be sure to check out Joan's latest on her website:

be sure to check out Joan's latest on her website: (usually she updates her blog every Sunday evening but she can and will surprise you) **Special Note: all of Joan's archives are now up--almost ten years of 'bitter girl.' As Joan says, go wild!**

Friday, April 23, 2010


or Snoopy at the beach (again, left-click each picture once and after it resets left-click it again to see the largest version). My girl Alexis at S & P e-mailed me that she's trying to confirm "the 50 companies in the S & P 500 with the highest concentration of shares held by short sellers rose 59.6 percent last year versus 23.5 percent for the entire index." This seems to be the point of contention. I'm calling AP later on in the morning because of the lack of attribution in the article. Now it's still dark out but yesterday, as you can see, it was beautiful at the beach. I'm going back Saturday. I've been doing a lot of polishing on the sequel. I think both books are finally ready. Meanwhile, the property management office for my home owners' association called me because they can't find my check along with a bunch of others. My supervisor for the census job also called to confirm my training. The cooordinator for the finance academy where I want to student teach also e-mailed back, saying that now is crazy but after May 1st should be better. Is fate scheming? Does Murphy's law rule the universe? Time will tell.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Short Selling Article

from the Associated Press. No byline. Dated February 4, 2010. "Sell in May and go away." Have a nice summer--see you in the Fall. (clockwise from the top, HZO is MarineMax, HOT is Starwoods [or Sheraton, actually], GAP is the parent company of A&P supermarkets, DE:TBE is Talbots in Germany on the DAX exchange, DE:HAR is Harley-Davidson on the DAX, HOG is Harley-Davidson on the NYSE and TLB is Talbots) Will you still love me in September? Or will I lose you to a summer's night? Have a good time, but remember--there is danger in the summer moon above.
Guess what today is, students of history? It's Hitler's birthday. Or as he was affectionately known in German 1 when I was in 10th grade, Schicklegruber. Hm. The plot thickens.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Florida Writers Association Literary Competition

