Gosh, sorry for the…

Gosh, sorry for the delay guys. Wasn't my fault, though -- had weird server problems -- first with Mills and then with this web page.

Had a pretty good weekend and end of week. Am progressing on the recorder, with is very satisfying -- I really enjoy the medieval/renaissance/baroque music we're looking at. I still have three-four more fingerings to master before I can even play the basic stuff competently, but with patience. It's interesting to find that I have a *lot* more discipline for this sort of thing than I used to as a kid, practicing the piano. I remember I used to read a book while doing scales -- hardly the best way to pracice. I don't advise it -- my poor mother.

Weekend was pleasant in some ways -- had fun at a potluck and at the Hooker's Bazaar in San Francisco, and I spent many hours talking to friends. However, the reason I spent many hours talking to friends is that two of my friends have recently been dumped. :( They're not doing too well...wish I could be more helpful. There's never any good advice you can really give -- all I can do is try to be there for them so they don't feel quite so alone. Major bummer.

Finally got that Sizzle story written (two of them, actually). Thank god -- don't know why I was procrastinating so badly on that one. And with the help of a few friends, sketched out a plot outline for the space opera. Projects for this week -- write a few chapters of that, read The Sound and the Fury, write a chapter in the collaborative novel for my fiction class (the reworking of Agnes Grey), try to get another chapter written of Dreams, a poem for tomorrow (and a lot of critique), get ready for the party Friday.

Bought my plane tickets for Chicago -- hooray!!! (God, I miss Kev. I try not to think about it too much -- but it's like trying not to breathe -- too automatic to prevent, even if you wanted to. Sigh....okay, enough complaining.) Here's an early warning that I'll be gone from the 28th to the 10th of March. May get to do some entries in Chicago -- may not. Hard to predict.

Going to go make dinner -- "Impossible Cheeseburger Pie", according to the Bisquick box. :-) I'm using ground turkey instead of ground beef -- it'll be interesting to see how that changes the recipe. Usually works fine as a substitute (in meatloaf, for example), but occasionally I've run across recipes where it totally doesn't work (generally 'cause the turkey isn't glutinous enough -- doesn't hold a shape very well).

Hope you guys had a better weekend than my friends did. :(

Morning, everyone. …

Morning, everyone. Well, it looks like I'm probably okay on the tax thing. It's still a little unclear whether I mark the deuction on Form 1040A or Schedule C, but that will undoubtedly come clear in time.

Today (after class), I must write the Sizzle piece. If I do anything else, I am being very bad and must be admonished. Well, that plus breakfast.

Went contra dancing last night with some friends (Patti, Iver, Jim) and had a lot of fun. I am *so* out of shape, though -- I sat out about half the dances 'cause I just got exhausted. Still, they're talking about dragging me along more regularly, so I hopefully will be able to build up my endurance a bit. I can certainly use the exercise -- sitting in fron t of a computer is hardly good for me. Now, if they could devise a little computer that you could voice activate while you walked....actually, mental activation would be even better, 'cause you get out of breath when you're exercising (though I've ben told that means you're working too hard). In any case, when they finally get around to plugging our brains directly into the net with a mobile connection, I'm there.

Off to class...

1:10 - okay, had lunch, wrote the first Sizzle story. It ran kind of long, and it probably has a bit more characterization than they need, but oh well. :-) One more to go.

Hey, all. Well, I got…

Hey, all. Well, I got some possibly bad news -- that the tax info I got over the phone from the IRS may not be entirely accurate re: deducting tuitition. I just asked on misc.taxes.moderated -- a *very* useful newsgroup -- we'll see what they say. Nice people there.

Otherwise, life is good. Haven't had time to cook since this weekend (cooked a *lot* this weekend) -- which is a bit frustrating. May cook tonight -- may also go dancing. Trying to schedule it now -- we'll see what happens.

I sorta volunteered again. I should have my head examined. But it looks like in a while, misc.writing may split up a bit, and if so, they'll need some help. Again, wait and see sort of thing.

