Friday, February 29, 2008

Getting the Query Right

Agent Jennifer Jackson (one who is SF-friendly) read 115 queries this past week. She requested the full from ONE of those queries. ONE out of 115.

She lists what the "winning" query got right.

Check it out HERE.

Recommend Christian Fantasy

If you're a member of the phpBB Arts & Humanities community at mu80.com, why not hit THIS REQUEST and give your recommendations for great Christian fantasy? I only see one reply so far, and I'm not a member.

Wear Depends Before Watching...

The trailer for the second HELLBOY flick is at YouTube.

Oh. My. Gosh.

I nearly soiled myself, especially since--for an instant--I thought it was Elric in his bad-boy albino-ey fabulosity.

Hope this sequel takes it a couple notches over the first film, which, while much fun and romantic, didn't make it to uber-flickness territory.

Watch it here: Hellboy: The Golden Army and at the official site HERE.

Here is what writer/artist and Helloby creator Mike Mignola had to say in an IGN interview about the film's plot, and if you like elves in your story, you ought to take note:

It's an original story that Guillermo and I came up with about two years ago. It actually reflects the direction the comic is going in. It's not in any way the same story, but it deals with similar things. The focus is more on the folklore and fairy tale aspect of Hellboy. It's not Nazis, machines and mad scientists but the old gods and characters who have been kind of shoved out of our world.

I kind of equate it to the whole American Indian situation. The Indians were shoved onto reservations. You had your old, wise Indians who said, "You know, this is the way it is. We can't fight anymore. We just have to accept our fate." You then have your Geronimo character saying, "Or we could just kill the White Man." That's kind of the situation we have in the film. We have our elf characters resigning to the way things are and then there's one saying, "Or we could take the world back." The main difference is - what if the Indians had a nuclear warhead? The elves have their equivalent of the weapon that is too terrible to use. What if this guy decided to use it?

Thanks, DGD at Sci-Fi Catholic.

B-Movie Cartoony Fun!


If you haven't discovered B-Movie Catechism, you really should.

Go now, and laugh.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Animated CORALINE

Thanks to Colorado-bound Joshy for the heads up to the animated version of Gaiman's very creepy, enjoyable, award-winning CORALINE.

