Tuesday, July 29, 2008

What Stifles The Process?

(Again, thanks to "micah" formerly of Manchester, CT for suggesting the topic)

Not being angry anymore has put a severe cramp in my writing process. In a sad way, being angry helped me a lot of unusual ways. Anger helped me focus on whatever the issue was at hand while writing. I really had clarity and lucidity while I was angry. And most importantly, I wrote while angry. My output was quite substantial in 2006 while I was angry. In 2007, nada. I was happy as a clam and things were starting to fall into place again. My completed output for 2007? One short G-rated family oriented type story, totally less than 1,600 words.

So for me, not being angry has stifled the writing process. Trying to find focus while in the current pleasant state of mind is like a football player who retires one year and then decides for the next year that they want to come back and play. It just isn't acceptable to me.

There are other things that stifles my writing process as well.

For instance, what I basically write are what I like to call, "real world romances". Basically, real life situations, real language and real settings. Most of this usually winds up drifting into R-rated territory (sex, violence, etc.). Because of the type of stuff that I write, I have unusual requirements, which lately I've had a hard time in getting to do. Like peace and quiet away from the family. Ain't nothing worse than trying to write a provocative scene with family around.

Work. You want to bring yourself to a screeching halt? Don't manage your work load properly and let every little thing play with your head.

Personal problems. Another good way to get writer's block is to let your personal problems become part of the equation. All you need is one little personal problem crop up and BAM!! you is done for.

There are many things that can stifle the writing process and I've experienced most of them with varying degrees of severity. Right the one that's wrecking havoc on my writing is first novel.

I'm currently in the process of self-publishing my first novel, and all of the thing associated with it is doing wonders for my writing, or my complete lack thereof. It's a continual learning process and I'm learning the hard way just how difficult it can be.

Between approving the various items needed and getting other things done associated with it, to getting a basic business plan up an running, my writing has suffered big time. Not only have I not worked on my second book, but right now I'm in the process of not fixing up the short story that the second novel is based on.

I got so much stuff on my plate right now, my writing has taken a back seat. It's a wonder I don't go off the deep end and just say, "F' it all!"

But I will persevere somehow. If anything, writing this blog has help me work through a few bouts of writer's block that seem to be plaguing me lately.

Wish me luck. You never know, I may come back and start spamming or picking fights in the chat rooms, just for fun and therapy.

What Makes Me Want To Write?

I try not to post on back to back days but sometimes the Real World rears its ugly head to prevent one from completing the task one has set for for the day.

Translation: Blog was on the fritz and my tolerance level for the Internet reached an all-time low.

Today's post is something special, in that topic of choice was not originally chosen by me, but for me. This past week I was suffering from a severe case of blog writer's block, so I had put out a call on thread that I participate in, on Topix's Top Stories forum, asking for suggestions on what I could talk about. I got a few, and as promised, I will give credit where credit is due. The topics of the next two posts were suggested to me by a poster called "micah" who formerly hails from Manchester, CT.

Thanks "micah".

Well, to really answer that question, I will have to go back to 2006, a year that I would really like to forget about. That year, I went through a major whammy of sorts, in that I was going through a ton of personal problems, stress brought on by said problems and burnout at work. In a nutshell, I was a nut.

So in order to work through this crisis of nuttiness (which lasted until Spring 2007), I started to write. My original intent was to write a short story, but that intention quickly blew up as the words simply came pouring out of me. Within a few short months, I had a first draft of a 200 page novel written.

This particular draft of the novel has been described to me, from the various people who I've shown this to, as being incredibly angry, dripping with hostility and contempt. And they're right to a certain degree.

Due to the problems I was having then, I had an incredible amount of anger, which in turn sparked my writing. My output for 2006 was quite large: three very long (35+ pages) short stories, one 22 page short story, one 15 page short story, and one 25 page story in which I had written myself into a corner. In essence, I wrote when I was angry.

Anger was my motivation. Angry about work, angry about my personal life, angry about my friendships (or the complete sabotage of a few), you name it, I was angry. My writing became quite dark, almost to the point of bleakness. I couldn't write anything happy even if I wanted to. My anger simply poured out my mind and through my hands. Every single one of my stories had some type of bad ending: suicide, murder-suicide, accidental death. If they lived at the end, then humiliation was the key finish.

By the late Spring of 2007, major changes happened in my life, which unfortunately has affected my writing. In 2007, I had repaired my friendships in the Real World, discovered chat rooms, fixed the rest of my personal problems and got rid of my anger issues. Unfortunately, getting rid of my anger issues has put a major cramp in my writing.

I did manage to start another novel by fleshing out one of my short stories. This one will be similar to my first one as there will be two dueling plot lines throughout the book, which will come together at the end. And I did write a very clean family oriented short story, which I posted here about month or so ago.

Overall though, getting rid of the anger has created some unfortunate problems....

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam x2, Lovely Spam, Wonderful Spam

I was racking my brains for most of the day, trying to decide what to talk about today. Everything that I had initially decided on, I had rejected as not being knowledgeable enough or had enough experience with in order to converse on an intelligent level with you.

