Archived Writer's Notebook Messages

from April 17, 1998 to April 29, 1998


Gary S gsouza@capeonramp. Wed Apr 29 20:16:47 PDT 1998


The market is free to meet my standards whenever it chooses.
I can't say that would be a happy event in the writing world.

I don't submit any longer because I am not writing novels
and the one that I do have just isn't good enough to have a chance. It needs a lot of work that I just don't have the feeling for at the moment.

I am working on a small story for a specific publisher and I am at the point where I have it nearly in the can, and just have to get the last 2k wds. on the page. I know what I'm going to do; I just need to get around to it. If the publisher disappears in the meantime, I won't cry. Speaking of which, There was a news item a while back about a publisher who shut down the house, and had over a hundred novels under contract at the time.

Think about how that news must have been met by the writers under contract. What are the legal implications of those contracts? The article didn't say.

See you all,


Carol Megrail Wed Apr 29 18:18:42 PDT 1998

Jen, I was so horrified at what had been done to you, I didn't know quite what to say. Am glad to hear that at least she gave you some reason for her reaction to the second book. Remember, she's just one person, and if YOU liked it, odds are some other people will, too. About the first one. I'd be tempted to send her a note asking if she'd still like to see it, reminding her of her initial comments and effort They see so many -- I wonder if she's forgotten.

Gary, was truly sorry to hear you're no longer submitting. No, you don't need to meet the "market" standards -- but since it's ever-changing, perhaps give the market a chance to meet yours?

Goodweed. Did you send your query/synopsis out yet? I'll be interested to hear.

Jack Beslanwitch Wed Apr 29 16:41:23 PDT 1998


Kubota Gardens is this absolutely extraordinary 20 acre Japanese Garden complete with waterfalls and hidden trails and painted curved bridges. The critical part here is that it is wild Japanese Garden that was developed as a showcase for the individuals Nursery business. He was one of those who retained his property after he got back from internment in World War II. Anyway, his kids were going to break it up into a development and the community came unglued. They even had it designated as a State historical garden. Only one in existence as far as I know. Anyway, what this means is that the garden has to be maintained as it was. So, you can walk up into the hills and walk across the waterfall on the stepping stones even though you could easily fall and get wet. There are other narrow two foot wide bridges that curve over still pools. Many of the plantings are the original plantings from fifty to seventy years ago as Fujitaro Kubota and his family went about turning basically swamp land into this truly amazing experience. The real novelty is that it is largely an undiscovered treasure and not terribly over run with people. At least, up to now. Only point is that it is maintained in its original pristine condition. There are no bathrooms and parking is minimal. Oh, and it is a block away from our house.

Wed Apr 29 00:50:42 PDT 1998

Kitty: Yes I did get some help, thanks for asking. The information I need is on a particular person, Francis Hepburn Stewart, 5th Earl of Bothwell. He was Scottish noble in the 1580's and 90's. I have some titles that would help on information on him, I'm just unable to get them here. But I will be back in the states in July and I'll just get them then. Philip found me some great stuff on-line about him that will enable me to finish the first draft. So everyone had been very helpful and I appreciate it. Thanks!

Wed Apr 29 00:50:27 PDT 1998

Kitty: Yes I did get some help, thanks for asking. The information I need is on a particular person, Francis Hepburn Stewart, 5th Earl of Bothwell. He was Scottish noble in the 1580's and 90's. I have some titles that would help on information on him, I'm just unable to get them here. But I will be back in the states in July and I'll just get them then. Philip found me some great stuff on-line about him that will enable me to finish the first draft. So everyone had been very heplful and I appreciate it. Thanks!

Hayden Tue Apr 28 23:19:48 PDT 1998


My old dad--bless his cotton socks--used to tell me that there were three rules to life:
The first was to offer up your best profile rather than be guarded about the way you were;
the second was to duck and weave, which prevented any blow being struck to the chin;
and the third was never to let up; just to dance and jab and hook until it was all over.
Now, my old dad--bless his cotton socks--never struck a blow and never won a bout in all the time he was out there in the ring and he ended up a really handsome man.
...mainly because he was the referee!


Kitty Tue Apr 28 22:50:48 PDT 1998

Jen, Did you get any help with your research question? Your post regarding your difficulties finding research material caught my attention because my dad was in the Air Force and I spent the first four years of my life in Ankara. If I recall correctly Bob Hanford was also in the military and in Turkey at one point or the other. Anyway, it wasn't clear what kind of research you are doing. Which century? What subject? What esoteric detail are you trying to confirm? If you want, let us know. Maybe we can help.

Hayden, I don't know a great deal about boxing, but if you "lift your chin, and keep ducking and weaving" aren't you opening yourself up to a nasty whallop across the jaw? Aren't you supposed to tuck that chin in and be a Raging Bull? Whether you choose to lift or tuck, I compliment you on your generous spirited posts.

Jack what is a Kaboda garden?

Prolific writing all.

Goodweed of the North Tue Apr 28 22:17:03 PDT 1998

Does anyone out there remember Kay Brown? She and I keep in touch by e-mail. Kay sent me the following joke today and I just have to share it with you. It is a bit ironic, a bit melancholy, and yet, it tickled my funnybone with its sense of skewed reality. Hope you like it. Enjoy.

"A writer dies and due to a bureaucratic snafu in the the afterworld, she is allowed to choose her own fate: heaven or hell for all eternity. Being a very shrewd dead person, she asks St. Peter for a tour of both. The first stop is hell where she sees rows and rows of writers sitting chained
to desks in a room as hot as a thousand suns. Fire licks the writer's fingers as they try to work, demons whip their backs with chains. Your general hell scene.
"Wow, this sucks" quoth the writer, "let's see some heaven."

In a moment, they were whisked to heaven and the writer saw rows and rows of writers chained to desks in a room as hot as a thousand suns. Fire licks the writer's fingers as they try to work, demons whip their backs with chains. It looks and smells even worse than hell.

"What gives, Pete?" the writer asked, "this is worse than hell!"

"Yes," St. Peter replied, "but here your work gets published."

Goodnight all, and power to your pens.

Seeeeeya; Goodweed of the North

Jen Tue Apr 28 21:35:44 PDT 1998

Philip: Yes, Manuscript=book Sorry for any confusion. I HAVE NOT been published. I've written two books in a series I started that should be a total of four when I'm done, though I've put off writing the last two for a while. After she read the first book (manuscript), she asked to read the second book in the series which I had completed. She did not like the second one. Although I don't know for sure, it seems as though she disliked the second one so much she lost her enthusiasm for the first. Anyway--I'm drawing a blank on it since I like the SECOND one better than the first!!!!!

Philip Tue Apr 28 20:55:47 PDT 1998


Hayden: thank you for the praise/flattery - your own last posting wasn't too shabby either mate.

Jen: there is no accounting for the behaviour of agents. I often wonder if some of them try to sell our manuscripts and offer to sign us up only if they get a quick bite from a publisher. When you say you sent an agent your second book do you mean your previous manuscript or a copy of your previously published book? Does manuscript = book in your terms?

Jack: I will certainly try to surf in to your party on the 9th of May around 3:00 p.m. your time. Sounds like fun, wish I could be there in person!


Jen Mon Apr 27 22:32:37 PDT 1998

Thanks for the encouragement. You know, the strangest thing about the whole situation was how enthusiastic about my first book she was. Since I like my second book better, I kept thinking, 'well, if she likes the first one, she's going to love the second one!' Was I ever wrong! Even as helpful as she was (compared to all the other rejections I've received) I still feel like I'm peering through a fog, guessing at what was wrong with the book. But, I'm still going. I've been writing all morning in fact!

Jen Mon Apr 27 22:25:20 PDT 1998

Thank you for your encouraging response and I have not given up, I've got my chin up and pressing ahead!(-: I'm still working hard on my third book. I've got my query letters already printed out with their SASE's waiting for the post office to open so I can buy more stamps and send them on their way. I understandably feel like someone kicked me in the stomach, but I'm also grateful for the experience. The agent was very kind and encouraging. She gave me wonderful suggestions for revision on my first book, as well as telling me what she did and didn't like about it, and told me just what it was she didn't like about the second one. So I think I came out of the situation with some valuable advice. Thanks for your thoughtful response.

Rhoda Mon Apr 27 22:24:07 PDT 1998

I did not mean to imply in my last post that modern writers should write to please the lowest common denominator. I had some e-mail indicating that my post read that way, and reading back on it, I can see how someone could get that impression. I only meant to say that many in the publishing industry would have us write to please the lowest common denominator.

