Friday, June 29, 2012

Happenings In The Outhouse 29-June-2012 / Ed Gein's influence still lives on

Last week, I had an epiphany.  Not really an epiphany but a great idea for a story--a novella, from what I see right now.  A few weeks ago, I watched both the 2003 version of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and the 1974 version.  Of course, knowing where the origin of these movies came from, I just had to watch a few documentaries on the twisted life of Ed Gein.

Inspired by these tales is a horror novella I'm titling "Guest of Honor."  This novella will have to wait until after Beholder's Eye is completed, and my plan right now is to write it and just put it out there, either for free or available on the Amazon Kindle--now that I know how to do the latter.

Speaking of Beholder's Eye, I'm done with chapters 28-30, bringing the completion percentage up to 65%.  Chapter 29 was a long one (so much so that I began to wonder why, as it dealt with a possible suspect and his upbringing, and then I came to the decision that he'll pop up later in the story too when they discover he is not the UNSUB).

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Take A Break

Nobody can work 24/7 without needing a break.  If you ever feel run down and have worked hard for a number of days, take a break.  You deserve it.

Let's say you've cranked out 15-20 pages a day for the last two weeks.  You get to page 250, right at the beginning of what could be the third act of your novel, and you're exhausted.  Take the night off.  Rent a movie.  Go for a drive and take your significant other out to dinner.  Celebrate.

Breaks are necessary or else you'll burn-out.

You could even try daily naps.  Michael Hyatt recently blogged as well as had a podcast on the secret power of naps.  Definitely worth a read and listen.  Now, he didn't tell you to take a 2 hour nap, but a 15-20 minute power nap.  On the weekends, I find myself wanting to nap for a few minutes in the afternoon.  Sometimes I do it, sometimes I don't.

What do you do for breaks?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Writing Prompt Wednesday - Episode #29

You attend a writing convention, where the guest speaker is your favorite author--this person can even be deceased, so stretch your imagination a bit here.  This author takes questions from the audience, then points at your and asks, "If you had one question to ask me, what will it be?"

Happy writing!

When was the last time you did something daring?

Can you answer that?

When was it, that you ever did something daring?

Or, it's possible, that you've never done anything daring.  Well, what are you waiting for?  It's about time you did.

Don't wait until you're on your deathbed to say, "Oh, I wish I would've _____________________."  Because, by then, it's too late.

Want to do something daring?  Start that book?  Start that business?  Ask someone out who you're attracted to?  Whatever it is, make the commitment to do it.  If it doesn't turn out alright, at least you know the outcome instead of agonizing for hours or days or weeks or months or even years.  At least you had the guts to try.

A few months back, I did something daring by self-publishing an ebook on the Amazon Kindle titled 99 Ways To Have A Memorable Wedding On A Shoestring Budget.  For those who know me, this may seem odd for me to write, since I mainly write thriller, fantasy, or horror genre fiction.  This is my first detour into the nonfiction world.  I may not have ever planned a wedding myself, but I've attended several and have read lots of books, articles, and blogs on the subject over the 15 years since our wedding.  This is my daring thing.  Well, just one.  Every single day that I write anything I'm doing something daring.

What are you waiting for?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Where Do I Get My Ideas?

This isn't a blog about where I think ideas come from.  Instead, there are a lot of mundane chores/tasks I do that are a breeding ground for ideas--at least for me.  Here they are:

 - Driving

 - Mowing the lawn

 - Washing dishes

 - Going to the bathroom (this is usually limited because I typically read while doing this)

 - Folding clothes

 - Eating

 - Taking a bath/shower

 - Listening to music (this is typically for classical or soundtrack music--think John Williams here--but I've been known to listen to hard rock from time to time)

 - Trying to fall asleep

This isn't mutually exclusive, but it gives you an idea (no pun intended) of where I've come up with ideas for stories.

Do you have any special places where story ideas have sparked up?

Monday, June 25, 2012

What is your BHAG?

Without a goal to aim for, what are you shooting for?

Jim Collins, who wrote books such as Built to Last and Good to Great, said that what distinguishes great companies from simply good ones is that the great ones have what he calls a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal).

Apply this in your own life.  What goal are you trying to achieve?

Think big.  Seriously.

