Good morning, Blog!

Yes, it's the middle of the afternoon. I didn't get up till around ten or ten thirty, because I did successfully stay up till four in the morning to reestablish my good old habits of getting lots done at night.

Today's insight. It's possible The Darkness Club might not be the best choice for the first thing to send out. I've gotten the critiques on it and sized up how much work I'll have to do in order to make it that appealing to a major market like F&SF. That will even slop over and up into what I think of as Category 2 rewriting. It's something all my journalist friends do without thinking, and something that I think of as possible with fiction. That's the 'rewrite to order' level where I'd fine-tune a story to a particular market and do up more than one version of it slanted to different markets. If I want to send that to F&SF then it will have to develop a little more of this and a little less of that, but if because there's a vampire in it, I sent it to a Vampire themed market I would have to rewrite in another direction and emphasize the vampire. It really could go in either direction, well. It's a heartwarming story about a lonely little boy and a good vampire, a sympathetic one who cares about the little boy. There's a market for that. Fang fans know there's a market for it - blud mush is its own particular flavor and vampire readers are a big market.

Anne Rice makes a ton of money doing vampires.

Vampire readers, like romance readers, have expectations and some payoffs have to be there in the story that aren't necessary or even wanted in other genres. It's a strong flavor. Subcategories include Monster Lovers for whom stories with sympathetic vampires 'turkey them out' and 'romantic vampire readers' who are looking to see the poor old fellow find love or at least friendship and joy in living, and well, I've been a diehard vampire fan since Dracula and Barnabas Collins. That comes up in my fiction about a quarter of the time. My vampires are just like they are. Like any other vampire writer, I rewrote the legend and made up the magic and kept it consistent. But I love all the other stories and novels. I read them.

Genre reading itself is something that I know leaves me feeling - kindlier - to a lousier story that has my flavor than an equally lousy story that doesn't. It's like garlic in food. Those that love it will find it improves almost anything, even dessert. Those that hate it will avoid it when it's done by a five star Italian chef. Those in the middle don't judge or even notice whether 'garlic' was among the spices.

Naturally I'd like to get to where I do it so well that I sweep in all but the Hates It crowd. But I will lose something important if I don't also recognize that is a good way to rack up some sales - especially when I'm not likely to wake up in 2005 a completely different guy who's too good to write vampires any more and will still enjoy reading all the others and joke around and play silly games wearing a cape and plastic teeth when those are available.

The one in print is a vampire novel. The big groundbreaking thing I did to the legend has even been done before, just, very cheezily (spelled that way on purpose) in the classic bad movie "Plan 9 from Outer Space" which did involve space vampires. Mine came from Earth and are of Earth and serve among other literary purposes as a historical tie between long forgotten periods of Earth's history and Earth's descendants among the stars. They're ethnic, almost all of my space stories have the Ship's Vampire as either a foreground character or a background assumption. This is published backstory, in Raven Dance the old vampire colonist malcolm Evans was tempted by live human beings to ditch the revolution and just sign on to go to space forever, something that was a pretty heavy temptation since he was a Victorian who loved progress, science and space passionately. Yet I write historical stories too about their ancestors in different periods and indulge all my creative anachronism and history research in the vampire tales! Those are classic...

That means today's rewrite and the first submission prep ought to be Incident at Clermont. This story was rewritten several times last year and I had intended it as keynote of a solo vampire story collection that I'd pitch to vampire fans. But. I signed up for those Rewrite Dares and another pass will not hurt it. I've learned a lot since I wrote it and rewrote it last. It's the triage principle of 'pick the one that needs the least work' because that one will get me over any lingering nervousness - and load the odds in favor of an early acceptance on its first few flights since a lot of sources tell me that it's sometimes easier to sell to specialty markets than general ones. I might even luck on the first try, it would be worth extra points.

So part of the plan for today is a market search specifically to find out whether there are any pro paying vampire themed markets, if not, which of the small press ones pay the most. Then let it bump down till it sticks. That's something that actually has some easier targets than F&SF and I've probably got other stories int here that are good matches for other particular types of markets.