I would rather never get published than write some of the books that find their way to the shelves. As bleak a picture as I painted, I still believe that good writing does get published in today's market. There will always be a place for good literature. The short-sightedness of big publishing houses will hurt them in the end. Talented writers will find an avenue to express and present their work, and discriminating readers will pay to see it.

I do believe that a perspective writer must be aware of the marketplace and those who control it. That doesn't mean that the writer should do anything to get published, but it might mean that some compromise might be in order. For most of us, including myself, there are issues that are non-negotiable.


I know where you are coming from. A similar thing happened to me last year, though not as bad. I didn't get nearly as far in the process as you did. My best friend sent a manuscript to Harlequin after placing second in a contest judged by the Harlequin editor. The editor couldn't say enough glowing things about the entry on the contest critique, and she begged my friend to send her the whole manuscript. After waiting about eight months for the editor to respond, my friend got her manuscript back with a letter telling her how bad it was and how unsuitable it was for the Harliquin line. After that experience of having her hopes dashed, my friend vowed she would write no more. A year later, she is writing and doing quite well. All I can say is to keep on going. In the next few weeks or months, the sting of the experience will soften as you involve yourself in your writing.

Persistance is everything. Your writing was obviously good enough to get the agent's attention in the first place, so I wouldn't be surprised if another, better agent shows interest in it.

Happy writing, everyone,


Hayden Mon Apr 27 20:07:49 PDT 1998

Hi Jen
Sorry to hear that this has happened to you, but unfortunately it is not the first time I have heard of it happening, and it had the same effect: the writer went into a tail spin and it really messed them up for quite a while.

How can I help? Well, aside from giving my tacit support for your writing (no matter what it is or how it is written), and aside from my commiserations at the tumble of events, I have to fall back on advice and the old lines of lift your chin, and start again.

Yet there is more.

What do we really try to achieve when we write? I mean, sure we want to make a little money and possibly put a few words together that might have some meaning in the great scheme of things, but aside from all of that there is something else. Maybe we want something that is hard to express, but I believe what we seek is the creation of esteem. We want to be seen as professional writers, don't we? Not just writers, but professional writers. Not only will our writing have some strength, but also our way of dealing with those around us and with the publishing world. We want to play by the rules, and give ourselves the right breaks so that we can go on doing the thing we love so much: writing for a living.

And we hit these sorts of snags. We play by the rules, and we get rejected. We do what is asked of us, and then our hopes are dashed to pieces, maybe not at the first hurdle, but later in the race. The first reaction is that it was something we did, that we didn't play the game the way it was supposed to be played, or that the field somehow tipped the wrong way because of what we did.

But self-flaggelation will not purge these events from us, because they are not within us. Events like these are beyond our control. It is called Life. And sometimes it feels like it will be the death of us.

Yet it is not what happens beyond us that counts in the end. It is not how we play. It is what we are that matters. In the end we learn that it is not enough to wear the Emperor's new clothes, nor that we must walk like the Emperor, or talk like the Emperor. We have to become the Emperor with our hearts and our minds and our will, because, no matter what the Emperor wears or how they walk or talk, underneath it all is THE EMPEROR.

As a professional you lift your chin, and keep ducking and weaving, and as we have said many times before in this Notebook, we go out looking for somewhere to park the Porsche.

Michele "Listener" Fry Mon Apr 27 09:53:10 PDT 1998

I am posting this for Michele:

Dear Jack:
although connected to the Internet at home I'm using a very slow machine and could not persuade it to load the whole of the Writers Notebook so I couldn't leave any messages. Can you please post a message from me to the effect that my email address has changed ?It's - just so that folks can mail me (I have
no problems with the email side of things !!

Jen Holling Mon Apr 27 04:21:34 PDT 1998

I need some advice. I queried 30 agents about my first book and had one who showed a great deal of interest. She asked for sample chapters, then asked for the whole manuscript, after she read the manuscript she wrote me and made some revision suggestions, then asked to either read my second book or the first one again once I finished the revision. Since I had finished the second one, I sent it to her. Well, today she flat rejected me--apparently the second really turned her off, because she did not request to see the revision of the first one which I've completed. So my question is, what would be the best thing to do, query the editors directly, or write a new, different query letter and requery agents? I'm trying to pull myself together right now and keep going, not let this get me down. But it's hard.

Jack Beslanwitch Sun Apr 26 22:28:59 PDT 1998

    I just wanted to expand my earlier invitation in a peculariar kind of way. I am not encouraging anyone to hop a plane and attend the social. However, what I am encouraging all those out of the immediate environs is to jump into the Notebook starting around 3:00 PM Pacific Daylight Time or before on May 9th. I will have my laptop set up upstairs where all the party participants will be with the screen set to the Notebook. Prior to the social our writers group will be showing up here at 1:00 PM and doing their thing. I thought closer in when they tie up things, I might encourage them to make some comments on the Notebook and maybe those from other knecks of the planet can drop your comments off as well.

    I am not sure what time late afternoon is in eastern Australia, but hope some of you can drop in at some point in the afternoon. Ben, if you are able it would be cool if you could drop a comment off on the Notebook if not show up in person. I definitely plan to head up to Vancouver way sometime this summer, if for no other reason to pick up three or four cases of Okenogan cider. Take care everyone.


GAry S Sun Apr 26 08:38:25 PDT 1998


Your reply to Boyd's question was a very thoughtful one.
I had the feeling someone would add more helpfull advice
on the question.

My personal experience at submitting to 'agents' was mostly remitting my 'rejections' to a professional submitting service. I would open them, look for the form letter, and in some cases an actual written reply containing evidence that the agent actually read the chapters, and then send them on. The responses were widely varied and some were encouraging, so in fact one doesn't really need to fashion a custom built, one size fits all, emotional defense as I somewhat flippantly recommended. That suggestion was based on my interpretation that Boyd was feeling a bit beaten upon and with that understanding, I adressed his question on that basis.

You are quite right to point out that one can look upon a refusal to represent or to publish (since an agent is really an added step in the representation process) as a pass on an option. Rejection is in the eye of the beholder at least as often as beauty is for the submitting writer.

A further helpful suggestion is a book by Richard Curtis titled "How to be your own Literary Agent." There is tremendously more resource, and "inside the circle" perspective in this book than the title suggests. The writer has authored upward of forty books and operates one the largest Literary Agencies in the U.S.

My earlier advice should have carried the caveat that I no longer seek publication, personally, only for the reason that I find no fun in trying to meet market demands. I don't imply that writing for the market is wrong in any way. I simply find that it suits my purpose to write whatever I take a notion to write, and put the question of publication entirely aside. The fact that this works for me has no bearing on another's needs.

Best wishes to all,


Carol Megrail Sun Apr 26 03:54:09 PDT 1998

Boyd, I think the very word "rejection" (who coined that, anyway -- a sadistic publisher?) plays on our psyches and makes us doubt ourselves. If you can talk yourself into seeing it as one "pass on an option," it's a little easier to build that wall previously mentioned.

Besides the difficulty of breaking into a business increasingly run by accountants, you're also dealing with people's market "guesses" (much like your company plans for new products or improvements)which may or may not be accurate. And then, there are editors' or agents' personal preferences or bias. They're human and do have them! That's another way to avoid those doubts, not interpreting one individual's opinion, or even that of a few, as an end all, be all judgement.

In any event, the market will and does change.

This is where your persistence as a sales person should hold you in good stead. Someone who can't use your story or book today, may jump at it in a few months or years. Many authors find their first or second book orphaned, only to find them a home when a later book is accepted.

Once you've learned all you can about your craft, belief in yourself, belief in your work, and persistence, persistence, persistence are the key values you must use to unlock that darn, sticking door. We all have those moments when we think, "Am I just fooling myself?" -- and the answer to that is "keep writing."

Toby Buckell Sat Apr 25 11:38:47 PDT 1998

Hello all:

I've been absent for a while, I took the week off to learn how to touch type. It's a frustrating sort of trial. Right before that I had a stellar week where I wrote five short stories. Which is when I decided it would be a good idea to learn how to type properly.

It's good to see everyone.

Take care, write lots-

Rhoda Sat Apr 25 10:31:48 PDT 1998


I struggle with the same question myself. I can only say that when you buy books, take them home and read them, you can see by all the horrible ones that bad books get published.

Who gets published and who doesn't depends upon the whims and fancies of a small number of editors from major publishing houses (this applies espacially in fiction). By and large, most of these editors do their jobs well and are able to spot talent when they see it. They are, unfortunately, hemmed in by their predjudices and by what they perceive as current market trends.