Coraline sneak peek at YouTube
~~~

Leadership Change at Bethany House

It’s official: completing the transition that was announced last year, Gary Johnson, president, and Carol Johnson, v-p/editorial for fiction, are retiring from their long-time leadership roles at the Bloomington, Minn.-based Christian house, Bethany House Publishers, effective Feb. 29. The couple has served the house since the 1960s.

...On March 1, Jim Parrish will take over as executive v-p and director of Bethany House Publishers. He has been with the press since 1984, most recently as v-p and director of administration. David Horton will become v-p/editorial, fiction. He has been with Bethany since 1998, most recently as editorial director, fiction and was previously at Tyndale House, Scripture Press and Cook Communications (now David C. Cook).
--from "Long-time Leaders Retire at Bethany House at Publishers Weekly

Live-Blogged Suicide of ED Sufferer

A good reason to keep tabs on the blogs of folks you care about, I suppose.

A suicide, blogged.

The unfortunate gal who took her life used to head the ProAnorexia community on livejournal. A post by another member confirms it was not some internet gag. Kristi died.

And she watched a show about Extremely Skinny Celebrities as she popped her fatald dosage.

Man...man...

Some folks wanna shut down the ProAna community. I wonder if that wouldn't hurt more, rather than help. I dunno. It just seriously upsets me.

If you have loved ones with eating disorders and/or depression, be vigilant. Intervene if you can.

Man...

Cool! WIND FOLLOWER Gets the Academic/ Feminist Treatment

It's no secret I loved Carole McDonnell's WIND FOLLOWER.

Well, the book is being taken seriously enough to get academic feminists interested:

In fact, the book is seen as so unusual that a noted feminist, atheist academic will be presenting a paper on it at Swancon, an academic conference on Speculative Fiction...and at Wiscon, the feminist, alternative annual speculative conference. Check out the title of her paper: Out Of Egypt: The Palimpsest Of Speculative And Other Fiction(S) In Carole Mcdonnell’s Wind Follower. She sees Wind Follower as a book which innovately deals with and plays with different kinds of genres including slave narrative, romance, missionary testimony, high romance, interracial romance. But then again, she's an academic and secular -- therefore well-read-- and understands what I was trying to do.
--from "arguing with a reviewer" at Dark Parables

I hope Carole gets permission to pass the paper on to her buddies. Or the scholar uploads it. I wanna read it.

I wish I had thought to use the word "palimpsest" about Carole's book. It's really appropriate considering what she does with times and places and races in her novel.

What I'm Writing To: Darkfield Illuminator & Saviour Machine

Y'all know there's a touch of the Goth Girl in The Mir.

I am finally writing again. My brain is back. I was able to resume my editing duties at MindFlights, and, as of Monday, I've been writing again. It's nice. I missed it, missed being able to put thoughts adn words together in a creative way, hated being unable to think of metaphors, plot, story people, story complications. Nada. The depression episodes of 2007 just zapped me into the creative doldrums. An ugly place. I wouldn't wish it on ya.

So, feeling good but listening to melancholy-tinged tunes. I'm wired that way.

I'm writing to a Gothy background music. My latest discovery: Darkfield Illuninated's GLIMMER. The album may be from 2005, but it's new to me. If you wanna sample a bit of Industrial Dance/touched by doom metal/edged with Christian Gothiness, have a listen.

And if you liked that, visit with Savior Machine. Maybe try "Carnival of Souls." Or "Rapture: The Seventh Seal" Godly Gothyness!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Belle Aerie--Airy Place for Artists


Hanna of Hanna's Life is Cool has done a beautiful job with her header illustrations and layout for Belle Aerie. I'm a fan of the young Hannalicious one, so you may have seen a couple of her works plugged here.

If you're into the artistic stuff, you may wish to join the community.

But even if, like me, you can't draw anything beyond a stick figure, do go by to enjoy the lovely artwork (click on sections to see more than the welcoming one). It's making me wanna watch some steampunky anime. :)

Here's the community's intro:


Belle Aerie is a forum meant to bring all kinds of art together. It's a community where people can post their work and get feedback from other artists, so that all can practice and improve.

As time passes, there will be constant themes to keep people practicing, contests to get them competing and struggling to improve, and events to get them working together. In addition, we'll have an area dedicated to creating and developing characters, to aid people in that area of art.

And, of course, there's an area dedicated to conversation about art or anything else, which will hopefully cultivate a friendly atmosphere, help us all make new friends and become a more tightly knit community.


Now, go ooooh at cute kitty:

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I'm Still Catching Up--Fantasy Magazine


As my regular readers from last year might recall, I was vexed that I wasn't getting my FANTASY magazines in the orderly, seasonal schedule.

Dealing with my depressive episode got me behind on everything--reading, writing, home repairs, dental appointments (ugh), LIFE.

As part of the "behind" on my reading and internet updates, I missed the switch of FANTASY to an online magazine. A free online magazine.

I paid 20 bucks for a four-issue sub and I got two issues. And, okay... frustrating!

Still, it's nice to see another fantasy site up with quality stuff for those who enjoy dark fantasy. Check it out: FANTASY

