Archived Writer's Notebook Messages

From July 1 to August 26, 1996

Marc Beebe Sun Aug 25 12:41:58 PDT 1996

Hi there!
I don't know if this will help anyone but I've just added a bit to my web site - a description of how I go about writing. You have to go to the adjunct site which is and click on the subject heading "writing". Maybe it'll help, maybe it won't. Wortha try though, isn't it?

Bob Hanford Thu Aug 22 06:08:33 PDT 1996

Everytime you talk about your story plot you lose more of the emotional edge. What you have to do is write it. And forget about whether the story will be "big." That's probably feeding your writer's block. You will find both of these pieces of advice in any book or mag on writing. What we writers have to do is write.
Good luck. Bob

Jack Beslanwitch Wed Aug 21 22:19:17 PDT 1996

I can't speak definitively on this issue, but it was reported that some publishers were telling writers who were at a recent science fiction con to put nothing up on web sites. There are ezines that talk about first electronic rights, but I think this is so much fiction and certainly not based on existing case law or copyright law. I would be very cautious about this one. Excerpts might be OK, but I'm rather suspicious that all serialization rights may be forfeit or at least in jeapordy if something gets put out on the web in its entirety where anybody and everybody can get a complete copy for the taking. Of course, if you've got a manuscript and the ezine is willing to pay you handsomly, that's something thing else. Omni certainly fits into this category and they are entirely electronic now. The congress is talking about beefing up the copyright laws (or were) at the expense of fair use in which case at least in the US electronic copyrights would be better protected, but I'm not sure what the Congress does has any effect on the rest of the world. If anyone else has a better take on this I would also like to hear about it.

Lisa Nickles Wed Aug 21 19:13:48 PDT 1996

Need a little advice here from those writers who have displayed their work on a homepage of any sort. As far as selling rights to such work, does displaying your writing in such a way constitute publishing? And which rights are considered forfeit? First time rights? International rights?

Thanks guys,

trudy Wed Aug 21 17:49:07 PDT 1996

Hi gang! Just popping in to check out the messags and see what's been going on. Ideas huh? I too have a story idea file and snippets of stories in a notebook. I also clip interesting pictures and have several writing excercise books to get me started when I can't. Another trick to getting started on a new story is to use the first line of another story or book; I usually discard it later but have gotten some interesting stuff that way.
My biggest problem is finding the time and energy to write fiction. As a writer full-time at a daily paper by the time I get home and do all the house stuff I don't have the energy to write. Any suggestions on making time?
Later all! trudy

Mike Hendel Wed Aug 21 14:00:26 PDT 1996

I have had an idea for a sci fi novel for some time, and have recently been seriously starting to piece it together and start writing. I have told several friends about the basic plot and they say it sounds like it would make a good story. I would love to talk with writers who were once(or are) in the same position, so that I may get some advice and get over my writers' block. I feel with a little help and encouragement, my story has the potential to be big. If you are such a person, or if you know one, e-mail me and I'll get back to you. Thanks!!!

Kitty Dwyer Tue Aug 20 11:27:46 PDT 1996

Hey y'all. Ideas come to me from many sources, which is why I always have paper and pen close at hand. Like Lisa wrote, conversations overheard and actions observed can start me down the path of what if...... The news is full of potential plot lines and characters. My dreams can be very vivid story extravaganzas complete with stereo sound, technicolor, a cast of thousands, and, I swear, the sense of smell. Talking, talking, talking with friends and fellow writers (who often are one and the same) will start the grey cells snapping. I keep a file labelled "story ideas" filled with clippings and notes--for both fiction and nonfiction.
Jack, wishing you a safe trip and a great convention experience. In what capacity are you attending? Would you be willing to be our "roving reporter?" I'd love to know what you saw, did, highlights, lowlights, etc... Would you recommend attending a conventions and, if so, which and why?
Thanks for the link to the Convention info site.
Tobin, are we talking the Munsters or the Addams family?
Tam Lin, I have been pondering, but no, not really. I was looking for a simple direct answer. I see that you have left the futuristic technocrat wallowing in apocalyptic doom and gloom for the medieval troubadour wandering the bucolic countryside. Not a carefree troubadour dallying in the castle keep wooing the damsels with charming words and music, but the mysterious stranger with a past, dark and brooding, who brings change and unease to the normally placid villagers. You've set the scene, so tell us the tale, send us the message! Why do I get the feeling you are chuckling up your sleeve? Why are these samplings of your writing not independent of the author, and yet, I do not believe, truly reflect the author. Hmmm.... another conundrum. --Kitty

Lisa Nickles Tue Aug 20 09:24:31 PDT 1996

I, like many other writers get my ideas from many different places. Sometimes listening to the conversations of strangers on the subway can spark story ideas; or even an arguement with my husband or my mother can transform into an incredibly detailed clip.

Often the personalities of my coworkers transform themselves. My supervisor (unbeknownst to him) has become a wise and aged gnome who keeps to himself, but can handle about anything if forced.

I also draw a lot on my childhood and my family members. (Another weird family.)

Where do you guys get your ideas?

Jack Beslanwitch Mon Aug 19 18:31:28 PDT 1996

Tam Lin, a nice answer indeed. I really do look forward to each new installment that you drop off here :-). It might be interesting to hear where you get your ideas.
Just to let everybody know, just before I head to the World Science Fiction Convention, a week from tomorrow, I plan to archive the present series of messages since this file is exceeding 80k. The archive page will preserve everything written divided into up to June 30, July 1 to August 26, and eventually probably just one month portions. Hope this is OK with everybody.

Tam Lin Mon Aug 19 04:59:48 PDT 1996

The old man walked unfaltering along the road, that bit into his calloused flesh, leaving fractures of blood in his
path. He could no longer remember why he had started this
journey, nor was he any longer particularly bothered why.
He walked because he enjoyed the fresh air in the morning,
the crystalline tang that echoed in his mouth. He liked to
drink from unpolluted wells, to catch a moments rest in the
shade of an olive tree.
He carried little. He had no need of the baggage, the material securities that he had forsaken when he had first
parted from his village. Admittedly his departure had been
in the most unfortuante of circumstances, but it was an
existance that he had become accoustomed to. Merely a wine
skin that more rarely was empty than full, slung over his
shoulder, and his walking stick were the only subtle
companions he needed. Not that he had shared with many
people, but always came the urge, and he had learnt to trust
its instincts.
He foraged his food from the wayside, a little game when
provided, but mostly fruit, berries and nuts. They proved to
be much more filling that the sustanence of the cities,
where plague and hunger oft prevailed.
Some nights when the road was too hard, or the chill cut
too deep through his clothes he would take refugee in a
tavern. In these times little news spread, and most folk
longed for tales, in exchange for clean linen and food. But
everey morning before even the servants, or the tenders
awoke he moved on.
It was not that he travelled to any destination. The
dragons needed no more slaying, there homes ransacked by
the incompetant and ignorant. He had no taste for exotic
pleasures, though he had seen his share of wonders. He did
not trade, trampling on predetermined courses, gold was only
No the journey itself had become his life. A life which
he mutter prayers to the unnamed Gods, in thanks.

Kitty. I hope this answers your question?????

Lots of Love
Tam Lin

It may seem a little odd(?) but I assure you there is more
insight here than most will ponder.