Then after dealing with another typical asinine poster in my local chat forum (The Hartford Courant), the idea finally came to me on what I should talk about, while I was typing a response to this individual.


Not the edible kind that we all grew up on, that has at least a half dozen kinds and spawned numerous imitators. I'm talking about the kind who post the same stupid theme over and over again, on any thread that might have even a minuscule percentage of connection with them.

The thread that I got this idea on, was one called "DCF worker charged in foster child's death". There is a schmuck on it who has tried for the past week to connect his alleged problems with the state of CT (his special theme is corruption in all aspects of state govt.), with the death of this baby. No matter what solid evidence that myself and a few other intelligent posters present to him, he keeps going back to the same stupid illogical argument. I only found about his true motive yesterday (7/25) when he made his pathetic hypothesis. So to me, this guy is the local equivalent of Fred Phillips.

To continue: All chat forums in Topix have their special troll/Spammers. In addition to the aforementioned poster (who I won't dignify in identifying), there was one called Early Childhood Advocate, who attempted to turn everything into drug abuse among children; Kathleen Dickinson, who also tried to turn everything into her own personal warped crusade against the judicial system who said she was an unfit parent; Steven G Erickson, who tried to turn everything law enforcement related into his personal crusade of persecution.

Most of these people, because of the same redundancy of their posts, get scrolled over or viciously attacked for their myopic viewpoints/spam. Even on the national forums, there are dozens of people who hit on the same myopic viewpoints, depending on the topic.

Topics that get viciously hit, include anything Gay/Lesbian/Bi-Sexual/Transgendered; anything Religious and anything Science related. On one particular Gay oriented thread, there was one person who posted under 36 different names, attacking the Gay lifestyle with the frequency of a mosquito. Curiously he never went after Lesbians, only Gays.

As for Religion, a few of the threads that I'm currently on got spammed by a dozen fundies (read: fundamentalists) who were so narrow minded in their beliefs that if you didn't believe in Jesus, you would go straight to Dante's seven rings of Hell. They got to be so bad that they even harassed a well know poster who passed away earlier this month about her belief system.

Even here in Blog land, the blogs are not immune to spammers. A blog that a good friend of my runs, was attacked by a couple of spammers, who tried to ram through their narrow minded viewpoints on his blog. Fortunately, he was able to do something about it, which was to become a real moderator for his blog. Shame really because we shouldn't have to do that with our blogs. People should be able to state their view without going off the deep end. But if you don't play by the house rules, the consequences can be severe.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that even on the Internet, the lonely people who managed to drive people away in real life due to their constant obsession over their problems (real or imaginary), will congregate and try to do the same thing in chat rooms.

So people, learn to fight spammers/trolls whenever and wherever you can. Just remember, in public forums, you have use PG-13 language in order to do it.

Here, you can simply binge and purged the comment out. Then let it rip. In the end, you will feel better.

Friday, July 25, 2008

"Guerrilla Warfare": Chapter 2 (Summer '08)

How do.

One of the major topics I wanted to cover in this blog was my adventures in Topix, from beginning to the present, then I would go off on side tangents about assorted odds and ends in Topix. Last month (June), I had started a new group of headings called "Guerrilla Warfare", which covered my misadventures in trying to prove a point with a group of egotistical posters during the Spring.

The last post I had made about it was posting a couple of letters sent to Topix complaining about what I thought was harassment by these people and supported by Topix.

Since I needed to talk about something related to the Internet today, I thought I would revisit this particular group of headings.

So, by the beginning of May, I had begun to settle back down, sort of. I had dug out my second persona, Da Bishop, and began posting as him. But because I still had that slash and burn style of posting, my mouth was still getting me into trouble again.

About mid to late May, I got inserted into argument that spilled over into a few threads in one of the National forums. After about week or so, things died down but damage was done in the form of making new enemies and losing a couple of friends. About that time, I had wandered over to another thread called, "The Crew" and started hanging there, while trying to make some new friends. For a while it worked, but once again, I got inserted into another argument that originated someplace else and spilled over into another thread.

That one ended a few days later, but in the process I made a batch of enemies. Again. So I went wandering off back to "The Crew" thread to sort of lick my wounds and start anew. But that wasn't to be. One of the people who I had made enemies with, decided to unload on me with the precision of an AK-47. In the span of three days, during Memorial day weekend, he made a whopping 86 posts either directed towards me or about me. By the time the dust had cleared, I had put him in his place, simply by making a good complaint about him to Topix.

Again, I went wandering off to lick my wounds and to figure out just exactly what the hell I should do next with my Topix existence.

Lo and behold, that decision was soon made for me, in the form of a link to a thread about religion...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Help! My Galley's Got A Death Grip On My Sanity! Somebody Save Me!

Got you to look, didn't I?

The upside of self-publishing is to a certain degree, you control your own destiny. The downside of self-publishing is to certain degree, you control your own destiny.

Now before all you good people bombard me with questions on how one statement can be two logical things, I will give everyone an easy to follow explanation.

