Archived Writer's Notebook Messages

From October 29, 1996 to November 1, 1996

JENNIFER ALLAN@PSLN.COM Sun Dec 1 13:05:36 PST 1996

Glad I could help Trudy. Took me many hours to get that little poem out. It boiled inside of me but had trouble expressing my feelings.
Hi Deb!!I have been neglecting my friends for a while been writing..Glad your with us great group..
Hi to Charles,Jack,Sherrie Phil, Brit,and Ben.. Kitty I'vr tryed to E-mail you several times but no luck..I've missed you all...

trudy Sun Dec 1 10:11:52 PST 1996

Hi all, popping in for a little hello knowing this may reach few eyes if Jack creates a blank page but that's ok I won't take it personally.

BEN: Editing is tough. I know because the constraints of newspaper publishing often means a story needs to be butchered and it's never the one that means the least; it's always the one you worked the hardest on and really enjoyed writing. My suggestion is just do it and save all the bits you cut; they may result in some wonderful "other" stories. Also I hope when you lose this computer, somehow you'll find a way to keep in touch once in awhile to let us know how you're doing. Maybe we'll all have to go back to the old fashioned way of communication and write letters eh?

DEB: glad to see you're sticking it out and that you've solved your problem.

SHERRIE: hello! and welcome back and way to go girl!!!! Regarding my story, yes I've had some interesting feedback and have some great ideas for rewriting; if you're still interested in looking at the story however, I'm willing to send it. Do you have time???

JENNIFER, I can see whwy the scene gave you inspiration. Just the short bit you mentioned had my creative juices flowing with a scene for a story. Isn't it interesting where and when an image moves us?

All: see ya later and happy writing!

Sherrie Sat Nov 30 20:18:24 PST 1996

Hello, hello, hello! I'm alive!!!
Just emerged from ANOTHER DEADLINE! Darn that agent of mine . . . NOT! If I'm busy, she's busy, and that's good news for both of us;-)
Actually, what happened was one of the publishers looking at my historical novel liked my proposal for a contemporary novel (set in a Missoula, Montana, radio station, JACK); the editor wanted the first three chapters. So I had to write them--in 11 days! Guess we know why my hours were cut back at work, huh? Coicidence? I don't think so. I put the chapters in FedEx, yesterday. Feel kind of lost today, though. I now have starts for TWO books; which one shall I work on? Back to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, circa 1857, or KDMD in Missoula, Montana, 1996?
GOOD NEWS: The publisher that wanted the three chapters is considering a two-book deal, including the contemporary in questions and the historical already in hand. Hope the chapters I sent are good enough. (I don't know about the plot, but nobody can write radio like I can. I slaved over a hot turntable, myself, for 7 years before I noticed no one at the mike was over 40 years old, chucked it, and went to college. It's a good business to get out of.)
And, the historical is in "committee" (editorial, that is) at a second publishing house. Agent Kathy says we'll know something by January, if not before.
CHARLES: Balancing business and creativity? ALWAYS make time for the creativity. It's your reward; it would be a hole in your heart if you didn't give to it.
PHILIP: Thanks for the data about your award. I'm so proud for you, the news about your agent and all. Go, go, go.
JACK: The ed board!!!??? Don't keep us waiting. You're so skilled and tenacious, you deserve to do well.
BEN: I think I'd like to read your book when you finish. I've been told I'm a good editor and even better teacher (and so humble, but what do THEY know?). Keep me posted.
TRUDY: I'd have offered to look at your children's book, but looks like you already had plenty of help by the time I stopped by. So, how did it go? Did you get some learning comments? Don't give up.
By the way, where is everybody? Britomart has an excuse; you don't. The postings are few; did you all fall in a bowl of gravy?

Jack Beslanwitch Sat Nov 30 18:06:59 PST 1996

Deb: Glad to hear you figured out the problem. My suspicion is that it was a bad version of Netscape Gold. I have Netscape 3.01 US high encryption version and have had no problems. Still, whatever works is great.


Also, in the next day or so or even tonight, I'll be archiving again. Maybe every one could think up a new subject to populate a blank slate with for the next week or so. Darn, good sex scenes has already been done ;-). Take care.

Jennifer Sat Nov 30 14:45:43 PST 1996

I'd certainly like to read your story when you are done!!I know I'm not the only one..
Brit, Good Luck..I have a feeling you will find that pass word before your done with your work.

Jennifer Sat Nov 30 13:27:59 PST 1996

Recently I went to a wake to hold the hand of a friend. I watched the father and his six year old as they tryed to be brave. This came to mind. Don't have a name .

Gathering up the pieces of yesterdays happy child:
Sorrow heavy between us, familiar eyes damp with sympathy:
We shall leave this assemblage of bitter sweet sadness:
And be gentle mates surviving for a while in the company of memories to ease our hearts:
As you slumber fitfully from another day of tears, I will count the midnights:
Until once again we taste her dreams and our spirits wake serene:

Deb Borys Sat Nov 30 12:48:39 PST 1996

It worked! It's a lousy browser, but at least I've nailed the problem down to Netscape Gold 3.0. Next time I'll be interesting, I promise!!!! (And have fewer typos.)

Deb Borys Sat Nov 30 12:46:29 PST 1996

Testing a new web browser--anyone who wants to vent about how p-oed they are about all this posting baloney, please feel
free to e-mail me. Wow, this new browser has a skinnier text box and the text keeps scrolling of the screen into infinity. Makes me wint to hit the return key like
this to see what I'm writing. what will that do the to message I wonder? SOrry, I'm in a hurry so I'll
have to test this way:


Deb Borys Sat Nov 30 07:06:18 PST 1996

BEN: You'd be surprised how much you can cut from a story--and surprised at how much better it makes the piece.

I went from writing novels to mini-mysteries of about 1000 words. The first one was two times too long but when I stepped back from tghe work and started reading it not with the whole piece in mind, but a chunk at a time, I found there were many places I could reduce (besides my waistline). Start with one or two words here and there--I know, it doesn't sound like much when you're talking a mega cut like you seem to be, but it will make a difference a

Ben Woestenburg Fri Nov 29 23:31:48 PST 1996


It's a funny thing you should say that, be careful what you wish for...because if you were in my shoes, you'd want to trade places with you in a heartbeat. I'm just a blue collar kinda guy, and right now things aren't looking too promising in my line of work. I sit back and look at what I have to offer the work force, and all I can say is, Uh-oh. Now don't get me wrong, because I'm not looking for any sympathy. I figure I have about five years maximum time before the sawmill I work in goes bust. Then what? I've only got a grade twelve education, no secondary education at all, and no work experience except the saw mill industry (which seems to be downsizing for reasons too stupid to get into.) I've given myself two years to get where you are today, and the funny thing about that, is that once I give this computer back to the guy that owns it -- Manni -- you won't know whether I've made it or not, until you actually come across my name in a bookstore. But hey, I'd be more than willing to sit in front of this screen all day and write until I fall asleep, which is what I usually do anyway -- the only reason I'm writing this right now is because I was falling asleep trying to edit my short story, which isn't turning out to be as short as it should be. I'm up to 11,000 words right now, and can't see where it should be cut. Damn, I hate that. I hate it because I really like the story, and I hate it even more because when it gets to be that long I know the markets for selling it are getting smaller. Anybody know where I can sell a story of 15,000 words? Anybody want to read my story when I finish it?


Britomart the Weary Fri Nov 29 19:54:45 PST 1996

Hey folks

This may be my last post for a while. I'm going off-line for the next few weeks because my poor mushy brain has so much to do and I've just got to stop procrastinating. So I'm getting the boy to put a password on Netscape so I can't waste time when I'm supposed to be working. He's still going to let me check my e-mail every few days, so if there's anything interesting/urgent, feel free.

Apart from that, I only have one thing to say:


Deb Borys Fri Nov 29 10:44:54 PST 1996

This is just a test again. I'm posting from my work computer. If the same problem occurs, I'll suspect the internet provider has a problem, rather than the computer or software settings on my end.

Been getting a lot of rejections in the mail because I sent out a whole slew of queries about the same time--for four short stories and a personal essay. Feels good, though, I've been letting the business end slide for a while. Nothing gets published if you don't send it out.

Someone remarked here earlier about balancing the creative side with the business side. I find that I have times when one or the other seems to be dominant--and then there are those times when neither one is.

JACK: How did you do those big letters and in brown yet? Is this a trick you're willing to share?


Jennifer Thu Nov 28 20:01:30 PST 1996

HI everyone!!!! I just wanted to wish all of you wonderful writers a Happy Day!! I will write more later after I catch up on the note book...Jennifer

trudy Thu Nov 28 16:11:03 PST 1996

Happy Thanksgiving my American writer friends. Hope you enjoy your turkeys and pumpkin pies as much as we enjoyed ours on Canada's Thanksgiving Day. Enjoy. Trudy

Jack Beslanwitch Thu Nov 28 14:28:30 PST 1996

For all those here in the States:

Happy Thanksgiving

The turkey is in the oven, pumpkin pie in the cupboard, potatoes mashed and ready for the gravy. This is hoping that the coming year is one truly to be thankful for in all our writing endeavors.

Deb Borys Wed Nov 27 16:21:20 PST 1996

Authorlink e-mailed me back: You do pay in advance for the first three months of listing, and then if you want to cintinie for another three you must send $30 before the first 3 have elapsed. Doris Booth says in the past five months 76 manuscripts have been requested by editors and agents, 14 writers have signed with agents and they are close the closing several book deals. Authorlink stresses that they are not agents, just a median meeting place for writers and market opportunities.


Jack Beslanwitch Tue Nov 26 20:39:44 PST 1996

No, but I checked out Authorlink and will definitely be taking a closer look tomorrow in consideration for inclusion on Writer Resources.
   Also, I'm in contact with Deb to try and figure out why she can't post more than a few lines. This is definitely perplexing.
   Oh, BTW, for those who have been following my saga of submissions, my and my collaborator have sample portions of chapters to the editorial board at our potential publisher. The decision was to be decided today. Presumably, the decision will be handed to us tomorrow. I'll let you know what happened. Crossed fingers and toes. Take care.

Deb Borys Tue Nov 26 19:41:47 PST 1996

Has anyone checked out the website Someone from the Co-op e-mailed me about it today and I took a quick look. It looks like a site where authors can post bio info and samples of finished work and that editors can surf through them and request manuscripts. There is a $10 per month charge, three month minimum to the author, but it might be that the first three months are free--I e-mailed to ask about that. It says it requests documentation proving that anyone asking to see a manuscript is legit. Sounds good--too good? What do you think%

Ben Woestenburg Mon Nov 25 21:56:48 PST 1996

Hi guys. I threw something into the workbook just for the heck of it. It's a sci-fi dealie that I just sort of came up with because I couldn't think of what I was doing with my story right now. I thought maybe if I put it in there for everyone to add to, like the train sequence, maybe it would come out with some pretty neat twists. All you have to do is find the hero, Link Silverdare (just because I like the sound of that name), and convince him to help you do whatever it is that has to be done. The one rule is that you have to leave the next person that takes it up...hanging. I started it and left the whole universe open for whoever wants to take it, if no one does, than I guess I'll come back in a couple of weeks and add something else until someone decides to do something with it. It's just something to kill the time with between stories and ideas. Just let your mind wander and see where it takes you. That's what I did. The story'll write itself. Unless you don't want to play...

