.

How did this folklore develop?

It seems as though every schoolchild knows who Robin Hood is: a noble outlaw in Sherwood Forest who fights the oppressive evil of Prince (or King) John by robbing from the rich and giving to the poor. The earliest appearances of Robin are at odds with this romantic notion, as Robin is a violent yeoman who steals from the dishonest and helps those whom he pleases. Perhaps the one constant feature of the legend is his placement in the center of England, in the Sherwood and Barnsdale area. This first case presents some of the venues in which Robin Hood appears. The earliest tales of Robin Hood largely focus on Robin encountering someone in the forest, and either fighting with them or inviting them to dine, after which they would be asked to pay for their dinner. These tales were often collected in books called “garlands” (see the first text in this case). During the Tudor period, Robin was gentrified by Anthony Munday, in his two plays The Downfall of Robert, Earle of Huntington and The Death of Robert, Earle of Huntington (both 1601). Today, most people first encounter Robin through films or children’s books, like Howard Pyle’s work.
--Read the rest of "Robin Hood: Development of a Popular Hero."

It was probably inevitable that Robin would morph, even as fairy tales have morphed from their devastatingly dark and violent origins into friendlier, gentler, more likable Disneyfied fare. We want the hero to be good and noble, much better than the villain, and we change him (or her) to be what we want, suitable often for children we wish to keep away from shady reality.

At the end of the above-mentioned article, you find a reference to our blog tour subject:

Lawhead attempts to historicize the tale and adds a spiritual element to Robin Hood by placing his novel in Wales during the reign of William II (Rufus, 1087–1100). He spent much of his reign extorting money from his subjects and the church in an effort to wrest Normandy from his elder brother; this situation resonates with the modern idea of (Prince) John raising taxes to ransom Richard I (1189–99) or simply for his own purposes when king (1099–1216). An unpopular king, William also continued his father’s attempts to take Wales by granting its land to his barons. In Lawhead’s book, Robin is one of the dispossessed Welsh nobles who fights back.]

In adding spirituality, Lawhead merely returns to where Robin has been. Read this excerpt from one of the earliest texts on the Robin myth, A GEST OF ROBYN HODE:

"A gode maner than had Robyn;
In londe where that he were,
Every day or he wold dyne
Thre messis wolde he here.

The one in the worship of the Fader,
And another of the Holy Gost,
The thirde of Our dere Lady,
That he loved allther moste."

That's a lot of masses. That's a devout hero!

Now, since the trilogy features the Robin character (King Raven) and Will Scarlet (with a name variant), let's see how these kinsmen meet, from "Robin and Will Scarlet," another old ballad based on the folklore:

"I met with a stranger," quoth Robin Hood then,
"Full sore he hath beaten me."
"Then I'le have a bout with him," quoth Little John,
"And try if he can beat me."

"Oh, oh, no," quoth Robin Hood then,
"Little John, it may be so;
For he's my own dear sisters son,
And cousins I have no mo.

"But he shal be a bold yeoman of mine,
My chief man next to thee,
And I Robin Hood and thou Little John,
And Scarlet he shall be,

"And wee'l be three of the bravest outlaws
That is in the North Country."
If you will have any more of bold Robin Hood,
In his second part it will be.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson also dived into the lore with his play "The Foresters." I particularly like how he SHOWS (Act I; Scene III) the personality--the humor, the rascal quality--of Will Scarlet:

Let be the 'Earl.' Henceforth I am no more
Than plain man to plain man.

Well, then, plain man,
There be good fellows there in merry Sherwood
That hold by Richard, tho' they kill his deer.

In Sherwood Forest. I have heard of them.
Have they no leader?

Each man for his own.
Be thou their leader, and they will all of them
Swarm to thy voice like bees to the brass pan.

They hold by Richard--the wild wood! to cast
All threadbare household habit, mix with all
The lusty life of wood and underwood,
Hawk, buzzard, jay, the mavis and the merle,
The tawny squirrel vaulting thro' the boughs,
The deer, the highback'd polecat, the wild boar,
The burrowing badger--by Saint Nicholas,
I have a sudden passion for the wild wood--
We should be free as air in the wild wood--
What say you? shall we go? Your hands, your hands!
[Gives his hand to each. You, Scarlet, you are always moody here.

'T is for no lack of love to you, my lord,
But lack of happiness in a blatant wife.
She broke my head on Tuesday with a dish.
I would have thwack'd the woman, but I did not,
Because thou sayest such fine things of women,
But I shall have to thwack her if I stay.

Would it be better for thee in the wood?

Ay, so she did not follow me to the wood.

Then, Scarlet, thou at least wilt go with me.


How has Lawhead's new vision of the Robin Hood story gone over?

Well, it isn't unanimous. I've seen divergent reviews. From very low scores, calling it plodding and overly full of description and historical detail. And I've seen gushing praise, calling it thoroughly entertaining and great fun. So, how you enjoy it may depend on what you're looking for (or not) in a new take on an old tale.

Here are examples of the reviews:

A critical that gives it a lowish rating, but also offers nifty observations and quotes--and therefore is worth reading--is at Here is one of the things I enjoyed in that review:
One interesting point is this notion of the deadly sin of wrath that Bran exhibits at times. He literally becomes confused and blinded by rage. The Robin Hood of contemporary myth is a rake and a rogue. He is the James Bond with the quip and the Hannibal Smith of the A-Team with his regard for personal profit. There is no Wrath in these characters just as there is seldom Wrath in Robin Hood. But what causes Robin Hood to be Robin Hood? A man who is willing to "rage against the machine" even if it just taxes and he does it with a wink of the eye as he does in these legends certainly bespeaks a kind of fury that is buried deep beneath the surface and never dies. While our Bran in this book is certainly justified in being angry over the loss of his birthright--a tired plot device--how that wrath infects and reinterprets the legend is a fine achievement.

Another interesting effect is how Christianity is used. As some of the critics mentioned above, each "side" uses it to justify their actions. But it's more than that. Particularly courageous for this author who publishes on Christian themes and using a Christian publisher, he shows how religion--at least organized religion--becomes merely another political tool to be used for oppression, for gain, and for dim justification for raiding, for taking, and for the general acquisition of more power. Just like the conquistadors of Spain ravaging the new world for Glory, God, and Gold so we see the Normans invading for very similar reasons under the guise of God. Opposing this corruption of the Holy Church is only the heathenish magic of the Welsh (though doubtless will ultimately be revealed as the same source). Can Christians cheer for the pagans?

From Grasping For the Wind, a positive review:

The novel is well-written; it is fast paced, with excellent fight scenes, and makes a good lunch hour read with its short chapters and varying perspectives. Odo provides a surprising character and interesting plot twist that makes this book even more fun to read. And of course, this is still the legend of Robin Hood, even if the setting is different, so many of the adventures are in the vein that fans of the Robin Hood legend have come to expect. Arrow flights abound, close shaves are common, and brazen acts of valor are to be expected.

Scarlet makes for a good read, although it is not Lawhead's best work. Fans of Robin Hood will enjoy Lawhead's unique take on the legend, as well as his commitment to historical accuracy. Fans of fantasy will question the novel's fantasy label, as well they should. But there is an element of magic in the person of Angharad and in the strange King Raven that Bran becomes when on a sortie, so the fantasy fan will not be disappointed. Fans of historical novels of medieval times will find much to love in both Hood and Scarlet, and Lawhead devotees (such as myself) are going to find all of the same things they have always loved about Lawhead's writing in Scarlet. This is a novel worth your time. The legend of Robin Hood is brought closer to its historical truth, and given an added Celtic flair that only Stephen Lawhead can provide.


