Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Travelling blog tour: Food and Fantasy


Food in fantasy novels are as varied as they are in real life. As a lover of food and food blogs, youtube cooking channels, discovery channel and travel channel food programs, I find the eating culture of different fantastical tribes very important as a way of showing cultural and religious beliefs, especially the connection of those beliefs with hospitality toward strangers, gratitude toward the gods, and the passage of time.

Wind Follower benefitted from my love of anthropology and from my living in New York. In Wind Follower, I created four tribes that lived in a common cultural setting. In many ways, they were like the cosmopolitan New York area I live in -- many people sharing some aspects of the culture while preserving their own unique cultures with characters' wealth or committment to their religion being the factors that affected their eating habits.

But there were sexual taboo food issues in Wind Follower, and women were not allowed to touch or eat certain foods at "that time" of the month. In addition, some foods implied certain spiritual doctrines. Therefore to touch those foods implied challenging the doctrines.

In my story, Lingua Franca, the eating of certain foods  -- or more specifically, the eating of flesh or the cutting of flesh with a tool-- is the crux of the story. In that story, the main character challenged her husband on his changing the "letter" of the law in order to do what the foreigners want.

In  The Constant Tower, my upcoming novel, different tribes eat different foods but the problem is not a big one.

For other posts on food and fantasy, check out: http://www.sylviakelso.com/2012/12/food-on-travelling-round-table-fantasy.html

 Sylvia Kelso lives in North Queensland, Australia. She writes fantasy and SF set in analogue or alternate Australian settings. She has published six fantasy novels, two of which were finalists for best fantasy novel of the year in the Australian Aurealis genre fiction awards, and some short stories in Australian and US anthologies.


The members of the travelling blog tour are:


Theresa Crater has published two novels, Beneath the Hallowed Hill & Under the Stone Paw and several short stories, most recently “White Moon” in Riding the Moonand “Bringing the Waters” in The Aether Age:  Helios. She’s also published poetry and a baker’s dozen of literary criticism. Currently, she teaches writing and British lit in Denver. Born in North Carolina, she now lives in Colorado with her Egyptologist partner and their two cats. Visit her website at http://theresacrater.com


Andrea K Höst was born in Sweden but raised in Australia.  She writes fantasy and science fantasy, and enjoys creating stories which give her female characters something more to do than wait for rescue.  See: www.andreakhost.com

Warren Rochelle has taught English at the University of Mary Washington since 2000. His short story, "The Golden Boy” (published in The Silver Gryphon) was a Finalist for the 2004 Gaylactic Spectrum Award for Best Short Story and his novels include The Wild Boy (2001), Harvest of Changelings (2007), and The Called (2010. He also published a critical work on Le Guin and has academic articles in various journals and essay collections.
http://warrenrochelle.com


Deborah J. Ross began writing professionally in 1982 as Deborah Wheeler with Jaydium and Northlight and short stories in Asimov's, F & SF, Realms Of FantasyY and Star Wars: Tales From Jabba's Palace. Now under her birth name, Ross, she is continuing the" Darkover" series of the late Marion Zimmer Bradley, as well as original work, including the fantasy trilogy The Seven-Petaled Shield, forthcoming from DAW. She is a member of Book View Cafe. She's lived in France, worked for a cardiologist, studied Hebrew, yoga and kung fu, plays classical piano, loves horses, and is active in the local Jewish and Quaker communities.
 http://deborahjross.blogspot.com/

Valjeanne Jeffers is a graduate of Spelman College, science fiction writer and the author of the Immortal series, The Switch II: Clockwork (books I and II), Grandmere’s Secret, and Colony. She has been published in numerous anthologies including: Steamfunk! and Genesis Science Fiction Magazine. Contact Valjeanne at http://valjeanne.wordpress.com and www.vjeffersandqveal.com.

Chris Howard's a fairly creative guy with a pen and a paint brush, author of Seaborn (Juno Books) and half a shelf-full of other books.  His short stories have appeared in a bunch of zines, latest is "Lost Dogs and Fireplace Archeology" in Fantasy Magazine.  In 2007, his story "Hammers and Snails" was a Robert A. Heinlein Centennial Short Fiction Contest winner.  He writes and illustrates the comic, Saltwater Witch. His ink work and digital illos have appeared in Shimmer, BuzzyMag, various RPGs, and on the pages of other books, blogs, and places. Last year he painted a 9 x 12 foot Steampunk Map of New York for a cafe in Brooklyn. Find out everything at http://the0phrastus.typepad.com/ You can also find out more about Chris at http://the0phrastus.deviantart.com/   at http://the0phrastus.livejournal.com/ and also at http://www.SaltwaterWitch.com


Carole McDonnell is a writer of ethnic fiction, speculative fiction, and Christian fiction. Her works have appeared in many anthologies and at various online sites. Her first novel, Wind Follower, was published by Wildside Books. Her forthcoming novel is called The Constant Tower.   http://carolemcdonnell.blogspot.com/  

Monday, December 10, 2012

Next Best Thing: The Constant Tower


1. What is the working title of your next book?
The Constant Tower
2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
I had a dream of a world where its inhabitants are transported every night across the planet. So when they woke up, they never knew where they were. In the dream, someone said, “But the tower is constant.” 
3. What genre does your book fall under?
Heroic fantasy/alternate world setting.
4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
For Nahas, my nature-blessed warrior king (with the physically-disabled way-too gentle son:  Ben Cross, Jason Statham, or Julian Sands. For his right-hand man: Julian Sands or Jason Statham.   
5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A boy cannot go on a journey.
6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
It will be published by Wildside, the small traditional publishing company that also published my first novel, Wind Follower.
7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
About five years. I tend to procrastinate or to get lost writing other things.
8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

