My surgery is tomorrow morning, so I guess this is the close of this place for the year. I'm
         not sure what the year 2000 will bring yet or the redesign. Lots of things are up in the air at
         the moment. Nevertheless, I wish everyone a safe and happy Christmas and New Year's.
         Be well and write what you love. It's the only way to survive in this business. I plan to get
         back to my novel as soon as I'm feeling better. And with that...adieu.


         I'm almost finished with the first chapter of Isle. One of the main characters is about to step
         onto the scene. I anticipate that this story will have three points of view: Khepri, a
         necromancer; Jared, a revenant brought back to unite the scattered gods; and Jared's sister
         Osaza, who seeks to rebuild the destroyed temples and dispel the invaders of her city. So
         far, so good. I hope that continues when I'm at about 60K. Right now, that number is a
         LONG way away.


         Happy Birthday to my nephew, Skyyler, who is 9 today!
         This weekend, I started work on my newest novel endeavor. Working title is Isle of
         Forever. We had a ton of company this weekend, so I didn't get to work on the novel as
         much as I'd planned. Besides the company, there were a lot of errands I had to get done.
         We managed to get our Christmas tree up, despite Bailey's efforts to knock it down. He's
         really enjoying the tree and I love watching him play under it. He's even managed to lure
         Seville down to investigate, a good thing for her. Anyway, I've completed my outline and
         I'm halfway through chapter one. I'm having a good time with the story. It's a plot I've had
         rattling around in my head for some time.

         No, I'm not calling it an official novel dare because December is going to be painfully
         busy. But I write fast. It's not unusual for me to put down 2k to 4k in an evening. I do a lot
         of my writing in my head so that when I sit down at the keyboard, I know where
         everything is going. I am also someone who doesn't see her work as set in stone. After I
         put the manuscript away for a week or two, I usually gouge out the junk. I'm not afraid to
         throw stuff away. I do it all the time with my short stories. If I don't want to throw it away,
         then I write a new version of the story. Of course, I haven't sold a book yet, so what do I
         know. :) But yeah -- I'm one of the 30-day folks. I've completed 4 manuscripts this way.
         One of them I tossed out because it will never sell. I don't know if the other 3 will sell or
         not. Time will tell. Two of them are out and one's a sequel. At any rate, I'm writing another
         one because I want to immerse myself in a new project. And it's a personal challenge for
         me because my year has been my least productive in a long while. And finally, it's a
         means to escape. All of those things feel good right now. Which ever way you decide to
         write your novel, challenge yourself to write the best book you can and finish it. However
         long (or short) that takes is up to you. Now, I'd better get back to my manuscript.



         Happy Birthday to Patricia Duffy Novak! Have a great day, Patricia, and take care of
         yourself. :)


         Some big changes are coming to my website soon. I'm not sure what things will stay or go
         yet. This page may be one that will go. I haven't decided. At any rate, in two weeks, the
         whole site will be on hiatus (meaning, I won't be updating anything) because of my
         upcoming surgery, and due to some other family situations too personal to deal with
         here, I feel the need to withdraw. There are plenty of other journals to read, most of which
         are ten bazillion times more interesting than this page has ever been and at the moment, I
         feel like I'm just taking up space. Apologies if anything on this page has offended anyone.
         In my previous entries, my intent was to illustrate that our pages are independent of each
         other and that one doesn't affect the other (and I was using myself as the example). I know
         this place hasn't been very positive this year and I apologize for that. Confidence makes
         for better reading and I don't have much of that to offer, especially right now. I plan to
         immerse myself in my writing and the redesign of this site. Most likely, my site will
         relocate to another URL, too. When that happens, I may post it on my newsgroup.


         (still feeling a bit grouchy) Comparisons again...sorry...The beauty of websites is that we
         can all do our own thing. Through them, we give the world a glimpse of who we are -- for
         better or worse. Ron is being himself on his pages, showing us how he works and a little
         bit of who he is (sorry, Ron -- I'm picking on you :>). He didn't ask for his awards, but they
         were given by people who thought he deserved them. And that's cool. Because he's got an
         excellent page. It's always nice to be recognized. Yeah, I get tired of being in the shadows,
         but most of the time, it's probably my own doing. And even if it isn't, my page has nothing
         to do with his page. And vice versa. Ron getting an award has nothing to do with me not
         getting an award. People like my page or they don't. I cannot change that no matter how
         hard I try. And it's just not worth worrying over. My journal isn't an award-winner and
         neither am I. Like it or not, some of us have to fill out that bell curve. In case you haven't
         noticed, I don't like competition. I'm more of the Pollyanna hearts and flowers type who
         wants everybody to win. But that's not usually how it works. So accept awards or don't; it
         really makes no difference. You know why? Because none of this has anything to do with
         writing. And speaking of writing -- I've got a novel to plot.


         [Whining/Angst Alert! You've been warned]
         Okay, I'm reading all these entries about structure/no-structure and there are truths in all
         of them. When you first start out writing, you need some guidance on how to put this stuff
         together. Maybe some of us already knew this structure in our guts and maybe some of us
         were clueless about it and needed to learn it the hard way (I, personally, was in the
         clueless department). But regardless of where you fall in this spectrum, there comes a
         point where you have to say, this is my skeleton and I'll arrange the bones anyway I damn well
         please. Sure, sometimes I write stories that are traditional in arrangement, but most of the
         time, I just write what I want. I don't sit at the keyboard and think, Okay, the protagonist
         can't protag unless he tries and fails three times, so I've gotta make him fail here. There is so much
         more to a story than this little skeleton. It's how you arrange it and how you wrap the
         muscles, flesh, and nerves around it that makes it come to life. Like Myke said, Legend of
         Sleepy Hollow broke the rules. There have been many works I've read that break the rules
         and these works always make me smile. Why? Because these rules are not laws.
         Guidelines. And you know what? It's okay to color outside the lines. Sometimes it's art
         and sometimes its crap, but that's okay. It's okay if you don't write every day. It's okay if
         you enjoy your life and writing isn't the most important thing to you. And it's okay if
         writing means everything to you.
         Which brings me to another point: comparisons. Based on the journals, some of us are
         seen as the most dedicated of writers (as if they are somehow more dedicated than the rest
         of us) and others are seen as hobbyists or something in between. Some of us are given
         awards for our sage advice in these journals and some of us are ignored. And this is one
         thing I frankly don't like about this Not-A-Webring. I don't write things on my page to
         compete with other people. I'm not trying to show anyone or compete with other writers
         that I'm more or less more dedicated to my craft. I write at night after I come home from
         work. Why? Because I'm a night person, that's why. I've worked damned hard these past
         seven or eight years to "break into" this business and I still feel like the invisible woman.
         I'm not an award- winning writer (and never will be) and my website is mediocre, but I
         try, folks. I try very hard. My goal for my website is to support other writers.

         My first two years at this gig, I wrote a short story EVERY week for two years and mailed
         it out. I wrote novels alongside those stories, too. Maybe I don't have any good advice to
         offer others? Maybe I'm boring and so is my writing (and so is this journal)? But you know
         what? I've always been here in this journal ready to help other writers and offer them
         encouragement and try to offer up my experiences in any way they could help. I'm not
         witty and I'm not wise and things get to me a lot because, for the most part, I'm on my
         own. And I'm okay with that. But because I lack those things doesn't make me any less
         dedicated to my writing. Like Vera, my writing is everything to me. It's the one thing that
         keeps me from running screaming into traffic after waking up and seeing that without my
         writing, THIS IS MY LIFE.

         And you know what? I've made 10 submissions so far this year. Yeah -- just ten. An
         all-time low for me. But you know what else? I've also made 5 professional sales this year.
         I'm very pleased with that ratio. It's my best year ever. So you could say, I'm not terribly
         dedicated because I only sent out 10 things. What it means is that I spent a very
         concentrated amount of time on those stories. My intention here is not to brag. Like Linda,
         my self-esteem has no pulse and every year, I ask Santa Claus for an ego. But what I'm
         trying to say here in my own rambling way is, Dedication can't always be measured by
         what's on these pages. And the bottom line is DO WHAT WORKS BEST FOR YOU.

         Break the rules. Write from your heart. Be yourself. Don't worry about all the advice out
         there. Take advice only if it rings true to you. If it doesn't ring true, no matter who it's
         from, ignore it. Just write what pleases you. And if the rejections are getting to you, then
         look at who you're trying to please. Look at why you're doing this. If you aren't writing
         because you want to, because you can't stop yourself, or because your brain spins out all
         these ideas, then take a look at what you're doing. Write for yourself. Don't shift your
         satisfaction with your work onto the editors. This trap can kill your motivation and your
         career really quickly. In the end, all of this stuff (the spotlights and the rejections) boils
         down to you and your keyboard making it happen. You're in charge. And no matter what
         they told us in kindergarten, it's still okay to color outside the lines. [Whining Alert has
         passed. Rambling has ceased. It's safe to return to your keyboards.]