Of religious interest, there's a saint with a serious Robin Hood vibe,
Originally an apprentice shoemaker in Moscow, he adopted an eccentric lifestyle of shoplifting and giving to the poor to shame the miserly and help those in need. He went naked and weighed himself down with chains. He rebuked Ivan the Terrible for not paying attention in church, and especially for his violent behaviour towards the innocent.

When he died on August 2, 1552 or 1557, St. Macarius, Metropolitan of Moscow, served his funeral with many clergy. Ivan the Terrible himself acted as pallbearer and carried his coffin to the cemetery. He is buried in St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow, which was commissioned by Ivan and is named after the saint. Basil was formally canonised around 1580. His feast day is celebrated on August 2.


Yes, I decided that, in the giving Spirit of Christmas, I will have a giveaway. Not of the books--I'm sure someone on the tour is giving some away. Check the links. I'll be giving away one of the cds based on the King Raven Trilogy by Stephen R. Lawhead.

The music is by a Christian musician who has found much inspiration in the works of Mr. Lawhead: Jeff Johnson.

Many years back, I acquired, when it first came out, Johnson's first SONG OF ALBION album. I never finished the Lawhead books which inspired those soundscapes, but I still have the cassette somewhere in my chaos.

This week, I acquired both of the KING RAVEN cds that are out. You now have a chance to win one.

How to enter/rules:

1. See my sidebar note. I'm only accepting entries from folks in the 48 contiguous states. Why? Cause that saves me on shipping via That's it. It's all about the budget. Sorry.

2. What you gotta do: Blog about Scarlet, and use the url we've been using during this tour to promote it. You don't have to be a member of the CSFF Blog Tour. But you need to have a blog, and you need to post something about SCARLET (and HOOD, too, if you wish) at some point during THIS week (which ends Saturday). It can be a one sentence post, as long as it contains a link to the amazon url that we use to promote the novel. This is the url for SCARLET:

If you have a thing against amazon, a link to Mr. Lawhead's official site counts as an acceptable substitution in such a case.

3. Post a comment UNDER THIS BLOG ENTRY with the url/link to where you mention Scarlet ON YOUR BLOG.

4. Check back next week. I will choose a winner based on a random selection. I will need your name and address IF you are the winner in order to send the cd to you.

Rules Recap: 1. live in the lower 48 states. 2. Blog with the Scarlet url. 3. Comment here with a url/link to your qualifying blog post. 3. Wait for me to choose a winner next week.

(If you are a member of the tour, your CSFF Blog Tour posts count, as long as you fit the above rules with regard to location, posted urls, and comment to this post.)

This post is oberlong, so please refer to my Monday post for the list of tourmates. Visit them. See what they have to say.

Happy reading! (And listening!)


For the second time in 47 years, I do believe I have a bladder infection.

I guess I'll be calling up the doc. Sigh. It's hardly a biggie, but I'll take prayer, if you're so disposed. I'm not terribly comfy in my nethers. Ow.


NYT's 100 Notable Books of 2007

Ready for the coveting to begin? At least, the higher-brow sort of coveting for bibliophiles?

Here ya go: The New York Time's 100 Notable Books of 2007

Their Top 10 of 2007 will be available on their site online tomorrow, the 28th.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Picked out My 2008 Wall Calendar --
Look Upon It and Be Entranced

Continuing with the art vibe--and I'm not done, beware--I've found the wall calendar for my bathroom! Yay! (Yes, bathroom. It's there, first thing after I wake up, unavoidable as I, er, void, reminding me of doc appointments, weigh-ins, birthdays, holidays, events, hubby's business trips, etc).

It's a beauty! It can't help but be, cause it features the stunning artwork of Kinuko Y. Craft, whom I've mentioned several times on this blog as one of my MOST FAVEST artists working in SF. I started reading Patricia McKillip cause of a Craft cover. Lucky writer.

(If I ever become heiress of a fortune, Miss Craft will be visted by yours truly and an acquisition frenzy will ensue. Oh, yeah!)

Here it is. Feel free to sign and drool with envy. Or just order your own.

I also preordered the paperback version of the book on Kinuko's art. It is to swoon.

Such gorgeousness makes one thank God loudly and repeatedly for having eyes to see, even stinky obermyopic and now presbyopic eyes like mine. It really does.

Madeline Von Foester's Fantasy Art

In my unquenchable thirst for more visual stimulation of the artistic and fantastical sort, I've come upon an artist I hadn't heard of before, and man, is her stuff wonderful. It's got the fantasy vibe mixed with a style that evokes centuries past. The modern meets the historical... and it works. Two of my favorite artistic influences color her work--the Pre-Raphaelites and surrealism. Add a touch of tapestry beauty here and the flavor of the Flemish masters, and you get...Madeline Von Foester's creations.

Visit her gallery. Browse. Go, "Wow."


Christian Fantasy Authors:
Drop by and Chat with Space Marine...

...and give him an answer to the question in his post:

Where are all the Christian fantasy authors? And no, I don't want an allegory.

Are we just to read Lord of the Rings over and over?

No recommendations for allegories, please.

Monday, November 26, 2007

For Writers: Lots of Calls for Subs

Over at DARK PARABLES, a looooong blog post offers you a list of various publishers calling for submissions. Go see.


Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy Blog Tour: Stephen R. Lawhead's SCARLET

Well, I and hubby have been searching the house for over a week, looking for my copy of HOOD, the first book in the KING RAVEN TRILOGY by Stephen Lawhead.


Because today begins the three-day tour for SCARLET, the second book in the trilogy.

I wasn't about to buy and read the second when I can't find the first, which I already bought. YEESH.

So, here I am. I haven't read HOOD (which, I BOUGHT months ago!) or SCARLET. But, that's never stopped me from blogging on a book tour before. After all, this is about promoting and publicizing, not just reviewing or critiquing.

For fans of Christian fantasy, Stephen Lawhead needs no introduction. Even if you have never read any of his books--TALIESIN, BYZANTIUM, SONG OF ALBION trilogy, MERLIN, ARTHUR, etc--you must have come across the author's name. If you regularly scan the bookshelves in the fantasy section of megastores, you must have come across several of his titles. He's always there. At least, in my experience.

I hesitated before buying HOOD. I'm kind of burnt out on Robin Hood tales. I was never a huge fan of them, anyway, despite enjoying the Errol Flynn/Olivia de Haviland match-up as a kid; despite Sean C and Audrey H in Robin and Marian; despite the cool Clannad soundtrack for the television import with a really handsome dark-haired Robin from, oh, back in the '80s. (Everybody sing: "Robin...the hooded man!");despite the magnificent Morgan Freeman stealing the whole show from Kevin "I can't keep an English accent going for more than two syllables" Costner in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. No. I'm just not a Robin Hood sorta gal.

But you might be. So, pay attention during the tour. Visit the sites. Buy the book, if you think it's up your alley.

Here's a snapshot of each novel:

HOOD, : In Book One of The King Raven Trilogy, Bran ap Brychan finds his world ripped from its foundation as invaders topple his father's kingdom and send the young prince fleeing into the forest. Readers will be spellbound with this entirely fresh take on this legendary figure--where the familiar and unexpected collide into something wholly original.
From the ashes of ruin, a reluctant hero begins to emerge . . . yet his greatest enemy may be himself.

Read an excerpt from HOOD.