Deb Boring Borys Mon Nov 25 20:49:57 PST 1996

Final--God willing--installment

Feel free to advise or comment on my plan. Thanks for letting me join your masses. (And putting up with these piecemeal postings). (Like you had any choice in the matter.) ;-) I'd better go now--it's 3:14 (It was originally anyway) in the morning and time to wake my son for his turn at the computer.

Deb Borys you already know it! Mon Nov 25 20:43:42 PST 1996

Third Second night's installment
--here's the wishing on a star part--may be a connection that could somehow lead to someone looking favorably on my own work.
The down side of this is it will take time and energy away from my own writing; I know because I typed a 400 page manuscript for a friend once, it took forever! On the other hand (I've already told him I would do it--I HAVE to look on the bright side) $250 would look good in the bank account right now. (17-year-old sons eat a lot of food.)
Feel free to advise or comment on my plan. If you all

Deb Borys Mon Nov 25 20:40:13 PST 1996

Second Second night's installment

Anyway, he uses a typewriter and is horrible at grammar--great at plot, but could use some fine tuning--and would like me to help him out by inputting his latest manuscript (a true crime novel--he's published two or three other non-true crime ones). He's only paying $1 a page and providing the paper, but my reasoning is it will look good on my writing resume, may help me visualize plotting structure a bit better (a weakness of mine), and--here's the wishing on a star part--may be a connection that could somehow lead to someone

Mon Nov 25 20:27:22 PST 1996


A mysterY author down there (Peoria) was impressed with the article I wrote about him that used a fictionalized opening portraying him as a P.I. catching a criminal who would have gotten away if only he would have attended a writer's workshop led by--you guessed it, the author in question. It was a neat piece, I have to admit, one of those ones that fly straight from your mind to your typing fingers that makes you sit back and say--wow, I'm good!

Anyway, he uses a typewriter and is horrible at grammar--great at plot, but could use some fine tuni

trudy Mon Nov 25 18:30:00 PST 1996

DEB, wlcome; hope you keep being persistent and we get to see a complete posting soon. Keep trying; we'll be here.

Welcome also JARBAS, can't help with the info you're looking for but someone else here may be able to

CHARLES, children's story has been e-mailed. Hope the gang likes it.

Everyone else, hello and catch you later. I'm off to bed to read Philip's critique of my story...I'm so nervous.

Happy writing. Trudy

Jarbas Vieira da Cunha Mon Nov 25 08:47:43 PST 1996

Dear Sir,

I am a brazilian writer and I would like to know informations about Cultural Exchange of Foreign Writers in Canada, like Maison des Ecrivains(Paris).
If it is possible, inform me if you know about any association that work of this type of benefit.

Thank you in advance.

Best Regards,

Jarbas Vieira da Cunha

Deb Borys--again! Mon Nov 25 01:46:07 PST 1996

I am nothing if not persistent!
The goal is to build up the bio before I send the novel length manuscript out again. The latest "trick" I am going to tuck up my sleeve (isn't that what we're all looking for, that slight of hand, that lucky break, that toe in the door?) is a recent contact I made through being newsletter editor for the Writer's Co-op in Peoria, Illinois. A myster author down there was impressed with the article I wrote about him that used a fictionalized opening portraying him as a P.I. catching a criminal who would have gotten away if only h

Deb Borys Mon Nov 25 01:38:03 PST 1996

Oh, lordy, I don't know what I'm doing and here now it's obvious below for everyone to see! Anyone know what I did wrong? Too long a message? I'll post the rest here and see what happens.

I am a mystery writer with the first novel of a suspense series finished, a book that received many nice comments from agents and editors, but no bites. When I went to a novel writing workshop in Kentucky in January, I came home and start writing short stories (irony, not disillusionment). I have had some success (two published), and lots of fun. The goal is

Deb Borys Mon Nov 25 01:29:40 PST 1996

Excuse me, but I would like to introduce myself. I have been checking in on this site every once in a while and have found you all to be an apparantly friendly, actively writing group of cyber friends. While my 17-year-old son thinks surfing the WEB is supposed to be HIS perogative, I do occassionally put my foot down and insist it's my turn to stay up until 2:30 a.m. playing with the computer; therefore, I would like to join your group, if I may.

I am a mystery writer with the first novel of a suspense series finished, a book that received many nice commen

Bob Hanford Sun Nov 24 14:24:16 PST 1996

HELLO ALL: Just wanted to tell the whole group that in spite of how terribly busy they are, Philip, Britomart and Charles took time to respond to my 10 year-old niece who was on the net for the first time ever and was so excited to be talking to people in Australia and Israel. Their return e-mails are going to make her year. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Charles Samuel Sun Nov 24 13:22:34 PST 1996

Hi Everybody,

Maybe somebody can offer advice. I spent the whole week using up my 'writing time' to do 'writing business.' To succeed I believe we have to pay as much attention to the business side of things as the creative side. This week has been extremely tense as I've gotten some important accolades which should help with agents and publishers.

I've been frantically phoning, emailing and faxing all week. Being on pins and needles waiting for responses has sort of put a damper on my ability to sit down and write. Any suggestions? Should I just put the writing on hold while I take care of business?

PHILIP: How important is it to be an active member in Writer's organizations, festivals, conventions etc? This group is about as close as I get... other than a private group of friends I know in the business.

TRUDY: We've got a bunch of kids over here who would love to be guinea pigs for your stories. Age range from 4 - 12.
I've written two kids books, neither published. We might self publish one of them though. The market is very tough and it seems the key is the artwork as much as the storytelling.

BEN: You amaze and inspire me with your ability to continue cranking out material with consitency and persistency. Keep it up.

GOOD NEWS!: I forgot to mention that I spoke with my publisher this week and we've got a firm date of June 1, 1997 for the publication in North America of "MISSILES, MASKS & MIRACLES."

BRITOMART: Don't despair. Here are some tips I learned from MISSILES. I wrote the book in twelve days during the gulf war. The scud missiles were falling every day. In between air raid sirens I was madly typing on my laptop at home. We were trying to make it an instant book, so the editing had to happen while it was being written. I found the best writer in the vicinity and made her my editor/instant feedback person. We worked as a team to do the fixes.
Have lots of coffee available and try to get up early. Start work as early in the day as you can. You must have some talented writers from your courses nearby. I know some people have to do it all themselves, but you might want to try a buddy for a day or two and see how it works. I find it's really important to get instant feedback... especially when they say, "hey that's great! It's really a lot better than before." That's worth more in added energy than three cups of coffee. Anyway, try to make it fun. You'll have lots of stories to tell your grandchildren before the manuscript is finally put to bed.

Keep on writing,

Britomart Sun Nov 24 12:39:41 PST 1996

Hey everybody. I'm just about to start on my monster rewrite, and I thought I'd ask if anybody has any cool editing tips - how you go about it, what you require, etc etc. I usually print out a copy of the whole MS, take some coloured pens and make a great big impressionist painting out of it. I really am daunted by this rewrite - three weeks just doesn't seem enough time to fix the whole thing up, but I guess I can work on it eight hours a day, unlike writing which I can usually only manage 3 or 4 hours on before my brain gets mushy. Still, it seems a terribly short time to edit something that took me nine months to write. Any thoughts/experiences people want to share? I'm very needy, I'm afraid, and feeling a bit scared and alone.

trudy Sun Nov 24 08:40:48 PST 1996

Hello all, just wanted to let Bob, Ben, Philip and Lisa know I have e-mailed my children's story to them as attachments so let me know if you have any trouble receiving it. I sometimes goof that up. Thanks again for reading it. Trudy

Ben Woestenburg Sun Nov 24 00:04:59 PST 1996

Hey Jack!
I'm glad you fixed my little boo-boo. I wanted to go out and see STAR TREK tonight, but I let my son decide which one he wanted to see, and he chose SPACE JAM. My daughter went out to see a play with a friend of ours. I'm thinking, now that the boy's seen the one, and the girl missed it, she can go with my wife tomorrow to see it, and I'll take the boy to see what I wanted to see in the first place.

Hope you didn't get much snow tonight. We just got a light dusting. Oh yeah, I forgot, you're from Montana. You're probably used to snow. I hate it myself. It's okay on weekends, but having always worked outside for most of my life, it's never really been a lot of fun.

Anyways, I gotta go.

Jack Beslanwitch Sat Nov 23 18:20:27 PST 1996

I just noticed that we have some new people dropping notes off on the Workbook and one a first chapter. I'll take a look a little later, but to Christine F and Robert Smith I intend to ask them to check out the Notebook as well. Take care all and, if you're a fan of Star Trek, hope you enjoyed First Contact. I certainly did.

Ben Woestenburg Sat Nov 23 13:08:30 PST 1996

Hey Guys, it's me!

Saturday afternoon, and I've got free time to write and cruise. The wife went out for a walk, a long walk, and that means I have the next couple of hours to myself. I plan on re-working this short story I've been playing with. I managed to find something about Viennese history on the web, but I also went to the library and picked up three excellent books on Austrian history. I think I'll take one to work and copy the entire thing so that I'll have a copy to work from. This book deals with the twilight of the Empire, and ties in so many different things it's just impossible not to come up with some good stories. I mean, Freud, Hitler, the Bosnian-Bulgarian war of's just what I needed. I want to tie everything in together using the characters I have from the story I'm working on now. Unfortunately, having written what I have already and discovering the facts that I have, I'll have to change it, probably starting all over again, but I don't mind. I had thought I might be able to make the Cinderella girl actually turn out to be the empress Zita, but that won't work. However, the arch-duke Franz Ferdinand and his wife will tie into the story quite easily, and from there, we can go directly to the initial causes of the First World War. I'm pretty excited about the whole thing, because they're not chpaters and don't have to tie in as tightly as chapters would. If I can make each story about ten or fifteen thousand words I'll be happy. I don't have to do them all at once, but I can work on them whenever I have a spare moment or two. I want to start working on my novel again, and finish my poem. By next month sometime, I hope to have this story done, the poem finished, and back to my own desk and old dinosaur computer for the novel. I've wasted too much time surfing the net and playing around, but then, new toys can be like that, can't they? I hope everyone's hard at work.

BRITOMART: Congrats to you girlfriend. I was pretty excited for you, and to meet Coleen McCollough! Wow. I love her Roman series, and have used her glossary in the back of each book to help me with mine. She's got quite the library in her home. Her Roman series is Okay, not great, but the best thing out there right now. It's the research that went into it though. That's what I like.

PHILLIP: I hope you get your agent, and make the big bucks we'd all like to find. I heard that the comedian Jim Carrey wrote a check out for himself and put it in his wallet. He carried it around for years before he was actually able to match it. It was sort of like an inspiration to him. Now, I know we don't write for money, (at least I don't), and that most of us would still write even if we knew we'd never get published, but when I hear things about new writers getting huge deals for their first books, I ask myself: Well, why can't I do that? I think my writing's good enough for the markets and it's just a matter of time before I actually do make it. So I've decided I'm going to make it big. Why not? Stephen King makes millions. My favourite, James Clavell, walked into the office of a publisher and auctioned off one of his manuscripts to the highest bidder: 11 million for WHIRLWIND. I think there's a market for everybody, but you just have to find it. So I'm going to start off with babysteps, try and sell short stories, poems, anything I can, and then present myself to an agent and show him what I've got. I know I'm not going to attract anyone without having published something first. I wish you all the luck in the world. You deserve it. We all do!

Well, I have to go now. I want to work on my story because I've got a lot of work cut out for me, and I can't afford to waste a minute longer.