Oh, that and I like it, and I miss the old Frenchman. :) He's fun.

Dare I do my Rewrite today before writing the day's story?

Oh why not. That's the fun of this job. I decide stuff like that and do what I'm in the mood for and stories come up all the time, I've got two good story seeds sitting in files to fiddle with when I'm done finalizing and prepping Incident at Clermont and it would be fun to rack up a Rewrite and maybe a drawing and then go back to Monster Wordcounts. :)


Robert and Ari >^..^<


Good morning, Blog!

It's completely weird to me to wake up in the morning full of energy wanting to get things done. That is not my usual morning at all. That's like, I'm channeling someone athletic or something? I guess it means just that I slept well, that's all. And that my life's good and my cat's romping and it's the top of the year with a whole lot of cool stuff ahead of me.

Like rewrites. I told myself a couple of days ago that I really wanted to get excited about doing the rewrites. Now I'm feeling it. I think the great Acceptance-Rejection Contest on http://HollyLisle.com has something to do with it. Like posting my word counts on Daily Count, it's sinking in that I can score points if I get them done and print them out and get them in the mail. This is totally silly, but I need to have those immediate goals in mind, the little Internal Victory pats on the back to get myself to do anything. Even if it's important to me.

And I can put the points into my Visor Fund at a dollar a point. They are an excuse to give myself an allowance for a toy that I really want. I don't need a remote writing device. Seriously, one day a week or four days out of the month, I hang out at Andrew's house and do art and write maybe all of a couple hundred words of journal mostly just jotting down how much art I've gotten done on a paper notebook with a very cool pen. Once in a while I have to do something ugly like go to a doctor or a dentist and I might be stuck in a waiting room for a while, I did use the old Sharp memo pad a lot for that and mostly for typing while riding. But I don't go out all that often. I do use paper and pen - logistically the main difference is that if I'm in a moving vehicle I'm still intelligible and if it's Andrew driving, we're usually talking and I'm not rude enough to write during the drive. It's part of our time together.

But I want it. Silly, isn't it? Self honesty time. I am proud of what I do. If I'm out on a shopping trip at a mall and I stop to take a break, I want to be able to jot story notes on the Visor. And if someone asks, look up and grin and tell them I'm working on a story or a novel or an article, whatever it is, perfect truth in the brag. So I'm a showoff. So it's like a doctor walking around with a stethoscope around his neck and a black bag full of super first aid kit and prescription remedies. There are worse vices in the world than having a little brag and being as proud of my own profession as that manager guy who's waving his Palm and his cell phone and his pager and pointedly doing business in front of other people at a restaurant just so the random person at the next table knows he's a manager.

I was like that with my laptop when I bought the Junker Laptop from Dstar for $200 on his word that 'it's a piece of junk but it'll probably last you at least six months or so' and it wound up going through five years, half a dozen novels, a few stories, lots of fragments and a few million words of journal. I didn't leave the house without it. I felt complete with my tools on me. It became something almost like a security blanket, a little reminder of who I am.

You are not a homeless bum, Robert A. Sloan. That's what my tools on me whisper. You are not just one of the failures of the world. You might be disabled but aren't you lucky your disability doesn't stop you from doing what you love most in the whole world? Dang but you type fast. Dang but the stories pour out whenever you want one. If you get an idea, jot it... come on... I know you've got an idea...

Come to think of it, I did a whole lot of world building during some of that time, on that old laptop.

Maybe I should count the writing my readers don't see as important too. It certainly adds to the richness of novels and stories.

So I'm saving up for my toy and it's slowly sinking in. I worked so hard for this, for so long. And every day it's just a little more real. Just a little more of it is in my reach. Just the next step is always a little nearer. I'm on what was for a long time a hard step, the rewrite process... and with everything else so Done and rolling so well, I've got momentum. With other difficult things done and behind me that have become easy by habit, why wouldn't Rewriting become an easy habit too? One of those things I take for granted as part of the really fun stuff that I get to do all the time because that's what I signed up for?