SCARLET: The second installment of a completely re-imagined epic of the man known as Robin Hood--told in a far more eerie, earthy, and elemental way than ever before.
As the story of King Raven continues, the stakes grow ever higher and the lives of Bran's band hang ever more in the balance. Will Scarlet is about to be hung and Bran discovers a secret that leads them to a desperate sea voyage to France through a vicious storm in a daring attempt to reveal the plot against King William by his brother, Duke Robert, and the greedy Baron de Braose.

Will Bran's loyalty re-gain him the throne of Elfael? Or will his efforts only increase the sheriff's determination to destory King Raven?

Read an excerpt from SCARLET.

Tomorrow, some interesting stuff on the Robin Hood folklore and tangents. Wednesday, something on the MUSIC that was inspired by the trilogy. I may have a cd giveaway. I am undecided. My budget is frowning madly at me. Let me think about it some more.

Now, go forth unto my blog tourmates, many of whom have actually have an organized library and have read these novels, which they have not disgracefully and ungallantly misplaced:

Trish Anderson
Brandon Barr
Wayne Thomas Batson
Jim Black
Justin Boyer
Grace Bridges
Amy Browning
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
Chris Deanne
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Linda Gilmore
Beth Goddard
Marcus Goodyear
Andrea Graham
Jill Hart
Katie Hart
Sherrie Hibbs
Timothy Hicks
Christopher Hopper
Becca Johnson
Jason Joyner
Dawn King
Tina Kulesa
Mike Lynch
Karen McSpadden
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirtika or Mir's Here
Eve Nielsen
John W. Otte
John Ottinger
Lyn Perry
Deena Peterson
Cheryl Russel
Ashley Rutherford
Hanna Sandvig
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Rachelle Sperling
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Robert Treskillard
Jason Waguespac
Daniel I. Weaver
Laura Williams
Timothy Wise

Wanna buy the novels and the cd? Here ya go:


Or we're doomed!


Sunday, November 25, 2007

TORCHWOOD: "Captain Jack Harkness" --
Jack Smooches Jack in a Moving Episode

Well, the preview had showed a glimpse of a gay smooch, and the show indeed showcased a very passionate male-male kiss.

What was more surprising to me--given that I was bored by the previous time rift episode and tuned out before it was over--is that this one ended up ranking as my second favorite TORCHWOOD episode of the four or five I've seen. I dunno, maybe even tied for favorite with "Small Worlds." (I thought the climactic scene in that latter episode, the one with the fairies, was a great moment of making a tough decision. And the final shot referring to the Cottingdale photos, a nice touch. Plus, hey, FAIRIES! They're cool.)

Mostly, though, I don't get why TORCHWOOD is so popular. Unless it's the fact that John Barrowman is so ridiculously good-looking that he appeals to all factions: straight men (who want to look that hot), gay men (who want to date him) and women (who drool when he's onscreen).

(What is in the water in Scotland! My goodness some amazing men come from yonder stock!)

Other than serving it up for those who want regular doses of omnisex promiscuity with their SF, it's pretty unimpressive. The acting, well, it can get really hammy or stiff. Even Barrowman as Jack is quite uneven. The best he's done in the show was in the most recent episode(ie, yesterday's "Captain Jack Harness"). None of the principal characters convinces me that he or she is actually a sharp, competent investigator/computer expert/scientist/whatever. They all just seem so...stupid. And easily distracted. And stupid.

Tosh and Owen continue to be endlessly annoying. And Gwen, with her open-mouthed brain dead look, isn't adding any oomph to the show. Ianto is disposable. Jack, well, he's sometimes intense and on the job. Someone has to be.

This is supposed to be a very cool, elite, secret group, and they're a bunch of idiots with overactive hormones. We've already had Tosh (previously hot for one of the men on the show) getting frisky with the blonde alien in female flesh, an episode that showed some amazingly bad acting/writing/directing. Then Owen going gaga over time-displaced chick, and his stupidity thereafter. (Maybe he's gonna get it on with Ianto next, just to keep up the omnisex vibe.) The foolishness that ensues when sex comes into play--look at Owen and the rift machine or Ianto and metal-miss--makes me think that they need to all take a vow of celibacy before being allowed to enter Torchwood headquarters again.

People can actually have a romantic life and retain their maturity level, right?

But back to the Jack-Jack episode: It worked. Mostly. When it was about Jack/Jack and set in the past. When it was set in the present, egads.

It worked because there was real, wonderful, consistent conflict and human drama going on between Captain Jack of Torchwood and the real Captain Jack (whose identity has been stolen by the 51st century "Jack"). The yearnings were well-played and powerful when mixed with the dread of one Jack knowing what the other did not: death loomed for the real Captain. I could actually believe that the Real Captain Jack was totally falling in love with Torchwood's Capt. Jack. Not just lust, which is understandable, but love. The actor conveyed this well, in addition to a growing urgency as time ran out. And Torchwood's Jack showed he had a heart. Sometimes, he doesn't seem to, so this was refreshing.

The kiss scene was touchingly done, but it was also a big fat unbelievable lie in its given context. And while it was obvious in its gay acceptance agenda; it was, as drama, nicely played out. One couldn't help but feel the terrible pains and frustrations of the two men, each for different reasons. However, I just don't see a roomful of 1940's military guys and Brit gals just standing by quietly while two men swap serious spit in the middle of a dance floor. Someone was gonna whack someone, or at least yell some very nasty names. It was impossible to swallow. And it damaged the scene, the moment. I think the dance and kiss in a more private setting would have worked and been more credible. But the whole, "We're gonna do it in the open and you better deal with it" political stance/metaphor may have been what justified setting it thusly. I understand the politics. It was crap logic, though, to not let there be consequence.

The genuine feeling that passed between Jack and Jack during the episode was the most mature stuff I've seen on TORCHWOOD, and by mature I mean "deep" and not "graphic." It ended up being about a doomed man and a doomed romance.

It was good gay romantic drama. It was lousy SF.

I watch TORCHWOOD inconsistently, and I only started watching cause of my warm fuzzies for the new Doctor Who. Jack the Immortal is a character with some interest for me. But, if they can't make the next season more grown-up--and by grown up I mean make the characters smarter and less skanky-dumb--I'll give up on it. No matter how telegenic Captain Jack is.

After all, David Tennant may not be nearly as hunky, but he's a better actor with better scripts and an exuberance that's delightful. I usually feel good with Doctor Who. I usually feel like I need a disinfectant and a brain booster after TORCHWOOD.

Time Again to SPEC THE HALLS

Spec the Halls is a contest for speculative winter holiday-themed fiction, artwork, and poetry. The holiday may be fictional or real; it may be Christmas or Yuletide as we know and love it, or it may be something much stranger.

If I remember rightly, my pal Chris got a story pubbed at RGR, one he initially wrote for the Spec the Halls contest.

If you're up to entering--fiction, poetry, or artwork--get the specifics: SPEC THE HALLS

Free entry if you post it in a public site (your blog, your website, etc). Entry fee if you want to send it via email and keep it off the public viewways.

Pixy, I hope you're entering something. You, too, Chris-Man.


Saturday, November 24, 2007

In Case You Need More To Read:
The 3-1-6 Journal

Noticed two familiar names in the list of contributors to Issue #2:

Heather (aka Elfin Queen Blue-Bearer)
Mikey D (The DeComposer).

Check it out here.


Hillbilly Fairy Stories?

Since hillbilly fairies actually exist (and Holly Durr's seen 'em), I just wanna know where the hillbilly fairy tales are archived.


Friday, November 23, 2007

I AM LEGEND: Stephen King Gushes

Stephen King and Frank Darabont have a little interchange over at SciFiScanner, talking about SF books that influenced them, that made me giggle. I think it's the boyish enthusiasm that comes through.

