Archived Messages from February 1, 1999 to February 7, 1999 Feb 7 19:27:12 PST 1999

That should have been, Thomas, I disagree. :)

toby b Sun Feb 7 19:26:18 PST 1999

Naming one person as the source of all evil and explotation is too easy. It's a cop out. If you do your research, you'll find that Colombus was a pretty laid back chap, most of the horrifying stuff done in his name was done by his brother and his underlings while he was in Spain and powerless to do anything about it. If you want a SOB go yell at Cortes :) Also, if Colombus didn't run into America, someone else would have.

Thomas; r.e L. Ron Hubbard's, I agree. I've been submitting for seven years now. I've recieved an honarable mention, and I have never, ever, been exposed to scientology. No literature mailed, or books offered. In fact, the books offered in the back of the anthology are the SF books that L. Ron Hubbard wrote, nothing else. I think the people over at Author Services are very aware of walking on eggshells. To tag the contest without ever doing your research is dangerous. I'm one of those rare individuals who believe that everyone else is entitled to their own beliefs without my constant judgement. I guess I'm like that because I'm a multi-racial, and multi-cultural. But L. Ron Hubbards, if you look at their honor roll, discovered a huge chunk of all the SF writers that you are reading today. Without corrupting their spiritual mores. People like R. Garcia y Robertson (The Princess of Helium, on the Hugo for short story), and Beverly Suaraz Beard, and other writers I can't think of but can get back to you with. People like Mcaffrey, and Brin judge the contest, and Niven, and Pournelle. With the support and friendleness I have heard about from friends of mine who have won and gone, I am all for it. Heck, one of our own ranks, T.M Spell, (I miss you dude!) won an L. Ron Hubbard's piece, second place I believe. You can see what he says on the subject by clicking on the homepage line above by my email.

Cheers all. Keep writing.

Rhoda Sun Feb 7 18:56:55 PST 1999


I wouldn't believe anything about Christopher Columbus that is taught in schools. It is so popular to hate and despise the man and judge him by modern standands. Most people had never been to India, though judging by Columbus's many explorer friends, he had some idea what he would find there. He knew that his explorations only entailed a very little land he found. He thought that if he kept searching and asking the natives he would soon find the great Kahn. Incidently at that time India was filled with wilderness also and brown skinned people like the natives in Hispaniola. Why wouldn't he mistaken them for Indians? No one had any idea at that time there would be a continent between Europe and the Orient. How would they know unless the Vikings had been able to keep better records? If the Americas had not existed, then Columbus would have found the Orient if he had the food and provisions to complete the journey.

Think about it, Allein, most people including Colombus's crew thought the earth was flat and they would fall off by sailing so far west. They also thought that monsters and sea serpants inhabited the waters west of Europe. These men were ready to mutiny because of their fear and discomfort. Columbus had much faith in his theory. He was the only known man since the Vikings to sail out west from Europe and just keep sailing and get back to Europe to tell the tale. I wonder if you or your teachers would have the courage or the ability to do such a thing if you lived in Colombus's day. I daresay you would not any more than I would.

As far as Indians, Columbus might have done some mean things, but most of the cruety was brought about by the people who followed him. Columbus was merely a man of his times, and they were cruel times where life was considered cheap. Spain had just fought a bitter battle with the Moors, and they were still drunk with blood-lust from it. They were horrible not only to American Indians, but Jews, and later Protestants. Read some 16th century English history and review the reign of Mary Tudor and her husband Philip when they brought the Spanish Inquisition to England. Hundreds were burned at the steak.

Indians noble? I suppose some of them are and were. During my time in Farmington, NM living beside the Navajo reservation I met many Indians. They were interesting and sweet people, but they were JUST people. Some were great human beings, and some were not--just like anybody else. Yes, the Indians have been grossly exploited, and that began with the coming of Columbus, but if Columbus had not come, some one else would have and in that day and age would have exploited the Indians just the same. Would the Chinese, Russian, Japanese, or any other European power been more merciful? No, not while they outnumbered and outgunned the natives.

Forgive my many words, but I am frankly tired of all the Political Correctness crap that has surrounded Columbus. I tire of all the people that have sullied his name and belittled his accomplishments. Sure he wasn't a saint, and he might have had his faults, but he did a truly brave thing. The world has never been the same since.

Happy writing,


Hayden mailto: Feb 7 18:49:07 PST 1999

Boy oh boy what a different world this page is becoming! Fantastic. Keep it up all of you.

Just read back over the monster m/s I created over Dec/Jan, and the first 26 pages stunk. Absolute crap. I went into the bathroom and stood under the shower and stood there looking glum. (I would have been even more upset if I had turned the shower on because I was still wearing my clothes.)The shower has a great resonance when you gotta try it some time. Let me know when so I can organise a roster.

So, after the glum groans were out of the way, back to the computer and 26 pages bashed to bits, then printed off and sent to the publisher to insert. Feel much better, thanks.

Oh, for those of you who want to know how I managed 100,000 words in 2 months (let's not talk about the 26 pages) I have to warn you it wasn't easy. The first month was filled with xmas things and weddings so I managed to write only about 40,000 words. Second month was easier cause the structure was in place and I was able to just write it. A trick I learnt was to allow things to happen where they wanted to, then adjust the direction in the plot so it still made sense and all of it came together. Be brave, my son!(...ah...daughter as appropriate)
Another trick: have someone editing/proofing as you go. Jo, my wife, was great and the end product was worth the effort.


Allein Sun Feb 7 18:22:25 PST 1999

Where I got my information - from a teenage guy...I didn't think he was right on the dot, but maybe close or something. After all, most of the guys I know (and I'm not talking about anyone here - I mean the teenage guys I know) consider themselves experts on sex. I also saw a talk show about sexual abuse and rape and they said it could happen, but I think they were talking about women, which doesn't really help. But I'll check for rape crisis websites and such. I also realize that there could be problems with later sexual responses (which Allein experiences in a later story) but I'm talking about the there and then, at the time his uncle is doing this to him.

Okay NIE-way, on Christopher Columbus, his entire story is covered in lies, half truths and rumors. We don't even really know what he looked like and he WAS a jerk to the Indians. Plus, if he was so smart, how come he thought he was in India when he arrived in America. I mean, the two regions are very different. I'll just leave it there, because I could go on and on about what's wrong with Columbus (we covered this in history).

Well, bai bai all.

Jai Feb 7 16:01:37 PST 1999


One of my word files became corrupt and when I saved it it crashed my computer! I hate that I lost a whole 10 minutes work and spent ages fretting. I have managed to rescue it now though.


S.N.Arly Sun Feb 7 15:25:44 PST 1999

Oooops. That was me.

mailto: Feb 7 15:22:58 PST 1999

Some watery tart distributing weapons is no basis for government...

Allein - Don't know where you got that earlier info, but I have to agree with Thomas that it's not accurate. If you want to know for sure, you could check with a rape crisis center. They may be able to tell you that, and if you say it's reserarch they may give you more info than you think you need.

Toby - I never miss an L.Ron deadline.

W. Olivia - YEA! I can't stand Barbara Streisand.

Thomas - You fear too much.

Agsousa - I only recently discovered my Native American connection, although I have often used themes consistent with it. I'm also of strong Celt/Gael background so I'm fond of the earth and her many children. That's about as close as I get. I'm also not a literary writer, so those things just have to show up as they figt in my fantasy and sci fi.

On strong characters - Strength can be overdone. A relaistic or believable character needs flaws. Else s/he has nowhere to grow.

Welcome to Castle Anthrax...

Thomas Feb 7 15:00:42 PST 1999


I am no doctor (but I play one on t.v. -- joke!) yet it seems to me that after being sexually molested it would be more likely yhat problems later with sexual response would be psychological rather then physical, unless something physically was damaged. That stuff about hormones and blood flow sounds awfully wrong to me.


I was being facetious when I referred to the whipped cream. It is stupid to make obscure jokes to someone who has not the same command of one's language -- I plead stupid. But then, the definition of facetious is that one makes an attempt at being amusing -- says nothing about succeeding.

Would not surprise me one bit if Cristoforo Columbo were from Portugal rather than Genoa. As it goes, history is usually written, or re-written, by the winners. The Portuguese never succeeded in winning North America, not that you guys didn't want to. You should never had made that treaty with Spain to divide interests in the Indies.

Lisbon, the oldest city! You are a dreamer. Are you sure you Portuguese do not confuse Homer's with Joyce's Ulysses?

Were you being facetious about the American Indian?

What is the nature of Anthony Burgess' book that would appeal to me?


I sent you an e-mail recently.


L. Ron Hubbard. The man who made fantasy a religion. I wouldn't send them anything for fear I would get on a mailing list...

Allein Sun Feb 7 14:51:18 PST 1999

Hi all,

Hmm, I've noticed no answers to my question. But, NIE-way, if you know and are too embarrassed to talk about it on here (trust me, it took all my courage to actually ASK the question) you can just send me an e-mail. As I said before, I'd rather not ask my anatomy teacher because he'd restate and answer the question really loudly and embarass me big time.

Thomas - Mulan (name meaning: magnolia) is a girl written about in a poem from China. It was written back in the 4th or 5th century I think. The basic plot is this - Mulan's father is called to serve in the army when the Huns invade China, but her father was injured in battle many years before and would surely be killed if he fought. Women weren't allowed in the army and her parents had no sons, so Mulan disguised herself as a boy and fought in the war for her father. She went ten years without being noticed, and after returning home recieved the highest honor. She married one of her commanding officers. Mulan may have been a real person but there's not enough evidence to prove that theory.

Jack - thanx, I'll check out that website.

Bai bai, all,

Caroline Heske Sun Feb 7 13:51:08 PST 1999

My writing has slowed again to a virtual stop. A sort of 1 word per minute if I'm lucky. It seems whenever I get a burst of creativity, I get one of these to make up for it. I need something to inspire me - something more than the dread of the driving lesson I'll soon be having.

We don't have Kings, we're an autonomous collective.

Toby B Sun Feb 7 12:38:39 PST 1999

Lena: The Writers of the Future Contest is SF/F in a competition form. It doesn't cost anything other than postage, if you've read the books you can find the guidelines in the back. I have been submitting to the contest since I first seriously picked up the quill when I was fourteen years old. Some people have issues with submitting because L. Ron Hubbard provided the money, and his institution, the Church of Scientology handles the money he left behind for the contest. I personally don't care. I won an honorable mention a year ago, but no one has beaten down my door to beg me for the story, so oh well. I am still submitting, hoping to actually win one of these days. The honorable mention was just a small postcard with handwriting from the judge co-ordinator.

I would recommend sending your best and crossing your fingers. The reward for winning is worth it, you get a workshop, prize money, and most probably seeing your story in an anthology with high distribution (I buy mine at Wal-Mart). R. Garcia y Robertson, along with a lot of other really good SF writers started out in WOTF.

agsousa Feb 7 11:55:55 PST 1999

Hello, everybody!

I'm still on my weekend, immersed in newspapers, book reading and a little bit of TV watching. Very little writing.

I've just broken my promise of avoiding Internet on weekends and you, folks, are responsible for that, so fascinating it is to follow your "interactions" (Jack's word).

Jack: downloading and connection speeds O.K. Thank you.

Much obliged to all who praised my English. I wish I could say the same of the English of some of you, folks... So, I say it :) (Arly, just kidding, no offence.)

Tom: Why did you throw cream on the face of someone who called you mature? It's a nice English word, as in "this wine has matured nicely", or "mature opinions". I'm sure you wouldn't like to be called *immature* instead. Please inform me if *mature* has a different meaning in America and in England. Thanks in advance.
Cristopher Columbus might very well have a house on Madeira Island as you said. He married a woman from Porto Santo, Filipa Moniz, daughter of Bartolomeo Perestrelo, explorer and administrator of the said island. Did you know that, some four or five years ago, Mascarenhas Barreto, a historian, cast doubts on the nationality of Cristopher Columbus? He might have been Portuguese and not from Genoa. Most Portuguese historians vehemently rejected Barreto's theory. Nobody here seems to wants to have as a compatriot a chap who did not know that the shortest sea route to India was eastward and who died believing he had reached India when not even North America had he touched just the so called "West Indies". Holy ignorance!

Incidentally: I haven't noticed any American Indian writing here. Are you Indian, Lena, Rhoda, Arly? I would like to be an Indian in the land of the free. Indians are the noblest of Americans, aren't they? They are as free as the buffallo roaming on the prairie, etc. If I were an Indian I wouldn't like Cristopher Columbus. I would be wrong, of course: he had a pretty advanced mind for his time.

Rachel, the oldest living city in the world IS Lisbon. Legend has it that it was founded by Ulysses, and, of course, living here, I cannot thing differently, could I? Nice questions are are asked.

Well, I must go now. My webwitch day is Monday. I am reading a book called HERE COMES EVERYBODY, by the excellent Anthony Burgess. I recommend it to Tom and Hootie. I'll try to find something more adequate for the faithful story-tellers. More about that tomorrow or the day after, if you do not kill me for something I asked. y the bye, since we threw away fascism here we eat Big Brothers for breakfast each of us, honest men, must fight against that monster as soon and quickly as possible. Big Brother likes fear. Oh yes, sir, he does.

Lena Feb 7 10:26:19 PST 1999

Olvia - Congrats! I'm certainly envious.

Jai - Well, I feel so much better about qualifying for a job in programming - I can do the C++ and love Monty Python. "But father... I'd rather... SING!" "No, no, no, stop the music, STOP THE MUSIC!" Yeah buddy!

Another great movie is Robin Hood: Men In Tights. Anybody here seen that one? I can, sadly enough, quote the entire movie line for line. Oh, the things we do with our lives...

"Unlike all the _other_ Robin Hoods, I can speak with an english accent."

W. Olivia Race Feb 6 22:55:37 PST 1999

Okay, Okay, I swear this is the last post. And actually since it's early morning I guess that makes this my first official post of today. But I can't sleep because I am so jazzed right now.

I FINALLY got the chapter that was giving me hell done. I sat and stared at the blank screen until my fingers started typing. I actually like the way it fits into the plot. I have a few alterations to make to a previous chapter to help with the flow into this chapter but man oh, man do I feel like I accomplished something. I am far from done (many edits and proof reading are still to come) but the darn novel is actually finished in terms of this draft.

Anyway, I had to share my glee with you guys since you've all been so supportive. Now I have to try to get at least a couple of hours shut eye before the kid gets up.

See ya...

Jai Feb 6 22:19:48 PST 1999

Greetings all,

Long time no read ( well a day or two anyway ). Speaking of good fantasy I just read a good story over the weekend though I won't tell you who the Author is else she might get a big head :)

Strong female characters, I must admit I don't worry about strong females much, I just take each character as they come. I do have strong females so I mustn't be totally sexist, good to know.

Jack - I don't seem to be having any problems, text is pretty quick to download.

Lena - I love that movie absulotly love it, I think that is the only movie I can watch an infinate number of times and still laugh, quite an acheivment.
"One day boy all this will be yours."
"What the curtins?"
"No the land as far as you can see."
"But I don't want all that I just want to..."
"Cut that out. When I first came here they said you'd be daft to build a castle in the swamp but I built one anyway and it sunk into the swamp. So I build another one and it sunk into the swamp. So I build a third one which burned down, fell over then sunk into the swamp. But the fourth one stayed and that's what you'll get, the strongest castle in all England."