Ciao for now,

Lisa Nickles Sat Nov 23 00:29:33 PST 1996

Hi guys,

Well, I'm giving myself until christmas to finish the first draft of this novel. I probably don't really need that long, but I'm having a hard time with this umbilical cord... I hope everyone is progressing well.

TRUDY: I haven't written children's stories in a while btu I still sit and tell my children stories. If you need a review, I'd be glad to help.

Well, if I'm going to get any sleep at all, I'd better turn off this computer.

Good night all.

trudy Fri Nov 22 15:32:57 PST 1996

Hello everyone,
For once I am not just popping in but am actually going to try to catch up on what's been going on. I wish I had more time to dedicate to fiction writing especially when all of you seem to be very busy with it in one way or another.
I, more and more, am starting to think freelancing seriously is the way to go. Work is getting stressful because of people I work with as opposed to the writing aspect of it and I keep losing control of projects that used to be mine. Anyway I've started some major querying and told Kitty earlier in an e-mail that I wouold soon be picking her brains, and anyone else's willing to let me pick, for story idea help and markets. I am a little leary of looking into the American markets and elsewhere but if any of you can offer guidance it would be appreciated.
To keep you all up to date, my children's story Bossy was rejected again, but instead of sending it out to the third publisher on my list I thought I'd get some feedback from some writers and friends, so if anyone is interested in reading a children's story (approximately 775 words) about a Boston fern that takes over a house let me know. Again any feedback would be appreciated. Do we have any children's writers in our group?
CHARLES your posting of Oct 29 about carving out an hour each night to write was very inspiring to me. I try every night now to spend at least half an hour concentrating on my writing outside of work. That may mean looking for magazines to query, trying to come up with story ideas or writing a tidbit of fiction. I figure once the new year arrives I'll be able to extend that time, but getting in the habit of doing this is important.
OK I realize this is gettijng long so I am going to read the rest of the postings and make notes as I go and respond another time. It's nice to have a weekend without any work for the office...happy weekend all. Trudy

Philip Thu Nov 21 18:08:30 PST 1996

HELLO EVERYONE - Jingle bells?

It didn't hit me until Jack mentioned the snow... Christmas... Oh my Lord!

JACK: the snow must be a pleasant change from all that wonderful rain you get - we know your rain is what leads to the spectacular greening of the Pacific north west but snow... (I did some skiing on Mt Baker and Mt Hood, both somewhere near you I guess) You will of course know we are coming into our summer here. It is strange because Europeans have transplanted their cultures in Australia and we have Christmas cards with piles of snow, the works, exactly as you guys do.

I'm pleased you liked Sweet Water. You'll understand when I say after six years of hindsight and almost four more books, that I'd write it differently now, but that was then etc. It was an emotion filled time for me and I am proud of that work.

I think writing using a physical or environmental atmosphere or a particular time period can be extremely effective as those before me have said. Snow still has a powerful impact on me: I was an adult before I experienced real cold, ice, sleet and snow. Doctor Zhivago and Gorky Park both set in exotic Russian winters are good examples; and the oppressively hot dust bowl in the depression of Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath - but good plots, good characters and good storytelling, must still prevail to give the thing movement and real life.

BRITOMART: about Walter Mosley...when my editor at HarperCollins finished reading my MS of my second book she said it reminded her of Walter Mosley's work. I had never heard of him. She steered me onto his book White Butterfly and I was hooked. A few years ago I was invited to sit on the Sydney Writers Festival committee to help organise this wonderful international writers event. After the first year passed I thought that it might be a good idea to bring Walter out for our January 1996 festival so I put my motion forward and it was accepted. He came in January this year for two weeks; as his proposer I was his host for that time. It was a great time - I sat on a Crime Writing discussion panel with Walter, Chaired another he participated in and introduced him to a packed house one further time. This year I was elected Deputy Chair of the festival and among others for January '97 I proposed we bring out Gore Vidal and he's accepted.

Back soon - Philip.

Britomart Wed Nov 20 13:07:22 PST 1996

Dear everybody

I'm baaaaack.

I've just spent a week in the big smoke (ie. Sydney) hobnobbing with the literati. What jolly fun. I had a moment of extreme wierdness on Saturday night at a posh function I went to, when I noticed I was surrounded by some of Australia's top selling authors, and heads of publishing houses and fergodsake Colleen McCullogh was there, and even you foreigners would know her! Goodness me, how exciting.

Then on Monday I spent the day with my publishers, looking around, going over the production schedule for my book, talking about cover design etc etc. It's all terribly thrilling. I've been given a date for publication - July 4 (it's like having a baby only marginally less painful). I'll have advance copies about 6 weeks before that (I'm dying to see what my book will look like). In bad news, I have until Christmas to do a monstrous rewrite, so it looks like there's no holiday for me. Which is a pity, because I'm eager to start the next book, for which I have many great ideas.

Jack, with regard to setting. I've been thinking a lot about this lately, because I'm intending to write a really gothic Gothic novel next time, and in the Gothic, the setting is terribly important. You must have old buildings with winding staircases and subterranean passages etc, and the inclement weather is a significant factor. I think a strong sense of place is crucial to any book, but I don't think it's always necessary for the setting to become an extra character. Though when it is, it's fantastic. (I'm thinking the ice in Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner, or the moors in Wuthering Heights though I'm not going to quote any poetry today).

Phil, I can't believe you know Walter Moseley. He is legendary. How come you're so well-connected?

Ah well, I'd better go catch up on some e-mail.


Jack Beslanwitch Wed Nov 20 02:15:53 PST 1996

Seattle is snowbound. The driving is truly challenging and sitting in our jacuzzi with snow pouring down on top of me is an experience I've missed a long time, although I could do without having to back down a hill when I discovered my Escort couldn't make the grade...literally.

Philip: Good luck with your agents. Just finished your book. You deserve to get into the lucrative contracts.

Hope to have Workbook on a password bases this week. Some other responsibilities have eased up or, at least, we're in the wait and see period.

On a subject for discussion, I was wondering if anyone wanted to talk about setting as the almost driving thematic issue in a story. As example of this, I mean Lawrence of Arabia or Dune and the way desert was almost a protagonist/antagonist of it's own. There are other examples, the gritty amorality and dark shadows of film noire or cyberpunk. Much in the same way that I like to visit Pike Place Market and character sketch, the Market itself is a character unto itself that flavors and drives a story as much as the characters. Picking up the snow in Seattle theme, I remember the character of Montana when I was growing up and the way snow and winter sometimes dominated every part of our lives. The way just walking a block and the moisture in the air and the cold temperature would turn your hair and moustache into ice cycles or way flesh would tingle or numb. This is a bit of a ramble, but what do others think.

Bob Hanford Sun Nov 17 15:20:25 PST 1996

CHARLES: Congrats on the writing! I landed a contract for some commercial display cabinetry that will keep me in the workshop 18 hrs a day till Dec 3rd or 4th. Won't even have time to read, much less think, much less write. But it is a great contract that will give me my first nice Christmas in years. SO.....Do very much appreciate your constant interest and help. You too Philip.

Philip Sun Nov 17 13:44:28 PST 1996

HELLO EVERYONE: I've been galloping through my Lightning Mine MS trying to finish it before Christmas. At the same time I've become active once more in the administration of my career. I have an agent, the largest and best known in Australia, but feel I have to crack the international market to create a secure financial base for future work. I made contact with nine agents several of whom are in the US, a US writer friend (Walter Mosley) is listed with one of them - they are a top New York agency (Watkins/Loomis). On Friday, after six months of discussions and correspondence the New Yorkers knocked me back - this followed on the heels of the Europeans and more US operators. In the middle of the collection of rejections one ray of hope, a top Beverly Hills agent is interested in my work and wants to talk further. Ken Aitchy is his name, he just secured a $2.1 Million, two-book deal for a first time author and Disneys brought the film rights for an additional $700,000. A dream!

SHERRIE: the award I won in 1992 is called the David Unaipon Award. It is a national prize presented each year amid a huge amount of media fuss and hype. The award consists of $5,000 prize money and publication of the manuscript by one of our snobbiest publishers, the University of Queensland Press; it is for black literature and for a previously unpublished author. My book, 'Sweet Water -Stolen Land', became a best seller, made it into the top ten and received wide critical acclaim. If anyone is interested in the reviews I'll email them privately.

Back soon - Philip.

Charles Samuel Sun Nov 17 13:00:36 PST 1996

Hey everybody,
Finished Part I of my new novel... eleven chapters! Now for the 2000 year flashback. Ben I've been doing some digging around for books for my research. Stumbled upon a pictorial atlas of Jerusalem. Has some stuff from Jesus time. Not to detailed (one double paged spread) but interesting. It's about $20, published by Carta. Most of the other material is in Hebrew. Keep you posted, and keep plugging away. You'll be published before you know it.

BOB: Got that outline of the social issue novel done yet? I'd love to see it.

PHILIP: What's cooking with you? How's Truman?

SHERRIE: I agree with you. I want my kids to be able to read my books and not be embarrassed.


Sherrie Sat Nov 16 21:31:38 PST 1996

Hi everybody! Man, have I been busy. First, my hours at work got cut from 40 to 25/week, until our division can secure another contract. That was a four-figure/month cut in pay, folks, and a little disturbing at first. Now I'm rather pleased. I have more time to write and have re-discovered there's a top to the refrigerator, not to mention that it needs cleaning occasionally. As for the money--or shortage of it--God knows my needs, and He's seen me this far. We'll be okay.
I fell into a pit of depression. Finally figured out I have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). The decreased intensity/duration of light that comes with fall/winter INcreases the level of melatonin (helps you sleep) and DEcreases the level of seratonin (mood elevator) in the brain; basically, I want to hybernate. So I pay more attention to turning on lights and opening the blinds. It's working.
Then my agent wanted a book proposal from me for a contemporary piece, since the editor she's "courting" prefers modern-day stuff. Being the over-achiever that I am, I sent not one but TWO story sketches. Really want to write them; hope I get the opportunity. And we've heard from another interested publisher. Still, my agent says it will be January before we know anything, for sure.
The bad news is, my oldest son (19 years, 3 months) got married June 1, went to the Persian Gulf/Pacific Ocean (he's in the Navy) July 5, and his wife filed for divorce November 12--before he even got home! It sounds like a soap opera, but she just miscarried another man's baby. It's a mess. The good news is, I'm busting my buttons with pride over how well my kid has risen to all this. He just keeps putting one foot in front of the other--setting his life in order (she cleaned him out, financially) and making plans for the future. We went to San Diego for the ship's arrival (quite a ceremony) and brought him to Idaho with us. He'll be here only another three days, so I'm going back into the family room to visit. Just wanted to check in, as I've missed you.
BRITOMART--will look at your page.
BEN--you should definitely season your stories with romance; you seem so romantic; not only comfortable, but in touch with, your more-tender self. Please keep us posted on your recent submission. As for writing sex scenes, I prefer sexual tension to graphic description. I got convinced I was writing it right when I recently attended a friend's book signing--and she kept apologizing to people for the sexual content. On the other hand, a friend who borrowed my manuscript asked if she could pass it on to her daughter. It felt so good to say, "Please do."
PHILIP--What award did you win? More details, please (you can brag without shame to us).
JACK--A sample chapter. Yahooo!

trudy Sat Nov 16 18:23:08 PST 1996

Hello everyone, just popped in for a quick hello and to tell you about a page a friend of mine just told me about. It's a writers forum page and though I haven't explored it too much yet thought I'd pass on the location, which is:

Right now my friend has a story posted in the workshop area that is receiving critiques so if any of you care to read it and comment, I'm sure he'd appreciate it.

