Archived Writer's Notebook Messages

From March 18, 1997 to April 2, 1997

Nicole Jones Wed Apr 2 21:44:09 PST 1997

Does anyone have any suggestions for some really good books? Like, some good, maybe literary, books that can get me inspired somewhat? Sometimes a really good book or movie sparks something or makes me want to recreate that feeling. I'm not really interested in science fiction, though. Any help would be great. Thanks in advance.

Jack Beslanwitch Wed Apr 2 20:44:54 PST 1997

Britomart: I corrected the HTML so everything is OK. At least, I hope you like the way I did it. Also, re the listing for Amazon, all I need is an ISBN number and I'll be able to link to it from Amazon. So everyone knows, I am planning to create a much larger bookstore page with all my favorite science fiction writers books, all the writers here with their books listed as a separate section and everybody's favorite writing books.

Per that last part, suggestions on books would be appreciated. Writer's Market comes to mind and Writing Down The Bones, but I'm open to other suggestions. This won't happen immediately. I am as per normal up against a writing deadline and a major cold sidelined me for a while so I have to try to make up a lot of lost time fast. However, if people are of a mind, please place suggestions and I'll let everyone know when I have the page up. Thought a bookstore page needs a bit more critical mass before people will visit and use it. Let's see if I am right. Take care everyone.

Britomart again Wed Apr 2 16:43:37 PST 1997

Oops, sorry about the mess. You should be able to click anywhere on the red section and get to that Victoriana research site. My HTML is still a bit shaky.

Britomart Wed Apr 2 16:42:02 PST 1997

KIM & AJ - perhaps we should get together a virtual Victoriana research group. Parts of my next novel are also set in Victorian London, around the 1860s. I wonder if either of you have come across a site for Victorian research called Victoriana - the URL is:

It's pretty good. But I do most of my research by reading Dickens or Eliot and watching BBC TV dramas like the one of Middlemarch. They do all their research brilliantly so you know you can rely on them.

Anyway, let me know what you think. Perhaps if we find interesting info we can e-mail it to each other.

BEN: If you're looking, I've sent you a snail mail with my favourite poem in it - I hope you're holding up well.

EVERYONE: When the book comes out, I'll look into how you might be able to pick it up over there. I think Jack said something about Amazon books being able to get it if you give them the ISBN number.

I got my page proofs yesterday to check, and it's amazing to see how it's actually going to look on the printed page. The book is about 500 pages long and it looks really good. As I was lying on my bed reading through it (meanwhile, I'm pretty ****ing sick of it by this stage), I got this amazing sense of vertigo as it just hit me in a wave: I'm going to have a book published. It's pretty weird that it should be happening to me...

Farewell 'til later all!

AJ Wed Apr 2 11:21:15 PST 1997

Forgot to mention:
I think all of us in the States should start bombarding Random House with requests to bring Britomart's book to the States!

A.J. Austin Wed Apr 2 11:17:41 PST 1997

Ben: I am so sorry about your father. My thoughts and prayers are with you. We will miss you. Please take care.

Kim: Welcome, and I sent you email. I have a couple of titles for general reference type books about 19th century England if you are interested.


Tammi Wed Apr 2 11:03:26 PST 1997

BEN: So sorry. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

KIM: Welcome. I have to agree with your need to push forward. Who knows what's going to happen in chapter 10, and what that will mean for chapter 1? Write on!

BRIT: If The Infernal won't be available in the US, is there a bookstore willing to link to your page and accept orders from North America? Just a thought. I want to read

KITTY: Sorry, it has taken me so long to get back to you. Yes, we are neighbors of a sort. I live in Gouverneur, a town about an hour south of the border at Cornwall/Massena.
Tell me, does winter ever end here? We had a teaser last Saturday, temps up to 70, but then Sunday night we got four new inches of snow. An early April Fools joke?

RANDY: So pleased you are writing.

EVERYONE: Randy is my husband, and last week he got it in his head to try his hand at fiction. I must say I am impressed so far. He writes every day and has a knack for using the active voice. He swears this isn't a competition, but I know I better get back to my writing or he will publish his novel before I finish chapter four.


Kim Rainey Wed Apr 2 09:51:56 PST 1997

Well...I figure it's about time that I post a message. I found The Writer's Notebook about a week ago, and I was impressed by how nice everyone was and by how you all seem like a very close group. That may sound corny, but other groups I have come across are not always nice and the people don't seem, well, connected like you guys do. So, since I'm new to this sort of thing, I figured I would take some time to check out your posts and to get the courage to send one I am!

My name is Kim, I'm 23, and I've been writing as long as I can remember. When I was younger I wrote mainly short stories and poetry, but about eight years ago I decided to take on novel writing. Eight years later, I am still working on the same novel!(An historical romance, by the way.) One of my biggest problems is, as my husband so affectionately puts it, I'm anal know, the kind of person who is so disgustingly organized and so damned obsessive. In writing, the problem comes in when I can't move on to chapter two until chapter one is perfectly edited and free of grammatical errors. So when I finally get to chapter two, I find a glitch in the plot and then I have to go back to chapter one to fix it, and then edit it again, and...aggghhh! What a vicious cycle. Recently, however, I've been forcing myself to push forward...I try to realize that my writing does not have to be perfect the first time around, and that it never will be perfect for that matter.

Anyway...I've been crawling back through the archives to get acquainted with you all and to see what's been going on....

BEN: I am really sorry to hear about your father....My thoughts and prayers are with you...I'm sending you an email.

BRITOMART: I just read the sneak preview of The Infernal...I can't wait to read more!!! I'm excited for you that it's getting published. Is it still set to be released in July? Will it be available in the States then also?

A.J.: You said in your bio that you are writing a romantic suspense novel set in Victorian England....Tell me more!!! My novel is also set in Victorian England (and some in New
York) around 1869/70.

RANDY: Have you started a war story yet? If you're doing any research and have questions, let me husband is a military historian (especially 20th century stuff).

TOBY: Computer games are your failing too? Sid Meier be damned for creating such an addictive game as Civilization! I have wasted many hours creating civilizations on that game
when I should be creating scenes in my book!

Take care everyone....


Jack Beslanwitch Wed Apr 2 02:29:55 PST 1997

A quick note to let everyone know. I have added a copy of Cyn Mason's Taxes for Writers both in an HTML version and a Word Document version. For those who are filing taxes in the US, this essay is invaluable and has pointers to a variety of IRS resources.

I have also finally taken some time out and got some of the backlog of links caught up and added to the Writer Resources. You can find the details in What's New

This is wishing everyone one well and good thoughts for Ben. Take care everyone.

Kasin Hunter Tue Apr 1 16:58:53 PST 1997

Ben, my condolences. I'm sending you an email.

Brit, congrats on your book cover.

Jack Beslanwitch Tue Apr 1 12:15:34 PST 1997

Ben: We will miss you. Our thoughts and prayers will be with you. I've said more in a private email, but please know that your comments here are treasured and we hope you will be able to return to us in your own time. Take care.

Ben Tue Apr 1 10:40:10 PST 1997

I'm sorry, I have to go away for a while -- quite a while I think. My father passed away last night and I don't want to have to do anything. I'm sorry,,,

A.J. Austin Tue Apr 1 06:59:06 PST 1997

Brit: Great cover! How does it feel to actually see your name on the front? Your sample chapter and synopsis have caught my interest. I hope the book hits the States sometime soon! Congratulations!


Britomart Mon Mar 31 19:07:23 PST 1997

Hey everybody - please point your browser at the above URL which is my offical "Infernal Launching Pad". I've only just got it up and running today, so it's a bit creaky, the graphics are loading slowly, and the cover art has a few problems - but you can get a gist. Let me know what y'all think.

Phil: I'd go mad writing from the point of view of a paedophile. I think your friend is very brave. However, if she pulls it off, she's going to attract some serious critical attention. Ellis's American Psycho is one of the most terrifying, profoundly unnerving books I've ever read - but just amazing. Even if you don't like his subject matter, you've got to admire the tenacity and the talent. A bit like Marquis de Sade, really, who is a brilliant writer that has been reduced to a 200 year old pornographer by those who only read the dirty bits. All encouragement to her, but I wonder if she knows what she's getting herself into. And I hope she's not going to rationalise child abuse, like one Miss D rationalised attempted genocide.

Bye all.

Jack Beslanwitch Mon Mar 31 17:43:40 PST 1997

Phillip: Exorcising the demons can be hard. Writing in First person may give her the intimacy to do this. In the end, the demon must be faced, stared down and understood. I am not sure I have that level of honesty. This behavior is not easy for me to conceptualize. I wish her luck and will think good thoughts/prayers in her direction, to pull this off and grow and not be scarred by the experience.

