Archived Writer's Notebook Messages

From January 20, 1997 to February 13, 1997

Deb Borys Sat Feb 8 12:09:03 PST 1997

Accountability, that's the key. Something Ben said triggered this idea. I vow that everytime I sit down to work on my writing I will log on to this page and make that announcment to everyone. If after a period of time, you all see that I have not "checked" in nearly as much as I should have--a relative choice, I realize, let each choose their own--feel free to call me on the carpet, either publically, or by private e-mail.

I also vow that if I decide this is a really stupid idea, I give myself permission to post a notice that I recind the above vow. Feel free to call me on the carpet for that one, too, should it occur. (It might not make any difference, but at least you will have been free to express your opinion.)

Let this not be a burden to you. If two months from now, I haven't sent any notice at all saying I am working on my writing, and no one here has tweaked my conscious about it, I promise not to fly into a huff and declare you are not the kind of friends I should be spending my time with. Deal?

That said, I am NOT going to have time to work on my writing today, because I have the church bulletin to get out, twenty pages to type for someone who's already paid me, and a symphony to go to tonight. But I will consider all of these occupations indirectly related to my field of interest--the art of writing.

Bye all.

Ben Woestenburg Sat Feb 8 05:45:55 PST 1997

Girlie Swot? (I still don't know what the heck that's supposed to mean) Congratulations on having come to a decision. If something makes you change your mind that many times, or you worry yourself sick over it, it just isn't worth it, is it? Of course, I don't have those sort of problems. My biggest question for the day would be something like: If I push that pile of chips, will the whole thing fall down and bury me? Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. But at least you did the sensible thing, and let someone else make the choice for you. Next to flipping a coin, that's the best way of doing it. You'll have your picture on the back cover and huge placards inside the stores claiming they have you for a book signing, so what's the big deal, right? As long as you're comfy/cozy with the decision it doesn't matter.

So now, on to the business at hand. I had written in here last night, but for some reason I went to scroll up to the top of the page for something, missed the little button and hit another icon, and lost everything. So I'm pretty well doing it over again.

I have toi work Overtime again today -- I told you guys I was a slut didn't I? -- well anyway, because I've got next week off I thought I'd better try to get as much time in as I could. Of course, having a full week off I sort of thought I'd be able to spend a lot of time at the keyboard...Uh-uh. My wife was kind enough to tell Manni (this is his computer I'm sure we all remember by now), and he said: Great, I'm going to work his ass off doing the drywalling in the house. So there we have it. I get a week off because I have to take a certain amount of holidays, and she puts me to work because she thought it was the thing to do. I don't mind, I'd feel guilty if I didn't help him, and it just means that I'll be getting up at 5:00 still so I can get something done before I have to go to his place. The good thing about it is that I'm actually waking up earlier than 5:00 most days. In fact, I woke up at 4:00 today, but rolled over and went back to sleep and then opened my eyes exactly 55 minutes later and turned off the alarm clock. I haven't used it more than twice in the last three weeks.

I watched a show last night called: A FORTUNATE LIFE, based on the story of an Australlian at the turn of the century. It was fantastic. Makes me want to go out and find the book. I'm sure Phillip and Kim are familiar with it. What a great story!

T.J.: I had written something long and elaborate for you last night, but I lost it and can't recall exactly what it was I had said. I was something about trying to find the proper balance between character and plot, and that you had to use dialogue to move the story ahead -- but you probably already knew that -- and not to rely as heavily on narration as you would the interaction between characters, blah, blah, blah...and then I added the fact that I was unpublished and that anything I had to say didn't amount to a hill of beans as far as your writing was concerned, because the thing about criticism is that you don't have to accept it. You weed out what you think might be constructive to the story, or DE-structive to the plot or character. It's never a slight against the writer, but the storyline. Some people take it all with a grain of salt, and some people sulk over it for hours, or even days I'll bet. Personally, I could care less if someone likes what I write or not, because you can't please all of the people all of the time. So I just try to please myself. I'm my #1 fan, and if what I write doesn't appeal to me, it doesn't leave me. Simple as that. When I do let it go, I'm will to look at all aspects of everyone's criticism and see how it fits into what I had in mind in the first place. As a result, I'm rethinking "Cindy and her Sisters", a short story I had written and happily shared with as many people here that I could. Some were able to retrieve it, others weren't. I'm not too good at this computer stuff yet, but I'm learning fast.

Has anybody heard from Bob lately? Mr. Hanford where are you? Your son has a computer store and you can't sneak in to use one of his floor models every once in a while?

Okay, I have to go re-work a page or so, and then get ready for work. Going to a friend's after for dinner and hockey, as well as drinks and pool (the table kind), so I won't be back until tomorrow, bright and early!


Britomart Fri Feb 7 12:58:39 PST 1997

Dear Everyone

Thanks so much for all your advice and help. I changed my mind so many times, I felt so sick about it all - I finally decided to call my agent and let her decide. After all, I pay her so that I can get on with the job of writing, right? The literary community is very different over here in Australia, with Australian "literary" fiction outselling Australian "popular" fiction by a large margin. It's very hard for Australian genre writers to get any respect at all, and we decided that it would just undermine my credibility further if I were the pretty girl on the cover. So I'm not flying off to Sydney to be put up in a fancy hotel and have my picture taken looking like a million dollars. *sigh* I have the best problems.

Welcome to all the new-comers. TJ - if you have a problematic bit of prose, just drop it in the workbook and direct everyone's attention to it. We're all jolly nice people (aren't we folks?)

Philip: are you amused by the latest Helen D scandal? I swear, that girl is mad as a cut snake.

Charles: I didn't know that was a pseudonym. What are some of the disadvantages? I thought about taking a pseudonym (mainly because W is such an unpropitious initial, putting me on the bottom shelf at most book stores), but decided in the end that I wanted to see my name on the book, or else it was all not worth it. Thoughts anyone?

Bye now!
ME xxx

tj hudson netscape Fri Feb 7 10:48:36 PST 1997

I've been looking for fellow writers' criticism and enthusiasm about writing for awhile. I'm glad I found this page and I'll return here with my hangups and problems. But right now my main problem is I am currently writing a character based novel and I need some candid opinions about the plot and character. I could use some help. I know I'm new and no one knows me but I'd appreciate all the contructive criticism anyone would be willing to give. Thanks

Jack Beslanwitch Thu Feb 6 17:57:18 PST 1997

I've added a logo to the biography page and there is now a link to Philip's Sweet Water-Stolen Land to If anyone else has a book let me know. The single requirement apparently is an ISBN number. I checked to see if I could find any of Charle's and came up empty. Maybe in a couple of months. And, last but not least, I'm going to be adding updated links to Writer's Resources. Not a lot, but a few. A short breathing spell and then back to writing. I really appreciate being able to come here and unwind. Take care all.

Charles Samuel Thu Feb 6 11:33:29 PST 1997

BRITOMART: I think that this struggle of "self promotion" vs "privacy" is a real one and don't take it lightly. It is something that I struggle with daily since I write under a pseudonym. With almost everyone I meet, I have to make a decision whether I want to reveal to them that I am the author of two books or not. It is still my choice. One of my books has become a bestseller locally and "Charles Samuel" has become sort of a folk hero in a large segment of the English-speaking population.

I admit that it is a thrill to walk into a bookstore anywhere in the country and see my book on display on the bestseller table between Ludlum and Clancy...or even in the window! On the other hand, I'm glad it's not my real name popping off the cover of the book in huge foil-stamped embossed letters. I don't know how good that is for the ego.

In my "day job" I have had the privelege to spend time with a number of mega-international celebrities and personalities and their families when they were supposed to be on "private" vacations. It wasn't pleasant for the celebrity to be constantly stared at by strangers or stopped for autographs. It was even more unpleasant for the children of the celebs who were supposed to be having special time with Dad. It was really very sad... and as much as the kids loved having such an important parent, underneath there was a lot of resentment.

That being said, today, there is really no other way to really make it as an author than to PROMOTE, PROMOTE, PROMOTE. I want to thank Kitty for sending the wonderful article from the NY Times that spells this out explicitly. It is no longer a big problem getting a book into print. The trick is getting people to notice that "verticle half-inch" in the bookstore. It must be done by getting reviews in papers, radio interviews and talk-show appearances, etc. Jacqueline Suzanne was the pioneer in this field. She became a mega-author when she and her husband made a conscious effort to turn HER into a celebrity. She did all the late-night talk shows and from the word 'go' dressed and acted the part of a celebrity. It worked.

Anyway, this discussion is pretty academic. If you make it into the 'international bestseller' crowd, (which based on the jump start you've had you very well could become) you will be a celebrity anyway. Unless of course you check into a hotel under a pseudonym. (I have a friend who has to do that when he comes to Jerusalem). So really, is there a big difference between using a pseudonym on a book cover and using a pseudonym in a hotel register to get some privacy? ;)

SHERRIE: Keep up that pace! Let's see a posting of how many words you've done at least once a week. I'm so excited for you that you've past the half way mark.

BEN: Thanks for the feedback again. Also, I can't thank you so much for the inspiration to get up at 5:00. Part of the reason I haven't been around here is because I've been writing so much. I managed to get to write five chapters this week! (the secret is to write really short chapters..) However I've skipped over the flashback scenes because I'm still waiting for some feedback from from a couple of others. I really appreciate your feedback and BRITOMART'S as well.

