My cat Murphy is now a champion! I think that is as far as he'll go though. I'll probably take him to shows to keep him around lots of people.

    On the writing front, I've decided to take a break from it.  Practice makes us better writers, but I'm unable to do that right now.  At this point, I'm burned out and discouraged and that's being reflected in my work.  I've searched hard for encouragement this past year, but haven't found any.  So, it's time to step back for a while. Journal entries will be very sparse for a while, too.

    Take care all!


    Tonight, I worked on a synopsis for Listening for the Sound and edited chapters.  I want to get the first 60 pages polished and ready to submit.  I still have quite a bit of work to do though before this novel is ready to go out.  But I'm pleased with the story which is important at this stage.  We'll see what happens from here. My brother is visiting this weekend, so I'm not sure how much work I'll get done though.

    On another front, I just received an unexpected invitation to an anthology.  The deadline is short, too. I'm going to brainstorm tomorrow and see how many ideas I can put together for it. It's not a done deal, but I'm still excited about it! :) Suddenly, I have a ton of writing to do. Gotta love that. :>

    Time to crash. Have a good evening!


    Work on the novel is progressing slowly. I've gotten through the first six chapters now and I'm making notes on areas that need to be expanded or need more setup.  Right now, I'm looking for all the story threads and figuring out what's missing from the first act.  The romantic element needs to be introduced sooner.  That is first on my list. I've still got a ton of chapters to read and edit though, so first things first. Overall though, the story reads better than I remembered, but the thin spots that I remembered are still there. :)  But the story still intrigues me, so that's a good thing.

    Have a good evening!


    I've decided to go back to work on my novel, Listening for the Sound.  It's about 2/3rds completed, so I would like to finish it. I've got a submission opportunity for it, but it needs about a month's worth of work.  I spent the evening rewriting the first chapter. I have ten or eleven more to rewrite.  Last year, I was just starting this story's final act when 9-11 happened.  One of the messages in the book was that there is still magic left in the world. When 9-11 happened, I couldn't believe that anymore, much less write about it. A year later with the threat of more war looming, I need to believe in that magic again. So, now seems like the right time to return to this book.

    Received a fast rejection (22 days) from Absolute Magnitude yesterday. Haven't sent the story back out yet. Probably needs some revision, so I need to take a second look at it before sending it out again. Sent out a query letter on Friday as well.  I need to send out a couple more over the next month. Big fun.

    It looks like I will be attending Kris and Dean's two-week workshop in March 2003. I'm looking forward to it, but I'm also a bit apprehensive. I've never attended a workshop of this length before.  I'm hoping it will help me straighten out my writing and help me take what I learned at Viable Paradise to the next level.  Not sure what that is, but at this point, I'm not sure what else to do.  Gotta keep on keeping on.

    Have a good evening.


      Lots of Life Stuff(tm) going on right now. Things are pretty hectic and lots of stuff is happening. Needless to say I haven't been able to write much of anything. I'm afraid that trend may continue for a couple more weeks, so not much to update here. I've got an idea or two running around in my brain.  I sure hope that I will get time to write them.  On the kitty front, Milo and Murphy are getting along very well and Bailey is his old self again.  Even Seville is comfortable with Milo.  He's grown a bit, too. :)

      Have a good evening!


      Yeah, I haven't posted for a while.  Why?  Oh, about a hundred bazillion reasons, but I'm sure no one really wants to hear or cares about those mundane details. Except one, maybe, which no doubt shows my grip on sanity dissolving.  What is it? I rescued a kitten.  No, I'm not a cat collector and no, I'm not one of those Cat Ladies(tm). This little 3.5 lb kitten has been living in a woodpile near my brother's house (his siblings live in the woods behind it).  He's the runt of the litter and much smaller than his littermates. When he wasn't in the woodpile, he was hiding under cars.  I've been going over every couple of days or so and working with the ferals (11 in all), trying to make some sort of contact with them.  This little guy was my first conversion.  I can't take them all, but I can take one.  All my cats hate him except Bailey.  Mr. Murphy has his tail out of joint because he's no longer the baby.   At five months, I've been lucky to get him to accept me. He's extremely loving to everyone now and only wants to be petted.  I'm still working with the other kitties, trying to socialize them so homes can be found for them.  One of the other kittens is already friendly and he won't have trouble finding a home.  The other 9 will, however. I'm not going to give up on them because they are beautiful and deserve good homes.  So, there are now six cats at my house, but tonight, there is one less cat sleeping in the woods. And without further ado, meet...Milo:

      Warning: Due to an uncooperative flash, colors are uglier than they appear.


      Wrote about 500 words tonight on the new story.  Not sure how long this story will end up being, but at 1625 words, I just finished the first act.  I am guessing it will be about 5K when completed. I think I can finish it by Thursday and perhaps get it mailed by Friday. It depends on how the rest of the story progresses.

      Tonight, I keep thinking about this time last year.  I will never see the world through those eyes again.  The world changed forever after that night.  I think about all those people who died on September 11th.  This time last year, all of them were still alive, thinking about what they had to do that Tuesday, planning the day.  Without warning, their lives ended horribly.  This time last year, they were talking to their families, planning vacations, working, or just enjoying the September weather.  They had no idea what would happen to them the very next day.  My heart goes out to those who lost friends and loved ones in that attack and I can't believe an entire year has gone by.  Maybe that's why I can't get an Irish proverb out of my head:

        Dance as if no one's watching.
        Sing as if no one's listening.
        Live each day as if it were your last.

