Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A Climate Of Fear

Yesterday, I received a private email from a writer friend who has requested that their personal details not be displayed. I will honor this request. The following is a quote from this email.

"Teddy you are really nuts. I read your post in your blog called "Give Me A Break" and then I read the hilarious post about Deep Throat. I have to tell you though I thought it was funny and mostly correct - you have to be totally nuts to put that up in your blog. Don't you realize that every time you send out a query from now on, you could very well have that query land on the desk of the Rejecter or someone like her? You virtually guaranteed yourself a rejection. And to make matters worse you posted the exact same thing in Absolute Write. Aren't you afraid you are going to ruin your chances?..."

I find I must answer this very sane worry from a friend. Yes, I do realize that agents and publishers read Absolute Write (though I doubt they read my blog). And yes I do realize that any query I send out may by chance be seen by someone who recognizes my name from Absolute Write. And yes I certainly realize that may be cause for an automatic rejection and can narrow chances of success down a great deal. And yes, I am nuts to do it.

But But But...

Listen up folks. Listen well. Agents are people. Yet lately, with the abilities that Blogging does offer us (and this is not only in the field of writing), many people have taken the easy way out by hiding behind made up names and pseudonyms. And for the hundredth time I am going to say, Miss Snark should and can get away with it. But the others are riding the coattails of a fad that should never be.

Agents who hide behind anonymous names, query-letter junk-pile readers who do so, publishers who do so, are just increasing what is becoming an incredibly tense climate of fear. Since authors have no idea who is producing these blogs and postings and since they have no clue if their query or project is going to end up on the desk of one of these people, many have become fearful of voicing legitimate concerns and opinions. Just as my friend has become. We are being ruled by fear and subtle intimidation of the anonymous pseudonym monster.

Yes, I have made this one of my pet projects. You see, perhaps this is the utter foolishness of someone who decided many long years ago, that he will never be afraid of another human being. Perhaps it is an ego-centric attitude in the faith in my own intelligence coupled with a naïve faith in the intelligence and professionalism of most agents, publishers and writers out there.

If the only way a writer can voice a legitimate opinion is to stay hidden behind a pseudonym, if the only way a writer can ask a question is to make sure that absolutely nothing in that question can in any way seem to question, ask, or wonder about the process - then we have certainly fallen in deep fear to the pseudonym monster.

One day we are going to wake up and find that the blogs are populated with snide, cynical remarks from those who have power of life and death over us - all hiding behind assumed names and anonymous postings. The pseudonym monster rules supreme.

My friend's message to me was:
Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

My message back:
Fear is no way to live and certainly no way to create.
I long ago decided that fearing another human being was what gave them power in the first place.

Don't be afraid. Don't live in Fear. Don't let anonymous pseudonym monsters destroy your dreams and do not let them stop you from questioning the process or wondering just how professional some of the professionals truly are.

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Categories: short stories, writing, on writing series
Getting Wasted - Writing & Editing & Publishing Short Stories

Edited With Qumana

The Butter Battle Wars

The Butter Battle Wars - Part One

If one is a writer and wiles away time along the electronic pathways of the Internet sometimes seeking just a way to think without truly thinking there is a great deal to be amused by. No doubt we can read jokes, we can watch porn, we can read up on the News all over the world, or even find a way out place to visit. There is just no end to the great information space that the Internet offers.

However, being somewhat of an individual who kind of likes to see others hang all of it out there, I am fascinated by what I have begun to call the Butter Battle Wars (Dr. Seuss enthusiasts will understand this one) that goes on between certain literary agencies and other powers that be on the Net and in publishing.

On one side we have a slew of literary agencies who have been accused of everything but blowing up the universe. Now while I have never been a "victim" of said agencies, and doubt I would ever have fallen into the trap since I did once over 20 years ago, I find this war interesting. For on the other side the General of the war against has been a well-respected mouthpiece of Literary Agents, one whom I have mentioned time and again, Miss Snark.

But you know it seems funny to me that on one side we have a group of agents who when speaking seem to be the voice of reason and fairness, in that they are saying that anonymous voices on the Net are destroying their reputation. On the other hand the accusations leveled at these agents most of the time seem to bear out, in that they take enormous fees from unsuspecting authors before ever having done a thing for them. This is against the protocol and I fully agree it should be. But in all due fairness to this group of agents - they are in truth being attacked and vilified in a blog by someone who is operating under a an assumed persona carefully preserving the "real" person behind an aura of mystery.

Now where I have nothing against Miss Snark, and have said I truly respect her, I do think it is a bit audacious to take on such a battle, however justified, behind an assumed name. That simply does not allow for a fair playing field. And even though it does seem that many accusations leveled by Miss Snark have borne themselves out, I still think one must give the other side the chance at rebuttal in a REAL world. It certainly is totally unfair and even a bit egocentric to use a made up persona to attack and vilify an opponent when that opponent has no clue who they must refer their answers to.

I am not suggesting that Miss Snark leave her persona, though as I have said in previous postings, I certainly suggest that all other anonymous yo-yos leave their made up persona's in the closet (under lock, key and chastity belt), I think that it is kind of laughable to watch these dumb Butter Battle Wars take place.

Miss Snark will certainly garner the most points here. She will certainly make us laugh (I know I did). She will certainly get zillions of comments. And she does have a point. BUT if you want to attack someone for playing unfair then it is only justifiable to ask that you play fair yourself. So, while she may be right-on with her end points, I think the Butter Battle War between the Snarks and the Worst Literary Agents listed in a now famous/infamous list should be played with open weapons and open names. If you want to play Miss Snark - if you truly want to offer a real service - then don't hide. And if you wish to hide - leave the battlefield to others. Having it both ways makes you the butt of the joke as well as the one who originated it. Kind of like double penetration. The viewers find it hilarious, while the actors probably find it incredibly painful while needing lots of oil and a hell of a pain threshold.

Make no mistake. I totally support and believe the arguments which Miss Snark puts forward and represents. The evidence seems to be a bit overwhelming. BUT if you want to accuse and lay blame - face that person. Do not hide. Do not use snide, cynical comments behind a made-up persona. Just seems to me and indeed many others I have spoken with, a bit too underhanded. If you insist on using a persona and attacking - then you just give the other side all the more ammunition to claim your stance is wrong and incorrect (which IMHO Miss Snark is correct here - just to make that clear once again.)

