Archived Messages from November 5, 1998 to November 22, 1998

Allein-chan Sun Nov 22 18:53:55 PST 1998

Keith - Perhaps a little insight into what your story is about would help me come up with character sketches too. You must be warned that I draw lots of anime, so I'll try to make the people look as real as possible.


Caroline Heske Sun Nov 22 15:30:52 PST 1998

Keith - er... call me crazy, but what happened to Chapter 7? :) As to 'writing aide' books, I've never come across one that's been a smidgeon of help - apart from my beloved thesaurus - and no I don't reckon they're cheating, but you've got to be careful they don't lock you into a certain way of writing. And when you send me those character descriptions, sending me Chapter 4-8 would be helpful as well. (please?)

Thomas Sun Nov 22 14:02:28 PST 1998

Thanks all for your thoughts on the magazine rejection subject. I guess we can agree that editors at magazines are the biggest wall in our lives.

I just got notice from an agent who saw my 65,000 word, illustrated non-fiction ms. about food and wine. She wants to represent me. And a publisher in California also wants to see the ms.

For now, I have other things to think about instead of magazine editors.

Keith M. Sun Nov 22 14:01:29 PST 1998

Hello, all!

I would like to say that it seems like has been a hell of a week here. Wow. So much to read before I can even THINK about posting a message, let alone compose it. Hmph.



To all those in here who know of my pathetic written drivel I affectionately refer to as book 1 of the Founder's War Trilogy, there has been an unprecedented goodness!


Chapter 6 is amazing because it is a pesky chapter, that I was forced to skip coz it was too much trouble. Well, it's finished, and reads pretty damn good, if you ask me. Chapter 8 is the midpoint of the second main plotline in my book (at least, until the two collide, then go spinning off in random directions at astronomical speeds like those asteroid-thingies).
The Mithdara Homepage is coming along quite poorly, however, and I should spend some of that much coveted free time (like now) to get to work on it. oh, well. It WILL be cool, I can say that much, at least.

Now that that's over with...

I know the message was posted thursday, but I was out of the loop, so:
CAROLINE: good venting. I'm impressed. I could actually feel the rage emanating from my computer screen. I'm jealous- I don't think I've had such clearly defined rage... well, EVER!!
and, hey; if you ever need to vent like that again, don't hesitate to e-mail me.
and (#2), I've got those character descriptions somewhere on my computer table here- I'll send 'em to you soon. Thanks, again. I appreciate you taking the time to do this for me!

ALLEIN-CHAN: if you'd like to take a shot at character sketches for me, I'll send ya' the descriptions, too. I really appreciate these offers!


I'm just curious on a matter. I already have my own opinion and idea, and this IS a silly matter to ask a question on, but I'm curious.

What do ye fellowe writers think of books that are meant as an aide for writers to give them ideas on how to present emotions, to help them develop characters (by giving a list of human traits and how to best combine them), to help them better understand the mechanics of writing gestures and body language?
Are these kinds of books a form of "cheating?" Of getting away from the so-called 'originality' of writing?
Or are they a heavenly aide sent down to help us all in our time of need?
Perhaps something in the middle?

A silly question, I know, but I'm intensely curious. (plus I have nothing better to do!)

Fare thee well in the realm of writing!

Keith M.

S.K.S. Perry Sun Nov 22 12:58:00 PST 1998


We can all sympathise with your rejection blues. I recieved a form letter rejection from a well known mag that basically told me all the things that may have been wrong with my story, as they were the most common reasons that stories were rejected. At the least, they could have bothered to put a checkmark beside the ones were they figured my story fell short. To just send me a letter saying we rejected your story for the possible following reasons--well, I actually felt insulted!

S.N. Arly,

You mentioned the Black Hole in a previous posting to the Notebook. I've been there and checked it out myself before, and though it is useful, unfortunately the "average" response times can cover such a long period that you're almost as well off not knowing! I've sent two different stories off to the same publisher at different times. One came back rejected after five weeks, the second one is still with them after four months. Good sign? Bad sign? Who knows!!!

By the way, I've been to the ShallowEnd people, and the water's great. Nobody pee'd in the pool or anything. Seriously though, check it out--especially the columns by S.N. Arly and Barb--support your friends here on the Note book.

And for those of you who are interested, Need to Know was picked up by Underworld Mag, the same people that picked up Howard Tuckey's story (and for the same issue if I'm not mistaken--Janurary.)

Be Well, Live Well

Howard Sun Nov 22 12:51:59 PST 1998

I've just been to the ShallowEnd and it was refreshing! Very much worth the trip.

Allein-chan Sun Nov 22 11:00:34 PST 1998

Hi, remember me? Probably not, because it's been ages since I've been here. Just kidding.

S.K.S. - Congrats on getting published!!! :)

Nie-way, the magazine group at our school has been now turned into a writing group. Actually, we are getting submissions but not enough to actually start on the magazine. It's not coming out until May anyway.

Well, gotta jet, I've been busy lately.

S.N.Arly Sun Nov 22 10:07:01 PST 1998

SKS - Whoo hoo! Which zine? I knew it was a good story, though unfortunately there are a lot of good stories that don't get published.

You? Engaging in silliness? Naaaaah.

Thomas - If you are interested in the type of articles someone wants, I'd say query.

Some reject lewtters are worded better than others. And it always seems unprofessional to me when I rcv a poor photocopy (make a new original for crying out loud!). But then agin, some publishers don't care too much about offending writers because there areso many of us, they'll always find one to get what they want. OTH Ed respose will often dtermine if I send something else to the same place. I've cut one well-read mag from my list because the readers are apparently too dumb to recognize a Fantasy element when they see it (or they're not reading my stuff). That's not going to get me sold, so after several similar resposes, I figure it's not worth my time.

Of the five fingers.

Thomas Sun Nov 22 08:50:29 PST 1998

Barb: I do not intend to write a letter of antagonism to the editor, just polite questions regarding some of the things said in the magazine's response -- you know, I am a dumb writer who read words of hope in the rejection and needs clarification.

I deplore the idea of blacklisting that you refer to taking place in Writer's Market, et al. But then, freelance writers are many and it is a buyer's market -- one more reason to find another avenue. I am lucky to have a wife who is willing to carry the heavy load while I find that stride.

But I am spending way too much time chasing magazines these days. Am going back to business writing; not as glamorous but you get a specific request, and you get paid for the job too. Did you know that payment for freelance writers at national magazines is at about the same scale as it was forty years ago? Imagine what that means after adjusting for inflation!

Anyway, I want to write a few books, and I need the time to do it. Magazine-chasing ain't in the plan anymore.

S.K.S. Perry Sun Nov 22 08:06:27 PST 1998


Glad to see you understood where I was comming from. And what's so macho about a long pony tail and goatee? Each to there own, I guess.

S.K.S. Perry Sun Nov 22 08:03:18 PST 1998

To all of you who replied to the questions I asked earlier, thanks. But honestly, it was just a bit of nonsense--a moment when I was feeling silly.

I wasn't really looking for the answers (I actually already knew them.)They were just nonsense questions like "Why do we park in a driveway and drive on a parkway; or where does the white go when the snow melts; or what is that one way to skin a cat we're all supposed to know?

It's nice to know that there are people out there willing to lend a hand, no matter how absurd I might get. Thanks.

Be Well, Live Well.

Barb G. Sun Nov 22 08:01:08 PST 1998

Hi Y'all,

Thomas: Please don't lop off your nose to spite your kisser with this particular magazine. Editor's have long memories, and there is always that next article you have may get a spec opportunity from them. If you glance through the Writer's Market (and this was much more prevalent in the mid-nineties), you can see here and there in the Needs or Advice areas of a magazine where the Editor specifically notes: will not read contributions from Joe Blow, John Doe, Mary Whatsis, etc. Which means they are telegraphing other editors to approach contributions from these writers with caution. It would be to your own advantage to just back-off and write that magazine off your list for awhile.

SKS: And - Why do they sterilize the needles for lethal injections? Does fuzzy logic tickle? Why is it called a TV "set" if there's only one? Why does "cleave" mean both split apart and stick together? WHO KNOWS?

Hey, I've been looking at very macho lap-tops. Sort of lean toward the one with the long pony tail and goatee!


Caroline Heske Sun Nov 22 02:27:05 PST 1998

SKS - this may not be your point, but for the record, the earth's axis is tilted relative to the plane of its orbit around the sun. So what's so special about 90 degrees anyway? I dunno.

Thomas Sat Nov 21 11:11:07 PST 1998

Magazine rejects: I want to share this latest magazine response to a query and ask for your thoughts on it; this kind of response is the reason I have decided to abandon trying to get freelance assignments from magazines with which I have no track record. I won't even talk about the condition of the photo-copied sheet of paper on which the following was sent.

"Thanks for writing us here at Drink. We regularly assign freelance articles, and we're inundated with queires from interested writers. We're looking for very specific kinds of articles for Drink, and unfortunately the particular story idea or ideas you proposed didn't quite work for us. (If you sent a manuscript, well, that didn't really do it for us either.) There are all kinds of reasons we pass on certain articles, some of which don't have a thing to do with the writer. Please don't let this note keep you from writing us again with different angles or ideas."

I am a published wine and food writer, and with my idea I sent them clips. But I have no idea from this letter if anyone ever read what I sent. I particularly love that the magazine is "looking for very specific kinds of articles" but no mention is made of what they are. But in case I am a mind reader as well as a writer, I should submit "again with different angles or ideas".

I am going to write to the managing editor to ask, "Do you or don't you have specific needs? If so, what might they be? Or are you hoping my specific ideas will fit your specific needs -- someday?

Would love your thoughts on this kind of treatment of writers.

To SKS: Not everyone reads from left to right, and I assume we all look at things from a unique perspective because, quite simply, we are all unique, except those who do not read; they are dead.

S.K.S. Perry Sat Nov 21 07:14:39 PST 1998

Why do we read from left to write and top to bottom? Who decided that books should open that way? Wouldn't it make just as much sense it the spine of the book were at the top instead of along the left side? Then you could flip up the pages, kind of like those Day Planners.

Who decided that North and South America should be on the left side of the world with Russia, Europe and Asia along the right? Couldn't North and South America have been on top, with the rest on the bottom, or vice versa. So what if they used magnetic north as a reference. Why is north at the top, instead of East. Not only that, magnetic north changes a bit every year, so wouldn't the maps be slightly disoriented by now?

They say that Earth is tilted on its axis--with reference to what? Is there some giant Universal Level floating around out there in space somewhere, and we're half a bubble out of plumb or something? (I always expected as much!)

What I'm saying is, we all look at the world a certain way. Why? This kind of stuff really bugs me, and these dopey questions just pop into my head at the strangest times.
Oh well, as one of my friends once told me, and I quote: "It's a good thing you don't do drugs."

Be Well, Live Well

Barb G. Fri Nov 20 19:19:52 PST 1998

Hi Y'all,

Susan at ShallowEND just sent me a note: the mag is up now.


Thomas Fri Nov 20 16:05:47 PST 1998

OK everyone, I am convinced. Tomorrow I will begin my outline...always tomorrow, isn't it? But I will, I will!

S.K.S. Perry Fri Nov 20 15:12:37 PST 1998

S.N. Arly

Empty handed eh? There's a comforting thought--knowing you'd prefer to strangle me with your bare hands rather than use a weapon. As for eating a dragon, seeing as your a vegetarian and all, maybe a snapdragon will do.

Now for the good news. I finally got published!!! An E-zine picked up "Need to Know" thanks to a friend here at the Notebook. I'm so happy, I've been searching all over the house for my own horn to toot, but I'm a drummer.

Caroline Heske Fri Nov 20 15:09:00 PST 1998

Alright, I'm over my grumpy phase. I had a weird dream last night that I was in a car crash and when I was dying this 'being' came and said, we'll give you another shot so you can finish Erannon, but you'll have to grow up as someone else's baby. And it was so frustrating, cause I retained all my memories and stuff, but I couldn't do anything because I was only as physically developed as a baby.