      Tomorrow, on September 11th, I want to remember the people we lost, but I also want to remember the people I love.

      Have a good evening.


      Tonight, I put down 1050 words on the new story, Dandelion Jam.  I think I've gotten the structure and plot figured out and the characters established. I think I even know the theme. It's something I can't articulate yet, but it's a theme I feel. Now, it's just a matter of getting out of their way and letting them tell their stories.

      In other news, I decided to treat myself to some new technology and ordered a Pocket PC. The Toshiba e740.  It will arrive some time this week, so I'm looking forward to getting it. It's got built-in Wi-Fi (802.11b) wireless, so I'm anxious to test that out. Keeping up with the latest technologies is part of my job, so I decided to invest a little in my professional development and pick this new unit up.

      Murphy's second cat show is coming up this weekend.  I'm hoping he is as good this time as he was last time.  Of course, he knows what it's like and that might change his good behavior a bit. ;)  I should be getting his pictures soon.

      Have a good evening


      Yesterday brought a 37-day rejection from Analog.  Same old "doesn't meet our needs."  Sigh. This week has been a real struggle of confidence for me.  I've had a tough time building any motivation to write. I wish this writing thing wasn't so difficult and such a struggle for me.  I keep hoping that something will happen, that some sign of life will emerge to show me that someday I am moving forward in my "writing career."  I try my best to be patient and to write through all of this stuff and just concentrate on the work, but it doesn't take long for the discouragement to resurface again.  I've always tried to focus on goals and measurable outcomes, so maybe my expectations were always too high.  Maybe they were unrealistic to begin with?  Maybe it's time to recognize that I just don't "have it." These are questions I've been asking myself this week. This American Idol show has gotten me thinking about talent/skill/luck, etc..  I am afraid that my work is like those 5 worst auditions and like those people, I can't see it.  (not fishing for sympathy or compliments - I'm trying to look objectively at myself as a writer.)

      I've done some research on the new story this weekend. Tentative title is Dandelion Jam, but most likely that will change. After lunch, I'm going to give it a shot and see what I can do with it.

      Sorry if this sounds like a downer post, but it's my attempt to look objectively at my work and my chances.


      Keys to the Attic is ready to go out in tomorrow's mail.  I did some clean up on Re-educating Lucy, but I plan to do some more tomorrow night after I put down some verbage on a new story.

      Feeling a bit under the weather tonight. A little too much muscle exertion on Wednesday.  See, I joined the workplace bowling league this week. Thought it would be good to get out among human beings for a change. :)  I had a really good time, but my entire body is in much pain. I'm not used to throwing a ten pound ball that many times. I should be feeling fine in time for the next league night. :) I bowled better than I expected which is cool.

      Tomorrow night, I look forward to starting the new story.  I'm hoping it will pan out. We'll see.

      Have a good evening!


      FINALLY finished a draft of Re-educating Lucy! It's a little lean at 3625 words, but at last it's complete.  Ran out of time on the edit of Keys to the Attic. I'll save that for tomorrow night. If all goes well, both of these stories will go out on Saturday.

      Short entry tonight. Long day and I'm wiped.  Have a good evening!


      Okay, I admit it, I didn't finish all the stories I meant to complete this weekend.  I tried to make up what I missed, but I just couldn't accomplish it.  I spent one day in slug mode and did nothing (okay, I confess! I bought Neverwinter Nights!). End result:  I missed my deadline. Instead of beating myself up about it, I'm just going to climb back on the horse and keep moving.  Re-educating Lucy is three-fourths finished and I finished the rewrite of Jade Vision.  It took much longer than I had anticipated for JV and the story grew 2K to 6750 words.  For the moment, I have retitled Jade Vision to Keys to the Attic.  I haven't read the story through yet, but will as soon as RL gets finished.  Haven't yet committed the new untitled story to phosphors and probably won't until Thursday evening. I'm really looking forward to writing this new story, but that's the reward for finishing the edits, etc. on the other two.  If all goes well, I should finish up RL and Keys to the Attic tomorrow.

      I got to see the cover for Beyond the Last Star today and it's gorgeous!! I'm very proud to have a story in this final volume.  My story is a very short one (called Circle of Life), but it's one that is deeply personal for me.

      And it's time to clock out for the night.  Have a good evening!


      Tonight after dinner, I tackled part of the rewrite on Jade Vision.  I'm about halfway through that edit.  My first pass will be to fix the easy stuff. Once I get the nits out of the way, I can take a good look at the big stuff and start correcting those bits. The more I look at this story though, the more unhappy with it I feel.  I'm going to let it set for the evening.  Maybe after some solid sleep, I won't feel that way. Still need to finish Re-educating Lucy, too. It sure would be nice to get the hang of this writing thing. But that's not going to happen tonight.  Time to call it a day.

      Have a good evening


      A yucky day at work today. I didn't think I'd make it through the day, but I survived.  I'm so glad that Monday is a holiday.  I could use the break.  An 11-day "Dear Author" rejection from an agent today. Guess this just isn't my week. Glad this one is almost over.

      On the brighter side, I fixed the ending of Dark God's Tears and packaged it up to mail tomorrow.  I hope to finish Re-educating Lucy tomorrow night and Jade Vision on Saturday. After that, I can start working on the newest story. So far, I'm on schedule to get caught up. :) If that makes any sense. I'd like to have about a dozen or so stories out along with my three novels. It would be a good start anyway.