JACK: Congratulations on getting the first chapter out. It's all downhill from here.

PHOEBE: Welcome aboard.

PHILIP: I hope you're amassing some great experiences and vignettes to share with us. We miss your wisdom.


Sherrie Thu Feb 6 07:56:01 PST 1997

Thanx, Jack.

Jack Beslanwitch Wed Feb 5 23:39:37 PST 1997

Hello Everyone: Just emailed off first chapter and can take a long slow deep breath and look around and maybe get around to start setting up the links to people's books on Amazon.

Britomart: I agree with Deb and everyone else that your cover will benefit from having your face on it :-).

Sherrie: You are ever so much braver than I am. To touch those emotions and those pains, well, the scars are not scarred enough yet for me.

Take care.

Sherrie Wed Feb 5 20:46:14 PST 1997

Sometimes it isn't worth it. In order to write it, I have to touch what I know of it . . . revisit it . . . and it's so very pleasant, the cool air of a Wyoming summer night, the thunder of Steppenwolf, and Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, and the tailpipe rumble and clickity lifters of that metallic blue SS396. The shimmer of his blond hair--too long for high school, but not long enough for my fingers. He sang along with ELP and made me laugh and owned my every breath. And I loved him so. Ever since. Until. Still. But he's gone. I hear a Chevelle memory twenty years old . . . and cry a grief fourteen months my companion.

And I don't think I want to do this anymore. Please. No more.

Deb Borys Wed Feb 5 05:52:07 PST 1997

See what happens when you sleep. I checked this page before going to bed and there was nothing new. This morning--gads of stuff!

BEN: Yes, this page can be addictive, as is indicated by the fact that I am reading and writing here instead of eating breakfast when I have to leave for work in ten minutes.

BRITTOMART: Ditto on everyone's comments. Kitty has it right. As for being uncomfortable, I wouldn't think your face on the front cover should be that much more strange than seeing it on the back or insde, which is often the case, and a painting will be even less true to life than a photo.

Got to go, sorry for any typos. Maybe I'll check in again on my lunch hour and give you more.


Ben Woestenburg Tue Feb 4 21:47:43 PST 1997

KITTY! So good to hear from you again, and I can totally relate to what you've got going. I sent you my first chapter just for the heck of it. Read it at your leisure.

BRITTOMART: I have to agree with Kitty on this one. You've got the looks, so why not go for it. What an experience it would be for you as well! A lot nicer than some of the life experiences I've had! I can understand your reluctance to want to do it, but like Kitty said, they usually change the face a little. As the author, you would have a say in what you wanted it to look like wouldn't you? After all, it is your likeness they're using. It's not like you'd be posing for Playboy or anything like that. I suggest you check it out. Think of all the clothes you could buy with the extra money, and it sure would make that trip to England a lot easier.

LISA S. Guns 'n Roses is blaring on the radio beside me. 'Patience'. That's the key word. Somewhere I read, or heard, that if you just write one page a day, after a year, it's a book. I took it to heart, and set a higher page count, thinking I could write a bigger book that that -- because I like big, fat books -- and then discovered that most of what I wrote would have to be chopped anyway. I also learned writing was something you don't really lose. I used to draw a lot of pictures when I was a kid. I can still draw Spiderman for the kids if I have to, but I'm out of practice and he doesn't look as good as he used to. But it's still there. Not having written anything for two years is nothing. A walk in the park from over here. I lost pretty close to a decade in my twenties by screwing around on the wild side of life. You just have to give yourself the time to write. And simply write. Constantly after a while. You'll get more than enough inspiration from the people on this page. Nobody trashes anybody, and when someone gets lost, we try to find them and call them back. Sometimes they come back, and sometimes they don't. Stick around for a while and you'll see what I mean.

PHOEBE: Come on in the water's fine. I don't know what to do with the bios anymore, but I'm Jack will be able to tell you what to do when he gets back. As for U.R.L.'s and all that stuff, I know nothing. I just type in my e mail address and everything just takes care of itself. Oh, oh, and by the way, this page can be addictive! Look at me. I'm supposed to be working right now on my chapter, but I'm here playing with you! But I like it here.

STEVE: I haven't had a chance to talk to you yet, and I have to tell you that I'm sorry I can't net up with you because I've only got a couple of weeks left on this computer. The house is almost finished. In fact, I had to take some time off from work because of outstanding holidays, and now the guy that owns this computer, Manni, says that he's going to put me to work in his house helping him with the drywalling. and painting. Lucky me! But at least I know he'll let me come over anytime I want and use this thing, so I won't be as out of touch as I thought I would be. Instead of reading these things on a daily basis though, it'll be down to once a week or so. Summertime should be better though, because they also put a pool in, and it should be ready by May. Penguins by the pool! Anybody ever tried a Penguin? Great little drinks...and no, I don't have a drinking problem, but it's something I've been working on for a number of years!

SHERRIE: Sorry, as much as I'd like to meet with everybody somewhere on some island in the South Pacifac, impossible right now. House payments are up to my eyeballs and it's hard to catch a breath, let alone see over them. But if anyone ever wants to come out this way and see Vancouver, the drinks are on the house!

So now I have to go and set up my next chapter for the morning. Bedtime in about another hour, and then up and at 'em bright and early in the morning. They asked me if I wanted to come in to work tomorrow at 5:30 a.m. but I had to decline. Bills or no bills, I try not to give up my morning hours for anything. If I'm going to be up that early, it certainly isn't to drag myself down to the mill for forty bucks. I told my boss that if he wanted, I'd phone everyone to make sure they were awake, I'm up anyway.

Sherrie Tue Feb 4 21:33:56 PST 1997

BRITOMART: My goodness! What news! To answer your question . . . ARE YOU CRAZY? YES!
I think. I don't know, you don't strike me as the timid type, even if you are shy (they're different attributes), and you are attractive (I mean, they asked you, didn't they?). So go for it.
But Kitty's advice was sound; if you aren't already feeling the winds of going public, you will. I am. I've already heard from area writers who want to know what magic formula I used to get published. Bugs me, because I tend to be private anyway. When I was in radio, a groupie, kind of an odd sort, not only found out my real name (I broadcast under a pseudonym, and no one, but no one, at the station would have given out that info), but he acquired Harry's name too and had the audacity to phone me at home. Scared the daylights out of me. Since then, we moved and my new address has never appeared in the phone book. Since I got these recent calls, I've unlisted my phone number again. Now I'm holding off on having my letterhead printed until I can figure out what to do for an address. May go to a post office box.
I just prefer a wide perimeter and a little taller wall than most people, I guess. My friends know how to find me.
Anyway, do consider that. It will probably be bigger than you anticipate. But then, depending on the style of the cover, most readers may not realize it's you--until they meet you at a book signing.
KITTY: Great tranquilizer for Brit. Good to hear from you again.
PHILIP: Aren't you becoming the gad-about? I'm so very envious. Do you need a valet? I figure I probably have enough enxperience with men's clothes. ;-)
CHARLES: Received you transmission. Tomorrow. I promise.
TRISH: Where are you?
EVERYONE: As for my progress, I have 46,800 words, and the story is advancing so very . . . FUN-ly. Should be signing contracts this week or next, and Kathy slipped in a little tidbit I didn't know about--and the publisher agreed. I have final option on the titles and cover designs for both books! Yahoo! 'Course, I don't get my picture on the front. Probably don't get it on the back. Or inside. But, I can have a little say about what the books I'll be autographing look like and are called by. That's enough; more than I expected or dared to ask.
I just bought a new ergonomic keyboard (I'm burning out my wrists, but Colin won't let me slow down). It has a touchpad instead of a mouse. Craaazzyyy. Takes a little getting used to, but I have to say I like it. And it lessens the strain on my mousing shoulder. If anyone has considered these, but hesitated, don't. They're okay.
See ya! Bye!

Kitty Tue Feb 4 20:31:22 PST 1997

For those who didn't catch the tell tale clue "y'all" at the end of my anonymous poste, it was me typing on the fly and trying to do three things at once. Oh, and I do know how to spell "estimate." If there were any other typos, I'm to tired to see them. It is time for bed, cocoa, and a good book. Catch y'all later.

Tue Feb 4 17:25:58 PST 1997

Britomart take a deep breath and don't hyperventilate! Are they suggesting a photograph of you in a perilous position on the cover or, the more probable, using you as the female model for the painting from which the cover is taken? If the former, I can see your reservations. You don't want your legion of fans seeing you as the main character in your book. However, if it is the latter, be flattered and realize that this is an excellent marketing hook. First of all you are an attractive woman--so why not be the model? Just make sure you get a modeling fee or whatever it is book cover models get (yes, there are men and women who build careers posing for book covers--and artists who spend the lucrative portion of their careers painting book covers). Don't forget, it will be a painting, a close likeness but not exact--no one will be able to stare into the painted woman's eyes and see the mirror of your soul. You strike me as the adventurous type so think of it as a lark and go for it! Secondly, this is excellent as a marketing strategy. I can see an interviewer leaning toward you and asking, "So, Miss Britomart, is it true that you posed for the cover of your novel?" Now depending on how provocative the cover is, this would be an excellent opening to promote, promote, promote that book! Never underestimartte the power of a bookcover. You have to get the buyer to pick the darn things up before you can thrill and chill them with your story. This is all part and parcel of the package which is geared toward selling that book. When you go to the bookstore you can see how genre authors often have book covers that, within a series, are done by the same artist or in the same style. It makes for quick recognition. As to being uncomfortable seeing yourself on the cover... Most novels, even paperbacks, now have a photo and short bio of the author on the inside back cover. Readers, especially in genre fiction, like to "know" something about the writer. They can be very loyal. I think more than panicking over seeing yourself on the cover of your book, you may want to think about how you will handle being a "public person," which as a soon to be published author, you are. Perhaps Philip and Charles, who are further down that path can offer some advice and perspective.
Ben, I'm here, but trying to be disciplined and work on some editing. I have about six chapters waiting for a second draft and my discretionary time is very limited. I've popped the shrimp recipe and the Wall Street Journal article in the mail for you and Renu.
Welcome to the newcomers. Read the archives and jump write (ha! couldn't resist) in!
Sherrie, glad to see your maintaining your sense of humor!
Hi de hey, hi de ho! y'all, back to work. I'm inspired by the diligence of the Notebook gang!