  • I don’t know if there’s a book that plays with the notion of moving unstable worlds as Constant Tower does but it’s “sword and soul” so it’s got a lot of heroic fantasy things.  It’s a bit like N K Jemison’s series.
  • It’s a bit like Stephen King’s “The Stand” because  the hero is physically disabled and doesn’t believe he’s the hero.
  • It’s a bit like the Lathe of Heaven — for some of the characters— because each night they have to adjust themselves to the world they find outside.
  • It’s a lot like the climate change debate, and debates about helping the poor; the characters don’t really care that their world is falling apart.
  • There are Unfleshed spirits and demons so it’s very like some of C S Lewis’s stories.
  • The relationships in the clan we spend the most time with involve marriages where one woman has two husbands. In that way, it is like Sylvia Kelso’s Amberlight trilogy.
  • It’s an adult novel but there are strong young adult elements  and there is a search for the constant tower. So there is a kind of Lloyd Alexander vibe to it.
9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I tend to like writing about disabled or wounded people. I got to thinking: There are so many emotional and physical crises people go through in fantasy stories and what if one couldn’t go away and flee the castle? And what if we had a hero who was emotionally, physically, and psychologically not cut out to be a hero? What if a warrior-king's sickly son struggled with his destiny while his clan warred with an enemy clan with whom he strongly identifies? What if he is a priest-physician of his people and he has to become a warrior? And what if there is an ancient myth which tells of a mythical Constant Tower that can change the world but he doesn’t believe in such nonsense?
10. What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?
Here’s my blurb:  Fifteen year old Prince Psal, the son of the nature-blessed warrior-king Nahas, should have been named Crown Prince of all Wheel Clan lands, but he was born sickly and “damaged” with a clubfoot. A priest-physician of his people, Psal lacks a warrior’s heart. Still, he desires to earn his father’s respect and become a chief within his clan. If not, he wishes to escape his clan altogether. But his love for Cassia, the daughter of his father’s enemy and his petulant and “weak” personality are working against him. When war comes, and he challenges his clan on the atrocities they commit, his chances of rising to chief become even more difficult. And now, outside the longhouse, the mysterious towers —which the clans use to challenge the power of the nightly third moon— are rebelling.  The king’s longhouse has become Psal’s prison. Psal is a prince who cannot go on a journey. Since the going forth of the Creator’s ancient curse, the power of the night has ruled. But a prophecy exists  — not that Psal believes in such matters— of three great ones who will restore the night. Could Psal and his mysteriously fellow-studier be those great ones? What exactly is required of him? And would he be willing to lose his father’s waning respect or throw himself out into the night to find his destiny?
Here are the excellent writers who you’ll hear from next. Hope you enjoy their writing as much as I do.
Carole McDonnell holds a BA degree in Literature from SUNY Purchase and has spent most of her years surrounded by things literary. Her writings appear in various anthologies including “So Long Been Dreaming: Post-colonialism in science fiction,” edited by Nalo Hopkinson and published by Arsenal Pulp Press; Fantastic Visions III" anthology published by Fantasist Enterprises; “Jigsaw Nation” published by Spyre publications, “Griots: A Sword and Soul anthology,” edited by Milton Davis and Charles Saunders, “Life Spices from Seasoned Sistahs: writings by mature women of color,” “Fantastic Stories of the Imagination” edited by Warren Lapine and published by Wilder Publications. Her reviews appear in print and at various online sites. She lives in New York’s Hudson Valley with her husband, two sons, and their pets. Her novel, Wind Follower, was published by Wildside Books. Her other works include My Life as an Onion, Seeds of Bible Study: How NOT to Study the Bible. Her collection of short stories, Spirit Fruit: Collected Speculative Fiction, is available on kindle.
To learn more about Carole, visit her:
Website: www.carolemcdonnell.blogspot.com
Twitter: @scifiwritir

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Travelling Fantasy Blog Tour: Great Fantasy Writers: Lord Dunsany

November is harvest and gratitude month, so the travelling tour is about the bounty of our favorite fantasy writer, or the best ones, or the best known ones. The one’s we’re grateful for—that make us read fantasy.

I suppose if gratitude is about fairness, I should begin (in all fairness) with the homegrown storytellers. My grandmother, my grandfather Uncle Bertie, my uncle Winston, my aunt, and my mother. When I was growing up in Jamaica --in the city but especially in the country-- there was no electronic entertainment. My There was maybe a TV but it was turned off pretty early. And there was also radio. But for the most part, those dark nights were spent with books, my mother's favorite English authors, or someone telling a riddle or a story. I especially loved riddles because they showed a logic --a game-- that the mind had to struggle to understand.

Books, themselves, were few and far between and my mother, coming from an oral culture, could repeat the beginning of her favorite novels -- her favorite authors being Charles Dickens and Sir Walter Scott.

On my own I discovered Shakespeare. Hamlet is fantasy, right? I also discovered Edgar Allen Poe. And without trying to, I ended up memorizing the opening of the Tell Tale Heart. I especially liked Poe's gothic worlds where the psychological and the fantastical met together in a surreal world of unreliable narrators.

But the story that took my heart away and that opened worlds for me was Lord Dunsany's Ghost. Readings of this story can be found here among other stories in the librivox collection 004

and here read individually at Miette's Bedtime podcast http://www.miettecast.com/2006/03/21/the-ghosts/
.
Sure, I loved The Sword of Welleran, and the world Welleran inhabited, a rich world like all of Dunsany's worlds. But the craft, the suddenness, the weird paradox of believer in ghost/non-believer in ghost...the sheer science of the epic fantasy battle. It was as if the narrator of Ghosts was fighting against what he sensed was the unreliability of the world and he was not going to allow himself to fall into it.

OF all Dunsany's works, Ghosts -- for me-- has stood the test of time. OR the test of rationality. OR the test of faith. When I first read Lord Dunsany's The King of Elfland's Daughter.



 I loved it but found some of it too much. The language was too ornate, almost overdone. Now, I can make it through the language of Elfland...and there are moments where Dunsany's tendency to indulge beautiful language bores me or annoys me because it is excessive. I also have found myself balking at his easy disdain of Christianity, something I  tolerated or ignored in the past but which now irks me because I sense an overbearing meanspiritedness in it. The story is beautiful but it's hard to love a story that subtly --or not so subtly-- sneers at one's religion.



But Ghosts will always be a favorite.  Listen to the story here at  Miette's Bedtime podcast http://www.miettecast.com/2006/03/21/the-ghosts/  and see if you don't fall in love with it.

To read other posts on our favorite writers, check out Theresa Carter's blog:

Theresa Crater has published two novels, Beneath the Hallowed Hill & Under the Stone Paw and several short stories, most recently “White Moon” in Riding the Moonand “Bringing the Waters” in The Aether Age:  Helios. She’s also published poetry and a baker’s dozen of literary criticism. Currently, she teaches writing and British lit in Denver. Born in North Carolina, she now lives in Colorado with her Egyptologist partner and their two cats. Visit her website at http://theresacrater.com

Others in the traveling fantasy tour are:

Andrea K Höst was born in Sweden but raised in Australia.  She writes fantasy and science fantasy, and enjoys creating stories which give her female characters something more to do than wait for rescue.  See: www.andreakhost.com

Warren Rochelle has taught English at the University of Mary Washington since 2000. His short story, "The Golden Boy” (published in The Silver Gryphon) was a Finalist for the 2004 Gaylactic Spectrum Award for Best Short Story and his novels include The Wild Boy (2001), Harvest of Changelings (2007), and The Called (2010. He also published a critical work on Le Guin and has academic articles in various journals and essay collections. His story, "The Boy on McGee Street," is forthcoming in Queer Fish 2  http://warrenrochelle.com

Deborah J. Ross began writing professionally in 1982 as Deborah Wheeler with Jaydium and Northlight and short stories in Asimov's, F & SF, Realms Of FantasyY and Star Wars: Tales From Jabba's Palace. Now under her birth name, Ross, she is continuing the" Darkover" series of the late Marion Zimmer Bradley, as well as original work, including the fantasy trilogy The Seven-Petaled Shield, forthcoming from DAW. She is a member of Book View Cafe. She's lived in France, worked for a cardiologist, studied Hebrew, yoga and kung fu, plays classical piano, loves horses, and is active in the local Jewish and Quaker communities.tp://deborahjross.blogspot.com/

Valjeanne Jeffers is a graduate of Spelman College, science fiction writer and the author of the Immortal series, The Switch II: Clockwork (books I and II), Grandmere’s Secret, and Colony. She has been published in numerous anthologies including: Steamfunk! and Genesis Science Fiction Magazine. Contact Valjeanne at http://valjeanne.wordpress.com and www.vjeffersandqveal.com.