Sadly editors seem to see the audiences as being more lazy and less interested in reading. The general perception is that books now have to compete with television, nintendo, and the more immediate and visual mediams. People would rather be doing anything other than reading books. As a published author, this is what you must respond to--the laziest, most ignorant, shallow, and hedonistic members of your readership. If you can't please this bottom common denominator, you are going to have difficulty getting published.

Any editor and agent you would talk to at a writer's conference would agree that the great classic books such as JANE EYRE, GONE WITH THE WIND, or WAR AND PEACE would never be published in today's environment. Even books popular ten and twenty years ago would not be acceptable. There are all these rules you must follow now, such as you must have dialogue on every single page. In romance hero and heroine must meet within page ten. Hero and heroine cannot be apart more than ten pages, etc. Also avoid long narrative--people merely skim over it, because no one ever sits down and reads every word of a book anymore.

I ask you, Boyd, in light of that, can you really say that because you are constantly rejected that your writing isn't any good? Of course, people do get rejected because their writing does need improvement, and in nine cases out of ten, the rejected writer has more to learn. Most people have to write at least five books before they finally get one in print.

I don't mean to imply that there isn't good literature in the market. There is. But I also talk to authors and on occasion agents at conferences, and publishing is a rough, cut-throat business now. Budgets are tight and many publishers are cutting back.

Believe in yourself, Boyd, and try to be the best writer you can be. As stupid as some of the common "wisdom" is, you must conform to it. Go to writer's conferences and learn as much about the market as you can. Writing is every bit as much business as it is art. You can be the best writer since Tolstoy, but if you are not knowledgable of the current market, you will have a very difficult time getting sold. It takes more than talent to see your books in print.


Sat Apr 25 08:38:43 PDT 1998

To Boyd,

Welcome. Your question about handling rejection/s is one of the top ten FAQ's of the writer's dilemma. If one wants to get published, a good way is to seek consensus first among colleages to establish that one's work is 'publishable.' There are dangers for the ego in this process as well but it is better, IMHO, to endure a quicker , less painful process, than the prolonged investment of time and resources into a product that has the slimmest of hope.

If you are convinced -- status quo-- that your work is marketable then my next best suggestion is schizophrenia. It isn't as hard as it sounds. Simply develop an emotional wall that will withstand repeated assault of the greatest magnitude, and you're all set.

Hey guys,

RE: the previous discussion of a publisher who extended an offer of free critiques. Has anyone recieved one of these free critiques, and will you share your experience and conclusions?

May the muse treat you kindly.


Gary S Sat Apr 25 00:48:10 PDT 1998


Thank you, mate, for such boisteruos congrats. I guess the real big deal is simply that someone whose work you admire likes the story you did.


That was really good. I liked the way you refer to riding on someone elses vanity. You put real thought into a somewhat off the cuff question.

I hope a lot of you go to Jack's party. If Hayden takes the helium challenge I want to hear all about it.

Hayden again,

Don't get reckless, dude. Whatever the salesman said, a Portia has no amphibious capability.



Boyd Sat Apr 25 00:13:15 PDT 1998

Hello everyone! Boyd here from France. I read this site all the time so I hope you don't mind if I pose an irrelevant question.

« How do you stay positive and believe in your manuscripts with all the rejection? »
( I know, it is probably very funny)
I work in sales and therefore have to cope with big sloppy buckets of the stuff, but at least the products have been sold before so I know they are good.
With a novel that hasn't been published and therefore never sold it seems very different. I believe in my work but the continual rejection sparks a flicker of doubt in the back of my mind.
Perhaps it's garbage and the agents and publishers are too nice to tell me! Having never seen someone else's query letter I could be miles off the mark. Anyhow, sorry to burden you with this, I hope you get a giggle out of my obviously debutante reaction, I feel better already just for having a moan!
Thank you all and any comments etc are bienvenue.
Regards Boyd :)

Lydia Sweet Fri Apr 24 13:44:13 PDT 1998

Just wanted to thank those who responded to my plea for critique. I did listen, not sure if I heard everything you might have said, but I did do a rewrite and have posted it to the WorkBook. I think you'll find less grammatical and spelling errors as I finally figured out how to post directly from my WordPerfect.

Davidson Corry Thu Apr 23 13:51:11 PDT 1998

Hayden> You just have to bribe the reader with good stories, great images, and honest writing.

Gary S> How does one get to bribe the reader without first bribing the publisher?

Well, consider the editor as your first reader. Hook him (or her) and then it's HIS problem! Thing is, ALL publishing is vanity publishing at some level. The trick is to get a ride on someone else's vanity.

(I have to believe this, as I can't afford to bribe publishers, not even - or maybe especially - self-publishers... :-)

Jack Beslanwitch Thu Apr 23 11:02:02 PDT 1998

Hi Everyone:

I just wanted to post an invitation to any on the Notebook that live in the immediate environs of Seattle. Others farther out can come as well, but I suspect we can handle that digitally. I will be having a Northwest Science Fiction Society Social may ninth. If you would like to come and enjoy check out my party page It is a pot luck and hope a few who drop in here can drop in on the social. Oh, I suppose if you are coming you might want to drop me an email so we can guestimate how crowded its going to get. However, take care.

Lydia Sweet Thu Apr 23 08:02:53 PDT 1998

This is to all in the Notebook.

I am truly enjoying this site and the interplay I see here. I get to work each morning and quickly pull up the site to see what each of you have had to say.

Not all of the comments are personally relative, however to see how you responsd to the request for assistance and the joking you poke at one another is a joy. I have not found another site on the net where there is so little snobbery. (There may be others, but my journey through the net is relatively young). I personally like Hayden's Penny Porsche!

I will ask that any of you who has an interest in historical romance, please give me a critique on my posting in the Workbook. As much as I said I'm afraid of it I NEED constructive criticism.

I'll leave any further comments on poetry to those who understand and truly relish it. (Bon Apetite')


Harry Thu Apr 23 02:53:45 PDT 1998

I once asked an editor if she bought books (to publish) that she didn't like personally, and she said "Of course!" Editors buy books not (only) to suit their personal tastes, but to sell them to the general public.

Jen, if you're going to be back in the states soon, why not write of list of your research questions and set it aside for later. Finish the first draft and worry about research when you are able to do something about it.

Gary S Thu Apr 23 01:58:30 PDT 1998


You're the best there is. I will send you the URL or I will have my stepson (who delivered this computer by mistake) help me post it on the page.

See you at the railway station, "C'est La Guerre."

To everyone. Nice posting.

To Philip. Thank you.


Michele Thu Apr 23 00:30:20 PDT 1998

Philip - no I haven't moved outta the job yet - April 24 is the last day. Hopefully I'll still be emailable though - I have a modem, a phone line, a PC - all I need to do is connect them together - oh and get the ISP subscription - still waiting on the snail mail for that !!

Jen - many commiserations - sorry no advice - can't bear to think of a place where I don't have access to a badgerable local library, a decent bookshop, and a tame 2nd-hand dealer !!

Catch you later guys and girls !!


Hayden Wed Apr 22 23:57:24 PDT 1998


Wow, what a brilliant posting your last was; and what a suggestion about editors being part of the "credits" of a book. That would derail a few trains. I'm certainly going to suggest it when the next contract is due.

I also enjoyed the way you wrote your posting, with such a lovely spiral form which brought us right back to the light and the tracks. No wonder you are an award winning author. Goddamn that was good!


Philip Wed Apr 22 21:48:57 PDT 1998


It is good to see the return of intelligent old timers Bob, Kitty and Charles to our group. I am pleased to see Gary has also returned. Welcome to newcomers David, Lydia, Gale, Mimi and Carol. And Michelle, have you moved yet? Michael hang in there, I look forward to your posts.

Further thoughts on poetry:

A few years back I came across an interesting article about a black leader from French East Africa who wanted to learn to read, he was advised to go to France. He returned some time later an avid reader (and writer) of French. He was so excited about the revelation that he set about establishing schools all over the place often speaking at the schools himself. His explanation of reading and writing to his people was that we set down marks and they produce sounds in our heads.

That is what prose and poetry does in my head. If it doesn't 'sound' right I change it until it does. Often when reading I hear symphonies and am warmed and inspired by the experience.

In my prose I also rely on a metre although not a repeating, or symmetrical metre, it will vary, applied in chosen sentences only. I also use alliterations and similar sounding words - as a poet might - even though I don't rhyme them, they bring life to the work. They make it 'sing'.

Goodweed makes a point in placing an emphasis on the work but how can we not feel strongly about what happens to it afterwards. Will it find a place on some publishers list? If not, why not? These are legitimate concerns all writers have. Publishers (and critics) believe they are taste makers, but you know they can be bribed with exactly the same currency suggested by our learned Hayden.