      Have a good evening!


      Life intervenes yet again. Monday morning, I got called out of town for a family emergency. Got back home about 4 o'clock today.  Feels good to be home.  I look forward to a real night's sleep in my own bed. Needless to say, I'm nearly 3 weeks behind on my short story progress. Had a 14-day rejection from Realms of Fantasy waiting for me, too.  So that one needs to go back out again. The ending needs some fixing though -- more pay off than it currently delivers. And maybe with the extra day off this week, perhaps I can get all these stories finished and submitted?

      Hey, Steve, we can pass notes in study hall while everyone's on the field trip. :)

      Have a good evening!


      Life has that funny way of intervening at the wrong time.  Had some family situations this weekend, so....I didn't get Re-educating Lucy finished. I'm going to try and work over lunch tomorrow, see if I can get it completed.  Though the good news is that I already have a story idea for the week, so I'll be able to get started on that story tomorrow night.  The story is another weird for me, but that's okay. I like weird. :) No title yet.  I've still got to get my edits finished on Jade Vision. Shouldn't be too much to do there. Wow, suddenly I've got a boatload of work to do this week. I'll probably try to knock out a few more words on JV tonight.  It's so close to completion.  I hate being this close and not finishing.  That's what lunch hours are for, I guess. :)

      My peach tree downloaded a huge load of peaches (literally, they were laying on the ground), so I had to attend to the peaches before they got too ripe. I canned about 20 lbs of peaches this afternoon. Whew!  I'm totally wiped, but it was worth it. This crop of peaches turned out so well. I'm very pleased with the results.

      Have a good evening!


      Murphy is 7 months old today!  And he weighs over 12 lbs now.  He's definitely a big guy. :) He's also one of the sweetest cats I've ever had.  Murphy loves to crawl onto your shoulders if you're sitting on the couch. He'll lay his head against yours and stretch his paws over your shoulder, purring the whole time.

      Hit the 2.6K mark tonight on Re-educating Lucy.  The story is 2/3rds finished and it's *almost* there. Things got off to a rocky start with the thunderstorms earlier in the evening, so I got a late start.  I should be able to finish up this story tomorrow night. Especially if I work over lunch.

      Have a good evening!


      Tonight, I got my main character to her destination. From there I plan to advance the final scene forward a bit then return to the back story. The story is about 1/3 complete. I'm getting that awkward part of all stories where I start having second thoughts about what I'm writing. Good thing I don't have time to think about that or the story won't be finished. :)

      It's been a long, busy day and I feel beat tonight.  I'm going to go to bed a little early tonight.  With the new semester starting, I have tons of stuff to do at work. It will all settle down soon, but for now, it's a bit chaotic.

      Have a good evening!


      So far, I'm pleased with this week's story.  I had to work out a few details with the plot and do a little research, but all of that went fairly quickly. Story is only about 550 words at this moment, but it's going well.  I knew that once I got started with the opening, it would move ahead fairly well. There is an alien race in this story, so I've spent some time working on my aliens. They play a very important role in the story, so my setup of their culture, etc., has to be right or the story won't work.

      I also tried a little experiment.  I started the story just before the end sequence and I'm working between the end and the opening. Nothing new here of course, but It just feels right for this particular story. We'll see. I plan to work front, back, front, back until I've brought all the threads together at the end sequence.  It should be interesting to see how the story turns. :) I don't think it will be a particularly long story though, maybe 4-4.5K max, but who knows. This thing could erupt into a novelette and really freak me out.

      Y'know, I think I would have really enjoyed attending WorldCon (ConJose) this year, but I feel that as a struggling writer, my energy would be best served by improving my writing skills.  I feel like there is so much subtlety in the craft, things that aren't overtly obvious, that I have no clue about.  Once I get past the basics of plot, setting, scene, characterization, etc., there's this nebulous area I have to pass through in the learning curve -- the things that distinguish a competent story from a memorable story. Right now, I think the best thing I can do for my work is practice, practice, practice.  Maybe if I keep doing that, I'll eventually get the hang of this writing thing? A girl can hope, can't she?

      Have a good evening


      A good night at the keyboard!  On the drive home from the chiropractor's office, I came up with my story idea for the week. The whole thing -- it's all there. I need to do a little bit of research though, not much but I want to check out a couple of things. I think this one may be kind of cool. :) It'll be SF and the working title is Re-educating Lucy.  I'm a little excited about the idea.  I just finished telling myself the story in a "letter," so I should be ready to write actual verbage tomorrow night.

      Got a query ready to mail for tomorrow, too. Slowly, but surely stuff is going out.

      Have a good evening!


      It's been a busy weekend.  Made seven jars of peach jam yesterday evening. Still waiting for the bulk of peaches to ripen. I also did some editing and clean up on Jade Vision today. Had Sunday lunch with my dad and cut his hair. After that, I've been working on improving my query letter for my novels.  I pulled together some addresses and fine tuned the query. Tried to redesign my letterhead, too.  I think I've got a working letter and letterhead now.  Just need to print the letters and mail them. I don't think that will happen until sometime next week.

      Now, I find myself looking for a new idea for this week's short story. Time for more brainstorming.

      Got a 25-day rejection from Strange Horizons today.  Think it's time to retire this story. I really like it, but know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, y'know.

      Have a good evening!