They have a a submissions guidelines page up (semi-pro rates), and they have a cool Friday thing where you can submit a piece that's fantasy related. Same day, they pick the most entertaining post. One winner gets $10 into their Paypal account. Sounds like fun.

BTW, I like the online move. Saves me more clutter to my already chaotic magazine-and-book-stuffed home. Saves trees. Saves ink. Etc. I subscribe to BAEN'S and I edit at two online mags. So, I'm definitely an advocate of the e-ventures in literature.

Can You Write "Funny"? New Market!

This looked like an interesting new market, emphasis mine:

~On The Brighter Side~

We’re looking for humorous essays and short stories, even if it has a horrific edge, a science fiction angle, or a romantic sensibility to it. We don’t care. Anything goes! If you can make us laugh, we’ll pay you for it. If you can’t do that, then you don’t need to submit to us. You probably need to just go back to your day job and fantasize about being a humor writer. Make us laugh, but don’t make us laugh at you.


The editors are Susan Taylor and Gregg Winkler. Guidelines are HERE.

(Are you reading this Chris Mikesell?)

Note: New. Fledgling. Untested. But Duotrope Digest has them listing as paying semi-pro to pro rates, so worth taking note for you funny hunnies. (By my calculation, the most they'll pay is $100 for a 2000K piece, their word limit.)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Contact's Big Space; The Osars and
No Country For Old Men's Screenplay


It's been a week with some sleep issues (again), but my sleeplessness last night meant I got to catch some of CONTACT in the wee hours. Yeah, I can watch it anytime. I have the DVD. But it was on, and I love me Jodie Foster, and I love the part where she meets the alien, and the part where she testifies. So, I left it on while I plucked my facial hair. (Don't get old. You turn into a werewolf, ladies. Dang.)

I love how the movie winds down from the excitement of her trip through the ancient space transportation system and the drama of her testimony--with Jodie's ability to look just awash with deep emotion, like she's gonna burst right out of those lovely eyes of hers--descending softly into the romantic comfort of the hug, the meeting of hands in the cab, to the gentle moments with the schoolchildren:

KID: Are there other people out there in the Universe?
ELLIE: That’s a good question. What do you think, huh?
KID: I don’t know.
ELLIE: That’s a good answer. A skeptic, huh? The most important thing is that you all keep searching for your own answers. I’ll tell you one thing about the Universe though. The Universe is a pretty big place, it’s bigger than anything anyone has ever dreamed of before. So if it’s just us, seems like an awful waste of space, right?


After that, we seet her sitting by the canyon, letting dirt sift through her hand and wearing an expression of contentment. She was a haunted person when the movie started. She was at peace when it ended. Lovely.

Pull out to the majestic cosmos.

Even if there were no one else out there on other planets, I don't see it as a waste. I see it as just one more testimony of how astoundingly BIG God is. If the universe had been more limited--those spheres turning about us, not that far away--and less awe-inspiring, it would be a lesser instrument pointing to the Creator. The Bible says the universe speaks of God, and to me, it does. Because it has wonders and mystery and , if not infinity, mind-boggling vastness, it says, "Yes, this is pretty nifty and it makes you stand and wonder, but God is so much more mysterious, wondrous, vast, and inspiring. This is less than a pinky nail to what God is."

Considering how gorgeous it is out there, that says a lot.

Carl Sagan (author of the novel on which the excellent film was based) would not agree with me--at least not while alive, but I believe in an afterlife, so, in my view of how things are, he knows now what we can only guess about on this side of it all. But when I look up, I am stunned by it all, and the One who made it long ago... and who still makes contact today.

~~

Watched the Oscars. A bit underwhelmed. None of the gowns made me go oooooh in a big way, though I totally coveted Nicole Kidman's glittery necklace. Marion Cotillard's gown looked like she was gaily plastered with whipped cream. She was adorable. I need to see her Piaf. "Non, je ne regrette rien!"

Jon Stewart didn't make me laugh out loud--not once. (I did smile on occasion, and maybe I guffawed at "and the baby goes to...Angelina Jolie" bit.

Tilda Swinton and Diablo Cody--whose black hair was fun--are up for new awards, I suspect: most dreadful dress at the Oscars. Diablo's at least looked like a dress, if a really tacky one with a way too high slit. I kept waiting to see Wilma Flintstone show up as her best pal. Tilda's looked like a bolt of purple-black cloth had been carelessly draped on her, but never eventually fashioned into a discernible shape and sewn into order. And the color made her look dead. Still, I have found her intriguing since I first saw her in ORLANDO, and I so dig her androgynous glow. That's two foreign gals getting the best actress O in a row. I can only guess that these ladies dress themselves, as opposed to having stylists dress them. So, for that, a thumbs up--if not for the actual gowns.

(I think Bjork still wins the perpetual weirdest Oscar dress award for that swan thing.)

Happy to see Daniel Day win. (Have adored him since his stick-up-the-butt wonderfulness in A Room With a View and his dazzling bit as Christy Brown and his suffocatingly trapped Newland Archer.) However, part of me was rooting for Johnny Depp, who has blown me away since Edward Scissorhands, and, well, he's a hottie.

Until my birthday last week, hubby and I hadn't been to a movie theater since, oh, 2001, I think. My allergies warm me away from mildewy places, and my germphobia goes into high mode in theaters. (Example: I used a paper towel between my head and the seat just in case someone with hair ickies sat there before me.)

