Archived Writer's Notebook Messages

September 27, 1997 to October 16, 1997

Joan Tue Oct 14 17:32:48 PDT 1997

Steve: Yipeeee---glad to see you're back. How ARE Mr. Bader and his freakish friends? Do you have any more to post? Good luck in school!

Michael: Welcome. Agents, hmmm. Don't know any personally, tho I've queried a few---and some of those I would NOT recommend on the basis that they basically said "no, thanks, don't want your crummy little book (my words, not theirs!) but here---you can buy my book and here's where to send for it." I have a really good book called Guide to Literary Agents. There are a lot of tips in there on what to look for in an agent, like that they don't charge a fee and that they're a member of AAR (Association of Author's Representatives) or some other reputable group. It also tells you which agents are accepting new authors and in which categories/genres. Also, if you look in the "dedication" or "thank you" section at the beginning of some of your favorite books, some of the authors will mention their agents by name. Might try one whose work you really like.

Has anyone else run into the situation I mentioned above, where the agent you query sends you back a form rejecftion which also includes an advertisement flyer for some book he has written (usually on getting published or writing)? To me, it's the ultimate slap in the face, and I would never query those people again (well . . . at least till the next time. Geez it's hell to be desperate!).

Bye for now.


Ben Woestenburg ice Tue Oct 14 14:11:00 PDT 1997

As you can see I finally got around to getting my email system online. I'm pretty excited about it too. I want to start corresponding with people, like, yesterday!

Now I want to ramble on, because that's what I do best. I wish I could read as much as I used to, but it takes time, and the only free time I have for that is usually at work. I gave up one posting to take another just because I knew I would get more reading time. "Smoking and reading" we always say. "What're ya doing out there on that boat?" "Smoking and reading." Unfortunately for me, no sooner did I get on this job than they shut part of the mill down again, and now I'm on another job where I can't read. Story of my life. Of course, not many people read where I work, not because they can't -- although sometimes I really think they can't because I read what they scribble on the walls. But I've managed to read a few of the classics over the years, and the soon-to-be classics. One memorable book that jumps to mind is A SOLDIER OF THE GREAT WAR. An excellent book and highly recommended to all. I love going to garage sales and looking for books there. The thing about people and their books is that half the time they don't know what they're throwing away -- and they are throwing them away when you consider that they're selling them for anywhere between 25 cents and a dollar. I look for first edition copies, and if I have a copy of it already, I'll still pick it up. I have a first edition of TAI-PAN, one of my all time favourite books. Now I have two copies in hard cover, and probably even a paperback laying around somewhere.

I like to encourage the kids to read. I recently picked up another copy of DRACULA just because I wanted to study it for the second book in my trilogy which will be written in a similar way. My son picked it up and read it in about a week or so. Then he picked up CUJO and started reading that. He reads them for his school assignements. I told my wife I didn't care what books my children read, because at least they were reading. I just hope he doesn't pick up on some of the books I have laying around. Ananais Nin's DELTA OF VENUS comes to mind, as does FROM HERE TO ETERNITY and THE NAKED AND THE DEAD. I try to steer him in the right direction as far as that goes. I think he wants to read IT though, but the size seems to scare him off, which is alright by me. My daughter loves reading too. I used to read a chapter of my book to her because I believe in reading out loud whatever I write, and sometimes she just happened to be in the room with me. I figure if she can understand what I'm trying to convey, then it must be alright.

And speaking of the kids, now I have to go home and open the door for them because they'll be coming home from school pretty soon. I hate that. Just when you start to get into a groove you have to give it up!

Ciao for now,

Jack Beslanwitch Mon Oct 13 22:40:26 PDT 1997

Welcome Michael. Good luck in your agent search. In most my own case I did not have an agent when I signed my contract and sometimes I wonder about that. Still, hope you find a good one.

Everyone: I'll be archiving sometime in the next couple of days, whenever this site reaches a 100k. Which should not be long.

On a side note, I'm heading for Spokane and a science fiction convention there called Incon this Friday, so I will be out of the loop. Welcome in advance to any new writers. Look around. Kick the tires. And most of all, enjoy.

Toby Buckell Mon Oct 13 19:00:20 PDT 1997

Hi everyone:

I added a new piece to the workbook. I would really appreciate any critique, as I'm not sure how it stands compared to the other parts (maybe a little bit hurried[though rest assured I spent much time on writing it]). But that's the beauty of the rewrite, and I'm looking for some help in the guise of critique as far as what everyone's impressions are as a reader. (Is your attention held, did it bore you, couldn't care less etc etc). Many thanks.

Michael E. Davis Mon Oct 13 12:32:17 PDT 1997

Where to start? After five years of reading about writing, writing and learning, I sort of call myself a writer now. I've written a number of short stories and submitted them to contests. Last year I placed in the top ten for adult fiction at the Pacific Northwest Writers Conference. This year I just saw that a childrens story made it in the top 100 for Writer's Digest. I'm encouraged that I'm doing something right.

I've finally completed my first novel ( there are a couple of OJT efforts somewhere in my office). It's probably called suspense. I'm beginning to research agents. Found some at a web site and bought a book from Poet's and Writers that gives some hints and names of agents.

Does anyone out there have an referrals/suggestions? I am usually pretty thorough and am not likely to get involved with one who is disreputable, but if I know someone has had a postive experience, so much the better. If you do offer a name or two, I won't hold you personally responsible for my success or lack of same.

Bob Hanford Mon Oct 13 08:09:11 PDT 1997

Steve: For character sketches, my favorite is called "Fiction is Folks." Not sure, but wouldn't be surprised if it is by Lawrence Block.

Steve Pradarelli Mon Oct 13 06:42:55 PDT 1997

A book whose author I can't recall, The Egypt Game, got me
hooked on reading --- reeeaaal reading, not just Dick and Jane stuff -- around fourth or fifth grade. Then it was on to Stephen King and little else until college, when I got interested in Paul Theroux, Ethan Canin, John Updike, Milan Kundera, Tom Wolfe. I regret having read few classics, mostly because I don't think I have the time or patience now to wade my way through some of those leisurely novels. Today I'm a big fan of Clive Barker, Michael Moorcock, Robert Parker and James Lee Burke.

As for how-to books, I've found Lawrence Block's "Telling Lies for Fun and Profit" and "Writing the Novel" quite helpful. But I've yet to find a book that will tell me how to do research better (not just historical, but character sketches and such), and at what point to break it off and begin writing. Any tips?

Joan: No, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth. I quit my job at the newspaper and have returned to school to get my master's. My humble apologies for not commenting on your entries yet (I promise to soon), and my great appreciation for your comments on Mr. Bader and his freakish animals.

toby buckell Mon Oct 13 06:29:14 PDT 1997

The first book that caught my interest, I'm not sure, I do know it was a Clive Cussler/Dirk Pitt novel that my mom gave me to read when I was in the first/second grade. She had taught me to read from a very early age, and for entertainment, used to give me a matchbox of little words that I could piece together to make sentences. I was very interested in words from a young age. The next big one was a Rudyard Kipling book, although it's fuzzy, i was bored by it.
The book that struck me, in second grade, was Childhood's End, where the image of the Demon-like aliens stepping out of starships impressed me, although I had no clue what the point of the book was! The same with Foundation, by Asimov, a month later.
My interest was rekindled in fifth grade with the Lord of the Rings trillogy, and Michael Chricton's Sphere (my uncle's fault), and from there I never looked back, mving quickly through Clarke, Asimov etc. By 8th grade I was reading five sci-fi books a week.
Unlike Victoria, a major part of my reading experience was re-reading. I had a collection of what I determined were the best of the best, the ones I really liked, and these I would read ten-twenty times over and over again untill they were very much sunk into my mind. My most recent favorite book, A Fire Upon the Deep, by Vernor Vinge, has been read five times, and this weekend it will get read a sixth. All my books look ratty because I'm always re-reading them. Books that are still good the thirteenth time around have to have something that I can glean from them.
Sorry about the long post

Rosemary Sun Oct 12 20:04:01 PDT 1997

Hello all,
Victoria, you're definitely not alone, I loved The John Carter on Mars series and even the Tarzan Series when I was about 9 thru 11. Like you, a decade (or two) later I missed that enraptured feeling and checked one of each out of the library. I couldn't make it through either one. They were the same thing over and over. Get in trouble, rescue one, go rescue another and the first one gets in trouble again. All the way through. I felt like I had lost an old friend. Heinlen's teenage books did not have that same result. Ocassionally I pick one of them up and it's still a great read. Maybe its the difference between the life and times or styles of the authors. I don't know.

