Leap of Faith...

Just before I went offline this afternoon to take my time off, I did something right.

Jim Mills gave me the URL for writersdigest.com and I bookmarked it, because they have a great signup deal for the book club. Buy one of their titles for $11.95 and pick three more books free, then you're just obligated to say No to tempting monthly selections for the next six months. No other purchases required. Just willpower. When they know that a lot of their members not only use those books but make money on sales and that if they get even one cheque that catalog's irresistible.

It was to me all right. There was my Writer's Market 2002 as one of the catalog listings! Right. I need that. I don't just deserve that, I need it! Pro in 2002 - a new copy of WM is an edge even if the 2001 listings are mostly accurate for the stabler markets. If there's even one new one in there and that happens to be what I sell to ... that could make the difference. That should be a routine annual expense here on out. For my three freebies, I got Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass, the one that all the pro authors on the board swear by. The one that all the folks in the Maass class, a Master Class in Forward Motion, swear at by way of monstrous amounts of homework and ripping up their novels to shreds in process of making them so much better they're doing a happy dance. I watched a lot of my friends sweat through it and I knew I'd get that sometime and apply it. No More Excuses.

No more excuses for bad cops and not much detail on crime scenes either, I picked up a Crime manual and for the fourth, hard choices. Ultimately out of half a dozen fun useful references I picked the most expensive, since I figured the rest would cycle up and I might actually have a royalty cheque in hand when the too tempting catalog comes up. A nice manual on period English with the expressions handily dated. This will be useful! Especially in my time travel novels, if I want some old vampire slipping back to his youthful accent or I drop characters into the past on Earth they'll use contemporary expressions.

That was, with shipping, $21 worth of leap of faith. I had it in hand from the art commissions and Verizon's been staved off and I looked at it and I had a pang of terror. I had a hard time justifying something that dang important - something that like art materials will pay for itself. That's habit of mind. That's reaction to the past, not the present. I have made money from writing already with the royalties from Raven Dance - in fact that particular expense is balanced out on the very next royalty cheque out of Raven Dance since it's $4 short of breaking even on its initial costs and the publisher, http://www.iUniverse.com does not pay out till the royalties are $25 or more. I've reacted to the past with that fear.

If I'd picked up a watercolor block or a box of colors or new brushes or a pen or anything like that, I would not have sweated it. This is attitude adjustment time. This is trusting that I can and will make that in 2002, when if I even hit close to my goal of Pro in 2002, I will make a whole lot more than that! Three cents a word? How many words sold would it take to make $21? 700 words - if I even moved a short-short at Pro paying rates, there's my Big Book Binge in a shot.

No, it comes from too many years of conditioning and people that I was close to affecting my budget decisions. That's reacting to the past. The past, when my beloved, now departed grandmother thought nothing of clothes or shoes or electronic toys like radios and televisions but books were always Too Expensive... and so was the typewriter until I needed it for School. She loved me but she wasn't exactly Encouraging and I can't blame her, given the number of times I got miserably depressed trying to write when I was blocked. She'd try to steer me away from it with bribes, movies, toys like that, anything but books or writing materials. For their own reasons, while I was growing up, Mom and Dad were both totally against my writing. Mom wanted to protect me from the emotional pain of rejection slips, that was what she said about it. Dad worried that I actually believed the stuff in my stories was real and that I'd go insane from That Mind-Rot. No doubt was what his parents called it and it was funny that he had so much of it and spent most of his free time reading it and he didn't go insane. I knew them too and they were against it and so was his brother.

Funny, the things I didn't examine in life, the reactions I didn't expect in myself. Funnier still that they've changed their attitude now, both of them. Dad's written and published books, something he hadn't when I was at that age. Now when we talk on the phone it's writer shop talk! He's proud of me. Mom sadly said, the Christmas that she bought me this computer "I guess it's not that you didn't try. It just is that hard." She respects my writing now whether she actually likes my books or not, that's worth a lot.

Time changes everything and this year it's real and there's no more excuses. There were no more excuses when I wound up at that shelter. I had nothing better to do with my life than write novels. I wrote novels, the Wall went down and the novels poured out. I got out. I got Raven Dance into print and it did sell and I got a letter from a fan in South Africa about it, a man I'd never met who just bought it on Amazon since it sounded interesting and he'd read a couple of my articles online.

The things I dreamed about my whole life long came true and I'm sitting here changing my life into what it ought to be. Step by step by step. Maass is a big part of that. It's a lot of fun to write novels but Maass by its reputation is how I can make them that salable too... and that much better. Time for the big dreams now that I bought the ticket. If I do really well with it again and again, there could come a time when Maass himself is my agent! Would be ironic, would be one heck of an achievement too considering how much in demand he is.

Hey, the thing I can do to make it so is to use it, apply it and do my best with it. And if it's not Maass it'll be someone else who's good at their job.


Robert and Ari >^..^<
Good morning, Blog!

It's been a good morning all right. I'm taking a short break. I got up at around five thirty after I crashed at ten. I felt creative. I got online. I got to http://hollylisle.com to see if it was up, and lo, the chat entity had loosed its grip on the boards even though he's still on a power trip. There were new posts. Bonk.

There was another Daily Exercise and it read like the opener of one of my time travel novels.


3,270 words later in two hours, I had yet another neat novel opener and yet another member of the propagating time clan characterized and I found out what Bill Gray was up to when I wasn't looking. Right. Uh huh, he went back to working for his girlfriend and he's off on a time mission again and he's picked up the local guy and the local guy didn't react quite like all the rest of the local guys. Yep. Time's funny that way and Bill can still take a pratfall on the edge of it and get himself into deeper trouble even though he got reformed and that poor joker hasn't got the slightest idea what he's in for, that Dorian Morris is going to run into some heavy hefty deep trouble and I think its name is Bill Gray actually. They're not nice guys. Bill, the only one I knew wasn't a nice guy for most of his career and he straightened out, but he's a reformed villain barely scraped up to rogue from that.

Just what I needed, another Novel Opener in the Proliferating Series. Right. Bottlenecked behind a submission. Why do I do this to myself? And if I was going to do this to myself, why didn't I just take that as the book that I'd throw to the self published market and let the series build on itself and put Volume Next out every couple of months like I thought I was some old time hack or something?

Now that was either the dumbest business decision I ever made or one of the brightest, because, if I do manage to sell book one to Tor and it's a hit, I will get real pro payment out of it and a lot more distribution and if the series has the effect on more fans than the tiny handful that know about it and me, then, I've got a little cushion against not managing to sell later volumes. Even if the publishers slow them down and don't put them out as fast as I write them. I would naturally prefer they did. I'd love it if the universe jumped up and snapped in that direction and I won Literary Lottery and I got a question from the editor like 'do you have any more of these?' and I spent most of January writing up oneliner tags and pretty proposals and shoveled a whole bunch of them at him and they just pick me up and stick me in that slot of 'yep we've got a series here' with a contract that I don't have to worry about deadlines on anything but the rewrites.