Chris Howard's a fairly creative guy with a pen and a paint brush, author of Seaborn (Juno Books) and half a shelf-full of other books.  His short stories have appeared in a bunch of zines, latest is "Lost Dogs and Fireplace Archeology" in Fantasy Magazine.  In 2007, his story "Hammers and Snails" was a Robert A. Heinlein Centennial Short Fiction Contest winner.  He writes and illustrates the comic, Saltwater Witch. His ink work and digital illos have appeared in Shimmer, BuzzyMag, various RPGs, and on the pages of other books, blogs, and places. Last year he painted a 9 x 12 foot Steampunk Map of New York for a cafe in Brooklyn. Find out everything at http://the0phrastus.typepad.com/ You can also find out more about Chris at http://the0phrastus.deviantart.com/  at http://the0phrastus.livejournal.com/ and also at http://www.SaltwaterWitch.com

 Sylvia Kelso lives in North Queensland, Australia. She writes fantasy and SF set in analogue or alternate Australian settings. She has published six fantasy novels, two of which were finalists for best fantasy novel of the year in the Australian Aurealis genre fiction awards, and some short stories in Australian and US anthologies.

Carole McDonnell is a writer of ethnic fiction, speculative fiction, and Christian fiction. Her works have appeared in many anthologies and at various online sites. Her first novel, Wind Follower, was published by Wildside Books. Her forthcoming novel is called The Constant Tower.   http://carolemcdonnell.blogspot.com/  

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Travelling Blog Tour: Horror and Fantasy

This month's topic is the intersection of horror and fantasy. If you'd ask me, I'd probably tell you that my favorite kind of fantasy is time travel, followed by alternate realities, followed by sword and soul. Yet, the shows I often watch more on TV tend to be horror, which is the kind of genre I rarely buy. I probably watch Horror because it's so ubiquitous.

For me, horror is about the lack of control, the intersection where the real and the monstrous meet, the place where the human mind is overwhelmed. So, I like stories that are about changed nature (creature features, and the like), demonic possession (which is also about a kind of changed nature, as well) and about psychological meltdowns where the mind reaches its own limit.

A couple of examples:

Fever in the Blood by Robert Fleming

  • File Size: 514 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Kensington Books (May 1, 2006)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008FQJPGQ


Fever in the Blood is about Eddie Stevens who is overwhelmed with hatred and anger.
. . .and the anger spills over into...well, murder. He's experienced seeing his family murdered and experienced being used by a Harlem congressman who "rescued" him. Can a human retain his humanity while holding all that anger and rage inside? 
I found this novel by Robert Fleming hard to read, scary to read, because rage freaks me out. How many of us have said in some trial, "I can't take it anymore"? How many of us have felt on the verge of losing our minds? In the novel, Eddie Stevens is aware of being at his limits and he is even vaguely aware that it is wrong to go about murdering folks...but still murder is his only way of staying sane. What he does when he reaches his limit is what is frightening. I've seen so many true crime shows where serial killers talk about continually resisting the urge to kill until they couldn't resist it anymore? That kind of inner stress makes us ask deep questions about good, evil, rationalizations, evil, pain, the demonic.

Another kind of horror I like is where we see what is behind the walls of reality. Often, behind the walls is chaos. Even for non-Christians, there seems to be some great evil pushing at the fabric of reality and get a glimpse of what the world is really made of, of what's really happening outside of our human ken. Horror makes us feel as if the world that we know is not only fragile but that things are not as they seem; we sense that there is more to reality than we know. Not just scientific stuff to discover but irrational, primordial ancient things. Chris Howard's Dryad (also called WinterDim) is like that.  It makes one fear nature. Is nature alive? Who knows?


WinterDim or Dryad by Chris Howard





  • File Size: 956 KB
  • Print Length: 662 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Lykeion Books; 1 edition (November 9, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English

  • The events of this story take place in a world when something from outside the human ken (something from the WinterDim, which exists just outside our world) has broken fully into the world. In his saltwater series, Chris Howard wrote of mermaids and of the watery world. In this story, he explores, plays with, and examines the world of wood-nymphs. Dryad is a story of apocalypse, a bursting into this world of what is outside it.

    In that story, Theodora Viran is a dryad. But Chris Howard describes dryads with a twenty-first century imagination. What would it be like if the woods and trees were really alive? What does it mean when we think Gaia and Father Nature are alive? What does it mean to have a mother who hibernates in winter? And then there's the WinterDim and the unveiling of what is hidden, and the changing of the character's view of the world.


    For more on this blog tour on Horror and Fantasy, go to  Chris Howard's blog

    You can also find out more about Chris at http://the0phrastus.deviantart.com/   at http://the0phrastus.livejournal.com/ and also at http://www.SaltwaterWitch.com

    The members of the travelling blog tour are:


    Theresa Crater has published two novels, Beneath the Hallowed Hill & Under the Stone Paw and several short stories, most recently “White Moon” in Riding the Moonand “Bringing the Waters” in The Aether Age:  Helios. She’s also published poetry and a baker’s dozen of literary criticism. Currently, she teaches writing and British lit in Denver. Born in North Carolina, she now lives in Colorado with her Egyptologist partner and their two cats. Visit her website at http://theresacrater.com

    Andrea K Höst was born in Sweden but raised in Australia.  She writes fantasy and science fantasy, and enjoys creating stories which give her female characters something more to do than wait for rescue.  See: www.andreakhost.com

    Warren Rochelle has taught English at the University of Mary Washington since 2000. His short story, "The Golden Boy” (published in The Silver Gryphon) was a Finalist for the 2004 Gaylactic Spectrum Award for Best Short Story and his novels include The Wild Boy (2001), Harvest of Changelings (2007), and The Called (2010. He also published a critical work on Le Guin and has academic articles in various journals and essay collections. His story, "The Boy on McGee Street," is forthcoming in Queer Fish 2  http://warrenrochelle.com

    Deborah J. Ross began writing professionally in 1982 as Deborah Wheeler with Jaydium and Northlight and short stories in Asimov's, F & SF, Realms Of FantasyY and Star Wars: Tales From Jabba's Palace. Now under her birth name, Ross, she is continuing the" Darkover" series of the late Marion Zimmer Bradley, as well as original work, including the fantasy trilogy The Seven-Petaled Shield, forthcoming from DAW. She is a member of Book View Cafe. She's lived in France, worked for a cardiologist, studied Hebrew, yoga and kung fu, plays classical piano, loves horses, and is active in the local Jewish and Quaker communities.tp://deborahjross.blogspot.com/

    Valjeanne Jeffers is a graduate of Spelman College, science fiction writer and the author of the Immortal series, The Switch II: Clockwork (books I and II), Grandmere’s Secret, and Colony. She has been published in numerous anthologies including: Steamfunk! and Genesis Science Fiction Magazine. Contact Valjeanne at http://valjeanne.wordpress.com and www.vjeffersandqveal.com.