From that particular idea he has earned tuppence from my bank toward extras for his proverbial vehicle.

Editors (and others in publishing) should shoulder some of the blame/praise for a book and their names printed in the book (as credits are attached to films). The way it is presently they get none of the blame for a flop and skip merrily on their way leaving stunned authors stumbling along rigid tracks - established by them - at oncoming lights in tunnels.


Jen Holling Wed Apr 22 21:32:44 PDT 1998

Hi, I'm new to this forum and I have a research question for everyone. I write historicals and wrote my first two in the states. I'm living in Turkey right now and writing my third one, but am constantly becoming stuck because of the research. My husband is in the Air Force and the base library is pathetic. They have been unable to acquire any books I order through their interlibrary loan service. I had thought the internet would be helpful to me, but I'm finding it is only in the most general of ways. I have family in the states who have checked-out some books for me from the library which I have hurriedly read and mailed back, and I have also spent a small fortune on purchasing books. But so far I just cannot research to the same degree I could in the states and it's driving me crazy. Luckily, I will be returning to the states soon, but I'm obsessive about my wriitng and I simply cannot stop this book. I HAVE to finish at least the first draft and yet I am close to ripping my hair out from the research questions. Does anyone know of some resource I'm missing? I can't afford to buy any more books and I hate bothering my family in the states about checking more books out for me--because I rarely need just one or two, but many. Anyway--and suggestions? Or even commiseration?

Hayden Grayell Wed Apr 22 16:51:22 PDT 1998

GARY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
You did it!
I told you Divine Fire was top notch stuff
Send me the URL and I'll go look at her site.

Hayden Wed Apr 22 15:34:10 PDT 1998

Woops! That should be "'ve another conquest notched into your belt."

Hayden Wed Apr 22 15:32:01 PDT 1998

Well, seems like my Porsche is one of the flavours most likely to be towed away in the coming postings. Without it as a prop here in the postings, what is left to me? Quote smote...who cares. I won't "porsche" the joke anymore. Nyuk nyuk.

Re the light at the end of the tunnel: Reading 40 books on writing sure will give you a feel for train dodging, but ask yourself, "What am I doing standing on these rails that go in one direction when the landscape has 360 degrees of possibility." When I was last in France I was in a discussion with a few learned men about publishing. (Oh, yes, I have CONNECTIONS) They were quite eloquent in their summation of authors and editors and I was feeling wrong footed. So, in very poor French I defended my position with the flippant comment "That's life; that's war." The others stared at me for a moment and then burst out laughing, and almost rolled around the floor in a state of ecstacy. It wasn't until a little later that one of them explained that what I had said was not "That's life; that's war", but in fact "That's Life, that's the railway station."

Editors are like wine tasters. They know the palate and the nose of a good wine, and the stench and bitter bite of cordial. It's their job, their careers, their livelihood. Give them a drink, get them drunk, then show them the goodies, and wammo, you're another conquest notched into your belt. Works every time. Hehehehe

Here's to train stations, everyone!

Gary S Wed Apr 22 14:11:29 PDT 1998

Just a quick afterthought.

I think Hayden's light at the end of the tunnel and the train moving swiftly into one's face will both put a person in the same other world, so it doesn't seem to matter if one is watchful or not. On the other hand nothing fires up the adrenalin like a good "train dodge." Witness Rob Reiner's production of "Stand By Me."

Gary S Wed Apr 22 13:40:11 PDT 1998

To Michael Parish,

It wasn't me Michael, My short post was just a friendly back-play with Hayden, Many of you won't know, but Hayden and I have done a bit of that in the notebook. I have already told him privately that I love his "Bartlett" worthy quote.

Listen Guys, I just recieved an e-mail from Christine James,
Host and Editor of "World of Words" Christine's site is one of the best on the web (some of you may know of it) and she is my favorite writer/host in cyberspace. I will try to attach the email to the page -- feeble as I am at this stuff.

Sorry, way to feeble. The only reason I have a computer is because it got delivered to the house by mistake. Anyway, Christine told me that she loves "Divine Fire" and said all these great things about it and she is going to post it in her next issue, June, I think.

Do I float? Do I gloat? Do I beam? Wouldn't bullets bounce right off my chest? Actually I am quite aloof about the whole thing. Ho ho ho. I believe if someone offered her body in exchange for this news, she would have to make Sandra Bullock look like last weeks meat loaf. Not that I would ever... ah, well.

Say, did I detect a rancorous posting as I scrolled down the
page? Imagine anyone doing such a thing in this notebook.

The not *too* happy,

Gary S

Michael Parish Wed Apr 22 11:34:17 PDT 1998

Who is moaning and whining? I merely made the statement that a lot of editors don't seem to visit bookstores very much.

Maybe I came across wrong. I'm not talking doom and gloom here. By the way, the train thing was a JOKE, but I guess that came across the wrong way too.

I have yet to publish anything, but that's only because I haven't sent out my first novel yet. I haven't had the opportunity to create an "Editor Hate-List" (or "Editor Hit-List", depending on how mad I am). I have read close to 40 books on writing and I am well aware of all the pitfalls and trials involved. This doesn't mean I spend all my time complaining about it.

Sorry to disappoint you, Goodweed, but there was no "Woe is me" stuff involved in my last statement. However, I would like to suggest to anyone interested to check out the "Consider This" portion of the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" books. I'm talking about the original book (1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Helping editions). It talks about famous, bestselling, and award-winning books (Gone with the Wind for example) that were rejected dozens of times before some editor finally saw the light. This can be a boost to self-confidence if you get rejected a lot. Even the best of the best writers get rejected hundreds of times through the course of their careers.

Sorry I didn't have anything to add to the poetry discussion. I have written poems, one of which was critiqued by three different writing instructors. Of course, one loved it, one was ho-hum about it, and the last one didn't like it. Oh well...

Gale Wed Apr 22 10:06:55 PDT 1998

I can not leave this site without leaving you with one of my favorite quotes ---"You give up your dreams and you die." Anyone know where that came from?

I am new here, a Journalist gone Children's book writer, well the audience is similar.

Good spot here, I like your shares. And as for Porsches, it was good enough for my daughter to hit one with her Nash.

Goodweed of the North bflowers@northernway.north Wed Apr 22 08:30:32 PDT 1998

I like Porsches. I like fantasy. I like optimism. MHO.

The world is not fair. No one can dissagree with that. What an author considers a great part of his/her story may be cut by an editor. In a perfect world, the editor and author would sit together and make compromises. The author would be guided, but allowed the freedom to create the story.

I believe there are some who are allowed such freedom. It wasn't always so for them however. They paid their dues, I'm sure. When they finally got to be "top" money-makers for the publishers, they were given more power. Isn't it funny that virtualy every aspect of life quality comes down to money. Even if money isn't the goal (I am not a lover of money or material things, though I am fond of some simple items like a good fishing pole or some favorite archery tackle) it sure makes achieving those goals easier.

When we prove to the publishers on an individual basis that the reading public wants to be entertained by our work, they (the publishers) will bend over backwards to accomadate us. Until that happens though, we have to realise that there are barriers to overcome. That's life and it's not going to get any easier. As a psycholigist freind of mine says, the only way to change a bad situation is to do something about it. All the moaning and complaining won't get anyone closer to being published. Only action can do that. Write an exceptional story, market it properly, and tenaciously, and watch the contracts carefully. No one else will do it for you.

Let's stop whining and start writing. There's a lot of talent I see on the notebook. Let's build on each others strengths to overcome our weakneses.

Oh, lest this posting starts a ruckus, this is not an attack on any individual and is my way of looking at the world. I believe it's realistic and know it's honest. I also realise that it is just one opinion.
Seeeeya; Goodweed of the North

Michael Parish Wed Apr 22 07:35:33 PDT 1998

I think Gary (or whoever it was that started the conversation) has hit on an important point. Doesn't it seem odd that we have to work so hard to write what editors and publishers want, when they aren't the ones who go to the bookstore in search of a good read? I'm sure this is why so many bad books end up on the shelves. We have far too many full-of-themselves editors who assume that EVERYBODY likes what they like. Sometimes I wish there were a "Director's Cut" for authors, so we could see how the book was REALLY supposed to turn out. I know editors can be valuable, but far too often they make decisions based on personal bias. If you watch hard enough, you can see it start to happen to a whole group of authors under one publisher.

Of course, authors who wish to avoid this can always turn to vanity publishing (where the money comes out of one's own pocket), but this will rarely grant an author the exposure and proliferation of his books that a big (or even small-press) publisher will.