I better stop. I think it comes with the job -- must be able to program in C++ and love monty python,


Jack Beslanwitch Sat Feb 6 22:10:51 PST 1999

Allein: another possibility for anime is Bakacon which is a Japanese anime convention that takes place in SeaTac over the April 23-25 weekend. Their dealers room entails mutliple tables of Japanese anime, plus a series of 24 hour video rooms with anime of all different stripes playing both on small and large screens. Also, I am sure if you get in touch with the folks putting on this convention, especially Edric he would likely be able to direct you to some excellent choices for anime.

Allein Sat Feb 6 20:04:59 PST 1999

S.K.S. - I, too, would like to visit the Chinatown in SF, I've never been there. The one I went to is in Seattle and there are only three places you can really buy Japanese Anime.

S.N. Arly - I visited your webpage and I like the background. I didn't have much of a chance to look around though, but I bookmarked it and I'll be sure to go back.

Okay, I want to ask you guys something and, yes, it is research for my story. I'd rather ask all of you than have to face my anatomy teacher. As most of you know, Allein is constantly molested throughout my story - in the first story it's by his uncle. K, so, if someone is forced into a sexual act can they still become aroused and if so, how much. Because, I've heard that girls can but guys can't because when guys are forced and don't want to (or, in Allein's case, scared), their bodies don't produce a certain hormone or their blood moves to the core of their body (near the heart, I think) or something (I don't remember, sex ed was back in sixth grade).

Well, I should get my beauty sleep.
Bai bai.

S.K.S. Perry Feb 6 19:13:11 PST 1999

W. Olivia Race,

I see you did finally get to my critique. See, it wasn't bad now was it. And no, your story didn't stink. Quite the contrary actually.

Caroline, thanks for the comments on my female characters. It's one thing for me to say that I think I wrote strong female characters, but it means a lot more when you say it. As for them being exceptionally good looking, remember, the setting was basically a club for alpha types (both male and female.) One had to be exceptional just to be average!

Lena, "It's only a harmelss little bunny!"

W. Olivia Race Feb 6 17:51:31 PST 1999

Ok, so I'm not done yet for the night....

On strong female characters: I almost think it's my duty to present female characters as strong and self sufficient. My novel revolves around a very independent female protagonist. In the first draft, most people who read it found her too *bitchy* and unlikable. So, then I had to find a better balance and explain why she was the way she was. Would a male protagonist have to justify why he was strong and independant? Maybe, maybe not. Don't get me wrong. I feel the changes I made and the explanations of her past have made my protagonist richer and also added interesting elements to the overall plot, but it still makes me wonder.

I'll shut up now. I don't often go on rants like this one, I promise. But, I felt it had to be said.

G'night all

Caroline Heske Sat Feb 6 17:21:41 PST 1999

While I think it's good they're giving female characters more bite these days, I wish they'd do it genuinely instead of tokenly. Unfortunately it is more usual to write a story with mostly male characters, then include one or two women - and make them absolutely unrealistically perfect. It's like these people have been told 'market research tells us the strong woman is in so you better let them kick butt here and there' without giving them the depth of personality to do so. There are characters like Anastasia, who sort of wander through life, then at the end display an amazing ability to crush the bad guy under their high heel! Puh-lease! (with apologies to anyone who enjoyed that movie). Strength is something you find within yourself, it needs to develop, and it doesn't necessarily have to be expressed in a good right hook. By the way, SKS, I though Sarah and Gwen were great characters and (although exceptionally good looking) believable.

Still, while we're on this topic, what about weak men? For example, Elizabeth's lover in 'Elizabeth' (I forget his name, played by that Fiennes guy)... Was anyone else simply wishing through the entire film that he'd grow a backbone?

W. Olivia Race Feb 6 17:13:32 PST 1999

Hi all.

Jack: I can load the Notebook just fine. And coming from someone w/ a 486 66DX, this is an accomplishment beyond words.

I have really bad memory retention sometimes. Reading all the posts is fun, but draining.

Thomas: I have sent out several short stories that I could have kicked myself for sending after reading them. Typos, POV screw ups, the list goes on and on. Now I have at least tro people read them first. And then I check it again and again. Sometimes being anal retentive is a good thing!!!

SKS: Sorry but I haven;t gotten to your critique. And why would I be mad at you? Don't scare me. Did my story stink that much?

Ah, the mosh pit. When I was a reckless punk we just slammed into each other. There was no *pit*. And, I too like the Chieftains, the Pogues, and just about anything except for Barbra Striesand, Yanni, and rap....

Anyhow, I have avoided my weekend job (struggling writer) for long enough

Good writing all....

Lena Feb 6 17:07:36 PST 1999

Rachel - Isn't it ironic that we read a book to forget about our troubles in writing one?

I do not believe that a strong woman character needs to be able to fight, to argue, or to be 'strong' in a masculine sense of the word. I enjoy women characters who know what they are, and aren't scared to be themselves. And I agree with SKS, some authors overdo the "power to women" theme a bit much and end up with a character that is overbearing, cocky, and annoying.

Hootie - It sure does seem as if every new fantasy writer is named "The Next Tolkien." I read an interview with a fantasy author once who said he did not want to be the next Tolkien, he wanted to be the first one of himself. (I don't remember his name) The critics need to drop that overused phrase from their reviews.

What is your name? What is your quest? What is your favorite color?

(Lena, to discover the purpose of 42, blue... or was it green? AAGH!)

Rachel Feb 6 16:31:38 PST 1999

Hey all

I don't often give much info on what I do and don't like here, but I think music is one I can join in on. I love Dire Straits, CCR, Stevie Ray Vaugh, ZZ Top and here's a kicker Men at Work (No I am not kidding) In truth I like most music. All music, well except RAP music. It makes my brain hurt.

Hum, I have been going along so well with the two stories I'v been working on and now all of a sudden I'm stuck. I'v tried two different story lines from where I am and don't like either of them. I guess Its on to number three, maybe that will work.

I don't think I will work at it for much longer. I have written close to 10 pages and seem to be getting nowhere fast. I think maybe I just need to slow down some.

I have some excellent reading set up for this evening. I just love a good story. Takes my mind of my troubles.

Take care all


CateG Sat Feb 6 11:47:21 PST 1999

This isn't to follow any current thread, but is offered as information to any of you writers who might be considering self-publishing. Any feedback about would be most welcome. The best of luck to all.

Hootie Feb 6 09:35:39 PST 1999

S.N.Arly--you quoted Monty Python, but don't know about the Spanish Inquisition? For shame! But you got me on the whole Disney thing. I'll confess, and you don't even have to put me in the comfy chair (more Python reference).

S.K.S.--Sultans is a great song, as is Cold Shot. Thanks for keeping them alive.

In my book, I also have a strong female character (as we've defined them here), but in mine she's the bad guy (pardon me, my gender slip is showing), and a man defeats her. I guess I missed the P.C. boat on that one.

S.K.S. Perry Feb 6 09:11:47 PST 1999

Hey all,

Allein, I'm green with envy. I'd kill to be able to visit chinatown in SF.

Hootie, my band does a great version of Dire Strait's Sultans of Swing. I'd like to do more numbers by them--they're music is so moody. We also do Stevie Ray Vaughn's Cold Shot. Most of the female characters in my book are warriors right along with the men folk, and competent warriors at that. They don't wait around to be rescued, they are often better at their jobs then the men, and they don't play games when it comes to sex. As a matter of fact, it's actually the female lead who resolves the book. I guess that constitutes too strong!

By the way, I like Disney. And while it's nice to go see a movie that's based on fact and have it closely follow those facts, I don't think that's essential when it comes to entertainment. I loved Aladin, and Beauty and the Beast. As to Pochahontas and Hunchback of Notre Dame, I thought they were just mediocre movies regaurdless of accuracy.

And don't forget, Disney makes a heck of a lot of films under other labells, (like Touchstone) that are great. Like any product, when you put out as many films as they do, you're bound to have the odd stinker.

Be Well, Live Well.

S.N.Arly Sat Feb 6 09:03:50 PST 1999

Hootie - Spanish Inquisition? Sorry slept through that one in history class.

As for tracking the conversation from lit to Disney, I believe Allein mentioned Mulan and yesterday you dragged Disney, kicking and screaming into the discussion. Although Disney makes a good characture for the literary world in America.

Allein - I also thought Mulan needed a PG rating. There was a lot of death, murder, that whole war thing, you know. But it's my favorite as well.

Rhoda - Don't stress yourself too much. Chances are good it'll be OK. I always mail that stuff myself and it always seems to get there and back again just fine.

Lena - I was the one in the mosh pit. Again and again...

As to what makes a strong fremale character, I think we only need to look at what makes a strong character. You'd apply the same principles to whoever your character is, male or female. SOme traits of noticed for strong characters are: independence, intelligence, wit and the ability to locate and use what resources are to be had (a problem solver I guess you'd say). Weak traits are weak no matter the gender as well.


Allein Sat Feb 6 08:43:54 PST 1999

Strong female characters, hmm. I have a few of those in my story - Kachik being the main one. She's very independant, says what's on her mind and if a man says he can do something better than her, she'll put him to the test. Her aunt, Magiki, also feels the same way (she's not going to let her brother get the better of her). Also, the priestesses Kocida and Chloe, are very outspoken and, what's a good word here, spunky. But, I also have some stereotypical females in my story - Cosmosa (not a very main character) is quiet and shy and thinks that boys should ask girls on dates, girls should be quiet unless invited to speak and that the man usually has more power and strength. Allein also follows the stereotypical view of females in the story (even though, he's a boy). He's quiet and keeps to himself and thinks that men are stronger than women (although, this could be atributed to his being beaten and molested by men constantly).

Nie-way, I'm off to chinatown.
Bai bai,

Rhoda Sat Feb 6 06:53:36 PST 1999

Actually I believe that any main character worth taking your time to develope must be strong whether female, male, bad guy, hero, or heroine. If they are not strong at the beginning of the book, they had better find some inner strength somewhere in the book.

I think the question of strong woman charcter versus weak has to do with cultural perceptions. In today's culture, strong women are viewed as those women who can fight, work, and do whatever as well as any man. Ever notice in most movies that whenever there is a contest between man and woman the woman always wins? Today's media woman is smarter, stronger, more sensitive, and better coordinated than today's media man.

Strength can be seen many ways. A woman does not have to be superior to her counterpart male in order to be strong. Jane Eyre was a strong character. She was financially destitute, small of stature, and of low social order, yet during the novel, JANE EYRE, she showed tremendous strength by not giving into the temptation to stay with Mr. Rochester after finding out he had a mad wife. All through that book people tried to put her down because she was a poor relation, a charity case, a governess and virtual Victorian nobody, but Jane Eyre would never be put in her place. All the while, she was respectful and totally feminine.

Though I like to read a story with a hoydonish girl character at times, there are far too many books out there where the heroine can ride better and shoot better than any man. Though no one wants to read about some delicate, wilting flower, I personally think some balance is in order, but this really is a matter of taste. In our day and age, more women do seem to identify with the tom boy like characters.

Happy writing!


Hootie Feb 6 06:26:41 PST 1999

I also listen to an eclectic assortment of music, but I will admit to liking country. But I also like Dire Straits, Sheryl Crow, Everclear, The Moody Blues, Indigo Girls, Stevie Ray Vaughn, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and Squeeze. But I think that the Chieftains are my all time favorite.

How did we go from a discussion of American Literature to the merits of Disney? Agsousa, you must be tearing your hair out over our idiocy.

Since it was brought up, though, what is it that makes a strong female character? I know that Marion Zimmer Bradley wants to see them especially, but I have no idea how to do it. Although I have to give you kudos, S.K.S.I didnt think you could make a female character *too* strong. What did they do, torture and kill the men that defied them and enslave all the rest?

LenaI read a blurb that said that GGK was one of the best fantasy writers since Tolkein. Who knew that one of those things would be right?

Jack Beslanwitch Sat Feb 6 03:09:53 PST 1999

Of the animated features, my all around favorite to date is Prince of Egypt. The scenes noted earlier here were so absolutely awesome I was literally blown away. Definitely, this will be one for my DVD collection. As to Disney, I just got Mulan and liked it well enough. It certainly redeems my opinion of how greatly Disney could absolutely screw up a story by attempting to make it politically correct, child friendly or romantic and always, always, always commercially marketable. Examples of this include Hunchback of Notre Dame. The author has got to be rolling in his grave over that one, which, BTW, was where almost all of the characters in the movie should have been by the end of the movie, literally. This was not a happy book and absolutely everybody dies or did until Disney gets hold of it. Then lets not look to close at the historical facts surrounding Pocohantas. Among those that I actually liked were Alladin, Lion King and A Bugs Life. However, Prince of Egypt outdoes them all in my humble opinion. However, while we are talking about animated films that we enjoy or not, I want to admit a guilty pleasure or two or three from Disney and not. Favorites from years gone by are Fantasia, Sleeping Beauty, Lady and the Tramp and the Secret of NIMH.

Allein Fri Feb 5 21:46:13 PST 1999

I saw Ever After too and it was an awesome movie!!

As for music - I'll listen to just about anything - except country and really heavy metal (my brother plays heavy metal very loudly and it drives me nuts). I especially like music from foreign countries. What I listen to depends on the mood I'm in.

Well, gotta jet, I need my beauty sleep.
Bai bai,

S.K.S. Perry Feb 5 19:32:50 PST 1999

Hey all,

Caroline, I saw Ever After and it was one of my favourite films this year. Of course I also like Shakespear in Love. Chick flicks? Maybe, but that's me, tough on the outside and mushy on the inside--kinda like a s'more. My sensi (the old chineese one)always told me that great power should always be tempered by great compassion. No wonder those guys have the fortune cookie market cornered!

As for strong female characters, I had someone slam my book because they thought my female characters were too strong. There's just no pleasing some people.

W. Olivia Race, did you receive the critique I sent you, or are you just annoyed with me?

As for music, my tastes are so eclectic--there's not much I don't like--except for that really old twangy Country stuff. My taste ranges from The Ramones to Enya, Peter Gabriel to Offspring, Adam Ant to Brittany Spears--I could go on for ever. I used to be able to write while music was playing in the background. Now I find I get to wrapped up in the songs and lose my concentration. I still like to listen to music for inspiration though. Sometimes I'll listen to certain artists to set the mood of a specific scene I'm writing. Ohe yeah, for some reason I can listen to classical music while I write. Go figure!

Be Well, Live Well.

Lena Feb 5 17:47:01 PST 1999


I like all types of music, except for rap (nothing against the style, just the message). ABBA is good, especially "The Dancing Queen." It seems as if it should be a happy song, but the words are sad and almost bittersweet. I've got a thing for Benny Goodman, and much of the new swing music coming out recently is a nice change from much modern music. Squirrel Nut Zippers, eh? Hell! Great song. I like Gordan Lightfoot, Counting Crows, Tonic, Metallica, Simon and Garfunkel, Beatles, Barenaked Ladies... you get the picture.

Caroline - All right, Beauty and the Beast! My favorite also... it is beautiful. I did see Ever After, and that was a nice movie, but it was definitely a chick flick.

Allein - That is the only thing that truly annoys me about Disney movies (and movies, books, stories in general) is the helpless female waiting for her hero to come and fight out her battle with the bad guy. Most author's (or playwright's) idea of a strong female seems to be one who argues a lot, who has 'spirit.' Fah! I greatly appreciate stories with females who think for themselves yet don't have to be a total witch while doing so. (Carefully editing my language, here...)