Bob Hanford Sun Aug 18 17:25:13 PDT 1996

Kitty: Thanks for the info on collaborating. Bit different when you're working with a mentor rather than two people
with a novel published apiece or no novels published. But interesting. I envy you.
Trudy: Thanks for suggestions on where to hide tree. And will keep my fingers and toes crossed for you.
Ideas? An orange creek that isn't supposed to be orange. Or
the baddest dude from the baddest gang wouldn't do what diminutive nurse Susan Mitchell does every Sat. morning: go
unprotected into a cage filled with great horned owls, not tethered or tamed. Her only defense is avoiding eye contact.
And on and on. Two kids discover by accident a low-level radiation dump in the woods. Turns out it was from a cash-strapped hospital. And on and on. Or characters like Jack said: Heartless Blue and Suitcase Johnson. I just get out of the way and let them tell their stories.
Peace. Bob

Jack Beslanwitch Sun Aug 18 16:42:23 PDT 1996

Tobin, love the suggestion for the topic of the week. Ideas? They come from many sources. As you indicated, sometimes music, usually Bach or Dvorak for me, but I also like others like Kitano, Mannheim Steamroller, Osamu, Carol King, Tingstad and Rumbel and Jethro Tull. Ideas often times come through the characters I craft. Earlier I mentioned doing character studies by people watching. The characters developed this way come up with stories of their own and the ideas to go along with them. Also, my own emotional history can be a precious load to mine. A current time travel epic that I enjoy tinkering with greatly (now if I could ever sit down and write it) derived from a time in my life when I actively wished I could go back in time knowing what I know now/then and change things. A not uncommon plot theme or day dream. However, the strength of the emotions feeding that wish was enough to flesh out all the ideas I could hope for in a time travel story, perhaps too many. Finally, another source of ideas is small sentences or other stimuli that our Writer's Group uses when we're stuck. We call them whimsies. A good example was the beginning line "Due to an unfortunate computer error, Franklin deleted his sister." This generated quite a few different stories and the ideas to go along with them. At last count, three other people had Franklin stories published somewhere.

Tobin Sun Aug 18 05:17:47 PDT 1996

Yes Kitty, you did read that right. I AM writing horror/suspense stories based on family history... I've got a weird family. Which sort of leads to a new topic of the week, if I may be so bold. Where do our ideas come from? Bob filled us in on his where do you hide a tree thing. I tend to get a lot of ideas from music. I'm a music freak, and always have it on in the background. I find it will set a mood that is interesting to try and relay through words. Like the sinister feel of Filter's "Hey, Man Nice Shot" or the desperate urgency of Meat Loaf's "Bat Out of Hell" or even the bouncy spirit of Katrina & the Wave's "Walkin' on Sunshine" (these are really quick examples). I also find that there is such ambiguity to lyrics, that they can start you thinking about things that aren't even IN the song. I wrote a story about a sinister little girl from listening to REM's Green album -- particularly The Wrong Child and Inside Out. If anyone's interested, it's at Poe's Addiction and it's called The Fall. At this point, it's still rough, and I have to fix the tenses. Other than music, my main source of inspiration would be my weird family...

Lisa A. Nickles Sat Aug 17 07:40:35 PDT 1996

Okay, now that I've poked around a little, I'll leave a bio and opinions.

I've been writing for more years than I have not. I started with poetry when I was five and stories when I was eight. (Don't remember much before that.) I've taken on the project of writing a novel, and I am nowhere near finished. It is so refreshing to be able to locate other writers (especially fantasy writers, but I exclude no one). I've had some of my work published in school papers as a child, and poetry performed in a dramatic festival as a teen. My only adult writing credit so far was a journalistic piece for a government newsletter. I'm getting so now that I'm not as shy about sharing my more creative pieces with non writers, but I still need other writers for support and for critique.

Now, as I am very opinionated, let's throw out a few:

Having been a child writer, (This is for you, Melissa) I know how frustrating it was when others thought I was "cute." The only real differences that I have ever found between younger and older writers are perspective and experience. One of the reasons why I have been so reluctant to share was because if I sought an honest critique when I was younger, it was always met with condecension. (Warning: I can't spell any better than most writers.) If you meet a young writer, encourage them! (Encourage, not push.) Bring them into the tribe, as it were.

Hmmm... Hiding a 200 year old Hemlock. Maybe inside of an abandoned fort or crumbling castle? Or perhaps in a Mangrove forest. I seem to remember that that species is fairly water tolerant.

Well, more later. Gotta go for now. Take care all. :-)

Lisa A. Nickles Fri Aug 16 21:57:13 PDT 1996

Hey Jack!

Bless you for putting this together! Between work and family, I barely have time to write, much less commune with other writers. (E-mail was a great invention.) I'm really looking forward to exploring this site a little bit more.

Type at ya later!


trudy Fri Aug 16 20:20:30 PDT 1996

I will. Everybody cross fingers now. About collaberating (I thought I left this message earlier but it's gone) I did so with a friend on a romance novel for awhile though romance novels are not something I'm greatly interested in writing. She would write a chapter, I would critique and add to it and back and forth it would go. (We've since become interested in other projects so it went nowhere) It really only works, as Kitty says, if you really connect with someone and I feel you have to respect the other person's writing as well. See ya'll later. trudy

trudy Fri Aug 16 14:57:31 PDT 1996

Kitty, collaborating can be a lot of fun. I have a friend who I worked on a romance novel with for awhile until she moved away. Romance is not really abig interest for me however, so I was doing it more to help her. The way we did it was she started the novel and as she finished a chapter I would look at it, add to it, offer suggestions and critique; then it was her turnagain, back and forth. The project kind of fell by the wayside though when she started working on a sci-fi novel that is really taking off and I got into other things. I agree with Kitty, Bob, you have to really click with the person for this to work; plus, you have to respect each other's writing abilities.
Anyway just popped in to say hi and see what was up. More later. trudy

Kitty Dwyer Fri Aug 16 07:53:49 PDT 1996

Hey y'all! Trudy, I'm so thrilled for you! I hope you hear very soon and very enthusiastically from the publisher. And then let us know.
About collaborating... It works well for me. How we have gone about it is fairly straight forward. Whenever J. and I are together we talk about books, writing, and ideas for stories. Twice during these sessions we've agreed to develop an idea: the fantasy and the mystery. I wrote the "treatment of the story," laying down the broad strokes of what we had discussed. We both profiled and then compiled the bios of the characters. Then J. started to write the first draft, I polished and added to the second draft,and the thought is once one is finished to do a final revision together. As I wrote earlier neither is finished and this is where collaboration goes beyond just writing. In the past few years both of us have had to put aside writing to attend to more urgent, time consuming matters. And we have both understood and supported each other. There are two things working in our favor, I think: 1. Above and beyond the writing, we are very, very good friends. She is a sister of my heart. 2. We both have other writing interests independent of these projects. On a practical level, the hardest thing for me to learn about collaborating was to not worry about "hurting feelings" when critiquing/editing. It was easier to be on the receiving end, not so easy to do. J. has five published novels and is currently working on a series of "petreaders." I am the novice to fiction. So for me, it is a privilege and a hands on learning experience to work with her.
So Bob, if you meet someone you feel very sympatico with, someone whose story ideas light a fire within, you may want to try collaborating. Just remember it is "our" story not only "yours," and it can be fun working as a team. Sci-fi and mystery are full of collaborations. Dumas, who wrote about those rollicking musketeers, had an army of assistants to research the history and suggests possible scenarios--that is, in a way, collaboration.
Tobin, I went over to Poe's Addiction to take a peek--your hints, however subtle, do not fall on blind eyes. I don't recall ever writing a short story as an adult (I'm sure we were required to in school), so I have a great deal of admiration for those who can encapsulate an idea in so short a form. I'm going back for a second reading, the first was done on the fly.
Tam Lin does this signal the phoenix rising from the flames? If so, I hope you soar. To rephrase my earlier question more clearly, do you write (or wish to write) novels, poetry, short stories, nonfiction, etc... Or do you confine your literary musings to what we see here?
Catch y'all later.