Tell me this doesn't make you want to find your copy and reread it (or read it for the first time):

KING: The biggest influence on my life, and it’s gonna be a movie [again] in December, I am Legend by Richard Matheson. I read Poe and all those guys, and I thought that they were good, but I didn’t have that kind of visceral connection where I thought oh yeah, this guy is doing it on my block, I like that.

DARABONT: That’s one of my top five favorite books.

KING: I love that.

DARABONT: It’s high on the list.

KING: And it’s on the best seller list again now too.

DARABONT: Is it really?

KING: Yeah.

DARABONT: Oh good, they’re reading the book ‘cause—does [the new movie] really look like I Am Legend or does it look like kind of a remake of The Omega Man?

KING: I haven’t seen the movie, they’re reading the book.

DARABONT: Yeah, that’s great, that’s awesome.

They mention many familiar names familiar to those of us who grew up watching/reading SF: Beaumont, Block, Bradbury ("a god"). Even Walter M. Miller, Jr. gets a shout-out. Modern writers get mentioned as well, including Alan Moore and David Mamet (for dialogue). Kelly Link's the only woman mentioned, as I recall, but even a luminary such as Gene Wolfe has praised Miz Link's imagination and prose, so, not surprising. :)

Christian Author Jeffrey Overstreet Responds to Pullman's HIS DARK MATERIALS

“I’m trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief.”
--Philip Pullman, describing his fantasy trilogy to The Washington Post in 2001.

Thinking Christian "strongly" recommends Jeffrey Overstreet's (AURALIA'S COLORS)blog entry: "THE GOLDEN COMPASS: Questions I've Been Asked--Answers I've given."

I also strongly recommend it. It's a balanced series of posts, with negatives and positives, even wondering how much responsibility we, The Church, should take for Pullman's negative views. I liked his discussion on the "straw God" Pullman has set up.

Some quotes:

In a time when the slightest question about Islam sets off a wave of anger about political incorrectness, it’s amazing how Pullman is celebrated for openly, aggressively, and ignorantly slandering Christianity. In a time when you can get in trouble for praying in school, or for showing religious intolerance, isn’t it interesting that no one has questioned the presence of these books in school libraries since Pullman started saying these things back in 1995?

If we respond with wrath, condemnation, and protest, we play right into Pullman’s naive caricature of Christianity. I’m not saying we shouldn’t point out where he is wrong. His story is deeply flawed, and his religious bigotry is shameful. We should not ignore that. But we also should not ignore the excellence of his artistry. And should speak the truth in love, as Christ commands us. We should respond with truth and grace.

I also recommend we pray for Mr. Pullman's radical conversion. He's on my list, right there with Dawkins. After all, the same God Clive Staples--whose Narnia Pullman finds repulsive--once rejected, is the same God Mr. Lewis eventually raised up among readers throughout the world.

May the Hound of Heaven run swiftly and tirelessly...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

"Tsunami of Grace" and Prayer Requests

People heard about Kelli's need, and it has been met, with extra dollops. She calls it a tsunami of grace. All her medical expenses--current, past, and in the near future--are covered by the donations given by the Christian and writing/publishing community. I've seen the generosity of this community more than once, particularly in the RWA and ACFW, and I view it as a privilege to do a small part in spreading the word and offering my pittances. I believe every bit counts--prayer, money, blogging, good will.

Read the terrific post, see the video, and pray for Kelli and her new pal Kathy, whose hubby is in a bad way with cancer. And continue praying for Kristy Dykes, who has been diagnosed with malignant brain cancer. Her husband has been blogging for her lately, and it's a beautiful tribute from a man who loves his ailing wife.

Poetry and Spirituality in NUMB3RS:
"The Death-Bed" and Zen-Boy Fleinhardt

I really enjoy a well-placed bit of verse in a film or in a television show. I remember the thrill of hearing "And Death Shall Have No Dominion" by Dylan Thomas in BEAUTY AND THE BEAST many years ago. And a Rilke piece--"Archaic Torso of Apollo" --in Woody Allen's ANOTHER WOMAN, and another of Rilke's in ONLY YOU ("You Who Never Arrived") Then there's the goreousness of Neruda's verse ( "La Muerta" ) in TRULY, MADLY, DEEPLY (which made me buy the VHS when it went on sale a couple decades ago), and in IL POSTINO.

Well, those are some examples.

Recently, in the episode (a kicking good episode) called "The Janus List", NUMB3RS ended with Judd Hirsch's character, sitting in the company of his two sons, the brilliant mathematician and the effective FBI agent, reciting lines from "The Death-Bed" by Siegfried Sassoon. I couldn't recall the poem's title, but it was evident that it was a WWI era poem, verses of war.

They're lovely. Here they are:

Light many lamps and gather round his bed.
Lend him your eyes, warm blood, and will to live.
Speak to him; rouse him; you may save him yet.

But death replied: 'I choose him.' So he went,
And there was silence in the summer night;
Silence and safety; and the veils of sleep.
Then, far away, the thudding of the guns.

Read the whole poem.

And if that episode repeats, catch it. It's a very, very good one, rated 9.5 out of 10 at TV.Com.

And my fave character on the show is the physicist, Larry Fleinhardt, who went off to join a trappist monastery before "re-entry" into society after his space trip. His zennish advice and quirky personality--I adore eccentrics!--are delightful to behold.

Why is it that Peter MacNicol is such as scene-stealer for me? He stole CHICAGO HOPE (as "The Eel") right out from under the intense and very sexy Mandy Patinkin, and he steals the scenes in NUMB3RS from anyone with whom he shares dialogue. Love dat man. Plus the spiritual discussion is interesting, given how scientific and pragmatic Charlie and Don are, respectively. He's an excellent part of the show, and I'm glad he's back.


New BEOWULF: More Anti-Christian Crap?

DGD reviews BEOWULF, and if the tv ads weren't enough to get me to skip it (they were), then his review surely pushes me deep into the heartland of, "more offensive Hollywood bigotry against Christians that I don't wanna pay to see" territory.

Read his review here.

I wonder how Gaiman--a writer whose talent I admire and whose tomes adorn my library shelves--would feel if someone revised his fictional material so it was anti-Semitic or homophobic or something else he'd find offensive? But some reviewers have chortled at the anti-Christian elements in the Beowulf script. The very same who would organize boycotts and marches in the street were some favored group of theirs belittled in such a blatant way.

And the hate goes on...

For a non-scathing review from a Christian venue, see Christianity Today.


What I Won, What I'm Listening
To, & What I"m About To Order

I won a book.
Tamera Alexander emailed me that I won a giveaway for BOO HUMBUG by Rene Gutteridge. YESSSSSSSSSSSSSS, free holiday fiction! Thanks, Tamera!

I'm listening to an audio book.
In my continuing quest to lose a significant amount of adipose tissue, I'm turning to behavioral modification using cognitive therapy techniques taught by Dr. Judith Beck. Stop snarfing.

I'm about to order a cognitive therapy workbook.
I really meant it about the snarfing. Cut it out.

Here they are, in case you want 'em:

Unlearning Italics?

Andy M. of Zondervan says, yes, unlearn italics.

I"m glad he gave an out for the "thought in the head" italics usage, cause I use that, a lot, and I'm not about to give up such usage unless someone arm wrestles me and wins big or sends me a year's supply of dark chocolate covered sugarless marshmallows. (My new addiction.)

For a counterpoint, see Nicole's post at INTO THE FIRE.


Monday, November 19, 2007

New Fantasy With Half-Latina Protagonist

I'm an excerpt-hound. I was visiting one of the blogs on my sidebar, FANTASY DEBUT, and ran across a link to Phaedra Weldon's site. (That is such a nifty author's name. Made me think of Fay Weldon with mythological attitude.)

