To all my readers and followers, please keep in mind that I have now moved over to my new blog, Father Nature's Corner, so Cedar's Mountain is now on a semi-permanent hiatus.

If you're looking for the wit and wisdom that Cedar's Mountain is known for, please click on the link up above or to the right, and I promise you that you won't be disappointed.

Monday, June 30, 2008

My God, It's Been A Month Already!

I surf a lot on the Internet, especially when I'm bored. When I was a motor-mouth on Topix, I used to surf the forums with great regularity, looking for interesting threads to post on. Eventually I had threads going in about dozen different states and quite a few forums.

Here it's no different. When the usual websites weren't doing it for me (Topix, Fox News, Fox Sports, etc.), I decided to surf the blog catalog that this blog is listed in (see link at the bottom of my profile).

I found quite of few interesting blogs, of which one, Fumbling with Fiction, is quite neat. The creator of it, Chandler Craig, is young person of endless enthusiasm and passion for what she does.

Anyways, she had made a post celebrating the fact that her blog has been around for one month. While reading it, I thought to myself, 'wait a minute, mine has been around for a month as well.'

So, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Ms. Craig for giving me the idea to celebrate the one month anniversary of my blog. I also want to congratulate her again for making this far with her blog. It's a very good blog and I'm sure it'll (along with her) will go far. Please check it out.

Without further ado.......

Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages. New England is proud to present to you, the biggest motor-mouth that you'll ever find from CT....Me.

On Memorial Day weekend, after seriously considering a suggestion from GumbyTheCat for a few days, I started this blog. The original idea was to post my opinions on just two topics: my adventures in writing (contemporary romance, the dark side of relationships and getting published) and my adventures on Topix.

It has since been expanded to include my musings about work (state worker am I), my short stories (very dark and sexual) and my general observations about the real world.

Doing this blog has given me an outlet to offer my opinions on a variety of subjects, that chat rooms (especially Topix) cannot and will not give to me. I have been trashed, banned, suspended and abused on Topix, simply for voicing my opinion about people and things.

In essence, I can truly be myself on this blog, without worrying about who I might offend and what kind of retaliation would be performed on me.

I truly and deeply thank everyone who has visited this little blog of mine (which I won't make shine too brightly). Because sure as the fact that I'm a fat bald little man, I will never fail to entertain, enlighten or even occasionally make a point somewhere on this blog.

So, I would like to leave you with a verbal description of a favorite cartoon of mine. Picture a large vending machine with a picture of a boy and girl on it. The vending machine is called "Life", and it has various categories to choose from: Truth, Happiness, Honesty and Noisy Shiny Crap.

The "Noisy Shiny Crap" button has a 'sold out' sticker on it.

May your days be filled with Noisy Shiny Crap.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

A Promise Is A Promise

Howdy do everyone!

I'm going off on a short tangent right now, and I would like to bring all you readers along for the ride.

I am by nature, a somewhat overly organized individual. This was the end result of growing up rather "hyperactive" (read: ADD) as a child and teenager. Because I was somewhat scatter shot while growing up, I decided to make a determined effort to always have some kind of basic outline available, no matter what I did throughout the course of the day.

That said, I have a basic outline developed for my blog: post a couple pages of a short story, then touch on one of three rotating topics throughout the week, every two days. The three rotating topics I have are: writing, work and chat rooms/Internet.

Regarding chat rooms: what I was going to do was first post about my experiences with Topix covering the past 16 months, before going off on side tangents about the various observations I've made/seen during the same time frame.

However, I'm going to go off on a side tangent right now and share with you an experience that I'm currently participating in.

Back on 6/18/08, I had made a post on a thread called, "Are you winning souls for Jesus?" saying that I was going to take a break from Topix while I was on vacation the following week. I had also stated that I was taking side bets from people, on when I would come back from my self imposed exile. The person closest to picking out the right date would get a positive note written by me in my blog.

Last Wednesday (6/25), I had made a couple of posts on the thread. Someone asked if I was officially back yet. I answered that I didn't know, because it was becoming very hard to stay away and that quite frankly I was missing everyone. I had also stated that I would modify my challenge by stating that if anyone can identify what few posts I had made previously, I would write about them in my blog. I did get a few more responses to that post and thus I decided that this weekend, I would write about those people in my blog. But then I got to thinking about the others who didn't participate in my little challenge, and how that they might be get miffed by being excluded.

So as not to hurt any one's feelings, I have decided to write about the core members of that thread. In no particular rank of importance, I will say a few words about each individual.

  • River Spirit: The best I've been able to tell, she is lady who is about ten years older than me and has a wonderful outlook on life. She doesn't worship God in the traditional sense, but does believe in nature and the afterlife.
  • Water Nymph: She also has a wonderful outlook on life. Seems to be deeply spiritual just like everyone else, and has a wicked sense of humor.
  • Writing in Paradise: WiP, I find to be a very remarkable individual. I had first run into her about a year ago on a no-smoking thread. She gave me what for and stood her ground. The one thing that impressed me throughout the year, was that she always stuck to her guns, no matter what. I hope the rest of her journey is laced with comfort, good times and good memories. She will be missed.
  • Fish: I had first met him a couple of months ago on another thread called "Ask Jesus a question". He had then, just like now, an incredible wicked sense of humor and a wonderful grasp of pop culture.
  • Painted Quote: I found her to be a pleasant person. I don't run into too many people from CT on the national forums, so she was a blessing in disguise. One of the first people to say hi to me on this thread.
  • Kay: She is a very unique poster in my eyes, as she is one of those born agains, who is truly decent person online. Treats everyone with respect and kindness and always receives the same in return. She is one of those people who makes one really curb their tongue so as not be completely offensive in her presence.
  • Magickmom: A very fascinating person, as she is (I believe) a practitioner of the Wicca faith. Incredibly open minded and tolerant of most viewpoints. She's fun to be around.
  • Seventies Chick: I haven't had the pleasure of talking too much with her, but she's also one of those born agains, who seems to be genuinely tolerant of other viewpoints. Very nice and has a pleasant sense of humor.
  • Dink: Another one of those people who I haven't had the pleasure of talking much too either, but seems to be a very well grounded individual with a wicked sense of humor.
  • Xcentric InVidor: Another long termer on Topix that I've met from time to time during my existence. Fascinating person whose knowledge of the Bible is probably only matched by the people on this list and no one else.
  • Matt from Akron: I can't add much to what I've already said about him. But will simply say this: He's a genuinely funny and charming individual. Check out his blog called 'GumbyTheCat'.
  • Sister Phyllis: The original creator of the thread. Was a not a good person to be around for quite awhile, but now is. It will be a pleasure to finally have a good debate with her.
  • Yoga Chic: Is another nice and charming poster that I had run into a couple of months ago. Even though our initial contact was less than ideal, we were able to smooth out our differences with each other. A class act through and through.
  • Chins Rule: Same applies to here as it did to Yoga Chic. A class act through and through and a pleasure to talk to. Incredibly knowledgable on the bible.
  • cotk: A very pleasant lady to talk to. Loves her family and once again would like to congratulate her on becoming a mommy again. Yay!!

In essence, all this people have only two things in common with each other, and that is a belief system and respect for each other's beliefs. And that my friends, is something to be proud of.

And if I missed anyone, please tell me and I'll add them in.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"Guerilla Warfare": Chapter 1 (Spring '08)

As 2007 morphed into 2008, I had settled down into a rather disturbing routine of bipolar posting: complimentary and informative one minute, a ranting and disturbed whack job the next. Leaving a trail of bad first, second and third impressions, I had basically morphed into a dual role of a registered/greyed out troll.

It wasn't that much of a surprise to me, although it may have been to other people who knew me from days gone by. After going through all the garbage that I went through last year, I had decided to be more proactive, instead of reactive, to the people I came across in Topix. Thus, I had thrown myself completely into this latest phase, with eyes semi-closed.

