Archived Writer's Notebook Messages

From June 21, 1997 to August 5, 1997

Bob Hanford Tue Aug 5 20:01:33 PDT 1997

Hello everyone.

Goodness, go away for a few minutes and what happens? Actually have been back for a few weeks but was too upset by Ben's and Charles's losses to come back into the family. Really hit me pretty hard. Feel I can be upfront with all of you - just sent me into a slump. Sorry for both you guys.

Brit: You put a smile on my face every single day. Every day. I simply couldn't be happier for you if you were my own daughter. Congrats from my toes on up. Before coming back, I read nine months of archives. So interesting to read when you had just finished chapter two and follow the whole progression - when they first asked you to be on the cover, etc. You just fill me with so many great emotions. Tks.

Jack: You've got to be the proudest parent on the planet for the family you've fostered here. Congrats to you first for that and second for your wonderful success with your book. Followed that too.

Charles, Phil, Ben: Missed you guys like crazy. It was a mighty walk I took but I am healthy now, through the depression and almost bloody invincible. Of course, I have my daughter with me for awhile and there are no words to describe that joy.

Charles: Definite experience being the sexual abuser who incites the rage. Wow! That's tough. I'm forgetting my manners in not acknowledging all three of you for your successes.

So hard to come back after such a long absence. I'd planned on doing it the way Phil always has: make notes of each person's inidvidual accomplishment(s) and list them one by one. But my daughter, Maria, wanted to respond to Michael and wanted to do it "now." I didn't want my email address to appear with her byline when I hadn't come in first. So, I'll catch up in the next couple of days.

Kitty, Sherrie, Lisa, Trudy, Missed you all like crazy.

Susan Shock: Sounds like you have ADD (Adult Attention Deficit Disorder). So do I. If you want to talk about it, be glad to help.

Good to be back.

Sean is doing well. Working too hard and too long but that is my perspective and what do dad's know?

Re: the questions (old) about length and flashbacks, I can only cite the following:

"Whenever a knight of the Grail tried to follow a path made by someone else, he went altogether astray."

Joseph Campbell

Goodweed of the North Tue Aug 5 19:51:34 PDT 1997

Hi all: Been a while since I had time to check the
notebook. I find the topics timely for the most part and
the freindsips and comraderie stimulating.

Michael: It's tough to stay focused on an idea. My
imagination works overtime when I'm writing and I have to
discipline myself to stay on track. An effective technique
you can try is to visualize the world you have created.
Draw a map, make a timeline. Writing a novel is a complex
process which involves organization and imagination. Not
only must the story and characters be interesting, but
must make sense within the confines of the story. If you
send a character to a town previously described as east
relative to the characters present position, and then say
later that he travels southwest to return to the previous
position, you've shot yourself in the foot.

Time is also important and can be confusing, especially if
flashbacks are used. It is because of these and other
nuances in the art of writing, that most writers use such
tools as outlines, time-lines, maps, etc. You wouldn't
try to build a house without a blueprint. It's too
complex. Likewise, a story, rich with charaters and plot
is a complex, and sometimes confusing work. It is also
abstract, with only the rules you create to give it
substance and believability.

Always remember: there are only two reasons to write.
1. You enjoy the creativity of writing.
2. You want to share that creation with others.

The money, the possible notoriety, the sense of success, is
all tied to your ability to make the story enjoyable for
the reader. He/she is your boss. If you can capture their
imaginations with your story, then you have succeeded.

I don't want to frighten you away from writing but rather,
encourage you to develop that discipline required to finish
what you start. Only your effort can make the difference
between you being another (I wish I could do this) kind of
person, or a success.

I acknowledge to all within this notebook that no one idea
works for everyone. In addition, there are many of you out
there who have and are currently published. If anything I
put here is just plain wrong, please let me know.

Hi K, if you're reading. Keep up the good work.
Hi Bill: You and K are good freinds, even though we've
never met in person.

You are both examples of integrity and different as night
and day. I've got you both beat for craziness though. I
let my 16 year old and his cousin take my dirt bike into
the gravel pits. It's my main transportation during the
summer and how I get from one job site to the next. They
put a hole in the crank case don'tcha know.

On the up side, First revision is comlete on my novel.
Can't wait to see more critique so I can make it even
better. Got great proofreaders.

Gotta go.

Seeeeeya; Goodweed of the North

Kaleolani Tue Aug 5 19:47:51 PDT 1997

I'm new to this page but not exactly new to writing. I've mostly written for myself. I think I was born to the wrong time and have many things that float around in my head about far away times and places. This is what I write about. I see the images clearly and write them out and describe them as best I can to others. I've never used an outline. I've always hated them even when writing things for school. I do however love to go back and reread what I have written and alter things a little. Sometimes I just can't help it and it's probably not the right thing to do but I don't care it's my book.
Well the current book I'm writting I would like to have it published when I finally get around to seeing it the way I want it but I will not look into it until I have finished. I don't know what I'm in for but I love to share my stories with others. It's so much fun to see what they see by reading my words.
Well for who ever is out there thinking about writting don't just think about it do it. Worry about what to do with it later but at least you can fullfill (ok so I can't spell. That's why I have others read my stuff) a need to put what you see in your head on paper. But as for publishing I've not the slightest idea how that is done and will cross that bridge when I come to it.
Thanks for letting me babble. This is a nice page and I thought it was cool to read that other people are out there going through what I am. Good luck everyone and have fun. If it's not fun. Don't do it.


Maria Hanford Tue Aug 5 19:17:39 PDT 1997

Michael: I believe I know exactly what you are going through. At the age of 14 (3 years ago) I had my own column in a local paper. There were deadlines and an editor, but I was able to write the way I wanted to and that is the best thing to do. When you are outside of school, write the way you like to, don't worry about how you are "supposed" to write because that might slow you down instead of helping you. Just do what feels right because that is the way that will help you and worry about the rest later. And I agree, DONT GIVE UP! That is the mistake I made and now it is time to get back into it and it is hard, So if ANYONE cares to help a young girl out with ideas or advice, please feel free. Thanks...Maria

Philip Tue Aug 5 18:41:30 PDT 1997

Hello Everyone: following on from points raised in my post to Ben about the length of stories, (people seemed to have picked up on it and have added their views) I recently asked myself... how short is a short story?... and how long is a long story?

As the industry always go by word count I would categorise short stories as 500 to 25,000 words, short novels as 25,000 to 50,000, standard length novels as 50,000 to 120,000 and long novels at 120,000 plus.

A few examples of notable books on my shelves:

Norman Mailer's 'Harlot's Ghost - 1511 pages.
Leo Tolstoy's 'War and Peace' - 1443 pages.
John Clavell's 'Nobel House' - 1435 pages.
James Michener's 'Centennial' - 1086 pages.
Stephen King's 'Four Past Midnight' - 1030 pages
Larry McMurtry's "Lonesome Dove' - 843 pages.
Alex Haley's 'Roots' - 688 pages.
Salman Rushdie's 'The Satanic Verses' - 547 pages.
Wilbur Smith's 'A Time to Die' - 523 pages.
John Grisham's 'The Firm' - 501 pages.
John Steinbeck's 'The Grapes of Wrath' - 480 page.
Jane Austen's 'Emma' - 430 pages.
Patricia Cornwell's 'Post-mortem' - 404 pages.
John leCarre's 'The Russia House - 393 pages.
Henry Miller's 'Tropic of Cancer' - 318 pages.
Jean-Paul Sartre's 'Nausea' - 251 pages.
Ernest Hemingway's 'To Have and Have Not' - 206 pages.
Isaac Asimov's "The End of Eternity' - 189 pages.
Whitney Otto's 'How to Make an American Quilt - 179 pages
Robert James Waller's 'The Bridges of Madison County' - 171 pages
Bram Stoker's 'Dracula' - 127 pages.

As publishers' typefaces and page sizes can vary greatly, the number of pages in a book will also vary. But as a guide 400 pages is equal to 120,000 words - give or take a few thousand.

So how long should a book be? Don't ask me...

Back soon - Philip.

Rhoda Fort Tue Aug 5 09:12:38 PDT 1997

I don't have much to say on writing a short story, because I've only written one. I had a lot of fun writing it, but I don't think it is one I'll ever try to market. As other's have commented, whenever I try to write a short story, it turns into a novel.

The thought processes for novels and short stories are different. In order to write a short story, you need to make a simple, concise statement. Brevity is everything, and every detail brought out in a short story has to be closely connected with the statement of the story. A novel is usually the telling of an event through one or a few points of view. Here you can delve into characters, develop interesting plot twists, insert and interweave sub-plots and have much more fun than with a short story.

I wish I could write a short story. For me, it might be a way to acquire a more disciplined approach to my writing. It would be nice to write something in one or two days and have a finished work to show for it instead of working several months until a novel is completed.

Susan Tue Aug 5 08:11:30 PDT 1997

Hi everyone!I also have trouble with writing short stories. They usually turn out to be compressed novels. I like to get into character and have a complex, fully developed story, something you can't do with short stories. Short stories are based on ideas, which in the short story business have to be pretty original and clever if you want to sell. Recently I had a short story critiqued and was told that it would be better as a novel, so a novel it will be. I'm working on an outline for it now. I feel too restricted writing short stories. I prefer the freedom a novel gives me.

Joan Mon Aug 4 20:26:00 PDT 1997

Hi all--It's great to have a bunch of people like you on line!

