Thursday, January 31, 2008

Couple of Things (Random)

Boy, I tell ya -- folks sure like reading what other people think about software.  My blog receives a fair number of hits based on people searching out reviews about some software or other.  Hopefully, the few things I've jotted down here have been helpful to them in making their decision.  I try to stick to reviews of software that's specifically for writing and the writing process, because I want to be a writer if I grow up.  But, I'm not opposed to doing other types of software reviews, either.

What kind of software interests you most?  What kind of reviews do you like to see?  I made at least one friend through a review of Windows Live Writer.  You never know what's going to bring people together.  What do you want to see reviewed?  It'd have to be something I can either download a free demo of or freeware, of course, but if you have any requests, let me know.  I'm okay with doing them.

On a different note, I didn't do squat today with either editing or writing.  That's bad.  I hope to have something for you before Monday next week in terms of new fiction, and if God is willing, I'll get back on a regular posting schedule with that.  If I get enough requests for it, maybe the software reviews will be a weekly feature I can do.  If there's enough software to warrant it, of course.

Other than that, nothing new is happening.  Still dealing with our crappy, scary situation, and I'm still calling for all the prayers and PPT things you can throw our way.  Thank you one and all for all your wonderful support, for sticking by us, for being friends and loving people.  We adore you.  I hope you know that.

I'm off to try and get something accomplished.  Maybe sleep. Woo!

God bless, all.


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Witch Hunt - Ch. 4

A new chapter in the Witch Hunt saga is available! Go here to read it!

To start at the beginning, go here!


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Well, All Done

Today went better than yesterday in some respects.  I found out some things that were less than encouraging, but it did go better than yesterday.  Overall.

Tomorrow the process starts again.  *Sigh.*

Okay, for those who care, I'm about 1000 words into Witch Hunt chapter 4.  I'm not feelin' it right now, but I'm pluggin' along just the same.  Sorry for the long delay, and I hope to have something kicked out by the end of the week.  At this pace I can't promise anything, but I'd like to.

Back on my head.  Thanks to all for the outpouring of support, love and prayers.  If I had words to tell you how grateful we are, I'd write them.  I just don't.  Please know we love you all and are grateful for you.

Peace, all.


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Monday, January 28, 2008

One Down, One to Go ...

Well, one super-huge event is passed.  It was okay.  Not as bad as I imagined it could be, but I probably could've done better than I did.  I just believe in honesty first, and sometimes that philosophy costs me.  I guess time will tell; I should have a definitive answer by week's end on this one.

In the meantime, I have one more to get through tomorrow.  A lot to do yet to prepare for it.  I have to try and figure out who it is I'm going to see.  It's also a long haul and after today, I'm not looking as much forward to it as I thought.  But I'm trying to go in with head and spirits held high and do the best I can.

For all of you praying and pouring yourselves out in support of us, please know we love you and appreciate all you're doing.  I really mean that.  We're so grateful to have such wonderful friends around us to get us through, no matter how things turn out.

I'll try to update again tomorrow when I get back.  By then I should have two things in the hopper; I won't know about either of them until the middle of next month or later, though.

Thank you so much, gracious people.  Maybe someday I'll have the honor of supporting you in  your hour of need.  I pray your hour of need never comes, though, and you'll have to suffice with my friendship.

God bless you all.


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Sunday, January 27, 2008


In about 14 hours, something huge is going to happen for me, and I'm scared to death.  Actually, the next two days are huge for me, perhaps the entire week.  I know for sure about Monday and Tuesday, but I don't know yet about what else may come.  But, tomorrow's big.

I don't know if it's good or bad; it's just ... there.  I don't know what I can do to calm myself down, but I had every intention of just writing today away.  I don't think that's going to happen, but I probably will edit some more of Ghost Hunters before I go to bed.  Trying to sleep should be fun.

I want to thank you all for your support.  If you're the praying type, please pray for me tomorrow at about 9:00 a.m. Central Standard Time (if you see this post before that, of course).  If you're not the praying type ... well, I'll pray for you then.  ;)

God bless, everyone.  Here's hoping something good happens really, really soon.


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Thursday, January 24, 2008

A Glimmer of Hope

I don't know if it's the light at the end of the tunnel or just the headlight of the oncoming train, but I see a glimmer in the distance.  I can only pray it's not too late for us.

Those of you who know our private situation know what I'm talking about.  Those of you that don't, well ... if you pray, please pray for us.  Things could be turning around, if God is willing.  There's a couple of things on the horizon, none of which involve being a famous and rich published author, but we're grateful just the same.  As with all things, there's always a catch, and it may yet come to naught, but at least there's a bright spot.

