Saturday, October 31, 2009

Houdini Seance...Live Online on Halloween

Skeptics and magicians attempt to contact Houdini's ghost. Snarf.

Tonight at 9pm EST, if you're interested.

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Friday, October 30, 2009

SUPERNATURAL Last Night: Cool He-Witch and a Hunk from the Past...and fear of aging...

I haven't been watching SUPERNATURAL faithfully. Sometimes Sam and Dean annoy the heck outta me, sometimes I like them. So, spotty viewing is the result.

Plus, the angels acting so dorkily really annoyed me, even though I loved Castiel's first rumply appearance.

Still, I watched last night and I enjoyed the episode with the "gambling for years" Irish he-witch, Patrick. And no, it's not just that the Patrick was a hottie, though he was, in that sort of "I'm not pretty, but I'm cool and, hey, listen to this sexy accent of mine" way. What I liked best, though, was that he had his shades of dark and light. He seemed as if he might be a ruthless gambler at first meeting, but then you saw that he was fair (which we could have gleaned from the opening minutes, as he did let a guy regain his youth, after all, fair and square). He was able to really love, and really feel loss. He wasn't homicidal, though he'd sanguinely take 50 years of one's life if one were stupid enough to gamble them away.

So a villain with his honor code, and really, rather sympathetic by the end.

And with Dean getting a solid dose of what it feels to be old and achey, ie Bobby, well, there's a good lesson there for the younger hunter. As a gal bullseyeing toward fifty, boy, did I sympathize with the pangs and pains of aging. The running cheeseburger gag holds all sorts of horrors for a gal like me that does have to get cholesterol tested regularly. Aging sucks. (On the plus side, this episode made it easy for me to stick to grilled chicken and salad and green tea for supper last night.)

How nice to see Chad Everett, btw. I was just into puberty when I had a mad, mad crush on him as the clogs-wearing, too-too-good looking doc on MEDICAL CENTER. The years have been creasingly, crinkly rough on Chad's once-gorgeous exterior, but you can still see he was a hunk once, under all those age lines. (Okay, I really need to stop thinking about aging.) :::mad dash for the moisturizer:::

It's a flawed show, SUPERNATURAL is, but occasionally, it's fun to tune in and see what they're up to. And I can always appreciate an attractive man with a Celtic accent or a bit of nostalgia.

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

DARKER THAN BLACK 2: Ryuusei no Gemini--For Those Who Liked Darker than Black the first go round

While my hubby didn't get into DARKER THAN BLACK with me in the last few months, I was definitely hooked by the futuristic anime of contractors, dolls, mysterious gates, conspiracies, shadow powers, and such. Plus really cool opening theme (for the first few episodes, anyway) by the Abingdon Boys School, "Howling." Had the mister download it to the iTouch for me. :)

While the first season had some pacing issues--particularly that really rushed ending-- it still asked enough questions and had enough action and emotional stuff going on to keep me hooked. I wondered what new powers would be displayed by contractors and what remunerations (ie, the price they paid to use them, such as eating eggs, napping, breaking fingers, drinking liquor, smoking, earmarking novel pages, etc.) I really wondered sometimes, why the lead character had such lame fight scenes on occasion (and why wear a mask that predictably shattered in an alarming majority of altercations). And how would those episodic sorts of stories cohere? Still, there I was, every week, waiting for Comcast to set up the next chapters for me. And by the time the end came around, yes, there were hints of what was to come set up from episode one. Some episodes were scarily moving and beautiful.

Well, after the last episode of the first season, I didn't know for sure if there was going to be a continuation, though the finale just begged for one. Too many loose ends.

So, here we go. Hei is back (with cool long hair and that "won't stay put" mask again). But whether he'll be the major player, I dunno. Prolly.

Episode 1 of DARKER THAN BLACK: Ryuusei no Gemini brings us into the world of twins Shion (a boy) and Suou (a girl), both of whom were at ground zero during a meteor strike. Shion has since become a contractor, though his power hasn't been evidence. We just see his damage post meteor-strike (as he's chair-bound and seems to have lost an eye.) The scene where we see him ridicule the emotion of love to his own sister is quite chilling. Even so, we can see that he cares about her, to some degree, anyway, enough to try to protect her when the poopoo hits the fan and our girl goes on the run.