I have so many things 'in progress' right now -- it's frustrating. I'm very much a task-oriented person, and I like finishing tasks -- checking them off and feeling satisfied when they're done. This sort of vagueness -- just irritating. A little of it's my own fault, but a lot of it is being dependent on others. Why doesn't everyone check their e-mail hourly like I do, huh? :-)

As if I respond that promptly. :-)

Still, life is going moderately well. Had a late start to my day -- my roommate's parents are visiting and they took us out to brunch, which was very nice of them. But I promised the Sizzle people that I'd get them that story today, and I'm just not sure it'll get done. May have to defer to tomorrow, but NO LATER. If I haven't finished it by tomorrow, you must all yell at me. Understood? :-)

Okay, back to work. Have a good day, everyone.

2:30 -- poem for class

BURDEN TOO LONG CARRIED

It is never cold here, I remember. Ache rests
in these bones whispering changes too subtle
for youth. Rest, they tell me. Enough.

A sunny room in the west tower; weaving
to occupy my hands and the chatter of
girls to numb my careworn mind.

I remember when my mother sent me to him.
Too-dark skin and a broad flat nose,
young as these girls and full of silliness.

He beat it from me quickly. Silent --
I watched the others take my place,
a procession I was not allowed to mind.

My skin has dried and wrinkled in his house,
stretching thin as memory over fragile,
twice-broken bones and hope like dust.

And now the man is dead. And it would be
so easy. To rest among girls not afraid
of chattering and say that I have done enough.

It would be so easy.

*****
M.A. Mohanraj
February 5, 1997

Just too busy. Sorry,…

Just too busy. Sorry, guys.

Doing my taxes today, and had some very good news. I include the text below, in case any of you happen to be writers -- I recently posted this to misc.writing.


I'm just finishing my taxes -- this info might be helpful to you, *especially* if you're in graduate school for writing. You can call yourself a writer even if you made no sales last year, remember -- see bottom note for details.

This year, I get a $1100 refund. This is why:

a) I'm filing as a self-employed writer
b) I worked half the year and had pay deducted for taxes, then went to graduate school to get an MFA -- all of that pay is coming back to me.

What I deducted:

a) general supplies (paper, pens, stamps, envelopes, etc.)
b) books (all books I bought. yes, all of them.)
c) computer (I bought a computer in the fall -- keep in mind that computers depreciate over time, so if you've had yours a while, that gets complicated)
d) travel expenses to cons (I write sf/f and go to sf conventions. That's deductible - hotel and airfare)
e) meals at cons (didn't bother, but you can deduct 1/2)
f) tuition -- this is the big one. The key characteristics of getting to use this are: it can't be tuition needed to *maintain* your current job -- it must advance you; it can't be for a change in jobs. So if you're a writer already, and think you can make more money by getting an M.F.A., then it counts as professional development and you can deduct it.
g) textbooks, if you didn't already deduct them under b
h) moving expenses -- I moved from Philly to CA to attend grad school. A move that is at least 50 miles more than the distance you already travel to get to work is deductible if you moved for work-related reasons, as above. I haven't filled out this form yet (doing it today), so I'm not sure how much of the move is deductible. I'm assuming the airfare and shipping expenses.

To do all this, I filled out a 1040 (not A or B, since I took the $4000 standard deduction rather than itemizing separate non-writing deductions), and a Schedule C (Profit or Loss from Business). If you had a profit, you might be able to fill out a C-EZ instead -- very quick, but keep in mind that you must also fill out a SE - self-employment tax form. Also fairly simple, and remember if you do, that 1/2 of your self-employment tax is deductible (line 25 on the 1040). Doing my taxes took about 40 minutes, including 15 minutes on the phone listening to their recorded messages on educational expenses and moving expenses.

I hope all of that was clear -- if not, feel free to e-mail me about it. I'm not a tax wiz, but I've been filing as a writer for a couple of years now. Also keep in mind the following:

NOTE (added by a misc.writing person who corrected a mistake I had):
You must show a profit in 3 out of 5 years, or the PRESUMPTION changes from business to hobby. Your job, should you wish to accept it, is to overcome that presumption. The best way, of course is to show a profit. But there are other ways. Send out materials regularly, keep time logs showing frequent effort, do all the things someone really intent on making a living at that kind of work would do (whatever those things are). Also, to prove your efforts are taking a reasonable amount of time to show a profit, make a file of descriptions you run across of how long it took various authors to finish and find publishers for their books.