I do know that I read everything I could get my hands on all of my life but my formal education was strictly business. We were poor and I knew I would have to make a living as soon as possible.

I had been a mainfraim computer operator for about 12 years when my company was put up for sale. PC's were just beginning to take off and I decided I had better catch up with the world. While I was teaching myself Wordperfect 5.0 (a fairly dificult program compared to today's wordprocessors) I found out the muse would take over the computer and the story would flow.

A partial novel, the first draft of the first book of a serial and a number of short stories later, I'm still learning.
We all need to keep on keeping on.

Bob Hanford Sun Oct 12 18:54:59 PDT 1997

A Wrinkle In Time is also my daughter's favorite book. She is a budding writer and has read that book at least three times.

Katza Sun Oct 12 18:44:02 PDT 1997

What inspired me to start writing? It was a school project my oldest daughter had while in 6th grade. I sat down to help her come up with an idea and wound up writing 8 chapters the first night, I amazed myself. I had always loved reading, telling and writing stories but I never thought of myself as a writer until then. Now I can't stop- couldn't if I wanted to, and I don't. I have mostly read mysteries since I was small but I think my all time favorite was a book called "A Wrinkle in Time". Now I read anything and everything. The book that has helped me the most in my writing is a 1939 1st Edition that I picked up at a yard sale called " The Art of Fiction" by Clayton Hamilton, most of what is in this book holds true today for the serious writer, or so I have found.

Bob Hanford Sun Oct 12 17:01:10 PDT 1997

Victoria: Isn't that a bummer? No book ever had the impact on me that Great Expectations by Dickens had. As an adult, I shopped yard sales and old, dusty bookstores to find a good collection of his works. I was successful but so, so disappointed when I could not re-read either Great Expectations or Tale of Two Cities or any of his works. Like Ben, I loved Burroughs and read everything he wrote. The Hardy Boys and (blush) The Bobbsey Twins, Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer, all of Jack London made me believe by age ten that I would grow up and be a writer. Steinbeck made it mandatory. As did Michener. I kept myself on a diet with Michener, not allowing myself any more than one book per year. Jack London's "To Build A Fire" still is the best short story I've read.
Topic number two: Tips for beginners: As always, take these with a grain of salt.
I hope I'm not beating a dead horse, but read Jack's last posting. "It was almost a religious experience as I tramped the surface of Arrakis with dry air in my nostrils." He remembers the dry air to this day. Nothing will place the reader in your story more firmly than appealing to the senses. Some writer's books suggest one sense appeal per page.
Create immediate and unforgettable images.
Open at the moment that matters most.
Pull the reader immediately into the story by providing an image to see, touch and smell the surroundings. Our sense of smell is ten thousand times stronger than any other sense. Read Diane Ackerman's A Natural History of the Senses.
Re-think your point of view. Re-write a part of your story from each possible point of view.
Location is becoming almost as important in writing as it is in real estate. I will read almost any novel that takes place in Siberia - I will at least give the novel a chance.
Entertain. I keep Angela Lansbury in mind. In spite of her success, wealth, etc., she loves nothing more than to curl up in bed with a good book. All I want to do is write that good book.

Jack Beslanwitch Sun Oct 12 16:52:25 PDT 1997

I just wanted to add one more book that I am currently reading and am absolutely enraptured with. I finally broke down and bought the British version of Polgara the Sorceress since that particular Eddings book is not available in its American edition yet. Slightly more expensive, but as it happens, well worth it. I am absolutely captivated with it and love the flavor of the language. It is some of the best that Eddings has written in a long long time.

I also wanted to make note of a teacher that I had in the eighth grade. He made a point of slicing off six weeks and teaching Greek and Roman myths and legends as his part in educating in our western traditions in eight grade English. This was absolutely extraordinary and surprising carriculum that gave me an excellent grounding. It was later retracted at the request of those parents who found such material as being philosophically inappropriate with their world view, but for a time in a small town in Montana we were given a very good grounding. He was an excellent teacher and one who inspired me to write my first very bad (and I do mean bad) novel :-).

Goodweed of the North Sun Oct 12 14:23:45 PDT 1997

This weeks posting is great. I initially started with D.C. comics. I read probably evey genre of comic book made in the 60's (except romance). My favorites were anything with adventure and superheroes. My first novel was a sci-fi book printed by doubleday. It had two stories between the covers. One was a post apocoliptic story about a mankind living in a super-urban culture with a big brother type regime. It was similar to "Soyalent Green" but that wasn't the name of it. This was followed by a book called "Dopleganger". After that, I read everything which had words. All genre's were and are exciting to me. I have read and enjoyed everything from Tolkein to Stephen R. Donaldson's "Tomas Covenant Unbeliever" sereis. I loved the rich texture and societies brought to life by Marion Zimmer Bradley. Nobody does whimsical fantasy (with a bit of morality thrown in) better than Piers Anthony. Isaach Asimov inspired me with the "Foundation Trilogy", and Frank Herbert with "Dune". Just when I was firmly emplanted in SF&F, I read "Hucklebury Finn" and found an amazingly good story. My probable favorites are "Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser" by Fritz Leiber, and "Elric of Melnibone" by Michael Moorcock.

I have read so many incredible authors such as Robert Silverburgh, Andre Norton, Robert Heinlen and the list goes on. I have been inspired by all of them. Obscure books whose titles I can no longer rememner stick with me and color my writing. Each has touched my imagination and flavored my writing. My style is not so much unique but rather is a compilation of the hundreds I have experiance through the years. Oh, one author I must make mention of is that master of speculative fiction, Mr. Harlan Ellison. If he can't insire you, no one can.

Great topic. Keep reading. Today's authors are great like the masters of yesterday.

Seeeeya: Goodweed of the North

Victoria Sun Oct 12 12:47:09 PDT 1997

Re: this week's topic--from earliest childhood, I've read books that have stunned and amazed me and completely seized my imagination. T.S. White...Andre Norton...Gabriel Garcia Marquez...Jean Genet...Thomas Hardy...the list goes on. However, the glamor of most of the books I loved so much doesn't last for me. The books that amazed me when I was 16 ceased to do so by the time I was 20. The books I loved in my 20's I couldn't even sit down and read today. I still remember my awful disillusionment when I sat down to re-read "Dahlgren" by Samuel Delany--which was like a religious experience for me when I first read it in my late teens, but when I went back to it a decade later seemed like a lot of muddled, pretentious blather. I've had the same experience with Marquez and many others. For that reason, I never re-read anymore. I'd rather remember how great the book seemed at the time than read it again and discover that my perception of it has completely changed. Has anyone else had this experience?


joan Sun Oct 12 07:49:22 PDT 1997

Hi all--

Thanks, Rhoda, for the gentle reminder about adding to the Notebook. I, too, tend to check it before and after work and during the evening, before bed, first thing in a.m., when I get up to let the dog out (geez!) to see what people have to say. I'd noticed it was quiet and was disappointed but the light didn't quite go on that I should put something up!

Mike: About fizzling out after 30 novel pages or so: Have you tried doing the ending scenes at that point? If you have some idea of where the book is going, it will give you direction for the middle of the book. You can always change the scenes---and what you come up with in the middle may require that---but it really helps me to know what the end will be.

J.R.: I'm confused by your entry---are you thinking of writing sort of a chain story with friends or a writers' group? Or suggesting we do that on the Notebook? It sounds like a neat idea, and is similar to something tried here, but I think it fizzled. Let us know.

About the new topic: Reading! I have always panicked without a book---God forbid I should find myself in the doctor's waiting room without anything to read. My parents always had a lot of really really old books around the house. I'd keep going back to them when I didn't have anything else to read and eventually they would get read. It's how I was introduced to O'Henry and Shakespeare at a young age. From the library I'd get the Oz books by Frank Baum and the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I don't think there was a lot of fantasy out (except for Oz) but I read one called Shadow Castle that I think directed a lot of my writing in that direction. There's a series of books called the Betsy-Tacy books where one of the girls writes stories, and I think that really influenced me to write, but it wasn't until I was in my 30s that I finally realized maybe I could write something and publish it---being an AUTHOR always seemed like something on a pedastal, the impossible dream. It has taken some time to overcome that.