But after a morning and afternoon of birthday-related enjoyment, I did not want to get into Miami rush hour traffic. We were at the mall, with me splurging on delicious lip glosses from MAC and Nars and Cargo (the latter two at Sephora, which is a wonderland for girly girls who like colors and scents and self-indulgent beauty products.) I suggested we just watch a film at the megaplex located there. Hubby was game.

Lucked out. The theater was clean, didn't have mildewy smell, didn't have the volume set to "bust Mir's ear before the film is done," didn't have chattering teens or back-of-the-seat kicking preteens, didn't have mashers (oh, don't even ask about pervos in theaters, ugh), and my allergies were not aroused.

That's where the luck ended: The only film starting within a half-hour was UNTRACEABLE. I said, okay, hubby might like it, it's got computers.

Hmmm. UNTRACEABLE is the kind of film that you watch to find out what happens next, while really appalled at the gory stuff, the stupid things characters do, and the total waste of good actors. (Why have Mary Beth Hurt if she basically does nothing? Why have Diane Lane and not give her character dimension?) I like mystery and puzzles and clues. I don't like gore and people suffering horribly before my eyes. And midway through it I was thinking: This is a tv show or tv film. This is just not big enough, smart enough for movie theater prices. This is like CSI, only longer and with dumber law enforcement.

I did enjoy seeing Ms. Lane, who in the film has a real face, not a botoxed/stretched/collagened/restylaned mask. As a middle-aged woman who is aghast at the alarming loss of elasticity in my skin, but who is more alarmed at the plastic surgery mania that surround us, I give the movie one-half bonus star just for showing a middle-aged (but still quite attractive) actress with natural face. (For all I know, Diane has succumed since then. She looked awfully fresh at the Oscars, but not close enough to tell if it was skillful application of makeup or some "work".)

That's one thing I love about the Brit thespians. The women on BBC and in film (such as Helen Mirren, who is still rocking that magnificent bosom of hers and who looked great last night) have real faces. Real teeth (not unnatural white square Chicklets). Real boobies. Real noses. At least, enough that you notice a certain reality when watching. I'm sure a percentage get work done, but not like American actresses and actors. (Seen Burt Reynolds lately? Mickey Rourke? Melanie Griffith? They're scary.) Frankly, I wish Nicole Kidman would drop her P.S. habit. She was so much lovelier before she started with the plumping via assorted means and immobilization via botulism. Ditto Meg Ryan, who went from adorably cute to WTF happened to her mouth/cheeks/etc. She stopped looking "Megsy" to me.

Trust me, I know about hating those crevices between the eyebrows and the sag of the bosom and the droop of the cheeks (both kinds), but an actress (and actor) should be able to actually make the wide range of human expression, dontcha think? I don't want to wonder why the heck they can't frown.

And sending the message to American women who are already half-crazed with a sense of not measuring up lookswise that, hey, without surgery and enhancements and lots of tweaks, forget about it. You just don't rate. You're not woman enough.

That's a dangerous, cruel, and unjust message to send. We're screwed up enough about beauty and aging and weight without thinking we need to save up to get our noses thinned and chins firmed and eyes lifted.

I realize that I say that after spending 130 bucks on lip glosses, perfume, foundation, and face powder as a birthday extravagance. (At least none of those require anesthesia and the risk of life and limb. Plusa, I do end up looking like me, just more colorful, not like a stranger. And if you tick me off, you'll know it, cause my eyebrows can move together.)

What was I talking about before the above rant?

Oh, right. Back to the Oscars.

I really enjoyed the performance of "Raise It Up," a nominee in the best song category. Great voices in that choir. And that little girl was fabulous, so poised and so on key and pitch perfect. Talented kid. But, the lovely, romantic, vocally vulnerable rendition of "Falling Slowly" utterly won me over. There was a point--two actually-- where the male singer (the Irish guy) turns to the pianist (the gal with the Russiany name) and it's such a lovely look and smile he sends her. Just heart-warming. Loved seeing them win. Now I want to see the flick ($100,000 budget!) just to see that sweet chemistry and hear the song in context. (And his voice reminded me of vintage Cat Stevens, which is a very pleasing thing.)

I have no idea why two of the three ENCHANTED songs were nominated. They sucked. Maybe there was a dearth of eligible tunes.

On to the writing bits: With NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN getting so many of the honors, I definitely need to up that on my NetFlix queue (along with the other nominees). Meantime, I found the screenplay online (it won an Oscar, yes) and am halfway done. Bleakness.

But, if you're curious about an Oscar-winning screenplay, read it:

No Country for Old Men, the screenplay

I could not find the screenplay for JUNO, the other film with a writing award, online. If you have a link for it, drop me the url in the comments, would ya?

Now, I need to NetFlix a few films.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Read Some Nebula Nominees Online

They'll be online for a short spell, so go read them now. Not all are available online, but you'll see links for those that are:

Nebula Nominees

In case ya just wanna know which novels are up for the honors:

Odyssey - McDevitt, Jack (Ace, Nov06)
The Accidental Time Machine - Haldeman, Joe (Ace, Aug07)
The Yiddish Policemen's Union - Chabon, Michael (HarperCollins, May07)