Britomart Tue Feb 4 14:27:55 PST 1997

HELLLLP!!!! I had an e-mail from my editor this morning about the cover art for my book, and they've proposed to use me as the cover model. I'm profoundly uncomfortable about this - going into a bookshop and seeing your book is one thing, but going into a bookshop and seeing multiple copies of your face is quite another. Suggestions please! I'm completely gobsmacked by it all! HELP MEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!

Philip Tue Feb 4 04:22:15 PST 1997

HELLO EVERYONE: I really find it more difficult to get here these days, the twenty or so minutes I need to contribute something worthwhile is all but impossible. I may have to settle for less.

Great to read the most recent postings. Welcome to newcomers, I hope to get to know you all in time.

The good news keeps on coming: I'm off to New Zealand tomorrow for five days: I've been invited to attend an international arts celebration in Rotorua as Australia's literature representative. I understand writers, artists and performers are invited from most Pacific Ocean rim countries. While there I will do readings from my work and take part in literature discussion panels. More later when I have the program in my hands.

JACK: I certainly have no objection to you establishing a book sales referral business from your site to Amazon Books, I am sorry not to have visited earlier to say so. I still get my $1.50 (10%) whoever is involved in the sales process. As I said before here, each sale just about buys me a cup of coffee, so I'm happy.

Back soon - Philip.

Ben Woestenburg Mon Feb 3 05:28:34 PST 1997

Hi Guys. Just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in. Now I don't know about you girls, but personally, I thought that thing that Trish wrote was a peice of FICTION. Unless everyone's reading something between the lines that I can't see, or I have the S.M.D. (Stupid Man Disease), but I didn't think Trish was really pregnant. And if she is, I hope she names the kid after me!

I'd like to welcome everybody new here with a big howdy, and wish I had more time to say something, but I have to start work an hour earlier today. (I'm just an overtime slut I guess -- or else broke).

I wonder where Kitty's been lately. Miss your wonderful insight there girl.

I gotta go now though, I've got a new chapter calling out for me, and lots of things to destroy!

Britomart Mon Feb 3 02:31:14 PST 1997

Hey everyone, I'm baaaack - which can mean only one thing - yes that's right, I finished chapter two. Phew! I'm glad that's over. I've been pretty worried about the "follow-up" novel. While it's great being published, you have to put up with all these other secondary worries.

I had to give a little talk at a writers' group thingy yesterday, and I got asked lots o'questions about my writing and publication and everything. I felt quite special, helped along by my pretty frock which I bought for the occasion.

Damnit! I've broken a fingernail!

Okay folks, looks like I came back too late for the character vs plot debate, but my two cents worth is that plot comes first, but doesn't get off the ground til you've got the characters. Just common sense really. Okay, I'm going to bed. Goodnight all!


Lisa Nickles Sun Feb 2 13:09:24 PST 1997

Okay, I feel silly now... Nlast post was mine.

Sun Feb 2 13:07:47 PST 1997

DEB: Beautifully stated note to Lisa S. If you want to take a writing class for movtivation, from central Illinois, you may want to consider U of I Champaign-Urbana, or maybe Easters Illinois University. (I used to live out that way.) A fresh location can provide an amount of motivation, but it is only one (somewhat expensive)option. I find talking with children and/or other writers motivational. Also, reading over some of my older works often makes me want to write. I frequently spend time just daydreaming about this or that which sometimes gives me ideas that will not take "later" as an answer.

LISA: I think that the writing gift never truly goes away, but sometimes your system has to draw on that enery to get through whatever. It may leave you feeling creatively dry for a while, (which is highly unnerving) but eventually you pick up the pen again. Do you truly think that such an integral part of you personality can be wiped away so easily? I've been there enough times to know what that hole feels like, but I always walked away a better writer for it.

TRISH: Congratulations! Keep fresh lemons in the house. The smell is helpful in combating morning sickness. (Been there, done that...)

Phoebe Frank Sun Feb 2 12:26:28 PST 1997

How do I join? Give you a bio? Oh oh oh, what about that URL thing? Do I got one? Is it addictive? I'm sorry, but my http, html, & URL are still fuzzy in my mind.

Phoebe Frank

Deb Borys Sun Feb 2 12:08:02 PST 1997

LISA S: Been there, done that, survived. Boy, can I identify with your sentiments. At least twice in my life I've asked the same question--what happened to the writer that was me? I also was terrified she was gone forever. It felt like a missing limb sort of. Usually this happened due to major life traumas that left me with no energy other than that needed to put one foot in front of the other. But you know what I discovered after I looked back on this recurring waking nightmare? Each time I came back to writing, and each time I came back better--more depth, better ideas, great prose. My experience and that of others who have been there also leads me to this firm belief: if you are writer enough to feel there is something missing when you're not writing, then you will write again when the time is right. I think probably there is a part of you processing life in your subconscious right now, preparing for the day when some mood will strike you, or some sight or sound inspire you and the words will come.

BEN: Right now I think I am trying to balance both worlds--write what I want and write what there's a market for. In other words, I've picked a market that I enjoy writing and am focusing on that. Luckily, suspense/mystery is a market that's pretty ongoing, but the practical side of my brain tells me romance is probably where it's at. Unfortunately, I read so many of them while I was in a romance roll, that I am thoroughly sick to death of them now and have no desire to write one. I'm not sure where I would direct my energies if what I wanted to write was something that had little or no market value. I'd probably try to do some of each, if I could--write more market- directed pieces so that the reputation I earned would make the unmarketable stuff more likely to find an audience. Does that make sense? I definitely would not be able to write solely to a market. But I would try to find a compromise that would not test my integrity.

Lisa Schweizer Sun Feb 2 11:37:01 PST 1997

Happy Groundhog Day.

I found this page through a search of the net and am delighted to do so. It occurred to me recently that I have felt lost lately, and I came to the conclusion that the fact that I haven't written anything that wasn't a term paper for two years has finally caught up with me.

Now I'm terrified and am afraid I've thrown away a gift I may never find again. I sit down to write occasionally and I hate what comes up on the screen, if anything does at's old, trite stuff. Just plain awful. I sound like an angst ridden wanna-be high school poet.

Any suggestions or just plain encouragement would be helpful.

Ben Woestenburg Sun Feb 2 09:00:29 PST 1997

Good morning, and it certainly is. I hear it's still winter, though I'm not counting it out now, but we've been hitting double digit numbers on the Celcius scale for the last few days, with lots of sun and just small smatterings of rain. We had a terrible rainstorm last week with lots of flooding and the usual consequences -- like six inches of rain in about six hours in some places (that's about forty or so mm Brito). But the last three days have been quite comfortable.

But enough bragging about the weather. SHERRIE emailed me to tell me I haven't been here for a while, which is not true. I've been monitoring everything that's been going on, and while I haven't always had as much to say as I have in the past, I'm still here. I actually slept in this morning, and boy did that feel good. I went to bed last night at about 11:00 because I was wiped right out, and woke up at 5:00, but rolled over and told myself, hey, it's Sunday. I think I needed the extra couple of hours. Everybody else is still asleep because they were over at the neighbours and didn't get home until later, way later.

I'm on the tenth chapter of my book now, reading and actually enjoying it. I find that I don't have to make as many changes as I had to in the beginning of the story, and I think it's because I found the groove. It helps a lot when you walk away from something for a while and let it sit in the drawer. There's always something else that needs to be done. ROBIN HOOD had been put to the side while I worked on my short stories, and now I'm back to working on it while I'm at my job -- although it's not always easy to hide when you're sitting on a ten ton machine, I still manage. I've settled into a routine, which is something I'd been missing in my life.

I asked my wife to pick up a copy of WRITER'S DIGEST the last time she was at the store, and there was an interview with this guy -- can't remember what his name is -- David Baldaci (had to go and check it), who wrote a book called ABSOLUTE POWER. They're calling him an overnight sensation. He says he spent ten years writing it, and wrote over ten thousand pages. I cut the lead for the story out, and his picture -- of course my wife thinks he's an absolute dream, a real honey -- and hung it above my desk. Ten years and ten thousand pages. The interviewer asked why it took so long, and he said exactly what I've been telling myself. He was learning to write the story as much as he was learning to write. He did the same thing I did, up early, to bed late, and wrote as much as he could, whenever he could. I still believe writing is not something someone can actually teach you, but something you have to learn through trial and error. You have to find your own style, and what suits you. You write what you want to read first, and then think about if there's a market for it later. I know, I know, you can always write for a market and try and sell it to a magazine or publisher by giving them what you want, but iis it what YOU want? Any comments on that? It's like the chicken and the egg question. This guy made 5 million bucks, not that I would ever dream of getting that kind of a pay off, but hey, it's an inspiring kind of a story. I began writing when I was a kid, sent a poem to the Queen and got a reply, thought I'd be rich and famous by the time I was twenty-one. Now I'm thrity-eight, and life hasn't been quite the way I thought it would. I don't let it bother me though. Nothing gets me down anymore.