         Wow, three entries in a row from me -- scary! Today, I received the page proofs for my
         story, Rena 733! I haven't had a chance to read them over yet, but I was very excited to
         receive them. This story is a favorite of mine and I'm thrilled I'll be able to finally share it
         with someone.
         I took a vacation day from work today and spent a good chunk of time brainstorming
         ideas for a novel I've been wanting to write this year. Actually, there are two ideas I've
         wanted to explore, but one of them has really stayed in my thoughts lately. Which brings
         me to my radical idea of how to fix my motivation problem: write a novel. Yep, nothing
         like a big project to cure a lack of motivation. I haven't written a novel yet this year, so I
         plan to start working on this puppy very soon. Granted, I won't be able to finish it all in 30
         days which is my normal approach to such projects (due to my impending surgery), but I
         think it would be a good way to end the year. I currently have three novels out making the
         rounds, so I'd really like to have another one to submit. I had a lot of fun playing around
         with the ideas and had a lot of those "oh, cool -- I could do this and this!" moments. I
         haven't had those in quite a few months.
         I don't know how other writers feel, but I always feel like I'm teetering on the edge of the
         creativity well. There are times when I have so many ideas, I feel like I'm drowning in
         them. Then there are those awful times when my well feels bone dry and I fear I'll never
         again be able to fill it. Creativity moves in cycles and I remind myself of this during the
         dry periods, but the fear that the "death" cycle is permanent still lingers. I never manage to
         convince myself that it will come back until it actually does come back. Sure, I typically
         try to write through those dry periods, but they feel different. If that makes any sense. The
         stories feel almost processed and mechanical. So, I think I'm moving closer to the "birth"
         cycle. The timing stinks for a novel, but what the heck. If I wait until I have the time again,
         I'll be waiting forever. Just a little late night babble from Chateau Silverthorne.


         Happy Birthday to Lisa Collins! Have a wonderful day!


         Wow...I hadn't realized it had been so long since I posted! Reasons? There are many, all of
         which translate into a lack of motivation. That and I just haven't had anything to say. It
         may not be obvious on this page, but I'm having a lot of difficulty writing lately. I haven't
         written a word in nearly two weeks. The story I was working on never moved past the
         research stage. It's sitting alongside the other story idea I haven't been able to start due to
         lack of information. I think I need some sort of motivational recharge. So...I'm plotting
         something radical. More about that in a later entry.
         It looks like I'll be having surgery in early December. I'm trying to plan my finances
         accordingly. Yuck. I hate dealing with insurance garbage. The CT scan revealed that my
         septum (deviated due to a broken nose and repaired a lifetime ago) has deviated again.
         Not sure how that happens really. Just how does part of the body shift a half inch to the
         left? Was it like continental drift? Or like a tectonic plate shift? Maybe I was abducted by
         aliens? Maybe gravity is much stronger in Indiana than the rest of the planet? Maybe my
         cats are more active at night than I realized? Shrug. At any rate, the deviated septum has
         been causing me considerable sinus and breathing problems all year, so it's time to fix it.


         Happy Birthday to Brigid Collins! Hope you had a wonderful birthday!
         Belated congratulations to Steve Leigh on winning the Spectrum Award for his novel,
         Dark Water's Embrace.
         Happy Halloween everyone! I carved a pumpkin last night for the first time in 15 years. It
         was a lot of fun. :) I watched scary movies, too. :)
         Not much else to report. I received my postcard back for On Shattered Ground which I
         submitted earlier this month to DAW Books. I hope they like this one. This is the first time
         I've ever sent a disposable manuscript copy for a novel submission. Still no response from
         my submission to the agent (but I expect 3-4 months minimum here) and no response to
         query #2 on my SF novel (442 days tomorrow). Sigh. Oh, well, I guess I'll know when I
         I go back to my ENT doctor this week for the umpteenth time. I should find out the results
         of my CT scan then.


         Yeah, I know...I haven't posted for a while... Work has been very busy and I've been very
         tired. I'm working on a new story called "A Day at the Zoo." Hey, it's a working title. Still
         poring through information for my 1890s story. For now, the story is on the back burner.
         My Dad is doing okay. He has some tests scheduled for early next week. We'll see.
         I've been spending a lot of time learning a new software package for work. Unfortunately,
         this has led me to a strong desire to redesign my web page. Since the fiasco of my deleted
         website and my having to put up a half-finished design, I didn't get to put in the time and
         care I'd have liked to have spent (man, what a crappy sentence!) Anyway, I'm enjoying this
         new design phase and plan to keep my existing site backed up daily until the new design
         is ready to upload.


         My dad came home from the hospital this weekend. The doctors still aren't sure what's
         going on, but Dad is supposed to have some tests done this week.
         Received a cover flat from Roc Books today for the Treachery and Treason anthology. It
         was a nice surprise in the mail today. Below is a scan of the cover. (for a larger -- and
         slow-loading -- version, click on the graphic.) The cover is very cool!

         I had expected a rejection from S&S 18 today, but nothing came. Perhaps tomorrow?


         Spent the evening in ER again last night. That dreaded, too familiar call. I rushed out of
         work at 5:15 and sped to the hospital. Dad's still in the hospital. They aren't sure what's
         going on yet. We hope to know something later today. I didn't get home until nearly 10:30
         pm last night and was finally able to eat something. Needless to say, I didn't do any
         writing last night. Sometimes, it's really hard to be the only daughter.


         Research continues. I received books from Amazon.com today, so I have lots of reading to
         do. I bought a book of pictures from the period to help me with the story along with a
         couple of reference books. None of the experts I queried has responded. I may have to just
         wing it on this one. I'd prefer to write from a better knowledge base, but that may not be
         possible for this story.
         I withdrew one of my novels at the end of last month. It went out again today. Still no
         response to my remaining query. No response yet from the agent either. Keeping my
         fingers crossed.
         Received a rejection from S&S 18 today. It was expected. I felt so awful opening that
         envelope. Knowing that for the first time since I started submitting, this response wasn't
         from Marion Zimmer Bradley.
         My mom's leg/hip is much better. I feel relieved.


         Still researching the background for my story and having a hard time locating information.
         None of the experts I queried has responded. I'm a bit disheartened by that, but I'm sure
         they're all busy people. So, I'm doing a lot of studying and writing in my head right now.
         No title yet, but I'm exploring themes and figuring out whose story to tell. This one scares
         me a bit. It may a little too ambitious for my skill level, but the exercise will be good for
         my understanding of craft. I'm anxious to dive into the story, but I can't until I have a solid
         understanding of the events/backgroun that lead up to the story's conclusion. In the
         meantime, I have ordered some books from good ol' Amazon.com. The story is set around
         1900 in New York Bight area.
         Both of my parents have been ill this week, so I'm feeling a little more stressed than usual.
         Spent Sunday in ER again with my dad because he was bleeding from the mouth and it
         wouldn't stop because of the anticoagulant he takes for his mechanical heart valve. My
         mom hasn't been able stand on her right leg for two days. She has promised to see a doctor
         tomorrow. And on top of that, Marshall has been sick with apparent gall bladder trouble
         (weird, huh?). We've been giving him medication and he's back to eating regularly again. I
         was afraid this was a sign that his cancer had spread, but the vet says no. It's good to see
         him hogging it up at the food bowls. Now, if I can get my mom well, things will be a bit
         calmer here.
         I hope to put up some new pictures soon. Haven't had much time at all to play with my
         new Mavica.


         Sorry I haven't posted in a few days. I've been feeling really badly about losing MZB. The
         news hit me pretty hard.
         My Mavica finally arrived. I haven't taken many pictures yet, but here is a new photo of
         Bailekitty, taken last night.

         Over the past week, I've continued my search for information for my next story. It's been
         tough, but I've managed to find a few more scraps. I had to pore through microflim to
         locate a couple of small articles no more than a page or two. I'm going to keep searching


                                       Marion Zimmer Bradley
                                     June 3, 1930 to September 25, 1999

         God . . . where to start. I owe her so much. I made my first professional sale to her, way
         back in 1993. (Bottled Rain) Even when I'm 80, I'll never forget that rainy Monday in
         October 1993 when I opened that envelope and found an acceptance letter inside. And
         Marion made me work for that sale, too. It didn't come easily. I remember how
         intimidated I had been when I decided to submit to her publications. I'd read and loved so
         many of her works. It was really scary to send this woman one of my dreadful, newbie
         stories. I knew nothing about writing short stories, but her first rejection was encouraging
         and helpful. She was always honest and even though that honesty was sometimes painful,
         I always respected her for it. Every year, I have looked forward to the opening of the
         Sword & Sorceress anthologies. This series has always been one of my favorite markets
         and I never tire of writing stories for it. I have been very fortunate to have placed four
         stories in those volumes. Now, I choke up at the thought of seeing S&S 17 in print. That
         introduction is the last one I'll read from her. MZB gave me (and hundreds of newbie
         writers) a chance to sell her a story when I had no credits. In the pages of her publications,
         I learned to write.

         Marion Zimmer Bradley forged a path that many women SF/F writers now travel, a much
         smoother path for her efforts. She taught many of us to write and not to give up. She
         taught us the value of persistence and to let our imaginations soar through fantasy fiction.
         And she kept a light on for us as we ventured out into the genre, learning to write other
         aspects of speculative fiction and even novels, so that when we wanted to return to sword
         & sorcery, it was there to embrace us again. She was patient and giving of her time and
         expertise. And even though I only met her once, she touched my life in a deep way. She
         helped me greatly along the path to becoming a writer. It's a long journey and I have far to
         go, but I will never forget Marion Zimmer Bradley's guidance and her simply teaching me
         not to give up.

         Thank you, Marion. Peace.