SKS - Mosh pit? Wow, that's an image.

Hootie - I haven't read the Fionnavar Tapestry series, but I have read "Tigana" and afterwards I rushed out to get "A Song for Arbonne." I liked Tigana more, but both were excellent books. Gotta love 'em! I wish I could write like that... GGK's style of plotting his books is fascinating to me, because all of the seemingly inconsequential details he mentions in the first several hundred pages come together so well in the climax. The book seems to laze along at normal speed until the very end, when everything happens at once. I wish I could write like that... (haven't I said that already? envy, I suppose!)

Jai - What you are meant to BE? You already are who you were meant to be. It is discovering just what you are that is the hard part, and discovering what you were meant to DO is part of that. I love writing, but I know I was never meant to be a full-time author. I suppose having to continually define yourself is part of what makes us human, but it is strange and somewhat disturbing that you can have a talent you may never realize, a genius you may never touch, a gift you may never give.

And no, I do not believe in destiny.

Caroline Heske Fri Feb 5 16:40:51 PST 1999

Disney movies - It's weird... I'm a passionate feminist and I normally can't stand love stories, but every time I watch Beauty and the Beast I end up in tears - I think it's simply beautiful - it has that sort of magical quality. But apart from that, Disney isn't my favourite movie-maker (though A Bug's Life was an excellent movie, and the Lion King had a fantastic soundtrack)...

But has anyone here seen Ever After? I thought that was a great movie!

Rhoda Fri Feb 5 15:41:25 PST 1999

I made it! Almost. I spent all day perfecting my two chapter entry and synopsis. Then I printed out 3 copies of each, made my cover sheet, wrote my check, etc. etc.

The post office here in Perryton closes at 4:30pm and is not open on Saturday or Sunday. Well after speeding and almost running a red light...I got to the post office at 4:32pm, and it was closed. Since the deadline is receipt by the 13th, I really don't want to wait until Monday to mail it so I rushed downtown to the office supply store and begged them to weigh the package for me. They did. I have the necessary postage at home, but I am afraid to mail it without a post office employee (As I always say leave these weighty matters to the pros) weighing it for me and assuring me that $3.20 will get it there. But I have decided to trust myself and mail it anyway. This is definately out of my comfort zone.

Well there is my sad tale. But at least it is done.

Happy writing!


Allein Fri Feb 5 15:30:35 PST 1999

Well, at least there are some other Disney fans here. I also didn't think the Hunchback of Notre Dame was a movie for children. When I went to see it in theaters some small kids had to be taken out to the lobby during the violent parts because they were screaming and crying. I liked the movie, but I really think it should have had a PG rating. I also liked the book more than the movie. My favorite of them all is Mulan - because for once, the girl is the hero, unlike the other movies. Look at them: Prince Eric had to save Ariel, Gaston stupidly fell on his own, Hercules had to save Meg, etc. I Mulan sends a good message that girls are just as good as guys (even though it took them long enough).

If anyone here likes the songs from Disney, I have and am getting more foreign Disney soundtracks. If anyone wants a copy, I'll be happy to one or two or however many you want.

Well, that's all I have to say.
Bai bai,

PS: I'm going to Chinatown (in Seattle) tomorrow. I'll fill you all in on the details.

Litter Fri Feb 5 12:56:36 PST 1999

Hi All,

Rachel you're right, Notebook takes a lot of keeping up with!

SNArly - Caught the site - nice one and thanks for the Celtic Clipart Link - much beter than the one I had previously.

Jack - no problems here with downloading the Workbook - soon as it opens it's straight into my Temp Internet files.

Thomas - I have read many a book with typo's - so long as there aren't many and the manuscript is clean and flowing it shouldn't make too much difference - that's what editors and proof-readers are for.

Now I'm going to have to look up all the other posts for the last few days...

All Good Things,


Hootie Feb 5 12:39:41 PST 1999

Rhoda-- the Chieftains are great to write to write to, especially if you are writing fantasy or historical romance. And good luck on meeting the deadline.

Thomas-- how many of us haven't thought a story was finished, only to discover a couple of glaring typos? Especially when you have already sent it off.

S.N.Arly-- sorry, but nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.

Jack-- even more sorry. It's been a slow day at work, and I'm afraid I'm going to force you to archive after all!

Rhoda Fri Feb 5 11:58:35 PST 1999


I've been an ABBA fan since 1977. I have all their albums but nothing to play them on anymore since one of the kids broke my turntable.

I'm outclassed here. I always liked Barbra Striesand and "blush" Dan Fogelburg. These days I listen primarily to The Chieftains and Gospel music. I'm afraid I've never been much of a rocker, a punker, or a heavy metal person.

My favorite all time Disney animation is BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. It had all the necessary elements--nice music, cute characters, and a good love story. I liked HUNCHBACK OF NORTRE DAME. If there were sexual undertones, I am afraid they sailed right over my head. I had a difficult time with POCHAHONTAS. Disney took glaring liberties with the history. It could have been a great story if they hadn't felt the need to create the John Smith romance. She was afterall only twelve when they met. POCHANONTAS II, Journey to a New World was much better. They connected to reality with that one and left out the New Age stuff.

I must get back to work now on my contest entry. I've got to get it to its destination by Feb.13th--nothing like a deadline.

Happy writing,


S.N.Arly Fri Feb 5 11:19:02 PST 1999

Sorry, but Sarah McLaughlin makes me gag. Any die hard ABBA fans out there? Pogues? Gotta love the Pogues. I agree with SKS on the swing thing, though my fave is The Squirrel Nut Zippers. We have a nice music scene here in the Twin Cities; lots of clubs and a lot of variety. Some good newer (read unknown) bands as well. It's been neat to see bands before they got big and cool (Primus , and Soul Asylum). How fondly I remember my first mosh pit...

Goodweed - Thank you!

Hootie - I like a good series. You can usually get a whole lot of character and world development that wouldn't show up in a single book. I'm REALLY long-winded with my stories, so they'd end up looking like Battlefield Earth if I didn't break them up. Most people are intimidated by the books with 1 or 2K pages. But you can run a story (characters & or world) to death in a series as well. Like any writing, it's got to be done well to be worth spit.

Lydia/Jai/Lena - Hum a little Sinatra here. Do be do be do... I write, therefore I am... or it that I'm a writer therefore I write?

On Disney - I was pretty sick back in November. Watched A LOT of TV and movies. And somehow managed to watch several Disney creations. By the end I was so thoroughly disgusted with the messages I'd been fed that I wrote a fairy tale in response. What I wouldn't do for a story that doesn't have love/marriage as the prime goal. And for a female character whose brain doesn't turn to mush once she's got her man. And such cardboard cutouts those men can be, too. Ish.

What I did see of the Hunchback wasn't a childrens movie at all (I found myself wondering if I was old enough to be watching it). All those allusions to sex and all. I'm surprised parents didn't freak out over that. But they probably thought, it's a cartoon. It's Diseny. It can't hurt anyone.

Thomas - I'll be less vague in the future for you then.

Never been to Times Square (don't know that I ever care to), so I'm not sure what they did to it. I'm sure it was supposed to be some sort of urban beautification/urban renewal project that they could claim a whole lot of money in charitable donations.

"...there's nothing Neitczhe couldn't teach you bout the raising of the wrist. Socrates himself was permanently pissed..."

Rachel Feb 5 09:42:54 PST 1999

Hey all

Wow, It is a full time job just keeping up with this site!

Jack - I'm having no trouble with downloading the notebook.

Take care all


Lydia Sweet Feb 5 09:21:03 PST 1999


On "What are you meant to do (be)? Applaud, applaud, applaud.


I know your typos can make you feel sloppy(?), but I don't know that I would worry overmuch at this point. I don't mean that you shouldn't try to have a perfect MS for submittal, but I don't think that they would sink your ship, so to speak. I have read many printed books that have many typos. At this juncture at least you have recognized them and can make corrections should an agent or publisher be interest in the work. I am not trying to justify sloppy or unprofessional submissions, by any means, but I wouldn't lose sleep over it either.

Disney movies?  I'm still a kid at heart and really enjoy watching most Disney productions with my family. I agree most are predictable ,but I can expect a laugh or two, a pretty good musical score and a pleasant evening with my kids. Sleeping Beauty is still my favorite. I suppose because it was the first I saw and the first romance story of my memory. Yes, I still believe in dragons, fairies, handsome princes, poor peasant girls who are really princesses and, of course, that love's true kiss can save anyone.


Hootie Feb 5 07:58:14 PST 1999

Lena--that's the spirit! Don't think of the assignments as a chore, think of them as a chance to play with the language (let Agsousa know if you have a breakthrough, too).

On this subject of fantasy, I think I can combine a few threads here (I'm all humility today).

The Fantasy genre, as I said before, seems dependent on the series. Whether this is publisher or reader driven, well, it's probably both. If you read a story set in a fascinating and intriguing world, then you usually want to read more stories about that world. This is all well and good; after all, even the Lord of the Rings was a series. One of the problems I have with Mr. Jordan, though, is that he is not writing a series, he's writing a soap opera: all of the characters seem to be hanging by threads from book to book, and you can't stop reading the series for a while and then come back, without a good synopsis of the previous books. I know that I am hesitant about picking up the last couple of books, since the last time I read one, it was two years ago.

I think the series is best when each book has a satisfying resolution. The Sword of Truth series is a decent example. I have a friend who started with the second book, and although she will go back and read the first, it didn't confuse her not to have read it.

Let's drag Disney in here (kicking and screaming, I'm sure). The comforting thing about them is that you know, usually, what you're in for: a good story, a humorous sidekick, a few Broadway style songs. But even Disney, as trite as they are considered to be, stretches the boundaries of what they do every now and then. The Hunchback of Notre Dame was not really a kid's movie. Pochahantas did not end with "They got married and lived happily ever after". And in Mulan, they both found an incredible story, and, from all accounts, stuck to it (perhaps their biggest accomplishment). The point is that there is a huge crowd that will always go see Disney movies, but at the same time, they are trying to intrigue those who don't. A good series will do the same thing, so that even if you pick up number four or five, it will encourage you to seek out the first ones, without demanding it. (Loved Mulan; dont make me watch Bambi ever again)

I don't know how many other genres are series oriented, but I think that the good ones, the ones that last, will not be the same thing over and over (like Xanth), but will subtly stretch and change both the characters and the world. And yet stand on their own. It's a tremendous challenge, but if it's done right, then the world you create will have a life of it's own, like Middle Earth, and will stick in the consciousness of the audience long after the books have been shut.

And I heartily second the recommendation of Guy Gavriel Kay. He wrote one series, the Fionnavar Tapestry, but his others have been stand alone books (although he manages to mention Fionnavar at least once in each one). I liked "A Song for Arbonne the best, I think.

S.N.ArlyI suppose youre right, since just learning the accent certainly felt like learning a language, without being able to communicate with the Scots any better.

Thomas Feb 5 06:15:24 PST 1999


Carpenter? I ain't no slouch, but I must admit you lost me there too -- nail on the head, indeed...

Re: Mulan. My wife, who keeps up with some of the pop culture, already "learned" me on that one.

My main beef with Disney is what the company has done to my beloved Times Square in Manhattan. I would rather see the sleaze again than to see the place devoid of character and made to look like what a city block is supposed to look like in the world of make believe. The last time I walked the street a few weeks ago, I felt like it was indeed a "small, small world".


On publishers, you and me are tante sympatico!


Ah, that age-old question! I know exactly what I want to do when I grow up -- but everyone else calls it LAZY. I mean, can you actually be working sitting in that room all day supposedly writing?


Writing should make you want to pull out your hair, and if you saw me you'd see I succeeded in doing just that. Passion is loving and hating something deeply and at the same time -- think marriage -- and without that passionate push-pull you could not produce art, or babies if you are still thinking marriage.


Revision! Did you say something about revision? Just yesterday, after I went over and over and over my book proposal to be sure it was clean and tight, I glanced at it one more time -- found three typos. The sad thing is, I sent copies of it out two days ago (with the typos) because, I thought, it was clean and tight. The publishers who receive the copies, if they read the proposal, will think I am a novice, and there is nothing I can do about it now.

Proofreading and revisions are the writer's true endless nightmares -- annoying and frightening, but necessary for survival.

To all on the workbook. As soon as I get past a few deadlines (next week) I shall be making my way to the new submissions, and know I shall be satisfied with what I find there.

S.K.S. Perry Feb 5 05:35:48 PST 1999

Hey all,

Jack, I currently have no problem downloading the Notebook at over 100K.

Lena, you can count me in there as someone who has heard of ELP, though I was never overly fond of them. I'm with W. Olivia Race--the first band I ever played in was a Punk band. We hit it when it was new and were the only band in the area to play the Sex Pistols, the Clash, The Kinks, The Ramones and countless other "the's" I can't remember. I'm also a big fan of Sarah Maclaclan, and the big band revival is way cool (Colin James, Brian Setzer, Cherry Popp'n Daddies.)

I loved Robert Jordans WOT series up until about the fifth or sixth book. That's when he seemed to run out of things to say, but decided to say them anyway. I haven't bothered to read the last few. It's a shame really, because if he would have tied the series up in four or five books, he could have had (IMHO) something that might have compared with Tolkien.

Synton, As to the fantasy genere loosing its oomph, whose fault is that? Probably the publishers. As noted here before, if they're only willing to publish formula writing, then all we're going to see are rehashed plots and cardboard characters. Unfortunately the publishing industry is much like the TV industry--finds something that works and then beat it to death.

Can there possibly be another industry as confused as the publishing industry? We've all heard the cries of "Give us the same, only different." What other industry expects the utmost in professionalism from it's people, yet acts in such an incredibly unprofessional manner itself. They can't even agree on a standard manuscript format--does the name, title and page number go in the upper right corner or upper left; one inch margins or one and a half; cover letter or no. Yes, we accept unsolicited manuscripts, but we probably won't read them. We only accept manuscripts submitted through an agent. Sorry, our agency is only accepting writers who are published. And God forbid you should do something to offend an editor (like write a book with a woman in it, after all, he's married to one and she drives him nuts)Apparently these people are so thin skinned that you have to be anal retentive just to apply for the job.

All you can do is the best work you can, presented in as proffesional a manner as possible, and then leave it to the fates. After all, publishers are in the business to make money, and if you can present them with something that will do that for them, they'll probably overlook the fact that you signed your cover letter "sincerely S.K.S. Perry" and not "Yours truly" the way they like it.

Be Well, Live Well.

Jack Beslanwitch Feb 5 02:48:41 PST 1999

This is a querie about how difficult it is for people to fully download the Notebook at this time. The reason I ask this is that we have already exceeded 100k. I am wondering if people would mind if I waited until we reached 200k before I archived again. The level of discussion on the Notebook is excellent and I fully endorse us continuing with this level of interaction. However, if connections speeds in Portugal or Australia are somewhat slower let me know and I will archive again after three days. Take care.

Jai Feb 4 21:42:16 PST 1999

Lena -
What sort of question is that?
"Have you ever wondered what you were *meant* to do?"
Have I ever wondered what I am meant to BE?
Haven't we all? Don't we wonder every day when we awake? Isn't this just the biggest question each one of us askes in our life? Well I do wonder, I wonder every day, I wonder where my life is headed where our life as a race is headed. You believe in destiny? Perhaps all writers can be great. Perhaps I only write because I lived so long without much social contact as a kid and developed a rich imagaination. I am who I am, we all are, so long as we become great in our own minds what does it matter :)


Goodweed of the North Feb 4 20:56:50 PST 1999

You know how I said my fantasy "Power of the Talismans" was polished and ready to go? HA!