Your hopes of profit must be reasonable. Poets don't live off their poems, so your claim that you intend to is suspect. But novelists often take 4 or 5 years to finish a book, researched non-fiction can take even longer and still be a reasonable investment of time and money when compared with reasonably expected financial results.

The IRS publication on small business should have the current business/hobby rules spelled out.

Someone not yet commercially published might prefer to take no deductions until the day s/he finds a publisher for the first book, and then go back and do amended returns for the three prior years. The choice would be to give up possible deductions for the years in excess of three instead of taking the time to convince an auditor that those deductions are valid; but I have read that some authors have taken deductions for a dozen years and survived resulting audits.

*yawn* Hey, everyone. …

*yawn* Hey, everyone. Bit of a late start today -- stayed out late last night seeing Star Wars (amazing, wonderful, magnificent, etc!) and overslept this morning. Not so important since I don't have classes on Mondays, but it's 10:00, and I haven't even dealt with mail yet. Oh well.

It was a good weekend, full of friends and fun (birthday party for Cliff and Sherman Saturday night, poly meeting Sunday morning, then Star Trek), but rather exhausting. I'm pooped. Feel like I need a weekend to recover from my weekend. :-) But life is good, and interesting things are happening. Dale (publisher) just sent out a ton of releases about the book, so we'll see if that turns up anything. I found a cheap airfare to Chicago, so it looks like I definitely *can* go, hooray. I have a lot of work to do, but feeling fairly high energy, so we're hopeful.

On the negative side, my keyboard at home died. Argh.

I'm so tired of having computer problems. Cliff is supposed to fix my disk drive, but until he has time, I can't even install PPP on my main machine -- argh, I'm whining. Sorry. Never mind. I'm going to download PPP onto disks today from campus and take it home and put it on my laptop and see whether I can hook that up to the modem. If not, I'll only be able to log in from campus, which would be a severe limitation on my ability to accomplish anything.

I'd better get to work -- talk to you guys later...

Morning, everyone. I’m…

Morning, everyone. I'm a little confused this morning, as the music book which was supposed to be left in my mailbox by the woman I inadvertently stood up yesterday was not there. Guess I'll keep checking -- if it doesn't show, I'll see her at our 11:00 class.

Not much else to report -- last night I read half of the Cather, and then watched TV the rest of the night. Haven't done that in a long time, but I picked a good night, with a very interesting Babylon 5 episode (good thing I didn't catch on years ago to how good the show is or I would be utterly addicted and I don't have the time....) and a charming, if slightly heavy-handed DS9. The moment when Odo steps out onto the promenade...(if you saw it, you know what I mean, and if you didn't, I don't want to spoil it, so I'm being vague) near the end -- that was gorgeous. I knew *exactly* how he felt.... Also the bickering over the Kira baby was very amusing.

Hmmm...guess I'll putter around a bit more on-line and then go get some breakfast. I had planned to spend the next two hours in intensive practicing...but oh well.

9:45 -- Added a story, The Devouring Night and its review to my stories page.

1:00 -- Good class. I only was able to get the first five fingerings down before class, but I'm going to try really hard to learn them all by next Friday so we can play properly. It's very satisfying to realize that I can attain moderate competency on a new instrument much faster than normal at this point -- I hear much the same thing happens with languages -- that after your 4th or 5th language, you start picking them up much more quickly. I doubt I'll ever get to that point with languages (Tamil gone, Polish gone, Spanish going, sigh...) but I seem to have hit it with music, hooray. At least within genre (eg., I'm pretty safe with wind and percussion, but hopeless with anything stringed -- and even with wind, I don't really know how to cope with reeds -- not sure how hard that part is to pick up).

After class did my drop/adds (very last minute) and had lunch, then finished the Cather. Really liked it -- I'd read A Lost Lady years before, and all I remembered of it was that I ilked it and it was sad....The Professor's House had such startling moments of beauty in it -- was a real pleasure to read. I highly recommend it. (Also a fairly quick read -- her prose flows).