      Woohoo!!!  Jade Vision is done!  It came in slightly longer than I had expected, 4750 words. I expect to cut about 5% of the story in the rewrite.  Once I had that first third down on paper, the rest of it just flowed. I'm going to let the story set today and take another look at it tomorrow. Lisa=1, PC=0.  Can't tell you how relieved I am to have pulled this one off. I was only two stories into my little dare, so I didn't want it to go awry so early. I was bound and determined to finish this story.


      The story is coming along MUCH better tonight. I've decided to extend my deadline by one day, but I'm still going to try and finish the story by tomorrow. I plan to work on a new story on Sunday. I need to get some queries out in the mail as well.  Hope I can get those ready to roll by Monday or Tuesday.

      This story is a quirky little story. The working title is Jade Vision.  Not sure this title will remain by the story's ending though-- too early to tell. Right now, I'm at about 1050 words.  I think this story will be about 3.5-4K.  It's 11:30 pm and my brain is tired from writing reports all day, so I'm going to call it a day.

      Have a good evening


      I'm being thoroughly tested regarding my commitment to this dare.  Last night, I came home to a crashed PC.  XP crashed -- I was really surprised. So, I had to reinstall the OS. And my profile was corrupt, so that meant I had to make a new profile and reinstall all my software.  Groan.  At this point, I've managed to install most of my important software, so I'm back to where I was on Tuesday night.  :) Needless to say, I haven't gotten a story written (or started).  But I will tonight and I will finish the stupid story by Saturday, too. :)  Always love a challenge. :) So I'm going to get to work now and may not post anything until tomorrow night.  Wish me luck!


      A disappointing night at the keyboard. Ideas just didn't combust tonight, so I didn't write a word other than brainstorming stuff.  I'll let the snippets of info I gathered tonight percolate a bit and see what I can do with them during lunch tomorrow. The weekend away interrupted my momentum a bit. I need to get myself back on track and get a story written for the week.

      Have a good evening!


      A lot of ups and downs this weekend. Murphy was actually very easy to bathe, so that went well. The drying part didn't go so well. Murphy didn't like the blowdryer at all (ooh, big surprise there) and the space heater didn't go over much better. The end result was that his coat wasn't as fluffy as I'd hoped. The drive to Columbus went very smoothly, the hotel was clean and nice.  Everything was fine until about 4 am.  I had a very hard time getting to sleep Friday night. Just couldn't hit that deep sleep and tossed and turned. About 3 am, I finally fell asleep. At 4 am, Murphy started howling. And I do mean howling. He was upset because he was in a strange place, so he wanted attention.  He kept me up until 6:15 am. I tried to go back to sleep for a little bit, but I just couldn't fall asleep. So running on about an hour or two of sleep, I had to go to the show.

      At the show, the rows of tables had no signs marking the row name and the cages, though numbered, were in no particular order. So I wasted at least fifteen minutes trying to find Murphy's cage to set it up.  When I found it, the two cages on either side had people and stuff in the way, so I had to really struggle to get to the cage. By this point, I am completely frazzled because the cage has to be setup and Murphy groomed in time for his first ring (less than 30 minutes).  Murphy was terrified, of course, because he'd never been to a show before.  The day started off badly, but the folks next to us turned out to be new exhibitors like me and really great people.  They made the show a lot of fun.  Murphy's first three rings went okay. He got firsts among the brown tabby males, and he got second best of color. But no finals (where they award the 10 best kittens rosettes). By 4:30 pm, I left the show hall feeling a little discouraged.  I was hoping for one rosette and was disappointed.

      That evening, Murphy completely relaxed in the room and was his old self.  I was quite relieved. I enjoyed the FREE high speed internet access in the room and did some work on Dark God's Tears. That evening was a peaceful one and I got a good night's sleep (finally!)

      The next day at the show, Murphy was a bit more relaxed, but still scared. I got to talk with a 30-year veteran of Maine Coon breeding and ask her about Murphy's quality. She said he was one of the three best-looking MCs there.  She was very nice and we had a good time listening to her Maine Coon wisdom in the rings.  In two of the rings, Murphy got the same scores:  1st in male Maine Coons, 2nd best of color. No finals. In the third ring, Murphy surprised me by scoring 1st in male Maine Coons, best in color (yay!) and 2nd Best of Breed!!!!  I was so excited! He didn't make the final, but after 4 frustrating rings of getting the exact same score, it was so nice that one judge acknowledged him.   I'm still disappointed that he didn't make any finals, but I'm hoping he will at his next show. :)  So, the weekend ended on a positive note.  And...Murphy had his picture taken by a professional photographer this weekend. In a month or so, I hope to have a wonderful picture of him to post on my website. You won't recognize him, he's so big. :)

      Today, I got the long-awaited rejection from Imaginings (148 days).  This one bummed me out. I know I had a snowball's chance of getting an acceptance, but getting a form after 5 months was a bummer.  Especially since this was one of my best stories. Sigh.  I don't know if I'll ever get The Break in this business.  The story will go out again tomorrow.

      On a brighter note, I finished Dark God's Tears tonight. It goes out in tomorrow's mail as well.  I had hoped to get the story out in today's mail.  Oh well, gotta brainstorm a new story idea. I have part of a story. Just need a little combustion. Not a big deal.  It's only Monday.

      Have a good evening!


