There's a lot of finished stories in the hard drive.

They vary in just how finished and some of them are pretty awful. I've been scraping.

Ari, that's a bottle of soy sauce. I've never known a cat who liked soy sauce. Oh. You didn't care about the soy sauce, you just liked the sound the cellophane made coming off the top of the soy sauce bottle and now that's thrown out it's boring? Silly cat. Oh. Over to your perch to watch out the window at the big wide world of birds and squirrels and neighbors going down the hill - nothing moving at the moment but it's nice out. Oh. Birds across the street on a telephone wire. Utterly fascinating.

Ari occasionally enjoys traditional feline amusements like birdwatching.

I'll find some story worth rewriting if I keep digging. Or I'll write something horror today. Didn't make the Master Word Count this week, but if I don't worry about it I might get excited again on a story and get it up there. And there is always ruminating on Novel Next.

Inspiration sometimes feels more like frustration till the instant it hits...

Robert and Ari >^..^<
Wrote about 1,200 words in a world that I'd played with years ago and am darn annoyed I can't find that novel fragment on my hard drive anywhere. Grr. It was a fairly sizable one too and I might have picked it up and gone forward with it.

Oh well. I will find it eventually, it's probably somewhere in that stack of old floppies.

In my frustration, went and hit Ralan's again intending to send something out. Found a good market for "Crossthought on the Hatestream" by their guidelines, gothic.net - so just because the printer's down and out does not mean I am. Or that I'll stop sending stuff because I didn't replace the printer yet. The printer thing is an inconvenience. Ralan's is a find. I have too much good stuff done not to want to go shipping out more of it than the Dare.

Let's see, one time I did a Dare where I signed up to write eight stories and wrote two dozen of them. If I do that with submissions, I might actually get paid for some of them. This would be nice.

I will not let rejection slips get me down. I need to buy a Visor this year.

Robert and Ari >^..^<
Think... Tank... Thunk...

Last night I didn't have a specific plot question for Think Tank at Holly Lisle's Forward Motion for Writers Workshop. Her website is here: Holly Lisle and transcripts of Think Tank and other workshops are up in the writers' section. I brought up my flagging word count, with its corresponding frustration as I get closer to doing the rewrite on Quest of the Perilous Blade but do not have more than 2 nonfiction articles to write to do my Dares.

It's been frustration not getting started again. I usually have a book to hang my head in. The novel in progress becomes entertainment even at times I'm not actually putting down part of it. Short fiction gets frustrating because it's over, it's finished and the rest of the day still drags on. Upshot of the Think Tank: it might have been a bad idea to wait for Breakout Novel class before starting another novel.

Might be a bit of a stretch doing two at once, but that could be more fun too.

Nyquil is wonderful stuff too. I've been coming down with something, last night realized it. Took Nyquil right before going to bed, actually slept seven solid hours and woke up in less pain than when I crashed. Breathing easier too. This is amazing. Of course my newly cleared sense of smell tells me Ari needs me to clean his litterbox immediately - so that's top of the day. And after that, who knows?

Robert and Ari >^..^<


A good friend helped with my submission problem - Incident at Clermont and its cover letter are printed out and being sent off to Dreams of Decadence. And because my friend offered that prodded me into that last bit of research to discover who was King of England at the time of the story (Edward III and he was somewhat invading France at time of story so it was a little bit important...) and so the historical tidbit is in place.

Makes that the 17th submission this year. And, got the rejection slip for Crossthought on the Hatestream - I love that speed of response. No real "hot and cold" on the responses so far but it's so quick that I can keep trying and trying and trying. All with email.

But I'm coming down with something and can feel it, these body aches are not all from the back spasms. Though it's making those worse. Thoroughly horrid feeling. It's when I'm sick that I really regret not living with anyone, because when I'm sick the usual things I have to do are twice as hard, feel worse and tend to just not get done. It's a bit hard to take care of myself when I feel bad. Though I might take some Nyquil when I go to bed, have still got some from the last time I had a bad cold.

Eating is going to be odd, it's been two days of buttered toast and that's not real good but it's what I'm up to fixing. Maybe nuke some chicken soup.

Robert and Ari >^..^<


One thing a crabby frustrated mood is good for is rewriting. Rewrote Crossthought on the Hatestream and sent that out. That makes 8 for 8! Master Short Story Rewrite officially done. Not that I probably won't continue to knock out or send out short stuff while picking on Quest - I do have a word count to maintain here after all. But that's another one down. Good feeling.