On outlines - I'm more of an 'organic' writer (as someone here called it once). However, I find that every time I think of a potential scene, I open up a new file on the computer and jot down it's outline, if not write it. I then arrange these files into some semblance of order, and now it seems I have a pretty good idea of even my second book.

CJ Fri Nov 20 14:14:08 PST 1998

Hi. I'm new to this site and I think it's great. It looks like I could get a lot of helpful information here.

Right now I'm trying to research the four elements--earth, air, fire, and water--to use in a story I'm struggling with. Unfortunately, the one book my library has is more of a modern day "protect the earth's resources" book--a noble cause, but not useful in my case. Can anyone help with some titles or some other category I should look under?


S.N.Arly Fri Nov 20 14:03:16 PST 1998

SKS - Eat the dragon? Me? I'm a veg-head. The shallowend's still draining away. I'll let you know if I ever find out otherwise. And talking about two-edged anythings doesn't mean I've got one. Not much of a weapons person. Empty hand is more my style.

Caroline - Am familiar with whinge despite my spell check's (and writers' group's) reservations about it. I think you missed my point but I won't go over it again since it's clearly too touchy a subject and one best left alone.

Rhoda - It could be a great way to expand your character base and creativity. I'd say do some research and give it a whirl. It could end up being very valuable to your growth as a writer.

Thomas - Although I'm not much of a outline kind of person, there are times when even I use them. If you can't follow your own thinking, I'd guess it is time to try it out. Somehting along the lines of an autobiography would probably work well for this, too. Then you insure things are hapening in the right order. You can always rearrange later, too. So don't let that hold you back.

Thomas Fri Nov 20 13:52:28 PST 1998

I suppose the outline makes one think about direction and places some organization in front of the writer. Yet I seem to have more trouble organizing my thouhgts for an outline rather than plunging right in.

I am a slow writer, possibly because I do not know where I am going when I start, so I suppose I need to get my outline talent into swing. Yet my whole creative self says -- no.

I wrote two non-fiction books - 65,000 words -- without an outline on paper. I did the research and I kept those notes, but I kept the outline, if there was one, in my head. It also took me a long time to finish.

As for short stories and articels or essays, I seem to roll them out with an oultine in my head, and then re-write them a few times until I am happy. Some get published, others lie around collecting dust.

Barb G. Fri Nov 20 12:41:27 PST 1998

Hi Y'all,

Thomas: I don't think I welcomed you, did I? Anyway, welcome, we're a good bunch and are always eager to help.

As far as an outline - my book has an outline. I came upon that approach when I realized there was no other way to organize my scenes, research, story lines, etc., etc. I even outline my short stories when I'm working with word number constraints.

Rhoda: I found the exact thing to be true for me when I first started writing my book. Once I made umpteen treks to the Library, I found my enthusiasm return. Now that I have some hard facts to bolster my progress, I'm moving at a much faster pace. (although, many times I have to cut into the writing sessions because of other commitments. But, I'm finding a rhythm that wasn't there before -- at all.)

Hope this helped.

Thomas Fri Nov 20 10:25:10 PST 1998

Rhoda: Ditto on the advice. When you write about something for which you have little or no in-depth knowledge or information, it shows.

Question for you novel writers:
I have been a sprinter for most of my writing life -- short stories, essays and magazine non-fiction. The two books (marathon writing) I completed were non-fiction.

How do you all feel about outlines? For the above writing, I do not and did not use outlines, but I am trying a semi-autobiography and find I can't follow my own thinking, and there is so much stuff in my journal that I go nuts trying to organize it.

Howard Fri Nov 20 05:39:25 PST 1998

Rhoda: Ditto on what SKS said, only don't put it aside completely. Start a file and as you think of it, add sections, outlines, characters, etc etc. That way when you get to the point where you've found the detailed information you're talking about, you won't have forgotten why you wanted it. And you'll still have all the great ideas to sift through in putting the book together.
Of course sometimes that can be interesting in itself -- I have a file full of those kinds of things, and when I find the right connecting links I think I'll end up with a story about a renegade trucker who finds a kid who can glow in the dark in a tunnel at the end of the world, while studying to be a preacher in a small church in Paducah, and at the same time wondering if he should have stayed on Farm IV after she had the sex change operation.
BOMC here I come! :-)

S.K.S. Perry Fri Nov 20 05:22:49 PST 1998


If you really want to do the book justice, and don't feel comfortable enough with the culture yet to portray it on less then a superficial basis, then you're probably not ready to write the book yet. If your heart is set on it, do the research. I know you probably have a great idea for this book--good plotline, conflict, characters ect., but remember the old maxim--write what you know.

I know where you're comming from. I have a great (I think) idea for a book that I'm dying to write, but I know I'm just not ready yet. I don't have a strong enough background in history or religion (yet) to do the book justice. If I wrote it now, I'm sure I could come up with an entertaining yarn, but it wouldn't be the epic story I've envisioned. So, rather than settle for mediocrity, I'll wait until I've done enough research--and living--that I can write this book and feel comfortable with it. In the meantime, I have ideas for other books that I know I can write now, so I'll hone my skills on them.

Hope this helps,

Be Well, Live Well.

Rhoda Thu Nov 19 22:07:48 PST 1998


I am in terrible need of advice. I am working on this novel where my hero is a Spanish rancher in 19th century California. I thought this would be relatively easy. I love Zorro in all its renditions. I think my hero is real cool, only I can't seem to get away from making him a Dark Age Celtic guy with a Hispanic name. I've known Hispanics all of my life, but now trying to write in depth about one, I find myself blown away by the culture. I want to make my hero authentic. Am I biting off more than I can chew? Shall I go back to my Dark Age warrior types?

I know I should hit my books and use my research to soak up the unique culture of the Hispanic old west. Perhaps I just started this story too soon. I've got a good plot and a very good grasp of my Irish heroine. I find that with all the westerns of the past thiry years or so, the Hispanic culture has been dealt with on a very superficial level. I can not accept such a treatment in any book of mine.

Any suggestions?


Howard Thu Nov 19 20:23:07 PST 1998

Caroline -- just remember the old saying "Keep your words sweet -- you may want to rub them all over someone and... no, that's not the old saying. O well, Go For IT! The quicker you get all that stuff wrung out the sooner you can start soaking up another load! And writers gotta load up themselves before they can unload on paper. It's the nature of the beastie. No offense taken here, and by the way, you do seem to have and use an impressive vocabulary. Refreshing, in this sometimes hebephrenic arena.
For those interested I've placed the MRI account in the notebook. Might be of use if anyone's writing anything with medical terms or procedures. Or medieval torture scenes.
Steve, it's a slightly expanded version of the one I sent you. Got carried away.

S.K.S. Perry Thu Nov 19 17:03:52 PST 1998


Not caring what people think of you doesn't give you carte blanche to treat people badly or become obnoxious. It means to be secure enough in yourself that their opinion of you doesn't become the driving force in what you do, who you are, and what you become. If you don't like them or what they stand for, don't associate with them. Hopefully they'll do the same for you.

I've never understood the need we have to try to explain to people why we don't like them, or what we thing is wrong with them and how they should fix it.Worry about who you are, and let themworry about who they are.

And vent if you like, as long as you're not hurting anyone else and it makes you feel better, I say go for it.

Caroline Heske Thu Nov 19 16:47:32 PST 1998

For chrissakes SNArly! No, this discussion's not going anywhere, and no this doesn't resolve anything, but that's not the point. I - and apparently some other people - needed to vent some aggression and frustration. At any rate I shall refrain from doing it in the future because it seems to get you stereotyped. Of course I don't seriously want to kill those little old ladies, and I do actually have a grain of empathy which makes me wonder about their lives - what do they have to tell? That's all well and good, but you'd have to be a bloody saint to bloody think like that every moment of the bloody day. When I get depressed, I need to whinge (yes 'whinge' is a real word) for a while.

As to not caring what people think: Well that sounds like a very superficial solution to me. Reserve your own sense of judgement, yes, but we live in a society and not caring what people think frequently results in becoming an arsehole. Not that the world isn't already filled with arseholes who can make you feel like shit if you care what they think... But do you honestly want to join them? If the occasional plaintive rant can keep me sane without becoming an arsehole, then that is the way I'd prefer to go.

Toby - good luck in your exams, I think we have a lot in common

Lydia - all power to you for doing what you believe in

Rhoda - thank-you

Barb G. Thu Nov 19 16:22:43 PST 1998

Hi Y'all,

SKS: I didn't get it. Try me again.

Any who are interested: I received a brochure and a price list for the software Litter mentioned awhile back. It's called StoryBuilder and is costs $129.95+s&h. If you want any of this infor e-mail me.

I'm not sure what this discussion means. Oh, I'm not stupid, I get the drift, but why is it important for other people to see you as a writer? If you see YOURSELF as a writer, doesn't that make it so?

When people ask me what I do with myself during the day, I answer, "Write." Most of the time they don't care for details and I'm pleased not to have to explain myself to them.

I will say this though, when your writing is going good, doors are opening, story-ideas are popping up quicker than you can write them down, and your spouse doesn't mind the long hours you spend at the PC. Other people sense your happiness. Most of the time, they really don't need the details.

Ah, but when the PC coughs and sputters, your husband can't find his favorite socks, the dog needs a bath, and their hasn't been an acceptance for two months -- life stinks. And everybody can smell it!

So for pete's sake (whoever he is) write and don't worry about what other people think. What would they do for you if you needed them? Nothing. So get on with it.

Rejection builds character (that's why I'm over 7 feet tall!)


S.K.S. Perry Thu Nov 19 15:38:00 PST 1998

S.N. Arly,

Why should your dog be impressed that you were eaten by a dragon? Do you think a Dragon would be impressed if you were eaten by a dog? You want to impress the mutt, you eat the dragon.

And as for taking your hand and climbing out of the pool, I think I'll just climb out myself if you don't mind. Anyone who talks about double edged swords...well, you never know what they might be hiding behind their backs.

And I don't know about the rest of you, but I feel special. My friends and I were all sitting around a campfire once, when one of them asked the question, "Don't things get so bad sometimes that you wish you were dead?" to which another replied, "No, but sometimes they get so bad I wish everbody else was." He never forgot that he was his favorite person. Seems like a good attitude to me (as long as you don't end up in a clock tower with a high powered rifle.)

S.N.Arly Thu Nov 19 14:48:05 PST 1998

SKS - I used to be a lifeguard and I'm still a WSI. Now grab my hand and get out of that water this instant. I think the shallowEND needs to take a look at its filter system or some such crap. I'll let you know when you can get back in. And if it's not soon I really will just post the column here.

On being different - I'm so sick of this discussion I could puke. I've heard it 800 zillion times since I was a wee snot, and it never gets resolved, never goes anywhere. Instead it ends up sounding like whining, which I can't stand.

This is the less glorious or romantic part of being a writer or creative person of any kind. There are even more people who don't understand you than the average shmoe. We can't have everything, so naturally something is going to be held back. It's the other edge of the sword, one might say. Yea I'm a writer! Damn, nobody understands me.

We're different and unique. So is everyone else.

I, for one, got eaten by a dragon last night. My dog was not impressed.

Lydia Sweet Thu Nov 19 14:41:35 PST 1998

Hi all,

I will try to approach this subject of being different again. Maybe I can keep my head on straight while I do it.

As a teen I was constantly being told not to do this or not to do that because of what someone else might think. My response was to ask did I hurt anyone, did it make my mother or family love me less and what did it matter what someone I didn't know thought as long as the people who love me know it is just part of my personality and does harm to no one, not even myself.

People who think deeply tend to "seem" a little strange to ordinary people. We are the adventurers, the explorers, the leaders, the detective, the mad scientist, the space captain, because we can visualize beyond our limited surroundings. This is mostly on paper, but oftimes a reality as well. This makes us strange, but it also makes us intriguing and alluring. Eventually ordinary comes to "extraordinary" to alleive their mediocricy(sp?). They read our articles, buy our magazines and books and watch our movies and TV programs and attend our plays or concerts.