I had this wonderful 2nd grade teacher who said if we wrote 10 stories, she'd give us a chocolate bar. Bang--10 stories down the hatch! (I still love chocolate!) My dad was pretty much a natural born story teller. During holiday dinners he'd tell "Dickie Da Rock" (alias Richard Diamond--who I think was some kind of fictional detective) stories, and on the way to school he'd tell Smoky The Bear stories (he had a Smoky Bear ashtray stuck to the dashboard, and that's who was doing the speaking in the stories). In sixth grade, influenced by Victoria Holt, I wrote part of a romance novel---mostly filled with lots of food and clothes (how did they ever fit into the dresses after eating those 12 course dinners???).

I haven't read a lot of writing technique books, but I think Writer's Digest has wonderful tips and motivating articles. I did read a technique book by Dean Koontz (before I read any of his fiction), which he wrote very early in his career. I've heard he'd gone back and redone this book---the one I read said never never revise anything, just write and send it in! Bet he's changed that now. Also, the Writer's Market listings have tip articles by various authors, editors and agents---those are valuable.

Thanks as always for being there!



Debbie O. Sat Oct 11 20:25:52 PDT 1997

Hello all,

Well, I've always been a bookworm. Romances in Jr. High, trashy Jackie Collins/Judith Krantz novels in HS, and ANYTHING else in college. What led me to writing was when I was in HS & college, I'd write little vignettes & plays, with my friends as characters. I got tired of reading predictable books, and I was always saying "I'd write it differently" or "This should happen next . . .". The more I thought about it, the more I was convinced that I could write a better story than some that I was reading at the time. OK, reality check. It wasn't as easy as it looked, but I enjoy every minute of it, including arguing with my characters. Now, my family doesn't look at me like I'm crazy when they catch me talking to my characters

Rhoda Sat Oct 11 20:04:18 PDT 1997

I was an unenthusiastic reader until my mother introduced me to my first gothic romance book when I was eleven. It was a Dorothy Eden book and not one of her best. I did like it well enough to read a Victoria Holt book, MENFREYA IN THE MORNING. From that time on I was hooked on romance. I turned overnight into an avid reader. Not only that, but since that time, my grades at school improved dramatically.

My passion for writing was born that same year. A local TV station was showing Star Trek reruns that summer. That was the first I ever saw of Star Trek and I loved the series. A school friend of mine was writing a mystery about the death of Perry Mason. I figured that since she was having so much fun writing a spin-off of a canceled television show, that I would try my hand at writing star trek episodes. This was 1971 and many years before people began actually writing and selling star trek novels. I found that writing those star trek stories provided me more fun and entertainment than most movies.

From writing Star Trek novels, I wrote gothic novels but never finished any. When I was a junior in high school, I wrote my first historical novel. I finished that one.

So I suppose I have to conclude that Star Trek began it all. Once I began to write, I never could give it up. The only years I never wrote was during college and graduate school. I didn't seriously take up writing again until after the birth of my first child.

I now write historical romances and have never tried any other type of novel since high school. The books that have inspired my devotion to historical romances have been QUO VADIS, BEN HUR, and KATHERINE by Anya Seton. Movies such as SPARTACUS, THE SIX WIVES OF HENRY VIII and BEN HUR the movie also have helped spur my interest in historical fiction.

I have always had great fun writing. I suppose that is why I've continued writing all these years in some form or fashion. In a way you get more out of writing a book than you do reading someone elses. Consider the fact that it takes between one to two days to read one book. For the brief time you read, you are well acquainted with the main character or characters. For a brief time you experience life with these people until the book ends. When you write, however, you have six months or more with the characters. You as the author know them much more intimately.

I don't mean to imply that one should write and never read. I believe a good author should read more than the general public. Only in reading other books are we able to learn and keep a fresh perspective and by reading great books do we receive our inspiration to be better than we currently are.

Mike Mears None yet Sat Oct 11 15:07:58 PDT 1997

I've written more short stories than I can remember, and have even sold a few to small magazines, all SF.

I've attempted a novel three times. I go about thirty pages and fizzle. Does anybody have advice on organization?


Jackie Simak Sat Oct 11 13:05:19 PDT 1997

Hi folks:

The two books I recommend to everyone are WHAT TO SAY WHEN YOU TALK TO YOUR SELF by Shad Helmstetter, Ph.D., and FEEL THE FEAR AND DO IT ANYWAY by Susan Jeffers, Ph.D. Both authors share great personal experiences. Our minds are like computers--they can be reprogramed to help us achieve anything, no matter what they've been told in the past. We have to delete previous input and reprogram new and inproved information.

I think these books are especially good for creative people because we are our own worst critics.


Ben Woestenburg Fri Oct 10 21:54:43 PDT 1997

Hi guys! It would be nicer if I could get here more often, but hey, that;s the way it goes I guess. But I read the topic for the week and had to say something. Of course, I had to wait my turn.

I remember when I was a kid my oldest brother came home on leave from the air force. He had a copy of AT THE EARTH'S CORE by Edgar Rice Burroughs. I'd never been to into reading at that point of my life, but I ate that book up, and followed it up by getting everything I could by Burroughs. I read every Tarzan book I could find. I just loved it. But the thing that really helped me more than any books I might have read, was a teacher I once had. I was in grade 12, and taking English Lit., anf the teacher 'made' us read Shakespeare, Milton, Pope, Tennyson. I loved it. I thought, My God, I wanna be a poet. And then I discover Oliver Goldsmith, and said, I wanna do that: write one good piece in three different genres. There was no looking back after that.

So you see, I don't think it's so much what you might have read in your youth as it is the people that turned you on to them in the first place. I'll never forget that Lit teacher. I was lucky enough to have him for English as well, the next semester, and even though other students were saying how much they hated the guy because of the work load he gave, I loved it.

Sorry, it's a little off the track there, but I just had to say it. Now I have to go because my brother-in-law just phoned here and wants me to come home. (Alcohol and all that other stuff -- I guess I'll never grow up as far as that goes.) Anyway, to all you Canucks, Happy Thanksgiving, and I'll try to drop by tomorrow or Sunday.
Ciao, Ben.

Jack Beslanwitch Fri Oct 10 19:52:06 PDT 1997

Rhoda: Thanks for that. I have noticed how quiet things have been here as well. To help get things rolling, I have changed the proposed topic of discussion. What are the books, plays, motion pictures or the back of cereal boxes that inspired you to write and helped you to write. Also, what are the book or series of books that first blossomed the love of the written word in you.

Personally I learned to read when I was three and have long since lost track of the book that initially sparked that intense love. However, I remember now with great fondness when I discovered Dune, Stranger in a Strange Land and Lord of the Rings and Michener's Hawaii. It happened all one summer when I was in my early teens and it was almost like a religious experience as I tramped the surface of Arrakis with dry air in my nostrils or fought against orcs. They made me love the written word with an intensity that is wonderful to this day. Others would follow, Samuel Dalaney, David Brin, Greg Bear, David Eddings and Robert Jordan, but all much much later.

For the books on writing that helped, Writing For Story comes to mind right off the bat. I will have to wait and get the author's name and that information, but if we come up with enough titles, I'll try to work up an bookstore page for writers where people can click through to order them if they wish.

Rhdoa Fri Oct 10 19:15:58 PDT 1997

I thought I would post a few comments here because nothing has been entered here today, and I would just hate October 10, 1997 to pass into history without an entry on the notebook.

Katza and anyone else new to the Notebook:

Welcome. I have found the notebook a very informative and friendly forum for discussing ideas related to writing. There are many wise and talented writers here. I hope you gain great benefit from joining in the discussions, critiquing and being critiqued in return.


I was surfing some Arthurian sites on the web today and found the name Britomart. She was a woman knight. I have never heard of her before. I've always thought it was a nice name, but I never knew where it came from. Now that I know, I have even more appreciation for it.

Please, someone post a comment here on the notebook. I really have little to say today. I would not even have posted if I had not thought it needed to be done. I like to check back every few hours and see what is new here. So far today, there is not as much as there should be.