What kind of satisfactions are there intrinsic to Rewriting that aren't there in first draft writing or world building or any other process? There's looking at it and knowing how much better it is. That's an internal reward. There's knowing I got it right. There's being glad it's done. There's the satisfaction of printing it out. I'm way too frugal with the printer, even the Inkjet Refill Kit costs real money so I do most everything on the screen and print when it's Final and ready to go in the mail.

I've actually got a big stash of postage stamps that I bought last year. I just found them in the cleaning up, in the back of a zippered Mead ring binder that I got on sale my second year in the shelter with $5 scraped out of my benefits because I was a little ahead and they had a sale. I buy myself writing tools as perks and impulse spending. I suppose there will come some point where I've got all the good tools that I need and the perks will be something else - but actually, that's indefinite now that I think of it. Once I've got all the electronics I want, there's looking forward to Annual Upgrades and there's also that wickedly alluring Writer's Digest Book Club with all its reference books and background books, or Amazon, et cetera. There's finally getting another bookcase so that I don't wind up with my books in boxes and plastic crates. That's something that won't go away - the small rewards of things I need and want for the job itself. Reference bookshelves are always indefinitely expandable and maybe, no, definitely someday my office will look like Ray Bradbury's fictional one in the opener to the Ray Bradbury show on Sci-Fi Channel. Hollywood built my dream office, except that mine would have more e-toys in it. And there's the silly things that aren't super priority but would be fun. I still want another laptop, and they still make "office in a backpack" peripherals like a little teeny printer and they even, bless 'em, came up with a backpack that has wheels and a handle like luggage. I'm not traveling to cons yet but when I do, that would be a very cool thing.

I got my house halfway clean and I've got a Book in a Week coming up starting on January 7 - I signed up for it and you can find it on www.Ticket2Write.com along with message boards to post totals. Dstar got to me last night after I did the story. We were hanging in chat and he started tickling the story bone, talking about a book he wanted to read that I haven't written yet. He pitched an idea to me. Just the idea. Just an opener, and it's set in the Nomad universe and I think he wants to read another Nomad book. I know I do and oddly it isn't City of Imbrium as I'd thought. It's a totally different one with a naive protagonist who's nonetheless going to bring in a good view of Earth in his century with his background. I'm going to have fun with it. I want to get started. I didn't even sign up for the Novel Dare this time, only Novel Rewrite, but this week I'm just going to knock out a couple of stories over a thousand words to get that Dare on track, rewrite a couple and stick them in the mail so that I'm on the board for Acceptance-Rejection Challenge and tackle a novel rewrite once I'm done with the BIW thing. I had a slow start on the last Dares but I wound up overdoing it great. So it's time for pacing... and time to work on all those other things I've got in hand too.

Today should be a day that I get a lot done! I've got my attitude back!

Robert and Ari >^..^<


Got back in the saddle again - and wrote a story. After reading three of Jack Haldeman's stories, I wound up... in his memory... doing a story that was gritty and punchy and about a kid protagonist and did involve sports and a kid who couldn't exactly play well. Asthma and twisted back and bad ankles, hip, health problems. Basically what happened to me in grade school till I had a gym slip and a life-threatening situation where he had to run and an unlikely rescuer... the same gym teacher that made his life a walking hell was the one that saved his life. I had to kill him or get him out of it and the gym teacher refused to turkey out, he was just in character. Scooped up the kid and ran like the jock he was and sort of resolved things with him in one quick line when it got too rough.

I don't know if the story's too rough for a kid's market but it could go somewhere, I know it could. Trouble is it's short, only 730 words and that was after I tweaked it and added a line of dialogue where it wanted to be.

Who knows? I'll get some advice on it and see what I can do with it. But it's powerful and if I had to fall on one side of the line between Unpublishable or Uninteresting, let it be on the Unpublishable side where it might fall into an adult market that a kid might get hold of because it ain't X rated either.