Most people who are not writers that I have shared my obsession with have looked at me not with hostility, but with incomprehension or amazement, and also jealousy. Have you tried to explain your thoughts to someone and have them look at you with a blank expression. They cannot visulize. Imagine your world without that ability.....Dull, huh?

Enjoy your notoriety, even if it is just among your own family. Can you imagine the squarest, dullest person in your family moving in with their lover? I did just that and you wouldn't believe the shock. It wasn't that any of them are saints or prudes, but they thought they had me pegged and I made a decision that way good for me and didn't worry how it might "look" to anyone else. (I wasn't a child by this time either). Tongues wagged and self rightousness abounded, but none said a word to me. They wouldn't dare! I know all their little secrets and wouldn't be the least bit bothered by pointing them out. The point here? Make yourself happy as long as no one is harmed, including yourself. If you happen to ripple the water in doing so don't worry. Announce to the world that you are here and you intend to stay and play by your rules not theirs.

Our time on this earth is a milisecond of time and we will leave our mark for only a moment no matter what. Live to the fullest and if you are not finding what you need where you are search it out.

Happy hunting.


(did I make any sense what-so-ever?)

Thomas Thu Nov 19 14:01:17 PST 1998

To Philip and to the other thoughts about writing.

Right now, I am waiting for word from the myriad agents and publishers I sent queries to regarding my recently completed non-fiction book tracing the parallel histories of garlic, wine and olive oil, and how those histories relate to my Italian ancestry -- plus about 50 recipes.

Many publishers already said no; some sent words of encouragement; one even liked it a lot but had no time; twenty have not responded yet; and one publisher has asked to see the complete manuscript. One agent asked to see the manuscript; another said no; another hasn't responded; and five more got letters sent to them yesterday.

We writers get so used to rejection that I can't seem to believe the publisher and the agent with the manuscript in their hands will come through. In the past six months, seven -- count 'em -- projects have fallen through because editors are a capricious, and sometimes uncivilized lot.

I have recently decided to give up magazine writing and go back to what I used to do -- business writing. Got tired of magazine editors asking for ideas and then saying no thanks, and then giving the ideas to staffers. There is another side to writing -- earning a living, and I can't spend the rest of my life living off my wife's earnings -- or can I?

I write because I want others to know my thoughts and opinions. Rejection tells me that few want to listen. Yet, I still spend hours writing each day, and am working on another book.

Rejections make writers believe we are engaged in the single most lonely, discouraging endeavor. Let's face it, we who write are passionate, smart, opinionated, and that old stand-by -- nuts. With those credentials, we are supposed to be lonely -- most drones wouldn't understand what the hell we are talking about anyway.

Philip Thu Nov 19 13:16:52 PST 1998

Rejection is such sweet sorry.
While you sit waiting for some response, any response, to your manuscripts you dream or fantasise about what may be. You hope the news will be good - you think your work is good and you hope others will recognise just how good.

The letter arrives, it's from a publisher and you hesitate about opening it right away, hovering on the brink.
Ahhh, another rejection!
But for a moment, for one, sweet, luxuriant moment, you were awash with bliss.
It happened to me again today.

Rhoda Thu Nov 19 11:51:11 PST 1998

In regard to Caroline's comments and all the other ones that followed it, I wish to say that being a writer tends to make a person lonely and misunderstood. Oftentimes people will ask what I do. I merely say I am a housewife, for I know from experience that if I told the full truth, I'd get a blank stare. People simply don't know how to respond to you when you admit that you are a writer.

I wouldn't say that merely being a writer engenders hostility. The hostility comes from the fact that certain types of passionate people tend to pursue writing as a career or activity. Passionate people, whether writers or not, always spark hostility among either equally passionate people of an opposing view, or among the apathetic army of managers, operators, politicians and fools that run and direct our society. Furthermore, most writers are brutally honest. Honesty is not necessarily a virtue among the make-no-waves majority, either.

I can't think of one fellow writer that I know who isn't oftentimes in trouble with either another fellow writer or some other person whose feelings he/she has trampled on. The two writers back in Farmington I've been privledged to call my friends are terribly outspoken, hardheaded, and sometimes brash. On the other hand, they are loyal, hard working, and greatly supportive of other writers.

Think of all the conversations and conflicts on this very Notebook where some of us blatantly state what we think and others respond (sometimes not too gently). Passions have run high here on the Notebook, but generally most of us go on with our lives and not let it bother us too much. If people who post here were not this way, I do not think this Notebook would be so widely read. The profound discussions and the occasional lively debate are what keep it fun.


Never conform for conformity's sake, and yet don't expect others to understand you. Accept that you are unique, celebrate the fact and go on with your life. You are one of the deep-thinking, passionate individuals that make this Notebook so valuable. The lack of these qualities in the people around you should not make you angry. Learn a little tolerance as you pity individuals who will not stretch their minds or imaginations.

Happy writing!


S.K.S. Perry Thu Nov 19 11:15:12 PST 1998

S.N. Arly

Still treading water...looking for Shallowend....lips turning blue....pruning...trying to hold on.....

Caroline, Toby and all you other out there,

Of course you're different. Who else in there right mind would spend hours on end creating whole worlds from their imagination, putting it down on paper, and mailing it off to some idiot who has no life or talent of their own, but never-the-less is apparently qualified to tell you that your stuff is garbage (even when we know it's not.)

Toby was correct in his assesment of creative people. We are the ones who come up with original ideas. We're the trend setters--the leaders--definately not followers. When was the last time one of the sheep of society started a new music fad, or artistic style, or clothing trend, or...well, you get my point.

Caroline, be proud of being different. Anyone can be the same. When I was in highschool..and then college...I never really fit in with any of the clicks. I was a musician, an athlete, one of the "smart" kids, one of the cool kids. Unfortunately, I found that most of the others limited themselves to just one group. If I hung with the musicians, all they wanted to talk about was music; the jocks only wanted to talk sports, the smart kids only wanted to talk about..well, actually they wanted to talk about sex, but that's another story; and the cool kids didn't want to talk about anything. I found that hanging out with any of these groups was very limiting, so I would hang with each one in turn until I got bored. As you can imagine, I didn't fit in really well with any of them, and they all thought I was a little strange. Now that I'm an adult, things haven't changed much.

To which I reply, SO WHAT!! Stop worrying about what other people think about you. Be yourself, because obviously you're more interesting than they are anyway. I know this from personal experience, because I enjoy speaking with you people (Caroline, Toby, Barb, Lydia, Howard, Allien-chan, S.N. Arly, Goodweed, Hayden, K.C, Jack. ....and on and on and on.) I've been to a lot of places, done a lot of things, and spoken to a lot of people, and you know what? Most of them don't really have anything to say.

You people do, and you write about it. And maybe..just of the sheep will read what you write, and you'll start a trend, or a fad, and everyone will think you're cool. It'll probably go to your head, and then you'll be unbearable and we'll all ignore you.

C'est la vie!

Be Well, Live Well.

Lydia Sweet Thu Nov 19 09:14:48 PST 1998

Sorry all,

I had written like a whole dissertation on being different and when I wnet to proof it I lost it. That single sentence looks strange all alone. Just disregard it.


Thomas Thu Nov 19 08:36:26 PST 1998

Caroline, your thoughts about being different, et al, are good and, I might say, no different than any others of us who feel we are different than the pack. Without that sense of difference you would be just another person in an impersonal world of persons. I have felt that sense of difference all my life (53 years, I suppose I am out of place in this seemingly youth-oriented discussion group, but we are all writers).

I caution you. To write fiction, or anything else, you must be interested in others as much or more than you are in yourself. Never stop observing yourself -- we all manage to write who we are into our stories and essays -- but use your obesrvation of others to create characters. For instance, the women you speak about whose heads you would like to cut off -- great character possibilities there.

Take the crap that life throws at you and turn it around, throwing it right back at them. Be a mirror of truth and you certainly will justify your "difference".

Thu Nov 19 08:08:28 PST 1998

Maybe a little harder to acheive than this simple story, but get yourself together and the world will fall in place.

Have a great day.


Juliee Thu Nov 19 07:43:35 PST 1998

looking for good freelance writers websites for job openings..any suggestions? I will visit here further as it looks like an interactive site and I could use input from other writers. Feeling a little disheartened by the real world-Ha ha. Thanks

toby b Thu Nov 19 03:00:33 PST 1998

Caroline: I can sympathize. The outsider feel, of wanting to experience and not take for granted, is part of your creativity, it is why when you write a story and take a mood or piece of life and give it back to a reader they wonder how you were able, and it was because of this. Ever wonder why so many creative types committ suicide? It is because of this feeling of outsiderness, or innerness, or of an island within yourself that no one ever bothers to cross into, content with labelling you just 'weird' and leaving it at that. Do not despair, I go through it in spades, I'm agnostic and at a christian college, my parents are newly renewed christians, I love SF and traveling and live in a community where most people have never left the town and the major religion here is antitechnology. Most of my friends haven't read a novel if hasn't been assigned to them. It is hard, but knowing that there are others out there that have gone through the same experience helps. It helps me. If it weren't for the notebook and my e-mail writer friends and my journal I think I would go quite mad here. Yes you are different, you have vision and depth, and imagination, and if it weren't for all the different people struggling against mediocrity the world would be dull and boring. The interesting people who are different change and impact the world, and even though one may be different, one can still inspire and guide the non-different :)

On another note, it is 6:00 here and I have been up all night studying for my two hardest exams for tomorrow that are at 8 and 10. I'm so screwed it's not even funny, but I'm having fun anyway, and even if I manage to flunk out of school at least I did it with a smile on my face and got to write a bunch of short stories and start my novel:) I meet so many people who graduate college with A's, and they totally lament it. They all ask 'why didn't anyone tell me no one gives a s..t about your grades, only that you graduated', and another grad confessed that she 'wished she could have pursued some of the projects she wanted, instead of studying too much'. I wish some of these people would talk to my parents, who are nerdy A students and are a secretary and youth pastor respectively...I could leave now and get a job in web design for both their salaries combined, and guess what, I never studied webdesign formally (in fact the coding professor flunked me out of his class saying I had no head for programming whatsoever) but took it up to publish a webpage on poetry for fun. So I'm here at college to learn, not to pass freakin' tests. Or even...I took a class once, got a 86 on the midterm, a 90 on the final, but was flunked because I (???)never went to a single class. So here is my rant...Einstein was right, it is a wonder Creativity survives schooling. To back that up, I will mention, that in order to pass my lit classes, I have not read a single SF book in the past 3 months. I usually read four a week. I haven't had the time, and my writing is so minimal as to be nonexistant. Attempting to pass classes is killing me as a creative person. I don't have the energy right now, but next quarter, I will not be sucked into this again, I will fight back in my usual colorful manner...

Thanks Caroline for getting me all fired up again, it's been a while. More power to you...
Sorry about all this...
Star Wars is coming soon, see the trailer yet???Awesomeness..

Caroline Heske Thu Nov 19 00:58:53 PST 1998

Dear Everyone,

There has been a slight lull in the posts lately, so I'm going to make up for it with a huge chunky one which can tell you JUST HOW PISSED OFF I AM... Oh yes. You want bitching? Let's have bitching! Let's have ranting and raving and death and destruction and evil (and perhaps a shaft of goodness just to make it convincing for everyone who doesn't believe in pure evil)...

I'm pissed off, but I'm not pissed - which may be the one difference. Let's point out differences. There's something to be said for doing that. It makes one feel unique. It makes you feel like you occupy a special little niche in the world, and if for some reason you leave it there'll be a void. A little space that'll be like a pussy wound, and people will say - I wish that would go back to how it was, with you there... It's very comforting to think that. But I'm a realist. Or a masochist. Or, for that matter, a sadist. Am I a sadist? I'm feeling sadistic. I want to hurt someone. I don't know why. It's not for attention, it's for power. Attention can be power - but I think power is a much wider term. Something that can encompass anything you like if you view it the right way. I think these feelings and thoughts are more important than why I'm pissed off - though it's funny I should say that when I strongly believe that everything is contextual. So I shall ask:

Why am I pissed off?