So now I have to go and turn on MY computer, check out and see if I can get a page or two done before I have to get breakfast going, and then try and finish it off later tonight. I'm going over to a friend's later who has a few boxes of books she wants me to go through -- hard cover no less -- and I can't wait. She's supposed to get rid of them for a friend of hers, and rather than take them to a second hand store, she thought of me!

Jack Beslanwitch Fri Jan 31 16:12:44 PST 1997

Got word back via email that has made me part of their program. What I'm going to suggest is that we continue to upgrade the biography page and add the links under or as part of our biographies. If people out there have titles they would like links made to, please let me know via email. I'll be away for part of the weekend, but I'll get to them as soon as I can. Take care and have a wonderful weekend.

Steve Moody Fri Jan 31 11:40:42 PST 1997

My perspective of life is that it is a grand and wondrous
journey. Each of us are travelers journeying a diffrent
road each heading towards their own destiney. The road
often is fraught with its own share of challenges, triumps
tragedies, and joys. There are great mountain top victories
and dark valley setbacks. Each faces the twists and turns
in their own way and learns from the experience. Each
carries with them a treasure trove of stories, lessons
learned and memories.

Sometimes as we journey, our paths cross, or merge, and for
a time we share with others the battles we have fought,
the victories that we have won, and the stories of the
journey. For a season we listen to the other, we share
in their battles, and we are enriched by it. For
a time we call them friend, and their laughter fills our
days, and their friendship our souls.
We walk together and share the journey, each drawing
strength from the other. Then all too soon our paths once
again diverge and we bid our companions a fond
farewell and good journey as we head down our solitary
road. We think back often and smile remembering the
companionship, remembering the sharing, and sometimes
when the storm is high, and the night dark, these memories
are our candle of hope.

Well our roads have crossed, and for a season we are
heading the same way, will you share some of your
journey with me?

I am looking for some writer pals to correspond with
via email. If you are interested, in sharnig a little
of the journey with me ...till our paths
also diverge, please write me at

Sherrie Fri Jan 31 07:17:56 PST 1997

DEB: I'm with you. Jonnie ALWAYS has these complicated, convoluted plots that just roll out of her brain. I struggle. But then, what I get never arrives in a whole serving, either. Even now, at nearly half through the first draft of AIRWAVES, I have absolutely no idea how the darn thing is going to end. Guess Colin and Emily will tell me what I need to know, when I need to know it.
CHARLES: No big surprise that you prefer plot novels; it's a GUY thing. Guys are plot people, gals are people people . . . generally. It's the action movie versus the rlationship thing.
Two pages? I could slice off that much time. Send away.
LISA: You probably missed Trish's last entry. She wrote a little blurb about checking the stick on her in-home pregnancy test and finding it positive. The writing was a little understated (and it helped to already know Trish a little), but I prefer "subtle" writing; hate to have my intelligence insulted by being hit over the head with something I'm perfectly capable of deciphering for myself.
TRUDY: Thanx for the page address. Found a neat site for sending electronic post cards. Cool. Will explore more, later.
EVERYONE: Now that the snows are falling and we're getting to know each other so well, I'm thinking we ought to once again entertain the idea of a union (can't "reunion," since we haven't "unioned"). As Philip requested, I'll bring the boat. Start saving your pennies; let's plan on January 1998. I selected the time; someone else pick a place, and we'll all just do the best we can to get there. Can we, huh? Can we?

Deb Borys Fri Jan 31 06:40:34 PST 1997

TOPIC OF THE TIMES: After Reading comments from Charles, it's occurred to me that while what comes first often varies for me (sometimes I have a plot idea, sometimes I have a character) my stories are primarily character driven. Probably because I feel my strengths are in character development and my weakness is in plots. It's really frustrating to me, actually. I'm always looking for ways to improve my plotting skills. Any suggestions? Or am I cursed with dealing with this handicap for the rest of my writing career?

Charles Samuel Fri Jan 31 03:58:37 PST 1997

I always felt that there were two kinds of novels:

1) Plot novels
2) Character novels

Plot novels are driven by plot and character novels are driven by characters. (Simple, no?) I like to write plot novels. I think the challenge in making a great plot novel is to work hard on developing deep characters. The challenge in making a character novel great is developing a good plot to go along with the people. If anyone is familiar with Meyers-Briggs personality typing, NT's would tend to write plot-driven novels, while NF's would write character-driven stories. SJ's are too responsible and would never take up a career or hobby of writing in the first place ('What a waste of valuable time!'). SP's are too busy having fun and you can never tie them down for more than an hour or two to the keyboard. They might write spurts of short stories or articles on their adventures.

BEN: The chapter is in the email. Looking forward to seeing your chapter.

Would anyone be interested in critiquing a two page chapter of a two thousand year old flashback. I've got about six or more chapters of it to go and I don't want to proceed unless I'm confident the reader will find it believable.

Have a good weekend everybody,


Lisa Nickles Thu Jan 30 19:54:07 PST 1997

JACK: I think you would be hard pressed to get an objection from any of us. In fact, let me know when you have your page set up and I will link it from my website.

TRISH & SHERRIE: What baby news??? What did I miss???

GENERAL TOPIC: 99% of the time plot comes first for me. Every once in a while, I get a character who just rules the plot, but it's rare.
That's not entirely accurate... I often get them together and sort of throw them in a pot to simmer. Have gotten a lot of interesting and creative brews.

trudy Thu Jan 30 15:45:10 PST 1997

Regarding topic under discussion: I started to say the plot always comes first for me, but my one semi serious novel I'm working on now and again actually came about from a character though she and the other main character aren't fully developed yet; they're still growing up I guess; though neither is the plot which keeps getting stronger and stronger as time goes on. My short stories though usually have a very general character beginning with a plot idea. However, I must admit since non-fiction is my area of expertise I don't have a lot to go on...just little tidbits of writing and a few sort of completed short stories.

Also, while I'm here I thought you might all be interested in the following link:

It links to a Canadian page put together in Nova Scotia (province next doo to me in New Brunswick) and has a contest listed for short stories and poetry if anyone's interested in that avenue. It also has a neat classics archive link and some interesting literary links and more. Thought I'd share.

Later all Trudy

Sherrie Wed Jan 29 21:05:50 PST 1997

Nix that. Should read, "What SANE person would ever CHOOSE this???
(It's the oldest rule in radio--always have a damn good outcue. And I blew it.;-( )

Sherrie Wed Jan 29 21:01:26 PST 1997

Forget Mark The Groupie; Sherrie's getting loopie!

Sherrie Wed Jan 29 20:59:58 PST 1997

I'm still chuckling--all you folks (CHARLES & JACK) using seemingly innocent and so very constructive "things" to keep you from writing. Yuck, yuck. NOW!!! GET BACK TO WORK! MUSH! MUSH!
CHARLES: I admit I have thought about perhaps maybe thinking about considering possibly looking into putting chapter one of either NOBLE'S HEALING or AIRWAVES on the Workbook, just so I've had my chance to hang out there in the open, as most of the rest of you have done.
TRISH--which do you think I should post? NH or AIR???
JACK: Love the idea of linking to Amazon. Why in the world not??? That seems the more appropriate question.
BRITOMART: As to your question, I definitely get the characters first--from their boots to their hats. Whole human beings--although I do experience an element of getting to know them (likes, dislikes, history) as I write, so I'm learning right along with the reader. But then, my books are, without a doubt, character driven.
As for the sticky writing--another writer I know described it this way . . . That when we've just come from the editing of the last piece (be it novel, poem, short story, whatever), we were conducting the symphony. Start another, and you have to go back to tuning the instruments. It's the only place to start. But it is . . . painful. Keep at it. I'm in chapter 13, and on the ride. Colin and Emily (my characters) won't let me sleep, rest, or relax; I think I have MPD--Multiple Personality Disorder. Poor Colin is smitten to something of an irregular shape, but Emily won't go out with him because he's her boss and not a Christian. But she is going out with that guy who calls her while she's on the air every night. Mark is his name, but Colin calls him Mark The Groupie and has a bad feeling about him, which turns out to be right, because Mark pulled the coil wire off of Emily's car at the grocery store, disabling it on purpose so he could happen along and be the hero, except Colin saw her first and fixed it and knew it was done deliberately and saw Mark The Groupie drive by in his old red GMC, and the reader knows Mark is really a woman beater, DUI felon who still lives with his mother and . . .ENOUGH OF THAT!
(And the next time somebody tells me they're "thinking about becoming a writer," I'm going to mash down on their little toes. What same person would ever CHOOSE this???)

Ben Woestenburg Wed Jan 29 20:52:55 PST 1997

Jack: I don't have any problems with you making anything off of this website or any other links you can come up with. As far as I'm concerned you deserve as much as you can get for all you've done for us.