Back on the horse, Jack, I cried long enough. Miss you, man. That one's for you.

Robert and Ari >^..^<
Jack Haldeman's dead.

Here's the contents of an email that I got from his daughter. I wrote to him right before he went, when I heard he was sick. We didn't have enough time. I'm crying at the keyboard right now.

Subject: In loving memory
Date: Tue, 1 Jan 2002 15:08:02 -0500

Jack Carroll Haldeman, II -- December 11, 1941 - January 1, 2002.

Brother. Father. Husband. Friend.

True to form, he chose a moment when nobody was looking at him-- he always did cringe at being the center of attention. He went peacefully, as the family was sitting around him, telling jokes and laughing.

I encourage anyone who would like to, to please visit my father's web site, http://www.sff.net/people/jack.haldeman/.


I hung around at Necronomicon with him both years that I went. I was selling a lot of sketches of Big Kitty, the real Guest of Honor was a Florida panther who appeared on behalf of Wildlife Rescue. You can see a picture of him on Jack's site and there's a link to Wildlife Rescue. Like a lot of conventions, most parts of the hotel were off limits to smokers but there were a few hallways with ashtrays and a small contingent of smokers congregated in them.

Jack was funny. Jack was brilliant. Jack was so much fun to hang around with that he would've been my friend whether he was a pro writer or not. In fact, like a lot of people he must have known, when I first met him I didn't realize I was hanging out with a pro writer. I was just hanging out with the skinny witty guy with a really long gray beard because he was cool. Somewhere along the line Jack mentioned he was a writer, I think it came up after I stuck my foot in my mouth the umptieth time blathering on about how I wanted to be one, no matter how much everyone loved my art.

Then he taught me a lot. He laughed goodnaturedly when he found out I hadn't read any of his fiction. I was living on rice and macaroni and cheese at the time, and every dime of what I made at Necronomicon was going to feed Big Kitty, who weighed as much as I did and ate more expensive food. We were also saving up to get him a mate to improve the ludicrously low numbers of that endangered subspecies. There were only 57 of them estimated in the whole world and one of them was out at that convention exhibiting remarkable showmanship. Jack lived down there. Jack knew how that turned out - years later, I got a postcard from someone with a photo courtesy of Wildlife Rescue and lo, there was a fuzzy Florida Panther cub posed attractively on a big tree trunk he was obviously getting ready to claw. Jack's probably gotten to see most of Big Kitty's cubs and he went back again and again.

The morning after we first met, our conversation wandered into the dealer's room where he was selling used books and out of the blue he gave me an autographed copy of The Fall of Winter, off his table. That floored me. He joked about Joe Haldeman a lot and I got the impression he loved his brother's writing as much as I or anyone else does. If anyone ever taught me ... not to be jealous of other writers... it was Jack Haldeman and the way he took it that a neurotic idiot fan knew who his brother was and not who he was. I'm not kidding. I'm writing this blog as a memorial and trying to boil down every moment I spent with him and show what it was that made this man so special as a writer and a human being - and that was it.

Because from that first con - and when I read The Fall of Winter I knew it really was just luck of the markets, he writes as well as more famous Joe - he taught me that. It was okay to go on being a fan. It was okay to just have fun. It wasn't beneath a pro writer to run a dealer's table with used books, it stocked his library with all the titles he wanted to read and it helped pay for hotel rooms and fun stuff like that - he knocked a lot of pretensions out of me just by being.

He answered the question of how to behave if I had a girlfriend or a best friend or a wife who wound up getting a Hugo and I wound up at the banquet table without a nomination. He was happy just to be doing it. I had not even thought about it. I had heard other opinions and I'd been warned about the heavy competition. If I tried to sell a story to a major magazine, no matter how good it was, I could wind up getting bumped and lose the sale if Harlan Ellison sent one that was just as good. Realistically, if Harlan Ellison sent one, it's probably a better story. I mean, he's been in the field for how many years with how much practice and I'm starting out? But Jack Haldeman took the edge of resentment off that. Jack just - in a few days we had together that were all too few - turned my head around and pointed me in the right direction.