My name is Zoe--that's with a long e. Not the pronunciation like toe. Martinique. Irish mother, Latin American father. Which means I have darker than usual skin for an Irish Catholic, a mass of brownish hair, very light brown eyes, a wicked mean temper and love of bawdy pub-songs.

My mother insists I look like my father, whom I'd always sort of imagined as resembling Antonio Banderas. Okay--so Antonio's not Latin, but Spanish. He's still one beautiful man. But you know how it is, how a daughter always imagines her father as being the most beautiful man in the world. A hero. A legend.

But according to my mom, the only legendary thing my dad did was vanish from my life. As to the whereabouts of one Adiran Martinique, can't help you. Haven't seen him since I was four. Mom refers to his absence as necessary.

Anyway, it was nice to see a semi-Latina as the shetagonist.

The excerpt is here for WRAITH from Ace/Berkley.

The amazon reviews were quite mixed--8 each of five and four stars, and 5 each of one and two stars. That's why I hadn't ordered it, though I regularly check to see what amazon has by way of fantasy, and especially urban fantasy.

I'm still debating whether to get or not, but that semi-Latina bit adds one more to the "pro" column.

Art Bonanza in Mail Today!

Whoa! The mail carrier just brought me loads of goodies. I got one book (a Ron Hansen book of essays) and lots of artsy stuff, including:

1. Several prints of Melanie Weidner's spiritually uplifting art
2. My glossy print of Hanna's painting of Selah
3. My bookmarks and free prints (one that was owed to me, one that came free with this purchase) from Sara Butcher

Me so happy!

I plan to have a longer blog post this week on Melanie's art, including some images of the prints I purchased (I have her permission to post those). And I also will be giving away a print of one of her pieces that anyone who is a storyteller would enjoy. So, keep an eye out for that post and the giveaway.

Bryan "Dragons" Davis' Tour Pics

I talked about how God has guided me through my author's journey, and I gave them good reasons to believe that reading Christian fantasy is an excellent way to grow closer to God.

Bryan posted some pics from his tour. I love that he got to speak to so many young people. Go check it out.


Friday, November 16, 2007

Christmas Question: What Are You
Giving Jesus This Year For His Birthday?

It's almost that time again. Just a bit over a month away. Maybe you're wondering what to give certain folks for the holidays. Maybe your co-workers or some folks at church, etc.

Well, I just did half of my Christmas "shopping" in one of my usual end-of-year habits: I dropped by a Christian charity and gave donations as gifts.

Let's face it: Most of us don't need another box of chocolates or another bottle of perfume. Or maybe you've always felt that along with the usual gift-giving, something was missing.

I suggest what was missing was a gift to the actual Birthday Boy. It's not our birthday, though we certainly can benefit from the generosity in the air. I like presents. Who doesn't? I give traditional presents. I get them. It's nice to see the boxes and ribbons and bows and to hear the kids squeal!

And yet think of all those gifts that really don't do much other than add more luxury to our lives. (Yes, I'm very guilty of this. I'm also guilty of the "I gotta buy so-and-so a gift" syndrome. Gotta get, as opposed to delight in getting. It adds stress and just results in more Wal-Mart crap being sold.) The stats on how much people go into debt to make Christmas happen, well, it's hardly the sort of thing to be proud of.

Christmas is all about one of the greatest miracles of all time (and non-time). God was born from a human womb, born into the fallen world, born to live and die as a man for the sake of us all. It still gets me all ferklempt.

And that's the the God-Man's birthday. He should get the goodies. He says when we give gifts to the needy, in His name, we give it to Him. He made it simple.

So, go give to the needy for His sake and in someone's name (or just to give). Some organizations, like Samaritan's Purse or World Vision offer holiday gift catalogs and will provide "honor cards" that you can give people to let them know you helped feed an orphan or shelter a family or provided livestock in their names. They have gifts for every budget, from $4 to provide milk to a child all the way to tens of thousands of dollars. (You can build a medical clinic, a school, a home, a church, if you're loaded!)

I also use Habitat for Humanity for my Jewish friends' donation gifts.

And it's easy. All the above have online donation features.

That's just one way. Your community has loads of people who could use help this winter--from a hot meal to a new set of shoes to a bit of shelter from the elements. The opportunities abound for those who want to "wrap up" things that are both really useful and needful as gifts for the Savior born in Bethlehem. Remember him when you shop for toys and clothing and electronics and jewelry.

So, what are you giving Jesus for his birthday?


Have a "Far East" Short Fantasy Story?
Christian Writers & Authors Group? &
A Dark Fantasy Double Interview

You only have a month left to submit for consideration in the anthology: Paper Blossoms, Sharpened Steel. You must have an East Asian setting. No electronic subs. For details on payment and such, GO HERE.

And this: I'm skeptical if it will work given the contradiction inherent in creating a place of "refuge" with allowance of vigorous religious/political "debate," but Mythosian Chronicles is trying to get a Christian Fantasy Writers and Artists group going. If you're interested, visit that MySpace page.

Read a double interview over at Dark Fantasy with authors Carole McDonnell (WIND FOLLOWER) and Alaya DAwn Johnson (RACING THE DARK).

Coffee vs. Tea?

Tea has more pros, but I really look forward to that first cup of the day, all fresh-ground, fresh-brewed, drunk as soon as the brewing is over. I like coffee after a meal, tea with a meal. I like coffee in the am, tea in the afternoon. I loved tea iced. I'm not wild about iced black coffee, but I love the "creamy" Thai version (and that's not healthful, so it's a very rare treat, like once a year). Although iced cafe con leche is yummy, and I make it with skim milk or lowfat.

Here's how they go in the ring: Tea vs. Coffee

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Harry Dresden Goes Graphic

Thanks to SF SIGNAL for the heads up about Dabel Brothers Publishing doing the team thing with Del Rey to distribute graphic novel versions of THE DRESDEN FILES. (click the link to see some of the images.)

Y'all do know I'm a Dresdenphile, right? The Mir loves Harry! (The novels, not the crap tv show.)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


An immature but fervent young man at odds with the spirits of his people, yet destined for some greatness he doesn't comprehend or believe; a woman of virtue and selflessness of a different tribe and color who must marry this young , flawed chieftain's son besotted with her looks and manner; and a crucial historical moment when their peoples are threatened by an outside tribe intent on conquest as their religious right: That's the premise of WIND FOLLOWER. Much conflict and growing up ensues.

...The story is affecting as a love story, as a quest story, as a tragedy, as a heroic tale, as a tale of spiritual warfare. And the voice that the author uses is effective for the telling of such a story, both musical and poetic enough to give it the feel of an oral retelling of a great folklorically-enshrined history, and non-contemporary enough to feel both culturally different and sacred.

I wrote the above in my just posted review over at for Carole McDonnell's debut novel WIND FOLLOWER. I notice amazon only has 1 left in stock. I suggest you rush and snap it up. Oh, and read my review. (And click YES as to whether it was helpful, cause, well, I want to improve my rank. Yes, shameless of me.)

I've also commented on the novel over at the MINDFLIGHTS forum.

I believe Carole has some blog touring for the novel set for next month. If you want to support a talented Christian fantasist, please plug her book during the tour.

But mostly, READ IT and tell me what you thought. I found it engrossing mentally while it affected me spiritually the way a good devotional book does. Somehow, it preaches, and yet the way it's told allows for the preaching to be organic. Pretty cool.