I made a hard-copy of it and presented it to my wife (who has never expressed an interest in fantasy) and figured she would give it a half-hearted perusal at best. Was I ever wrong. The lady is a great proof-reader. I have had parts of the novel read by some highly educated persons, as well as the entire manuscript read by some trusted freinds. It has been revised eight times.

It took her about five minutes to find some fo the most important problems with the story. They were simple oversights, but critical ones. She found that in the first eighty pages of the story, I had only described one character, the villain. I could see all of the others in my mind, but had forgotten that the reader couldn't. It was the same with the valley where much of the action takes place. The story moves along quickly and all who have read it don't miss these critical points as they quickly get caught up in the action, dialogue, etc.

It just goes to show you that no matter how good you think you are, there is always something to learn. Guess I needed to be humbled yet again (heavy sigh).

You'd think that after five people had read major potions of the book, that it would be correct in the basics.

On the bright side, she loves the story. She also tells me that some of the passages are among the best she has read (I can feel my head swelling again). This is going to be the last re-write. I will do no more. For all the loving labor lavished on this work, there better be an agent and publisher out there who sees potential in it.

Hayden; I was in a terrible hurry this morning when I posted. I should have said hi anyway as I was about eight minutes late for work. Glad to hear from you once more. Say hi to Jo for me too. How is your summer? Our winter has been strange. The weather can't make up its mind. Is it spring or winter? I hope you got a ton of quality writing time during your hiatus. How's Matilda? But let's not get that going again, heh heh heh.

S.N.Arly; Awesome website. Very stylish, good use of color, symbology. The site is a welcome addition to the web. Kudos to you.

Gotta go now and correct those things pointed out to me by my wife.

Seeeeeeya; Goodweed of the North

S.N.Arly Thu Feb 4 20:19:23 PST 1999

Hootie - I meant you hit the nail on the head, so to speak. Regarding your comment on I want to see this formula but formulaated in a different way... I think it's easier to learn the accent with the language. They sorta go together, you know.

Allein Thu Feb 4 18:41:23 PST 1999

To all those who are wondering - yes I am alive. I finally got to rent Mulan today - yeah, I know, I was going to yesterday, but they didn't have any copies left. Today, I got the last one. I'm going to fix some popcorn and watch it tonight. :)

Well, just wanted you all to know I was still around. Bye bye.

W. Olivia Race Feb 4 18:32:14 PST 1999

ELP= Emerson, Lake & Palmer.......
A little too tame for my taste. As a former punk my taste runs a little more towards Nine Inch Nails, Nirvana, you get the idea. Although I do like stuff like Sarah Maclaclan.
And I will confess without guilt to a long love affair w/ the music of Beethoven, Mozart and Bach..

When I write I have to listen to real lyric driven music. I was reading a web-site for one of my favorite authors and she wrote in a recent newletter that she always has to write to music. I'm the same way.

Anyway, I am stuck on a scene that I want to insert into my novel. It has to drive the story forward to the climactic scene of good v. evil and yet fit into the events that have preceded it. I am facing a wall however and have even tried to write the darn thing out long hand (which means I'm really desperate). I got so frustrated last night that I ended up pulling out a much rejected short story and tearing that apart. I often wonder how something that gives me great joy can also make me want to tear my hair out!

Anyway, as a result, I have a new--old story entitled "A Question of Value"; I'll be posting it in the short story section soon. Let me know what you think...

Anyway, I have to make sure my daughter isn't reading under the covers (so like her mama!) and tear my hair out some more over the scene that will not *breath* some more so good night all and...

Good writing

Lena Feb 4 17:34:29 PST 1999

Jai - Have you ever wondered what you were *meant* to do? It seems to be that everybody should be a genius at one thing, but finding that 'something' is the hard part. A lot of writers are good, but only few are actually great.

Hootie - Thanks for the encouragement... amazingly enough, we did have a good assignment today. We had to write a eulogy for a person, real or fictional, in any style you wished. I wrote a poem about the death of a young girl who loved flowers, complete with lots of cute little flower puns. My favorite one was "... with curls of a merry gold..." I realize it was supposed to be serious, but I couldn't help myself!

Oh, and you are now the third person I know who has heard of ELP - here's to little known groups from the 70s & 80s!

Jack - I had trouble posting my message earlier. It probably is not important, but I thought I would share. Don't panic!

Robert Jordan. The things I could say. WoT is my favorite all-time series, but I was disappointed with the last book, and (like the energizer bunny) the series keeps on going, and going, and going... I'm waiting with crossed fingers for the ninth (yes, the ninth!) book, hoping for improvement. Wheel of Time has been the obsession of my life for the past few years, so I am not taking the disappointment well.

Synton - Mmm, I love fantasy too. Just keep on digging through the bad books, laugh at them and learn from their mistakes, and cherish the good ones. I just read a very good book - "Tigana" by Guy Gavriel Kay. You might like it.

Thomas - MATURE!!! ;-)

Goodweed - Never been much for organs. Do you like big band?

"Why do we walk on parkways and drive on walkways?"

Hootie Feb 4 15:13:21 PST 1999

Okay, I took the plunge, and posted a story in the workbook. Enough said, I hope.

S.N.Arly--why would you think I'm a carpenter? And about the Scots Gaelic, I offer you the best of luck. I had a friend who tried to just teach me a Glaswegian accent, which was hard enough. I haven't had the guts to try for the whole language.

Jai Feb 4 14:44:32 PST 1999

Greetings for another fine day,

Synton: Interesting question, but what I hate more than lifless fantasy is half baked stuff, some great ideas and good story telling that looses wind and dies. Juilian May has written some terrible half baked stuff that I would strongly advise against reading, mostly her newer stuff is lacking in good plot completion.

There is some good stuff out there, let me restate that, some good new stuff. Robin Hobb, a new writer, has written a really nice triladgy (The Assasins Aprentice) though I hear his next set is not up to par. But I agree that there is alot more empty or half baked fantasy than seems reasonable. I was thinking just yesterday about my own writing process and have observed that I send off a short as soon as I finish it thinking wow this is so cool. But it isn't, I am just blinded by finished story bliss. It takes a few rewrites before it really becomes a story worth reading, perhaps that is what has happened with "good" authors, they have been able to publish their first drafts because they have a name when infact their stories really need alot more work.

Even the famous Magician is like this, with the first novel being really good then loosing most of it's magic as the series progresses, until now the sequals are just a joke ( Sorry Raymond )

So don't fall into the trap of fast bucks, if you write a brilliant first novel and it takes you a long time to write and rewrite don't just publish your next novel before it is really complete.

I know that I for one am no longer going to send of a just completed story. I'll let it sit until it has been revamped a few times. It is worth waiting a month or two for the integraty of the story since I would hate it to be published before I have really finished writing it.


S.N.Arly Thu Feb 4 14:24:54 PST 1999

Took me freaking forever to figure out what the heck ELP was. Like em. More of a Dead Head, though.

Lena - Sorry about the class. Sorta ran into that with mine. And while it's good to have an understanding of the basics and all, I always felt like screaming, "Who cares what a simile is! Let's just write something!"

I have now found someone to teach me Scots Gaelic, and for free. If only I can worm it into my Thursdays (eesh). I've also found some Gaelic resources online, so I may try my hand at teaching myself Irish Gaelic as well. Thanks for checking my site and for the happy commentary.

Hootie - Are you a carpenter?

Allein - Got it as a Christmas present. The receipt anyway. And I went and picked it up on Tuesday, though I haven't had time to watch it. Can hardly wait. Such good traditional martial arts. Such fine zenkutsu stance...

Agsousa - I'm sorry, I figured you were ESL (or third or fourth, whatever) and it's not nice to use sarcasm with someone who may not be fluent. But it's true that I've never been called conservative before, and I think my friends will find it very entertaining. I write fantasy and science fiction, so I don't get much respect as a literati in America. You have to write contemporary literature to be a real writer. Not this genre stuff. So I guess was just being sarcastic all over the place.

W. Olivia - A woman in my writer's group had a story accepted by Tomorrow. It was held for nearly six months and then the mag folded. Her story was never printed and she was never paid, and now she has to try to resell the story to someone else. While she did get a sales credit, it almost doesn't feel like it counts.

Synton - Welcome. I think most of us land here by accident, coincidence or luck. A good thing that luck.

I think a lot of people lump SF and F together. While they can commingle, they are separate genres. I do happen to write both, but tend to lean on the fantasy side a lot more. And yah, there's a lot of recycled plots out there that weren't really that good the first go around.

Thomas - Actually it's Fa Mu Lan. If you're at all familiar with the "original" Chinese myth of Fa Mu Lan you'd see that for once the folks at Diz Ney Land didn't screw with it too much. Actually did a good job in fact. Which can't be said for all their stuff (all that Pocahontas crap, for instance).


Rhoda Thu Feb 4 14:08:57 PST 1999


I do not disagree with you, but I will say that posting guide-lines or not posting guide-lines has nothing to do with whether or not a publishing house really sets up a guide line. What books get accepted depends entirely upon the good graces of the editor and the higher up editors of the publishing house. These editors look for certain things that they believe will enhance the sale of their books. Present them a proposal, no matter how good, where the hero isn't introduced until page 50, and I guantee they will reject it, and perhaps rightly so. There are industry norms and standards in romance novels as in all genre publishing.

Perhaps this line is open to new ideas, but those new ideas are not going to be too drastic and much different than what other publishing houses will take. Your best indication on how open-minded they are would be to read lots of their books and see for yourself how much they vary. As long as the same editors are in house, over time you see a pattern emerge, and from that pattern you will discover what they really want.

As to openess to new ideas, I am sceptical, but I have been wrong before. I hope I am in your case. Good luck with your submission.


Lydia Sweet Feb 4 12:13:09 PST 1999


What I am trying to say is they are open to new ideas and do not require a set formula.


Lydia Sweet Feb 4 11:42:28 PST 1999

Hi All,

I began reading "Message in a Bottle" last night and noticed it was published by Warner Books. "Gee", I thought, "I don't have the submission guidelines for them." So I went browsing just a little while ago and quess what? They don't have guidelines. They just say send inquiry letter or synopsis along with first 3 chapters and we respond 6-8 weeks later.

Did I catch anyone's attention at all?


Hootie Feb 4 11:22:17 PST 1999

Synton--I know exactly what you mean. I think that part of the "Robert Jordan" problem is the emphasis on series, with trilogies being the most common format nowadays. For the other... part of what we're trying to do here (I hope) is encourage each other to find that heart and soul, and get in in our own writings. From everything I've read, both recently and in the archives, we all want to make our books (or stories or poems) better than what we've found at the local bookstore.

Along this line, I will make my first attempt to post on the short story workbook tonight. Wish me luck.

And one lasthing I forgot earlier: I haven't heard ELP in years, but they're incredible. So count me as number three.

Synton Feb 4 09:28:23 PST 1999

All: Has anyone noticed that there is a serious shortage of good fantasy writers? I read in an essay by one, J.R.R. Tolkien, that in order to be a considered a fantasy story, it must contain some intrinsic attributes. Most of these revolved around the concept of being able to perform actions which the mundane world does not allow. Some of these included, in his oppinion; the ability to fly, to converse with flora and fauna, and the realization of eternal youth. While I understand that the man is not God(although some might dispute that observation), I do believe that he possesed some understanding of the fantasy genre. I do not feel that there is a lack of books which conform to his criteria, no, the local bookstore is usually crammed with a dizzying assortment of titles that have more than you could ever want of the ever-present flying dragon, or the forest maiden who's awfully chummy with the neighborhood trees. No, the real embargo seems to be upon the supply of books that are written by authors who really feel these things, and have the talent and insight to make you, the paying reader, feel these things as well. You can call it lack of imagination, or antipathy, or just the product of a dead soul that hasn't lost the need to write for a living just because he has nothing left to write about(Any T.S.R. novel comes to mind). The plotlines are usually recycled, the characters are cardboard cutouts, and how many books does it take to tell a story(Robert Jordan)? You'd be better off reading a comic book, it has more pictures, and generally more depth.

Well, with that out of my system. Take care all. If my oppinion offended you, feel free to yell and call me names.


Rachel Feb 4 09:10:40 PST 1999

Hey all

Thanks for the info.

Take care


Hootie Feb 4 08:55:12 PST 1999

That post that started with the message to Lena about her class was mine. Sorry about the confusion, S.K.S.

Thomas mailto: Feb 4 07:04:58 PST 1999

Rachel, I meant out of existence -- really must learn to type someday.

Thomas Feb 4 07:03:04 PST 1999

Hey all,

Now that I have a new e-mail address, I am curious to see how long it takes for the junk mail to reach me. You miserable junk mailers who lurk on these sites make me crazy -- I know, they get the addresses in other ways; let me have the fantasy.


Babylon, I believe, was located where Baghdad is now -- pretty old. Of course, Persia might be in the running, perhaps Persepolis. But I go with Babylon (Baghdad), if only for its proximity to the first city -- Ur. Won't it be interesting if it is true and teachers must explain to children the wisdom in bombing the oldest city our of existence.


For the sake of the Big Brother snoops who may be lurking, we all assume in your list of loves the coke refers to the cola one!!!

The last person who called me mature to my face went home with whipped cream on his -- but thanks for the compliment.

In my view, Hemingway was a hack. The "Old Man" started a particularly copied formula genre, after he stole the idea for it from Gertrude Stein.

I am both glad and sorry to hear that writers are not subsidized in Portugal. It is interesting to juxtapose your attitude about writing with your government's, seeing that the government funds other arts. I am glad, however, that they do not subsidize writers, for now I do not feel alone -- sad, though, because writers should not have to work a thousand jobs so that they could engage in one love.

I recently got interested in Portuguese history when I did research for an article I wrote about Madeira wines, and during research for a series I am writing concerning the history of wine. I want one day to visit the island, before your government gives it completely over to the hotels.

Incidentally, did you know that Christopher Columbus had a home on Madeira? Also, Madeira wine was once extremely popular here; it went untaxed for many years, and it was used to toast our first president's inaugural, and to line Thomas Jefferson's well-stocked wine cellar. Madeira was indicated in a tax revolt at Boston Harbor a decade before the famous Tea Party, on a ship, The Liberty, owned by John Hancock. Fascinating history!

Anyway, I believe that writing is a uniquely individual artistic impulse, like our unique blood type and DNA. No amount of training or education should change that individuality -- agents and publishers be damned.


According to your quote, if I were an agnostic I would believe that agents and publishers were sent from God; I am, and they were.


The article I wrote about Madeira was killed, rebron, killed and reborn before the magazine finally snuffed itself out through incompetence. The good thing, though: I got paid just before the article was to run, and the rag folded. Never been so lucky as that.


The story I made up of excised first lines and paragraphs was pre-computer writing. I haven't got it on disk. But one day I shall scan it in and then I will post it.


Speaking of post, I shall look up the story. Your last post, I thought, was a good one indeed.

To all who talk of Disney -- what the hell is a Mulan? I, for one, hate the Disney people. They have taken something great and innovative and made it shlock. But that is only my opinion.

I must write my weekly diatribe, I mean, column -- I already wrote the diatribe.

