Thursday, July 31, 2008


Wiconi's 5th Annual Mni Wiconi Wacipi – Living Waters Powwow and Family Camp starts on Thursday, July 31 in Turner, Oregon.

July 31st - August 3rd 2008
Turner (Salem), Oregon
4th Annual Mni Wiconi Wacipi
(Living Waters) Family Camp and Traditional Powwow
Worship, native speakers and fellowship, plus an all day powwow on Saturday

For all of you Portland/Vancouver metro types, please join them this Saturday for their all day traditional inter-tribal powwow. They have 85 young people attending this year – their most ever! They send a huge "thank you" to those who helped sponsor a Native family with a scholarship to attend this year.

Jacob Trevizo designed a beautiful poster for this years powwow. I mean, it’s a beauty! You can look at it at their website under "family camp.” For the month of August ONLY, they are offering t-shirts with the beautiful artwork for sale. The T-shirts will be $20.00 plus shipping and must be prepaid. They come in all sizes, but only one color, light blue. Call the office for ordering details. They’ll have it posted next week on their shopping cart at the site

dreams, earthly dreams, divine dreams

First of all I've got to share a dream I had with you.

FIRST (backstory to the dream): I've been lying on the floor for the past three weeks or so. A really bad relapse of the fibro. I slept about two hours a night if that and for the past three weeks (instead of my usual three) and there was this awful fibro pain like a knife cutting in my chest. In addition, younger son was suffering. Which only stresses me out more cause there is nothing we 20-year insomniac fibro sufferers like than to be taking care of non-verbal autistic son who has been in pain from stuff he can't describe for 18 years and who comes home every day from school with peed-on clothes (YES YES, YES, I KNOW! I HAVE GOT TO GET THIS 18 YEAR OLD OUT OF DIAPERS) in his bad and new clothes from the school on his back. (Sorry, God. Had to be snide there. Couldn't control my anger at this illness. I know it's not your fault.)

So of course I got into my "Why do I want to live anymore mode?" And my fears of ending up in the hospital and family having nothing to bury me with. Okay, you guys who have read Wind Follower know how depressing and depressed I can get. All that existentialist mode bit.

So yours truly managed to fall asleep last night and what do I dream of? I dreamt of a woman sitting beside me and saying to me, "Expect Great Things!" And she began telling me about the many great things that have already happened and will happen. There was a plate on the kitchen table in front of us with a hot dog and corn on the cob. She picked them up and put them in a napkin and threw them away. So, well, I've been warned what not to eat.

Okay, this is pretty much like the dream I got a few years back where I was told I had six great works to do and that I should hold on.

I trust these dreams because well, it makes me feel God is aware of me. And that is wonderful. Is it not? It gives me so much hope.

The last time I managed a good sleep --around July 2nd-- I dreamt of walking across a field and I saw a road ahead that was beside the field. I was pushing a very heavy cart. It was a very dark night and at the edge of the corner of the field were oxen and lions but I couldn't really see clearly. I wanted to get to the road but it was so dark and I didn't want to accidentally walk on a lion and get eaten. Although the lions were quiet.

I heard the voice of a little girl I know. She's about 5 and her name is Daniella. Her parents go to my church. She saw me coming and she knew it was too dark for me to see. She said, "Caro!" She couldn't pronounce my name right...and in real life she doesn't pronounce it well cause she has baby talk plus she's hispanic. She said, "Here is my hand! Touch it and I'll lead you." I still couldn't see her, but I followed her voice. And in the darkness I took her tiny little hands. And she kept comforting me and saying, "Don't worry, Caro. I'm with you." I looked at the sky. It was so dark, but as we walked up the road which was walking up a hill, the burden I was pushing got less heavy and the sky became brighter.
I woke up crying and cried and cried for two hours after that. But it wasn't as if I was crying. It was as if the tears were flowing out of me.
At last I felt the holy spirit saying, "Carole it's a consolation dream. Don't worry."

I feel the dream is saying that I should become like a little child and put my trust in God and put my hand in God's hand.

Sometimes we need earthly dreams and nightly dreams to keep us least one more day. Now, I just have to commit to keeping wheat, processed foods, corn and soy away from younger son and myself. I believe in my writing, though. I managed to write Wind Follower while I was in a great deal of pain and while I was very sure my days on earth were short. Pain means nothing to me now. I have something to look forward to: GREAT THINGS!

Ah, hipster racist humor

Got hip to the following bit of conservative snideness from the blog folks over at electronic village and All About Race

Isabel Garcia works for legal representation of hispanic workers. Hey, I'm all for humor and I know the illegal alien issue is a thorny one... but some of the stuff uttered in this video kinda crosses the line into anti-hispanic

Angry Black Woman recently did a post on racist humor done by liberals. So...not picking on conservatives alone.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Chasing Fireflies by Charles Martin (Thomas Nelson)

CONTEMPORARY (Series, Sequels and Novellas)
Home to Holly Springs by Jan Karon (Viking Penguin)

A Proper Pursuit by Lynn Austin (Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group)

Hallie's Heart by Shelly Beach (Kregel Publications)

Remembered by Tamera Alexander (Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group)

The Cure by Athol Dickson (Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group)

Scarlet by Stephen R. Lawhead (Thomas Nelson)

The Stones Cry Out by Sibella Giorello (Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group)

Hollywood Nobody by Lisa Samson (NavPress Publishing Group)


Chasing Fireflies by Charles Martin (Thomas Nelson)
In High Places by Tom Morrisey (Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group)
Quaker Summer by Lisa Samson (Thomas Nelson)

CONTEMPORARY (Series, Sequels and Novellas)
Home to Holly Springs by Jan Karon (Viking Penguin)
A Time to Mend by Sally John and Gary Smalley (Thomas Nelson)
What Lies Within by Karen Ball (WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group)

Lady of Milkweed Manor by Julie Klassen (Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group)
A Proper Pursuit by Lynn Austin (Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group)
Tendering in the Storm by Jane Kirkpatrick (WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group)

LITS (tie)
Doesn't She Look Natural by Angela Hunt (Tyndale House Publishers)
Hallie's Heart by Shelly Beach (Kregel Publications)
Let Them Eat Cake by Sandra Byrd (WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group)
Trophy Wives Club by Kristin Billerbeck (Avon Inspire, a division of HarperCollins Publishers)

Lightning and Lace by DiAnn Mills (Barbour Publishing)
Remember to Forget by Deborah Raney (Howard Books, a division of Simon and Schuster)
Remembered by Tamera Alexander (Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group)

The Cure by Athol Dickson (Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group)
My Hands Came Away Red by Lisa McKay (Moody Publishers)
The Pawn by Steven James (Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group)

Auralia's Colors by Jeffrey Overstreet (WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group)
The Restorer by Sharon Hinck (NavPress Publishing Group)
Scarlet by Stephen R. Lawhead (Thomas Nelson)

Auralia's Colors by Jeffrey Overstreet (WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group)
Demon: A Memoir by Tosca Lee (NavPress Publishing Group)
The Stones Cry Out by Sibella Giorello (Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group)

Hollywood Nobody by Lisa Samson (NavPress Publishing Group)
In Between by Jenny B. Jones (NavPress Publishing Group)
Maggie Come Lately by Michelle Buckman (NavPress Publishing Group)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Death, dying, and the undead

Okay, is it me or have commercials begun to take on a decidely absolving tone lately? The discover commercial pretty much tells us we're a nation of consumers. And then it says it's okay. Is it me? Or is there some communal need in the land for big-time loaners to make us feel good about ourselves as if WE are the ones who caused this loan crisis? And a couple of other commercials seem to be aiming to make us feel we aren't all that bad. About greed, lust, gluttony, you know...the seven deadly sins.

