Monday, February 28, 2005

Running a Site

Or why you can't please everybody....

I had an exchange of emails today with an FM member who has been considering starting a site like Forward Motion but dedicated to music writing. We had an interesting exchange about membership, boards, chat rooms, costs and time.

And we also got into the philosophy of how to handle a large site, especially one where there is bound to be a lot of different approaches to the work. There is no easy answer that makes everything perfect for everyone. The site is bound to be filled with contrary advice and people standing up for 'their way' because it worked for them. That's how we all learn, both what we can take from others and adapt to our own needs, and what doesn't work as well. If one person had all the answers, they'd have the market cornered and the rest of us would be worshiping at their feet, but just because they don't or because others disagree, is no reason to assume that it's all bad. There is some damned good advice given for free at FM every single day. Adapt whatever works for you and don't worry about the rest. Keep in mind that some people a more assured and forceful than others, and you are not required to agree with any of it, just so long as you are polite.

He also asked how much of the site reflects me, and that's an interesting question, considering that I didn't start FM. Holly and I have absolute opposite philosophies on many things like politics, children, and even on site work. She loves the tech stuff. I like the people involvment (which is why I am doing things like 2YN, B2S, the two month dares, and anything else I can come up with).

My general philosophy is to offer as many different things as I can because I know that writers find a variety of things helpful.

But that's where you reach the 'You can't please everyone' level.

Sometimes I think the complaints I get are rather selfish, and the people are not looking at the larger picture that includes anyone outside themselves. In the last two months I've had emails complaining about everything from the number of pips people use in the signature files to the fact that a chat room has rules (and never mind that there are six others that don't) and they don't want to be bothered to be polite to the people who do appreciate the rule.

It's that way everywhere on the site at one time or another. Allowing some crit groups to go private -- their choice, no one forced to -- won a flurry of complaints. I wrote that the February Challenge didn't have to be a traditional romance I got an angry note from a romance writer who accused me of trying to ruin the genre by encouraging 'perversions' of the pure romance tale. There are always people who don't like the interface, and those who don't like one faction of the membership for some reason or other. (I've been told at various times that I need to drop the younger members, the Christian Writers Group, the Romance group, and anyone writing novels.)

Can I make the site perfect for everyone? Of course not. And I don't try. I give as many options as I can while still staying within the basic rules of the site. The first few months were very stressful as I tried to balance everyone's needs. A year and a half later I've come to realize that I can't please some of the people because they just don't care about the site. Their interests are purely personal and the fact that some major change might benefit only them is not important in their view of the site. They want things for themselves and any change that doesn't work for them is obviously wrong.

So you learn to shrug it off. Maybe if this were a paying site, or if the people involved ever did anything but complain, I might feel differently. Or maybe not.

Though sometimes I think if the active members paid $1 a month, I wouldn't scramble to cover things like the money it cost to get the chat working again a few months ago. There might even be enough to keep Vision funded, which has been a problem this year. I'm gathering my birthday funds and should be able to cover both the last and the current issue. Do I mind? No. I really like Vision and I'm only annoyed (and embarrassed ) that I can't seem to get the money, time and work to coincide. Add the DTF work -- which I hope paying me back for the time I've invested soon -- and I'm surprised I still have time to write.

Never mind that it's 8:15 am and I haven't been to sleep yet. Maybe its time to.

All in all, I think the site works as well as a site of this type and size could. People will complain. Like Holly, I might one day decide that's enough. For now, though, I think we're doing fine.

Just always remember that the site isn't about you; it's about a large number of writers coming together to help each other reach publication. I think it's pretty impressive.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Good day, bad CD

I unexpectedly got to go to the zoo yesterday. I had a great time, but at one point the camera on the tripod got knocked over -- not easy to do, but it happened. I don't know if it was me trying to avoid on eof the far too many kids there, or if one of the kids got it, but the thing hit the floor and bounced. The camera is fine, but now I see that the disc that had been in it got cracked. Bad news since this is the majority of my pictures, but that's the way it goes. I think I can still pull some of the pictures off since I can get a few to pull up on the camera, but I can't get the disc to recognize on the computer. If I can find the old USB cord, I can take it over to the other computer next door and download what I can save though. There were 199 pictures on that disc. I wonder if I just delete the ones that won't pull up at all if I will be able to get it to read -- no, won't let me, which is too bad.