Two more articles.- wrote a book, wrote 8 stories, wrote 2 articles, did a lot of crits and got that done, rewrote 8 stories, haven't rewritten the book, keeping up word count. This is working... but now I really don't want to start a novel till Breakout Novel course begins, since I'm so focused in nonfiction. Note: excessive blogging seems to happen if I get in this not-novelwriting state...

Robert and Ari >^..^<
Odd, frustrating day. Got a rewrite done and sent a query on it to a horror market online that either pays pro for solicited stories, or pays in exposure for unsolicited stories. I haven't sent it anywhere else, so I queried and tried to sell it on a hook paragraph. Do not know if this experiment will work or not, but there's links to stuff I've already done if he wants to glance at samples of my writing. That, and the editor might cruise the horror mailring I post to sometimes so that's not necessarily a totallly cold query.

I'm having trouble motivating myself today. That's not my usual style. Could be that it's the same fatigue catching up as I'm still trying to get my back into shape. Some of it may just be that having rewritten a horror story that was bloodcurdling, I'm still in a horror mood and ruminating till something ugly explodes on my keyboard. I've got to remember rumination is part of the process. Some types of things aren't pleasant to write - or aren't pleasant to prewrite.

The story I started last night is still open. It's inspired by some tragic real life events, the tragedy is something I only just heard about yesterday when I checked my mail and made a call to a friend I thought had left the state, who came back.

I got cartridges for my printer. And now the printer's died. It's an old printer, a Canon BJC-1000 - old, it was new two years ago and now is so obsolete it's hard to find places that carry the cartridges. I checked Pricewatch and found a new one for $31 plus $8.99 shipping and handling - to replace with same model and not waste the cartridges. I checked ebay and found three used ones at $19.99, one used one at $10 and one used one with three bids currently at $5.74 - I'm watching the cheap one. Shipping will be $14 with insurance on it but that seems reasonable if I have to replace it. It's within my budget if I do.

So there's another unavoidable delay on a couple of things I'd really like to get done. Launchpad. I would really like to finish up Launchpad completely. That's becoming more important than the Dares, though I'm managing barely to keep up my Word Count. After an entire year of making page after page on the web, I found out why my online marketing efforts aren't that effective. A lack of keywords, it's all going word of mouth and there aren't that many starters.

That could raise the curve though, and Raven Dance is in the black.

Maybe it's not doing cool things when I'm in a good mood but managing to get things done on days like this that'll get me there.

I will get there.

Robert and Ari >^..^<
To my surprise, I wrote fiction today. Made my words. Got an opener to a story that's going to be powerful. I know what I'm going to do with it, I'm just building up the character it's going to happen to - Reginn Swordmaker - and the other fellow's name is Brian something, don't know what yet.

And now I'm tired, and it's time to relax and go to bed. If I don't have the stamina I usually do, I will build that up again if I sleep when needed.

Robert and Ari >^..^<
www.SelfHelpForWriters.com is mine. Today I successfully went through the last stage of the domain transfer - got my password and put my name and email into the software, went to the new registrar, got it set up and paid for (thankfully I did have enough in my account to cover the fee) and it's all taken care of. I'll get an email asking me to transfer it to myself, because WebSeed sets it up that way to reduce their time administering - but that's fine.

It's mine, I'm keeping it, a major decision. I do have an online magazine already. And dang it, now that they're not defining content that narrowly, I can include fiction if I want to. Related to the theme - but it's a broad theme, I want inspirational stories. They can be genre or not, but I should feel more like writing after reading them. Fuzzy editorial guideline but hey - it will jell as I see what I get in. I will also happily accept reprints, since I like the idea of the e-content staying in circulation and it will get me good content. I'm not paying for submissions, so I shouldn't block reprints.

And I posted another column. Not 2,000 words of writing today but a nice solid thousand.

Robert and Ari >^..^<


Morning... and how weird it is to be up this early in the morning. Once again I crawled around the clock, this time because I got tired early last night. I went to bed about half an hour after midnight. This is very odd for me. I slept through my best writing time, but it's caught up to me anyway.

So I hit the boards at Forward Motion for Writers and posted, just to warm up. Then I noticed that the posts bordered on being articles. That happens sometimes. A topic will stir my interest and instead of writing a regular post like other people's posts, I feel a burning need to answer in 500 or 1,000 words or more. Once in a while they come out well enough that I copy paste them into a file and start rewriting them as articles.