trudy Thu Aug 15 16:18:15 PDT 1996

Bob, don't know if I'll ever get around to doing that book, but I will keep the notes with all my other unfinished works and ideas. I presently have a children's book out to a publisher and am anxiously awaiting hearing from them. Everyone keep theior fingrs crossed for me. You'll hear me screaming for joy if they decide to publish it. The book is about a young boy who goes with his mother to a plant store and is allowed to pick one plant. He does but its a sick little boston fern that his mother wishes he wouldn't take home figuring it would die. Anyway they get it home and it takes over the whole house it becomes so healthy under Tommy's loving care. The story is based on a Boston fern a friend of mine has and it too took over the home; they even knocked a wall out of the dining room to give it more room, if you can imagine. Anyway it is aptly titled Bossy and my first submitted children's book yet. Happy writing all. trudy

Bob Hanford Thu Aug 15 05:31:58 PDT 1996

Kitty and Trudy,
You are both giving me exactly what I'd hoped for: wonderful
input. I thank you both. Kitty: my best friend has been to
the plantation you talked about with the rods holding up the
tree limbs. In fact, she brought pictures back showing the
ancient trees. I never would have thought about England,
which is why I asked for other writers' ideas. I had been
thinking there was one safe, pure, ideal place for my old
tree and thus the end of the story. Beginning (thanks to
you) to realize there may be half a dozen or so which will
change the character of the story's end.
Trudy: you have my permission in front of forty million
people to write the story you outlined if you want to.
Just change the title. There's enough room in children's
lit for more than one story about old trees. To answer your
questions: yes, I plan on incorporating all the good ideas
into the story (and crediting the originators) and, yes I
plan on using a child's voice (probably 10-12 year old since
that's the age I write for most of the time.
The prolific author, James Michener, said the hardest thing
he did in his life was writing a childrens' book. I am well
aware of the difficulty of the task, which is why I value
your ideas so highly. Thank you both, again. And please keep
the ideas flowing.
Peace. Bob

Tam Lin Thu Aug 15 04:23:02 PDT 1996

It wasn't much of an end. Not even a beginning really, but
he hadn't come to expect much. He never expected the roar
of atomic fury, bleaching its contaiminated dust over the
green hills. No great plague of biblical proportions swooped from the heavens, no last crusade of religious fervour brought an end to civilisation.
No the end, had funny enough, been much more sedate than the apocolyptic readings of seers and sages. Nations did not explode, but rather gently fell into a gentle anarchy. The gargantuan automatons did not cease in fire, and explosion, but to the gradually corrosion of nature. Governments did not formulate wild plans, desperate to maintain society, but rather left their offices of power one by one. Returning to homes, and lives they had neglected, a little wiser, and for once at peace.
Everyone agreed it was a rather wonderful way for the human race to end.......

Lots of Love
Tam Lin XXX

trudy Wed Aug 14 18:55:07 PDT 1996

Too true, Trish, what you say about the writing process. I guess I've been writing so much at work that starting at the beginning and working to the end seems the fasted way to go most of the time. Creatively that can be detrimental to getting started at home when writing for "me". Maybe I've been employed as a writer too long.
Wow Kitty, do you know a lot about old trees. My idea is very children oriented, Bob, but I thought a story about hiding an old tree in your own backyard, kind of under everyones' noses, might be neat. It could start with a family findng an old tree that is perhaps threatened somehow, be it development or pollution, and the family, at a child's prodding perhaps, could save the tree somehow by buying the land and building their home nearby. The child could grow up with the tree watching families of birds and insects, discovering how getting rid of a tree could have affected so many lives. I'd write it from the child's voice. What exactly are you planning as far as voice? Are you planning to intertwine everyone's ideas somehow? It all sounds very intriguing. Best of luck writing it.
Well see ya all later trudy.

Kitty Dwyer Wed Aug 14 13:34:36 PDT 1996

Trish, the magazine is Family circle/Mary Higgins Clark Mystery Magazine. The premiere issue is out now. $3.95 U.S., 4.95 Canada. I bought it at a Food Lion. It was in the magazine rack in front of the cashier. Another purchase which might be of interest to you was Detecting Women, A Reader's guide and Checklist for Mystery Series Written by Women by Willetta L. Heising, ISBN #0-9644593-0-2. I fould it on the remainder table for $4.95 at Borders Books.
Bob, about this tree story... Some miscellaneous thouughts are floating around my mind. Do you remember the news story about the ancient oak at the Alamo (the tree has been around since before the revolultion) which was poisoned by some psycho and tree experts were working hard to flush the tree of the poisons but were not sure whether they would succeed because it would take years before the effects of the poison were apparent? I never heard what happened next, but I've always wonderd whether the tree survived. Also another place to hide an old tree would be a private estate. Around the Myrtle Beach, S.C. area there is a plantation, open to the public now, where the live oaks are so ancient that they use iron rods to support the branches. The estate was bequeathed to the state as a museum and thus public will essentially protects these ancient specimens. Or look to England... In the late eighteenth century when vast fortunes were amassed and improving the land became popular and there was a movement away from formal gardens, wealthy people with large estates hired landscape architects to create dramatic vistas--you've seen the long shots on those Masterpiece Theater costume dramas-a rolling pasture with one magnificent tree on the horizon. One of the greatest landscape architects of the time was Capability Brown.
I'll touch on collaborating later. I'm being called away and must go. Catch y'all later.

Trish Mayfield Wed Aug 14 07:25:16 PDT 1996

Kitty-thanks, I will look for the mag. Do you remember its name? Am currently waiting for a copy of Writer's Digest, on "backorder" from the local bookstore. Have never read it, but I hear it can be a help.
To address getting started and Trudy's round-about way to get where she's going--sometimes it's impossible to start from the beginning. You have a great idea and can't wait to develop it, well, why take a chance that you'll bog your creativity down by wracking your overworked brain for a suitable beginning. Write what's with you and work on the rest later. I don't think that's so unusual. Anyway, by the time you get through with your story, what you thought was the middle, might just turn out to be the beginning or the end. Sometimes you never know.
luck to all.

trudy Tue Aug 13 17:22:04 PDT 1996

Yeah, there's some action happenin' here! Hi all. I guess I didn't really mean I was messed up because of how I write, I don't think I explain myself very well. I'm definitely a rewrite kinda writer and when I reread what I had written it sounded all weird but you guys seemed to understand; maybe it's just unwriterly people who think I'm messed up when I say I start in the middle and end at the beginning.
Bob, I've got an idea for your tree story but want to work on it a bit. Love the concept, and you know me now ... rewrite, rewrite. Later all, trudy

Bob Hanford Mon Aug 12 19:13:55 PDT 1996

Meant to ask you in last post - What is it like to collaborate on a fiction project? Often wished I could
do that but believe I'm too egotistical, stubborn and controlling to ever pull it off. What is it like?
Thanks. Bob

Bob Hanford Mon Aug 12 18:14:38 PDT 1996

Story idea for old tree came from documentary year or so ago.
Tree biologist and crew had heard a colony of original growth
trees existed somewhere in Mass. Went hunting. Member of crew
found first. When biologist came up to one of the trees, he
hugged it and said, "What a great hiding place for an old
tree." Just like the great question, "Do fish ever get thirsty?" heard that as good title for kids' book. Surprisingly, there are very few safe places for an old tree.
Air, noise, water pollution, logging policies that can change with new administrations, soil erosion, hurricanes, and more, make the answer a difficult one.
The "no, because" part of the story will help kids understand
more about the fragility of the environment.
Thanks for your interest. Have fun with this.