God bless, all, and thank you for all your support.


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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Dream Job

I found a blog today on WP which I found extremely interesting.  I didn't find it interesting for its content, because it was basically a log of someone's snacking habits, but I did like what she did for a living.

She was an editorial assistant and writer, working from home.

She occasionally had to go into the office, I'm sure, but she did most of her work from home.  She had time to get up, work out, blog like heck, and write.  She did her work.  She lives in New York, and because she's an editorial assistant, the hardest thing I've had to do in a long time was click away from her blog.  I wanted so bad to blogroll it, put it in the "Writer's Resources" listing I have in my sidebar, leave her a comment and ask her to check out my work ... I wanted to so bad.

In the end, I just ... clicked away.  I found someone online that has my dream job, that could have provided me (maybe, not that she could or would, but maybe) with a contact in the industry I'm trying desperately to get into (i.e., give me a short path to fame, fortune and laziness), or at least might have pointed me to someone she knows that could/would.  Instead, I clicked away, because, in part, I felt it was not my place to try and leverage that; she doesn't know me from Adam, and probably knows him better; her blog wasn't about writing and the industry or the craft; and I wouldn't like it if someone tried to leverage me without knowing me.  I clicked away.

Immediately, I regretted it.  I went as fast and my mouse would go back to the Dashboard where I'd seen the entry in the first place.  I frantically searched for her blog again, struggling to remember what it was called ...

Nothing.  Gone.  Poof.  I blew it.

I don't regret too much not bugging her, but I do regret not at least dropping a quick note to someone that does what I want to do, who has found a way to make a living writing from home.  I'd love to do it, and if she by chance finds this blog somehow (fat chance of that), then ... feel free to drop me a line.  Say hey.  Tell me how you did it.  Tell me what I could do to do it too.


Regrets ... I has dem.


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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Miscellany and Search Terms

Well, I don't have much else to report.  My beloved and I are hammering out the plot for Witch Hunt tonight -- not just the overview, which we completed last night, but the actual nitty gritty of the phases of the story.  Once that's completed the writing will commence.  Actually, I have enough to go on now.  I could probably write at least one more installment as it is, but I may wait because I don't feel terribly inspired.

That being said, I thought a search term leading someone to my blog was interesting and thought I'd share:

how to narrative write "stephen King

Isn't that an interesting search term?  I don't know what someone would be looking for unless they wanted to find a copy or excerpt from Stephen King's On Writing, which has come up a couple of times here in my blog.

To that person searching for Mr. King and his narrative: Hey, if I knew how to write narrative like he does, I wouldn't be sitting here blogging.  I'd be collecting my royalties checks and cranking out more stuff for you to read.  Sorry I can't help, but you might enjoy my writing.  I'm not Stephen King, but then, he's not J.K. Rowling, either, so we all have our shortcomings.  If you'd like to read some of it, check out the links at the top of the page.  I have a few different things there, but Ghost Hunters and Witch Hunt are sequential, just FYI.

Okay, shameless self-promotion now behind me, check out some of these other terms:

darkroom vs jdarkroom
"like pagefour"
what happened with cartoonsmart
Noterrific review
jdarkroom vs writeroom

First off, let me address the "darkroom vs jdarkroom" person: been there, done that.  If you're using Windows, I feel DarkRoom is better.  Others, like Bryce Beattie, disagrees; he likes JDarkRoom better, although he confesses he'd like to get the source code so he can tweak it.  You can download both for free, so why don't you just try them both yourself and see which you prefer?  I did a comparison here; hope that helps ya.

For the "like pagefour" person -- there's a lot of software "like" PageFour, but I really like it.  It's a notebook setup, with pages within the notebook, so you can keep track of a lot of stuff.  I like to keep a notebook for each of the writing projects I'm working on, and make each of my chapters a new page.  It will do some nifty back up and disaster recovery steps for you, and allows you to not only save but take a "snapshot" so that your editing isn't committed to stone.  It's a nice, feature rich package that does a lot, and I use it most often for my writing.  It's also really nice journaling software, and if you'd like, you can password protect it.  Very cool.  Check out their website here for more information and current pricing.

But, for something "like" PageFour, I would recommend WriteItNow.  WriteItNow is a great package with a lot of features, including a story and character generator built in, a word processor, character tracking, event tracking, a timeline tracker, and a whole lot more.  It's really cool, and if you have the spare change, it's one of the more complete writer's software tools I've seen.  You can pay hundreds of dollars for software that even tries to get you to write a particular way (can you say "Dramatica?" -- I knew ya could), but this one will just keep everything you need in one place.  It has a bunch of features missing from PageFour, but I can't fully recommend it just because their demo doesn't let you do any saving.  It was hard to test, but check it out.