"Okay, Mark, I want to be the world's greatest quarterback.  I'm already a quarterback for my high school team, so I want to be the best."

This would be that person's BHAG.

In October 2011, I wrote a blog centered around the short-sighted goal of JFK and NASA.  Now, in one instance, landing a man on the moon is a decent BHAG.  No arguments there.  But once it was achieved, they should've gone on to the next step.  Mars, anyone?

What is your BHAG?  Write it down.  Don't worry about how you're going to achieve it.  Just write it down, believe that you can do it, and the how will come to you.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Happenings in the Outhouse 22-June-2012 / Can't say I have nothing to do

This week, I've been delving deeper and deeper into chapters 28-30.  I've even taken out large chunks of the story which didn't seem to add any to the story but at the time I wrote them I wanted them in.  Funny how that is, that you may love something you wrote so long ago, only to find that it doesn't enhance your story at all.

I will note here that although chapter 30 is fairly short at three pages, chapter 29 (I take on a different POV entirely, delving into a possible suspect and his past) is eleven.  My average page length is around six pages.  This is not a hard and fast rule for me (James Patterson is the King of the Short Chapter - whereas almost 100% of his chapters are 2-3 pages - I might add I did read a 5 page chapter once and nearly fell off my chair).

On Wednesday was our writers' group meeting--our writers' group is called Permanent Ink--but no one was able to be around for it except me.  Our group has been together, in our small community, for nine years now.  Only two of us remain from the original group, and what an eclectic sort we've had in that time, from world-class poets and playwrights to Christian inspirational writers and fantasy novelists.  All of us have aspired towards publication, and the other original member Evelyn has had numerous smaller pieces published, along with a weekly column in our local newspaper and is a very accomplished speaker.  The past few sessions we've discussed either self-publishing her work or finding an agent/publisher.  She has a mountain of material that I know would make her a smashing success.

Speaking of writers, I want to add this cute little video.  My daughter wrote a little story called "When Mom Came Back" which was inspired by her mother finally coming home after spending most of last year in Rochester, MN, battling Acute Myeloid Leukemia.  Enjoy!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

"I Do"

I remember the first moment I saw my wife.  It was one of the first days of class at Bemidji State University, my 3rd year, and I was walking along the sidewalk from Oak Hall towards Hagg-Sauer Hall.  From around the corner of Walnut Hall, where the cafeteria and campus security were located, this short girl with dark bob-style hair came out--oh, what a smile she had!

Not sure if she said hi to me or not.  She probably did, and the chicken that I was, I thought this girl just had to have a boyfriend.  In November, just after the Thanksgiving break, I saw her working as a dispatcher for the campus security.  My friend Mike and I saw her, and he said, "I'm going to see if she wants to go to a movie."

Heartbroken, I went up to the cafeteria, knowing that this dark-haired beauty would be on a date with my friend that weekend.

But when Mike came up a few minutes later, he said, "She shot me down."

Turns out, she didn't.  She told me (months later) that he didn't even ask her out.  She wasn't even sure what he asked her.

After supper that November day, I went down to see if I had the nerve to talk to her.  I saw another friend of mine from Tae Kwon Do was also working, so I went in to see if I could strike a conversation up with her.

We talked for probably thirty to forty minutes.  She grew up about 90 minutes from where I did, and she talked about a lot of the same people I knew and went to high school with.  This moment didn't spark an immediate date request from me (that didn't happen for months and months later, because, like I said, I was a chicken), but we slowly became friends.

The reason I bring this up today is because, fifteen years ago today, we got married.  And what better way to celebrate than to . . . write a blog about it!

Happy Anniversary Melissa!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Writing Prompt Wednesday - Episode #28

You're walking out into a near-deserted parking lot when someone suddenly appears beside you. This person says they're from the future--and they bear a strange resemblance to . . . you.   A much older you.  They request that, instead of your usual route home, you take an alternate route. They're unable to tell you why.  There is also something strikingly different about this possible future you.

Happy writing!

Stop making excuses

What's keeping you from trying to fulfill your dreams?

Whatever it is, make the decision to not tell yourself why you can't do something.  Tell yourself how you can.

Stop making excuses for not even trying.

