Aug 31

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Got deep into Chapter 3. The monster has revealed himself and is now taunting his helpless victims. Time to put John into the wringer. 2 more scenes in Chapter 3, then, in the first scene in Chapter 4, he faces his first really big crisis. Does he allow Maggie to sacrifice herself so that he can live to track down and destroy the monster, or does he die with her. The kicker is that he can only survive if he kills Maggie. She’s dying anyway, but if he doesn’t kill her, he will die too. Maggie wants to make that sacrifice (see why I love her so?), but John will have to compromise his most deeply-held beliefs in order to do it. Furthermore, after seeing what has been done to Maggie so far, the agony of his moral decision is matched only by the depth and fierceness of his rage. Getting intense.

Aug 31

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I was sitting around this morning doing a self-evaluation (Ok, OK, I was wasting time and trying not to have to work on that damned novel). After getting back to work after my recent … uh …”vacation”, I find that I am able to finish a lot of stories that I have started over the years and had to lay aside for one reason or another. Mostly that reason has been no clear idea of how to plot. I have a lot of stories that have a beginning and an end, but no middle. I am finding that I can now pick them up, plot them all the way through, and write out a first draft all in one sitting. This has really done wonders for my self-confidence. The fact that I am turning out stories that I think are good, with strong characters and a tight plot, is a huge boost. Critiquing other people’s work is also, as always, giving me some real insights into my own work. I am finding errors much more easily and correcting them in ways that really contribute to the story.

Now that I’m through stroking my own ego, I have to get to work. Sorry Maggie, it’s be nice knowing you.

Aug 30

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Submitted “Real Monsters” to The Georgia Review this afternoon. It’s the first time I’ve ever submitted to a major market. I feel kind of on edge about it, like I’m waiting for the thunderbolt to strike me down for my hubris. It’s going to be a long 4-8 weeks. I know I don’t have a chance in Hell, but I guess I can’t really know for sure unless I try.

I really need to get back to work on Washed in the Blood, but God I really don’t want to write the next scene. I really like Maggie, and now I have to do some really horrible things to her. I really hate it, but the whole premise of the story hangs on this one scene. If I don’t do it, the whole thing falls apart, and that is unacceptable. This is a story that I really need to tell. I just have to get my courage up and do it. I posted a goal of 3000 words this week on it, so I better get my butt moving.

I’ve been spending a lot of time reading stories on the Web the past couple of weeks, doing market research. I have been extremely disappointed by what I have found. There must be a lot of basically illiterate editors out there. I understand that a lot of them publish stuff from their friends and/or e-buddies as a favor, but I can’t understand the complete lack of any standard of quality on most of these ‘zines. I often get tempted to grade some of this crap and send it back to the editor and the author. Jeez! I have had to eliminate a lot of potential paying markets simply because I refuse to have my name associated with a site that publishes crap stories with misspellings, cliched plots, bad description, ungodly bad dialogue, and puerile errors that I knew about in the 8th grade, for God’s sake!

Whew!

It is a relief when I do find a gem of a story out there, like I did recently when I saw “Raspberries” by Jennifer Loring on Bloodletters. It’s excellently written, but very disturbing. Highly recommended.

L8r.

Aug 25

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Snoopy dancing all night long!

Nocturnal Ooze accepted Windows to the Soul for their September issue! My first paying gig! I sure won’t be able to sleep tonight!

It’s a real relief to finally get a positive response to something I wrote. Several years and quite a few hurt feelings lead me to this. It was worth the price. I now have validation that somebody besides me likes my writing.

Now I have to top it. I have a renewed determination to improve and improve and improve, each story or novel better than the last.

Speaking of novels, I finished (provisionally, anyway) the outline for [i]Washed in the Blood[/i]. 48 scenes in a Prologue, 12 Chapters, and an Epilogue. The monster that has taken over my life now has a main plot, 2 major subplots, and 2 minor subplots, one of which unobtrusively sets up the sequel. It’s a lot more complicated than I thought I would be able to handle at this point in my development. It will do me a lot of good to stretch myself this way.

This has been a very rewarding experience. It really helped me to focus in on the characters and plot in a way that I have never been able to do before. I owe a huge THANK YOU to all the folks at Forward Motion for all the help and inspiration over the years, and especially to Holly Lisle for caring enough to “pay it forward”.

Aug 24

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My novel now has a second sub-plot. I though one would be enough, but my characters disagreed. Now Polly will be an almost-but-not-quite co-protagonist. Her crisis o faith in her father will mirror and contrast with John’s crisis of faith in himself and in God. Should add a whole new dimension. I’ve got to get back to writing on it tomorrow so I can see where this path is going to lead.

I also have to get to work on A Time to Every Purpose again. For some reason, I’m scared to pick it up and start. I’m going to try to give a read-through tonight to refresh my memory and pick out some of the more glaring errors.