But that's like, miracle time or Lottery winning. Reality's going to be slower and kludgier and a lot more risky and that's fine too.

The big question is whether I'm wasting my time writing more of a series that has not sold yet.

The other big question is whether, if I love that series that much that I can't put it down, I'm shafting myself if I tell me that and don't write Book Next when it screams at me. The real answer, best answer I can see at this point, is to do both. Take my 3,270 word respectable little first chapter and keep that going on the side and maybe write that book, so that I get it down. Let myself enjoy a couple of hours a day with that series since I love it so much. And write other stuff too.

If I do not immerse and spend all day working in the series novel, if I can discipline myself to spend my time doing different things during the day, I will not wind up taking a ten day dive into something not immediately publishable at a time when I've got tons of other responsibilities. I'll get those done and use that book for an internal reward. Down in the gut, I want to read that one. Down in the gut, I want to find out what happens to him and my sleuthing eye haas already spotted two or three key misbehaviors in Bill's approach that tells me there's a lot he's not planning to tell that Dorian and that there's deep trouble in the offing and the other Bill's likely to be a very nasty man indeed. Or not. Or it's something like... oh duh... it could be that. It could be hilarious if I did the old Mirror Universe thing and this particular one, was the particular Bill that didn't turn to evil at all and therefore is utterly shocked at his counterpart, the one that went through and came out the other side. It would sure make an innocent Bill a darn good fall guy for whoever the real villain out in that region is. It would put him under suspicion right away for anything and everything and worse, that local Bill, the normal human guy who didn't actually do anything let alone cosmic evil, is overestimated by everyone he encounters!

Which means the opener might not be the opener and Bill Gray, local version, might be the MC. That sounds like an MC situation. Framed, a Whole Lot Framed, without the cosmic powers to actually DO any of the sick shit his double did.

Makes Dorian the chapter one POV guy a side character and possible sidekick. Could work as a buddy thing. If the two of them figure out what's going on, because that Dorian's hooked into a whole lot of things like any of them are and he would have the firepower, but he doesn't know it and by doing the sensible thing he's just done the WRONG thing, he should've jumped at the gate and gone for everything from spy school to loading for dinosaur but noooo, he had to be human and he had to be modest and his own virtues tripped him up big time.

Ick, it's a good opener.

Sometimes doing the right thing isn't doing the right thing and he made a decision in that opener that they'll pay for. Mwuhahaha.

That, is not, a children's story done and sent before January 2 either.

But it could be a pretty cool book and I'd have fun writing it. And hey, maybe I can go back into the exercise and default to using that as a springboard. I had half an idea yesterday - the Dare itself reflected in the story as kids daring each other. The other half could be the exercise and a kid stumbling on some kind of time device that lets him alter time or pause time or go back or forward in time and he'd suddenly have to do something with it... or not. And keep it between 2,000 and about 5,000 words, easier done than said because Exercise stories rarely go past 3,000 actually.

It's a plan. Then I take off at one this afternoon and go offline to let my distant Texas friend phone in, the one from my old gaming group who wants to play a roleplaying game online. The equivalent of Sheila's "Mom time" - spend some time with an old friend having a good time. Just relax and take the writer hat off and give me time before I put the Editor hat back on and chew on the same story I'm getting done this morning, which will polish off the Kid's Dare today well ahead of deadline.

Let's hope the Plan survives reality.

Robert and Ari >^..^<


N54's down again. So much for hanging in chat brainstorming just what short story idea would not offend censors, children's publishers, parents and librarians - the real bottleneck to Justin's deceptively simple little Kid's Dare. Uh huh. Yeah. I reacted just like a kid...

Hmm... that could be a story element, a kid daring another kid. I'm not sure Justin ever grew up either. A Dare that turned out to be a lot harder than it looked could actually be the kernel of a children's story. I have to say something real and important to my readers. It's between me and them. I have to sneak it past a publisher who's got to keep the parents and librarians happy and gets beseiged by people like the League Against People Who Wear Funny Hats and Choir Robes when Not in Church (the Anti-Potter contingent did not have a leg to stand on with the idea that Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone somehow teaches or encourages witchcraft - it's about fairytale magic and the wizards and witches wear pointed hats and zoom around on broomsticks chasing Quidditch balls!). But kids still dare each other.

Thanks to a recent chat I've been reminded that real little boys if they had a vote in the contents of the story would probably appreciate big buildings blowing up, lots of car chases and fancy explosions punctuated with the occasional gunfight with perhaps a little side destruction accomplished by using heavy construction machinery to wreck things and generally making a very large mess, a city-sized mess if possible. The more speculative-fiction oriented might also appreciate acid-spitting giant alien monsters or several varieties of giant alien monsters to be fought by dashing heroes driving large bulldozers and otherwise improvising mayhem with common joyrides in heavy equipment. Along with cheerfully borrowing military toys from the local National Guard if the hero isn't in the National Guard and authorized to get the toys. Authorization in things like that usually comes when the commanding officer who wasn't brainy enough to give Private Guts the keys to the rocket launchers gets his head bitten off by something tentacled and nasty, so that Private Guts winds up the highest rank soldier in the place by chain of command even if he got busted to halfway through Basic before the aliens hit.


There's something sweet and nostalgic about the thought but that just wouldn't be salable no matter how much fun it would be taking out my toys and ramming them around on the living room floor to make sure I got the angle of the scene right.

Justin already did his story. He already put his story in the mail. Before I even noticed that Dare was up. But I can do this and it just has to be Juvenile or Young Adult - the actual age group of the story is something I can estimate after I write it by shoving the text through Word and analyzing it. Main thing for me to remember is - find an idea that's real and true under the limbo bar of all the adult preconceptions of what children Should Read, because it's not getting bought by a child but by an adult editor who has to please those parents and librarians - and then write it up in good plain clean prose with no weird sentence structures or fancy dazzling literary experiments. I'm getting childish just thinking about it. I don't have any kids so I have to remember what it was really like to be ten or nine or twelve or thereabouts and put that in from the gut. Nothing in it says the kid can't be bright. But the MC ought to be a boy, not a man. What he's up against is a boy's quest, a boy's challenges, the things that hit sharp and hard from the world that got gray and faded for adults.