He's got some stories up on the site, he did some reprints of some of his favorite stories on his rewrite. This dismal morning I got to read a little more Jack Haldeman and I cried. We the People was a convention hallway rant too and I'd heard that one from his own lips, not quite in those finished well-polished words but as a serious three in the morning rant that came slightly after seven or eight smokers all turned up without a working lighter and roamed four floors trying to find a book of matches.

I'm angry he's dead! It's not fair! I didn't have the money yet to get down there and give him a copy of Raven Dance and he would have liked it. We would have kicked around the ideas in it, on one level it's very political SF and when it hit four in the morning, Jack and I really loved chewing on politics. I was stupid and I didn't mail the long drippy letter I wrote to him when I got it done, because it was 25 pages and I respected that he might have too much of a life to want to read 25 pages of stuff from someone he met at a con back in the 90's. Instead he got a short e-mail with a thank-you the day before he died. I did do that, when I didn't have time for more, oh gods, look after Jack Haldeman. Where he's gone, everyone follows.

I wanted to hug him again and I can remember him hugging everyone. Jack was a hippie. Jack did not believe in this macho homophobic bull that men don't hug. He was furry and huggy. He snuggled like Ari does. He would make you feel about twelve years old with the world ahead of you just with a grin and wiry arms giving a strong hard hug. He was a Fagin for alternative lifestyles that do no harm. He was walking, breathing proof that money's not love and status a joke and life's good when you throw out all your pretensions and just enjoy every minute of it.

From what she wrote, that's how he went out. Sitting around in a hospice, not a hospital, shooting the breeze with his family and loved ones. He never shut up. He was one of the few people I ever met who could successfully talk over me and shut me up, and he managed that before I knew he was a pro writer because he was interesting. He got under my skin even more than Gordon Dickson did, because he was all heart.

Jack, we talked about immortality one of those nights and you're one of the immortals. I miss you, man. It isn't right you're not around in person, but you left something for us and I love you for it. There is no 'which is more important, being a good man or a good writer.' Null question because in your life and the small part of it I was privileged to share, you showed me that was the same thing in every breath. You were that good and you were that good, everything you wrote came out of the deep sound good parts of your well-built soul and I love you for it, man. I wanted to grow up to be you and I wanted to give you something off my dealer's table too.

All I can do is pay it forward. All I can do is go on doing that and when I'm farther along building a life that fits me as well as yours fit you, when I get nervous mouthy despairing young writers whistling in the dark on the thin edge of terror, mellow them out the way you mellowed me out. If anyone took the edge off the nasty brat I used to be, it was you. I'm worthy to be in Forward Motion today because you were there then, when I was stuck being an artist who wanted to be a writer and hadn't finished a novel yet. They will come. They will be there. New ones get born all the time and get into it and have that kind of fear and... you were beautiful.

You showed me that I would not have to be rich and famous to be happy at it. Jack, do you know how precious that is? How hard that smashed all the other views of writing and bestsellers and how writers live? Because of you, the numbers didn't matter. Because of you, if the numbers go over what I need to just live and be comfortable and not get evicted from what might become, like yours, an old schoolbus reconverted to an RV, most of the overflow will go into things like Florida panther cubs, people who need help, whatever comes in reach. I don't know why it is I meet some of the best writers before reading their work. But it happened that way and you signed that battered old paperback and that became a talisman, a hope and an example.

Now, the rest of you, stay alive, okay? Hang on a little longer. This year I'm closer than ever before and I don't want to be too late again. I did this the way Jack did, just to do it, and if I haven't met you yet there's a lobby or a hallway in a state neither of us lives in that we need to confuse the hotel staff in. Jack, I owe you and I'm paying it forward in everything I write and every minute I spend with my friends. You'd probably approve that I was spending the hours you died playing cards with people who weren't talking about science fiction. We were happy and that's the same whether it's science fiction or not. But I wish you'd been healthy and dropped by and we could've cut you in. Silly as that is.