As the words of the 900-year old Yoda: "Do.  Or do not.  There is no try."

Do it today.  Draw a line in the sand and tell yourself it can be done.  Dream of ways of how you can achieve those dreams.

Then, if a negative thought creaps into your head, smash it into the ground and tell it to stay away, you've got business to attend to.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

There's more than one way to edit a novel

As the old saying goes, "There's more than one way to skin a cat."

And, in writing, there is more than one way to edit a novel--or just plain edit your story in general.

Keep in mind, these are my techniques.  They may be similar or a far cry from your methods.  Don't worry.  Your way may be just fine, if it works for you.  If you want to explore other avenues of editing, feel free to try these out.

A few years ago, my editing consisted of taking the entire novel, reading each chapter 3-4 times, and only when I was at the end of the novel did I go back and make the necessary changes to the hard copy.  This was a long and tedious process, thereby taking the better part of a year just to get through one round of editing.  When the editing round was complete, I'd usually have to do it all over again.  Either that, or I'd go on to another book, thinking the one I just completed was fine for publication.

Was I wrong!

How I do it now is similar, but with a simple twist: instead of taking an entire novel at a time, I take 2-4 chapters (they need a common thread or else I'll just do the chapter by itself) and thorough read each scene within a chapter at least 3 times before moving on--this was a technique borrowed from the late and great John Gardner.  When the chapters were complete, I'd make the necessary changes, print the hard copy of those chapters, and start the process all over again with those same chapters until very few changes were made.

I don't move on until those chapters are as good as I can foresee.  By editing this way, I dig deeper into a scene and add (or remove) things that need to be changed.  With each read, I seem to dig deeper and deeper into the scene or chapter.  I may find that on the third read, I huge chunk needs to be taken out.  That's okay.  After reading it that many times, I dig deep enough to see what way is the best for the novel.

Do you have any special editing techniques you'd like to share?  How different are they from mine?  Please comment on your methods below.

Monday, June 18, 2012

J. D. Salinger makes headlines again

It's been a little over two years since his death at 91, and J. D. Salinger is still making headlines.  Or, rather, a political move caused him and his family to be.

As had been reported everywhere, Matt Salinger fought hard for two years to help keep his father's identity protected and not exploited, and the New Hampshire Governor vetoed such a bill.  I scanned through a number of these articles, which all stated the same thing.  Now, I'm not going to debate the intimate details of the vetoed bill, nor am I going to get political.  What I am doing is somewhat siding with the Governor on this one.  But for reasons other than political, if I can pull it off.

I didn't read J. D. Salinger until after his death--sure, I read Catcher in the Rye in high school, but I didn't read it like I do books nowadays.  Salinger was a master storyteller, and also a master at crafting dialogue.

Salinger had a gift.  A gift for writing.  Now, if he wanted his privacy, he should've never published any of his stories in the first place.  But, in a way, that's being selfish, self-centered, and depriving the world of the fruits of his talented labor.  We all know he went into seclusion, and have heard the rumors that he has drawers and drawers of stories, many centered around the Glass Family--I pray that he does have these stories tucked away and that his family offers these fine gifts to the world; not in a way of making money but in a way of being generous and fulfilling our lives just a little more.

One of my favorite movies about writers and writing is the Sean Connery movie Finding Forrester.  When I read that it was possibly based loosely around the seclusive life of J. D. Salinger, I became even more fascinated by him.  The more and more I read about Salinger though, the more unlike the movie he became . . . but the movie is still great and inspiring in my opinion.  I'd love to run into someone like that one day, to have a mentor that so changed the world, so that I could learn from him or her.

If you have a gift, whatever it is, and don't share it, you are doing the world a disservice.  Also, I believe the price of fame and putting yourself out there for the world to see is that you cannot keep yourself in a secluded bubble.  I understand that the Salinger family wants to abide their father's wishes.  I can appreciate that.  But sharing his stories with the world is bound to have a positive impact on mankind for decades and centuries to come.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Down and Out in the Outhouse 15-June-2012

This week I started editing chapters 28-30 for Beholder's Eye.
I'm finding, like I had discovered before, that if I take 2-3 chapters at a time, I can get more done.  Not every writer is like this, I'm sure.  In the past, I've had several different editing techniques on how I handle chapters, which I'll cover in a blog next week.