For the first few months, I had done basically hit and run posting in the Nationals, while concentrating the bulk of my posting in the local forums. Nothing much really came from the hit and run postings, until late March, when I stumble onto a thread called "Sick of it All: Us vs. Them", located in Offbeat.

Basically it was a video thread of sorts, started by a pompous blowhard called "The Big Time". I had previous run-ins with this individual and his minions before, but not much came of it. This time, with last year's trolling by a group of people who went under the moniker "Prayerful One" (a future topic of discussion) still relatively fresh in my mind, I went on the prowl to try and goad a few of them into admitting that they had created/participated/had knowledge of this particular troll.

However, I had really went about it the wrong way. About four or five days of making a ton of derogatory posts about two or three people (and boy were they good ones), I went to access the Topix website. Within seconds of clicking on the link, I found I was unable to access the site for about three minutes. When I was finally able to get online, I had found that a bunch of my posts were purged out (I was at this point, posting under the grayed out name "Baby Gooey"), and the targets of my posting were bragging about the fact they had me purged.

So for the next couple of weeks, it became a game of cat and mouse. I would make a post responding to perceived threats that the Playground Police would make, and they would get it removed. I wouldn't do it from my home computer because I thought at the time my proxy addy was suspended from the website, so I would do it from the public library.

Finally, I decided to cross that invisible line in the sand and make a post voicing publicly what everyone behind the scenes was saying privately, but were too afraid to say publicly. I had stated what I thought "Prayerful One" was; who originally created it; who knew about it; and who posted as it. I did this under my real name.

The fall out was swift and lasting. Everyone who I called out, stated publicly that I didn't know what I was talking about and that I should watch my mouth, and that they weren't the person in question.

Additionally, about week later, when I decided to sign in and post as myself (after posting as an unsigned in me), I got this wonderful warning in red: Stop talking about other people and stay on the topic in question. Failure to do so while result in a lifetime and permanent ban from the forum.

Well, I took a major exception to that, as I felt that a double standard was being applied to me. I felt that since the other dolts were able to get away with multiple violations of the T.o.S., why couldn't I?

About the time that had happened, I had written a letter and sent multiple e-mails, and even sent a fax, trying to find out why I was purged and suspended in the first place. Never did get a response to my accusations, but I will share with everyone at a later date, the contents of the letter that I had faxed over to Topix, stating just exactly what my accusations were.

In any event, I since I didn't agree with the original assessment by them, I didn't click on my acceptance of it. That was in late April/early May '08. To this day, I have not posted as my original self, and will not be able to post as my original self, until I agree to abide by the warning. So, in effect, that is how I have one persona "suspended".

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Men Aren't Allowed On Playgrounds

Howdy.

I wasn't going to post anything today, simply because this was my off day, and I like to stay in my usual pattern of posting every other day. However, something happened to me today, that quite frankly, has ruined my day and my vacation, and possibly my summer.

This particular week, I'm off doing daycare while the the family is in the Bahamas. Yesterday (6/23) I had promised to take my daughter to the playground, but the weather didn't cooperate with us. With that in mind, I promised my daughter that I would take her to the playground after I had run my morning errands.

After arriving at the playground, we found ourselves smack dab in the middle of the recess period for the summer campers. Off went my daughter to play with the kiddies, and being the hyper-vigilant dad that I am, I basically stood in one spot and watched her play. Occasionally, I would move my spot when my daughter went to another part of the playground.

I am by nature, not an imposing figure. I'm rather short, fat, bald and I wear glasses. Today I was dressed in solid black: shorts, suspenders, tee-shirt and a baseball cap. Anyways, about a half hour later, a member of the NPD strolled up to me and asked how I was doing, but more importantly, what was I doing there at the playground.

I said that I was here with my daughter, who I pointed out to him, watching her play. Then I asked, "Why?"

He said that they had received a few phone calls from some concerned mothers about a man who was watching children, and he was just simply checking it out. After asking for my I.D. and a few other pertinent questions (where I live, where I work, etc.), he thanked me for my cooperation and wished me a pleasant afternoon.

I left the playground with my daughter about ten minutes after he did.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
What does it say about society in general and women in particular, when a father can't go to the playground or park with their child without sparking concern?

I was there really minding my own business and not bothering anyone. I keep a close eye on my daughter, just in case something went wrong. To be honest with everyone here, I'm not much of a people person out in public. I don't go out of my way to engage people unless it's required of me to do so. I don't like crowds much and I don't like situations where I'm at the mercy of other people. I am polite and pleasing to talk to, and will engage in small talk when asked.

But basically, I pursue a policy of wanting to be left alone and not bothering others if I don't have to. This is what I did here. I didn't bother anyone, didn't engage anyone in small talk, and basically kept to myself. I'm not even sure who it was that took exception to me just standing there and supervising my daughter.

Here's the dilemma that I now face: how do I tell my daughter that we can't go to the playground anymore? I certainly can't tell her the truth as to why, because she too young to understand. I don't want to lie to her either.

It must be a wonderful thing for women to have the power of keeping a small section of their world, free from a male influence. I don't spend a lot of quality time with my children to begin with, and with these women (sarcasm is intended) making a phantom complaint about me, they have eliminated one major opportunity for me to reconnect with my children.

And in essence, ruined my vacation and my summer.

Gotta love the paranoid people in small towns.

Monday, June 23, 2008

"Yes, I wrote a book." (Part 3)

One early morning in about the first week of May, as I was riding the elevator back to my cube, my cell phone rang. Now normally, I don't answer my phone in the elevator, due to the fact that I can become quite nasty/provocative while talking. Because of that, I usually wait until I'm safely in my cubicle before answering.

So, when I flipped the phone, I saw the number was from Indiana. 'Strange,' I thought to myself, since the only person I knew from Indiana, wouldn't call me that early in the morning. Answering it anyways, the person on the other end was not my friend from Indiana, but in fact a publishing consultant from a company called "AuthorHouse", who specializes in self-publishing.

The gentleman was doing up a follow up call (or cold call, take your pick) and wanted to know what kind of progress I was making. I should back track a little and state that I had contacted this company approximately several months ago (on the recommendation of a local author), when I was exploring the option of self-publishing my manuscript. At the time I had politely told him, via the e-mail and phone, that I wanted to try and land an agent for my book, and if I didn't have any luck after my self-imposed deadline of the end of the summer, I would seriously consider self-publishing my novel.

This time however, after six months of either form letter rejections (yah, that's a good way to tell someone not to darken your doorstep) or rejections using your query letter (oooh, even better way to tell someone to go away), I decided to listen to what the man had to say.

What he said was very concise, persuasive and informative. After discussing the pros and cons of my situation in particular, I told him to send me the required information via the e-mail, so that I could do some research and think long and hard about it.

A couple of weeks later, after doing some research and thinking very long and very hard about it, I decided to take the plunge and self-publish my novel. I contacted the company again, ask one last question that I had (control over my own website), and settled up on the purchase contract.

So, after spending about five and half months writing, revising and re-revising my manuscript; another five months submitting it to contests and agents; six more months having it professionally revised; eight months having it submitted on my behalf to publishers; and seven months of rejections (over two years worth of time), I'm finally going to have my novel published....

Saturday, June 21, 2008

"What? You have more to say about yourself?"



Yeah, there is a tiny bit more to say about myself.

A lot of people have always wondered what I look like, especially from the online forums. I was always a bit leery about posting a picture of myself, since I've spent the better part of my online existence shooting off my mouth. And I've always admired people who had the wherewithal to post pictures of themselves.

Last time I posted a picture of a family member, someone who took exception to what I posted about rap music, fired off about 20 consecutive posts that were exceptionally nasty.

But since we're all adults here (well, most of you are), I would like to share with everyone, a picture of me and my family. This photo was taken in 2001 at my daughter's baptism. From left to right, me, my daughter, my son and my wonderful wife.

Whereas my children have obviously gotten older and my wife has gotten mellower in the proceeding years, I have not. I am now, what you see there in the picture. I am very much bald, I wear glasses, and have the same mustache. In essence, I look like a suburban version of David Crosby, except without the musical talent and money.