         Yippee! I ordered my Sony Mavica today! I can't wait to get it. I've been lusting after one of
         these cameras for months and months. And then when I got to actually hold Zette's and
         peek through Tom Power's camera viewfinder -- whoa! I wanted to buy one desperately
         after that. I've been saving my writing earnings to get one.
         I'm still doing research for the new story. No title yet. But this one really stays with me. I
         hope I can do it justice. The historical event that this story centers around has been a real
         bear to research. I haven't been able to find anything but bits and pieces. Still no response
         to my emails. Maybe I'll get lucky and find some information? Hope so. I can't write this
         story without it. Ah, well -- back to the research.


         Tonight, I did some brainstorming on the new story idea. Still haven't heard back from
         some experts I contacted regarding some research yet. The characters in this story are
         complex, so I need to spend some time thinking about them. They aren't characters I can
         necessarily identify with, which is part of my quest. I'm seeking some threads of
         understanding so that I can write this story. In fact, I'm rather uncomfortable about this
         story in some ways, but I feel a need to write it. This story is going to have a dark edge to
         it, but not too dark. My hope will be much paler shade of Fitzgerald and Shelley meeting
         Ray Bradbury since these folks are masters and I'm ... well ... I can type! At any rate,
         another ambitious attempt on my part. We'll see what happens. If nothing else, the
         exercise will be beneficial and it is something that excites me. I don't want to push this
         story. It feels delicate right now. Like those last fleeting moments of a dream broken by
         the buzz of the alarm clock. If I think about them too hard, they vanish but if I let them sit
         quietly in the back of my mind, they evolve into fluid images. This one needs a little time.
         I'm still struggling with my third S&S story. I haven't hit on the appropriate situation for
         this story yet. I hope to before Monday. It's my last shot. It's too early (I hope) for my first
         story to come home and the second one hasn't arrived yet. We'll see what happens. I'm
         still excited about my Civil War story sale! :) This year has been my best year ever for
         fiction writing. Glad that some good things eventually happened this year because it sure
         started out with a lot of unpleasantness.


         I finished my draft of Armageddon tonight. The story has been proofed and will go out
         tomorrow. This is story #2 bound for S&S 18. Now, I need to finish Deathbringer. From
         there, I have a way cool novelette idea to map out and a novel idea to entertain.


         Happy Birthday to Tippi Blevins! Have a great day, Tippi!
         Heartfelt Congratulations to Ron Collins! His short story, The Disappearance of Josie Andrews,
         has made the 1999 Nebula Preliminary Ballot. (note: the above link requires a Flash plugin
         and will take a few minutes to load)
         And now...some good news...I can now talk about the cryptic project I was working on a
         couple of months ago. I'm pleased to announce that my short story, Surviving the Elephant
         has been accepted by Fantastic Civil War , a DAW anthology that will appear sometime in
         2000 (Edited by Martin Greenberg and John Helfers)!! I'm so thrilled to make this sale
         because StE was such a tough story to write. And another sentimental reason: the
         characters in this story were the first major characters I ever wrote about as a kid. It is a
         great joy to me that I can finally share them with other people. They are very dear to me. :)


         Happy Birthday to my big brother, Johnny!
         I'm still editing story #2 for S&S. I hope to get it sent out by Monday. The weekend is
         being taken up by company, so I haven't had much time to write these past few days.
         BUT...I have this *REALLY* quirky story idea brewing in my head that is *REALLY*
         poking at me. I need to do some setting research though before I can begin writing. I have
         some email out to some experts and I hope to have information leads very soon. This
         story will be a very ambitious story for me, but I think I'm up to the challenge. I just need
         to sort out some details first. This story is going to be more left-of-center than many of my
         other works. In fact, this year has brought me writing challenges than any other year. This
         story is going to be another of my bizarro writing exercises. The exercise is to write
         something that scares me. I can't quite describe the scary part of writing this story. It feels
         like a story that's a little beyond my skill level. And that's always scary, but a good kind of
         scary. :)


         I wrote a new story tonight. It's a short one, only 1000 words for the first draft. The story is
         called Armageddon and it's humor (of course it is -- with a title like that, how can it not be?
         ;>) I plan to clean it up tomorrow, flesh out a description or two, and then paint in the
         setting. If all goes well, the story will go out Wednesday. It feels pretty good. Hope Ms.
         Bradley likes it. It's kind of a silly little story told in the same style as my first S&S sale,
         Dragonskin Boots. I had hoped to write three stories for this round, so perhaps I can finish
         Deathbringer before the window closes. That is my plan for the weekend.
         Lately, I've been feeling creatively tired. Sometimes, tech support can be creatively
         draining. In many ways, problem-solving is a lot like writing. At work, I have to always
         look outside the circle and I constantly have to try the untried. After a while, the effort
         makes me tired. I feel that way about fiction lately. Trying to write a new twist or a new
         angle on an idea or trying to do a theme differently enough to spark an editor's interest.
         Doing that sort of thing all day and then at night when I come home is tiring. The answer:
         write for me not the markets. :) Simple enough. That was my goal for the stories I've
         written this week. I'm going to remind myself of this every time I approach a project.
         Ahhh, that feels much better. :)


         I've completed the edits on Leaving Lufti and the story goes out tomorrow. I'm still working
         on Deathbringer. I hope I can finish and mail it this week. I also finished the changes on the
         edits for Rena 733. Those pages will also go out tomorrow. I should make my 9/15
         deadline with no problem.
         I also received payment for my Quantum SF sale this weekend!
         I'm working on some story ideas at the moment and hope to turn one into submission #3
         for S&S. Back to work for me.


         I'm relieved to report that Leaving Lufti is now finished. It's about 4500 words. THANK
         GOD!!! I didn't think I'd ever bring this one together. Ms. Bradley tends to buy stories from
         me when they have a twist at the end. I didn't think this one would have a twist, but one
         emerged in the last third of the story. At this moment, I don't know how I feel about the
         story. I still have one more story to finish and an idea for a third one is sprouting in my
         brain. Maybe, just maybe, I'll have three stories to submit this round. Now, I've got to
         polish this puppy and mail it on Saturday along with the galleys for Rena 733.
         All's quiet in my mailbox and my frustration with long overdue responses to queries is
         mounting. I haven't had a response in some time. Sometimes, writing involves a lot of
         waiting. Can't change it though. It's best to immerse myself in the next S&S story.
         Onward.... G'night, folks!


         Yeah, I know...it's been very quiet here. I'm struggling with my S&S stories and it isn't
         going well. I'm staying away from online stuff right now, so I don't anticipate my posts
         increasing in the near future. The writing projects in July wore me out and I had to catch
         up with things in August. Now, I have two stories to complete and galleys for Rena 733
         due next week. Not that I'm complaining, but I'm feeling very frustrated that I can't make
         these stories happen. I went through this in July and was hoping not to go through that
         pain again. But sometimes, being a professional means working even when you don't feel
         like it. So I'll keep moving on the stories and hope for the best. Back to work for me...


         Well, I'm home from NASFiC. I had a very good time. It was great seeing the gang in
         person again. The SFF.NET party was a wonderful success. Huge thanks to Christy Hardin
         Smith, Vera Nazarian, Jim Bailey, and Tippi Blevins for all their hard work on the party!
         My panel went well. Harry Turtledove was the moderator and the other panelists were
         Mike Moscoe, Christy Hardin Smith, Susan Fry, and Howard Hendrix. All the panelists
         had excellent advice to offer about getting started in the profession and everyone was
         polite, allowing each panelist to speak. I really enjoyed participating on this panel.
         The autograph session was a hoot! Vera and I signed copies of The Age of Reason which
         just came out. The cover is beautiful! Tippi signed copies of Between the Darkness and
         the Fire as well as Prom Night which I also signed. We even signed bookmarks for TAOR.
         It was a lot of fun.
         I spoke with a few editors and came away with some good information.
         I had the pleasure of meeting Dave Smeds who is a super nice guy (in addition to being an
         excellent writer). I also got to meet my friends, Fiona Avery and Amy Sterling Casil in
         person. I really enjoyed talking with them. I also met new writer Michael Carr and
         SFFNetter Tom Powers who was a real sweetheart, providing me with much coveted cans
         of Diet Coke which were scarce in Pepsi country. This Diet Coke addict thanks you
         profusely, Tom.
         Patricia Duffy Novak and I had a super time! We went to Disneyland and rode the rides
         and walked until we couldn't move. The Indiana Jones ride was terrific! We went to the
         80s dance and had a blast rocking to songs along with IMPs pals: Barb Galler-Smith, Josh
         Langston, and Jeff Corkin. Patricia, BJ, and I danced to Crocodile Rock until we were
         ready to collapse. The Karaoke machine was a temptation, but I decided I was too chicken
         and too sober to sing in front of a crowd. :)
         Vera Nazarian gave a very moving reading of her short story, The Miracle of Ris. I hope
         that story finds a home. It's wonderful.
         On the return flight, I shared a shuttle with K. D. Wentworth who was so warm and
         friendly. I really enjoyed eating lunch with her and talking about writing. She's very
         inspiring. I also had the opportunity to meet Les Johnson from NASA who is a wonderful,
         charming person. He's doing some very exciting projects with NASA and I look forward to
         reading about them.
         The only negative came when I went to retrieve my luggage from the Indy baggage
         carousel and found no luggage. [shudder] It was already eleven pm and I had an hour
         plus drive ahead of me. The last thing I wanted to deal with was a lost bag. But I just
         received a call that American had found the bag and it's now enroute to my house. I very
         much appreciate their speedy recovery of my bag. Now, I must get back to work on my
         Sword & Sorceress story. That is, if Bailey will stop attacking my computer screen. Oh,
         and I am typing with all ten fingers today. First time in many weeks. It's still sore and
         quite stiff, but typing with all ten fingers feels good.