Sorry, had to get that off my chest. Now...moving on to the undead.

Was enjoying my daily dose of Final Girl, a website for horror movies. I clicked on her link to the AMC blog she writes for. Found this really nice list of the various types of vampires in the world. Ah, the undead! So many! So varied! It was a great post.

Am currently planning to see The Mummy: the Dragon Emperor. Yep. Although Black Geekdom doesn't like it much. And although Angry Asian Man guy is none too thrilled. I still want to see it. I was mightily disappointed in Scorpion King so I can imagine how bad this one will get. All bluster, no plot. But I really like Jet Li and maybe he'll be a neat villain....enough to redeem the movie for me.

Yesterday I saw Suicide Kings with Chris Walken (whom I looooove) and Jay Mohr and Henry Thomas. I had seen the tail end of it once but finally got to see it in its entirety. Bad ending and very close to what my be deemed cynical but I thought it wasn't cynicism per was honest and really quite fair.

Okay, the ending is downbeat in some ways but hey I accepted it. But I kinda have a pet peeve about certain plot elements. Especially stuff that excuses characters. I just hate rationalizations and stuff where we're supposed to "accept" certain moral ideals and standards. So what is this pet peeve exactly? The idea of lovers being excused from punishment because they are lovers. Plain and simple. So I accepted the downbeat ending cause as I said it was fair and didn't rely on that old trope. Another movie that annoyed me no end with its "we're lovers and only love is important" theme was that Ralph Fiennes flick, the English patient. I mean. I'm supposed to be on the side of people who say "I don't care if the nazis are killing 6 million jews and 5 million gypsies and countless slavs and gypsies. Our love is what matters." Puhleze! A propos of nothing: a Ralph Fiennes film I really liked is a small little film called The Cormorant. If you can get a hold of it, it's quite good.

Okay, gotta get back to that novel.

review of Seaborn by Chris Howard

By Chris Howard
Juno Books
ISBN 978-0-8095-7281-6
August 2008
380 pages

Did a review of Seaborn at

And also at

You can read an excerpt here

This is his website:

And he loved my review. Neat!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Gosh I love magical realism

Here's a case of serendipity and one thing leading to another. Someone on the carl brandon group posted something about the youtube of Gnarls Barkley's video "Who's gonna save my soul?"

BTW, blogger sometimes says a video isn't available if you click on it. Just click again. Or go to

Then I went over to Stuff as Dreams are Made on a specfic review site and he did a review of The Translator, a non-fiction book about the atrocities in Darfur.

In the meantime, I saw another interpretation of Gnarls song: Kinda like a 2008 version of Easy to be Hard.

Weird, uh? But that's the way these serendipitous things happen. I don't know if one would call it serendipitous. Too sad. More like synchronicity, maybe. Oh gee! Now that I've mentioned Easy to be hard, I guess I'll include that. Here's the link if you can't see the youtube video here.

Okay, I began talking about magical realism and now ventured into blatant scary realism. I better stop thinking of this as a sign to go out and do something about this present evil world. Just synchronicity as all. Should've waited, I think, to lable this post. -C

Friday, July 25, 2008

Characters and Creativity

In first novel, Wind Follower, I thought of Loic as a spoiled little kid much like my older son. I liked him but found him a bit exasperating. I wasn't particularly attracted to him. I liked the female character but she was too much like me to really separate myself from her.

In Inheritance, the dark horror I'm attempting to write, I find I'm in love with Danny. IF I'm not careful I'll fantasize about sleeping with him. The female main character confuses the heck out of me. She is a lot like me but I seem to have turned her into a character who is caught in one moral issue: to sleep with main character or not. I mean... is this book about "will she roll in bed with this guy?"

In Constant Tower, a fantasy I'm working on, I find the main character Psal a bit pitiful. I feel intensely sorry for him. Same for the second main character, Cloud. Come to think of it, all the guys in this story kinda have my pity. I have two female main characters in this. A strong black woman, Ktwala, who is kinda bitter and a young black girl, Maharai, who is captured and slowly connects to her captors. I like them both and find Maharai very intriguing. She has it in her to be very cut-throat. Lord knows why I create young girls who are cut-throat. Maybe I have a little cut-throat little girl in me who never got a chance to act up when I was young.

I think I know why I'm a spec-fic writer. I lived a terrified kind of life with uncles and grandfathers telling me scary horror stories about ghosts and demons on the like. In addition, they were a cruel lot who were always ready with a belt to whip a person into submission. Belts in the black family, wow! Major child abuse issues there. Not to mention terrorism on other levels I won't speak publicly about. So something in me understood terror and horror. I also saw an angel once and a demon. And there was much Bible reading in my house. Those, I think, are the reasons I write speculative fiction. I didn't like writing mainstream because the communal world's idea of reality just was not my idea of reality.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Carnal Christian? Carnal Character? True and honest writer?

Inheritance is one of the two novels I am currently writing. And there are a whole lotta real people in it. And I find myself asking myself at each juncture: Am I a carnal Christian writing about sex issues? Or am I a perfectly well-behaved and sanctified Christian writing about carnal Christians? It's hard to decide. I don't want the book to be stiff. I want the book to touch my soul. I want the book to share my soul. So how do I handle it? Sex and attraction are everywhere in this story...and I really have to figure out what my characters would do. What would I do if I were in that position? What should I do if I were that character? What kind of Christian am i writing to? And how should I write to the folks I am writing to? Very stressing.

I like to walk the borderlands. I like bringing weird things together in one novel. A CBA-published Christian book about a depressed widow and an alienated young man would have them dance around sex. I dunno. I know life...and I know how loneliness and depression can make a person end up in bed with the wrong person. Hey, I go to Black Christian churches and tons of those folks are unwed mothers. So these good people are at least doing something and falling into sin occasionally, right?

Oh, I know... Some Christian is going to say that the reason I'm confused is because I'm double-minded. Watching VH1 reality shows and reading my Bible at the same time. Probably true. And yet -- vain self-righteous comment here-- I honestly think that I am so desperate to grow in God and to get my son healed that I read more religious stuff and listen to more sermons every day than the average Christian does in a week. Christian romance is so dishonest sometimes...because it aims for purity and only gives us piousness. It holds its heroine and its hero to a higher standard. But it forgets that that standard is pretty hard to hold to in our times. Oh, what to do? what to do?

I want a story that is very passionate and very real and very erotic. Doesn't mean I charaters have to end up in bed with anyone. But it means they have to feel the tug and the reader has to feel the tug. And it might mean that -- forgetting that I must write stories that teach morals-- that they might tumble into bed. But will they end up moaning in self-loathing after the sexual sin? Lord knows. The Christians I know don't really take a long time to forgive themselves of some sin. Who knows?

Anyway, will see. Am thinking my female character is gonna end up in bed with someone. And wondering if I should even go there.

Just after posting this I went over to an ebuddy's blog Fantasy Debut and saw a great post on sex in novels. It really reminded me about how important sexual choice is. And that one has to be careful -- even in modern times-- about the occasional sexual romp. What a blessing that I looked at the blog today. She posted it yesterday...but it really is helping me with how to work out this story. Thanks, Tia.

Medical Apartheid by Harriet Washington

Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans From Colonial Times to the Present
By Harriet A. Washington.
Doubleday. Random House
512 pages
Published: January 9, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-385-50993-0 (0-385-50993-6)

I swear! This book just makes one cry, weep, shake one's head, get seriously angy.
Here's the blurb:

From the era of slavery to the present day, the first full history of black America’s shocking mistreatment as unwilling and unwitting experimental subjects at the hands of the medical establishment.