The New Moon's Arms - Hopkinson, Nalo (Warner Books, Feb07)
Ragamuffin - Buckell, Tobias (Tor, Jun07)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Christian SF: Podcast with Bill
and Selena of MINDFLIGHTS

DEP honcho man Bill Snodgrass and MindFlights managing editor Selena Thomason speak up in a podcast over at The Writing Cast, which describes the podcast thusly:
Selena and Bill share their thoughts on Christian-friendly science fiction and fantasy and the process of becoming a writer. They also give us the editor’s viewpoint on the matter of publication.


Listen up here.

As far as our current editorial needs: We need illustrations for our upcoming covers. Payment is MINIMAL, but if you do science fiction or fantasy art and want a credit, consider submitting something that fits our guidelines/feel/tone.

We also could use good Christian-friendly SF poems (ie, nothing graphic, too violent, too sexual, nothing blasphemous or anti-Christian). Read MindFlights and previously published poems from The Sword Review and Dragons, Knights & Angels to see what we've enjoyed in the past. I am always on the lookout for short form poems with killer metaphors and concepts, but the magazine accepts all forms (rhyming, non-rhyming, free verse, sonnets, scifaiku, etc) and long form poems (ie, longer than 49 lines).

We don't publish just spiritual poetry or Biblical historical poetry. Read the guidelines, okay?

Friday, February 22, 2008

Are you Watching the Tor Skies?

I just got my link to read John Scalzi's OLD MAN'S WAR (a book I shopping carted at amazon, but never actually purchased).

The next book they'll be letting us read is SPIN. (Got it a while back. Read it. Reviewed it here and at amazon. Faboolicious.)

If you haven't signed up for it, and you want the links for the free Tor e-books, goeth here:

Watch the Skies!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Addendum to Previous: Free Book Offer

I forgot to mention the deadline: If you're interested in a free copy of the first of the Farholme novels (The Shadow at Evening) by Chris Walley, please make sure to leave a comment below the blog tour post (2/20 dated) or this post, by Monday, Feb 25.

As usual (see longstanding sidebar note), you need to be in the contiguous 48 states of the US, and you'll need to give me your snail mail for shipping purposes (as it goes out via amazon.com). If you leave a contest entry post, make sure to leave a way to contact you ( disguised email addy or a link to your blog where I can leave a comment), or just check back here next week.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Christian SF and Fantasy Blog Tour: Chris Walley's THE SHADOW AND NIGHT -- Chance to Win a Free Book


A trillion people live under the gentle rule of the Assembly on over a thousand Made Worlds. Peace and stability have reigned for nearly twelve thousand years, and war and evil are merely ancient history. But all that is about to change.

On Farholme--a Made World at the edge of the Assembly--strange and troubling things are happening. Slowly, incredulously, a handful of men and women come to recognize the unthinkable: Evil has returned once more and it must be fought. Forester Merral D'Avanos and his friends are entrusted with the daunting task of confronting their world's elusive enemy.

Now isolated from the rest of the Assembly, Farholme must fight its battles alone. It falls to Merral to lead the untried forces of Farholme into war against opponents well-hidden and armed with strange powers. Yet even as he faces extraordinary and terrifying foes, Merral finds he has an unexpected enemy--himself.


Chris Walley and his Farholme novels are the focus of this blog tour. (If you'd like a copy of the first novel in the series, read on.)

THE SHADOW AND NIGHT is a repackaging by Tyndale of Walley's titles (originally released separately) and titled The Shadow at Evening and The Power of the Night. So, if you buy this tome, you're getting TWO novels.

If you want a briefer synopsis than the one above, here's one from the author himself:
After an unparalleled spiritual revival (the ‘Great Intervention') the human race survives the 21st century and during a long period of grace, peace and blessing, spreads out among the stars. Then, in the year 13,851 evil returns to the most distant of the inhabited worlds and once more men and women must battle with the sin and wrong.


I bought the first book in this series in the summer of 2006. I could not get past the early pages of historical info. It stopped me cold. I left it on my coffee table for a year and a half, sure I'd get back to it, then it got moved when we had to clear out some stuff for a new floor. I misplaced it. I didn't find it again until late yesterday evening. I still want to read it, notably because some pals of mine have really enjoyed it. But that slow beginning keeps me procrastinating.

What can I say? I like books that start out with a shot! Call me weak-willed. Call me MTV-video-generation afflicted. Prolly true.

However, as I said, pals of mine have enjoyed this, so it might be for you, too. You may have loved the slow -going opening pages of LOTR (It took me years to get into LOTR due the slow opening. I first tried in '76. When it hooked me, though, it hooked me hard, back in '83. . I still get bored and start skipping in parts when I reread. Tom B. is a major snoozefest for me.) Just goes to show that slow starts don't mean powerhouse middles and ends. :)

A few months after I first sampled the first novel in the series, the delightful and surely most handsome Steve Trower, owner of odd green vehicle and fellow admirer of LIFE ON MARS, reviewed it. Read it here.

Val asks this question prompted by the story: So, this is a Christian novel, but is the concept of future human perfection (outside of heaven itself) really a Christian idea? (And I love that she's gone red. Mmm. Red.)