Monday, November 12, 2007

"Writerisms and Other Sins"

C.J. Cherryh offers shortcuts for stronger writing.

If you don't recognize that name, then you're not an SF person, are you? :)

Fortunately, she ends it with Cherryh's Law: NO RULE SHOULD BE FOLLOWED OFF A CLIFF.


Finding the Truth Through
Science Fiction & Fantasy

In this paper I propose that commercial works of science fiction and fantasy offer benefits to evangelical readers, preachers, and students of theology. This proposition is actually two: first, that commercial fiction by non-Christian authors offers such benefits, and second, that speculative fiction in particular offers such benefits. Because these two postulates have not been universally embraced by the evangelical church during the last hundred years, they call for some discussion.
--from To Find the Truth, Look to the Lie:
Contributions of Science Fiction and Fantasy to Theological Expression

The above link takes you to the text of a paper delivered by Michael Spence, Ph.D, at the 2005 annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society. Among other thigns, he offers five specific reasons why studying the SF of a culture is a valuable tool in understanding that culture. In doing so, he happens to highlight why SF is a genre that can probe for truth so effectively.

And I think that's exactly why Christians should be reading and writing it. We want to affect our culture. Well, you have to understand it first. The literary quarantine needs to end:

Speculative fiction—a term we will use for the spectrum of imaginative literature, including both science fiction and fantasy—can indeed relate to our lives, even when on the surface it appears to deal with persons and situations far removed from our reality. Furthermore, non-Christian authors can provide insights not always found in literature of Christian origin, particularly insights into human nature and thus the thought patterns of people in the world Christians are trying to reach with the message of Jesus Christ—not to mention the thought patterns of Christians themselves. Those insights can be used both to communicate more effectively with the non-Christian public and to help us look more accurately at ourselves.

Go take a look at Mr. Spence's paper at Brother Osric's Scriptorium.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Veterans Day Remembrance: Thank You

Eighty-nine years ago, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the horror that was WWI ended.

We've had more such horrors since, and, sadly, evil must sometimes be fought with force and the shedding of blood.

Sucks, but that's how it is.

And in our nation, there have always been those able and willing to serve, and to do so with honor, even in the darkest times. To those who did or stood ready to do what they would rather have not done in times of conflicts for the sake of the nation and for others, for both the oppressed abroad and for the rest of us who stayed behind, safe and out of uniform: Thank you, ladies and sirs.

"...let us solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us reconsecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain."
--from the Veterans Day Proclamation

Note: I encourage all Americans to pray for the healing of returning soldiers of current wars. I also plead that you donate to help those in need but do so wisely. Before you donate to any veteran charity, look them up. Some are exceedingly wasteful with donations. And never give via a phone call or mail solicitation that might end up putting the vast % of cash in the pockets of fundraisers. Get the address of the charity and send a check directly, in your own envelope, so that the charity gets all the funds. Read this, and see a list of top-rated charities flanking the article. Here is one I've donated to several times. This one is also highly rated, and if you scroll to the bottom, you find a few others with top ratings. ~


I'm not about to pay 45 bucks for a 208 page book--not after getting a scary-as-Hades set of tax and insurance bills--but if any of you have bought and read FAITH AND FICTION: Christian Literature in America Today by Anita Gandolfo, shoot me a link to your review of it.

Or comment here what you thought. Thanks.


Friday, November 09, 2007

Fantasy Art: Hanna Paints Selah

In case you wanted to see the finished (unless we tweak it) painting by Hanna based on one of my characters (that I gave y'all a preview of a while ago), here she is.

I think she's gorgeous. We lost the palm trees (frown), kept the smirk (yeah, she's a little sassy), but her "key" is more to my idea of it than in the previous sketch. I super dig the lace glove. Dig it so much, I'm gonna have to write it into the latter part of the story.

Hanna rules! Go get her to do your blog header or your family portrait or something. Before she becomes a huge star and you can't afford her. :)

BTW, if I had a great idea for a graphic novel story, I'd want Hanna do illustrate it. Her art makes me smile.

Visit her blog to see more of her art and to click links to her portfolio and gallery at DeviantArt.

Okay, tell me: Isn't she just too cool?

Edited to Add: This is the final version. The wings have been made a bit more "wingsy" and less "cloudsy."


Thursday, November 08, 2007

DEP Magazines Are Online Again

We're back.

And we're back. And they're back. And we're back. And they're back. And they're back. And, they too, are back.


Helping Kelli Get Needed Surgery &
Praying for Kristy and her Brain Tumor

If you haven't already heard about/donated to Kelli Standish's surgery fund through her literary agency's fundraising--which has an anonymous donor putting up 10K for a matching fund--then here's your chance to help AND get something in return to help your writing career:

Editorial services of assorted types, including proofreading or critique of an entire manuscript or personal coaching, are up for auction to help Kelli. Read about it here.

In my experience, the writing community online is very generous and active in helping its own. Ditto for the Christian community online. So, I expect Kelli's matching fund will make it...and soon. Can you help?

And if your budget disallows helping in even the smallest financial way, please still pray. Prayer can do what money cannot: move the hand of God.

And as you pray, add Kristy Dykes name to your petitions. She has a brain tumor, and the neuroradiologist is convinced it is malignant and that the biopsy will merely confirm his diagnosis. That's serious stuff.

Remember these Kristy and Kelli when you pray for your loved ones.

Does This Photo of the Sky Inspire You?

It did Josh Vogt (with a nicely done post-apocalyptic shortie) and a few other entrants over at Clarity of Night blog.

If it moves you to an imaginative moment, you may submit a 250 superflash piece. Here be the rules. Deadline's Nov 14. Several prizes, including $25 amazon certificate and a print of the above photo entitled "Restless Dawn" to the first place winner.



I haven't read it. But I'm intrigued by the fact that this fantasy novel, which has several reviewers (on amazon and elsewhere) stating that it shows the palpable love of God, is published by...Tor, a major SF publisher.

You may want to take a good look at THE BOOK OF JOBY, and see if this is a book you want to support with your hard-earned moolah in order to send the message, "Yes, let Christian themes be discussed, and let Lucifer be seen as evil, and let God and His love play a real part in the human struggle."

John C. "Boy Can I Tell Story" Wright's recommendation is enough for me:

"The Book of Joby should have been called the Book of Joy. The magic of childhood, the magic of Camelot, the grand mystery of Creation, the tears of humanity, the petty cruelties of Hell, all are within these leaves. From schoolboy bullies to homeless shelters to an enchanted hometown where time stands still, from shy first love to tragedy and death…Mark Ferrari weaves his spell." --John C. Wright

Read an excerpt.

Available in paperback and hardcover:

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Apologies to the DEP Readers...

for being unable to access our web magazines such as Dragons, Knights & Angels; The Sword Review, Ray Gun Revival, MindFlights, Haruah, TeenAge, and Fear & Trembling.

Not our fault.

It's even made the news.

Pray they fix that soon so our magazines can once again serve readers, and so our staff can get back to editing and posting. Thanks for your patience.

Dishing the Delight of PUSHING DAISIES

Note: Wrote this last weekend, hit "save", &forgot to publish. Oops.

My fave--absolute total fave--of the new crop of shows that debuted this season is PUSHING DAISIES. It's a fantasy, so, no wonder I gave it a look-see.

Better than the new episodes of HEROES (yawn). Better than LIFE. (which I also like for the cool main character).

PUSHING DAISIES has terrific snappy dialogue, and I'm a sucker for snappy dialogue. It's what made Joss Whedon's television shows have that special sparkle. The dialogue carries the weight of characterization smartly. The overall show has dark humor mingled with bright bits of innocence and good nature and whimsy. And superb costume and art direction. Chuck's retro-girly outfits make me want to be young and slim and work those dresses!