Keep in mind, I'm a government worker and I do these kind of verbal gymnastics on a daily basis, so please, don't try this at home unless you've had years of dull on the job training, like in the cable, phone or telemarketing industries. (case in point, I just gave you a short paragraph consisting of one very long sentence)

Anyways, the upside of self-publishing is that you control your own destiny. To whit: I spent this weekend going over my galley with a fine tooth comb, making sure it looked good, had no typos and was pleasing to the eye. Well, the first and third item were accomplished. It did look good and was pleasing to the eye. The second item, well, I was at the mercy of myself.

I had submitted the manuscript after doing one last go through while copying it to a floppy. I did manage to find one humongous error in that I forgot to add in 3 very essential paragraphs. Let me tell you, that was the most stressed out hour I had spent while trying to track it down to three other backup sources.

So imagine my surprise (well, not really) when I started going through my galley and began to find typos. Lots of typos. Well as I started going through it, I was at first going to start writing down every single one on a correction sheet. But after carefully reading the basic rules on it, and the amount of money it would cost me to do so, I began to look at it more critically. I left some of the more smaller ones alone, the types that anyone could easily get the gist of, once they read the complete sentence, and instead concentrated on the larger ones that changed the entire meaning of the sentence/paragraph.

By the time I got down, I had found overall, about 35 typos that needed to be corrected. But keeping in mind, the potential cost of the corrections/re-submitting the manuscript, I only noted 17 of the most glaring ones. In all, 1 was the publisher, 16 were mine plus a dedication page. Adding in the fact that a new galley needed to be purchased (1st one was free), this latest salvo will cost me under $100.

Now the downside of controlling your own destiny.

This is a business. No matter what anyone else tells you, whether you're self-publishing your work or you managed to hook into a small/medium/large press, it is a business. You have to be ready to do what it takes to get yourself out there to the masses. Sometimes that means biting the bullet on the small things in order to clear up the larger things.

I bit the bullet on the smaller typos, in order to concentrate on the larger ones. I consider this a valuable lesson learned, in that it's always good to have another pair of eyes to critique your work.

So where do I stand now? As of today, I mailed out the offending pages (along with the proper re numeration) to the publisher. I'm hoping to get it back in about a week or so. I have approved the cover, so that's ready to go. And I have the components of a simple business plan in the wings, so that I have an additional way to sell my novel, which I will let everyone know about in the coming month.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Fear Of The Unknown

Face it, we all have a fear of the unknown. For a blogger like myself, the fear of running out something intelligent to talk about with you the reader, is certainly by far the biggest unknown.

I spent most of this weekend while proofreading my galley, trying to think of something interesting/informative to talk about and share with you the reader.

I frequently touch on a myriad of sub-topics in this blog, which I've always try to connect to the main topics at hand: writing, chat rooms/Internet and work. And for the most part, I like to think I've succeeded. And judging by some of the comments I've gotten and the amount of people who are/were gracious enough to stop by and visit, I seem to be doing okay.

So for today, I thought I would touch on something that has always, in one form or another, shaped me and has gotten me to where I am today: the fear of failure.

Failure to me, or the fear of, has always been the one constant in my life. From making bad decisions that have taken me years to recover from, to someone making bad choices for me (think being laid off from work), failure has always nagged at me.

Fear of failure has plagued me throughout all aspects of my life, which in turn has pushed me to make foolhardy decisions, some of which came back to bite me and some of which worked out for the better

A prime example would be my writing. I had an agent for my book from Aug 2006 to Oct 2007. Then in the heat of the moment, I had terminated my agreement with the agent (which in hindsight, seems to be a good thing). The fear of having my book returned to me by someone saying, "Sorry, couldn't sell it." was too great, so I decided to make the first move.

Then I spent the next 8 months collecting rejection after rejection from other agents telling me either that my stuff wasn't any good or wasn't strong enough or the market was too fickle. Again the fear of letting myself down and proving certain others right, pushed me down the path of self-publishing.

Another example would be chat rooms. I had spent a very turbulent four months of 2008 in Topix, culminating in the suspension of one chat persona, due to what came out of my mouth. The fear of other people telling me what I could or could not say (read: censorship) was becoming very real, when my good friend Matt suggested that I start a blog.

After thinking about the possibilities of unleashing myself to the world at large, and the very real possibility of tying in the promotion/marketing of my book, I said to myself, "Go for it!"

So after a few fits and starts, here I is, sharing with you the reader, a little slice of me. With my outlook on work, my extensive dealings with chat rooms and my adventures in writing laid bare for the world to see, it will never be a dull moment on Cedar's Mountain.

The fear of the unknown can truly be a paralyzing thing. But with the help of good friends and a never-say-die attitude, the unknown can be stuffed back into the closet with the other maladies of childhood.

Yes, it can be a Steve Dallas kind of day, or it can be a Winnie the Pooh kind of day.

What kind of day do you want it to be today?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Got My Galley!

Just a brief post for this weekend, because....

