Friday, February 27, 2004

About Robert and Nonny, FM and rules...

It's never good when a couple breaks up, and even if you don't particularly like the people anymore, you can feel a little regret that something didn't work. The world in general always seems better when a love story works rather than when it doesn't, no matter who is involved.

However -- and this won't surprise anyone -- I'm not at all surprised that this one didn't succeed. The relationship started out with deceptions on both side (age, gender and a number of lesser secrets -- but all couples have the lesser ones, at first). They rushed into a situation that was bound to be filled with conflict since they had the added pressure of others to please in a place that was not their own. S and V encouraged and enabled the situation, and V professes that they were surprised at how much he changed. That may be true. After all, they had never put R in a situation where he had anything to protect or lose before.

In my opinion, R was looking for a new mother. Anyone who spent more than a week in chat with him knew he was obsessed by his mother's past actions, and N stepped right into the role of nurturing and taking care of him. When it came her turn for care, she couldn't understand that he couldn't make the sudden change in roles that she had never asked from him. R was living in a fantasy world and didn't want to step out of it. N had created the situation, even if she never realized it -- but then that's part of her immaturity. She had barely turned 18. No matter how mature she might be in some respects, she is still very young in others. And R has continued to be immature despite his age. People can hope that N will grow up -- R never will. But that is his choice, and anyone who is surprised by what happened just hasn't been paying much attention.

While this entire group was still at Forward Motion, Holly and I began to discuss the problems it presented. We knew that R and N were going to be trouble. In fact, they were already a problem. People were complaining that they felt like chat had turned into a 'make out' session. What R and N thought was cute, others found unpleasant, distasteful, childish and distracting. The people who came into chat often didn't feel that they could make any comments or ask the two to tone things down since both had been moderators (though N was removed from that post for non-related matters). Holly and I asked that they act better in chat, but asking had no effect. Holly and I even decided on a rule that at the site people should just treat each other as friends in public, no matter what their relationship was in private.

They, and a few others, didn't like that rule. They moved off to Evolution. That, truly was a wonderful blessing because the trouble all bypassed the site. When something came up in chat last week or so, several of the people had no idea whom we were even talking about.

Now I've learned they banned Robert from Evolution. Maybe he posted things at the site that they didn't like, but all in all it is about relationships. It's amazing how now that it's their site, a banning is appropriate behavior, but when it's FM, we didn't have the right to remove any sort of trouble.

Vindication is sweet in some ways. I never expected to feel that way.

FM is a writing site. We are friends there, and sometimes we help each other out with real life problems, but that is not the point of the site. Some people find that attitude cold, but it's actually a way to preserve FM from personal problems that would overburden it -- because everyone has problems. This is a refuge from those things, not a place to solve them. We are not a debating society on war, religion or anything else -- we discuss many things in general ways to help writing, but what a person's beliefs are is not important to the site.

We are also not the Dating Game.

None of the people directly involved in the R and N fiasco will be welcome back at FM. Not only will the site not take sides in the break up, but the animosity is not going to seep into the boards and chat again, either. People can stop asking me if I've heard from Robert and when he'll be back at the site. He will not. He made a choice about Forward Motion and the way it was run. That has nothing to do with his relationship with N, V and S even if it was the relationship that sparked the choice.

There are always repercussions to the choices made in life. This is one of them. Everyone will move on in their own directions. Some will still have exciting writing careers, and some will continue to play in their small sandboxes with only a few to see their pretty castles. But most of them will do it beyond the embrace of FM.

I can tell you that having gone through this entire fiasco on the site, as well as viewed it after it left, has not changed my mind about the rules at FM. Nor do I believe that FM's rules are going to work for every other site. However, in the end... no, I don't want love affairs on FM again. Between worrying about underage girls (and their parents) and how the inevitable breakups are going to affect the site... no. Sorry. Not at FM.

So there is the answer to the emails, the private messages and the questions in chat. Time for all of us to move on.

Oh, but first... a note on the difference between rules and censorship.

The world is filled with rules that are made just so that others will not be disturbed by what someone thinks is vastly important and want to shout at the top of her lungs. You cannot go into a grocery store and stand in the baby food aisle and preach about anti-abortion. You cannot go into a church and shout about paganism. Those are rules. They are made for the benefit of others who are not interested in hearing your views. Most of us appreciate that we can walk down the streets or go to the store without being accosted by people who have an agenda to push.