So perhaps it is only good and fair to leave this battle to those willing to put their names and reputations on the line to fight the charlatans in the literary agency business. After all, if they are wrong or their accusations made in public prove to be libelous and incorrect they will loose their good name and fine reputations. If Miss Snark is wrong well then, despite my affinity for Miss Snark she is a fantasy. Phantasms usually have nothing to loose except some hot air from time to time. Fantasies are great for the porn business but have no place in the arena of serious endeavors. So as for me, in this specific area, Miss Snark should not take sides in the Butter Battle War otherwise she will look almost as foolish as the enemy on the other side of the wall.

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Categories: short stories, writing, on writing series
Getting Wasted - Writing & Editing & Publishing Short Stories

Edited With Qumana

Monday, October 30, 2006

Cobwebs Of The Mind Blog Review: Diana Bocco's "writing, coffee and other obsessions"

Siberia? You are kidding me, right? Siberia?

When Diana's request first hit my email to review her blog, "writing, coffee and other obsessions", as usual I took a quick peek to see if there was really anything worth reviewing. I must admit that there is no doubt that "writing, coffee and other obsessions" and her accompanying web site, dianabocco @ http://www.dianabocco.net/  are definitely worth your while if only to try and figure out just what the hell Diana is doing in Siberia!

Let us first get to the heart of the matter. Diana follows her muse around the world and teaches English as a Second Language. From her web site we read: "She's lived in New York City, South America, and Siberia, and plans on globetrotting until she finds the perfect spot to build her dream wood cabin. She likes all animals except roaches and hasn't eaten meat for the last 12 years, but she has no problems having her characters chopped off to pieces if the story calls for it (and sometimes regardless)."

There is nothing unprofessional about this woman. She is a freelance writer with articles in over 120 magazine to her credit (in some very popular print magazines, I might add). Diana says that she specializes in "nutrition and fitness" and is a vegetarian. Okay. One step at a time. Siberia does not bring up warm and pleasant memories for one who was brought up with the plight of Russian Jewry and with the works of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. But you know what? Hey to each their own! Okay. Fitness we can handle, cause I am an avid swimmer. But when I hear someone say Nutrition I know there is no way my Steak is going to make it through that one. And to make matters worse..OMG a VEGGIE!!!!!

Diana is trying to break into the fiction world as well, and from reading her blog and her obvious talent for writing, I am sure she will be successful in that route as well. And lest you think I am done singing her praises, Diana also gives on-line courses in writing.

When Diana is not writing she tells me that she "spends time picking up stray animals, reading obscure little books in foreign languages, and planning crazy stunts like parachuting and hiking in Ojmjakon (you have to look it up to understand). Of course, all those things eventually turn up in some story."

(Am I done yet?.....phew!)

Despite being a Veggie (we can forgive one fault per person) and despite being way over in Siberia, obviously Diana is really exceptional. The only complaint I have is why the hell is she in Siberia and not living next to me somewhere so we can go out on a zillion dates! Oops.. wait... where will we eat? I would not be caught live in a veggie restaurant...my reputation would be destroyed forever!...mmm...okay .. we will settle on compromise. We will order in :)

A+ Blog from a woman who is professional and not lost her sense of humor. Take a look at "writing, coffee and other obsessions" it is certainly most well worth the time!

Cobwebs Of The Mind Blog Reviews are posted from time to time based on blogs that are serious endeavors on the part of their owners. For those of you who wish to have their blog reviewed at Cobwebs Of The Mind please email me by using the GMail Icon on the right of the page. Members of Absolute Write (AW) who wish their blog reviewed please go to the following thread and read the instructions in the first post in the thread.

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Categories: short stories, writing, on writing series
Getting Wasted - Writing & Editing & Publishing Short Stories

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Cobwebs Of The Mind Blog Review: Timothy Coote's "bcom" - "Business Communication"

There is no secret as to what Timothy is all about on his blog, "bcom" - Business Communication. Once again it is clear that people from all walks of life sometimes have this uncanny ability to also be able to coherently and cogently put a sentence together and express themselves in a delightful manner.

Timothy is a successful business communications expert who originally hails from Australia and now lives in France. His career is geared to, as he writes:

"Professionally I like to think I give French companies the opportunity to think differently, so they can communicate in English in such a way that will make them spectacular and everyone will want to retain what they are saying (I have my work cut out for me)"

Though not published as of yet Timothy is in the midst of putting ideas from his profession into a book. Judging from the entries on his blog the book would be well worth the read for those seeking to better themselves in the international arena of business.

Among his blog entries is one which reads: If you only read one blog post in your life... (though at the time of this review it is the most recent entry it still appears on the home page of the blog)

I read through this piece and quite a few others and one of the most interesting comments you can see below. It shows Timothy's innate intelligence and deep understanding of his profession.

"Trying to establish credibility is backwards. Don't try to get the reader to respect YOU... the reader wants to know that you respect HIM!

Demonstrate that respect by caring about his time. By caring about the quality of time. Your audience should know right up front that you're grateful for the time they're giving you, and you show that by being entertaining, engaging, compelling, interesting, or at least useful. You demonstrate it by assuming they're smart. By recognizing what they already bring to the discussion. By not insulting their intelligence. By being prepared."

Bcom is a blog just getting up to speed. I normally will not usually review a blog that does not have a specific amount of entries, but I made the exception in this case due to Timothy's marriage of his profession and writing capabilities. Enjoy Bcom it really is worth a few minutes of your time.

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Categories: short stories, writing, on writing series
Getting Wasted - Writing & Editing & Publishing Short Stories

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Deep Throat - The Life of Anonymous Authors, Agents & Publishers On The Internet

(Before You Begin Reading This Be Warned There Is Use of Sexual Graphic Visuals In The Following and Adult Language)

Deep Throat

Oh so many years ago when Pornography was becoming front page news, a movie came out which soon hit the front pages, the courts, the gossip mags...every high school and college kid knew about this movie called "Deep Throat". The premise of this movie, if you will excuse me for being a bit graphic here, was that the woman actress mainly loved giving oral sex because she was born with her clitoris buried deep in the back of her throat. Thus all orgasms originated in her oral orifice. (Of course, just as a footnote, yours truly, did meet the main male actor in this movie, drove him home from the airport and otherwise shmoozed with him.)