Re: Dinner in the northwest. Yes!!! When you think it will be possible let us know. I'm presuming not this trip, but next go around and enough ahead of time to try and get some of the other northwest writers on Notebook here or at a mutally agreed upon location. There are a number of writers here that I might like to invite as well.

The panels at Norwescon went well. Sorry that I was not able to bring up Notebook to any great extent. My laptop was acting up, or, more accurately, I forgot to charge the modem battery on my Ricochet modem and failed to bring a power chord for it. Ooops. Oh, well, Amy Thomson who wrote Virtual Girl and the Color of Difference was on the panel and we had a good time. Among the other resources we pointed out was

Take care and good writing. I'm back running up against a deadline for next monday. So, I'll be a little absent here.

Philip Mon Mar 31 14:58:21 PST 1997

HELLO EVERYONE:.......villains. My writer friend's spare time is taken up working with street kids, she is a fine writer, a well-published poet, short story writer, essayist, novelist, academic, lecturer. Last week another of her street girls died, overdosed, and she wrote her a long, emotional poem - an epitaph.

How she'll handle being the adult, male, child molester in the writing of this serious work is a concern.

She lives alone, is in her fifties, a sensitive, caring woman. She comes across the victims of paedophilia on a regular basis so maybe that is her rationale for choosing to write her second novel, a major work, based on this subject.

Could it be that the work will be a conduit to the psyche of the molester so she might understand his deviant behaviour? But does she really need to write it in the first person?...

EXCITEMENT PLUS! I'm arranging my trip to the USA, the New York Writers' Conference dates are May 10-11. I'm planning a stop over in San Francisco and after New York I'll shoot off to Florida for a week to complete some research on my next book. A New York dinner to remember is being planned: a few writer friends of mine live there - or close by - while a few others will be passing through, by coincidence. I know all five writers but none of them have met.

JACK: a dinner in Seattle has to be next, I know several prominent writers in your part of the world - from Portland to Vancouver - not to mention yourself and Ben.

Back soon - Philip.

Randy Kibler Mon Mar 31 13:26:32 PST 1997

Man, sorry that the Corps sucked for you. But then again,
I don't get to talk to any WMs or formers for that matter.
The sexual harassment idea in the military is a pretty good idea for a book. At least an aspect that a character could
confrtont. But it might turn into bashing after all.
My problems in the Army have to deal with idiots and those
that want to be idiots. Of course, everybody works with them. Email me if you want to talk some more.


Deb Borys Mon Mar 31 11:08:57 PST 1997

PHILLIP: The suspense novel I am currently working on to send out soon has a child molestor as the villain, though the story is never told from his point of view. Therefore I probably can't answer the question of how writing about him will affect me since I don't feel I will be in any danger of "getting into his head." I can say that there is a general consenses (or concern, if you will) that writing about child abuse in any form is too unpopular at this time. That was the big question I came up against at this writer's conference I just went to. That's not to say publishers won't take it, but it's a hard sell, and the more graphic the descriptions of abuse, the harder the sell. I am tempering my villain's verbal descriptions of what he has done to kids in the past as a result of the discussion I heard about the subject.

I feel the difference comes in the motive your friend has for her work. Did she choose the subject because of the sensationalism it might produce, the gory, gruesome scenes? Or is she, like me, trying to get a message across that child abuse shouldn't be shoved under the carpet just because we're uncomfortable with the subject? If that is her motive, then writing the book could be a catharsis of sorts. She can feel that she is doing what is in her power to call attention to it and therefore potentially motivate people to put a stop to it. If, however, she finds she is pulling scenes and character personalities from the dark side of herself to make it more real,(and we all have a dark side--some people just need to dig a little deeper than others) then she could end up with a bad taste in her mouth at the end of it all, at the least.

Not that any of this helps--just my opinion.

kae Mon Mar 31 09:03:53 PST 1997

Hi everyone. Hope y'all had a nice holiday.

KITTY: Are you still there? I was perusing the biographies the other day, and I saw that we both have Dalmations! I love my little (actually, big fat) Marge, she's 11 years old now. Her daddy was a hound dog, but she looks like the geniune article, anyway. She's not jumpy like most of them.

RANDY: Hey there. Welcome. I'm an ex-marine. I don't write about it, but I'd love to ready your stuff. What aspects of the military do you focus on? Wartime, or peacetime? I've thought about writing about it, but my experience was so's really not a place for women. Well, the Marines isn't--maybe other branches are different. But if I wrote about it, it would be nothing but drinking and sexual harrassment. I learned that the general opinion of women in the Marine Corps is that they are there to "service" the men, if you get my drift. It was a pretty horrible four years. Boot camp was the best part--there were no men grabbing your tits in the chow line or calling you "Bouncy" during the battalion run.

Bitter? Who, me?

PHILIP: I think you need to be ready to be attacked if you have truly villanous characters. There are going to be people that will accuse you of sensationalism, particularly if you try to infuse "human" characteristics in the villian. People just don't want to believe that they might actually like, or be deceived by, the child molester next door--they want to believe that someone who commits this kind of crime would be INSTANTLY recognisable as a pervert, a criminal. They want to believe that there is NOTHING human about these people, and there's no way they could be fooled. I think your friend that's writing about the pedophile needs to be careful if she cares what people will say about her writing (which will be blasted, but not becuz the writing's bad, but becuz they don't like the subject matter) and what they'll say about her personally. People will feel either 1) she's trying to make a quick buck, or 2) she PERSONALLY must condone these things, if she's writing about it. A few years ago, Brett Easton Ellis, who was fairly respected as an "up & coming" young writer, came out with a novel called "American Psycho" that was the story of a serial killer told in first person. From what I understand, the killer had a very engaging personality, and he described his acts in lurid detail. Now I didn't read the book, but did pick thru it, and it was pretty terrifying. It literally made my hands shake. I understood why Easton did it--it just came to him, and he needed to get it out, and he's probably got the whole "car-wreck" fascination with serial killers going on. (His other stuff is pretty weird, as well. I have read that, and liked it, even tho parts made me sick.) I read a couple interviews with him where he said the whole thing really messed with his head & disgusted and scared him. Now in the "literary" world, he was just CRUCIFIED for that novel. Whereas once he was a gifted young writer, he now became a spoiled, selfish sensationalist who was just a little too big for his britches. In a word, he became a hack. I had a creative writing professor that would slam him every chance she got for that book (which, incidentally, she didn't read--a whole other topic, there).
That said, I like villians, particularly if they're likeable & believeable. Like BEN said, there has to be something that keeps the reader's attention. One of the things that I don't like about horror fiction is that it's not believeable. Stuff by Stephen King or Dean Koonz, monsters from Hell in the sewer or whatever--give me a break. Serial killers possessed by demons, shut up. I think your friend should go for it. If it's believable, it'll be a success, but she should be ready for the backlash.
Incidentally, I'm going to a lecture given by John Douglas next Thursday. It's funny that this topic would come up just now.
PS. Where's the email you said you'd send me? I must admit you've got my curiousity.

NICOLE: I think you're probably feeling overwhelmed. You invisioned it as a short story, not something you wanted to spend a lot of time on, and it was such a good idea that we all wanted more. Maybe you should just sit on it for a little while, not do anything--write other stuff, and come back to it once in a while. I sure wouldn't dump the story tho, I think it's got a lot of potential.

Y'all have a good day. k

A.J. Mon Mar 31 08:28:31 PST 1997

I hope everyone had a good holiday. Mine was too short, but great weather. Yes, to all of you up North (and down under), it is Spring down South. Dogwoods, tulips, azaleas, daffodils, wisteria, etc. are all out in full force. Oh yeah, pollen, too. (*Great* for allergies/asthma.)

Nicole: I lose interest in projects all the time. I have endless numbers of stories that I've started and put on hold. But, most of them I feel I will go back to in time. Right now, I am really working hard on a novel, and I actually have not gotten sick of working on it yet. If you're not enjoying working on something, put it aside. If it's a chore for you to write, chances are it will be a chore for the reader to read. You may come back to it in a few months (or even years) with a fresh perspective and passion for the project.

Philip: I guess villains are a part of fiction. I agree with Ben that villains can't be 100% evil. They need to be more dimensional than the classic fairytale monster that is totally evil, and everyone is glad when they meet their end. I write in first-person view of the heroine, so I see the villain as my heroine does. I can more easily distance myself from the villain than someone who is writing from the viewpoint of the villain. I have done first person character sketches of my villains and found their ulterior motives for their actions. I think, however, that I would find it very difficult to write from the perspective of a pedophile. I don't know if it is just my writing style or my feelings on the subject. I do admire anyone who would attempt such an undertaking. I would find it very hard to distance myself.