For more on the theology of the novels, read "Puritans in Space." (A pretty cool title) He has taken post-millenial thinking and fashioned a space saga from it. I'm pre-millenial myself, but there is that whole loosing of Satan at the end of the millenium that seems to fit the premise of the Farholme novels. After all, a time of great peace and holiness followed by the re-introduction (however briefly) of evil before it is banished for all time. And it does harken to Eden, as well. Innocence tarnished by evil's intrusion is ever so Biblical.

I'll leave y'all with this from Chris:

We always need to be prepared for the possibility that the King may return at any time. Our systems may all be wrong. Yet I passionately believe that evangelical Christians need to balance the view of the possible imminent return of the Lord with a vision for the future that includes the possibility – even the probability – that the Church will triumph. If we have no vision for the future, then we cannot complain if our future is hijacked by others.

~

Having a vision for the present AND future is no doubt why we enjoy SF and CSF, and even write it ourselves. If this story sounds up your reading alley, do purchase it and support the author and his creative endeavors.

If you'd like to sample the novel, my budget allows me to give away one copy of the first novel: The Shadow at Evening. Just leave a comment under this post saying why you want it and committing to reviewing it (on amazon or CBD or on your blog) by end of April. I'll pick a name at random, unless I get only one entry. :)

Behold, my tourmates:

Brandon Barr
Jim Black
Justin Boyer
Valerie Comer
CSFF Blog Tour
Gene Curtis
D. G. D. Davidson
Janey DeMeo
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Marcus Goodyear
Rebecca Grabill
Jill Hart
Katie Hart
Michael Heald
Timothy Hicks
Christopher Hopper
Heather R. Hunt
Jason Joyner
Kait
Carol Keen
Mike Lynch
Margaret
Rachel Marks
Shannon McNear
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirtika or Mir's Here
Pamela Morrisson
Eve Nielsen
John W. Otte
John Ottinger
Deena Peterson
Rachelle
Steve Rice
Ashley Rutherford
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Rachelle Sperling
Donna Swanson
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Robert Treskillard
Jason Waguespac
Laura Williams
Timothy Wise

Buy the books:

Monday, February 18, 2008

Kelly Link's "Light": complete and free

If you've ever read Kelly Link, then you know the gal can craft herself up a doozy of a tale.

TIN HOUSE has her "Light" up at their site. Y'all know I love me some the free fiction. It starts like this:

The man at the bar on the stool beside her: bent like a hook over some item. A book, not a drink. A children’s book; dog-eared. When he noticed her stare, he grinned and said, “Got a light?”


Here ya go: "Light," which has the very cool bit below:

At a table behind her three women were talking about a new pocket universe. A new diet. A coworker’s new baby: a girl, born with no shadow. This was bad, although, thank God, not as bad as it could have been, a woman—someone called her Caroline—was saying.

A long, lubricated conversation followed about over-the-counter shadows— prosthetics, available in most drugstores, not expensive and reasonably durable. Everyone was in agreement that it was almost impossible to distinguish a prosthetic shadow from a real one.

Caroline and her friends began to talk of babies born with two shadows. Children with two shadows did not grow up happy. They didn’t get on well with other children. You could cut a pair of shadows apart with a pair of crooked scissors, but it wasn’t a permanent solution. By the end of the day the second shadow always grew back, twice as long. If you didn’t bother to cut back the second shadow, then eventually you had twins, one of whom was only slightly realer than the other.

Love and Music and Neuroses and Purpose


Okay, I'm groggy today. But I do hope you out there with S.O.'s had a lovely Valentine's smoochfest. And those who don't have a romantic interest at the moment still had a beautiful time with loved ones of all sorts. I meant to post the following link on the 14th:

If you are or were someone who enjoyed the music of the late Dan Fogelberg, his widow, Jean Fogelberg, allowed one of the songs Dan wrote as a private Valentine's Day gift to be offered for purchase in order to raise funds for charity. (That's Dan and Jean at left).

Dan died in Dec of 2007 from prostrate cancer. I was bummed on top of bummage (I had been in a depression then). Dan was one of my fave musicians in those years when we attach strongly to music (teens.) He's the only singer/songwriter/musician to whom I wrote a fan letter. It was brief: a couple of sentences, one a Gibran quote--A great singer is he who sings our silences. I sealed it with red wax. (I was a teen!)

I never got a reply.

I still have all his recordings, some in triplicate (the album, the cd, the cd back-up just in case). My husband learned to play some of the songs on guitar to please me; and when he plays, I sing along.

Dan's output up to the early 80's holds a special place among my fave music that's perfect for getting nostalgic and for singing. I remember the angst-riddled 16-years-old Mir lying in bed and listening to some finely-rendered lyrics and sighing.

Well, I only saw him perform live once (1998), and he was still handsome and in good form, though his soaring high notes didn't sweep way up there like they used to.

And he's gone. But you can hear "Sometimes a Song" and support prostate cancer research. “Sometimes A Song” is available from iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody and WalMart.com.

Frank Zappa and Jonny Ramone both, like Dan, succumbed to prostrate cancer. James Brown battled it while alive, also Harry Belafonte, and Stephen Stills (another guy whose voice I have much loved) is battling it now. (He had surgery in January.)