Now Deep Throat was picked upon to be the example par excellence of the court cases against/for pornography and free speech. That discussion and argument played itself out. However, the original premise of the movie was clear. Some people tend to have a much better orgasm by only using their mouths. Indeed, some people can only orgasm when they use their mouths and throat.

We must now meet another Deep Throat. This is the name the famous reporter team of Woodward-Bernstein gave their source (I have no idea if the source was ever discovered) in their expose of Nixon and Watergate.

Deep Throat here was an anonymous person. Deep Throat was someone who time after time delivered true facts and evidence about what really went on in the Nixon White House.

One thing about Deep Throat though. Whatever he said, demanded corroboration. More so, no reporter would ever quote Deep Throat and quote another anonymous source to prove Deep Throat was correct. Hiding behind names was a one-step process. It did not extend down the line to infinity - so that others involved in the conspiracy could protect themselves.

It is funny that Deep Throat was picked as the name. After all we must assume the original Deep Throat was doing this for a reason. That he/she wanted to see Nixon gone. And thus every time his little tidbits were fed to the press and they set off a furor we can only assume that his/her throat erupted in one of those great orgasms that were portrayed in the original movie. (even though Deep Throat is assumed to be male).

And so we now have laid the background for our modern day parable. We arrive at the orgiastic parties currently being given on the Internet. The literary world of the internet certainly has its own Deep Throat. An anonymous individual has arisen from the ashes of manuscript hell to show the plebeians, the tired, the stupid, the disenchanted - just what we are doing wrong. Tidbits are released on to a blog and in less than a few hours our very own Deep Throat is being lauded, praised, laughed with - not only is Deep Throat enjoying orgiastic pleasure but all the tiny minions in the kingdom of the literary world are enjoying it as well. Shared Multiple Orgasms. Heaven!

Now our own modern Deep Throat is much like the one from Woodward-Bernstein fame coupled with the actress who was born with such an anomaly. Deep Throat is for all intent and purpose, anonymous, we have no clue who this person is (and actually no real proof she is really a she) and our own modern Literary - Internet Deep Throat Persona does receive some orgiastic pleasure from her own wit in her posts. There are a lot of parallels here. Some clear, some, one must use a vivid imagination to portray. Writers should, by definition, have vivid imaginations.

BUT what is clear is that even Deep Throat in her own high and mighty chair of giving advice and offering wit, cannot Deep Throat us to another Deep Throat. That is very hard to swallow, (pun totally intended.) You get one level of anonymity. You get one chance at showing us that you are for real. You cannot offer, give, lend or otherwise lead the hordes of writers that have any self-respect left (okay there are only very few) from one anonymous poster to another to another.

And so it came to pass that many males and females all over the globe dreamed of being Deep Throats. They realized that they differed in one critical aspect from the Nixon White house Deep Throat. There was simply no accountability. And thus Doctors offices all over the world were swarmed with strange requests to move the clitoris from where it belonged to a place deep back in the throat. Indeed so many requests were made to have this done, that scientists became confused just how to categorize this new trend. You see, if everyone ends up having a clitoris in the back of their throat, then the ones who don't become the exception. And thus lots of little brains out there dreamed of rising to stardom after a few years of high school education and go out to the world of power and fame and fortune. All they needed to do was voila - become a Deep Throat.

Thus as time went on, many many people began to rearrange their biological placement of certain organs, and they go about with borrowed wit and no knowledge, and even less brains to Deep Throat the hapless world of writers as well.

There was one bit of a problem though with all this medical attention to the throat. Since now the orgasm originated near the brain when the orgasm was particularly intense it usually served to scramble the brains of all these new Deep Throats. They became disoriented, their remarks even more witless and dumb and their craving for power grew ever more needy.

What created even a greater problem is often two people with the same life-changing operation got together to offer a double whammy orgasm to the crowds of innocents drinking in their words. Thus it was often the case that one deep throat tickled the other and vice-versa. One needs no imagination to know the consequences of such foreplay. The "Double-Whammy-Multiple-Throat-Orgasm" came into existence. One Deep Throat showing us wisdom while quoting the next Deep Throat in line, until we, the people, found ourselves carressing our own mice with a love that is unnatural.

And so as time went on and so many Deep Throats populated the electronic byways of the Internet, many of those who chose to stay with their own original bodies intact were subject again and again to some great need by the Deep Throaters for maximizing orgiastic pleasure while meeting out witless stupid remarks upon a thirsty populace. And whereas one Deep Throat is nice to watch and cool to think about, too many of them confused and muddied the possibility of ever allowing the chance for a poor simple person to achieve orgasm - unless they too had an operation.

So to all the writers out there always remember - If you want to hear the gurgling of a deep throat again and again somewhere along the line you are going to forget all the pleasure involved in the plain-old-born-created-molded female body.

And worse you might even forget just how real children are created.

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Categories: short stories, writing, on writing series
Getting Wasted - Writing & Editing & Publishing Short Stories

Edited With Qumana

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Give Me A Break.....

You know what I love. I love people who for some reason think their wit and humor made at the expense of others is just so damn good, so out of the ballpark, so incredible, that they can post anything they would like on the Internet, as long as it is done under an assumed alias. They want to get away with it. The want to be "cool". They want to be Miss Snark.

And I love the Miss Snark imitators out there. They are an incredible force in adding to the overall image, knowledge-base, and understanding of humanity. They are just so good, so smart and so wise that they are incredible additions to the the vast array of knowledge garnered by the human race.

So first let us get Miss Snark's Blog out of the way. This woman, whomever she is, is the genius of a new form of communication. She is a literary agent, who decided, for what can only be assumed as purely Altruistic reasons, to help the writing community. I have written about her blog for authors and writers before, what is good and what I personally do not like. It makes no difference in this case what my preferences on how Miss Snark approaches any subject are. She offers incredible advice, does it in an entertaining style and certainly has no gain but that of possibly bettering the writing community as she goes. Whoever she is, she has my total respect. In short the only thing one could say to Miss Snark is: Go Woman Go!

But as many know in the world of publishing, you get many imitators. I can only imagine how many Davinci Code book-alikes were written and rejected sight unseen. I can only imagine how many Stephen King wannabes are out there trying to sell their version of one of his books. Or Kellerman. Or whomever. Who knows? Every art form has its own imitators.