Post-exam blues? It was a lovely day, I had no work, I just relaxed, I finished reading the Orchard, I listened to Xena, I started edited Steve's novel… I'm going to try again after this letter. It could be the hotmail server that's the problem. That pissed me off, I think. When I want to do something, I want to do it. And all that business with my mother. She's been doing this family tree, and she and uncle Rob have organised this huge Huddle reunion in Bendigo this weekend and I rang her up the night before my exam (so Tuesday evening) and she told me she could pick me up on Friday and I thought: Shit, I don't want to go to this fucking reunion. I hate them. To the adults I am a child, and to the children I am an adult, and to anyone my own age I am simply a weirdo. And I don't like serving cordial and tea to lovely little old ladies with their hair in curlers who smell two weeks dead already. I want to kill them. I want to take a huge blood sword and lop off their heads and see them go bouncing along the old brown carpet, then turn nicely to the next one in line and say, "Did you want sugar with your tea?" Oh it's too perfect. And the blood everywhere would smell - like iron. Have you ever licked an iron bar? I used to love doing it when I was a little kid, cause the metallic taste would stick with me for the rest of the day. Though i used to eat some pretty weird shit when I was a kid - I don't really remember now, but my parents tell me so. It wasn't perverse... it was this amazing hunger to know everything about the world as quickly as I could, with image after image blasting me down and circling around me and ripping me up. And not just images: tastes and smells - rich chocolate cake, dark chocolate... Whenever I think of dark chocolate I get this nasty memory. Most of my school memories are nasty. Why's that, I wonder? Do I have a penchant for torturing myself? Replaying the same horrid scenes over and over until I revel in self-pity? So what was this memory of dark chocolate? It was Yr 5, I was in my English class - I didn't get along with many people in year 5. In fact, you could pretty much say accurately that from Yr 5 to Yr 10 I didn't really have any friends - at least not close friends. No-one I could be myself to honestly and openly. Perhaps I didn't know who I was, or doubted it so much that I was too scared to express it. But chocolate... It was a class exercise. I do not know what it was meant to prove... I think it may have been a creative exercise to improve our writing about taste. We had to sit in a huge circle, wearing blindfolds, and the teacher passed us each a piece of chocolate and we had to eat it and concentrate on the taste, then take the blindfolds off and write a short description and a rating out of ten. We did this with three pieces of chocolate - it was pretty exciting - I mean chocolate! In class! In Yr 5! My god, what were they thinking? In fact, they'd been hyping it up for days before hand. So then after we'd done that we went around the class, reading out our ratings and descriptions...

Why did we do that? What was that meant to tell us. There *must* have been a reason, but what? Were we supposed to get an idea of the difference between us or the similarities. I openly and honestly read out my numbers and they happened to be at the opposite end of the scale to everyone else. There was nothing wrong with this. If I loved dark chocolate but they had been raised on cadbury, what did this prove? Not a hell of a lot, I would say, but it came to crystallise that English class for me. It is one of the memories that has really stuck with me from school, because all the students and teachers took this one innocuous little difference and built it up upon my shoulders into this huge mound of guilt. Why are you saying that, Caroline? Why do you always have to be different from everyone else? Why do you think you're so good? And I laughed it off and got in trouble from the teacher for showing off - cause after all, if I was laughing I could hardly be upset now and so I *must* have been showing off - or so her circular logic went. (I still know that teacher, she's a lovely lady, a friend of mine. I cannot reconcile her with the memory.)

Always. Always different. And why? I could not understand it. Why does everyone else seem to be born able to conform to the social sanctions, the silly rules... not just able, but actively supporting them. The rules weren't rules to them, they were ingrained in their blood, running through them from birth. I can imagine their eyes bleeding... all the blood vessels bursting open and leaking over their vision in a crimson film. Everything they touched was covered already in blood - coherent, unified. And if I didn't seem to fit, it must be because I was actively working against it... Resisting. How evil! And they hurt be because they were scared, but then they were scared because they saw be being hurt, and couldn't seem to see who I was but simply *knew* that they didn't want to be it. Another circle.

There comes a point when you realise you are outside that bloody vision. You don't know why? You don't know how? (And you waste a lot of time wondering) But you know that you are. And the grip is so tenacious that you realise you will have to remain persecuted, wear a mask to negotiate your way, or twist the world to a vision of your own.

What have I settled on? Somewhere between all three. A glowing triangle - three stars, you can see the space-time curve stretching out, holding me taut between them. I cannot wear the mask - it feels false, rancid oil slipping over my skin, pestilent mould clamping down on my brain, numbing it slowly, with terrifying emptiness destined. I cannot stand the persecution - because ultimately it eats at you, and isolation is not a higher state of being but simply a vulnerable state where if you question yourself you can plunge to suicide in an instant. And I do not have the power to twist the world to a vision of my own - though I would like to, because that would be the least painful of the three, held in check only by my conscience. To be for once understood. To have my ideas holding everyone in thrall as common sense, so I would not have to constantly explain myself, everyone knows them by heart, in their heart, pumping through their veins.

Hegemony. That's what I want. Caroline's hegemonic ideas like a dark mist in everybody's head.

But as I said, I'm hanging in suspension and I cannot do any of these things fully - throwing myself into them so they surround me utterly and I cannot see, or even realise, that there is anythign beyond. That would be comforting, I think. Yet, since I am suspended, I despise myself for wanting any of them.

Howard Wed Nov 18 19:50:45 PST 1998

I am now the proud owner of YARFL (Yet Another Reject Form Letter)this one from Aboriginal Science Fiction Magazine. It was not an altogether unpleasant experience, as they did personalize it a bit, and I did not get the impression that I'd been dumped unfairly. Dunno if I mentioned it before or not, but Jack London was said to have received 600 reject letters before he published his first short story. I got a few to go!
Mayhap I'll post this one over on the workbook, so y'all can see what they *don't* like. Then again, mayhap not...
Just had one of the most unpleasant experiences of my life about two hours MRI. Stuffed into a tube, with about 6" clearance in front of my face, arms straight down at my sides, trying to hear my new Carpenters CD (I love Karen Carpenter) in between bursts of jackhammer noise. Too bad Poe already wrote Premature Burial! If anyone ever wants a first-hand description of the process for a story, just holler!

Joan Tue Nov 17 20:01:11 PST 1998

Nancy--About your question regarding multiple submissions to agents, I recently had a very experienced and busy agent (who hadn't answered my query after a few months) tell me she certainly hoped I wasn't submitting only to one agent at a time. She expressed the thought that if I did that, I'd be years getting published. Just one thought--but from a qualified source (the agent, herself).
Hope that helps.


Litter Tue Nov 17 15:00:25 PST 1998

Hi there Y'all

Just a few words to let you know I'll be going to Louisiana for three weeks, Studying Voodoo for my new book. Guess I'll be back to see y'all before you know it.

Remeber now
"If you don't say anything - no-one ever listens."

S.N.Arly Tue Nov 17 13:57:29 PST 1998

It's Tuesday and it's still down. I'll let you know if it ever comes back.

Now I think I'll take a tour through the workbook as I've been meaning to do since the new password area came up.

I don't know if I've ever mentioned th eBlack Hole here, but all writrers submitting to horror, fantasy and/or science fiction markets may want to check it out. They list response itmes (based on actual writers experiences, and you can post your own) and they give you info on which editors are the best to deal with. They only deal with paying sites, since there are enough of those to keep them busy. The link is at the top of the tag, since my html hasn't worked well here in the past.


Barb G. Tue Nov 17 09:54:13 PST 1998

Hi Y'all,

Hey SKS, I just sent off a note to you. And there is no way that I've backed away from this little venture. I'm at it right now. It's great!


S.K.S. Perry Tue Nov 17 06:25:42 PST 1998

S.N Arly,

It's Tuesday morning, and still no luck with the Shallowend. Don't worry, I've managed to locate a pair of water wings, so I'll just drift here until it opens up. There aren't any sharks in these waters, are there?

Barb, I'll check out your column too. I haven't heard from you in a couple of days. If you've changed your mind about that little matter we discussed and are avoiding me because of it, don't sweat it. Let me know how our story is comming.

Lydia, I sent you some suggestions on chapters 9 and 10 of Elaina. Did you recieve them? I'm almost finished going over chapter 11 and will send it to you by the end of the day.

By the way, if anyone is interested in putting a face to my ramblings on the Notebook, Jack was generous enough to add a photo to my bio. Thanks Jack.

Be Well, Live Well.

Barb G. Mon Nov 16 16:07:01 PST 1998

Sorry guys, I guess it isn't. I even had mail from Susan today and she seemed confident it was up. ShallowEND is

Barb G. Mon Nov 16 16:01:44 PST 1998

Hi Y'all,

ShallowEND is up now if you want to check out Snarly's column. Take a look at mine while your there, too. Would love to have feedback.

There just aren't enough hours in the day anymore, guys. I meet myself coming and going (always loved that little piece of nonsense, even though it makes no sense).

Philip, Heydan: Great to hear from the "published" ones. I bet you're working even harder than you ever did before, aren't you?

Does anybody know when the recess bell is supposed to ring? I'm pooped.


Philip Mon Nov 16 13:12:27 PST 1998

Hello All,

I'm just so busy these days ... I rarely get to leave any comments in the Notebook but I look in often. I can't even get to the final edit draft of my new book - which I have to complete by 1st December. They sent me the cover the other day ... I think it looks great. It's about a year behind schedule. My publisher sacked hundreds of authors worldwide, so I suppose I should feel lucky to have survived.

Generally, I think an evil character is more chilling when he or she appears as normal as everyone else (except for the times when we slip them into bad mode). Good characters should have flaws - as we all do. The main thing is to draw them well - we have to care about or understand the main people in your work.


S.K.S. Perry Mon Nov 16 12:41:17 PST 1998

S.N. Arly,

It's Monday afternoon, 3:40 my time, and I still can't get to the Shallowend. (Good thing I can tread water!) I'll keep trying though--no stinking computer glich is going to get the best of me.

W. Olivia Race Sun Nov 15 12:38:18 PST 1998

Hi all, as usual I'm gone for a week and I miss all the really good stuff. The nature of good and evil and I was working my buns off at my "real" job.

My 2 cents: I think painting a character as extremely evil, with no motivation or reasoning is like painting yourself against a wall. It takes you know where. The same goes for portraying a character as all good. I think good is really relative. Everyone has quirks that make them less than pure. We are all born pure and formless but life, to some degree, dirties us all. Its how you deal with it that makes you what you are and makes you "good" or "bad".

Any way, as I said, I've been gone for a week and am probably drowning in unchecked e-mail.

Hope everyone is doing well.

Good Writing all.

S.N.Arly Sun Nov 15 10:46:38 PST 1998

Ok, I've heard back. The server above their server is down. It was supposed to be back up by Friday and now they've been told it should be up by Monday (tomorrow).

Thanks for your patience.


Caroline Heske Sun Nov 15 10:45:52 PST 1998

S.N.Arly - I couldn't reach it either.

S.N.Arly Sun Nov 15 10:41:52 PST 1998

SKS & Toby - I haven't heard back from the sysops, but I e-mailed them yesterday to let them know that you guys couldn't get in and neither could I. My dad was trying a few days ago and got the October issue instead of Nvember, so I suspect they're having some trouble at the zine.

I'll let you know if I hear anything back. If not, I may just post the column here since no one can read it there anyway.


S.K.S. Perry Sun Nov 15 06:48:06 PST 1998

S.N. Arly,

I even tried doing a search for the Shallowend. The search engine came up with 15 entries, most of them links to your e-zine, but they all came up with the same results--either the server may be down, or there is no DNS entry. I can't even reach

Toby B Sat Nov 14 20:21:18 PST 1998

couldn't reach or the ~shallowend section either...