Something like a Dare was the world at that age. Kids get embarrassed so easily. Adults think kids are embarrassing them, but they embarrass kids all the time and don't even see it. Kids live in this world where they've got a wall of adult preconceptions about who they are and what they want and what's important and if they have anything important to them, it gets lost in the shuffle. The one thing I remember about childhood that cut deep was adult hypocrisy. Adults know about compromise and adults will hold double standards, tell a kid not to lie and not recognize that they're telling a hundred little white lies every day and a kid doesn't have the social skills to recognize a lot of those as tact. To the kid it's a nightmare when little white lies are busted open. To the kid that feels like betrayal, especially if that was an adult they respected. Kids are rude. Kids are tactless.

Holly made a good point about real kids in one clean perfect line in one of her posts. That some authors write kids badly because they've never had peanut butter on their walls.

It will come to me. The Dare that I took up is one that's well within my reach and I'm in the Rumination stage with it. The Dare that my protagonist goes through could be anything.

Who said he had to be on Earth?

Who said he couldn't live on a space station or on a planet where magic works? Who said he had to be human? A lot of the books I liked as a kid, the hero was a dog or a wolf or something like that. If Raptor Red had been in print in my childhood, I'd have been in heaven with it and my family would have put up with my stomping around the house hissing and bobbing my head and kicking around with a twelve inch ruler rubberbanded to my shoe for a raptor claw! Actually I think my dad would've laughed and gotten silly and shoved a peanut butter and onion sandwich in my gaping hatchling mouth. This is the same guy that cheerfully told me all about cormorants feeding their young by vomiting into their mouths. Along with sundry other natural history tidbits that girls just didn't understand - my sister was a little weird. Sometimes she was cool and we'd play together a lot, but she'd have fits of femininity and go "Ewww! Gross!" about the oddest things.

I read Lord of the Flies at that age, in grade school. I thought it was the best book with kids in it ever written and the only one that showed kids the way they really were, except the author should've done something better with Piggy because he should've lived and managed to outsmart the rest of them. Especially since he had the glasses that he used as a fire-maker. He could have blackmailed the others with it, he could have wound up setting defense fires, there was a lot he could do if he hadn't been so stupidly trying to make them like him. If he didn't care what they thought of him, he'd have ruled. He also didn't get it what I learned at twelve, that being that big and fat meant that if he ever turned on them, he'd win being bigger and stronger. Then again that was as much of a surprise to me as it was to the bully I beat up that way and sat on, the one that surrendered and cried "Uncle" and cried and wound up my friend the rest of the summer. I thought it was tragic but true.

Ari thinks the Siamese Tiger story would be a good kids story. I remember a pretty good set of stories by a hunter who went on safari and took down maneating tigers and lions, including of course all the ghoulish bits like finding just part of someone's leg on the trail while he was sneaking up on the tiger with a limp whose particular pug marks he recognized. Things like that stick in my mind.

I recently reread Jurassic Park and the kids in the movie were not the kids in the book. In the book that little girl was so obnoxious, so real and so brainless she almost got the party killed several times over. In the movie she had the smarts to reboot the computer. In the book she was the one pestering the boy that was rebooting the computer and jogging his elbow every time he almost got it! Crichton did characterize them fairly well, but I have to wonder about whether real kids are that brainless in the face of real, obvious dangers like tyrannosaurs.

I'll get it. There will be something of a dare and it will turn out to be a lot tougher than it looked and MC will try it anyway, and maybe it'll even be something worth doing...

Robert and Ari >^..^<
Any excuse to write. Just as I finished "Full Cycle" at 1412 words - decent Piarran story, not as smashing wonderful to me as yesterdays but still fun - I go cruising the board at Forward Motion and see Justin's latest little Dare - get a 2,000 word kid's story Done and In The Mail by January 2nd.

I sneer at deadlines. I did a whole novel in 3 days this year, I can bash up 2,000 words of new story - but that's tight on the rewrite and I'm going to have to really bust my brain cells on this one to do it and do it right and keep from using hard words in it and keep it to something that really, really works and would actually fit what kids' publishers want. The weird constraints of genre are a challenge - but if it's good story, kids are real readers and they'll get it and get into it.

Anything for an excuse to write!

Robert and Ari >^..^<
Blogging mid story at almost 1,000 words now - it was a tough one today on the Exercises. Most of my characters have not had their lives shaped by a single event or a single moment. Most of my characters get jerked back and forth through so many turning points, like I did, that their lives aren't that simple... it's weird and I think I'm getting it because the guy's refusing to tell and he's not the point of view character. The nasty bullying character tryign to beat it out of him is...

Robert and Ari >^..^<


I had to blog, I had to brag, happy dance!

I got a story done, 2,593 words and it's good - sometimes they're just that dang satisfying. That one hit me right. That one was too cool. First person and I even set it in the Nomad universe where Raven Dance is. Unclear about period but it's during the age of FTL and they've got a lot of nonhumans around even if most of them are either uplifts or human descendants, I was deliberately vague about that. I have another port of call, a little hole in the walll port called Elkhorn where the colonists did a lot of arts and crafts with elk horns after the terraforming. I managed to give it quite a sense of place in under 3,000 words. Purries! I'm happy with it!

Ari has achieved entirely new heights of Destructo Kitty. He flung a 13" television set off the bookcrates across the room and broke the radio antenna completely. That story was written while chasing him around the house pulling him off breakables. He was having a good time with it. Meoww. Got some minor home repairs to do now that the story's done and I can relax.

And some artwork to do and maybe a rewrite. Maybe I'm in a good enough mood to pull up one of the old stories and clean that up for publication, now that I've banged out a decent one at the top of the day, suitable for sending to magazines!

This is dedicated to Shiela Viehl since the reptile lady was directly inspired by some Friday Night Chat comments vis a vis reptiles and other nonmammalian sentient persons, and the reptile lady was drawn very sympathetically. She's got as much mother love as a crocodile, which is to say a lot, and she knows what a human baby feels like in her mouth when it's one of her hatchlings...

Robert and Ari >^..^<
Whew! Yesterday was terrifying - but today my beloved easily remembered unpublished and undiscussed literary reference password has been changed to a different beloved easily remembered unpublished and undiscussed literary reference to works in progress that I'm keeping under wraps. I figure that I'll always have some novels that I haven't even put up for critique yet or discussed, and anyone trying to guess my passwords would have had to get into my hard drive and read everything in it, which would take them a heckuva long time and then they'd have to guess the mood I was in when I picked it! And speak Alien, the Aliens that I made up. It would take a telepath.

And a telepath could hack even if I picked an ugly impossible to remember alphanumeric that had no meaning at all to anyone, so hey, it worked.

I don't know what an FTP password is but I'm hosted here at Blogspot so that's what that is. Boy am I glad to see this old Blog again! PURR!