Well, not tonight, anyway. The good news is that I found the cord without a problem!

Actually, it looks like everything but the first six pictures might be all right, if I can just get to them. And I have faith that I can. Just need the right equipment. I want to see if I can get something to work here, but needs a restart. This would be so nice if it worked out this time!



After a couple hours of messing around, I finally got the computer to not only recognize the camera as another hard drive, but to also read the damaged disc! It is copying stuff right now. Slow going, but still there. I really think this is going to work!

I should have been working on other things, of course. But I'm happy to have this working!

Oh, and I'm typing on my Ipac so that I don't mess with anything on the computer. (Of course the fancy aquarium screen saver kicks in right then and scared the hell out of me. )

It's almost done. I have a couple other sections to copy if I can, but it was these pictures that worried me.

I have several projects that I need to focus on over the next few days -- ah. Copy done. Now to try and grab the little vids. They're doing well! Done! Next section! I did some audio material that I’ve never done before -- little five second tags saying what a picture is instead of handwritten or PDA notes.

I think I'm done. I think I just saved even the ones that wouldn't read on the camera!

I am now a happy person.

It even copied the pictures that the camera could not read, and they look great.

And I have burnt all the material onto another disk. Okay, it took me hours, and I should have been doing any number of other things -- but it worked. I got all the pictures. There are even some pretty good ones there!

Ah. Much better than it looked about three hours ago. Tired. Very sore -- lots of walking carting around tripod, camera, bag full of batteries and Ipaq -- but I'm very happy. Going to bed soon and get some more sleep before I try to do anything else tonight!

Well, after I look at the pictures again.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Bad Night

A waterfall at the zoo (which I hope to see soon again)

I think I may have mixed up some of my medications last night. Or something. At any rate I had a horrible bout of dizziness that is still lingering there on the edge of my movement. My blood pressure isn't great but it's not horrible, so I don't think it's actually that. It might be sinus related. No matter what, it was nearly impossible to walk from my office to the bedroom last night. I've spent most of today just being very still, which helped.

And then I remembered that I hadn't gotten the work for the county done, and I couldn't ignore that one. So I'm up and doing a few things. I have emails that I will answer tomorrow. I have work to get to, but this seemed like a wake up call to just relax for a bit. It helped right until I realized I hadn't done the County stuff. LOL

But I've gotten a bit of work done tonight so that's good.

And I'm going to be one of the many lower echelon guests at ConQuesT this year. I need to get the bio done for them, so off I go to do some career type work! Yay!

Now if I can just get my head to work properly....

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Vision Weekend

Bunny Looks at the Moon

(Two pictures combined, both taken with the trust CD1000, the cloud picture at sunset, the moon picture a little later that night)

I have Vision articles to edit and get off to the copyeditor this weekend. I also have more work on Farstep Station, most of it in the last third of the novel where I need to both cut references to things that are already missing from the first two-thirds as well as cut down about 5k more words in general. I'm not worried. This is still going well, despite being feverish for a week now. Better today, at least. Although possibly not... I got up and started cleaning the kitchen before I even sat down with my computer. That's just not natural.

The hardest part of yesterday's work was a 75 word blurb for the new Dark Staff book which will be out this week. For some reason I could not get my brain around the concept. I think part of it may have been the problem of being removed from the novel by a few books and being knee-deep in Farstep Station with a little hint of Ada Nish Pura bouncing around in there despite my attempts to keep it in line for the time being.

I expect this to be a good work weekend. Russ has three friends in town from various places and they're all next door playing some old SPI games for a couple days. The weather is looking gray and rainy (no snow predicted until Monday). My kitchen is looking a little cleaner. Who knows, maybe I'll actually get a lot of stuff done today.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Changing things

Yes, I am playing with things tonight. I decided it was time to go to Bloggers own comments. It turned out to be a bit more work than it should have been -- partly because I had costomized my template so much. Which is why I've changed to this one. And you know... I kind of like this one better, I think. At least it's a change.
This was not supposed to take so long, but that's all right. It took my mind off how really awful I was feeling. Sore throat, fever -- probably would have had this figured out sooner without that one. (grin)
There will likely be a couple more changes through the night and tomorrow. But so far... I kind of like it.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Happy Valentine's Day! So there!

Yes, I'm one of those people who find Valentine's Day a sweet holiday. I have a lovely box of chocolates, a cute new bear, and Russ and I went to a place that just opened up here in town -- but which used to be located elsewhere. We went out on some of our first dinners there, so that was fun. He's not feeling great yet, so we came right back home. But I had a nice time.