Ben again Sun Mar 30 23:11:56 PST 1997

Hey, I didn't get to finish my train of thought. It suddenly jumped and that was the end of it.

What I'm trying to say is that no matter how villainous the character, there's got to be something good in him as well, something that keeps the reader interested in him as a character. Whether it's his past life and the reasons for him to be the way he is, or his compasion for certain things, be it animals or music, there has to be something good in him too. A character can not be totally evil, otherwise he becomes boring to write about for the writer. Isn't it more interesting to make him as complex as you can? And by making him complex, you have to show things about him that you would not look for in the same sort of person were you to meet him in real life. Who wants to know people like that anyway? I don't.
That's about it for now, and sorry about that glitch up there, I don't know how that happene.
P.S. I hope you had a good Easter.

Ben Woestenburg Sun Mar 30 23:01:13 PST 1997

Hello Phillip! Nice to hear from you again. Please excuse all the typos in advance, but it's another wine day -- okay, weekend. (I do like my drinks.)

As for your question. I think villainous characters are by far the better ones to write about because as a basically nice guy -- which I am as if I need to remind you -- they show all the qualities in a person that you hate the most. I heard on a radio program once that the people you meet and dislike you dislike because the characteristics you see in them, you see mirrored in yourself. I don't know if it's true, but it made a lot of sense at the time. If you meet a person and don't like him because you feel he is selfish and greedy, then perhaps you feel that you have those qualities in your own personality. We all write from our own experiences: i.e., we're influenced by the people we meet and know, no matter what kinds of people they are. I know lots of people that would fall into various categories, from good to down right evil. But I feel that writing about them you should be able to distance yourself from them, just as easily as you can distance yourself from the good guys. It's just a story afterall, and if you let it bother you that much then something is wrong.
Personally, when I write, and if I write about a person who is a real asshole, I don't take him to bed with me when I leave the computer to go to bed. I don't dream about him or have nightmares, because I distance myself from the story. I don't know if I could write about a paedophile though, because that kind of personality doesn't appeal to me personally, but I can write about wife beatings and rapes, murders and acts of viloence, because I've grown up with that. It's like T.V. or movie violence. It doesn't bother me in the least bit. I think it has something to do with my generation and the fact that we used to watch the Vietnam war on the 6:00 o'clock news every night.My wife didn't grow up with it because I guess they didn't really show a lot of it in Fiji. It bothers her top see dead bodies on the news, but me, I just shrug it off.

Philip Sun Mar 30 20:44:13 PST 1997

HELLO EVERYONE: I would like to pose a question.... what do our group think about writing villainous characters?... the demand and effect on the writer?

A female friend of mine is writing the novel of a male paedophile in the first person. I thought I would begin to be concerned for her after about the sixth month.

What say you?

Back soon - Philip.

Ben Woestenburg Sat Mar 29 00:53:41 PST 1997

Brit: You're so cute! I've got a joke for you. I think you might like it. My friend Kim told it to me. He's my brother-in-law's partner in the hair salon.

A guy goes walking into a bar and sits down, orders a drink and puts his briefcase on the bar beside him. He opens it up and takes out a toy piano, puts it on the bar. Then he reaches into his briefcase and pulls out a tiny little guy in tux and tails who sits down and starts to play on the piano. The bartender come walking over a moment later and is quite excited by what he see.

"Wow! Where'd you get him?"

"Him? Oh, I've got a genie in my pocket."

"No way. Do you really?"

"Sure. Wanna make a wish?"

"Why not?" he says and thinks for a moment. "Okay. Genie? I want 50 million bucks."

Suddenly the room is full of ducks. 50 million of them. They're everywhere, and the guy can hardly see to the other side of the bar room.

"What the hell is this?" he asks the man. "I didn't say I wanted 50 miliion ducks. I said 50 million BUCKS!!!"

The man looks at him and smiles. "Do you think I asked for a fourteen inch pianist?"

I made him tell my wife and she almost fell off the couch because it took her a while to figure it out. She's like that with jokes which makes it even funnier when she does finally get them.

Great party joke if you tell it right. I sure wish I could make my way down there to cheer you on, but someone has to feed the dog.


Randy Kibler Fri Mar 28 20:54:00 PST 1997

If anyone out there is reading about the army, specifically the infantry, I am seriously thinking of doing a story. I have my own *war* stories but I know that some of you have your own too. Let me know, I think that *we* could have a cool thing.


Britomart Fri Mar 28 14:48:22 PST 1997

Hell, there's so much to catch up on. That's what you get for staying off your computer for a few days.

Ben: I've said it before, I'll say it again - you should be writing your memoirs. Your entries are always so bloody interesting and funny. I can't believe that guy successfully sued you. There was a case in New Zealand recently where a burglar broke into somebody's house through their roof, and in part the roof was dodgy and it crumbled in. The burglar fell and broke his leg and sued the owners of the house. Luckily, it was thrown out of court. But can you imagine the gall it takes to do something like that? I'm constantly amazed at what bastards people can be. Besides, this whole sue and counter-sue culture is so profoundly economically rational - it's just a natural extension of capitalism (evil, evil capitalism).

AJ: So glad to hear you're a Shakespeare buff. Every Wednesday five of my friends come over and we have a Shakespeare reading group - we all sit around the table with choc chip cookies and coffee and read the plays out loud. It's great fun, and we're constantly turning away people who want to join - six people is enough, anymore would be too many. I thoroughly recommend it as a way to get acquainted with more of his works. My favourite plays are Macbeth, Lear, the Tempest and Twelfth Night.

Deb: The workshop sounds great, and how wonderful to have a direct publishing contact. It's only a matter of time, I can feel it in my bones. This forum seems to have some kind of lucky spell on it. (Hmm, now there's an idea for a story).

Nicole: If you've lost interest in the story, can it and start another. The words you write of unfinished stories are not wasted - think of them as stepping stones. I read somewhere that Ray Bradbury said it takes a million words before a writer can say he's any good. I wrote 800 000 before I had a book accepted (including my journal).

Kasin: I find talking about my idea helps, just from the point of view that people's questions are often very useful. "But why would he/she do that?" It makes me think about things like motivation and thematic issues. I'm a really transparent writer - I post my agent every three or four chapters and get immediate feed back. I'd die trying to keep it all inside for a year. I guess it's a problem if I'm too easily influenced by the opinons of others, but my writing is one thing that I am very confident about.

Everyone: My launch is all organised for the 2nd of July, down at the University bookshop (has a posh cafe attached). So if anybody was planning on taking a trip to Australia around then, please drop by.

I'm going to go have some promotional pictures taken of myself today, and I'll try to get one taken in "the dress" so that I can scan it in for you all to see. Happy Pagan fertility festival everyone (ever notice how Easter and Estrogen sound really similar?)

Kasin Hunter Fri Mar 28 05:54:24 PST 1997

I lose energy/passion for a story if I talk about it a lot. I often don't tell anyone what it is I'm working on until it's practically pagenated. That way all the juices circulate inside of me instead of wasting themselves on others. Occasional hitches are different, but then I only ask/share about that, then quit.

I write in one big thrust, for the most part. Kind of like making love--I get started, do it, and by the time it's done, I'm exhausted. The passion is gone, but the work for the most part is done.

Sometimes I go back to it a few weeks later, revise, primp, incorporate a better twist or two, etc. The time away helps me see it somewhat fresh again.

Reading someone else's work helps sometimes to energize the well. Or watching a well made video. Talking to an expert in the manuscript's subject field, attacking each section from a different angle (instead of having the protag. dominate the scene, I give it a secondary to work.) Sometimes, I just go work in my garden while thinking about a certain part of the story. What would so-and-so say? Etc. I have the characters go with me, talk with me about what they see as wrong or what they want. Each time, my spiration comes a slightly different place. I use what works at the time.


Nicole Jones Thu Mar 27 20:49:40 PST 1997

Remember that story I posted and then I was thinking of expanding it into a novel? Well, based on what you all said about length, I don't think I can stretch it quite that long. I know I can make it longer, but then it'd probably not be a short story any longer, as far as magazine guidelines usually ask for. So then what do I do with it if it's, let's say a quarter the length of a novel? Besides that, now that I've gotten all this great advice from you all and see all the possibilities, I've lost interest and don't want to work on it anymore. Is this something anyone else encounters? HELP!!!!! (please!)

Deb Borys Thu Mar 27 16:38:25 PST 1997

Hi, I'm back. The novel writing workshop was just what I needed. Got practically no sleep, but got lots of inspiration and made some good connections at the same time. The mystery editor of Walker Publishing was there the whole week and wants to see my suspense novel! There's a few changes I want to make based on things I picked up at the conference (length for one thing, Walker wants no more than 70,000 for mysteries). But I should have it ready to send in a month or two at the most.