Hope all is well with everyone; I can't wait to read through all the postings here in the near future and get involved with the group again soon. Only have two Christmas stories to write this weekend for a computer Chiristmas special so the weekend is mostly mine though today was a writeoff after a little too much wine last night. January 1 is fast approaching and my life will be normal again. Take care all.


Philip Sat Nov 16 15:12:38 PST 1996


I came across the following ad in one of our respected newspapers yesterday. If anyone is seriously interested in submitting a piece let me know and I'll check the publisher's credentials for you.

Back soon - Philip


Seeking 90s spicy romantic/erotic fiction with an international flavour. Stories must have a strong female character,interesting twists and clever plots. Fiction must be between 2,000 and 6,000 words in length. Please send your romantic fiction along with your personal details to Pacific Publications, P.O. Box 258, Paddington, NSW, Australia - 2021.

Lisa Nickles Fri Nov 15 09:32:41 PST 1996

GEOFF: Welcome aboard; we are always glad to add another writer to the group.
BRITOMART: Thanks for the advice. I think I'm going to have to bite my tongue and close the book. You are right though; tellng myself that I will edit it heavily did help. Thanks also for the compliment on my site. I am truly enjoying the project.
BEN: Sex scenes are as natural part of a book as is being human (or any other species that reproduces that way). I don't often write them, but when I do I simply watch the the characters proceed their own way and write what they do. Like any other type of a scene, the characters can only be who they are.
More later, my friends.

Charles Samuel Thu Nov 14 13:28:38 PST 1996

Hello everybody,
My wife and I just came home from a "meet the author night"
at one of Jerusalem's poshest addresses. It's a thrill I
hope you all experience if you haven't already. About half
the crowd were fans who had already read my book.

Here's some wisdom a friend of mine just emailed me about people who have really succeeded in business. I feel it applies to us writers as well.

"Ive learned you just have to keep pushing - I saw from Dick, Carl and Dave [successful mega entrepreneurs]that
any project, if it was really big, literally died on you
10-15 times whie you were working on it - and I mean
completely finished. Most people stopped and gave up. Not the winners though - they just kept going as if nothing ever had happened. Simultaneously they had 2 or 3 ideas in planning and 2 or 3 they were dreaming about and 1
or 2 they were finishing, so just in case things did fall thru they were still moving. It was an important lesson for me."

Glad to see most of us here have a number of things going at the same time.

Kitty,Lisa and Britomart: Thanks for your fiction/non-fiction comments. Britomart makes a good point in that it is a question of genre and not fact vs fiction. That's precisely why I asked the question. I feel my first novel was a non-fiction book that people consider fiction. However when I read non-fiction almost all my brain is set on 'intellectual' mode. When I read fiction much, if not all of my brain is set on 'entertainment' mode. Although the same ideas may be communicated in fiction, the reader might not be set on a wavelength to process those ideas and they get lost in the story. However, the passion and strong imagery of fiction might make the ideas that do seep in stick around longer. Sorry for the rambling... it's late.

PHILIP: Glad to have you back. I'll try to find a different way to get you the material.

Have a good weekend and happy birthday to all. Hey it's my wife's birthday next week. All this birthday talk saved me from forgetting. Thanks guys.


Bob Hanford Thu Nov 14 12:51:48 PST 1996

GO BEN! You've turned into quite an inspiration. I mean it. Way to go, guy!

Ben Woestenburg Thu Nov 14 06:52:49 PST 1996

Hey you guys!

I just sent out a story yesterday. I'm hoping it will sell obviously, and I think it might. I was going to hold on to it and try and see if I could do any more with it, but then I thought, screw it! Sent it out because you'll just end up ruining it. I started working on another story immediately after I finished writing the first, and plan to keep on doing it until I sell something. The first story was a fantasy for lack of a better word, about a man who has a dragon in his apartment. Sounds wierd, but I think I managed to explain it all right. I started writing "Cinderella and her sisters", but don't know how that will go along. Need to do some reserch about Vienna at the turn of the century. Great story though, and an excellent concept if I do say so myself. It is not a fairy tale...more like a love story, which is what my mother's been telling me I should write for at least the last fifteen years, if not more. I don't do romance, I told her; and this isn't. Anyway, I'm up early and off to bed late, writing when and where I can, scanning to net for whatever info I can find, and truly grateful to have found this page and the inspiration you've all given me, not to mention the encouragement. I'm not going to stop writing until I'm published. I'll be working on short stories, my poetic novel Robin Hood, and my big novel, The Roman Trilogy. January's coming, and whenever a new year starts I always make the same promise to myself. This year, it's a promise I plan to keep.

So, catch you guys later, keep up the writng, and don't get discouraged over nutin'. I've always been my own worst enemy when it's come to writing. I always tell myself, "maybe I'll do this, or maybe I'll do that..." and it never gets done. Now I just sit down and do it, just like I did when I first started my big novel and wrote the first draft. 1000 pages because I told myself, three pages a day. Now I tell myself, one 'good' page a day. It's the old hare and tortise story all over again.

Well, I gotta go, Got get the wife and kids up and get ready for work. See ya'll tonight.

Britomart Wed Nov 13 12:56:21 PST 1996

Hey there virtual friends! Just a quickie this morning because I've got to make breakfast in bed for my significant other in a minute.

I've finished all my assignments, and yesterday I received an eight page editorial report on my book! Rather than being absolutely devastated by the criticism, I'm very excited. About 80% of it is stuff I knew was wrong anyway, but she offered all these neat suggestions to get myself out of tight spots etc. This is going to be such a good book (I hope) when it's all tightened up. She just picked up inconsistencies, characters who act one-dimensionally, places where the tension is lacking, small details where people reacted strangely... Just fantastic. I'm so excited.

I'm also a bit tired, and I've been given just two or three weeks to pull the rewrite together. I can see I'll be celebrating my birthday (22nd December) with a small nervous breakdown. I trust you will all be with me along the way (the rewriting that is, not the nervous breakdown).

In other good news, my 6000 word paper on The Faerie Queene is finished and I'm really happy with it. Sometimes I don't know which I want more: a writing career or an academic career. I could do both, but I have a feeling the workload might kill me!

For some reason I'm still cheery as ever.


ben woestenburg Tue Nov 12 23:35:46 PST 1996

I'll have to give you points on originality for that one.

Eric same as before Tue Nov 12 22:00:25 PST 1996

Glad you asked Ben, instead of IMHO (which sounds like I'm HOE)
I invented MOIST, My Opinion Is Such That, since opinions
aren't really humble it's actually more accurate. I found that
most people don't want your opinion and when they do they'll
give it to you, so In My Humble (ha-haha) Opinion is rather
incorrect, thus MOIST, it's more demanding which opinions
should be since their yours.

trish Tue Nov 12 18:46:29 PST 1996

Hi all. I've been awfully busy lately and miss dropping in on y'all every day. To be honest, I just can't seem to get my mind on writing or anything else these days. Guess I'll shake it soon, probably just the winter blues. I sure do hate this time change. One thing about having the blah's is that I get some time to catch up on my reading. If I have time to read it's never a bad thing.
By the way, I got an e-mail from Tobin the other day and he plans to rejoin us as soon as Hunter is sleeping a little more. Right now he and Karin have their hands full with his schedule and Madison's scedule, but she is adjusting well to being a big sister (I believe she is 3).
Well folks, sleep beckons, (if I can get Chrissy to sleep, that is).
Keep writing.

By the way, my b'day is January 15.

Ben Woestenburg Tue Nov 12 17:15:29 PST 1996

Okay, I'll bite: what does M.O.I.S.T stand for?

Eric Mon Nov 11 23:43:18 PST 1996

This is a late response to Britomart. As villians goes I
prefer The Grand Moff Tarkin from Star Wars as (semi)-modern
villians go. Here was a person who believed what he was
doing was right, by keeping "order" in the Empire by fear, yet
being above such "order" by following his own laws. One could
almost agree that he was right from his own point of view (aka
the Empire's) if not for the fact that he disregarded many of
the Empire's laws for his own needs or desires. I admit Star Wars
isn't much of a literary book, if you even give it that title,
but still as villians go I would shiver to think that he exists
"out there". Hanibal Lecter exists already in the psychos in
our society the only main difference I see is that he was an
educated psycho. Tarkin, however, by nature has to be educated
because of his political influence yet this doesn't change the
fact that he's just a high-class/high powered surly wife-beater
type. Something that most wife beating types do is flex their
power in public because they know they don't have it. Tarkin did.


Tarkin is a villian in the Villian Hall of Fame.

Geoff I'm sure alot of people care that you were born, it's
just that I can't do a Clarence on you, but every life
contributes to the future whatever it may be, so don't be so
hard on yourself there are other who can do that. You're
better than them. I'd like to read some of your Sci-Fi
writing, since I'm a fellow Sci-Fi writer.

On another note.


Ben Woestenburg Mon Nov 11 22:36:24 PST 1996

Hello Geoff and welcome aboard.
You'll have to tell us about yourself so that Phillip can include you in our working biograpphy, you know: age, place of residence, plans, aspirations or dreams, that sort of thing. We like new people to jump on board I think I can say for all of us, and we're a friendly bunch, too. I hope you plan on sticking around for a while.

Geoff Thureson Mon Nov 11 17:33:27 PST 1996

Hola, fellow scribblers. Just found this nifty little resource yesterday, and so in essence, all I am doing is introducing myself. To sum quickly, I am currently writing sci-fi and wee bits of fantasy with the bleak hopes of being published someday. And I am considering selling out right from the start in the hopes of getting my name of some published book. Not really much else to say at this moment, as I try to stay away from sex scenes. Romance and love (usually in some Don Quixote fashion) are another matter entirely, but I find I get quite clumsy and plodding if I try and write sex, so I just don't.

And if anybody cares, my birthday is December 16, same as the great Ludwig van Beethoven.

Philip Mon Nov 11 15:50:47 PST 1996


JACK: thank you for the information you offered. I still can't budge. My problem is to get the pix from my hard disc - put there using an Adobe Photoshop program - and run them through a gif program for inclusion in my homepage construction. Maybe a kind MAC owner reading this can help this novice surfer?

LISA: a belated HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I wish you health to go with the long stem flowers, champagne, dinner and live theatre tickets you will already have received.

CHARLES: sorry... all the stuff you sent was in gobbly-gook language.

BEN: I agree with Bob's advice - go for an edge in your writing. Your readers may not realise why your work appeals over others but be assured it will be your dynamic, passionate attack that is being transmitted to them.

BOB: I trust the Siege is well under way. I found a site for you - The Steinbeck Foundation -

TREVOR: come back!

BRITOMART: I went to your homepage scorching with inquisitiveness. As well as your wit-filled pages, it was good to discover what you look like - I can now bind your face with the pearls you post on these pages. And about writing sex scenes: I agree with you that they must first stir the writer otherwise why would you inflict them on others. In writing acts of sexual encounters and/or intercourse it is for us to decide how far we stretch language, how much detail we choose to put in, the names we give to the body parts (not to mention the creation of metaphors) before these scenes become laughable? As sexually active adults we soon realise that what may arouse one person does not necessarily trigger that same response in another. Vive la difference! I believe the same applies with written sex scenes... and food - although I'm pretty sure I can say with the exception of Bob's apple pie. An adjunct: I also really enjoy the challenge of creating sexual tension between my characters way before consummation.

It's getting warm in here. Back soon - Philip.