Prior to the fleeing and fighting, we have a set-up of Suou as a vivacious schoolgirl into photography (like her mama), and it's easy to like her and her pals. Then her world goes upsy-daisy, and we see one of her friends become a contractor in a heartbreaking scene, horrible to watch because of the youthful sweetness that preceded the change. Great set-up, great complications.

Oh, and a familiar face bites the dust, er, snow in episode one. That tells me that the "all bets are off about who lives" concliusion of the first season carries its tone right into episode one of the second season. Perhaps no character is utterly safe from doom. It's more interesting that way, actually, if sad. We'll see.

The animation is very pleasing to the eye ,and the first fight scene has cool contractey stuff.

Like the first series, the relationship/issues between siblings is key. Hei and Pai's tribulations and powers were a big thing in the first DTB. Suou and Shion will be our siblings in crisis in the second. I'll be rooting for the twins, for sure.

If you've seen the first season, but haven't gone for the second yet. Here. Watch the first few episodes (Japanese with English subs).

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

There weeks...stupid flu still not gone

I'm past most of it, I'm sure. The goop is 80% reduced. But the fatigue seems to want to linger. I could hardly read the paper yesterday, as it was hard to hold it up to my face. My arms would just wimp out. And it's not like I have weak arms. I've got a year plus of 2 to 3 times a week of strength training with a personal trainer under my belt (and above it). But there you go. Mean germie.

Today, I had enough energy to shave in the shower and blow-dry my hair, before I had to sit down and take a rest. Progress!

My face shows I'm getting better. I no longer look like a gray-faced ghoul with crazy hair that needs a nap. My torn up lips (from coughing, wiping lips, etc) are healing up, thanks to lots of vaseline and lip gloss.

I can afford to rest and get over this as no one depends on me for their daily care anymore (with both parents gone, with hubby self-sufficient and attentive). How do single moms or dads who have to look after others no matter what manage to get through a bout of swine flu? Dang.

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The "Simple" Art of Query Letter Writing According to Agent Jennifer Jackson

I thought this was a pretty helpful blog entry. The "personalization" tip is one I don't recall seeing before, btw. (Or maybe I did and forgot, since it's been a couple years since I've kept up with any of this stuff.)

So, for those of you in the querying stage, or close to it, drop by and check it out.

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Marcher Lord Press' New Publishing-Meets-Idol Contest

Marcher Lord Press, the premier publisher of Christian speculative fiction, today announces the debut of a revolution in fiction acquisitions.

"Marcher Lord Select is American Idol meets book acquisitions," says publisher Jeff Gerke. "We're presenting upwards of 40 completed manuscripts and letting 'the people' decide which one should be published."

MLP SelectThe contest will proceed in phases, Gerke explains, in each subsequent round of which the voters will receive larger glimpses of the competing manuscripts.

The first phase will consist of no more than the book's title, genre, length, a 20-word premise, and a 100-word back cover copy teaser blurb. Voters will cut the entries from 40 to 20 based on these items alone.

"We want to show authors that getting published involves more than simply writing a great novel," Gerke says. "There are marketing skills to be developed--and you've got to hook the reader with a good premise."

Following rounds will provide voters with a 1-page synopsis, the first 500 words of the book, the first 30 pages of the book, and, in the final round, the first 60 pages of the book.

The manuscript receiving the most votes in the final round will be published by Marcher Lord Press in its Spring 2010 release list.

No portion of any contestant's mss. will be posted online, as MLP works to preserve the non-publication status of all contestants and entries.

Participating entrants have been contacted personally by Marcher Lord Press and are included in Marcher Lord Select by invitation only.

"We're also running a secondary contest," Gerke says. "The 'premise contest' is for those authors who have completed a Christian speculative fiction manuscript that fits within MLP guidelines and who have submitted their proposals to me through the Marcher Lord Press acquisitions portal before October 29, 2009."

The premise contest will allow voters to select the books that sound the best based on a 20-word premise, a 100-word back cover copy teaser blurb, and (possibly) the first 500 words of the book.

The premise contest entrants receiving the top three vote totals will receive priority acquisitions reading by MLP publisher Jeff Gerke.

"It's a way for virtually everyone to play, even those folks who didn't receive an invitation to compete in the primary Marcher Lord Select contest."