While reading through journals over the last few days I suddenly started thinking about Saudi Arabia's morality police (CNN article a few days ago), with their 'you can't sell red flowers before Valentine's day' because the holiday is immoral. I've come to think we're growing our own morality police, and they're not the people you think. Perfectly liberal, open-minded people get snarly at this holiday: You shouldn't celebrate this day, you shouldn't buy this, you shouldn't do that -- honest to God, people, that's the most pathetic bit of 'I'm not having fun, so you shouldn't either' reaction I've ever seen! It's attempt to somehow make Valentine's Day and a lovely sentiment into something crass. It's only crass if that's the way the person celebrating it intended it. And for those of you who think that Valentine's Day is bad because a couple shouldn't just say 'I love you' on a certain day -- you're right. And I don't know a single (happy) couple that does leave it to just one day. If that's the way you're treating it, that's your problem or the problem of the person you are with.

Really, thinking about it -- despite all the kidlet valentines and such, it is really the only fun holiday 'designed' for adults.

But on to other things. For those of you keeping track of such things -- the final season of Angel should be out tomorrow in some places. This is odd for me. I never watched Buffy or Angel on TV -- I started with the first DVD Buffy collection and that's how I know the shows. It's the most 'current' show I watch. I get the set and generally end up watching a disk a night. I can't imagine how it must have been, watching one a week.

I did a considerable amount of cutting on Farstep Station yesterday. I'm really pleased with it. I am looking at a set of events now that I need to compress, and that should get me right about where I need to be. I also realized I need something else off the opening, though. I'm still working that bit out in my mind. Today's work is mostly on the new short story -- and not much work at all. I watched a show with Russ and generally just had a good time.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Getting Work Done

There are days when even I don't really want to work on anything. Today is one of them. Russ is very ill and I'm on the edge of ill, but fighting it off. I did the class material for the 2YN classes. I printed out the material for the next chapter of Ada Nish Pura. I could begin work on that, even though part of me says to wait until I hear back from the publisher on the first three chapters.

I could work on Farstep Station, which is likely what I'll mostly do. I have gotten quite a ways on it, and I'm really enjoying the experience of cutting huge chunks out of a story. LOL. It's been a very interesting and entertaining experiment. I like what I've gotten so far, but I'm farther into the story now and it might be that I can't cut as well as I hve been prior to this. Which will be a problem, since I need at least another 20k to disappear, and probably more.

Still, I think I can do it.

I accidentally started a short story tonight. I was doing an example for the class and... well... I kind of fell into it and like it. I posted it on the Writing the Rest of the Year Blog. In fact, I've been doing a lot of snippets there, if anyone is interested.

And now... must go write more!

Friday, February 11, 2005


Last night in chat I came up against a process in my thinking, and the way I view the world, that might seem odd to others. The conversation was about rss feeds and whether or not a person should ask permission to put someone else's feed on their journal.

I said it would be polite and you should.

Someone else said no, if they are on the Internet it's expected. He agreed that it would be polite to ask if you want, but it wasn't necessary. (Not in those words, but it came down to that advice.)

And there was the basic difference in views.

I think politeness should always be followed to whatever degree it's possible. Politeness in general should be the automatic response, and not considered just an extra bit of work if you feel like it. Emailing a person and asking if you can add an rss feed or a link isn't necessary, but it is polite and all it costs you is a few keystrokes and a little more time.

And this carries over to other things. I think this might be why people don't 'get' the Writing Only room, and why I'm getting emails complaining about misuse of it. It's a 'we don't have to move to another room, even though it would be polite to do so' attitude. Even though all it would take is a few keystrokes. I don't like to be in the position where I have to enforce such basic, simple politeness, but it's become apparent that unless a moderator is in the room, some people will purposely misuse it.

I have to admit that I just don't get the 'be polite only if you want to' attitude. I know it's fairly common, and most people are polite to some degree -- but when they don't feel like it, they simply drop the idea. I think it's the Seinfeld/Soup Nazi influence, as I mentioned in reference to another bit of impoliteness we're discussing on the site.

I am beginning to think that we're just too used to this attitude in our lives, and people really have begun to think of politeness as an optional clause in acting civilized. The unthinking rudeness is rampant in real life. People just don't care, and it shows in bass-blasting cars at two in the morning and screaming kids in public places while their parents blithely ignore them.