         I'm all packed and nearly ready to head out tomorrow for NASFiC. My partial for the
         agent goes out in tomorrow's mail. I have a few last minute things to do (like deal with a
         stubborn NiMH battery that refuses to charge correctly). If you're going to be at NASFiC
         and see me in the hallway, please stop and say hi. I have one panel on Thursday, August
         25th at 2:30 pm on getting started in writing. I won't be back until Monday, August 30th,
         so I won't be posting anything here for several days again. Take care and keep writing!


         Still struggling with the S&S stories. If I get one completed by the deadline, I'll be amazed.
         All of my queries on overdue manuscripts remain unanswered at this point. I did get
         word from Roc that my galleys for Rena 733 (in Treachery & Treason) should arrive in a
         few weeks.
         A point of hopeful news: an agent query has resulted in a request to see chapters and an
         outline. I hope to mail that packet out before leaving for NASFiC on Monday. I have no
         expectations. Not even any excitement really. I'll be mildly excited if she asks to see the
         whole book.
         I have a boatload of work to do before Monday though. Three overdue crits, assembling
         handouts for my panel, work on the S&S stories, and packing. Hope I can get it all done by
         Monday morning.
         I'm learning some new web software currently and I have to tell you, it's addictive! It's so
         much fun! I'm learning it so that I can support it for my job, but being paid to have fun for
         once doesn't suck. :)
         I know, I've been terribly remiss about posting new Bailey pictures. Bailey has grown
         quite a bit and he gets sweeter every day. He'll be 5 months old next week. Wow. Hardly
         seems possible. Seville is slowly getting used to him. She's back to her normal self as far
         as places she sleeps and all. Now, if she just would stop hissing at him...


         I know haven't written much here lately. I'm still feeling overwhelmed by my schedule. I'd
         like to say it's because I'm busily immersed in writing an exciting new novel or I've been
         traveling or I've been juggling contracted writing projects, but the truth is that I just feel
         exhausted. Between work and some painful family situations (and my stupid, fractured
         pinky), I'm just too tired to approach anything. No need to send email. I just wanted to let
         folks know why my journal has been rather silent lately. I'll be attending NASFiC at the
         end of this month, so I'm hoping that will give me a nice break.


         The good news is that, today in the shower, I came up with a plot progression for the story
         from $%^#. The bad news is that I fractured my left pinky last night while playing
         volleyball. Damn! I can't believe how hard it is to type without using my pinky. I'm a
         touch typist and it's really slowing me down. The finger doesn't hurt much unless I bend it
         though, but it's in a splint to allow the joint to rest. My first fracture. I'm not going to let it
         stop me from pursuing this story. This story has plagued me for a month and slow typing
         or not, I'm going to try and write it tonight and tomorrow.
         It's been a sad week here. On Wednesday, my father's restaurant was demolished by the
         company that bought it. In January, Dad made the decision to sell the restaurant and
         Wednesday, the building was torn down. I didn't want to watch it come down. I grew up
         in that place, earned my first paycheck, and learned what it meant to do a good job. I spent
         a good third of my life in that restaurant and I will miss it. I kept one of the bricks as a
         reminder. I'm relieved that my dad is out from under the stress, but some of the best times
         in my life happened there. Everything changes, I guess.


         I was away over the weekend at RiverCon. Had a wonderful time with David Coe, Steve &
         Denise Leigh, Linda Dunn, Laura Resnick, and Ron & Lisa Collins! We had a great time
         and laughed a lot! We had dinner at this awesome Korean restaurant! This was the first
         time I'd ever eaten Korean food and it was delicious! And David Coe was kind enough to
         teach me how to use chopsticks. The chopsticks were a lot of fun.
         I haven't written anything this week. My brother and his family are here until Friday, so
         I've been visiting with them. I don't anticipate getting back to my writing until the
         Bailey decided that he wanted to take a shower this morning and jumped into the shower
         with me. He is one crazy kitten! So cute though! He's so much fun. :) Every time I turn on
         the water in the bathtub, Bailey leaps into the tub and watches, fascinated by the water
         Contracts from Quantum SF arrived yesterday for my short story, The Spirit House. Still
         waiting to hear back on a couple of novel queries that have been out for 30+ days.
         Essentially, everything is very quiet this week.


         Well, I couldn't take the heat anymore and decided to cut my hair. I've been letting it grow
         and it was getting fairly long...but it was just too darned hot. So, I had it bobbed (a good
         3-4 inches gone). Feels so much better, too.
         Still in the brainstorming stage for the new novel and S&S. Got word that my rewrite was
         approved today, too, so one more thing completed. Also, I found out that the SFFNET
         anthology will be released in August! Just in time for NASFIC!
         I've been a slug about my webpage lately and I truly hope to get back to my trip report
         soon with the orca pics and Bailey pics. I did register Bailey with CFA today. His name is
         Coalcreek It's A Wonderful Life. He's just such a happy little guy -- this name fits him
         perfectly. He's truly a joy to have in the house. Full of life and discovering fun in
         everything. He even got my grumpy, sleepy little tortie persian (Seville) to play this
         morning (not an easily accomplished task, I assure you). Whenever I see Bailey, he
         reminds me to focus on the good things around me. When I first bought Bailey, I thought I
         had lost my mind. I could have kicked myself. It went against every rule I had about pets
         (rescue don't buy, don't buy from a pet store, etc., etc.). But there was something so special
         about this little kitten. I just couldn't leave him there. I bought him with money earned
         from my writing which makes him even more special. Bailey is four months old now and
         afraid of nothing. Well...just Seville.
         Gotta do a little more research before going to bed.


         Happy Birthday to my friend, Marybeth O'Halloran!


         Did a lot of brainstorming today for a new novel that I want to write. I've got some fun
         ideas and believe it or not, I'm going to write in a different genre this time. Well, sort of. :)
         No title yet, but the story is coming together in my head.
         I managed to get through a story rewrite, too, and got those changes sent off.
         So glad to hear that Vera's kitty is coming home! And even happier news that her big guy
         doesn't have cancer or kidney failure or some other awful disease.
         I meant to post more about my trip this weekend, but the time got away from me. I have
         more Bailey pictures to post, too. Perhaps I'll get to it this week. My plans for this week
         are to work on the story from hell as well as brainstorm some S&S ideas. On Friday, I
         leave for Louisville where I'll be attending RiverCon.
         Congratulations to Tippi on making the SFWA 1998 Preliminary Nebula Ballot!
         Congratulations to Erin and Tamela for earning Quarterfinalist status in the WoTF contest!
         Over the weekend, I bought Might and Magic VII and had a good time playing it last
         night. I loved Might and Magic VI! Okay, now you know. I'm a video game fanatic. :)
         Among other things, they are very good stress relievers and they help take my mind off it.


         Received payment and signed contracts back today for my story, Rena 733, which will
         appear in Roc's Treachery and Treason anthology.
         We heard from the oncologist yesterday for Marshall. He'll need to have x-rays every 3-6
         months for the rest of his life and they're going to wait and see how the next x-ray looks
         before beginning chemo. For the moment, it looks like everything is stable. I'm afraid to
         exhale though, for fear it will all fall apart.
         Hugs to Vera and hoping for the best. Sounds like everything is stabilizing though. A
         relief, I know. [[[Hugs]]]


         Rough day. My father was taken to emergency this afternoon. He's stable, but it looks like
         he's going to need more bypass surgery. It was 9 years ago that he had a quadruple
         bypass and a mechanical valve installed. We won't know until his doctor returns from
         vacation in a week. For now, he's hanging in there.
         In other bad news, my cat, Marshall, had a huge growth on his right foot that was removed
         in June. My vet called me at work today with the biopsy results. The tumor was
         malignant. This news came out of left field. I was stunned. It was a particularly
         fast-growing tumor, but I had it removed the moment I noticed it. I had to leave work
         today to take care of Dad and get Marshall to the vet for x-rays. They needed to find out if
         the cancer had spread. The x-rays were promising, not showing any spread in the leg or to
         the chest. I don't know what kind of further tests he'll need, to make sure it hasn't spread
         to major organs. But not having any evidence of it in his leg is a good sign. Marshall will
         have to take chemotherapy treatments which will probably start early next week. I'm
         hopeful though, since there are no other signs of the cancer. Still, I imagine that more tests
         will have to be run.
         I'll try to post vacation photos and finish my trip report this weekend when I have some
         time. Still have to finish a rewrite and finish that !&$*#&* story that I can't seem to


         More about my trip . . .

         Saturday (7/10/99) - After settling into our room, Mom and I woke up early and walked
         around town. At Front Street Cafe (home of one of the best mochas on the planet!), we met
         Patricia, Jim, and Sylvia for lunch. I ordered a grande mocha and we watched the ferry
         arrive as we ate. Later, we drove up to Lime Kiln Point and within minutes of our arrival,
         several members of J-Pod surged past the lighthouse, heading north toward Canada. For
         hours, we sat on the rocks, watching whale after whale slip past, water-slick fins glittering
         black against the bright teal waters. The sound of the whales surfacing and the hush of the
         waves against the rocky shore was comforting. I think that most of J-Pod swam past Lime
         Kiln that afternoon.