So it should not surprise anyone that Snarkville has its own plethora of imitators as well. The problem herein lies in the fact that they are really horrible imitators. They are people who seem to be doing this from altruistic reasons, and yet, they also are having Blog orgasms on the power trip they have ventured upon.

Okay, I am not someone to keep my mouth shut. Of course, many of you authors out there will tell me I am absolutely nuts for doing this because you believe Literary Agents have this secret cabal. They meet in a dark room on some island once a year, where there is no press and the place has been sanitized for bugs. At this meeting among other things, they create a black list of authors who have pissed them off. These authors are placed in a secret database protected with algorithms from the NSA and during the course of the next ten years, if any liteary agent gets a query letter from an author listed in the database, said author is sent the most demeaning form rejection possible. This is called "The Great Convention of The All-Powerful Literary Agents". Beware, because they usually meet right after Thanksgiving and before Christmas. And you do not want to be blacklisted.

Well, I guess I am just not politically correct, and since I have known a few literary agents in my travels through life, I do not fear them.

I need them, I require them, I respect some or many of them. I do not fear them.

Thus, when Miss Snark, whom as I have said, has my total respect, recommends a blog to go see and read, I click on the link and read it. When I see this blog mentioned in Absolute Write as well, then I further have the desire to see what wisdom is going to presented here. And therefore the other day, a blog called "The Rejecter" came to my attention. (And yes there is the link for those who wish to add to their erudite knowledge and wisdom. Spelling of Rejecter is done as to the way it is spelled on the web site. The rest of this post uses Rejector with an "o".)

At first reading The Rejector fairly amused me. Oh not because of the funny witticisms whoever this woman is placed in her blog. It amused me, because a glorified junk-pile reader, has borrowed a bit of Snarkville's idea, and is attempting to use a blog to create a "voice" on the Internet. So I read. I scratch my head thinking I have just taken stupid pills. I think again and again. Trying to find the wisdom being offered here. The most telling statement I can find is telling authors that a rejection form letter or any other rejection is a rejection. This said from a professed "junk-pile query letter reader" (a new job description to add to my knowledge), who is obviously vying and positioning herself to become a literary agent. Snarkville now has another house which seems to blow Blog orgasms every day at the wealth of letters being written to find out just how to write a query letter and why it is rejected. The genius of it all. The wisdom. The professionalism. The ultimate good of writing. The Rejector has found her rightful place in the history of writing. And this year they will give her a guest of honor seat in "The Great Convention of The All-Powerful Literary Agents". She will be given her due.

Oh please! Give it a rest. Find some other crowd of sad disgruntled people to go throw out your wise comments. Leave writer's alone. Give it a break.

So now as authors we have yet another line to cross on the march towards Rome. As if we didn't know this already. Now in order to glean wisdom, we go from the Rejector, to Agent Blogs and Websites to reading Miss Snark hoping we can find some post that fits our situation. (Not to even mention the amount of money we throw out on books telling us how to write, create proposals, make up query letters and our own doses of valium!) Then we must sit and write a query letter which the very intelligent Rejector will not reject and pass it on to her boss. Then the boss has to play the same game we play, albeit more sophisticated, with the publishers. Then we must sign the contract get the book out and do our own marketing. Therein lies the conundrum.

Next we will find some publishers assistant putting out a blog on why they reject manuscripts from agents. And then we will find Blogs by the marketing division at X Publishing House on why they will not market X book. And then we will find a Blog by an employee at Barnes & Noble in Zanzibar on why when I go into the store and ask for X book they will insist on selling me Z book. All anonymous blogs btw. All full of wisdom and knowledge. All under assumed names. All done for purely altruistic motives. Blog orgasms all over the Internet.

Somewhere along the line someone has got to stand up and say: Give Me A Break.

The Rejector hides behind a made up persona possibly believing this is all you need to be Miss Snark #2. Stop imitating Snark. Stop presenting your incredible genius in some type of need to create a power base for would-be writers. Go prey on some abused dogs and cats and get them to the ASPCA. The only message the Rejector has is this. Write a good query letter. TYVM for the message now can we please move on. Pretty please, to something a bit more important in the scheme of things.

I just must question, when the presentation of information is no longer knowledge or perspective and becomes just plain good ole bull that has been presented ad-nauseam. I just question why anyone would listen to a "junk pile query letter reader" without knowing the first thing about this woman's background, education or professional ability. I just question just how easy it is to hide behind some idiotic catchy name to present yourself to the world as an "expert". I just question to what depth we have fallen sometimes that reading over and over and over and over and over and over again - the same information and then placing wannabes on a pedastal of literary genius.

Not my cup of tea thank you very much. You want to show me your expertise. Then tell me please - name, background, education, professional ability and experience. You sure as hell would demand to know that from me if I was proposing in a query letter a non-fiction "expert" book. For goodness sake we know nothing about this "expert" of query letter reading.

Yep this is one person who says straight and to the point. I am tired of nameless people who hide behind idiotic names giving out advice without having in any way to be called on to defend it with credentials.

Miss Snark is the exception. Because she literally invented the idea. And she is truly being altruistic. Anyone after that - is just playing wannabe and trying to get attention.

In other words Miss Snark wannabes, cut the bullsh!t. And yes, I know when my query hits the desk of The Rejector, the great secret Database will throw out my name and the rejection will be sent with a sparkle in her eye by special delivery - because GASP! I do not hide under an assumed name. And even so, I say, Cut The Bullsh!t. Give Me A Break!

(The thread for this post is here @ Absolute Write Forum)

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Categories: short stories, writing, on writing series
Getting Wasted - Writing & Editing & Publishing Short Stories

Edited With Qumana

Cobwebs Of The Mind Blog Review: Thomma Lyn Grindstaff's "Tennessee Text Wrestling"

Certainly the very name of this blog "Tennessee Text Wrestling" is something of a conundrum. It shows the eclectic nature of Thomma Lyn's interests among which she lists as "writing, reading, blogging, playing piano, spending time in the mountains, science, cooking, motorcycles, herding cats".

Thomma Lyn has had one e-book published, Thy Eternal Summer, by Chippewa Publishing, and another on the way from StoneGarden Publishing. To be sure many of us are not really into the whole e-book scene and don't much pay attention to the plethora of e-books out there. However, there is no doubt that this is becoming a legitimate venue for authors who are "trying to break in to the more traditional world of writing and publishing". Thomma is one such example that is a success at what she does. She has certainly stayed true to her dream of writing and publishing.