Goodbye, Jack. You're not forgotten and I'll love you as much as ever, I'll never forget.

Robert and Ari >^..^<


Happy New Year!

2002 is here and I'm glad to see it. I have just vegetated for a good 48 hours without actually getting anything more important done than watch old Twilight Zone episodes on the Sci-Fi Channel, watch the ball drop, play cards with close friends, drink champagne and relax.

I'm still blocked on that dang kid's story but don't count me out till the time passes, half a glass would be at least getting one done and sending it out late. That's a massive undertaking, since almost every idea I have for it is either Unpublishable or Unexciting. If I don't get some energy into it, then it won't come out well. It can't be something constructed and bowdlerized and Disneyfied - it has to just be real, a good story.

And on my dark side it would be Lord of the Flies and thus not kid lit...

Robert and Ari >^..^<

of course there's always finally writing my answer to that, or what Piggy could have done if Piggy hadn't let himself get intimidated...


Good morning, Blog!

I've had a fairly productive morning. Did my article for http://www.SelfHelpForWriters.com and surprised myself, tricking myself into a little public dare again. Feedback really. I was brainstorming on how to build good habits with small rewards, right? Pat yourself on the back for all your accomplishments and ignore failures as failed trials... that's what I've stumped on a few times on the site. Well, I got to the small rewards paragraph and it clicked.

Money as a reward. Anyone trying to build up daily word count could throw a quarter in a jar for every page done and watch it mount up, then have a bit of spending money for a reward. Cool idea. I'm typing along in the article rolling with it since even folks that are dirt broke can usually manage to scrape up change. I should know this, I've been collecting those dang State Quarters long enough. Bingo.

Dollar a rejection slip. Yeah. If I'm trying to desensitize myself to rejection slips and get a lot of them, that is a way to accomplish two things. Get my Visor Handspring with little foldy keyboard and QuickWord in it so that I finally have a tiny portable writing device and ebook reader for when I'm out, not that I'm out all that often but that could change... and an immediate small motivator for actually shelling out the small change for the postage to send the stories off in the first place.

I have a Scrooge side, mostly in relation to myself. I have a hard time letting myself spend money on anything that isn't an absolute necessity. Even if I have it. I got over it in regard to art materials because I found out in New Orleans that if nothing else, any extravagance in art materials will tend to pay for itself very rapidly and be good for a lot more paid art before it's used up. So if I had any spending money it went to art stores, usually when there's a big sale on. This worked. This has given me a pretty good collection of art materials over the years and is the source of most of the money beyond Welfare anyway. Crafts materials are a little dicey and I don't get those but every couple of years or so, it has to be a really big windfall for toys that are just toys. I had a bad habit for a long time of things for my writing, like manila envelopes or new pens or electronics or whatnot, as being in the category with crafts materials and NOT as important as something that would pay for itself immediately. It took me willpower to buy stamps and send out stories in those story blitzes that I used to do all these years. Not so much willpower as guilt and a day of grimly setting down to "I'm going to do it this time" and then when the stories were done, telling myself that since I'd gotten them done they ought to go out on the off chance one of 'em would pay. I went through mental contortions with it and then usually bought myself a few weeks of agony worrying about the submissions till I got all the rejection slips back. With an emotional reaction to each and every one that I really want to desensitize myself to. I didn't take my writing seriously.

I didn't honestly believe that I'd ever make any money on writing till I got a royalty check on Raven Dance. I have photos of the Historic Check, the first payment in real cash from real people for something I wrote. That was a turn around point for me. From that point, while it still took a little will power to say "Postage is a business expense" and so are printer cartridges and so on, it took a lot less and every time I say that to myself, I believe it more. Laugh if you want to. I'm laughing at myself over it because I knew these things for years and years before I was able to apply any of them to reality.