         Sitting there in the warm afternoon sun, the lighthouse to my left and the mist-shrouded
         Olympic mountains emerging softly from the haze all around me, orcas slipping past to
         my right, I felt a peace that I haven't felt in some time. More island magic, bringing calm
         and peace to anyone who sits on her shores. She showed us every wonder she had to offer
         that day and I couldn't help but smile when I watched four people's faces light up with
         wonder at their first sight of wild orcas. It's a private moment that I have treasured for
         many years and I was so pleased to have been able to give that gift to someone else.

         One of the things that draws me to writing is being able to share some of the most magical
         moments in my life with others. My whole life, I have sought magic in ordinary things,
         looking for the wonder in the mundane and trying to recreate that feeling of wonder. I live
         for those moments because, for me, they are a high. When I saw my first orca, I couldn't
         help but cry. It was the most beautiful and wondrous creature I had ever seen.

         As a child, I always had to look deeply into ordinary things and look past them, make
         them into something magical. Everything held magic for me. My best friend's backyard
         was an enchanted forest, the hedges with the sticky berries that stained the driveway and
         annoyed her parents held magical fruit that only grew in the palest moonlight. Fireflies
         were fairies that sparked little trails in the night for me to follow to a magic place beneath
         the evergreens. Nothing was ever ordinary to me because I didn't want it to be. My
         childhood was painful, so I desperately wanted and needed magic in the world.

         Now, whenever I see the orca's magic appear from the rich teal depths of the Sound, it
         makes me feel like that little kid searching for magic in my backyard again.

         And finding it at last.


         I'm back! And what a ride it was, too. Had plane troubles coming and going (including the
         airline ruining a brand new piece of luggage). I didn't arrive home until about 2 am
         yesterday morning. I'm still on island time, too, which is intensifying my insomnia. It was
         7 am this morning before I finally fell asleep. Bleh. In addition to the plane troubles, my
         father had to have emergency angioplasty while I was gone (ARGH!!). But my sweet dad
         didn't want to ruin our vacation...so he didn't tell us until he came over yesterday (I told
         him that I'd prefer him to tell me next time). He's doing fine though and today is his
         birthday. Happy Birthday, Dad!! And my brother was also in the hospital this week with
         pneumonia. sigh. He's back home and doing better, too.
         Okay, now that the bad news is out of the way, I'll tell you about my awesome trip!! I SAW
         TONS O' WHALES!!!! The Orcas were just incredible this trip...just breath-taking. I had the
         rare opportunity to share the island with my dear friend, Patricia Duffy Novak and her
         family. We had the best time! Because of the delayed flight, Mom and I didn't reach the
         ferry dock until about 6:30 pm (missing the 5:10 ferry). We had to wait for the 8:35 ferry
         which would put us into Friday Harbor at 10:00 pm. While waiting for the ferry, I sat on
         the shore and took in the Sound. In those few minutes, all the tension and stress (bumper
         to bumper traffic on I-5 from Sea-Tac to Mount Vernon) drained from my body. As I felt
         the weights lifting, a beautiful spotted harbor seal popped its head out of the water and
         stared at me for a few moments. Then he drifted off into deeper waters. I couldn't help but
         grin. I hadn't been there but ten minutes and had already seen a seal. Seal medicine. And
         its presence sent a message to me. Let go. Slowly, the stress of the past six months began a
         slow drain from my tense muscles.

         Once we got onto the ferry, my mom and I clamored onto the deck and watched the sun
         setting as we traveled west through the misty teal waters. The islands were lit with
         summer fire as the sun slipped toward the horizon. Finally, frozen, we hurried inside and
         settled into a booth by the window. I huddled against the window, watching for signs of
         life in the water. Moments later, two harbor porpoises raised fins as they slipped past the
         ferry. I had felt them there for some time. Shortly, surprised cries and shuffling feet echoed
         around me as people rushed toward the windows, pointing and whispering "whales!"
         Porpoise medicine. And they delivered another message to me: remember your
         journey...focus on the journey. I realized that I had let my line of sight slip too far over the
         horizon -- because I was staring at my feet. I was tripping over them. The little porpoises
         kept to their journey and disappeared into the darkening Sound. Not thirty minutes into
         the trip and I'd already encountered the San Juan magic. I knew right then that this trip
         would be special.
         More later. I'll tell you about all the whales, afterglow mauseleum, the lighthouse at night,
         and a 1910 locket. I took pictures and got some nice orca shots. I did some writing, too (of
         course...a vacation isn't complete without writing), and I think I've got some ideas for a
         new novel (woo!).


         I think I have everything finished or as close to finished as I can come before I leave for
         Seattle tomorrow morning. I'm disappointed that I couldn't bring the second project story
         to completion, but that will give me something to do on the plane. A lot of traveling
         awaits me tomorrow. Nearly 6 hours of flying, 2 hours of driving, and 1.5 hours of ferry
         traveling (the best part) before we reach our destination: Friday Harbor, WA. I look
         forward to it! I am sharing the orcas with my mom and my dear friend, Patricia Duffy
         Novak (and her family). I can't wait to see their faces when they look upon their first
         resident orca. It's a moment in my life that I've never forgotten and it's one I relive every
         time I see the whales. And sharing that moment of joy with others is a rare pleasure. So,
         this will be my last entry for about ten days. If you want to see where I am, check out
         IslandCam and FerryCam.


         Resurfacing . . . I'm still drowning in assignments, but I've managed to handle a good deal
         of it. Is the story from hell done? Nope...ggggrrrrr....talk about painful writing
         experiences...sheesh! I threw the story away yet again and came up with a new angle in the
         shower (my favorite thinking place). I attended InConJunction this past Saturday for the
         day and while I had a free hour, I played with the idea. I managed to churn out 600 words
         during that time and I now have a good start on yet another view of this bloody story. No
         title yet, BUT...I think this is the one I'll finish. That's the good news. The bad news is that I
         won't finish before I leave for Seattle/Friday Harbor. I chickened out and snatched the first
         story out of the mailbox before it was mailed. I just tore it apart yet again and tomorrow, it
         goes out. I'm closing my eyes to it this time. But story #1 is away and I plan to finish #2 on
         the plane Friday. Still have tons of stuff to do before Friday. ARGH!!!!
         Congratulations to Kurt Roth for yet another sale to the Barnes & Noble Cat Crimes
         anthology! That's awesome news, Kurt!
         Congratulations to Ron Collins for his sale to Pulp Eternity!
         PERSISTENCE AWARD GOES TO: Vera Nazarian!!!! On July 28th, Vera will take the U.S.
         Citizenship Oath!!! I'm thrilled for you, Vi!! 1999 has been a banner year for you, chick!
         Hope that continues.


         Big Congratulations to Lazette Gifford on her first fiction sale! She sold a story to
         Jackhammer! I knew you could do it, Zette!
         Congratulations to Vera on her new job and on her reprint sale to the Best of Sword &
         Sorcery anthology! June's been a great month for you, Vi! Hope the trend continues!
         Pulling my hair out with this $?&*%*& story!!! I just can't bring this one together. It's
         absolutely maddening! I thought I had it all pulled together tonight, but it began to
         unravel again. Sigh. Story number 1 has been revised and polished, weighing in at 4300
         words. It will go out in tomorrow's mail while I struggle with story number two again
         tomorrow night. I WILL GET THIS STORY FINISHED. I refuse to give up. I WILL make
         this damned thing work. It's a cool idea and I refuse to admit defeat.


         Okay...I think I've finally got this story on track again. This story is really frustrating me.
         It's probably the deadline that's making it harder. I feel like I'm drowning right now. I have
         three stories to turn in on deadline, a rewrite to turn in, and three to four story ideas to
         generate and begin working on when these other three are out of my way. And on top of
         that, I have three crits to write and things to take care of before I leave on vacation. I'm not
         use to having so many writing "jobs" going on at once like this. At least the new story is on
         track again. I'm back to having the first 1/3 of the story complete. I've got to finish a rough
         draft this week or I'm going to pull my hair out. All of these things except the story ideas
         must be finished by July 8th or I'm in deep debris.
         If I owe anyone email, I apologize for my non-response. I will try to respond in a week or


         Update:I think I'm over the hump on writing this story. It's making sense now. Not sure
         what was up with my previous attempts, but I'm stubborn. The conflict still gets
         introduced a little too late (and so does the fantasy element), but those are small things to
         worry over later. What matters at this point is producing a workable first draft. And I think
         that's in sight now. Still no clear title yet.
         Too tired to write last night. Watched a movie instead. An odd turn in my latest story
         endeavor, though. It finally occurred to me yesterday as I was driving home from work
         that I was writing the ending of the story rather than the beginning. It was a strange
         realization. I think that's why I've been having so much trouble writing this one. And I had
         the viewpoint character wrong. Weird. Anyway, now that I have this straight in my head
         (at last!), I need to start over yet again on this tale and use what I've already written as the
         ending rather than the opening. I plan to spend the evening on this story.
         Contracts from Penguin Putnam arrived today for my story, Rena 733. It's a long contract,
         so I'll have to spend some time this weekend reviewing it. I wish this was for a book sale.
         Maybe someday.
         My arthritis/CTS have been acting up quite badly these past two days. My massage
         therapy appointment is still a few days away. Not much else helps and I couldn't bear to
         take another cortisone shot. There is a front moving through, so I'm hoping that once it has
         passed, I'll feel better.