Jack, I know you keep hearing it, but here it is again---THANKS for doing this super page!

Tina: You asked about stuff on monks. Aside from the on-line stuff, Thomas Merton, a monk who died I think in 1968, has written a lot of stuff. I can't find the book I have by him, but it goes into detail about his life as a monk.

Michael: How super that you're writing at 15! My thoughts, for what they're worth: Don't worry about outlines and what you're "supposed" to do. You can read what people have to say, and it's good to try out different methods, but ultimately you have to do what works for you (disclaimer: I'm NOT talking about school, where your teachers will definitely have a say in how you do things!). But in your own personal writing, if you come up with an opening scene, and then the story seems to wnat to go in so many directions, choose the direction that pulls at you the most and go with it. If it doesn't work out, go back and try another. Above all DON'T GIVE UP.

Above this week's topic, I have trouble with short stories. They generally turn into novels (or at least novel beginnings). With both of them, it seems I usually clearly see the beginning scene, and then I wonder where it goes. After quite of few pages (or a chapter or two) I HAVE to stop and write the end scene, so I know where I'm going. By that time, I usually know how I want it to end, but the adventure (and the nail-chewing part, for me) lies in how to get there. Geez! I'm getting long-winded again---sorry, bye for now.

Thanks again, Jack!


Michael Littrell Mon Aug 4 18:47:48 PDT 1997

Well at this point in my writing career im really confused.
Im 15 years old and just started writing and i find my myself either unable to finish a story, much more a novel or extremely over whelmed by the talent thats out there. My ideas just dont conform to how alot of people write. When I write I cant just sit down and make an outline of what I'm going to write. I never know until I start the story and then when i come to a descion that needs to be made about how the plot is going to go, I just start getting so many ideas and dont know which one i should choose. Which i dont know if it denotes creativity or inexperience. Can someone please tell me what they do when they first set down to start writing a story or novel. And is there any one out there who gets so frustrated that they want to snap all their pencils and lay there? Oh yeah what do you suggest pen and paper or PC?

please post your suggestions or email to me ,i'd
prefer the later.

thanks ML

Susan Shock Mon Aug 4 11:32:59 PDT 1997

Hi everyone. Hope you're all having a good Monday. I have the day off from work and am trying to write (well, actually I will be after I'm done here, I promise) Kitty, thanks for the advice. Rhoda gave me similar advice and so the detective novel is on hold for now while I write a science fiction thriller and write out the plot for a fantasy novel. I can never simply work on just one project at a time. I have a main project and one or two side projects that I work. I don't know if this is good or bad, but it's the way I do things as a writer. I guess you do what makes you comfortable.

Kitty Mon Aug 4 09:54:01 PDT 1997

Hey, y'all! Thought is was about time I checked in and, I am happy to discover, the Notebook continues to grow. I'm just back from the annual family gathering on Emerald Isle. Twelve people in one beach house on a narrow strip of an Outer Bank Island where there is a view of the Sound to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the south, and, because there are no rows and only private residences to either side, we had the beach to ourselves. We did it all: swimming in the ocean, beach walking, shell hunting, kiting, clamming in the Sound, surf fishing, etc... We even visited a tiny coastal town where the only industry is a phosphate mine. The mine digs deep into the earth so that in addition to the mineral all sorts of fossils and interesting rocks are brought to the surface. We spent a morning scavenging ancient sharks teeth and fossils easily found in the slag the mine lays down on the roadside throughout the town. Each day we were pleasantly tired by dinner time when we all sat down for yet another fishy feast.

Since I've been away too long to catch up on everything, I'll just plunge into the here and now. As to the the QW (question of the week), I agree with what Philip wrote recently about the length of a book being as long as needs be (he was writing about his collection of Steinbeck in a 600 page volume, and Deb, too, wrote something along the same lines. However, you cannot discount the influence and power of an editor--good or bad. My first article , an interview with a author, was too long and over written. My editor, despite a pending deadline, sent me back to my typewriter with very specific suggestions on how to shorten the length and tighten the prose. Big learning experience and far better for me to do it than have the editor cut and patch. If you're fortunate you have an editor who works with you; points you in the direction, but makes you do the work. I view editors as being the bridge between the art of writing and the business of publishing, they have a foot on both shores.
I cannot address the second question since I've not created any truly dark and disturbing characters.

Tina, as to the daily life of a monk.... If you live in a university town with a theology department, I would suggest the theological library. If not, I suggest you go to your local library and ask the reference librarian to help point you in the right direction. Librarians are great information finders. Or if there is a Catholic church in your community, call the office and ask if anyone there would be willing to talk--I'm assuming you are interested in the daily life of Catholic monks. The obvious suggestion is a little net surfing. The Vatican is on-line. Things you may want to consider are which order your monk is in, what is the time frame of your story, and where is it located, all of which will give the information you seek subtle distinctions.

Susan, put the detective novel aside for awhile and work on the sci-fi. If you don't have an editor and a publishing deadline breathing down your neck, you have the luxury of putting one project TEMPORARILY aside while working on another. A little break may be what is needed to revive your enthusiasm for the detective novel, and to give you a refreshed perspective on the third drafting.

Brit, congratulations on your book launching. Happy to hear the reviews are positive--we, here at the Notebook, have known for quite some time how talented you are. Brava!

Jack did anyone define "paradigm?" I thought I knew what it meant, but a quick check in the dictionary proved me wrong. Another one of those words like "levity." One of my favorite words is "serendipity."

Ben, do you have a new computer?

Sam, the renovations are never finished, the work is never done. However, I'm happy to hear you are once more ensconced in your study and can shut the door if need be.

Trudy, hope the weather is fine, the lobster sweet, and you are having a fabulosa time.

Productive writing all!

Tina Sun Aug 3 17:12:38 PDT 1997

Does anyone know of where I can get info on the daily life of a monk within a Monastery, such as what time certain prayers are held, various duties and the order of the heirarchy.

Bill Fri Aug 1 17:20:08 PDT 1997

I found this in "Pure Fiction" and I thought it interesting.

"Don't let a single day go by without writing. Even if it's garbage, if garbage is all you can write, write
it. Garbage eventually becomes compost with a little treatment...."

Trudy Fri Aug 1 15:49:16 PDT 1997

Hello all!

Kasin, I am off to check out the new showcasees but wanted to thank you so much for showcasing me last month. The feedback I received from my short story has been fabulous and a major boost to my ego. Thanks again. As for my latest review, it hasn't appeared yet in the Reader but any who have read it like it so I'm sure it will eventually. I'll let you know when it does.

Happy writing all. I'm off for a camping trip on Prince Edward Island and I'm only taking a notebook to try to get some writing done. Well and maybe one book of short stories for inspiration. Have a great weekend! Trudy

Jack, I echo Kasin and all who have made the comment before...thanks for this page. It is a fabulous creation!

Susan Shock Fri Aug 1 09:16:58 PDT 1997

Hi there! I write Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Mystery. I've currently got two projects in the fire. One is a detective novel and the other is a science fiction suspense novel. The detective novel is in its third draft. There was a time when it really excited me, but now I have little enthusiasm for it, whereas the science fiction novel, which is in its first draft, is quite exciting. What do I do. I don't want to abandon the detective novel. I think it is a good story and could be publishable. How do I make myself finish this novel? Any suggestions or comments would be appreciated. Thanks.

Tabitha Fri Aug 1 04:13:59 PDT 1997

I've had some luck this week. A novella I am working on has been accepted for serialization on a web site that will be up and running in September.
Theres no money involved but it is the first time I have arranged to show something that is not in fact finished. Its a very strange feeling but
I like to think it show's a certain interesting degree of self confidence. Will let you know when the site is up.

Kasin Hunter Thu Jul 31 20:07:47 PDT 1997

Ben, I just finished reading the entries, so a belated welcome back.

Trudy, how'd you submission with that latest book review go?

Tabitha, try salt or a lid o' beer on those slug problems.

Jack, thank you for nuturing this page. God bless.

Bye again. Kasin.

Kasin Hunter Thu Jul 31 19:51:02 PDT 1997

Hello folks.

A small note and invitation to visit The Showcase in Kasin's Keep. For the month of August, there are three writers showcased as I did not get any artist's submissions. The first is humorist, Ronald Skinner from Tucson, Az. Much to my delight, Ron said he would submit a new joke or humorous short story each month. He is much welcome as a Showcase regular. The second writer is Tabitha Baumander with a fantasy short story which you cat lovers may enjoy. The last writer is Liz Woloski, whose talent shines in her short story piece about "the good ol' days". I hope if have any reason to check out The Showcase, it will be to read Liz's work.

As far as new stuff in my direction, my poem "Future Garden" was recently paired with a friend's artwork in a poetry magazine. I think it was her first time to be published, so I am especially excited to be paired up with her since she is my friend.

Been working on a horror short story and several poems between managing a pooper scooper with these new puppies and learning the finer points of purchasing with my new job at the store.

Enough dribble. Gotta run and pay those pesky bills. Take care everyone, and please stop by The Showcase if you get the chance.


Bill Thu Jul 31 14:27:09 PDT 1997

Welcome Rhoda (again) nice to here from you via e-mail. hope you stop in often.

Tabitha, If they do, I feel sorry for the slugs!

Rhoda Fort Wed Jul 30 13:17:39 PDT 1997

What a wonderful webpage! I don't have many remarks about writing to share right now because I'm ashamed of myself. Here I should be writing and I am spending all this time online glued to this page, reading the biographies and the comments.