Part of my week was distupted (in a nice way) by taking my 13-year-old son to Camp Sioux, in Park River, ND, which is a week-long camp geared towards children with diabetes.  My son has had diabetes since August 2001.  My youngest daughter (who is five and turning six next week) also has diabetes--type 1, which means they take insulin.  I don't believe this is a topic that I've covered before, and would seem odd in a blog centered mostly on the business of writing, but I'll add snippets on this from time to time.

Tuesday, our youngest daughter got to attend Camp Sioux's "Day Camp" which is for kids who have never been to camp to see what it's like.  It was a fun event.  Here is a video I shot of one of the counselors singing a rendition of Adam Sandler's "Hannukah" song.  I called it the "Diabetes Song" but I also see it's called "Diabetica."

Sorry that it seems to be sideways - not sure how to get it turned.  Oh, yeah, I was holding it that way.  I guess I'm still getting used to the new phone.

And here's Adam Sandler's original version.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Should you write for the market . . . or from your heart?

Over the past few decades, I've studied best-selling authors.  These are the ones who are super-successful, most becoming everyday household names.  Ask anyone if they know who these authors are: Stephen King, John Grisham, J. K. Rowling, J. R. R. Tolkien, Tom Clancy, James Patterson, Danielle Steel, Dr. Seuss.  In fact, here's a Wikipedia link to a list of the best-selling fiction authors and quite a number of them will jump out at you.

But what separates these authors from all of the others, the ones who also may earn a living writing?

I believe what the superstars do is write completely from the heart, iregardless of what the market is doing.  Not that I don't believe all of the others are also writing from the heart, but deep down they may be riding whatever trend is out there.

Take Stephanie Meyer.  There were plenty of vampire stories out there (i.e. Anne Rice), but she took it to another level and went somewhere vampire stories never had a home before: in the hearts of millions of teenage girls.  It didn't take long before grown women (and men) were reading Meyer's stories.  You could even say the same thing about Rowling and her successful Harry Potter series.  Harry Potter is a children's story . . . except that they're well-written and just plain fun to read.  Nowadays, walk around any book store and you will see tons of book covers that look like either Meyer's or Rowling's stories, because the publishing industry wants to capitalize on the other original idea.

At the genesis of Stephen King's writing career, when he was churning out stories for the . . . what he called the "titty magazines", he came up with the idea for Carrie.  Now, he did throw his first attempt in the trash and his wife Tabitha retrieved it, but he went back to it, not even knowing if it could sell.  He just wrote.  Then, it sold.  And he's been writing ever since.

I know, I know, I'm probably not painting a very good picture of the hundreds of other successful writers out there, am I?  But, I have to admit, in listening to tons of other podcasts by these other writers, this is what they seem to talk about.  They talk about writing for the market instead of just plain writing for the love of writing.  It's possible with the advent of ebooks and self-publishing methods, these writers will stretch their wings and be daring, writing whatever is in their hearts.

I hope so.  Because there's plenty of room at the top next to King, Grisham, and Rowling.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Writing Prompt Wednesday - Episode #27

You're walking out into a near-deserted parking lot when someone suddenly appears beside you.  This person says they're from the future.  They request that, instead of your usual route home, you take an alternate route.  They're unable to tell you why.

Happy writing!

Summertime Blues

The weather warms up.

The kids are out of school.

Vacationing or camping seems to be the order of the day for many of our summers.

Don't put your dreams on hold during these summer months.  Use them wisely as before.  For myself, with the kids not in school, I find I actually have a little more time in the morning to write.  The flip-side are the nights.  With no school, and the point of darkness growing later and later, the bedtime hours for my children seems to keep stretching farther down the path.  Hours-wise, I seem to have the same amount because I work more in the mornings.

How about the weekends?  If you want, bring your laptop.  Or, do what I do, and print out pages of the chapters I'm working on and bring them with on your trip.  It may be a great conversation piece when you're sitting on a lawn chair, with 20-30 pages on your lap, and someone walks up to you and asks what you're doing.

"Working on my novel."

"Really?  Almost done?"

"I've got 200 done so far.  I think another 200 will finish it."