         Congratulations to Brian Plante whose story, Drawn Words, qualified for the Nebula
         Preliminary ballot! Way to go, Brian!
         I didn't make a lot of word count progress on the story tonight, but I think I've finally
         figured out part of what Henry wants. And I'm still not sure how this story will end. This
         story has been a very cerebral story for me. I confess, I'm amazed that this story continues
         to be such a bear. I will wrestle this one to the ground though. I'm close. I will finish it.
         Bailey is doing fine. Our other cats are still undecided on how they feel about him,
         though. Two of our cats will now stay in the same room with him without hissing. Two
         down and two to go. I honestly don't think that Seville will ever accept him. She's a bit like
         Lazette's kitty, Pip. Pip was a tiny, tiny orphaned baby that Zette cared for and she
         became a surrogate to him. So he's extremely attached to her. I "rescued" Seville (as a
         kitten) from a neglectful situation, so she is quite attached to me. And she isn't happy to
         share my attention. Bailey takes it all in stride though. Kittens are naturally happy little
         creatures, even when big furry adult cats are hissing at them.


         Good night at the keyboard! I made some significant progress on the story. An opening
         that I will keep. This story won't be terribly long. It's got to be at least 3000 words, though.
         I'm starting to better understand what drives Henry, too. I have the first third of the story
         completed now. Maybe by Friday, I'll have a draft completed. Hope so. My goal is to have
         this second story finished and polished by July 1st. My brain wandered back to this story
         several times during the work day today and by the time I came home, I had all kinds of
         ideas on where the story would move. I feel comfortable at last with this one.


         I'm *finally* starting to get a handle on this story. I'm still having trouble figuring out what
         the main character wants/is running from, but I'm closer now. Again, I've discarded my
         opening, but the good news is that I now know where the story begins and what incites the
         story. If I can just understand Henry Strother, this story will begin to move. His internal
         makeup is where I'm faltering, but I hope to tackle this problem tomorrow night.


         Another busy weekend! We had company all weekend, so I didn't get time to work on my
         short story on Saturday. Spent Sunday with my Dad.
         Despite so much to do and company, I did manage to get some serious work done on the
         short story I'm struggling with. I spent some time on Sunday evaluating my characters and
         I learned quite a bit about the two main characters in the story. I understand what drives
         one of the characters and what the other character is running from. Of course, this means
         that I had to dump everything I've written so far and start from scratch. This story has been
         a real bear to write so far, but I'm quite satisfied with the work I did yesterday. I'm not
         happy yet with the prose, but that's always easy to clean up. I need to finish a draft this
         week and get it sent out before I leave for Seattle in early July. I have a minor rewrite on
         Spirit House to complete during these next three weeks as well.


         Congratulations to Jon Hansen for his sale to Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine!!
         That's a terrific place to sell, Jon!!
         Marshall came through his surgery fine yesterday. The growth killed one of his claws, so
         it had to be removed completely. But she was able to save Marshall's toe pad and paw
         pad. I'm thankful for that! He's got a very sore foot today, poor baby, but today he's acting
         more like himself. He was in a foul mood, yet he didn't hiss at the kitten. :)
         I brought Bailey into the office today, so he could meet my co-workers and my students.
         Bailey really enjoyed himself and had a great time playing. He didn't stay long (just the
         lunch hour), but he made a nice impression.
         On the writing front, I'm still struggling my way through this story. It's not coming
         through as I'd hoped and it looks like I won't have it finished by the weekend. I don't
         know why, but I'm really struggling to tell this story. Still, I know that this story has the
         potential to be a strong story. I'll keep chipping away at it and hope for the best.


         Congratulations to Ron Collins on his sale to Altair! And for his decision to move into the
         IT area. It's very interesting work, but it can also be stressful. I'm sure you'll be great at it!
         It turns out that poor Marshie has a growth on his foot. We took him to the vet this
         morning. He'll have to have the growth removed tomorrow morning. The vet doesn't think
         it's cancerous, but it has to be removed. I'll miss him tonight when I go home because he
         won't meet me at the door. But he'll be home tomorrow night.
         On the writing front, I'm still struggling with the new story. I hope I will have some solid
         time tonight to work on it.
         I'm counting the days until my vacation...of which I'm in desperate need. It's still about 3
         weeks away though. :( (I'm taking my mom to Seattle and the islands in July.)


         Busy, crazy day! Bailey is a cute handful and Marshall, my 14 year old Tabby, cut his foot
         pretty badly tonight. He bled all over the carpet and my shirt. Try bandaging a 15 lb cat's
         hind foot -- needless to say, Marshall was an unhappy camper. The bleeding stopped, but
         he won't put much weight on that foot.
         Happy Belated Birthday to Tamela Viglione!
         Congratulations to Erin Cashier Denton for her sale to Jackhammer!
         Congratulations to Brian Plante for his sale to the Barnes & Noble Cat Crimes anthology!
         Got a bit more work done on the new short story, not much, but some. I hope to finish it
         by the weekend.


         The kitten finally has a name! I've named him Bailey after George Bailey in It's A Wonderful
         Life. Bailey is trying to settle into the household as best he can. He's only 10 weeks old and
         loves to be held and cuddled. He purrs and kneads constantly. He's a sweet little kitten.
         But Seville hates him. I suppose she'll learn to tolerate him. She is rather antisocial as far
         as animals and people are concerned, but she loves me dearly. And Bailey is
         good-natured and sweet -- he'll survive. Here are a couple of pictures for you to see:

         And Diana, don't worry about writing every day. Write when you need to write. Doesn't
         mean you are any more or any less dedicated than other writers. Writing every day isn't a
         requirement for success. It's merely one way of approaching the profession. Patricia Duffy
         Novak is a very successful writer, IMHO, and she only writes when she has time or when
         a story idea strikes. She doesn't write every day. Writing every day helps some writers
         stay focused. For others, it makes them feel as if their work is stale. Find what works for
         you and run with it. And don't look back because only you know what's best for your


         I got a kitten tonight! He's absolutely adorable, too! A little golden persian that will almost
         fit in the palm of your hand. Seville and Company hate him. It's going to take a while to
         quiet the household. I haven't picked out a name yet. I'll post a photo of the little guy as
         soon as I take some and can scan them. He's really adorable -- he's all eyes, too. :)
         Didn't get any writing work done tonight, but I hope to tomorrow.
         I was very saddened about the news that Deforrest Kelly a.k.a. Dr. McCoy from the
         original Star Trek series died yesterday. I loved the original series. Kelly will be missed.


         Welcome back to Erin! Hope the marriage ceremony was beautiful and that it made you
         and Andrew happy!
         Good luck at Clarion, Jenn, John, and Toby! And be sure to put your snail mail addresses
         on your web pages, so we can send encouragement!
         Made some good progress on the new story! I think this one will need two first drafts, if
         that makes any sense. I'm going to need one just to see the story's track. And once I see
         that, I imagine that I'll dump the first draft and write another one. It's just a gut feeling I
         have about this one. I'm fairly certain the title is going to change, too, but I don't have a
         new title yet. This one should be a neat story (I hope).


         Had a minor stall on the new story last night. Found that I needed some details that I
         didn't have, so I'll probably try to ferret those out tonight and resume work on the story
         tomorrow night.
         Welcome back, Tamela! Hope you had a wonderful time!
         And Jenn, you're not boring! I really enjoyed talking to you in Baltimore! I found you
         pleasant, excited about writing, and rather bubbly. So no worries there! You're
         *definitely* not boring.


         The new story is off and running. Working title is Shadows of Humanity. I expect this to
         change after I've finished the piece. I think it'll probably run about 3k. It's going to be a
         short entry tonight. I'm exhausted and calling it a night.


         Did yet some more research for the second story in my "mystery" project. I found a really
         cool angle for it today in a magazine! And now, I'm pretty excited about the story. I look
         forward to setting words to page now! I still have a bit more research to complete and then
         I think I'll be ready to write tomorrow. I think I'm just too tired to start the story tonight. I
         have the opening in my head already and I can see the ending scene. Just need a few of
         those credibility details like I needed on the last story. The protagonist is a photographer,
         so I need to know some more details about equipment and such. No title yet, but I'm
         certain one will emerge.
         Happy Belated Birthday to Jim Bailey, whose birthday was June 3rd!
         Happy Belated Birthday to Kris Rusch, whos birthday was June 4th!
         Happy Birthday to Chris York!! Hope you had a wonderful day!!


         Sorry for the lack of posts over the past few days. Thursday night brought that familiar but
         always frightening call from my dad that he was having chest pains. Three nitro tablets
         didn't stop the pain which means he has to get to the emergency room pronto! This was
         about nine o'clock. It was almost 1 am before we got my dad home. He's doing fine. After
         all the tests were run, they determined that he wasn't having a heart attack. The nitro patch
         they applied finally stopped his chest pains. He's doing better today and isn't having pain
         or the shortness of breath that he had yesterday. My dad is a trooper though. He's hung in
         there through a lot of stuff over the years. Glad to see he's still hanging in there now. :)
         Congratulations to my friend, Fred, who sold a short story to the magazine, Angels on
         Congratulations to Steve Leigh on Dark Water's Embrace being a finalist for the Spectrum
         Congratulations to Diana on becoming a police officer! And for having the courage to live
         her life according to her dreams. You're always an inspiration, Diana.
         On the writing front, I'm still working with some story ideas, hoping to start a new story in
         a day or three. The past couple of days have been hectic, so no writing on paper has been
         done yet. I've been working the idea around in my head. On paper soon -- I hope.