There's an irrepressible fairy tale vibe in the show, even though it's set in a contemporary city. Even the urban pie shop has a sort of "hobbit house" or "magic cottage" look and appeal. (see the pic?) The eccentric characters reinforce that atmosphere, and each show is like a mini-quest. Besides the gifted Pie-Maker, the resurrected damsel, the unsentimental sidekick, there's a pair of agoraphobic aunts who used to be "mermaids", one of whom is played by the bedazzler-accented eyepatch-wearing Swoosie Kurtz. Chi McBride is utterly wonderful as the grumpy P.I. partner. And Kristen Chenoweth is a small bundle of heartbroken determination as Olive, the sometimes singing, always snooping character dealing weekly with unrequited love for The Pie-Maker character.

And those pies! Oh, man. It's dangerous for dieters to see those thick, fruit-stuffed, yummy looking pies! Get ready for cravings.

Even the direction rocks!

Anyway, what's it about, you ask?

The premise: The Pie-Maker discovers as a boy that he can bring the dead back to life with one touch. However, if he doesn't touch the resurrected person a second time within a minute--a touch which makes the death permanent--another person dies to balance the scales. The Pie-Maker resurrects his long-lost first love, Chuck, in the first episode, and the sexual tension that ensues from their being unable to touch is both humorous and touching. Oh, and he resurrected his childhood pooch, too, so he can't touch him, either.

He helps his partner, a PI who knows his secret, played by Chi, solve murder cases by bringing the dead back to life and, well, ASKING them what happened. Every episode has one of these reviving moments, and they tend to be hilarious. The humor stems in part from the look of the deceased, say, a guy with tire tracks on his face, or from the reaction of the deceased--"Is this heaven? But I'm Buddhist!"--or the way characterization is used (brilliantly) in the interrogation. Chuck tends to be touchy-feely, asking about last words, any message they want to send to loved ones, etc. The Pie-Maker worries about those seconds counting down because it means someone else will die. The PI, Emerson, worries HE will be the one who dies and about getting the information that will lead to a reward. The three--Chuck, Pie-Maker, and Emerson--make for wonderful conflict and zingy dialogue whenever they're off investigating together. Good, good stuff.

It's delightful fantasy with romance and mystery. A triple slam for me.

If you liked the films BIG FISH and AMELIE, with their auras of magic and true love, with their colorful sets, with the way with energy and boyish/girlish good will, then this show will knock your socks off.

My blogging palHeather (alias Elfin Queen Blue-Bearer) admits she's inspired by the show. It makes me want to write better dialogue and use more humor. Really.

If you haven't caught it (I've missed parts of one and all of this week's episodes due to being pooped and zonking out), there's a cool comics recap of the first three shows: Pie-Lette, Dummy, and Pigeon. Of course, you can just watch some of the FULL episodes at the ABC site. I'm going there to catch the two I missed.

Fantasy Debut Bonanza

Yawn. Just woke up 10 minutes ago. Slept from 6:30 AM, when it was actually fresh and cool outside (I went to feed our the feral cat that decided he lives in our yard.) Man, I was beat from all that driving yesterday and only 5 hours sleep. (Driving in Miami is STRESSFUL!)

On to the actual subject.

If you're a reader of fantasy--and if not, WHY NOT??? heh--then visit this site recommended by SciFiWriter: FANTASY DEBUT. Their blog tagline is "All Fantasy debuts, all the time."

That's enough for me to add them to my sidebar.


Agent Critiques Pitches & Amazon Ranking

Thanks to Valerie for the heads-up about the blog pitch critiques being done by Kristin Nelson over at Pub Rants. Cool entries. So far, she's done young adult, literary, horror, and romance. I'm hoping to see some SF, maybe? (fingers crossed) Go see.

And I noticed when I first posted about WIND FOLLOWER, that the amazon ranking was at 540K. It's now at 119K. So, if my little rant helped sell a few copies, hurrah! Let's make the book crack the 50K line, people!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Rant Follow-Up on WIND FOLLOWER

After hubby went to bed yesterday, instead of doing my NaNo like I was supposed to, I started WIND FOLLOWER, and 200 pages later, I had to FORCE myself to go to bed, because I'm driving to visit a relative in the hospital, and that meant I had to actually GET some sleep or risk limb-and-life imperiling road mishaps.

I've still 170 pages to go and, if the quality of the rest matches the quality of the engrossing, romantic, conflict-riddled, finely-characterized pages so far, this baby's winner. If the quality holds, this will be the best Christian fantasy I've read in....years.

The prose sings. The voice is one Ursula Le Guin would say, "Yes, it fits the story and the world." There is an otherness that manages to feel real--as if you were hearing the story from the people themselves and this really happened. I think, for me, this is due to seeing the echoes of what has happened in real history within a fresh story that has strong associations with Scripture. Here, I see words from Jesus in John 14, there I see a Psalm, there and there and there are the Song of Solomon, here is something from the tragedies of King David's life, there is something from Samuel's youth, and so on. But it's woven in so beautifully, that while it will be evident to Word-readers, it will not be quite so to non-Word lovers. Even the title, which I never stopped to think about much, has Biblical allusion in it.

Think about it now: Wind. What comes to mind?

And the human tragedies really hurt. It feels so real that compassion is fully engaged, as is anger, as is frustration. I actually was coiled up into myself in one scene because it was so horrific, I wanted to dive into the pages and rescue the protagonist.

I know how it ends. I simply had to read the last few pages or I would not be able to sleep.

I'll have to savor the journey to that end after I get home tonight.

But this is one amazing CSF novel, with prose so good that it's music. It made me actually, honestly jealous. And how come I didn't hear about it sooner? It's crazy.

I'll give a full review later in the week (must get back to NaNo!), and we'll see if the latter half is as powerful and engaging as the first half, which I totally expect it will.

I have to go shower now. :)

But if you want the novel, it's in my A-Store.


Monday, November 05, 2007

Mir Rant: WIND FOLLOWER Controversy & the Bigotry of (Some) Christian Readers

It continues to amaze me that there are some people who think I shouldn't be married to my husband.

I'm a light brown Latina woman and my hubby is a white/pink fella of German-Hungarian-Irish ancestry. We have a "mixed" marriage" according to some. Our union offends some. And we know that's how it goes. But that it should offend some Christians offends ME. And I have no doubt offends the God who created us.

Christians shouldn't have those bigoted ideas of race. We know one singular truth: God created us. He created us man and woman, and all the humans who exist are the result of God's initial creation into which he breathed eternal souls. Men can marry women. Women, men. We are all the offspring of that first pairing.

Men and women have one root. We really are one, whether we like it or not.

These thoughts are prompted by a discussion in the comments under a post by Carole McDonnell, author of the speculative fiction novel WIND FOLLOWER. Carole is a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. And her novel has Christian elements. In the post, you can tell she's very miffed because a Christian reviewer declined reviewing her book because there is sex and violence in it (which she discovered by reading another reviewer's take on the book.) (To Carole's credit, she admits to being touchy on this subject.)

In the comments, she mentions that CBA publishers loved her writing--"best speculative novel I've read, etc"--but wouldn't publish it cause readers would hate it. The sex. The anti-imperialistic stance. The interracial marriage.

The what?!

Okay, I know sex is a bugagoo in the CBA and with its audience. I even understand why, though I don't fully agree with the level of sex censorship that makes marriages seem sterile in so many books that deal with romance and relationships.

But interracial marriage?