It happens often here in this blog, but then my blog is my online journal. Topic-free content, soaring in and out of anything I happen to want to ramble into. This makes it fun to write. I get a little embarrassed sometimes, thinking I've gone overboard again.

Then I read other blogs and recognize, yeah, other people relax in it and just rant too.

Then I read something wonderful like Star Lines and think that I should organize it a bit. Add a couple of features like the quotes and so on. Stick to one topic per entry, or at least separate them when I do jump from ruminations on writing to rage against my disability and rage against being patronized for my disability. It's tempting. I'm not sure what I'd put though.

I will probably continue to keep it freeform. But I've taken one thing from blogs that I liked - now I put links in when I think of something cool to click on or refer to something on the Net.

Robert A. Sloan, author of Raven Dance and Ari the cat who likes stomping over my desk at odd hours of the day or night demanding yogurt.


"Building Willpower" 2,538, second nonfiction article of four for the Dare done. Whew. That took a lot of work. For some reason it was very intense to write. I think I was applying it while I was writing it.

But it's a nice sense of satisfaction to get it done. I posted it for critique. I'll bash it up thoroughly and send it out. Maybe I'll get paid for all that effort!

Robert and Ari (I helped! I laid all over the mouse and made him scritch me!)
Star Lines was hilarious when I got up... and then very moving down toward the bottom.

I also compare writers to wizards or magicians sometimes. It feels like that. Something out of nothing. All those years I didn't have the power, I wouldn't know why. But I think I'm approaching why I had trouble writing back when I was an Obnoxious Wannabe Writer at SF cons dragging around sweatstained, sometimes handwritten manuscripts, begging the pros or even someone stuck in a registration line with me to read it.

I really was that geek. Now I look at that as growth. I had a metaphor for it in something I wrote, don't remember where it is. Maybe it's in Holly Lisle's Vision in one of the back issues. You can tell, looking at those cute little sea turtles that crawl by the hundreds toward the ocean past the hungry gulls, that any of them could grow up to be several hundred pound turtles gulls can only perch on. They have everything they need to be turtles.

The need to write is there for any newbie.

The fear no one will like it is a false fear that turns so many of them back.

I wasted a lot of years having adventures when I could have been writing. Okay, maybe those years weren't really wasted. I have today. I have the stuff I've already written just begging to get picked up and rewritten, because I'm a better writer than I was yesterday. I'm even literally a better rewriter than I was yesterday, I had a great critique on a story that I thought was done and perfect and ready to go out. My friend found dozens of little places where my story could be improved. I was overjoyed. I was amazed at the improvements. I am almost done with the rewrite, have a tiny bit of research to do that was an obvious wallop between my eyes. The story is a historical. The story, most of it, hangs on a setting of 14th century France as seen through the ruminating eyes of a reasonably old vampire. She found a spot where a line or two mentioning some of the news of the time would deepen it wonderfully. Yes. People who like historical fiction like having a little research salted in there! It matters who was King in England even if the story's in France, certainly any Frenchman is going to be looking over his shoulder at England wondering when they're going to pull another invasion. Leaving it out is like writing in 1952 without the fear of Communists, doesn't work - and so that little bit of layered detail is kicking that one up to the next level. And leaves me with the chore of hunting through my books for the original reference that led to my writing the story and then reading back and forth a bit till I get the shifting, messy medieval politics right for the date I set the story, two years after the historical event.

Someone nasty once said to me years ago, "You don't want to write. You want to have written."

He was wrong. I wanted to write and needed a little support - a valid, genuine emotional need for a bit of hope to get past the point I was to the point I am today. When I have to do other things, I'd rather be writing. I enjoy the process. I write well enough that I like reading what I've written and I've also consistently got a screaming desire to make it better.

There is toxic perfectionism and there is craftsmanship perfectionism.

They get confused easily. Toxic perfectionism is something almost everyone in my place and time breathes in daily. You can't turn on the television set without skilled, persuasive actors and writers telling you that you are going to be shunned and laughed at if you don't wear the right clothes, use the right products and smell perfect according to their company's line of products to improve your social standing. You can't grow up in this country without going to school and immediately getting thrown into a vicious playground. Grief, tragedy, injustice and loss can happen to anyone, but doesn't it say something that there's an entire named disease, anorexia nervosa, that consists of an obsession with losing weight to become skinnier than anyone else? Maybe anorexics get into the cycle because in losing weight, that's filling a need for constant small daily successes at something they can actually do, lose weight. That's a paraphrased comment from an older anorexic in an article on anorexia. The original motive might have been to please other people who used to call the anorexic fat and tease them, but by the time they've gone that far it's to please an internal critic whose standards are impossible - and to keep feeding their own self opinion with progress.