Feeling fairly lethargic now, and everything I have left to do involves a fair bit of drudge work (Sizzle story, interview editing, cleaning up and adding files to web pages).. I think I'm going to declare a holiday and go home early. Find something nice and fancy to cook for dinner, rent a movie to watch this afternoon -- generally be indulgent. Sherman's coming over for dinner at 8ish, and since his birthday was this week, I'm wanting to do something nice for him, so I think I'll spend some time cooking. (A big pile of dishes to do first, which isn't nearly as much fun. :-)

This weekend is a little busy -- Sherm and Cliff are having a small joint birthday party at my place tomorrow, and then there's a potluck on Sunday at brunch and a baroque concert I hope to attend at 4:00. I hope to get back to you guys, but you know how it goes -- if I don't talk to you, have a good weekend, and I'll see you all Monday.

When drudgery and care impose themselves,
Each request and promise a feather turned to brick,
Even the strong and stalwart plead for
Kind relief. What wise soul first decreed an
Ending to weekly trials? ...with Sunday comics,
Naps and leisurely brunch -- time to arrange flowers,
Dogs curled at your feet, and a stack of good books nearby.

*grin* Okay, silly, I know. But a five-minute poem, just for you.

Hey, guys. Sleepy. …

Hey, guys. Sleepy. First thing in the morning. I wanted to type in one of the letters before I left for class, so here goes - more of the regular journal later.

Evelyn Waugh to Laura Herbert, 1936

"Tell you what you might do while you are alone at Pixton. You might think about me a bit & whether, if those wop priests ever come to a decent decision, you could bear the idea of marrying me. Of course you haven't got to decide, but think about it. I can't advise you in my favour because I think it would be beastly for you, but think how nice it would be for me. I am restless & moody & misanthropic & lazy & have no money except what I earn and if I got ill you would starve. In fact its a lousy proposition. On the other hand I think I could do a Grant and reform & become quite strict about not getting drunk and I am pretty sure I should be faithful. Also there is always a fair chance that there will be another bigger economic crash in which case if you had married a nobleman with a great house you might find yourself starving, while I am very clever and could probably earn a living of some sort somewhere...."

11:45 -- hey, I'm back. Oof, big foofaraw going on in misc.writing, one of my favorite newsgroups. Someone suggested splitting it up, and everyone got upset. I actually think it might be helpful, but I doubt it'll pass as everyone is so sure it'll 'destroy the newsgroup'. Sillies. It certainly could -- but whether it does or doesn't is entirely in their hands. If you're curious, I'll be posting a long opinion on it in there soon.

Otherwise, lots of work, don't want to do it. :-/ I got kinda mopey last night and ran up my phone bill making friends talk to me until I cheered up. :-) Just general blues -- there was nothing actually wrong. You know how it goes sometimes. I'm tired, I'm lonely, I have no friends, nobody loves me, I'm fat and ugly and I can't write. Etc. and so on -- same old crap everyone gets at times and you know it isn't true -- you even know it right then, but that doesn't seem to help. What's worst is when you can't actually reach any of your friends *and* you have nothing to read. :-) Luckily, wasn't true last night and I'm fine now...

Better stop babbling at you all and get back to work -- I've got mild money worries, but lots of contracts, so if I just do the writing, I'll be fine. Wanna help me with ideas for a space opera? I need to sketch out a plot for my next Puritan novella -- Triple-Breasted Whore of Eroticon VI-type stuff, though perhaps not *quite* so obvious. I'm tempted by Galaxy Janet, she's the Galaxy girl....but I already wrote a story for Puritan with a heroine named Janet, so I'd better go with something else.