Well I had better get back to work.


Katza Thu Oct 9 21:34:38 PDT 1997

Philip McLaren suggested I give this group a try. I tried to enter my Bio but the link didn't work. At present time I do not have a web page but am working on getting one. I write Mysteries for pre-teen to adult. Am not yet published but there again am working on it. A never ending process.

J.R. Deveau Thu Oct 9 16:31:18 PDT 1997

Everyone brainstorms on a story plot and arrange a type of time frame. Then each person is to write a section of the story. In this way, the story benefits from many styles and points of views. Final editing is to be done
to harmonize the sections and to smooth out the story. I don't know if this has ever been attempted before or even if it sounds totally ludicrous. Tell me what you think...

Jack Beslanwitch Wed Oct 8 23:46:37 PDT 1997

Debbie is quite correct. What I meant to point out was my problem with reader fees in general whether from a magazine such as Writer Journal or an agent. And, yes, Writers Journal has lower reader fees than some. Still, they are readers fees. And to base the content of a magazine on continuing contests with a fee for eachsubmission...hmmm

Anyway, I have to concur with everyone one else and congratulate Bob. Have a nice vacation.

Also, I would like to welcome Jackie Simak, who just sent her biography to me. Please feel welcome to add a comment or two or three.

Bob Hanford Tue Oct 7 20:13:03 PDT 1997

Everyone: Thanks for the kind words about the tips. Like I said, they all came from the Writer's Digest over the years. Just jotted them and many more into my notebook. Hope they help.
Debbie: Aren't you putting too much pressure on yourself and your book? Just sneak into it and write it. If it helps, don't start at the beginning, write a scene from later on in the story.
I am off to Assateague Island for a much needed vacation. Will be taking two murder mysteries, the indispensable book, Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman, and of course my portable Steinbeck. See you all Sunday. Good writing!

Goodweed of the North Tue Oct 7 19:47:19 PDT 1997

Sorry to post again so soon. Just finished the first draft of my synopses and have to put it on in the workbook for review. Cut it up. Teach me. Thanks.

Seeeeya; Goodweed of the North

Debbie Tue Oct 7 19:43:45 PDT 1997

Hi All,

I was under the impression that the Writer's Journal is a magazine. It is *not* a literary agency. They do offer paid critiques of your work, but so do a lot of others. They do charge an entrance fee for contests, but I've seen that done elsewhere.

This weeks topic: I am a great "giver" of advice, but sometimes I find it hard to follow it. I am slowly overcoming my fear of finishing. It's taken me long enough to realize that fear was the reason I was not finishing any work.

Another problem I have is to "lose" myself in pre-writing work--character sketches, settings, outlines, whatever. How do I know when I have done enough preparatory work and it's time to move on to writing the darn thing.


Goodweed of the North Tue Oct 7 18:43:18 PDT 1997

I agree with Jack and the others. Suspect any and all agents who request a fee to read your work. I've done quite a bit of research into the subject and the advice has been universal. An agents fee should come as a percentage of sales, not a reading or contest fee.
A better approach is to do your homework, write your story well, and learn to submit a proper query to reputable agents. If you know your craft and there is a market for your genre, then you just might get published.
Bob; you certainly have done your homework. That was excellent advice. You obviously have experiance that the rest of us are still striving for. In any reader centered writing, one must draw attention to the story, the information, the recipe, whatever the subject is. Never draw attention to yourself. It's distracting and no one likes a grand stander. Good stuff, Bob.
Ben; Congrats on the effort. Like yourself, I have at least three separate trilogies planned, all dealing with a singular world. Some notable authors who have successfuly used such an approach are; Edgar Rice Bouroughs with "Tarzan" and "John Carter of Mars"; Marion Zimmer Bradley with the popular "Darkover" series; Frank Herbert with the "Dune" series; Piers Anthony with teh "Zanth" series and many, many others. Good luck. Be careful with the life plan idea. Phil explained to me the value of letting the work speak for itself. Other sources I have found say the same thing. But you are the best judge of what will work for you. Good luck.
As for myself, I am learning to create a synopsis. I jusst don't know how long it should be. Joan has given me tips, and I thank you for that, Joan. As always, I need to do a bit more research into the idea. I hope to have my synopsis and manuscript in the hanc of the agent who requested them by early next week. Thanks everyone for being there to support each other. Writing is a tough business it seems. I think everyone here has the talent and tenacity to do this.

Seeeeeya: Goodweed

P.S. Sorry for the typos in this and past postings. I haven't yet learned to use a spell checker with netscape.

Joan Tue Oct 7 18:08:05 PDT 1997

Great tips, Bob! I'm going to tattoo them to the inside of my forehead (ouch).

Michael: Another pretty decent writing magazine is "The Writer." I still like Writer's Digest best, but the other isn't bad.

Ben: I know, I was sad to lose Kae & Phillip, too. Glad the rest of you are still here---you're irreplaceable (sp?)

TaiMing: I haven't gotten to look at your latest submission on the Workbook, but I'm trying to get to it. Really enjoyed the others!


Victoria Strauss Tue Oct 7 10:39:03 PDT 1997

Michael: I too checked out the magazine (and its Web host) and it doesn't look all that professional to me. I agree with Jack--any outfit that does critiquing for a fee is suspect. Also, I don't think a magazine should charge for entering a contest. It sees like this is merely a way for the magazine to raise revenue (the fact that they have contests in every issue bears this out), and I don't think a really professional publication would do this.


Britomart Tue Oct 7 00:48:08 PDT 1997

Oh, well done Bob! I am going to print these out and put them somewhere conspicuous. Yes, we are unimportant, we need to get out of the way of our works - what Keats called "negative capability" I think. This is the best block of advice anyone could give me.


Ben Woestenburg Mon Oct 6 20:34:12 PDT 1997

Wow, this is sad. I just spent as much time as I could afford to spend going through archived messages and what-not, only to find Phillip is leaving in a huff, and Kae's going too? What the Hell happened? I miss one week -- okay about ten days -- and everyone heads for the hills. It makes me sad. I appreaciated those two a lot more than I can say. Sure, Kae gave me a slap on the wrist once, but I probably needed it (Hell, my wife does it when I need it). But Phillip I'm going to miss you. I'll miss your insight, your humor, you advice.

I wanted to tell you that I'm just a matter of pages from finishing volume I of THE ROMAN TRILOGY, and next weekend I'll be going to the Surrey Writer's conference to see what I can do about getting myself an agent. I'm thinking about going a different route. Instead of giving the plot and general synopsis for the book I'm working on now, I'm thinking I'd like to tell this person about the next three books I want to write, and how they all tie in together with a little thread in the narative of the first one. I want to tell them I have ten books in my head, all dealing with the same place and subjects etc.,but I don't know if this'll work out the way I think it can. I'm thinking if I look at the 'life picture', the what-I-want-to-do-with-my-life picture, and sell them on that idea, maybe the person will think: 'hey, I think this guy's worth the investment'?

I'm sorry I haven't said anything about this week's topic, and I could say a few things even though I haven't been published yet, but I don't have the time I need to spend on this. I have to go and pick my son up from Navy League -- that's a precursor to the Sea Cadets -- in, oh my God, I gotta go!


P.s. I'll be back to read some more I hope, after I bring him home, put him to bed, (tuck in my sick wife), kiss my daughter, and maybe try and have a calming glass of vino.

Jack Beslanwitch Mon Oct 6 19:34:12 PDT 1997

Michael: I believe the site you are referring to for Writers Journal is In checking out the page, I went to the separate page on contents and noted that they have different fees for all kinds of different contests and novel criticque reading fees that go to $105 for a 75,000 and above novel. I am speaking only personally, but I have severe doubts about any agents that requires a reader fee or criticque services. The amounts of these fees are not as astronomical as I have heard from other sources, but I still on philosophical grounds have severe problems with this approach. It's up to you, but where I might read the magazine, I would probably steer clear of their contests. Others can chime in here. Just my 2 c. worth.