The editor also suggested I go to the Dark and Stormy Nights conference in Chicago this June. Says it's a good opportunity to make contacts. Anyone out there know anything about it, or plan to go?

I'll write more later and respond to some of the recent threads, but I've got to get organized so I can start working on my future!


A.J. Thu Mar 27 11:55:59 PST 1997

New email address. I think that it is right. Anyway, I've got to run for Easter too. I may be able to log in this weekend, but I don't know.

Anon: I don't know if you meant to be rude, but if you're going to leave a comment, at least leave your name. We aren't bad people and accept suggestions as long as they are meant creatively! It's hard to take you seriously when you don't leave your name.

James, Hello and good luck. Make yourself at home. I have. I've only been here for a couple of weeks, but I am getting to know everyone.

Ben, I like your postings. They are great and make me laugh. I don't think I agree about the story transcending the setting, but maybe I just like the gaudy costumes and sets.

Kae: I know Steve Urkel. Gosh, if there is anyone out there actually like him, God help us all! My brother used to do a great impression. He is really tall and skinny and could do the voice just right.

Happy Easter to all,

Toby Buckell Thu Mar 27 11:26:20 PST 1997

Gotta run for Easter. Probably won't be able to get to another computer until tuesday, so I will be missing you all 'till then.

Toby B

Ben Woestenburg Thu Mar 27 10:46:43 PST 1997

KAE: I know you're not dissing me, and I pretty well have to agree with you for the most part. A lot of people I work with would definitely sue someone else they worked with. In fact, now that I recall, it happened to ME! Can you believe it? Got drunk, drove this guy's car to the liquor store because he said he was too drunk to drive but we had to have more to I did it. Made it all the way there and back and then got into the mill yard doing about fifty m.p.h., hit a huge puddle and slammed into a package of lumber. Quite the mess. I just walked into the lunch room, threw the keys on the table, told him his car was in the yard wrapped around a package and then started to drink again. He wanted to take me to court for smacking it up and I tried to tell him he was just as much to blame for it as I was because he insisted that I go in the first place. Anyway, he sued me, but when I was served with the summons I was too stoned or drunk or something (those early days are a bit of a haze)to care. He ended up getting what he wanted though. Had my wages garanshied(?). Cost me more than the damn car was worth. So I saw it parked in a parking lot one night and walked by it with my key. Straight from the front to the back and as deep as I could get it. Afterall, I paid for it. He just went to work the next day and painted a line down the side with a can of spray paint. In the meantime, I went into the bar he was sitting in and waved to him, smiling and feeling somewhat satisfied. A little catty perhaps, but satisfying all the same.
Personally however, I find it goes against my nature to sue anyone for anything. I'm more than happy to say that I'm not the only one: there is ONE other person I know like that aside from my wife. Unfortunately for him and me, we're plagued with bad luck as far as money matters go (that is, when you consider the financial settlements these other people are getting from exaggerated claims et al). But we both sleep better for it, and we believe that good things come to those who are good. Considering we were both pretty wild and crazy guys in our younger days and sometimes wonder how we survived, we both believe things will change for the better eventually.

As for people I work with and the nicknmaes we come up with? They are priceless. Because there are no women there, we don't care what we call each other. We used to have a guy there who was what you'd call a weekned biker. Tall, thin, rather handsome when he cleaned himself up my wife always said, but with a huge beard that sort of fanned out and was trimmed neatly. He looked just like a Hillbilly when he wore his duster -- you know, that long coat? We called him Zeke.
Then my friend, the one I referred to earlier about being unable to sue anyone? He used to be a boatman and was just learning the job when the Rambo movie came out. He kept running into things and hitting things. We called him RAMBOAT. Then he laughingly said he went form being a macho boatman to a PEEWEE went he went to a Willie Nelson concert with Zeke and got so drunk he threw up and had to be carried out over Zeke's shoulder just as the St.John's ambulance guiys wanted to have him thrown in the drunk tank. He said Zeke just wadied throuygh the crowd and scooped him up with one motion and just kept walking. Then there's Bomber Tom, because he used to do a lot of downers, and Peewee/Ramboat's other nickname became Stevie Vee because he got into Valiums...Too funny. A great bunch of guys and too much fun. Just those few little anecdotes alone help me to understand why I kept putting my writing off in my twenties. I was having too much fun!

A.J.: I haven't seen the new Romeo, but I'm willing to give it a shot. I like the soundtrack, I like the story -- hell, I love WEST SIDE STORY. So, yeah, I'd love to see it. Why not? The story transcends the setting I believe. It stands alone for what it is, a great piece of lit.

JAMES: Great to have you on board kid. I was about your age when I thought I'd try to tackle a few ideas I had suddenly come up with. Keep plugging away and take every advantage of your youth you can by studying everything you can.

JACK E: Ideas come at the strangest times and in the strangest places. Carry a note pad and start looking through the newspapers and magazines. You'll come up with something.

ANON: Anonymous? What? Too chickenshit to post your name? Just leave a snide comment and slink off into the dark again? Kae's right, you are obnoxious.

Toby, A.J.: What I know about computers is nothing. All I know is that I can do a lot more than I could when I was using my old typewriter. I don't type with anymore than three or four fingers at a time because boys didn't really take typing classes in highschool, only the nerds and fruits did. Boy was I stupid! I should have told myself: Hey, if there's nothing but a room full of girls in there, why wouldn't you want to take it?

Anyways, I've got to run. I got a little carried away here, but that all right with me if it's all right with you? I'll log on tonight and see what's happening.

Kae Thu Mar 27 07:14:15 PST 1997

Hi guys. Thanks for all your wasn't exactly what I wanted to hear, tho. Oh well. I was hoping everyone would say, "Hell, just change the names & you're home free!!" Too bad life just doesn't work out the way we want it to....

I could change some more things, I guess. Actually, I'm pretty sympathetic to most of the characters--it's really an anti-management type story. (I'm probably never going to leave the high-school-rebel stage.) I just worry, because these people weren't friends or anything, and if I describe someone as having a husband who cheats (and he didn't), I'm afraid she might have grounds to sue. They're all blue collar, and hate their jobs more than you could imagine, and if they thought I made some money from their get the idea. One thing about blue-collar people, and you can probably back me up on this BEN (Tho I'm absolutely NOT dissing you, please don't think that), is that they work so damn hard for lower-middle class wages and no sense of acheivement, if they smell cash from a lawsuit, they'll sue their best friend. Oh well, I guess I'll just do it and see. After all, I may never even finish the thing anyway.

AJ: You're probably right, but man, the nicknames are PERFECT. We had a supervisor that looked just like Steve Urkel, you know, from that TV show? Freckle faced, flood pants hiked up to his boobs (he had BOOBS), thick glasses. There was also this big, nasty biker woman we called Big Mamma. They're both in the story. Can anyone think of nicknames along these lines that are just as funny?

BEN: D.H. Laurence, oh boy. I forgot about that guy. I'm going to have to read Sons & Lovers again someday. (I think my mom built her personality based on the mother in that story. Or else on Cruella DeVille.) The reason he probably didn't get sued was becuz of the times. They were worried about more important things, like staying alive, when you could die of, like, diarreah (sp?). Alienating people doesn't bother me, I just wish they would leave it at that. It's been my experience that once you're successful at anything, people come after you, looking for blood. Look at PeeWee Herman.
Oh, and I'm going to be the lone dissenter here: don't cut your hair! Your wife, sooner or later, won't be able to handle the uh, dry spell (pun pun pun), either! I have the exact opposite problem: the Snaggle Tooth keeps shaving his damn head. He'll actually start to look good (picture Brad Pitt with bad teeth), and then he'll buzz it all away.

ANONYMOUS #1: Good God! You're even more obnoxious than I!

Thanks again for the advice. If anyone else thinks of something, let me know.

James Joyner horebe@sanford-tech.sanford Thu Mar 27 05:36:06 PST 1997

Hello all you writers of science fiction,fantasy,and horror.My name is James Joyner,I'm 16 years old and I'm a beginner in this writing Biz.I've started a couple of stories that I've written.I've written a couple of short stories and I've just finished my first long-story,and I am working on the sequel.If you want to read it,E-mail me at leave your address,and name so that I can mail you a copy.Thanks
-James Joyner

A.J. Thu Mar 27 05:34:02 PST 1997

Toby, a little sarcasm. It's not necessarily the PCs. I just don't trust Microsoft. Word 6.0 has some sort of bug, so it won't even run on my Mac (which should have enough power to run it. Well, technically it will run. It just puts about an inch of space between words. I have totally deleted it and reinstalled it and still doesn't work). I liked Word 5.1 for the Mac; I use Clarisworks right now. It uses minimal battery power. I am forced to use Microsoft at work and I lose some work whenever my computer decides to bomb on me. (Knock on wood.) Believe it or not, I did start out on PCs. To each his own. But, you are right - it beats pen and paper. I type faster than I write, and less writer's cramp. Although, I do much revision with the pen and paper method.