At Forward Motion, after some rocky exchanges over some subjects, we realized that politics, religion and war were making insurmountable divisions in the site, and that they had nothing at all to do with writing. Until those subjects came up, in fact, everyone had gotten along pretty very well. Oh sure, there are always disagreements about writing subjects, but at least those have something to do with the site.

So, we made rules at the site -- no war debates and religious discussions must stay in the context of helping in a writing situation. Just like the grocery store, the church, your place of business, or a number of other locations, we created rules that would keep the place focused on what was important to FM, and not have the site constantly falling into tirades. This was right after 9/11, by the way. The trouble would have been constant, given the temperament of the world as a whole.

People have continually complained that this was censorship and that they had a right to rant and rave about whatever they liked at the site. No, this is not censorship. These are rules. It only becomes censorship if we at the site told others that they could not discuss or write about these matters anywhere. We even started the blog page listing for people to have their rants and draw others from the site to discuss it with them. Just not on the FM boards.

There are rules everywhere in the world about behavior and enforced politeness. The rules have become important to the site and have kept it from exploding into flames like so many other places on the Internet.

Rules are not censorship. No one even tried to tell anyone what they could say or do outside of FM. But at FM the rules are pretty simple -- post only your own words and pictures and respect others' copyrights; avoid discussions on the war; do not preach religion; and, finally, treat each other as friends on the site, no matter what your relationship may be elsewhere.

Seems like an easy set of rules. I'm going to stick with them. We may find that the site needs new ones as time goes on, but for now, this will do.

But for now, if you are interested in writing, Forward Motion is a good place to be. I'm proud to be part of it.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Well, I've gotten a little of the work done on the lists from the other day. I have everything for Vision done that I can get at the moment, which is very good. We even have a new look this issue, and it's a bit easier to put together. So far I'm fairly happy with it.

I have a story up that I'm preparing to send off as a submission. Yay! I hate getting down to the last few days and doing this, but I had been thinking about this particular one for over a week now. I just hadn't gotten it pulled up to do the latest edit before it goes off into the world again. (Straighten your jacket, and where did that bit of mud come from on your shoes? I'm sure they were clean the last time you went out!)

Ha. I went ahead and edited and sent it before I post this. So that's one more piece of work out of the way. An important one for me -- I have sent at least two submissions off a month since 1998, I think. I hate to break records like that.

I have contracts ready to mail back to people. I have to do the checks tonight. I also need to get my scanner working because a couple people only sent me one copy of the contract, so I need to have copies for my files. I've not had a working scanner for a while, so this might be a trick...

Beyond that, not too bad tonight. I need to get the next class finished up for Back to School. No, for Two Year Novel. Well, Back to School as well, now that I think about it.

Doing the 2YN class is very interesting, though. We're about to hit a spot where people are going to be working on different aspects of worldbuilding and outlining. And then... novel writing will start. I think some of the people are getting good things from the class.

To be honest, I'm just getting a little crazy. So much work to get done...

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

This might have gone better if Russ hadn't almost immediately shown up at home and suggested we go have pizza. Hmmm.... pizza or work, pizza or work, pizza or... what was that other one?

Anyway, we spent a lot more time away from the house doing all sorts of things, including stopping for sundaes. I am so stuffed!

I managed to edit about 1 and half articles before we left. I did some nice notes on the new novel in the car. We talked about all kinds of not at all important things over dinner and my headache eased a bit.

So now... finish editing another article. After that, I can't be sure what I'll do.

I have got to get caught up on work. That's all there is to it. I'm out of time on way too many things.

Lucky for me that I feel somewhat up to the work today, which I haven't exactly been great on lately. My stomach is still giving me fits, but I can live with that one.

So, what do I have to do?

Vision stuff:

1. Edit more articles
2. Sign contracts, write checks, prepare for mail
3. Finish my own pieces for this upcoming issue
4. Start putting the issue together
5. Look into getting a new program to make the PDA version, since I can't make the last one work properly now.

Site stuff:
1. Do another B2s class since I'm behind on one.
2. Update more of the forums to get the proper moderators listed.
3. Work on the next 2yn class.

Writing stuff:

1. Get a short story edited and out (I think it's going to be Three Fragments of a Broken Life).
2. Line edit more of Muse
3. Rewrite more of the line edited Muse.

Hmmmm... how much of this will I get done today?

Oh, not much since even as I type this I just got the proof copy of something new coming up from Double Dragon.

(Pounds head on keyboard -- ajklftyipowjaslkoifwurlaj -- no, just didn't help.

Back to work, back to work... lucky for me I already got a good amount of writing done today, even if it was on something I'm going to have trouble placing anywhere...