Ari has had a quiet day of kitten havoc enjoying himself destroying a cardboard box and merrily tossing things off the desk, but the one and only Yule decoration I have up is on the door way toward the top of the door with no danglies. He can't quite manage to leap that high. He's working on learning to fly, but he hasn't quite got it yet. But he's so cute when he tries!

Robert and Ari >^..^<


Destructo Kitty rampages across the desk, flinging QuickCam, pens, boxes, papers, everything to the floor in glorious mayhem as his lithe young body twists in the air. Dark paws slam down on keys and catlike typing is detected. A cloudlike fluffy long tail has expanded to three times its normal width and little chirping sounds come from the feline maniac as he dances up and down, back arched, legs splayed and wide blue eyes full of mischief. Then he runs across the room thankfully into the kitchen looking for the Tennis Ball of Distraction!

I got him three of those so he ought to be able to find at least one of them.

Okay, he was hungry. Filling the bowl with Science Diet Growth Formula has staved off the ferocious beast and now he's playing with his food. This is a good thing. I got up and went over there and found all three of the Tennis Balls of Distraction so I've slipped them cunningly into my desk drawer to produce later, when he's on his next romp, they do work for that.

N54 is going crazy, but I did my story. 1544 words on City in the Snow and it could, like most of those short ones, benefit from a little padding and possibly some rearrangement of the plot elements. Still it ain't that bad! Purr.

Robert and Ari >^..^<
The foregoing bloglet was my update. Now for the real ramble. I had trouble this morning using Blogger because some glitch in the machine changed my password on me and I had to send it back to me to know what it was. It's okay now. That did go up. That did post, I think, I'm going to check that in another window in a moment.

Yes! It posted! I'm back! This is a good thing. The comedy of errors this morning was pretty weird, my LiveJournal didn't work either when I got in there and that one, I'm supposed to be on permanent login. I'll potter with that one later.

The rewriting on the monstrous lump of backstory that I'm calling a novel got past the first stage - diagnosis. Some of the chapters are getting refiled as Backstory##.txt because I needed to know that stuff and some of the characters know that stuff but the reader doesn't need to know that stuff. I have several options on what to do with it and most of them hang on whose point of view I use for those events. They're part of the history, definitely. How much of them shows is a big moot point at this point. Nice that I got caught up on it.

That and until it hits print I can do changes on it. I have to remember it's not graven in stone. Some of those events may not happen as they did in that version, especially if I fool around with it some more.

Yesterday I finished reading Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone. I think there ought to be a toilet seat from Hogwarts available somewhere. That would be too cool. It was funny! It was hilarious and about what I thought it would be and J. K. Rowling has a charming voice. A little old fashioned but it's sweet, and it's very British, and to me raised in the US that's another little thing to warm my heart about it. I can see why Jaime's so crazy about it. I can see why it got that big. What I can't see is why all the biblical literalists have their knickers tied in a knot about it because the world of the story is a lot closer to Bewitched than anything to do with modern paganism.

I really am pagan and I was looking for pagan content. I like it when I find pagan content in fantasy novels, children's or adults. It makes it a bit richer for me, just as a Christian reading Narnia will get a nice warm feeling around the spirituality from the Christian spirituality in that series. But even though Narnia is famous for having Christian Allegory in it, C. S. Lewis by drawing on folklore also included a fair amount of old pagan European symbolism too and it was a bit broader than just Christianity. I found more pagan content in Narnia than I did in Harry Potter. The magic in the Potter books is story magic, fairytale magic, nothing like modern Earth Based Spirituality at all but very rich in terms of its own internal consistency. Schoolchildren wearing pointed hats and wizards' robes for classes in Potions is story stuff. Schoolchildren playing Quidditch on broomsticks is definitely story stuff and loads of fun. I don't see what they're upset about unless somewhere out there is a league of people against people wearing choir robes out of season and funny hats.

Robert and Ari >^..^<
One... more... try!

I'm here and this is my Blog. I'm writing and working on a story. I've been trying to get in all morning and this entry is going to post. Meowwww!!!

Okay, cool, time to send this up and see if it manages to load without any more interference!

Robert and Ari >^..^<


Three stories yesterday and now I'm fiddling around without quite that clear an idea of what I want to be writing. This is where 'middle of a novel' has a lot going for it as opposed to days I haven't started something yet.

I finally finished reading through that patchwork monstrosity of a fifth book. Half of the chapters are fine, great. I know what happens in it. Half of them just need to get a Save As: Backstory01 etc. and get stuck in a Notes Folder - important stuff to the timeline with tons of drippy infodump. That functions mostly as spoilers. Ugh ugh ugh. I hate being in lovehate with books. lol

Ari is sitting on my lap chewing my sleeve and purring and pounding my arm. He is content. We got a present from a friend and we had a good breakfast this morning! I had mixed nuts and chocolates and he had Science Diet because he loves that stuff, the Growth Formula is turning him into a giant kitten. But he got to play with the Box! He had loads of fun with that box. And the chunk of cardboard the presents had for a reinforcement. I think they designed that as a kitten toy. He had to attack it and kick and bite it and push it all around the room.

I will have a slightly healthier dinner of frozen pot pies that are baking at the moment. They smell good. Y'all can tell, I cook like a bachelor. I'd have done a turkey BUT... this apartment's kitchen is literally smaller than the bathroom and I don't even have a table in here. I could've had the table in here or the dresser. The dresser actually gets all the loose stuff and clothes out of the way and I usually eat at my desk, so, dresser it is. Hey, it's a holiday, I get to be lazy. It's fun.

And now what I want to do is think of a good starting point... something that would be loads of fun to write and really have a good time diving into. I did my stint on the Horrible Mess of Those Novels and want to relax!

Robert and Ari >^..^<


Three stories in one day. I don't care that they're rough. They're rough but they've got potential anyway and they all went over a thousand words, the one I thought would turn out to be Flash Fiction, A Cold Offering, still came in at 1,071. I could not resist the Exercises. And the ideas were a little sounder.

A Cold Offering had the starting point of 'your character leaves flowers at a grave.' Several variations came up out of the other writers who did that one and they were all good stories or good scenes, none of them did what *I* thought of with it the moment I saw it - that the one leaving flowers at the grave was a year-old vampire fledgling putting flowers on his own fake grave to let go of a mortal life he'd walked away from, grieving and not, more letting go of what might have been given what that mortal life was like. Needs a bit of padding but the core idea's good and the little fanged brat didn't go off all conventional and regret it, he did and didn't and came to the conclusion he was still better off even if the night wasn't all he'd cracked it up to be.