Bob Hanford Mon Nov 11 13:34:04 PST 1996

BRITOMART: By all means let me know what I'm in for on the editing.

Britomart Mon Nov 11 12:39:07 PST 1996

Me again - we need a birthday roster happening around here, so that we can send a flurry of e-mails every time somebody has one.

Britomart Mon Nov 11 12:38:12 PST 1996

Hey, Ben! Yes, by all means write what you love - that's the only way to become a good writer in my opinion. But have an eye towards what's selling if you want to be paid. It's not a matter of compromising your integrity so much as maybe taking a different angle on things occasionally.

Speaking of sex scenes, I know a horror story about a writer friend of mine, whose editors kept sending his book back and asking for a particular sex scene to be written more explicitly. "More thrusting" was the instruction they gave him. For my part, I absolutely adore writing sex scenes. They are kind of a generic requirement in that Gothic-erotic sub-category of horror. It's that wonderful feeling of displacement gained from associating the macabre and strange with the erotic and sensual. Of course, sex scenes are great because they give you a chance to show your ability to engage all the senses in your writing; and because they allow characters to demonstrate behaviour that they wouldn't under ordinary circumstances. And sex scenes are more than a little titillating to write,too, which is okay by me (not to mention my partner)!

I used to worry so much what relatives and friends would think when they read my book, especially my octagenarian Grandma, from whom the writing urge was passed genetically. Two months ago, Grandma died, and all I could think was: "How sad, she'll never hold my book in her hands and be able to show it proudly to her friends". Your mother will be so ecstatic to see her little boy in print, she won't care if it includes instructions for summoning up Satan (which my book also does).

Everybody, I got a call from my editor yesterday afternoon. She is sending up the first editorial report on my book - eight pages of criticism (can I stand it?). What's worse, it will arrive the same afternoon I hand my last assignment in for uni! No rest for the wicked, indeed. I'll look forward to sharing the whole editing process with you all, that is if you're interested (I assume you are - just tell me to shut up otherwise, I take criticism quite well, or at least I'm learning to).

Bye all!

Jack Beslanwitch Sun Nov 10 23:41:51 PST 1996

Hello everyone,

BRITOMART: Is OK and is corrected.

Philip: Hope my advise helped and look forward to seeing your page.

Just got back from Portland and a little bushed. Looks like everyone is being very productive and that's great. I'll be here a little infrequently for a little while over the next week, but I'll try to check back and make sure I can help correct any problems.

Bob Hanford Sun Nov 10 19:52:04 PST 1996

BEN: I know there are two schools of thought, i.e., write what you like and write what sells. I personally believe you should write what you enjoy writing. It's the emotional edge you bring to that writing that makes it work. Camus, Sartre, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Henry Miller, Steinbeck and the list goes on. All had that emotional edge that came from loving what they were writing. And none of them handled sex the same way. Handle it the way you want to. Besides, it is impossible to predict what will be in vogue two years from now and won't it take two years from the first sentence till the book is on the store shelves? You gotta love and respect your characters and they are going to dictate to you how you handle the sex part.
Definitely hope you write the Cinderella and Her Sisters and the series Tales Of The Vienna Woods. Its the same thing I'm going to do with the siege of Leningrad; the war will be a slight backdrop. The story will be about the people caught up in it. So hope you write this series.

Ben Woestenburg Sun Nov 10 13:51:26 PST 1996

It's me again.
I just finished a short story today. I like it, and that's a surprise. I mailed it off to Kitty so she could take a look at it, and I hope she likes it as much as I do. I sent it to her because I wanted her to have an example of my writing style. I haven't edited it though, and it needs a little bit of work still, but I hope to have it finished by the end of the day. I'll be mailing it off on Tuesday. I read it to my wife and she loved it. She doesn't usually stay awake when I read her something, but this time she did. She wants me to send it out as soon as I can. I'm pretty excited about it because I'm confident with it. I know it will sell somewhere. I just have to send it to the right place. It's a little over 7000 words, so hopefully it isn't too long. My wife was a little skeptical when I told her it was a story about a dragon that a man had in his apartment in New York. She was wondering how I was going to pull that one off, but when I read it to her, she smiled. I guess I answered all her questions. Now I want to write another one, but first I have to work on another poem this week. It's funny, but I seem to have become a new man when it comes to my writing. I want to work on CINDERELLA AND HER SISTERS, because that's something that's really interesting. It's a history piece, going back to just before the first world war. It's actually the first story in a collection I had thought about. The working title for the collection is TALES OF THE VIENNA WOODS. I love that era in time almost as much as I like ancient Rome. I thought if I followed a couple of people through the war -- not actually writing about the war -- but the events around these people as they're swept up in circumstances they have no control over, it might work. I don't write these stories for other poeple when I think of them however. I wirte for myself. People have been telling me that this is the wrong way to go about things, but I don't think that's true. If you don't like what you're writing, how can you write it? They keep telling me that I should write what sells. Sex sells, they say, and I just shrug and say, I don't have to write about sex because it doesn't interest me (I mean in a a literary sense). Is this wrong? Instead of writing an elaborate sex scene, I'd rather just say something easy, like...'and then they made love.' It's better to leave it to the imagination, because everyone that's reading the story basically knows how to do it. Any comments? I know Britomart says she had sex in her story, but we don't know how she wrote her sex scenes. I've tried to write sex scenes, but they'd just end up porno laced stories that I wouldn't want anyone to see, because I keep thinking to myself, 'Gee, what if Mom reads this?' It's silly, juvenile, and ridiculous, but I like it that way.
Anyway, I have to go surf the net and find out some more information about Vienna circa 1900-1905. Should be an interesting hunt now that I'm into it again. I've got seven or eight pages of the story already written down -- I did them last year some time -- but I know I'm going to have to change them. I'll keep that beginning that I put in the Workbook, but I'll have to change a bit of it. Anyway, just thought I'd say hi, 'cause I'm outta here for a while.

Ben Woestenburg Sat Nov 9 23:06:33 PST 1996

Hello from me!
I've been having some problem with the computer -- well actually, Manni has -- because he wants to download another server on here, but it seems everytime he does, something goes wrong and a winsock error comes up, or else someone picks the other phone up upstairs, which is quite comical with the frustration level it generates around here. Manni's the kind of guy to laugh it off and simply start over again. He doesn't like this server, or the Microsoft server, and is dertermined to get the Netscape which he says is by far the best one out there. Whatever, I say. I just know that I had lost all of my bookmarks yesterday, and then found them again for some reason today, but not through this server. But I can't complain. I'm learning more about this computer just watching him and drinking a few brew on the couch.
But enough about me.
BOB: I see the reference you made to the SCARLET LETTER, with the branding, but I don't think it's a story I would personally want to tackle. I don't think I could write a story based on that particular scenario -- child molestation isn't something I like to think about, let alone want to write about. I'd have to change it dramatically. Persoanlly, I like the idea of those boys in Alaka who were sentenced by the tribe, and exiled to live off the land. Now there's a story waiting to be told. Of course, I'm not much of an outdoorsman for that kind of story, but I think it's something that could be looked at in a similar light -- exiled, banished, the whole village against them -- it seems a little easier to handle on an emotional level. I think it's because over the years, I've discovered that half, if not more than half, of the women I've met have had some sort of sexual abuse aimed towards them. I've known rape victims and abuse victims, and for a while, was wondering if I was the only person who grew up happily. Sometimes I still think that. The world is a sad place it seems, isn't it? But you have to make your own happiness, and that's why I've always held onto that line from Milton: "The mind is it's own place and in itself can make a Heaven of Hell a Hell of Heaven." People rise above their personal problem, or they let them beat them down into the ground. It's the turmoil of life and the quality we make from it that make the person what he is.
Just spoutin' off here. You don't have to agree or believe, or even accept it as truth, or even half-truth; they're just words.

Bob Hanford Sat Nov 9 21:21:39 PST 1996

KITTY: Easy. I didn't say it was a perfect match. Of course, the reference is to being branded with no reference to the cause, just the effect.
Peace. Bob

Britomart Sat Nov 9 20:56:47 PST 1996

JACK - Sorry for turning everything italic. I'm still getting the hang of HTML.

Britomart Sat Nov 9 20:55:09 PST 1996

Lisa: Allow me to apologise for not getting around to (a) wishing you happy birthday or (b) congratulating you on your excellent home page, which I have book marked in order to suss out in more detail later.

The old "I don't want to finish this book" feeling is a very familiar one to me - I go through all kinds of nervous tics and twitches and teary fits in my effort to find other ways of passing my time rather than wrapping up endings. There are lots of reasons - of course, with a novel you get so attached to the characters. And a long work is like an old pair of shoes - you're comfortable with its rhythms and you can't bear the thought of having to put those new shoes on and wearing them in.

But the main thing is that once you're finished, you're finished. All the potential is gone and the work stands or fails on what it is. The ideal in your mind is rarely fused into the words on the screen, so it's always a time of bitter disappointment and self-reproachment. Don't worry, just finish it and say you'll edit heavily. Always works for me.

My poem for this occasion is a canto from Byron's "Childe Harold's Pilgrimmage". I think every writer might like this one:

My task is done - my song hath ceased - my theme
Has died into an echo; it is fit
The spell should break of this protracted dream.
The torch shall be extinguished which hath lit
My midnight lamp - and what is writ, is writ -
Would it were worthier!
but I am not now
That which I have been - and my visions flit
Less palpably before me - and the glow
Which in my spirit dwelt is fluttering, faint and low.

(My emphasis added - sorry, George!)

Good luck. Go finish it, girl.

Kitty edwyer@spherenet Sat Nov 9 20:45:23 PST 1996

Bob, I don't get it. Please explain why you think the case of the child molestors is a "modern day" version of The Scarlet Letter. How can you compare adultery with child molestation? One involves two consenting adults, the other involves an adult preying on children. Are you referring solely to the fact that the offenders have been "branded" visibly? If so, then perhaps you were a bit hasty to make the analogy with The Scarlet Letter. If I recall there was a lot more going on than Hester having to wear a red A.

Bob Hanford Sat Nov 9 17:19:17 PST 1996

Hello all. Didn't catch the state but somewhere two days ago a judge sentenced two male child molesters to the following: Signs on their front door saying, "No children allowed inside" and EVERY time they leave the house they must wear shirt that says on front, "Convicted Child Molester." A modern day Scarlet Letter. Good novel there for someone.
Peace. Bob

Lisa Nickles Sat Nov 9 13:08:54 PST 1996

Hi guys. Thanks to everyone for the birthday greetings. One quick question before I slide out of here for today... I've noticed lately that the closer I get to the end of a story, the more likely I am to procrastinate. I'll work on another project or skip writing altogether to take care of other things. Anybody else run into that problem?