S.K.S. Perry Feb 4 05:59:14 PST 1999

OK, the one that began with "Hey all" was me. I have no idea who that other one belongs to. Sheesh!

S.K.S. Perry Feb 4 05:57:19 PST 1999

Oops, that was me.

mailto: Feb 4 05:56:38 PST 1999

LenaThe best advice I can think of for your class is that all writing is practice for your writing. I know those little writing exercises can be dull and boring, but try to find the positive. In the class I took, we had to write a lot of silly little things, but one that I remember was the one where we had to pretend we were in a burning building, and the only thing that would survive would be our last letter (not plausible, but that wasnt the point). When the others shared what they had written, I realized that they had imagined themselves as different people, where I had written it straight from the heart, as myself. Was mine any better? Not really. But it did make me realize how much of myself I put in my writing, which was a very good thing to learn.

AgsousaI think that I asked if European writers were supported by the government, but finding out that most of them work a second job makes them that much more familiar to most of the writers here. Also, I agree with Lena: you speakor should I say writevery well in English. If you hadnt mentioned you were Portuguese, I dont think anyone would have suspected that English wasnt your first language.

Rachelyour kids ask good questions, but ones that are really difficult to answer. Since I dont know the answer (and suspect the archaeological community probably doesnt have a consensus on it either), my only advice is to start teaching them how to use the library. But you knew that, didnt you? ;)
Oh, BTW, don't ever think you have to be something special to jump in on an "intellectual" conversation. Yours could be the opinion that sheds the most light. And I know for me, I make most of it up as I go along.

Thomas--you ought to post your story made up of first lines and paragraphs. I'll bet it's entertaining, and more than a little enlightening.

mailto: Feb 4 05:56:03 PST 1999

Hey all,

Agsousa, thanks for the words of confidence on the rejection thing. I can only hope I was rejected for all the those nice reasons you mentioned, and not because my story sucks. I take comfort in the fact that if they people here are any indication, my stories were rejected for all the "right" reasons, so maybe I am an artist after all. By the way, "Dang you talks nice fer a four-en-ner!"

Synton, welcome fellow traveller. We're a friendly bunch here, and throw only the occasional hissy fit or temper tantrum. It helps to keep the senses sharp. A fresh POV is always welcome--just ask Agsousa.

Rachel, you, dull. Hardly! Having conversed with you frequently this past week I would hardly call you dull. In fact, as with many of us here, I wonder where you find the time to write.

As for Mulan, I enjoyed that movie a lot, but I don't think it was even it the same league with Prince of Eygpt. There were a few scenes in that movie (the burning bush, passover and the parting of the Red Sea) that were visually stunning and actually made me feel that it could have happened that way. That's quite an accomplishment for an atheist? agnostic? like myself.

agnostic--someone who doesn't believe in God but still blames him for all their problems.

Be Well, Live Well.

Synton Feb 4 05:04:18 PST 1999

Greetings All,

I, although by no means new to the art form of writing, am new to this site. As such, I hope that I can be the recipient of your goodwill and fellowship.
I stumbled upon this forum by accident, not knowing exactly what I was looking for but vaguely confident of the direction it lay in. Like Colombus before me, I set out in search of something not truly defined, not clearly seen. Also like him, while what I found was not what I had expected, it was no less beautiful for being so.
My joy at inadvertently finding this place was of no small measure. During my lifetime I have spoken with only one other individual who has shared my love of the written word; and she, I am sorry to say, is no longer with me. It is comforting knowledge when one finds that he is not truly alone. It makes the world seem less big, and your fellow man's voice sound less harsh.
I look forward to future corespondences and further discussions. I will apologize in advance for any misspellings, having found that as a writer I know less than I should about the laws of the english language, and know more of the words that comprise it than I can claim intimacy with. I will also apologize for the fact that I sound longwinded; I am. Like the rock or the tree, or the two young lovers that pass them by as they stroll through the park; I only know what I have been made to know, and can be no different.


Goodweed of the North Feb 4 04:44:18 PST 1999

Favorite ELP song, hmmmm. I don't really have a favorite song. My favorite tape is "Trilogy". But then, I'm also fond of "Tarkus", and "Brain Salad Surgery". "Karn-Evil #9" is great as are "Lucky Man", "Rodeo (the version off of the "Trilogy" tape is the better version for them IMHO), and "Theme for the Common Man". I think Greg Lake has a great voice and is capable of exceptional guitar work as in "In The Begining". But my first love in music has always been the organ. Can anybody say KIETH EMERSON. Even such greeats as Jon Lord of Deep Purple fame, and Rick Wakeman pale in comparison. And neither of them are slouches. Both have extensive classical training and are exceptional in their own right. I've been enchanted by ELP since about 1975 I guess.

I better quit now. After all, this is "Writer's Notebook, not Goodweeds personal musical favorites. Besides, if I'm not out the door in about 3 minutes, I'll be late for work.

Seeeeeeeya; Goodweed of the North

Jack Beslanwitch Feb 4 01:32:36 PST 1999

Just a reminder for everyone who has gotten their ICQ working and do not have your number posted on the Chat-ICQ page, please fill out the form or email me and I will post you. I know I have been ignoring when people get online, Rhoda comes to mind in particular, but I have been a bit busy. Take care everyone. Hope to be able to post some possible bits and pieces on the Workbook soon finally and play a more active role here and in a total redesign. I know, I have been saying that for a while too :-).

BTW, I really like the interactions that have developed here lately and have to thank Agsousa for getting a discussion of American literature flowing. Different points of view are always welcome here and helpful I think. And I must second the motion that your English is very very good indeed. I shudder to think what I would do with Spanish, my one language that I took several courses in several decades ago. At any rate, hasta manana.

W. Olivia Race Feb 3 20:44:53 PST 1999

Hi all. The dishes are done and the kitchen is clean. I have worked nine hours today in the office, done my domestic duties and NOW it's finally my time.

Ever try an edit a three hundred page draft a page at a time on the computer. YIKES. I could print the darn thing out but it takes too long with an ink jet printer. I'll have to use my laser jet at work. My eyeballs are burning...

Well, my short story was supposed to be in the magazine it was accepted into (a small non-profit mag out of California) by January. I called the editor who just so happens to operate out of his house and his wife is co-editor and in charge of putting this mag together. So, she's had computer problems and the issue won't be out until the end of THIS month. (quarterly and a quarter publication schedule?)I never worked so hard not to get paid in my life. Not to mention the long distance call (which my kind and generous company is paying for :) Does anyone else have any horror stories like this? Please don't make me feel like I'm in this alone...


Ashling: I'll light a fire under your chair if you light one under mine.

Rachel: Thanks for the pep talk

Snarly: I agree w/ your take on Marion Zimmer Bradley. I grew up reading the Darkover series and idolized her. Then I got rejected by her. Reading her requirements makes me dizzy! And I have to be honest. It is very rare that I find a story in her magazine than does ANYTHING for me. I still love Darkover though...BTW, I'll check out the changes on your site tonight.

Enough procrastination. Good night all and good writing.

Rachel Feb 3 19:44:17 PST 1999

Lena - Uh, sorry about the post there. I am full of a cold and more than a little grumpy. Rough day with the kids, blah, blah, blah. On and on.

Anyway. I know that I am not dull and boring, at least not all of the time. (wink)

Everyone - I need some help here. My children are always coming up with questions. Who's children aren't, but mine seem to come up with some tricky ones that often have me doing a chunk of research before I can answer. I don't like to just make things up or guess at it, but I really don't feel like going on a historical jaunt today.

The question is - What is the oldest city in the world. Oh yah, and this city still has to be in existance today and not just some deserted pile of rocks, they want people in it. The best I could come up with is that I suspected it would be somewhere in the Middle East.
Anyone know?



Lena Feb 3 19:24:38 PST 1999

Top o' the evening to every one of you!

Rachel - I have never known a person who was completely dull and boring, so it is very unlikely you would be the first. Have a little faith. After all, Barney is not without some educational merit; think of all those great songs you learn.

Avatar - I should probably go into the archives and grab the story but, as noted, laziness seems to be catching these days. I'll wait for you. :-)

Agsousa - You speak English very well. VERY well. Makes me ashamed of the skills I have in my second language, Spanish. I am about as close to fluent as... well, I would write an appropriate analogy except after all this discusion on art and literature my little analogy would sound very weak. Let us leave it at this: I am not fluent.

On American literature, I agree there were many good authors in America, which (as you said) makes the current 'popular' authors look all the more pitiful. I usually like the writers who are not popular, who do not write to the public at large - but I also read many of the better known books, to get a taste of what is out there and what supposedly normal people read. Gives me something to talk about with others.

Goodweed - I seem to recall a comment from way back when, about Emerson Lake & Palmer. If so, congratulations, as you are the now the second person I know who has even heard of ELP. Do you have a favorite song? Mine is "Cei La Vie" (oh, did I kill the spelling on that one - apologies in advance)

Rhoda - I really did like the plot summary of your book. I've never been much for romances, but every once in a while a romance is a break from the world. A bit like a glass of milk and a plate of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. (yum) Just don't tell anyone else I've got a weak spot for romances, eh? All my friends seem to think I read stuff like War and Peace (which, by the way, I have never read) all the time, and I wouldn't want to disillusion them.

SN Arly - Loved your website, how it is designed, EVERYTHING! I hope you get the rest of your links up soon, and good luck.

Toby B - I made it out to your website too. Whew, was I busy! I noticed you won an award for the L. Hubbard contest for new writers... I have been considering entering a story to that contest. Any advice?

Allein - What is your favorite Disney movie? Mine is Beauty and the Beast. I have not seen Mulan yet, but soon!

A big reason I am going to stick with the creative writing class is, as Hootie pointed out, the existance of deadlines adds a bit of urgence to finding an ending. I am awful for leaving unfinished stories lying around, so this class should hopefully leave me with a few finished stories. That is, if the teacher actually lets us write anything. Today we did alphabet poems, where each word had to start with the next letter of the alphabet, such as "A Big Canine Digs Every Friday..." Yup. Great literature, right there.

Have a day,

Rachel Feb 3 17:57:39 PST 1999

Agsousa - HELLO??????

Did you get my e-mail? Hum, well in case you didn't I don't feel I have the experience or education to get into a debate with you, let alone one that would flame up into anything. If we were very, very lucky I might be able to get a small spark. As for me, my temper and my unposted words. I have enough sarcastic comments to take down a nation, but for the most part I try to keep them to myself as I really don't see how those sort of unkindness helps anyone.

I think Agsousa that you are under the misguided impression that I am an exciting or interesting person. I assure you I am not. I am about as dull and boring as an individual can get. Often the most intelligent conversation that I get the opportunity to engage in through the day involve what produce is on sale at the grocery store, or if things are not so stimulating I will be left to discuss the latest episode of Barney.

Don't get me wrong. For me these are often amazing and mind expanding conversations, but hey if you want to get into the literary stuff I'd have to suggest looking to some of the more experience people on this site. I think Agsousa that you are way out of my league.

Now then I hope that three posts in about 10 minutes will be it for me. I have to get food on the table before my children go on the war path.

Take care


Rhoda Wed Feb 3 17:42:02 PST 1999


If I'd only known. I should have stayed on longer only I had my glasses on and my eyes couldn't adjust very well to the screen. I ended up going into the kitchen and making up some Chamomile tea. It helped.

I love to chat. IQC is a lot of fun and I am trying to get all my on-line friends to load it. Some are perhaps reluctant because they are afraid that I am so enthusiastic about it, I'll never let them alone once they are on-line.


Have a wonderful time in Windsor. A few months ago I put together a 1000 piece puzzle of Windsor Castle. It was a blast. I figure that Her Majesty, the Queen, was selling the photography rights to the castle so she can fix up the place after the fire a few years ago. I was only too glad to help her out.


Thanks for your kind comments about my web-site. I'll work on getting that book published so that you may read it in its polished entirety.

Happy writing!


agsousa Feb 3 17:36:16 PST 1999

It seems that my ISP was sorry for me: miraculously, the archives appeared on my Mac's screen and I immediately started reading all the posts of last week. It was a good week for this forum: anthological descriptions of the state of education in the past and today, with a taste of nostalgia, both real and ironical. And the discussion about the sad condition of American contemporary literature has potential to become a good one : I am looking forward to reading Rachel's promised and already famous satire on Portuguese literary critics.

P. S. I'm afraid she gave up. What can I do for you now, Rachel?

I'd like a word of incentive to S.K.S. PERRY. He didn't manage to have one of his stories published and felt frustrated last week. But he shouldn't. His story wasn't probably read, and, if it was, it was not understood. Or perhaps it was too good for the magazine or publisher he submitted it to. It could even be a poor story. I don't know. I know, however, that rejected stories are excellent material for the future and the future is only two or three steps away. When a story is rejected it should be piled up on a heap of other rejected stories. Usually thirteen rejected stories make a good book.

HOOTIE: "les baux esprits se rencontre".
(Isn't there a mistake in the verb? Where are the French critics and writers to help us here? Please come, oh descendants of Racine! )

LENA: How could I be discouraged with the States? I knocked at your door asking you to please give Europe other Faulkners, Hemingways, Fitzgeralds. I loved your literature very very much when I was younger and almost all good Portuguese writers of the generation prior to mine were influenced by your best writers. The French Camus was also influenced by American literary art, mainly by Hemingway. What happens is that you have the potential to renew the old flame but are perhaps (I may be wrong or ignorant, remember) resting on the laurels of a not very distant past.

S.N. ARLY: Please don't be offended. There's nothing wrong in being a 'man of letters' (literati is the latin plural of that, I think) and there are very nice conservatives in this world. Winston Churchill was one of them and he let you win the war... for us. (Oh, sorry!). Please remember that I am just a poor foreigner using your language, ignorant of possible local conotations of some words. If somebody else in this forum was offended because of the 'conservative literati', please raise your left finger and I will apologize publicly and shamelessly and for three exact minutes.

By the way, EVERYBODY:

genuineness (and not genuinity or genuiness as I wrote in recent posts) seems to be the right word. Correct me, if I am wrong again.I love the English language, really, but it's years since I used it almost fluently. And computers are not very good writing pads.


You seem to be a wonderful person and I remember having read very mature things of yours about education, if I am not wrong. (I discovered this site only last week). Only cinema and some theatre get modest subsidies from the Portuguese government. Not literature. I would not like my novels to get governmental money. This is a poor country (at least if compared to the States) and the money of the tax payer is very much needed to education, health and so on. Usually writers here have a second job.


Art should not be envisaged as a means to get money but as an end in itself. Art is the only thing we have left to defeat death. It is the best way to discover and enjoy life as well. I love literature, of course, otherwise I wouldn't write when there are so many interesting things around. I love chess, soccer, coke, sleeping, reading incredible things like the phone directory or the Internet yellow pages.

and I love you all.

Rachel Feb 3 17:34:46 PST 1999

ACK!!! Sorry about that. The post I left is for Allein. I put Allein in my E-mail address area. Sorry for the mix up.


Rachel Allein Feb 3 17:32:47 PST 1999

Watched Mulan with my daughter yesterday. Just thought I'd let you know it has two more fans.

My daughter was sick and home from school today so ended up coming to my Karate class where she curled up with the Mulan video and her blanket. It was pretty funny because the guy leading the class just wanted to go and plop down with her to watch the show.

Seems it has a lot of fans adult, teen and child.

Well just thought I'd let you know that I liked it as you seem to be quite the Mulan Fan.