And I still have that Loony Toons tie.

Why I like to write chapbooks & novellas

I find it's much easier for me to write chapbooks/novellas (chapbooks are stories with a word count of 8,000-14,000; novellas 14,000 to about 20,000+), than it is to write traditional short stories. With a traditional short story, you basically have to get the end before you can develop the beginning or the middle (which is why I detest writing them to begin with). An nontraditional short story gives one the opportunity to develop all parts and come to a satisfactory conclusion.

The beauty about writing a chapbook-style story, is that it can serve a dual function. One, it can be a stand alone story. Two, you can use it as an outline, in case you ever want to convert it into a novella or a novel.

I would like to with you, a chapbook-type story that I wrote in 2007. I've entered it into a couple of contests, but like everything else, has come up empty. No matter though, as I'm in the process of fleshing this out and creating a dual plotted novel with it.

Entitled "A Betrayal of Vows", it tells the basic story of a marriage gone sour, when one spouse is caught cheating on another, with tragic results.

Disclaimer: This story contains some inappropriate language. If that type of stuff offends you, then please don't read the story.

Peaches, Lust and Tranquilizers

For as long as I've been participating in the Topix forums (16 months and counting), this has always been the premier pet phrase of choice for usage by me. Basically, it's a corruption of a well known phrase that was around when I was growing up in the 70's: Peace, Love and Tranquility.

I've always had fun with it, because there was always a multitude of word combinations that could be used to express whatever mood I happened to be in at the given moment. It was a great tag line to use, because other people would play off of it, either in fun or in anger (there was no shades of gray when you were dealing with me, only black or white). Very rare was the post that I'd made when I actually used the phrase the way the creators of it intended, probably less than 10 times in over 10,000 posts. When I did use it, it was usually in conjunction with a very heartfelt and genuine post towards someone near and dear to me online.

I got to thinking about it today (6/21) while taking my weekly stroll about town. I do five+ mile walks on the weekends, no matter what the weather conditions may be: sunny, rainy, windy, cold, dreary, etc., etc. There are usually two reasons as to why: 1) I enjoy walking because I can't bike ride any more and 2) I can't bike ride anymore do to a degenerative health condition, but I still need the exercise.

Anyways, on my walk today, I was able to think about things and events (current and otherwise) with a clarity that I usually can't get anywhere else. Walking around town allowed me to really get back in touch with myself, so to speak. It allowed me to enjoy the good weather, recharge my batteries, interact with people and most importantly, remind me that I am a person and not some drone who spends the week on autopilot.

Walking in my town, is like stepping back into pepped up version of Rockwell's America. Not completely wholesome and white bread, but with just enough spice added in to give it some zest. Once you get away from the downtown area, it's like stepping into a time warp. It literally becomes like any typical summertime commercial for lemonade or something. Nothing but peace of mind, a refreshed spirit and a better outlook on the day.

F'r instance, during my walk, I was able to do one of my favorite pastimes: people watch. Didn't matter if they were walking down the street or playing/working in the yard, in a strange way, it really lifted my spirits. I found an inner peace that I usually don't have during the week, but I usually get a large enough dose during my walks to sustain me during the weekend. Coupled with strolling past the mountain that I live across from (hence the blog title), it put me into a very relaxing and refreshing good mood for the rest of the weekend.

So my advice to anyone out there who's looking for some quality down time, go out for a walk. It will free the mind, refresh the spirit, recharge the batteries and it'll make you feel good about yourself.

So remember: Peaches, for that inner child of yours; Lust after your spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend; and Tranquilize the mind by taking a simple stroll to detoxify.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Can working for the government be rewarding?

I've often asked myself that question sometimes, usually when my work day has bitten the big one and I would find myself scratching my head and mumbling, "WTF?" to myself.

The answer I come up with, more often than not, is a resounding "YES!"

For the past 12 years, while working in four different agencies on five separate occasions (Library{twice}, Attorney General, Corrections and Children & Families), I have met wonderful people and made some lasting friendships at each stop. Additionally, I've learned things and expanded my horizons that I never would have thought previously possible. And as strange as it sounds, even though it has taken me years to realize this, that being laid off from work in 2003 was a blessing in disguise.

You may be asking yourself, "Georgie, how can being laid off and becoming seriously broke for 1 1/2 years be a blessing?" The answer my good reader, is quite simple and really remarkable.

Being laid off was a bad thing yes, as I didn't regain my financial footing until about early 2005. But because I listened to a good supervisor in December 2003, who genuinely wanted to see me get ahead and make something of myself, I made a decision to leave the agency that had eventually brought me back to work.

Leaving the only workplace I'd ever known for my entire state career (almost 8 years at the time) was truly hard to do. I had made great friends and felt like I could spend my entire career working at the library (history and reading were my two favorite hobbies). But in making that decision to leave, started a chain of events which right now as I type, has no end in sight.

To whit: in transferring to Corrections, I met some truly unique individuals and made lasting friendships. In turn, they inspired me in 2005 to write my first novel. To a lesser degree, the agency, with all of its turmoil, inspired me to leave in 2006 and transfer to agency that six months prior, my opinion was that it should be gutted and rebuilt from scratch (still think that today). By 2007, when things had calmed down enough at work, I went exploring my local newspaper website The Hartford Courant.

Commenting on a story, earned an invite to join the Topix community, which I did on February 10, 2007. Doing that put a series of events in motion that has culminated in the following things:


  • I decided to self-publish my novel
  • I met a wonderful group of people, one of which writes a blog called "GumbyTheCat" (see link elsewhere on the main page), who in turn suggested...
  • That I create a blog

So in essence, I would like to thank my state government for laying me off from work in 2003. In one small way, it has been very rewarding, in the effect that I've met wonderful people in the CyberWorld, who in turn inspired me to create this very blog.

"The Topix Jungle:" Chapter 9 (Winter 2007)

By December, I had repaired the relationships with Bug and Paisely well enough to start exchanging online pleasantries and e-mails. I was still down and out with a few others, most notably Matt from Akron and his cohorts, so I pursued a course of 'ignorance is bliss'. Basically out of sight out, out of mind.

As I tripped along rehabbing my rep and attitude, a marked change of attitude seemed to hover over some parts of Topix. Most of the original clique had left for greener pastures, either in other forums on Topix or in private forums. In Offbeat, a noxious cloud of juvenile stupidity created by a crybaby poster and his retarded friends, was recently dispersed, but very hard feelings lingered in the background (still do to this day).

As for me, I guess a change of attitude happened as well. I started to get a bit more nastier and a lot more cross with other posters, which didn't fully blossom in all its glory until the spring.

One other important thing I would like to say before turning the calendar page: What had happened to me, wound up happening to the other major participants in my little war, although on a smaller scale. Suffice to say, to untangle all the various tangents and components, in order for any of it to make sense, would 1) reopen old wounds and 2) violate promises I had made to others. I will say only this: A control freak will eventually show its true colors, no matter how well it tries to hide the past.

If anything, one very good thing came out of this mess when 2007 melted into 2008: PaiselyPosey, A Bug and A Wish, and myself, became as close as three people from IN, OH and CT could ever possibly become.

So ends this particular section of my user guide called "The Topix Jungle". As we move into 2008, the next batch of entries will be entitled, "Guerilla Warfare".

Pretty it won't be, but it will sure be butt ugly.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

"Yes, I wrote a book." (Part 2)

...the reason why things weren't looking right was pretty simple. So simple in fact that it only took me a year to actually notice it.

The revision that was done, basically sucked. No two ways about it, it really and truly did. In my haste to actually get this thing back to the agent so they could start submitting it to publishers, I only did a quick read through of the revision.

Big mistake. I soon found out, after printing out about 325 pages (read: scrap paper), that the continuity was completely fouled up, that the original intent of whole paragraphs were totally mangled, and that it sounded completely....well, wooden.

So once again, I had to put my agent queries back on hold and fix my novel. Starting with the first chapter, I spent the next month or so, rewriting the revision, so that it would make sense, stay truer to the original version, and most importantly, sound like me.