Michael Parish Mon Oct 6 17:10:09 PDT 1997

I have a question to pose to the group. I currently have a subscription to Writer's Digest and I am considering getting a subscription to Writer's Journal. Are any of you familiar with that magazine? It's a bi-monthly magazine that has articles about fiction and non-fiction technique in the first half, and then has four or five short stories (submitted by whoever) in the latter half. Writer's Journal advertises a monthly fiction contest and another one that I can't remember the name of. You have to include a $5.00 reading fee if you want to enter the contest. The winner has his/her story published in a subsequent issue of Writer's Journal. My question is this: Are all of the short stories that appear in the magazine part of some contest, or can somebody also submit a story that isn't part of the contest (and that doesn't require the payment for the reading fee). Do you have to pay $5.00 to have your story even considered? It looks like a good magazine, and a good place to submit a story, but I'd like to understand what their policy is. They advertise a web-site, but it's just a one-page ad for the magazine. Any feedback on this magazine at all would be appreciated.

I look forward to reading and responding to all of your various messages and stories.

Bill Mon Oct 6 13:58:46 PDT 1997

Bob H., Good ideas there.

Jack, I have one word to say about your messing around with the notebook--COOL!

Bob Hanford Mon Oct 6 13:44:58 PDT 1997

One thing I wanted to say before someone else does: Strict adherence to all the things I wrote will affect your voice. Hence, the last point about breaking the rules.

Bob Hanford Mon Oct 6 11:53:47 PDT 1997

Hello everyone. None of these tips are mine; they all came from the Writer's Digest magazine over the past ten years or so. Which leads me easily into the first tip: read a writing magazine regularly and read all the articles, even those that have nothing to do with your genre.
Learn to be invisible. The reader cares nothing about you or how clever or smart you are. The reader wants to get completely lost in a good story. One of the worst things that could happen would be for the reader to stop and think, " Oh, what a clever thing to say or do or whatever." Now the reader has been thrust out of the illusion into the reality that he/she is reading someone's writing.
Save your big latinate words for theme papers. Use German. The character doesn't cogitate, he thinks.
The reader must feel a sense of purpose, must trust your authority that the conversation over a piece of toast is important to the plot or character development. If the scene or dialogue does not advance the story, increase the narrative momentum or further develop character, drop it.
You only have one job: tell a story.
Read your work out loud to yourself. I fought this for a long time because I didn't want to drop words and phrases I'd labored over for hours. But, reading aloud will help you with rhythm and inappropriate word usage.
Very important: details, details, details. The character does not drink a cup of coffee but a cup of coffee with four sugars and a half and half mixture imported from Italy.
Try rewriting a chapter as a play where there is no narrative. See how much work dialogue can do.
Look at the printed page. The page must be inviting to the reader's eye, a mixture of short sentences with long. Short paragraphs mixed with longer. I have not read books simply because I would have had to work too hard digesting two enormous paragraphs per page, every page.
Verbs are your best weapons, not adjectives or adverbs.
Every word must have a job to do. If you can take it out and the story does not suffer, then take it out. I had written about a house that "sheltered" a family of moonshiners. Of course, it sheltered, that's what any house does.So the word was meaningless. I changed it to "mocked" and put the word to work.
When you rewrite, if you can say it in one word instead of four, do it. Pace is extremely important. Readers simply will not labor through excess verbiage; they begin to think they could have said the same thing in fewer words and at that point, they are aware of the writer and you just lost the game.
Get used to being unimportant; the story is everything.
Last point: Break any and all these rules, please.

Jack Beslanwitch Mon Oct 6 00:09:02 PDT 1997

As you will notice, I have slightly changed the introduction to the Writers Notebook. I was just wondering what others thought of the changes. Any additional ideas are greatly appreciated.

    Also, if any of you would like to include a picture of yourself in the Bios, please feel free to send them to me. As I have said before I prefer linking to a URL, but I am happy to host them here just to encourage everyone to send them. Take care.

TaiMing Sun Oct 5 21:49:13 PDT 1997

Kay....I am interested in the vampire story.....please E me it or ????? I'd be more than happy to read through for you and make my feeble suggestions, if any are necessary.

If I haven't gotten back to anyone through E for the wonderful suggestions for my work, and the very deserved critiques, it's only because I'm so VERY BUSY right now with an art has to be done by a Tuesday AM deadline....and I've been working like a dog since Wednesday! Please be assured that I will respond to every E I received.....I love you all for taking YOUR valuable time to read it....

Jack...I think Bob's suggestion for the next weeks topic is excellent. He has given me some really wonderful critiques and I believe that he really has a handle on the frequent foibles of new writers and their numerous no-no's.....I can't wait to hear his ideas.

Love and *HUGS* to all, Tai (kisses all around)

Kay Sat Oct 4 21:33:59 PDT 1997

Oooops. I left an offering in the workbook, and a typo in my return email address. It's, not Thanks, Joan..... for everything.

Rhoda Sat Oct 4 19:56:43 PDT 1997


Congratulations on hooking the interest of an agent. It is good to know that the advice you have picked up here has helped you so greatly.

I am not an expert on the synopsis, but I have written a few. How much information you relate of course depends upon the length of the synopsis to be presented. On my first novel, THE RELUCTANT BARBARIAN, I first wrote a three page one when I entered it in a contest (3 pages was the rule). One editor I pitched it to demanded a chapter-by-chaper synopsis. I've seen editors ask anywhere from a three page to a ten page synopsis.

I've been taught that the organization is protagonist, antagonist, conflict, resolution. I work with romances, so in that case it is hero, heroine, conflict, and resolution. By and large the conflict part is the most important part of the synopsis. You must present the conflict as strong and compelling. I've also heard that you must include all the important elements and themes of your story in the synopsis. One author friend of mine always says that there are no secrets in a synopsis. There are probably other ways to write a synopsis than what I just mentioned. This pattern has worked well for me.

As I said before I am no expert. If I were to put one of my synopsises on the Writer's Notebook, I imagine I'd soon find out how much I don't know about them.

I find that the synopsis is harder and requires more mental discipline than the writing of the book. I do not like to write them. The first synopsis I ever wrote was pure murder, and no doubt it was pretty poor. When I learned the sequence I mentioned above, I found the process much easier.

I am glad that you brought up this question, Goodweed, for I am very interested in what others have to say about it. I too have much to learn about the synopsis.

Joan Sat Oct 4 19:29:54 PDT 1997

P.S. Rhoda: I have to snicker at your problems with E-mail (that's a SYMPATHETIC snicker). I spent nearly the 1st Internet month on the line with tech services trying to get the blankety blank thing to work! Glad you've got it straightened out now.


Joan Sat Oct 4 19:28:20 PDT 1997

Hi all---just a quick note to let you know I hadn't fallen off the face of the earth, since I've mainly been answering people by E-mail rather than posting.

Jack---congrats on the nod to For Writers Only. Good work! Also, I liked your graphics on the Workbook page. When do we get to see the promised text?



Goodweed of the North Sat Oct 4 17:10:02 PDT 1997

Ok guys and gals:

I need your help. I queried an agency and got a nibble on my first try. They want me to send my manuscript. Well, I didn't really send my actual query, but e-mailed the agency to get a better understanding of their submission policy. I typed the e-mail similar to the format learned through corespondance with members of this forum and personal research. It was an abreviated version.

Anyway, they want to see my manusript acompanied by a synopsis of the story. I worked very hard to keep the story out of the query. Learned that part fairly well. Now I have to learn the format for synopsis. I realy am not sure what is expected.

If anyone has any experiance with writing a synopsis of a creative work, please share the info.

Everyone out there banging away on the keyoard, keep writing. Get help from freinds, that is, get trusted freinds who are well read to proof your work, and follow the absolute maxime, the cardinal rule of writers, rewrite, rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. And do your homework. Also, use your Spellchecker (something I have forgotten to do occasionaly). Good writing is 10% insperation and 90% persperation. I know, it's a cliche', but it applies.

Seeeeeeeeya: Goodweed of the North

Jack Beslanwitch Sat Oct 4 10:03:08 PDT 1997

Bob Hanford has requested that I leave the beginning writer topic open for the coming week. He apparently has come up with a number of new ideas he would like to add to the discussion. If no one objects, I think I will concede to his request. As I had no really compelling topic to replace it with this comes as a relief. However, it means I'll have to come up with something truly interesting for next time. Hope others join Bob in adding additional gems of wisdom. Take care all.