Be mindful of all your time, regardless of where you're at.  Don't come up with excuses not to do something.  Brainstorm ways in which you can still accomplish something.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

As a husband and father of three, I still have time to write

Like many of you out there, I am busy.  I am a husband and a father of three.

When do I have the time to write?

Like the previous post, I carve out small blocks of time everyday to spend on the craft of writing.  Typically, I'm up 1-2 hours before the kids do, and once they're in bed I spend another 1-2 hours.  Also, during the week at my full-time job, I spend both 15-minute breaks and 30-minute lunch writing.  So, given that, most days I spend 3-5 hours writing.

I've made a commitment to wake up earlier than anyone else.  Also, my children know that they have to get to bed at a certain time because Dad has work to do in his little office downstairs.  Now, once they're in bed, I do help my wife with washing dishes and washing/drying clothes and other cleaning tasks, and then she knows I'm off to go write.

Seems simple when I write it down like this, but trust me, it's difficult.  There always seems to be something to throw a monkey wrench into the mix, but the longer I keep working, the more I can get done.

What tips can you share on how you accomplish time management with an active family life?

Monday, June 11, 2012

How are you dividing up your 168 hours?

24 hours times 7 days equals 168 hours.

Everyone has this, no matter if you're a factory worker, a homeless person, an NFL quarterback, or even the President of the United States.  No one has more or less time than anyone else.

How are you dividing up your hours?

Do you spend hours on end watching mindless TV?

I know, I know, I seem to be picking on TV, but the truth stands that TV is a huge time-waster for many.  Does this mean one should never watch TV?  Absolutely not.  But limit it if you're working on something on the side (writing a novel or an ebook, for example).

I'm not a big sports fan, but many are.  Does that mean you have to watch every single baseball or hockey game that your team plays?  If you're that factory worker I mentioned at the beginning, who has a passion for playing the guitar and one day playing in a band, how much time are you going to devote to playing?

Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Outliers, talks about his story of successful people and discovered that, for those with a passion for what they were doing, after about 10,000 hours of doing something they achieved a high level of skill.  In other words, practicing something for 2-3 hours a day for 10 years will achieve the pinnacle 10,000 hour mark.

It all starts today.  Today is the best time to start down your road to success.  Don't wait until tomorrow.  Do it now.  It's not perfect, I know, and then again neither was Mozart's first symphony nor the Beatles' first gig together.

What are you waiting for?

Do it now.  Don't wait for ready and get set.  Just go!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Down and out in the Outhouse 08-June-2012

This week saw the completion of not one, but three chapters: 25-27.  This brings the completion percentage up to 62%

Chapters 26-27 were a bit of a challenge because they were short--three pages each to start with.  In working through each one, making sure I was showing where I could show, and expanding a few passages, 26 ended up with still 3 pages (but they're full pages whereas before it was a few sentences into the 3rd page) and 27 was at 4.

Here's something for fun--a catchy tune by Toby Keith, which has probably caused a huge sales spike in these little red drink containers.  I caught it one night when he was on Jay Leno, not knowing it was already a viral hit.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Violence in thrillers - how much is too much

How much is too much violence in thrillers?

This is completely subjective, and will vary from author to author.  The use of violence is a tool.  Some writers (and this is not just with thrillers writers) have to show every blow-by-blow, every punch or kick or knife strike.  Then, there are others who show virtually no such specific action.

In order to do it right, violence must serve a purpose.  But, do not underestimate the power of the reader's imagination.  I recently came to grips with this on chapter 25 of my thriller Beholder's Eye.  The chapter centers around a teenage girl, who is kidnapped by a serial killer.  The chapter ends with her death.  During the first draft, I showed her very violent, very bloody death.  After thinking about it, I ended with the butcher knife being raised above the killer's head.  It would serve no purpose to show her death because we actually see a similar death in chapter 2--I don't need to show it again.

Also, I liked the way the chapter ended, because it leaves the reader wanting more.

Read some of your favorite authors.  How do they deal with violence?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Writing Prompt Wednesday - Episode #26

Imagine you're given a choice of a superpower for one 24-hour day.  Write a scene in which it backfires on you.

Happy writing!