Note: No matter what you write, be it a short story, flash fiction (under 500 words), long stories or novels, you should always sound like you when you write. In other words, make your voice come alive through the writing. Make it unique, make it rich, use emotion, whatever you need to do, make what you write be an extension of you.

By the time I got done revising the revision (using the original manuscript to fill in the gaps left by the hatchet job done by my ex-agents), it was about 90% me and the other 10% them. So after printing out another 325 pages and stashing it in a safe place, I started going through my guidebook to choose some agents that were open to romance novels, to send out queries to.

After getting a batch of those done and sent out, I hit the proverbial brick wall, as I didn't know what to start working on next. I had already re-edited one of my longer short stories (about 13,000 words) and submitted it to a few contests late the previous year. However, I did remember something that I put on the back burner for six months while fixing my first novel: my second novel.

Back to work I went on that, as it was something that would keep me occupied while I was doing a search and destroy for another agent. And thus, I was able to fall into a decent routine: I would write a little bit, then after getting another round of rejection letters, I would put it aside to send out another batch of queries.

By late April, things were at a standstill. I wasn't making any progress on any of the fronts I was working on. The second novel was grinding to a halt (still is of sorts) and I was starting to get a large collection of rejection letters stashed away in my work office. Basically, I was in a rut, with no idea on what to do or where to go next.

With a turn of the calendar page, things were about change for the better....

Sunday, June 15, 2008

"The Topix Jungle": Chapter 8 (Columbus day weekend)

So, on October 5, 2007 I created a poll about myself, called "What is your opinion of me?" and waited for the masses to offer their opinion.

I didn't have long to wait, as everyone came crawling out of the woodwork. The bulk of the nastiness came from four basic sources: Matt from Akron and PaisleyPosey (who I have tremendous respect for), and HRP and Billy R (who I don't). Suffice to say, I was buried so far down in the ground that I met Beatrix climbing past me to get her revenge against Bill.

It really brought things to a head, and I basically found myself in a twelve on one verbal assault. Try as I might, I really was no match for the arrows that were being shot my way. Part of what was thrown my way, was the personal correspondence that HRP saw fit to pass on to everyone. The rest was what I had posted the previous several months that Paisley saw fit to dig up and use.

When the dust settled five days later (yes it only took five days to wipe the ground with me), I was one hurtin' puppy dog. These people who I thought were my friends (remember this is 2007, not the present), basically took me on a one way ride to meet Jimmy Hoffa. The months may have passed, but the hurt is still there.

The hurt will always be a part of me. I may have forgiven most of the participants for what they did to me, and they have felt nothing but genuine remorse for it, but for me to truly say how I feel about the matter, would only force me to put an adult rating on this blog. So for the time being I will say only this: to this day, the only posts I read on that thread, is post #1 and post #165.

So after picking myself up, knocking the dust off my clothes and checking my jaw to see if any teeth were knocked lose, I meandered off to Offbeat and PA to recuperate. For the next couple of weeks, I basically tip-toed around PaisleyPosey, as she was/still a frequent inhabitant of Offbeat. Eventually, an uneasy truce was made between the both of us, basically a live and let live kind of thing. I didn't bother her, and she didn't bother me. As a matter of fact, during the Prayerful One troll war {much more on that later}, I went out of my way to defend what she did to me.

By late November, things had settled down somewhat. I avoided Top Stories like the plague and concentrated on rehabbing my rep and my attitude. Additionally, I slowly got back onto speaking terms with a few of the participants: PaisleyPosey and A Bug and A Wish. Wasn't friends with them, but we had reached a mutual understanding on things.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

"Yes, I wrote a book." (Part 1)

This next batch of posts/entries will deal with my experiences in trying to land another agent. I highly recommend, again, the reference guide "Guide to Literary Agents" for anyone who is trying to go the traditional route of getting published.

Full of confidence, I went out and picked up a copy of the aforementioned reference guide, and got to work. Considering I had a romance novel, I concentrated on making a list of agents who specialized in the romance genre. By the time I got done, I had a list of about 20 names, broken down by people wanting query letters and people wanting more than query letters.

Note: a query letter is basically a letter that is selling you and your manuscript. This can be the second toughest thing to write after your novel, the first being a synopsis.

I will be the first to admit, my initial query letters were bad. They stunk. They were so bad that some of the early rejections I got, the agents simply used the letter I wrote, to basically say, "Go away." I did improve on them, slowly but surely. I got advice from other books and tips other writers {a special thanks to Vee}. I eventually, after a few false starts, got a basic template together for my queries.

I did this for about a month, starting in December, until I got some advice from a friend, who said I should wait until after the holiday season before starting back up. Since I was getting basically form rejections, I figured, "what the hey." and stopped. Which gave me the opportunity to start making the basic changes to my manuscript (see this post) and do other things, like writing a synopsis.

Note: a synopsis is a compressed version of your manuscript, roughly 8-10 pages in length. Rule of thumb is about twenty-five pages of manuscript to one page of synopsis. Mine was about 8 pages in total length, which covered all 16 chapters.

Because writing a summary of anything had always been a hard thing for me to do, it took about a month to write these 8 pages. By mid February, I was ready to expand my search to agents who were requesting a little more than just a plain query letter.

I was really excited about this part, mostly because it really bothered me to get rejections from people who simply based their judgment on a one page letter, as opposed to a synopsis or/and a few sample pages/chapters. There were a few agents, that after checking their website, had such restrictive rules, that they got 86'ed by me. For example, one potential agent stated that if the SASE wasn't a self-sticking #10 envelope, the submission would be completely rejected.

As I was getting ready to send out my next wave of queries with other items, I noticed that while I was printing a few chapters out, things just weren't looking right. As a matter of fact things were about to come to a screeching halt...

Friday, June 13, 2008

"The Topix Jungle": Chapter 7 (Showdown 2)

As all things broke loose and I was getting bombarded on all fronts with the garbage that HRP was spreading about me, both publicly and privately, manipulating friends into hating me (some of them permanently, I desperately needed a place to regroup and recalibrate.

I had met some interesting people during the late spring/early summer in a PA forum called, "The Morning Call". At that time, they were (and still are) residing on a thread called, "The Friendship Thread". So off I went to (temporarily) lick my wounds and regroup a little. After regrouping and getting my head back together (sort of), I headed back to Top Stories to bring things to head once and for all. The only way I knew how to bring everyone out in the open was to start shooting my mouth off (no comments from the peanut gallery), but how to accomplish that goal was going to be a little tricky.

About the time I was getting ready to launch my opening salvo, Topix introduced a brand new concept to the forums: the poll. So, being the assertive individual I was, I decided to create a poll about myself.

Brief interlude here folks. In order to get a sense just how bad things had gotten between myself and the Pub clique, I want to share with you part of an e-mail that was sent to me by Billy R, on behalf of HRP, telling me exactly what he/she thought of me (to this day, I strongly believe that Billy has a thing for HRP. There are solid reasons as to my theory, which fortunately will remain unstated.)
  • HRP asked me to write to you and try to explain something. For quite some time now,you have been obsessing about her,and it REALLY bothers her.You started quite some time showing a remarkable amount of jealousy towards her whenever she would talk to any man(especially me).I find it weird that you are more jealous of her relationship with me (and several other men) than her own husband is. So,you decide to say that you are going to leave topix (apparently you had no plan to really leave),and post bunches of pathetic posts ,which were in reality nothing but a sad pathetic attempt to get people to write in and tell you how great you are,and beg you to stay. You claimed responsibility for all the funny stuff on topix,and insinuated that if not for you,none of us would be friends.(Its pretty sad that you actually believe that.) In the midst of all this,you post several insulting remarks to Nancy ,immediately followed up with some begging for her attention.You’ve really been quite schizophrenic about her,and it’s troubling. Now,the latest thing is you sending her the copies of your pornographic novel. Why on earth would you think she wants to read that kind of filth?You know(or should,anyway) that she is not that kind of lady. As close as she and I are,I would never dream of sending her that kind of stuff.Your rather thinly veiled fantasies are really quite sickening to her. So,to get back to the original question you posed,should you leave her alone for the rest of the year? That’s a start,but not quite enough.Leave her alone forever.Don’t call,don’t write,don’t e-mail,don’t anything. Leave her alone. If she wants to get a hold of you,she will.But I wouldn’t count on it happening

My response to this sack of lies was this: Just to clear up one particular point. What I write is definitely NOT about her. What I wrote, I wrote at least two years prior to coming onto topix. As for the current stuff, that was based on a short story that I showed to her at least one month prior to meeting you. As I recalled, she thought it was good. I even asked her advice about the chapters I sent to her. If you think its filth or pornographic, that's your problem and no one elses. As for having fantasies about her, I don't. I never have and I never will. As for insulting remarks about her, I've never have insulted her nor have I posted anything insulting about her. Jealousy? Please, I don't think so. Why would I be jealous? However let me say this about you: All your assumptions about me are wrong. I still don't like you and I never will like you.