I live in Bloomfield, New Mexico. I am currently working on my 2nd book--a historical romance I've titled VALERIE'S SONG. It would be finished by now, but I got on to the Internet a couple of weeks ago, and I've done more surfing than writing. Hopefully the novelty will wear off soon and I'll get back to serious work.

I did want to comment about an internet publishing service a friend of mine has started. It is known as epubs, Do check out her page; it's truely impressive.

Tabitha Wed Jul 30 04:04:18 PDT 1997

if people get slugish,,,do slugs get peoplish?

Jack Beslanwitch Tue Jul 29 19:25:13 PDT 1997

I just wanted to welcome all the new writers who have dropped messages off the Notebook or samples off on the Workbook. I would also invite any new writers to submit biographies in the format used in the Biographies Page

This way we can know more about you. Also, if people would like to leave a link to their picture, feel free to email me with those details as well. I probably have space here if you do not have space on your own ISP, but would prefer to link to yours instead. That way you can update or modify what picture you would like to currently use and not place too strong a burden on my server either.

I am down to the last couple of chapters of the first draft of my book and these seem to be the hardest. It's almost paradoxical in that I look forward to moving to the next stage and do not. Take care everyone.

Britomart Tue Jul 29 03:34:56 PDT 1997

Tina: Hi, fellow Aussie! I'm also a writer of "occult" fiction, and my first novel has just been published by Random House Australia. All the info is on my home page. If you drop something in at the workbook, somebody will probably take a look at it. Tell us about your novel.

Tina Mon Jul 28 21:53:01 PDT 1997

I am relatively new to this field, but have been trying to write a book for the past few years, that has an occult theme. Has anyone been successful with this idea?

I would like someone nuetral to critique a piece of work that I recently wrote, I don't know if it qualifies to be a short story, it may be too short.

Anyway, I would appreciate some feedback.

Joan Mon Jul 28 21:42:55 PDT 1997

Hi again. Thanks you all for your welcome and comments on flashbacks. Kae, sorry to scare you to death. And Trudy, I think you may be right about putting the book back into it's original form--where it had the kidnap scene first and then flashed back for much of the book--if I still think it belongs that way. I think I'm going to submit both beginnings to the Writer's Workbook that's affiliated with this page and see what people have to say about which is most interesting---if that's appropriate for the Workbook. Anyone know anything about the Workbook? i.e., is that a rational thing to do? I have the latest version of the manuscript (3 chapters and synopsis) out to an agent right now so we'll see how the chronological version fares there. I'm a little itchy about sending it to an agent rather than directly to a publisher. Any thoughts about that?

One funny thing that happened regarding the flashback. One reviewer who had liked the manuscript (but criticized the flashback usage in unpublished writers) later looked at the manuscript written in chronological order. He then thought the manuscript was too generic. This brought up another puzzle for me---what exactly did "generic" mean? Is that a disease you get from writing in a genre? Could that be bad? It certainly didn't sound encouraging! At that time, I hadn't had a lot of exposure to writer lingo, and a friend put me in touch with an author who publishes widely in the fields of romance, westerns, mysteries, etc. She told me that generic is what writers who don't sell call writers who do, and that basically if you are lucky enough to write something that plays a common chord, you should just forget the carpers and keep on writing that way.

Interesting! More later.


Don Spieles Mon Jul 28 17:46:44 PDT 1997

Hello All!

First time here. If any one knows of any links where you can get free (one liner) plot ideas, let me know.

D.P. Spieles

Trudy Mon Jul 28 16:13:38 PDT 1997

Welcome back Ed and welcome Gloria...

hello case you're interested someone sent me this new writers page...they're interested in submissions...

Later. Trudy

Ed Dixon Mon Jul 28 11:18:47 PDT 1997

Hi all,

Good to see this page is still going. You may not remember me; I was online via work 3 months ago and have finally got online at home.

How are things?

Bitromart, have you got the Novel out.

I've just signed up for a local writers workshop that starts in Sept - I can't wait.


Gloria D. Benish Sun Jul 27 19:02:54 PDT 1997

Greetings and good evening from Montana! I just learned of this wonderful, friendly, helpful group through a friend of mine. I'm a self-published author of three books. I've been writing for 12 years and became "Miracle Publishing Company three years ago. Writing wasn't hard. Publishing wasn't hard. Finding distributors wasn't hard either. Getting bookstores to allow me to do author signings wasn't hard and afforded me free advertising (since I'm on a shoestring budget -- I give thanks...)

I just wanted to share with other writers to never give up in trying to get an agent or a publisher. However, never give up on your dream and if you have to self publish at first, don't be overwhelmed, fearing you don't know what you're doing. Each step will be there for you -- and if you need a little encouragement, just holler!

Jack Beslanwitch Sun Jul 27 16:44:40 PDT 1997

Just noticed how quiet things were here and then went and checked out the workbook. There are a couple of interesting pieces there. The latest is a X-Files/Xena crossover. Have not had a chance to check it, but sounds interesting.

Sun Jul 27 15:58:46 PDT 1997

Trudy Thu Jul 24 16:58:23 PDT 1997

Joan, welcome! And if you've been sorry ever since you rewrote that book I hope you saved it the way you liked it! If you did, get that out in the mail to should at least be happy with what you have sent out to a publisher and not go by what someone matter how well informed they seem. And I've never heard that flashback rule. It only takes one publisher to like what you write so I ure you're sending something you are proud of and really love!

Kae, keep back flashing.

I guess I'm vehement about this because I'm a flashback person. My short story Fran on Kasin's page is an example. I've been reviewing books and all three of the new authors I've read (first time publishing novels) used flashbacks to different degrees. Has anyone else heard that rule?

Hi and later all, Trudy

Britomart Thu Jul 24 16:02:43 PDT 1997

Good morning to all the denizens of the Writers' Notebook.

1. Manuscript length - I had a word limit imposed by my publishers which I cheerfully ignored (but only to the tune of about 5000 words). My next book is going to be much longer, and nobody has said anything. Publishing a first time author already carries certain financial risks - having to publish a 700 page tome is very expensive, so I guess that's why they impose length limits.

2. Flashbacks - Use 'em if they're necessary. Perhaps the warning that Joan heard was more to do with bad structure than with the use of flashbacks. They can upset the structure of a novel if used carelessly.

3. Evil dudes - as you can imagine, being a horror writer means creating evil dudes. But mine are always (I hope) human as well. My current evil dude is so much like me it's frightening - all my weaknesses are magnified to the nth degree. He is a control freak, he's terrified of dying, he packages his errant feelings in neat boxes and suppresses them, he's arrogant, gets exasperated with everyone around him, etc etc. And he's a very, very *bad* person. It's actually very cathartic, and I hope that it will make him a full-bodied character that people can identify with.

4. Other stuff - I got my first bad review. It didn't hurt as much as I thought it would! In fact, it's kind of liberating. Not everybody can like me all the time, and now that this reviewer has started the ball rolling, perhaps I can relax and accept that. The bad review was ameliorated by finding out that I'm cover girl for a magazine I did an interview with last week! They liked the photos they took so much that they thought they'd use them on the cover - now that will be very big exposure!

Bye all!

Jack Beslanwitch Thu Jul 24 14:55:21 PDT 1997

Sorry, that should have been writer/instructor

Jack Beslanwitch Thu Jul 24 14:51:20 PDT 1997

Welcome to the new voices here. Also, I've jumped the gun and added two potential topics for discussion. Feel free to use these or scatter off in any direction you so desire. The first is an expansion of the kinds of discussions that were already beginning to happen in terms of manuscript length and flashbacks used by a first writer.

    The second was suggested by Lisa Nickles. I found this one to be particularly intriguing since one of the more interesting exercises I heard of doing at Clarion Workshop was creating a complete character sketch of the most evil and abhorrent villain you could come up with. They handed that in and then the writer/instruction told them to make those self same villains sympathetic and write a story about them. I've tried doing that a couple of times with greater or lesser success. Take care everyone and good writing.

GTS Thu Jul 24 08:50:53 PDT 1997

Flashback and publishers. I have written a novel in which I use quite a bit of flashback and now am being represented by an agent. She has said that it can and does work when used in the right way and we are working together at this time putting it into the book in the right way. There are some points in a story/book that can't be told without the use of flashbacks and since it's your story handle it the way that you need to in the best way that works. Accept input from others but tell your story the way that it comes to you. For every publishing rule I have heard, there is an exception and what works, works. I have also been told that the best way to write is break all the rules that don't apply to you and tell the best damn story you can through all the broken rules. That came from a publisher because that's what they seem to be looking for. Something new and unsual. Write for yourself first, then look for a way to publish, and change the story if what is said makes sense to you and works within your framework.

Bill Thu Jul 24 08:42:22 PDT 1997

Opps! That's 'your're saying', not your saying and reader 'to' understand, and it's, not It's....Dummy me! You can tell I just got out of bed....maybe I ought to go back??

Bill Thu Jul 24 08:37:20 PDT 1997

Kae...I hear what your saying. Just like the part of my book, of which you are familiar, that reflects back to the Star-Fighter Academy, It's part of the story that allows the reader understand some point or issue.

Word, if anyone wants to play: denizen

kae Thu Jul 24 05:46:41 PDT 1997

Hi there Joan, welcome, etc. You said something that scared the daylights out of me, and if those in the know would comment, maybe my hair will stop standing on end.