S.K.S. Perry Sat Nov 14 20:02:10 PST 1998

S.N. Arly

I still can't reach it. I get either the system may be down, try again later, or that there is no DNS server. I'll keep trying thought.

S.N.Arly Sat Nov 14 14:49:13 PST 1998

SKS - It's at

if that helps any. If it doesn't work, try it again later. I've had that happen with links sometimes. And let me know if it continues to malfunction, and exactly what message you're getting (No DNS, yadda yadda) so I can tell the sysops.

Thanks. And I hope you do get in to read it. Haven't heard an outside word on it, and I really am curious what other writers think.


Allein-chan Sat Nov 14 10:05:49 PST 1998

Keith - I'd be happy to draw some character sketches for you. Just e-mail me to tell me what they look like. I'm a fairly good artist - I still need some work drawing guys though. Not that my guys look bad, it's just that sometimes their eyes look too sensitive and they end up looking a little like girls - but not so much anymore. Unfortunately, I don't have a scanner, so I'm unable to send them over e-mail. So, you'll have to e-mail your home address to me so I can send them via snail mail. Don't worry, I'm not a stalker or a killer or anything.

Well, all, gotta go, bye.

Keith M. Sat Nov 14 08:37:47 PST 1998

Wow, it feels good to be back. I know I was never here for long, but, hey, it still feels pretty good. AND I have a new e-mail address to show for my absence. (hmm, maybe that's not really an exciting fact...)


I would like to extend a hand of thanks to those who helped me before in my time of trouble with my EVIL 6th chapter in my novel-in-progress. Taking the advice of skipping ahead to the next chapter really helped alot because I was able to focus on the introduction of the second major plotline, rather than sinking in the acidic juices of writer's block.
GOOD NEWS: I'm putting the finishing touches on chapter 6, as well as those on chapter 8. When I set up my new SNET homepage, I will have an entire page devoted to my novel-in-progress (complete with maps, character bios, and chapters/chapter samples). I would like to thank Caroline Heske for this one, cuz she indirectly made me think that it would be a good idea (I like your page!).

1) Is there anyone out there who would be willing, out of the goodness of their heart, to perhaps draw a few character sketches for me?

2) Does anyone know any GOOD sites on MONARCHIES (such as medieval-fuedal england) and/or REPUBLICS (such as ancient rome)? I have pretty good sources, but I feel that my information is incomplete. I want to expand my political world in the next few chapters (approx. 9-13) as my characters journey into the Heart of the Republic.

3) Noting the conversation MUCH earlier in the forum, I would like to ask:
What is the likelihood of a character who was once good but then corrupted by evil (a Dark God) of becoming redeemed?
EXPLANATION: One of my main characters (who shall remain anonymous, so as not to spoil the surprise) is destined to become corrupted by the promises of a Dark God, and will lead the "dark armies" against those that used to be his friends, blinded by these aforementioned promises. I know that his friends will try to redeem him, but I haven't decided whether or not they succeed. Of course, this won't happen until MUCH MUCH MUCH later in my planned trilogy, but the chance of redemtion is to be such a pivotal part of my storyline. I'd appreciate feedback on this.


Well, thank you all who could make it through my message. And double thanks to those of you who responded.

I hope to be able to make rounds here every other day, so I'll see everyone at a later date.

Until such time, fare each of thee well!
Keith M.

S.K.S. Perry Sat Nov 14 07:31:06 PST 1998

S.N. Arly

I tried to check out your column at the Shallowend but the link you provided won't take me there. What am I doing wrong?

Sat Nov 14 07:23:34 PST 1998


Michele Fri Nov 13 23:36:38 PST 1998

If you don't mind I had rather Hayden didn't forget who paid for his Porsche - after all I worked very hard to earn the pennies that paid for it !!

And I still think *I* should have it to look after !


NANCY Fri Nov 13 21:15:57 PST 1998

I am desperate for information on agents. I've completed a novel (who hasn't), sent out several queries and got back many responses requesting first three chapters. However, most agents seem to want mss. on exclusive basis. At the rate it takes an agent to get back to writers I feel my novel would never see publication if I send mss. to each agent on exclusive basis for two to three months. I would appreciate any input from other writers with experience.

Hayden Fri Nov 13 20:51:00 PST 1998

Damn, forgot this is embedded. Try the llink above for The Source. Next time I'll read the instruction manual.

Hayden Fri Nov 13 20:47:55 PST 1998

All right gang, as the song says:

All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go, the taxi's waiting, it's blowing its horn, I hate to wake you up to say goodbye, but I'm leaving
on a jet plane
don't know when I'll be back again....

(Oh yes i do) See you all February 1st.

Note the above website, which is where I spend my daylight hours (building and looking after the damn thing). We are just attaching a new subweb to it (/nyma) which launches Monday 16th November. I was given a week to make the damn thing and it doesn't have one image of either me or a Porsche on it. (Final construction work goes on tomorrow and then it gets published.) Working for the government can be so demanding! Especially if the Minister is a little afraid of what his constituents think.

So, I'm off (really this time, Snarls, my wonderful lady friend) and I thank you all for the contributions to my Porsche, which truthfully was paid for by Michelle and housed with love by so many of you that it REALLY does exist.

As a parting final comment on GOOD and EVIL. Only Individuals can be evil. Communities can't.

Aw river morn shares! Till will be lonely without you...but jeez will I get a lot done (or else).


Pat Fri Nov 13 17:33:10 PST 1998

For what it's worth, my very first car, back in 1981, was a 1968 Ford Mustang, orignally fire-engine red, faded to a dusky rose-color (of course, it also originally had floorboards, but that's the trouble with those unibody cars, when they rust, they RUST).

Hayden - Forget about who paid for the Porsche (funny, I was hanging out here when that happened), remember who ASKED first. Dibs! Dibs!

As for the nature of evil, I think, perhaps the greatest evil is to hear a plea for help, a call to action, whatever, and simply do nothing.

Short story here.

1979. Home for the holidays, cold, headed for the bank downtown. Lunchtime crowds everywhere. I notice the people ahead of me, moving in the same direction,turning to look as they passed a shabby little man, moving against the pedestrian flow. I am distracted by the hail of a friend as I reach the little man, and manage to pass him without seeing him. For some reason, I look down at my feet. Little red spots. A line of them. A long line of them.

I turned back and caught up with the shabby little man just as he began to spiral down to the pavement, his bloody hands cupped in front of him. People stepping briskly around us, anxious to get far from the scene. A low-slung sportscar pulling to the curb as I frantically tried to find something clean in my pockets to staunch the flow of blood. High heels clicking on pavement. A brisk blond woman in a smart sports coat slapped a linen handkerchief over the wound. I'm staring blankly at her sportscar, wondering where the obligatory poodle could be hiding, when she snapped, "There's a squad car down the block. Go get him!" I sprint away, pushing throught the crowd that has finally formed, now that someone else had taken responsibility.

Evil. The ones who heard Kitty Genovese scream for her life and did nothing. The ones who built the ovens at Dachau but say they are blameless because they didn't turn them on. The ones who sigh over the plight of the homeless, but step over them in the street and move on. The ones who fight against abortion, but would never consider adopting an unwanted child.

Evil. Far more pervasive than we would like to believe. And far harder to fight.

Rhoda Fri Nov 13 16:15:04 PST 1998


If it makes you feel any better, my cold-natured clod of a car, my '95 Escort is red.

Allein-chan Fri Nov 13 15:22:08 PST 1998

A car - ah, the miracle of the modern world. So fast and incredible, yet SO out of my price range!!

My dream car is a 1966 or 67 mustang convertable - red of course. But, with my luck, I'll end up with a junky, grey bug (not one of the new ones). But, a girl can dream, can't she?

Well, gotta jet. Bye, bye.

S.N.Arly Fri Nov 13 14:37:54 PST 1998

Hayden - I own a red car, but it's about as far from being sporty as is possible. Ok. Not quite. It's not a motorhome or nothing, just a big old boat of a car. I also own a red moped. Woo hoo. I buzz all the little neighbor kids goin 30! Stupid thing tops out at 30.

Well, hope neither one DQs me from entering the bid on the Porsche while you're away. Besides which, you keep threatening to leave but then you don't. Stop toying with our sensibilities! How many goodbyes must we endure!

Hey cool, I'm so cold my fingers have gone all white. Time to get out the space heater!

S.K.S. Perry Fri Nov 13 08:50:14 PST 1998

Consider the very nature of Evil. What is Evil anyway? At its very basic level, I believe evil is what occurs when we put our own needs and desires ahead of the needs and desires of others, at their expense. A simplistic view--maybe, but can anyone come up with an example of evil where this isn't the case? Let me know.

Be Well, Live Well.

Rhoda Fri Nov 13 07:21:01 PST 1998

I once read a foreward in a poetry book that stated that great poetry gives the average, common person the opportunity to experience emotionally all aspects of life. Think of all the poetry about death, evil, love, rejection, war and all the other various life issues. With poetry or literature we can dwell on these matters in the safety of our own homes without "really" having to walk through them.

Much of the best literature is good versus evil. Almost every story has some aspect of that struggle whether it is a struggle with an evil person or the evil within us. This is conflict most people face everyday, for we all want to do the right thing. We want to be good spouses, good parents, good citizens, good writers, etc. Forces around us and often within us seem to stand in our way. In most cases in literature, good wins out. That might not be the case in real life, but I believe that is an issue we are always trying to resolve. We find comfort in our literature. Here we see life's senerios played out in a safe, imaginary, non-threatning envirnonment, yet all the passion and tension remains.

Happy writing, all!


S.K.S Perry Fri Nov 13 07:14:20 PST 1998

To Howard and Hayden and any others who expressed their thanks for what us military types do--well, thanks! I'll pass it along to the rest of the folks I work with. I know they'll appreciate it.


Even though my Ninja is now an older model, I've had it off the dial at over 240 Kmh, (that's roughly 145 mph for you Americans.)It's an incredible feeling to be travelling that fast on something as open as a motorcycle. Still, it doesn't compare to travelling at somewhat over mach in the back of an F18 fighter, five hundred feet above the deck. WOW! Or riding in an F16 as it simulates being a missle and dives at a destroyer over the Atlantic. I wouldn't give these experiences up for the world.

One of my most memorable...ah...memories is flying over New York city, at night, during a lightening storm, while listening to Jimmy Hendricks "Purple Haze." Talk about your phsycedelic (sp?) experiences. It was in the back of a small fighter (T33 Silver Star, or T-Bird as we call them). With the millions of lights of the city below, and the intense flash of lightening at cloud level (sheet, fork and ball lightening)it was almost to much to visually process. The clouds took on orange and black flares as the lighteing flashed. It was dreamlike.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, Hayden, keep your porche, I don't need it.

Barb, I had never thought of the small things, like cheating on your taxes, or keeping a video a day passed its due date, as evil. They were at the most...bad. I guess from a religious point of view though, if it's bad, it's evil. The concept gives me a lot to think about. There might even be a story in there somewhere! Thanks.

Michele Fri Nov 13 03:01:54 PST 1998


Me for the Porsche - after all *I* paid for the thing !! (I can easily hire a driver - you think guys won't be falling over themselves to drive it ? The difficulty will be in persuading them they drive it for me - and with me in it !!) - If it comes to that I can think of a couple of girls who wouldn't mind driving it either - but they'd do it more slowly ! (Go on tell me that's a sexist remark !)


Took a look at your web site thingy - cool, dude !!

Sorry I'm a slightly manic frame of mind - I've handed in one assignment and finished another this week - and it's Friday and I'm free for the rest of the day (insofar as I have no more classes today !) . . . just contemplating going home and doing some work on the next assignment (no rest for the student !) - but figured I'd drop by here first.


Goodweed of the North Thu Nov 12 20:54:48 PST 1998

S.K.S.; I know what you mean. However, the fastest I've ever gone was 105 mph on a Yamaha 550 Vision which I loved, especially after puting new rubber on it that wrapped it's tread up the sidewalls. It leaned into a curve with precision, grace, and power. I merely thought, "turn" and the bike responded. There is nothing quite like the thrill of a responsive bike.