Monday, February 23, 2004

Another shot of Maynard. Yes, he's still that cute.

After a couple weeks of falling farther and farther behind on everything, I'm doing my best to get caught up now. I have a few thigns at FM to handle, and I need to buckle down on Muse and get the work done there. Oh, and Vision, of course. I'm getting that one done. There are going to be a few more changes this time around on it, and I hope that makes it easier to deal with.

Too many projects... but none of them I'm willing to completely abandon at this point. I just need to get a little better control of my time. Yes, yes -- I say that a lot. But I'm making progress. I just keep getting knocked back by unexpected problems.

But still, I think I'm pulling things back out of the muck and getting them lined up for proper work.

As long as it keeps being fun, why should I worry?

Friday, February 20, 2004

This is Maynard G. Krebs. Anyone who has seen the old TV series, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, will see the resemblance right away.

I was not looking for another kitten. But he came in through the window three nights in a row when I went to feed the strays, and he is so incredibly tame that I couldn't just toss him out yet again.

So I have another cat. I did not intend to have another cat, but he's here. He's very sweet. Even Russ is shocked at how sweet he is. He's having a bit of a transition phase and hiding out a bit. The dog has upset him and the dog is just so pleased to see a new kitten that it's hard to convince her to back off. Wind is upset, Pip is not. I have been overfeeding all of them since he came in, just to keep them stuffed and happy.

I'm miserably ill, though. Maynard is helping -- he's very sweet and silly. But I'm ill and I am hardly getting any work done.

I'm going to have to just make myself do the writing. Class stuff. Everything.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

I don't think I made it clear before this, but we did lose our oldest cat, Kid. He was the first of the strays I'd taken in, and he had a good, long life... but still. I miss him. It's hard to have a cat around for fifteen years, and then suddenly to have him gone, especially one as sweet as Kid. A few days ago he came out and watched Angel episodes with me. He had his own special tricks. And Zelda is very upset that he's not around to snuggle with.

I had to take the picture out. I just can't open up the blog and see it right now.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

I'm amazed. This has really gone together better than I had hoped. Oh, it's no where near perfect, but I have most of it written out and I can play with editing it now. I'm amazed that this went together to well. It's about 2200 words, and most of it even makes sense.

Amazing. Not, of course, a great synopsis -- but the fact that once I started the work it didn't bother me any more is a real help.

Lady Jane

Trying to get back to work on things... and it's not easy today. The cold I have got considerably worse over night. I'm trying to do some house work, but that's not going over very well.

I have to start working on a synopsis for Muse. This is going to be an... interesting experience. Yes, Interesting is obviously the word I'm looking for since I'm sure it's not actually insane or maddening that I'm really thinking.

I don't think I'm up for this kind of work today. But will I be up for it at any time in the near future? I sent off a query. What if they want the synopsis? I had better have it done, right?

I'm going to use one done by Rosemary Edghill as a guide and see what I can come up with. If I translate it from her story to mine, paragraph by paragraph... Yeah, I can do this. Right.

My plan for today had been to clean house. That's not working out very well, though I cam picking things up here and there as I leave the office. I should do more work in here as well, but at the moment...

You know, I'm actually getting a little excited about this synopsis thing. Now that I have a plan on how to handle it, I think the best idea is to leap in and at least start the work. I did a good query letter, which surprised me. But it gives me hope for this as well.

Saturday, February 14, 2004

My aunt died yesterday. It was unexpected, even though she'd had heart problems for quite a while. She was in the hospital at the time.


This, along with the head and chest cold from hell have pretty much dragged me down. Oh, and my oldest cat, Kid, is starting to get that 'look' that I've seen far too often before. He's 15 I think, so it's not unexpected. I'm hoping that if we get him some canned food he'll do better.

I've been distracting myself with notes for a new novel. Far easier to work on something like that then to try and buckle down and do some serious work. But at least the notes keep me occupied, and I have to admit that some of the material looks pretty good.

Anyway... Not getting a lot done but still moving along.

Friday, February 13, 2004

Today I was asked what difference it makes if someone gives their word or not. If they intend to do something troublesome or bad, is that really going to stop them? And that being the case, why create bad feelings and trouble by asking for their word to begin with?

I had to think about that one because the obvious answer is that it's true that some people who intend trouble will cause it, and their word means nothing. But...

But I trust people who are willing to give me their word that they are not going to purposely do something. Maybe it's a badly outmoded notion that you can trust someone at their word, but I still do until I'm proved otherwise. And, again, it's likely out of date to think that people should make their word count for something in the world and do their best to keep it.