Thomma's blog is an eclectic mixture of humor, thoughts on serious writing, biking, cats (ugh! cats!) and sometimes very interesting quotations which she seems to pull from the vast library of English literature. The following quote which Thomma sent to me actually would describe her blog, Tennessee Text Wrestling, the best. When you read the below quote you will hear the voice of the woman and the serious writer.

"As I grew up, I wrote all kinds of things: stories and longer books. I kept a diary as a child and made up a family newspaper on our old manual typewriter. In college, I majored in English. But all the academic writing I was doing sapped my creative writing urges for a time. I still created, but I created more songs than stories (I’m a classically-trained pianist).....

My novels are all quite different from one another, but they have in common the theme of the redemptive power of love. Most are women’s fiction but not all: my trunk novel is a political thriller. Story and character are more important to me than labels.

I write because written words have been a huge part of my life for as long as l can remember. My best memories of childhood involve the wonderful books I read: they worked magic on the life of the shy little girl I used to be. I love creating people, worlds, and stories. Being involved in my fictional worlds – spinning their stories and discovering their secrets as I do so – is a thrilling process of discovery, both of my fictional world and of myself.

With all the pleasure and insight books have given me throughout my life, I’d love to add my voice – no matter how humble - to their timeless, polyphonous symphony."

Thomma Lyn is a romantic, a realist, an author, and full of hope and positive energy. It would not be amiss for those authors out there who want to view the struggles and decisions of another writer, to take a look at Tennessee Text Wrestling and perhaps get inspiration, hope and the will to continue.

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Categories: short stories, writing, on writing series
Getting Wasted - Writing & Editing & Publishing Short Stories

Edited With Qumana

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Rejection, Dejection, Names All Wrong, Coffee Stains and Reading Tea-Leaves

I am going to say something really unpopular here and probably will sound incredibly harsh. I apologize to begin with. I am not venting, but maybe it is time to put some things into perspective before I read of one more person going into deep depression for months over a rejection of a query or manuscript. Of course this is all MHO, so if you really hate it.. throw darts... that is cool too.

Rejection is NEVER nice. And yes it throws all of us, from the most assured to the most tentative, into a bit of a depression. Or maybe even a deep one. And yes it is not a nice feeling.

BUT...this is not a mark on the person. Sure, a lot of people who want to be authors and writers - will never be. I have faced that strong possibility myself, and you know what - such is life. Some people who should never write get a contract first query letter and first time out. They get "lucky". And you know what - such is life.

I personally, do not give a damn if an agent or an editor writes me a personal note or form letter of rejection. I could not care less if they take the time to scribble or send me a form letter with my name misspelled, my proposal all misspelled, and the paper with coffee stains. A rejection is a rejection.. nothing there to read into. It is not rocket science. It happens. Often. IN ALL ASPECTS OF LIFE, NOT JUST IN WRITING.

Got a rejection letter? Get drunk, eat choc., jump your spouse or SO - and then MOVE ON. Keep on writing. Keep on plugging away. If you believe in yourself, even if you never get published, if you believe in yourself - man you are way ahead of 99% of humanity.

Don't fall into the "rejection - no one will ever love me - no one will read me" funk. Stop interpreting the coffee stains and tea-leaves. It gets old. It gets silly. But most important it is counterproductive to your dream. Move on. Write. Keep on writing. Don't give up. Don't give in to that little imp whispering in your ear "you are a failure." Cause that imp is there just to see you fail. And don't you dare allow it to win. And let me tell you, I know that imp very well.

Don't give in. Rejection, dejection all of it - is a very temporary stage. It will pass. Let your dreams guide you. Let your own intuition guide you. Let your inner voice that speaks with desire and love and want and dreams guide you.

Take a drink, eat choc. jump your spouse or SO....

Submit. Submit again and again.
Stop reading into every rejection you get. Get over your name being misspelled on a form rejection letter. Stop trying to figure out the nuances of a sentence that says "Thanks. You are a good writer but not for me".
It means just what it says. Stop the endless attempt at reading into something that simply says "Thanks but no thanks" no matter how nicely or badly it is written. Get over this incredible need to make a rejection letter into part of Biblical interpretation. It isnt. It is simply a rejection letter.

MOVE ON. and for goodness sake MAKE YOUR DREAMS COME TRUE.

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Categories: short stories, writing, on writing series
Getting Wasted - Writing & Editing & Publishing Short Stories

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Friday, October 20, 2006

The Color Black

There are days when the words simply wont leave my brain and paint themselves upon the paper.
There are days when the only color I see is black.
There are days when no matter what inspirational lesson I try and take from life, there is simply no hope, no future, nothing worthwhile.

Those days pass in a haze without a page, a paragraph, a sentence even nary a word make their way to the paper in front of me. They seem to be a waste of time, of effort - a waste of life.

They scare me those days of nothing. They scare the living daylights out of me. Not moving forward there is nothing accomplished.. Not moving forward forces regression. There is nothing static in life. Forward or into hell. There is no time to regress anymore. I cannot afford the Stygian blackness of life's pain.

The dawn slowly comes. It creeps up, and though the black lingers it is powerless against the light. And then my mind suddenly realizes that during that dark period something deep inside of my inner being was at work. Sifting, thinking, judging, feeling, understanding, touching with soft tendrils the very essence of the pain. Somewhere deep inside even while my consciousness was totally centered around the nothingness of no light, while my soul delved deep in Saturnalia, something deep inside was still very much alive creating the letters which form into words the words which form into sentences the sentences into paragraphs and  paragraphs into a story.

I have learned to welcome the dark days. I no longer fear them as I once did. And yet I always fail to remember while sitting without the benefit of a candle to light my way, that there is light at the end of this hell.

This is the only path I know to write what I want to write. It is full of fear, loneliness and the pathways of purgatory. Yet it too is part of the process of creation. Almost as if we strive to imitate God in His creation, where he created darkness and light and they existed as one until he separated them. Thus the darkness too, though feared, is part of the process of creating light. It too is part of creation.

There are days when the only color I see is black.

On those days I always fail to remember the process of writing makes me a partner in creation.