Is that actually true that publishes frown on previously unpublished writers using flashbacks? How the heck do you tell a story without using flashbacks? Maybe I'm unclear as to what a flashback actually is, or something. But say you have a character that is having problems with her husband, like, he's not the same guy he was when they got married. So you have to describe the relationship through flashbacks.

I'm pretty freaked by this. The novel I'm writing takes place over three days, so a whole lot of it is told in flashbacks. Oh no, oh no, oh no.

Joan Wed Jul 23 19:43:15 PDT 1997

Hi, all. Wow! I'm new to the net, so I'm hopeful this message will get through to you. I tried to send one a couple of weeks ago, but E-mail has been all fouled (or "fowled"---the people next door have chickens) up. I write fantasy, mainly. I think a good beginning to a story is something that makes you immediately identify with or at least care about the people in the book. The one novel I've completed originally began with a supernatural kidnapping of a 3-year old girl by her "other-worldly" father. You could tell the father didn't mean her any harm, and also that he was worried about the mother's reaction, but he took her nonetheless. The story then flashed back for about 3/4 of the book to tell what happened and why, then went on from the kidnap scene for the last 1/4 of the book to finish the story. Unfortunately, the writer's workshop at our local sci fi/fantasy convention explained that publishers frown on a new author using flashbacks in a novel. I changed it, but have been sorry since. The novel's out on submission (again, sigh) right now. We'll see. Hope this wasn't too long. Thanks!

Bill bwhitney@mail.usmo/com Wed Jul 23 15:26:45 PDT 1997

While your all on the subject of backups, I have six important words...DO IT, DO IT, DO IT!!! If I wrote a book on bad luck, I'd probablY have the world's best 'best seller'. ie: The Best Comedy (I bet it would make one helluva movie)

TWICE, Ive had a hard drive crash only to find out that my floppy backups had somehow become unreadable. Yes, I said 'twice'. So much for luck!!! You know the old saying, If it wasn't for bad luck...

Anyway, I save ALL my important files to HD plus I have invested in a tape backup system (small price to pay for the conv' and record saving), plus, especially when it comes to the hours I've spent on my novel, I copy my files to three floppies every few days just to be safe. Maybe that's overkill, but from my experience, it's worth the couple of minutes it takes.

As far as book lenght is concerned. I'd go with what the publisher wants. Their the ones who write the check.

Ben: Drop me a line...

Tammi Wed Jul 23 11:59:34 PDT 1997

On the subject of back-up disks, I don't yet have trouble keeping track of my disks, but we've only had the computer for six months. I never save to the hard drive though, I always choose the "save as" option and save to disk. When I am done for the day, I save everything to a second disk, in case I ever crash and lose the info on the first disk.

Just a thought,


Deb Wed Jul 23 10:52:10 PDT 1997

Woops, didn't proofread. That's BESTselling novel below, not NESTselling. There are probably more, too. Apologies.

Deb Wed Jul 23 10:50:16 PDT 1997

I know length isn't the topic of the week (or month, or whatever) but it's the subject that trips my trigger. I'm not sure I buy that "a novel is as long as it has to be" not exactly anyway. If you're writing a powerhouse new nestselling kind of novel, then maybe, but even then you reduce your odds by going against the publishers expectation. An editor friend of mine made it clear that length is a pretty important factor in the mystery genre, and I suspect it is in other genres, too. The same would be true, I think, for any work that hits the midlist range, which is most books that are published today. The economy of publishing plays a major factor in what gets published, sad to say. That doesn't mean that a great work, of any length won't get published, or even get published first time out. But this is a hard occupation to break into, why shave your odds down by not following guidelines for the type of work you want to sell?

Once you get a reputation, then I think you can worry less about things like length. And I don't mean that you have to let this totally rule your writing. The story is the most important thing. Write it without worrying about length, but have that in the back of your mind. And if you come up with a 56,000 word manuscript when a publisher has asked for a 70-75,000 one, take a second look at it and make sure there isn't some plot element or character you could develop more. Or if it turns out to be 100,000 words long, make sure you haven't been trying to writing two or three stories in one.

Okay, lecture over. It's just that I was stung by this because I didn't know how important length was (I'm the one who came up with 56,000 words) in certain cases. Now I'm trying to walk the fine line between give them what they want and say what needs to be said.


Charles Samuel Tue Jul 22 21:42:36 PDT 1997

Hi Everybody,

Just wanted to say hello and let you know I'm still around. Welcome to all the new faces. Good to see you back Ben. Renovations on our apartment are almost done and I'm back in my home office... just in time to have to crank out 50 pages of first draft on an exciting new project. More news to come on that.

Lisa: Sorry to hear about your bad news. I'm not the best backer upper in the world myself (even tho' as a former computer systems consultant I used to badger clients about it all the time). My quick solution is to email my work-in-process to myself at the office. That way it's always on another computer and I don't have to play around with floppy disks which can get misplaced. (I forget to label them because I can never find those labels that come in the original box.)

Speaking of 'backups,' one word I seem to use all the time... especially in my day job is "followup." It's not really a word, but used as a noun, it seems to work. As writers should we encourage the creation and use of words like that in our writing?


Lisa Nickles Tue Jul 22 20:29:08 PDT 1997

I would like to share a less than amusing anecdote with my friends here....

I have repeatedly told my eleven year old daughter to back up all of her stories on a floppy. Like the sweet, obedient child that she is, she did exactly that. That wise child's mother, however, was tardy and lost the second draft of her novel... again.

Moral of this story--

Watch your stories go down in a disk, or watch them go down in a crash... your choice.

Jack Beslanwitch Tue Jul 22 16:30:13 PDT 1997

Since I popped up with the first word, I'll let someone else propose another. However, on the Writers Workbook I suspect it is working OK since a new person dropped off something for review yesterday. It should work just like the Notebook. Try it out again. If anyone else has problems, please email me

Jenna Tue Jul 22 00:00:13 PDT 1997

Good morning all. It is 2am, so I guess I'm the first one here today (don't worry, Jack...I'll let your word stand for a while). Paradigm is a lovely word - good choice! I'm going to bed in a minute; just stopped by to let you all know I finally got around to putting a few things on my homepage. Check it out; still needs work, but I'm proud of what I scraped together these last few hours. :~] Good, morning *S*.

BTW: does anyone know how to put stuff in the Writers Workbook? I tried a couple times, but it never worked. I would appreciate the help. Thanks!


Tabitha Mon Jul 21 10:25:52 PDT 1997

paradigm I love this word. Just look at it. It even looks important. Sci Fi books are full of paradigme shifts.
I think it has something to do with a complete shift in authority or structure.

On a separate note I think the notion of how long a book is or could be is a good topic to chew over. I was told by an agent in a chat room
that fantasy books under 300 pages don't sell well. A depressing bit of trivia for a woman with 4 books on her hard disk under the magic
number of pages. Yet if I somehow if I found a way to add an extra 50 plus pages the real focus of the variouse book's story lines would be in danger of
getting lost.

Oh well they'll just have to take me as I am.

Philip Mon Jul 21 01:20:09 PDT 1997

BEN: great to see you can sometimes get back here with the inmates.

I'm pleased you liked the books... I have to say the prime criticism of my work is that I leave my readers wanting more. The main argument I hear for larger volumes is that you get more for your money. But generally most published writers I talk to agree a book is as long as it becomes. I grew up with Steinbeck and Hemingway as my teenage literary heroes. I have a volume of John Steinbeck's that includes Tortilla Flat, The Red Pony, Of Mice and Men, The Moon is Down, Cannery Row, The Pearl and Sweet Thursday - all in 653 pages. HarperCollins, my publishers, have told me the results of an international market test they conducted showed that 80,000 words is what the buying public wants (please take no notice whatsoever of that).

Booker Prize winner, James Kelman, told me he never knows if he is writing a long or short story, he just writes it. It becomes what length he feels it needs to be to properly tell that particular story.

Glad to hear you are all writing like crazy.

Back soon - Philip.

Jack Beslanwitch Mon Jul 21 01:15:18 PDT 1997

Hello Everyone.

Jenna: Don't let your experience keep you from responding. So, be welcome and join in. As for the word. Why don't we play it this way. Each day, whoever gets there first can put up the word for the day. Then, people can join commenting on its meaning, its etymology, how it works in writing, etc. We do not have to get to distracted with this, but it's a thought. In fact, since I proposed it, I guess I'll suggest a word to discuss.


A definition that definitely is not its meaning is a couple of ten cent pieces ;-).

Have fun and I have to plead that it is very late and has been a long day. So, if this does not fly, I can perfectly understand.

Jenna http://curry.edschool.Virginia.EDU/~eds-yww/ Sun Jul 20 19:49:57 PDT 1997

I'm starting to wonder if I'm qualified to answer any of the weekly topics...I haven't had much published, but I love to read and I know WHAT I love to read, so I guess I can try. I think a good opening sentence establishes some element that will be important to the novel - not in the sense that it tells who the killer is or anything like that, but in that it displays a strong emotion that will become prevalent or it introduces a character or setting - that kind of thing. I personally prefer mid-action with the main character in an emotional state that has no reason until one finishes the book.

On a "just in case you care" note, I have my Young Writers Reunion in a little over a week (last week in July). I'm really psyched!! I finished the piece I needed for the anthology and it got me working on a few other projects I had forgotten about.