As for the plot and character question I don't really know what I did first as far as my book is concerned. I looked for my plot in the history books I was using for research. I more or less chose a period of time that interested me and then studied it. I stumbled across a writer named Tacitus and read him with a hunger. I was able to use what he wrote as a plotline, fleshing out the characters in my own mind, weaving the story I wanted to tell, and connecting them all together. The characters sort of came to life on their own. It was really quite interesting for me.

For short stories, I usually create the character and put him/her into a situation and let what happens, happen. I have a basic idea of what I want to do, or where I want to go, but the story has a tendency to write itself. If I don't like it, I discard it and try again after a few pages -- 200-300 words.

I did the same thing for my poem ROBIN HOOD. I created the story, and let the characters come to life within the paremeters of the setting. Plot came first.(And still does, because I've still got four more poems to write before the end of next month. At least I've started writing again at work.)

So there you have it. Not very organized, and rather haphazard at best, but nobody ever explained that there was another way of doing it.

CHARLES: It's good to have you back with us. Don't worry about getting up at 5:00 in the a.m., it gets easier as time goes on. Now I'm even waking up before the alarm goes off. By summertime, I'm hoping to be up by at least 4:30, if not earlier. It's the best time of the day to write because you know nobody in their right mind would bother you at that time. When I was on afternoon shift, I'd get home at 1:00 and stay up 'til 3:30-4:00 a.m. The only problem I have, is that I still don't think it's enough time for what I want to do. So I write at night after we put the kids to bed. And speaking of bed time, the oldest is going off in another ten minutes, so I'll be able to get another hour or so in and get everything ready for the morning.

Gotta go!

Deb Borys Wed Jan 29 20:47:08 PST 1997

JACK: no objections here. Link away

EVERYONE: Thanks for sharing your inspiration sources. Truth be told, my problem is not really lack of inspiration, when it comes right down to it, but pure, old-fashioned laziness. This page does help--lots! And the bio page helps particularly--thanks, Jack! You make me feel so IMPORTANT. Like maybe I've got to get my writing act in gear to justify the attention.

PHILLIP: I think I understand how you felt connecting with James Kelman. When you get to know, on a personal level, someone you admire, or whose work you appreciate, etc. and realize that he/she is a great person on top of it all, it's inspiring and invigorating.

BEN: I can't remember, did you tell us you submitted your dragon story to somewhere that stated they do not accept simultaneous submissions? Because If they did not, I would send out more queries even if you don't hear from them. I usually send out to five or six at a shot, unless they've requested no simultaneous ( like Omni or Alfred Hitchcock). Then when all but one or two come back--rejected!--it's time to get a new batch going. Sort of automates the process, making the rejections less painful. I would also encourage you to inquire about the story, see where they're at--unless, of course, they said it would take three months to reply. Always give them more time than they state they need.

Got to get to work. I've got four chapters to rewrite so I can submit 60 pages to a writing workshop in Kentucky I want to go to. The deadline is January 31 and here I am two days from that and still not done--procrastination is quite a motivator, if you know what I mean. Everyone keep working, it feeds my energy to see you hard at it.

Jack Beslanwitch Wed Jan 29 20:05:59 PST 1997

I just took a look at the referral form and program. I was wondering what people thought about setting up a page from which we could link people's books. Philip's and Charle's fall into this category, of course. Anybody else? This would mean that I would get referral fee from Amazon. Does anyone object to this? I'm hoping not, but wanted to make sure. I've talked about this before, just moving closer to making a reality.

As far as the chicken or the vs. characters question? That one depends. I've talked at times here about going to Pike Place Market and people watching. Story ideas I generate there tend to start with the characters and the plot grows around them. However, my time travel epic started with a grand conception and the characters sort of pop up in the fertile ground of the plot like mushrooms. Also, I'm just realizing that I'm using the Notebook as an excuse for not writing So, with that, back the grindstone. Take care all.

Britomart Wed Jan 29 13:26:17 PST 1997

The mind is willing but the flesh is weak. Nothing seems to be happening right in chapter two, and my whole experience of writing is a bit different this time because there are deadlines to think about and eventual publication. These things should make me happy I guess, but it's kind of taken the fun out of writing.

Perhaps I'm just hormonal.

Jack/everyone: How about, for a topic of discussion "which comes first - characters or plot"? I don't think it's as simple as it looks. What does everyone think?

I'll go back to chapter two, and I promise I won't come back here until it's finished. Make sure you all hold me to it.

Charles Samuel Wed Jan 29 12:51:38 PST 1997

I couldn't figure out why I was having such a problem working on my novel until I realized that when I wrote the first one, my eldest daughter was nine years old. She's twelve now and the dynamic in the house has totally changed. The evenings are no longer a real option for creative writing. I have been racking my brain for weeks trying to figure out a new routine and then realized Ben has come up with the answer. Yesterday I bit the bullet and went to bed at 10:30pm and was up at 5:00 am to get in two hours of writing. Ben and Sherrie have really been an inspiration to get me back on track. (I was using my search for an agent and publisher as an excuse not to write... I admit it.) Thanks guys. It's good to have some healthy competition. Thank you all for sharing your successes.

BEN: I hope to have the first Roman chapter ready by the end of the week. Thanks for bugging me.

SHERRIE: I am so excited for you. Keep on your roll. I'd love to see some of your stuff.

PHILIP: Thanks for letting us live vicariously through you. It is a tremendous help. Please share with us more details about the festival. I can't understand how you manage to do it all; write, festival, give insightful and caring feedback to all of our work... you are an inspiration and a role model.

JACK: Thanks for everything.

I'd like to send a personal note to all the rest of you but it's past 10:30... bedtime. Discipline, discipline, discipline.

Happy writing.


Jack Wed Jan 29 10:27:07 PST 1997

Glad people like the bios. I think it will be a nice addition. I just wanted to emphasize that the real credit should go to Sherrie for collecting them and sending them my way. Thanks. I can host pictures here, but if you have a link to a pictures at your own site that would be equally desirable.

Also, it's been a while since we had a topic of discussion. If anyone has a suggestion, drop it here and let's see what happens. Good writing everybody.

Sherrie Wed Jan 29 07:52:04 PST 1997

JACK: That bio page is fabulous! What a keen idea; now people who pop in can see who the heck we are. Fun! And I'll be sending along a photo as soon as I can get Son Erik (an award-winning photographer, I'll have you know) to sit still long enough to pose me. I'm thinking of maybe me with one of my quill pens (yes, they're the real thing, thanks to Jonnie :-) ) in hand and me writing . . . on the computer monitor! WHAT? Maybe I should show myself in my natural writing state (sweats, coffee, open dictionary, open Case Logic of CDs, and my two feet of hair up in rollers the size of orange juice cans). Maybe I should be a small figure in a big shot of the background. I ain't nothing to look at, but my office is beautiful!
BEN: Great! Keep chugging. You're a talent. And I know what you mean with the schedule thing. Now that I have a set block of time that I write--nothing intrudes, except "time off"--I'm writing in a frenzy. Like dictation. I was scheduled to have written the first draft between January 12th and May 1st. Well, I already have 37,477 of 90,000 words--nearly half finished, and it isn't even February.
I fire up the computer about 7:30 every morning, pound keys until 11, then change clothes, eat lunch with Harry, and go to my other job (for 4.5 hours). Then I hit it again after dinner, about 7:00, until 10:00 or so. Course, that's an 11-hour work day, but I have a hard time just sitting still. If I try, I plot, plan, and write in my head, anyway; may as well put it on paper. (I'll be dead by the time I'm 60, but I'll have gotten so much done.)

Ben Woestenburg Wed Jan 29 05:08:50 PST 1997

Hello from me! Hey Jack, great jobon the bio-page. First time in my life I've ever been first on an alphabetical list.
I've been working on my novel every mnorning. I'm getting up earlier eveyday. I'm thinking come summer, I should be up by 4:30, or maybe 4:00 a.m. I'm falling asleep at the right time finally too. Last night I fell asleep at about 10:45, so I'm getting plenty of rest and not dropping off on the keyboard. I'm into re-reading and editing my eigth chapter, only eleven more to go on this disk, then it's into disk #2 and back to writing it. I think it's easier to rewrite and edit it as I go along as long as I don't let myself get distracted -- and I've had plenty of those in the last little while. Still no word on my short story about the dream dragon, and I'm wondering if that's a good sign? It's been close to three months. I'm wondering if I should send them a polite e-mail and ask them if the story is in the mail and if I can submit it elsewhere, or are they looking at it for future considerations. Any thoughts? I want to work on "Cindy and her sisters", clean up a few little things some people have noticed and brought to my attention and then send it off to SAFFRON, thet accept long stroies -- thanks Phillip.
Anyway, I have to rush off now. I only have two hours and then it's off to work. At least it didn't snow. Temps are warm again 6c. What a place! -6 one day, and then 6 above the next. Is it any wonder I like the rain?

Jack Beslanwitch Tue Jan 28 23:39:06 PST 1997

   Sherrie: Not to worry. Got things taken care of and like my project editor. So, things should go well.

I've added the biographies to the opening paragraph here and it will remain a fixed feature. I added my biography and a link to a picture of me. If others would like to add theirs or links to webpages, etc., please feel free to email me with them and I'll add them at my leisure. Also, I still think that the idea still might prove useful. Although, did anyone hear that Barnes and Nobles is going to go online with AOL and offer better deals online than in their bookstores.
Take care everyone.