    Chris Howard's a fairly creative guy with a pen and a paint brush, author of Seaborn (Juno Books) and half a shelf-full of other books.  His short stories have appeared in a bunch of zines, latest is "Lost Dogs and Fireplace Archeology" in Fantasy Magazine.  In 2007, his story "Hammers and Snails" was a Robert A. Heinlein Centennial Short Fiction Contest winner.  He writes and illustrates the comic, Saltwater Witch. His ink work and digital illos have appeared in Shimmer, BuzzyMag, various RPGs, and on the pages of other books, blogs, and places. Last year he painted a 9 x 12 foot Steampunk Map of New York for a cafe in Brooklyn. Find out everything at http://the0phrastus.typepad.com/ You can also find out more about Chris at http://the0phrastus.deviantart.com/  at http://the0phrastus.livejournal.com/ and also at http://www.SaltwaterWitch.com

     Sylvia Kelso lives in North Queensland, Australia. She writes fantasy and SF set in analogue or alternate Australian settings. She has published six fantasy novels, two of which were finalists for best fantasy novel of the year in the Australian Aurealis genre fiction awards, and some short stories in Australian and US anthologies.

    Carole McDonnell is a writer of ethnic fiction, speculative fiction, and Christian fiction. Her works have appeared in many anthologies and at various online sites. Her first novel, Wind Follower, was published by Wildside Books. Her forthcoming novel is called The Constant Tower.   http://carolemcdonnell.blogspot.com/  

    Friday, October 19, 2012

    The Personality of a Personal God

    I can't help it; I just love Yah's personality.

    But let's back up a little. We Christians have a theistic God. This means -- breaking it down-- that we believe that the sole Creator of all that compasses the universe, the Only God of all the multiverses, the Uncreated Creator of all things who was never made and can never be unmade and is eternally NOW, is infinitely involved with the smallest and largest of his creations is also love, is also a being with a personality. I'll repeat the last part: This God, whom Christians call Yah, or Yahweh, or Jehovah, and whose name means "I AM" has got a personality.

    I'm sure some atheists have a problem with the whole personality thing. They look at the Bible and what they see of God's personality is embarrassing: they think Yah is jealous, petulant, peevish, spiteful, petty. That's what they see. But, they don't understand what I see.

    This blog isn't for them. It's for those of us who accepts the creator of the universe as we find him. I accept a jealous God who thinks we owe Him. I accept that God because He loves me and because, quite honestly, He is the only God I have. If I were to find out that the Creator of the Universe was another god with a different personality I would accept that other god. Because whoever the true God is is the God I will accept and whoever the real God is...well, he is deserving of praise because He created me.

    So when I see that the personality of Jah is such that Adam -- the first man-- shouted in glee when Eve was brought to him "YES!!! You did good! This is the one you made perfectly for me!"

    When I see how Jah didn't accuse Adam but simply asked, "Did you eat the fruit I told you not to eat?"

    When I saw how Adam tried to foist off his sin on Jah (The woman YOU gave me) and how free he felt to blame Jah

    When I see how Jah asked Cain "Where is your brother?" (Again, not accusing)

    When I see how Cain answered Jah rudely with "Am I my brother's keeper?"

    I see humility and a friendliness and an accessibility that is so near and dear and condescending that his creatures felt so free to have an attitude with him.

    And when I see how angry Jah got at Miriam -- so mad at her as to symbolically tell her he had spit on her-- (saying all this while he leaned on the tent, mind you!) YES, I like this God.

    Basically, we have a God who has a major fascination with beetles and has spent all the ages designing them as a kind of exercize in creativity. We have a God whose favorite geographic area is desert since he likes the land of Israel and mount Zion. We have a god who apparently likes sand a lot.

    The more I discover about his personality through the Bible and through the way He treats me and throgh how he treats those he loves I will accept it. It is not the personality the proud rational atheist would want a god to have, but it is the personality of the Being who created the universe...and the more I get to know this great warrior, this great Being, the more I say "I totally love your personality!".

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

    Simply believe

    There are many verses in the Bible which encourage the faithful believer to trust in God’s willingness to answer prayer.

    John tells us that “we know we have what we pray for because we keep His commandments.” (1 John 3:22.) If we’re keeping God’s commandments, and are praying for the glory of God, and feeding our faith by studying God’s character and Jesus’ Great Finished Work on the cross, we should trust that our prayers have been answered. After all, Jesus Himself told us that when we pray we must believe that we HAVE received and we WILL receive whatever we ask for.

    We are told to pray with thanksgiving. This means we must pray and give thanks for what we will receive as if we have already received it, seeing that which is invisible. Jesus gave us a wonderful example of this when he prayed for Lazarus to be brought back to life. Even before Lazarus came from the tomb, Jesus ended His prayer with the words, “I thank you, Lord, that you have heard my prayer.”

    We pray every day using the word “Amen” which can be translated to mean as Surely, truthfully, verily, this is a true statement, or it’s done. Jesus told us to approach the throne of grace with boldness and courage. Our prayers end boldly, but although the world “Amen” is a bold ending to a prayer, we don’t really rise from prayer believing that our prayer has been answered. We tend to think that either God hasn’t heard our prayer or that He will spend the next few days mulling over a decision or that He wants to drag out the answer for a while in order to teach us a lesson. This is doublemindedness. We are not believing what God has said. As the apostle James said, “this kind of double-minded attitude is not going to get anything from the Lord.” Why? Because our unbelief vies with our faith.

    If we use the sowing and reaping metaphors that Jesus and the apostles used to show how the kingdom of God works, we can readily see that we have more faith in the physical act of sowing and reaping than we do in the spiritual act. In the case of a physical seed, we actually believe there is a seed with the power within itself to germinate. Yet, even though Isaiah, Jesus, Paul and others told us that the word of God is active and alive and has power within it to germinate and flower, we hardly believe.

    The Bible says, “Let God be true and every man a liar.” (Rom 3:4) And yet, unbelief is a wonderful theologian. If we aren’t careful, we --or a really intelligent minister-- can convince ourselves that God will do the most heinous evil because he loves us. Some great religious writings can convince us that although Jesus came to heal those who were oppressed by the devil that somehow our particular oppression is not from the devil but from God.

    St Paul tells us that “We are accepted in the Beloved Eph 1:6" This is the Greek word Charitoo which is translated as “full of grace” and “highly favoured” in Luke 1:28 when the angel spoke to Mary. It means freely bestowed overwhelming love. This means God loves us and has placed us in such a favored position that, like the loving Father He is, He wants to bless us more than we’re able to receive it. We’re adopted children who are His very special favorites. John says, “Behold what manner of love the Father has for us, that we should be called the Children of God.”