One point I would also want to make is that she forwarded an e-mail to this miscreant that I had originally sent to her, but she didn't have the testicles to answer me directly.

This e-mail was actually the opening salvo to my private correspondence being sent off to various other people to use and abuse. This personal correspondence, as you will see, made it to the poll that I created Columbus Day weekend, or what I like to the call, The Columbus Day Massacre...

"I Sure Do Like Gettin' Paid For Goofin' Off!"

I have been called lazy, overpaid, rude, obnoxious and arrogant.

I am a government worker, or to be more precise, a state government worker. In my world, state workers have only a little more respect than politicians, which isn't saying a lot to begin with.

While only a small percentage of workers can acutally be called what I opened with, the bulk of us (like myself), are very capable and extremely hardworking individuals. That said, there are times where I actually resemble my opening statement and then some.

The problem in my world, is that I can spend day after day doing exactly what the title of the post states. Case in point would be today. Our financial system that we use to generate/do our payroll went offline, so that other agencies could prepare the FY ending reports.

With no access to the computer and very little work to be done, I basically spent my afternoon doing the following:
  • Reading
  • Walking around
  • Talking to other people
  • Going outside on long breaks
  • Sleeping

Excellent way for me to earn your tax dollars. The basic problem I see, is that there is too much dead weight in government. Someone new comes into power and decides to change things around. So they hire more people to facilitate this m.o. Problem is, these people don't have much to do. Soooo, the new boss starts taking duties away from other people in order to justify hiring the dead wood.

End result is you have people like me, who after learning time management skills from a busier agency, who don't have the ability to slow down or stretch out their work.

What a wonderful country. Hire people and take other people's work in order to justify hiring the other people. Yesireee Bob, your tax dollars hard at work.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

"The Topix Jungle": Chapter 6 (The Showdown)

The initial beginnings of The Showdown began innocently enough. I was participating on a thread in Top Stories around August '07 with HRP and Paisley, and I made some comment in jest about HRP being frugal/cheap. Paisley chimed in with a comment that bordered on the too literal front, so I made a rather serious retort.

Next thing I know, I'm smack dab in the middle of an intense war of words with Paisely over my initial comment, which was made in jest to begin with. It finally got to the point where I was left a nasty post (I think) stating what came out of my mouth couldn't be trusted as my words had both double and triple meanings.

I attempted to smooth things over with HRP by having a very long phone call one Sunday afternoon. I put my two cents in, she put her two cents in, and stated quite convincingly that the worst case scenario would be that each of us would walk away from the other if we couldn't come to a mutual understanding.

By the time September rolled around, things had deteriorated between us to the point where she was having other people send me e-mails asking for me to leave her alone, as I was starting to "harass" her. At this juncture, she was having people doing her dirty work for her, sending me unsolicited e-mails, spying on me and basically smearing my good name and reputation.

October rolled around and things started blowing up big time. The other members of the clique had created a private forum called, what else, "Ye Olde Village Pub". I was initially invited to join this little grouping, but I declined for various reasons. After a bit of badgering and cajoling, I decided to leave one post saying my goodbyes and such. I tried signing up, but after about two hours or so, I still couldn't get in. So, being the self-centered person I was, I fired off an e-mail to the admin of the forum and to RH. Also fired one off to HRP asking her to post my goodbye for me (found out later that she didn't, but did spread nasty lies about me).

An item hit the proverbial fan as all things broke loose. For proof, click on this link called Pub 2 and start with post #699 made by MfA. The beginning of the end started there.

"You wrote a book? Really?" (Part 5)

...and gathering moth balls. Finally taking a closer look at this "thing" (for lack of a better word), the first thing that needed to be done, was to create a new title page. While the old one was quite nice, it had my ex-agents full address, etc. on it. Since I didn't know how exactly it was created, beyond the obvious, I had my work cut out for me. What I wound up doing, was to take the page to work and spend about fifteen minutes using a pair of scissors and the copier.

Next thing on the agenda was to data input the entire thing into my laptop. This was due to the fact that one of those pesky little rules that some manuscript contests have, is that the author's name can't be anywhere on the manuscript. Considering my name was plastered all over 375 pages (double spaced, per 99% of the agents/publishers known to mankind), that meant tweaking the header by removing my name. Which meant doing the item previously mentioned.

I then spent the next month inputting the entire manuscript into my laptop. Except for reducing the margins to one inch all around, I kept the format unchanged. I kept the crappy font and the same double spacing throughout. As I was typing, the first thing I noticed, was that the story got confusing in some places. Also found spelling errors and continuity problems as well. Still, I kept plugging away, at least until I got to about chapter 12, when I decided to take a closer look at what was revised versus what I wrote originally.

Well, lo and behold, I discovered that they did a relatively severe editing job on my manuscript. In their haste to make the manuscript presentable to the masses, they screwed with the pacing and narrative of the book. In my haste to get this thing sold to a publisher, I didn't do a very good job of checking the final version before giving my approval.

So, back to the beginning I went. I took out my original manuscript, and began revising the revision with the original. Definitely slow going, because I found so many continuity errors, that it would literally take me two days to input one chapter. By the time I got to the end, I found one last glaring error: the ending made no sense. Due to the wonderful editing job done by my ex-agent, the ending was gone. To rewrite the ending (basically about three paragraphs) took about three days.

By late February/early March, I had a viable manuscript to start submitting to agents again. Or so I thought...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

"Friends"

Another brief interlude here folks.

I would like to touch base on a subject that that is near and dear to me: friendships.

I am, by choice, a very private individual. Not in the traditional sense where no one knows anything about me and I live my life with minimal contact with the human race, but more like what you read here. I have made numerous acquaintences over the years, but the amount of close friends that I have, I can count on two hands, one for the Real World and one for the World.
In the Real World, I have three very close friends, who have stood by me through thick and thin, who without their understanding and guidance, I really don't know how I would have made it these past four years. I truly treasure and appreciate their friendship, and I would like to think that they appreciate mine.

So I would like to say to the following people, DC and RK & RK, only this one thing, which I have stated previously, but nevertheless is heartfelt and geniuine: I will always cherish and appreciate the fact that you have chosen to let me be a small part of your lives since 2004. No matter what may happen in the future, I will always be there for you.

As for the Cyber World, the amount of close friends I have, number six: PaisleyPosey, A Bug and A Wish, Matt from Akron, Michelle D, Vee and Grace Nerissa. Each of these truly unique individuals have touched me deeply in more ways that they could possibly imagine or thought of. Each of these individuals deserve an individual thanks, which I will gratefully give now.