Kay Fri Oct 3 20:00:58 PDT 1997

Ok. HELP. I've found a potential publisher, who's soliciting submissions of vampire short stories. Yes, let me know, I'll forward the info. Meantime, I've got one short story in my repertoire, and ..... well, I'd purely like to get feedback, comments, review, etc, before I send my baby out to get rejected. Anyone willing to read? < 7K words, "gay theme" as they put it.... but no explicit sex, and ... well..... gee......

Jack Beslanwitch Fri Oct 3 08:44:52 PDT 1997

Just to make a note, Preditors and Editors gave For Writers Only the September version of their Truly Useful Site Award. I know, most awards are an excuse to make sure you link back to their site, but the logo they include is rather nice.

I don't know if there is enough in terms of tips for new writers for a page, but at the very least there are a lot of tid bits littered around here that will delight those reviewing through this page whether it is here or in the archives. Take care everyone. Oh, and Rhoda, email me (that is given that things are up and running) and we can discuss email software. Sounds like yours has some problems. I might have some suggestions.

Bill Thu Oct 2 10:10:17 PDT 1997

I have sent you and e-mail. If you have a problem getting it, or it is not complete, let me nknow and I wiil post the info here. Good Luck!

Rhoda Wed Oct 1 22:41:51 PDT 1997

I finally have my e-mail back. All I had to do was find the default setting (it took me two days). The only problem was that in the process of trying to "fix" the thing, I dispatched all my two month's accumulated e-mail to cyber-infinity. If it still exists on my computer, I will probably never know. Really maddening was that I retrieved six new messages this morning. I was able to get the sender sand the subjects, but not the texts. These messages have also mysteriously disappeared.

The really horrible thing is that I have always liked to return to the e-mail messages people like Bill and Phil have sent me in the past and visit the great links they have shared with me. Alas, I have only the links that I thought to bookmark. The other great links, such as the ones on query letters, have gone with the messages on which they were sent.

So, if anyone has e-mailed me since Monday morning, just know that I never read the message. Please don't think I was impolite or ungrateful for not replying. I just never got the stuff.

Now I am assurred that the problem is really fixed. I must stop thinking about all I lost and continue on sending and receiving e-mail, hoping I never get into such a terrible fix again.

Kay Wed Oct 1 19:34:03 PDT 1997

TaiMing: I'm hooked. I love the idea of the prose/poetry intercept. More by EMail.

Toby Buckell Wed Oct 1 15:44:41 PDT 1997

TaiMing- The MarketList is a listing of mostly sci-fi story markets, with some poetry. It is probably my most used tool.

Hi everyone, will try to add a chapter to the workbook sometime soon, but been very busy (no excuse, but still).

Trudy Wed Oct 1 08:00:03 PDT 1997

Welcome all newcomers; in the fear that I would leave someone out I will leave it at that!

Kay, how lucky for you to meet Clive Barker...I love his Books of Blood. Sounds like the advice he gave is invaluable though I don't know how long I could go without coffee and nature breaks!

TaiMing, I have been to BBSChat but don't get there often because of time constraints...perhaps we'll meet there one day.

Everyone, some of you know I am enjoying two weeks holidays (which are going too quickly even though I'm only in the first week). Over the weekend I travelled to Halifax Nova Scotia for a Word on the Street fair. It is an event that promotes literacy, books, reading, writing and anything to do with all of that and more. I had a ball, bought many books and magazines as well as collected a few freebies and went to some wonderful readings including one by one of my favourite Canadian poets, Al Purdy. AMAZING!
This guy is so funny and I've always enjoyed reading his poetry. And to hear him read it with all his humour and quirky statements before, during and after poems, it was rally neat. Afterwards I bought two of his books; one of poetry called Piling Blood and a novel (I didn't even
know he had written a novel) called A Splinter in the Heart. Then of course I had him sign both! This was the highlight of the event for me I must say, especially since I didn't know beforehand he'd be there. I also got to meet the author of the first novel I reviewed for the Reader, which was very exciting. Okay enough on that; anyone who ever has an opportunity to attend a Word on the Street do so. They are held each year across Canada (this year in three cities; next year plans are for five).

Well I've babbled enough...will return latr with comments on this week's topic. T

ps...Jack, go ahead with the mailto idea...I like it!

Jack Beslanwitch Wed Oct 1 05:03:56 PDT 1997


I remember that story. It is quite fitting. Also, I've added a visual as a prompt for a story. As I mention in the workbook I'll add some text to the picture tomorrow. However, using Bryce2 and Photoshop I think I've come up with something interesting. Also as mentioned, I call it Moving Day.

Bob Hanford Tue Sep 30 18:13:52 PDT 1997

Hello all:
In the spirit of this week's topic I posted a piece on the Workbook - a piece I'd first posted close to two years ago.
Hope you enjoy.

TaiMing Tue Sep 30 14:47:48 PDT 1997

Jack & Bill & Philip:

Thank you so much for your help regarding The Writers Market and all the interesting and worth-looking-into sites you sent me. I am so grateful for all your timely help.

As not a new writer but one who has been writing for many years yet with only one publication under my desk so to speak, I am at a loss to really assist in this weeks topic. Until VERY recently, I have been keeping my writing to myself (shy? no. afraid of rejection? yes.) However, I was extremely interested in everything that others had to say and took a great deal away with me from the review of their postings. Thanks, Jack, for putting all these postings in the archives, as I would be running out of paper and ink if I were to try to hard copy them all. And I need those ideas to reference! Probably over and over and over...

Thanks to all for your great help is getting started. I'm obviously a late bloomer (49 years of age and counting), but the one thing that I really have taken to heart is my excess verbage, and the dedication to writing at least two hours per day with no excuses.

One other thing I noticed, when I access the Writers BBS Chat, which I do on occasion, I do not find any of you there....nor do I find any of them here. Why is that, I wonder? When I began accessing that page, I expected some crossover...but no. Is it not part and parcel of this locale?

Once again, Thank you so much Jack for this page. It is my link not only to writing better, writing more, feeding my desire to write and submit, but also a definite link to my sanity. I know of no other writers in my immediate circle of friends. I am so grateful to have met well-met new friends here, I can't tell you enough.

Love to all....TaiMing

Leesa Tue Sep 30 14:34:10 PDT 1997

I think writing is a great tool that can be used for anything. It, however, must be used correctly. I feel a great amount of sorrow for those who cannot read. It is a lovely world to explore. Once you've mastered one language, it is a great wonder to go into another one. Keep the great tradition of exploration going.

Rhoda Tue Sep 30 11:55:30 PDT 1997

To everyone here:

My E-mail is on the fritz. If anyone has tried to e-mail me and I haven't replied, please don't think me rude or thoughtless. I just haven't been able to retrieve anything. I e-mailed a few messages yesterday, but I have no idea if they made it to their proper recipients. I am really fed up with the whole mess.

I feel like a bird with my wings clipped. Just as I have started to critique and be critiqued, this has to happen. I do hope it is my server and not my computer at fault.

I shall be checking back to this page to find out what is going on.

Bill Tue Sep 30 05:34:52 PDT 1997

Jack, Thanks for deleting my old survey.
Here is the revised questionnaire for anyone who would like to help me by answering what they can. Some of the questions may not apply to you in particular, but any input will be appreciated.

Michael, your posts are working. I see two two them.

I realize that some of the below questions are a bit vague, but I'm looking for generalization. Thanks

My name is William (Bill) Whitney. I am considering the possibility of finishing college to obtain a BA in journalism and, hopefully, I will obtain enough information to make an intelligent decision. I am researching employment opportunities within the writing field. See below for specific questions if you would please answer them.