Fourth story really didn't count, "Transporter" was a crossover between my series universe and Star Trek - unpublishable unless I got so big and famous including off that series that Paramount bothered to schedule me among the snooty few pro writers invited to do Star Trek material. And then it wouldn't be a short story, then I'd have to pad that out to become an actual book. And give the Trek characters more prominence in it - I do know what that market is. On the other hand it's not worthless either and it's what I did for a warmup. Considering that I actually do own the rights to my universe and characters and ST zines are legal if they're limited edition under a thousand copies, that little warmup exercise could get me a free Star Trek fanzine if I sent it in to one. I'd have to actually pay attention to the fanzines again and pick one that I'd want the next issue of! Hold off sending it anywhere till I actually make it to a convention again and cruise the dealer tables for fanzine editors. I want good art and good reading if I trib to a fanzine.

Dreamskating had another premise, that was entirely a dream sequence and it was an experiment where the male MC gained the ability to telepathically get into someone else's dreams. Supposedly so that he could intervene and track criminals and prevent crimes... ooooh... yeah right. After dreamshifts and nightmare shifts with a baby that didn't stop screaming and apparent child abuse or infant murder, the female dreamer got into a state of lucid dreaming, called him on it and revealed all those horrific images were her guilt over a post-rape abortion at 14 - she wasn't a criminal for dreaming that and she got him to stop, they sort of agreed he'd lie about the results of the experiment and still mindlinked, recognized together that wasn't going to stop. He had that power and he'd lie about it and they'd - 'try to get along with each other' as she put it in the eerie almost romantic end of it. Kind of moody neat little thing and needs JUST a hair more explication. Not a lot. All of it was in dream symbolism too - skating on a circular crater shaped lake of black ice, falling through it, volcanic feelings, it was cool. I like that one. It needs a tweak or two but it's cool and dark.

Treasure in a Used Bookstore - okay, another classic situation with the used bookstore that's got real magic or real magic books or whatever in it, sometimes the little shop that isn't there. I played with that in the main series occasionally. I wound up going in the back door on it and talked to the architect of one of those in one of the later books. I'm always going into that kind of thing with an odd point of view. It reads differently if you haven't read the series or if you have read the series and it was a subtle thing to pull off because the story works one way WITH all that backstory and another way WITHOUT all that backstory. Poor little college dropout writer kid Dorian Morris. Those who know his temporal alternates from the books might start screaming and beating on the screen telling him to get his butt out of there. I had to tweak that with a couple of little symbolism things that would make it come out *more* or less the same either way - it didn't turn out that badly for that Dorian and it's a big timeclan and I guess that one wound up in a branch annex student bookstore that's sometimes on the University street in Cahabra not all that far from the Guild Arcane. Kid gets a job in a used bookstore and maybe winds up going back to school or an apprenticeship. Riiiiight... it was cool though. And the timeflip was there. I've had *that* idea for years on years on years - what if, at some point when I was really down and blocked and discouraged about writing and life, some time traveler accidentally left a printed copy of one of my future books laying around? The early versions of that timeflip story stank compared to this one and were a lot more wallowy about Writer's Block. I don't know what to put on this blank page and maybe I'll die of that. For pages on pages and it was the traveler arguing the younger writer out of reading the book from the future in order to retype it. Dorian's more and other than me though. Dorian's got that time talent of his own and from the moment he knew it was real, he Got It. Something I would actually have lost if time travel was real and I'd actually gotten my wish then and someone tripped and dropped a pretty brand new copy of Raven Dance into my hand. I'd have lost out on the real experience of doing the writing and I'd never have had that day when I found out who changed sides and why and just laughed my head off and stared at the page shaking my head and typed like a maniac. I'd have swapped that off for being a typist. I might have to write the Dark Cautionary version of that one too, hm, to be fair I could do that to my other writer character, Duncan Marshall. At the point of abysmal despair over block, someone does that shortcut and he never does get it and they just keep giving him the feed and I might title that one The Fraud... because those precious moments are getting stolen from him even if the works still exist in the timeloop. Or expand on that plot maguffin because if he got dependent on it getting handed to him like that and got the career out of whatever devil did it, given that was a mortal devil something could happen to that tamperer. And then he's stuck high and dry with a contract and nothing but typing skills and he's in way, way over his head and then he'd have to either get on his butt and write a book comparable to the ones he thinks he didn't write, without the experience to do so, or actually get hold of Evil Tamperer's time machine and try to stop him from doing it! Weird. Loopity loop. It could come out funny though, he could wind up using the time machine just to buy time on the contract and wind up actually, finally, writing his books because he'd actually forgotten them. Short dark and cautionary, when the books don't come no more he winds up just dead, kills himself over it because he doesn't have the character that I did or Duncan did or Dorian did.

Dorian always winds up as a part timer at best though, since he usually winds up saving the universe or at least a few planets thereof. He winds up with a lot more derring-do no matter where he washes up, it's sort of part of being him. I think the one from the short story will have to turn up later on, next time I wash up in Cahabra he'd be working at the bookstore being basically wizard's apprentice and burgeoning writer with a fairly decent old wizard coaching him on at both. Hey. It's Christmas, time for a happy ending for a writer character even if he was that suspicious while walking into it. And if the Little Bookstore that's Not Always There does wash up sometimes there on Earths, they have places for him to send them in. That one gets to be wizardlet because he did have the sense not to flip it open and read it, just register the title and that it's a vampire book and that he had enough sense of humor to wear plastic fangs on the back cover photo.

Besides, in a timeloop story, the loop has to close. It's tight - and it really does hang without the backstory.

Many years ago, twenty years ago in San Francisco, I had a friend with a big brown tabby cat named Buster. Buster had a silly habit, he used to like to sleep in the sink. Buster was immense, he was fat and he was probably at least twenty pounds of fuzzball, most of it not fur. We all used to think it was funny going over to Paul's place, because if you went to wash your hands you had to move a huge sleepy cat. Ari has taken up the habit. I have a Sink Sleeper. The bowl is shaped right for a cat bed, I guess. He seems comfortable in it! Makes me tempted to try to get a basket or something about that shape for him, after he's tried the floor, the chair, my desk, various other spots that's his favorite now. He's cute and silly - just his ears stick up on one side of it and there's a couple of dark cat feet on the other side and he was purring when I went in and scritched him - so if that makes him happy it really doesn't do any harm. He might get annoyed if he wants a nap right after I washed my hands or something, Buster used to give this aggrieved look anytime someone used the sink.

Three stories in one day. I was catching up on the Exercises and I was so tired of dragging through the old novel... Onward!

Robert and Ari >^..^<
Well, the holiday article for http://www.selfhelpforwriters.com won't be going up right away since that's having some kind of technical difficulties too. It's still readable, I just can't log in to upload the article. Hopefully they'll fix it up fast and I can send it up later tonight or tomorrow - and if they're not working on Christmas itself around the clock on that stuff I ain't sweating it. I'll do a different article on 'gee, guys, I had this neat article, it's late but I didn't expect Tech Support to go working on Christmas okay?'