~~~

I find that my flaws and neuroses do tend to fall into my main characters: depression, phobias, that old sense of being a misfit, reclusiveness, insecurities.

I'm not alone. Carole McD writes about it in her blog entry Elegant Neurosis:

So yeah....everything...and I mean EVERYTHING....that goes on in my spiritual, physical, familial, and psychological life ends up in my stories. That's what makes my stories beautiful, i think. Not the beauty of the words, but the honesty and the self-revealing of my soul.

But dang! When I'm writing these things, I have to be very careful. At a storytelling conference, I once heard a storyteller say, "Storytelling is my most elegant use of my neurosis." That's what I aim for....elegance. Yeah, I want my neurosis out there in the book. But I want them to be so wonderfully rendered (nice word that, like clarified oil out of gross fat) that only the purity of soul and the soul's need for God and clarity can shine forth.


~~

And a quote for something on my mind the last month plus:

"Knowing your purpose simplifies your life. It defines what you do and what you don't do. Your purpose becomes the standard you use to evaluate which activities are essential and which aren't."
--Rick Warren, The Purpose-Driven Life

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Food Doesn't Get Any Cuter!

If you like Hello Kitty, well, here you go.

I had a bento box lunch yesterday--macrobiotic, vegan, very yummy believe it or not--but it was nowhere near as adorable as the ones at the above link.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Mir's Hubby is "Electrippin"

The sweetest, handsomest man on earth, aka my hubby, now has his first electronica cd both at itunes and rhapsody.com: Electrippin

Some tunes were clearly Biblically inspired: "Psalm 71"; "Prophesee"; "Good Versus Evil." Less obviously Bible-related is "Dance of the Giants", which actually began with some concept of Salome and then moved over to, what, Goliath, I guess? (I'll have to ask hubby.)

You can sample the electronica/dance tunes at the above-mentioned sites, as well as at his ShoutLife page and his MySpace one.

He also recently won the Big Yellow Hand mosh voting at acidplanet.com for a newer work, "Offhand Remarks." (One of my fave of his compositions, actually, and The Mir's body loves to mooooove to it. Neat cymbals partway in and a videogame slash anime vibe. Nice pulsations in last third.) It's so cool when he gets positive remarks from folks globally. He's got a fan in Switzerland. :D (mmmm chocolate. mmmmm cheese.)

Hubby's been searching DeviantArt and other sites for pro bono or very cheaply acquired artwork for cd #2. Electrippin has a graphic hubby made himself .(He didn't take my suggestion to add yellow highlights in the actual grid. Humph.)

As we've both been enjoying America's Best Dance Crew (the American Idol-like spin-off with hip-hop dancing), I asked him to create one that Kaba Modern could dance to, with a big change-up of tempo mid-way and some interesting details for a team with such precision moves. (Love dat team, as well as our local Miami one, Live in Color.) Can't wait to hear what that's gonna be like. I hope it's got a nice Latin edge. Natch.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

If You Write SF...or Just Write Fiction...

You MUST read this. Right now.

The excerpt from the classic Cordwainer Smith story alone is worth a the visit.

Requesting Prayers for Chad

"We did not expect things to happen this quickly," said Levourne Passiri, World Vision's National Director in Chad. "I fear that the entire capital could be destroyed. There is already much human and economic damage. Many civilians have been killed."
--from World Vision

Got the above in an email today. I have a sponsored child in Chad, Florence Obikem. Naturally, it concerns me anytime there is upheaval in the countries where I have sponsored kids (Chad, Mozambique). So, when you're at your prayers this week, please place your petition for this beleaguered nation, along with Kenya and the Sudan and others, before the Lord.