Ben Woestenburg Sat Nov 9 09:55:20 PST 1996

Happy Birthday Lisa. I hope you had a good one.
It's funny, I tried to write something in here last night sometime after 2:00 a.m., but I fell asleep at the keyboard and woke up with a sore neck at around 5:00. I don't know why I keep doing that, but I know last night had something to do with alcohol. I haven't been writing in here very much, but I've been following it. Been working on a short story that just popped into my head a couple of days ago, sort of a fantasy-type thing that deals with talking dragons and dreams. Sounds wierd, but works for me. Just thought I'd mention it because this page started out as a sci-fi/fantasy adventure thing. I guess that's what actually got me onto it. I didn't have time to work on it last night because we had company over when I got home from work, and I really wanted to get into it because I wrote about five and a half pages at work during two ten minut coffee breaks and a half hour lunch. Unfortunately for me, the guy that owns the computer, Manni, wanted to delete a whole pile of files -- seems I was real busy -- and also wanted to download another browser. Things got screwed up, I lost access to a whole pile of bookmarks, and almost lost this one except for the fact that I had been getting all sorts of winsock errors (whatever those are) and wrote the numbers down. I don't think I'll be getting on here much over the next few days until Manni straightens everything out, which shouldn't take him too long -- he likes to call himself a computer nerd. At least I have an hour to look forward to where I can write -- no, that won't work either 'cause it's Saturday and I have to make breakfast.
Anyway, I can't believe how much this page and reading everything you people have been doing over the past month and a bit have actually inspired me to reach farther. I hope to have this short story finished and sent out to magazines within the week. And then when it comes back, off to the next one on my list. Of course, the fact that Manni accidentally deleted my bookmarks and lost the adresses of all those magazines I had just found means I have to start over again, but hey, I don't mind.
See y'all later, and Kitty, I'll be talking to you within a couple of days. You're a great support for me and I just wanted everyone to know that. You always have that extra couple of minutes a day for me and always ask the right questions.

Ben Woestenburg Sat Nov 9 09:55:12 PST 1996

Happy Birthday Lisa. I hope you had a good one.
It's funny, I tried to write something in here last night sometime after 2:00 a.m., but I fell asleep at the keyboard and woke up with a sore neck at around 5:00. I don't know why I keep doing that, but I know last night had something to do with alcohol. I haven't been writing in here very much, but I've been following it. Been working on a short story that just popped into my head a couple of days ago, sort of a fantasy-type thing that deals with talking dragons and dreams. Sounds wierd, but works for me. Just thought I'd mention it because this page started out as a sci-fi/fantasy adventure thing. I guess that's what actually got me onto it. I didn't have time to work on it last night because we had company over when I got home from work, and I really wanted to get into it because I wrote about five and a half pages at work during two ten minut coffee breaks and a half hour lunch. Unfortunately for me, the guy that owns the computer, Manni, wanted to delete a whole pile of files -- seems I was real busy -- and also wanted to download another browser. Things got screwed up, I lost access to a whole pile of bookmarks, and almost lost this one except for the fact that I had been getting all sorts of winsock errors (whatever those are) and wrote the numbers down. I don't think I'll be getting on here much over the next few days until Manni straightens everything out, which shouldn't take him too long -- he likes to call himself a computer nerd. At least I have an hour to look forward to where I can write -- no, that won't work either 'cause it's Saturday and I have to make breakfast.
Anyway, I can't believe how much this page and reading everything you people have been doing over the past month and a bit have actually inspired me to reach farther. I hope to have this short story finished and sent out to magazines within the week. And then when it comes back, off to the next one on my list. Of course, the fact that Manni accidentally deleted my bookmarks and lost the adresses of all those magazines I had just found means I have to start over again, but hey, I don't mind.
See y'all later, and Kitty, I'll be talking to you within a couple of days. You're a great support for me and I just wanted everyone to know that. You always have that extra couple of minutes a day for me and always ask the right questions.

trudy Fri Nov 8 19:23:09 PST 1996

Happy Birthday Lisa!
Welcome back Kitty!
Bob I will definitely try out that apple pie recipe on hubby; apple pie is his favourite!
All, hello with promises to return for a longer visit soon. Have only quickly read everyone's messages but am planning major cathup this weekend. Only have two stories to write by Tuesday for work and Monday's a holiday so I'll finally have some spare time. Weird feeling.
By the way read the joint effort. Great job guys. Really is interesting what a group can come up with isn't it?
Until tomorrow, Trudy

Britomart Fri Nov 8 12:14:17 PST 1996

Charles: You do realise that the difference between fiction and non fiction is a question of genre, and not a question of a relationship to "truth". I privilege fiction over non-fiction every time, quite simply because I think the line between the two is very blurry, that is, I don't know about the "truth" of non-fiction. Take a book like "Men are from Mars...etc". How "true" is that? It seems to me just like one guy's opinion, applied to a whole bunch of scenarios. Hey, that could be fiction. In fact, it could have been more powerful if he'd sold it as fiction - if he'd written a story which was just a great big metaphor for his ideas. As it is, I think it's overrated nonsense, and certainly doesn't reflect any of the realities of my own life and relationships.

But fiction is so powerful because it operates on so many levels and without the boundaries of a semblance of "truth". We all know how fond I am of quoting old poets, so this occasion will be no different. From Sir Philip Sidney's "The Defence of Poesy" (ca.1593?):

The physician weigheth the nature of man's body... and the metaphysic doth indeed build upon the depth of nature. Only the poet, disdaining to be tied to any such subjection, lifted up with the vigour of his own invention, doth grow in effect another nature, in making things either better than nature bringeth forth, or quite anew, forms such as never were in nature.... so as he goeth hand in hand with nature, not enclosed within the narrow warrant of her gifts, but freely ranging only within the zodiac of his own wit.

When you choose non-fiction, you are choosing a genre which posits to have a relationship to "truth". When you choose fiction, there is no such expectation, and that gives the writer more freedom to explore and come up with something new and brilliant. That's my opinion and I'm sticking to it. Sorry about the Elizabethan poets - I'm obsessed.

Bob Hanford Fri Nov 8 10:45:20 PST 1996

KITTY: Secret is in the crust of course.
8-or-9inch Two Crust Pie
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup vetetable oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 to 4 tablespoons cold water (the colder the better - take from melted ice cubes)

Mix flour, oil and salt until particles are size of small peas. Sprinkle in water, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing until all flour is moistened and pastry almost cleans side of bowl. (If pastry seems dry, 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil can be added. Do not add more water.) Gather pastry into a ball.
Cut ball in half. Wet countertop, spread sheet of waxed paper, pressing flat. Flatten half of ball with hand. Spread sheet of waxed paper over top and roll out two inches larger in diameter than pie tin. This is tricky part. Discard top sheet, invert bottom sheet with pie crust spread over pie tin. Peen off sheet and do necessary hole repairs. Ditto for second half of ball as top crust.

9 inch apple pie

3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Dash of salt
6 cups sliced, pared tart apples (6 - 7 medium apples)

Heat oven to 425. Mix sugar, flour, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt. Stir in apples. Put in pastry-lined pie tin. Cover with top crust that has slits cut in it, seal and flute.
Cover edge with 3-inch strip of aluminum foil (very important), remove during last fifteen minutes of baking.
Bake till crust is brown and juice begins to bubble through slits in crust. 40 - 45 minutes. E-mail Bob and try to tell him how delicious it is...

Kitty Fri Nov 8 09:57:13 PST 1996

Hey y'all! My computer has had an attitude adjustment--it wasn't cooperating with the powers that be (me), so I sent it in for a "session." Consequently, I have lots of things to catch up on and read, and as a bonus I have more bells and whistles to play with on this machine.
Bob, very powerful personal messages AND world famous apple pies! Are you holding out on the rest of us!? At the very least you could send us the recipe for the pie--presuming it isn't a highly guarded family secret, and this way we will be assured that Britomart has recourse to something other than chocolate at every meal. An apple a day.....
Charles, about fiction and nonfiction... I read both and I don't compare the two. I approach each with a different set of criteria and yet both have the power to move, provoke, teach, and make me think. Individual books have made an impact on me. What is your opinion?
Lisa and Britomart, took a quick peek at your up-and-running sites. Great work. Lots of intriguing things to explore.
Greetings to the rest of the gang. I'm off to slog through a mountain of e-mail, and do a little writing.

Bob Hanford Fri Nov 8 09:00:35 PST 1996

LISA: Now I know why the tornados missed us, the wind is purring instead of howling, and the sun has come out. It's your birthday! Happy Birthday!
Walk in Beauty.

Lisa Nickles Fri Nov 8 08:48:14 PST 1996

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!!! Thanks for the comments so far guys. I figured I'd pop in and see how everyone is.

For those that commented about the backdrop in the one section- out it goes. (I was working without my glasses that night, and couldn't see the back ground, much less read it.)

CHARLES: I often find fiction books affect me even more than non-fiction. (A few exceptions, of course.) I think it is easier to insert your thoughts and ideals into a world that you create without sounding preachy than when you are bound to this physical world.

TRUDY: I agree with you. This site is a great motivator. I find myself wanting to sit down and write whenever I visit. Hats off to Jack.

More later. Take care all.

trudy Thu Nov 7 17:00:58 PST 1996

Me again. I just popped into the workbook and boy have you writers been busy. PHILIP love the bio collection; you're right, we're some group. Thanks for posting it.
I have printed off the joint project and am going to read that before going to bed, but also think I'll do a little writing. That's one great thing about this site for me - it makes me want to work on my fiction, even when I'm exhausted from newspaper writing. Will definitely read more of the workbook this weekend.
Bob also enjoyed your letter to your daughter; you have such a way with words, and I understand completely the feeling of letting go of a story once it's written. The few fiction pieces I've sent out have been like rippng a piece of me away. Wonder why I don't have that problem with non-fiction?
Anyone else who posted in the workbook, don't take it personally that I don't comment but I only read a few postings. Will eventually get to them all I hope.
Take care and happy writing. Trudy

trudy Thu Nov 7 16:38:00 PST 1996

Hi all. Looks like last time I forgot to put my name at the top but anyone who read to the end of the message hopefully remembers me. Just checked out Lisa's page and left a comment in the guestbook along with a few other writer's notebookers. I now think I'll spend a little time reading everyone's entries in the workbook since I haven't been there for awhile. Take care and am hoping to be more involved soon. Trudy

Charles Samuel Thu Nov 7 14:21:38 PST 1996

BRITOMART & PHILIP: Thanks for your input. As you said Britomart, I've been busy writing. Thanks to your and Philip's input I've reworked the first chapter of my book. No more weather in the first sentence... some nice phrases ala Philip and we killed the bulldozer driver in the first chapter! This helped add in a missing element in the subplot. Thanks. Great to hear everbody's writing. Personally, I had a hard time with Capote's style Philip, but let's see what you come up with. Also, Britomart, make sure you write a book this summer while you have the time, as time goes by, other responsibilities tend to fill up our waking hours.

EVERYONE: Bob sent me a very powerful personal message about the impact of fiction versus non-fiction in his life. Anyone else have any responses to my question? "Which books had the most impact on you -- fiction or non-fiction?"

Bob Hanford Thu Nov 7 10:41:22 PST 1996

BRITOMART: I bet you couldn't travel one thousand miles without finding a dozen things you just had to write about. As for the chocolate, I agree.

PHIL: Your book arrived today. Perfect timing since I had just made one of my world famous apple pies. It's raining, coffee's hot, so I'm off to Australia, 1869!

Lisa N. Thu Nov 7 07:05:38 PST 1996

Gee Brit,

If you ate chocolate at every meal, you'd be so sick that the only thing that you'd be able to write about is bathroom decor.

Britomart Thu Nov 7 02:42:54 PST 1996

You've all been a bit quiet this week, so I take it that means you are all producing many fine pages of publishable text. I have decided to go with the second book idea for those who were concerned (I know you were all losing sleep over it) - because in the end I thought I'd be more confident writing it, and confidence is so important. Bob, if I had three years to live I wouldn't write anything - I'd travel around the world and eat chocolate at every meal. Well, maybe I would write something.