As an alternative, try looking at Liquid Story Binder XE.  Another very complete, very cool package.  You might like it.  I sure did, but again -- I couldn't do a thorough test without having to buy it.  Just as an aside on both, I probably will buy them when I can and let them decide for me which one is better.  When I do, a complete (or as complete as I can get it) review will be done right here on this blog.

Hope that helps.

For the "what happened with cartoonsmart" person: Nothing, as far as I can tell.  I went to the website (here), which looks like it's operating just fine.  If you want some really good training in making pretty complex productions from web pages to cartoons to games in Flash, check them out.  It's a great resource.  Just make sure you've got Flash enabled on your browser (DAMHIKT).

For the person seeking a "Noterrific" review -- can I suggest you try Text Tree instead, by Bryce Beattie of Baby Katie Media?  It's a powerful note and outlining software, and it will export into Noterrific if you'd like.  It's inexpensive, and very nicely done.  A clean, easy-to-understand and streamlined interface makes for an intuitive note and outlining package that is second to none, really.  Check it out; there's even a free demo.

And finally, for the individual wondering about "jdarkroom vs. writeroom" -- I can't help ya.  Sorry, I'm not a Mac user, and WriteRoom is a Mac-only product, so ... *shrug*.  Good luck with all that.

Well, y'all, I'm off to do some writing.  I hope.  I think.  That's my intent, anyway.

God bless, all!


Monday, January 21, 2008

Progress Report

Well, LOML and I have finished the backstory portion of Witch Hunt. We can't tell yet how important that's going to be for the reader, but it's vital for us, as you writerly types know. So that's out of the way, and now we can move forward with the plotting of the events that take place in the book. My Beloved has committed to helping me get this thing done soon, so there ought to be some writing happening here pretty soon. (Please, God.)

My other situation hasn't changed at all. I don't know if or when it will. If you're the praying type, please do ... we need it.

I feel confident that I can't edit and write. I don't know which is going to take priority. I don't want it to take forever to do the edits on Ghost Hunters, but I don't want to take forever getting back to Witch Hunt either. How do you other wannabes handle this? What do you do with two projects up in the air? It was probably a mistake to embark on both. I really wanted to ignore Ghost Hunters for a while longer, but was feeling pressured to get it cleaned up, too. No one's fault but mine, but I kept having people tell me it needed this or that, and I felt obligated to act on those (very good, very helpful) suggestions. Now I feel I should've stuck to my guns and ignored this for a while longer, and maybe finished (or at least gotten well into) my second book before tackling this one. Or maybe I should just commit to getting GH finished.

I know as soon as I do that, I'm going to want to work on a query letter and things like that. I have no idea how to do things like a synopsis, query letter, or any of the other things that have to be done to get this in front of people that can do something about me being a wannabe.

Any thoughts, blogosphere? How do I balance this? Should I even try?

Holla, y'all.


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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Sweet Victory

The New England Patriots are now, officially, the best team that has ever played.  No other team in history has gone 18-0, INCLUDING THE 1972 MIAMI DOLPHINS.

Hear that, Mercury Morris?  You're second-fiddle now.  Second seat.  The second best team ever, unless you factor in that ALL the teams you played had less than a 40% winning percentage.  ALL of them.  That must've made your trek to the 'Bowl a bit easier, eh?  But the Patriots won't rub your noses in that.  I will, but they won't.  Unlike you, they're proud champions, not arrogant jackasses.  At least, not yet ... time will tell, though.

Still, I think you're a jerk, and you've lost all your big-mouth rights.  You'll deny that, and say that until and unless the Patriots win the Super Bowl, they're not as good, but that's a load of crap.  They've won more games than you did in a single season, and you'll just have to choke that down and like it, punk.  Period.  They've outdone your achievement.  Should they win the big game in two weeks, that will only make you the more ridiculous in your ravings about "only matching" what you did.  That's stupidity itself, and you've already made a big enough ass of yourself, don't you think?

My hat is off to the New England Patriots.  You didn't play well, and were not impressive, but you did win.  (It might have been different if LaDainian Tomlinson were healthy, but hey, you gets what you gets, right?)  I'll be screaming my guts out in two weeks hoping you win the Super Bowl, and hope you don't make it such a nerve-wracking affair for your fans.

Great job, Mr. Belichick and company.  Brady, not so much, but ... you can still redeem yourself.

Nice job, gentlemen.

