Monday, May 27, 2013

Mysteries and Legends

Laurie's Journal

I hope you're enjoying your Memorial Day weekend and the launch into summer. The long weekend has given me a little time to work on my manuscripts, as well as get some work done around the house. Both give me a great sense of accomplishment.

I also want to acknowledge the reason for the holiday--the memory of veteran heroes, both living and fallen. We owe so much to their sacrifice. I can never offer enough thanks for their service.

We Have a WHAT in the Neighborhood?

For over twenty years, I've lived on a ranch in the desert southwest--a little patch of high plains and pinon-dotted foothills "where the llano estacado rolls up to the Southern Rockies." This is the ol' stomping grounds of the likes of Billy the Kid, Kit Carson and Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders.

So I was a little shocked, to say the least, when I recently learned that we may be sharing our space with some very unexpected neighbors. Bigfoot!

This recent local news story caused quite a stir (although the news anchors obviously aren't convinced)! I can understand the surprise. Most people have thought this elusive creature lived in dense pine forests and impenetrable swamps. The truth is that Bigfoot-like creatures are prevalent in Navajo lore and are often spotted on barren ridges and rocky foothills in my state.

Two of the mountain ranges mentioned in the above story are the Ortiz and the Sandias. Just for the record, the Ortiz are just to our north--I commute through this range every day--and the Sandias are just to our west.

In other words, our little rancho is located in Bigfoot Central.

I snapped a few photos of the Ortiz during my commute to and from work:
A smokey view of the Ortiz Range (heading north)

One of the Ortiz passes (headed south)

We made a drive up to Sandia Crest after dinner Friday night so I could post a few pics of this supposed Bigfoot habitat:

 Mid-way up the Sandia Crest

Sandia Crest habitat at twilight

Bigfoot Crossing???  Nahhhh.

And these are the mountains in our "backyard"--the San Pedros--which are connected to the Ortiz and lay just to the east of the Sandias.

The San Pedro Range

Sandia Range as seen from the San Pedro pass

After someone caught compelling footage of what is believed to be a Sasquatch on a thermal imagery camera in the Jemez forest, the production crew of the Finding Bigfoot television series made a visit to conduct research in the area.

Here's part of the episode that was filmed in New Mexico:

Do I believe Bigfoot exists?

I'm not sure. There has certainly been a lot of circumstantial evidence and "sightings" over the years of some sort of massive creature. But I have to wonder--like the skeptic in the footage above--if they're out there, why haven't we ever recovered something physical that could verify their existence--a body, a bone, even a tooth?

If such evidence ever turns up, then something truly profound will occur. Bigfoot will move from the arena of the "paranormal cryptozoology" into "scientific find." And that really gives me goosebumps!

Paranormal vs. Science Fiction

All of this Bigfoot hullabaloo has me pondering my fourth novel, with the working title of Chimera. This tale isn't about a Bigfoot, but it does involve something the characters believe might have been unleashed in the forests of northern Michigan. It's an entity that was created by scientific research--though it's not some escapee from a secret lab. (That's been done to death).

While working on my story about a year ago, I made a very chilling discovery. The premise of my wholly fictional story is documented to have actually happened! In fact, it's a phenomenon that's recognized by one major religion where it holds the same level of credibility that demonic possession has to the Catholic faith.

So this has created a bit of a dilemma for me. Will my story be classified as Science Fiction Romance or is it Paranormal Romance?

The Argument for Science Fiction (Romance): The title subject exists as a result of scientific research and becomes an unknown entity when the scientist loses control of the experiment. The existence of such a phenomenon has been documented, though not by the mainstream scientific community.

The Argument for Paranormal (Romance): The title subject's existence can't be proven except by questionable circumstantial evidence (footprints and sightings, much like Bigfoot). It might exist only in the character's minds. It's real to them, but there's no proof the subject is actually tangible.

Tell me what you think. Would Chimera be better described as Science Fiction Romance, or Paranormal Romance, or a crossover mash up of the two? Have you ever heard of Paranormal SF Romance?

Oklahoma Tornados

My heart goes out to all the tornado victims and survivors in Oklahoma. Seeing videos of the devastation and hearing stories of those who lived through the disaster illustrates what a horrific act of nature this superstorm was.

Oklahoma RWA or OKRWA, probably best known for their Finally A Bride (FAB) contest, is based in the general area, so here's hoping none of their members were severely impacted by the storm.

Ping Pong

@Donna  I enjoyed reading your take on the new Star Trek installment. One thing can be said for the new generation films--nothing can be assumed or predicted.

@Sharon After just having read Ghost Planet (for the nth time), I enjoyed it just as much as my previous trips to Ardagh I. The RITAS are coming up fast. Best wishes for the awards!

@Pippa  Loved your article on what a muse is...or isn't. Mine is temperamental, persnickety and, at times, elusive. Oh wait. She's me! LOL  Here's to always having more stories in your head than you ever have time to write.


  1. It's such a relief to see I'm not the only SFR writer out there with something that can be considered paranormal or SFR. I'm not to WIP point yet, still in development.

    I totally vote for calling it a mash-up crossover. My thing is shapeshifters meet Sliders and they're hiding out in the Colorado Rockies.