That's the way I view things. If I ask someone for their word it is because I still trust them enough to believe in it. It's a statement that I know there have been problems, but I'm willing to believe that those past problems can be overlooked, if not resolved, as long as I know that the person (or people in this case) understand that certain behavior isn't going to be allowed. They understand that and give me their word, and all is well.

It seemed odd to me that someone would ask why I would want someone's word. It made me really think about what I expect from people. And you know... I'm still thinking about it.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

I have been bombarded with story ideas lately. This is, as usual, inconvenient. I'm trying to get Muse finished! I don't think it's asking too much that I be allowed to finish something before my brain is hijacked by another idea. Or two. Or four or five, as in this case.

I have taken to walking around the house with two very small notebooks in hand. One says Tabor's Tale, and it's actually something I need to write -- part of the next Dark Staff novel. That's been fun. I do a page or so in there, handwritten -- maybe a couple hundred words at a shot. I figure when I fill the little book I'll type it all up and have something positive to show for it.

The second notebook? That's for The Standard of the Gods. No, don't look back through my site trying to figure out which one that is. It's new. It's... interesting. Right now I'm doing mostly worldbuilding, though bits of the story pop in every now and then. The characters are talking to me in my sleep. I have to keep the notebook next to me to get the words down when I wake up. I've heard bits of their language, and seen glimpses of their rituals. I know that they live in the deserts, and that they are protecting two things that are very important. One is The Standard of the Gods -- a huge golden pole surmounted by a piece of black obsidian (volcanoes are important to this tale) and with a flag that is incredibly embroidered. The other item they are protecting is a pregnant woman from another land who fell into their hands during a massacre.

The two main characters are a tribesman and a man from the pregnant woman's lands. I think the enemy is another tribe, but I'm not entirely certain yet.

Now, the good thing is that I'll start this book on my birthday. I always start a new book on my birthday, and I think this one is going to be fun and exciting to work on. I hope to have Muse done by then, but I'm not sure if I will. And, of course, there is still Farstep Station.

And you know... I don't care. I want to write with joy again. I want to see where this new novel is going to take me -- just like I want to see the end of Farstep Station as well. I'll write them both. I'll have them both done by the end of the year. The one thing I'm never going to do is ignore inspiration.

And this is fun!

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Sometimes a person has to make decisions that are not going to please everyone. If you've put yourself in that position of decision making, then all you can do is make choices that are based on what you have experienced and lead to a condition that you think is for the best.

Yes, I sent two rules to Erik and Allikat. They were made in order to avoid the same situations that caused so much grief before. The first rule was that there would be no virtual snuggling and making out in chat. That behavior -- which was far more common in Nonny and Robert -- annoyed and embarrassed people, and since at one point three moderators were involved (despite Holly and I both asking for them to tone it down), people were under the impression that this kind of behavior was just allowed. We had more complaints about members hitting on others then we'd had before or since. It's amazing how, when the moderators act with responsibility, the rest of the site takes note. I did not want this kind of trouble to start again, and I felt that stating it right out at the beginning was far wiser than waiting.

But that one, actually, wasn't the big problem. Erik (and I assume Alli) agreed.

However, I also said that they could not sit in chat and badmouth Forward Motion, Holly or me.

And this hit a snag because apparently the only way for a site to grow and be a good site is to allow people to be rude toward those who are paying for it. Not offering constructive help, not making suggestions about how to improve the site -- but the ability to say how badly the site is handled or how horrible the people creating and running it have been is apparently important for a site to be healthy. And... well, I disagree. I think that's just rudeness. It is not helpful in any way, except to create trouble by starting factions. I'm tired of factions over how the site is run.

There have been many people who want Forward Motion to be something fundamentally different than it is, and I'm not going to change the site for them. If Forward Motion is not what someone wants, then they are not required to stay at the site. But if you are going to use the bandwidth of the Forward Motion chat, I don't think it's too much to ask that you be polite and not attack the site or the people who have created and are paying for you to talk to your friends.

If someone wants to offer constructive help (rather than attacks), then they should. And often do, in fact. I get emails and private messages every week, and sometimes the stuff is things we incorporate into the site. Just remember that this is a writing site and that any suggestion that will help people fulfill their hopes of becoming published is always welcome. We are a community of writers who come together in one place to discuss writing as the primary focus, and everything else as secondary. And that's the way it's going to remain.