Let's celebrate, Massholes.  We did it.


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Saturday, January 19, 2008

More Search Terms and Traffic Whoring

Well, after having a huge spike in traffic last week, I let myself drop off the blogosphere. I guess being a traffic whore just don't pay, especially when you're in an emotionally-draining situation that doesn't allow a lot of room for being funny, creative or interesting. My hit count is back to where it was before I started counting them. I'll miss you, readers.

So, I'll check the search terms that bring people to my various blogs and find interesting ones and post those from time to time. I'll try to do some software reviews, IF I can get a free copy, and I'll write fiction. Really, I will. I'm poised now to be able to complete the plotting and start outlining the course of the much-requested Witch Hunt. That looms large in my future, but I can't guarantee how often I'll post. I just want to do some writing before I forget how.

Search terms? Well, on the upside, someone did a search for List of Six, I believe, the program for managing priorities and to-do lists, written by my buddy Bryce Beattie. I did a review on it recently, which you can check out here. That's good; anything I can do to help out Bryce means a lot to me, because he's been a good friend, is one of the most generous individuals I've ever met, is a fellow writer, a father and just a plain ol' nice guy. Oh, and he writes very good software, too, so if you aren't checking out Baby Katie Media, you should. I love Text Tree, and would love to see that go mainstream production, making him wealthy. I think every writer should use it.

Anyway, here's another search term:

i darcness

Okay, not sure about that. When I do the search myself, I find ... well, myself. A lot. I named every blog I had "DarcNess", which is a play on part of my wife's name and part of my name. I spelled it with a "c" instead of the standard "k" because when I originally requested the handle "Dark Knight" it wasn't available. I got creative, and ... that's why I'm the DarcKnyt. Why the affiliation with Batman? I don't really know, honestly. I identify with the character ... a lot. He's a product of tragedy in his life ... me too. He's brooding, dark and is about a quarter of a tick from being a psychopath. Me too. He's trying to do good in a world of evil and help those overwhelmed by it. Me not so much. He's a billionaire. Me not so much. He's tall, handsome, strong and tuned to physical human perfection. Me not so much. He's got a really kick-ass car. Me not so much. He has a plane. Me not so much. He has a boat. Me not so much. He ...

All right, I guess other than being psycho and a product of pain and anguish, we don't have that much in common. Still, he's my favorite comic book character. It used to be Spider-Man when I was a lad, but now, it's the Dark Knight. Why?

Because there's nothing superhuman or supernatural about Batman except his bank account. Other than that, everything he does is done within the realms of his human capabilities. I admired that he made the most of what he could be, and I always identified with that.

I guess I'm still more in-line and in-kind with Frankenstein's monster. More on that in another post ... maybe.

So, for that individual searching for "I, DarcNess," well ... you found me. If you meant "I, Darkness" -- Google should have helped you out with that. If not, then leave me a comment and say "hey". I'd love to hear from you. :)

Have fun over your remaining weekend, everyone.

God bless,


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Software Review and Strange Search Terms

In an interesting twist of fate, I noticed yesterday one of the search terms that brought someone to my blog also gave me opportunity to do another software review. I really like doing them, and you all seem to like them, so it was fortuitous for all concerned that a hapless individual was searching the Interweb yesterday for something that allows me to both help them, and give you a look at software you may or may not be familiar with. However, a caveat: This is not a comprehensive examination or test of the software in question. Just so you know, none of my reviews ever are. They're just things I found that I thought were cool, and that I thought you might like too. Okay, /disclaimer; onward.

More...The search term that brought the person to my blog:

what is riffling

First, let me help that person out. According to WordWeb:

rif·fle [ ríff'l ]

verb (past and past participle rif·fled, present participle rif·fling, 3rd person present singular rif·fles)


1. transitive and intransitive verb flick through pages: to flick through the pages of a book, magazine, or newspaper, glancing casually at the contents

2. transitive verb shuffle cards: to shuffle playing cards by halving the deck, lifting the corners, and flicking the cards so that they overlap as they fall

3. intransitive verb become choppy: to become rough and choppy when passing over submerged rocks ( refers to water )
Water riffles over the rocks.

noun (plural rif·fles)


1. quick look at book: a quick flick through the pages of a book, magazine, or newspaper

2. shuffling of cards: the shuffling of playing cards

3. U.S. submerged rocks or sandbar: an area of rocks or a sandbar lying just below the surface of the water

4. rough water: an area of rough water caused by submerged rocks or a sandbar

5. grooved part of sluice: the bottom part of a sluice that has grooves for collecting gold or other mineral particles

[Mid-18th century. < ?]