Turn that kind of energy to something productive that won't kill you and it becomes emotional insulation against a thousand social attacks.

Nobody is perfect. You can't live and breathe and be real and be perfect. No one is universally loved. Even when they're dead and enshrined like William Shakespeare, there's some people who like you and some who don't. Someone somewhere hates you for the color of your skin. Doesn't matter what color your skin, there are bigots of every color too and some of them are yours. There are some attractive people of the opposite sex that despise your gender categorically. They're fairly common actually, since a common cause is breaking up from a bad relationship. The school bullies grow up and often manage to turn a predatory attitude in life into a position where they've got power over other people. They get that because they want it. Pushing other people around becomes the success kick just like losing weight does for the anorexic. They're not loved, but they like being feared and what worked as a kid works as an adult. They tend to get their way. They tend to want it enough to do anything to get it.

Humans make things, build things, create from an idea and some raw materials something they and other human beings like. The little success kick when it comes from something creative will generally get real approval at the point when it's starting to be a usable something. For writers, it's entertainment, stories that have something to say and most of all are fun to read.

Beginners at anything aren't good at it. Talent is wanting to do that so badly that you're willing to put up with your own beginner efforts long enough to learn how. A big part of that is seeing the glass as half full. It's better than last time is a success kick. It's better than last time is a success kick that won't go away if you get to be as good a writer as Sheila Viehl.

But there is a threshold of self acceptance where the story that's reeling out in its first draft is fun in itself. For me, that took an indefinable level of craft. I can't say exactly when I started liking my stories. I know though, that I didn't manage to finish any until I started sporadically hitting that point and getting some internal successes. That was mood for many years. I'd drift in and out of the wannabe and writer states over and over, because it depended so much on my general confidence at the time and a thousand other things. I write when I'm miserable. I write when I'm stressed, because I want to read that particular story and no one else in the world has written it or could. Or, I write when I'm high and happy and the world's good because I had a neat idea and cool as the world is, I've forgotten it's out there for that great little high of writing a book or story I can't put down. But the more often I did it, the easier it was to do it the next time. The fewer sour notes hit the page. The more likely it was actually a readable rough, the more likely I'd stick to it and get it done.

I'm between novels right now, looking at a schedule that feels a little frustrating. I know that my next novel is going to be the Breakout Novel Course project at Forward Motion for Writers whether I'm accepted to the course or just sign up and audit the course. It's a tough course. It's got the excitement factor of trying to achieve a whole new level of skill. I know I'm going to get that out of it, because I enjoy classes. I read the book and loved the book it's based on. I am as prepared as I can get for this, and in a few days I'll be doing the audition project. I've got a critique on the audition chapter already and it's a nice tough critique. I have sound reasons in my own experience to expect to come out of the Breakout Novel Class with a new novel project that's going to knock my socks off, then hopefully knock the socks off of a good professional agent and some publishers.

Total unequivocal success in all those objectives would do a lot more, change my life and my status out in the real world I've been avoiding as dramatically as publishing Raven Dance did. When I had a literal book to show people, other people believed I was a writer. I didn't get people laughing at me for trying to become a writer. I had demonstrably written a novel. Most of them haven't read it, but when I have to deal with the folks who take care of the disabled, it's proof that I have a job. A pro sale is going to have a similar effect on them. Proof I can work that job professionally and they shouldn't try to shunt me off into Web Page Design or technical writing or something else that isn't the job I made for myself. Fact is, I'm a lousy technical writer. When I write, my style is much more impressionistic and I'm more concerned with getting an abstract idea across with a lot of bright, fun, fanciful images and wild events than getting the facts right.

I am also a decent Sunday painter, who never wanted to be an artist. I have respect for people who write fiction as a hobby, who go for the pleasure of doing it and then sharing their projects with friends or dabble in selling them and don't seriously expect major success. They've got the success kick. They do enjoy it in the middle of doing it, spend many long pleasant hours at it, do get approval and compliments and sometimes sales. Once in a while a hobbyist may become so skilled just by enjoying the hobby that they evolve into professionals because they get good at it! When I think of that, it strikes me that might be the garden path to it anyway. It wasn't mine, but I respect it.