Kitty Dwyer Mon Aug 12 17:00:51 PDT 1996

Hey y'all. I'm back from my travels and glad to see everyone back at the Notebook. Jack, I guess I was bellowing in the dark, so thank you for flipping on the lights. I do not have a particular favorite area of writing. As I wrote earlier, I have written a column and done feature stories for a weekly newspaper. I've also done newsletters for organizations. In fiction, the two most promising projects are collaborations with my friend J. (who I went to visit this week). One is a mystery and one is a fantasy. Neither is finished, but they will be.
I think first sentences and paragraphs should draw you into the story and make it hard for you to stop reading. I agree with Bob, Trudy. You don't sound "messed up," you sound creative. As important as a compelling first sentence and paragraph are, the first thing I think must be done is to lay down an irresistible story whether you start with a scene from the middle and patch it together or work in a linear fashion. Great first sentences and paragraphs can evolve from second drafts, rewrites and editing, they do not have to appear like an epiphany.
Bob: Could you give us a little more information about your tree story? Inspiration might strike if we knew a bit more. Tobin: I didn't quite follow your message. Are you spitting out horror/suspense stories about your family history?! And did you see the Publisher's Weekly with Stephen King on the cover (current or last issue I think)?
Patricia: Mary Higgins Clark and Women's Day have come up with a mystery magazine. Picked up a copy at the supermarket while on my trip. It is full of stories and mystery info. --K

Bob Hanford Mon Aug 12 11:17:19 PDT 1996

Trudy...Why do you think you sound messed Up? Because
you start in the middle and work backwards? I do that
most of the time. Sometimes I start at the end then a
middle chapter, then beginning, etc. Many writers do that.
Perhaps you weren't referring to that and I misunderstood.
I spend weeks on opening lines and opening paragraphs.
Opening line I'm proud of from non-fiction article titled,
"Mommie, can we keep it?" about why you should not take
injured or orphaned wildlife home (illegal here in PA):
"Wonder is often the huntsman's bow and compassion the
poison-tipped arrow when we encounter injured or orphaned
In fiction, I definitely jump right in with a detailed
action that hopefully makes the reader want to read just
one more sentence. Since I have read so many, many times
that an editor will make a decision within the first
paragraph or two, I work my tail off for the first page
through the first chapter.
I'm currently writing for young adults, trying to keep
the child alive in me so I can write a book about the
best hiding place for an old tree (ask all of you again
for your best suggestion) and doing research on Leningrad,
USSR 1941-44.
Peace. Bob

trudy Sun Aug 11 16:29:28 PDT 1996

Getting started? Great question. I believe a first sentence/paragraph has to be one that makes the reader want to keep going; as for how to get it? Ooh if only I knew. My first sentences seldom come at the beginning of my writing process although I had a writing instructor who once said if you were stuck getting started to take the first line of someone else's story you liked and go from there, but again I end up with a new first sentence because I usually rewrite the beginning once I get going. That's pretty much how all my writing goes, I jump into the middle of the story and later back up to the begiining. Boy do I sound messed up.
Glad there's been some contact here. I'll be back soon. Trudy

Tobin Sun Aug 11 05:21:02 PDT 1996

Personally, I don't really like to start with enviroment, such as weather. Unless it's directly related to the story, I'd rather jump right in to the situation: "He knew he was in deep shit as soon as he hit the White Room." That sort of thing. Or the start of King's The Shining: Jack Torrance thought: Officious little prick. Think about that for a second. That one line tells so much about the character. I guess you could say I don't like a slow build up, I want to be knee deep in the situation to grab attention right from the get go.

As for what I write -- Strange sort of horror/suspense. This doesn't mean vampires/werewolves (although I really want to write a good werewolf story because I've only read one good one -- Animals by Skipp & Spector), I mean more weird stuff, and also lately I've been spitting out stories from my family history that fits into the same categories. Examples of which can be found at >plug plug< Poe's Addiction
a mighty fine sight with some great writing of all genres.

Jack Beslanwitch Sun Aug 11 00:02:53 PDT 1996

Silence, hmmmm. Oh, well, rather than cursing the darkness I'll try to light a candle or at least flip on the lights. Responding to Trudy's querie. My favorite area to write is science fiction and fantasy. I occasionally do poetry just for myself. Let me, however, propose a new subject for discussion in addition or along side what we like to write or enjoy writing. How is the first line/first paragraph best crafted. We all know that hoary old cliche "It was a dark and stormy night" or William Gibson's "The sky was the color of television tuned to a dead channel". What constitutes a well written first sentence or paragraph and how to best go about it. If someone else would light to suggest something else, feel free. I'd just like to get things rolling.

Kitty Dwyer Sat Aug 10 21:39:38 PDT 1996

Hey y'all. The silence is deafening. Is it a problem on the net or editorial commentary? If it is the former do you think we could touch base via e-mail? If it is the latter, we are learning how effective understatement can be. Catch you later.

trudy Sat Aug 10 18:36:24 PDT 1996

Yoohoo!! Anybody out there! What's everyone's favourite writing area. I get paid for writing advertorial copy for a daily newspaper, but my true love is fiction, poetry and children's writing. Hope someone responds soo, trudy

trudy Thu Aug 8 17:28:31 PDT 1996

Hi everybody. Doesn't seem to be many people around lately. What's up or is this thing not posting again? In case it is Jack you asked about the URL for something I mentioned. Can't remember what site it was but I think it was the other writer's forum I visit. The address is

at least this address will let everyone access the forum. The rest of the page looks interesting too though I haven't studied it closely yet. Anyway hope to see others here again soo. I mean come on Kitty you dragged me back here for what?? Later all. trudy

Jack Beslanwitch Mon Aug 5 20:04:53 PDT 1996

Server problems have now been rectified and the messages that disappeared salvaged and put back into the notebook. Sorry if this caused anybody any problems. With regard to 1846: Year of Decision. It's a major text book about the period and decisive for a time travel story that I'm engaged in. The scope of it's details are awesome. Other books for that project include De Tocqueville, the Federalist Papers, UnFederalist Papers and Journals of Lewis and Clarke. Hope that explains my reference about that book. Take care all.

Sun Aug 4 21:10:39 PDT 1996

Hey y'all! Had a chance to read new messages earlier in the day, but didn't have time to write back. To Tobin and Bob, you are welcome, though I have not done any more than you. Tossing ideas around, exchanging information, debating, and just talking(typing) are some of the things that writers do very well when they congregate --at least that has been my experience. I would not be here if y'all were not here.
About the books I'm reading.... I will read just about anything if it piques my interest-- except a technical manual. In sci-fi/fantasy I just started Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game. I read a review somewhere on the net that he sold the film rights and will be writing the script for the movie. I always like to read the book first. However, my favorite sci-fi author is Lois McMaster Bujold. In nonfiction I am currently dipping into The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony--a study of Greek mythology, Bury Me Standing--a study of gypsies, and Babel, the 1920 Diaries--excerpts from the diaries of a Russian Communist Jew who infiltrated the Cossack Cavalry during the Polish-Soviet War of 1919-1920.
Tobin regarding your list... Shakespeare wrote his plays for the entertainment of the common man not the high-brow intellectual. Dickens' novels were serialized. So who can predict which authors will be taught as examples of late twentieth century literature 100 years down the road? Have you read any of Tanya Huff's Blood series? I'm not a fan of the vampire craze, but I loved these stories. In each book she delt with a creepy critter in a thrilling, chilling manner. To Kill A Mockingbird is one of my all time favorites too.
Patricia Mayfield dropped by. She's having difficulty connecting with the site and she had greetings for Tobin.
Jack, I'm a little sad. I thought I had some interesting titles for my winter reading list, but they were wiped out! At the very least tell us why 1846 was the year of decision? Catch y'all later.

Tobin Sun Aug 4 14:39:56 PDT 1996

Okay, let's see, what DID I say...
I know I said I really thought Kitty had kind of kicked this page in the pants, and made it more interesting, and that I would love to read some of her stuff.
I also told her that the "Robbie" was Robbie Robertson, ex of The Band, and the line was from "Somewhere Down The Crazy River".