I received my galley in the afternoon mail today. Now I get to spend the rest of the weekend going through it with a fine tooth comb. Hopefully the only addition I will have to make to it, is a brief dedication page.

Can't have a good book without a dedication page.

Self publishing, where the onus is all on you to make it successful. No one will be there to catch you when you fall.

Also, no one there to hear you scream for joy either, in case you manage to catch the golden ring that is called "selling the reprint rights".

Friday, July 18, 2008

Nothing Like A Tragedy To Bring Stupid People Out Of The Woodworks

I haven't really touched on the first part of the triad (work, chat rooms and writing) in almost a month, mostly because I hadn't found anything worthwhile to write about.

Until now.

As you all know, I work in state government, or to be more precise, the Department of Children and Families, or DCF for short. I like what I do and I like where I work. Doesn't mean that I'm an apologist for them, because like most intelligent taxpayers that reside in my state, I'm more than willing to call them to the carpet when necessary.

Yesterday (July 17th) a DCF worker was charged with manslaughter in connection with the death of a baby in their care. Within five hours of the blurb popping up in my local chat forum, the Jethro/Jethrine Bodines of the state came pouring out of the woodwork to put their two cents in.

Mind you, what this person did was horrendous, but it doesn't excuse the fact that Jethro and Jethrine came out with guns a-blazin', painting all 4,000 employees with a guilt-by-association brush.

The fact that this agency is responding to this tragedy quickly and decisively is totally lost on these people. They immediately started slamming DCF for letting this person be a foster parent (read: conflict of interest); slamming them for removing the child in the first place (read: losing them in the system); slamming them for corruption, legal or otherwise (read: WMD argument that Democrats have been lobbying for 7 years, in other words, tired and stale); and slamming state workers in general (read: see previous read).

It bothers me to no end that these keyboard commandos have nothing better to do than to criticize without taking action, or even worse, trying to paint themselves as the innocent victim of the big bad DCF/State court system.

It also bothers me to no end, the continuous posturing by our State Attorney General and our Child Advocate, who do nothing but produce sound bite after sound bite, shedding crocodile tears and boo hoo hooing the latest effort by DCF to get things under control so that they can get out from underneath the Federal thumb (court decree due to a class action lawsuit, year #16).

So, being the unbiased person that I am, I've made it my mission to present at the very minimum, a balanced viewpoint in my local forum. It hasn't been easy, because most of these people will not listen to any kind of viewpoint that deviates from the current norm, so in essence, I've had to fight fire with fire. This thread is typical of the hyperbole that spews forth from my fellow Jethros and Jethrines.

I'm not a total defender of state workers in general or my agency in particular, but there has to be a happy medium when it comes to expressing your viewpoint. I'm all for being allowed to express your viewpoint unencumbered (main reason why I created this blog, to get away from people who would have me banned), but people, use a little common sense when your spouting your viewpoint.

Because if you don't, you'll have to face people like me who don't care if your tiny little feelings get hurt because I forced you to put up or shut up.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Restored, Renewed and Reborn

How's do!

Yes folks, on certain days, you won't find the grammer police here. On those days, we's just play with the english language and make ourselves look so super smart (read like: Daffy Duck) that we can make a 12 year old give up video games....
On a more somber note, I would like to dedicate this post to the memory of my dearly departed father, George Sr., who passed away much too soon at the age of 65 in 2004. My father instilled in me a love of the English language, the love of the written word, the ability to soak up knowledge like a sponge, and an incredibly dry sense of humor. He is sorely missed by one and all.

BTW Dad, you're gonna be a grandfather for a third time in a few weeks (not by me, but by little brother). Another boy will be joining the fray to carry on the family tradition of reasonably bright and witty children who drive their parents insane.
As the title of the thread states, this will be about my rebirth, renewed sense of purpose and my reborn attitude as it deals with Topix.

After sending off the fax of 3/28, things basically calmed down and I cooled off with my one man campaign of destruction. Except for the suspension of my original persona, things became rather quiet for me. I went back to where I had felt the most comfortable: Top Stories. I also had begun to reconnect with my local forum and some friends out in Pennsylvania.

As for Offbeat, except for a few well placed comments scattered on a couple of threads, I had completely vacated the forum. I show up there about once a week to say hi to my friends, but beyond that, the forum has basically gone to hell.

I began the third leg of my journey determined to behave myself and not act like a jackass. I went wandering around the forum, trying to find somewhere to hook into, but I didn't have too much luck. All I was able to hook into was a few old threads from months gone by. With things getting soured in the RW, I was becoming quite unhappy in the CyberWorld and it began to show again.

I started picking fights and acting like a complete jerk again. By the time May rolled around, I was really in a crappy mood. About that time I was trying to figure out what to do with myself, a good friend of mine, Matt from Akron, suggested that I try starting a blog. He thought that with my writing skills, it would be a natural outlet for my voice.

About the time that he suggested it, I was seriously considering self-publishing my novel. Long story made short, I started this blog Memorial day weekend and never looked back. While I was giving thought about the blog, I stepped into a world a grief online.