    John states, “This is the confidence we have in God: that, if we ask anything according to His will, he hears us.” I John 5:14. He writes earlier in the same chapter, “whatsoever is born of God overcomes the world, even our faith.” Through Jesus’ name, and faith in that name, we are “more than conquerors.” And St Paul tells us that God hasn’t given us the spirit of fear, but the spirit of power, love, and a sound mind.

    Yet in the face of all this overwhelming evidence of God’s love towards us, the ancient inability to trust God remains. From the day our first parents hearkened to Satan’s “Did God say?” to today’s modern taunts, we humans have found it difficult to believe that God means us well. We forget that He who freely gave us His life will also freely give us all things. Plain and simple, we love God but like unworthy friends we often believe what others say about our Dear Friend more often than what He says about Himself. If it’s through faith in God’s Love and Power that we conquer the world, how can we conquer our own Promised Land if we allow rumors of giants to make us feel like grasshoppers. (Numbers 13)

    The Bible tells us, “Let God be true, and every man a liar.” (Rom 3:4) And we know better than to come right out and say that God is a liar. But we work around that by making Him way more inscrutable than He really wants to be. This is not to say that we understand everything about God. We don’t. But the Bible has made His personality clear to us. He doesn’t have some hidden secret plan which prevents Him from answering our prayers. The Bible states that God does nothing without revealing His will to His people. (Amos 3:7)

    We also make God unpredictable and flighty. Instead of saying that God’s promises and spiritual laws work all the time, we say that God does heavy micro-managing and sits on His throne deciding which spiritual law will work in every case. We say that whatsoever a man sows he will reap, yet we often think that in this particular case – our own problem– that particular spiritual law will not work. God’s word is sure. God does not change. His word abides forever and He honors His word. God is aware of all His children, but He does not micro-manage. Spiritual laws are as dependable as physical laws. Unfortunately, like many physical laws some spiritual laws need a faithful heart to set them in motion. The law of gravity, for instance, tends to work all the time...unless one understands how to override it. As powerful and universal as gravity is, it is routinely conquered by pilots and birds all over the world. Yet, although gravity has its weak moments, it’s not a good idea to defy it. Seeds will grow into plants if we continue to water them and so we know that we should not cast away our confidence when a physical plant seems to be weakening. We should not be weary with well-doing: God is not mocked. In due time, we will reap if we don’t faint. We depend on physical laws. This attitude should be the same when we rely on spiritual laws.

    For instance, Jesus commands us not to worry and in Mark 7:14-15, He gives us some insight into spiritual law when he tells us that evils within the heart are what defile the body. As American Christians we half believe Jesus was right about this. After all, the medical world has taught us all about the dangers of being a type A personality. But do we believe what Jesus says simply because Jesus said it? For instance, do we believe that adulterous thoughts can also affect our health? Other spiritual laws or insights include: the law of giving and receiving, the power of the tongue to steer a life towards good or ill, the evil that comes upon those who hate Israel or Jewish people.

    In Mark 9:23-24, when the father of the demon-possessed boy asked Jesus to help him, Jesus said, “if you can believe, all things are possible to him that believes.” To which the distraught father replied, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.” This, unfortunately, is the state most western Bible-believing Christians have found themselves in. We believe greatly, and we doubt greatly. At the exact same time. Let us search the Scriptures and learn to understand and love our God. John warns us that many antiChrists are out in the world and we should test every word we hear. And Jesus tells us that if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into the pit. (Luke 6:39) But Jesus warns us to “take heed how we hear.” (Luke 8:18) Let us learn to love our Father. As Jesus said, He who hath seen Me hath seen the Father. (John 14:6-20) If we know the love of Jesus, we cannot help but trust Him with our lives.

    We have a great and high calling with many doors of opportunity opened to us and there are many adversaries who – wittingly or unwittingly– have set out to steal the word of truth from us or to mingle it with worldly philosophers. Let us not be removed from the simplicity of the gospel. (Gal 1:6; Rom 6:19; 2 Co 11:3 ) Let us arise and dream great dreams, let us hold onto the promises of God. Let us do great exploits and not cast away our confidence. Let us arise and shine, because our light has come. Is 60:1

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

    Animals in Fantasy

    For me, animals in a fantasy story root me in the real world. There are animals in fantasy and fantastical animals. I tend to like real animals. Oh, I don't mind the odd talking or magical animal but for me the best kind of animal in a fantasy is a horse.

    Fantasies come in all kind. Some genres don't use horses at all. Urban fantasy, for instance, generally doesn't need horses. But those of us who learned to love fantasy by reading the old fashioned sword and sorcery tales understand the joy that rises to the spirit when a horse enters the page.

    The horse alone -- sans its rider-- is a symbol of strength, nobility, loyalty, restraint, war and the old days. Its strength, its speed, and its nobility is given to the warrior. For me, a horse is a warrior's equipment -- like a sword, like a mantle thrown casually over his shoulder and blown in the wind. A fantasy story without a horse lacks nobility and lacks the Sensawunda Once-upon-a-time age-old quality. Horses are the cavalry: Sword and sorcery is essentially about someone on a great mission who will -- in the long run-- save someone, some great land, some oppressed people. Saviors and avengers as well as villains ride on horses. Even if the horse has no magic power, when the protagonist sits upon it, the reader has confidence that something wonderful is afoot, that the Savior and the True Prince has arrived.

    In many western and eastern myths, heroes ride on horses.  

    In Christianity, when Jesus returns as king, he is depicted as being on a horse.
    And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. Revelations 19:11
    For the rest of the tour, check out


     I began writing professionally in 1982 as Deborah Wheeler with JAYDIUM and NORTHLIGHT, and short stories in ASIMOV'S, F & SF, REALMS OF FANTASY and STAR WARS: TALES FROM JABBA'S PALACE. Now under my birth name, Ross, I am continuing the" Darkover" series of the late Marion Zimmer Bradley, as well as original work, including the fantasy trilogy THE SEVEN-PETALED SHIELD. I'm a member of Book View Cafe. I've lived in France, worked for a cardiologist, studied Hebrew, yoga and kung fu, and am active in the local Jewish and Quaker communities.

     http://deborahjross.blogspot.com/





    Warren Rochelle has taught English at the University of Mary Washington since 2000. His short story, "The Golden Boy” (published in The Silver Gryphon) was a Finalist for the 2004 Gaylactic Spectrum Award for Best Short Story and his novels include The Wild Boy (2001), Harvest of Changelings (2007), and The Called (2010. He also published a critical work on Le Guin and has academic articles in various journals and essay collections.
    http://warrenrochelle.com


    Theresa Crater has published two contemporary fantasies, Beneath the Hallowed Hill & Under the Stone Paw and several short stories, most recently “White Moon” in Riding the Moon and “Bringing the Waters” in The Aether Age:  Helios. She’s also published poetry and a baker’s dozen of literary criticism. Currently, she teaches writing and British lit in Denver. Born in North Carolina, she now lives in Colorado with her Egyptologist partner and their two cats. Visit her website athttp://theresacrater.com 

    Andrea K Höst was born in Sweden but raised in Australia.  She writes fantasy and science fantasy, and enjoys creating stories which give her female characters something more to do than wait for rescue.  See: www.andreakhost.com


    Sylvia Kelso lives in North Queensland, Australia. She writes fantasy and SF set in analogue or alternate Australian settings. She has published six fantasy novels, two of which were finalists for best fantasy novel of the year in the Australian Aurealis genre fiction awards, and some short stories in Australian and US anthologies. 