Yeah, it's a Catch-22 all right. Furthermore, Hayden should remember that the light at the end of the tunnel is often a train.

(and please, enough with the Porsche jokes!)

Gary S gsouza@capeonramp Wed Apr 22 06:12:58 PDT 1998

One question. How does one get to bribe the reader without first bribing the publisher? There seems to be a "catch 22"
here. Maybe a 23, whatever. I know. Picky, Picky, Picky.

Harry Wed Apr 22 03:50:51 PDT 1998

I think the best way to improve a person's vocabulary is to write with a thesaurus. I keep one close at hand.

It's valuable not because it teaches me words I didn't know before, but because it reminds me of words that I know quite well but rarely think about or use.

Another poetry comment: I've always been one to expunge the poetic from my writing. It all comes out in rewrites, and I thought it was the way to go. But yesterday on NPR I heard an author reading from his novel and his work was definitely poetic and very strong. Different strokes, I guess.

Carol Megrail Tue Apr 21 19:43:46 PDT 1998


"Talent has nothing to do with it. You just have to bribe the reader with good stories, great images, and honest writing."

I'd say your quote certainly should be sent to Bartlett's. Give that man a dollar!

Hayden Tue Apr 21 18:25:30 PDT 1998

welcome David to a world of mayhem and hard work.

a couple of rules to remember:

1. Talent has nothing to do with it. You just have to bribe the reader with good stories, great images, and honest writing.

that or you have to bribe the publisher

personally, I find bribing the reader is easier.

2. Never give up a dream until you enter the light at the end of the tunnel.

3. Send as many pennies of thought as you want to these pages. I collect them, and buy Porsches with them.

David E. Ham Tue Apr 21 17:43:39 PDT 1998

I am new to writing but am interested in developing a talent that may or may not be there. I say, there's only one way to find out if there is a talent and that is just to jump in, take the critisizm and start learning. So here I am, at the beginning of a trek that I hope will hold many rewarding hours. Sincerely,

Gary S gsouza@capeonramp Tue Apr 21 16:25:20 PDT 1998

To Lydia,

I believe your vocabulary is all it must be to meet your needs. Consider the wordiness of the following, a couple of lines by someone pondering the ending of life:

"When the years have turned to hours,
And the tears to roadside flowers."

This imagery and artful expression is an example of 'lump in the throat eloquence' which owes little to a poet's warehouse of words.

I don't know the proper form for writing the words, I did as best I could. I know this is from a well known poem that I heard once and I can't remember any more of it. I would love it if someone can name it, and the writer.

To others who want to know. TM Spell is alive and well (no pun on the current discussion of rhyme and meter is intended). She is elsewhere on the web and in good company.


Gary S

Mimi Tue Apr 21 15:35:30 PDT 1998

Favorite poets? Elizabeth Bishop, Thomas Merton, Raymond Carver, and an Elizabethan poet Chiddiock Tichburne (no, it's not a joke). He wrote one poem "On the Eve of My Execution". Poetry is sometimes writing without rules or boundaries. Beginnings, endings and logic are not always needed. Hmmm - and sometimes they are.

Davidson Corry Tue Apr 21 12:08:50 PDT 1998

I like poetry, but I'm not very good at it. I was going to say that I never used it in my writing, until I remembered that I had written a Christmas carol as a present for my wife the year before last. [I later sang it for another friend, a musician, who told me 'It must be poetry, 'cuz it sure ain't music!' I let him live.]

I have little taste for modern free verse, for much the same reason I dislike aleatoric music. You can get striking, even startling images. But much of it seems an excuse for abandoning even the few rules prose imposes.

A form which both scans and rhymes requires you to stretch your vocabulary for a word that has both the right meaning and sound, or that (as my Dad used to say) 'puts da acCENT on da right sylLABle'. It also pushes you to juggle the order in which you present images, which can lead you to new insights about the subject you're addressing.

And a short rhythm is an infallible cure for my personal bugaboo, the run-on sentence!

Speaking of vocabulary, Lydia: Bob's right, don't get carried away with profound, rotund words. (And this from a guy whose idea of a good time is a rainy afternoon, a fire, a quilt, and the OED open in his lap!) A good test: if you can use a word in conversation with friends without their eyes glazing over, you can probably write with it.

Learning another language also helps your vocabulary. I've found the smattering of French and Latin I retain from high school to be very useful in understanding how words' meaning began and evolved. Also, if words are boundary marks on a map of reality, other languages draw their boundaries in different places. This can let you see things in a whole new light.

For instance, I've never heard an English phrase that expresses the notion with the crisp punch of the French 'le mot juste'. The closest I've come is one of my favorite Sam Clemens quotes: "The difference between the right word and almost the right word is the difference between 'lightning' and 'lightning bug'."

Lydia Sweet Tue Apr 21 11:59:50 PDT 1998

In response to the comments about vocabulary:

Bob: I seem to have developed into early senility at age 44 and forgotten more words than is seemly at this stage in my life. I am a voracious (oops, one of those larger words) reader of what half of the "educated" world considers the trash of the literary field, "Romance", but I have wandered often into other genre' as well. I have enjoyed the "fantasy" world as well as murder, mystery, drama, suspense, comtemporary and a small sampling of SF. I believe my first taste of that genre' was a small novel called "T.S.D.P.S. (The Super Dooper Pooper Scooper), about a futuristic garbage freighter space ship. That was close to 25 years ago. Unusual and particularly moving books stick with me (this is where long term memory outshines short term, oh well). The POINT is, it is not large or cumbersome words I seek, but small, precise, eloquent words that will help me let you see, from paper, what I SEE in my mind.

Thanks for your encouragement.


Thanks for your concern, but I don't think there's much to worry about my quitting writing. I've lived with my imaginary worlds for most of my life and the people and stories continue to grow. I don't think I'll give up those friends, they have saved my life on too many occasions.


Contrary to what my query implies, I do indeed, when looking up words, find myself "reading" the dictionary. I start out looking for a specific word and once I've found it and am satisfied with my findings, my eyes start drifting and voila', I'm off wandering the page. Thanks.


I'm reading, I promise!

I appreciate all of the comments and apologize for changing the subject, poetry. To make up, I have written the following in tribute and hope you will all remember I haven't done this since high school.

Do not deny the darkness of night,
only by accepting its darkness
Will dawn take it completely away.

Lydia Sweet.

Bob Hanford Tue Apr 21 08:02:08 PDT 1998

Hello everyone. A special hello to Charles and Philip.
One of the problems of a downsized life is having to
put together a computer for a hundred bucks or so.
Think I have finally done so.
Rather than respond to the poetry issue, I'd like to
say a few words to Lydia re vocabulary. My antennae
go up when a writer talks about increasing vocab.
Though I agree with everyone that the best way is
by constant and widely diverse reading (something
any writer must do), I would expect that your vocab
is already sufficient. Most new writers have to unlearn
large, bulky, latinate words that slow down the text
and confuse the reader. Have you read Steinbeck?
Why not read him and write down how many words
he used that you don't know? Expect you will find only
a few. Perhaps what you really need is to fall in love
with words, to be awed by their power, to use them
carefully like a small inheritance. Having read at least
part of your posting on the Workbook, I tend to think
your vocab is just fine. We want to use robust Germanic
words anyway, simple words that are understood by
everyone, words that one finds on the street, not in
the library.
Hayden: Can't tell you how refreshing your wonderful sense of
humor is. Love it.

Michele Tue Apr 21 00:46:07 PDT 1998

To Lydia : I agree with the previous posting - the only way to improve your vocabulary is to read - read lots of different books in different genres on different topics - but also (if you can bear it - even in only small doses) read the dictionary . . . personally I LOVE words and learning new ones and I can waste hours of time wandering randomly through a dictionary looking up words . . . the other alternative is find a reasonably good Scrabble player and play Scrabble - I've learnt a lot of new words that way as well, and incidentally had great fun too !

Has anybody out there heard from TM Spell lately ?


Hayden Tue Apr 21 00:18:42 PDT 1998

Please excuse the almost disrespectful posting to the Writers Workbook, but I thought I'd post a poem which perfectly illustrates how humour relies on what you least expect, and how structured rhythm (such as that we expect from poetry) can be used to good effect...especially for children's writing. It is not a good punch line, but we so often treat all writing as serious that we forget the use of lightness of some work to say more than many sober words.

Yeah yeah, I know. Time to go. Where did I park that Porsche?