Showing vs. Telling - the conclusion

A few weeks ago, I posted a blog regarding an example of showing vs. telling from my thriller novel Beholder's Eye.  What I'm about to show you here--no pun intended--is the final edit to it.  This is the opening paragraph from chapter 25:

            Paulette Sampson pulls on the leather bindings securing her wrists and ankles, praying for any sign of give.  It’s no use.  No matter how many times she tries, thinking that this time it just has to work, that if she can just twist her wrists in such a way she could slip out, she finds the bindings are just too tight.

Much better, in my opinion, because it shows how Paulette is struggling to free herself, showing the action instead of telling you what the action is.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A spouse can help an artist have a life

Last year, with my wife down in Rochester, MN, battling acute myeloid leukemia, and me back at home taking care of our three children, I didn't do much except work, write, visit my wife every 2-3 weeks on the weekends (a 7-8 hour trip, one-way, mind you), and take care of my children.

When the kids were in bed, I wrote.  A lot.  Aside from that, I didn't do much else in the way of extra-curricular activities (okay, we did end up remodeling some of the house by taking out the carpet, etc, so that ate up much of the weekend time, and I also did the housework too--of what the kids weren't able to do).  One chore I got out of was mowing the lawn; our local boy scout troop helped us out in this regard, and kept our lawn neat and trimmed all summer long.  I usually like mowing, but then, with all the other chores to do, that was one job I was deeply thankful for the scout troop and leaders that they did.

The one thing I notice now that my wife is home is this: she helps me to have a life outside of my writing.

Spouses know when you need to work, and know when it's time to take a break.  It's good to have a break, because it rejuvenates your mental batteries.  And, sure, there are times when I'm diligently writing and I'm interrupted by my wife asking to solve some problem with the kids or to help her find something or to help wash clothes or vacuum the living room rug . . . or any number of things.  I'm usually irritated by the cessation of my work, but it's funny that during my assistance, I work out mentally the problem I'm writing about . . . and a new insight is shown.  Not all the time, but more times than not, I'm blessed by this vision.

Spouses, and children, also serve a deeper purpose for the artist.  They serve as the reason you are doing it.  If I didn't have a wife and family, and was living off somewhere all by myself, I'd be writing all the time.  But what would I be writing?  Even before we got married, my writing took on a life of its own, because I knew that I wanted to provide a better life than what a normal job could entail.  Prior to this, I didn't have any purpose, other than wanting to be rich and famous.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Where are the readers of my blog?

Today, I'm going to digress to thank everyone who's been reading this blog so far.  I must confess, I do scan the analytics quite often, and I'm utterly amazed at how widespread my messages have gone.  The top two countries--yes, I said countries--for readers is the United States of America and Russia.  Some weeks, Russia has more readers, the other week it's the USA.

Other countries I've noticed with a growing audience are:

United Kingdom








United Arab Emirates


And many more . . .

A huge shout-out and thanks to all of you.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Happenings In The Outhouse 01-June-2012 / Swordplay against procrastination

I'm probably like most people who battle the war against procrastination.  It's an ugly beast I work hard to defeat day-in and day-out.  This past weekend--a long weekend with the Memorial Day holiday thrown in for good measure--the only writing I accomplished were my blogs.

I did start reading two nonfiction books, however: the first is titled Willow in a Storm: A Memoir by James and Kathleen Taylor.  This book was published by Scarletta Press, and the publisher, Ian Graham Leask, actually visited our little library 2 years ago.  Oddly enough, the book resulted from a bank robbery that occurred in 1955 in a town about 20 miles from where I live, in Thief River Falls, MN.  It's a very good book, chronicling the life of Mr. Taylor and how he turned to a life of crime late in life.  Some chapters are a bit long and detailed but there are plenty of injustices done to Taylor that make you just shake your head at our justice system.  The second book is The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.  This one deals with those inner demons that us artists face everyday--he calls it Resistance.  Procrastination is my Resistance.

And it is one I fight with all the time--sometimes I win, sometimes the demons win.

Chapters 25 is on its final leg of editing, as well as the short chapters 26-27.  By next week, these three will be done.

Wednesday night was our writers' group meeting.  Even though there were only two of us, the conversation was very inspiring.  I read chapters 12-13 of Beholder's Eye.  Evelyn read one of her pieces she is inquiring about publishing.