Oh, yeah...if you get the word thing going JACK, can I play?

Trudy Sun Jul 20 16:35:27 PDT 1997

Hey Ben welcome nice to have you with us once again...and everyone don't believe him when he says he'll keep it short. Thiose of us who know Ben from when he first started visiting with us here know how long winded he is...but we love reading what you post Ben so don't worry. Again welcome back.

Hello to everyone else as well. I'm busy tonight finishing up the second book review for the Reader so won't hang around too long. Just wanted to say hi. HI!

Take care. Trudy.

Britomart Sun Jul 20 14:44:08 PDT 1997

Hey Ben, check out the above site - Odin's Castle - which is a fantastic history resource. Great to see you back!

Ben Woestenburg Sat Jul 19 16:02:11 PDT 1997

I'm back on-line and haven't been happier since I snuck out of the house and met Judy Hansen at her house when her parents were on holidays...but that's another story, and not one I'm allowed to share with you.

I've been busy, finally. It took me a long time to get my shit together, but I managed. I'm on chapter 24, I've got almost 200,000 words -- a bit long? -- and hope to finish the first novel of the trilogy within the next ten or more chapters. I've sent five chapters off and a synopsis to a publisher, but I found a spelling mistake in it later that I had missed the first time. I have a feeling it might be coming back because of my unprofessional conduct. Whatever. I don't care anymore. I'll just send it off to someone else if I have to.

I'm sharing this computer with my friend Phyllis. She's the mail lady. She asked me if I'd be interested in splitting the costs for the net on her BRAND NEW computer, so of course I said yes. I'm not a total fool. I can come here anytime I want and see what's happening. The best part is that she lives half a block away. That will ensure that I don't get carried away with netting it like I did with Manni's computer. His was to readily available to me. I spent more time looking for things on the net than I did typing my story out.

PHILLIP: I read SCREAM BLACK MURDER and loved it. I read it at work -- yes I still manage to make the time for reading on the job -- and finished it in three days. A very interesting story. I'm reading the second one right now. I'm liking it just as much. I wish I could write stories as short as your's seem to be. I think I'm more like Brit. She said hers was well over five hundred pages. I like those kind of books. I guess that's why I always liked James Clavell, and LORD OF THE RINGS, which I didn't think was long enough. When I get my e-mail up and running next week, we should be able to frequent each others lives a little easier.

As always, my life is a shambles. My car is off-line again, family problems, wondering if there's going to be a strike (and there's always the negative publicity from those damned tree huggers at Green Peace!), but I just shut myself off to it and sit at my keyboard and type. I want to get Gary back here because he's a really nice guy, so I'll have to phone him and tell him that he'd better start looking in once in a while. I tell you, I'd have never thought the guy was older than me! He looks like a kid! And a math teacher! Jesus, I hated math in school.

Britomart: Kim, have I told you how happy I am for you? I must have. I tried to e-mail you last week, but had nothing but problems. We were using some useless program that offered ten free hours, but I just couldn't get the mailing system to work. No big deal, it should be up and running next week.

KITTY: I hope you're still hanging around on the edges and looking in every once in a while. I've got so much I want to say to you.

TRUDY: I'm glad to see that you're still here, and just as busy as you've always been.

BILL: I'm back, just when we started to get to know each other I had to leave, but now I'm back and I think we can have some pretty good chats....and speaking of chats, is that chatline still on or what?

KASIM: I hope I can take a look at your page and give it a good browsing. I never did get those other pictures you sent me on Manni's computer. If he wasn't so busy still trying to put the finishing touches on his house I'm sure he could find them for me.

EVERYONE ELSE: I'm sorry if I missed you, and I know I have. I just have to get to know you guys all over again. It takes time, I know, so be patient. I promise I won't be as talkative as I have been in the past, but then again, I have been known to bend the truth a bit.

But I have to go off and look around for a while. I'm just dying to get into some good ancient history sites!

Ciao for now!

Bill Fri Jul 18 11:06:18 PDT 1997

I have to agree with Britomart,as little as I know about writing. I work on creating a problem first off, then I create other problems before and while the first one is being solved. Sometimes the first question is not resolve until after the second, third, etc.. When creating Characters, I like to leave a sense of mystery or question about them, developing their personality as the book progresses.

Britomart Thu Jul 17 16:11:36 PDT 1997

PS. Bill, suggest a word. I'll play.

Britomart Thu Jul 17 16:10:32 PDT 1997

In my genre, the first sentence/paragraph has to raise a mystery. If there is a mysterious question to be answered, the reader will keep reading to find out. The whole idea is to keep setting up mysteries, so that when you solve one, there are still others to wonder about. The best way to hook a reader is to make them wonder "what is going to happen?" For novels, I think prologues are a great to this end.

Just wanted to let you all know that I have been working non-stop on my new novel (which has a teaser prologue, btw). On Monday, I wrote 5300 words! I have been making myself sit down and write at least 500 words a day, and it has truly paid off (I rarely write less than 1000). I haven't had so much fun writing a story since I was a kid, but I have to go back to uni next week, so things will probably slow down then.

I will have photos from the launch posted on my page soon, so you can all see "the dress". Phil, if you're out there, I might be doing a promotional visit to Sydney next week, but I'm not holding my breath. If it's not too action-packed, perhaps I'll give you a call.


Bill Thu Jul 17 09:54:45 PDT 1997

Gee, I know I'm not famous or anything, but to be forgotten.....sniff, sniff.....(just kidding)

Anyway, the suggestion was that people could utilize a word of the week in a sentence structure. (you giving it's common meaning in your little box) From diferent people, we
might learn various ways a word could be used that we hadn't thought about, or never realized. This might also spark new ideas for its purpose as well as help to develope individual vocabulary.

Jack Beslanwitch Thu Jul 17 08:07:48 PDT 1997

Well, there is now a new topic for the week. In this case, the week starting next Sunday, but I dropped it back to include the close of this week as well. Also, someone suggested via email (I apologize, I've lost track of who) that we might want to have a word of the day or word of the week and have people have their take on an individual word. Wondering what people thought of that.

   I apologize for my relative tardiness on keeping things up. My computer has been in the shop for an upgrade and things got very strange equipment wise before it got better. Now, it's lot better :-) and I have a very very very fast machine with this really nifty (that's a technical term) 20 inch monitor that I am now staring at right now. Take care and good writing.

Lisa Nickles Wed Jul 16 16:03:27 PDT 1997

Hi all. I'll throw my sites in along with the rest. I've copied the info from my links page to here and included the addresses. (Minus Jack's pages... That would be a bit redundant here.) If any of these pages have moved, please e-mail me. I've been scrupulously staying off-line for a while so I could write. Some of these I haven't visited in a while. Gotta go... I have to get this 17 year old psycho out of my mind and onto paper. Take care all.

Links Worth Exploring

Black on White- A great location to help get yourself in groove. You can sign a contract with yourself to write
and have others help encourage you to keep it.

The Reader's, Writer's and Creative Mind's Home- More great info.

Books for Children and More: an Editor's Site (2.0)- I've gotten some pretty good information from here. Many
of the recommendations are valid for writings other than children's books as well.

Writer's Resources-HTTP:// A hodgepodge of different information

WWW-VL: Writers' Resources On The Web-HTTP:// the entire library is good for research, but this area is specifically
good for locating info on the craft of writing.

Writer's Workshop- a list of different workshops and pages on the web. I have not personally participated in
any of the workshops, so I can not comment on their effectiveness, but it's good to have the information isn't

For Young Writers- Inkspot's young writer's section. I, myself, find the forum area interesting. There is also
information on places to submit work and general information.

The Eclectic Writer- Good information. Plus they have an excruciatingly detailed character chart that I find to
be of great help when I get to work.

Inkspot- Lots of handy things here.

The Best Query Letter Ever!- For those wanting to publish, you must not ignore the BUSINESS side of the
writing craft. Query letters get your foot in the door with publishers, so it to our advantage to get them right.

The BookWire Index - Writing resources

National Writers Union Home Page­

The Novelist's Workshop-

Authorlink For Writers, Editors, Agents-

Goodweed of the North Tue Jul 15 20:22:31 PDT 1997

Mr. Graham Clark!!!

I found your use of the language extrordinary. The story
is a bit predictable but it is also clever, whitty,
humorous but with dark overtones, and extremely well
written. I'm jealous. My own writing pales is comparison
(and I don't think mine is too bad at all). My only
complaints are that it will take a strong reader to keep up
and that you have a few lengthy sentences. The wit and
clever dialogue remind me of my favorite Shakspearian work,
Much Adoo About Nothing. Hope the rest of the story is as
Thanks for sharing that tidbit with the rest of us.

Seeeeya; Goodweed of the North.

Bill Tue Jul 15 08:50:06 PDT 1997

I wish I knew enough to comment on this weeks topic, but I don't--Darn...Did everyone go on vacation this week?

Jack Beslanwitch Sun Jul 13 00:33:21 PDT 1997

Ben: I'll try giving you a call sometime in the next week. Other scheduling constraints will preclude anything sooner than probably three weeks, but I promise to give you some warning.

Well, my subject of the week did not seem to generate many takers. I'll think about things and try to drop off something more interesting tomorrow. Also, we have someone who has dropped something off on the Workbook and asks us to be merciless. That's an offer almost too good to be true. Take care.

ben Thu Jul 10 22:17:40 PDT 1997

I've just spent the last forty or so minutes writing here and suddenly this damn server cut me off. I had something really neat here too. So now I have to start all over again.