Ben, glad it's not just a biased woman's opinion about the Mel Gibson version. I would have loved to see the play version with James Earl Jones as Claudius. (I think he also played King Lear at one time.) I like seeing different versions too, but I could never force myself to go and see the "modern" day Romeo and Juliet that was released a few months ago. Something about Shakepeare dialog in modern clothes and modern settings. What do you think?


Anonymous - mkII Wed Mar 26 17:47:23 PST 1997

......mmmmm....*methinks Anonymous ain't got no idea in that zapped up brain at all*....

Anonymous Wed Mar 26 17:31:57 PST 1997

Good God! If only my ideas weren't a tidal wave bearing down on me. AHH. I only get off a fraction of what's ever slamming through these channels.

Tell you what. I hate to sound a pain, but read a load of SF stories and novels right after the other. If you haven't gotten so much as an inkling of an idea after an onslaught like that, I confess to believing that you should try something like a plot generator.

Jack E VIKINGFAN@PRODIGY.NET Wed Mar 26 16:46:03 PST 1997

Anyone who can give me an idea for a science fiction story, it would be appreciated...Please E-Mail w/ any ideas you have.

Toby Buckell Wed Mar 26 16:10:14 PST 1997

A.J- Do I detect the sarcastic stab of a Mac user? I form the sign of the evil eye...surely...but no.

Just kidding. My Stepfather and I have frequent fights over which is best, and I've come to two conclusions:

1) Both systems are about the same level by now, with some models being better than others on both sides. It's probably a matter of which system you first started out with. A question of loyalty I suppose.

2) I really don't give a damn any more. As long as there is a word processor(spellcheck please), a printer, a moniter, a keyboard, and I can write a bloody story on it, I'm happy. Mac PC or anything else you drop in front of me. It beats paper and pen.

Though I'm not knocking paper and pen, mind you. I do most of the beginnings of my stories and first snippets of dialogue on paper with pen/pencil/quill(ha ha) or crayons in boring classes. You can map things out quicker this way. I think.

Toby B

Ben Woestenburg Wed Mar 26 12:53:56 PST 1997

A.J.: I liked Mel Gibson's HAMLET too, but I'm a firm believer that every interpretation of the Bard is worth seeing. They were playing all sorts of specials out here a few years ago on a local knowledge network program, but it was hard to see them because they were on Friday nights and I was on swing shift back then. Add to that the fact that we only had one T.V. and my wife was determined to watch her programs and you can see where that left me.

KAE: I believe D.H.Lawrence used to Create his characters based on the people he knew. They were unflattering accounts to say the least, and I'm sure his friends didn't want to have much to do with him afterwards, but he never got sued. I do believe however that Phillip adressed the question somewhere in the archives. I just can't remember what exactly he said. I feel the same way you do about the situation, because soem of the people I work with are the funniest and quirkiest characters you could ever hope to meet. And the nicknames are priceless -- but when you work with a bunch of guys, that's bound to happen.

We're now officially a one car family.

Now I have to work on my short story.

Oh, and by the way, I stopped in to see my brother-in-law the hair dresser and told him it was a question of sex. He just laughed at me and told me that he was going to colour it as well -- his choice of colour. I said ix-nay to that, because the last time he did that he said it was going to be blonde and it came out looking more like a reddish blonde, a tawny, coppery colour that really went over big with the guys in the mill. Every time he says he wants to experiment with my hair, I have to remind him that I work in a sawmill, not downtown in a trendy clothing store. So I'll get him to clean it up and try to leave the length in the back. I just don't remember where it said in the marriage vows I wasn't allowed to change my look. (She does it all the time.)


A.J. Austin Wed Mar 26 09:07:36 PST 1997

Toby, I admire your resolve to delete the games from your hard drive. (I also admire your resolve to use Windows'95, but that's probably just a biased opinion. I am not a Microsoft user, if you can't tell.) I can't delete the games off my hard drive. I know that I would just find some other distraction, so what's the point. They do help stress levels occasionally.

Ben, I love Shakespeare. My husband gave me this grand old huge volume of Shakespeare for my birthday. I've heard that Kenneth Braunnaugh's (sp?) version of Hamlet is very long, but good if you're willing to sit through it all. Personally, I liked Mel Gibson's version, but that's probably another biased opinion on my part. I'll be taking a Shakespeare class this summer, so I'll have time to read some of his plays that I haven't yet. Nothing like being forced to do something to get it done. Good luck with the car situation, and my two cents, just get a haircut!

Kae: I don't have a legal answer for you, but I would warn you to be careful. People sue for less nowdays. I'd love to write some stories about these people that I work with, but that's off the subject. I probably wouldn't use actual nicknames and I probably would change physical attributes at the least. Anyone else out there with more legal knowledge?


Kae Wed Mar 26 06:14:54 PST 1997

Hi everyone, I have a question for y'all. I read something about this subject in the archives, but no one asked/answered the question in this particular way:

Let's say you're writing a novel, and the novel is about a place you worked. You have characters that are based on real-life people who are still working there, even tho you're not. The characters look basically like the actual people, but you've changed the names, and as far as you know, the "off-work lives" that you describe you've created. None of these people were your friends, but they weren't enemies, either. (Basically you did your job and got the !?$& outta there.) The things that happen on the job in the novel REALLY did happen in real life, and some of the conversations are word-for-word. Some of the people are described very, very unflatteringly (in action & in physical appearance). Some of the characters have the same nicknames as the people they're based on.

Provided someone would want to publish it: Can you get sued, even if you have the disclaimer that they're all fictious in the beginning of the book? I am really agonising over this. I really don't want to have to change anything, the nicknames and conversations in particular, or the physical descriptions.


And check out If you're a writer, and you HAVEN'T felt this way at some point, you are my hero.

Ben Woestenburg Wed Mar 26 01:55:17 PST 1997

Brit: Sorry, I missed the Oscars, but my wife watched them and gave me the low-down on everything this morning when she woke me up. I was more happy that THE ENGLISH PATIENT won because it was a Canadian story. I never saw SHINE, but from the clips of it I did see, I sort of figured he was a shoe-in for the Oscar. I did see FARGO though, and thought it was great. I knew she was going to win too. She had too. I was glad they also picked up the Oscar for the screenplay. Now that's a movie well worth seeing.
It's hard to get out and see a movie now-a-days, and it seems the only thing on the agenda is the STAR WARS trilogy. Nothing like seeing it on the big screen. I want to see HAMLET more than any other movie though. I'm a big fan of Kenneth Brannagh(?). Anyone who likes the old Bard as much as him gets my support. I have this little tiny book about two inches tall -- two of them actually -- JULIUS CEASAR and OTHELLO. I usually slip one into my shirt pocket and bring it to work with me. The guys all think I'm crazy, and should come in out of the past. I like to read snippets of it to my daughter. She seems to be more receptive to that kind of stuff than my son does. She loves Marc Antony's funeral oration. I haven't had anytime to read this week though. I'm on an assembly line for the week because they've shut half the mill down. (Not a sign of things to come I hope. I'm not ready for it yet.) All I can say is thank God it's a short week!
I got my car on the road, but my little scam didn't work. I thought I was going to have to bribe the guy just to test it. I told him I knew it was going to fail, but that I had to get it insured before I could get it fixed. I guess it's what you'd call the ol' Catch-22. He said he'd do it, but compensation rules state you can't test a car without an emergency brake. The funny thing is that yesterday a friend told me that she knew someone who knew someone else that worked there and for a price -- $30 -- she'd pass me. Honesty's the best policy though, and I gave up trying to scam and sneak my way through life a long time ago. Unfortunately, good guys finish last. (I guess that's enough cliches for a while.) Twenty years ago I might have done it, but I've learned a lot more about life in that twenty years to finally realize that I'm not that sort of person. Too bad for me, because now I have to get my car fixed and it's going to cost major bucks. I think I'm like that because any time I've ever tried to cheat, I've always got caught. I've done a lot of stupid things, but I know when to draw the line, which is probably why I'm not in prison.
But, at least I got my tax money today -- even less than I was expecting -- and it should help us out until the summer time, as long as we don't go on strike! Boy, I gotta hurry up and sell that book! I just haven't had any time to do any writing this week except start that short story. (It's 1500 words, not 500.)
Gotta go now, because I have to get up early again and get rid of the condemned car my wife used to drive. I used to take it for granted having two cars, I hope I never do that again!