An argument happened to start on a thread about American Soldiers, between a group of posters called "The Crew" and a friend called "Global Idiots". Somehow it spilled over to a few other threads in Top Stories and quickly engulfed about ten other people, including yours truly, who went wading in when he should of been minding his own business.

When the dust had finally settled, I had found myself on the receiving end of some unwanted attention from another poster. Deciding that at this juncture that a non-confrontational posture was a good thing for the moment, I faded into the woodwork for awhile, with the intent of regrouping and repairing my attitude again.

But to be left alone, which was what I wanted in the first place, simply wasn't to meant to be...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

"Shades of Love"

Greetings everyone!

This is the cover to my upcoming self-published novel, entitled "Shades of Love". I thought I would share it with you the reader.

Let me know what you think of it.

Monday, July 14, 2008

So You Want To Be A Writer

Greetings and Salutations!

I trust everyone had a sparkling weekend wherever your current habitat happens to be. Out here it was a beautiful, breezy, sunny and all around fantastic weekend. The beauty of living in New England. Can't you smell what the Supreme Being sniff, sniff, is cooking?

Anyways, back to the topic at hand: writing.

As I was putting the final touches on my novel, I got to reading the Novel & Short Story Writer's Market reference book (published by Writer's Digest). Among the useful tips that they had ,was that one of the best ways to get your material published, was to enter writing contests. Didn't really matter what kind of contest, so long as you entered some.

Writing contests are one way to get your foot in the publishing door. Since most agents are conservative by nature, they won't really take a chance on someone unless they've been published in some particular way (and self-publishing doesn't count). Because someone else took the time to judge and critique the work, it saves them the trouble of actually using their brains in a constructive manner.

Anyways, I had at the time about three or four short stories done, that I felt were ready for submission (ha!). So reading the guide listings, I found quite a few out there that I entered my stories in. Even though I only got something in the way of positive feedback from one of them, I would like to share with you the ones that I entered that I would heartily recommend to you the reader. Most of these deal with fiction and poetry, but some touch on non-fiction as well. Check out the links for more details.

1) Boulevard Short Fiction contest for emerging writers: This is held once a year in December, with the winner's selection to featured in one of the next year's four issues.
2) The Briar Cliff Poetry, Fiction and creative Non-Fiction competition: This is also held once a year between August 1st and November 1st. Winning entries published in the Spring.
3) The Alexander Patterson Cappon Fiction Award: Held once a year during the summer. Winning selections published in an upcoming issue, as well as selected non-winners.
4) The Crazyhorse Fiction Prize: Held once a year in December, winning selections publihsed April/May.
5) Glimmer Train: This is considered the grandaddy of writing contests as they sponsor about 7-10 writing contests per year in all genres and formats. Deadlines are mixed so check website for details.

All of those I've mentioned offer a one year subscription to their respective literary journals with your entry. If you enjoy short fiction, non-fiction and poetry, by all means check out these fine journals: Boulevard, New Letters, Briar Cliff Review, Crazy Horse and Glimmer Train. In addition to those, I would also recommend A Public Space, Black Warrior Review and Quarterly West.

In addition, if you want to enter your novel in a contest, try ones sponsored by Southwest Writers, Writer's League of Texas, and AWP Award Series in the Novel, Creative Non-Fiction and Short fiction.

Finally, if you want more sites that have contests, check out New Pages. A very nice website that has links to contests, independent publishers, independent bookstores, independent record labels, just to name a few.

Happy hunting! And good luck!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Chat Room Musings

How do again.

After thinking about it for most of the day, I decided to touch base again on the topic of Chat Rooms. Normally, I try not to touch on the same major topic twice in a week, but since my last one was a special occasion post about a dearly departed poster who was a major influence on Topix, I feel confident enough to touch base on said topic again.

I had mentioned the fact when I had first started posting on this blog, that I had three personas on Topix, one of which was my real name and suspended for transgressions that I don't agree with. As of a couple of days ago, I decided to do, in the lovely parlance of today's business world, a re-org of my personas.

With my Cedar Mountain persona, I have relegated him to the Offbeat forum and my local forums. When I'm posting as this persona, it's much like posting here: erudite, confident without being arrogant, and more than able to push people's buttons.

As for my Da Bishop persona, in the keeping with the ability of ex-state employees to pad their pension, I made him a consultant (think Dogbert). He'll make an appearance on random threads about once a week.

So now I've decided to post as myself from here. I've always liked using my first name, and my closest friends always called me this or the letter "G". Because I'm posting as myself unregistered (grayed out), it forces me to be on my best behavior. Topix usually has two different sets of rules when it comes to disciplining posters. If they're registered (have a persona), the discipline is usually stretched out, like a major league sports disciplinary process. It the poster is unregistered and they run afoul, the response is usually swift, brutal and to the point.

Because I learned my lesson extremely well from the last time I posted as an unregistered somebody (binged, purged and suspended), you will from time to time, see me make posts that simply say "Testing, testing". I do that, just make sure that the website is letting me post hassle free.