I know I had a list of authors I liked to read, but I won't go into that again, and the only other thing was while I can appreciate the talent in Tam's stuff, it just isn't my bag.

trudy Sat Aug 3 15:26:37 PDT 1996

Well Kitty, you seem to be quite the leader in this area! Thank you for bringing me back. The activity seems to have picked up and we have a very interesting bunch here I see.
In response to the characterization topic Tobin and Jack, I love it the way you sit and people watch and make notes for future characters. What a great idea. I'm a people watcher from way back when and need to carry a notebook more often.
As for helping develop a character, awhile back I found a page that talked about the fiction writer's character on the WWW but am no longer sure where. If anyone wants me to e-mail it to them let me know. It has blanks for writers to fill in their characters favourites, habits, background and other relavent information.
Kitty, back to you, I'll definitely pick up this month's issue of Writers Digest. I used to subscribe way back when but the copies started to repeat themselves after awhile, but this one sounds interesting.
Now for favourite authors, reading material. In mainstream fiction my absolute favourite is Anne Rice, especially the Vampire Chronicles. For literary genuis I'm a James Joyce fan though just about anything written by an Irishman(person) gets me, especially if the story is set in Ireland. I'm also fond of Canadian writing especially Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro, and Morley Callahan. Stephen King, Peter Straub, Maeuve Binchy, and Deidre Purcell are other favourites. Basically I love to read and will read just about anything.
Well folks, thanks to Kitty, I guess I'm back. Will check in several times a week so keep posting. Glad to be back, Trudy

Michelle Smith Sat Aug 3 15:22:20 PDT 1996

hello all, hope you are doing well and feeling creative! i have to go with Tobin on this one...i love Stephen King. also read Patricia Cornwell, Anais Nin, philosophy. i want to read more non-fiction historical stuff but can't seem to do so for more than about 30 minutes. Alas. my writing mentor turned me onto Welty and Joyce as must reads for writers, i have found this to hold me in good stead. oh, yeah, and i also like Sexton, Plath and Shakespeare. i hope to see y'all on Dalnet Sunday night in TheHaven (the no space is intentional). my online nick is allusion in case i didn't say that before.

Patricia Mayfield Sat Aug 3 10:20:00 PDT 1996

Wow! It's been hell trying to find this place again. It
got lost when I changed network providers and the testy folks at the old one cancelled our service before I could transfer my bookmarks. It's great to be back. I plan on joining the irc chat if I can figure out how.
I would absolutely love to attend a class or workshop on creative writing, but have been unable to find one in the area. Are there any online that anyone would recommend?
To Kitty-I'm not sure anymore what kind of mystery I'm planning on writing. I am going to have to narrow it down and find a plot that I'm happy with. I keep dragging too many of them through my mind, That's the biggest problem I'm having right now. I have most of my characters mapped out, but don't know exactly what type of mystery I want them to solve. I want it to be believable. And someone will die somewhere within it. Any suggestions? I was really glad to read that you have done freelance reporting in the past. My main character is a freelance reporter, I may need advice from time to time to make her realistic.
To Tobin-Thanks for the advice. I was not writing. I am now.

Bob Hanford Fri Aug 2 15:31:42 PDT 1996

I, too, would like to read some of Kitty's stuff. And
Jack's. "Fell" is stupid typo for the word "feel" in
my mention of Diane Ackerman's book (in message below.)

Tobin Fri Aug 2 13:11:11 PDT 1996

Kitty, I to must thank you. You enthusiasm for the genre is infectious. And you're very observant. Now if I could just read some of your stuff...
Oh, the "Robbie" is Robbie Robertson, ex of The Band.
As for favourite books, I'm probably the low-brow of this group, but anything by Stephen King or Clive Barker, and (once in a while) Graham Masterton -- the Manitou series. I also enjoy Grisham's earlier stuff, and Tom Clancy (talk about cardboard characters!). Dan Simmons, John Varley, David Brin, Arthur Conan Doyle, Frank Herbert...
Two of my favourite books: To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, and Boy's Life by Robert R McCammon.

As for Tam Lin. I can appreciate it, but it's just not my bag.

Bob Hanford Fri Aug 2 06:28:15 PDT 1996

Since (in my opinion), characterization is such an
important part of what we do, could we come back to it at a
later date? Participation seemed to be shadowed by the
Olympics. Perhaps next time we'll get more input.
My weakness is historical fiction. Novel I plan to write
before I die will take place in Leningrad, USSR, 1941-44,
the seige. Just re-read and re-fell in love with Fast's
Thomas Paine. Now reading, "1776: Year Of Illusions."
Fell Diane Ackerman's "A Natural History of the Senses"
is almost required reading for all writers of fiction.
Enjoy Loren Estleman's decade by decade novels of Detroit.
Book that is with me everywhere I go is "Emotional Intell-
igence" by Daniel Goleman.
Jack - could you give me a very brief synopsis of the
book "1846: Year of Decision"? Thanks. Bob
Kitty: Thank you, thank you for all your wonderful input.

Jack Beslanwitch Thu Aug 1 13:47:32 PDT 1996

Characterization has been running just over a week as a subject or thread. Thought it might be time to toss out a new possibility. If others have alternatives, please feel free to toss them in as well. Or if anyone has something else they would add about characterization, feel free. I kind of like Kitty's suggestion. What do each of us read both fiction and non fiction and what would we like to suggest to others. I'll start. In science fiction /Fantasy I like strong characterization and good story with complex and detailed societies like David Brin's Uplift War, Robert A. Heinlein's The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, Robert Jordan, Greg Bear, Amy Thomson and others along those lines. Non-fiction is what helps fill in the details of something I'm working on. In my own case lately it's been 1846: Year of Decision. Look forward to see what others like or dislike.

Tam Lin Thu Aug 1 06:42:28 PDT 1996

There is no preconditioned thought in my work,
no symbolic text of paradox. I long learnt that the use
of grammar is a construct, designed not for the art of
writing, no the use of communication but a device in the
hands of business entities, legal bloated institutions,
educational wastelands and constraint.
Perhaps what I attempt is to push away the boundaries of
the acceptance of science fiction and fantasy. Destroy the
textual analysis of quasi scientific thought, and the
stereotypes of mythology beasts.
Twisted words and twisted nature, the darkness of psychology,
laced with morphine. But whose thoughts are the darkest, the
writer or reader?
For so long science fiction had been embroiled with science
fact, with restraining the excess of the reader's imagination,
refusing to stray from the tested and compounded. A pitiful
result of projected profits, or the result of crafed mind
control. To tell the truth, I do not care, not for my readers,
or friends, by for the analysis, the rules and regulations.
It is strange, the in a feild of imagination we have become
increasing more indoctrinated by logic and information, than
just merely dreaming, exploring the paradox's that exist.

And thus the figure, briefly encapsulated on the solitary
stage, turns to his audience, and slipping into langour, bows
and departs, to silent digital applause.

Lots of Love
Tam Lin

Kitty Dwyer Wed Jul 31 16:45:06 PDT 1996

Hey y'all. The August edition of Writer's Digest is out and the cover story is "How I Got Published--A New Novelist Tells All." There are also articles on the Best Web Sites for Writers and the How-Tos of High Octane Drama. Worth a look-see (Trudy, if you're still out there, you should check this magazine out. It is available in Canada and has a lot of market news in the back.)
Tobin, I'm surprised. I thought you liked getting into motive and psychology. Don't respond viscerally, but analytically and you may find your brows quirking and it may make you want to say hmmmmmm..... As to whether or not this is the appropriate forum, Jack did "welcome all writers to feel free to leave a message here." Or was that a rhetorical question? And which Robbie are we talking about here?
Tam Lin, now that you have come out from behind your screen, I have a couple of observations and a question. First, if you want to "encourage, comfort, love, help, etc..." the reader, you may want to lighten up. There's a dark streak running through your work. Look at your choice of words in your poetry/prose. Then again, your contributions have been a series of contradictions--is this yet another? Secondly, don't under-estimate the power the reader brings to any text. And my question is, where are you going with all this?
Jack, could we at some point do a what-do-you-like-to-read and what-do-you-recommend-to-read (fiction and non-fiction) week?