Jonnie Tue Jan 28 15:15:42 PST 1997

Happy Independence Day-one day late- to all you Australia folks!! One of my corp. members is in your great country competing in your air shows. In the fourth day he is 22nd out of 200 contestants. Go, Al.

Sherrie Tue Jan 28 07:32:21 PST 1997

JACK: You bet me to it, buddy. Here I was going to tell everyone you'd surfaced in my e-mail but were under a staggering deadline (20 pages!)--and that we needed to cut you some slack. Shoot, you beat me here! Can't imagine trying to write something so exacting as your present work. I mean, if I bang around between the walls a little, no big deal. You get off center a little, you're going to get letters from irate readers. Lots of them. But don't let my reminding you bring you down . . . (think I just blew it). ;-(
PHILIP: I am so envious. No wonder you're inspired. But you know, that's the cool things about this page Jack provides us. We can, over the miles, meet and talk about this work that isn't so much work, but art . . . the OBSESSION. I get so scared sometimes. I mean, I'll be cashing a check here shortly for work I haven't done yet. Can I produce the product? Can I do it again? PANIC!
. . . I have to, for I can neither back up nor set off. So . . . let's ride the ride! Yahooo!
And only you folks can even begin to understand. Thanx!

Philip Tue Jan 28 03:22:38 PST 1997

HELLO EVERYONE: I see there hasn't been a lot of activity here lately, must mean everyone is occupied writing. Just picking up on the wide range of weather experienced by our group in any one week, it really sheets home the truly global gathering here under Jack's banner.

THE SYDNEY WRITERS' FESTIVAL: there were too many sessions for one person to see them all, often times clashed. There was an informal meeting of writers a day prior to the commencement of the festival which is where I met JAMES KELMAN among others. We were able to relate well for strangers and were soon talking in great depth about our writing. I'd decided out of all the people assembled that day I would try to see as many of his sessions as possible. Some of his ideas reinforced my own but some were so original they were from left field, these he'd cultivated over many years, they'd allowed him to carve a unique place for himself in 20th century literature. For instance, his search for the right narrator's voice and posture for each story: he is an acknowledged master. In his Booker prize winner - 'How Late It Is, How Late.' - he created an unusual urgency in the narration which makes it sound in the first person, or the 'I' voice he calls it, but in reality it is in the third person. And he wrote the entire book using Northumbrian colloquialisms sometimes spelled out phonetically. He only wrote this way for this book, a one off. He also used swearing and cuss words a lot, as his character would in real life: the F and C words appear throughout.

I am sure James won't mind if I give the opening paragraph of his prize winner for our group as an example - for study purposes:

"Ye wake in a corner and stay there hoping yer body will disappear, the thoughts smothering ye; these thoughts; but ye want to remember and face up to things, just something keeps ye from doing it, why can ye no do it; the words filling yer head: then the other words; there's something wrong; there's something far far wrong; ye're no a good man, ye are: here, slumped in this corner, with these thoughts filling ye. And oh christ his back was sore; stiff, and the head pounding. He shivered and hunched up his shoulders, shut his eyes, rubbed into the corners with his fingertips; seeing all kinds of spots and lights. Where in the name of fuck..."

James also is known for producing numerous short stories. He said he treats them like poetry. Often they are only 1,000 words or less; the few he read in his sessions here were gems; about ordinary people, factory workers etc or about things important to them. Fictional anecdote-like pieces - clever.

Most days after his sessions we met up and played the tourist - then last night he and his wife came to our house for dinner; I learned so much. He liked nothing better than to talk craft - I am filled and inspired. One of life's rare, rare opportunities.

More news of the rest of the festival and queries noted here soon - Philip.

Jack Beslanwitch Mon Jan 27 21:52:00 PST 1997

Hello everyone:

    Thanks Sherie!! OK, the Notebook Bios are up on the server. When I get a chance I'll put a permanent link to it in the header for this page. I'll be back visiting on occasion, just have a deadline tommorrow morning and then next Friday, so things will be a little infrequent. I noticed I need to add my own bio in the file. I will do that and add a link to a picture of myself. If anyone else has a link for a picture let me know. Also, I plan to look into linking from to books that writers here have written so people visiting can click and buy if they so desire. Just not this week. Take care everyone. I've been thinking of you.

Sherrie Mon Jan 27 19:43:14 PST 1997

Hi guys! ;-)
The writing of the new and improved AIRWAVES is going well. Can't believe how many words I'm laying down; 35,000 (of 90,000 required) so far (15,000 of that since the 12th of January). Of course, it's RUFF--much editing required--but it's bones. I can lay in the muscle and flesh, later. What's amazing is how well it works to have a block of time that you can spend only one of two ways--write, or stare at an empty screen. I write. And as Beavis would say, "Cool!"
Judging by the relative quiet, everyone else must be fairly busy, as well.
I cleaned up the bios and will send them on to Jack--yeah, you, JACK. We're missing a few, and I couldn't even find them when I went back in the archives. Sorry. Must have a paradigm against them.
See you later!

trudy Mon Jan 27 16:35:14 PST 1997

Hello all, just reading through some postings and thought I'd respond to a few:

Deb, as Kitty said I work for a newspaper and though she says I rush home to write stories at night this is not quite true. I find it very difficult, in fact, after a day like today where I wrote four articles, to come home and even think about writing anything else. I have been trying to write at least once a week with respect to fiction and if something doesn't pop into my head I have a writer's course book filled with writing exercises which are a lot of fun and usually get me going. Once I start I'm fine too and my husband's usually burying his head to get away from the lamplight while I scratch away. I have also discovered I write fiction best long hand though if I tried to write an article for work this way it would kill me. Pretty bizarre.

Of course right now I am trying to get into the magazine market for freelance articles so that too is now taking priority over fiction. I am in the querying for guideline stage at this point, but am enjoying the process for some reason.

As for what inspires guys do! that may sound corny but it's true...I've written more since I found this page than I had in a long time, outside of work and I should say thank you for that. Also reading other books really inspire me; especially ones that make me think. Right now I am reading Margaret Atwood's latest novel Alias Grace and it is super, as are most of her books. She's a Canadian writer by the way; probably one of a handful actually making a living writing fiction in this country.

Anyway just wanted to respond to this but must get back to the job at hand...asking for guidelines. Take care all. Trudy

trudy Sun Jan 26 16:33:41 PST 1997

Hello everyone. Just a note to say hello. I will catch up on everyone's postings for the past week later but Britomart's did catch my attention when she mentioned Anne Rice. I'm a guge fan of her's Britomart. Just finished reading Servant of the Bones which a cousin got autographed for me when Anne Rice was in Ottawa for a signing. Anyway if the help you need is rewading and feedback I'll volunteer. Let me know when you need the help and I'll see how my schedule looks.

Anyway take care everyone and I shall return. Trudy

Linda Sun Jan 26 15:06:55 PST 1997

As the new kid on the block, I feel out of the loop (probably a mixed metaphor-HORRORS) but what is Philip's book called and what is it about? What are we congratulating Charles for ?

I'm glad eveyone seems to be back on line after a troublesome week with servers in the mid-east. I'm beginning to figure out who's who and what's what with the list and am enjoying being part of you all. I really appreiated Sherries remarks to Steve about character development. Maybe I already shared this but the cold (-38) last night has frozen my brain.

Sherrie: Re my character name change - she went from Liz to Jill and took on life. Go figure???? I wouldn't have thought it to that dramatic.

Britomart Sun Jan 26 14:22:56 PST 1997

Hello all. Here you all are talking about the cold weather, when it's 8am over here and I'm in a sleeveless cotton dress under a fan. But I have a cold - go figure. Perhaps I caught it at this forum.

I've hit a snag with my new story - but I won't ask for help until I've given it another week because sometimes I'm a bit lazy when it comes to problems. But apart from that, it's going okay. Sometimes I get so overwhelmed thinking about all the words I have to write in the next few years - I mean, if I go on to do a PhD, where will all the words come from? Maybe I shouldn't "waste" my words on e-mail and writers' forums? Anyone out there got a PhD and can describe the experience?

Deb, with regards to maintaining inspiration: I guess it is hard being away from everything. My cousin is a writer and she lives on a sheep station in the far, far west. Her nearest neighbour is 24km away, and that's her mother-in-law who she hates! Moreover, she doesn't have e-mail. I'm always encouraging her to leave her family and move to the city, but she won't be in it. I think the isolation inspires her. I couldn't live like that. I need the academic community, and my Shakespeare reading group, and the cinema and the city - I need them all to feed my imagination. Certainly, going to university has changed my life profoundly. But you won't know if it's right for you until you try, I guess, and if you have the means to go to London or go to a major city and do a creative writing program, well why the hell not just do it? Plenty of time to be set in your ways when you're older, right? Anyway, that's just my two-cents' worth.

Is there anybody here who is particularly interested in my genre - ie. gothic horror? Any Anne Rice/Storm Constantine/
Poppy Z. Brite/ Freda Warrington/ exotic dark-haired girl writer fans who could help me out if necessary? If not, I'll understand.

Gotta go. Love you all!