Thoughts for the day. Yet another rambling warmup. I'm off... happy writing!

Robert and Ari >^..^<


News in my mailbox. After the end of July, WebSeed will not be offering hosting services. They're not moving to a webhost model, they're doing something else with their company.

I had decided to register www.SelfHelpForWriters.com for myself, because it's a very active site and I put a lot into it and it's great. I created it with their software. They have templates with upload windows and stuff, a lot of the more advanced things are automatic on their very good software. The only reason I haven't registered it to me yet is that they have to finish transferring it to me and when they do that, I can pop for $10 for a registry. I got benefits today, I should be able to just take care of it.

Their template and software was why I planned not to move it unless their fees were excessive. Whoops! Fate makes a decision for me. I wanted to treat webwork as new hobby - well.. by end of July I had better learn how to do frames, meta tags and develop at least a simple template for it that still has a left column to archives and features, still has thumbnail front page pictures with the article teasers, still has a nice large picture with the articles.

But is that so unreasonable? I purchase the domain, it won't matter what the host is. My regulars will still find it by typing in the same address. Duh. I love the Internet for that.

If I can adapt the Freewebz layout to it, I could get it under my domain name, still that easy to find if you know about it and that searchable if you don't, and basically set up the features I actually use.

Ye gods, I could actually do this as a labor of love and keep it what it is, free, and duh, not put any ads up on it at all except for a book list. An expanded book list with nice little thumbnails running on a bookstore column, the kind of easily ignored "magazine" ads that you want to find in exactly the same place when you go back to look it up, categorized like a bookstore on "writing" and "books by contributing writers" and "inspirational."

I could actually, instead of grieving the loss of the WebSeed software, take that deep water plunge and just keep doing what my readers really want - providing nice thousand word columns on inspirational topics that have to do with writing. When I'm hanging it somewhere else, what's to say I don't feature New Fiction once a month or something?

This is opportunity - and I've got till end of July to thrash out the details.

Robert and Ari >^..^<
Yep, a longish blog. And I forgot to post the good news that's resulted in this rather good mood!

I had a visit from the chap from the housing agency, but did not have to go out while my back's in the danger zone. I have an appointment on Thursday or Friday to visit DSS with him so that we can try to get more benefits (not likely) and I know they do have copies of Lifeline applications down there. That is the thing I can count on the trip for: the Lifeline program for indigent customers locally reduces the installation from $200 when you move to $10 when you move, the basic bill goes down to a dollar and you get charged per call regardless of length. With a local access number and my habits with the phone - one or two calls a day and they're long ones - that would serve. That does serve even now as the Basic plan is set up the same way, but I think I even get a slightly reduced rate on the per call rate.

That eliminates the biggest drawback to moving again in itself - the added massive debt. And it's possible the other program will pick up just the back bill off my Verizon, which would leave me completely safe in terms of not losing my phone no matter what. I qualify for stuff like that and will even when it shifts over to SSI. It can make all the difference. What's made the difference to this point is that I'm very used to the tradeoff of "I have time and I don't have money."

And that I've got Food Stamps and thus a food budget closer to a normal person's than the draconian $10 a week budget I maintained during most of the New Orleans years.

I nostalgically bought some boxes of macaroni and cheese and those stovetop noodle dinners in bags, last trip, because I remembered I really liked that stuff. Liking that stuff balances out to a few shoulder steaks in the freezer for special occasions. Stocking nonperishables as I do, when they're on sale, results in a very efficient use of those Food Stamps.

The other really, really good news - aside from seeing a light at the end of the debt tunnel - is that the housing agency is supposed to take only 30% of my income whatever it is. In reality they take $271 out of $408 since that is what DSS has as a housing allotment. Even if they don't raise my benefits... if they reduce that to $122 that more than doubles what's left over. That actually allows an entertainment budget. That means I can move up from using Freebies on the Net to using Cheapies and Bargains on the Net... and if I treat webwork as my newest hobby along with collecting First Day Covers then it's one that I can build to a level where it supports itself.

I know generally people get annoyed at banner ads. I don't get annoyed at them unless they move, flash or crawl - or happen to be for something unrelated to the topic of the site that I never would want in a million years. There are banner exchange sites for self published "Independent" books like my one item currently in trade, Raven Dance - and mentally I've designed a silent, very tasteful ad for it. Pretty much the same design I'd use for a bookmark run sideways. I know some people cruise those sites like bookstores.