1) What businesses employ journalists with only a BA?
2) Understanding that it will depend on the exact area of interest, on the average, what course of study would you recommend for someone wanting to pursue a writing career?
3) What is your position and what does it entail?
4) What do you like and dislike about your position?
5) Beginning your career, what difficulties, if any, did you find in searching for employment?
6) How large is the circulation where you work, and what areas of expertise do you cover?
7) Are there any difficulties, in today's economy, that you might foresee for a new journalist?
8) What challenges do you face now, and what makes the career interesting for you?
9) What do you feel the main disadvantages and advantages of a journalistic career are?
10) What can a journalist, fresh out of college, expect as far as beginning salary?
11) Do you find that most new journalists are hesitant about salary negotiations, and are you open to negotiations based on the persons expertise and qualifications?
12) Approximately how many job/career positions are in the Missouri/Illinois area if you are in this area?
13) I am also interested in US wide statistics; how easy are jobs/careers to find within the field of journalism?
14) What helpful hints or advice can you suggest to a beginning writer?
15) Are there particular personality traits that you consider essential for an employee within the particular field?
16) Does your company hire internships, and do you accept freelance work?
17) Are there particular areas of writing that you purchase from freelance writers?
18) What is the average article length that you purchase, and do you have information to forward to me regarding your submission requirements?
19) Do you have any comments, or suggestions, other than those already mentioned?
20) What online links, or other informative sources, can you suggest that may help me with my research?
21) If our situations were reversed, what question would you ask me?
22) If I choose to write an article, based on my research, may I quote you?
I thank you for your considerate time in answering my questions. I appreciate the information. Again, thank you. Bill Whitney

Jack Beslanwitch Tue Sep 30 01:49:34 PDT 1997

Actually, I just got through and downloaded it. I find it useful to doublecheck on markets and also to mine for listings here on For Writers Only. Take care and hope this helps.

Jack Beslanwitch Tue Sep 30 01:38:51 PDT 1997

Tai Ming: The Market List is a particularly comprehensive listing of markets for writers that is available for Windows users in a help file format or an ascii text file. The help version allows you to search by genre.

(Shameless Plug Alert ;-)
The above is a direct quote from the link I have to it on For Writers Only under the Professional Markets listings. And yes, I believe that the market List is free. However, I just checked it and the server seems to be down. Or, at least, it is down from my corner of the internet. However, when it does come back up or you can get through, if you a have a Windows environment this is well worth looking into.

TaiMing Mon Sep 29 20:52:01 PDT 1997

Hi Toby....

When you mention 'The Market List', exactly what are you talking about? Submission possibilities? And where do I find it, especially if it's free.....

Toby Buckell Mon Sep 29 19:59:53 PDT 1997

By the way, that was just me!

Mon Sep 29 19:58:31 PDT 1997

Having nothing to do with the topic this week, I have much good news. Chris Holliday's newest 'The Market List' has been updated (not super recently, this isn't breaking news, but I've been waiting all summer for this). The list is my number one resource. I love having all the markets laid out in the help format, it's easier and quicker than paying for the often out of date Writer's Digest guide to mags. Surprise, the best things in life ARE free!

My moniter is still being fixed by Radio Shack. Must have patience on this matter. Nothing's getting done! Except scribbles on paper that is.

On a sad note: my soccer team had a battle this evening, and was severely routed from victory as I watched helplessly from the sidelines. AGHHH. One of these days my health will return to me.

Hi everyone!

Michael Parish Mon Sep 29 19:19:10 PDT 1997

Nothing particular to say, it's just that I've been trying to post messages time and time again, but they never seem to stay. I'm here to try again. I've been writing for years and I'm working towards a Bachelors in Writing English. Hope to get to know you all better (and I also hope this works this time!)

Joan Mon Sep 29 18:58:26 PDT 1997

Jack: About the bios--my vote, anything you want to create is fine with me. After what you've done with this website, you obviously work miracles!

Susan: I think your writer-friend has a point. I don't know about thinking that you're the best writer in the world, but if you have CONFIDENCE in whatever you're doing, you're going to be better at it. It's when my confidence in my writing flags---when I look at something for the 14th time and it suddenly looks just like crap to me---that I lose motivation, my writing falters. In my pay job, I work for very good (and very very decent) trial attorneys. They all have at least some of what people might call ego---so do the doctors we defend and those I used to work for. But it's NECESSARY for them to have at least some ego. In order to get up in front of a courtroom full of people, in order to cut a human being open or make a diagnosis---AND in order to lay bare your thoughts and feelings in a story, poem, article: all of them require ego, confidence. At least, that's what I've found.

Jaye, Kay, and others in Workbook: I'm working a 2nd (part-time) job right now, so my review time (amateur tho it is!) is cut short. But I plan on looking at the Workbook stuff tonight or tomorrow.

Just my thots.


Rosemary Mon Sep 29 18:26:35 PDT 1997

I was joking. Your advice was all excellent. From my very first contact with other writers and want-to-be writers the phrase "Show, don't tell." has been repeted over and over and over by everyone. Each class I have been in, every critique group. When I read "Tell a story." I just had to do it.
Also, I think it can never be too early to start with that advice. "SHOW, DON'T TELL."
(My revenge)

Jack Beslanwitch Mon Sep 29 11:37:51 PDT 1997

One quick procedural question and a request. I've been looking at the biographies and was wondering if people would mind if I create mailtos with their email addresses for your biographies. Also, if any of the new people want to send me their biographies, please do so and I promise to try to get them up as soon as possible. Also, if people have small sized graphics of themselves or a URL to a graphic I will add that as well. It is kind of nice to see the people were looking at. You can even provide a URL for a sound file and I'll provide a link, but that might be truly stretching things to absurdity ;-). Take care and good writing and Bill, I really will make those changes.

Kay Mon Sep 29 10:17:48 PDT 1997

I'm not a published writer, (unless you count a journal article about the nature of N-B bond rotation in tris-aminoboranes) but I read a lot, including a lot of advice on writing. Last month, however, I went to a lecture on writing, given by Clive Barker, who has moved from blood-and-guts horror into some extremely elegant and thought-provoking fantasy. His advice was: Write. Make a goal, sit at a desk, and do it. No interruptions, no coffee, no nature-breaks, no excuses.

For inspiration, he recommends becoming aware of the rewards writing holds for you, and staying aware of them. Make your own rewards, celebrate yourself and your accomplishments. Don't be ashamed to read something you wrote (or look at something you painted, whatever, your creation....) and say "Damn. That's good. I'm good."

I just hope I didn't break any copyrights passing along advice from a published writer.

By the way, I suspect I can't be communicated with directly through the notebook or workbook, because I can't seem to send messages by EMail that way. If you want to EMail me, please do so directly to the above address. Not to sound too grinding... but.... please!

:) K

Bill Mon Sep 29 05:24:18 PDT 1997

Welcome to everyone new. You'll find no other website with such warm-hearted people. Feel free to add whatever you wish.

For some of you others like TaiMing, I would really like to comment on your work, but I'm a complete dummy when it comes to poety. I still would like the friendship though that this place offers everyone. That is more important than the writing itself. Sometimes I think we forget that. Its people interacting with people and its through people that we grow well as people. (Did I just say all that?)

Joan, I would appreciate any comments, good or bad, in part or in full, from whomever wishes to share their good nature and experience. Comments on any area of writing will help.

Good weed, I haven't ignored your last e-mail. I have been going insanely nuts lately working with Missouri Voc Rehab on an education plan based on my disability and thus the reason for the questionnaire. I wrote 300 e-mails to archaeologists and have done extensive research on the idea of getting a degree in the field. I figure that I'm too old for that field now, but the research will make a good article. Likewise, I'm also researching the journalistic field. Probable my best bet anyway as winded as I am.

Take care all, and as always, a BIG thanks to Jack for maintaining this precious site.

jaye Mon Sep 29 05:07:36 PDT 1997

Hi All : It is me again l have posted another piece of my writing in the work book. Please tell me what you think it is called "Angel Sent From Heaven" .Ihope it is in the correct format unlike my last piece and that you can read it this time .Thanks Again
Bye Jaye

jaye Mon Sep 29 04:45:41 PDT 1997

To Joan thankyou for the warm welcome to this site it is nice to know you welcome and that everyone is friendly and helpfull .Thanks again
Bye Jaye

Jack Beslanwitch Mon Sep 29 01:35:37 PDT 1997

Joan: Tabula Rasa roughly translates out as blank slate. Given that it is latin and dates, I presume, from those times, the prevailing medium of writing was not papyrus or paper since that was too expensive. Instead, they used slate and something that could mark the thin pieced chunk of rock, if it was a light colored piece of slate possibly a stick burnt so that it was charcoal. Of course, I am guessing on a lot of the details here. At any rate, think of it as the pre-christian times equivalent of a blank Word file that has just been purged of your favorite letters and words and fonts and formatting just ready and waiting to be filled.