Kitty Sun Jan 26 12:26:16 PST 1997

Hey y'all! After a week of freeze and thaw, the day has settled on brilliant blues skies and very cold temperatures. I'm just back from tap class and feeling pretty energized and motivated. I'm taking the class to chase away those winter doldrums. Never took a tap class in my life, but am having beaucoup, beaucoup fun.
Did anyone else want a copy of the New York Times article on publishing? Jack archived shortly after I posted, and just in case anyone missed it, I have a few copies left and would be happy to send it. To those who asked, they will be in the mail on Monday. My apologies for the delay, but my car died a week ago Friday when it was bitterly cold (-50) and I have been grounded since! Just in case anyone else has a '96 Windstar, there is an "epidemic problem" with a Bausch relay that somehow is connected to the fuel pump system. The relay fails and the car, though it turns over, does not catch and start. It is happening all over the place, so I have since learned, but is not common knowledge. It took a Ford Rep who just happened to be at the dealership where the van was for repairs to inform the Ford mechanics of the problem. So be forewarned!
Deb, I don't know how close our situations are, but I too am pretty isolated from a "literary community." Most of my writing friends are scattered about the world. However, I do not see this as an inhibitor of the creative process. Bottom line, for me, writing is a solitary business. It is nice to see the final product, better to hand it over to an editor, and even better cashing those checks, but before you get to that point it is you and the blank page. This I know from my days on the newspaper, which were some of the most prolific writing days of my life. Most of my time was spent on non-fiction, but the discipline and lessons learned when writing for hours everyday were invaluable. I think Trudy could speak more on this as she is currently employed by a newspaper and then dashes home to write her stories in the evening--except during the Christmas rush! However, I can sympathize with a need for encouragement and sources of inspiration. I have my friend Judy who is a published author, teacher, and now lives over 1,000 miles away. We are in constant contact via the computer and once year we get together for a long weekend. Also, I find inspiration from many other creative sources besides writing. I go to New York at least once a year and indulge in the museums, theater, bookstore (Barnes and Nobles at midnight is a trip!), the Village, etc... I have subscribed to a lecture series "Unique Lives and Experiences" for the last three years which requires my going into the big city once a month in the evening to hear the POV of some pretty fascinating and successful women. Also, some friends and I are going to have a "literary lunch" a la Oprah Winfrey to discuss Jan Karon's At Home in Mitford. Since all of us are pretty busy, we've given ourselves well over two months to read the book--most of us haven't stopped at the first book, and this is another thing to look forward to. Certainly, here at the Notebook I think we have a great cheerleading squad. Look at the diversity of interests! We're all so pleased when there is good news and so supportive when times are difficult. And wasn't there a suggestion at some point about having a mini-con for the Notebookers? Anyway, Deb I tend to see a lot of open doors even when doors are slamming shut left, right, and center, but I hope this helped.

Charles Samuel Sun Jan 26 11:23:40 PST 1997

Everybody: We were hit with a HUGE lightning and thunderstorm in Jerusalem last week. Our whole neighborhood was zapped by some kind of ball lightning. (We're 800 meters above sea level on a mountain overlooking a breathtaking valley leading out to the Mediterranean.) Anyway, quite a few modems were blown out including yours truly. I've been trying to isolate the problem the whole week and finally put in this BOCA loaner tonight which worked. There is a load of email to catch up on as well as news in the notebook.

As Philip would say, "back soon"


Deb Sun Jan 26 10:26:25 PST 1997

I mean 1000 word stories below. Sorry.

Deb Borys Sun Jan 26 10:24:25 PST 1997

Nesting day: 8 degrees, snowing and blowing, full frig, dogs snug and warm in the basement. My only regret is not being able to visit a sick friend who is HOME ALONE and experiencing cabin fever. Oh well, I can't solve *everyone's* problems.

Regarding character development, I may have already posted this, but for my latest book, I started letting my characters tell me about themselves. Starting out with something like: My name is Christopher Robert Young, Cry for short. It's not a nickname I like, but I deal with it. . . . Not only do I get the information I need about them, I also get their voice. For one character, him telling me about his past led to a short story about one of the incidents he told me about. I'm going to try Jack's idea (I think it was Jack's) about letting one character tell me about another when I get back into novel mode and combine these two methods.

CHARLES: No, Year of the Horses is only a short story. I actually think it would not work as a novel. It would be difficult, for one thing, for me to keep up the voice for such a long work. I also think readers would get fed up to *here* with the sound of it if I went on for too long. That's the way I feel about my Evelyn A. Archer mini-mysteries, too. She's a pretty cynical bitch (sorry for the invective, but she is) and that's funny in 100 word stories, but I would get sick of hearing her attitude for 30,000 words. I don't know, maybe I'm wrong. If a publisher called and said, "Give me an Evelyn Archer mystery novel series, I wouldn't say no.

SHERRIE: I'm here. But my server wasn't. For four days, I tried to dial in and was getting a message (an voice message, which I had to pick up my phone to hear) telling me the cellular customer I dialed was away from his phone at this time, please call again. The company I'm listed with changed phone numbers from a cell phone number to a dedicated land line without telling everyone in advance. They made individual phone calls and didn't get to us until day four of wondering what the heck was going on. Don't mind saying it ticked me off, we'd given out our e-mail address asking for people to e-mail reservations for a weekend event here, and wasn't able to check the mail until Friday morning. Burns me up, but its the only server with a local number so I don't have any long distance charge.

I'd like some feedback about how everyone keeps motivated. I live in north central Illinois in the country near a small town--in other words, a cultural mecca it's not. It's so hard sometimes to remember I'm a writer. Lately I've been wondering if maybe I ought to do something drastic with my life, like move to Hyde Park and get a job with a publishing company, or apply for grant/scholarship funds and try to get into a writing program at the University of Chicago. Just something or somewhere that would feed my creativity instead of draining it (writing news releases, bulletin announcements, etc.) How many of you have outside sources of inspiration? What are they? How well do they work? If you are in a situation similar to mine, do you sometimes feel the same way? If not, why not? This forum helps, but is no substitute for real live face to face contacts. (I do have a writer's group once a month which is a Godsend, but still wish I had creative people around me on a more regular basis.)

Ben Woestenburg Fri Jan 24 21:02:15 PST 1997

Hey guys, and gals, how're we all doing today. It was a brilliant day today. They've been forecasting snow for us again, and the temp.'s certainly cold enough for it, but if today was any indication of how the weekend's going to be, snow will be a long way away -- like Seattle!!
The coastal range looks absolutely marvellous with the snow powdered on it like icing sugar. This is without a doubt one of the most beautiful places, although I've seen pictures of Cape Town and it looks pretty nice too. Yesterday it rained, and there was lightning and thunder, and then this morning a brilliant full moon and a clear day.We don't get them very often so I thought I'd share it with you guys.
I've been re-reading my novel and trying to edit it as I go through it, but I've been staying up too late and sleeping in an hour late, or else falling off at the key board again. Last night was the first time I actually went to bed early, and still slept in late. I guess I've got a lot of catching up to do. Catnaps at work are Okay, but who wants to do that all the time? -- not because they'd fire me, but it makes it for a really boring day. I like to keep moving around.
Now I wrote all of this simply because I didn't have anything to say, but wanted to anyway because Sherrie asked where everyone was. I was at work, trying to read the new WRITER'S DIGEST magazine, admiring the sights along the waterfront, and truly grateful that I wasn't working on the water.
But now I'm going to go and do some more reading and writing on my novel and finally clean up the dinner dishes. It's just me and my boy tonight, the girls are at a friend's down the street for a girl's night out of videos and Barbie -- although I suspect the older girls will be more into the wine than they will the latest Barbie clothes.
So I say good night and good writing.
And Phillip, welcome back. I can't wait to hear everything you have to tell us.

Jonnie Fri Jan 24 09:34:25 PST 1997

Philip, Just received your book from The history is amazing. I'm on page four-hope to get it finished before I leave for C.R. I won't be around much as I'm trying to get a few medical supplies together. Also a great deal of call before I leave.
Enjoy checking in and just getting a quick read. Jonnie

Sherrie Fri Jan 24 09:14:05 PST 1997

Yoohooooo! Where is everybody?

Philip Thu Jan 23 16:52:50 PST 1997

HELLO EVERYONE: I've not been around much lately for two reasons I've gone way past my publisher's deadline for my next book (I've been writing and polishing like crazy) and the '97 Sydney Writers' Festival (of which I am Deputy Chair) began Wednesday.

The 'next' book I refer to is The Lightning Mine some of which I posted in the Workbook.

I'll give a detailed account of our Festival after the circus leaves town but can tell you that overseas writers here include Gore Vidal, Margaret Drabble, Maurice Gee, Linda La Plante, Nina Bawden, Allen Kursweil, Chin Woon Ping, Lieve Joris, and the 1994 Booker Prize winner, James Kellman from Scotland - 'How Late It Was, How Late' was the prize winning book for him. Laura Esquivel who wrote 'Like Water For Chocolate' had to cancel out at the last minute because of a death in her family.

But out of the visiting writers I particularly like James Kellman. After the official launch by our state Premier and more than several drinks, Aussie writer Michael Wilding, myself and our wives hit the oldest pubs in Sydney (where they hand pull beer brewed on the premises - a reactionary trend away from mass production here) and later we were swept out of a fancy downtown Korean restaurant in the wee hours of next morning. Talking to James in depth about our craft I learned so much. In his forum session the following day he directed a lot of the substance of his discussion to what we'd talked about the night before. The six of us are having dinner tonight at Michael's house before the Kellmans leave for a short tour of Australia.

Last night was extraordinary, Gore Vidal drew the largest literary crowd in Australia since Mark Twain visited Sydney last century.

Exciting stuff.