The premise contest is open to anyone with a completed Christian speculative fiction manuscript that meets MLP guidelines for length, content, genre, worldview, audience, etc. To enter, authors must complete the acquisitions form found at the Marcher Lord Press site and supply all the components listed below on or before October 29, 2009.

Marcher Lord Select officially begins on November 1, 2009, and runs until completion in January or February 2010. All voting and discussions and Marcher Lord Select activities will take place at The Anomaly forums in the Marcher Lord Select subforum. Free registration is required.

"In order for this to work as we're envisioning," Gerke says, "we need lots and lots of voters. So even if you're not a fan of Christian science fiction or fantasy, I'm sure you love letting your voice be heard about what constitutes good Christian fiction. So come on out and join the fun!"

Marcher Lord Press is a Colorado Springs-based independent publisher producing Christian speculative fiction exclusively. MLP was launched in fall of 2008 and is privately owned. Contact: Jeff Gerke;

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Sadly Clueless Quote of the Month

I had followed a link to a post requesting authors/titles of Christian fiction. I did post some suggestions, but I couldn't help noticing this comment from someone who only makes me shake my head sadly at the simplistic logic and limited scope of vision:
There arent any christian fiction authors since a fiction book is nothing more than a long lie. Since telling lies is a sin…………

Yes, go ahead. Shake your head, too.

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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Wouldn't Be Surprised if the Swine Flu Felled Me

But I won't know for sure as I never went to the doc.

Don't think I'm nuts. Recently, my doc and I talked about the possibility of my getting the flu shot, as I'm in one of the high-risk groups (chronic respiratory issues, immune issues). We made sure I was well-stocked with my respiratory Rx's to prepare for flu season.

When I came down with the sore throat/chills followed by sweats/mega-phlegm/congestion/fatigue/puking from hard coughing, I was all set at home with my asthma and allergy meds, my nebulizer meds and machine set-up, dreaded Sudafed, and etc I just needed hubby to get me expectorant--and later cough suppressant and expectorant, when I went nearly two days without sleeping cause the coughing would not cease long enough for me to doze off--and plenty of juices and smoothies, which is made easier with Jamba Juice and Julio's Natural Foods nearby. Papaya with soymilk and Mango with soymilk are very yummy, and Blackberry Bliss and fresh OJ are always a sweet treat for the sickly. If you can get it, tamarind water (Mexican or Caribbean style) is tasty. Fresh, real lemonade has Vitamin C.

I've also had enough onion soup from Gourmet Diner and matzoh ball soup from Roasters N Toasters to give birth to an onion-scented chicken with cheese breath.

Nine days after first getting symptoms, I still feel like crap, still am coughing so much I have very little voice left, am sore anywhere I have muscles that aid in coughing/breathing, and still have enough phlegm and snot to drown a small village, which is a vast improvement over the tsunami of plegm and snot that could have swamped Texas. I'm alive. So far, miserable, but making wee progress.

I do miss my twice-weekly Pilates sessions. Ah, well.

Just saw a Google news linked article with a recommendation that people with the flu stay at home and treat it themselves--ie, call their doc while avoiding ER or doc's office. Makes sense if we want to contain the spread. I even warn the UPS and FED EX guys, who have been delivering super-strong manly tissues in bulk quantities (thank you amazon) and reading material to me, to disinfect their pens thingie and hands. If they don't, what can I say? Their bad.

If I hadn't taken precautions, I'd have had to hit the urgent care, especially after sleeping nearly-sitting-up for four hours on one side (the lesser congested one) made one leg swell up, then I forced myself to switch sides and then had that leg swell up (from the pressure on my hip, I'm guessing, in that weird propped up position). Just in case, I'm downing cherry concentrate and coconut water for the blood thinning salicylates and excess fluid removing Potassium (those soups are salty!)

I hope to be able to sleep lying down soon. :) Would be nice...

So, yeah, figure I got flu-ed, and that after managing to avoid a cold or bronchitis for over two years (did have bad asthma flare-ups, but that's not going away). I hope and pray you don't catch this bug.