Speed is relative. The 105 was thrilling, but not as much as climbing some of the near vertical hills on the DT250 Yamaha Enduro I rode in southern California back in 1975/76. The twenty-five or so mph on my nephews Hoda CR250 on one wheel, through the woods of upper peninsula Michigan scare the socks off of me. It wa unexpected powerband that launched the front wheel into the air in second gear with a quarter throttle twist, without using the clutch.

I know from whence you speak.

Great debate going on about good and evil. All POV's I have seen here have merit and display intelligence and a strong degree of integrity. Now let's transform those ideas into great text.

Does anyone know how the idea of the round robin story is proceeding? I look forward to that exercise. It should be entertaining, and great training.

Good writing to all of you. I feel very good indeed to be in such fine company.

Seeeeya; Goodweed of the North

Ben WOestenburg library Thu Nov 12 20:53:28 PST 1998

Jack: Help me. I'm being interrupted on this line by the girl next to me printing out pages! I just found out how to get onm here and now I can't even see what I'm writing. And now the goddamned library's closing on me.

Hayden Thu Nov 12 19:05:52 PST 1998

Ah hell, missed the button the first time...

To all you military types, I admire you, and along with Howard I'd like to say Thank You. A lot of my work draws on battles from the wars of this century, and my research into the world wars really puts my mind at ease that sensible people will put aside their fear and fight for what they believe is right...and GOOD.

To all of you who want to borrow the Porsche, please draw lots and the last one standing can do the honors of looking after it. You must mention it at least once a week.

To those of you who have owned or do own a red sportscar, shame on you! (Envy speaks here)

Those who want to email me while I am off line can do so at the above email address.

Cheers to all.

Haydne Thu Nov 12 18:59:33 PST 1998

Howard Thu Nov 12 18:42:03 PST 1998

SKS -- dunno if anyone else has said it, but:
For giving up part of your life to help those folks down there. Thanks for doing a job that most of us can't do (though some maybe would, if they could). I know, it's just a job, and having spent several years in the military I know that you go where they send you, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't be thankful that you're willing to go.
Someone at church the other day gave me a big hug, and a copy of a letter to veterans, and said thanks. And it really got to me. Anyway, I'm passing it along to you, and to other vets I know.

Barb G. Thu Nov 12 17:26:55 PST 1998

Hi Y'all,

SKS: I'm sorry I forgot to send you a note that I received it. You finally received my e-mail, I hope. I love it. It will be fantastic!!

Good and Evil: I've been reading for the past few days what all of you had to say. It was much easier when we were the first people on the block to have a TV in 1949. I watched "Frankenstein" "The Mummy" "Dracula" and it was scary. The bad guys were bad simply because they were. We knew who to hate, who to care for, who to worry about, etc., but

Nowadays the fun is gone with monsters and ghouls because we're always giving reasons for why they "went wrong:" Broken homes. Abusive parents. Bad friends and environment. We now give people long lists of reasons of why and how they became evil. And we're directed to forgive them for their meanness and horror.

But, to prove a point. Jeffrey Dahmer - his neighbors said he was a nice quiet guy. Never caused any trouble. Went to work, minded his own business, etc.

Dacy, the killer of little boys who dressed like a clown and entertained children at parties and hospitals. Neighbors said he was a really nice guy. Paid his bills. Always wore a smile.

I won't go on (I hear your sigh of relief!), but suffice it to say evil is all around us. Like it or not. One of your friends is cheating on his taxes. The boss at work is cheating on his wife. A neighbor is cheating cable by watching boot-leg shows. Who knows what else?

In writing, and I hope that's where this discussion was heading, evil is so much more fun to write. I hums. It frightens. It startles. In another writing group I'm in on-line, I've been reviewing some ms/s and just finished one where the little boy and his father are playing on the ice in their beloved Scotland. The father falls through. The boy stands over his drowning dad and thinks, you made me cry and that wasn't right...Honest to God, that was the last line of the story.

Well, it knocked me for a loop.

I'm sorry if I pushed the envelope here space-wise. But, GOOD doesn't sell like EVIL does. Draw your own conclusions.


S.K.S. Perry Thu Nov 12 17:08:24 PST 1998

S.N. Arly

Only the meek ones.

S.N.Arly Thu Nov 12 13:45:42 PST 1998

Goodweed - Good to see you, figuratively, of course. And from your post are we to assume you are having some success in that sort of out of reach but attainable goal?

It was the Germans. Love that tasty carp. They can't figure our why we pull them out an leave em somewhere to rot. Oh wait, I'm a vegetarian so I guess they're not the only ones who wonder, but for different reasons.

Carp and roaches. They shall inherit the earth.

S.K.S Perry Thu Nov 12 08:18:59 PST 1998

Rhoda, people who cannot tolerate dissent generally aren't this way because of any need to justify what they do. They are this way because they believe 100% that what they are doing is the only true way. This is one of the reasons that such great evil can be done in the name of religion--eg. the Spanish Inquisition and the Burning Times. If you believe that God is on your side and yours alone, you can justify anything.

As to the belief that we must answer to a higher power, even those of us who are unsure of what to believe in have an underlying sense that we will have to answer for what we do somehow. Sometimes I wonder if that's why God(if He exisits) doesn't provide us with the definitive proof of his existance that many of us crave. Who wouldn't do the right thing if we KNEW for a fact that there was a God and we would have to atone? Maybe His real test is to see whether we will do the right thing just because it IS the right thing to do, and not because of the concequences. Isn't that the ulitimate test of free will?

Rhoda Thu Nov 12 07:54:52 PST 1998

Congratulations Howard!!! How exiciting.

I had a Cavalier, Toby, and I still have fond memories about that little red car. It was an '85. In 1992 it got caught in a hail storm. For years I drove it with all the hail indents on it. By this time the car was showing its age. You are right, Toby, you had to strain that car to go 80mph, but being that I am the conservative law-abiding type of woman, I was happy that it handily did 65mph. Life didn't get tough for me until my father felt I needed a new car and gave me his '95 Escort. 80mph in an Escort--don't even think it. When I started driving that car, people pulled out on me, tailgated me and made my life miserable on the road. I did not have the respect that I had when I was driving my beat-up Cavalier. No longer did I look like an uninsured motorist. In the Escort I had to turn off the air-conditioner just to pass someone. I turned that car back over to my father. Frank and I are going to buy a Ford Windstar whenever we get more financially settled from the move.

Good and Evil. Absolutes. Haven't we discussed this one before? Good and evil are not in the eyes of the beholder. We might call one thing "good" and another thing "evil," but calling it doesn't make it so. I believe we all have a basic idea what is right and what is wrong. If we didn't have this sense there never would have been civilization. No person is totally good. According to the Bible we are all sinners and it is by the grace of God that we do anything good. This is how I look at it because I am a Christian. I am a Christian not because I think it is what I ought to be or I was brought up this way. I am a Christian because the Bible's way of viewing mankind and its perceptions of good and evil best fit what I have seen of the world. I have always known that there are absolutes, and it is hard for me to understand how people can operate in a relative world. Since I was a kid, before I ever stepped into a Sunday school class, I felt like this.

I think I know what you are trying to say, S.K.S. and in a sense I agree with you because I see that you are looking at things from the human point of view and not an absolute, transcendant one. Deep down, don't we all believe that we will account for what we do to a power higher than us? Isn't that why religion has been with people from the beginning of time? Doesn't that knowledge explain why people who do evil things are so defensive about what they do? If deep down they didn't think it was wrong, they wouldn't go to such outlandish efforts to justify it by propaganda and the persecution of those who don't approve of the action. Such people can never tolerate dissent. Consider Hitler. Consider Communist U.S.S.R. Consider the Spanish Inquisition.

Well, I must go and deal with the more pressing issues of cleaning my kitchen and vacumning my living room.

Happy writing!


S.K.S. Perry Thu Nov 12 06:04:56 PST 1998

Hi everyone,

I'm back--again. I know, Iknow, I said the same thing last week, but this time I mean it. It seems everytime I'm ready to hunker down and get to work, the military has other plans for me. I just spent the last week in Nicaragua helping with the huricane relief effort there. (One day you're shooting at each other, the next you're standing up to your chin in brackish water, trying to hold back a flood with a few measly sandbacks so you can save their lives--I much prefer the latter.)Anyway, here I am again.

First, I'd like to congratulate Howard. Congratulations Howard! And yes, I KNOW it's my turn, so don't go rubbing it in. I read over the story you sent me (Jeremy's Lantern?) and loved it, of course. I don't know if you wanted me to critique\edit it, but I did anyway, cause that's just the kind of guy I am. I'll send it to you shortly. By the way, you have to start finishing some of these (eg Migration) I have bits and pieces of these great stories of yours running around in my head.

Secondly, Caroline, I recieved Chapter 11 of Erranon--all three versions! I'll go over the latest version and get back to you. Hope everythings great with you--your starting summer holidays soon aren't you?--Lucky #@$%#!

Barb, I sent you my contribution so far to that story we're working on. Did you get it? I had a real hoot working on it and I hope you're happy with what I've submitted. If not, let me know and it's back to the drawing board.

Pat, did you recieve my suggestions for chapter 9? of Elaina? If not, I learned from my mistake last time and I saved it to disk. Let me know and I'll send it again if need be.

As far as the need for speed goes, I prefer mine of the tangible variety. No virtual stuff here. I have a 1987 Kawasaki Ninja 750 (that's a motorcyle for the uninitiated)that satisfies any craving for reckless speed and exitement. For the more mundane travell, my Geo Tracker (4 wheel drive, convertible) takes me anywhere I want to go.

And finally, as for the nature of good and evil, I have to agree that the terms are relative. They're much the same as the concept of history--written by the winners. Whether someone is good or evil depends on which side of the fence you're viewing them from.

In my experience, pure evil (or pure good for that matter) exists only in literature, or mythology. We all have shades of both within us, and our evil side may not be burried as deep as we would like to think. Note the things that happen to normal, law abiding citizens when a mob mentality prevails--the rioting and looting that takes place when the power goes out, or when their hometown team takes the Cup or the Pennant.

The atrocities that took place in Sarajevo were done by "civilised" people. Sarajevo isn't some third world hovel. It's a beautiful, industrial city with a population of over 500,000. These people were doctors, lawyers (OK, maybe there is pure evil) teachers--all the professions that make up a modern city--yet when civil war broke out, the horrors carried out by the people who lived next door were unbelievable. I saw men crucified to the walls of their homes by their neighbours. Apparently they were hung their and made to watch while their wives and daughters were raped in front of them. These unspeakable acts were carried out not by some demon, hellspawn, or nazi throwback, but by the guy next door, who probably had a wife and kids of his own that he loved very much and treated with kindness and gentleness.

Sometimes it makes me wonder if evil is simply what happens when all the rules are off. It's like that old hypothetical question--what crime would you commit if you knew for certain that you couldn't be caught? Is it evil to steal. How about from some big, nameless corporation like a bank or insurance company that really deserves it anyway.

Have I given anyone something to think about? I hope so. As usually, I'm always happy to correspond\argue\enlighten\learn from anyone who wishes to contact me.

Till Later,

Be Well, Live Well

Caroline Heske Thu Nov 12 00:19:30 PST 1998

Alright, pre-industrial society was enchanting at first, but now I'm beginning to feel rather jealous. You guys all get porches and motorcycles, and me? Well I get a horse and cart IF I'm lucky... Most of the time I give up and walk. In addition, I notice one tiny little scratch in the paintwork and feel obliged to stop and fix it up. Then again, this does give me time to reflect, and (I think) learn a lot along the way. I see a lot of things that I would miss if I moved faster. I'm steadily making my way along this road, gradually picking up the pace, with many more destinations planned once I get to wherever I'm going.