Erik and Alli left the site with a group of people who don't like Forward Motion. And that's fine -- I don't expect everyone to like it. But because of the timing of their departure I decided that in this case I wanted certain things understood from the start. I wanted their word that they wouldn't cause trouble. If they had given it to me, I would have believed them, even after Erik told me that Alli had already told someone she didn't like administration's tactics -- and this hardly a couple hours after she'd returned to chat. I didn't think that was an auspicious start, but it pointed out that I'd been right to bring the matter up right away.

But apparently they can't live by that rule. Too bad. People were glad to see them back. If they had just said it wasn't going to be a problem, then all would be well. And that means just a problem in chat -- what they say on their sites is, of course, their own choice.

Asking someone not to be rude toward the people who are giving them the space to talk to their friends just didn't seem like such a horrible thing to me.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Winter, winter. I love the look, hate the cold.

Today is one of those days where it hardly matters what I do, I can't quite seem to get into the swing of it. I've written a few hundred words on Muse, but not too much. It's not that there is a problem... well, a little bit of one, but nothing I can't get past if I put my mind to it...

Ah, and there's the problem. Mind. Odd concept on a day when I have apparently lost mine.

Besides Muse, I have three other projects that I must do some work on. The next 2YN class is the top of the list, and I've done a little bit on it today. Then I need to work on the B2S class, but I have a few more days for it than the 2YN one. I also have Vision to get started on since today was the deadline.

The problem is that I don't want to work on any of it. Well, maybe on Muse. I finished the query letter last night, and I need to look at sending it off somewhere.

Maybe I just need to veg for a while.

Monday, February 09, 2004

That is looking south at the Missouri River, which has bits of ice on it. Sometimes it freezes completely across, though not as often as it used to (Can you say Global Warming?). Actually, you don't want it to, especially later in the winter. Once the spring thaw comes, those pieces of ice can pile up and make a blockage that causes the river to overspill and flood. That happens quite often on the Platte River, which is a very shallow, wide river that floods almost every spring when the melt from the Rockies hits it.

Anyway, ice jams sometimes have to be dynamited out of the way. There's something for a story.

I'm working on the query letter for Muse. Tricky little things, these query letters! But I'm giving it a try. I might even try my hand at some agents. Since mystery is not a genre I know very well at all, I think going the agent route this time around might help. I've been searching out agents who represent not only mystery, but sf and fantasy as well. If they do young adult as well it's a bonus.

My work is still almost totally focused on Muse and the novel class right now. I like being focused on Muse, but I know that it's not going to last more than a couple more weeks. And that's just because that's about how long it will take me to finish the work, at least at the rate I'm going.

I discovered today that I have a limit in the number of I MUST GET THIS DONE NOW projects that I can do at once. The Two Year Novel course is top of my list, but then I was suddenly hit with a Back to School for Busy Writers project. Even though I chose something fun and that I know quite a bit about, getting both of those classes done each week was... well, annoying me if nothing else. So I'm trying to cut back a bit.

Of course, now I need to start working on Vision to have it done by the end of the month, so I suspect this whole plan is not going to last for long...

Friday, February 06, 2004

Okay, back to the real world.

Well, as much of it as I ever visit.

I keep making schedules for the work I need to get done. And by the time the schedule is done, it's either out of date because there's something new or I'm already so far behind that it won't help. I'm sure I can get this better organized. Really.

I'm up to chapter six on Muse. The current plan is to put it out on my birthday if not before. I am tying to keep good thoughts about this one. We'll see how it goes!

And that, once again, is my exciting life. Snow, writing, cats... what more could a person ask for?

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Yes, it is official. Honor Bound is out.

And can you ask for a better back cover set of blurbs than that? It's taken me a couple days just to stop pulling it down and looking at it. (grin)

You can order Honor Bound here.

I'm quite happy with life right now. I'm even happy with our 19 inches of snow that may nearly double in the next 24 hours. I would rather Russ wasn't going to be heading for Omaha for a couple days, given the weather... but we'll see.

I'm getting things caught up again. I know it won't last, but I feel as though I'm actually making way through the piles of work that keep hitting me. Muse is moving along very well and I have hopes for it. I really do. I can see some of the things that I need to cut back on in it, and that I need to add a few scenes revolving more closely around the mystery part... but over all, it's coming together well. I will be sending off a submissions package by the end of this month. I don't know where I'm going to send it quite yet, but it's going out.

February has started busy and I suspect it's going to stay that way, so expect my posts here to be sporadic. Not that I would have much to say anyway. I have no life. We all know that by now. (grin)