Medical Apartheid is the first and only comprehensive history of medical experimentation on African Americans. Starting with the earliest encounters between black Americans and Western medical researchers and the racist pseudoscience that resulted, it details the ways both slaves and freedmen were used in hospitals for experiments conducted without their knowledge—a tradition that continues today within some black populations. It reveals how blacks have historically been prey to grave-robbing as well as unauthorized autopsies and dissections. Moving into the twentieth century, it shows how the pseudoscience of eugenics and social Darwinism was used to justify experimental exploitation and shoddy medical treatment of blacks, and the view that they were biologically inferior, oversexed, and unfit for adult responsibilities. Shocking new details about the government’s notorious Tuskegee experiment are revealed, as are similar, less-well-known medical atrocities conducted by the government, the armed forces, prisons, and private institutions.
The product of years of prodigious research into medical journals and experimental reports long undisturbed, Medical Apartheid reveals the hidden underbelly of scientific research and makes possible, for the first time, an understanding of the roots of the African American health deficit. At last, it provides the fullest possible context for comprehending the behavioral fallout that has caused black Americans to view researchers—and indeed the whole medical establishment—with such deep distrust. No one concerned with issues of public health and racial justice can afford not to read Medical Apartheid, a masterful book that will stir up both controversy and long-needed debate.

Here's the interview on Democracy Now:

Here's a review at motherjones

Here's a review from blackeducator blog

Here is her bio from random house website:
HARRIET A. WASHINGTON has been a fellow in ethics at the Harvard Medical School, a fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health, and a senior research scholar at the National Center for Bioethics at Tuskegee University. As a journalist and editor, she has worked for USA Today and several other publications, been a Knight Fellow at Stanford University and has written for such academic forums as the Harvard Public Health Review and The New England Journal of Medicine. She is the recipient of several prestigious awards for her work. Washington lives in
New York City.

major joy, major confusion

A couple of days ago great delight and joy stumped into the heart of yours truly! Why, you may ask?

Because Vh1 celebreality has brought in some new shows and once again I am seeing hood folks on television.

Okay the first, I must truly need a life because I actually missed "Miss New York" and the joy I felt on seeing her new show "New York Goes to Hollywood" was kinda off-the-hook. A Christian woman with kids and with two books to write should not get that excited about a reality tv show. But I actually grinned as though I was going to see an old friend. I know we get attached to these tv show folks we don't actually know but still.... anyways, I'm wishing her luck.

Then there's this other show called "I love Money" which uses cast-offs from the I LOVE NY, ROCK OF LOVE, and FLAVOR OF LOVE tv shows. I was sooo thrilled to see them. I like all of these people. I had "missed" them. Especially WhiteBoy.

And then there's Queen Bee on The N (formerly Nickelodeon.) It's a show with 18-20 year old mean girls. Talk about deluded arrogant cruel people! Talk about redemption and spiritual enlightenment and sudden self-knowledge!

Then there is another show called "From G's to Gents." Okay, from first look I was like, "Who are all these unimportant not-yet-class-d-would-be-celebrities? Why the heck should I care about these people?" But then I watched two episodes and I was HOOKED!!! Why? Because those guys remind me of folks I've seen in my own hood. That's what I like about VH1 and some of its reality shows (even the ones with celebrities). They celebrate normal life. I'm not one to look at Jerry Springer: too perverse and over the top. Nor am I gonna look at stuff like The Bachelor. I know nobody like those bachelors or bachelorettes. But give me a show like Trading Spouses or Making the Band or Wife Swap. And I am in heaven. I like real people. The show is basically a male version of Charm School with Fontzworth Bentley (Diddy's friend and stylist) attempting to teach hood guys how to behave better. As I said, they're real people.

Okay.... real people... this leads me to my present writing issue. (Did you like that segue?) Well, will post those ruminations later when I've thought about what it is exactly I'm thinking about.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Southern Fire by Juliet McKenna

Southern Fire by Juliet McKenna
Published by: Tor; July 1, 2005
ISBN: 0765314118
Genre: Fantasy

Here's the blurb:
The Aldabreshin warlord, Daish Kheda, sees calamity sweeping the islands between his own domain and the supposedly empty ocean to fall on the southernmost islands of the Archipelago. Son of Daish Reik, reader of portents, giver of laws, healer and protector of all his domain encompasses, he must act quickly and decisively. While other warlords cannot look beyond their own selfish concerns to see the true danger about to overwhelm them, or are overwhelmed by fear, Kheda's people look to him. But what can he do, if the only defence against the dark magic that threatens to overrun every island of the Aldabreshi is wizardry? To wield that anywhere in the Archipelago means certain death.

Determined not to repeat myself as a writer, I turned from stories where wizards were respected and mostly trusted to explore the Aldabreshin belief that magic is a corruption of nature. I soon found their implacable loathing of wizards inextricably linked with their reliance on portents and omens which led naturally to a deeper understanding of the cyclical nature of their world view. But what can they do, when magic turns up causing mayhem, and wild, savage magic, not the civilized wizardry of Hadrumal. Aldabreshin warlords are absolute rulers in every sense but how can they fight unfettered sorcery?

You can read the opening chapter here.
Here's a review from crowsnest
Here's a review from sunburst
Here are some interviews

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Black in America program on CNN

"Did you know that companies in the US have said they would hire a white man with a felony record and no high school education BEFORE they would hire a black man with NO criminal record and a 4-year degree?"

On July 23 and July 24 at 9pm, CNN will premier a series, 'Black in America with Soledad O'Brien'

The aforementioned statistic and many others will be revealed during the series. Racism is alive and well in America.

Angelia over at Angelia's Ramblings has a great post on her personal reaction to it.

Reading while Black also did a post on Black in America.

And White men who prefer black women also gave a post on it and talks about the controversy of black images

Black Women Blow The Trumpet also has a controversy with the program.

There's also a post on it over at Blogging in black

Okay, I didn't watch the program. Too stressing. Okay, I'm a coward.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

In Praise of Pixellated Heroes

So there I was over at The galaxy express and looking at her discussion of antiheroes when I began to ponder my huge crush on some fantastical male characters as well. Okay, my men aren't near as dangerous or morally wobbly as hers, but.... well I do think falling in love with pixels -- especially beautiful feminine pixellated white men-- is a bit on the dangerous side. Emotionally, I'm speaking.

Okay, I know, I know. It's not so bad that I'm in love with a mere creature of air. That's normal for our times. Heck, folks have fallen in love with airy beings (not talking demons specifically but Milton's Lucifer was pretty hot) of print and story for ages. So I'll be cool about falling in love with two pixellated characters. But dang, I KNOW someone's gonna comment on my penchant for white male flesh. I can't help it. I just can't. Oriented that way.

For your hormonal pleasure, here they are: Cloud and Squall. (I'm a little more into Cloud. Reminds me of all my old college boyfriends.) Those of you into Final Fantasy know these guys well. BY THE WAY, IF YOU GET SOME MESSAGE ON THE YOUTUBE SCREEN SAYING "THIS VIDEO IS CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE" JUST REFRESH THE PAGE THEN CLICK ON THE VIDEO AGAIN. IT'S SOME WIERD BLOGGER QUIRK.

You can also go to the url on youtube:

I also have a crush on a villain too. Seymour Gaudo. Mercifully it seems that in this case there's hope for me. He looks a bit more multicultural.

But there's still my ever-present love for pretty guys. Honestly, I can't help it. Bad childhood emotional history.