      Got my date entries a little messed up.  This entry now has the correct date.  I didn't do any writing tonight. I didn't get home from work until 7 pm and had to get my car packed for tomorrow's trip to Columbus, OH.  And then there were cat claws to trim, the beast to brush and comb (that would be Murphy :>), and the car to pack. I got all of that finished by 10 pm tonight. Needless to say, the evening is pretty much over and I'm too tired to do anything else. But the notebook pc will be traveling with me (my whole family makes fun of me because I don't go anywhere without my notebook--and they're right; I don't :>), so I expect to get some edits on Dark God's Tears done this weekend. If all goes well, that story will go out Monday.

      Ah, but Friday morning is where the big fun begins.  My first time to bathe Murphy.  He has to be shampooed twice, then rinsed, then dried and brushed.  I hope that part goes well. Wish me luck and few stitches!  I may not get a chance to post anything before I leave, so you'll have to wait until Sunday to see whether I drowned or not. :) I hope I come back with a rosette or two rather than scratches and an empty wallet.

      Have a good weekend!


      Read through the story once tonight and decided that I hated the ending. So I spent time rewriting the ending.  I'm happier with it now.  I also decided that the title didn't fit what the story had become, so I found a new title.  The story is now called The Dark God's Tears.  This fits the story better, I think.

      Got a pass from the agent query today. It was a long shot, but what the heck. I may try to query more agents in the coming months.  Or I may just say the hell with it and write more stuff.  Now, I need to brainstorm a bit more in preparation for next week's story.  Murphy's cat show is this weekend, so Dark God's Tears will have to go out Friday or Monday. And if I don't start writing a new story until Monday, I can always work on last year's novel that I want to finish.  There is always something to work on.

      Have a good evening!


      10:33 pm -- 6125 words.  And this story is DONE!!!  The ending needs some work and I think I need a bit more setup in the story's opening (ooh, big surprise there). I'll take another look at these areas tomorrow, but this puppy's finished!!  And that feels really good. :)

      Have a good evening!


      10:19 pm -- 4875 words.  The story is moving at a very steady clip. I just closed Act II.  Ready for the final Act of the story.  Dark Heart has taken some very interesting turns that I hadn't foreseen. I wanted to get more done, but the shoulder/neck are really causing me problems today. The chiropractor made it a little better today and I hope that after tomorrow's appointment, it will be much better. I'm just thankful I got Act II finished. I'm really enjoying writing this story and will feel a little sad when it ends. But maybe that's just nature's way of telling me there really is a novel in this story. :)  G'night.


      10:03 pm -- 3500 words.  Stopping at the halfway mark. I'm in the middle of Act II. The main characters are halfway through the conflict. This is where stories sometimes get difficult for me.  G'night!
      8:10 pm -- 2875 words. The story is going well. I'm about a third of the way through the story.  The first third of the story is always the hardest.  That's where all the threads have to be thrown out, all the setup has to be accomplished, world introduced, characters doing interesting things....you know how that goes. I think this story will be close to 7K when finished.  At the moment, I'm calling it Dark Heart. Hopefully it will change from this working title to something a bit more interesting. :) We'll see.

      12:45 pm -- I will fess up right now: I'm going to cheat on this week's story. Let me explain. I've been letting an idea percolate for about a week, knowing it was one part of two.  So last night and this morning, I've been researching and struggling for that "ah-ha!" moment where two ideas crash into each other. Something kept nagging at me about this idea because it was ... somehow familiar, like I'd been on this ground before. So, I went back to some of my old half-finished stories and novel pieces, and there it was.  The other half of this story. It fits so eerily perfect with the Egyptian idea I've been researching. The old idea involved the Persian Empire of Xerxes II (sp?) and really wasn't an idea so much as a setting (which was why I stopped writing it -- no plot).  Ah, but I hold that in my brain at this very moment. So....I'm going to use this setting and opening scene with a plot.  I won't claim to have written this story in a week, but I will claim that I finished it this week.  :)

      After lunch I will hit the page.


      Primal Helix is out the door!  Woo hoo!  Mailed it this afternoon before I did the Saturday errand thing. Did some last minute prep for Murphy's big show day, too.  I'm anxious to see how Murphy compares to the size of other Maine Coon kittens.  I think he's huge, but my biggest cat is right at 8 lbs. And now it's midnight and I still have more brainstorming to do. I have most of what I need to write my next story (I think :>).  I've never written a story set in an Egyptian milieu before and the idea I have takes place there. I know how the story starts, just not how it ends yet. I'm looking forward to starting work on it tomorrow.

      Have a good evening!


      It's done!!  Yessssss! Primal Helix weighs in at 7500 words now.  That is, until I employ James Patrick Kelly's 5% rule. Cut 5%.  So tomorrow, pass three will be refining, polishing, and trimming.

      Received a 20-day personal rejection from RoF. I'm a little disappointed about this rejection.  Ms. McCarthy pointed a rather large problem with the ending. I can't disagree with her comment, so I'll have to think about it a bit and see if I can fix the ending.  Good thing I'm writing new stories.

      Congratulations to my friend, Chris York who sold her first novel!!! A contemporary romance to Avalon.  I'm totally thrilled for you, Chris! :) :)

      Have a good evening


      Gained a lot of ground tonight on Primal Helix.  Should be able to wrap the story up tomorrow night and do a third pass on Saturday. This story will go out Saturday. And brainstorming will commence again Saturday evening.  On Sunday, I've got to get another story launched. 