         Woo!! Chalk up another sale for Ron Collins! He just sold his second story to Analog! You
         rock, Ron!
         Congratulations to Brian Plante on his sale to Analog today! Way to go, Brian! This is
         Brian's fifth sale to Analog!
         Today, while troubleshooting a painful, lingering NT problem, I came up with a way cool
         idea to my second story for that project I'm working on. It made the NT problem bearable.
         Finally solved the problem though. Only took me 3 hours, but I solved it. :) I'm excited
         about this idea. I hope the story turns out. No story title or anything tangible yet. One of
         my weird "techniques" for writing fiction is to write a letter to myself, explaining the story.
         Essentially, I just sit down and let sort of a synopsis dribble out onto the page. Nothing
         fancy, just "this is the story as I see it." It doesn't have to be in order and I just talk about
         whatever I feel like putting down on that page. Once I've done that, I'm ready to roll. I
         don't do this every time I write a story, but when I'm not sure about some things, I sit
         down and write myself a letter. Gotta go explore an idea!


         Hugs to Erin on the wedding situation. I hope that your wedding is wonderful and that it
         makes you and Andrew happy. After all, you and he are the focal point here. Nothing else
         matters. Screw the rest of them.
         CONGRATULATIONS To Tippi Blevins for winning the Speculations Poll! I'm so thrilled
         for you!! (sorry, I'm a little late posting this)
         Well...I've read over the rough draft...I can do better than this. Crumple, crumple...swish!
         Nuthin' but net! Yeah, I'm going to rethink it and start again. The fine details are solid and
         the characters are good, but the plot...let's just say that only a pooper scooper will fix it.
         This one's just another clump in the literary litter box. So...I'm going to try again. So, off for
         a quick bite of lunch and then back to work.
         Update: (9:11 pm) I tore out the plot, discarded it, and gave it another shot. The story is
         now called Surviving the Elephant and boy am I tired. It weighs in at about 4400 words. This
         seems to be my new story length these days. It's kind of interesting, too. I never used to
         write at this length, but six out of the last nine stories I've written have been between 4k
         and 6k. Not sure what that means, but it's interesting nonetheless. I feel more comfortable
         with the story now. Of course, I may hate it again tomorrow. :) I'm off to work on the plot
         for story #2. Always have a Plan B, I always say. Have a good night!


         Congratulations to Caroline Austin Hazen and Amy Sterling Casil for completing their
         Master's Degrees!
         Update: (10:15 pm) I just finished a VERY ROUGH draft of the new story. Tentative title is
         Perfect Time, but I very much hope that title changes. For now, it's something to mark the
         page. The story weighed in at 4000 words. It may grow another 500 words, but I'm so
         pleased to have finally gotten a handle on this one. Whew!
         The new project story is, at last, going well! I'm about 2500 words into the story now. The
         magic is probably a little too subtle right now, but I hope to work through that when I
         complete this draft. I am hoping to complete a rough draft this evening since I don't have
         to work tomorrow. Overall, I'm pleased with how the story is shaping up. I may not be
         when I read it, but right now, the words feel right.


         I think I finally have a story going now. I still feel a bit shaky, but the story is moving
         forward. I have a couple of pages on it now. I hope this is the one.
         Still working on the new story. I went out to Barnes & Noble last night, after discarding
         everything I wrote a few nights ago (wasn't much -- about a page or two), and bought a
         new reference book. The book was a good move. It's been a big help today. I've
         abandoned the previous idea in favor of another one. I'm researching and writing in
         snippets now, but the story is starting to take shape. I tell you, this one is giving me fits. I
         know who my main character is and I need to know what he wants from this life. When I
         know that and how the magic works, I think I'll have a story. I plan to post an update
         tonight. Hopefully it will be that I'm fully immersed in the story.


         I'm very happy to report that my short story, The Spirit House, has been accepted by
         Quantum SF! I'm really pleased by this sale! I need to do a bit more editing on it, but I'm
         thrilled to have sold this one. :)


         Congratulations to Jon Hansen on his short story sale to Dark Regions! Sounds like your
         patience paid off!
         Did a lot more research tonight. I discovered I still didn't know quite enough about the
         period I was writing in to be convincing on the page. Those little setting details that
         establish everything need to be in place, so I'm searching out those finer points. For me,
         story ideas tend to form like thunderstorms. A hot air mass collides with a cold air mass ...
         one idea collides with a second idea. I never quite feel ready to write until this collision
         takes place and something sparks in my brain. I've also been searching for that second
         idea to cause a spark. I think I found it tonight, but I won't be able to tell until tomorrow
         when I actually start writing. I'm still doing research tonight and won't get anything
         concrete on the page tonight. I have two paragraphs at the moment, but I think they will be
         discarded by tomorrow. :) This story has to be some of my best work, so I'm being careful.
         No title yet, but I'm certain that one will come to me when I start writing. I feel close to this
         one now, like I own it. And I'm starting to feel excited about the story at last. I hope I can
         take hold of that feeling again tomorrow night when I start to write.


         Happy Birthday, Vera!!

         Have a great day, Vi!:)

         Didn't make much headway on the new story. I'm really struggling. I thought I knew what
         I wanted to write, but when I sat down to start...I got stymied before the first line. I think
         there's something missing about the story. I plan to think through it some more tomorrow
         and try to get at least the first scene down.


         Royalties! Received lightning fast payment from Sword & Sorceress as well as a second
         check -- royalties for S&S 12 and 14. Also, there was payment for the sale of German rights
         to publish S&S 14.
         I spent a good chunk of my evening with my massage therapist. The shoulder and hand
         are feeling much better tonight. With the small remainder of the evening, I am developing
         the two story ideas and taking care of a few database updates and other "business-type"
         stuff that I've been neglecting. I keep careful records of every check I receive as well as
         every rejection, so there's been quite a few things to record this month. See, I'm a major
         Access geek and have to input all of this into my nifty Access database. :) I highly
         recommend that writers keep careful track of all their rejections and acceptances. It's a
         good record for tax purposes and it helps you keep a chronicle of your work. Do what you
         have to do to keep track of your submissions. I used to just keep a log in Word, but then
         Access came along. This night is ebbing quickly. I'd better get back to work.


         Update: The evening was fruitful. I think I've finally found an angle on a story I'd like to
         write. I plan to write two stories in all, but I'm feeling a bit more relieved that I have a
         concrete idea. I'm going to spend some more time tomorrow thinking through the ideas
         and hopefully, I'll start writing on Tuesday. Actually, as I sit here typing this, another idea
         has slid into my brain! Yeah! Gotta go write that one down! Story idea #2!
         I gotta tell you, I'm still in a giddy haze over the Treachery & Treason sale. Rena 733 led
         me to a novelette called Experiencing Deep Purple which later became a 96k novel, followed
         by a 90K sequel. Yes, this one little story spawned a lot of words from me. In fact, I'm
         anxious to write a third book in this world. Writing EDP was the single best writing
         experience of my life, so selling this story meant a lot to me because I wouldn't have
         written EDP without first writing Rena 733. Sorry to go on so, but this sale is a big one for
         me. :)
         Today, I am brainstorming story ideas for a project. I've had to put the Persephone story
         on the back burner for a bit until I make this deadline. For some reason, ideas for this
         project are slow in coming to me. I'm struggling despite the myriad of reference materials
         I've collected over the past week. I'll tell you more about this project when I can, but for
         now, I can't say anything specific. I'm sorry to sound so mysterious, but I promise I'll
         explain when I can -- no matter which way the coin falls.
         Yesterday evening, I finished the minor changes on Rena 733 and sent them off to the
         editor. I don't know if I'll need to do anything else, but I'll probably know very soon. The
         changes were very good suggestions, too! Glad the editor mentioned them!


         I am thrilled to report that my short story, Rena 733 was accepted today by Roc's
         Treachery and Treason anthology!! This sale means a great deal to me! This story is very
         special because it introduced me to a writing universe that has spawned some of my most
         passionate and consuming work to date. (The story is SF.) I have to do some minor edits
         on my story, but I'm just thrilled to have made this sale!!! I'm going to be grinning over
         this one for some time to come. :) :)


         Congratulations to John Sullivan for his short story sale to the Barnes & Noble cat crimes
         anthology! Go, John, go!
         The modern mythology story is still moving ahead, but very slowly. Still no title.
         I spent a few hours this afternoon doing more research for a project. I have plenty of time
         until the deadline, so I'm being careful with my research. While cooking supper, my mom
         and I talked about some "what if" ideas. I've got a partial idea and I'm nowhere near ready
         to write. But an idea is simmering. I'm going to let it continue simmering while I finish this
         other story.
         I saw The Phantom Menace last night!! Wow... I don't care what the critics say, I loved it! The
         world-building was phenomenal and the action was well-paced. The storyline was a little
         thin, but it so what! I sat there smiling like a kid through the whole movie. It was
         wonderful! I wasn't disappointed at all. And -- a side note -- Young Obi Wan Kenobi...I
         don't know who this actor is, but I thought he was *gorgeous*. And his voice is like butter.
         :) And the fight scenes with Darth Maul -- wow!! They were fantastic! No spoilers here.
         That's all I'm going to say except that, if you're a Star Wars fan, go see it! I plan to see it
         again. :)


         Mega-Congrats to Kurt Roth on the sale of his story Eight to a Barnes & Noble anthology!
         You're awesome, Kurt! That's terrific news! I knew you'd make that sale! :)
         Congratulations to Mary Soon Lee for her reprint sale to Gigamesh!