  1. PaisleyPosey: Paise, you are a truly a unique and wonderful individual. You and I go all the way back to the very beginning of our Topix existence. For about five solid months, the two of us made up two-thirds of a very special online triangle. Even though that triangle got destroyed and we created yet another special online triangle, we managed to stay together through those black days. I will always appreciate your loyalty, your friendship and your honesty.
  2. A Bug and A Wish: Mere words can't describe the feelings I have for you. You are definitely on my short list of people I truly admire and respect. In spite of what I went through and what I did in 2007, you never lost faith in me. Even when I made that incredibly stupid accusation, you never lost faith. It got dented a little because of it, but still you kept on shining. I really do appreciate and respect your friendship.
  3. Matt from Akron: I suppose we are intertwined just as much as I am intertwined with the above mentioned ladies. We went through alot of things together, but I believe you became a better and stronger individual because of it. You are a very remarkable person, whom I've been able to learn stuff from in more ways that you could ever possibly imagine. And that, my friend, is a rare gift to have.
  4. Michelle D: You are a remarkable individual as well. Non-judgmental, you are able to see every side of a particular situation and act accordingly. You, and everyone else in PA, were my saving grace in the Summer/Fall '07. Not sure how worse things would had gotten if you weren't there to help keep me in check. I truly thank you for that.
  5. Grace: You were one of the very first people I met when I started posting on Topix. Your wit, grace (no pun intended) and charm, are simply second to none. Your poetry is the same. You're the only poet that I actually care about and enjoy reading.

To one and all, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for bestowing on me the honor of being your friend.

I won't let you down, that you can be sure of.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Literary Agents

A few words about Literary Agents. First and foremost, the disclaimer: The opinion about to be expressed here is mine, and only mine, and should not be taken as an absolute. It is up to the individual who is serious about being published, to decided whether or not that they should get an agent.

My first and only agent, The Eaton Literary Agency, I found through a contest that they had listed in the Novel & Short Story Writer's Market reference book (highly recommended). I had submitted my manuscript to them and about several months (and about $5,000) later, I had a "viable" manuscript ready for submission.

In November 2007, after being with them for about 17 months, I terminated my contract and took back my manuscript. I then began what eventually turned out to be, a fruitless search for another agent.

My experiences with trying to land another agent, brought me to this conclusion: most agents are afraid to take risks and prefer the status quo when dealing with publishers. Even though in their listings that they have (Guide to Literary Agents was the only one I used. Highly recommended if you're trying to land an agent for your manuscript or movie/television script), they say that a percentage of their clients are new/unpublished, it seems to me that they really want someone else to do their work for them.

As in, let someone else take a chance on publishing this "writer". If they get published, then we'll take a look see at them. Otherwise, it's a "don't call us, will call you" kind of attitude. I can truthfully say that the only rejections that I got, that I really respected, were the ones who actually read my material (synopsis/sample chapters) before rejecting them. The ones that rejected me, just based on my query letters, I had no respect for.

I still don't have complete respect for literary agents. I compared them to being a flock of sheep, with their sheep dog being the next big literary hit, herding them from ranch to ranch, desperately trying to find that golden egg.

Agents don't live in the real world. They live in a fantasy world of their own making. If they actually knew what the buying public really liked, they would take more chances with new and unpublished writers.

Naaaahhh....

"You wrote a book? Really?" (Part 4)

...Two weeks later, I still had no response to my e-mail, nor did I have a response to my letter. At this point, with the online battle scars still fresh and work becoming even more annoying than before, I was on the hunt for blood.

Sitting down at my work computer early Thursday morning, I typed out a blistering one page fax. Basically it came to the erroneous conclusion that because I felt that since I was being ignored (mistake #6) that must of meant that they didn't want anything to do with me anymore. So I politely told them to stop making solicitations on my behalf, and that I was giving them my notice as per our contractual agreement.

When I got home later that evening, I had a response to my letter from my now ex-agent. In it, they answered my questions (unsatisfactorily in my eyes) and apologized for the lateness of the letter as they were out of the office for the past few weeks meeting with publishers and producers. When I checked my e-mail, I had a swift and terse response to my e-mail (no surprise there). They reiterated that they were out of the office for the past two weeks and had just gotten around to answering their correspondence. Additionally, they said they never received my e-mail of October 12th and if they did, they would have responded. They also said that they were disappointed that I wouldn't see this through to the end and wished my luck with my future endeavors. They also said that they would mail me back my manuscript, posthaste.

There wasn't much I could say after that. Basically, I looked a gift horse in the mouth and said, "I think I'll pass on this one."

So while waiting for them to ship my manuscript back to me, I began firing off queries to other agents, hoping to land one and continue my quest to find a publisher. While one of my strong points is telling a good story, one of my weakest points is writing a good query letter. And let me tell you, my query letters really bit the big one. I got super quick rejections from agents who were lazy enough to simply use my query letter and jot a half dozen words down it, basically saying, "No thanks, get lost".

But I'm getting ahead of myself with the rejections. About a week later, I got my manuscript back. Not the version that they redid and submitted to publishers (of which I fortunately have a copy of), but the original, complete with enough red ink on it to refill another pen. Also the package was very damaged, almost like they were seriously angry at me for questioning their ability. Really?

So putting aside for the time being, that original manuscript and the goal of getting published, I spent the next two months editing a short story for a couple of writing contests (which I haven't heard anything on since I sent the stories to them back in December 2007).

By Spring 2008, I was ready to start sending out query letters to agents again. But first, I had to do something with the revised manuscript that I had packed away in storage, gathering dust...

Saturday, June 7, 2008

"The Cast of Characters"

Before I get much further into this unique user guide, it would be wise of me to create a short reference guide to the main participants of this particular phase of my chat room journey. Please refer to this whenever you need a slight refresher while reading this user guide. Most of these good people are still with us today.
  1. Da Bishop/Cedar Mountain: Me. Also, you will find over 3,000 posts under my real name as well.
  2. Hitesrunprincess: One of three problem children. Doesn't post anymore, but still reads and has people spying for her.
  3. Rotor Head: Second problem child. Doesn't post anymore, but still reads and has people spying for him as well.
  4. Matt from Akron: Posts extensively. An exceptionally bright individual and an all around genuinely good person. Can be found on the Science/Tech forums, the Evolution forums and coincidentally, as a blog (see link for GumbyTheCat).
  5. PaisleyPosey: A very near and dear friend. Doesn't post as much, as the RW calls much more than the CyberWorld. Very bright and a wonderful person to talk to. Can be found all over Topix.
  6. A Bug and A Wish: A very dear friend. Doesn't post as much either, as the RW perpetually calls for her. Very bright, very loyal. A very close member of my circle of 4 from Top Stories.
  7. Billy R: Third problem child. I was always taught when I nothing nice to say about someone, I shouldn't. So I won't.

The preceding list of people were the main players in this particularly complex chapter of my online life. The others that are to follow, were ones that I met in either other forums or Top Stories, but were only peripherally involved in what went down in 2007.

  1. Grace Nerissa: A very lovely, warm, charming individual. Someone whose writing skills are something I aspire to have someday. A very good poet is she.
  2. Vee: A charming and unique individual. Someone else whose writing skills I envy.
  3. Jamie Tuna: A very bright guy and a pleasure to be around.
  4. Rods 1: Ditto.
  5. Calibeachbum/Lady Of The Pacific: A very nice lady who didn't deserve the grief I gave her when things exploded.

There are others who I had the pleasure of meeting that I will not include on this list, due to the fact that they weren't involved in this at all, but I will talk about as things progress as they were there for me later on.

"The Topix Jungle": Chapter 5 (The Incident)

When we last visited the Pub, one of the main hosts, HRP, left for a business trip to Chicago (hair products) in late June and left the Pub in the capable hands of MfA and RH.

Note: to make things easier for you the reader, I will be referring to some of the participants by the initials, due to the fact that their online names are somewhat long. If you need to know what their official name is, please refer to the handy list called, "Cast of Characters".

Back in the late spring, on a thread called "Cult of Personality", I created a persona called The Bishop. This particular character was a pompous, overbearing, uproariously drunken prelate who was always in the sacramental wine, or in this case, bourbon. This was created so that I could let the stupider side of my personality bleed out.
In any case, I started a wonderful story arc about how The Bishop was going to invade and take over the Pub. RH played along, as well as MfA, and we were having a relatively good time about it. Billy R (who never had that much of sense of humor to begin with) chimed in with a thinly veiled opinion disguised as an insult about my character.