Okay, so that should take care of that. By the way, all you writer types: If you're not using WordWeb, you're missing out. It's a dictionary/thesaurus that has links to web definitions for words, it runs in the background of your system and can be used with almost any program, and best of all, it's free. There is a pro version, too, if you're interested. Check it out.

I like that it's typically stronger than the standard dictionary and thesaurus found in most programs. Sure, you can customize those, but you can do a lot of neat things with WordWeb too. It will automatically detect and use any additional dictionaries you have, so if you're writing a mystery romance about a French porn star who inadvertently sleeps with the Minister of Defense, you can use a French dictionary to look up the French words you want to use. You can also have it look over cross-references, select only a particular part of speech when a word can be more than one (like "riffling" above, both a noun and a verb), and it will automatically replace words you look up with the click of a button. Additionally, it links to any related Wikipedia articles on the word, can use Wiktionary, and has a direct link to the WordWeb dictionary online if you want more indepth analysis. It does stand alone, however, and runs locally on your computer. No Internet connection is required to use it, but it becomes more powerful if you have one available.

Since it's a tabbed layout, none of those things get in your way when you're using it, which is nice. You can also set up a keystroke look-up hotkey. Want to strike a single key to get your definitions? Just set the program up to respond to the key stroke or combination, and that's all there is to it. (Just make sure none of the programs where you'll use WordWeb are already using that combination natively.)

WordWeb's been a great help to me since I installed it, and I can't imagine writing without it now. I have it installed on both my local system and one of my flash drives, along with a lot of other portable applications, so when I travel or am away from my own computer, I can still use at least the local copy of WordWeb when I'm working. It's a boon, and something I think belongs in every writer's toolbox, unless you're still using a typewriter. Then you're on your own.

Check the WordWeb website for more details, and a free download. If you like it and are so inclined, you can also purchase the pro edition there. I'm sure you'll like it.


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Work Habits in Writing and Editing

I discovered something last night that I didn't realize before.  I don't have as much editing work to do as I thought I did on my manuscript.

The punch came while I was reviewing the book Novelists Essential Guide to Crafting Scenes by Raymond Obstfeld.  He's a prolific writer (claiming 35 novels) and a teacher at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, CA.  I read the last chapter of that book last night, and shut my eyes to give thanks.

I did all of the things that he recommends doing, saving the easiest step -- streamlining the narrative and descriptive passages for maximum effect -- for last.

Until last night, I was despairing of the amount of work left to do.  I wondered if I'd ever do it, or if I'd ever want to do it.  After reading that, I think I finally do.  I think I want to edit my manuscript, to cut it to shreds and strengthen it.  I haven't addressed any dialog; I've told all of you that, and why.  But I've edited the first six chapters.  It's 47 chapters long, and that's a bit daunting, but I think I finally have the enthusiasm for it to get as much done as I can.

There are other matters more pressing still, but when I do have free time, I think editing my manuscript is going to be something I truly enjoy.  Seeing it come to fruition is once again possible, and I don't have the vaunting tasks ahead of me I thought I did.  I have the blogosphere to thank for that, believe it or not.

Publishing the novel in blog format first forced me to write in sections, and to edit and clean-up each section, to demand of it its purpose in the whole.  I was able to have a brilliant beta reader go over it before you ever laid eyes on it.  I had the benefit of a proofreader that kept me inline.  I had someone help me make decisions on whether one version or another made the story work best.  I had a lot of help getting here, and quite accidentally, I am now doing the easiest part to finalize the document.

That's quite a relief.  It's a bit of joy, actually.  And I'm going to push forward doing it.  If I can do three or four chapters a night, it won't take all that long to finalize it.  Hopefully I can do more, but I'm not going to get too ambitious.  I will say, however, there is less work to do in the later chapters than in the first three.  The last three were far easier to do, require far less cutting and trimming, and if the subsequent chapters are like that one, it should be a piece o' cake ... mostly.

Just thought I'd share.  I hope you're all doing well.  God bless.


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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Status Update

I'm sorry I disappeared on you, blogosphere.  I really am.

I can't promise every day updates the way I've been doing them.  I can't promise I'll get new fiction up for you anytime soon (so please enjoy the existing stuff as much as you'd like while it's here), and I don't know what fate holds for us in the near future.  We have a situation, some of you are aware of it, and there's nothing on the horizon in that regard.  Updates on that as events warrant.