Publishers... hmm... I'm a little suspicious of publishers. What business do they have judging my story anyway?

toby buckell Wed Nov 11 21:29:29 PST 1998

It is one of the few desires I have; to own a nice handling sports car that I can rip up the back roads of Ohio with. I like to go fast, but in a Chevy Cavalair '86 fast is anything over 80, which I can do, but the handling is worrisome. I don't mind going fast as long as there is no traffic, I wouldn't mind killing myself, I would be worried about my Karma if I totalled someone else though, oh wait I'm an agnostic, it doesn't apply...still. My favorite would have to be the Toyota Supra, and I saw an '84 in excellent condition the other day for a measly $350 and almost wroter the check then and there, even though I didn't have the money.(mom, dad, could you...?)

As for publishing: dudes! I tasted a bit sucess when James Baker bought my story for the February issue of Martian Wave with the possibility of including it in one of his anthos next year, and I liked. Nothing to report this month, but I'm plugging away. I have 20 short stories out in the mail. I even have a journal that details my battle (, and it has been a lot of fun to be a part of an informal webring of other SF journal writers. I intend to repeat selling more and often in the near future...

Howard Wed Nov 11 19:30:38 PST 1998

I don't think it means that I can buy another Porsche right now (I had a '57 Speedster) but I've just had a story accepted for publication, and two poems under consideration!
Both are in E-zines (good ones). No pay, but credibility (who needs money, anyway?).
And if *I* can do it, *anyone* (with a bit of effort) can do it!
The Porsche? It was a blue Speedster, with red shell buckets (leather) and a Spyder (twin Solex carbs) engine. It had side curtains instead of windows, and they vibrated like the dickens above 90mph. It wasn't real fast, but it was quick! Only lost it twice, with no damage but a bent tailpipe. That oversteer was a killer! I finally traded it in, and a grade school teacher who was trying it out drove it out of the dealer's lot, and right in front of a milk tanker. Totalled car and teacher. I paid $1350.00 for it in 1960, and the last one I saw for sale had a $56,000 price tag on it. Shoulda kept it!

Pat Wed Nov 11 17:51:00 PST 1998

Oh, my, it's been awhile, a long while. Tried to stop back here several times, but the site wouldn't load. Tried it once more and here I am...just in time, it seems, to say goodby to Hayden! Oh, dear, and I was so looking forward to getting into discussions with you again, Hayden! May I borrow the Porsche while your gone? My automotive malconstruance is acting up and I could use a good fallback!

The first thing I ever wrote was a 99-page novel on an old, 1920's Underwood office typewriter. It wasn't "hunt-and-peck" work, it was more like "search-and-destroy."

But I used this for years, three years to be exact, until, on my 18th birthday, I got a cheap electric typewriter and wrote short stories, screenplays, bad poetry and the false starts to three novels before finally graduating to an actual computer.

Then I found out that editing was actually possible for me to do. Until then, the mere mechanics of the process had been so daunting, I'd never bothered. With the ease of the "delete" key, not to mention ye olde "cut" and "paste" commands, I discovered the joys of fixing what I wrote. My writing got MUCH better.

I've never taken a computer or software class or had any tutoring. I've always just been thrown at machines and systems and expected to cope. For this reason, I eschew WordPerfect, which is probably a good system, but too difficult to just jump on and run with. Bill Gates deserves whatever afterlife torment he receives, but he does make a user-friendly product, so I've pretty much stayed with Microsoft.

As a working journalist, I'm addicted to Quark, simply because I use it a lot. But I've played with CorelDraw and I'm in love with a system I'll never be able to afford, Adobe PhotoShop!

But for the nuts and bolts...give me Microsoft Word, and enough stamps, paper and toner cartridges to get the job done. Then get out of my way, 'cause I've got work to do!

It's nice to be back.

Goodweed of the North Wed Nov 11 17:26:29 PST 1998

Snarly; Carp - large, ugly, bony fish imported to the pristine Great Lakes by Europeans who consider it a delicacy. In fact, one notable cookbook claims that carp is the national Christmas dish in Poland.

November 10th was the aniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald, a very powerful and successful lake freighter which I used to watch pass in front of my home as a child. In memorial of the event, I, with help from my eldest daughter, wrote an untitled poem and placed it on the workbook in the poetry section. It needs no critique but is placed there for you enjoyment (or ridicule, or whatever).

As to evil and good, evil is selfish and is willing to harm others for its own reward, be that money, power, lust, etc. Good is selfless, seeking nothing for itself, but doing good for good's sake. Its goal is to uplift and improve the lot of all. Those are the extremes. Neither are attainable by mortals, though I suspect pure evil to be more closely approximated than pure good.

Sorry Hayden, no flame wars erupting. Get into that porche (my favorite sports car of all time, except the one I drew up on autocad of course), and full speed ahead. Clear the mind of phillosophical garbage and replace it with adrenaline rush, and endorphine highs as you wind dangerously around convoluted mountain roads which threaten to hurl you into the inky blackness of abandon. Put pen to paper and create a masterpiece of feeling and storytelling genius which will amaze us and allow us to say proudly, "I know that guy". Don't be surprized to see me beside you on my virtual VMAX motorcycle, challenging inertia with nothing more than the friction of my tires against the pavement, providing centripital force, against which I throw speed and growing skill.

I expect to see Rhoda and Toby, and Jack, and SNarly, and..., rushing up behind us like so many kindred spirits, vying for the just out of reach, but attainable goal, PUBLISHED.

Got to put pen to paper myself soooo;

Seeeeeya; Goodweed of the North

Lydia Sweet Wed Nov 11 09:22:52 PST 1998


I'll bring the graham crackers and the Hersey bars! S'Mores the better. (Ouch!)

The good, the bad , the ugly and the in between. Wow. Just by viewing everyones thoughts on good and evil is clear example of just how different each of us perceives the two value levels. My villian isn't evil at all, but his actions are perceived that way by other characters as well as some of my readers. In reality he simply has no moral comparison to judge by. He was not raised to love, so his lack of emotional involvement is considered evil or "bad". Is he therefore not a good villian when he begins to have normal human emotions? He doesn't even understand the confusion in his own mind and tries to reject it as a weakness as he was taught. Is he good or bad?

There are indeed degrees to evil. That without redemption and that where there is hope.

And Hayden keep the Porshe in the garage so that demon won't smash it up while you are gone. OK?


Wed Nov 11 01:07:35 PST 1998

Hayden Tue Nov 10 18:43:23 PST 1998

Haven't quite got away yet, though monday is it.

Litter: well written! (Your handle belies the merit of your thinking.)

All the rest of you and on comment:
I find an evil character who you know is evil and yet does little things that are supposedly "good", boring.(This is qualified further down the text) And I do mean little things...such as swerving to miss the Porsche when they have just smashed up fifty thousand other virtual cars. In some ways it justifies them being bad most of the time...can't quite explain it... Maybe its because you are saying "oh, they are not really evil...see?"
I, personally, don't empathise with wishy-washy sorts of evil characters. Maybe they are too cliched and the need for your reader to empathise with your not-really-a-baddy is just a crutch for a story line that is mediocre. ( the flame war erupt now!)

Relentless evil is more believable, like someone or something who has no chink in their armor.It doesn't matter whether they think they are doing good or not (though it does make interesting reading) as long as the reader has a firm idea of what the character appears to be. If a relentless evil starts doing big things of the good kind, then they are not heading for redemption at all and have an ulterior motive for the act, which makes it more interesting...especially when they slip from grace again. With the relentless evil, one small act of good is all that is needed for redemption, and when it comes, that should be the end of the tale. Full stop. Anything else is word count.

Of course that is a simplistic view of things and you will all have a bit of fun burning me in effigy, but hey, so what! I'll bring the marshmellows.

I suppose it's because I like the good guys winning and driving Porsches.

Litter Tue Nov 10 14:46:11 PST 1998

Caroline, et al.
For purposes of fiction all that is required from an evil character is the façade or pretence of being good. This way a character can be truly evil but undiscovered for as long as you wish to make him/her. True evil perpetrated by someone ostensibly being kind, supportive and helpful, (without prior knowledge of the reader) can have a dramatic effect.
Sociopaths and psychopaths may not realise the effect their acts have on others but it does not stop many of them being perceived as criminally evil and without mitigating merit. Dark Fantasy and Horror thrive on truly evil characters but the MO’s, or lack thereof, of truly evil characters tends not to worry readers too much. In fiction relating to modern, historic or alternate societies (Dark fantasy notwithstanding) readers do tend to look for a raison d’etre, or MO. In these circumstances, just as ‘good’ characters benefit (as characters) from having some flaw, so do evil characters benefit and become more complex (inner conflicts and the like) from having some good traits.
The real skill in characterisation is to make the reader believe that your characters are what you make them out to be, or what you expose them as being.
For the good becomes evil scenario I think Howard has it taped.

Motives are fine for human characters but what of those who are not human? (E.g. Satanic or demonic forces whose raison d’etre IS evil, plus the plethora of witches, warlocks, goblins, etc., etc.)

If the scale between truly evil and truly good is to have meaning it must be defined by its extremes or end points just as light and dark are. I agree with you in that the vast majority have both good and evil in differing amounts but it takes only one at each end-point to define the full range. For a Christian the Good would be Christ and the evil Satan. For your own fiction they may be defined as whomsoever you please. (Remember Hitler perceived Jews as animals without any redeeming humanity, therefore in his warped mind He was the Good and the Jewish Nation was the Evil.)

Ravings end.


K.C. Ramey Tue Nov 10 09:32:46 PST 1998

I agree with Allein about The Rapist in her stories. You really can't sympathize with him until you find out who he is and more about his past.

As for good and evil - who decides what is actually good and what is evil. For all we know a so called evil person could see what he or she is doing as good and see the so called good people as evil. I guess it just depends on your perspective. A real life example is exacution. We kill a "evil" person for killing other people. Does that make us evil for killing that person? Just a thought.

For those of you who are following my Twin Gates story - I have finished the third chapter and am now working on the 5th (4th was finished before the 3rd). Once I get the corrections back from a friend of mine I will have all the chapters up dated and chapter 5 up. That should be sometime this week.

Caroline Heske Mon Nov 9 21:28:28 PST 1998

Toby, Allein, and Rhoda - having played devil's advocate for long enough now, I have to say that I agree with you. My 'ultimate evil' and 'ultimate good' just for fun reside in the same person. The catastrophe which they are struggling to deal with was caused by a previous (successful) attempt to save the world from impending destruction - like the saving caused a whole new problem... What would a story be without paradox? :)

What about this, though: is evil defined by consequences, or by intent? Is evil perhaps a point of view? Can it ever be justifiable?

Rhoda Mon Nov 9 16:33:37 PST 1998

The best bad guys are really the ones who think themselves to being doing something good. Sometimes in literature as in real life, good intentions get distorted and go awry, such as the guy who embezzles from his company to pay his sick child's medical expenses.

To the unfortunate inhabitants of the Middle East back in the Middle Ages, the crusaders from Europe were definitely the bad guys. They raped, pillaged, masacred all in the name of a supposedly good cause. Religion is the once thing that comes to mind, but other things such as desire for control, political fervor, and revenge can turn a normal, good guy or gal into a villain. Actually I think that these people make the best antagonists because people who believe they are doing hard, unpleasant things for a good cause often do the most unspeakable things (Consider Northern Ireland).

I wanted to mention that I have updated my web-pages this week-end. Please come and check them out.

Happy writing!


Allein-chan Mon Nov 9 15:22:22 PST 1998

I never said that the person was totally evil - look at when he raped Allein and cut his hand open. He wants Allein to die, but he still wraps cloth around his hand so he won't bleed to death. So, there's a little good in him. The only thing is that you can't really sympathize with the rapist until you know who it is and know his past, because he's only known as the killer or the rapist. And I know that the horrible acts he did can't be justified, but I do give insight into why he did them.
So, adios all for now.

S.N.Arly Mon Nov 9 13:28:37 PST 1998

Jack - Aaaagh! Not a blink tag! For the love of dog, man, turn it off! People used to get really annoying back in the old BBS days with colored blink tags all over their posts. Drove me nuts. Well, not quite literally.