Hail, THE ETERNAL!... the readers and booksellers' delight. Britomart... I really, really enjoyed it. My prediction: you'll become our champion occultist, Australia's Stephen King?

CHARLES: never been to a book fair.

I know I have a few queries and some thoughts to follow up on here and I do plan to get at it soon.

Back soon - Philip.

Lisa Nickles Thu Jan 23 13:56:55 PST 1997

Hi all.

I've been having a ball buried in my pages. The editing is still slow, but I don't see the point of rushing it if it's only going to make me cranky.

Well... I have to go. I'm primed for working right now.

Ciao! :}

Steve Moody Thu Jan 23 12:43:06 PST 1997

Hello again All :-)
Wanted to thank everyone for all the great advice
and suggestions in answer to my questions. I just
got back on and have not had time to digest it all
yet (thankful for the archives ;-) ), but the ideas
and encouragement are great! :-)

I do see now that writing is a very individualized
activity, and that there are as many means and ways, as
there are stories to tell. I also see that I am going
to have to discover what works best for me :-D

I picked up a writing book the other day at the library
which takes an interesting approach to the process of
writing. It has lots of exercises that get the creative
juices flowing, and then shows ways to organize those
tid bits and funnel them into a story. I like the approach
and hope to begin doing the exercises as part of my
daily writing mantra ;-)

Perhaps I will even be able to come up with something
to add to the great works already in the Workbook.

Thanks again all for your help, advice and camaraderie
-Steve :-)

Sherrie Wed Jan 22 17:21:41 PST 1997

LINDA: That's marvelous! You get me pumped about hitting the keyboard again, just sharing your joy of discovery. Isn't this--the whole writing gig--the funnest thing (most of the time)!!!??? I . . . can't NOT . . . write. It would be a hole in my heart.
By the way, exactly WHAT NAME did you give this guy that made him gasp his first breath? Tell me the old name, too. It's too fun.
See you later.

Linda Wed Jan 22 11:31:29 PST 1997

Sherrie: I found your comments to Steve on how you develop your characters very helpful. Most of my writing time these days is spent exploring my characters. I'm extremely encouraged and pumped right now as the time spent with the main character is giving me the minor characters and scene ideas ( storyboarding) are bubbling to the surface at a rapid rate.

This flood of activity was initiated by my changing the name of my main character. When I did that 2 weeks ago the whole book came alive . I was almost at the point of quitting - things were so slow and "plastic".

As my book is character driven I feel that the time I am investing in my characters is well spent. I'm having coffee with them, interviewing them as I would the clients in my counselling practice, am giving them psychological tests, am snooping in their journals, listening to their phone conversations, and have accessed their Master Card bills . I do draw the line at paying their bills. In short , I'm sure I'm an intrusive pain in the butt to them all. But (no pun intended), it's paying off .

Thanks for listening.

Sherrie Wed Jan 22 07:33:53 PST 1997

PS: CHARLES: Thanks for the heads-up on Nancy Taylor Rosenberg's home page. Folks, if you haven't taken a look at it, you should. It's nicely done. I, too, am working on a home page (actually, Husband Harry is building it), so we're looking at/for ideas. Wish I had the bucks to hire Jack. Maybe I do. What's your rate, buddy?

Sherrie Wed Jan 22 07:28:13 PST 1997

CHARLES: Wonderful!!! You were next (after Trish with her baby news). You have to be one of the most tenacious writers I've encountered--and it is paying off. So thrilled for you. Keep us apprised of your discoveries and progress in this "new" venture.
STEVE: I ALWAYS know (absolutely KNOW) my characters--usually the male--first. In an instant (and in this approximate order), he tells me his pain, his history, his deepest wish, his name, and his habits and opinions. Next, I sometimes create (or sometimes find) a woman for him, someone who will accept him unconditionally. Then I build the plot within the locale/atmosphere he has given me (he told me his habits and opinions, remember, and these include his livlihood and the time period in which he lives). Then the first scene, and even the first line, just come to me, like I'm taking dictation . . . and I begin to write.
BOB: Miss you. How goes cabinet-making? How's your son's computer business shaping up?
BEN: Still optimistic about the time to get back to you. I took a bit of an in-home retreat this last weekend, so I'm still wading through the correspondence I neglected (and it took 30 minutes to read all the past postings). Though I will inject this right off; I'd avoid the psychic and the tarrot (can't find that word in the dictionary to spell it correctly) cards bit. For further info on this, read Deuteronomy 18:10,11,12. Just an opinion . . . although it does happen to be God's. ;-)

Ben Woestenburg Tue Jan 21 17:18:26 PST 1997

Wow Brit! I just read your first chapter and prologue, and loved it. Absolutley, bloody great! I'm going to have to get a copy of it. I was hooked right from the start. I didn't want it to end, and was pretty upset that there wasn't anymore to read. I tried to read it yesterday, but it only frustrated me and I lost patience. I knew Jack would have to do something, so I thought, even if he didn't, I'd muddle through it today. I can't wait for your second -- not that I want to put any more added pressure on you than you've probably put on yourself -- but it seems to me you have a natural flair for it. I'd like to go on and one about it, but I don't think you'd feel comfortable with it. Bloody great job, Girlie!

Jack Tue Jan 21 00:47:28 PST 1997

Just a quick note to say that I cleaned up the word wrap problem in Britomart's The Infernal. Check out her story in the workbook. Take care everyone.

Charles Samuel Mon Jan 20 13:12:08 PST 1997

I think it's time for me to set up a home page on the web. Can anyone recommend links to what you feel are some of the best author's home pages? I need something to pattern mine after. Britomart, your page is great, but I think I need something a bit tamer. Has anyone seen Nancy Taylor Rosenberg's page? What do you think? Remember that a good author's home page should help attract a following and sell books.

DEB: The ABA convention is May 31, June 1 and June 2. I think it is open to the public. Apparently it is huge and is THE major convention for making book deals between agents and publishers, and publishers and booksellers. More details to follow. Also, I thought THE YEAR OF THE HORSES was a novel, am I mistaken?

JACK: I think if you set up a passworded area, you should assign the passwords. That way you can revoke them if necessary later on. Sort of like bumping someone off of an IRC chat channel.

By the way, I heard from BOB and he says hello. He doesn't currently have access to a computer and only checks his email from time to time.

Best to all,


Deb Borys Mon Jan 20 08:50:51 PST 1997

STEVE: I don't always know where my story is going before I start. In facrt, for short stories anyway, I guess I seldom do know. Sometimes I start with an idea or sometimes a character; the important part is the opening for me. If I come up with an opening I really like, then I can usually figure it out from there. There is one exception to this, a mystery story that I have an idea and an opening but cannot get the plot. I'm still hoping, though.

CHARLES: When is the Bookseller's convention? Can anyone attend? I'd like to see what it's like, I've heard so much abou it.

TRUDY: Unless the magazine specificcally said they take three months or longer to respond, I think it would be entirely in order to send a polite query letter explaining you sent them such and such on so and so and wanted to make sure there hadn't been any problem. I've had this happen several times, and usually get a polite response back as long as I'm polite to begin with.

KITTY: Yes, I do plan a series of stories. The idea was sparked by a writing excercise at a workshop I went to in Kentucky last year. We were given two opening paragraphs and told to be free to experiment. I enjoyed the story a lot, but it left me questions that need to be answered so I must keep writing until I answer them all.

Jack Beslanwitch Mon Jan 20 00:58:50 PST 1997

Additional quick note. Just loaded up Office 97 and am exploring some of the features of Word 97. It looks interesting and a much more dramatic upgrade than Word 6.0 to Word 7.0 aka Word 95, although I'm not sure I like the assistants. They sort of remind me of Bob in drag.

Jack Beslanwitch Mon Jan 20 00:55:57 PST 1997

Everyone: OK, I archived a good portion of the Workbook so the present Workbook is down to something managable,
starting with the graphic page I mentioned since stories are being built off of that. Also, the Notebook has been archived as well. I've retained Britomart's last post, so please do check out her story posting on the Workbook.

On password protection, the question has been raised on criterion for a behind a password writers workbook. That's a toughy.
I sort of think it should be a bit open ended. People would have to come here and lurk around and announce themselves and
then they would be given a password. I guess what I'm saying is what does everyone think about the ground rules. Loose has
carried us a long way. Also, I think a public workbook should be available to those who would like to advertise their works to
a broader audience and are not worried about some of the issues. Those people could have links to or wherever
that visitors could purchase the excerpted book.

Britomart: as I mentioned in my email, I'll be glad to modify your existing text to be formatted correctly.

   Take care all. I'm looking over my contract at the moment. Let you know how things go when I do. Take care.

Britomart again Sun Jan 19 23:06:40 PST 1997

JACK: Sorted it out, though it hasn't come out quite as I expected. I lifted this section off an HTML document I'm putting together to promote my book when it comes out, so it's got some pretties in it that I didn't think would be there. Also, some of the lines go on for miles instead of rounding off. Sorry.

EVERYONE: If you've ever wondered if this silly 26 year old with the book contract can actually write, now's your time to tell. I've posted a cut-down version of my first chapter for your reading pleasure in the Workbook, though you might have to save it to disk because it looks like it's going to be hell to read. I did something wrong when I pasted it. Not that clever after all, am I? Let me know what you think. Sorry it took so long to share my work, and then only the stuff validated by a large corporation, but blame it on my artistic temperament.


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