PHILLIP: Thatnks a million. I love the books; sorry I missed your wife, and hope to catch up with you again. (Damn I want to tell you so much more)

BRITOMART: I'm so proud of you I'm almost ready to burst. I sent my synopsis out yesterday along with five sample chapters (too much?). I should know one way or the other by next week sometime.

JACK: Hurry up and get up here. The wine's ready, but we're drinking it awful fast. I hope you like seafood. How does crab and cocnut milk sound? Do you like spicey foods? Renu loves to cook, but more than that she loves to entertain -- and she's very entertaining. I'd come down there, but my car's a piece of shit, and can't be relied upon to go anywhere.

I'll be back here tomorrow, or the week after. I want to get a few problems straightened out. The e-mail service isn't working right now, and I need that more than anything. I have a lot of letters to write and a lot of catching up to do.

I have to send this out now before I get screwed again.


David Goff Thu Jul 10 22:13:13 PDT 1997

Everything tempers me. Like the sun warms my skin.
The moon glows upon me. All is there.
Nature gives me time to play, for every wonderous day.
All this compels me to say.
For just one day. Days gone--days to be, sun shines, moon
has it's say, as it should be.

As I drove my smoking auto down the road, I wondered to myself, how much pollution is really spewing forth from my exhaust? Then I laid on the gas hard to see. Smiling as the smoke enveloped the car behind me. The thought occurred to me, maybe it was time for a tune-up!

Tabitha htttp:// Thu Jul 10 03:56:23 PDT 1997

Dear Ron....people are very eager to lable something science fiction because it is offten downgraded as less than LITERATURE.
I personaly think any GOOD writing can be classed as litterature, but I'm a fantasy writer and as such am really out there.
Actualy I think sci fi is one of the todays most powerfull expressions. Traditional literature, even the best, only examines
what exists, good hard sci fi not only examines reality it creates the concepts that lead to new reality.

Bill bwhitney Wed Jul 9 15:04:57 PDT 1997


When you send in a manuscript, do you send in the acknowledgment with it or wait for (hopefully) acceptance?

Jack Beslanwitch Tue Jul 8 14:28:39 PDT 1997

Sorry it took so long to getting around to updating the topic of the week. Dipping my hand into the hat I pulled out wwriting for a foreign market. This is not just geographically, but thematically as well. If anybody has insights feel free to drop them here. Having started out wanting to be a science fiction writer, doing technical writing may not be that much of a stretch, but it really is.    And Ben, hope you can work things out so you can drop by more often. It's getting close to when I should be making a trek up to your side of the border to grab a couple of cases of Okenagon Cider. I do that at least once a year. So, maybe I'll try to touch bases with you then.

P. S. Johnson Tue Jul 8 09:43:52 PDT 1997

A book I think is cool: Writing the Natural Way by Gabriele Lusser Rico. I'm just beginning to write and am looking for contests to enter for short-short-short stories (i.e. under 500 words). Any ideas ? Thanks.

Trudy Mon Jul 7 17:29:19 PDT 1997

Just a quick note to say hi, and:

KASIN, Thank you for featuring me in Kasin's Keep. A few people have gotten back to me about the short story and so far all has been good.

Everybody please read Fran and let me know what you think!

BEN: In case you get back here...hi; miss you!

BRIT: Way to go! So impressive.

Later all. Trudy

Britomart Mon Jul 7 15:31:04 PDT 1997

Okay Jack, et al. I don't know anything about Amazon, but the Australian Online Bookshop should have my book available within the next day or two. The link is on my home page. Perhaps because my book is only and Australia/New Zealand release, Amazon might have trouble finding it, and presumably it would not have it "in stock". I don't know how these things work.

I got my first review in a national magazine, and apparently I am "talented" and "at home in any century". Cool, huh?

Bye all!!!!!

Ron Dakron Mon Jul 7 14:32:57 PDT 1997

I am a published poet and novelist. Recently I wrote my first novel with a "scientific" theme--a genetic experiment gone awry. I've been kind of amused by the strange attempt of folks to either insist it IS or ISN'T science fiction. Who cares? Reading is reading.

Jack Beslanwitch Sun Jul 6 22:21:53 PDT 1997


Congratulations!!! I just checked without any luck checking both via ISBN and Title/Author. However, I logged in for Personal Notification Service and am hoping that The Infernal is just waiting to be dropped into their database. Hope so. I look forward to reading it. Take care.

Ben Woestenburg Sun Jul 6 22:20:40 PDT 1997

Hey guys I just dropped in for a brief moment to tell you yhat I'm managing to get along and I hope I can get back here to join in on the chit chat. I'm trying to make a deal with the mail lady and help her with her learning the net. I offered to help her pay the monthly costs and she said it sounded like a great idea to her. Luckily for me she's a drinking buddy. Phillip you can tell your wife I'm so sorry to have missed her and look forward to reading your books.

I'm on the neighbour's machine, trying one of those split consoles. I'm struggling bad ly, but I can see that by using it I'd get used to it really quickly. I asked him to print up the pages for this piece so I could spend some time reading it tonight. I can't stay of course because I'm supposed to be trying the homebrew tonight.

I don't want to go, but duty calls!

Ben Woestenburg.

Ben Woestenburg Sun Jul 6 22:12:55 PDT 1997

Philip Sun Jul 6 04:31:39 PDT 1997

BRITOMART: Got The Infernal!... just went to my local Angus and Robertson Bookstore and there it was, sitting there with five others looking exactly the same... not well positioned really.... on the bottom shelf with the "W's"... but very close to the several bestsellers of Tim Winton, who has become my favourite Australian author. They were sitting with their covers facing outwards, a good sign that the bookseller is displaying them to advantage - spine out and your dead.

I've read to page seven - great! Going back for more right now.....

How exciting....... proud of you.

Back soon - Philip.

Kasin Hunter tkf Fri Jul 4 08:11:55 PDT 1997

Darn! The quick click didn't quicken! I put it above, instead, along with Trudy's email. Thanks, Kasin.

Kasin Hunter Fri Jul 4 08:09:34 PDT 1997

Congrats, Brit. We all know how much work you put into it.

Trudy's short story is up and ready! Here's a quick click directly to it. And while you're there, why not check out the rest of my web site. Drop Trudy a line or two via her posted email to let her know what you think about her contribution, if you will.

Again, thanks, Trudy for being the first writer to Showcase in Kasin's Keep!

Health and humor, Kasin Hunter.

Britomart Fri Jul 4 02:58:30 PDT 1997

Hey everybody. Sorry, I'm not contributing to this week's topic, I'm just giving the rundown on my book launch.

It kicked off at 5.30 with a string trio playing some baroque music. As a surprise, my partner's band had provided ten bottles of champagne, and my best friend had organised finger food. I flounced in with my pretty frock on and was overwhelmed by the number of people there - about 80 or more, when we were expecting 30 or so. Even my old high school english teacher turned up! I didn't know where to look or who to talk to, so I went and hid in a corner. At six, one of my lecturers gave a (very flattering) speech and officially launched the book, then I got up to make a speech. I was so nervous I was sure that I'd fail miserably, but I actually spoke quite well and got a few laughs. Then my friend Kate did a short reading from the book, and the string trio came back on. The book store owners sat me down and put a purple pen in my hand, and people queued up for me to sign their books! I did that for about an hour, and then friends and I came back to my place for coffee, then headed out to see my partner's band. Sunk lots of piss (Australian for "imbibed some alcohol), and wound up at the Pancake Manor tucking into crepes and short stacks at midnight. It was a wonderful night, everything I dreamed of really.

I've been into town today, and my books are in all the shops - dozens and dozens of them packed into the new releases sections, or in their very own display bins at front doors. It's the most AMAAAAAZING feeling in the world, wandering into a bookstore and seeing your very own book there, watching people pick it up and read the back etc. I feel so very, very blessed.

So now the book should be available through Amazon or through the Australian online bookstore - the ISBN is listed on my home page if you want it. It is only released in Australia and New Zealand for those of you who don't know.

Thanks for being here to share it all with me. I hope you all get a chance to go through the same thing really soon.

Yours on an enormous high

Gin Hollan Thu Jul 3 19:28:25 PDT 1997

The question of the week being books that have helped in the craft of writing, I would like to recommend How To Write a Damn Good Novel by James N. Frey, and Starting From Scratch by Rita Mae Brown. Both are very useful and, I believe, a must have for any writer's library... (and no, I'm not related to either of the authors. )

Trudy Thu Jul 3 18:13:29 PDT 1997

My absolute favourite would be The No-Necessary Writer's Course: A Unique Stress-Free Approach for Anyone who has Ever Wanted to Write by Scott Edelstein. It is filled with writing excercises that get the creative juices flowing.

Others include the Canadian Writer's Market; William Zinsser's books such as On Writing Well and Writing to Learn and Creating Short Fiction by Damon Knight.

An encouraging little book I picked up one time is The Writer's Home Companion: Anecdotes, Comforts, Recollections\ and Other Amusements for Every Writer, Editor and Reader. It is filled with tidbits that can be encouraging for those receiving rejections such as...

"James Joyce's Dubliners was rejected by twenty-one publishers. Edgar Allan Poe self-published Tamerlane and Other Poems, sold only forty copies and made less than a dollar in profit. A century later, one of those copies sold for $11,000. Thomas Carlyle was forced to rewrite the first volume of his History of the French Revolution after the original was mistaken for trash and burned."