Yes, people used to be more polite in the past.

Oh, and if I email you and say there was an incident in chat that some people thought impolite, and here are a few pointers to avoid that kind of reaction again, don't email me back ranting about how you were never impolite -- and then name the people whom you think emailed me. That kind of gives it away, guy.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Long day

Ack. What a day. I'm getting there on writing, but it's not been easy. All kinds of silly interruptions, including someone who couldn't take a polite hint that maybe adjusting his attitude in chat would be a nice thing and not cause people to be annoyed when he showed up. The letter I got back from him made my husband mad -- I shrugged it off, though. Why waste the time on these children?

But it did take time to write and explain the problem. I expected, in fact, to get a rude note back, but I always feel that people deserve at least a chance to correct problems before they get worse. He said he's not coming back, and that's fine by me.

I'm into chapter two of Ada Nish Pura. Trying to get the balance of story/explanation/details all right. My MC has met the natives for the first time. He understands very little of what they're saying.

Farstep Station is doing well, too. I've cut about 4k total, and I have quite a ways to go with it. I know at least one subplot I'm cutting out as soon as I get to it. I think this is going to be a really good story when I'm done. I hope so. (frets)

What else? Nothing. My life revolves around writing and FM. Oh, I do some DTF stuff too -- wrote a rejection tonight and moved on to the next novel in the queue. Need to post the updated tracking page. Need to move faster on some of that stuff. And the next 2YN things. And....

I need some sleep! Or a clone. Or maybe both!

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

So what am I doing here?

I've been making pretty good progress in my career lately. Nothing spectacular like the big sales to big companies -- but then, I'd have to send something there and I just haven't lately. I made the sale to Aio, which is great and I'm very happy with the contact I've had there. I love the sales to Yard Dog Press, and I'm really pleased about the short story sale to Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine.

A lot of work is lined up in the Aio and the next Yard Dog projects. They're going to have most of my attention for the next few weeks. Now that I have something to focus on for both of them, I'm really excited about the work.

Today, after I posted a message about not taking material off the 2YN boards, I got a strange little email. Not a rude one or anything like that, but just a question about what it takes to do classes like that, and at what point someone would be ready to teach. And why do I do it?

First, my feeling is that every writer who has been around for a while, published or not, has something to teach another person. However, they may not have either the patience or the overall knowledge to teach something (like the 2YN classes) that covers many subjects.

I'm not an expert on writing. However, I have read every book that I can and gathered information from every writer I've known. I've edited Vision for over four years, and there's a wealth of information that passes through my hands there. And I'm willing to look at different ways to work and accept that my ways are not always the best for everyone.

So, what do I think it takes to teach a class on writing rather than just to offer help on subjects you know?

First the person should have some clue about what she's talking about. If, for instance, you are doing a class on writing novels then you should have at least finished a few novels. Better still if you've sold a few, even if not to the top companies. At least you'll have a clue of what the process is.

People should not teach others if they really don't know what they're talking about. I've had people suggest that I should just assign different subjects to people to teach, and that, I think is an absolutely horrible idea. People should never teach something they aren't somewhat versed in and interested in, writing or otherwise.

Another big part of doing something like 2YN is to want to help others. That means having patience with people who are worried that they're not doing as well as they should, or who are slow in picking up what -- to you -- seems very easy. Remembering that all writers have different strengths, and just because something I learned seems obvious doesn't mean that either I've explained it well or that it's something another writer will automatically understand.

We've just crossed week 58 in the first year, and I've put something up on the boards for them every single week. Some of it has not been much help. Some has drawn unexpected results. All of it has come from years of practice, reading, choices, successes and failures.

I hope to keep doing the 2YN class every year. It should get easier in some respects. Or it may be, if I'm lucky, that the book will be published in a couple years and I'll lead classes with people working their way through it, rather than waiting on me.

But why do I do it? For the same reason I'm still with FM. Because I have something to offer to other writers, and I love to see other writers succeed. I expect many of them to far outstrip my career. I hope that some of what I offer helps them along their way.

Sunday, February 06, 2005


I did a lot of work on Farstep Station yesterday. I really liked it. I was pleased when I went to sleep.

And about five minutes ago, because of my own stupidity, I wiped all that work out.