Britomart Tue Mar 25 14:34:35 PST 1997

Yay, yay - Geoffrey Rush won an Oscar! And he went to my university (a long time ago). Yay!

Toby Buckell Tue Mar 25 14:32:23 PST 1997

Games on computers are my failing. Particularly Civilization. I have been known to play that game until the wee hours of the morning.

A month ago I deleted all computer games from my computer to get rid of (excuses, distractions not to write) etc etc. However, a week ago, I weakened from my resolve and tried to install a game. I've done this a thousand times before, but something went wrong (systems crash, yay), and now I basically run Win95 in *safe* mode in order to write, and had to boot the cd-rom/audio player by hand to get music to listen too. On the upside, without the ability or temptation to play games or look at my alien landscapes collection etc etc (some cool stuff by Boris vallejo in there), I have since gotten two stories finished and I am working heavily on a third.

I do agree laptops are awesome. I used my stepfather's once for a while, and found the ability to leave and move around very conducive to my writing turnout, for the weekend I used it. Now all I have to do is learn how to type and I might get somewhere!

Toby B

Charles Samuel Tue Mar 25 11:27:40 PST 1997

A doctor friend of mine in New York forwarded this via email recently. I thought it might help... If all else fails try chicken soup.

treatment of earache
[Author unknown]

I have an earache...

2000 B.C.E. - Here, eat this root.

1000 C.E. - That root is heathen. Here, say this prayer.

1850 C.E. - That prayer is superstition. Here, drink this potion.

1940 C.E. - That potion is snake oil. Here, swallow this pill.

1985 C.E. - That pill is ineffective. Here, take this antibiotic.

2000 C.E. - That antibiotic is artificial. Here, eat this root.

BRIT: I'm so happy that you're pleased with the cover. I've a couple of friends who were really disappointed with what the publisher designed. Can't wait to see the scan.

BEN: Get a haircut.

A.J. Austin Tue Mar 25 08:29:06 PST 1997

Well, I don't think I'll ever get around to contributing something valuable to the workgroup. No time to write, much less read. Maybe this summer will be better...

I currently have about 9,000 words on my novel. I guess that leaves approximately 71,000 to go. Me, negative? never...

Toby, laptops are wonderful inventions. I got mine a few months ago and would not give it up for any desktop unit. It's a Mac, by no means is it the top of the line, but I love it and it certainly suits my purposes. I am able to write anywhere. It goes with me on vacation,and I can move around the house or enjoy the day outside with it. (Warning, they are also dangerous. Try not to put too many games on it. There is nothing less productive than sitting in front of the TV with your laptop, playing Civilization and watching X-files.)

Trudy, hope you are better!

Brit, congratulations on the cover. I can't wait to see it.

To everyone, Happy Easter!


Kasin Hunter Tue Mar 25 05:56:05 PST 1997

Ben--get the haircut. Have sex. Then write about it. Elizabeth Benedict ("The Joy of Writing Sex") may stand and applaude. Ya never know.

Brit--congrats on the cover. Looking forward to seeing it.

Trudy--keep fighting that bug, lady.

Gardeners of the southwest--rejoice! Spring is here and the blisters are popping out everywhere. Gardening feeds writing, I truly believe. Even with the hours of slavery, it's like a mini-vacation stepping into the fields of green. THis week, gourd and flower seeds. The tomatoes are in. Now to tackle that square foot.

Britomart Tue Mar 25 01:22:10 PST 1997

Hey folks! Got my cover and it looks fantastic. I'll get it scanned in soon so that you can all check it out. I've also approached the university book shop about having my launch there and they're very excited about it - an author on campus! I'm so thrilled, not the least reason being that I will be able to wear "the dress" - I won't have to save it for another occasion.

With regards to book length - I think this is something that is very much dependent on the genre. My book is 135000 words long, and that's about the target they gave me. My editor told me the other day it will be around 490 pages or so. I can't wait to see it. I think "literary" fiction is generally shorter than "genre" fiction, if I can be allowed to make that distinction. Though a lot of romance fiction does tend to be quite short - hell, don't ask me, I don't know.

Meanwhile, I haven't written a word since semester started (ie. for about a month) and I'm trying not to get too panicked. Perhaps I just need a break.

Well, gotta go. We're having an Oscars party here tonight, and I have friends arriving soon. Go the Aussies (I do hope you have all seen "Shine").


Toby Buckell Mon Mar 24 14:43:59 PST 1997

I always have wondered about the length of a novel (optimum). However I never really bothered to find out as I had only roughly 7,000 (not counting failed drafts and paper written stuff) words and wasn't expecting to have to worry about length for a good while.

As for the non-music people. To each their own. I never listened to music much to write too until I moved to the states, in the caribbean the silence was sweet to me, but up here there are either cars or people (particularly in a college dorm, where noise is part of the surrounding locale), not the sweet sounds of the sea.

Eventually I hope to make enough to buy a laptop this summer, and thus be able to work in nature surroundings or other such bizarre places.

Cheerio. Toby B.

Ben Woestenburg Mon Mar 24 14:36:07 PST 1997

80,000 words! But I've already got 150,000! Either I'm going to be doing a lot of chopping, or I'd better get myself a publisher who's a little more understanding as far as my story goes.

Hi guys, I'm back. I had a busy week here just trying to get by. I thought I had it all licked when I had my taxes done and was informed I'd be getting $3640 back, but alas, there was a little mistake and it's coming in at just under $1500 now. Too bad, so sad, but hey, that's the way it goes, doesn't it?

Out here in B.C. we have this thing called Air Care, it's for the emissions coming out of your car. I knew it was going to fail, but I had to take it in before I could buy my insurance, then I have to bring it back after I get it fixed and go through the whole thing all over again. So I took it in today, and they asked me to put on the emergency brake and I said, "But it's broken." They just shrugged their shoulders and said, "Tough luck for you buddy. Bring it back when you get it fixed." Talk about depressing! So I came back home, jimmied around with the cable, and got the light to go on. I guess I have to go back now and see if I can pull a fast one on them. I doubt it, but it's worth a shot.

I started to write a short story because I've been reading this book of American Short Stories that I've had kicking about for some years (even though I'm not supposed to read at work anymore), and I've decided to finally write about what I know. A story about a guy in a sawmill. I don't know how it's going to go. I don't even have a plotline for it, but I have a couple of pages - that's about 500 words I guess -- and we'll just see how it goes from there.

My wife wants me to get a haircut in the worst way now. It's not all that long yet. She says she refuses to have sex with me until I get it cut and I just laughed at her and said that was all right with me. That's at least another two or three minutes of writing then, isn't it? At least she's still got her sense of humor as far as that goes. So maybe I'll have to compromise and get a trim, but I hate to think I can be controlled and manipulated that easily. Doesn't say much for the male end of the species does it?

We started painting Manni's house this weekend. The lino's going in and then the carpets. He says it'll be at least a month before he takes the computer back, so I'd better get my ass in gear and print up everything I want and need before it's too late.

I'm on the afternoon shift for this week because I wanted to get all this stuff done with the car. Doesn't leave me any time for writing though. (How does she expect me to get a haircut if I can't get any writing time in? -- Oops, there's that sex thing again!)

Anyways, I have to get off right now and try to figure out if I can get away with this brake scam. We need this car because the other one was condemned, written off because some kid hit it. So I'll stop in tonight after work and read whatever's up, and then try it all over again tomorrow (because my wife isn't home right now and I have to wait for the kids to come home from school).


Philip Mon Mar 24 13:25:45 PST 1997

WILMA: welcome to the group.

Jack's advice regarding the size of a book is right on.

Purists will say a book is as long as it becomes in its writing... but pressures from economists and sound business management prevails in the real world, as we all know.

Manuscripts are always measured in words not pages because the size of type and spacing
can vary so much. And books vary in size as you have seen on the shelves... but my publisher Harper Collins want 80,000 words. They say it's the optimum size for selling, not too big and not too small. So you'll have do your own maths if you want convert it to pages (why bother) but 80,000 words is the target.

PS: I had email returned using the address you posted here.

Back soon - Philip

Jack Beslanwitch Sun Mar 23 22:05:47 PST 1997

OK, I believe the usual rule of thumb is somewhere in the vacinity of 65,000 to 100,000 words depending on the genre. The specifications for the romance genre are different on average I would think than say the epic fantasy market and that would be different than science fiction and on and on. As for how words work out into typed pages, the saw was about 250 words per page. I'm not sure if this is what a computer page would be, but you can basically check your word processor and otherwise do the math assuming 250 words per page was the case. Four pages per thousand words times 100 or 400 typed pages for 100,000 words. But a Harlequin would have less words than a Tom Clancy novel or for that matter Robert Jordan. Then again, I probably would not be able to read a Harlequin much less write one, but that's a prejudice on my part that might come from gender ;-). Cheers.