What I know up in the sensible conscious part of my mind is that collecting a lot of rejection slips is something all writers go through and that they are not personal rejections of me as a person or even necessarily an indicator that piece of writing is or isn't good. They mean that publisher or editor at that time picked something else. I could write a Nebula winner but if it came in the day after the editor finished the seasonal issue it would've gone in, he'd reject it. Big famous bestsellers like Stephen King wave massive numbers of rejection slips on the big hit that made their fame. A sensible approach is to write a whole lot of different things and make sure all the editors I want to notice me have always got a good story from me on their desks, so that they get to know me and recognize the name as 'keeps trying, writes good stories.' I have been told this by editors at conventions! I met Ellen Datlow once and had a long chat with her and she wanted to see some of my stories for Omni back when she was editing that. She did, she didn't buy any but I did follow up on that.

So I made a promise to myself in public to pay the inner child, Little Robert, for each and every rejection slip he racks up. This is deconditioning. This means every time I send out a story, I am one dollar closer to my Visor toy to play with if I want to go sit in the yard on a nice day to write. Going out doesn't just mean going somewhere in a car if someone drives me, even if my range is limited. The yard on a hot summer day with a nice beer in my hand could be a lot of fun. I don't really need a handheld till I've made enough that I've got a car and I can go to cons on the weekend, but it sure would be nice and I'll have fun playing with it.

And of course with each and every one of them, it's still a shot that instead of a buck toward the Visor, I've got a bigger check in hand at some indeterminate time in the future when that issue goes to print. Paid acceptances are worth a fiver on the spot or into the Visor fund, that's small press. Pro acceptance - that's squeeze out the champagne time because it's the first ever and I've been dreaming of champagne on that all my life. Or something special anyway, maybe get to Wal-Mart and get a frame for the acceptance letter so that's right on the wall across from my desk staring at me to say "Do it again!"

It also gives me something to keep it a habit if I do everything I can for Pro in 2002 but the world doesn't agree with me and the publishers don't bite. I cannot control other people. I cannot say what the luck factor will be on Pro in 2002, that's just what it is and it could happen that I do everything right and it just gets put off till 2003 - but getting the Visor on that equation is something I can do no matter what those editors and publishers decide.

It's also going to work because this is a variation on something I did back in the 1980's to get myself through very long days at work and rough weeks when there was a Crunch and the print shop got overloaded with customers. Everything would run behind schedule and it would get crazy and we only had one man, me, to take care of the typesetting load when all the customers were good regulars who deserved their work done well and fast. (Jerks and deadbeats got dropped to the end of the queue when it got that rough). I was usually in a bad way financially too, despite making what I thought of as good money. Impulse purchases and eating out and just the high cost of living in Chicago ate a whole lot of it and I'd wind up behind. But on a rough week like that, I'd wind up pushing myself for a little extra out of the overtime money.

It doesn't take any push to make me take extra time writing any more. I'm past that, I enjoy the process and it is its own reward. But it takes push to take the risk to shove it out the door and this is a good way to give myself that push in small steady increments. Habits change in baby steps. There will probably come some point when I notice the Visor fund is getting close that I wind up blitzing and doing a lot of short stories fast just to try to fill the jar and tip it over! And because with that volume of submissions I won't be worrying about which one sticks, for all I know the big winner that sticks at the Pro level will happen out of one of those pushes!

It's also a motivator to do the rewrites - not just on the eight best for the January dare, but because I can't get the first dollar for a rejection slip till I've cleaned up the stories - all of them - all ruddy sixty or seventy of them that I've gotten done since I started out online. That is incredibly more than I've done all these previous years. I'd do six if it was a good year and I wrote short stories at all. Sometimes only one or two if I didn't manage to sustain it. I should go through and check the dates on the first drafts to see when they all got done, because I changed my habits around the middle of it.