Although, really, the Hong Kong flu was so much worse. I am convinced that I was close to being a fatality that time. My dad and mom got so scared, my dad carried me (and at 9 years old, I wasn't lightweight) through snow-covered South Bronx streets, with my mom following behind to catch my boots as they slipped off my limp feet. I couldn't have walked if they'd promised me a lake full of chocolate egg cream. I remember her face. She was worried, my stoic mom, bending down to pick up my boots. I remember the series of injections--five in all-- that hurt like heck, but kept my airways open.

Anyway, don't catch this. It sucks really hard and there are folks dying from it. Wash your hands. Carry hand disinfectant. Don't go to work or school if you have some bug. Be considerate.

Or as I tell my husband nowadays--and yeah, I got it from him, and he probably got it at work--"Think like Monk. Be Monk." And then hand him alcohol wipes and bottles of hand sanitizer and paper towels, the latter so he won't directly touch doorknobs.

I don't want another one of these things.

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Thursday, October 08, 2009

If You Accept Free Books To Review, You Better Read Up on New FTC Rules Effective December 2009

You could start with this article.

I've decided not to accept free books from the CSFF blog tour anymore, since we always link to, and that makes it linked to "seller"--and an advertisement, I guess. I'll only buy the books I want to read and skip the rest, as I have done, anyway for a year plus. I hope publishers will start to make electronic manuscripts available for review. Those we can delete, hence, not be "compensated."

Would be easier on my eyes, too.

I wonder if those reviewers who get free books and only gush and give 5 stars (maybe 4) without any real criticism will be under more scrutiny...

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Tuesday, October 06, 2009


Stankorank reality ho-fests stay on the air, but a drama with astronauts--including one "of the faith"-- that was hinting at coolness to come gets cancelled.

Sucks, people. Sucks.

I'd have rather seen DOLLHOUSE sacked. (And know that I'm scratching my head into a festering landscape at the fact that FIREFLY got cancelled but DOLLHOSUE got picked up for season two. Huh? Huh? :::scritch, scritch:::)

At least I still have BONES and CASTLE and BIG BANG THEORY (which I have to find a way to watch since they moved it from 8pm, dangit) and LIES and DROP DEAD DIVA (for now) and can hope that FLASH FORWARD is not gonna let me down too much, since they already de-emphasized science in favor of the cops aspect. (Love Mr. Cho and the dude who was Steve in COUPLING, though, and I'm always happy to see one of the Fiennes brothers.)

And HOUSE recaptured me after losing me post  Amber's death. The time in the mental facility and the program asking if a doctor should labor to save a genocidal tyrant's life rehooked me.

If TV just stinks, though, I can always watch free anime online. :D
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Very Cool: The Drum Song -- Adjoa Skinner Video

The Drum Song - Adjoa Skinner from Charlie peacock on Vimeo.

For those of you attending the Mt Hermon conference next year--and I know several of my ACFW pals really love this conference-- you may have heard the keynote speaker is gonna be Charlie Peacock. Christians of my age (ahem, almost 50) will be familiar with the name of Charlie Peacock from his CCM music. Well, he produced this lovely little music video. (Marginally related: Check out this Q&A with Peacock's missus, who clearly has developed her gift of hospitality to an art. Makes me wish I could eat at her supper table!)

Ms Skinner gives a really pleasing performance--from the beauty of her own self, lovely and graceful of face and form and movement--to the simple prettiness of the set, to the simple pleasure of the song accompanied only by that shaker-clacker thing (dunno the actual name) and the drum (small, African type whose name I also don't know). Find more of her on YouTube.


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A Little Late Reporting on It, But Go Read a Rhysling Winner Today!

I never got around to posting about the Rhysling Award winners of 2009, but one of my fave SF poets got second place in BOTH categories. Go, Sam! And I apologize for my late congrats.

Make sure to visit the list of winners HERE, read a first place short form poem HERE, and read Sam Henderson's "Spell" (short form) over at Goblin Fruit and her long-form "Hungry: Some Ghost Stores" at Lone Star.

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Can TLC Please Pull the Plug FOREVER On "Jon and Kate Plus Eight" or "Kate Plus Eight" or Any Variation Thereof!!??? PLEASE!!!!!

I long for the day when I never see the faces of these people again, especially the big, steaming pile that is Jon Gosselin.