Dang, though! If only these guys were Christians. I can't think of a hot animated Christian character. Maybe someone will come up with an animated and way hawt Prince Caspian. And yes, it would be nice if there were some hot anime characters with African features. They use Caucasian features plenty enough. How about tossing in a nice black girl in the next Final Fantasy love story? Or even a nice black couple? Or don't they think such a story would sell? -C

another defense of romance

A feminist friend of mine emailed me to say that the reason women read romances is because they want to own powerful men. That, I thought, was kinda simplistic.

I like romances but I think I like them because they are about families joining together and people coming together in spite of their emotional issues. Most of the romance writers I know have had such crappy lives so I don't think they want powerful men per se. They want a normal life with happiness. Just my opinion, though.

One friend married her husband because of some time limit and legal and naturalization issues. These two hadn't thought of each other romantically, mind you, but she married the guy and suffered for about twenty years. They've now been married about 30 years and at last he is treating her nicely and with love. She writes great romances.

Other friend met, an army brat, met a non-aggressive guy. Before they married he told her he and his brother had been having sex together from childhood. She married him anyway. She writes great romance.

So I think that it's possible that those who write romances have had to deal with powerful men and are working through their issues with powerful men by having men with degrees of power in their story. It's an exploration, not what they really want. And maybe that's the same thing for women who read them. They have suffered because of powerful men and they just want to understand.

And as for me... I have always wanted a large family. I grew up separated from my mother yet at the same time because of how the Jamaican yards and houses are built, there was always a large group of people everywhere. Either renters from my grandmother or aunt. And even in Brooklyn I lived in walk-ups so the entire building knew each other and were always walking into each other's apartment. I won't say what it was like being raised by a Methodist minister with weird sexual issues. But I will say the entire situation kinda oriented me toward non-aggressive white men. So when I met my husband with his large group of immediate and extended Irish Catholic family... I knew I was in love. But the effect of marrying into a family with a mother-in-law who hated me...and then having a sickly kid for 18 years of my marriage was to make my life solitary and so my only present escape is to create families and re-create families in my stories. Plus my only hope is to have grand children and that my son will marry into a large family -- hopefully a bi-racial family but am not picky-- and I will at last have the family I always wanted.

That's what romance is about for me, I think: getting into families. It's not a simplistic genre at all. It's about working out our pain. -C

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A shout out to one of my favorite missionary writers

My favorite Missionary writer is Don Richardson and here is his website.

And my favorite missionary book is Eternity in their hearts. That's the book that really helped me write Wind Follower. I've also read Peace Child and Lords of the Earth. Any missionary going to a tribal society should read these books. No ifs, ands or buts.

Here are his books and the blurbs from his site.

28 Case Histories - 1981 - 223p (includes author's postscript). Old Testament Hebrew culture yielded abundant metaphors foreshadowing Jesus. So do Gentile cultures! Starting with the incredible story behind Paul's discovery of that "altar to an unknown God" in Athens, we move to tribes that honored places of refuge and even a "scapeboat" instead of a "scapegoat." Missionary use of such analogies helps awaken response to the Gospel.

Autobiography - 2005 - 256p - 4th Edition. Revised missionary classic, for a new generation, of Don Richardson's gripping account and classic tale of treachery and redemption on the mission field. New epilogue brings readers up to date with the Sawi people of Irian Jaya on the island of New Guinea. Recent media attention focused on this part of the world due to the Asian tsunami. More than 350,000 copies of PEACE CHILD sold, published in 13 languages. See also items 145 and 146 for video and DVD versions.

AUTOBIOGRAPHY - 1981 - 139p. Stan and Ethel Telchin began studying the New Testament intensively. Why? To refute its claims and win their daughter from her new-found Christian faith back to Judaism. Little did they dream what effect their earnest study would have upon them!

BIOGRAPHY - 1977 - 368p - 34 photos. Rugged Aussie Stan Dale aspired to reach an unevangelized New Guinea tribe for Jesus. Fired by the first 2 missions he served under, Stan joined a third and soon found himself in over his head amid a tribe wilder than any he ever imagined -- the Yali! Tribal warfare, strange ritual, martyrdom and sacrifice culminate in an air disaster that leaves a 9-year-old from Oregon stranded at the mercy of the Yali. Can truth really be stranger than fiction? Read and marvel!

BIOGRAPHY - 1985 - 188p - 10 photos. More than 100,000 stone-age people of New Guinea's Dani tribe believed that people die only because mankind lost the gift of immortality at the dawn of time. They also believed the gift of eternal life would one day be offered again. Once offered, it had to be welcomed. What if it came disguised?

AUTOBIOGRAPHY - 1984 - 156p. Born into a prominent Muslim family in Pakistan, Gulshan Esther became partially paralyzed through a childhood disease. Islamic directives to seek healing from Allah failed. Reading in the Koran that Jesus, unlike Mohammed, gave sight to the blind and wholeness to the lame, she began asking Jesus to be her healer. He became that, and more!

AUTOBIOGRAPHY - 1999 - 382p - 25 photos. Hudson and Winsome Southwell taught a dozen warring tribes in Malaysia's Sarawak province to live at peace. Suddenly World War II burst upon their idyllic jungle Eden. Separated 3 years in a Japanese prison, this plucky couple sought to ease the suffering of other prisoners. Even cruel prison guards began to mellow as God's love shone so clearly through the Southwells.


Sunday, July 13, 2008

GUD magazine pre-launch contest

Gud Magazine is launching it's issue #3. GUD a spec-fic magazine that features art, flash fiction, genre fiction ...around a theme. This issue's theme is Mechanical Flight

Issue #2 was dedicated to religion. It's still on sale so I could buy it still. Might just do that. Seeing I like studying religion.

They're having an issue #3 prelaunch buzz contest so if you want to enter blog about it. The guidelines to the contest are here:

They have a list of reviews of GUD magazine here

If you want to submit, go here

Black And Beautiful But Invisible

Interview with Kadiatu Kamara the face of the Mahogany campaign , “Black And Beautiful But Invisible:

The Constant Novel: Agenda versus Vehicle

There is a difference between the agenda and the vehicle. But a white feminist friend of mine just doesn't seem to get it.

My new WIP, The Constant Tower, carries my agenda: poor folks (usually of color) living in a world in which other folks (usually white) take resources that don't belong to them. But the agenda is carried in this story by using a vehicle created by the white folks in power. Using Massa's tools to dismantle Massa's house.

Those who haven't had the opportunity to speak must learn how to tell the truth and tell it slant... to tell our story through the media created by those who are powerful. We have to be slick if we want to be understood and yet be published.

In Wind Follower I created a Christian story which honors the best in paganism. That was published by a secular publisher but it is essentially a Christian story. Constant Tower will be published by an American Christian publisher. In my mind, American Christians don't want to read fantasies about white male oppressors that take stuff from poorer cultures. So I have to put my agenda in the proper craft. In this case, I am using a white male protagonist and the story takes place from the viewpoint and from the cultural setting of the white characters. Because honestly, politics aside, white Christian males who read fantasy are more likely to read about males, especially white males. One has to be aware of that. The story already has two black females and one interracial love affair. That kind of stuff is not generally in Christian fiction. I really can't push my luck too far by having a female black protagonist.

My main characters is a white boy from an oppressive rich culture who learns that his people are preying on poor black cultures. There's a war going on but we see the war through the eyes of the white culture. All the rumors and stories we hear are told through the white characters. (I'm kinda talking about the American media and how American culture views the resources of the world as its right. But I am more concerned with the path this white warrior takes as he realizes he and his culture are wrong.)

My friend -- as I said she is majorly into white feminism-- said I should have a female main character. She wasn't interested in hearing about the boys. When I told her all the above she got angry with me and said I was not listening to her because I was too committed to what I had on the page. Duh!!! (Not true btw. She told me to rework my synopsis and I did. She told me to rework several chapters and I did. So I DO listen to her. Except in this.)