Anyway, take care all...and I do hope you check out my story which can be linked from Kasin's pages soon...I'm quite excited to make my fiction debut on her pages...

Later, Trudy.

Bill Thu Jul 3 08:50:51 PDT 1997

Here are two books that I have found useful (especially for newbies like me)

"The Writer's Digest To Manuscript Formats" by Dian Dincin Buchman & Seli Groves

"The Writer's Guide to Creating a Science Fiction Universe"
by George Ochoa and Jeffery Osier
(you might like that one Bob)

Hope this helps...Bill...

Jack Beslanwitch Thu Jul 3 03:15:30 PDT 1997

I will be pretty much incommunicado over the next several days at Westercon, but I just got this in from another source of mine. It is a writing contest and the prizes are significant. There is a cautionary note that is right at the top. Still, interesting: This contest has a fun prize. Too bad they take all rights forever
on every entry...

Veuve Clicquot's The Case of La Grande Dame
Rules and Regulations


Entrants should create an original short mystery story
(1,500-2,000 words) based on the La Grande Dame print
advertisement and entitled "The Case of La Grande
Dame." Entries must be received by 9/1/97. First-,
second-, and third-place winners will be chosen by an
independent panel of judges, assembled by The New
Yorker Magazine, Inc., on or about 9/12/97. The winners
will be selected from among qualifying entries on the basis
of concept, originality, and execution. Entries must be
original, unpublished work by the entrant, typed, and
double-spaced. Limit of 1 entry per person. All decisions of the judges
are final. Contest open to U.S. residents 21
years of age or older as of 4/21/97, except employees of
The New Yorker Magazine, Inc., Clicquot, Inc., affiliated
companies, and their families. Subject to all federal, state
and local laws and regulations. Void where prohibited by
law. All entries become the property of Veuve Clicquot
Ponsardin, which may use them (with or without
editing/changes), including publicity, promotion, and
advertising in print, electronic and other media. Entries
will not be acknowledged or returned. Send entries by mail to: The
Case of La Grande Dame c/o Eleanor Adams, The New Yorker Magazine, Inc.,
20 West 43rd Street, New York, NY 10036-7440, or by e-mail to: (entries filed
electronically must be in a pure text format; ASCII). Not responsible
for entries that are lost, late, misdirected,
unintelligible, or garbled for any reason including but not
limited to computer or network malfunctions or
congestion, including at The New Yorker Magazine, Inc.

First Prize: Compliments of Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin, 2 economy
round-trip tickets from a gate-way in the continental U.S. to Paris.
Round-trip transportation for 2 by chauffeured car from Paris to Reims.
Tour of Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin's private cellars, private museum, and
vineyards. Luncheon at Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin's
private mansion, the Risidence du Marc, accompanied by
Veuve Clicquot Champagnes. Dinner at a restaurant in
Reims chosen by a representative of Veuve Clicquot
Ponsardin who will attend. Overnight stay in the
Risidence du Marc. Breakfast in Reims before departing
for Paris for return to the U.S. 1 case (12 bottles) of
Champagne Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame 1989.
Approximate retail value of first prize is $3,800. Prize
must be used before 12/31/98. 12 weeks notice required.
Scheduling subject to availability. Second Prize:
Compliments of Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin, dinner for 6
in the winner's choice of selected restaurants. 1 case (12
bottles) of Champagne Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame
1989. Approximate retail value of Second Prize is $2,200.
Prize must be used before 12/31/98. Scheduling subject to
availability. Third Prize: Compliments of Veuve Clicquot
Ponsardin, 1 case (12 bottles) of Champagne Veuve
Clicquot La Grande Dame 1989. Approximate retail value
of Third Prize is $1,200. Income and other taxes, if any, are the sole
responsibility of the prize winners. No substitutions or transfer of
prizes allowed, except by
sponsor in case of unavailability, in which a prize of equal
or greater value will be substituted.

Philip Wed Jul 2 22:12:48 PDT 1997

HELLO EVERYONE: with reference to this week's topic a book I found for serious writers is the Writers' & Artists' Yearbook. It is reprinted every year with new information in it. It has markets: newspapers, magazines, book publishers with names of contacts and the genre that is published by that particular publisher etc. Included are sections for poets, scriptwriters, illustration and design, photography, picture research, music, agents, finance and law, societies, a list of international prizes and more. It deals mostly the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa... English speaking countries. It tells what to submit, how to submit and to whom.

Writers' & Artists' Yearbook (1998)

A & C Black (Publishers) Limited
35 Bedford Row, London, U.K., WC1R 4JH

I'm flat out writing a new work and excited with the finds from my research for the book that will follow that, more news about these later.

BRITOMART: please........... come on, tell us about your book launch!

Back soon - Philip

Kasin Hunter Wed Jul 2 20:27:28 PDT 1997

Okay, Jack. Here's mine.

I've been out working hard. That's why I haven't jogged by
in such a long time.

Subjects--publications and new web site.

First off, I've been published and/or hired for freelance work five times since we've last talked.

Had a whole page to myself in a poetry magazine for a poem I'd written paired up with a mixed media illustration I'd done. First time I'd ever had that happen--a whole page of both my writing and my artwork! Heeee.

In the same magazine, I had a cartoon about writers under the Humor section. It's really cute. If any of you would like to see it, let me know.

Then I had a poem published in conjunction with a computer graphic artist's work. Her name is
Christina Vasilakis and does some darling stuff. The neat thing is that I recommended her to the publisher/editor and now on her first publication, we get to be together! So cool.

Then I had an advertisement illustration published, one that promotes the sell of the magazine itself.

For the last month, I've been working on a commissioned piece for a man who wanted to give an original piece of art to his wife for her fortieth birthday. The color depiction turned out fine and on time! Did a sketch with pencil then scanned it in and went from there. She's getting it framed, then will bring it over to show me how it turned out. We're both excited.

The next thing I wanted to let you know about is that I have added an author/artist showcase to my web site. This is for anyone who would like to give his/her work a little more exposure. Starting this month I will pick a new author and artist then publish their work on a page dedicated just for them. Their page will be accessible through my speed button selection under Library.

What will you see when you go there?

Well, this month--tah-dah!!-- Trudy is showcasing! That's right, so go take a peek then tell her what you think. I'll have her short story, "Fran", up and running no later than Friday, I'm sure.

Also, Jack brought up a good point about publishing on the Net. When I accept a piece to showcase, I retain one-time publishing rights for the month the piece "airs" on my page. After that, full rights return to the author/artist. Now, there are some publishers that feel if you post a story, poem, etc. on the Net, it is officially published for the first time. Other publishers do not feel this way. I would suggest that if this a concern for you, contact the publisher and ask them. Otherwise, I'd love to see your submissions.

Also, consider this (excerpt from a recent email):

"You know, pieces appearing in the Showcase need not be new. Submitted pieces can be priorly published, then I can showcase them as long as copyright has returned to the author after the first publication. This goes for poems, short stories, artwork, anything. If you're like me, you have a poem or short story that no one has snatched up for print, but you know it's good. That would be great for this page. Or how about some of those poems a writer always seems to have stuffed away in some dusty notebook? (Yes, I'm guilty of this.)"

I would like poems to be no longer than a page, try to keep short stories under 2500 words, and any one art submission has to be smaller than 60 KB, either in .jpg or .gif format.
If you have any other questions or desires, drop me a line.

Now here's the direct link to Trudy's short story. Get it. Bookmark it. Then when she gets done editing her piece, drop by for a look-see.

Health and humor, Kasin Hunter.

Gary Howard Wed Jul 2 20:20:57 PDT 1997

Greetings one and all ...THE ART OF DRAMATIC WRITING by Lajos Egri is one of my foundational favorites, focusing on Character and Conflict, in particular. Other resources I've found useful for scriptwriting are: SCREENPLAY by Syd Field, FILM SCRIPTWRITING by Dwight Swain and the T.V. SCRIPTWRITER'S HANDBOOK by Alfred Brenner.

Brit: Great to hear you're well into your next novel. Best wishes for the INFERNAL launch ...I'm sure the book will become a best seller!


Keep on writing!


Jack Beslanwitch Wed Jul 2 11:41:24 PDT 1997

Sorry to say that I made a rather major mistake. I overwrote the Notebook file with another and had to use my last archive file to resurrect things. This means that all the posted messages for the last two days are gone. I am very sorry for this and hope people can repost or share additional ideas. The way this happened has been corrected and will never happen again, but I am feeling very badly about this. Good writing everyone.

Jack Beslanwitch Mon Jun 30 01:16:59 PDT 1997

Well, end of the week and time for a new subject. Please note that the topic is only a suggestion. If you have something else any of you would like to discuss or bat around, feel free. The subject I have selected is one several people have recommended. What are the books that really help. This includes fiction, non-fiction, poetry and can include music as well since music can be poetry. Any non internet related resource that helps you get the words on paper and handle the business of writing as well as the craft. This is a rather broad category since it runs the gambit from books like Byrd on Byrd which was mentioned several posts back to books on the business of writing to I like to write listening to Mozard.

    Also, I would like to suggest that next week, post Fourth of July and Westercon we could discuss writing for a particular market, either a genre or a country as in the American audience. So think about that one as well, but keep your powder dry until then.