Being the sensitive person that I was at the time, I threw a tantrum. I proceeded to insult and mock him at every turn, until it got so bad that I was temporarily kicked out of the Pub. Shortly after I got kicked out, a subtle turn of events happened. Gone was the carefree days of old, and in its place was a cloud of paranoia that soon began to seep into the atmosphere.

About the time I was serving my "suspension", I had started posting the interior to my novel, "Shades of Love" in the Top Stories forum. I had done this previously with other short stories in the Offbeat forum, in order to share my writing talent and gain meaningful critique of my work. In any event, the story was rather violent to begin with, as it started out with a home invasion that quickly turned fatal.

I had posted about a couple of chapters worth or so, when people started insinuating things behind my back about it (I found this out much, much later, which will be talked about as well), claiming that the two lead characters were me and HRP, and that the two home invaders were thinly veiled caricatures of MfA and RH.

Suffice to say, the grumblings behind the scenes began to seep into the foreground, courtesy of HRP (a control freak in every sense of the word). Every little thing I did or said, was greeted with scepticism, like "oh look, George is at it again, he should just grow up". I will be the first to admit, and other people can confirm this, I was very wishy-washy with my behavior back then.

However, I, unlike other people much later, was able to get a very good read on the situation. I've always had that ability to see people for what they really are, and sure enough, things were going to test my abilities to prove a point, to the breaking point...

Thursday, June 5, 2008

"Don't Answer Stupid Staff's Stupid Questions, First Thing In The Morning"

Nifty title, isn't it?

I came up with that mantra (which I have properly hidden in my cubicle), about a year ago. At the time, I was getting aggravated with a particular labor union: The all being, all knowing, completely pompous, totally arrogant 1199 Healthcare union.

This particular union covers all workers in the healthcare industry. From hospitals to health care centers and all points in between, every conceivable medical/healthcare industry is covered by this particular behemoth. Incredibly militant and self-serving, it perpetuates the view that there is no such thing as a bad/incompetent worker.

With that said, the problem I was having with members of a particular hospital that our agency had, was infuriating simple: no monies were available to pay out to them. To elaborate, I handle tuition reimbursement for my particular agency. What my particular state does is this: they will reimburse you a percentage of money that you spend at an institution of higher education of your choice, so that you might take courses to further your career advancement.

In theory, that was the way it was supposed to go. Reality though, has a way of rearing its ugly head. In a nutshell, what happened was that the tuition fund (which is generally funded by union dues) ran out of money three months short of the current fiscal year. All $545,000 gone. Kaput. Vanished. Spent. Inhaled. Why?

Simple really: The main problem can be summed up by the simple phrase, "Rob Peter to Pay Paul". Instead of telling people who turned their applications in late, "Sorry, no money for you.", what the state does is take the monies for the current fiscal year and pay off all those stragglers, effectively punishing the people who get theirs in on time in the new fiscal year. End result is that you wait about a year and a half before you see any money.

So, when some of these particular "toddlers" at this particular hospital, started noticing that a few of their co-workers were getting money and they weren't, naturally the first thing that they did was call the person in charge to ask why. Person in charge was me, who tried without much success, to explain why their co-workers got it and they didn't. When that didn't work, and I started screening my phone calls (thank God for caller i.d.) to avoid answering the same question, they started e-mailing me.

Not only weren't they satisfied to just sending it to me, they got their union reps involved. Like that was going to make matters easier for them. No matter how I answered the question, people weren't satisfied.

One day, curiously after a long Memorial day weekend that went over like a lead balloon, I came into work on Monday morning very grouchy. One of the first e-mails I saw, was from one of the toddlers at this particular hospital, asking once again where their money is. Mistake #1 by me was hitting the "reply all" button. Mistake #2 was TYPING THE STUPID RESPONSE IN CAPITOLS. Mistake #3 was closing the e-mail with a tag that I normally use when I post in the chat forums (again in caps): DO I MAKE MYSELF CLEAR, CRYSTAL OR OTHERWISE? Finally, Mistake #4 was answering the stupid e-mail in the first place....

we will now have a brief intermission. please talk amongst yourselves as ushers stop by and shove canisters in your face, asking for donations to "The Jimmy Fund"

....One week later, an investigation was done by my labor dept., regarding my e-mail. End result was that I was given a written reprimand (which is now in my personal file until December 2008), and I had to attend a class on professionalism.

This, among other reasons, is why I truly despise labor unions.


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

How To Effectively End A Relationship With An Agent

Small interlude here folks.

I would like to share with you, the contents of the letter I wrote to my agent, which eventually put me on the path to self-publishing. I am by nature, a person with an incredibly short fuse. A person who sometimes acts first, the spends an inordinate amount of time trying to fix whatever bad decision I had made in the heat of the moment.

I was still incredibly pissed about being raked over the coals by people who, at the time, I thought were my friends (things have long since been worked out between all parties involved, and are now very good friends with each other), so the tone of the letter, while not readily apparent to the receiver, was apparent to anyone else who read it. So, without further ado, here is the body of the letter, verbatim.

It has now been approximately eight months since I gave final approval for your agency to shop my manuscript around, and from the monthly correspondence that we’ve been exchanging, I believe that you and your agency are doing your very best to sell my manuscript.
However, I do have a few questions about what has been going on, that I hope you can answer for me, or at least point me in the right direction.
From what you’ve told me so far, I have about three rejections of my manuscript. Have all of these been outright rejections, or have they been rejections coupled with advice on how to fix the manuscript? Are the publishers actually reading the manuscript, or are they simply rejecting it sight unseen? With only a few rejections received over the course of eight months, is this normal for this particular time frame? Lastly, is there a realistic chance that this manuscript will be sold in the next few months?
The reason that I ask the last question, is that it is now mid-October, and there are a few writing contests that will be starting up in late 2007/early 2008 that I am giving serious consideration of entering my manuscript in. But I really don’t want to do that if there is a reasonable expectation that my manuscript will be sold.
I have enjoyed working with your agency for the past fourteen months and I really don‘t want to give contractual notice, but I am simply trying to do what’s best for me and my manuscript.
Any help or direction you can give me, will be greatly appreciated.
Sincerely,

Georgie B

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

"You wrote a book? Really?" (Part 3)

...which they starting doing as soon as they received permission from me. In the meantime, I took them up on their advice on contacting them whenever I wanted a status report on how things were going. I developed a pattern of contacting them every other month, first by snail mail, then by e-mail (mistake #3). I figured that things would move at a relatively quick pace when came to editors reading my manuscript.

To quote a Monty Python sketch, "WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!" During the spring and summer of 2007, I learned to my chagrin just how glacier the submission process truly was. For about four months, I had about several publishers (according to my agents) looking at my manuscript. I also had about one rejection, which was from another publisher I submitted my manuscript to (basically, they didn't read it. this conclusion was reached due to how it was repackaged and sent back to me. even I wouldn't have read it, knowing what I know now. everything was done completely wrong by me, which I will cover in further detail later on) previously before hooking up with my agent.

During the summer, it was about the same: I sent a query, via the e-mail (mistake #3), asking about the status of the manuscript. I would then be given a cheery status report, saying it was with a half dozen publishers, with an occasional rejection thrown in for fun.

This went on for quite a while. As summer morphed into autumn, I began to start having serious doubts about the ability of my agent to actually sell my manuscript for me. I believe what happened next was partially due to outside influences and partially due to me being something of a hothead.

While I was starting to develop a few nagging suspicions (mistake #4) about my agent, certain events that were going on in my life were starting to take their toll on me, mentally. In mid September 2007, I became involved in a very public and very nasty online battle in a chat forum called "Topix". It was quite brutal, exceptionally personal, involved about a dozen people, and lasted until mid October. The collateral damage that was inflicted, while brief, was significant.