Lisa Nickles Thu Nov 7 01:51:11 PST 1996

Hi guys,

Just a moment to see that everyone is still checking in. I would like your opinions on something. I've found many good writers spots on the web and I'd like to offer my own to the pile. I've redone my homepage to that end.

I'd like a few honest opinions. Brutal is better. Clearly it's not done yet, but I'd like to know if youthink it is already overdone before I put a ton of work into it.

Thanks guys


Wed Nov 6 19:13:11 PST 1996

Hi everyone; thought I'd pop in for a quick hello and to say I'm still surviving.
Work is not slowing down at all; we have a Remembrance Day supplement to write for as well as several business profiles and we're getting ready for our weekly gift guide sections which are filled with fabulous gift idea stories. I'm hoping this year by the time it's over I won't hate Christmas too much. On the good side the light is at the end of the tunnel; once Christmas arrives we slow down to a normal writing pace at the paper for about two months then it starts to pick up again in the spring.
BOB I will sit down and let you know the joys and disappointments of working as a writer by day and trying to write at home after hours. It is definitely something I will enjoy sharing and want to explain the good and bad as best I can, so be patient.
BRITOMART, have bookmarked your page for further exploration. I take it you're an Anne Rice fan. She is one of my favourite authors. I especially love the vampire chronicles. My cousin in Ottawa picked up her latest novel for me and had it signed by Anne Rice herself at the book launch. I can't wait to get it at Christmas!
Anyway all, must get ready for bed as tomorrow is another work day! Take care all and I shall return! Trudy

Jack Beslanwitch Mon Nov 4 21:57:46 PST 1996


Glad to see you back and hope the wilderness was a fount of inspirtion for you. Just got word from Amazon that they're sending your book Sweet Water-Stolen Land my way so I should have it my hands within the next day or two. Looking forward to it.

Philip Mon Nov 4 17:53:02 PST 1996

Hello All - back from a long, contemplative walk in the wilderness.

My excuse is that I am conducting a microsopic study of the narrative styles of Truman Capote's 'In Cold Blood' and Norman Mailer's 'The Executioner's Song'. The reason being I am looking for a way with narrative - the yellow brick road - to my own non fictional narrator's voice for my own work in progress in the same genre. Comments are urgently called for please from those who have read these works.

TOBIN: about the writing of 'Sweet Water - Stolen Land' - it took about seven months to complete the MS that was sent to publishers, followed by a further ten weeks of editoring but that was not intense - there was a lot of toing-and-froing involved. The writing story in brief: I began the book after an inspiring visit to central Australia where I was working on a film. I had the germ of the idea for Sweet Water in the desert and I wrote about seven pages right there that would become the book. It was November and my film and TV work was slowing as we approached the traditional Christmas shut down. I broke the back of the novel in four months and reworked it for three months more as I resumed my 'day' job. After some market research, I sent my MS to seven publishers, nothing happened for about five months. Incredibly, on the same Monday in September '92, I received two letters from publishers both wishing to take my book on. Two days later I received two more, one of these informed me that my MS was shortlisted for a major literary Prize. The following Monday I was told I had won the prize and to get on a plane and come up to receive it and to tell no one. I was immediately thrust into the media spotlight. Woo Hoo!

Have to go - Philip.

Trevor Judson ? Mon Nov 4 09:37:49 PST 1996

re:sympathetic villains.
I don't think you have to try too hard to make a villain sympathetic.
I think we all want to get into the minds of beasts, just to compare notes, to find out how close we are to being as monstrous as them ourselves. Witness the popularity of Hannibal Lecter, witness all those souls who wrote to scotland yard at the height of the Ripper murders (Jack, not The Yorkshire) claiming to be him and fabricating all sorts of glorious mischief in his name (some of which would have made even the man himself honk). Neither is especially endearing yet the charisma surrounding them is electric. Bad
deeds and the odd quirk, coupled with some recognizably ordinary character traits that we can look at and see in ourselves: that's what you want mate.

Bob Hanford Mon Nov 4 05:19:30 PST 1996

BRITOMART: If you were suddenly diagnosed with a terminal disease and given three years to live, would you write either book? What would you do?

Britomart Sun Nov 3 20:16:53 PST 1996

Boring old me again. Anybody here who has ever lived or studied in the UK, could you please drop me a line. I'm thinking of doing postgrad in English over there.

BRITOMART Sun Nov 3 20:11:21 PST 1996

Do you know how much I HATE medieval religious allegory? I have a 2500 word paper on "Piers Plowman" standing between me and my endless summer, and do you think I can get my head around religious paradigms and dominant ideologies and bloody social bloody criticism? AARGH.

Thanks all for the pleasant feedback on the ol' home page. Mighty proud of it, but wait until the hols. I'm going to create a whole new one to replace it - fancy, mulit-layered, perfect for promoting my book when it comes out, with lots of pictures and info pages and clever decorations. It has become my new passion.

Anyway, enough about me. I want to ask people's advice. I know I'm always in need of psychological support, so I apologise for my neediness: I have two ideas for my next book, and I've started writing one but I don't know if I prefer the other. The other would probably be a bit easier, and I don't mind hanging on to the first idea for when I'm a better writer and more capable of rendering the complexities inherent in the storyline. I know that I've got to write the one that I love the best, the one that is screaming to be written, but frankly, I love neither, and neither is screaming anything. Everything has changed because I now know that I'm expected to write something of publishable status, and it seems like every word I write has 30000 people looking on. Do you think it sounds like I need to take a break - don't write the book on the holidays, but rather have a real holiday and make the publishers wait a couple of years for the next one? After all, the first one took a couple of years to gestate, and I certainly don't want to write a careless piece o'crap just for the advance money. Financial considerations aren't that pressing, as I can continue on a student allowance for a couple of years yet. All advice welcomed. Sometimes it sucks being an under-30 - wisdom ain't my forte.

BTW, has anyone seen Phil around here lately? Where are you Phil? We miss your words o'wisdom.

Ciao, y'all.

Charles Samuel Sun Nov 3 13:00:06 PST 1996

BRITOMART: Great page. Somehow you look EXACTLY like your writing. I don't know what that means but at least you're consistent. :)

BOB: Re: the quote from At Home in Mitford, where it quotes a bookseller from LA: "We almost never order more than five
copies of any book - except something like Conroy's Beach Music. But after we read your first book we
ordered fifty." ...Was that the full quote? also, could you send me how the bookseller in LA signed the quote? I'm thinking of trying to get a similar kind of quote from a bookseller here for my book. Thanks.

JACK: We really appreciate all the work you put in here. On that merit alone may you be successful with your sample chapter. By the way, if you did set up a passworded area to a 'non-exclusive club' what criteria would you use for acceptance to that club?

Charles Samuel Sun Nov 3 12:59:50 PST 1996

BRITOMART: Great page. Somehow you look EXACTLY like your writing. I don't know what that means but at least you're consistent. :)

BOB: Re: the quote from At Home in Mitford, where it quotes a bookseller from LA: "We almost never order more than five
copies of any book - except something like Conroy's Beach Music. But after we read your first book we
ordered fifty." ...Was that the full quote? also, could you send me how the bookseller in LA signed the quote? I'm thinking of trying to get a similar kind of quote from a bookseller here for my book. Thanks.

JACK: We really appreciate all the work you put in here. On that merit alone may you be successful with your sample chapter. By the way, if you did set up a passworded area to a 'non-exclusive club' what criteria would you use for acceptance to that club?

ben Woestenburg Sun Nov 3 10:28:28 PST 1996

WoW! I love those links to medi. hist.
Great page, and congrats.
Oh, and by the way, Bob and his son are right: you are kinda cute, aren't you?
Just dropping by to say how much I liked it, but I gotta go. It's too nice of a day to sit in front of the screen all day -- or so my wife tells me. I plan on doing a more detailed search through your links tonight, though I doubt I'll get past the med. hist. page. I'm all ready thinking about re-writing the death of Scathelocke, and I'm sure with what I can find in there, it'll make it a lot easier. It's always easier to write something when it's based on fact
Anyways, thanks again.

ben Woestenburg Sun Nov 3 10:28:22 PST 1996

WoW! I love those links to medi. hist.
Great page, and congrats.
Oh, and by the way, Bob and his son are right: you are kinda cute, aren't you?
Just dropping by to say how much I liked it, but I gotta go. It's too nice of a day to sit in front of the screen all day -- or so my wife tells me. I plan on doing a more detailed search through your links tonight, though I doubt I'll get past the med. hist. page. I'm all ready thinking about re-writing the death of Scathelocke, and I'm sure with what I can find in there, it'll make it a lot easier. It's always easier to write something when it's based on fact
Anyways, thanks again.

Jack Beslanwitch Sat Nov 2 21:00:55 PST 1996

Really enjoyed your page. Thumbs up all the way.

I'm still a little distracted. I've been asked to submit a sample Chapter, so I may not get a chance to concentrate on making Workbook a password protected area. However, against the possibility of my succeeding in this endeavor, feel free to send me suggestions for login names and passwords via email. If I can use the scheme I'm thinking of, you can each have your own login name and password, but I'll have to hand code them into the file. That's OK with me and hope to have it up sometime in the next couple of weeks.
One suggestion for when we do get the password protected Workbook up, Britomart or someone suggested possibly having pictures of us up to go along with our bios. I rather like this, or, rather, I could place the bios with pictures in a separate page behind the password area. Not trying to make this an exclusive club, but the collected page is probably better in our special area. I would prefer to just link to pictures on your own site, but alternatives (aka I'll host them here) can be arranged. Is this something of interest to people.
Also, for those using Internet Explorer 3.0 with ActiveX enabled, hit my main page and check out the new navigational controls. It only works if you're using IE 3.0, have ActiveXand JAVA enabled and hit the main page. It is sort of a further experiment I'm doing in preparation for doing the chapter. Take care.

Bob Hanford Sat Nov 2 16:33:24 PST 1996

BRITOMART: So, tell us, pretty lady, why is your significant other in black and white and you are in color? BTW, my son says your eyes stand out even in black and white.

Britomart Fri Nov 1 23:00:34 PST 1996

Hey everyone. Got the home page up'n'running. So, if you want to know what my real name is, see what I look like, or just follow some of the links I put on the page, GO THERE NOW!

Lisa Nickles Fri Nov 1 16:33:58 PST 1996

By the way, thank you to all who commented upon my poem. I appreciated it greatly. Sorry I didn't do this sooner, but I've been busy.

My younger daughter just had her first birthday today. With my birthday exactly one week away, it makes me consider the continuity of life through the generations. This concept is stuck in my mind, but I'm not getting any ideas or direction from it. Going to have to storm on this one.

Lisa Nickles Fri Nov 1 15:42:58 PST 1996

Villains, huh? My opinion is that a believable villain must be human. (Or whatever species he/she is.)

In the book that I am working on, the main villain's hatred and actions toward the heroine are essentially unrelated to her. He hates his sister (her mother) because their father had alienated him as a child to give his attention to her (even though he was the crown prince).

Without some logical reason for such hostility, a character is flat and unappealing.

By the way, the same goes for a hero type. A hero must have faults.

Charles Samuel Fri Nov 1 03:37:42 PST 1996

BEN: I'm still inching my way through BEACH MUSIC and it seems that the world is interested in lots of drunken fathers who beat their wives and abuse their children as well as priests who rape orphans. Interesting villains. Check it out. Your sawmill characters must be just as good material for a novel... guaranteed. As for killing people, I vote for keeping it to a minimum.

PHILIP: Did the outline make it over via Pegasus in one piece?