    Carole McDonnell is a writer of ethnic fiction, speculative fiction, and Christian fiction. Her works have appeared in many anthologies and at various online sites. Her novel, Wind Follower, was published by Wildeside Books. Her forthcoming novel is called The Constant Tower.
     http://carolemcdonnell.blogspot.com/  


    Free Promotion: My short story collection on kindle

    Beginning Tuesday Sept 25th through the 29th my kindle short story collection will be free. Here's the link. Please pass it on.  http://www.amazon.com/Spirit-Fruit-Collected-Speculative-ebook/dp/B0069VMX22

    Monday, September 24, 2012

    Christianity, Culture and Writing: Polyamory in the Constant Tower.


    In my upcoming novel, The Constant Tower, a character is suddenly faced with the possibilities of having two husbands. She thinks, "Yes, I can love them both. I am in their clan now. I can marry and love both of them." Something like that.

    Although I'm a Christian, I must admit that there are times when being a Christian is restrictive. I understand the restrictions, mind you. I even assent to them. But, yes, I also acknowledge that there would be a different path to follow if I was not indoctrinated in Christianity.

    Some cultures have some societal, spiritual, and cultural stuff one has to put aside. And although I would love to pick and choose what aspect of a culture or a religion I would want, such a buffet spirituality and buffet culture is very much like creating a Frankenstein creature. I think of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein often. Although the creature is portrayed as ugly, in the novel he was not ugly. Just hard to bear, hard to look upon, strange, and eerie. Beautiful bits and parts culled together -- beautiful red lips here, pale skin there, raven-like flowing locks there-- he ended up strange, "monstrous" in the old sense of the word, weirdly bizarrely larger-than-life. Thus, a religion that picks and chooses what it likes from other religions and from various cultures and societal systems or traits, becomes an inorganic unliving religion.

    In my novel, my character can validly marry two husbands from the Wheel Clan because she has now become a part of the Wheel Clan, despite all her efforts against assimilation. Yet, even so...the Wheel Clan husbands she marries are not "typical" of that Clan. They are the best of their clan but they also understand her clan as well. Moreover, she was not particularly passionately attached to the men of her own clans because they were abusive. Which is all to the good. People generally carry their own culture into the culture they assimilate. Thus, Christians who become converts to Islam will have a "friendlier" idea of God, even if they do not wish to accept God as "father" or as "love." And Christians who become Hindus also often go with a more westernized idea of reincarnation (they often look forward to reincarnation instead of trying to escape the karmic wheel entirely.) So, in my case, if I were to attempt to mix Christianity with some African cultures, I don't think I would accept the whole One-husband-Many wives situation. Although the idea of many women sharing communal work, and living together in a compound is attractive, I'm too American/western to accept a system where my husband would have the right to take on a new younger wife any time he wants to.

    So in Constant Tower, my female character has the best of both cultures. Her husbands are not going to treat her as the men of her culture generally treat women, but they are not going to treat her the way men in their own culture generally treat women either. My female character is  now free to have two lovers instead of the requisite "one husband" her culture deems normal. Her heart readily assents to this because she loves both boys, and perhaps was resisting the love of one. Resistance now is unimportant. In fact, it would be the wrong course to take. Her only problem now is to love them differently. It's not about quantity, but about type. Her problem now is that she must love both husbands deeply but in different ways. She is, however, spared what other women of her culture have to endure when they enter the new clan. The other women are forced to accept the rules of the new clan without the cushion my main character has. My main character loves both her husbands. She is not being forced to bed two men  -- or even one man-- whom she does not love.

    When American women speak of converting, they are generally converting to an Americanized form of Islam. For instance, although Sharia law allows Moslem men to rape or beat their wives or to marry additional wives, Moslem men in America live in a Christianized West. The religion is tempered by the culture. In the same way, I suspect Christianity in the Middle East is probably very affected by being surrounded by Islam. And Christianity in Africa is also affected by cultural traditions.

    The meeting of culture, emotions, and religion is not only present in matters of love, marriage, and sex. (In this case, polyamory, which occurs rarely and only in cultures where land is scarce and inherited land must be protected, thereby brothers marry the same woman) but it occurs in other matters as well. In my novel, Wind Follower, characters who became Christians had to give up the ancient tradition of speaking to their dead. Now that Christianity had popped into their lives, they had to now discern if the dead person speaking to them was truly a dead relative or a demon bent on deception. Those who are comforted by speaking to their departed relatives through shaman, etc, have to put that aside.

    Of course, we Christians who live in the West are also Christians within a culture. We also do not have a "pure" form of Christianity. American Christianity is affected by the culture at large. Jesus Christ warned His followers to beware of the yeast of the king and the yeast of the religious legalists. Those to forms of yeast are very much present in modern Christianity. For some Christians, Christianity is mixed in with patriotism and the desire to rule. For some, the gospel of the kingdom is watered down and legalism abounds. Others have allowed the "progressive" ideas of the world or the desire of their flesh to color/change/taint the Christian Scripture.

    The Creator of Odunao (the name of the planet in my novel The Constant Tower) has different rules about marriage than the Creator of the Earth does. When Christians read the novel, I hope they will be able to accept that god as they find him. I hope they will leave their American Christian ideas about marriage behind and live in that world without judging the polyamory laws. (Often Christians seem to be able to understand one man with two wives but seem to balk at the other configuration.) In addition the social laws of the many clans on Odunao are different from American social laws. In many novels, the king is expected to fall in love with the most beautiful woman. That doesn't happen. The men in Odunao have different ideas of beauty.

    Anyway, my novel will come out one of these days. But even before it sees print, I want to remind everyone that in this day, mindfulness is necessary. Just as we are mindful as to what a character allows to become acceptable in her world -- because of her culture-- so we Christian writers, we Black writers, must be aware of the subtle societal influences that taint our stories. 

    Thursday, September 13, 2012

    Poisoned Profits: The Toxic Assault on Our Children



    Poisoned Profits: The Toxic Assault on Our Childrenby Alice ShabecoffPhilip Shabecoff




    Product Details

    • Pub. Date: August 2008
    • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
    • Format: Hardcover, 368pp
    • Sales Rank: 340,363

    Synopsis

    In this shocking and sobering book, two fearless journalists directly and definitively link industrial toxins to the current rise in childhood disease and death. In the tradition of Silent Spring, Poisoned Profits is a landmark investigation, an eye-opening account of a country that prizes money over children’s health.