I think the way that works is that the picture, the graphic is the link to drop the person who clicks on it to the site to buy the book. Right? So it's just a pretty link. It is also background. For my readers, who like that sort of thing anyway, it serves mostly as a label like seeing the spine of a book you wanted to get because you heard about it. It needs to be striking, vivid and recognizable - and not annoying when you don't have the money for it yet or aren't in the mood to buy books or whatever. So it will be silent. So it will not crawl or flash.

Raven Dance ...they should never have called it Utopia

There, with tags, is the hook. It's a thriller. It happens to be dystopia, happens to be in outer space, happens to have a vampire and there's a lot more about it but that's the guts of it. I should probably put that at the bottom of a big black space with the book cover tiny graphic off to the side and my name and its title repeated under it.

Or alternately come up with a nice abstract design resembling the book cover and related to it in Windows Paint. Because my current publisher, www.iUniverse.com, gave some other self published authors a hard time over where they could use the cover art copyrighted to iUniverse, I can avoid using their copyrighted material simply by doing my own art. Entirely. They did my cover with clip art. They did a good job with the clip art on the second go round and the design is striking, but the design elements aren't copyrightable - a raven, some flames.

A raven silhouette against some flames pulled from a free graphics website would become my original art, a collage of free images arranged with exactly my eye for balance and design.

I don't know if there are other codes that need to go into creating a banner ad, but I think if I make up that image off freebies and do it precisely to the standard dimensions of all the banner ads, I'll have something that I could put in all the places on my pages where it's not obtrusive.

And one of those, yes, dreaming of the future, is going to be the long up and down stack of trophies: these are all the books I've done! The look of my own bookshelf turned vertical, on its own page, accessed by a link. The very easy page for readers who will fairly soon have an anthology to pick up as well, later on a story collection and so on, be able to just look up and get the volume they haven't got.

And in the other column on the same page, the passive equivalent of a wire rack with all the books that I buy wholesale and sell off my used books table - my picks, my favorites, and the ones I know are pretty sure sellers at any SCA event. It would be cool. I'm just dreaming and woolgathering at this point... but I have had this kind of dream before and made it real.

This kind of brainstorming is what made my tarot booth in New Orleans a colorful, fun, interesting spot to stop and take a load off your feet down in Jackson Square. I regret I didn't have a camera then, it would have been nice to take a photo of my table with a reading laid out on it because it would have beat all of Miss Cleo's setup and I did it on a frayed shoestring. It would have taken a good day with good lighting to photograph it and get the texture of the little two foot square of purple velvet I had turned diamondwise over the striped turquoise, peacock and blues brocade striped pieced large tablecloth that covered most of that dang picnic table I miss. The picnic table was one of those that folds into a briefcase like very portable case and was sturdy as it gets. Great for outdoor readings and outdoor events and camping. Didn't manage to keep that or the little folding square table, frustrating. Then to hold the cards down I had a couple of dozen semiprecious stones, mostly tumbled, a couple of agate slices and cut geodes among them - a nice rock collection basically! Couple of brass candlesticks and it looked lush. It was fun. The Gothic Martha Stewart would have adored it.

Even if it was in bright cheery sea-colors and jewel tones instead of creepy Victorian maroon and black and gold.

I know that I will get to move and that a one room apartment on top of a hill I can't climb is going to turn into a one bedroom apartment where I can keep the bedroom stuff in the bedroom and have enough room in the living room for a crafts table. My big chair, my desk chair rolls - no problem moving that to the crafts table if I want to make stuff. I might do more food prep and cooking if I can do most of it sitting in the rolling good chair at a sturdy heavy table instead of standing up to do it. I know I will definitely get into the fabric and start making things for the new apartment as soon as everything is stowed - because I can.

I've done it. Most of the cool stuff I've already got is from several day stints of getting a lot done... and every time I move into a new place I can't help imagining improving it and making it a bit richer, a bit more beautiful and dramatic than the last one. This move isn't a desperation one where I'll have to throw stuff out or decide what not to keep. This time there's movers and I don't have to make triage choices. I'm also getting another dresser, they have it down at the housing place and it's a big low antique about a century old. Something to put in the bedroom and throw something cool on - like a row of books along the back and some shelves above it for more books, put some of the fiction in the bedroom and keep the references out in my work area in the living room.

And gods, if my immediate in hand income goes up, just getting more bookshelves isn't out of reach.