Tobin Tue Jul 30 04:10:39 PDT 1996

Yeah, Jack! I do that too. Well, not in Seattle, but in the Oshawa Centre Mall. Sit in the Food Court for five minutes, and you've got so many characters, it's unbelievable. Then, I go home and work them up. I know this wouldn't work for everyone, but I seem to remember reading somewhere, that you should know your characters right down to knowing what they have in their pockets. The READER doesn't have to, but YOU should. If you know them that intimately, Then yes, they will begin to write themselves.

Kitty, funny enough, I have seen that book on the serial killer hunter for the FBI, and never picked it up, but it just came out in paperback, so I will. And yes you are right about the plots as well.

Sorry, I can't join the Tam Lin fan club. I just have to slide right over that stuff. I'm sure it's good, but like Robbie says: "That voodoo stuff don't do NUTHIN' for me." And besides, is this really the proper forum?

Jack Beslanwitch Mon Jul 29 12:34:54 PDT 1996

What I do quite often is go to someplace like Pike Place Market here in Seattle. It's an old world style market of labarynthine corridors and open stalls, fish vendors casting fish over the crowd only to be caught by their fellow vendor, street musicians, jugglers and a great diversity of people. I'll find a place to sit and watch, have a mocha (This is Seattle, remember - double short with raspberry) and watch the people, thumbnail sketching them as they walk by into my notebook. I will build lives from these quick exposures of someone walking by with a green mohawk with multiple rings pierced here or there in an eyelid, a nose and a lip, or the grumpy old bewhiskered gentlemen with balding hair who stares disapprovingly at the rapper next to the life size bronze piggy bank and moves on. These are snapshots that frees my editor to have fun with that little bit of real world to create a whimsical birth that takes on a life of its own. These are the kind of characters when I include them in a story that will slap me up the side of the head and tell me you will not do that to me.

Tam Lin Mon Jul 29 06:10:38 PDT 1996

The bloated mass shifted under its own weight, an amorphic
twist of flesh and connections, responding in translation on
the visual camera that served as sight.
The creature smiled a warped display of variables, at last
perhaps he had attained some sort of temporal communication.

Hi there all. I have a confession, and one for which it has
been mentioned that I should be hung for by my more
favourable of friends. All those aspiring and even some who
are writers, poets, artists talk of the great difficultly in
writing. I worry that these pangs do not affect me so. I
abhor reading grammatical books, synposises of structures,
and the general syntax of commercialism.
Often I will walk around my home city, like some parasitic
creature, looking out for victims. Perhaps locked in some
tiny mirage of their life, acting out for my written prose.
Other times I lay in a quiet room, with the music soothing
my thoughts. I dream of things that I can not transpose in
symbology, try as I might. But these are the things that
writing is about. It is an exploration of our minds, the
possibilities that we can cope with, the preparation of fear.
Perhaps it is just me, perhaps I am young and brash, to say
such things, to condemn the old. But nevertheless I feel that
so much is sacrificed in technical precision. To write is
to share a dream, not a false illusion. To wish to comfort,
scare, love, guide the reader. If all in my life's work I
only encourage, comfort, love, help one solitary reader, then
that is what it is to write.,,,,,
Then again perhaps I am just young.
Tam Lin....

Kitty Dwyer Sun Jul 28 20:59:42 PDT 1996

Hey y'all! It's a big subject this week. This is what I do with characters. After I have a story idea, but before the first draft, I do a complete profile of the characters: name, age, physical description, history and, most importantly, motivation for being in the story. I put all this along with a basic treatment of the story and any research in a file which I can refer to as needed. Then I write. Amazingly, the characters take on a life of their own--I've watched it happen! By taking this approach, I feel I know the characters. Their mannerisms and speech flow easily. Also, it helps me to avoid dumping a ton of information about a character in the first pages. I think less is more and the character reveals a lot about him/herself through actions. Curiously, sometimes characters move in an unexpected direction (could this be creativity at work!), and sometimes charcters never seem to come to life, inwhich case, it is prudent to turn them into cats.
Tobin, I think there must be a balance between character and plot--after all, you don't want your character to become a caricature, unless of course you're writing a farce. I thought Tarantino's plots were as twisted and intricate as his characters. And certainly, the plot of Silence of the Lamb is every bit as riveting as Hannibal the Cannibal, movie or novel. Have you read the autobio of the man the Jodie Foster character was based on? It grabs from the first sentence and doesn't let go for one breathless minute til the last page.
Yes, I like the pieces Tam Lin has contributed. I find them very provocative and foreboding. I confess I had to look up "fractal symbioates" in the dictionary. --Kitty

Tobin Elliott Thu Jul 25 19:09:51 PDT 1996

Characters. I love character driven stories. When I was younger, it was more techno Larry Niven stuff that was cardboard characters with a slight quirk. But now, it's the characters that grab me. I know everybody slags Stephen King, but man I think his characters are more alive than most. They have aches, worries, habits. They cuss, they have accents, they live and breathe. I think that's why you are seeing more character driven movies as well. Tarantino knows what he's doing. So when I create characters, I try to draw from people that I know, but distilled down to the essence of what is interesting. They've got to be interesting. You have to care about them -- even if they are the villian (and I'm thinking Hannibal "the cannibal" Lector here) or your audience won't want to slog through the words.

Bob Hanford Thu Jul 25 06:29:31 PDT 1996

On the subject of characterization, I find one indispensable
element is respect and even a touch of awe - a little
amezement that a character can be so individualistic in a
world that is trying so hard to homogenize him or her. A
young adult novel I've been working on is dead in the water
because I cannot conceive a male character glorious enough
in his skewed beliefs to keep me awake at night. The female
character knows exactly who she is and in fact is so strong
that I may drop the male and replace him with a cat. Respect
is essential.
Good subject.

Jack Beslanwitch Wed Jul 24 16:43:43 PDT 1996

On a subject for the coming week to ten days. I suggest that we discuss how best to deal with the whole issue of characters. How to make them distinct. How to get their speech patterns just so. What to include in terms of descriptive details. What should the writer know but not necessarily put on paper. This is a broad subject. My wife is currently reading Orson Scott Card's book on characterization and that spring boarded me into thinking it might be a good new idea. If someone has something better, I welcome them to throw their own rock into the pool and watch the ripples fan out. Take care.
P.S. I like the pieces that Tam Lin is throwing in on occasion.

Bob Hanford Wed Jul 24 07:31:04 PDT 1996

Like your concept on the tree getting lost in plain view
but with current logging policies the hemlock could be
cut by company supposedly taking out waste trees. However,
will use the idea within the story and will definitely
credit you. Thanks.
Would really appreciate more ideas like this one from
other writers.
Thanks again. Bob

Kitty Dwyer Tue Jul 23 20:43:01 PDT 1996

Hey y'all. Test run successful, so here I go. To Bob Hanford regarding where to hide a 200 year old hemlock: The obvious answer seems to be in a forest. Wasn't it Macbeth who said something along the lines of "I cannot see the forest for the tree?" Conversely, you cannot see the trees for the forest. And didn't Poe hide his Purloined Letter in plain view? Or there is the Dr Seuss approach where in The Lorax the last of the truffula trees was but the promise of one in the shape of a seed. Hope you find your inspriation and let us know where we can find the story of the 200 year old hemlock.
To Don Bright: Have you considered collaborating with someone with a more "artistic" writing style? Sci-Fi is full of collaborative efforts. There may be someone in your local writing group who yearns to write sci-fi, but doesnt feel he/she has a strong enough grasp on technology and science. You would both draw on the strengths of the other.
To Patricia Mayfield: What type of mystery are you writing?
Regarding getting started, the question of the week (last week's question): I think there are as many answers as there are writers in the world. Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness, copied Moby Dick to learn how to write in English. Torturous, but it worked for him. I fell into my first paid writing assignment after writing a letter to the editor of a weekly newspaper serving the downtown core of a large city. I was offered freelance work which led to a column and feature articles. My first freelance piece was covering an RWA convention where I met a New York Times best selling author who taught a writing class at a community college 11/2 hours away. I took her class, we became fast friends, and what I know about writing fiction I learned from her. I'm not published in fiction yet, but I'm having a great time!
To Tobin Elliott: Please note lots of response and no bio (except where it applied to the question of the week).
To Jack: My compliments and thanks for the forum. Is there a question for this week?