Hope you get it for your B-Day. If you don't I imagine you'll head out and pick it up for yourself. HAPPY BIRTHDAY in advance.

Take care


Eddie French Feb 3 17:19:50 PST 1999

I have posted another little ditty on the short story workshop. I am inviting crits for a good reason (a selfish one). First person pov is my weak point..sometimes I just lose sight of it all and end up messing up the tense as I get 'excited'.
I forgot to add the title because it is not on the text file that I cut & pasted from. The working title is:
The Mistakes Men Meld
Thanks in advance.

Jai Feb 3 16:15:25 PST 1999


What makes us write? Well I definatly don't follow any guidlines. It is well my passion is for fiction. So far all the stories I've writen would fit into style of one of the many mags out there.

I recieved my second regection wohoo! I've also started writing my novel again which is nice.

Thomas - I agree about the ICQ chat being addictive, infact when I read Rhoda's comment about not being able to sleep I fired up ICQ but she had obviously managed to hit the sack by then.

A pile of regections and a pillow of dreams


Allein Wed Feb 3 15:28:40 PST 1999

Whoa! A sudden explosion of writing in the notebook. Luckily, it's a good thing.

Groundhog's Day - hmmm, I don't really believe in Groundhog's Day. I think winter ends when it ends and that's all there is to it.

SKS - I hope your mother had a happy birthday.

Well I'm out to rent the new Mulan movie that was just released on video - I'm a Disney fan. What's that you say? Buy it? Don't be silly, my birthday is on March 5th. Like I'm going to pay money for something my parents KNOW I want (and since I only want two other things, I'll probably get it). But I have a free video rental left over from Christmas, so I think I'll use it - it expires this month anyway.
Well, I'm just writing for the sake of writing, so I'll stop and let someone else leave a post.

Au revior (yes, probably spelled wrong).

Michele Feb 3 13:57:25 PST 1999

I don't know - I turn my back for a few hours and WHAM ! everybody hits the Notebook ! Wow !

I got lost in the literary/art debate - sorry I've been up for hours and hours and it's getting kind of late here !

SNArly - no worries - I spotted a typo on one of my pages today ! Sad that my brain works faster than my fingers even though I'm quite a fast typist (for an untrained typist that is !)

I don't mind racing Hayden across Europe - could be fun !

Anyway I am going to head for bed as I am tired. You won't hear from me over the weekend - I'm going to spend the weekend with friends in Windsor (Berkshire)....

I may get back here tomorrow after I take the cat to the vet for her cat flu jab...... What's the betting she hates me tomorrow ?!

G'night y'all !


Thomas Feb 3 13:51:42 PST 1999


The talk about starting a story with a first line that you shouldn't use reminds me of the one story I might have written in my life when I did not change the first line. Unfortunately, the rest of the story was miserable.

It has been my experience that the first line, hell, the first paragraph, or even chapter, quite often do not belong in most of my first drafts -- even the ones that do not begin with "dark and stormy night". But I once wrote an experimental piece made up solely of about a hundred first lines and first paragraphs I had written. I wonder if that would sell?

Where is that agent's phone number? The one who asked, "got anything different?"

Hootie Feb 3 13:35:19 PST 1999

Lena--I took a creative writing class in college years ago. It was both rewarding and frustrating. The reward was focusing on having a finished product to share with the class (there's nothing like a deadline to get you going). The frustrating part was the teacher and students. I'm not sure what you like to write, but I found that any kind of genre writing was considered substandard from the start, and the opinions and critiques usually went downhill from there. Stick with it, though. From what I've seen about the Notebook, there will be plenty of people here to back you up.

For Rhoda, S.K.S, S.N. Arly, and everyone else who has seen this: I think the publishing world is suffering from schizophrenia. I don't know how many times I've seen guidlines that essentially say, "I want to see this formula, but formulate it in a way I've never seen before!" Conferences and classes can be the same way: "You have to include all these little things, but make sure you don't if you can think of a good reason." It can be confusing at best.

Knowing the "standard" rules are good, but knowing what works and what doesn't is better. I like Agsousa's example of writing a story starting with a line that you're not supposed to use (even if I don't know what it meant, I'll assume it was the Portugese equivalent of "It was a dark and stormy night..."). The instructive part is that although that started the story, later the story evolved so that it no longer fit. Knowing what to take out is always as important as knowing what to put in. And in most cases harder.


Lena Feb 3 13:10:25 PST 1999

Hullo all.

I just had to go into the archives to find my last post. I leave for a couple of days, and the whole notebook writes a novel together. Yesch.

Agsousa I am not sure, but if your idea of American Literature is what makes it onto the (american) bestseller list, I dont blame you for being pretty damn discouraged with this country. In my opinion, some of the less famous authors are so much better... I repeat, in my own opinion. I can not quite figure out what you term a good book. You say that we overemphasis plot, characters, and dialogue - what does that leave? The language? Describing a landscape? Like Rhoda, I will not apologize for my love of a well-told story.

Perhaps you should visit the Workbook and read some of the stories there. I would love to hear your opinion on them. (Im not being sarcastic, either.)

Rhoda I have read some of Jean Plaidys books. They are decent, but I do not like her measured way of marching through history. Too steady, too oh my goodness, we have to make it through this persons life in the span of one book, not enough tension. Also, Diana Gabeldon... did she write Outlander? I seem to recall something of the sort...

Well, I started that class in creative writing. It really sucks. I ended up with a classroom of students who think creative writing is the easy, blow-off class, and they treat it as such. There is no discipline, the teacher is an idiot, and our assignments are pointless. I was considering dropping, but I think I will stay and (making the best of a bad situation) use the time to concentrate on my writing unlike the rest of the class and the teacher.

SN Arly I will get out to your website soon. Sounds great.

Fare thee well,

S.K.S. Perry Feb 3 12:21:55 PST 1999

Oh, yeah.

In the Round Robin story As Darkness Descends, you mentioned I could click on the small picture above to get an idea of what the main characters look like. What picture?

S.K.S. Perry Feb 3 12:14:22 PST 1999

S.N. Arly,

Apparently if you don't conform to MZB's ideas, she has no qualms about telling you what a no talent hack you are either.

Be Well, Live Well.

S.N.Arly Wed Feb 3 11:29:35 PST 1999

Agsousa - Conservative leterati? I've never been referred to as conservative and I think I'm offended. And I'm just a lame-o genre writer so I couldn't presume to be a literati. Least not in the land of the free.

I took one creative writing course in college and found it too stagnant to try again. Besides, I don't need to be told how to write.

Perhaps you mistake the blandness of the publishing world for the goal and aim of the writers. Gee it would be nice to worry only about the art. But in America that doesn't put food on the table, and even artists have to eat real food, not just spiritual. So we're stuck with the options of A) Find another job and have less time for your art to grow and B) Bend to the whim of the publisher so you can spend your other free time working on the stuff they'll never print, or will be reluctant to do so until you have established "A Name" for yourself. I chose option A a long time ago, and sometimes it sucks. But I have my own style and I don't play by the rules, which has gotten me into trouble a time or two.

It is possible that your view has been slanted because you only get to see the kind of stuff that's in print, not the other stuff that's out there. And now this brings up a point, perhaps frustrated American authors should try a foreign market that might be more open to their unique styles.

W. Olivia - I hope to have an updated version up this afternoon, and it will include more links in both the Celtic and Writing areas. And THANKS!

Ashling - When you check back to my site, you should go to The Celtic Compendium. The link should be there this afternoon. You will find far more info than you could ever need. I did. : )

SKS - for real formula writing, check out Marion Zimmer Bradley's writing guidelines. Eeeeeeek. What she wants is scary. What she thinks makes up a good story is equally such.


garrycouch Feb 3 10:13:06 PST 1999

A couple of months ago, I posed a request for info here and got a good response. Question was: how to resolve delimma of publishing stories based on some characters
and locations originally published by auther since deceased, when publisher says "get ok from estate", and
estate says "get ok from publisher". Answer was: ask a
lawyer who deals in such...good idea, finally found two, neither will respond. Anybody out there know such a type who WILL respond? (You know how lawyers are who are not hungry, or are working on ClintonGate !!)

Rhoda Wed Feb 3 06:54:42 PST 1999


I have this nagging hunch that those who attend writer's conferences and hold faithfully to all these little rules, which incidently change ever year or so, will never be highly successful writers. Such a person might get a few books published, or might even go on to write a string of mediocre books. However, you do not gain the stature of a Tom Clancy, Danielle Steele, or a John Grisholm (I know I spelled this wrong) writing what everyone tells you to write. Though the above writers have many immitators, they started out doing their own distinct thing. Had they listened to all the "experts" when they started out, we wouldn't know of them.

Diana Gabeldon is a good example. She broke all the rules by writing a long, greatly detailed time-travel romance. If you read her work, she doesn't employ all the short, action verb, wis-bang sentences that every editor says you must have. Ms. Gabeldon's following is very loyal and most of her fans love her for the qualities that the experts claim are death to everyone else.

If you do intend to go for the big arena and write your heart out doing it, be prepared for much frustration along the way. I heard Nancy Taylor Rosenberg at a conference once. She got over three hundred rejections on her first published book. She was still getting rejections on this same manuscript even after it went through a massive bidding war. Needless to say, she is now extremely successful doing hopefully what she loves best.

So, S.K.S. and Thomas, hold onto your dream. Your work might have to clipped or culled a little bit, but I would keep doing what you believe in.

Happy writing!


Hootie Feb 3 06:41:25 PST 1999

Agsousa, I thought of another reason that we seem to obsess with being published on this side of the pond, and that is the American perception of artists. We, as a society, see creative people as something of leeches, especially those that are trying to expand the discipline they work in. Unless I am mistaken, European artists are still admired and encouraged.

I think it's telling that even for successful writers, there is the belief among non-writing family and friends that you aren't really working when you write. It's an unfair judgement, one that is belied by the majority of postings here. We pour of heart and souls into our work, struggling to find time and energy for it, and I think for Americans especially, it would be nice to have all this effort rewarded with our country's highest honor: a paycheck. That doesn't mean that we don't want to try new things and stretch our art, but we have to do it in miniscule steps so that the publishers don't realize what we've done.


Thomas Feb 3 06:11:17 PST 1999

Hey all,

Nice that you are back Eddie. I suppose you got everything unpacked in the new digs. Right -- no need to answer.

Rhoda and I had a nice chat last night on ICQ. Much more immediate when we do it that way, but oh so addictive. I fear maybe her caffeine problem was added to by my prodding comments. I heard that either Coke or Pepsi is including snippets from bets sellers in every case of diet drink. Their polls show that those who drink the stuff like to read. Progress?

Rhoda, I consider writing a top-level means of communication, and the human condition is its subject. Even when I read a character-driven novel I want to learn something about the human condition from it. If I learn nothing I feel cheated -- kind of like eating fast food and then finding out that all you got from it was a full belly at best and health problems at worst, but little or no nutrition.

As a top-level means of communication, anything well written seems like an art to me, but the question always is, "who will buy it"? That question is especially valid for those of us who try to make a living from our communication skills. Much of the writing I do is nonfiction (not all -- but a majority of it). I do an awful lot of business writing (because that is what pays for my other writing habit).

Right now I am writing a couple of stories about expansion and changes in the local Finger Lakes wine industry. One of the wineries has built a massive new building in the Palladio tradition of Golden Rectangle architecture. The event gives me an opportunity to teach my readers about that Pythagoran principle, plus I get a chance to flex my descriptive writing muscles. And I get paid, to boot.

So with all that, why am I still dissatisfied? Are we writers doomed to feel short-changed because we cannot get published the stuff we believe needs to be published? Are we, like many artists, truly never satisfied because we seek perfection and perfection is an unreasonable goal?

Agsousa, weigh in whenever you feel the desire.

S.K.S. Perry Feb 3 05:37:11 PST 1999

Hey all,


The medium or the message, art versus substance...I thought we had pretty much beaten this one to death. The aim of this writer is to tell a good story--no more, no less. I am not a formula writer, at least not consciously. I have stayed away from writing classes and writer's conferences specifically to avoid learning the so-called "requirements" Rhoda mentioned. (Having read her examples, it seems I don't stand a hope in Hell of being published!) So who knows, maybe I am pushing the envelope--then again, maybe I'm not. I really don't care. I'm one of those that believe the message conveyed is more important than the matter of conveyence. Not that the message shouldn't be well written--that's what separates the proffesionals from the hacks. In a nutshell, I do not write for art's sake, I write for mine. If you want to look down your nose at me for that, go right ahead. I can take it. And if it sounds like I'm ragging on you, I'm not. I enjoy these difference of opinions and the opportunity to voice them. Sometimes it helps me to understand what I'm all about. So please, feel free to slam my beliefs anytime you like--just don't expect to convert me. I'll do the same for you I hope.

Be Well, Live Well.

Rachel Feb 3 03:03:35 PST 1999

Hi all

Well, do you remember that discussion we all had awhile back about not being able to sleep? I am there. It is almost 3:00 AM and I am wide, wide awake. Went to bed at 10:00 PM feeling exhausted but with my mind running about as fast as a mind can and stayed there looking out the window, at the walls, the ceiling, my husband and my daughter who came in to take up her post on the floor next to my bed at about 12:30. I as you can see decided to give up on the sleep thing.

Rhoda - I am glad I am not the only one who can't seem to sleep. Ah, you posted something about 20 pages being the point of no return. Including scribbles on notepads, napkins and envelopes I would say I am fast approaching the mark. Iv got 14 pages and am delighted.

Olivia - Keep at it. I know you'll get it done - You go girl!!!!

S.N. Arly - Hi you, tried to send you and e-mail re your site, don't know if it took. I got disconnected right as I was sending. So long to short I thought it was nifty. Plan to go back in and check out the other pages soon. Not everyting was up and running when I was there

Agsousa - I have not forgotten you at all. I don't plan to loose it on you either. I knew that if I just sat for a time and read what you posted you would expand on what you were saying, and you did. Still I do not agree, at least not entierly, but nor do I entierly disagree. Your way of writing sounds like a very nice idea and if it works in the area that you are writing I am happy for you. I can think of no greater reward for a writer than to have their work appreciated. Ah also if I were going to get nasty with you I doubt very much that I would pick a public space to do it in.

Ho, hum I think I will go make a pot of herbal tea and see if I can't get some writing done.

Take care all

Jack Beslanwitch Feb 3 00:39:02 PST 1999

Just as a comment to others about the possible move of, I think I have struck upon a likely candidate. One of the features that is included is a JAVA chatroom that has two potential drawbacks. Lest I want to pay an additional $10 per month it comes with a rotating banner add. And it has a limit of 10 participants. This might be a potential alternative to the ICQ chat or in addition to. Someone else has created an excite community chat that helps Westercon 52 staff coordinate their efforts given that the programming chair is now living on the east coast. This has worked rather well. At any rate, as near as I can make out, when I do make the move this spot will still be extant until things the databases get switched, so it will appear relatively seamlessly so you will not even notice it happen. I know. I know. Famous last words. For those that are interested, I am eyeing a web hosting outfit called web2010 I will keep you posted as I make further decisions.

toby b Wed Feb 3 00:38:03 PST 1999

Actually alpha male as a term has been around for a while. Clint Eastwood, Arnold etc. Square jaws, don't take any crap. I used to really be into the survivor type character, although of late, I've been having fun with the wimps :)

Rhoda Tue Feb 2 22:24:32 PST 1999

Here I am 12:13 am and I can't get to sleep. Either the discussion has been unusually stimulating here this evening or I've downed too many glasses of caffine filled Diet Pepsi at Pizzia Hut tonight. Perhaps I am one of Ashling's writers with a substance abuse problem, mine being caffine.