Gary S Mon Apr 20 23:10:03 PDT 1998

Mr. Samuel,

I rarely post here, but I am intrigued with the plot you suggested concerning the Holocaust survivor. Two things in recent history are irresistable to me. One is the Holocaust
and the other, the Philipine American War which is almost totally unrecognized in American history, but lasted for nearly four years. We good Americans mercilessly murdered thousands of Filipinos after Dewey took Manila. We then turned out the light and went home. In truth we stayed until we were belatedly booted out a few short years ago, only turning out the light in the history books.

Forgive my passionate outpouring. I would be delighted to hear more of this story if you are so inclined. I have a dear friend who is a survivor and I very much miss seeing her in recent times. She was a source of amazing tales.

Hello to old friends,

Gary S

Philip Mon Apr 20 23:08:54 PDT 1998

Hello Charles.

Hello Everyone.

Clyde: I agree - errors abound on the Net, especially in billboard postings and too often in my own work.

What is poetry?

The word must conjure up different things in each of our minds, surely we all bring differing poetry reading and writing influences to bear. I've often asked is it appropriate for poetry to be divided into different forms, genres or classifications, divided as fiction and non fiction; thrillers and romance; historical and political; religious and philosophical; and so on? As well I ask are our modern poets writing song lyrics?

To simply say I don't like poetry is such a sweeping statement. There will almost certainly be some poetry out there to inspire every one of us. How can we find it? I suppose we just have to seek and read, or go to poetry readings, or listen to our radios.

I have been attracted recently to Japanese Haiku and Waka poetry, and have attempted the forms myself (see new posting in the workbook). For those who aren't aware of Haiku poetry (or hokku as it was called in old Japan), it is the art of writing poetry consisting of seventeen syllables divided into three sections of five-seven-five. Waka poetry is a more ancient form and it consists of thirty-one syllables divided into five sections of five-seven-five-seven-seven. I recommend 'The narrow road to the deep north and other travel sketches' by Bashơ (Penguin Classics) as a place to begin reading these forms.

Aussie outback poets from last century enjoy romantic, folkloric, legend status down here. Two names to look for if you can find them overseas are Banjo Patterson and Henry Lawson. Banjo Patterson was said to have written Waltzing Matilda but this has been disputed recently - a country housewife is now credited with at least a verse or two of the original poem and all of the melody. Banjo also wrote 'The Man From Snowy River', an icon of the period, this lengthy poem was also adapted as a feature film and television dramatic series.

Some modern poetry (non rhyming poetry, lacking a metre) tends to bewilder some readers - I understand since the thirties this kind of work has not served poetry well. Most major publishers have dropped modern poetry from their lists (or reduced it drastically) because it is no longer commercially viable.

And then there is Shakespeare.


Goodweed of the North Mon Apr 20 19:06:08 PDT 1998

I love poetry of certain types and find myself in awe of the skill of men like Robert Frost, Carl Sandburgh, and women like Emily Dickenson. To be sure, my knowledge of petry is somewhat limited. I was first exposed to the art form while attending an American Literature class at Chapman College. I found verse with strong rythim and rhyme essential for me. I write poetry as well as read it. My favorite poems tend to be philosophical. I guess Robert Frost is my favorite poem. His "Birches" reminds me of an innocent part of my childhood and teaches me at the same time, that we as humans can do so much damage by not realizing the consequences of our actions. Even with that, we are nothing compared to the powerful forces which surround us, as the ice storm represents in the poem.

As far as how poetry can affect our writing skills, it sharpens our wits by forcing a style upon the writer, be it free verse, hyku (don't know the spelling of that one) or whatever. I give for example a poem of my own creation on the workbook. In it, I try to express the beauty in the simple, everyday world, if we will only open our eyes and ears, and senses. I hope you enjoy. What I liked about it was that it forced me to think, to create just the right phrases. It's a good exercise. Try it.

Seeeeeya; Goodweed of the North

Clyde Dixon Mon Apr 20 17:34:36 PDT 1998

Pound for pound, the collection of text known as the web must have the highest rate of errors since the invention of the written word. I, for one, use an e-mail program which lacks a built-in spell checker. Do I type in MS-Word, check, then copy and paste? . . . Rarely.

The same holds true when I work on my web site. I have seen many obvious typos and errors on the web--I imagine that most of us no longer read the openning to Jack's fine page here, any faults are equally ours.


Hayden Mon Apr 20 16:33:16 PDT 1998


No matter what, keep going. No one is ever as bad as other people judge them. Give up writing and you are just a frustrated writer.

Just think what alternatives there are. You could be a low-life scumbag who robs banks but who doesn't like guns and can't drive. You could be an astronaut who has vertigo. You could be a gardener who is allergic to compost...etc.

and if any of you others steal these ideas, then I demand acknowledgement. Or pennies for my new Porsche.


Charles Samuel Mon Apr 20 13:34:07 PDT 1998

As a medium, I feel poetry is farther from fiction than fiction is to non-fiction.

Words are the tools. Wisdom is the goal. Poetry attempts a direct transfusion via your heart. Great books get you there by lifting your emotions up through your intellect.

In each case we should leave the experience with greater insight into the human condition and empowered to make better life decisions.

On second thought, perhaps they're not so different. But I never really liked poetry. I guess I like leading with my head and following through with my heart.


Commuting between Jerusalem and Toronto each month has been a tiring but amazing experience. Thanks for asking Kitty. It makes me appreciate how resiliant human beings can be. (I'm talking even more about my wife and kids than me). I've met some incredible people and have been put in some extremely challenging professional situations. Lots of raw material for many novels. How about a real-live Holocaust survivor who escaped the death camps, joined the resistance and spent the rest of the war impersonating a Nazi officer complete with Mercedes Benz and driver!

In addition to becoming a Gold Card Frequent Flyer, one of the perqs of my job is that twenty five of us are going on an executive outback white-water-rafting spiritual adventure in the Grand Canyon this June. If Bob Hanford is out there in Notebook land, you and all you Canucks can appreciate how excited I am about the opportunity to get back. The only thing I've really missed of Canada since we moved to Jerusalem fifteen years ago is canoeing in Algonquin Park.

I'm itching to write. So many projects and so little time. On the bright side, I've found some time to read some genre fiction; A Robin Cook medical thriller, and Bones of Coral by James W. Hall (Hey Britomart, if I could handle that, yours should be a breeze... Nu?) So I'm one step away from getting back into a routine.

Jack: Thanks again for keeping this up.

Philip: Hi guy.

Hayden: I appreciate your humour. Nice to meet you.

Lydia: You want to improve your vocabulary? Three suggestions; READ, READ and READ.

Marion: Welcome!

Everyone: Thanks for joining in. Your enthusiasm helps keep me focused that I need to be writing when I'm not.

Shalom to all,


Lydia Sweet Mon Apr 20 07:01:14 PDT 1998

Hi, to all. I have been checking the board everyday for the past couple of weeks and although I have little to say, I'll try to comment from time to time just to let you know I'm still here and somewhat alive.

I checked the bios and still have not seen mine posted so I'll give you the short version here.

I'm 44 years old, work full time as a purchasing agent for a large university and have 2 daughters, 11 and 17 and one husband for the past 12 years anyway. I write romance and historical romance. I left a chapter on the workbook and pray someone will find the time to give me a critique.

As to the current topic of poetry. I was forced to read poetry in school and althought I recognize the beauty and meaning it gives to many it fails to inspire me. I have written a verse or two when fresh out of high school, thinking that is what young romantic writers should do. I have learned that I was not meant to write in that format. I also have learned in the past few month's that my vocabulary is so pitifull that I could never make it as a poet anyway and am seriously concerned about my destination as a writer of any kind. If you have any suggestions on how to improve vocabulary please sing out.

Have a good day, all.

Colius Mon Apr 20 03:38:42 PDT 1998

Oops! In reference to my previous post, the HTML file containing that poem is col.html, not colius.html. My apologies for the confusion. :)

Harry Mon Apr 20 03:11:55 PDT 1998

I don't write or read poetry, and it has little effect on my writing. Just not interested.

And let's not start criticizing each other's proofreading skills. This isn't a venue for rough drafts.

Michele Mon Apr 20 01:19:24 PDT 1998

Hey gang !

As a voracious reader of poetry (and infrequent writer of verse (and worse !)) I like this new topic. Of course most people will know who my favourite poet is - those that don't can refer to my web site (but just in case you can't get there - Siegfried Sassoon) . . . that said I also like Edward Thomas, T S Eliot, George Herbert, W H Auden, Walter de la Mare, Wilfred Owen and a great many others - I could go on, but I won't !