I've finished the chapter introducing the protagonist in my new novel. Based on Jack's and Philip's advice I'm a little twitchy about posting it in the Workbook. If anyone is interested, I'll send it via email. I'D LOVE YOUR FEEDBACK.

By the way, I'm a 41 year old husband and father of six children. My wife and I moved from Toronto to Israel in
1983. My degree is in Mathematics and Computers. I worked for a number of years in Canada as a management consultant and in Israel I helped design computerized nuclear medical equipment and managed a computer store. In 1985 I moved into adult education. Since that time I've earned the equivalent of a Masters in Philosophy and I lecture in Israel and abroad in philosophy, relationships, and mysticism. During
the Gulf War in 1991 I wrote my first book, non-fiction, called Missiles, Masks and Miracles. It was a success in Israel and will be published in North America in 1997. Last year I published my first novel, a political thriller called The Jerusalem Conspiracy. It has become a bestseller in Israel and we are negotiating with a major publisher in the U.S. Currently I am working on a second novel.

ALL: This leads me to a question. What books have had a greater impact on your life -- fiction or non-fiction?
Examples please. (A lot of people are pressuring me to
right more non-fiction but I have a current bias toward

Have a great weekend,

Britomart Thu Oct 31 23:05:15 PST 1996


But there's more - the difference between melodrama and tragedy is this: in melodrama, lots of really sad things happen; in tragedy, lots of really sad things happen inevitably. That is, right from the beginning there can be no other way that your poem can end. This really throws a spanner in the works, doesn't it, because you thought you'd only have to adjust one line. Now you'll have to go back and make sure that the tragedy was inevitable right from the start of the conflict. You can always ignore me if you like.

GUESS WHAT EVERYONE! My home page should be up and running some time this weekend, and it will feature cool links and even some pictures. I'd love to get a look at some of the rest of you, so if you have pictures on your home pages, let me know.

I'll catch up with you all over the weekend, and tell you my URL.


Existence is suffering; the cause of suffering is desire

Thu Oct 31 21:51:25 PST 1996

Ben Woestenburg Thu Oct 31 21:51:19 PST 1996

Hi Guys!
Nothing like an all Hallow's eve to bring out the beast in everyone, is there? I took the kids out begging for candy again, and they asked me to dress up with them. So, being the great guy that I am, I went out in full regalia. Iwas a cow. I just happened to have a costume laying about, of course. My son went out as a vampire, and said that the teeth hurt his mouth, so I used them and told everyone that I was a mad cow. I purposely didn't shave, put on some black and white make-up, added some fake blood that came in the package with the teeth, and walked about with a surly look on my face. People even gave me chocolate bars.
But enough about that, this is what I really wanted to ask you guys. I'm writing a poem about the death of Scathelocke Will, or Will Scarlet if you want to use the more familiar name. His daughter has been kidnapped by a Duke who wishes to avenge himself for past crimes done against him by Will. So far so good. The title of the poem is 'The Tragic Death of Scathelocke Will.' So here's the question. The Duke has taken her to his castle, somewhere around Cornwall, and Will has organized a group of peasants to fight the man. They lay siege to the castle. The Duke comes out to fight them, burns the camp, but loses the day. He stands on top of the castle walls and holds Will's daughter infront of her, then hangs her from the walls by the hair. Does he kill her or not? Ithink that he should. I've thought about it, and then realized that the title reads 'Tragic'. What, I asked myself, could be more tragic than that? Of course, when it was first written, the girl lives. He also has a son, so I suppose if I kill the daughter, the son should die as well. That's where the tragedy comes in. It's not just Will's death that is tragic, but the fact that his entire family dies as well. Is this the way I should go, or should I just leave it as it was, and let the two grown children survive, and just kill of Will? I suppose this sort of ties in with the villain question Britomart was asking us the other day.
Feed back, and reasons, no matter how sentimental, please. And don't worry, I don't have to re-write the entire thing because one line changes the entire content of the poem.
Thanks, I'll check back in with you tomorrow.

Oh, and Britomart, I especially want to hear some good reasons either for or against, from you.

Kitty Wed Oct 30 07:32:11 PST 1996

Hey y'all! Britomart, I never thought of Cathy and Heathcliff as villains--careless and willful and everything else you noted, but not villainous. To me they were true to their nature, and being so brought them tragedy ultimately. Perhaps there are two kinds of villainy: the unconcious sort where a character is true to his nature and thus cannot foresee the unfolding of events that his actions will trigger--I think this ends up being a tragedy like Wuthering Heights. Then there is the concious villain who chooses to do wrong, who is evil personified. They are the more chilling villain variety. They know what they are doing, they are aware of the affect their actions will have on their environment, and, yet, they proceed. Iago is a good example. I take my current favorite villain with a large dollop of humor: Rowan Atkinson's Blackadder series. And perhaps that is one way to make a sympathetic villain. Through humor and despite their best efforts to be bad, things do not always go the way they are trying to manipulate events. I loved all the villains in The Princess Bride--the book is better than the film.
Sherrie, I think the creature in Frankenstein was a tragic figure. He hates his creator, but loves him as well. He wants to be accepted and loved in return, but lashes out violently when he is rejected. The story is a study of the arrogance of man (Dr. Frankenstein) and the cruelty of society. I see the creature as being the hero of the story. Through no fault of his own, he find himself in an untenable position and chooses to banish himself from all the things he wants, but know he will never have. Even though his choice spells his death, he goes forward.
Ben, I think one of your strong suits is characterization. We'll be reading closely to see how you managed the switch of symapthy.
Jack, I've never read a Draka book, but guess I will be now. In fact, recommendations from the participants of the Notebook are beginning to crowd my must-read bookshelf. My local bookseller is having great fun tracking down some of these titles.
Have to go. Halloween, Samhain eve, is but a day away!

Sherrie Tue Oct 29 12:48:48 PST 1996

Must confess, I've never read "Wuthering Heights" or "Frankenstein." Since I'll be doing some reading these next few days or weeks--as soon as I complete another book proposal assignment from my agent--I'll definately bring these home from the library. Thanks for the cue, BRITOMART.
Question: couldn't the monster in "Frankenstein" have been a sympathetic protagonist, or am I missing something?
BEN: Love your book plot. The male POV always fascinates me. You're most interesting creatures (absolutely no offense intended).

Charles Samuel Tue Oct 29 12:46:19 PST 1996

Hi everybody!

Finally I'm almost back on track. My wife and I have carved
out a slice of time each night between 8:00 and 10:00pm
dedicated to my writing. I couldn't do it without a 100%
supportive spouse. Anyway, I began a new chapter 2 in my
novel in order to introduce the main character EARLY...
like BRITOMART suggested. It seems to be working. Coincidentally
as I started to write tonight, a reporter friend of mine called up
saying she's moving to Jerusalem from Cairo. She agreed to
serve as a model for the character and gave me some great
insights. Things started to flow and I hope
to have something in a couple of days to show you guys.
(Philip, I'm also planning to edit chapter one based
on your input...)

Speaking of villains (not you Philip!), I made one sympathetic by flashing
back to his childhood and showed how his evil was caused
by external circumstances which were understandable
(both his parents were killed by the enemy, his teachers
weaned him on hate, etc.) It's easier to like the bad guy
if he isn't the source of all of his own evil.

I hope to post a bio to go with the others so you have
a better picture of who I am. I feel it's unfair that
you are all so real to me and I'm still sort of an
enigma... I think.

Best to all,

Britomart Tue Oct 29 09:50:11 PST 1996

JACK: Oooh, villainy - my special subject.

The most convincing villain that I have ever read is Hannibal Lecter in "Silence of the Lambs" (Thomas Harris). Forget the movie - read the book. Here is a guy who killed and ate his psychiatry patients, but you want him to get out of that cell and see the beauty that he appreciates so much in the world. Fantastically rendered, and utterly, utterly BAD.

Also, Heathcliff and Cathy in "Wuthering Heights" if you want to go back that far. Both completely selfish, monomaniacal, bad-tempered and mad, but both completely irresistible characters because they are so alive, even with all their flaws.

So I guess the common thing here is that they are alive, they appreciate beauty, they want from life, as we all do - anybody can identify with that. And if that "wanting" leads into evil, then so much the better for your story.

The other thing that I like to do is set up a very close first person protagonist, get the reader on side by providing direct access to all those thoughts and feelings that are pretty much universal, and then make my "good" protag do something reprehensible (ie. the protag is not a villain so much as a person acting in a completely understandable way to certain stimulus). That's always a lot of fun.

Depth is the key I guess. Give the reader enough to identify with and go from there. I must bore you all because I keep quoting the bard, but Shakespeare did it brilliantly in "Macbeth". Go read it - trust me, you've forgotten how good it is.


Tue Oct 29 06:41:03 PST 1996

Ben Woestenburg Tue Oct 29 06:40:56 PST 1996

JACK: I have an idea about writing a good villain, but I don't know if anyone else will agree with me. I like to put me character in as symapthetic an eye as possible, but give him a few character flaws from the beginning, that give you just a hint of what he might possibly become if the situation lent itself to that. And then, of course, let the situation become that. In the book I'm writing, the antagonist has a problem with his wife. He beats her. He has problems to say the least, but the problems are explained. He drinks too much, resents his grandfather for holding him back from a posting in the legions of Rome, but loves his daughter more than anything else. He's racked with remorse for having struck his wife and making her lose the child she was carrying at the time -- a child she is quick to let him know was the son he so desperately needed. It just drives him to drink all the more. He's insanely jealous that she is having an affair with a Greek poet, after her father forces a divorce on him. He thinks he loves the woman, and tries to do things he think s will win her back, never realizing that he lost her long before.
The thing that I want to do that will make it all so different, is that the protagonist and the antagonist will change places in the reader's mind, because the protagonist, being the target of the villain's hostility, is blinded and sent into exile, while the villain goes on to fight in the legions he's always wanted to, only to become disillussioned with it. The protagonist becomes a man who wants nothing more that to avenge his loss (his eyes sight, the woman he loved, the child they were going to have) and becomes so incensed, that everything he does is blinded by this hatred, while the other man has nothing but feelings of remorse and guilt. What d'ya think? Sound OK?

Jack Beslanwitch Tue Oct 29 00:33:17 PST 1996

OK, blank sheet time again. Just to remind everyone who did not see my last post, I've taken all the bits and pieces of the train shared story and tried giving them the same voice and tense and a certain amount of circularity that I think works to a certain extent. I'm interested in seeing what others think.

Also, I'm still working on setting up the password protected area. Hope to have some time this week to tackle that. I'm hoping to have a few moments to add to either Philip's or Ben's story opening. BTW, Ben, that is a rather nice start. The characters are interesting and well worth taking a stab at I think.

Take care everyone. If someone wants to come up with a set topic to discuss I invite the input.

If I might throw out a possibility, how do you construct a sympathetic villain. The books that comes to mind are S.M. Stirling's Draka books (Marching to George, Under the Yoke and Plague Dogs - I'm not sure about the title on the last one) where several of the quote protagonist in the books are slave holding representatives of a culture where the Tories, Confederates, Nietzche and several others went to South Africa and that just happened to be ecologically correct and admirable in many other ways as they were monstrous in others. But it was the handsome engaging heroes in their own eyes that really sucked you in and when you realized that you were identifying with them the hairs on the back of your head begin to rise. If you can swollow the concept they can be very chilling. At any rate, in my own view, a well done villain has to be a heroe in his or her own eyes. If anyone has alternatives drop them in as well.