I got online and started posting articles to www.writtenbyme.com and a couple of other sites, but I was basically doing that to flog the book with a little tagline about Raven Dance as part of my signature. About every dozen articles I'd manage to do a story, since I was editing all of Greta's stories and once in a while we did a story dare with each other like the Parrot Story. I had the last half dozen from the previous year that had come back and half of those really weren't even worth rewriting - the ones I did online were a lot better.

Then I started doing the Dares and I didn't make the first Dare I tried, but I did get some done... and somewhere in between, I can't place when, I started getting short story ideas coming up in the Exercises. That was more of a gradual attitude shift, for a long time I was getting random novel fragments out of doing the Exercises and defaulting to series characters for them. I started looking at any of them as potential story seeds, signed up for another Dare and overdid it. I'd been getting about one per week just by trying it and thought I could sustain 8 stories in 8 weeks doing that. I overdid it by a lot. There was one week when I got four or five stories out of them in rapid succession, some of them in genres I hadn't even considered. Like, a Literary Surrealist Stoner Story? Okay, that one's also humor and the humor comes in when the reader realizes that's just a guy laying stoned under a tree babbling at a girl wearing a pink sweater and making up all this cosmic sci-fi stuff about her.

I beat through the wall about producing lots of short stories the hard way, by not noticing I was doing it and writing more and more of them all the time till it got to be more of a habit. I didn't jump from 'a story every two months' to 'a story a day if I"m not working on a novel' without all those stages between - but it makes sense now. A long time ago when my then mostly hard copy pile of writing mostly consisted of vignettes and fragments, I learned about myself that if I start a short story, I had better finish it right then without stopping or I won't bother going back to it at all and it'll sit in fragments and ideas till I swipe some bit of it to stuff in a novel as a side plot. Breaking the wall of 'finish the short stories' in the heat of the idea is a lot of the difference right there. It does not usually take that long to kick, push and shove the dang thing through a middle to an ending once I actually get started on it, as long as I'm excited about the story and still in a frame of mind where I think the idea's cool.

So that, I can count as pretty much licked. I might not make Justin's Kid's Dare - that story got stuck at about 200 words and I'm going out today - but if I pick on it, maybe I'll get it done in time. Andrew's coming over today and it's a holiday and that's what it is - but to be fair to myself and Dares, I am better off still picking on it if I come in late than not doing it, right? I say that to people trying out marathon novels all the time! Late is still a lot more than Never, so I won't drop that one if I don't make the deadline. *I* can give myself a few more days on that if it needs it. The 200 words that I've got are pretty good words and I don't know if I"m as quick on the rewrite as I will be later on when the Rejection Slip Pot has bought me a cool toy.

What I do know is that all the other walls and blocks went down to changing habits, and that's what I'm doing this year.

Robert and Ari >^..^< Happy New Year!!!


Wow, the Nomad series is waking up!

High Goth ran 1,977 words. A fledgling vampire on the City of Imbrium finds out why there are vampires on his first night when the party he's rocking at gets a hull breach.

That series went fallow for a long time. While I was at the shelter, after writing Chazho, all I wanted to do was write more Piarra books. Short stories were right out of it unless I had an idea for horror, and I wrote maybe half a dozen bad short stories and one good one and sent them all out naturally. Funny, at the time it was the presence of postage that stimulated me to try with short stories. Those came out mostly horror or Twilight Zone type of stuff.

I'd gotten bored with it and I'd lost most of what I had done in it. Including some short stories that I'd done, typed up and sent out. I didn't keep track of things after rejection slips and when I moved, whole boxes of papers would get lost or ruined. I moved a lot. Most of my early writing is gone but I did get rejection slips even if I lost them. I was not producing this steadily. My habits are better than they were.

I could try setting a kid's story in the Nomad universe. I mean, they have kids out there! It's not like I don't know the culture or anything. I could follow Zygo and her friends with it and that's kids in space.

And I can also do another SelfHelp article while I'm up, that would be cool. I like writing at the top of the day, it comes out pretty well!

Robert and Ari >^..^<