But in other news, I've edited 6 chapters of Ghost Hunters.  I've posted them on my deviantART page but not here, yet.  I've gotten a positive response on them so far, but ... I'm not really able to move forward.  I feel an overwhelming sense of guilt having that be a top priority right now.  Sorry.  Maybe I'll update the first six parts with their new iterations, but I can't say when.  And, because I'm in the middle of editing THAT document, I don't really have time to write anything on the OTHER document I have going, Witch Hunt.  I need to do the plotting and planning I was talking about before, but ... it's ... well, let's just say that I can't do it alone.

Anyway, I'm still ... here.  Mostly.  Thanks for sticking around.  I don't know how much longer I'll BE here, but while I am, I appreciate your continued support.  You've all been so wonderful, and I can't thank you enough.

God bless you, gang.  We're praying for you.


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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Okay ... This Time I MEAN It!

Really ... seriously ... I'm going to do the things I need to do to get the new, revised plot for Witch Hunt fixed and outlined, at least partially, so I can start writing.

I really mean it.  Before the end of the week, I want to have a positive update on that front for all of you that care.  I really, really will.  I promise.

My wife and I have the problems worked out -- well, we think so -- but we haven't done the outlining part and gotten it on paper (electronically anyway).  Until I do that, I'm not comfortable getting stuff written.  I just don't want to proceed haphazardly and mess up a strong beginning.  Well ... by all accounts it's a strong beginning; YMMV.

So, don't give up, don't be disappointed, and don't let me off the hook.  Okay?

Love all over y'all.


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Monday, January 07, 2008

The Edge

My amazing and brilliant wife and I were up all night.

That's nothing new.  We've been doing that lately; pulling all-nighters.  With the baby's wonky sleeping schedule and my love's inability to simply lay her head on the pillow and drift off, she frequently doesn't get her sleep until the gray rays of dawn penetrate the shaded windows.

We were laughing -- I was hysterically so -- about things.  Lots of things.  Things I'd written about mostly, but some of her one-liners are astounding in their impact and sophistication.  I'm sure the line "Santa with rum dribbling down his beard" doesn't make you laugh, but had you been there with us, it'd bring tears to your eyes and a stitch to your side.

While we spoke, trying to keep the laughter to a dull roar so as not to wake the children, she told me something about some of my writing.  It was stuff I did a while back.  I was experimenting with a new style, a new voice.  I wanted a particular feel, a particular sensation, to come from the stories.  To give it an air of authenticity, I chose historical fiction as my subject matter.  My own history.  I pulled stories of my childhood out of my memory and tried to spin them as I recalled them, but of course, they were only loosely based on reality.  I augmented and just plain ol' spun yarns when I couldn't remember the outcome or details.  In the end, I had a collection of stories I thought were hysterical, told part of my life that I can remember well and fondly (mostly), and of which I was proud.

The one aspect of failure that crept into them was, I tried to make them humorous and lighthearted.  She told me they had an "edge" to them.

That was her word: "edge."  I asked for clarification.  She told me it was a blackness, a dark overtone which, while the stories were funny, hung over them and made them darkly funny, not lighthearted.

This morning, with those same gray rays of dawn creeping over the ceiling and walls, she said it again, but she elaborated.  She told me despite my best efforts, I'd not created Norman Rockwell-esque stories.  She pondered, and stated:

"It's more like Norman Rockwell with a Stephen King edge."

I thought that was a perfect description of my life.  I couldn't have, in a million attempts, said it any better.  (I hate that.  I'm supposed to be the writer, dammit.)

I pondered that, and have been ever since.  I think, despite the attempts, my family missed Rockwell when I was growing up.  We ended up just west of Addams Family instead, except without the campy humor.

I really haven't given those stories much thought since I wrote the last one some months ago.  I started, and finished, Ghost Hunters instead, and it took me in a new direction.  I'm not sorry, but I don't think I'm going to ignore those stories and yarns gleaned and inspired from my youth.  I may revisit them someday soon, if I can think of any new ones, and try to see if I can recapture that voice.  It was a lot of fun, and I thought it had potential.

The image of Santa, slurring and sloshing around in his red suit, bulbous red nose fairly aglow with alcoholic rush, dribbling rum down his nicotine-stained yellowing beard will always be with me.  If only I could paint images with my words as powerfully as my beautiful, dazzlingly sharp and articulate wife did, I'd probably already be on the NYT best-seller list.

Way to go, babe.  :)


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Saturday, January 05, 2008

Has the Muse ... Returned?

Oh, man.  What a night.

My beautiful, amazing, wondrous, brilliant wife stayed up with me until 9:30 this morning.  That's right, 9:30 a.m.  We were working together, exchanging ideas, brainstorming.  We discarded ideas, identified deal-breaking issues, found flaws, backed up, went forward ... changing directions, shifting focus, fluid, in motion.