Please, TLC, I beg of you, cancel this show and let these people raise their kids in private. Please, no more deals. I'm sure they've made enough over the years to put in their kids' names to send them to college. Do us all a favor and force Jon to support his kids the old-fashioned way: by working. Let's see how much time he has to be a playboy/media-ho when he's gotta work 14 hours a day.

Make them go away!

Folks, go here to ask TLC to pull the plug forever on this media circus that has gotta be doing some weird stuff to those kiddies.

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Sunday, October 04, 2009

Writing Fantasy Can Get You "Excommunicated"

This is a news bit from last year, Nov of 2008, but since I have not really kept up with stuff literary or newsy or online-y for more than a year, I only caught this just now:

Christian author of fantasy disfellowshipped for writing a vampire novel.

I give Mr. Lewis great credit for not showing any meanness toward his disfellowshippers. I'd be quite miffed and maybe not so charitable, which just goes to show what an immature stinker I am. :)

In an interview, he said this:

6) How has this ordeal affected your faith? And your family?

Not to sound overly dramatic, but it felt like God was personally turning his back on me. And since the Elders didn’t just hold me responsible, they held my wife responsible, too… I really can’t describe the turmoil it unleashed in my home. Things have calmed down considerably, but it’s still an issue we deal with every day. It’s silly of me to hold God responsible for what are essentially the actions of a few men, but for awhile I was very angry with Him.

I haven't read the novel, but I can see from the synopsis what would make more than a few of the members/elders/pastors in my former Southern Baptist fellowship have a holy cow. Maybe a half dozen of them. But I would hope they wouldn't use some of the less than saintly tactics that seemed to have been employed in this disfellowshipping, even if in the end they found that what I wrote was violating some holy law.

Granted, there are folks who think if you have a character who uses cuss words, you've just shattered the sanctum, and that's a way of thinking that is just too boxy for me to accept as legit. But I can see where there are some works a leadership can discuss and unanimously agree is corruptive, in which case, the author and church just don't fit well.

And when I see the surveys that show more and more people are refusing to be involved with organized religion and do their worship at home or in informal groups, I think the sort of heavy-handed elder/pastor restrictions may play a part in this. So many iconoclasts in the Bible were unacceptable to the leaders of their day, would be considered oddballs today, and somewhere we forget to leave room for those who are a bit odd, strange, loud, visionary, and offensive, even.

Not that writing of vampire sex may be the route to holiness, mind you. :) I can see where this would be a cause for discussion with elders, sure. But after all the uproar over Harry Potter, and even the comments I recall seeing about WIND FOLLOWER, a novel I saw as truly God-honoring and Bible-infused, I got purely tired of shaking my head at what some Christians have to say about literature of the fantastic. I cannot live in a 10 x 10 literary cell.

If the fictional depiction of humanity is not somewhat offensive or very offensive to some or all to some degree, it's probably not very honest--that's my philosophy. People can be luminous and people can be full of love and people can majorly suck and people can be so terrifying it's hard to keep one's poop in one's bowels contemplating the horrors we visit upon each other.

Vampires are, in general, gonna be humans warped to a higher order of uncleanness (generally, I say, since we can have good vamps and funny vamps), so to write about vampires probably means you're gonna write very dark and scary and offensive stuff--to non-vampires for sure and to those seeking saintliness even moreso (or less so, if the saint involved is well aware of the dark side of mankind as opposed to highly self-protective and sheltered.)

Since I believe the reason I enjoy fantasy is not just for the "oohh--wheee" fun factor of the weird and magical, but because the skewing of reality allows fantasists to comment pointedly on the human and social conditions beyond the mere material (ie, the spirit/soul/eternal figures into this, too), I expect the darkness of that which is dark is even darker in dark fantasy. The limitations of the real are removed, yes, but also the identification. You may not be able to face the child molester in fiction, but maybe the child-stealing fairy or a child-devouring werewolf (who is not "us", yet is us) is a way to delve into that dark human impulse to steal away or harm or destroy the innocent.

I saw the magic in Harry Potter as a hyperreality, a metaphor of sorts, and not as "here, be a witch" sort of magic. (Since it was innate, humans could not become witches or wizards, be it their desire or not.) Magic as inherent traits, like shyness or thrill-seeking or wimpyness or courage or smarts or agility.