Since you have chosen to defend these two, allow me to provide chapter and verse to illustrate what I am referring to. Judge number 6 writes, "Your beginning paragraphs seem to be totally divorced from paragraphs immediately following." If this judge had read the synopsis that preceded the partial manuscript, he or she would have understood why that is. The same judge writes later, "Although this story is science fiction and allows room for vivid imagination, the plot itself is not unified and jumps from topic to topic. For example, there are jumps from information about the holographic hands of a watch to distractions in school to her mother and father; to Swaziland to CIA to HIV/AIDS to military transports--all within one paragraph." The military transports mentioned in the narrative are actually in the next paragraph, not the same paragraph. Later on the same judge writes, "Use of slang generally detracts from the maturity of your writing. Avoid words and phrases such as: joint, tech guy, shut up, canned the small talk, sack time, get her plastered, spill what she knows, yeah, bunch acting, bad guys, didja really think, hey, many a jam, et al. throughout the entire manuscript." The maturity of my writing? This I consider tantamount to calling me juvenile. I do not consider 'tech guy' to be slang--this is a military science fiction novel and this is how people talk in the military--with jargon. If I replaced 'tech guy' with 'computer technician expert,' have I really added value to the story in any meaningful way? When I was in school, I was taught economy matters--saying the most with the fewest words. It's obvious to me that this judge neither reads nor enjoys any kind of science fiction, if he or she is so easily confused. What was someone so unsophisticated and uninterested in science fiction doing judging or critiquing such? Your other judge, number 18, writes similarly, "The opening is a bit confusing. Why the underlining in the opening paragraphs? This goes against the grain of many editors." Again, if this judge had read the synopsis, he or she would understand why the beginning is the way that it is. Later, this same judge writes, "The writer tends to skip around from one topic to another, sometimes within the confines of one paragraph. Both Sim and John are slipping into backstory, which is confusing. The synopsis tells of a very convoluted plot. The writer would benefit from reading "Plot and Structure" by James Scott Bell." Again, why are you asking someone so easily confused and unsophisticated to write a supposed critique of science fiction? The plot is not convoluted; it is very simple. John has a moral dilemma which is not easily resolved, where he is caught between the law on one side and his conscience on the other. Later, this same judge writes under Dialogue, "Needs improvement. Overuse of jargon. Long, run-on sentences. Tighten it up." Again, this judge is criticizing the military science fiction novel for being a military science fiction novel; people in the military use a lot of jargon and acronyms. It cannot be avoided. Under Descriptive Language, the same judge writes, "P6 Sim wanted him to kiss her luscious rose petal lips, hold her lithe and trim body, etc. This smacks of the amateur." Calling me an amateur is an epithet. If this judge had taken the time to read the synopsis, he or she would have realized that the main character Carolyn is writing the Sim and Don subplot for her own amusement and distraction. As such, he or she would have taken such an obviously over-the-top description as characterization on Carolyn's part, reflective of her sense of humor, rather than poor or hack writing on mine. This literary device is not without precedent; Chaucer did it as well as Stephen King in Misery. Again, why are you using judges so lacking in knowledge of literature to judge or critique entries in your contest?
I am not complaining because I enjoy doing so nor because I have nothing better to do. Originally my first thought when I received the critiques was to forget about the entire thing because I normally walk away from something that stinks. But here, because this was the first time I had any dealings with your organization, I decided to give you the benefit of the doubt, in case these two were simply two bad eggs in an otherwise competent and professional organization. If I were running a literary contest such as this and two judges of mine turned in critiques such as these, neither would ever be a judge for me again. I would recruit homeless people from the street before I would ask these two to judge for me again. At least homeless people wouldn't have an agenda. If I were forced to keep them as judges, I would come down on both as might the very wrath of God and read both the Riot Act. Harshly. The reason I say this is because the only explanation of what happened here which makes any sense to me is that both these judges read one line in my submission (Originally, what had attracted Carolyn to the premise [of the Sim and Don television series] was a world, similar to ours but with no sex in it--other than for purposes of procreation between married adults of opposite genders.) and saw red. It's obvious to me that both became so blinded by rage that each allowed his or her professional judgment to become clouded by personal emotion. (Judge #6 under Descriptive Language: "Rather than state descriptions explicitly, try to IMPLY that Sim's eyes are radiant and sparkly, or that she has a sleek and trim physique, or exquisite jade-green eyes, framed by the ethereal nature of her eye lashes...These images are all very strained and uninteresting..." This kind of criticism once more demonstrates to me this judge didn't understand either that Carolyn, a twenty-four year old woman who is not a professional writer, is writing the subplot for her own amusement and also shows an animus evident in the final comment.) Allowing your personal feelings to interfere with your professional judgment is the mark of an amateur. If your organization is indeed competent and professional, I cannot understand why you have chosen to defend these two, especially without calling or talking to me first, in the manner that you have.
I am not asking for something for nothing, nor am I requesting the heavens and the Earth. What I am looking for here, what I would consider fair under the circumstances, is if you could say something to the acquisition editors along the lines of, "There was a problem with one of the entries (which would be the truth). This guy is being a pain (which I realize I am). If you could just peruse his entry and if you'd like to see more, fine. If you don't, provide him with some explanation of why you wouldn't be interested." If these industry professionals blanch in absolute horror at my work as your two judges have, then I will bow out gracefully and leave this entire affair with a better sense of fair play than what I presently have. --- On Tue, 3/30/10, Pasco Regional Writers wrote:
From: Pasco Regional Writers Subject: Re Your EmailTo: carolynmarks1@att.netDate: Tuesday, March 30, 2010, 9:11 AM

March 29, 2010

Re: Your Email to Chrissy Jackson

Dear Robert:

It saddens me to read of your displeasure with Florida Writers Association in general and the competition in particular. I can assure you that it is not a "bogus" organization, but a highly-regarded association of over 1000 writers, not only state-wide, but national as well. Our work to advance literacy is well-known. There are writers group chapters all over the state and in S. Carolina. Any member has access to these writers groups, which are advantageous to the writer to assist by teaching, sharing, reading and critiquing by the members' peers. Constructive criticism is meant to point out the problems in writing and to suggest ways to improve. Unless a manuscript has been well proofed and edited by a well-credentialed editor, it may not meet the high standards of the major publishing houses.

The Literary Competition was organized in good faith. The $25.00 entry fee assured the entrant that the opportunity to be read by an acquisitions editor in a major publishing house existed, IF, their entry was judged one of the top three winners in each category.

To respond to your concerns about the judges' being "vitriolic and spiteful," I can assure you that none of our judges is vindictive. If you look at the score sheet, you will see the five areas in each segment that work as a guide for the judges. It's heartbreaking to me that you feel as you do. The judges are all objective and read only genres that they have specified. In your particular case, I have read their critiques, and nowhere do they call you names, nor do they intend to trash your work. Their intent is to show you areas that need improvement if you are seeking publication by a traditional publishing house.

As to the return of your material. The original announcement of the competition very clearly stated that three copies of the first 30 pages and three copies of the synopsis were required. "An SASE to mail the judges' scores and comments" was also required. It did not state that the material would be returned. Two copies were mailed to the judges. I retained the third in the event that the scores were too disparate. In that event, the third copy would be mailed to a third judge for his/her evaluation. The lowest score would then be discarded, the remaining two averaged for the score. The judges were directed to shred the manuscript when they finished their evaluation. I will mail the third copy back to you.