Okay, the fact that I have two sons and I want to talk about the brainwashing being given to American boys of all colors...and I'm also talking about war and resources and the food crisis, I think I'm being pretty liberal and enlightened. She thought not. Simply because I had a male protag. Come on now! I hope I'm not wimping out on this nobel..but I DO think my story set up is valid. Especially since the Christian publisher still hasn't told me if he is really going to accept it with all the "different" stuff I've already put in the novel.

This white feminist and I had a good relationship but she just doesn't think racism compares to sexism and even went so far as to say no feminist is racist...because feminism is a system that tries to help all the oppressed. Yeah, right. I've told her over and over that white feminists are used to setting the agenda on what feminism is and they should stop telling black women what is or is not feminist. (Heck, most white feminists remind me of horrible tyrannical white lady bosses I've had.)

Whites have had their time talking about our culture in their paternalistic superior ways. Why can't a black author talk about their paternalistic superior ways in a novel? The country is so fr*ggin racist and I want to do my share of speaking to racist so-called Christians. There is nothing - not even art-- that we can do about changing folks but I can at least say that a black woman wrote a Christian fantasy about racism that was published by a Christian company. Even if I can't change the hearts of white racist Christians, I can heal our people's hearts and cure us of this racial stockholm syndrome/self-loathing that living in our culture creates.

I told her all this but she doesn't agree with me.
So...I'm thinking that either she A) a feminist who simply wants me to write about women ALL the time or B) a racist who simply doesn't want to be challenged by a black author daring to depict her culture or C) an academic snob who thinks that my plan won't work because I simply am not creatively capable of doing it. You know how they do...thinking we have great ideas but somehow we don't have the skills to do it well. They always think we are not capable.

And frankly, she pissed me off. -C


Answered Verse By Verse

The Bible says to study to show ourselves approved. These are two books every church person should have. These are two books every church group should study when they study cults.

Jehovah's Witnesses Answered Verse by Verse
David A Reed
Publisher: Baker Book House
Publication Date: 1997, c1986.

Here's the blurb from

Jehovah's Witnesses Answered: Verse By Verse not only includes contested verses but also gives background to why Jehovah's Witnesses believe what they do. Additional information is also given about the Bible translation that Jehovah's Witnesses use. This section provides a greater context and explains how certain verses that seem so harmless can be understood by Jehovah's Witnesses in a completely different way.

Table of Contents
What Jehovah's Witnesses Believe
The Bible That Jehovah's Witnesses Use
Verse-by-Verse Answers for JWs - Old Testament
Verse-by-Verse Answers for JWs - New Testament
A Capsule History of Jehovah's Witnesses
Techniques for Sharing the Gospel with Jehovah's Witnesses
The Author's Testimony
About the Author
This resource's final chapter, entitled "The Author's Testimony", follows David Reed's journey from agnosticism to zealous Jehovah's Witness and finally to Bible-believing Christian. This story will undoubtedly aid the reader during conversations with Jehovah's Witnesses by giving a first-hand account of why he left the Watchtower for Christianity. David A. Reed has authored several other works on Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons including Answering Jehovah's Witnesses Subject by Subject, Jehovah's Witness Literature, and How to Rescue Your Loved One from the Watch Tower .

Here's the blurb from

Mormons Answered Verse by Verse
David A Reed
John R Farkas
Publisher: Baker Book House
Publication Date: 1997, c1992.

This resource starts with a synopsis of what the Mormon Church teaches and then moves into a subject-by-subject listing of Mormon beliefs on issues such as heaven, marriage, salvation, and women.

However, the majority of the book is dedicated to controversial verses that are incorrectly interpreted by Mormons. The electronic version of this resource is extremely beneficial as any reference to Scripture can be read in your preferred translation with only one click of your mouse.

Table of Contents

A Capsule history of Mormonism
What the Mormon Church Teaches
Mormon Scripture
Verse-by-Verse Answers for Mormons: Old Testament
Verse-by-Verse Answers for Mormons: New Testament
Verse-by-Verse Answers for Mormons: Book of Mormon
Some Techniques for Sharing the Gospel with Mormons
Testimonies of the Authors
About the Authors
John R. Farkas is a former Mormon and has co-authored other works such as How to Rescue Your Loved One from Mormonism and Mormonism: Changes, Contradictions, and Errors.

David A. Reed is a former Jehovah's Witness and has authored other witnessing tools such as How to Rescue Your Loved One from the Watch Tower, Index of Watch Tower Errors and Jehovah's Witnesses: Answered Verse by Verse.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Counterphobic Networking

Okay, so I'm trying to figure out what the first chapter of Constant Tower will be. Prologue in the form of a quotation from the "annals" or regular chapter. And beause I would rather indulge in creative procrastination (in the garden or on the internet) I figured I'd go networking on this new networking site

Okay, networking is one of my counterphobic issues. I like networking but it scares me silly. I don't know why the heck I like networking. On a totally sweet level, I just like meeting folks. If they're like me...all the better. IF I can help them in anyway...all the better still.

When it comes to networking in person, you ought to see me. Like...let's say I'm at a convention. I am so dang friendly, flaky, and funny. And what do I do? I tend to go toward the people who look flaky and friendly. I also veer toward the folks who are the odd-people out. So in a Christian writers convention, I'm the one who goes ends up with the gay writers. Or I end up with the folks who look very shy and quiet. (Yeah, hubby is shy and quieet so I'm naturally drawn to the retiring types. Some weird thing in me wants to drag them out into the light.)

But this networking on the internet. A whole 'nother story! I find myself getting all nervous about how I'll be perceived. It kinda reminds me of a church I used to go to called St Mary's on the Green. Very rich church. Heck, I could name some of the folks in that place. The nickname for it was St Mary's on the golf course. Now, the problem was that with so many rich folks around there was always this assumption that people wanted to use other folks for money, status, power, employment, etc. So I always made sure that if I realized I was talking to say the steward of the Rockefeller foundation or the head of Nestle America, that I would suddenly disappear from site and never speak to that person again. Hey, I was black (still am) and the church was 99% white. And unlike the other black persons I was not rich or powerful.

So there I am on this new networking ring. Mostly white folks, mostly Europeans. They don't know me from Adam. (Which, ya know, may be a good thing...cause those who know me either like me very much or they want to wring my neck.)

So I'm going through the member list checking on members and deciding who to attempt to befriend. So I end up with my little networking filter. My first filter is that I find myself avoiding anyone who has an anime picture up instead of their picture. Why? Lord knows. Then I find myself avoiding anyone who is an editor or agent or big-time reporter. Why? Cause I don't want this "important" person thinking I'm trying to use them. Then I avoid any guy who is especially cute because I simply do not want him thinking I'm hitting up on him. Then I avoid anyone who is averse to Christianity or who might seem averse to minorities. (Honestly, I'm nice and I'd probably like them but they might not like me for prejudiced reasons, so why stress myself by adding them as a friend when they would only reject me.) Then I avoided anyone who was too young. Why? I mean... I have a lot of young friends online. Can't figure that out.

All this extreme insane behavior, of course, comes from me always being the "only" -- the only black among whites, the only Christian among atheists or new agers. And so in some very interesting way my online life reflects my real life. (You ought to see me at McDonnell family gatherings. Sure hubby and I are madly in love with each other and have been married for 24 years and sure everyone in the family knows me by now...but what do I do? Sit down and cower in the back until some flakier shyer member of the family appears.)

Anyway, what with all that filtering, I did manage to brave it and send out some "add as friend" requests. My big brave deed of the day.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Decisions, decisions

Aaargh! Update Time!