      Do I have to do any of this? No, not really.  Is it crazy? Maybe it is, maybe it isn't? Is the story any good? No, it's not any good, good enough, or more than good because there is no good enough. I'm happy with it and that's the best reason I know to send out a story. Why would you write and submit a story in a week? Because it's good discipline, it shuts up my internal critique, and I COMPLETE stories. I started out this way in 1992 and after ten years, I'm going back there.  Why?  Because writing a short story a week taught me more than anything I've ever learned in a writing class.  It teaches me persistence, it teaches me practice, and it teaches me discipline.  I will get somewhere in this business. It may take me another ten years, but I'm too damned stubborn to stop now. I've come this far. Now, let's see what the next ten years will be like. I want them to be more productive and successful, so for now, I'll practice, practice, practice.

      Have a good evening


      The rewrite went a bit slower than I'd hoped tonight.  Almost got into the third act tonight, but then I thought of some more texture for the story's first act.  So I had to go back and add it into the story.  I tend to view stories in three acts (three-act dramatic structure). Guess I'll have to expend a little extra time tomorrow night and knock out some serious forward movement. It's very close though.  I'm feeling reasonably comfortable with the story, always a good thing.

      I sent off an agent query today. Can't hurt might help. Keeping my fingers crossed at any rate.  It was hard to reduce a novel into a paragraph, but I managed.  Hoping it's interesting enough to ask for chapters.

      Currently listening to Bruce Springsteen's new CD: The Rising!  Great stuff. :)

      Have a good evening


      I'm at the halfway mark in Primal Helix now.  I'm almost through the tough part in the story. When I get that right, the rest of the story will be a breeze to rewrite. I've got one little snag that I'm trying to work through (mostly a structure issue, I think). Once that gets resolved, the hard part for this story will be over.  My goal is still within reach.

      I'm fighting a bad shoulder tonight. Lots of seized up muscles in the right arm/shoulder, with a little tendonitis thrown in for fun.  I saw my chiropractor yesterday and today.  I'm hoping the work they did will make my arm feel better tomorrow. Glad I wasn't writing a first draft tonight.   See, there's something good to be said about rewriting. :)

      Have a good evening


      Went back to an old friend today.  To the book, Beginnings, Middles and Ends by Nancy Kress. This was a favorite of mine in the early days. It always helped me find trouble spots in my work. I took it to work and read through the Beginnings section over a break.  It's been helpful as I approach this second draft of Primal Helix. I'm about halfway through the first scene. Once I get the opening scene nailed down, the rest will go quickly. Then I can do my theme pass (draft three) on the story.  In keeping to a one-week time table, this story has to go out by Saturday. Then I'm starting over on Sunday with a new story. I think I'm on track to finish this one in time to mail on Saturday. The last four stories I've written have been SF, so I think my next story will be a fantasy.  Maybe an attempt at an epic fantasy or even humor.  Since I'd like to get into book 2 of OSG, I am thinking about writing a short story set in that world. Good research. :)

      Have a good evening!


      Yesterday, I had dinner with the Collins Clan after Ron and I traded and commented on our Dare stories. Hanging out with the Collins family is always a lot of fun.  Ron and I had an excellent discussion and analysis of our respective first drafts.  Of all the times we have critiqued stories, this time was different.  While listening to Ron's comments, something about theme and my handling of story intros clicked in my head. It's something I can't explain very well, but I suddenly understood WHY I had trouble with theme.  A very cool thing. :) I started working on the rewrite tonight and did some line edits and analysis for the second draft. My goal is to rewrite and polish Primal Helix and send it out by the weekend.

      It kind of felt like when you wear glasses and skip a yearly exam. The following year, you can still see, but those sharp edges are gone, leaving everything just slightly out of focus  until you look through those lens choices.  And when you put on the glasses with the new prescription, everything is so bright and crisp again. You wonder how you were able to even walk with the old pair even though the change in prescription is slight.

      Also today, I finished Murphy's cage curtains. Since he's a Maine Coon, I did a nautical theme for his cage decorations.  It was a lot of fun. :) I'm using a decorative fishing net on the front of the cage and attaching starfish and shells to it. My mom and I are debating on how quickly Murphy will knock them off.  :)  I'll take a picture of Murphy's cage at the show. I really had fun making the decorations. It's hard for me to believe that the 2.4-pound kitten I brought home in April is now 9 pounds!!  He isn't fat either.  He's just a big guy. :)

      Have a good evening!


      Received a 43-day rejection from Realms of Fantasy today.  I wasn't too bummed.  I got a personal note from Shawna McCarthy, so that was cool. At least something about the story got noticed. :) Story has already gone back out. Onward!

      No responses from any book publishers though, darn it.

      Still debating about the story line for OSG book 2, but I'll tell you, I went through book one over the last weekend and was a little horrified. It's been nearly 3 years since I sent that book out and BOY does it need a rewrite -- badly!!  I always wonder if I'm getting any better at this writing thing as the years pass, so looking back on a 3-year-old manuscript is nothing short of painful.  I want to get in there and tear it apart then put it back together.

      I had a discussion with a couple of my students this week about fantasy fiction. One student was highly recommending A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin for its realistic portrayal of the characters.  He was tired of characters that never seemed to have anything happen to them because it just got borning.  My other student had read about a third of Game of Thrones and was less than happy with it. Why? You guessed it.  Because there was so much real life that he wasn't enjoying the book.  He wanted fantasy, new places, magic, etc.  Readers have so many different reasons why they like a book. And the very thing that one person loves about a book, another person may hate.  But one thing they both agreed on was that characters made or broke the book for them.   The other student is halfway through Thrones and has finally found characters he likes.  And he's enjoying the book now. As a writer, passionately writing the kind of stories that we like to read may not appeal to everyone in the audience, but interesting characters doing interesting things usually do.  That's what I learned from my students this week. :)

      Have a good evening!