Wilma Duncan omb00726@mail-wvnet-edu Sun Mar 23 20:23:28 PST 1997

In response to Nicole Jones question of how many typed pages of a manuscript constitutes a novel. I to would like know how many. Anyone have the answer to this?

Trudy Sun Mar 23 16:11:19 PST 1997

Thanks Linda and Kasin for the cold and flu advice but I believe I am well on my way to recovery after much sleep over the weekend. Just a bit of a cough and a runny nose left. Hopefully it continues to go away but if not I will definitely check into some of your suggestions. I happen to swear by Neo Citron. I enjoy drinking them and find they knowck me out and take away the achy feeling and other symptoms.

Jack et al: I will see if I can find a room or create a room and then maybe have someone else with IRC capabilities meet me sometime. Anybody willing and able? It may not be this week however as I have an insane amount of work. Plus I want to contalk a friend who set up his own chat room and see what is involved. Otherwise I'm pretty sure there are a ton of empty room just waiting to be moved into that we could borrow temporarily.I'll keep you posted and again I need a volunteer to meet me sometime in the next week or so!

Gotta write some articles for work now so I'll see ya later...Trudy

Linda Sat Mar 22 20:21:44 PST 1997

Kasin and Trudy:
Pharmacist Linda ( I really am a pharmacist) concurs with your advice on the cold. Try Zinc Lozenges instead of straight Zinc. The lozenges prevent the viruses from adhering to the mucus membrane hence reducing the severity and length of the cold. The Golden Seal/Echinichea combination pumps up the immune system. Both of these remedies are documented and really to work.

Kasin: There aren't any pink dots on my screen either.

To the rest of you: Sorry for this diversion into pharmaceutical chemistry. - at least to the mundane flu chasing kind. Sorry it's illegal for me to advise on the interesting stuff that would stimulate our Muses into creative action. Maybe the cause of Kasin's pink dots has a pharmaceutical , biological source - and is in fact energizing her passions ????? ( Am I becoming Robin Cook??) Don't I wish !

So much for this drivel! Have a wonderful weekend and happy 3rd day of spring to you all.

Kasin Hunter Sat Mar 22 18:40:07 PST 1997

Trudy, if you're not taking these, try them out. One tab of Zinc per day, two garlic tabs, 2,000 mg. of vit. c., two tabs of Golden Seal/Echnacia per day. I had a bad cold for three weeks. Started taking the zinc and Gold.Seal/Ech. and was better in one week. Don't overdue the Zinc. and take the Gold.Seal/Ech. for only two weeks running then quit for a week. The body works up a tolerance, according to some people. I also like to take Ginseng--with my touch of asthma, it promotes oxygen assimulation.

Now, that Dr. Kas is done with that, I'd like to say, Jack, that the live chat idea sounds great. Wish I could help you more with it.


Jack Beslanwitch Sat Mar 22 14:24:09 PST 1997


You may be right about IRC. I would decline on the JAVA chatroom. If anyone has a time they would like to meet and someone who would agree to host, that would be interesting. We would probably have to come up with a channel name and perhaps a server we would try to be. In the past the attempt was on DALNET. I am not enough of an IRC expert to really run this. However, if someone else would like to pick up and try to roll with this I would be interesting in getting into a chatroom situation with everyone else. Take care.

Trudy Sat Mar 22 07:03:36 PST 1997

KASIN: no pink dots on this end; sure you're not just visiting the Net too much with all those writers groups; or maybe not getting enough sleep. Wgere do you find the energy.

JACK: we may want to try with this group to meet in JAVA or IRC. I think there are more people here then when you first tried it. I could be wrong. Of course the best times for me to meet would be weekends and I know that's not usually good for others.

CHARLES: I'm with you on the music scene. It usually distracts me while writing.

Anyway, I'm struggling to breath as I suffer from a cold my body has finally succumbed to. Hopefully it won't last as long as everyone says. I'm off to make some tomato soup; my comfort food. Take care and see ya later.


Kasin Hunter Sat Mar 22 04:52:08 PST 1997

NIght before last I went to the second writers club meeting with the group from the local University. Guess I'll stay. The "leader" said she'll try to diversify the group more since there are several beginners and nonbeginners in the same group. I counted the number of total writing groups I'm in and including this page, I'm in five--three in town and two on the Net. I had no idea until I actually started to list them. Sometimes, passions can take control of sensibilities.

By the way, is anyone else seeing pink dots on the pages behind everyone's listing? I'm serious. It's making the punctuation hard to read. Or is it my monitor? Kasin.

A.J. Austin Fri Mar 21 05:21:20 PST 1997

Wow, it's been busy here.

Nicole: I don't think your question is stupid. I don't have an answer, but I have often wondered the same thing myself. Unfortunately, I have had little time this week, but I have
started your story and so far, I really like it. I did see a couple of proofreading errors which is probably just due to typing it in to post. I don't know how to proof my own work, but I'm pretty good at proofing others. Let me know if you
want to know what I found and I'll email you. And I really hope to finish it (and some of the other stories) this weekend and be able to actually give some valuable comments.

Toby and other music fans: I like the usual classical composers like Beethoven, Mozart, and Bach. Also try Vivaldi and Strauss. And don't neglect movie soundtracks. There are endless numbers that are almost totally instrumental. (Star Wars soundtracks are great.) Occasionally, I can listen to music with words, usually Motown.

Kathleen, welcome.

Have a good weekend,

Jack Beslanwitch Thu Mar 20 16:31:32 PST 1997

Trudy: I completely forgot that I still had that link the JAVA chatroom still sitting on the Seanet Server. The problem is that when I did run it nobody showed up and the software was a bit glitchy. IRC was a bit more stable, but again nobody showed up. I have hopes that software in the near future will allow for better chatrooms, but I sort of gave up on that line of things many months back. If I can take some time, perhaps I can look into some alternatives, but I don't think I'll have time between now and Norwescon, but something for the future along with setting up a password protected area for the Workbook.

Per the panel, I'll try contacting some of the members and see what they think. If it is a go, I'll post a message to that effect at the beginning of the panel on the Notebook. Take care.

Trudy Thu Mar 20 14:51:34 PST 1997

KATHLEEN: I find one thing you really must be careful about when entering writing in it poetry, short story or to be careful with what happens afterwards. A lot, well some, of these contests are coverups for vanity publishing companies that will say you won, say, an honourable mention in their contest, send you lovely pieces of paper saying so and then say your wonderful piece can be published...if you promise to buy the $80 book, at half price, of course. My advice is never pay to have anything published unless you're self publishing; and that's a whole other kettle of fish that I know nothing about. Contests however are good things, most of the time. They usually charge a small fee, but they are usually legit and you have as much chance as the next guy at winning the prize money and free subscriptions. I'm not sure how you find out if a contest is legit. I think some of the vanity publishing coverups are actually free to enter so they can let everybody in and pump them up so they'll buy. Just some thoughts.
Oh yes, and welcome to our friendly abode.

CHARLES: I hadn't read this issua of Inklings but enjoyed the article you posted anyway. Basically I can rest easy I haven't published a novel or children's book because the publisher would likely have messed it up anyway...yeah, that's right...I'll say that...

Does anyone else here subscribe to Inklings? It's free and full of great stuff. Check it out.

JACK: I think it's a great idea and hope the panelists go for it. It could prove very interesting and a lot of fun. Speaking of which, well something similar, I linked into the chat area that was discussed way back when and of course no one was there. Should we try to reconnect sometime?

KAE: will check that site out soon. I could use a good laugh; it's been hell at work. But right now I have to write two more stories for deadline; have to have them done by first thing tomorrow so they can be in Monday's paper. I have to say I'm tired of writing...non-fiction! This week anyway(:

NICOLE: hello, didn't want to leave you out as you were the only one I didn't respond to. Nothing to add to your question though as I'm still plugging away at my first novel.

Later all. Trudy

kae Thu Mar 20 12:28:47 PST 1997

You guys, go read this when you get a second. It's pretty damn funny, and I know ALL of you could relate to it.

Charles Samuel Thu Mar 20 12:14:09 PST 1997

Hi Everbody,

Needless to say it's been a hectic few weeks here in Jerusalem.

Sorry to spoil the party, but I can't listen to music when I'm writing. I find it slows me down.

NICOLE: Divide 90,000 by the number of words on your typewritten page... subtract ten and that's how many pages you've got to go!

JACK: 13 is the age of maturity over here. I guess the notebook has finally grown up. Mazel Tov.