Around mid-October, while I was being ripped to shreds publicly in a chat forum and privately via the e-mail, I sent my bi-monthly e-mail status report request to my agent. About a week and a half went by and no response was forthcoming. By this time, with the dust from the online battle barely settling, I was now in a full "WTF!" frame of mind.

So, being in that particular frame of mind, I wrote a rather pointed one page letter (mistake #5). In it, I asked a few key questions:

From what you’ve told me so far, I have about three rejections of my manuscript. Have all of these been outright rejections, or have they been rejections coupled with advice on how to fix the manuscript? Are the publishers actually reading the manuscript, or are they simply rejecting it sight unseen? With only a few rejections received over the course of eight months, is this normal for this particular time frame? Lastly, is there a realistic chance that this manuscript will be sold in the next few months?

I mailed this bad boy off the next day, October 23rd, and anxiously waited for an answer...

Monday, June 2, 2008

"The Topix Jungle": Chapter 4 (The Pub)

And so it came to pass, that on June 12, 2007, a tiny little chat thread called, "Ye Olde Village Pub" was born.

Small at first, it soon had people migrating to it, from far and wide. My two chat thread threads, Chat Room Rage and Cult of Personality (see chapter 3 for links), basically died from the mass exodus to this one. All of the people who will be featured to a degree in this guide, originated and blossomed here in this thread: Matt from Akron, PaisleyPosey, A Bug and A Wish, Rods 1 Hitesrunprinces, Rotor Head and Billy R, just to name a few.

Created by Rotor Head, the first hardcore members to post there were HRP, Paisley and Bug. I eventually came tripping by, and Matt came along about a month or so later I believe. Soon the thread took on a life of its own, hitting about 200 posts a day. We started, or I should say, they started a few gags that even 15 months later, they remain a source of pride and very good inside jokes. To name a just a few:
  • Grape Rocket Fuel: This was a mixture of grape kool aide and some kind of liquor, designed to lift one's spirits and make one blotto at the same time.
  • Sean Connery: Apparently, some of the woman found Sean Connery sexy. So when someone said "Sean Connery", they went "ooooooh, Sean Connery, ".
  • Goats: Goats became the defacto mascot for YOVP. All kinds of goat jokes were told.
  • Melons: Yes melons. I really don't need to explain this, do I?

So as you can see, everyone got along with everybody. The camaraderie and the humor was second to none. We quickly became a very united front whenever a troll appeared and tried to make nasty on the thread or nasty against one of us. Said troll was dispatched with ease.

As the case with most popular things, cracks imperceptibly began to form in the facade. The first signs of trouble began at the end of June, when HRP took a business trip to Chicago and the inmates decided to run the asylum...

Why We Broke Up!

She told me we couldn't afford Budweiser beer anymore and I'd have to quit drinking.

Then I caught her spending:
$65 on make-up,
$150 for a cut & color,
$30 for a manicure,
$40 for a pedicure,
$50 on vitamins,
$300 on clothers,
and $600 for a gym membership.

I asked how come I had to give up stuff and not her. She said she needed it to look pretty for me.
I told her that was what the Budweiser was for.

I don't think she's coming back.

"Why yes, I do have a sense of humor, why do you ask?"

As I mentioned previously, I have an incredibly warped sense of humor. My friends realize this, and have sent me various types of e-mails over the years. Some clean, some dirty, some that left me shakin' my head, saying, "WTF?" (Trust me kids, you really don't want me to explain chat room language, now do you?)

Anyways, I like to share a few of them with you people out there. Please note that all of the clean ones that I share with you, come from former co-workers in the academic world (library to be more precise). Some of the humor from there is somewhat historical in nature, due to the fact that I spent about 7 years of my government career working at a state library.

This one's entitled "157 Years Ago This Week"

Did you know what happened this week back in 1850, in California, 157 years ago?

California became a state.
The State had no electricity.
The State had no money.
Almost everyone spoke Spanish.
There were gunfights in the streets.

So basically, it was just like California is today, except the woman had real breasts and the men didn't hold hands.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

"You wrote a book? Really?" (Part 2)

...so off I went, entering my manuscript in a contest or two (as well as some short stories, which in hindsight, shouldn't have been entered for at least another year), and also submitting it to a couple of publishers that I found listed in the reference guide I mentioned previously.

A few weeks went by, and I received a response to an e-mail query from a publisher, saying that they were interested and wanted to see my manuscript. Excitedly, I made a copy and shipped it off. While I was waiting for a response, I let a few of my friends know that I was going to be published. A couple of them asked who, and I told them. One, who was a former boss of mine, was kind enough to do some research on this particular publisher (Publish America), and what she found out for me, basically gave me some serious food for thought. Suffice to say, after getting a copy of a contract, reading it carefully and reading a few of the links my friend gave to me, I decided to pass on this publisher.

Note: Writer's Digest has a policy of delisting publishers when viable, multiple complaints are made against them. So far as I know, this publisher was delisted in the 2007 guide and has not been listed since.

The next day after I was given a contract offer by this particular publisher, I received a written response from an agency that was running a contest for manuscripts, called The Eaton Literary Agency. They read my manuscript and found it have "commercial potential". They also felt that it needed some editing work, so the first thing that they did (for a fee), was a nine page detailed breakdown of what was wrong and what was right with it. They also offered me a basic contract, with the proviso that no extended notice needed to be given by either party to terminate it. In other words, one could send off a brief e-mail/fax/letter to the other, and that would be that.

So, after getting the detailed breakdown, they offered (for a very large four digit fee) to have the manuscript professionally revised, so that it would meet their standards before they started shopping it around. After discussing it with family and friends, I took out a small personal loan (still paying off) and buried one of my credit cards, and took the plunge.

By February 2007, I had gotten the manuscript back and briefly took a look at it (mistake #1). After making a few minor editorial suggestions (mistake #2), I gave my final approval and my permission to start submitting it on my behalf...

"You wrote a book? Really?" (Part 1)

Yes Virginia, I wrote a book. Still amazes me that even two years later, whenever I tell family and friends about the progress of the book I had written, this is the basic response and conversation I get from them:

"You wrote a book? Really? How interesting! What's it about?"
"Contemporary romance. Strong woman, weak man. Dual plotted as the lead male character works out his emotions by putting them to paper, which turns into a novella. Some sex and some violence."
"Interesting."
And the conversation usually dies down, until the topic is changed to Why did you write a book? Then the silence on my part becomes absolutely deafening, because for the most part, I can't really come up with a good explanation as to why I wrote the book. So I tell people that I was going through some problems at work, and I needed something to do as a distraction. And for the most part, it's accepted at face value.

I started it in December 2005. For reasons that I won't elaborate on, the words poured out with ridiculous ease. I would get up very early (about 4) and quietly make my way downstairs to the basement where I kept my laptop. For the next hour or so, I would quietly hack away on my book, usually at the pace of about three to five pages for the mornings (and about five to ten at night, when I worked on it after work). By March 2006, I had sixteen chapters totaling a little under 200 pages written. After some judicious editing, I had gotten the page count down to about 195.

Around May/June, being the overconfident individual that I was (and still to this day), I began to give serious thought on getting this thing published. Not really having a clue on how to go about doing that, I did what any smart person who was stuck for an answer to a question: I went to the public library. Perusing the "New Titles" shelf, I found a book by Ken Atchity (which I highly recommend) called How to Publish Your Novel: A Complete Guide to Making the Right Publisher Say Yes.

After reading this thing from cover to cover and taking more than a few notes, I started off on trying to get my foot into the door of the publishing industry. The first step was acquiring a book that was referenced multiple times (and again, one I highly recommend to anyone who is serious about getting published) called Novel & Short Story Writer's Market, a very good annual publication produced by Writer's Digest.

After gaining a copy of this book and reading a few chapters, I followed their basic advice of entering my work into a few contests. They say the easiest way of getting noticed is winning a few contests, and I thought, "This should be simple. Win a contest, get published."

But as the old saying goes, nothing is as easy as it seems to be at first glance....

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) 2008-16 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