We bantered.  We tried to defend our arguments, our notions.  We failed.  We backed up again.  Zigging, zagging, weaving, bobbing and turning.  We agreed, then tried to destroy it again.  It held up.  We searched for flaws, found them, went silent.  Then we solved them.  Things started falling into place, one after another, one discarded idea coming back into play to be the shoring factor for another idea.

As the dawn's light grew to the morning sun, we had it.  We had it, and we felt more sure of it than we did the last time this happened, only scant weeks ago.  It was exciting.  It was workable.  It was solid.

And it's something we can write.  We can write it now.

I think we finally solved our plot problem.  The best part of all is, we don't have to change a thing.

I think I can write again.  I think our Muse has returned.

Stupid late-arrival bitch.  'Bout time.

Look for more fiction from me soon.  Maybe next week soon.  Thanks for believing in me, friends.  I love you all.  And babe?  It's not my story.  It's our story.  I couldn't have done it without your help.  Thank you.  I love you.


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Friday, January 04, 2008

Once Again, the Traffic Whore is Humbled

I just had a personal best day of page views on my WordPress account. I can't believe how the blogosphere has come to view my stuff today, and a fair number of the views are in Ghost Hunters. Looks like someone's reading it. I sure hope you're enjoying it, whoever you are.

The outpouring of support, encouragement, and yeah, love, dammit!, for my writing here and other places in cyberspace means a tremendous amount to me, everyone. Thank you all. Thank you all so much. I mean that. You've moved me to the bottom of my black, hard and unfeeling heart. You have. I'm so grateful.

Thank you.

When I get my Pulitzer Prize, I'll forget all of you and bask in the radiance of my own splendor, but thanks for letting me stand on your shoulders to make myself feel better today. (Just kidding. I won't just bask in my own splendor, I'll boast about it too.)

God bless you all, commenter and lurker alike. I'm really, really glad for you.


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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Wow! A GLOWING Review!

All right, bloglodytes/blogizens/buds and supporters -- I need to share this with you because ... well, because.  Time for me to strut a li'l bit, y'all.  :)

As some of you may know, and all of you will now know, I have a page on an artists community.  The web space is called deviantART, located at, logically enough,  So, about three years ago (maybe a shade under), I started falling back in love with drawing.  It was a wondrous thing to behold.  I'd set my art aside for decades at a time, and whenever I reconnect with it, it's magical to me.  It's sort of like intimacy with my wife.  Doesn't happen a lot, but when it does ... fireworks, y'know?  (TMI.  Sorry.)

Anyway, all the same pieces of fiction I post here on my blog, I also post there.  (Among other places, like my Wiki spaces, one of which is here.)  And, I actually have a couple of regulars there.  Doesn't sound like a big deal, when over here on WP I've got  Sherri, and Raga, and Bryce, and my beloved one, and a bunch of people (apparently) that are lurkers, reading but not commenting.  And then there's Ian, and UnderCanopy, too.  So I love my readers here, and a tiny smattering of them over there shouldn't matter so much as the close ones I've met here, I guess, but I care.  Mostly because ... well, because I love my readers.  I do.  Anyone that reads my writing has an automatic in-road to my heart, and I'm schmaltzy like that.

Recently, I'd been cruising around on dA, looking at the pages of the folks who've visited my page.  I have a really, really low page count, though, so whenever someone stops by I try to send them a thank you note for stopping by.  The problem with dA is that it's primarily for visual artists: people who can draw, paint, take and/or manipulate photos ... things like that.  So visitors are able to stop by, see some of your gallery and decide whether they want to see more of you.  If they like your stuff a lot, they can "watch" you -- that's the dA equivalent of "friending" someone on MySpace, just so you know.  You'll be notified whenever the artists posts new art, etc.

I was visiting the visitors of my page, and I came across someone who's a writer, and by reading the comments on their work, it led me to other pages.  Pretty soon, I found one from a lady that's a pretty doggone good writer.  I've not met many on dA, sadly, but she was ... well, she's pretty doggone good.  I started reading one of her stories, which was serialized just as my Ghost Hunters story was, and I was immediately hooked.  I read the entire piece last night.  And I've never done that before with a dA writer ... ever.