So here I am in the middle of two WIPS.

Constant Tower for a Christian publisher and Dark Inheritance for a black secular publisher. So am toning down the sex in Constant Tower and making the main character a white male. And am toning up the sex in Dark Inheritance and making the main character a black female. Hey, am I pliable or not? Men read a lot of fantasy. Men like male main characters. Christians who read fantasies are used to fantasies with white characters and male characters. (And sex isn't in the picture generally.) Black books written by black women usually have female male characters. (And sex is everywhere.) So as I said "I'm amenable." I do what is necessary to do to be published. So, it's not as if I'm gonna die if I have to do certain things.

Got some decisions to make though. In Inheritance do I want to go ahead with the succubi idea? I mean, honestly! How far do I want to go with that? I do want to deal with sexual evil, though. And I want my hero to truly be tempted with perversion...but I want to enter the mind of a serial rapist? Do I want to make my hero a creep for a long while in the book? As it is, it's a sweet little story, living gently all by its lonesome. So what to do?

Second decision: In Constant Tower I'm always talking about the "annals." Dang! I'm 200 pages in the book and now I'm kinda regretting all those stupid annals I mentioned. A part of me says that maybe I should put quotations from theses so-called annals at the beginning of each chapter or at least at the beginning of the book. But heck, A) I hate prologues. And B) I think I got that idea from Seaborn. Which is one way deep and complicated book. Constant Tower isn't poetically complicated but its world and rules are complicated. Several folks who read Wind Follower said the glossary helped them immensely. So in a world where the science is based on music, do I need a glossary? Or should I do the chapter headings thingey?

So that's where yours truly is. Other than that all is well.

Will have a review of Seaborn for and sometime next week. -C

Post a rejection letter Friday

Well... I saw this over at Tobias' website and decided to jump in.

Okay, the first: This was for my short story SO FAR

Thank you for your submission to Neverlands and Otherwheres (previously Far, Far Away). Unfortunately, we've decided not to accept your story for publication in our anthology. Don't be too discouraged, though--if you're reading this, your story made it past the initial cut. This means you can probably still find a good home for your story somewhere out there.

Please keep Susurrus Press in mind the next time you have a great story you'd like to see published. Our magazines, Susurrus and Atomjack, are always looking for quality stories, and there are more anthologies on the way.

The problem with this particular story is the second person, future tense, alas. All these anthologies like it but they don't like the distancing and the fatalism of the future tense second person. But that's what I wanted. I have learned however, never to use future tense and/or second person ever ever again in creating a story. And honestly, I'm too lazy to go changing that story.

Then there was this one for my story People of the Dark Mirror

Hi, Carole.

This story was the on the edge for a while, especially how if included in an anthology about fairy lands and alternate worlds, it would put black people in America in the same category as fairies and otherworldly creatures. But ultimately, I think it takes place in a little-too-real world for this anthology. It would seem out of place, and that's not really the point of a themed anthology, you know?

I have no recommendations as to how to improve the story, but I recommend sending it along to Susurrus Magazine, our surreal/bizarro/strange fiction online magazine. I think it would have a fighting chance in the pits over there.

Okay, I totally know what he meana. Lord knows I myself consider it a might preachy in its own overly political way but I did it as a king of lark for Black history month. I didn't want it rooted in the real world but I was also on the edge there too I think. Wanting it to exactly mirror the real history of black folks but also wanting it to be a story in its own right. I don't know if it's an actual story, though. It's a bit polemic. (One other editor rejected it and was way more hateful and snippy about it.) I like the story, though. It's still a sweet little take on African-American history and oppression.

So latest rejections.

Round up of blogs with friends, Christians, or minority doings

Sci Fi Journalist has added a post about the anime Jesus project. Check it out. The creators are looking for feedback.

My ebuddy, Greg Banks, author of Phoenix Tales has an interview over at Fantasy Magazine on disabilities in science fiction

Scifi Catholic did a post on the June Christian science fiction tour for Vanished.

Engaged Spectator did a post on the way the homeless are treated in Vancouver.

Disability Blogger talks about the problems of getting a disability approval for a child from the SSI folks.

Gwyneth Bolton author of urban romance Protect and Serve did a neat Throwback Thursday post with a youtube video of The Temptations Ain't to Proud to Beg -- only the greatest pleading begging love song of all times, in my opinion.

Chicklit Gurl did a post on urban Christian fantasy writer Shana Burton

White Men who love Black Women has a neat post on white men with black children.

Author of urban fiction Terra Little has been giving us excerpts from her great urban book.

For those living in Los Angeles, Krysten Media's blog mentions a play called The Exiles, about Native Americans living in Los Angeles. (It's right below the post about Morgan Spurlock's 30 Days on FX. She says,
Friday, August 15, 2008
UCLA's Billy Wilder Theater, Los Angeles
Kent Mackenzie's Los Angeles film "The Exiles" about the lives of young Native Americans living on downtown's Bunker Hill. **It's very good**

The angry black woman has a neat post on "hipster racism" (Oh, come on! You know what I'm talking about.)

Tananarive Due has a neat inspirational poem about Obama and the 2008 election on her site

This is really an old post but I really loved the idea of the book. Shades of Romance did a blog tour of seeing through the lies women believe.

Mattilda does a very poignant blog on the gay-bashing he received and his mother's reaction to it

Reading While Black has a post on Race and films called The Fallacy of Angelina Jolie. She mentions Disney Princesses. Mercifully a few are cropping up soon. At last.

Biology in Science Fiction does a link round-up of various posts pertaining to science, and art

Not a blog but a great article about life expectancy in the US. We're 42 despite having a supposedly great health system.

Monday, July 07, 2008

The Lover, The Beloved

Okay, so am working on my novels -- which are totally about romance..and I realize I am more focused on the male object of desire than in the female who is doing the desiring. Oh sure, I look at the POV of the male's desiring...what he sees when he sees the woman...but I'm totally into understand what makes men tick when they fall in love.

Perhaps I should care about why women fall in love. Maybe I think I know all about it (or at least maybe I think I know why I would fall in love with some guy) but maybe I am not as knowledgeable about it as I think I am.

I'll have to ponder that one of these days. In the meantime, though, all that's in my mind is the male Beloved.... and why he loves. Does he love because the girl is kind (as in Wind Follower)? Because he is using marriage as a tool to get something else (as in Constant Tower)? Does he love the Beloved immediately? Does he love the Beloved because she "grows on him"? Will see.

Sweet Mandarin by Helen Tse

Sweet Mandarin:
The Courageous True Story of Three Generations of Chinese Women and Their Journey from East to West
by Helen Tse
St. Martin's Press
Biographies/Memoirs, 288 pp.

Here's the blurb from Thomas Dunne books website

About the Book

Spanning almost a hundred years, this rich and evocative memoir recounts the lives of three generations of remarkable Chinese women.

Their extraordinary journey takes us from the brutal poverty of village life in mainland China, to newly prosperous 1930s Hong Kong and finally to the UK. Their lives were as dramatic as the times they lived through.

A love of food and a talent for cooking pulled each generation through the most devastating of upheavals. Helen Tse's grandmother, Lily Kwok, was forced to work as an amah after the violent murder of her father. Crossing the ocean from Hong Kong in the 1950s, Lily honed her famous chicken curry recipe. Eventually she opened one of Manchester's earliest Chinese restaurants where her daughter, Mabel, worked from the tender age of nine. But gambling and the Triads were pervasive in the Chinese immigrant community, and tragically they lost the restaurant. It was up to author Helen and her sisters, the third generation of these exceptional women, to re-establish their grandmother's dream. The legacy lived on when the sisters opened their award-winning restaurant Sweet Mandarin in 2004.