EVERYBODY: I was intenting to respond to all the insights, discussions and questions, but then Jack archived the notebook. No time to dig it out, but I appreciate everything that has been said here. Personally, I have put my novel on hold for a couple of weeks while I blitz on a non-fiction book about marriage that has been on the back burner for a couple of years. Wish me luck. In the meantime I just have to share this letter that was sent into INKLINGS (I think Jack has a pointer to it on his page). It should serve as an inspiration to all of us... published and yet to be published alike.

Have a great weekend,

>From Karen Moline, novelist ---------------------------

Like so many writers, I saw my first novel, _Lunch_, published to little fanfare. Unlike many writers, however, I was paid tremendously well ($200,000 for US rights), had sold the book in 15 other countries, and optioned it to Hollywood. Furthermore, I live in NY; am a well-known journalist; and have more contacts in publishing than most authors. Did my publishers care? No. Did they want to recoup their investment? No. Did I do every single thing Jeff Herman suggested to increase sales? Yes. Here's what happened:

- Sales reps will not speak to authors.

- Book buyers will not speak to authors.

- I hired a p.r. firm. Despite months of trying, little happened. National TV shows, radio shows, and print media RARELY promote novels that are not hyped by their publishers. How many authors can afford the thousands of dollars as well as the energy this takes? Very few. And you must still pay the p.r. people even if nothing productive ensues.

- I set up my own home page at considerable expense. ( I fought for weeks to have it linked to my own publisher's home page. They couldn't be bothered.

- How can an author find/pay a designer to do an "alternate" cover? I met with my cover designer, emphatically showed her what I wanted - and she promptly did the opposite. Could it be changed? Absolutely not.

- I met with editorial, publicity, marketing, etc. Every single person at these meetings, including my acquiring editors, left the company between the time my book was bought and its pub date. Did my new editors care? No. Did they return my phonecalls? No. Could my agent, who was supposed to be protecting me from this, get through? No. If editors don't return calls to authors or agents, who will? And how can authors (who are rarely paid well for their writing) who live outside NY set up these meetings? Where will the time/energy/funding come from?

After months of anger and frustration, I finally had to accept that my publishers would never care about my book with the passion I did. I wasted nearly a year torturing myself with "what-ifs" because I knew I had written something terrific. So for all writers who are suffering the same indignities, I suggest the following: LET GO. I let go of my rage at the incompetents who botched my book. I knew I had done everything in my power to help it, and it just didn't work. And I let go of my agent, who I felt had not served my best interests (which, believe it or not, is what agents are supposed to do). Agents work for writers, not vice versa.

Take heart, though: This horror story has a happy ending. I did the best thing possible given the circumstances: I wrote another, even better novel, Belladonna. My new agent sold it for $1 million to Warner Books, who will promote it effectively. And I was absolutely thrilled when my previous publishers just about croaked at the news. Serves them right!

Kathleen Barrett Thu Mar 20 10:31:13 PST 1997

Hello, I've never posted a message before and I am very new to the internet. I was wondering if anyone has ever heard of a magazine in England called, "The New Writer Magazine."
I have a leaflet describing an awards contest sponsored by the magazine called, "The Ian St James Awards." It is for unpublished writers. I've never sent anything I've written to a magazine or to a contest before. I heard about it in Writer's Digest... Can anyone help me?


Nicole Jones Wed Mar 19 21:46:25 PST 1997

I have a probably stupid question...Roughly, about how many typed pages of manuscript constitutes a novel? I'm thinking of expanding that short story I submitted here into a longer work, but I don't know really how long to make it, how far back to go, should I continue further than where I ended the story, etc. Right now I have 10 pages and I know that's a long way off, but I can't imagine expanding it to, let's say, a hundred typed pages. Thanks a lot for all the feedback I've received so far, it's all your suggestions that have made me think I could make this a bigger project. I've been looking for a workshop experience again like I had in college and this is really close!

Jack Beslanwitch Wed Mar 19 21:36:29 PST 1997

Well, there is now more or less a blank slate here. I just archived the 13th installment. Hmmmm...I'm not superstitious...I'm not superstitious... That's right. I really am not... :-).

I also wanted to reiterate what I had said before I archived myself away. If anyone in the immediate northwest region is planning to the go to Norwescon I'm doing four panels there - including a panel on Internet Resources for Writers. Actually, just a thought, it
will be taking place March 29, Saturday, between 1:00 PM and 2:00 PM - PST. If other panelist are willing I could perhaps bring up the Notebook and have an online experience with people here. Wondering what others thought. Also, I just noticed that the Workbook was up to 137k. Would people, especially those who have posted most recently, mind if I archived. I could retain the stories and submissions from the last week. Guidance welcomed. I also want to thank everyone for making this a friendly and popular place.

kae Wed Mar 19 12:34:27 PST 1997

Hi everyone. Just read thru the most recent archive--the one in which y'all discuss mysticism/religion. Whew! Very, very interesting. You're all extremely thoughtful people! I thought it was funny how every once in a while someone would write, "I hope I didn't offend anyone." All the entries seemed very appropriate and non-offensive. I do know how sensitive people get about religion, tho. But anyway, fasinating.

Incidentally, has anyone ever read "Behold the Man" by Michael Moorcock? I believe he's a SF writer, but this one isn't really SF--it's more of a religious satire. I wonder if anyone tried to Salmon Rushdie (sp?) him for it.

TOBY: As far as music goes, when writing, I like to listen to John Lennon, or the Beatles, or Joni Mitchell, or Van Morrison. Classic Rock (in general) works because I've absorbed it already at some other point in my life, so it doesn't distract me. I don't listen to Classic Rock that much anymore, but if I put on something like, say, The Tea Party, I get sidetracked by what they're doing. Some times I use what I'd call "mood" music, if it relates to the character; for instance, I have a character that listens to Chris Isaak (she likes his music & thinks he's good-looking, has corny fantasies about him, etc), so I'll listen to him when writing about her. Most often, tho, I'll leave on the TV & just let it talk. Most of all, I can't take the quiet. If it's silent, the words just echo over & over in my head.

KASIN: I once had a character that killed women & made jokes in his head about it (& puked & masturbated & all kinds of gross stuff). I think I mentioned him in a post to Karen. My characters don't really affect me too much, because for the most part they're pretty ordinary, but this guy made me feel pretty ashamed of myself. But I'm not sure if that's the same thing as having the character provoke an emotional reaction in me--at least, not exactly. (Incidentally--I like that word--I was listening to a lot of Nick Cave at that time. He's wonderful, but scary.) Another time, I wrote a fable, and the character of St. Peter was a real sarcastic, cigarette-smoking, profanity-spewing malcontent (he was pissed becuz he had the same boring job for eternity). I walked around thinking I was Andrew Dice Clay for a while. But then again, it's not the same thing.

I've often noticed that whatever I'm READING at the time I'm writing will affect my story. I try to read something I like when writing. I think the killer above came out when I was being forced to read, like, Virginia Woolf, at college. I had this Man-Haters Lit 101 class (10 novels worth of women getting abused, etc, by men, I swear to GOD!! It was disguised as "Literature of the Female Body 404") and all those stories maybe made me want to have a male character that lashed out!!

A device I've always liked is creating new words out of existing ones. I liked Nicole's use of "...Sid guilted me..." It's not proper English, but it's unique. If used occasionally (but not overdone) it can become an interesting hint of style. I also like phonetic language, but if you use too much, it makes your character sound like an idjut. Some people find this excessive or flashy--like you're trying to draw attention to the writing, and not the story. It is, in a way--but I don't think it's inappropriate. Agree/Disagree?

NICOLE: I liked your story as well. It explains a lot of what confused me in the post you wrote about it the first time. Do you get into the day-to-day story of it at all? I was wondering if this is a section of your story or an "over-all" type piece. I was wondering what her life was like on a daily basis. I'm still a little puzzled why she'd give up so much of her life, as well. And wouldn't most men think it was a little weird after a while? Not that he might not take advantage of it, but he seems like a fairly nice guy, so I would think it might freak him out after a while. (I hope I don't make you mad.) If I was in the same situation (as the man), I would have said, "It's time for you to have your own life" after about six months. Is there ever a CONSCIOUS discussion of romantic involvement btwn the two, where they decide to stay platonic? That would make it more plausible for me. I mean--platonic roommates are one thing, but when you're involved in loving children, I would think the romantic tug toward the other partner couldn't help but show up (unless they're not attracted to each other). I think, what was missing FOR ME was that I couldn't figure out the underlying reasons for any of their actions.
But I liked it a lot, it was very interesting, and the dialog was very natural. You do get the idea that these are real people.

Sorry I'm such a windbag. k

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