Polished up Love You Forever, flash 500 words, and submitted to From the Asylum. That gives me 4 stories out in the world right now. I should start hearing back on some of them by the end of September. Fingers crossed, heart hardened.

I’m also working on a new story idea that popped up today, The Seventh Seal. It’s based on Revelations Chapters 6-8. It promises to be a hairy one.

Aug 22

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One for the good guys:

The 3rd District Court of Appeals struck down a Pennsylavania law requiring children to say the Pledge of Allegiance. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing at all against the Pledge of Allegiance. I do have a problem with those who would try to force eve3rybody else to think and believe and act like they think is right. Those of us who are true patriots recognize that America was founded on the concepts of individual freedom and that one of the greatest, if not the greatest, is freedom from the oppression of those who that they are right and everybody else is wrong.

Quote of the day:

“Well I said “Lily, Oh Lily I don’t feel safe. I feel that life has blown a great big hole through me.” – Kate Bush, “Lily”. From The Red Shoes, 1993.

I’m right there with you, Kate.

Got a response from Nocturnal Ooze yesterday. They got “Windows to the Soul”. I should get a decision by the end of September. Still nothing from Pif.

Downloaded RFFlow. I’m going to try it for outlining. It will let me make timelines, org charts, flow charts, etc., so I can look at my outlines and the relationships between characters and plot lines graphically. I’ll report back.

Aug 20

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Apparently, human stupidity has no limits. Every time I think that somebody has pushed the boundary as far as it will go, somebody else comes along and pushes it still further.

This rant brought to you courtesy of the Catholic Church. Here s an excerpt from an article on Yahoo! News taken from an AP wire report:

BRIELLE, N.J. – An 8-year-old girl who suffers from a rare digestive disorder and cannot eat wheat has had her first Holy Communion declared invalid because the wafer contained no wheat, violating Roman Catholic doctrine.

A little further down in the article we find this gem:

The church has similar rules for Communion wine. For alcoholics, the church allows a substitute for wine under some circumstances, however the drink must still be fermented from grapes and contain some alcohol. Grape juice is not a valid substitute.

Okay, I have a problem with this. A little girl is condemned to Hell because she is allergic (apparently fatally) to wheat? Does God really care whether the cracker is made with wheat or rice? Is God going to send this little girl to Hell because of the way He made her? And alcoholics can t get into heaven unless they fall off the wagon? Who came up with this crap?

To cap all of this off, here s a quote from a FAQ on the Trenton Diocese s Web site (this is the Diocese that the little girl belongs to) with emphasis added by me:

When we enter a confessional — or “reconciliation room” where we can sit and talk with the priest — we are in the presence of our all-merciful God. And God accepts us as we are, not expecting that we give a perfect rendition of our failings, but only that we be as honest and sincere as we can. God’s mercy takes care of the rest.

Okay, so confession doesn t have to be perfect, as long as the thought is there, but Communion has to be just so and only just so, no matter what the intent. What s wrong with this logic? Confession and Communion are both sacraments. They re both supposedly requirements for getting into Heaven. Why are the rules different? Is God really that arbitrary?

This is why I object to organized religion. This has nothing to do with God and everything to do with the Church s power over its adherents. I m not just picking on the Catholic Church here either. Every organized religion has as its primary goal the aggrandizement of its Earthly representatives, whether in money or power doesn t matter. Organized religions are by their very nature manipulative and exploitive of their followers.

Well, I don t buy into that. I m not going to take your word for anything. I ve fallen prey to that con too many times. My relationship with my God is my business and none of yours and vice-versa.

I’m reminded of the old Jethro Tull song:

“Well if Jesus saves, then he better save himself
From the gory glory seekers who you his name in death.”

That s enough for now. Selah.

Aug 19

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I’m baaaaack!

It’s been a long time. A long, very dark time.

But I’m feeling much better now!

Lots of new stuff going on right now. Got a fresh start on the novel, now titled Washed in the Blood. Was going pretty good until Polly, John and Maggie’s daughter, stood up and announced that she is madly, passionately in love with Thomas, who is purely evil. Screwed everything. Now I have to go back to Chapter 2 and start outlining all over again with this developement in mind. Of course Michael, who is madly and passionately in love with Polly, will have some influence on things too. God, these people have taken over my life! Got nearly 4000 words written on it so far, not including the outline, so great progress is being made (I’ve only been working on it for about a week).

In other news, I sent out 2 stories today: Windows of the Soul to Nocturnal Ooze and For Better or For Worse to Pif. We’ll see. I counted up my rejection letters this morning. I have 15 so far. Hell, I’m just a rookie!

I guess that’s enough for now. Good to be back in the saddle again.