Sweet Mandarin shows how the most important inheritance is wisdom, and how recipes--passed down the female line--can be the most valuable heirloom.

Here are a few reviews on book browse

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Horatio Spafford and Hannah Whitall Smith

It's great reading the lives of great Christians. Sometimes one finds that they endured and all went well or they died happily and in the faith. Sometimes...well, one finds the opposite. Oswald Chambers, for instance, was pretty saintly and holy and his descendants are still believers. Same for Derek Prince and C S Lewis. But then we have such folks as Hannah Whitall Smith and Horatio Spafford, the guy who wrote it is well with my soul (and his later strange life issues) do make a person wonder. (His story is told in 100 Hymn Stories. His family has been careful about telling about his later life issues so who knows? maybe the story has been revised out of the 100 hymn stories.)

But it makes me wonder about famous Christian writers. One must always be careful less one fall into error. I mean was he saying "it is well with my soul" and not quite believing it. Was this true spiritual consolation or a self-deluding consolation born of despair? And it makes me wonder about people who love this hymn and who mistake stoicism for religious peace.

When his daughters were killed in a shipwreck, He wrote
"When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul."

Hannah Whitall Smith wrote two really great books: The Unselfishness of God and she also wrote another book, The Christian's secret to a happy life. Very good. Like Oswald Chambers' My Utmost for His Highest it might be really a challenge for new or carnal Christians. Christian's Secret is not complicated or as deep as Chambers' work but because its simple message of trusting God's love is also pretty deep.

The Unselfishness of God is her autobiography. She was raised a quaker, which kinda reminds me so much of being raised in the pentecostal church. Yeah, I know. Sounds odd and flaky but trust me... any pentecostal kid reasing it will see a lotta similarities.

Hannah's writings are very respected by the Christian community but because she believed in universal salvation and no hell, some parts of her book are "removed" by the Christian publishers.

Not picking on Christians because it's not as if atheists have fared much better. History has proven many times that sometimes those who battle the Lord end up dying rather terribly -- Victor Hugo's death was full of fearful groanings. Madelyn Murray O'Hair was murdered and tortured. And the descendants of many atheists -- often down the generations-- have tended to have strange issues with poverty and addiction. One wonders if Hannah's foray into universalism and other issues helped to create the crisis for her and for her descendants.

And yet, her books are lovely... even if she didn't quite manage to live up to what she wrote about. It certainly makes one careful... even the best of souls can fall.


Friday, July 04, 2008

Unplanned Journey

Illness, especially having a severely disabled, mentally retarded child is an unplanned journey. Add fibromyalgia to the mix and things get really tough.

Suffering puts spiritual people into kind of a bind. All those people who think God makes you suffer in order to make you better should be aware that suffering tends to make people bitter rather than better....therefore they should stop blaming God for putting suffering on people to chastise them. And in my case they really have to stop saying stuff like God gave you this disabled child. There is evil in the world, demonic evil, world evil, greed, human evil...and human mistakes and accidents. That’s what causes sick children. Not God’s great mercy.

It is very hard to describe what my life is like...and unless you have an autistic kid you may not really get it. But I will describe my house right now. About ten of the windows are broken (because son threw something at them and broke them and we had no money to fix them.) The bathroom door is kicked in and has a big whole in the bottom panel (because son is often in such daily intense pain that no one can figure out.) All the kitchen cupboards are broken because son kicked them in or broke them. We have been using a burner because the gas pipe broke four years ago and cost $2100 to fix it but we were so busy with family medical bills – and my inability to work cause I’m so sleepless– that we couldn’t fix it. The used car family bought six months ago and got a $5000 loan for is a lemon and doesn’t work. The house is a total mess because I get into long stretches of sleeplessness that I am in so much pain I can’t work... plus when I manage to fall asleep around four in the morning after being awake all night ...son comes to my bed greeting me with his crying and dragging me out of bed to get him ready for school. And folks, that is just a small portion of the stuff that has been continually happening for the past 18-20 years. The worst of it is when one sees one’s son suffering because of some pain and one has no way of knowing how to fix this sickly whining kid. That’s what hurts most of all.

Imagine all this and then some atheist telling you that trusting in God is a crutch. Or imagine annoying Christian person coming to one’s house and saying one has no faith, or one gets too testy. (Of course I’m testy! I’m in pain, you idiot! I’ve been in unbearable pain for twenty and I’ve watched my son be in unbearable pain for 18 years. Yes, I can have a nasty personality and please don’t tell me that if you were in the same position you would be oh so much more pleasant than I am.) And honestly, if I were as testy as this particular Christian says I am, I wouldn’t be the one that so many people call up to get comfort from. I’m rather nice, actually. And if someone has a terrible headache I never get into comparative mode and think, “Oh gee! This person doesn’t know suffering.” I am genuinely kind to all. And, unlike know-it-all atheists and know-it-all Christians, I tend to steer away from judging people. Unless I'm in so much pain I just lose all patience.

And yet... I have to confess that I do find a kind of impatience coming into my life toward those who are healthy and who have money and who nevertheless whine. It’s as if I’ve gone through so much crap that I have lost my ability to commiserate with certain kinds of people: namely the healthy, the rich, etc. So this suffering business has really affected me by making me bitter and actually has me falling into the category of someone who judges another person's pain. When I see some middle-class woman talking about her sorrows about “getting old” I find myself looking at her without any mercy whatsoever. Not good. In my mind I think, “Woman, getting old is normal, WTF is your problem? There are people starving in Africa! There’s a global food crisis? Heck, I spent the last three months eating beans and stuff from the pantry and seeing my son go to the fridge and find nothing....(because of older son’s speeding tickets and him turning 21 and the IRS dependents issue.) And you are f*cking talking about how sad it was to have lines on your face!” This is not good at all. As a Christian we are supposed to love everyone, even those who are rich and healthy. As a poor person we are not supposed to judge wealthy people. As a sick person, we are supposed to love health.

I also find myself despairing when I see healthy starlets in good shape running across my tv screen. I wish I were as healthy as they are. I bewail my lost youth and my lost beauty. I wish that I too could dance and sing and play volleyball.

C S Lewis said that Greed is the sin of the rich and envy is the sin of the poor. I've been thinking about that quote since I began working on my new novel. Like Wind Follower it's against imperialism. But unlike Wind Follower, it's not about loving God but about loving one's neighbor as one's self.

As a Christian I MUST learn to love what I do not have. If I get annoyed at some airhead movie starlet's health, how can I draw it to me? I am hating a thing and saying such a twit doesn't deserve such health (and such big bucks) while I and my son DESERVE them. And yet, as a Christian, it's not a matter of deserving, is it? If I judge someone as not deserving...and if I say that good things should only go to those who are deserving....then I myself must be deserving. And no human is deserving of anything, really. We are all sinners, all evil really. No matter how good my atheist friend thinks she is. (Yep, she actually told me she thought she was a good person. I didn't say anything. The world thinks that way because they don't get into the kinds of morbid introspection religious people get into. And they have entirely different standards. But I digress.)

So anyway, I am trying not to hate wealth...trying not to feel that only those who are worthy of it should get it. Because the world treats us in the way we demand that it treats others. And if I have some inner vow that states "good must only come to those who deserve it" and if I dislike those who "don't deserve iot" then I have put deserving into the mix and have forgotten that God is gracious and loving to all...despite their worth and deserving.