In my wanderings among the Topix universe, I had made friends in two separate waves. The first wave consisted of people who for the most part are long gone from the chat scene as the Real World has taken a firm grip. They are in no particular order of importance: PaisleyPosey, A Bug and A Wish, Okimar, Calibeachbum/Lady of The Pacific, Ricky V2, TNA4Life, D-Day is here, and Pengy, just to name a few.

Also part of that first wave, are people who have remained on the chat scene. They are in no particular order of importance: Matt from Akron, Michelle D and the gang from Pennsylvania, Vee, Grace Nerrissa, Rick/Ancient, and a select few from Offbeat, Rex from the WWE forums, Jolly 1/Beaker Jo, Flower Child, Idiot Ones and his many incarnations, and from my local forum Eddie M.

In that second wave of friendships, which happened to coincide with the creation of this blog, I didn't surf as much, but instead decided to go back to where I had made my rep, destroyed my rep and rebuilt my rep. Sort of like the Phoenix, rising up from the ashes of destruction of the person originally known by his full name, and become fully resurrected.

In no order of importance, they are: Water Nymph, River Spirit, Fish, Kay, Sister P, Seventies Chick, and the many other kindred souls in Top Stories.

I am truly blessed to be able to call these people either friends or very good acquaintances of mine. They will always be a part of me in some small way, and I hope that I continue to leave some small part of me with them.

Peace, Love and Tranquility to all. Have a sparking weekend and I'll catch everyone on the flip side of Monday. Have an incredible weekend, no matter where you are in this big wide world.

Missing post


In case you were looking for my post about musical tastes in the workplace, it is no more.

After thinking about it last night, I felt it wasn't up to my usual standards of intelligent posting.

A thousand pardons.

I will try to come up with something better tonight.

In the meantime, I will leave you with this picture to think about. This is what good parenting is all about.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

How I Got Started

I never really wrote much while growing up.
The only time I did any writing was when I needed to pass an English class in school. One memorable essay I wrote was when during high school freshman English, I was forced to read Shakespeare. Or to be more precise, "MacBeth". So I wrote an essay about MacBeth and set it to the lyrics of "Another One Bites The Dust".
Got an A on it.
After that, my writing completely evaporated as I had gotten stuck with a teacher who taught college composition, and wanted details before you wrote an composition. Suffice to say, that turned me off.
For the next 25 years or so, I basically stuck to writing song parodies and amusing my family and friends with them.
In the fall of 2005, I began suffering from a lethal combination of work related burnout; severe personal stress; and anxiety attacks. So in order to find a way to decompress without involving too many people in the process, I began to write. Not a lot at first, only a page or two. But soon, the words came pouring out and by spring 2006, I had 190+ page manuscript.
2006 seemed to be a banner year for me, writing-wise, as everything that went wrong in my life, found its way to paper. When the year closed out, the only good thing about it (besides finding an agent, sort of), was that in addition to the novel, I had written about half dozen stories. Most of them were in the range of about 7,000 to 15,000 words, and they all ran with a common theme of broken relationships.
2007 was a little bit tougher, as the ink well dried up to a small degree. I spend most of '07 patiently waiting for my book to be sold to a publisher (never was as it turned out), and battling personal demons in both the CyberWorld and the RealWorld.
I did write one nice short story though. Late in the summer, I got inspired by the mountain next to where I live (title of this blog), and decided to write a short story called Cedar Mountain.
It basically told the story of the four seasons (spring, summer, fall and winter) as it relates to the four stages of life (childhood, young adult, adult, senior). There were really two reasons why I wrote it: 1) I really got inspired by where I was living and 2) I really wanted to prove something, which was that I could write a story without resorting to either sex, violence or a combination thereof.
So here I am in 2008. I'm still writing, although I'm concentrating on novels as opposed to short stories now. I find that my writing style is more suited to the long story/novel concept than the short stories concept. And if anything, with those half dozen short stories I wrote (got copyrighted but never published), I have instant outlines for more novels.
Piece of cake this writing is...

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Writing in Paradise, 1979-2008


I thought I would share with everyone here, another snippet from my CyberWorld. As some of you may or may not know, I participate in an online forum called "Topix". I have been blessed over the past 16 months to meet some truly unique individuals. Some cold and frightening, some warm and caring.

I would like to share my thoughts, as small as they might be, about a very warm and caring poster called "Writing in Paradise". She was a very spirited, and if not well liked, an always respected poster on Topix.

I had the initial misfortune (no other way to describe it) to run into her on a thread about a smoking ban in Ohio. I came in with guns a-blazin' and shooting off my mouth about how a smoking ban in businesses was a bad thing. Well, she took exception to that and next thing I know, within a span of a few short days, was sent packing.

For the next several months, I would have occasional run-ins with her, mostly trying to chop her down to size (and failing miserably). Even though I disagreed with her outlook on certain things, I always had the most respect for her. There aren't too many people in Topix that I know of that will stick to their guns for a principle, no matter what. I admire that in a person.

Last night, this fine and young (29) wonderful lady passed away last night in her home state of Hawaii, after a long bout with cancer.

She will be truly missed by one and all.