I never heard alpha male in the romance fiction context until recently. Now I read it everywhere. I think it is one of those new buzz words. The best I can do for a definition is quote from an article a friend of mine wrote in the SWW newsletter. "...tooth-gnashing, fiery tempered, testosterone-oozing, bad boy." I honestly could not describe the species better than this. The opposite of alpha male is effeminate wimp. I think that should convey the picture.

Well, I had better get off of this computer and try to get some sleep.

Happy writing,


Ashling Feb 2 21:49:32 PST 1999

Oops! --- Hi Eddie.

Rhoda --- I l-o-v-e Historical fiction of the non-Romance type. If I run across any in my trek through new writers, I'll let you know.

Olivia --- Welcome back from the edge. When you get through with your novel ... come lit a fire under my desk chair.

Well, 3 people posted while I composed my last post ... I used up my entire procrastration quota for the night. I must really go now to edit & polish a non-fiction article - AND email it off to evil publisher. Wish me luck.


Ashling Feb 2 21:33:34 PST 1999

Hi --- Allein, Avatar, Caroline, Hayden, Hootie, Jack, Jai, Lydia, Michele, Olivia, Thomas & Toby!

S. N. Arly --- Bookmarked your site. Love the wallpaper's subtle impact. I'm sporadically reseaching Ireland c. 650 AD for a historical fiction novel. Your info on Celts will help ... Thanks.

S. K. S. Perry --- HAPPY BIRTHDAY to your Mom!! Next year just give her flowers ... Dead animals as gifts are passe.

Rachel --- Congrats on being in the middle (f-i-n-a-l-l-y).

Agsousa --- I can't comment on Portuguese writers, I'm under-read (sic?) even on U.S. ones. Discussions at my f-t-f writers group made me realize that 90% of my readings came from the Dead Writers category. I'm currently confining my reading list to novels, biographies, etc. published after 1990. I'm all for innovation, but I don't want to make sweeping statements condemning or praising the current crop until I've read more widely.

It's well, interesting that many writers held up for me to admire in school were suffering some debilitating illness/ condition. Rhoda - that's one explanation for why a lot of "great" writing made boring, confusing, or irritating reading. Or left the reader feeling depressed.

Mansfield had tuberculosis - surely coughing up bloody clots daily as her lungs disengrated was no picnic. Fitzgerald, Poe, Hemmingway & many others were addicts. (Irregardless of political correctness - IMHO alcohol is a drug too, so I refer to anyone with this condition as an addict.) Which opens the age old debate - can great literature be created unless the writer has suffered great pain?

Rhoda ---- I give up ... What ARE "alpha males" in romance novels?

Hope I didn't leave anyone out on my hellos.

Eddie French Feb 2 20:20:19 PST 1999

Yes.I'm still here for the moment.
I think that I envy you! Envy is not an emotion which comes easily to me. You are either more passionate about your art than any person I know or you are fortunate enough to live in a country which (bowing ungraciously to comercial presssure)has not yet closed it's doors to original and innovatively creative arts. Unfortunatley, in our artisticaly stinted society we are restricted by the need to 'get something out of' our creative efforts at the earliest possible moment or be considered 'second rate' or 'wannabes'. The pressures on an aspiring writer to get Published are almost intolerable.
I myself have submitted works for crit. which have been slammed for not conforming to 'traditional' methods of crafting. Having responded to advice and re-worked the piece to conformity I have found it stinted and stale. More than once I have abandoned a piece of work which I considered to be art.
But... I make no apology for doing what I do. Along with my desire to write and produce good work rides another demon which fits (and rightly so) in with the way we live our lives and support our families. This demon is the one which whispers into our ears every day...'You can do better than this'. Or 'You're good enough to earn this money with your writing'.
So the need to keep a roof over the heads of our families and fill their bellies takes precedence over artistic commitment. You say that you have had a best seller which was turned into a film. Then you have earned money from your writing?.
I get so riled up when I hear people who have become rich enough to enjoy a life free of heartbreaking toil (you don't have to be down a mine to endure heartbreaking toil) preach to the masses, through the media, that we should 'Take time out to get to know ourselves'. Or that immortal phrase slips out once more..'It's the simple things which make life worthwhile'.
Many times I have traded hours which should have been spent sleeping for hours at the keyboard. A thirteen hour working day makes you do that if you are committed to your art.
English and American literary art flourishes still. Don't be misled by the media moguls and the Hollywood producers. Don't be guided by the publishing houses and Editors who are in some cases no more than failed writers. Even when we 'sell out' we still have that special work within us. If we are lucky enough to make it and the pressures of just living disappear, then who knows.....

Don't you just hate those aptitude tests which are no more than 50 or so logic puzzles strung out into a full exam!!.

W. Olivia Race Feb 2 20:11:23 PST 1999

Hi all!!! Moving farther away from THE EDGE.....
Spoke w/ my best buddy today who also happens to be an aspiring writer. We discussed our mutual laziness...been thinking maybe it's the weather. In the winter all I want to do is sleep, but in the Summer, man oh man, I write like one possessed. I have been known to burn the creative candle well into the wee hours.

BUT, with my novel soooo close to being done, I can't let the cold Western NY weather bring me down. I actually wrote a new poem the other day to try and get back in the swing (it stunk royally, but baby steps are better than sprints at this stage.)

SNARLY: your website IS NOT stupid. I especially liked the Celtic area. Hope you expand on that. I have great admiration for anyone who can even create a website since I am one step removed from being computer illiterate.

Anyway, I have to get back to my novel. I had a dream last night that gave me some ideas and I want to expand on them in a tricky chaper. Yeh, maybe I am back from that edge.

Good writing all.

Rhoda Feb 2 20:07:47 PST 1999

Opps. I said Oliver Stone? Ha, ha! I really meant Irving Stone, author of The Greek Treasure and The President's Lady, among other books that were very popular in his day.



Rhoda Tue Feb 2 19:55:58 PST 1999


I was referring mainly to entertainment. I'm afraid I read more for relaxation and entertainment. I do read for education, but most of that is non-fiction. I don't think that there must always be a disparity between reading for enjoyment and reading for enlightenment. There is an element of fun reading books that cause you to think and learn, even if the book are about depressing subjects. But don't think that just because the book has a happy ending and the bad guy gets his just deserts in the end, that it is of no educational value.

One group of books that I've always enjoyed reading are Jean Plaidy's Historical novels. These are not romances, but fictionalized accounts of historical people--usually famous people from British history. These books bring out the characters of British royalty and the events that shaped their lives. Because their stories are delivered in a fictionalized format, the reader cares about their lives and learns the history that shapes them. Oliver Stone also wrote good books along this vein. Unfortunatly, I don't know anyone who writes this way anymore.

I would love to broaden my scope of reading, but I live within the confines of rearing children and doing my own writing. The reading I do most is when I lie down after everyone else has gone to bed. I read a few pages, and I drift off to sleep. Hard to do that with War and Peace or Portrait of the Artist As A Young Man. Unlike some Americans we talk about here, I desperately wish I had read more when I was younger and had more time. I still aspire to broaden my horizens and stretch my creativity.

Happy writing!


Jai Feb 2 18:40:37 PST 1999

Heya Hayden,

Tower is going well, I've even beging to enjoy work again...

Greetings all,

S.N.Arly - Nice site.

Poor poor groundhog.


Thomas Feb 2 18:29:41 PST 1999

Agsousa, Rhoda, Hootie,

I have to admit, I was taking a break from the notebook because I found that the posts were beginning to (sorry) wear me down. But then, you three hooked me.

Hootie, don't you think it sad that we live in a "culture" where everything must be easily accessible? When I operated my winery tasting room I met thousands of people. I was shaken by the way the majority of Americans whom I met wore their ignorance as a badge.

Agsousa, I have become quite disgusted with my attempts to get a particular nonfiction book published.

It is a concept book. It cannot be placed in one particular genre. And so, those in the agenting and publishing business aren't sure where they could fit it in. They would rather pass then risk it.

I have given thought to changing it to meet the demand, but my soul won't let me do it. Agsousa, you come along and your words encourage me not to change it but to fight for it. Of course, unlike most on this notebook, I write for a living, meager as the living is. I haven't a day job, to fall back on. So to fight for what I believe in is costly both in spirit and financially.

So Agsousa, in Portugal are artists subsidized by the government?

Rhoda, your comments about what you require in the books you read speaks mainly to entertainment. I believe writing has a higher purpose than merely as entertainment. I seek to learn something from everything I read, be it novel, essay, poem, and the rest of the literary modes.

agsousa Feb 2 17:08:40 PST 1999


Once, at a conference similar to yours, I heard a writer (a very good writer) advising the audience to never begin a novel with a sentence like "la marquise sortit à cinc heures" (in Portuguese, of course). When I arrived home, I decided to start a novel with exactly that sentence. But on page 3 or 4 I understood that the book was asking for a different beginning. So I replaced the beginning, which is tantamount to say that the book immediately got a more modern rythm. The novel was a best-seller for some time and eventually became a film. Conclusion: you should never accept other people's opinions, specially when they are right.

Hootie Feb 2 16:46:41 PST 1999

Agsousa, I have a possible reason for the state of American literature. I would like to claim it as an original thought, but Im afraid it comes from Orson Scott Card, who may not stretch the language, but definitely gives the genre of Science Fiction a work out.

Basically, what he said was that you have to educate your audience. One of the reasons that Tom Wolfe and Tom Clancy are so popular is because they are accessible to an audience that cannot distinguish between Chaucer and Shakespeare. It is partially the fault of the schools, partially the fault of the publishers, but mostly I would say the fault of the culture. We pride ourselves on our inventiveness, especially in the flexibility of our language, but see if you can access the Notebook archives for about this time last year. Gary S. made up a word--just one--but it generated a passionate debate.

American writers are not as likely to play with the language as the format. Our culture skews the language as it is, so the storytellers focus on what kind of story is told. Even here, you can argue that we havent made much progress: after all, Moby Dick was a techno-thriller, just with a very different technology.

I guess Im trying to apologize if our culture seems to be dominating the feel of a site like this. I hope that the influence of intelligent and thoughtful opinions such as yours can help us to forge a global appreciation for the many different types of writing are out there. Oh, yeah, I want to be friends, too.

Did I mention that Ive been reading the archives? I just want to thank everyone who has contributed, whether it is past, present or future. The flow of ideas is incredibly stimulating.

I got lost in thought. It was unfamiliar territory.
-- from a sign in a co-workers office

P.S. Ill post something in the Workbook as soon as I get a password...

Rhoda Tue Feb 2 16:10:07 PST 1999


Great to see you back!


I will never apologize for my love of well-crafted, carefully plotted, character-developed novels. I remember trying to read DR. ZHIVAGO once when I was in high school, and I wanted to tear my hair out. It was a good story, but organized very badly (perhaps it was a poor translation). I didn't make it through a third of the book. Alas, I am possibly one of the semi-literate Americans you refer to, but I simply cannot tolerate literature that lacks clarity or characters I can at least partly identify with. Furthermore, I love a happy ending. Though happy endings are not always necessary or desirable in a story, happy endings do bring about a resolution, and resolution is essential to me. There are many great books that did not end happily such as WUTHERING HEIGHTS and GONE WITH THE WIND, but at least the story was resolved.

I must admit that I am not familiar with much European Literature. I do remember reading works by Camus, Satre and other Existentialists in High School and I did not enjoy them--not because they were badly written, but because I simply do not see the world as their authors did. In these stories there was no virtue, no faith, --nothing but hopelessness and despair. I have enough in life to be depressed without having to subject myself to misery in my reading choices.

I do agree strongly with one point in your post. You suggested that aspiring writers not mimic those authors who are currently popular or classic. I do believe in innovation, and in the current American market it is sadly lacking. As a writer, I certainly don't wish to crank out the same old stuff that authors all over American are writing. As a reader I am also frustrated with it. So many of the books I buy read alike. I know enough about the market structure to know why this is so. I go to writer's conferences and hear how every editor wants character driven stories as opposed to plot driven. The drivel goes on--use "alpha males" as heros (I always though "alpha males" were cannine heads of packs.), use only one or two points of view, don't write your book in first person, hero and heroine must meet by page 8, hero and heroine must never be apart for more than one chapter. And it goes on and on. Writers in genre romance are given too narrow a scope, and apiring writers are told that if they do not write their novels on these narrow little parameters, no publishing house will ever buy their work. I can't speak for other genres, but I would guess that this type of thinking is standard in all popular literature. And yes, the current market does reflect this narrowness to the detriment of us all.

Like you, I think it important that every writer find his own voice and his own way to create something unique. I do believe that despite the current system, such innovation does happen, albeit slowly. Once in awhile, some powerful individual with a lot of self-confidence and much tenacity crashes through these editor, agent, legerhead barriers and makes his or her mark in popular literature.


I heard about the poor Ontario Groundhog on the radio news today. I hereby offer my sincere condolences to the good people of Canada.

Happy Writing!


agsousa Feb 2 15:00:52 PST 1999

Thanks to those of you who have answered my posts of January 26 and 27. I'm usually away from the Internet on weekends. My ISP does not keep the archives of this page, whose letters last only a day or two, and I don't know whether RACHEL has answered or is still preparing her hot response. It will be welcome, whatever its contents. I have also an inflammable temper and maybe we could light a beautiful fire of intelligent discussion to warm up this forum of nice but it seems to me, I may correct this impression on further evidence rather conservative 'literati'.

For those who have not followed or haven't understood my two posts, here's their gist and some attachments to it: American literature (I added English literature to avoid transcontinental patriotism but it is true that an awful number of English contemporary writers also suffer from some American evils), has become rather boring because it doesn't show signs of innovation, repeating old formulas, such as excessive preoccupation with character and plot development, useless dialogue and the wornout cliches of description-dialogue-description-end of chapter on the next day the weather was too hot and this is a symbol like in Hartley's 'The Go-Between'...Old hat, indeed. Story-tellers of this kind should try writing screenplays for Hollywood or Brazilian soap operas which invariably end in all nice people getting married and every villon going to hell in a basket. Despite some intelligent observations of my correspondents, none of them has changed my impression that the ultimate aim of would-be American writers is to take a course on creative writing, learn the basics of weaving the complications of a clever plot and there you are ready to earn millions by conquering the hearts of semi-illiterate readers who never heard about Kafka, Joyce, Céline, Musil, Broch, etc.

Evidence to that? After Scott Fitzgerald may I recommend this one to those who only aspire to a well told story in the old fashion? for a better teacher, try Katherine Mansfield, though , Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner, no-one , on this side of the Atlantic, seems to care about NorthAmerican novelists any more. At least no one seeks their guidance or their example, not a single soul to say: I read something extraordinary by a chap from the States. Here in Portugal we admire Garcia Marquez, Italo Calvino, Anthony Burgess (an Englishman!) but we are very puzzled with the success of Tom Wolfe, for example. I decided to give names not as examples of the very best for me but of those who have brought something new to Literature and WERE SUCCESSFUL, success being, I sadly infer, a sine qua non of American taste.