I love poetry because it speaks to me directly and indirectly, to the heart and mind and soul, I love its brevity and its length, I love the rhythms and the flow . . . I guess you get the idea !

My life is enriched by poetry and impoverished without it . . . to me a life without poetry is like a fish out of water . . .

(I hope "Curious" isn't checking my spelling, punctuation, etc. - my punctuation goes right out the window when I write direct to screen . . .)

I guess I'll shut up now and get out of here . . .


Sun Apr 19 22:20:46 PDT 1998

Hayden Sun Apr 19 21:23:23 PDT 1998

Who cares!

To worry about punctuation and structure in a forum such as this is to be like a rose fancier discussing flora with a botanist. Neither is wrong and neither is right. One is overdressed and the other underdressed.

Unless of course one is cross dressed and other is dis-dressed. hehehe

The trick is to relax and enjoy it all.

Philip mclaren@magna.comau Sun Apr 19 19:33:08 PDT 1998


I also mean no disrespect but your anonymous posting was full of grammatical errors and your own punctuation is extremely poor.

"Just curious about something."
- your opening line is not a sentence.

"Phrases like (please insert comma or colon) ' can find shared story to participate in,' and (please insert comma) '...the only requirements is..., not to mention the mis-spelling (should not be hyphenated) of the word 'critique' which is ironically amusing, if not an outright hoot."
- your sentence here does not conclude your opening concept premise and is surely worthy of a hoot or two.

"I have wondered if that is deliberate to make people comfortable about their own typos and such."
- I think errors found in the work of others may offer comfort to some of us, my own comfort was stretched to humour once I read your own very imperfect posting.

I guess you could have emailed Jack and expressed your concerns privately but I'm personally pleased you were driven to come (partially) out of the closet. Welcome to our world.


Colius Sun Apr 19 16:23:09 PDT 1998

Well, seems that I've got some catching up to do. I've written poetry only in rare instances of inspiration. Most of my creative energy is directed at my prose and artwork. For me, poetry has always been an emotional release rather than a creative endeavor. The only online poem (if you can call it that) i have is on my site:

Be forewarned, its a rather violent outpouring of emotion however :) Colius is actually one of a trio of characters in my present series. Each of these characters represents a facet of my personality. I'm uncertain as to why i chose his name as my online nick but i suppose it says something about myself. Anyone interested in having further literary discussions can find me on IRC on Newnet in my channel, #elsmere.

P.S. hehe btw Hayden, i like the sounds of your vehicle. I'm not sure if you live anywhere near Detroit, but if you do, I highly recommend that you listen to 102.7. Its owned by the notorious hunter/guitarist Ted Nugent and you would love his morning show. :) He actually devoted an entire show the other day to the proper way to skin an animal. It's not my cup of tea but i thought you might enjoy it. :)

Hayden Sun Apr 19 16:12:23 PDT 1998

Quick note/thought

Poetry lends the arts of rhythm, pace, eloquence and brevity to prose writing in the same way that air lends birds the means to fly. The birds might be constructed to fly, but the air makes it a certainty.

Jack, have you been peeking again? And can I have my flashlight back?

Jack Beslanwitch Sun Apr 19 13:44:57 PDT 1998

     I think I have been dropping off comments here way way too often. However, thought it time to suggest a new topic for discussion and throw this open to some other thoughts and ideas.

     As a suggested new course, let's explore what poetry has to add to the process of prose writing. Where does it help us in the learning the art and craft of writing? How is it best interjected into writing or is that somehow old fashioned? Who are your favorite poets? Oh, and do you really admit to writing poetry or do you do it behind closed doors, under the covers with a flashlight. Just kidding :-)

Marion Sun Apr 19 11:54:45 PDT 1998

Hello everybody.

I'm a newcomer here, although I have looked in on the site many times in the past weeks. I am Marion Kimball. Please, hold any jokes about the Fugitive's deceased wife. I've heard them all.

I think this is such a great site for writers. I don't think there's anything like it on the web, not that I've seen anyway. There are such great talented and congenial people who post here. Its been like taking a free writing course, and a better one than I remember paying for, but that has been a while.

I feel a bit...tentative (which in all honesty is a way to say timid or nervous. I'm a woman of a certain age who enjoys making up a small poem from time to time, but mostly I enjoy reading. I would like to add comments about the topic, (Genres) which I see nothing wrong with, but I will defer to my apprehension and keep watching the boards. If anyone cares to say hello, my email adress is above. That is if I have done this correctly. Crossing my fingers. I hope "Curious" isn't counting my commas.

Bye for now,


Jack Beslanwitch Sun Apr 19 02:11:39 PDT 1998

    Not sure who left the critique of the mission statement, but have to plead guilty of all of the above. I noted the mispelling, meant to get to them and only now got around to it. So I have done some minor surgery to the opening statement. I may attempt a bit more sometime tomorrow as I have more time to think about it. Given that the Workbook will become a private area and there will be a couple of other areas, I suspect the mission statement needs some overhaul as well. I will spell check it this time, however :-).


Sun Apr 19 00:32:07 PDT 1998

Just curious about something. I've lurked here for a while, and I have been so curious about the heading for this notebook. I mean no disrespect and I know the folks here regard the host very highly, and rightly so, but for a group of writers, doesn't it seem curious that the heading is so poorly written?

I have wondered if that is deliberate to make people comfortable about their own typos and such. Even so, the host, and many of you talk a great lot about critique and workshops, and so on. I think it is so funny that this heading has been up for so long and is so full of obvious faults. Phrases like ' can find shared story to participate in,' and '...the only requirements is..., not to mention the mis-spelling of the word 'critique' which is ironically amusing, if not an outright hoot. You could also conduct a comma hunt that would surpass any Easter egg search in existence.

I have guessed it might be a way of setting a 'hair down' atmosphere, but only the real answer would requite my curiosity. I would love to know if this a long standing and unmentioned joke, or a case of the Emperors new clothes.

As I said, no disrespect, really, but this is a writer's group, after all.

Sorry if there is any offence taken. I really don't mean it that way.


Colleen Sat Apr 18 23:55:49 PDT 1998

If you come up with a vehicle like that, please let me know. My current situation requires one.
You always make me smile. (Michele, with all that moving around you better save those pennies...)
Sorry, I can't comment on anything literary. (Well, I did get a very nice rejection from a big publishing co.-signed personally by a very kind editor. It really gave me hope. When they tell you that they would be happy to see anymore of your work-that's good right?) Also, had a bummer birthday. I am definitely 30 something.......
I love this site, thank you Jack.

Jack Beslanwitch Sat Apr 18 18:37:40 PDT 1998

    Also, I have archived back to the request for information about Norwescon. I just realized that this site had grown to over 145 k. And in doing so, of course, got things pointed at the wrong PERL script. Hopefully, with this message I will prove to myself that that is corrected.

    For those interested. I am under the gun with regard to some contracts, but I am looking at an alternate CGI/PERL script from the CGI/PERL Cookbook that allows me a great deal more flexibility in terms of password protected areas. As soon as I can tweak it, I have things ready to go for the Private Workbook. Thanks for everybody's forebearance and understanding as I tried to juggle a few hand grenades and bowling balls. It sometimes gets the better of me :-).


Jack Beslanwitch Sat Apr 18 17:36:05 PDT 1998


    Yes, I was at Norwescon. I was somewhat harassed in that my laptop decided to eat itself about a month ago and I still did not have it back in time for the convention. Given I was doing six hours of programming largely related to the internet, I was struggling with equipment and other features of software that would have been greatly improved by the inclusion of my laptop. All of this said, the convention was great. Given that Neil Gaiman was the guest of honor, there were a lot of goths around and on a panel with the editor of or I got an interesting exposure to a set of web zines in a genre that I have left only lightly touched on For Writers Only. Other than that, the parties were awesome, ranging from good Scotch at one party (which I did not partake of since I do not like Scotch), belly dancing at the Tricon bid party and another where they had lots of dancing and a strange purple concoction guaranteed to cross your eyes and dot your tees. I also was invited and got to go the Tor party where they had some excellent microbrew from brewery in the Tri Cities area here in Washington, lots of book covers, the lion share of the writing and editorial panelists and lots of good conversation. Although I did not participate, it is my understanding that the writing workshop went well. The Philip K. Dick award was announced at Norwescon and a small press release won - a book entitled Troika. I am meaning to read it and have a copy upstairs somewhere. Unfortunately, we just had the house textured and painted, subflooring pulled up in the bathroom and new lenoleum is pending for the repository of the porcelain altar. All this said, nothing is where it is supposed to be. The Philip K. Dick award is, BTW, for the best original science fiction printed in paper back.