Also, I might add that I am thinking of creating something graphically to act as a suggestive writing exercise. I'll post it as a Workbook entry and perhaps add a bit of text to go along with it that people can add to. I've acquired a copy of Photoshop and thought I would combine Bryce2 with Photoshop and come up with something prevocative to get something in the Workbook going. Take care.

Goodweed of the North Sun Sep 28 22:52:49 PDT 1997

Hi All:

Great site for proper manuscript format is:
Another useful site is:

I am not a published writer so though I believe I know what
I'm doing, I'll not post advice except to say that I agree
whole heartedly with Britomart, Bob Hanford, and Susan.

I don't know what happened last week, but I hope it doesn't happen again. We lost some valuable people because of flairing tempers. Like the master of this forum, Mr. Jack
Beslanwitch, I hope we can keep it freindly. And if someone gives advice you don't agree with, remember, they're trying to help. Don't take anything personally.

New writers; be humble, be teachable, be honest. Their is someone out there who knows more than you. Experianced writers; be humble, be teachable, be honest. Their is someone out there who knows more than you. Rest assured, it isn't me.

We all have strengths and weakneses. Let's work to shore up each others weaknesses by sharing our strengths.

Kae; I'll be looking for aen e-mail from you on Monday evening.

Seeeeya; Goodweed of the North

Joan Sun Sep 28 21:04:52 PDT 1997

Welcome Jo, Jaye and Michael! This is a great place to be.

Jack: What is a (blush) tabula rasa? I'm guessing---erased tablet?

Britomart: It was interesting to see your comment about it being a good idea to get an agent, because it seems like most things I read say not to get one till you're published (which seemed a little like putting the cart before the horse to me). Is it as hard to get an agent as a publisher? (I'm still waiting to hear from the one I submitted to 3 months ago---with fingers crossed.)

Bill: Did you want responses to that questionnaire from anyone, or just from someone who works in journalism?

All: I also am not published, but have been critiqued by groups and individuals often. Here are some of the things I was told, which most often proved true:
1) First off, every rule has an exception (so listen listen listen, but you'll ultimately have to make up your own mind about what you're writing and how you've written it).
2) In action scenes, shorten your sentences--sometimes choppily. It keeps the tension high better than long sentences.
3) Beware of exclamation marks---use only sparingly.
4) Likewise, beware of over-using underlining.
5) If possible, find the one right word, instead of using many many descriptive words.
6) Last, and most famously: SHOW, don't tell. (A picture is worth a thousand words.)

These are things that have helped me. And sometimes concepts that seemed vague, became much more clear with practice.


Rhoda Sun Sep 28 19:28:10 PDT 1997


TO BE or not TO BE
That IS the question.

Forgive me, Bob, I could not resist. You gave good advice and I do agree with you.

Susan Sun Sep 28 19:21:29 PDT 1997

I'm not published, but I will pass along some advice given me by my old college chum Steven, who is himself published and well on his way to becoming a professional writer. Steven told me that to survive in this business, particularly after continous rejections, you have to think that you are the greatest writer in the world. That sounds egotistical, but I really don't think it is. My friend Steven is really not egotistical (a little theatrical, slightly strange, and extremely flighty, but not egotistical, and he's someone I respect). I guess the gist is that you have to believe in yourself, something I admit I have trouble doing.

Michael I agree with what you said about metaphors. They slow down the pace of a story anyway. I admit however that I have the opposite problem. I tend not to include enough description, partly because I'm inpatient and just want to get on with the story.

Hi Jo! It's Susan from SpecFic. Nice to see you, so to speak. Well, I've said enough for now.

Michael Parish Sun Sep 28 18:48:54 PDT 1997

I've tried to post messages before and they didn't stay for some reason. I'm here to try it again. Nothing particular as far as advice comes to mind, but one thing from Richard Cohen goes something like "A lot of beginning writers too often try to see something as something else rather than what it is. 'A lake is an eye of God.' No, a lake is a lake is a lake." I think overuse of metaphors is a sure sign of an amateur writer. But everybody can work on something like that, whether experienced or not.

Sorry, not much as far as intelligent advice. I promise to have something more substantial to pose to the group next tiime. I'm just hoping that this message sticks around this time instead of disappearing like all my other ones. Here goes...

Bob Hanford Sun Sep 28 16:21:02 PDT 1997

Brit and Rosemary: You both are absolutely correct but we are giving advice for beginners. The tendency is to write flowery and/or abstract, to fall in love with adjectives and compose overly-long metaphors. I'm simply saying they should tell a story.
Brit: You are right but I don't know that a beginner has the sophistication to know the difference.
I have no problem being wrong, by the way.

Rosemary Sun Sep 28 16:09:47 PDT 1997

Shouldn't that be--Show a story?

Britomart Sun Sep 28 15:48:05 PDT 1997

That was me, by the way.

Sun Sep 28 15:47:30 PDT 1997

I agree with Bob, but I also think the "I was" construction can work well in first person. It gives a different sense to the tale - for example "I screamed in horror" versus "I was screaming in horror" - the second gives that kind of strange detachment that somebody might feel about their tale when telling it at a distance. Also, it's always good for interruptive scenes: ie. "She was writing a love letter to Bill when her husband burst in".

I think the whole "active sentence" thing might be a little overrated. Sure, it's a very good general rule, but there are times and places for passive sentences - they carry their own meanings. When her husband bursts in covered in blood and says: "your mother has been stabbed" rather than "I stabbed your mother".... well, it tells us something about him doesn't it? I suppose it only works when in dialogue, or when the narrator is a character.


Bob Hanford Sun Sep 28 10:50:21 PDT 1997

One of the best pieces of advice came from Robert Frost who reminded us writers that we are born with only ten adjectives to last us our entire life.
Killer 'be's' should be shot. Any and all forms of the verb to be, e.g., I was standing on the street, waiting versus I stood on the street, waiting.
Active beats passive every single time.
Perhaps the hardest over the years for me: Be prepared to dump that absolutely beautiful, wonderful, perfect sentence because it sticks out too much and stops the reader.
Tell a story.

jaye Sat Sep 27 23:43:26 PDT 1997

G'Day All :I'm new to this site as well but l have left some of my work on the writers workbook .Iwas hoping some of you would read it and tell what you think it is called"A Moment In Life" Ihope to hear from you all soon bye Jaye

Jo Sat Sep 27 20:46:17 PDT 1997

I think I left my hello message on the wrong page. Sorry.
I think I left it in the Writer's workbook, but maybe you will see it anyway.

Jo Sat Sep 27 20:42:00 PDT 1997

I just caught your site. I've been on the Net for only one
month and am pretty new at this, but I am a writer and see
that your group is serious about writing.

I'm afraid that I'm suffering from information overload, so I will go home and return when my brain cools down to an
acceptable temperature. (Is that spelled right? I can't
spell a wrod--wdor--word without my spellchecker.)

Britomart Sat Sep 27 18:39:59 PDT 1997

Even though I'm published, I'd hate to think of myself as an "expert" of any kind because I'm still pretty young. However, I have two pieces of advice that are incontrovertible:
1. Read a lot and widely - you're only doing half your job as a writer if you don't read. If you don't enjoy reading, what are you doing in this business?!? From reading widely you get an in-built sense of what sounds good or bad, what works and what doesn't. You can literally save hours in your writing and editing time if you are an avid reader.
2. Get an agent - as long as she's worthy and you trust her, an agent is your best friend. She handles all the messy stuff, speaks up for you when you wouldn't, shuts up when you wouldn't, in short, she takes care of the business and you can go on being a tortured genius. Great!


Jack Beslanwitch Sat Sep 27 14:11:50 PDT 1997

Well, folks, here is that tabula rasa I mentioned. It should load much more quickly now that it is not 130k in size. OK, here is my proposal for a topic for this coming week. As always, do whatever else you would like to.

What are the advice that more experienced people who have been on the writing life for those who are just starting. I indicated published above in the topic box, but I would like to expand that to any and all who have been about these enterprise of satisfying their muse. What are the best tips and tricks you know. Also, as indicated, we might be able to turn all of those ideas into an Advice for New Writers page here on For Writers Only. Just a thought. Take care and look forward to amicable and interesting discussion generating from this - (Crossed fingers and toes ;-)

Jack Beslanwitch

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