Really. These are Carole's own words:

In fact, Wind Follower was rejected by several Christian publishers because of
A) six small-but-important-sex scenes (Honestly, we're not talking characters engaged in sixty-nine or in all-night orgies here, but Christian publishers balk at showing married couple even sitting on the same bed together.)
B) the book's obvious anti-imperialism anti-Manifest Destiny stance and
C) the interracial/intercultural relationship in the story.


The last one really got my attention. My father's mother was white. His dad was black. My mother's first husband was black. And assorted relatives have what are termed "mixed marriages." (I think that's a stupid term, but I'll use it.)

(I have no desire to discuss imperialism, but there is certainly a lot of bad--and good--that can come from it, and depicting the negative is necessary, even as depicting what may be positive is fair. The sex issue: Kinda sick of arguing that one.)

Yes, people. This last is where publishers are coddling sin. Sorry, but there you have it. If a % of your readership, editors and publishers, thinks that this is no-no, then that portion of the readership needs to be disempowered by decisions. Yeah, that's naive. But that's also, I think, RIGHT. You don't kowtow to people who are wrong, who are in error, who are sinning. Where would the world be if all righteous people refused to take a stand against evil? And that goes for publishers.

I understand publishing considerations. But some parts of what an audience wants IS WRONG. That last category in Carole's rejection list is a bad, bad thing and contrary to the Creation. (There may be an issue worth another rant about the imperialism, Manifest Destiny, although I don't know people who say, "Yeah, we should just take over everything and smash everyone in our way!" I have known people who are fixated on the mixed marriage thing. But one rant per day.)

As I mentioned in the comments, a "mixed marriage" is a woman marrying a kangaroo. Not a woman marrying a man, or a man marrying a woman. Any person (white or black or etc) who thinks these artificial racial classifications created by men long after the Creation fact have condemning power over this area of human interaction, that person is a bigot. That person is a racial snob. That person thinks that the color of skin or the width of nose or the texture of hair has somehow made the "not like me" person a lesser than "other."

Christians should know better: I only know one firm counsel about what persons not to marry in apostolic teaching, and that's to marry within the faith, to not be unequally yoked with an unbeliever. And yet, there were Christians married to unbelievers, and Paul didn't say, "Just leave them right now!" I don't hear the apostles warnings like "Don't marry that Ethiopian or that Laplander." In fact, the Holy Spirit took Phillip out of his way, supernaturally, to specifically witness NOT only to an Ethiopian, but an Ethiopian EUNUCH. A dark-skinned dude without balls. Eunuchs were not allowed within the temple according the The Law. How clear a message, I think, from God. How valuable this "minority" was, that an apostle was whisked to offer him the gospel. That the Eunuch's profession was accepted, and his baptism put him smack in the body of Christ.

Similar ideas are reinforced in the book of ACTS, such as Peter's vision of the animals. What had been separated by OT dietary laws was now brought together. What had been separated by tribe or culture, was now included via grace. Color was never an issue in the O.T. Religion and diet and language (at Babel) and other things caused separation, but not color. Not width, heigth, curl, slant of eye, set of bones.

That person who sees race as making a particular human an outsider, an unmarriageable "other", is in sin, and may not know it. Or they're just plain stupid. Think: I guess Jesus couldn't have married a white woman, not being Euro-white with his Semitic, Middle-Eastern self.

Can we really believe that any man is superior to The Christ because of coloring and physical make-up? Please.

Okay, getting a headache.

As I defended in the comments, the reviewer who rejected WIND FOLLOWER, if they have a personal objection to reading sex and violence in novels, has the right to refuse to review any book they feel violates their principles. It's not bigotry. It's just their conviction. And that's okay. We can't all handle everything in fiction. Everyone has weak spots. Everyone has hedges of some sort.

Well, maybe not everyone, but certainly most folks who feel strongly about a matter, philosophical or political or personal. Some won't read books with child abuse. Some avoid stories where pets are killed (yes, this is a fact). Some refuse to read horror, because it turns their stomachs. Some refuse to read sex because their besetting sins relate to lust of the flesh. Some refuse to read sex because they think that's wrong.

But no Christian publisher should reject a story in order to coddle the sins and ignorance and deformed pride of their readership. Sorry. Racist readers shouldn't get to affect guidelines for acquisition.

That's sick.
In the comments section, Nikki Arana left a comment about her books with intercultural relationship. (Hi, Nikki!) And Sharon Lavy asked where to get WIND FOLLOWER. Here are links to WF and two of Nikki's well-received, award-winning books:

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Mike D Interviews Coach Culbertson
of Coach's Midnight Diner

We all face hope and despair every day. Cthulhu is representative of complete nihilism and insanity, while Jesus is the fulfillment of purpose and order.
--Coach Culbertson at DECOMPOSE

If you've hung with the Faith in Fiction crowd, or been a regular at J M Bertrand's sites, or read this blog with regularity for months, then you've heard me plug Coach's Midnight Diner, an anthology of genre fiction that also includes Christian Speculative Fiction.

I got my copy this week from amazon. And while I've only read two stories, I enjoyed both. My pal Chris' was the first I read, because any Jesus vs. Cthulhu story called "In R'lyeh, Jesus Walks" is gonna get my attention. I mean, bizarre gets me sitting up and noticing, and that's bizarre. But, you know, sort of logical at the same time. No, really. I thought so even before Coach says so in the interview. Honest. But if I ever meet Chris in person, I'm gonna make him say "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn," which he inserted into his story, and which just looking at it makes my brain hurt.

Well, as I was getting my copy of CMD, Mike Duran was posting an interview with Coach Culbertson, whom he describes as "Coach Culbertson. Editor, insomniac, and connoisseur of the finest French Roasts."

A sip of the interview:

MIKE: The Midnight Diner is a genre anthology that includes, among other things, horror and Lovecraftian fiction. What’s the response been like, thus far, to the Diner?

COACH: Well, no one’s condemned us to hell or called us brides of the Anti-Christ yet, which is a little unfortunate because that’d probably be great for sales. But overall, the response has been pretty astounding. A well-known Christian suspense author called the Jesus Vs. Cthulhu concept “brilliant,” and a crazy small press horror editor, Nickolaus Pacione of Lake Fossil Press, has expressed massive delight at its intensity and authentic horror. Some folks will consider us to have taken a lot of risks with this anthology, but I set out to collect stories that were uncompromising in any fashion.

Later on, Coach says the following, which really strikes a chord with The Mir:

The ultimate goal of the Diner is to show that God is not a pansy. The secondary goal of the Diner is to let authors just write the damn story, without fear of rejection based on content. God’s not afraid of any part or parcel of reality, so why should we be?

I liked his attending GothicFest and his signing the anthology next to pagans and Satanists. Jesus doesn't just walk in R'lyeh. He walks wherever people need Him to walk, need him to save. As y'all know, I have a soft spot for the Goth crowd, seeing as how I love the fashion,the jet black hair, the jewelry, the melancholy (I'm a melancholic personality type, so, go figure), and the music. Yes, yes, I even have a teeny tiny crush on Robert Smith. (Stop laughing.)

Read the whole interview at Mikey's site. His InSites posts are always pretty cool, even MINE, if I say so myself. (See sidebar for link to my InSites interview from last year.)

AND BUY THE ANTHOLOGY, which also features the fiction of even more of my blogging and FiF pals Suzan Robertson, Kevin Lucia, JM Bertrand, Matt Mikalatos, and Linda Gilmore.

If you wanna be nice to me, order it with this link and put a few pennies in my book buying kitty (and here are links to other anthologies with Christian genre fiction, ie. SF):