         Got one more crit done tonight along with some historical research. I didn't get any
         writing done tonight. Tomorrow, I'm going to see Star Wars: The Phantom Menace! Woo! So,
         I don't think any work will get done tomorrow either. Sorry, another short one.


         Got two crits done today. Still have another three or four to do (but not tonight). I'm
         behind on everything right now, I'm afraid.
         The new story is still moving forward. I hope to get some more work done on that tonight.
         Sorry, this is a short one. Gotta get back to work.


         I'm really behind on email correspondences and such, so if I owe you an email, I promise
         to respond soon.
         Yesterday was a good day. I took the day off work. It was my birthday, so Mom and Dad
         took me out to dinner and gave me some awesome presents! My parents always make my
         birthday so special. Today, I'm in a lot of pain from yesterday's therapy (mostly shoulder
         and neck pain), but should feel better tomorrow. My friend, Patricia and her family, sent
         me the most beautiful flower bouquet! Lots of purples and pinks. Just gorgeous! I went to
         my favorite haunt yesterday and spent a few hours (Barnes & Noble) there. I picked up
         two or three reference books for a new project I'm working on after the Persephone story is
         CONGRATULATIONS to my dear friend, Patricia Duffy Novak for the sale of her story,
         Luz, to Sword & Sorceress XVII!!!! You kicked butt, Patricia! I knew you would!
         Congratulations to my buddy, Vera, on her awesome sale to S&S XVII!!
         Congratulations to Jenn Reese and her hubby Dave on their sales to S&S XVII!! That's just
         the coolest!
         In today's mail was my response to S&S XVII. MZB bought my story Soul Dance! Woooo!!!
         I can't tell you the overwhelming sense of relief I feel at this wait being over. Also, since I
         started submitting to S&S in 1993, I have been trying to sell to an odd-numbered volume.
         Finally, after six years, I broke that weird curse! And...this sale is a coup for me because
         this is the longest story I've ever sold to MZB and that's a wonderful feeling to know that
         she trusted me with a longer story. :) I feel really good today (despite the shoulder/arm
         pain)! :) One final note on this story: this is the one that Terry Kanago inspired me to write,
         so I tuckerized her in the story. One of the two main characters is named Kanago. Thanks,
         Terry, for the inspiration!!
         Got some other interesting/promising writing news in the mail yesterday, too, but
         unfortunately (sorry to be so cryptic), I can't really post anything here yet. But I will as
         soon as I can.


         S&S story #4 falls today. One left...the anxiety level is high now! I hope story #5 is good
         enough to squeak by. I know the final responses are in the mail; the wait is terrible now!
         Hugs to Jenn about the poison ivy. Hope the swelling and irritation goes away soon and
         that the medication helps.
         Toby, I hope your foot is healing quickly.
         Myke, good luck with the NT Server exam!
         The new story is progressing slowly, but I hope to make some good progress on it this
         weekend (when I'll be able to type more than just short bursts).


         After quite a bit of thought, I finally came up with a good angle for the latest story I'm
         working on. No title yet, but I hope to put down the opening tonight. My bad shoulder
         and the CTS in my right hand are really flaring today. It's very painful to type tonight, so I
         don't think I'll get much done. Still, I want to put something down. (My massage therapist
         can't get me in until Friday, so my arm should be much better by Friday evening. Just gotta
         get through tomorrow.) I really feel the main character in this story and I'm looking
         forward to jumping into her head and the dilemma she faces. This story took much longer
         to jell than I'd expected (it's a fairly simple story.). It finally came together in the shower
         (where I seem to do my best writing). I'd better get busy!


         Big Congratulations to Erin Cashier Denton for winning Pulp Eternity's Poetry Contest!
         You rock, Erin!


         CONGRATULATIONS to John Sullivan for his sale to Pulp Eternity!! This is John's first
         sale, too!! I'm sure there will be many more after this one, John! Keep up the great work!
         Congratulations to Jon Hansen on his recent sale!
         Happy Birthday to my little persian, Seville!


         Happy Mother's Day, Mom! I'm a very lucky daughter.
         Did a lot of brainstorming last night for the new story, but didn't actually begin writing it.
         Hope to pin down exactly the story I want to tell and go from there. The idea is slowly
         coming together.
         Happy Birthday to Ron Collins!! Hope it's a great day, Ron!


         I'm feeling a little better today about the job situation (The panic's receding -- Thanks,
         Ron) and I think I know what I'm going to do now. Maybe I can concentrate on my fiction
         again? So...I plan to do some serious writing tonight. I've got a cool idea and I'm dying to
         mess with it.
         Feel better soon, Kurt. Sorry you're still sick. :( :(
         Last night, I watched You've Got Mail and loved it! Then I had a wonderful IRC chat with
         Vera, Tippi, Jimbo, and Kurt. Kurt treated us to his writing expertise by graciously
         discussing some very important craft issues. I feel pretty geared up about the information
         and with a cool story idea to pursue, I'm going to use this idea as an exercise in structure
         as well as scene-setting. So, I look forward to doing that tonight.
         The mailbox is ominously empty today...next week will be high anxiety as the decisions
         for S&S XVII are being delivered. Eeep!!
         I'm told that Sword & Sorceress XVI is out! Woo! I have a story in there called, The Wishing
         Stones. :)
         I broke down and ordered Patriarch's Hope from Amazon in hardcover. It arrived today! I'm
         a huge fan of David Feintuch's work and couldn't stand to wait a year for another Nick
         Seafort book. So my bookstand is overflowing with things to read, including three books
         I've been dying to read but haven't had time. Steve Leigh's book The Speaking Stones is first
         followed by Lois McMaster Bujold's book Komarr, then Feintuch's new one. These three
         books I've been eagerly awaiting for a long time.


         Hugs to Tamela and best wishes on your surgery. I'll be thinking about you. I'm sure all
         will go well.
         Bad day at work yesterday. Left me so angry and stressed I just couldn't work on anything
         last night. I did a critique for a friend and read partway through a story I was working on,
         but gave up after a bit because I couldn't concentrate on it. Oh, the joys of technical
         My plan tonight is to continue work on some of my short fiction that needs to get sent out
         and work on a new story idea. It may be a long story and unfortunately, more of my
         left-of-center work. Ironically, it will be a traditional exercise in scene-setting. I've noticed
         lately how lazy I've gotten about scene-setting. So, hopefully this story exercise will help
         me with that.


         Did some work on the rewrites of stories I wrote last weekend. They both need a lot of
         work. That's progressing slowly, but the task is moving forward. And any forward
         movement is good.
         Apologies for my negative post. I simply needed to vent. It wasn't my intention to elicit
         any sort of response from anyone. I'll keep those posts in my offline journal where they
         Steve, I took your advice and reprinted the novel. It's going back out today.


         Major fun at the mailbox today. Three of my S&S stories fell today. RTs of 15, 13, and 12
         days. (I feel like playing some Alanis Morrisette tonight.) It could have been worse and as
         Tommy Lasorda says, "It ain't over 'til it's over." Two left standing, the two I felt were the
         strongest...so we'll see. Anything could happen now.
         Congratulations to Tippi Blevins for finaling in the latest WOTF quarter! That's terrific
         news, Tippi! And it couldn't have happened to a nicer person. Glad someone got some
         happy mail today.


         I tried to keep a stiff upper lip about the novel rejection, I really did, but tonight, as I look
         at the splatters and stains all over the returned manuscript pages, it just depressed me.
         Like all my work is just a collection of words splattering and staining the page. I feel an
         air of futility about my work tonight and little hope of ever breaking into this business. I
         don't have it. I have the persistence and the desire, but that gift, that ability to spark
         wondrous ideas from nothing and execute them at a professional level on the page -- I
         don't have it. And that's a painful realization. These past seven years, I've always hoped
         that if I just worked hard enough and persisted, that if I had it, it would show itself. I've
         worked as hard as any struggling writer, but there's something beyond that hard work that
         I can't touch. Hell, I can't even see it. I don't intend to quit or anything because I'm just too
         damned stubborn to give up the ghost (the Taurean in me, I guess), but I feel a sense of
         loss and failure tonight as I look at this manuscript and the waves of crappy stories
         rippling through my files. And I feel quite a bit angry at myself because, after seven years,
         I still don't get it. After seven years of practice, I still can't get it right. Sorry for the
         negativity. Just needed to vent, I guess.
         Spent the day running errands and such. Tonight, I plan to get Heart of the Labyrinth
         ready to mail out again on Monday and also, work on rewrites for the stories I wrote at
         Plotfest II. I bought lots of plants today, including the coolest dinner plate dahlia! It's
         called Bahama Apricot and it's one I've never grown before. This year, I'm planting Lilac
         Time and Rosella, my usual favorites, but along with those, I'm planting a rich red dahlia
         called Babylon and this new apricot one. Also picked up a purple butterfly bush, a fuschia
         hanging plant, asters, and some catnip (cats are singing at my house tonight). And!! I
         bought a grapevine! Concord seedless grapes! I hope they grow. :) My mom and I also
         picked up some more tomato plants and some Walla Walla onion sets. Lots of planting to
         do tomorrow.
         The Angel of Death passed over my mailbox today. No S&S rejects and frankly, I'm kinda
         freaked out by that. I didn't expect all my stories to still be out. I'm not complaining, mind
         you, but just surprised. Of course, now that I've mentioned this, all five stories will return
         to my mailbox on Monday. Hard to believe that there's only one week left of the reading
         period. Yikes! Guess I'll stop stalling and get to work on those rewrites I need to do.