Especially me.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Banana House

Howdy folks!

First off, I would like to thank GumbyTheCat for giving me the idea of writing about stuff from childhood, with his wonderful post about his childhood in Akron. Many thanks my good friend.
Anyways, on to fun stuff.
The neighborhood where I grew up, was a relatively quiet section of town. All the houses were the same and pleasant to look at. Except for one.
I had a neighbor who was a bit of an eccentric. Actually, she was what you would call nowadays, an "artiste". Anyways, she lived in a house that was similar in weirdness to the picture that you see here now.
It was a one story cape, sitting on a small corner lot, in a nice neighborhood about a 1/2 mile from where I live.
It was also painted in multiple colors, just like the picture. The window shutters were an ugly shade of green and red, the trim a deep shade of purple with a shade of bright white as a border. The main color of the outside of the house was a weird shade of blue.
Not only were the various colors of the house "off", the lawn decorations were slightly "off" as well. In keeping with the general theme of weirdness, sprinkled all around the front yard, the back yard and the side yard, were toilets.
That's right people, toilets. About a dozen and a half of different kinds of toilets. Occasionally, kids would leave various kinds of "presents" in them, but for the most part, they were non-functioning.
And finally, to make this picture complete, we come to the description that is the title of this post. On the front of the house, smack dab in the middle of the house, was a picture of a banana.
A big banana.
A big yellow banana.
A big yellow, half peeled banana.
Thus, the nickname of the house was "The Banana House". And in keeping with the eccentric spirit of the owner, from what I was told about a half peeled banana (and I could be wrong on this), it meant that the owner of said half peeled banana was bisexual.
Whether this was true or not, I don't know. Nor did I ever try to confirm that this was true.
The main reason that I write about The Banana House, is that earlier this year, the late owner's son put the house up for sale. It now looks like every other house on the block, with trimmed grass and a clean property.
So thus, a little bit of strange suburbia humor for your day.
One other thing: This can be proved. If you feel adventurous, this house was written up in a local paper called "The Newington Town Crier" back in the early 1980's (or to be more precise '83-'85). Microfilm is a wonderful thing and it can be borrowed through your local library.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Complaining Gets You Nowhere, part 2

Here is the letter that I faxed to them on March 27, 2008. The only real name used in it is mine. The only editing that will be done, is that I removed the name of the forum manager and that I will insert my name from here, as a substitute for my given name in the letter. Beyond that, this is verbatim.

I never did get a response to this letter, by the way.

Dear Forum Manager:

My name is Georgie B and I've been a member of the Topix forums for over a year. About a month ago, all three of personas were basically purged from two computers, due to some transgression of the Terms of Service agreement that I've yet to be told about. I've tried on numerous occasions, via the e-mail and via the phone, to talk to you about it, and save for one initial response from you, I've heard nothing since.

Granted, the first time my posts were purged (as an unregistered poster called "Baby Gooey"), I believe, because I went too far over the line with them. That I apologize for. However, after changing my name (as myself "Georgie B" unsigned in), my posts got completely purged.

The reason I believe that I was banned from two computers, is simple. Whereas I was doing the bulk of my posting from my laptop, and thus that IP got banned, I was very sporadic on my home computer (different IP). On my home computer, I discovered that, whereas previously I was able to see all three of my personas posts (yes I have three) at any given time, now depending on how I log in, is how I can see my other posts. If I log in as myself, I can't see posts that I made under my other personas.

As for the other reason for this fax (Bullying and Harassment), I believe there is a campaign of bullying and harassment being waged on me by a group of posters, and that your company is being used to do their dirty work.

Example: On St. Patrick Day's weekend (3/15 I believe this all went down), I made a post on thread called "Shilo" in the Offbeat forum, calling Shilo a "hypocrite", among other things. She responded by welcoming me, then telling me I should watch myself because I didn't know who I was dealing with.

Taking that as a veiled threat, I responded with a relatively non-threatening post (under the name of "I Know That"), stating that I knew I was dealing with a bunch of toddlers. I also stated that whatever they were trying to do, was already done to me: smear campaign that took place privately and on Topix from Aug '07 to Oct '07; numerous threats that were already made to me on Topix; and of course, banishment. I closed out by saying this to Shilo: BTW, does your husband know what you do online?

Now this post was there the next day in the morning. Later on, the pose was removed. Why, I don't know, because it wasn't threatening in any particular way, shape or form.

Another example: There are rumors from reliable sources that a poster that goes by the name of "Moi", has an in with a few employees of your company. From what I know as being a govt. employee, I believe it's improper, if not downright illegal, to abuse your position to inflict payback on others.

To sum it up, your Offbeat forum is being run by a group of posters who practice censorship an attack anyone who they feel doesn't toe their line or heaven forbid, offends them.

One other note: this group of posters are more likely then not, the same ones who created the troll called "Prayerful One", which caused so much havoc in your forum last year and who created a registered persona called "Prayerful 1" a week ago or so.

All I'm trying to do is find out why I was banned and explain my side of it in more detail, and why I feel I'm being bullied and harassed, which from what I understand, violates your privacy policies.