One of my kind respondants ascribes this lack of innovation to 'demand' business explains the standardization (I've deleted 'bastardization') of contemporary North-American literature. If that's so, it's a shame. Shouldn't an artist worry only about the excellence of his art? If he needs to earn a living, try cleaning the streets or teaching (more or less the same job nowadays, isn't it, HOWARD?) but should be faithful to his artistic integrity, keeping for himself the humane hope that one day his effort will be recompensed even financially.

Those who are inclined to think that this is a naif proposition should perhaps consider the case of the 1998 Nobel Prize José Saramago. His novels are original in content and form, and however, after many years of obscurity, he emerged in the eighties as a best-seller, his books being sold in hundreds of thousands of copies even in a small market as Portugal, and translated into most languages. If mundane success is very important to you, learn with this example, and see that excellence is not necessarily synonymous to repetition and imitation.

I have nothing against fair market. But I believe that each novelist must create his own market, not by imitating other successful writers of the present or the past but by being true and honest towards himself. It's essential that he finds his own voice, his own style, his own way of revealing his own vision to his readers. Each man and woman has a unique secret and a unique way to express it. Genuiness is the key to that secret  it's necessary to work very hard to reach the true essence of our self and even harder to be able to express it adequately.

The 'classics' didn't do otherwise. Faulkner is very different from Melville and Hemingway from Faulkner or Hawthorn, and even Fizgerald (a very American writer in the sense that he loved money) didn't copy Henry James, though each of the mentioned writers certainly learned something with their predecessors... in their classes at school, the write place for the classics, as the word itself says, not at the cost of the poor reader.

I think it's important that the younger writers of this forum shouldn't listen to those who sacrifice originality and *real* quality to the false laws of the market. The bee´s knees doesn't really mean or derive from business. Not necessarily, no.

S.N.Arly Tue Feb 2 14:26:22 PST 1999

Thanks to all who have checked out my site!

SKS - It's slated to be 9 pages in all, but only about half are up and running. I need to organize all my links and info. I only started slapping it together on Saturday, so... A bit of a rush job. I got excited though and had to post it even in progress. I hope to have another page, plus new links on the writing and celtic pages up tonight maybe tomorrow.

Caroline - Oh yah. Annoying doesn't even describe it. Take care of yours and don't do anything that makes it worse! Trust me on this one, it's not worth it!

Hayden! Are you sure that's the taste of discipline and not the sweat? 100,000 words eh? Hope they're good ones too. : ) So very good to see you!

Michele - I missed that one (caught some others). I'm so ashamed! *blush* But thanks. I want to try to keep those sorts of things out.

Toby - good luck convincing the academics. It's unfortunate that SF is so often considered JUST a genre and therefore not legitimate writing. You might be able to argue the study of it from a cultural phenomenon or examination point... but then that might only work in sociology classes.


Lydia Sweet Feb 2 13:46:26 PST 1999

Hi all,

I watched a segment of BookTV this weekend where small publishing houses were giving their attributes and saying why they were a good way to go for the novice author.

They stated that the big houses really don't have time to read new writers. They also stated that publishing at the independents can draw a big house to an author.

Have any of our writers been published by small independents? And if so, did it help your career in the mainstream?.

*** No snow here! Canada, you can send some our way. We really like it every so often.


Rachel Feb 2 13:43:20 PST 1999


I have found a middle for one of my stories. I have found two in fact and am pounding away at the both of them. I guess when I am done I will need to decide which one of them I like better. I have already developed a favorite story line, but am giving both middles a fair run towards the end.

I am determined I will not sit down and start another story before I complete the two that I have on the go. If things continue as they are going they will both be done by the end of the week. Hum? I think Iv said that somewhere before.

I have come up with two more story ideas that I think I can find a start, end and middle for so I will fly at them next. Yipes! I seem to be on a roll. I guess the next big step will be to send out one of these little numbers and see what sort of response I get. I hope that my first rejection letter is at least a little creative and not completely run of the mill.

Hayden - Welcome back you

Hum, I'd better get back to writing as I seem to be running out of afternoon.

Take care all


Toby B Tue Feb 2 13:22:34 PST 1999

I'm all about looking for used star-ships. Let me know what you find :-) Meanwhile, I'm heading out to ebay to see what they have in the used star-ship department. Never know.

Been busy here the past while. I'm trying to convince academia into allowing me to take a independent study in SF writing. I'll review and critique several stories by large writers, then write four stories using the skills I will have learned. This is giving them a taste of what I am really here at college for. Yeah I'm stuck at a college where it is small, mid-west, and a bit closeminded, but any situation is what you make of it. I will also be taking a class in post-apocalyptic studies, meaning we're going to read A Canticle for Leibowitz, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, and some others. Between these two I'm going to have an excellent quarter next quarter.

Next year I'd like to write a novel for my senior honors research project. But planning and executing that is very far down the road for me. I'll tackle that bridge when it is reached.

Keep writing all.

Avatar Feb 2 13:03:27 PST 1999

Lena-scratch that last comment. I should have the story for you within a few days. I finally got up off my butt and copied it off. :-)

SnArly-check out your webpage as soon as I can.

By the way, does anyone have any extra snow to sell?

Later all

S.K.S. Perry Feb 2 11:49:15 PST 1999

Hey all, I don't know about you people, but where I live in Canada we just had another one of our infamous ice storms. I don't know if the Groundhog saw his shadow or not. Appartently he slipped on the ice when climbing out of his hole and broke his neck. Funeral services will be held in the spring--whenever that is.

Be Well, Live Well.

S.K.S. Perry Feb 2 04:58:12 PST 1999

Hey all,

Happy Groundhog's Day!! This has always been a big event at my place. Of course, it might have something to do with the fact that it's also my mom's birthday. How does the old saying go? If the ground hog sees his shadow, that means there's only six more weeks till the next Star Wars movie or something.

Welcome back Hayden. Once you get the new porche we'll have to arrange a race. I'll ride my Ninja and show you what real speed is all about. Maybe we can relax at your villa afterwords. Thomas can bring the wine.

Be Well, Live Well.

Jack Beslanwitch mailto: Feb 2 04:25:58 PST 1999

Hayden: Welcome indeed. If you and Michelle both have Porches can we look forward to a cross country race :-). Maybe I should set about looking for a used Millenium Falcon.

Michele Feb 2 02:16:20 PST 1999

SNArly - very cool web site.

Just the one thing - the Writing Room (page3) has a couple of spelling errors on it you might want to change - I know Americans spell differently but even you don't spell "there" with a "j" normally..........

Ace background too !


Michele Feb 2 02:08:03 PST 1999

HAYDEN !!! Welcome back, bud !

I totally intend to keep the Porsche thanks - I am having a great time whizzing around terrifying the slower ones I keep company with ! (Never pegged myself for a speed demon before !!)

Jack - disappointed that you changed the background from grey but this a reasonable colour so what the heck ! :-0

SNArly - I will check out your web site just as soon as I hop back online to post this message.....

The sun is actually shining here in England - INCREDIBLE ! I'd almost forgotten what it looked like, there's been so much rain and fog in the Cotswolds the last few weeks. But we had a nice sharp frost overnight and now it's cold, dry and sunny - my favourite winter weather !

Anyway I'm going to check out SNArly's web site now - take care y'all (and I'm not from Texas nor yet a Southern !)


Allein Mon Feb 1 19:39:38 PST 1999

SN Arly - from what I hear, your webpage must be good. Can't wait until I have time to check it out.

Bye bye,

Hayden Feb 1 18:17:27 PST 1999

Hi gang, I'm back in town.
100,000 words in two months, talk about a sweat, and also a great taste of discipline. (sound of "Smack smack" in the background...No, not that kind, heehehehe)
Hi to everyone, specially Snarls--love the pages--
to goodweed--Jo's sends her regards
to gariess--hope you're lurking. I'll send email soon
to Jack--nice changes to the page, look forward to seeing you Sept
to Michele--you can keep the Porsche as I am buying a new one...don't anyone drop any pennies! I'm also building the condo in Lyons, France...nyuk nyuk
Hi Caroline, good to see you still here
Hi Jai, how's Tower?
SKS, I saw you here often here before, and you put together good posts
W. Olivia Race, nice to see you back
Rhoda...hello there!
(who have I missed?)
Everyone else...well, hello there honey!

I'll try to post up a snippet from the novel soon as I remember the Writer's Workbook URL...or maybe I'll just reapply.

Jack Beslanwitch mailto: Feb 1 18:11:58 PST 1999

It did not take long to have to make some slight adjustments. Hopefully the centering problem is corrected and I have changed the Edit and Rewrite button to simply Start Over. This will avoid confusion for those new to the Notebook. Take care everyone.

W. Olivia Race

BACK FROM THE EDGE................+ Hi all. I have been hibernating for about a month. First the computer problems kept me offline and then just plain laziness kept me from writing and communicating. I am struggling out of my funk, while not with a vengence, with little baby steps. Writers block stinks, my friends. X-mas found me totally hooked on a video game. It's all my kids fault. She wanted a Playstation. (Okay, okay, she didn't tell me to get hooked on Tomb Raider, but I gotta blame someone). Anyway, I hope everyone's writing has been going well. I plan on checking out the Round Robin soon and once again contributing to the Short Story area once again. Good Writing all.....

Jack Beslanwitch Feb 1 17:55:47 PST 1999

      Well, hopefully in making some slight changes and archiving to a somewhat more managable sized Notebook I have not made any further snafus. I check back and make sure others are able to post and nobody has to go into withdrawal :-).

      Oh, and I am shopping around for a somewhat less expensive UNIX domain name server somewhat along the lines of the inexpensive place I now host This, conceivably, could involve this location being down for a day or two as the IP addresses on the domain name servers get switched to the new location. However, I will give definite warning prior before doing anything. Also, I am not sure that things would not remain intact here in the interim. However, saving close to $60 a month looks attractive to me :-).

Caroline Heske Mon Feb 1 16:45:18 PST 1999

SKS - Ha! I go weeks without writing, and I know precisely what happens next, I just can't figure exactly how to put it. But right now I don't have time for writers' block, I have approximately 40 pages to write by the 22 Feb. Not inconceivable, but I'll have to really put my back into it. And sit there for hours in front of the computer until the next sentence produces itself out of sheer boredom.

SNArly - Your homepage is unreal! I didn't look at all of it cause my computer was being slow, but I liked what I saw. I have mild tendonitis in my bowing arm from cello, and although I stopped playing a year ago, I still wake up some days and find it's too painful to turn on the taps in the shower with that hand. So I can only begin to imagine how irritating it is for you.

S.K.S. Perry Feb 1 16:24:25 PST 1999

Hey S.N.

I LOVE the website. The celtic backround is awesome and really looks classy. I checked out some of the links but the only ones that seemed to work were the ones for Writers, and the one that told us a bit about you. (That one interested me. I was starting to think you weren't a real person at all, just some sort of Internet Gremilin or something!)
Once you get a counter and a guest page I'll drop by again. I'm especially interested in seeing your section on Martial Arts.

Goodweed, I added a little blurb to the second story on the Round Robin--not much, just enough to whet my appetite. I goofed though, and now half of it is in italics. Sorry. I promise not to mess it up again if you let me write some more, OK?

Be Well, Live Well.

S.N.Arly Mon Feb 1 14:41:23 PST 1999

Hey all! I spent all weekend working on the dumb thing, so why not go check out my website. Brand new. Just out. Still under construction, so don't mind the mess. Some of the fonts got screwed and the pix will need to be placed better, but hey it's a start! I even got her on my own link so they should work.

Haven't a counter yet, so let me know what you think.


"...Beware the Jabberwok my son..."

Avatar Feb 1 13:03:19 PST 1999

I have just finished reading all the posts I missed over the weekend so if I forget to thank anybody for their encouragement, I'm sorry.

Lena- I finally got a chance to get into my e-mail last week and found your post. Look into the Archives for the first few weeks of January, the food fight story should be there somewhere. I'd give it to you myself but it originated in the archives and I can't find the time to copy it down on paper. Yet

Talk more later

Hootie Feb 1 07:42:32 PST 1999

About finishing stories: I think this is one of those things that every writer approaches differently. I heard once that Isaac Asimov once had as many as five typewriters in his office, each with a different story in it. He would work on which ever caught his attention at the time, and when he lost interest (or finished), he would move on to another one (so don't think you're too strange, Rachel).

I am also one of those that has several projects going at once, but I always run out of steam about half through, whether or not I have an ending. Outlining and plotting help some, but I find that it, in the end, it just takes a lot of hard work. Whichever part you have problems with, sometimes you just have to work at it until you get it right, through all of the frustrations and discouragements. One of my problems is that I don't know when to stop tinkering. I think it's an excuse not to submit.

Litter: I understand how annoying it is to be confused with something you're not. For instance, I say "y'all", but I'm not Southern. I'm Texan. It would be like calling a Scot an Irishman (did that once, but never again).


"I'm never going to finish writing my book. I'm a novelist." -Jerry, in "Sliding Doors"

Michele Mon Feb 1 07:12:17 PST 1999

Rhoda - many thanks for the kind comments . . . that web site just won't lie and sleep ! But as it gives me a chance to "publish" my writing (no rejections there !) I am not complaining. I put my URL on this message *just* in case someone out here wants to take a look, and see what the girl is doing !

I got asked to co-author a historical/medical paper last week - it might get published in a fairly narrow-interest magazine but as the my co-author is a specialist in his field I do not suppose we will see too many rejection letters ! Lucky me ! ;-) There are advantages to writing non-fiction - although of course it is FAR harder to be a best-seller . . .

I don't think there's too much chance of me upsetting Litter - I tend to refer to Brits rather than differentiating between English, Irish, Scottish and Welsh - quicker to type for one thing ! :-)

Anyway after 9 hours work on my web site yesterday I think I'll go read a book for a change !

Cheerio folks,


S.K.S. Perry Feb 1 05:26:18 PST 1999

Hi all,

On finishing stories, I only write one story or novel at a time, so I always finish it. The problem is that I don't plot out my outlines or have a story line in mind when I start. I begin with a concept--what if this happened, or what if someone could do this--then start writing. I don't have a character outline, though sometimes I'll base the character on someone I know, or on parts of myself. New characters pop up where they are needed. As I've said before, my stories pretty much write themselves. The problem with this is that I start writing with no middle or ending in mind. When I hit a dry spell (or my muse throws a tantrum)I'm stuck until I can work out where to go from there. Sometimes I'll go weeks without writing.

Obviously, if I'm serious about being a professional writer, this is not the way to go, so I've had to change my habits a bit. I've made a little more concious effort to have at least a basic plot laid out for my stories, and have decided to try working multiple projects (I'm currently working on one story while co-writing another.) The way I see it, if I want to make writing my profession (and that's the dream after all, isn't it?) then I can't afford all the down time.

Unfortunately, I fall into the same boat as Goodweed, and like him, that boat is dangerously over capacity. I work full time and then some, I exercise at least two hours a day, I play drums in three different bands, I practice and teach martial arts...get the idea? And let's not forget the wife and kids. It's a constant juggling act for time, and I'd really hate to give up any of these things that I love, which is why it would be great to be able to write profesionally. I could just replace "work full time" with "write full time." Ah, dreams....

"I wish the real world would just stop hassling me.
--song lyrics, couldn't tell you by whom--

Be Well, Live Well.

Jai Feb 1 01:23:39 PST 1999


Ahh dusk. Love it. Still havn't writen anything on my story dammit. Better go do that now instead of procrastinating.

Good writing all,


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