I see vampires as a vehicle to examine exploitation (feeding on humans), sexuality (the built-in idea of the allure of sin/wickedness/darkness to regular folks; conjoining in blood requiring "necking"; etc), power, mortality vs immortality, dark vs light, temptation, shoot, even venereal diseases (which was part of the metaphor that seemed obvious to me when I read Bram Stoker's work during the initial, terrifying progress of AIDS.) How do people change if they lose their soul? What does it mean to live forever, how does that affect you? Who would be tempted to be one, who would not, and who would seek to eradicate vampires or assist them? I think exploring all those elucidate some part of what it is to be a human who wants to live longer than our lives allow, who are revolted at the idea of drinking human blood, but might find that act also sacred and Christian in some way--"This is my blood... shed for often as you drink it."

Have I read STAKED? Nope. Never ever heard of it until today. And I don't know if I would stand with the elders or with Lewis--so it's not like I can take a solid side. However, I can't help but sit and ponder the implications.

I do think that disfellowshipping should be for something significant, something serious--Paul had the young man disfellowshipped for sleeping with his father's wife, which, yeah, I can see that. I find it hard to think that writing a novel about a man sleeping with his stepmom (or mom, for that matter), would merit the same harsh reaction. Ne?

Are you writing something that could get you in ecclesiastical hot water? Do comment.

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Saturday, October 03, 2009

If You've Got the Moolah & The Passion to Write SF, Consider a Mentorship with Nalo Hopkinson

In recent weeks, the part of me that misses writing is making itself very, very noisy. I've not written in almost 2 years, and I feel the void. I know my neuroses are a beeyotch, and my fears are obstacles, and my sense of just not being good enough, no matter what X editor or Y writer or Z chum says, is this wall in front of my face.

But reading about the mentorships available with Nalo sure made me want to write again.

Not that I think she'd want to mentor me, mind you, as I'm a pretty traditional Cuban gal, but I do admire her talent and her passion. And I sympathize with her health situation, as I also have my chronic ills that sap my energy and cause me to have to restructure my life and activities. Well, and we were both born in Caribbean nations, but immigrated North to English-speaking lands, now that I think about it.

So, back to the mentorships: If you have a passion for literature, good writing skills (grammar, sentence structure, etc), are writng SF, figure you are simpatico with Ms. Hopkinson as a person (she talks about herself in the info page for the mentorship), and you've got $2000 for the non-refundable mentorship fee that covers 3 months of email-facilitated mentoring/critique, well, check out this info.

But hurry. Applications will be accepted only through the deadline of October 5th. Mentoring begins October 15th.

And if you're not interested in mentoring, but have a ton of cash lying around (or just a big unused pile) and want to support a scholarship for one of her mentorees, you can do that, too.

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Friday, October 02, 2009

Cybils Open For Nominations

The Cybils are taking nominations for books aimed at kids. Have a book you're passionate about for that age group? Maybe a book featured in the Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy blog tour? Was it published between Oct. 16, 2008 and the close of this year's nomination period? Then have a go at the form.

Limitation: One book per genre. (SF and Graphic Novels will take a nom for either an elementary/middle grade level or a teen/YA level book, if you prefer one to the other.)

For a peek at books already nominated in the Science Fiction/Fantasy genre, lookee here.

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Thursday, October 01, 2009

October's not Just Hispanic Heritage Month...for TOR, it's Steampunk Month

October is Steampunk Month on with giveaways, wallpapers, reviews, and posts by guest bloggers from the steampunk community. I'm looking forward to the interview with Tim Powers.

Go HERE to check it out. They include a link to Cherie Priest's STEAMPUNK FAQ, in case you aren't familiar with the term. Her short definition is this:

Steampunk is a style (of books, clothes, video games, movies, etc.) that draws its inspiration from old science fiction stories. By “old” I mean Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Mary Shelley, and their ilk. Steampunk art is often (but not strictly always) indicative of a place and/or time wherein steam is the dominant form of high technology. Or at least it usually looks like it is.

Need more? Visit Steampunkopedia.

Want some steampunk novels to try?
THE DIFFERENCE ENGINE by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling
IRON WEST by Doug TenNapel (graphic novel)
or...just browse some titles

So, is there an Hispanic Heritage steampunk story out there? :)

Anyway, if you have a steampunky Christian fantasy story you wanna submit to MindFlights, we'll be open for subs again later this month. Think about it...

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