The rest of the letter closes out with my contact information and a respectful sign off. To clear up a few points I had made: I did basically figure out why I was purged initially; after suffering through a ban of about three weeks or so, I was able to slowly get back into the swing of things with posting. And with the exception of having my original persona suspended/banned, I have been left alone by those posters. Strange thing though, being left alone by them corresponded with another letter that I had sent by certified mail to Topix, complaining about them not answering my last letter and offering a few more choice observations.

Right now, it's basically a live and let live. I still go there to say 'hi' to my friends, and every once and a while, I make a few choice observations about the people in question, that they can never quite respond to well.

Complaining Gets You Nowhere, part 1

As stated previously, I was waging a one man campaign against a group of posters located in the Offbeat forum on Topix, during early spring '08. I wasn't having much luck with it, due to the fact that because certain people were retaliating against me behind the scenes, my message wasn't getting out to the masses.

Nevertheless, I continued to pour it on, and by early March, I was starting to feel the effects. By zeroing in on one particular poster, I had found myself declare persona non grata while posting under a particular name.

When the new year had started, I had decided to post as a grayed out user. Mostly because I was still suffering some of the aftereffects of the previous smear campaign that was launched against me, and partially because I wanted to start the new year off with a clean slate.

So I chose a name that a now very good friend had insulted me with on a personal thread I created last year, "Baby Gooey". Now armed with a name and a new attitude, I unleashed myself to the unsuspecting people that populated the Offbeat forum.

Unfortunately, being the kind of person that can go overboard in an extremely short period of time, I did. And I paid a very heavy price. About the time that I was being crucified in public and behind the scenes, I had decide to try found why I was initially banned and purged from Topix. I sent e-mails but got nowhere beyond a generic one asking what thread I was complaining about. Next I tried calling and leaving voice mails, but again nothing came of it.

Okay, I thought to myself, I'm not getting anywhere and I'm getting incredibly pissed off right now. What do I have to do, in order to talk to a human being there?

The answer was simple, at least for me: write a letter. So I wrote a letter and faxed it off to the forum manager. In it, I pointed out some inconsistencies and asked some key questions....

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Self Publishing Can Be Fun

Continuing with the theme of self-publishing. The company I chose to deal with is called AuthorHouse. It describes itself as a "leader in the self-publishing industry".

A site run by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. which is devoted to vanity publishers and subsidy publishers, has various links to checking out all kinds of publishers and the like. One of which, is called "Preditors & Editors", a guide to publishing and writing services for serious writers. On this site, when you look up AuthorHouse, you'll see it's not recommended by them because they call it a 'vanity publisher'.

By the same token, when I decided to Google info on AuthorHouse, the second link to show up after the one for AuthorHouse, was one called "Dog Ear Publishing", which was listed in the Preditors & Editors site as a self-publishing company. Go figure.

It did some nice comparisons on the three majors out there, one of which was AuthorHouse. After reading the some of the articles in it, there were some pluses and minuses to AuthorHouse that got me to really think about going with AuthorHouse long term. One of the major pluses was that this company was recommended to me by an author who has about eight good mystery novels published through them.

Basically, what I'll probably do, is do one and out with them for my first novel. Since self-publishing is/can be expensive and it's something not for the faint of heart, I can consider this to be valuable lesson that I can use towards my ultimate goal of finding a commercial publisher.

For the immediate future, at least I can work on marketing/selling my first one while writing the second. And if anything, it will give me something of a "carrot" to offer people, when I start knocking on doors again.

And if it doesn't work out that way in the long run, then I can continue with my adventures in self-publishing. Either way, it's gonna be a funky roller coaster ride.

Getting back to my novel. After purchasing the service contract for my book, things began moving rather quickly. Last week, I had a call with the designer regarding the interior and exterior of my book, which I think went relatively well. I'm shooting for a cover that expresses the beauty of love as it relates to nature (since its a romance novel) and for the body text, I'm going to be using the Palatino Linotype font. It's soft and easy on the eyes, which is my personal preference.

As for the basic premise of the novel, first and foremost, I like to think of it as a real life romance. Not something that you would typically read of, but something more grounded in reality. The reality is an work place romance, or to be more precise, a love affair between co-workers, one not married and one is.

In addition to this love affair turned serious relationship, there is an important secondary plot line woven throughout the narrative. Because the lead character has started to develop a strong attachment to his co-worker, he becomes confused over his feelings for her. In trying to reconcile these feelings, he decides to put them down on paper. Originally meant to be an outlet for his emotions and nothing more, it soon turns into a volatile relationship that mirrors such a parallel course to his own relationship to his co-worker, that it becomes quite impossible to tell which one is real and which one is the product of an active imagination.

The Legal Disclaimer

All the content that you see here, except for the posting of links that refer to other off-blog stories, is (c) 2008-17 by G.B. Miller. Nothing in whole or in part may be used without the express written permission of myself. If you wish to use any part of what you see here, please contact me at georgebjr2006@gmail.com