I'm just happy to be back online! PURR loud purring!

http://hollylisle.com is running again, the Forward Motion boards are up but the chat's down. Cato, the Chat Gremlin at Forward Motion, has finally... achieved... ultimate... domination. Poor chat vampire has run out of prey though. Let this be a lesson to gremlins. Do NOT crash the chat completely! If you steal a post or a word now and then people will grumble... but oh, if you devour every chatter and every post, don't even let their names show, they'll give up and go away and not sit there in the chat room hanging out with you. Word to the wise, Cato. Overhunt and you will have no more prey. Get it, Chat Entity?

Oh, the rewrite thang is going so crazy. I've still got this fifth book in the Treve series, which is the... third series off the Piarra series, if you count by setting and cast. I changed sides basically, the War had to end at some point and really did at the point in series two that the Ultimate Evil Human Sorceror, as opposed to the Second Best Evil Sorceror of all time, finally got his comeuppance and his head cut off. Things had to change and the next batch of heroes had to come up in the resistance in the country that had up to then been the bad guys, I had, just had to look at it Homerically.

Good idea, bad execution. OUCH. The previous books were Much Better Than These - not that they aren't potentially good books but the difference between "potentially good books" and the "took my breath away when I was done writing it and gahh all this needs is a little tinkering" is, well, mildly, well, screamingly embarrassing because I didn't execute what should have been stunningly good books and I threw junk into some of them. This one, the fifth in it, is not quite as miserably horrid as the others. This one I just came to the conclusion I need to rip out two whole chapters, carefully, and replace them with a completely different scene that does the same thing a lot more punchy and NOT with a lot of fiddling around and pointless clues that don't lead to anything. I was a bit fried while I was writing these and I got... so... sloppy. I was doing 'early in the book clue dropping' without actually reading through hard and tight and going 'uh huh, this far into it is where I should be tying up those plot threads.' Bleahhh.

It's a horrible thing to contemplate bad prose and recognize I wrote it. Worse if the scenes to be excised were actually kinda fun little scenes, but, they just don't move the plot forward at all. I went off on a tangent when I should've used that as an opportunity for some serious setup. If I was going to go off on a tangent there, it should've been a tangent leading solidly off into something real relevant in the next chapters - it was a place for good important clue dropping and not for red herrings.

Fortunately the little side characters I used in it didn't lose their cool little scenes. There's a teenage love story that's tremendously powerful and very bizarre going on in this stage of the series. Basically aside from the window dressing and under fire, a nice boy and a nice girl whose families are NOT at war with each other at all and whose families would pretty much have picked them out for each other, whose friends all think they belong together, who are not in any way star-crossed wound up pretty much falling in love at first sight and they both have a whole lot in common with that. They are the Lucky Pair. They are the one in a hundred couples who actually hit first love on the first try, hit it right, have real compatibility going for them and they do not have family problems.

I know. Holly, Sheila, Jim, Jim, James, Justin, everybody, I can hear it now.

Kill those kids! Tear them up, torture them, torment them, ruin their perfect little lives big time!!!

Aw, that's the simple answer. Those kids are lucky they're side characters. I didn't mention that they have other problems and they both have major other problems, they're just doing a good job of facing them together and they do trust each other with the kind of innocence that only kids whose hearts have not yet been ripped to little tiny pieces by that Predatory First Love that most real people get have. They aren't winding up like Romeo and Juliet. They are almost a joke on Romeo and Juliet for not being parted - and they get away with so much because they're the nice kids who were supposed to get together. They are separately and together, troublemakers. They have character, they're not as bland as it sounds and they also have the happy role in life of Comic Relief.

Um, the boy's a vampire and their tender getting-together scene was a little more Addams Family than not?

"Daddy, does it go against the dating rules if she keeps his hereditary family demon?"

"Is it safe demonology?"

Such rules of teenage dating as the idea that boyfriend drinking her blood from her neck falls somewhere between French kissing and getting her bra off get discussed and debated within the family.

And there had to be one that was working out so well for, just to compare with the other one who's got whole flights of mating dragons chasing her pretty butt across the worlds, knowing this girl could actually learn to shapechange and is into flight and dragons... um, that's what Daddy has to beat off the one who's not dating the nice vampire next door. It's got its moments.

I like them, I'm keeping them in but now that I'm in the rewrite stage I'm seriously looking at rearranging some of it - cutting the flab mostly. I might condense those five books down to only three or so and get into the heavier stuff sooner. I do really need to. And I've got a screaming need for more bad guys. Better bad guys. It isn't all cross cultural friction. The structural problem with these five books is that while I've cabled some good side plots in there including that lighthearted little vampire romance, my main antagonist went and got himself dead, thoroughly, and he's left big shoes to fill. I think what this really needs is better villains.

Dstar, the fellow who's actually read all of this series from the beginning since he's archiving it, gave me one good comment. He pointed out that it took 25 years of worldbuilding to come up with Piarra itself and that drove the main series real well. He thinks there's a lack of backstory in the Treve series. I refined that in reading it over and realized the problem was that most of the backstory was getting shoved onto the surface in big galloping infodumps that are going down to the knife... and the one chunk of backstory really needed is that there's got to be some bad guys that I can scrape up out of the Also Rans. Sure. Ultimate evil sorceror of all time got himself slagged, they have this tendency to do that. He meant something as a villain. He had depth. There are times when I miss the jerk but writing him back to life effectively makes the fairly decent seven book Lochannan series meaningless. He died. Blooey. He gone. He's dead and his works got unstrung.

I don't think I've written myself into a corner with it if I can build the right new antagonist, the one that has to come up from left field with his, her, it or their own real interests in the conflict. This is probably foreshadowed in all the junk I threw around earlier. And it should be a different order of conflict, not a repeat of the previous conflict at all - again, the heroic efforts of all those good guys in all those other books become pretty pointless if they didn't accomplish anything by it and did not genuinely change anything. Treve changed sides. Good. Wonderful. We know that, we're beating a dead horse about it and the tensions about people involved in a big ugly War having to stop hating the people who by race they hated that fervently last week when the War was on, that's side plotting. Real, vivid and plausible and NOT a central conflict, that's the War simmering down when the heat got turned off because the heat really did get turned off.

If it's really something smooth it ought to come up as a consequence of their winning. There's got to be a price for it all and that's got to be something happening right under their noses. What they're doing now is almost like mopping up - and most of that is that I'm not showing the right parts of what's going on. I've got this feeling what I need to do is reduce all the chapters to incidents, events and put them in chronological order and start playing with it on an outline - because then I can see where the main line isn't and know from the shape of it what kind of a problem I can slam them with now. They do need more problems. They will have them. War might not be what that problem is.