3:45 -- Okay, on the one hand I was really good this afternoon -- finished Agnes Grey, dealt with a lot of e-mail, and polished off the 'Selene' dom interview and sent it to the erotica group for comments. Good. Virtuous me. On the other hand, I totally flaked on a 2:00 meeting with this girl who was going out of her way to loan me her beginning recorder book so I could memorize the fingerings so I could play duets with her in a beginning performance group this semester. Eek. Have to go home in a bit and live a very apologetic message on her answering machine, if she has one. I have to say, that's one thing I really like about voice mail/answering machines -- if you need to say something difficult, they make life much easier. They're especially good for apologies when you're feeling really wimpy. Anyway, win some, lose some -- I think today's a net positive. I have a lot of reading to do this weekend, as I plan to read by a book by my professor for the Fiction class and The Professor's House, the Cather book for the other Fiction class. I'm awfully tempted to spend this evening vegged out in front of the tv, though -- really tired. We'll see.

Darn, I meant to type in…

Darn, I meant to type in another of those love letters today, but I forgot to do it this morning and now I'm on campus. Oh well -- maybe I'll remember tomorrow.

So out of my objectives for yesterday, I a) sorta wrote/sorta found a piece for fiction class, and b) researched the poetry. Wasn't actually much on the net -- will have to hit an actual library. :-) Didn't do the Sizzle thing, so that rolls over to today, and must also read Agnes Grey for fiction class (was supposed to have it read for yesterday but hadn't realized, oops.) Other things waiting -- domme interviews to rework, write some journal entries on Hemingway, finish mail (getting there), read the next book for my fiction class, and write a poem by 4:00 for poetry class. Think I'll attempt something in the ghazal style that I could possibly use for the novel. Would help if I had a definition of what a ghazal was -- all I have are some examples, and they are entirely unclear, but they appear to have been the predominant style in Mughal India (and to this current day).

Not much chatty to report...plans proceeding apace for combined Cliff/Sherman birthday party this coming Saturday, as well as preliminary plans for the St. Valentine's Day Massacre Cabaret and Speakeasy.... (I dislike Valentine's Day intensely, so every year I throw a party designed to give me and my friends something else to do. :-) Since I come from Chicago, having it be the St. Valentine's Day Massacre party was an easy step. I encourage all of you to copy the idea -- maybe someday *this* will be the predominant way of celebrating the holiday, rather than with Hallmark cards.

3:25 -- Well, did some research on airfares -- I can recommend Expedia (find them through Yahoo). Miss Kevin tons so am going to try to scrape up the money to go visit at the end of February. Would go sooner, but too busy with other commitments. Read about half of Agnes Grey, but that's really all I accomplished. Sleepy...hope I make it through this class. Hmmm...not much else to report. Going to take in "Emotion Triumphs Over Form" for teacher to look at -- was very definitely in a non-writing mood. Down to 9 mail messages!

Good morning! It’s a…

Good morning! It's a gorgeous day today -- not that the weather has been nearly as bad as what my friends in Chicago are experiencing, but it has been rather cold and rainy (yes, I like rain, but I prefer warm rain, which doesn't seem to happen out here. And thunderstorms, also sadly lacking) here. Today is bright and crisp and spring-like, and while it's way too early for spring, I can enjoy it anyway (and pretend :-).

Fairly satisfying day so far. Woke up early and came in to campus -- managed to work for an hour before my first class, and put together a synopsis of "Dreams" for my fiction class later today. Also printed out a copy of the entirety (148 pages and counting) and put it on reserve at the library in case anyone is completely enraptured by the synopsis. :-) Hmm...in case you're curious, I think I'll post it here. Warning -- it'll likely change a fair bit more before final publication -- it needs to at least double in length. And it's not really a synopsis -- more of a teaser. :-)


Synopsis of Dreams by Lamplight (working title)

This novel is told from several major points of view, switching between them. It's probably easiest to give you several separate synopses, from each major character's point of view. Aside from the personal level, it is also a tale of political conflict, so a brief history of the two main countries involved in this first novel (it will probably be a trilogy eventually, involving at least one other country) is probably in order.

The tale starts in Ranek, and moves back and forth between that country and Liella. The countries are very loosely based on India and Pakistan, and the setting is based on the Mughal era in our own history (a time of maharajahs, decadence, luxury and slavery). It is a fantasy novel, though without many of the characteristic elements of fantasy -- no elves, no dragons, no wizards. Instead, it is intended to be more along the lines of the magical realist tradition -- with folk tale and myth and everyday miracles and the presence of multiple gods blending (hopefully) seamlessly into the storyline.