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Getting Wasted - Writing & Editing & Publishing Short Stories

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Cobwebs Of The Mind Blog Review: Talia Mana's "Resources for Emotional Well-Being"

New Zealand, a country I must visit one of these days, is home to Talia Mana, an accomplished author. The first thing that comes to mind with Talia's blog, "Resources for Emotional Well-Being", is that her writing is "clean and professional". You do not find meanderings of the mind or disjointed sentences (as one finds here in Cobwebs Of The Mind all the time!) Talia attacks a subject or topic and then presents it with her POV and thoughts.

Talia is a published author of two self-help books: The Art of Calm: Freedom from Stress and Worry (David Ling Publishing, 2001) and Romancing the Frogs: A Singles Guide to Love and Happiness (1999).Talia is also a contributing author to 101 Great Ways to Improve your Life: Volume 2 (Self Improvement Online, 2006) plus lots of published articles in business and health magazines as well as online. (Hey I am one of those frogs so be careful!) You can find this complete listing here.

Her interests vary. From psychology, to dancing, to food and books. As she wrote: "Anything to do with psychology, mental health, links between attitude and health, dancing (I do ballroom and latin 2-3 nights a week) and food! I LOVE food. I also read several books each week - mainly psychology or mysteries."

But since this is review is about writing and blogs and the writers behind them as well, let us take a look at a couple of posts that drew my attention to Talia's blog. I, of course, gravitated for natural reasons to her category on "Love & Relationships". There Talia presents us in an informative clinical way with the results of a survey some facts about love in the mind of modern day man. (Psychologists are so predictable, aren't they?) Yet reading through this post one immediately gets an impression of crisp, clear writing, and the intertwining of a POV as well within the post. She manages to present facts, a bit of humor, and a POV in a well written manner. No small feat for the non-fiction writer.

Today Talia is mainly working on trying to establish a forum to help people with emotional eating, depression, stress management, insomnia etc. Currently researching emotional eating and health psychology (for example the link between optimism and the immune system). I would be remiss if I did not also mention some details on the Forum. There are sections for people who wish to discuss Eating Disorders, Stress and Anxiety, Depression, Bipolar and other such things. If you are interested in these topics or need advice take a look here.

I usually gravitate to fiction writers. Simply because that is what is interests me. In this case I think Talia's blog and forum have a great deal to offer from the writers POV. The writing is crisp and to the point; Talia makes her points clearly; and she offers a forum for those in need of her expertise.

This Frog thinks more non-fiction writers could learn from Talia's blog. A psychologist who presents her expertise in writing and love of writing in the best way possible is a refreshing read.

Cobwebs Of The Mind Blog Reviews are posted from time to time based on blogs that are serious endeavors on the part of their owners. For those of you who wish to have their blog reviewed at Cobwebs Of The Mind please email me by using the GMail Icon on the right of the page. Members of Absolute Write (AW) who wish their blog reviewed please go to the following thread and read the instructions in the first post in the thread.

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Categories: short stories, writing, on writing series
Getting Wasted - Writing & Editing & Publishing Short Stories

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Yesterday In New York...

Yesterday, in New York, they buried my Uncle Herman. He lived a full and long life and left behind wonderful children and grandchildren.

Yesterday in New York, for probably the last time, the first and second generations of what was known years ago as the "House Of Gross" met. There were some absences to be sure. None intended. None that meant anything that would force one to think there is ill will here. Distances could not be traversed by some of the nephews and cousins (myself included).

Yesterday in New York, in a small parcel of land in Queens, in a plot of land bought so many years ago, as one man was buried next to his brothers, an end came to a whole generation.

Yesterday in New York the Gross family watched and participated in a the "end" and then looked around and saw the seeds of its rebirth.

There was the man, the husband, the father, the grandfather, the Uncle the friend. Of that person I will not discuss on a blog. It is for those who knew him and are sitting now shiva for him to tell of his kindness, compassion, smile, wisdom and love.

Then there was the brother. One of six. The fifth one in birth the last one to die. It was with him that the "House Of Gross" was truly laid to rest. He was my father's brother. My father was number two. They started out in life as Jess, Harold, Nathan, Seymour, Herman and Aaron. Their own father, my grandfather, did not live many years. They set out, these brothers did, to take care of their mother. That was their goal and they accomplished it. They made it through the depression with scars to be sure, but they made it through. The made it through World War Two, some serving in the armed forces including my father. They built a family business.They never forgot to take care of their own mother. They remained close these brothers did. They, I am sure went through periods of anger. They sometimes perhaps did not talk to one another. But they remained close. Six brothers who together and alone established families and dug their roots deep. The respect and honor they showed their own mother was legendary. I still read and hear of it, even today. They married, had their own children. The Gross family, this Gross family grew. Cousins grew up. Some stayed close. Others, such as myself, drifted far away following the beat of a different drummer. But being born into this family left one with memories and values.

Values. That is the word I am searching for. Values in a world so cynical and so egocentric, the brothers taught their children values. Secular and religious values. Each according to their own belief. Values. What a strange word to place up on the Internet at times. Values. Compassion, kindness, love, understanding. Respect. All those words which we the third and fourth generation seem to find so hard to accept and keep. For them it was simple. Values. Yet they managed to teach us, these brothers did. They managed to teach us values and respect. The ingrained it so deep in our personalities that we would rather die than betray their legacy.

There is something incredibly sad about the death of Uncle Herman that goes beyond the sadness his immediate family and grandchildren feel. There is a loss that has taken place that is beyond just that of a good human being being laid to rest after a long and fruitful life. It is the end of an era for our family. The end of a foundation and a hope, represented in all ways by the symbol of the "House Of Gross" - a farmer shaking hands with a soldier while pointing up to the white dove of peace. The House of Gross, that first generation is now gone. Three of my aunts are still with us. They are also part of that dynasty and in their own right part of their own families and their own dynasties as well.

And so as a middle aged boy I look back and try to understand with the perspective that my wise father, Pop, would show and give to others with such ease. I look back and try to see this all from a perspective of time and distance. It saddens me to know that this era is over. It saddens me to know that those Passover Seders and Hanukah parties are all but faint memories of a long lost past.

The era is over. And yet it has begun again. Perhaps the best legacy those six brothers could have left us was always there. In every word and thought. Perhaps it took time and learning to truly understand. Perhaps it is just part of life and living and learning. Perhaps this is what they call understanding with wisdom.