Or not the same style of war over the same sort of things anyway.

Hm. I'll be doing villain casting for a while - it should be personal, and what I feel as if I've got to do whether I use it or not is do some First Person Villain stuff. Throw a few side files open and let some of the bad guys do some setup. Throw them back in time a bit and give them plenty of what they need to get themselves going. I've got good villain potential down among the vampires since I had some foreshadowing going earlier in the series about vampire trouble. I can't believe I'm breaking my own pattern in this. I do sympathetic vampires. Ancients in particular have a tendency to wind up with good habits because good habits are what gets them past that ugly mid-unlife crisis where they might get themselves dead being stupid. If I've got an Ancient up against them, they're going to wind up pretty much trusting him for a long time, because ... ewww... oh that's nice, I've got a quiet little character who's been center stage on and off and is quite trusted because he's been putting a nice face on it. If I want him to be the bad guy, it'll take work but if it's him - that would take less reworking if it was him. He attached himself early on and he's been mildly inconsistent at times. Like someone who's putting it on would be. Then digging himself in real deep with it. He gets the advantage of age and guile.

That might work... and this really is good practice for when I get to tearing up the more recent novels to make 'em presentable. I picked this up and part of me, I really, really want to get it done. So that I can move forward from it. But without knowing who the bad guy is, it's hard to move forward on any of those plotlines.

This is going to get ugly.

Robert and Ari >^..^<


Apples and Bananas

Forward Motion is down. I'm listening to classical radio or it would be playing Tori Amos "Ironic" right about now. I'm back online and there's a thread I really wanted to answer and participate in - and the board's down. Wouldn't you just know it? Hilarious though, because the board being down for maintenance is a common routine little thing that happens every now and then and when it's back, I'll post.

I just wanted to organize my thoughts a little for it though, because I did read the essay "Apples and Bananas" and that's still easy to get to from http://hollylisle.com directly. This post would make more sense if you do go to that URL and read that essay.

The gist of it is that life's something to be experienced, that canned life the way everyone lives it isn't where a writer gets anything to write from. I can extend the principle of bland tube tomatoes and commercial bananas and waxed identical supermarket apples to trying to write from TV, or from the TV-guided perceptions of a certain level of life. When I was young I was ... trapped in that level and I was really not a part of it. There were numerous things about me including a disability that threw me way outside Canned Commercial Life.

At that time, at seventeen I raged against it. Gods, did I roar like a young wildling, I called them Sheep.

It took me to this age to have a little sympathy for the Sheep.

That's not a writer's life, but gods, should they all be writers? If it wasn't right for them to stampede and try to make me live and think and feel like a Sheep, is it right of me to try to scream down the walls and wake them all up and tell them to be Not Sheep?

I always lived in the world with the real apples. I ate black raspberries from the bushes in the yard and I followed redwing blackbirds into a swamp by my house and I found all of that even when I was stuck in ugly clothes and trapped in a schedule that didn't make sense being dragged through schools that tried to beat all of that out of me and force me to look at their version of reality instead of reality itself. I wound up doing things like bending and staring at a little bit of moss in the cracks in the concrete as the microcosm it was, the reminder the world had more than what was inside those schoolyard walls. There were literal walls around the schoolyard when I grew up. The world as they presented it was timeless and fixed, fated, predestined to be what they all claimed it was. The world was a narrow white middle class world and my religion had been stamped out, there had been pagans but they were obviously wrong and evil and they'd been stamped out entirely by the Inquisition.

Realities... apples and bananas.

What it felt like to run, pounding, hard around and around a yellow lacquered track inside a school gym with a dagger shoved into my ribs and the breath ripped out of my lungs and my legs a weight of lead and my body lurching side to side, my back spasming, arms windmilling, running, hard and fast as I could while they all laughed with the teacher leading the jeering and roaring at me that I wasn't really trying, when, I didn't manage to finish the lap. I remember the time I finished a lap and the teacher yelled that I'd cut corners on it and would not let me catch my breath, ten feet into it I literally felt down with knives of pain ripping into my lungs and I couldn't breathe. I won't forget the smell of that gym or the feel of that polished floor. I think back to it and yes, that was what it was and the emotions of it, the bitter shame of it, heart slamming hard as if it was going to pound its way right up my throat and breath not going in, body failing, body refusing to obey in absolute exhaustion while I was filled with that much shame and they are not the same things... the shame and the exhaustion itself are two different colors for my palette because the pain I had when I fell down is the same pain a real athlete would have at that level of exhaustion. That is just body. That is just real, a reality, and it was denied by that shouting monster to my face.

"You're not really trying!"

I was really trying. I knew that time, when my lungs failed and I couldn't move my limbs, when I was blacking out from it, that I had tried and I had given everything I had. My body couldn't lie to me about that and I couldn't like to my body and get one more step out of it.

What eventually came to me after I traveled, a lot, after I ate bananas that grew from a tree in the blazing sun drenched courtyard of an old French Quarter building where I lived in the slave quarters, when the neighbors gave me an entire stem of real bananas that grew as weeds in that city, when I'd been to San Francisco and I'd lived in Chicago and walked down Lake Shore Drive to the bus stop in fifty below windchill, after I'd gone away and I'd lived all my adventures and proved over and over again that those people were lying and life wasn't as narrow as they claimed... I came back to the moss in the sidewalk and sympathy for the sheep.

It took my actually writing it. It took my looking at the lives of people who had all their own reasons for not being as weird as I am. It took looking at how tired they got after a day's work and how very easy it is for anyone who's tired to just go 'on automatic' and go through the motions and just get through the last few hours of what needs to be done so that maybe they can get some sleep ... life's like that for a lot of people. When anyone's that tired, they want to have whole parts of their life that aren't important just become... background. I got older and started to see it for what it was. Foreground and background. The same 'sheep' was alive on a weekend when fishing, or if they were doing something that to them was that important, that real.

But there were still all those levels of reality and I always saw through the social levels, always was, the outsider to them, the foreigner who had to learn and never really got it. Sometimes I look at Buddhism and the idea that 'all is illusion' and think, that's human life, that's any society, the illusions of society are consistent to people in that society and what they don't look at isn't real... and that makes people who listen to trees or smell grass or eat real apples dangerous, that makes anyone who eats real apples potentially dangerous because doing that puts you into the Twilight Zone.

If there had been nothing else strange about me at all, the way I looked at the cattails and the redwing blackbirds would have made me that strange. If there had been no real difference between me and my environment, that itself would have been one.