Tam Lin Mon Jul 22 06:56:25 PDT 1996

Concept creation of a technological terror
Inspid poison of controlled thought
Lost within the confines of shattered mirror
Fractal symbioates radiating majestic splendour
Burnt in lasting syntax error

Too much, he thought, he had lost, expressions, vague
hopes, contorted by false testament. Bloated symbology,
He watched as the words faded along their electronic
pathways, reaching out a hand to grasp for more.....

Kitty Dwyer Sun Jul 21 15:08:05 PDT 1996

Hey y'all. Tried to send a message last week but it didn't go through. Instead the computer directed me to contact some e-mail address to find out what went wrong, which I did. I've not heard back yet so thought I would try again--as in, if at first you don't succeed! I do have some thoughts on some of the topics mentioned, but will refrain til I know I can touch base. --Kitty

Jack Beslanwitch Sat Jul 20 18:00:20 PDT 1996

Hope the problems people have had posting is fixed now. Anyway, manned the JAVA chatroom again this Saturday afternoon. It's a bit better, but I'll try the IRC TheHaunt Channel tomorrow night. If that works OK, I think I'll drop the JAVA chatroom. It's too kludgy and too underattended. Take care all.

trudy Fri Jul 19 13:54:56 PDT 1996

Happy Friday everyone. Boy, Wednesday was almost busy here. Just wanted to say hello and wish everyone a happy writing weekend. Plus I've tried to post a few messages and they haven't gone and I wanted to see if the server had remedied the problem. Bye for now. trudy.

S Glantz Thu Jul 18 13:36:05 PDT 1996

Has anyone out there read How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card?.I am presently working on a fantasy novel (I'm writing chapter 11 right now - the most I've ever written) and I found his book to be an invaluable resource. It's part of The Writer's Digest Genre Writing Series and I would like to find the other books in the series. I was also hoping to find another fellow aspiring fantasy author.

Jack Beslanwitch Wed Jul 17 23:58:09 PDT 1996

I'll make it Sunday at least for part of the time. Also, I will man the JAVA chatroom on Saturday at 5:00 PM PDT, but if the IRC works out I think I will surrender it to oblivion and let the IRC Channel remain as the sole real time chat area on Writer Resources. Also, I'm planning on archiving part of the Writer's Notebook so the main file can load faster. You'll still be able to reach the earlier posts - pre June 30 - at Archive1.html but the main page will not exceed 100k which it's threatening to do at the moment. Take care all.

Bob Hanford Wed Jul 17 16:39:05 PDT 1996

For a childrens' book "Where's A Great Hiding Place For An
Old Tree?" would appreciate your hiding places for two
hundred year-old hemlock. Where would it be safe for the
forseeable future? Will acknowledge if I use yours.
Thanks. Have fun. Bob

michelle smith Wed Jul 17 13:48:11 PDT 1996

hello everyone! just wanted to let you know that i will be in the chat room TheHaunt again on Sunday.
if anyone is having trouble finding it let me know. no promises, but i will try to answer. the net has
been having some splitting problems of late so if you don't see anyone in TheHaunt, or they don't answer
you, try another server. hope everyone is well.

trudy Tue Jul 16 17:30:12 PDT 1996

Hi everybody just dropped in for my daily checkup but guess noone else has been here. That or everyone's having the same problem posting as I am. Hope to hear from you all soo. trudy

Mon Jul 15 18:09:22 PDT 1996

Bob, actually we have a writer's market book for Canada and after I posted my last message discovered that the first step to sending articles to a magazine with the greatest success is sending for guidelines, no matter what. Guess I'll start writing. Thanks for answering though. trudy.

Bob Hanford Mon Jul 15 11:17:24 PDT 1996

This may be a foolish question but have you checked out the
Writers' Market book? Usually there is enough information
there relative to guidelines that sending SASE is unnecessary
Don't know if they carry Canadian non-fiction which is why
this may be a wild-goose chase.

trudy Sun Jul 14 16:03:10 PDT 1996

Thanks for answering. If we can get a few people communicating on a regular basis, or at least checking out this page and posting questions and answers, this could be exactly what I'm looking for. I'm not sure this is necessarily what the page was meant to be and if it conflicts with someone else's plan, let me know what the rules are and I'll learn to play.
Back to my writer's guidelines question. Is there a page that lists all the magazines (I need Canadian) that I haven't managed to stumble upon? It would certainly save me a bit of time. Do you suppose it would be appropriate to send my article query and request writer's guidelines at the same time? Thanks, trudy.

Jack Beslanwitch Sat Jul 13 22:21:35 PDT 1996

Trudy --- Others may have an alternative solution, but, yes, unfortunately, getting your writer's guidelines from those magazines that do not have websites and online guidelines means writing and requesting them with a SASE. Also, for those interested, everyone is invited to check in on DALNET on IRC at 10 PM Eastern Time on Sunday at Channel called TheHaunt. This is an attempt at an alternative for the much more kludgy JAVA Chatroom that I've been doing a very poor job of manning on Saturday afternoons. I would like to thank Michelle Smith for putting this together. It will take a little time to work out the bugs, but this could be a truly interesting part of this site. If you need an IRC client, check out the link on the Writer's Chat Room opening page

trudy Sat Jul 13 16:54:48 PDT 1996

Hi everybody. Just stumbled into this site and find the concept sort of like what I'm looking for, namely a page to post questions about writing and publishing - that kind of thing. This page doesn't seem to be accessed very often by people though who post responses to each other. Anyway I'll give it a shot and we'll see if we can make this more of a visit everyday to find out how everyone's doing and to help each other with questions and writing.
My first question is, does anyone know of an easy way to get writer's guidelines from magazines (I'm thinking specifically of Canadian non-fiction magazines for my work). I am interested in sending some freelance articles to magazines but have always been told the first step is to get guidelines. However, if I write every magazine I'm interested in querying for guidelines I'll be spending a lot of time and money with little to do with what I want to write. Is this the only way to do it initially though? Any help would be appreciated. trudy.

Sherrie D. Lord Sat Jul 13 06:46:35 PDT 1996

On finding time to write, don't look for the time to slap you in the face; you have to MAKE the time. I get up 2.5 hours before I have to be to work. I write for 1.5 of those and get dressed and drive the other hour. I ALWAYS take my book with me, either in the form of my laptop or a hard copy. Before I bought the laptop, I carried a spiral notebook to write in. I edit the latest chapter or write the next one. And I take my writing everywhere and work on it whenever I can, even if it's for only 5 minutes. Then I write after work at every minute I can steal--before dinner, while I'm cooking, after dinner, propped up in bed after my shower. Everywhere. Everytime. Since I've been getting a lot of interruptions in the evenings from well-meaning friends, I believe I'll establish a writing time, say, from 8 to 10, during which I cannot be disturbed, by threat of death. Writing is my second job. It's on my schedulesn't "happen" any other way.