      Didn't get time at lunch to look at Primal Helix.  Had to wait until I got home tonight. Read through the story, did a bit of clean up here and there and tweaked the ending.  I must say, I very much enjoyed this dare. It's been quite a while since I've done one. Good to stretch some out-of-shape muscles. :>

      The switch.blade anthology continues to do well at Fictionwise.  I'm quite pleased by that.  Received email today regarding Beyond the Last Star .  It should be released in September 2002.  I'm looking forward to it!

      Got Murphy's cat show confirmation today.  The date is very close now. :>

      Short entry tonight. Have a good evening!


      9:15 pm - 5785 words and this beast is done!  Woo!  Now, I have to read through the story once.  The ending feels shaky to me.  I'll read over it tomorrow and see what I think.  I wasn't sure I'd finish it tonight, but the 300 words I wrote over lunch helped a little bit. Not sure what I think about this story yet. Even if I hate it, it was a good exercise. :)


      10:25 pm - Over 4100 words...dammit!!  I'm still not done. This story was too big for a short story and I should have known better when I started it.  Needless to say, I'm annoyed that I didn't finish a draft tonight, but if I work on it over lunch tomorrow and after work, I should finish the first draft.  I brought my notebook to work today, intending to pound out some verbage over lunch, but I copied the wrong file over. ggggrrrrrrrrr. I won't do that tomorrow.  Alas, the Dare continues....

      9:32 pm - Over the 3300 -word mark with only an hour left in the evening.  Rats!!!!  There's a lot left to tell in this story. Probably another 2K. Don't know if I can wrap it up in an hour. Guess I'll give it a shot.  Sigh.


      9:52 pm - Over the 2500 -word mark.  But drat it all, I've got eight minutes to finish the story.  Not happening tonight. Oh, well -- I should finish Primal Helix by tomorrow evening.  I came close, Ron, but this story was just too big for its time frame. :> Overall though, I'm fairly pleased with my output today. The story seems a little slight though, but hey it's a first draft.  I won't even read through the whole thing until after I've finished it tomorrow evening. This Dare continues tomorrow.  Have a good evening!

      8:16 pm - 1700 words and counting. Two hours to go...don't think I'm going to wrap this puppy up by 10 pm. But I'll come reeeeeaaaalllllyyyyyy close. :)

      5:55 pm - Up to 800 words.  It's going to be close whether I finish this one tonight. Definitely gonna go to the wire. 

      12:45 pm - Did preliminary notes on the plot, working through some back story and details. Basically, I write myself a letter :) and just talk the story through.  Still trying to find the POV character's story amidst all this back story.  There's the HUGE back story that came out of two words. I'd actually started (and threw away) an opening scene for a story (called Heirlooms).  I kept one word of it: heirloom and did a random Google search on a word from a line someone spoke as I was flipping channels (HGTV, I think.). I've got some good stuff, I think. I'm going to break for lunch while I consider my POV character. I should be able to start writing (fingers crossed) after lunch. Ta-Ta For Now!


      My buddy Ron Collins has challenged me to a friendly little short story dare.  Thanks, Ron -- a mini dare is just what I needed! You'll probably kick me for posting this online, but making it public increases the expectation that I will finish this story. :)

      The challenge :  write a short story in a day.

      I did some research tonight and poked around, trying to connect some ideas together. And I think I hit on something that I want to write. Fingers crossed. Ron has probably already written his by now. My plan is to finish the research tonight (yeah, I had to pick something that had a lot of science in it 8P) and write the story tomorrow.  Another promising sign is that I even have a working title: Primal Helix.

      These sorts of dares are always win-win situations.  Gotta love that!  Better get back to the research.  I plan to start and finish this puppy tomorrow.

      Today, I spent the afternoon sewing. I *finally* finished all of Murphy's cage curtains!  Now, I just need to add decorations, and it'll be ready to go. I'm decorating his cage in an ocean/beach theme. I've got a small fishing net to which I'm going to attach starfish and shells. Even a little rope. :) I have a large blue starfish to highlight the front of his cage.  It's been fun so far.

      Let me leave you with an awesome picture of a bald eagle that I took on San Juan Island last month.


      Have a good evening!



      Happy Birthday to my dad who was 73 yesterday!

      Tonight, I'm really struggling with the act of writing.  I've false-started on several stories now, but I'm just not satisfied with the quality of my output.  My SoWhatta-Meter just keeps signaling and I can't seem to turn it off. Usually when I feel this way it's because my business side is fighting with my creative side. Never a good thing.  And June marked the beginning of my 10th year of submitting fiction, so I'm hearing that fiction writing clock ticking louder. I need to gag the project/business manager voice and let my creative voice take over. You know, that mocking voice that reminds you it's been 10 years and you still haven't hit your first major magazine market or sold your first novel.  Somehow, I've got to drown out that voice so I can finish more stories.  This past week, it's been quite a struggle.  Of course, these sorts of struggles really make you appreciate the good writing days. :)

      Still contemplating rewriting book 2 of OSG. That's sort of the direction I'm leaning right now.  I miss some of my characters and would like to write more stories about them. :)  I have two short stories that I need to finish though.  Maybe revisiting some of these worlds will help me finish those stories too?