I looked at the world with a writer's eyes and everything had to matter. In a way it didn't matter if I loved it or loathed it, all of it had to go where the stories came from and paradoxically, there's so much I didn't bother to remember. The name or the face of the school bully. There were too many of them. They blurred together. The social world didn't matter to me at that age, it was like running laps. If I couldn't do it at all, it wasn't worth bothering with them and the willows in the yard of that school were far more memorable.

Ari's eyes are a silver-blue unlike any other cat's I've ever known. Ari's eyes shine as all cats' eyes do, but they are a misty color that changes with the light, and his face changes constantly as he grows. He's big now, at six months he's the size of a grown cat with great wide soft feet that have little pale tufts between his dark toes. He has snowshoes with that, and his shaggy pale beige coat is dusty with subtle markings and his fur is amazingly soft even for a cat. Some cats have stiff harsh coats and some long haired cats are woolly. Ari's fur is silky and fine, his cloud of a tail is soft and his weight solid when he leaps on me.

He used to chew on my arm like most of the Siamese that I've known, now he eats my sleeves. He stands pounding hard on my lap with his big feet, chewing my sleeve while he's purring hard. He'll do that for a long time sometimes, it's how he shows his love, the compromise we came to when he really needed to chew something was that I didn't stop him if it was just my sleeve.

I have always lived in the world of real apples and bananas...
I'm back!!!!

Thank you, thank you big time to everyone that helped! I had a big case of the bends, for about ten days it was just me and my characters.

I went back in and took a dive. I reread the last batch of books that I did at the shelter. Suddenly I was caught up in the series again, the immersive series that I've been trying to write everything but that since I went online - because Book One of that series is being considered at Tor and it's really not a sensible, cost effective thing to do writing much more in that series till I know where it's going and I've sold the front end of it. The latest books in it are rough, very rough.

Hanging out in Forward Motion's made me so much more effectively self critical it's frightening. They're good and they're not. I can see a thousand things I have to do to those novels to make them readable. I'm very tempted with that batch, they do follow a different lead character, to just treat the five I've got as backstory and toss them off to the side and not do much with them except keep them in background. Or, toss them off to the side as 'that's what happened' like the way Stephen King rewrites and start over again from the beginning. But every time I think that's what to do with them, I wind up tripping over a chapter or an incident that's stunning, that's so good I should just write around it and redo the chapters around it and retool the plot a bit. They're sitting in that Heisenbergian state where I honestly don't know how many novels I've written - because some of them are just backstory and some need rewrites and some only need polishing.

I'm not sure that matters, the ones that come before that batch were a lot more finished and the one I sent out did get polished before I sent it. I did the best I could at the time, that's all I can do anytime.

Coming up again out of that is a little disorienting. Working on it at all in isolation was a little like a time trip, it was going back to the frame of mind when I was first writing them and I didn't realize how much I was digging up out of my gut in those. Reasons not to ditch them, reasons to grit my teeth and do the rewrites when I get to it. They've had long enough to cool.

I'm changing my habits.

January's a real challenge to me. The latest Dares that I signed up for are probably the toughest Dares that I'll ever do. Writing, generating the stories and novels in the first place, that comes easy to me. I'm that prolific. But in a way that's a little like an animal that's got the 'oyster' method of breeding. Spawn a lot and hope some of those larvae manage to swim. Learn craft and try to make the latest ones better than the last. But when I was in at the shelter doing that last batch of them, I wasn't writing at peak either. I was not doing as well as I had on earlier novels, it was slowly wearing me down and I was writing stuff that came up out of the experience itself. It's... interesting. I think I have to face myself in the novels. There's a part of me that was going in facing Darth Vader in the cave working on those. There's a part of me that hit a point that I got a lot of stomach knotting working on them - some of the problems of 'telling not showing' came at points that were tremendously emotional to me personally. That's the stuff where Holly's brand of courage comes into it.

I have to remember that's why I do it and that if it hurts or scares me, that means I really am on the right track with it. I had a very sympathetic character that I loved from the earlier books drop his pants and wind up a fairly unsympathetic one for all the best, most valid, psychologically sound reasons in his world, but he behaved badly and wasn't some paragon hero at all. He was just a guy and he had a kid and he got scared for his kid, when he freaked out scared for his kid sometimes he acted like a jerk - in ways that shocked me to the bone.

Some version of those books does have to get written eventually, since that's the great Open Ended Series that could last my life long, those are the series characters I could still be writing when I'm 65 or 85 or something like that. So it was a deep dive, just rereading them. I have to remind myself now is not the time.

That was a good thing to do in order to get my bearings and know what I've got in hand. That was a good thing to do in order to keep myself in balance when I got cut off and wound up that isolated again.

I've got to get my stride again and remember when it is. That was my time travel series. A lot of the mindbenders in the time travel series were based on what time looks like when I'm completely isolated - when in a day to day sense it really doesn't matter what day of the week it is or what time of day it is, when the world's doing what it's doing and I'm not a part of it. I feel as if I just spent a good nine days outside time. I fell into different habits, most of all immersing again in that series and now I'm coming up out of it to remember I also did Thrice on a Blue Moon and I'm also self-scheduled to rewrite fifty or sixty short stories and that Rites of Chavateykar doesn't need that much of a rewrite. Not like those five did. I have other projects. I have a lot of other projects and one of the best cushions the Sickeningly Prolific lifestyle is good for is that plummeting feeling of looking at something I've done that's lousy.

It's not even that lousy. It just needs more work than some of the others.

I can and must let go of that. I think what I need to do with the short stories is to skim those and do the ones that I think need the least work - or at least the ones that I'm most interested in, the ones that did come out as what I wanted them to. They varied so much. I was doing weird stuff to do that Dare. I wound up getting ideas for mainstream stories. I wound up doing a good range of horror, about half of the short stuff I've done is horror.

I think what I want is to start working toward a rhythm where I'm rewriting a short story or a chapter almost daily, just start making that a habit.

I need to start doing that as easily and fluidly as I create it. Just get into the habit of it. I need to create my new habits, that's the big thing that ten days of contemplating five bad but workable novels has taught me. I shouldn't be intimidated by the scale of the rewriting I've got ahead of me. I should take that one step at a time, one short story or chapter at a time, learn to use all the tools and just go with it. I've gotten myself bashed pretty much into shape on all other counts, but my weakness comes in rewriting and I know it. So that's where to focus. That's where to concentrate and learn and throw all my energy, because when I've got that licked I can reach the point of skill where everything that comes off my keyboard is readable when it's done. That's another goal for 2002. Learn to rewrite as easily and prolifically as I write. Big silent part of Pro in 2002...

It's good to be back. Purr purr purr. Ari is sleeping now, a fluffy pale drift on the floor utterly content. >^..^<