I know I can redo it, but quite honestly I have so little time that doing something stupid like this just drives me nuts. (Time, I think, to take my blood pressure medicine since I forgot it earlier.) It was just one of those really stupid little mistakes that will drive me totally crazy.

So, I'm back to page one.

If I cut about 3000 words a day from this book I can have it about in line with what I want by the end of the month. I think that had better be my goal.

Oh, that and make sure I have my brain engaged before I do something stupid like tell me main computer to override the iPAC.

Trying to work

Two in the morning, and I am just barely starting to get down to the writing work that I intended to do this weekend. Oh yeah, and most of the weekend gone, too.

I did get two classes posted tonight, though. We're up to week six on one class and week 58 on the other. I'm going to start heading toward final edits, market research, submission packages, dealing with editors and all the rest of that. I've been reading the first three chapters for people in the second year of the class, too. That takes a lot of time!

I need to work on Farstep Station (which is my Yard Dog Press Double Dog story -- did I mention that anywhere around here? Too many blogs, not enough brain cells. I think that's going to be my new motto.) Anyway, the story is far too long as it stands, but I know I can edit huge chunks out of the story because when I read it much of it seemed to repeat actions. I could get a lot more done in a simpler storyline, and have the added advantage of condensing the action.

But I'm just not getting anywhere tonight. I just spend a couple hours reading random blogs, following links from one place to the next. Not even a reason for it. I think my brain needed a break.

I'm going to take my iPAC and take a nice relaxing bath away from this computer. I'll get more done that way.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Having fun

That is a Victoria Crown Pigeon. Somewhat rare. The picture is from my zoo collection, of course.

The writing, while not leaping ahead in great numbers, has been pretty good lately. I have ideas for three new books (and three different genres, too), and the two novels I'm working on now are doing very well. Serendipity Blues is a slow book to write. Russ, who has been reading the new pages every day (at least the days that I get to them!) says the only problem with the plot so far is a lack of 70's references (which I elude to but haven't done in detail) and that I'm writing it too slowly. LOL.

Kinship gets nice great leaps now and then, but it's been a pretty steady 1000 words a day so far. Fun book to work on, too.

Yesterday I finally settled the question of the Yard Dog Press novella I agreed to do last May. This is to be half a Double Dog book with Jim Burk in the other half. I'm taking something I wrote last year -- Farstep Station -- and cutting it down to the size I need. I've been reading through the first draft and it just rambles and repeats a lot of stuff anyway, so I get the feeling this is going to be far easier than I expected.

I am waiting for word on something with Ada Nish Pura, and then I'm going to be doing a serious bit of work on it, and probably drop about everything else when I get to it.

And now... an amusing look at life through journals.

Like just about everyone else who has a blog or LJ (or whatever) on line, I do sometimes go off and look at those of others. Some I read regularly, some I just bounce into on occasion. Some I read because I like the people, and some I read because the people amuse me for one reason or another.

I've noticed something about attitudes that I find totally amazing.

First there are the people who will constantly complain about someone because they don't like that person's attitude. Here's a clue -- stop reading the journal that annoys you. It will not affect your life in any way in the future. Oh, and another clue -- everyone is entitled to their opinion even when it is not the same as yours or of whatever leader you've attached yourself to. Attacking a person for an opinion you don't like is childish. Attacking them over something you don't even care or know about is worse. It's pretentious and awfully damned obvious that you aren't going to like anything they say. So stop reading. And if not, expect to be mocked for acting like a child.

Oh, and another one that just totally amazes me sometimes -- if you expect people to respect your (usually unorthodox) religion, then you need to respect other people's beliefs as well. This especially includes not writing parody's using their Gods and religious beliefs. If you want respect then you need to be willing to give it to others.

There are so many others -- the whiners who never do anything but whine about their lives (the ones who have no reason to, or who are unwilling to do anything to change it because they couldn't whine then -- as opposed to those who really do have problems), and the others who do nothing but complain about everyone else's life. There are the younger ones who can surprise you with their understanding, and the older ones who obviously never grew up (for good or bad). The clueless ones who try desperately to sound like authorities, and the authorities who can teach you something in just a paragraph or two.

Journals are wonderful arenas for finding characters for stories. You can find people writing about just about any subject and quite a few of them are willing to share their opinions. It's fun. Even the people like those above are fun because sometimes they're so obvious in their pretensions.

We live in an interesting age where we can look into other people's lives so easily.