    With indisputable data, Philip Shabecoff and Alice Shabecoff reveal that the children of baby boomers–the first to be raised in a truly “toxified” world–have higher rates of birth defects, asthma, cancer, autism, and other serious illnesses than previous generations. In piercing case histories, the authors identify the culprit as corporate pollution. Here are the stories of such places as Dickson, Tennessee, where babies were born with cleft lips and palates after landfill chemicals seeped into the water, and Port Neches, Texas, where so many graduates of a high school near synthetic rubber and chemical plants contracted cancer that the school was nicknamed “Leukemia High.”

    The danger to our children isn’t just in the outside world, though. The Shabecoffs provide evidence that our homes are now infested with everything from dangerous flame retardants in crib mattresses to harmful plastic softeners in teething rings to antibiotics and arsenic in chicken–additives that are absorbed by growing and physically vulnerable kids as well as by pregnant women. Compounding the problem are chemical corporations that sabotage investigations and regulations, a government that refuses to police these companies, and corporate-hired scientists who keep pertinent secrets massaged with skewed data of theirown.

    Poisoned Profits also demonstrates how people are fighting back, whether through grassroots parents’ groups putting pressure on politicians, the rise of “ecotheology” in the pulpits of formerly indifferent churches, or the new “green chemistry” being practiced in labs to replace bad elements with good. The Shabecoffs also include helpful tips on reducing risks to children in how they eat and play, and in how parents clean and maintain their homes.

    Powerful, unflinching, and eminently readable, Poisoned Profits is a wake-up call that is bound to inspire talk and force change.


    Authors' website

    Wednesday, September 12, 2012

    Embracing the Wide Sky by Daniel Tammet




    Here's a bit of the blurb:

    Daniel Tammet captivated readers and won worldwide critical acclaim with the 2007 New York Times bestselling memoir, Born On A Blue Day, and its vivid depiction of a life with autistic savant syndrome. ...
    Tammet explains that the differences between savant and non-savant minds have been exaggerated; his astonishing capacities in memory, math and language are neither due to a cerebral supercomputer nor any genetic quirk, but are rather the results of a highly rich and complex associative form of thinking and imagination. Autistic thought, he argues, is an extreme variation of a kind that we all do, from daydreaming to the use of puns and metaphors.
    Embracing the Wide Sky combines meticulous scientific research with Tammet's detailed descriptions of how his mind works to demonstrate the immense potential within us all. He explains how our natural intuitions can help us to learn a foreign language, why his memories are like symphonies, and what numbers and giraffes have in common. ...
    Embracing the Wide Sky is a unique and brilliantly imaginative portrait of how we think, learn, remember and create, brimming with personal insights and anecdotes, and explanations of the most up-to-date, mind-bending discoveries from fields ranging from neuroscience to psychology and linguistics. This is a profound and provocative book that will transform our understanding and respect for every kind of mind.


    This is his website

    This is his blog.

    Here's an interview in New Scientist in their January edition. You can read it in full online here:

    Thursday, August 30, 2012

    Religious Virtues that Satan loves

    Will-worship -- noble suffering, dying to self, submission rather than aiming in faith for the joy of life
    legalism -- sticking to the letter of the law (as opposed to also trusting the spirit.)
    repressed anger -- rather than speaking up against injustice
    religious debates -- (it's okay to discuss one's faith but it's not men's wisdom that proves our religion: it's the power of God.)
    Believing Everything is The Will of God -- This seems to be saying that God is omnipotent and sovereign, but it also blames God for stuff we or the devil or the world does.
    Pity -- Pity will keep someone sick for ever.
    Rationalism -- humans like to be praised for being good thinkers and for not being "emotional."
    Denominationalism -- People like thinking they are on a good team.
    Pious platitudes -- People think they are being wise and kindly when they say something holy-sounding. But they are often reinforcing some sentimental unthought-out unexplored bunch of hooey.

    The reason he likes these virtues is because people think they are being good when they do them but sometimes are really falling into spiritual error and the devil's clutches.

    Now, let's get into the seven deadly sins and the virtues.

    The seven deadly sins are
    gluttony -- enslavement to food (from overeating to only desiring a specific kind of food. A thin person who wants to eat only a specific kind of cracker or only a specific kind of beer is as much enslaved to gluttony as someone who overeats.)
    sloth -- literal, intellectual, and spiritual laziness
    lust -- enslavement to the desires of the flesh
    anger/wrath -- enslavement to passion
    envy -- enslavement to comparing one's self or one's earthly goods with others
    pride -- enslavement to one's self
    greed-- enslavement to the need to take everything the world has

    The book of Proverbs definitely talks about these sins. Chapter 6:6-11 is good. The Book of Proverbs has 31 chapters. The best way to read it is to read the chapter for each day. On the 30th read chapter thirty, etc.

    They are deadly because some sins are not sins unto death. But a deadly sin has the power to cut one's life short. Adultery, for instance, shortens life. (Did you know that less than 1% of people die while having sex but that of those who do die having sex, 87% or so were cheating on their spouse?) Gluttony also shortens life. As does sloth. And definitely pride. It goes before a fall. If someone becomes sick because of one of these sins, one may or may not pray for a full recovery because they have a sickness unto death caused by a deadly sin.

    The Catholic church has a different interpretation of these sins..and I think (not sure) make them sins that even affect folks after their deaths. They have mortal (deadly) sins and then they have venial sins. The Catholic church also has it's list of virtues. Virtue can be something a person attains by working toward it. Or it can be something that grows in the person through the working of God.

    The virtues depend on which list you're using. In the Bible James talks about a list of virtues, so does Paul, so does Peter in his "golden chain". 2 Peter 1:5 This leads to this which leads to that.

    If you go to www.Biblegateway.com and do searches for these specific sins you can find a whole store of verses. They have a ton of Bible translations online. French, English, Czech, Spanish, etc.

    The virtues are:
    Temperance -- moderation to the point where an inner stillness prevents you from being pushed this way and that by the world, or by your own self
    Faith -- the ability to hold on to God's truth in spite of what one's eyes or mind tempts one to believe.
    Hope -- the ability to see a way through when there seems to be no way and to not despair. Hope also has a joy to it. This isn't just blindly trudging along but joyously advancing. It's combined with faith a lot. Because we have faith in God and in what God says we can hope joyfully.
    Love or charity or Mercy -- kindness and understanding toward those who are weak, ignorant, or our enemies
    Restraint or forbearance -- having the power to do a thing and yet to not do it because of the love one had for one's neighbor, the refusal to use one's power of speech, action, etc because God has a higher purpose than you merely succumbing to your desire to say or to do something.
    Justice -- this is a toughie to describe.
    Courage -- spiritual faith that does not falter when it is threatened.
    Prudence -- the ability to think and weigh out a matter and to see the ramifications of one's choice instead of rushing headlong into trouble, also being aware that God has his own plans and our plans depend on him.