My father was the kindest, most compassionate and wisest man I have ever known. After being on the road to hell a few times in my life I have come, as a middle-aged boy, to appreciate his wisdom. This is what he taught me. When you see someone else who is more fortunate than you are, and jealousy takes over, try to always remember that everyone has their own package of woes and troubles. And when you see someone less fortunate, always remember, 'If not but for the grace of God, there goes I'.

That is wise and sound advice. Best you can get.

That wisdom is what six brothers left us. It is something I would kill for today. To possess their values and wisdom.

From the early 1900's when the six brothers began to be born until today is approximately 100 years. There are children, grand children and great grand-children. There are families. The Gross family in 150 years came from Russia, to the United States and some have made home in Israel. Spread out we all are. And yet yesterday, for that one day, in honor of the values, in honor of the person, in honor of their awesome wisdom, the Gross family mourned together once again.

Yesterday in New York while Uncle Herman was eulogized a great many tears were shed.

Yesterday in New York while the body was lowered into the ground, hearts were filled with pain.

Yesterday in New York, after the Kadish was recited over the mound of earth that would forever be Uncle Herman's resting place, a new generation was born.

Yesterday in New York this new generation set out bereft of guidance but ingrained with the wisdom and values that would forever keep the legacy of these six brothers alive.

May the soul of Uncle Herman and all his brothers be bound up in the bond of everlasting life.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

As Much As I Hate Jokes...

I am not one for jokes. I just dont laugh or get most of them. And I am sure that most of you have already seen this in an email or elsewhere. However, this piece is not only hilarious, it reminds me of how difficult it is for us as writers to get our POV across at times. In high tech I have been privy to some real conversations that sounded exactly as this one.

ABBOTT: Super Duper computer store. Can I help you?
COSTELLO: Thanks. I'm setting up an office in my den and I'm thinking about buying a computer.
COSTELLO: No, the name's Lou.
ABBOTT: Your computer?
COSTELLO: I don't own a computer. I want to buy one.
COSTELLO: I told you, my name's Lou.
ABBOTT: What about Windows?
COSTELLO: Why? Will it get stuffy in here?
ABBOTT: Do you want a computer with Windows?
COSTELLO: I don't know. What will I see when I look at the windows?
ABBOTT: Wallpaper.
COSTELLO: Never mind the windows. I need a computer and software.
ABBOTT: Software for Windows?
COSTELLO: No. On the computer! I need something I can use to write proposals, track expenses and run my business. What do you have?
ABBOTT: Office.
COSTELLO: Yeah, for my office. Can you recommend anything?
ABBOTT: I just did.
COSTELLO: You just did what?
ABBOTT: Recommend something.
COSTELLO: You recommended something?
COSTELLO: For my office?
COSTELLO: OK, what did you recommend for my office?
ABBOTT: Office.
COSTELLO: Yes, for my office!
ABBOTT: I recommend Office with Windows.
COSTELLO: I already have an office with windows! OK, let's just say I'm sitting at my computer and I want to type a proposal. What do I need?
COSTELLO: What word?
ABBOTT: Word in Office.
COSTELLO: The only word in office is office.
ABBOTT: The Word in Office for Windows.
COSTELLO: Which word in office for windows?
ABBOTT: The Word you get when you click the blue "W".
COSTELLO: I'm going to click your blue "w" if you don't start with some straight answers. What about financial bookkeeping? You have anything I can track my money with?
ABBOT T: Money.
COSTELLO: That's right. What do you have?
ABBOTT: Money.
COSTELLO: I need money to track my money?
ABBOTT: It comes bundled with your computer.
COSTELLO: What's bundled with my computer?
ABBOTT: Money.
COSTELLO: Money comes with my computer?
ABBOTT: Yes. No extra charge.
COSTELLO: I get a bundle of money with my computer? How much?
ABBOTT: One copy.
COSTELLO: Isn't it illegal to copy money?
ABBOTT: Microsoft gave us a license to copy Money.
COSTELLO: They can give you a license to copy money?

(A few days later)

ABBOTT: Super Duper computer store. Can I help you?
COSTELLO: How do I turn my computer off?
ABBOTT: Click on "START. . ."

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Categories: short stories, writing, on writing series
Getting Wasted - Writing & Editing & Publishing Short Stories

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Monday, October 16, 2006

Cobwebs Of The Mind Blog Review: Bill's Bilge by Southern Newspaper Columnist Bill Fullerton

BILL'S BILGE owned by Bill Fullerton is an incredibly funny and interesting blog that provides a look into the mind of a a Faulkner competition semi-finalist and a finalist by the Santa Fe Writer's Project. At the top of the blog his statement of purpose is absolutely clear:

"I'm a southern newspaper columnist, short story writer, and novelist. Other than that, I'm just another run down, beaten down, slapped down, broken down, shot down, hung down, put down, and kicked around old Boomer who's been beaten up, tied up, chewed up, blown up, hung up, screwed up, messed up, held up, and told to shut the hell up. I'll be posting some of my short stories, chapters from my novels, the occasional odd thought or observation plus any other bilge that comes to mind."
Do not be taken in by that quote. Bill, a newspaper sports columnist for the last 15 years, from the north bank of Kiowa Creek in Dallas, Texas has found homes for some of his short stories in ezines. When I asked for some personal information Bill came back with "Married, three kids, two grandkids, one dog, have a couple college degrees (BS & MA) and a Purple Heart (wounded in Vietnam)". I must admit that having been a battlefield medic for many years, I am impressed by the Purple Heart. I also do think, contrary to conventional wisdom, this does shape a man and his life. Of course Bill listed his interests as "Writing, sports, politics, history, recreational sex". So I kind of like this guy more and more.

There is a tremendous amount of writing up on Bill's site. Indeed he uses his blog as a showcase for his writing, something most authors are loathe to do. However, if your time is limited and you want a taste of what this guy can really do, I strongly suggest you take a look at The Rooster. While it is not for everyone, the art of the craft is very apparent in this excerpt from conversation to description.

Bill mixes humor, self-deprecation and a strong sense of patriotism in all that he comments on in his Blog. Indeed this is not a blog with 4 or 5 entries. It is rich in its presentation of story upon story, comments and musings. It is a true writer blog which shows love of the craft without the normal hand-wringing, angst that you sometimes see from other writers and artists.