It'll look good when I'm done - and moving is always time for decorating. I'll probably post pictures after it's all in place, just stick them on a Tripod page and post the link here.

Robert and Ari >^..^<
I love the way the peaks and troughs in my own life actually resemble a decent plot sometimes. They do. Actually I like the peaks more than the troughs. Who wouldn't?

But the minute a trough's even somewhat over, I've got this ebullient sense of satisfaction and it's become something fun. An adventure. An anecdoe, one of a few million of them I'm polishing for when I can get that tweed jacket with leather patches on the elbows lifestyle. I really ought to get myself one of those someday, even if it doesn't fit my usual Gothic black jeans, Vampire tee shirt and black leather biker jacket. The heck. I can always just let them draw what conclusions they do from jeans and tees, or wear a sober black turtleneck with it. Those always look good. The cat sitting on my head should give the picture a bit of dignity too, and since he's a blonde cat the hairs won't show as much on the tweed.

I'm rediscovering Webwork As Hobby with the Tripod site and the glorious things I'll eventually be able to do with totally free Arachnophilia. Two days, three pages, one with pictures, two with freebie textured backgrounds like all the lovely websites I like that other people do... and... that sinking in sensation of actually knowing those codes and creating shortcuts for them. Not all of them. But I am learning it and the big mental block against it is crumbling. I'm not scared of Arachnophilia or the sight of HTML code in a document any more.

I've gotten to the point where I could do it half assed with the manual sitting in front of me. I've gotten to the point that if I got hired as typesetter I'd get the dang work out, right, even if it took me a lot longer to do it than usual. And this time, Gods save the Net, I own the machine.

I expect within another year to be a fairly expert web designer, to the point that I can do fairly spectacular productions. Most of the people I know are as annoyed at music and excessive animations and slow loading pages as I get, so my designs are likely to involve... very small tiling patterns. High contrast background to foreground text. Rich jewel tones on black or dark textures because that's what I decorate my house in. I live with it, if you drop by my pages, their style seriously reflects my house and all my other projects. Occasional lighter colored ones if something really strikes my fancy.

And lo, it dawned upon me that little repeating tiled patterns I did pixel by pixel in Windows Paint can be converted to .jpg in the Quickcam software and thus become tiny tiling jpgs for use on webpages.

And I've got a site bookmarked with a hundred and more free fonts. And the same one I got the textures has fonts, animations and a host of other very cool freebies, which, when I start making up little tiled designs as if I was doing up cross stitch potholders, I'll naturally just give away off the same site. I'm sure they get them donated by people who like playing with their programs.

Webwork just went from "it's too much like work" to "it's that new hobby."

And it serves the psychological purpose of visual hobby as a rest from writing. Gee. Since the top of April I have finished a major book, the best I've ever done, written 8 good short stories, done 6 serious story rewrites and one decent nonfiction article for sale to a publication I don't edit. That's generated the idea of doing a specific writing book on Horror Writing, something I've paid attention to all my life, with little fond memories of things like a Vincent Price talk at my college and books that affected me and a thousand other cool things specifically about horror and suspense that may make it more of a Nuts and Bolts writing book than anything else. A lot of what I got in the Mostly Hitchcock film studies course in college and a lot of my 12 hour lesson in Why Not To Be A Scriptwriter from Harlan Ellison can go into that - broken down element by element into how to scare readers.

Which has a more targeted audience as the almost obligatory book about the process of writing than some other things would. I belong to a horror mailring. I go back and look at horror sites. Many of the stories are brilliant. But those are the new pulps, these ezines, and sometimes the stories fall a bit short of scaring my socks off. I'm a hard scare, folks. I've got a strong stomach like you wouldn't believe. I could manage to eat dinner with EMT's and RN's and every time I have, the result was that most of the guests wound up running green for the bathroom while I and my creepy friends laughed out loud... there's a special kind of humor among people who patch up real emergencies that is what made MASH immortal and there's a special desensitization that comes from doing a job where you can actually sometimes make a difference.

I honestly think of writing, even writing horror, as one of those jobs that can sometimes make a difference.

I can remember the times in my life that I contemplated suicide, one of which was when my best friend did in high school, and I know that while I'm not digging my hands into someone's abdomen to see whether any of those loose guts have holes in them that need patching, psyches are the same way.

I know how many times a good book was there for me on a bad night.