Should I decide to try HTML here again, I will remember to be very careful. Otherwise I guess I'll just go the post it in my tag method as seen above.

All - I'm interested to hear what people think of ye olde column. Especially as we all profess to be writers. So see it at ShallowEND and let me know if you agree or if you think I'm full of carp. Mmm carp. Big ugly imported fish....


Krystyn Poe Mon Nov 9 11:09:45 PST 1998

Hello everyone!

I know, I'm a newbie here. I just discovered this site while trying to fine information for an essay on what it's like to be a writer for school, and I was wondering if you could email or post a few messages that could help an aspiring writer like me.

Thank you!


Mon Nov 9 11:01:06 PST 1998

real villian, I'm all over typos...(english major :)

toby by Mon Nov 9 11:00:30 PST 1998

'Sblood Caroline, touche! You are indeed right, but look at one of the greatest villians ever Darth Vader. He ended up being that more chilling because of that small streak of good in him. And even Sauron of Lord of the Rings ended up with some traits of realism. I guess what impresses me is logical motives. I hate evil characters who do evil just because it is evil. I like motivation: power, greed etc. Those are not necesarily good, but they are human. They make a full character if you can understand his (or hers, I'm not sexist, really) underlying M.O, even if what he does is utterly despicable.

Heres to a realy villian, toast and drink up...

Howard Mon Nov 9 05:25:39 PST 1998

Caroline -- a character changing from evil to good is a well-used plot fixture, and it can be very effective and believable if done right. T'other way 'round, too, unfortunately. Redemption is possible, but normally follows an act of grace. The hero is nice to the bad guy, and the bad guy repents. Or the bad guy comes into contact with the innocence of a child and somehow remembers what his sainted granny taught him, and his conscience gets the upper hand.
Sounds awfully religious, don't it?
I wonder why? :-)

Caroline Heske Mon Nov 9 01:11:02 PST 1998

Searching for good in your evil characters (and vice versa) certainly makes for an interesting story, but it also makes it easy to fall into the trap of romanticising the evil. Just because an action is justifiable doesn't mean it hurts any less for the person who suffers. (I'm not suggesting you do this, Allein, but it is a trap I have noticed some writers fall into).

Toby - a personality that is 'all evil' is not very believable, true, but fiction is riddled with examples of evil 'forces' which assume a sort of persona - like Sauron in Tolkien, or the Dark One in Robert Jordan, or Dahak in Xena for that matter... As I was saying to Lisa, much of fantasy's appeal is that there is frequently a big evil god thingy prominently saying 'aim at me, you can't go wrong!' There is never the risk of fighting till your last breath for a cause, succeeding, and then finding what you did was actually the worst possible thing you could do.

Toby B Sun Nov 8 18:58:30 PST 1998

Allein: a character that is all evil is not believable. By making that person someone with whom the reader can almost sympathize is what makes a real character, and the whole deal that more chilling.

On a personal note: man, life has been busy. I took on the responsibility of handling our college's website. It's pretty basic right now, but like anything else I get my dirty paws on, I have big plans...visit the Witmarsum and check it out...My mother's boss also wants me to design a website for their business, so who knows where this might be leading.

Jack!= I'm following in your great footsteps man! :)

Allein-chan Sun Nov 8 08:58:52 PST 1998

Caroline - I'm a believer in the yin-yang theory. There is a little good in people who are evil and a little evil in people who are good. For instance, the rapist in my story is percieved as being increadably evil but later on when his identity is revealed, people recognize him for the good things he's done (sure, he killed 24 people - maybe more, but he's done plenty of good things too). Obviously, I can't give out these 'good things' or it'll give away the rapist's identity.

Bye bye,

Sat Nov 7 22:11:58 PST 1998

Caroline Heske Sat Nov 7 22:03:36 PST 1998

Thank-you to everyone who responded to my request for medical info... Despite the fact she has immortality on her side, I don't think I want to give that away entirely in that scene, so I'll have her rescued after 48 hours or so.

Here's a question:
Can a person be/come 'evil' or 'good'? Is good always corrupted by evil, or could evil be the startpoint to be 'corrupted' by good? Is there fundamentally a balance?

Sat Nov 7 17:56:40 PST 1998

p.s. As it happened, I made several mistakes in coding and had to change this four times until I got it right. So, even I get it wrong at times.

Jack Beslanwitch Sat Nov 7 17:46:42 PST 1998

       Everyone: Given we have topped over a 100k I have elected to archive back to Hayden's announcement that he would be taking a hiatus until January.

       Hayden: Speaking of you. Yes, when are in the land down under Fran and I would be delighted to take you up on your offer. I'll talk with you more on that off line later
       S.N.Arly: Yes, HTML is definitely allowed. Even though I will have to occasionally dip in and correct a not closed tag. I do request, carrying a very big stick, that no one uses a blink tag ;-) - Even and especially me, Thank you very much.

Litter Sat Nov 7 16:38:28 PST 1998

Well Hi there y’all,

Allein – Glad you like the name :o) When I signed on to aol I wanted a ‘literary’ name that could be other things as well – enigmatic if you like. Saying LitterAli as one word, and not a name, it becomes ‘Literally’. I kinda liked that because lots of people didn’t see it as first. (Really!) My online friends called me Litter for short and I found myself answering to it, even on the phone. It puzzles people that I like it – so I keep it in the knowledge that my name is writ large on receptacles and poles in every town around me.

Computers – Wonderful tools! They let you multi task, cut & paste, drag and drop, organise, back up and work on several projects all at once. I work with 3 editors currently who all accept articles by e-mail and I’m sure many more will before much longer. It is the future and it is available now. Gets the time right down for contributing. I suppose I am fortunate that my typing is faster than my handwriting in any case, so it makes sense. I do still carry a notebook when I’m away from the PC and it has proved its usefulness on many occassions.

MS Word - Love it to bits. It does everything I want it to do including rolling word and grammar checking, and automatic saves every 5 minutes. I’ve tried Claris and Zoom and a host of others but nothing came close. I don’t like anything that Corel make. Don’t know why but I’ve always found other software that is easier and/or better. But it is a personal thing I suppose – each to his/her own.

Influence – No getting away from it people are sometimes influenced by what they read. But it’s not just the writer but the reader also. Look at the panic Orson Welles caused with ‘War of the Worlds’ when he broadcast it. I reckon that all a writer can do is the best job he/she can in whatever field they work – the readership will decide on whether or not the writing influences them. I DO believe that if something is written well it will evoke a response in the reader, even if that response is just one of pleasure or fear or…

I like Sci-Fi and it is commonly believed that today’s Science Fiction is tomorrow’s Science Fact, although there are some pretty obvious exceptions such as Sci-Fi Satire.

All good things


Allein-chan Sat Nov 7 09:58:09 PST 1998

Caroline - Sue was right about the hallucenations, so I'd trust her on that. I checked w/ my anatomy teacher though, he said that she probably wouldn't be unconscious - but semi-conscious. She'd also probably be very irritable after the first 24 hours or so.


Joan Sat Nov 7 09:03:48 PST 1998

Hello to all the familiar and new "voices." Actually, I haven't posted here for so long that I'm the new voice to many of you. What a wonderful place! Glad to see Hayden and his Porsche are still around, and that Rhoda has gotten settled in her new digs.

As to the topic, what I need RIGHT NOW is a cattle prod! I've taken off several months from writing to study for a national certification test for my "paying job" (as opposed to writing, which hasn't paid $ yet), passed it, and am now trying to get back into my fiction. HELLLLLLP! I set a goal of finishing by Christmas a novel I had started a year or so ago. Hah. Any suggestions? (I have a feeling you're going to tell me what I already know--just do it. But I'll ask anyway; maybe you'll surprise me!

As to pen vs. computer, I wrote the first draft of my first novel in a combination of ink/typewriter, which required many revisions, much retyping, and eventual transfer onto computer. But the point is, it got done. And that's what it takes---just doing it. I'd take a pen/pad with me wherever I go--work, dentist, park--in case I have a moment to spare. You can always transfer it onto computer or word processor, which ultimately is where you want it. Otherwise, even when it's all done, the editor may want changes, and you do NOT want to have to retype the whole thing, or make messy changes to a typewritten manuscirpt. I use a Word Perfect program, which works well because it's easy to transfer into another computer language. Programs like WordPad are dangerous, because they don't transfer well. Just ask Michelle--I E-mailed her all 500 or so pages of my manuscript, and we had a little trouble getting it into a format her computer would take, but eventually got it done.

Sorry to be so long-winded---guess I'd better post "early and often." Jack, thanks again for the wonderful site! Bye all.


Thomas Fri Nov 6 10:54:47 PST 1998

Gary. It seems the most logical choice from which to get the release is the copyright owner. If you belong to a writer's union there should be a resource available to answer legal questions. You can also ask the legal and copyright guy who writes for Writer's Digest Magazine.

THOMAS Fri Nov 6 10:46:17 PST 1998

Yes, Barb, I am aware of the many endearing qualities housed inside the often tiny minds of editors. I simply was so frustrated the other day I had to vent.
I shall get the last laugh after the success of the book; magazine editors who once saw me as just another pain in the rear end writer will be forced to admit I am THE EXPERT! Ah, heavenly revenge.
As for writing by hand or by computer (forget the typewriter), I find it too easy to fix mistakes on the computer. That means I often wind up losing earlier important thoughts because I was stupid enough not to save them. And I have serious trouble reading anything more than a few paragraphs on a screen. Nevertheless, since the advent of the wordprocessor, I seem unable to write any other way. Often, I print on an old dot matrix just so I can read my stuff comfortably and correct it by hand. You guys all remember dot matrix, don't you?

Fri Nov 6 10:42:29 PST 1998

garrycouch Fri Nov 6 10:42:05 PST 1998


I queried this forum for some advice and got some good stuff--
regarding my desire to write about a place and characters
invented by a now-deceased author. His estate says" Approval must come from the publisher." The publisher says (guess what)
"The approval must come from the estate." The advice I got was not to try to publish until clarification was made...good idea. In case all else fails...ask an attorney. Have not been able to locate an attorney who can offer legal advice on matter. Hence, and therefore, I return again to this fount of info to see if someone can furnish the name and phone number of an attorney competent in this area. Thanks for considering...............................ENJOY!!!!!!!!


Barb G. Fri Nov 6 07:34:52 PST 1998

Hi Y'all,

Been away awhile working my little fingers to know.

Thomas: Welcome to the "real" world of writing. Editors can be insensitive, churlish, down-right insulting -- but if you are receiving hand-written notes, it means you have interested them enough in your work that they have more to say than the pre-printed pink slip. Hang on. It gets worse.

On topic: My stories start out written on anything at hand: the back of a greeting card, envelopes (a personal favorite), napkins (I kid you not), in the borders of magazines, etc., etc.
Even with my PC, I still use an outline when the story needs to be structured intricately to tell the story I have in mind. Then again, sometimes (not often), the idea is so good and so engaging that I rush to the PC and lay it out that way.
The PC has been a boon for my writing in that it is so fast and so easy to get words down. Writing by hand is too slow for me, and the old "selectric" IBM is not even plugged in anymore.
Lots of times, my husband has taken an empty cereal box and "filed" my story notes inside just for a hoot!


Kimberly Fri Nov 6 07:14:36 PST 1998

Once a man wrote, "It was a dark and dreary night..." But I cannot remember his name for the life of me! Tell me that is not frustrating? I need to know this man's name. If anyone out there knows, or "thinks" they know, EMAIL me, and relieve me of this mystery.

Hayden Thu Nov 5 22:34:12 PST 1998

Sorry, gang, I'm off and running in the Porsche for a while. I'll be back about January, though I'll come back and check on you every now and then. A monastry is going to take me in and teach me how to throw pebbles inside glass houses, or something like that...

Jack, just to confirm, I'll see you when you're down our way. Need a place to stay? The Porsche garage is still empty ;-)


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