  2. We have a Beast of Essex - there are supposedly big cat sightings all over the UK, usually thought to be escaped private pets. Again, the dubious film work makes it hard to be sure what it is. Last year there was a huge scare over the Essex Lion - turned out to be a rather large marmalade domestic cat, though how anyone could have thought it was really a lion I don't know. We have a zoo right here in Colchester, so it could happen, but even with the grainy picture posted, it didn't look like a lion to me. Of course, it led to much ridicule of Essex intelligence. :/
    As for a definition - thinking purely along the lines of an escaped scientific creation, that's pretty much the theme of Frankenstein surely? So I would call it SF, perhaps with a paranormal element. Technically, I suppose I *could* call Keir a SFR/PNR crossover, since Keir is referred to as a demon and cursed. But as the reader learns, there's a scientific reason for him being the way he is... I hate having to label a story. Since you can't tag titles on Amazon any more, I guess the main category definition is all you (or your publisher) has to worry in terms of where to put it on the virtual bookshelves.

  3. Hmm bigfoot - a bit like Nessie - might be such a thing, who knows?
    I agree with Pippa on the classification. It's so hard to label stories. You'll never please everyone!
    Lovely pics, Laurie. What a super commute - even if it is a long way!

  4. Hmm bigfoot - a bit like Nessie - might be such a thing, who knows?
    I agree with Pippa on the classification. It's so hard to label stories. You'll never please everyone!
    Lovely pics, Laurie. What a super commute - even if it is a long way!

  5. The reason for the double post is the damn word recognition. I did it five times!

  6. Did it first time then - oh damn got to do it again now. I will stop., honest.

  7. @Barbara LOL I don't mind, really! The more comments the merrier, right? :)

    @Rachel I'd say your Shapeshifters meet Sliders premise also falls in the PNR/SFR gray area. But the more I think about it, maybe that's a good thing. Might lure more than a few PNR fans to the "dark side."

    @Pippa Ewww, the Beast of Essex gives me chills, in a Hound of the Baskervilles sort of way. We've had the occasion big cat sightings here too, and many are believe to be Jaguars that come in from Mexico--as if Mountain Lions aren't enough to worry about, Jaguars are TWICE their size!

    It's kind of ironic that I grew up with a "Bigfoot" legend--actually an injured individual the locals called "Slewfoot," who reportedly walked with a limp and whose tracks could be identified by his unique imprint. (Slewfoot will even have a mention in my WIP.) But the habitat difference between the dense northern Michigan forests and the desert/mountain terrain of New Mexico is about as opposite as two eco systems can be. If these beasties do exist, they're highly adaptable.

  8. @Barbara (again) Forgot to tell you about my drive to work. Yes, it's a very relaxing and picturesque commute. My route is up a designated Scenic Highway called the Turquoise Trail. It follows an ancient (possibly 3,000 year old) trading trail that the Pre-Columbian Kokopelli himself is believed to have traveled when he brought parrots and other exotics from Mexico and Central America to trade with the Anasazi for turquoise and other local valuables. The same route was later used by Spanish and American settlers searching for turquoise, salt, gold, and later, coal.

  9. As Spock would say, Laurie, "Fascinating!" And great pics! Easy to see why the creature would pick those mountains to hang out in! I remain dubious, however, especially if the "reality" shows are involved.

    As for the SFR vs. PNR thing, no matter what you called your story, your editor/publisher would no doubt want to market it as PNR. Just look what they do to sell Nalini Singh's PsyChangling series, even though that is clearly SFR. (There's a scientific basis for everything in it.) Not a bad thing, just reality.

    And, Barbara, I'm feeling you, because I tried to comment via my iPad this weekend but was defeated by the word recognition stuff. I got a message to do something with cookies, but I have no idea how to do that on the iPad. So y'all just had to wait with baited breath for my words of wisdom. ;)

  10. Re: labeling: Like Donna said, with a mainstream print publisher you might not have a choice. With an epublisher, you'll be able to give them tags for metadata, so you could provide multiple descriptions and they'll most likely be fine with how you describe the story.

    But when it comes to how you personally market it, you can describe it as you see fit (e.g., terms used on your Web site).

    One reason Linnea Sinclair made such an impact was her dogged commitment to educating readers about the SFR label and how she thought it captured her books. Despite the "SF" label on the spine, she made sure readers knew about the SFR aspect.

    The key question for me in this case: is the setting technology-based or paranormal-based? If technology, then the label SFR (with paranormal elements) would apply--organically speaking.

    I'm not "hearing" you say the entity was born of scientific research *and* some kind of paranormal force. The story seems to clearly dictate a science-based setting. How characters interpret the phenomenon is something else altogether, although I can see how a PNR perception of the creature could impact the marketing label.

    And there are plenty of PNR-SFR hybrids, so your story wouldn't be alone.

  11. Donna, I suspect you're probably right about "Chimera" getting the PNR label, and I'm totally okay with that. Maybe some of our PNR-labeled-but-SFR-at-heart stories will draw more readers in from the PNR ranks to sample some more SFR (and get hooked, of course).

  12. @Heather This "entity" (for lack of a better word) is difficult to define. If you've ever seen the old Johnny Quest animated TV series, it's along the lines of the "energy monster" but it manifests from a very different source. Its creation is the result of a branch of science but the "entity" itself I think would be considered more PN than SF by most (at least with current standards), so it's one of those questions that's hard to answer.

    I'll go with PNR/SFR Hybrid for now. I like that. :)

  13. Lol, I never thought of the Beast of Essex in terms of the Hound of the Baskervilles. O.o


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