One of my favorite Bible verses is "The race is not to the swift nor bread to the wise nor wealth to the brilliant nor favor to men of understanding." Ecclesiastes 9:11 I know many Christians who use this verse to talk about how unfair life is and how bad it is that life is unfair. But we must consider that life's unfairness often works for us. I have a sweet husband that I truly don't deserve. And I have lovely friends who honestly should have friends lovelier than I am. I am not particularly brilliant but my book got published. I am not particularly smart and yet I have had jobs -- through the grace of God-- that smarter people should have gotten. So I am glad about life's unfairness.

Ane yet, the gospel was preached to the poor for a specific reason. Illness causes poverty. Poverty compounds illness. So I believe in the power of the gospel to remove illness and to make rich...or at least to push starving away.

Anyway, I was in quite a state a few days back. Back in the day I would ponder suicide and wish that both my son and I would die so we could be free from our illness, but God gave me a vision of hell (not a nice place!) And a vision of hope and miracle...and for the past ten years I’ve been searching and growing in my faith.

Two nights ago, after three days of total sleeplessness and with my son developing some weird new symptoms that frightened me. (I don’t know if you understand what it’s like to go to bed for 18 years worrying that your son will die in his addition to sleeplessness and pain.) So I was sooo depressed.

Then God gave me this dream.

I dreamt of walking across a field and I saw a road ahead that was beside the field. I was pushing a very heavy cart. It was a very dark night and at the edge of the corner of the field were oxen and lions but I couldn't really see clearly. I wanted to get to the road but it was so dark and I didn't want to accidentally walk on a lion and get eaten. Although the lions were quiet.

I heard the voice of a little girl I know. She's about 5 and her name is Daniella. Her parents go to my church which is an evangelical hispanic church. She saw me coming and she knew it was too dark for me to see. She said, "Caro!" She couldn't pronounce my name right...and in real life she doesn't pronounce it well cause she has baby talk plus she's hispanic. She said, "Here is my hand! Touch it and I'll lead you." I still couldn't see her, but I followed her voice. And in the darkness I took her tiny little hands. And she kept comforting me and saying, "Don't worry, Caro. I'm with you." I looked at the sky. It was so dark, but as we walked up the road which was walking up a hill, the burden I was pushing got less heavy and the sky became brighter.

I woke up crying and cried and cried for two hours after that. But it wasn't as if I was crying. It was as if the tears were flowing out of me. At last I felt the holy spirit saying, "Carole it's a consolation dream. Don't worry." I feel the dream is saying that I should become like a little child and put my trust in God and put my hand in God's hand.

There is a motto for the Episcopalian Mission Society: "And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year, 'Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.' And he said to me, 'Go out into the darkness and place your hand into the hand of God. That will be to thee better than light and safer than a known way.'"

So, a little child shall lead. And Except we become as children we cannot enter the kingdom of God. Or have it work through us. That's what we're all here to do...whatever unplanned journey we find ourselves on. Let the kingdom of God work through us, and put our hand into God's hand as he leads us. -C

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Another nomination for Wind Follower

I told you earlier that Wind Follower was up for a nomination for the Clive Staples Award. Now I just found out that it's also been chosen as a nominee for the 2008 Pluto award. Nice, uh?

It's the first year for the Clive Staples and the second year for the Pluto. Clive Staples Awards are for speculative fiction books that have a Christian worldview.

I don't really know the guidelines for the Pluto

These are the nominees for the Clive Staples:

Auralia’s Colors by Jeffrey Overstreet (WaterBrook)
Demon: A Memoir by Tosca Lee (NavPress)
DragonFire by Donita K. Paul (Waterbrook)
Father of Dragons by L.B. Graham (P&R)
Fearless by Robin Parrish (Bethany House)
Flashpoint by Frank Creed (The Writers Cafe Press)
Isle of Swords by Wayne Thomas Batson (Thomas Nelson)
Landon Snow and the Volucer Dragon by Randy Mortenson (Barbour)
The Legend of the Firefish by George Bryan Polivka (Harvest House)
The Restorer by Sharon Hinck (NavPress)
The Restorer’s Son by Sharon Hinck (NavPress)
Scarlet by Stephen Lawhead (Thomas Nelson)
A Wine Red Silence by George L. Duncan (Capstone Fiction)
Wind Follower by Carole McDonnell (Juno Books)

These are the nominees for the Pluto:

FLASHPOINT by Frank Creed
THE LION VRIE by Christopher Hopper
BLUE by Melanie Budiarto
IN EXILE by Joanne Hall
SHEPHERD'S QUEST by Brian S. Pratt
WIND FOLLOWER by Carole McDonnell
TAU 4 by V. J. Waks
VIRTUAL EVIL by Jana G. Oliver
TIME MASTERS: THE CALL by Geralyn Beauchamp
QUEST'S END by Brian S. Pratt
MASON'S LINK by Bill Andrews

It really is an honor just to be included among these great stories. Good luck and blessings to all!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

MEJI by Milton Davis

Meji by Milton Davis

Meji by Milton Davis is a story of two brothers separated from birth. Two kingdoms live side-by-side in uneasy harmony on the continent of Uhuru. Inkosi Dingane, the upstart king of one kingdom is a warrior who is expecting his first son. Unfortunately, his beloved wife, Great Wife Shani, gives birth to twins. In Sesu, Dingane's land, this is a terrible taboo. (It doesn't help matters that his evil spirit advisor fears the prophecy that one of the twins will kill him.) However, the other kingdom, Mawena, sees twins as a blessing. Luckily the Chief Wife is from this kingdom. She sends her twins with a trusted warrior to her own homeland. Her husband pursues the warrior and retrieves one of the twins, believing (or hoping to believe) that the other child is dead.

Both boys grow up with varying degree of knowledge about their histories. In Sesu, gossip abounds around Ndoro because everyone knows he was born a twin. In Mawena, Obaseki has to deal with alienation because he has a gift that makes people uncomfortable. Both boys are not whole until they meet and they feel that something is missing from their lives. Through trial and obstacle they are fated to meet again and to restore their kingdoms and set the world to rights.

This is a self-published story which is quite well-written and which has a truly folkloric feel. It belongs to the category of fantasy first created by Charles Saunders with his Imaro books, a category called Sword and Soul -- as opposed to the high fantasy term Sword and Sorcery.

The book is both an easy and a hard read. It's easy to read because the story moves quickly and the breathless plotting begins from the first page. Lovers of fantasy, myth, and even children's literature will love this. But on the other hand, the reader is plunged into a world where different names, different kingdoms, and different titles abound. Knives, swords, houses, pacts, covenants, wizards, spirit beings, soldiers all exist -- but they are given African names. And although people of African descent, (and Asian descent, and Hispanic descent) are all aware of the Eurocentric words for these common items, the opposite is not generally true. The world at large --and even we African-Americans-- is not used to African spirits or the words for African knives. So that can be rough-going until one gets a hang of it.

The story seemed a bit short for me. Of course this is Part One, so it is possible that I was expecting more complications in the beginning. I'm not one who gets into reading works that are made into sequels. But luckily for me, although this book is the first of a sequel, the story in Part One stands on its own.

All great stories are about kings and queens; warriors and defenders; great and ignoble families; obstacles and victories. Unfortunately many stories written about the African culture, whether written by whites or non-whites, often are burdened by recent history. Thus slavery and the devastations of Africa under European imperialism has contributed to a body of literature which often uses the myth of suffering. In fantasies and even scifi many Black characters are faced with stories that relegate us to slavery and to oppression. Perhaps that is only to be expected. Yet, people of African descent are like all people. We like a good story with fantastical worlds and passionate longing. We want to take our part with mythic kings, noble heroes, and heartfelt spiritual quests. In Meji, Milton Davis has created a story that speaks to our culture's primeval and heartfelt need -- a desire common to all great stories, to return to a place where African storytelling expands itself.


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