And if you can donate, please do so.

Thanks.

An escalated conflict in Chad would be disastrous for Africa, plunging neighboring countries into internal conflict and likely creating an explosive situation detrimental to the region's fragile stability.

With tensions increasing between the leaders of Chad and Sudan due to accusations that each is aiding rebel forces against the other, mediation is essential.
--from JPost.Com article "Analysis: Power, corruption and poverty fuel Chad coup attempt"

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Fabulous Instructors for Clarion 2008

Man. Makes my mouth water just looking at the instructional line-up of writers-in-residence for the Clarion Workshop this year:

Kelly Link
James Patrick Kelly
Mary Anne Mohanraj
Neil Gaiman
Nalo Hopkinson
Geoff Ryman

Man. I'd be drooling on myself were I attending seminars with Kelly, Nalo and Neil, and the others are tempting, too. Of course, you'd have to get me off the floor from the shock that they accepted me to begin with.

If you want the lowdown on this year's Clarion, goeth here.

I made a small donation to sponsor scholarships last year--and I mean SMALL--but with the belt-tightening going on in The Mir's household, alas, not this year.

Well, unless I, like, you know, inherit a fortune from a long-estranged eccentric relative. Or hit the lottery. (I'd sort of have to actually play the lottery, but, well, okay...) Should such come to pass, I'll just go myself and take one or two of my SF-writing pals with me! Heh.

~

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Build Your Own Anthology

I've been complaining to hubby for years that I'd like a service like this. Choose your stories. Let the book be created for you.

Even before iTunes, way back, I used to gripe about buying cds where maybe I liked one or two songs and that's all, how I'd rather compile my own cd with tunes of my choosing.

I haven't looked to see what selection they have, but I'm gonna be browsing around Anthology Builder. I already know that I can get several of Sam Henderson's nifty stories, including her excellent, "Five Ways Jane Austen Never Died."

One of my MindFlights fellow-editors, Marcie Lynn Tentchoff, is listed. See #37 under the fantasy category: "Raven Song." Her "Dances With Crows" is number 61. I noted several stories by Cat Rambo and M.K. Hobson, too, in the fantasy list.

Browse by author or genre. Even by publication. Or look at recent stories.

You can choose your own cover art, too. Here's some of the fantasy art. I like this one lots. (pic left)

You get 350 pages of fiction of your choice for $14.95. (I'm guessing that's NOT including shipping. Think $20 bucks, prolly, total.) You choose title, cover, and stories. Not bad...as long as the selection is tempting enough.

I hope a lot more authors from SF participate. And Christian authors of short fiction, too.

If you have one made, why not post what you chose. Drop me a comment so I can go see.

~

Friday, February 01, 2008

A Stye and a Pie

Good news, bad news.

Bad first: I hadn't had an eye stye in ages. But, well, looks like I got two of em. It will be warm compresses round here for a few days, I guess. I wonder if it's cause I haven't really done consistent eye scrubbing since the surgery, very lightly splashing or washing eyes gently with Cetaphil every few days to avoid rubbing (which was nixed for a month, minimum). Could be. Dunno.

Good: Glaser Organics Mamey Mango Raw Fruit Pie. I bought one of these on a whim, cause the color of the filling was so mamey-gorgeous. (If you've never had mamey, it's a fruit we Cubans use a lot for smoothies. We also call it sapote. It has a very deep orange color with a hink of pinkiness, sort of like sweet potato only brighter and pinkier in its orangeyness. (see pic left) The texture is creamy, like, um, avocadoish?)

Anyway, bought the pie at Whole Foods and was totally taken by surprise at how scrumptious it is, considering it's not even baked or anything. Just fruits (mamey, mango, bananas, supersweet golden pineapple, kiwi, dates, orange juice) and nuts (almond, walnuts, pecans, coconut) and spices for the crust. The use of coconut is genius. Dang. Good. Yum. Want more.

This from wikipedia on mamey:

The Mamey is the cornerstone of Cuban holistic medicine. It is used extensively as a veritable panacea for gastro-intestinal maladies. In southern Cuba, the mamey is also used to treat headaches and venereal diseases. There are numerous accounts of the Mamey being used as an antiseptic during the Spanish-American War.


I wish my mom was alive to try the mamey raw fruit pie. Mmm.