That's power to fight the dark. That's the deep dark paladin behind the selfish chap that wants to slob off just having fun writing books for a living instead of sitting up in a little room watching TV like a good cripple... the knowledge that if I really do my best with it, I can create books like that. I won't know who. I won't know where. I won't be there for them. But there will be some of them and they will find it on their own. One in a hundred or one in a thousand might come back to me sometime in my life to tell me 'you were there for me the night...' it happened, whatever their tragedy was. But the indeterminate Heisenbergian rest who don't say it - they're around to not say it because their lives got better and I can just trust they exist!

I've heard it once or twice in my life for other things, posts for one chap, long nights sitting up talking for another. So I've got reason to believe they're out there and the more I do a good job, the more of them will be around to finally get the job, or order a pizza, or meet someone new, or stumble into ACOA and deal with it and put their familial ghosts to rest.

Very odd focus for a horror writer to have, but the HWA site had a chilling article on how common depression is, first among writers and then especially among horror writers. I honestly believe that attitude, the paladin fantasy that somewhere out in readerland a kid or an old person or someone in a lot of pain will pick up the book that saves their life and reminds them there's something good beyond tomorrow, is what keeps me from the full depths of that depression. I have a strong stomach because I know I can do something. I have a terrible drive to do my best with it, but I'm not going through it as badly as the doctors, the RN's and the EMT's - because where I sit, I can see the successes but I wouldn't have been able to do anything for the ones that didn't make it. I'm making antivenin when I write, even the grittiest stuff - and so that means the gags about the horror material are just that, laughter instead of darkness.

I got so repulsive in one paragraph of demo paragraph in the article that I'm laughing about it now with the glee of a ten year old at the creepshow movies. I love that paragraph. It's over the top. While writing the article I realized I'd hit four or five or six different major phobias and an equal number of day to day risks and troubles the reader might have experienced, so a broad spectrum of readers will get very nervous in just a few lines! It's like thinking about a perfect curve on a rollercoaster structure - and realizing that its support structures are sound enough and the ride's going to be a ride and if I can sustain that prose through a story, it would be a fantastic ride. Sometimes they come out that way all the way through. Some rewriting and all of them can come out that way all the way through.

Physical gooshy splatter gore is actually comfort reading to me, especially if the protagonist is a resourceful hero that wins out against it. Deep down I know dead people can't hurt me. Deep down I know dead people don't feel it either when something grotesque is going on. And that's a sense of safety, that's not the razor edge of walking on eggshells around an unrecovered alcoholic's personal domain of sadism, when no one knows who's the next victim or how nasty it's going to get.

I can fight it.

I can know the difference and use both types of horror to share anything and everything that works against it, and that is why I write horror. Not usually the cautionary 'don't be this stupid' stuff but the kind of gruelling expedition into fear that makes strong characters have to reach for the best in themselves. I'm reading Dean Koontz right now, Icebound - and it proves everything Maass has to say about breakout novels. It's wonderful. Everything is going wrong for these people and one of them is an obvious parallel of A Younger Kennedy. Everyone in it larger than life and most of them gripping me by the heart.

I want to write like that. Uh huh. Yep. Is a good thing.

Robert and Ari >^..^<
Broke the dang block. First with a www.SelfHelpForWriters.com article, uploaded (and two short excellent ones to come from a new writer!) and then with a how-to article on writing horror. I wound up in essence doing to setting what Vincent Price did in his very cool live presentation at my community college. A little demo paragraph just describing a setting in a spooky way, and most of the article analyzing why it wound up that scary. The little paragraph was inspired poetry. I'm not sure I'll have to change much in that paragraph at all, it's basically a knockout story opener and in the very next paragraph, MC would have something really icky start to happen.

One down, three to go and two more Rewrites with submissions. Then it's on to rewriting Quest, something I'm not quite ready for. But the good news is that I think I might be doing a lot more odd projects like the webowork and stuff while getting it done. Did another couple of new pages, started a Tripod site while I was still too dazed to be that creative - or rather, while my left brain took a serious rest and I did artistic stuff as hobby, which making new pages is. It falls in a category with the crafts and sketching, or will when I've really learned the tools.
New Index was fun to make. And it's not as wordy as some of my sites.


Robert and Ari >^..^<


Ouch, owie. Still with a wrecked back discovering pain does not make for good prose. The next rambling choppy mosaic fragment that might get worked into something could be on the topic of pain.

I made my word count for the week though. I counted the fragments - roughs aren't measured by how rough they are and one of them is a good little flashback for Veterans of Ancient Wars...

Robert and Ari >^..^<