    There are other virtues...virtues that are the opposite of the seven deadly sins, virtues from other traditions, etc. But for the moment, these are the ones worth pondering. -C

    Tuesday, August 28, 2012

    Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender in Fantasy

    In the course of reading, one always encounters folks one would generally not encounter, or folks one would not normally want to meet. Witness the enraged moviegoer racists who had to deal with the fact that Rue in the Hunger Games was Black. So what does a Biblical Christian do when she encounters a fantasy book that contains a gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender character?

    Many of my stories involve interracial romances and I've had experiences where someone reads one of my stories and is unwilling to be pulled into the romance simply because they are disgusted, bothered, or nauseated by seeing two people together who --in their worldview-- should not be together. So, I try to understand. On the flip side, because I know how incredibly complex sexuality can be, I get wary of easy answers or easy stories about homosexuality. Too many of my lesbian friends were raped as children, too many of my male gay friends were seduced by older men, and too many of my gay male friends were adopted or were delivered by induced estrogen-laden deliveries for me to say that people were biologically made gay.

    I suppose I can read a book about a homosexual character if I don't feel I'm being subject to propaganda. In my experience, I've known people who were born gay or who have had their sexuality affected by sexual molestation, separation/adoption issues, the hormonal chemicals introduced into the womb at induced deliveries, or became gay after some trauma or hospital stay. So I take gay folks in stories and in real life as I find them.

    I have never had a gay character show up and want to have me tell his story but I have had tons of conflicted heterosexuals, and I do have some gay characters in some of my stories who aren't really gay but more characters who are conflicted heterosexuals. I think what bothers me is the vast amount of false history and false biology I would have to accept. In the same way people who study the Druids and the Celts or Native American religions get peeved when they are faced with false "pop factoids" about certain things, I start rolling my eyes when I feel an author is attempting to propagandize.

     The definition of "gay" as an exclusive love of people of one's own sex is relatively new. Back in the day, most homosexuality allowed for loving people of both sexes. It was often supplemental to a heterosexual relationship. Alexander the Great loved his companion but he also loved his wife Roxanne. Oscar Wilde loved Lord Alfred Douglas but he also loved his wife. While there were some rare exceptions, in ancient times, in most cultures (Japan, Greece, Afghanistan, etc), homosexuality was generally frowned upon while pedophilia/pederasty was accepted. One of the most famous Greek tragedies, the curse on the Oedipus clan, --the curse of falling in love with the wrong people (incest, bulls, frigidity, etc) --fell upon the family because Laius would not give up his young lover when the pederasty contract was finished and the boy was fully grown. The gods deemed it so heinous that Laius' descendants were cursed forever. Most people who speak of homosexuality being accepted by the past don't talk honestly about the pederasty factor. So for me it depends on how honest I think the author is. . .

    I recently read Kari Sperring's Living With Ghosts, a great book that definitely could trouble the Christian reader. Not only did I have to deal with gigolos, homosexual attraction, and extra-marital sex, I had to deal with someone who dealt Tarot cards.



    • Mass Market Paperback:
       496 pages
    • Publisher: DAW; Original edition (March 3, 2009)
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 0756405424
    • ISBN-13: 978-0756405427


    So what did I do?

    Well, I actually read it. My very traditional heart had a few hurdles. For one, although I'm okay with prostitution in stories, I get a bit niggly about adultery. I kept hoping there would be no adulterous encounter I would have to be "on board" for. Generally, I don't watch movies or read books with adultery in it. (This isn't a religious issue with me. My father was a serial adulterer so I have a painful spot there.) So if I read a book with adultery, my biggest fear is that I will be asked to be "okay" with it.

    But the reason I made it through this story was quite simply because the story was brilliant. True, I was in the POV of a high class courtesan who happened to be bisexual, but Gracielas was such a noble wounded character and the story was so intriguing and the world-building so solid and interesting that I totally got into the story. That said, once again, I didn't allow myself to feel the homosexual attractions that happened in various characters. First because one of the homosexual pairs was married and I have a problem with being asked to be on the side of adulterers. Plus I've seen so many movies and heard so many accounts where some guy discovers he's gay after being married for twenty years and suddenly divorces his poor wife. So yeah, I kept telling myself "I like these two characters but if I'm asked to go along with adultery I'm not gonna be patient."

    So yeah, with me, the issue with me is wariness of being pulled into understanding anything I don't morally agree with. Living With Ghosts had a lot my priggish Biblical mind couldn't deal with but the skill of the author and the beautiful craft of the writing helped me overcome my reluctance. I suppose the best way to make me read a book I don't want to is to make the book utterly brilliant.

    Let's see what my other round-tablers think of this.


    Check out all the posts at 
    http://warrenrochelle.com/2012/08/27/the-great-traveling-guest-blog-fantasy-round-table-august-2012-lgbt-issues-in-fantasy/



    Warren Rochelle has taught English at the University of Mary Washington since 2000. His short story, "The Golden Boy” (published in The Silver Gryphon) was a Finalist for the 2004 Gaylactic Spectrum Award for Best Short Story and his novels include The Wild Boy (2001), Harvest of Changelings (2007), and The Called (2010. He also published a critical work on Le Guin and has academic articles in various journals and essay collections.
    http://warrenrochelle.com


    Theresa Crater has published two contemporary fantasies, Beneath the Hallowed Hill & Under the Stone Paw and several short stories, most recently “White Moon” in Riding the Moon and “Bringing the Waters” in The Aether Age:  Helios. She’s also published poetry and a baker’s dozen of literary criticism. Currently, she teaches writing and British lit in Denver. Born in North Carolina, she now lives in Colorado with her Egyptologist partner and their two cats. Visit her website athttp://theresacrater.com 

    Andrea K Höst was born in Sweden but raised in Australia.  She writes fantasy and science fantasy, and enjoys creating stories which give her female characters something more to do than wait for rescue.  See: www.andreakhost.com

     I began writing professionally in 1982 as Deborah Wheeler with JAYDIUM and NORTHLIGHT, and short stories in ASIMOV'S, F & SF, REALMS OF FANTASY and STAR WARS: TALES FROM JABBA'S PALACE. Now under my birth name, Ross, I am continuing the" Darkover" series of the late Marion Zimmer Bradley, as well as original work, including the fantasy trilogy THE SEVEN-PETALED SHIELD. I'm a member of Book View Cafe. I've lived in France, worked for a cardiologist, studied Hebrew, yoga and kung fu, and am active in the local Jewish and Quaker communities.
     http://deborahjross.blogspot.com/

    Sylvia Kelso lives in North Queensland, Australia. She writes fantasy and SF set in analogue or alternate Australian settings. She has published six fantasy novels, two of which were finalists for best fantasy novel of the year in the Australian Aurealis genre fiction awards, and some short stories in Australian and US anthologies. 

    Carole McDonnell is a writer of ethnic fiction, speculative fiction, and Christian fiction. Her works have appeared in many anthologies and at various online sites. Her novel, Wind Follower, was published by Wildeside Books. Her forthcoming novel is called The Constant Tower.
     http://carolemcdonnell.blogspot.com/  


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