Tobin Sat Jul 13 04:39:33 PDT 1996

On getting started (and completion, for that matter), I'm the typical work full time, wife and kids type that doesn't have a lot of time to sit down and write. So I took a creative writng class to get me started and give me the basics. From there, I formed a writer's critique group that meets twice a month. We give out assignments to keep us going. We may not all like the assignments, but it sometimes teaches you something, or shows you you really CAN write in a different genre. The other thing that helps me write more is limiting my time on the net. It's informative, but it's also a HUGE time-eater.

Eric Dorn Thu Jul 11 16:25:28 PDT 1996

If anyone needs a place to submit "The Domain SciFi WebMagazine"
Is always looking for new Fiction. We are a free E-zine that
NEEDS new material. (Chris and I can't do it on our own)

Tam Lin Thu Jul 11 03:25:05 PDT 1996

I am the neo-politik soldier
The burning Reichstagg
In your new world order
I am the broken colour
The crimson tide of selfish parade
A new ideological esoteric murder

Words slipped from his fingers, conducted on electric neurones.
Lies issued from his tongue, shaping the crystalline glyphs. He knew
it ought to make sense, but something eluded him. Intangiable as
the addiction that coursed in his withered veins, choking at his
mind, dulling his automated responses.
His hands moved deftly, but the images was already fading.

Jack Beslanwitch Thu Jul 11 02:31:58 PDT 1996

It's been suggested that perhaps a single or collection of topics upon which to base a thread of conversation might be appropriate. My thought was that we might concentrate on the elements of getting started and completion. Each, I think, have something to do with the other. Someone, I believe Dean Wesley Smith, made the point to set aside a concrete amount of time per day and write come rain, shine or drought. Not long, necessarily, but sufficient. Fifteen minutes might be enough. Or a half hour. Whatever is comfortable and yet doable. The main things is to write and turn off the editor and get something on paper. He also went on to suggest writing a story a week and mailing it out for a year. That's still an uncompleted goal for me.

Bob Hanford 2hanford@itech,net Tue Jul 9 07:10:19 PDT 1996

For an article on the importance of nails to the colonists,
I'm seeking anecdotes, e.g., wealthy plantation owners would
pound dozens of nails in front door to show everyone they
were so rich they could afford to waste nails. And those
who could afford to do so would have one slave do nothing
all year except carve nails out of oak. Once hammered in
place, nails would be watered down. They would swell up and
become almost as strong as steel.
Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks. Bob

Jeff Page Sat Jul 6 12:16:07 PDT 1996

I see that a few people are wondering about how to start. I spent two years trying to start my novel before I finally got it on paper (disk) I'm on Chapter 12 and in no way, near finished, but it gets easier everyday. The only thing I can offer is, DON'T START WITH CHAPTER ONE. You always want it to be the best and it creates quite a roadblock. I started with Chapter six. By the time I got to chapter one, I had it written in my head already. Hope that helps.

Tobin Elliott Thu Jul 4 19:55:03 PDT 1996

Messages received loud and clear. Thank you. Now, how about it, a more focused thing, (topic of the week/ month) what does everyone think? What do YOU think? Yes, you. The one reading this right now! R-E-S-P-O-N-D-! If this thing is going to be a success, and helpful, we've got to talk TO each other, not AT each other. That's like watching Jerry Springer - a lot of talking, and nothing gets said.

Don Bright Thu Jul 4 17:45:23 PDT 1996

HELP!!! I've thought about writing science fiction ever since I first started reading it (I was still in grade school, it was a long time ago). How do I start? I have some ideas, but I am not sure about how to begin. Even though I enjoy both "hard" and "soft" science fiction, I prefer those short stories and novels that use the scientific concepts that are possible but have not been proven. I enjoy researching a concept and attempting to come to at least a plausible proof, but I then have a difficult time putting my thoughts in a manner that does not ramble. One would think that my background in operations and testing would help in putting things in a logical sequence. It does, but I have a problem with the artistic side I feel a good writer needs to enable him to grab the reader by the throat and not let go until the story has ended and have the reader wanting more. So any help from anyone on how to get started would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks, Don B.

Tobin Elliott Thu Jul 4 04:10:32 PDT 1996

I THINK I've determined the source of the problem. Jack and Patricia, (and anyone else who might have tried) please try resending again using this address (2 "t" in elliott). I think it'll work, but I don't know why, because my server told me one "t". Thank you for your patience, and I hope to hear from you soon.

Tobin Elliott Thu Jul 4 04:10:22 PDT 1996

I THINK I've determined the source of the problem. Jack and Patricia, (and anyone else who might have tried) please try resending again using this address (2 "t" in elliott). I think it'll work, but I don't know why, because my server told me one "t". Thank you for your patience, and I hope to hear from you soon.

Sherrie D. Lord Wed Jul 3 22:36:49 PDT 1996

Thanks, Jack. This page is GREAT! Perhaps I'll join the chat one Saturday. I'm a Christian + writer who lives in Idaho. It's difficult to connect with other writers--not even a university in town. So, my question is, where can I access info on writing seminars/workshops? Anyone know of any to be held west of the Dakotas (not California) in the flight-and-accommodations-bookable future? I'm starving for fellowship and some MEATY how-to material, here. By the way, my bio is I'm an environmental scientist/health & safety officer by day but writing my 2nd novel, in the Christian genre, at all other hours (regardless of what my hands are doing). The 1st novel was a good apprenticeship--it will never sell--but I've sold over 75 nonfiction pieces (books, magazines, newsprint). I've earned my tax-deductible status and am in the final polish/edit of Ch. 18 of 23 of my book. I'd enjoy hearing from others. Oh, and Tony Padegimas, you're right on! You wanna write? The art is only a fraction of it. The rest is discipline.

Jack Beslanwitch Tue Jul 2 23:33:57 PDT 1996

Tobin...I have to agree. Tried to email and got it bounced. To everyone else. If you would like to specify a subject and start a thread, that would be great. Or not. I just hope this is proving useful for people. Take care all.

patricia mayfield Tue Jul 2 20:43:20 PDT 1996

for Tobin Elliott--been trying to e-mail you. tried both addresses. they keep coming back. do you know what's going on?

Tobin (again!!) Tue Jul 2 19:48:50 PDT 1996

Okay, I'm embarrassed. The email address below is wrong. Yes, that's right, laugh, go ahead, I know I spelled my own last name wrong. But that's okay! This one is right, and everyone can email me and tell me how stupid I really am.

Tobin Elliott Tue Jul 2 19:38:07 PDT 1996

Is it just me, or is there a trend here to drop by, tell a little about yourself, and then disappear. Aside from Chad Luff (who has a great little forum going called Poe's Addiction >plug, plug< you owe me $5, man), and Jack Beslanwitch, nobody has really responded to my queries. Is anyone else out there talking to each other? I love the idea of this forum, but everybody just seems to be using it for mini bios. Would a guided forum be more appropriate? Say, a topic of the week, or month? Yes? No? Somebody talk to me! ....i'm so's soooo quiet in here....well, except for you Chad. Oh, by the way, I HATE Battlestar Galactica.

Michelle D. Smith Tue Jul 2 12:06:10 PDT 1996

WOW! I love this page and all the cool links. I am a <clears throat> writer. I write short stories that really want to be novels. I have not had any of my fiction published, but have had the thrill of seeing my name in print in a couple of newspapers. I love writing and feel empty when I am not doing it. However, I haven't figured out how to balance real life responsibilities and the writing life ones. Any advice?

patricia mayfield Mon Jul 1 14:39:25 PDT 1996

Hope that you have all the info here that you need. I've only been online for about 3 days and have a lot to learn about how everything works. I'm interested in corresponding with other writers of mystery fiction. Someday I expect to see my name among the bestsellers.

Jack Beslanwitch Mon Apr 1 20:15:07 PST 1996

I would just like to welcome all writers to feel free to leave a message here.

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