    Final comment. I mentioned westercon above. J.Michael Straczynski will be doing a script writing workshop at the convention, but participation is by pre-registration only. So, if you are planning to go to Westercon and thinking about that particular panel you'll need to get word to them pronto. It may already be too late. I do not know. Take care everyone.

Deb Borys Sun Jun 29 20:15:01 PDT 1997

Two websites that are maybe a glimmer of the future for writers. The cutting edge, or left field???? What do you think.

Representatives from (above) were at the MWA Writer's conference in Chicago I went to recently. The idea behind this company is selling books on-line, a chapter at a time. I've got a brochure I can copy and mail to anyone who wants to know more once they've checked out the site.

I've mentioned before. Basically, they act as a bulletin board for your work. You pay them to keep a synopsis and sample section of the work you are marketing and they promote the site to agents and editors who can request more if they are interested. They say they have had a number of publisher to writer and agent to writer hookups already. It's intriguing, but I'd like to talk to someone I've tried it before I actually pay for something like this.

See you all again. Bye.

Bob Flwoers (Goodweed of the North) Sun Jun 29 16:58:30 PDT 1997

Hey Bill Whitney:
Got your chapter loaded on Wordperfect. I'm proof
reading now but it will take a while (couple of weeks).
I've been involved in some serious overtime at work but
that should slow down soon. I enjoyed reading the chapter.
I hope the changes I make will be helpful. Keep plugging
and practicing. That's how we all develop our skills.

Hi to Kae Brown. Hope you enjoyed my last e-mail. Look
foward to hearing from you as well.

A good way to develop your writing technique is to read
work by authors you admire and see how they handle tings
such as dialogue, punctuation, chronology, etc. No sense
in re-inventing the wheel. We learn from others and from
comparing ourselves to a standard.

Look forward to reading more entries in the notebook.

Bob Flowers saying; seeeeya

Gwynda Sun Jun 29 08:36:11 PDT 1997

LINDA: I too find Anne Lamotts Bird by Bird inspirational. A couple of people who I shared a writing class with purchased the book for me as a gift, and I took my time about actually reading it. It was only after one of those people gave me a couple of tapes of her from a workshop she did, that I re-opened the book. She is a great find for those of us who think we are the only ones who: a. put off writing (procrastinate), b. write shitty first drafts, and c. have suffered in life and can't possibly be a successful writer. Glad you too found it helpful.

And, I have recently found BOW (Black and White), and have connected with like minds. Take care everyone, and keep writing!

Dale Graves Sat Jun 28 02:40:58 PDT 1997

This an enquirey to Australian Writers -
I am a Struggling 21 y.o blah blah blah. Sounds familiar doesn,t it well my question to all you literary geniuses out there is how does one go about getting a book published. I have written what I consider to be a masterful piece of science fiction and would like to get it published. Could anyone with an idea as to where in Melbourne Australia I might send my work please forward the info. to Dale Graves at
Thank You
Dale Graves

Dale Graves Sat Jun 28 02:24:56 PDT 1997

This an enquirey to Australian Writers -
I am a Struggling 21 y.o blah blah blah. Sounds familiar doesn,t it well my question to all you literary geniuses out there is how does one go about getting a book published. I have written what I consider to be a masterful piece of science fiction and would like to get it published. Could anyone with an idea as to where in Melbourne Australia I might send my work please forward the info. to Dale Graves at
Thank You
Dale Graves

Diana L. Lambson Thu Jun 26 22:01:13 PDT 1997

Good Eve To All,
Am very new here although I bookmarked the spot at least two months ago. Got busy doing stuff, like working for money to support my bad habits--eating, living in a warm space and wearing clothing. I am a writer by profession (a regional correspondent for a daily paper, circulation about 16,000).
I also write for three local weeklies and share stories of area import with three more. As well a poet and short story weaver.

My suggestion for website publishing and writer's life discussion: Ladybug Books at and Poetry Cafe at Both have bulletin boards. Ladybug has postings for poetry write-offs and critiques, short stories, non-fiction, novel-in-progress, communicator, marketing. Poetry Cafe has several poetry posting sections, live-audio poetry readings (the RealAudio is a free down-load), community networking and a zillion other links. Have a ball.

Linda Fode Thu Jun 26 18:25:06 PDT 1997

I've found BOW ( Black on White) to be excellent- I've used for almost a year. I signed up for FicTech last Sunday and did get a response almost immediately.
Other sites I've enjoyed are the Eclectic Writer and the Scriveny.

My favorite book on writing is Anne Lamotts Bird by Bird. It is beautifully written as well as practical and inspirational. It has motivated me and actually got me writing in a way that none of the other books have.

Trudy Thu Jun 26 15:12:26 PDT 1997

OK, while I'm thinking of this and while things are a little slow...some of my favourite resources on the net...writing related of course...are:
I realize it's a little long but it's the home page of the Writers' Federation of New Brunswick...the group I belong to here. They have some great links, like that one about agents.

Like Bill I really like: It has some great links to chat areas that are writer specific.

The Inkspot site Tammi mentions is also a favourite of mine and the newsletter is wonderful! is the home page for the Periodical Writers' Association of has some great info on contracts and who is paying freelancers for reuse of their stuff on the internet and who isn't. are a few others and finally is all about copyright

I'm sure I found some of these from your links Jack. Later all. Trudy

Karlene Price Tue Jun 24 13:19:45 PDT 1997

I have found over the many years of writing that writing, like anything else, must be done regularly to improve. Perserverence is an absolute necessity for one who wishes to be published. Books from Writer's Digest Book Club do help and so do some writing courses, but to improve you must write and get critiqued when possible. I have yet to realize my dream of being published, but I am closer to that goal now than ever before. If critiquing and rejection slips make you cry, do so. Get it out of your system then move on. Never, never give up if your dream is to be published.

Tammi Mon Jun 23 11:35:58 PDT 1997

Hi Everyone,

Just wanted to apologize because the owner of FicTech (URL above) has gone on vacation until July 7. I have heard from some people who have applied to join (no cost) but have not received a response. If you are interested, everything should be up and running on July 7.


Jack Beslanwitch Sun Jun 22 18:24:01 PDT 1997

Given things had gotten over a hundred k and there was still a misdirected link that Tammi pointed out to me, I decided to archive things and start this notebook with the beginning of this weeks topic. Seems like a nice clean way to cut things off and start things up. Glad to see many new links and some that are tried and trues on Writer Resources already. It tells me what people find useful and what I might want to take another look at and make sure I benefit from as well. Take care everyone.

Bill Sun Jun 22 09:33:54 PDT 1997

here are a couple on grammer:

Here are a few other neat places:

Here is a publisher:

here is one for fun (Disney):

Tammi Sat Jun 21 21:43:20 PDT 1997

First I would like to second Black on White and the Poet's and Writer's Speakeasy. Great sites.

I just found a new research site with archeology, mythology and history links. Odin's Castle at
Truly the most extensive site of it's type I've come across yet.

Another site I discovered this week: FicTech at
This site looks to be the most comprehensive, FREE writing site on the net.

If you have a work in progress you want critiqued by your peers, check out the Internet Writing Workshop at:

And finally, Inkspot is a great source of writing links. You can subscribe to their newsletter which includes information on markets:

Sorry if my praise of the first two sites appears extravagant. I just found them and I am impressed.

BRIT: I hope to see you on BoW soon. We have a lot of fun encouraging each other to write.


Good Weed of tthe North (Bob Flowers) Sat Jun 21 18:16:55 PDT 1997

Hi everyone:
Browsing throughthe net I found an excellent rescource at This led to a poets and writers speakeasy which has an agency employee who answeres the queries and decides who gets
called back and who doesn't. This individual is very candid and helpful with advice and the persons asking the questions appear very straightforward and to the point. I would recomend signing on.
It costs nothing to register and the topics are varied and topical. Hope you enjoy it.
Still luv this page.

Britomart Sat Jun 21 17:15:24 PDT 1997

Yo folks! The above address is for a site called "Black on White" which features a "contract" that you can fill out, saying you'll write so many words by such a date etc. If you don't report back on time, you can request to be spammed badly by everybody else doing the contract. Could be kind of fun! I'm thinking of enlisting to get five chapters done before I go back to uni (I'm holiday girl at the moment).

Philip: You call me a flatterer! You're the one telling me I'm going to be a bestseller. I've done an interview with "The Mag" which is one of those funky, youth-oriented, rock mags - but no other media interest so far. (Except for the local papers, and maybe - just maybe - the Courier Mail). I'll believe it when I see it!


Jack Beslanwitch Sat Jun 21 16:49:10 PDT 1997

Hi Phillip, Trudy and everyone else:

   I'm kind of starting a day ahead and soliciting for the latest, greatest, most useful and most interesting of Writer related sites. These can include general references, historical reference sites, newsgroups or mailing lists, anything. I have a self serving reason for suggesting this topic. I want the help of everyone here to get Writer Resources back into shape.

This is not part of the official topic, but if anyone has suggestions on how I have the Resources page structured that would make it more useful to people, I am interested. New category divisioins. How it looks. Anything. Add those as well either here or emailed to me directly.

I am basically down to the last two chapters for the first draft of my book. So, I actually have a few seconds to rub together. When I get into the second draft and, if necessary, final draft other than the second draft, I may get a whole lot busier again. So, this gives me a window of opportunity to make an aging page come to life. Take care and this is a truly great group of writers we have here.

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