In conclusion I will leave you with Bill's final remarks on himself. "I once fouled out in the second quarter of a high school basketball game. The coach raised hell--said the team needed me on the court to win. I'd have felt better except it was the other team's coach. Mine just leaned back on the bench and grinned."

That quote is a measure of not only a writer but a person who knows when, how and where to take himself seriously. Bayou Bill's Blog, BILL'S BILGE, is a serious blog to take a look at, enjoy and watch the mind of a writer at work.

Cobwebs Of The Mind Blog Reviews are posted from time to time based on blogs that are serious endeavors on the part of their owners. For those of you who wish to have their blog reviewed at Cobwebs Of The Mind please email me by using the GMail Icon on the right of the page. Members of Absolute Write (AW) who wish their blog reviewed please go to the following thread and read the instructions in the first post in the thread.

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Sunday, October 15, 2006

Using Writing As A Form of Communication With Your Own Children

Recently I have read over on a thread at AW of many teenagers and adults who were kind of put off because their parents do not take their writing endeavors seriously. I have been seeing a great deal of such complaints lately, where spouses, SO's or lovers as well as parents don't seem to take your writing as serious as you want them to.  ( One such thread can be found here.)

I am real lousy at verbal communication. Real lousy. Sometimes I wonder how the hell I get any idea across. I am also very shy when I am around people I do not know and meeting them for the first time. But with my kids I am not shy, but often I do fail to communicate what it is I am trying to say. Recently with my older children, some married and some not, I have found a way to communicate which seems to work and has had pleasant results.

Until a few months ago, I would not even under pain of torture ever let anyone in my family come close to what I wrote. That was a law with me. It of course has to do with extremely bad experiences in the past, when some who expressed love for me did everything they could to heap disdain and disgust upon my writing. And it worked. For many years, despite having just had published two children's books and some very well accepted articles, I stayed away from writing, using my own secret times to write out of vision from anyone else.

However, over these past couple of years, it was impossible to hide that I was writing again, simply because my work was being published and discussed. My children are Internet savvy, and when one of the older ones for fun did a Google on my name I was immediately called and asked why I never told them that my short stories were published etc. etc.

And so, I came out of the closet and let two of them read a couple of short stories that were published on the net, (but which they would normally have to pay for). I did this with no small amount of fear and trepidation. I waited impatiently for them to tell me that my writing sucks. What happened, which was an incredible surprise to me, is that my writing opened a whole new avenue of communication with these kids. Suddenly they were saying things like, "now I understand a lot better just where you are coming from" and "I can hear you speaking the words in your stories" or just plain "Wow I really loved that story"

I learned a lesson. There are those that profess love for you and even do love you, but they will always find it impossible to remove their own egos from what you do. They will love you, but deride anything you do that they cannot do. Then there are your children. Who will love you and understand you. They will read it cause you are a parent, but they will also learn a great deal more about their parent while reading you.

And if you are a parent or a spouse or SO of an author, take the time to be interested. After all this is the person you love and share with. Writing is part of who they are. Try to become part of who they are by reading and helping with their writing.

If you can try it. You might just be surprised at the avenue of communication it opens up - even when you fear the derision. You may just begin to understand each other that much better. You may not become a famous author but you may accomplish something just as important. You may find the road to communication between you and your children is now a wonderful open line of sharing and respect.

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Friday, October 13, 2006

The Art Of Love In Writing

I have recently tried to seriously understand what it is that both men and women look for when reading about love. We are all aware of the Venus-Mars scenario, the statements of "men are visual women are sensual" which all have their purpose and their truth. There is no doubt that a woman reading about love will be seeking things that will not usually interest a male and visa-versa. This is almost an axiom proven by the highly successful romantic genre which has grown by leaps and bounds to become a respected genre for writing.

Erotica too, at least in my research, is mostly controlled by women authors. Yes there are some men authors, some men authors who use women pen-names in erotica literature, but it seems by and large a female author market. In asking some fairly well established erotica authors at AW why this is so, they all seemed to point out that simply put the "sensual" aspects are just better handled by women writers.

I do not know if this is correct or not, since I am not an author in the growing erotica-romantica-and other "ca" markets. I do know that at first glance it seems to make sense to me, though it is also a challenge which makes me want to try my hand at such writing from time to time.

Since one of the most prevalent threads common in almost all of my short stories is certainly "relationships", in some of my published and to-be-published short stories I try to deal with relationships between the sexes based obviously, upon the male perspective. Some of the published stories as "Tenuous Webs" have actually received incredible reviews.

So recently I finished a story "Love In A Cafe" which beyond anything else I wrote, I just had an incredibly good time writing it. I set out with purpose. No great message. No punching the reader in the gut. No angst or pathos. Just a simple story of falling in love. Not romance. Not erotica. Just a simple love story. One to make the reader simply smile.

I thought, of course, it was pretty good. I kind of liked it. I thought it was "real" at least for me.

I guess deep inside I may have had reservations about the story so for the first time I asked a few fellow writers who knew what I usually write about to take a look. I was really shocked at the reactions which are divided straight down the "sexual" barrier. The females among the group all said - take it or leave it. One even berated me cause she "expected a lot more from me knowing my other published works". The males all said - "great story." "exactly how it happens."

Then I decided to let an old GF of mine read this story. Though there may be a lot of "unsolved angst" between myself and this woman, one thing I always respected was her opinion in literature and in books. She happily read it, and true to the sexual divide, said exactly the same thing as the other females. (Only one female said she "really really liked the story, cause it made her smile." And smile is exactly the reaction I want from this story.)

Writing about love is one of the most difficult things there is. POV's, tastes, expectations and chromosomes all take a deep meaning in such writing. Plus, in our day and age, I truly believe we have forgotten that there is a possibility of real love, without any of the great cynicism. I learned that making people "smile" is not something so easy to do if you want to cut across the sexual divide. I also learned the "love" comes in so many flavors and forms that it will be impossible to please everyone who is even interested in such a story.

Though I still love "Love In A Cafe" it has shown me that writing about love is a serious, painful business.  Look for it in the Feb. 2007 edition at The Deepening. Maybe, just maybe, you will walk away with a smile, even if you are female!

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