    Oh, and the theme and guests for Norwescon 22 have been announced. I just have not gotten a chance to create that web page yet. Those details are as follows:

Nowescon 22 April 1-4, 1999
The Road Not Taken: Alternate Realities
Exploring alternate realities through
science fiction and fantasy.

GOH: Harry Turtledove
(Nebula Award winner and Hugo Nominee)
(for more info
AGOH: Richard Hescox
Science GOH: Jack Horner
(Celebrated Paleontologist)
Spotlighted Publisher: The Ministry of Whimsy Press
(publisher of 1997 Philip K. Dick Winner
"The Troika")

$5 off for members of the
Northwest Science Fiction Society

DoubleTree Hotel Seattle Airport
Rooms $92 flat rate for up to 4 people
$175 Family Suite
$280 Presidental Suite
$10 for 1 additional person
(800) 222-TREE

Norwescon 22
PO Box 68547
Seattle WA 98168-0547
Hotline: (206)270-7850

    I am not sure if this is of interest to people, but generally a fun time was had by all and I definitely look forward to meeting Harry Turtledove. Then again, next year is also when Aussiecon III will be taking place and Fran and I will be going to in Melbourne, Australia, and it will also be the year we will be attending Westercon 52 or Empire Con in Spokane, Washington. Among the other guests there will be K.K.Rush (formerly editor of Fantasy and Science Fiction), C.J.Cherryh and Ellen Datlow - formerly, I just discovered at Norwescon, of Omni. I was rather taken aback, although not surprised, to discover that Omni had closed its doors. Oh, Well, I have blathered on much much too long. Hope this fills in a few of cracks and crevices.


Hayden Grayell Sat Apr 18 17:25:54 PDT 1998

Quick comments today:

1. Genres only happen after the fact
2. I'm working on producing a four wheel drive Porsche with a gun rack on the back
3. YA to the YA audience is REAL fiction
4. Small furry or armour plated animals, and vegetables, are consumer items. That is why we need gun racks.

One of these statements has nothing to do with fiction. heheheh

Carol Megrail Sat Apr 18 11:45:19 PDT 1998

In general, don't people despise what they don't know or understand? The publishing world may actually be doing themselves a disservice by insisting on hard labels, despite customers'gravitation towards one genre over another. I include mainstream and literary designations, as they're often the most difficult to sell with the exception of those on the bestseller list. In a perfect world, everyone would go about developing their palates as my parents insisted I do at dinner -- by trying a little of everything.

Joan Sat Apr 18 11:03:12 PDT 1998

Bob---just a quick note before I nip out the door for the weekend.

I couldn't resist---given the sequence of comments in your last sentence: How about a story from the perspective of food, say a turnip? ("Say there salad, no dressing in public!" quoth the carrot.)



Goodweed of the North Sat Apr 18 04:23:55 PDT 1998

Hi everyone. The differances betwee genre's, hmmm, is this a trick question? As Joan stated, there are many similarities between storylines. We touched on that issue in a previous topic. I think it was "What are the most popular themes for fiction writing?", or semething like that.

Unfortunately, many are they who are narrow-minded individuals, who point their noses toward the clouds when genre's such as science fiction, fantasy, romance, or western are presented to them. I consider myself a pretty liberal reader and yet I too have fallen into that trap. I have yet to read a western, though I grew up watching them on tv and my wife has a very large collection by a famous and popular author. Are the books any good? Unless I read them, I'll never know.

We read what interests us. Most who read SF have an interest in science and/or technology. Fantasy usually has some mythology thrown in (though it is stretched mightily at times). Romance novels (romantic love) is read mostly by women (I could be wrong but that's my observation). My oldest son reads nothing but stories such as "White Fang, Call of the wild", anything with heroic animals. He is leaning toward vetrinarian school as a carreer.

The public is made up of so many types of people. Finding their collective pulse is difficult. If a writer can find a common thread which runs through everyone's interests, he/she can overcome much of the stereotyping associated with genre labels. Two great examples made into movies which nearly everyone has seen are "Titanic", basically a romance story, and "Jurrasic Park", which is pure science fiction. I know peple who swear that the latter is not science fiction because they don't "read or watch science fiction". A lot of popular movies are science fiction. We have the Star Wars trilogy, Total Recall, Robo-cop, Alien, The Deep, "Blade Runner, etc., etc.

What they all contain is the dramatic action of a hero/heroine faced with a new, unexplored, and impossibly powerful adversary, usually coupled with a corrupt human adversary as well. The problems are always human in nature. I have yet to see a story written from the viewpoint of an aardvark, though I have seen humanized animals who seem to reason after the fasion of people in movies such as "Bengi", Homeward Bound, and others like them.

It's sad that we limit ourselves because of labels. I wonder if that is a peculiarly human thing to do? I wonder if their is a blockbuster story somewher in that idea. Food for thought.

Seeeeeeeya; Goodweed of the North

Kitty Fri Apr 17 21:18:40 PDT 1998

Jack, I'm a little confused by the question. I thought YA was an audience designator more than a "genre." Within YA you can find mystery, romance, adventure, sci-fi, fantasy, etc... I love YA and whenever I'm in the bookstore I usually take a browse through the YA section. One thing I find interesting about some YA novels is how they cross audience. I seem to recall Joan Vinge's Catspaw being in the Ya section but the sequel could only be found in sci-fi. Or what about The Hobbit? My uncle introduced it to me when I was a preteen and he was finishing law school where it had a big university cult following (his girlfriend actually studied the elvin alphabet and claimed to be able to write in it!) And then there are all those "classics" like Dumas'Musketeer series or Orczy's Pimpernel stories that appeal to all ages.
As to what is appropriate subject matter, I'm not to sure where the lines are drawn either. Several years ago I read a YA that was about a teenager kicked out of the house and making it on her own. The subplot involved her unknowningly being infected with a particularly nasty STD that rendered her sterile by the close of the book. I read it in my late twenties and found it to be a bit of hard reality. This year's book fair at my children's school featured a book about anorexia and one about life on the streets for a homeless teenager. Both selections were well reviewed and recommended by the editors. Perhaps that's why I continue to browse the YA shelves--the unpredictibility of what I will find there.
One of my favorite YA novels is The Diamond in the Window by Jane Langton. The basic story is a mystery revolving around a missing aunt but interwoven throughout is transcendentalist philosophy (the story takes place in turn of the century New England).

Since there is a sci-fi connection here, I thought I would share this cool site I stumbled across at the NASA homepage. They are running a "Send Your Name to Mars" program for children from around the world. Their aim is to get one million children's names to send to Mars on the next robotic probe. When the child sends their name, they receive an electronic certificate which can be printed with their name in bold letters, a cool Mars Polar Lander graphic, and the signature of an Associate Adminstrator of NASA. If you print the certificate out on heavier than normal paper, you will have a pretty neat momento. You can find the site by typing NASA homepage into your browser and looking for the "Cool Sites" about mid page or go to:

Ben, I tried your new e-mail with a cheery test message. Hope to hear from you soon.

Jack, were you at one of the conventions? And if so, please give us a review.

Prolific writing y'all!

Joan Fri Apr 17 20:37:41 PDT 1998

Ok gang. As promised (or threatened) I'm baaaack.

Genre writing. Obviously, the lines between genre are both stark, and absolutely blurry. I mean, science fiction is not romance is not western is not horror; but many times, each contains an element of at least some of the others.

I write mainly fantasy. But it doesn't mean I can't get across the same messages or evoke the same emotions, that someone writing literary or mainstream fiction is trying to get across. You write what is within you. Whether you write that into the parallel world of Zanfaar peopled by giants and mythical races, or in Tombstone of the 1860's, or in modern-day Cutbank, Montana, isn't the point. My first fantasy novel was about a woman finding her inner power and learning to deal with it. (mainstream or literary, I think)) A lot of people in our day and age are doing that, right? This woman just happens to find her inner power on a parallel world, which is peopled by non-human races. And she falls in love (romance). And her lover happens to be the rebel son of a king--a son whose father has all but disowned him for his and his contemparies' beliefs about how their land should be run (politics). There are monsters (horror).

Do I think I have straight fiction in me that will one day be written. I *think* so. But if you write all your passion, all your belief, all your imagination, I don't think it matters whether you're writing about a cornfield in Iowa, a viking pirate ship, a Martian landscape or about a detective sleuthing around London. What you have to say, is what you have to say.

As someone I work with is fond of quoting, "you have to dance with who you brung."

Well, I'll step off my soapbox and quit taking up bytes. Have a nice weekend!


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