      Have a good evening!


      Just when you think you understand the story -- another idea pops up and messes everything up. :)  I dropped the original idea on the back burner and wrote the first scene of the new idea tonight.  It's a crazy little story, but so far, I'm having fun with it.  Working title is: Why Magic Doesn't Rely on Technology.  I haven't written anything light-hearted in a while, so this will be a nice change. I didn't get much sleep last night, so I gave up finally and went into work early.  The whole office freaked when I showed up at 7:30 am and kidded me about the rest of the day.  Tomorrow, I plan to go in at my normal time. :)

      I've gone back to one of my novels, On Shattered Ground and I'm toying with ideas of rewriting book two. It has to be completely reworked anyway. There are parts of this book I can use, but the overall conflict in that story must change.  Simply because book one has dramatically changed since I wrote book two.  Weird how that happens, but there is so much in this world I can write about. Kier has a lot of stories to tell and I want to write more of those stories.

      I liked Ron's entry today about it being easy to not write.  That's so true. Writing, like anything else, requires discipline, so it's easy to get out of the habit. And it's also easy to become an automaton and churn out inanimate things that have no life.  The trick is to find that middle ground.  I feel like I've been bouncing between these two extremes, so I've ended up throwing away more verbage than I've kept.  Writing for the sake of writing something -- anything -- as long as I have a word count.  Or not writing because I didn't have anything to say. Excuse number #498 from the Writer's Avoidance Toolbox. I need to get another toolbox. :)

      Have a good evening!


      12 day rejection from F&SF today.  The story is back in an envelope and ready to go out Monday.  Did some more work on a new story. Still no title but one of the main characters did a 180 on me, so the story is taking an interesting twist. This one's gonna be a bit quirky.  Never know if that is good or bad until you actually submit it. :)  That's quite far off though.  Oddly, I have another story that's nagging me to write it, but my current story has a deadline.

      I'm also pleased to announce that my short story, Safe as the Dark will be appearing on Monday, 7/15 in the anthology switch.blade: School's Out.  The anthology is being published by Fictionwise and is edited by Amy Sterling Casil.  The volume has some great stories in it!  Contributors include: Ron Collins, John Bodin, James Van Pelt, Vera Nazarian, Amy Sterling Casil, Tom Gerencer, Michael Arnzen, Tobias Buckell, Matt Horgan and me.

      I find myself trying more and more new craft things. This weekend, I actually bought a sewing machine.  I wanted to learn how to sew and I needed to make cage curtains for Murphy's upcoming cat show.  I finished two of the four pieces tonight.  It's just straight sewing, but it wasn't too difficult. It was fun, too! Another thing I want to try my hand at is doll making.  Not just any doll though. I want to make little porcelain faeries and mermaids.  I saw some in a store a few weeks ago and was in awe of their beauty; however, my awe turned to shock when I found out their prices for these little 2-4 inch dolls were in the $400-$600 range.  So...I want to see if I can make them (seeing that they are totally out of my price range.) :)  I hope to take a seminar on making these dolls in the fall.

      Tonight I did some major fixes to my website, fixing all the grotesquely broken links on the main page and fixing other assorted errors. I've created an archive link for previous journal entries, so hopefully that will work better than the past scattered links. There's still a lot left to do, but for now, I'm done. Y'know, I never did manage to eat a meal today.  Guess I'd better go eat something.

      Wishing Linda Dunn a happy birthday tomorrow!  Hope you have a wonderful day. :)

      Have a good evening


      This past weekend was quite hectic.  On July 4th, I drove 4+ hours to Lexington for a family gig.  It was hot, exhausting, and frustrating (my niece was in a pageant), but nice to see family. Friday evening I drove home with my mom and nephew.  Got home around 11 pm, checked email, repacked my clothes and went to bed.  Next morning, I reloaded the car and drove to Indy for InConJunction.  I was EXTREMELY disappointed because Dirk Benedict had a family emergency and couldn't attend.  SIGH........  Then at check-in there was an unfortunate misunderstanding that really made me feel unwelcome at the con.  I almost didn't stay. Thank God for Linda Dunn and Fred Aaiken.  If Fred and Linda hadn't been there, I don't think I would have survived the weekend.  Fred and I had some good conversations about our writing and the publishing industry. Had some wonderful writing conversations with Linda over lunch and dinner. It was great to talk face-to-face with other writers.  Linda and I were on a panel together that was a lot of fun.  My final panel on Friday was a lot of fun, too. Linda, Fred -- you both were lifesavers and I'm so glad you were there.  Thanks!

      Spent the past two days struggling with a new short story. I haven't made a lot of progress on this one yet, but I wrote the first scene. I still need to think harder about the POV character and the situation she's in. Oooh, just had a cool idea to go with the initial skeleton!! (one of those ah ha moments!)  This new story is really beginning to take shape. No title yet.  This one will be a little quirky, but what the heck, I'll write it anyway. :)

      Next month, Murphy the dogcat goes to his first cat show. :) I'm really looking forward to showing him. He's gorgeous!

      Someday soon, I'll post more of my vacation pictures.  I have an excellent closeup of a bald eagle I want to share with you.  That's going to have to wait though until I can get caught up from last week. Better get back to my writing. It's getting late and I have to work tomorrow.

      Have a good evening