Ranek -- the southern country, ruled by a mad Maharani (queen), Genea. A land of poison and intrigue, of sweltering heat and months of monsoon rain, of great luxury conjoined with leprosy, plague and poverty, where the "auction block was one of the gathering places of the city, where the rasas and their servants mingled with filthy beggars and holy men, immaculate Keshtiri fabric brushing against running sores and truncated limbs." A plethora of gods rule over the land, and it is the home of...

Radhika -- a young girl whose memory has been stolen, sold into slavery and trained as a high-class whore, a geisha-equivalent. Though rather bewildered at the beginning, she quickly resolves to escape. Not as easily as she had hoped, after some years she does escape to the north with the help of...

Daniv -- ambassador from Liella. A man somewhat out of his depth in the intrigues of the court, he would much rather spend his days working with the soil on his estate, yet his noble position and affection for King Nolan have sent him south to investigate the murder of Queen Kierstena and dance attendance on...

Genea -- mad, bad, and totally unpredictable. A woman with insatiable appetites and immense power, she keeps her rasas (princes) on their toes, especially...

Menna -- a woman who by virtue of her wit and courage has risen to the position of prince, and must now walk a precarious line to maintain that position -- or lose her head. She grows increasingly troubled by the insanity of Genea, and her friendship with Daniv eventually leads her to a traitorous offer of alliance with...

Liella -- the cool northern country, whose monotheistic people still grieve for the loss of their queen, recently lost to a southern poison. Nolan is determined to avenge his wife's death, and is stirring up his people for war. Of course the war is entirely for honor and vengeance -- it couldn't possibly have anything to do with economic reasons, or the machinations of the gods, one of whom controls...

Amesty -- a young poet and singer, accompanied by Arjun who loves but doesn't understand her. Raised in the house of Am'kele, the god of love, she falls further and further into madness herself.


That's it. Sound like fun? It is -- I'm enjoying it immenseley. Very frustrating at points, of course, but nonetheless, fascinating. I don't remember if I've talked to you guys about this -- I was very stuck on this novel for a while. Grad school has, as I'd hoped, unstuck me, and given me lots of cool new ideas for it. It has also turned the darn thing from a slim novel to the beginning of a trilogy -- ah well.

Good class this morning -- still discussing Hemingway. I really liked a story of his called "The End of Things". "Cat in the Rain" was also pretty good...not going to go into detail about them 'cause I'm a bit talked out on Hemingway right now. :-)

So the plan for today is a) write 3-5 new pages on the novel for 2:30 class (not essential, as I do have some new material I can use, but it would be good to write more, of course), b) do some research on ancient Indian poetry, as I want to use some in the novel. Originally I was going to write my own...but I don't know that I can really simulate the style I want very well. We'll see., c) write the new Sizzle story. This set of photos centers around a garage, oh excitement. :-) Oh, and try to get through a bit of e-mail -- it's starting to pile up again.

That's about it for now -- off to work. Have a good day, y'all.

12:30 -- This is too, too funny. The Sexuality Pet Shop Sketch

1:45 -- Have a copy of my book? Want to help publicize it? Try writing a review of it, and submitting it to various magazines, etc. Here's one good site -- the INDOlink book reviews. Thanks!

Hello, everyone. …

Hello, everyone. Nothing exciting in my life to report (bought a tablecloth and some napkins and a pillow today, oh excitement (actually, it was strangely satisfying. :-)). Instead, I think I'll type in something I just read....I bought a book of love letters today, and some of them are just gorgeous. It's impossible to avoid the thought of Valentine's Day (how I loathe that holiday), so I can at least indulge it in literary fashion. Hope you enjoy...

Alfred de Musset to George Sand (1833)

My dear George,
I have something stupid and ridiculous to tell you. I am foolishly writing you instead of telling you this, I do not know why, when returning from that walk. Tonight I shall be annoyed at having done so. You will laugh in my face, will take me for a phrase-maker in all my relations with you hitherto. You will show me the door and you will think I am lying. I am in love with you.

Alfred de Musset

(I admit it, it's true, I'm a hopeless romantic....)