So I left her a comment.  Before I knew it, she was commenting back to me, telling me thanks for reading, glad you like it, blah blah.  Well, if you're familiar at all with those situations, you know it's generally considered common courtesy to read someone's work if they've read yours.  She picked Witch Hunt instead of Ghost Hunters, probably because it was only three parts (so far) instead of the whopping 95K word, 47-segment ordeal of the latter.  At any rate, I didn't know she was reading it, and I generally don't want folks to feel compelled to read my work just because I've read theirs.  That's the wrong reason for doing it anyway, and I won't take it personally.  Reading is a major investment of time and thought.  It's not easily undertaken, especially with a big project.  Right, Sherri?  :)

Well, this afternoon, I had a comment from this nice lady.  We'd exchanged a couple of them today, about various things, random thoughts, and when I read it I nearly did a spit-take on my screen with my coffee from shock.  Here it is, verbatim, copied and pasted from my dA page:

Okay, I reread this hoping to provide some helpful criticism. Here goes: This is great. No kidding. I couldn't find a single s[c]rew up, or typo, or grammatical error -- or even something I just plain didn't like. My opinion cou[n]ts too, because I taught creative writing for three years, composition for three more, and have been writing professionally for ad agencies, magazines and a newspaper for over 24 more! If I received this piece as sample pages to consider for publication, I would demand more immediately. Don't you wish I was an agent? Yeah, me too. Anyway, I'm off to part two.

BADDA-BING, PEOPLE!!  Okay, Sherri-berry, say it with me now; ready?


That ... that left me absolutely speechless.  Oh, and a little teary.  I tried to find some fumbling words of gratitude to express, but I just kept gushing.  So I gave up.  But I was blown away.

That's not the end of it, either.  She commented on all the other parts of "Witch Hunt" too, and she picked up a typo I missed along the way.

Needless to say, I'm on a euphoric, endorphin-driven high from which I sha'n't come down ... until someone says they don't like it, of course.  Then I'll slide into a dark, brooding depression, bubbling like the swamps of Dagoba, grunting like Yoda, and I won't emerge from that for a while.  Back and forth I'll go.

Right now, though, I'm high.

If you're in the mood for a gritty, kinky sorta mature-reader oriented story with a lot of punch, suspense, tension and professional-quality prose, check out this wonderful author's dA page at  The story is called "", but she's got others, too.  You have to sign up for dA to comment, I believe, but you might find an email address for her there somewhere.  Drop her a line and give her your feedback, if you want.  She enjoys quality critiques.

I'm going to bask now.  Thanks.



Wednesday, January 02, 2008

A Busy Day on the Blogosphere

Well ... I can tell by my hit count the holidays are over and you're all back to your routines of reading and being read, sharing thoughts and catching up with fellow blogophiles.  (Blogizens?  Bloglodytes?)  It's nice to see you all again, and I hope your holiday season was happy, healthy, fun and safe, but most of all, richly blessed.

Those of you who never left already know I sure appreciated your company through the time.  It was fun to be so close and intimate with a few of you, and to spend quiet winter evenings, muffled by the snow, with you.  Sipping eggnog and brandy, Irish coffee and hot cocoa by the fireside in our comfy leather wingbacks, talking quietly in the deep stillness of the winter chill ... I can't think of any time more well-spent.

For those of you who are resolution-makers, what are they?  Have you written them down yet?  You should, you know; they become more real and less easily forgotten -- or forsaken -- when you do.  ;)

I just had my second-best day ever, in terms of page views, according my handy li'l stat counter here on WP's dashboard.  Thanks for stopping by, and for those of you indulging in the serial fiction -- I sure hope you like it.  It was a lot of fun to write, and I promise -- by all that is holy, I promise!! -- I'm going to continue working on a new one.  Maybe not the one I've started (because I've not been happy with its plot so far), but on something new, I promise.  Bear with me; the muse will return eventually.  She'd better ... the bitch.

Ahem.  Sorry.

So, anyway ... yes, I'm still sorely lacking in inspiration.  I've been trying to re-examine what I've plotted in my new story, and at the same time ask myself if that's the story I want to write now.  In the meanwhile, I've come to grips with the idea that I have something pressing on me now, something urgent, something I need to resolve really quickly.  It's urgent, it's critical and it's not going away.  It's not going well, either.  I have to take care of that issue first, before I move easily into fiction.  If I can get some things happening there, I can focus more fully on writing.  You know, relax ... create ... let the imaginative bowels move, if you will.  (Okay, that was yucky.  Sorry.)

Whatever turns out in these areas, I'm happy to see you all back.  For those who felt my last post was a little moody ... you're right.  It was.  I'm fighting depression along with a lot of pressure from life in general, but hey -- who's not?  I apologize, I wasn't trying to be a downer.  I hope you liked the prose, though.  It was as close as I may have ever come to capturing my emotional state in words.

Have fun going back to work, and we'll talk again soon.  I promise.



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