In all the submissions over the last two years, this is the first time an entrant has misunderstood what was meant to be helpful. I realize that we writers think of our stories as our babies, and as such, we are protective and defensive. Sometimes it is difficult to believe that they can be flawed, but if you read each comment with an open mind, read where they reference certain pages, I think you will realize that this is meant to help you.

I will put the third copy in the mail tomorrow. Again, I am very sorry that you feel you were wronged.


Dahris H. Clair
Competition Coordinator

-------- Original Message --------Subject: Contact Form - FWA websiteFrom: wst_formmailer@secureserver.netDate: Sun, March 28, 2010 11:11 amTo: chrissyj@floridawriters.netFirst Name : RobertLast Name : SullivanAddress Street 1 : 10747 N Military TrailAddress Street 2 : Apt. #4City : Palm Beach GardensZip Code : 33410State : FLDaytime Phone : 561-624-9054Evening Phone : 561-624-9054Email : carolynmarks1@att.netComments : I entered the literary contest that your organization sponsored back in January. I included a self-addressed stamped envelope as I was instructed to, so that all 3 of my submissions would be returned to me. I was promised 3 critiques. About a week ago, I received 2 critiques in the mail, without my original submissions. Both judges, numbers 6 and 18, gave me mostly 2s with a few 3s. Both also appeared confused, as if they hadn't read the synopsis, which I was required to submit, which explained all that I did not in the narrative. Both gave me advice and criticism which seems to me more vitriolic and spiteful than helpful or supportive, as if I had somehow offended both of them with some comment in the book or method of expression and they had both seen fit to take out their anger by calling me names and trashing my work. I consider this highly unprofessional. If either or both simply didn't like the material or felt it wasn't their cup of tea, each should have either said so or given the work to [an]other judge so that a more even-handed evaluation could be given. I realize fiction critiques are by their very nature subjective but in this case I honestly feel short-changed. In sum, I feel that both my money and time were wasted and that your organization is bogus and I will be expressing my view to anyone who wishes to hear it. If you would like to peruse my work for your own evaluation, my blog address is and the first book, the one submitted, is Paradise Regained in the archives from December of last year.

This is the e-mail string from me complaining about this entire reeking business. I never received a reply. Draw your own conclusions.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Cause of Literature

Literature is currently locked in a titanic battle with film for the hearts and minds of the reading and viewing public and must be saved. Why? Because when all is said and done, there are some things you can do in a book that you can't do in a movie. Yes--the converse is also true, but when you weigh the spectacular images from any film against characterization in fiction, they are as dust would be in the balance. And yes, it is easier to watch a movie than to read a book, but when has humanity ever advanced its cause by taking the easy way out?
If literature is to be saved, I believe it will be from guerrilla activity, rather than business as usual. Castro saw the future and he embraced it; that's how he beat Batista. If people want to live in the past as opposed to the future, they are part of the problem rather than the solution; again, if you're not with us, you're against us. I personally prefer the future, as scary as it is. Realism is a trap, folks--pure and simple, and the world doesn't need any more cozy mysteries or Sherlock Holmes/Agatha Christie ripoffs/parodies. This is what I was taught and this is what I know in my heart of hearts.
Down at the book fair, I saw many people that either had been published or needed to be, for all the wrong reasons--the money, the fame, the prestige, the adoration of the masses, everyone hanging on your every word and being on television. The only worthwhile reason for wanting to become published is that other people might enjoy your work as much as you do. That's why I've chosen to put my work up here--for anyone who wants to see it. Because in the final analysis, as much as I may want it, I simply don't need it. And I refuse to beg, because begging is degrading and benefits only the weak.
Make no mistake--the battle is joined. Young people are the vanguard; they must be converted for us to win. But our cause is just and our goals are noble; God will fight on our side. Just remember the caveat to that--God helps those that help themselves.

No Sharks to Feed

No beach to walk on. No bridge too far. Nowhere to run to and nowhere to hide. No time for sergeants. No capacity for doughnuts. No time left. Nothing to do but wait.
Anyway, this is the image that I wanted to include in the previous post but it wouldn't let me. Plenty of man-o-war at the beach yesterday but they were still letting people swim. Got some sun and much exercise. May go back Saturday. Saw one leatherback nest in the park. Not much else to report.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

They Might Be Chum

They could be fish food. They were expendable.
There were sharks in the water Thursday and Saturday, as well as man-o-war, along with people trying to swim. I was thinking about what the tag lines for a coming-attractions trailer for a movie about the beach would be, and those were the portents of doom that I was playing around with in my head on my walk.
These shots are manifestations of the same ice crystal refraction phenomenon that I've referred to in previous blogs; these pictures are all in chronological order. There was another picture that I wanted to post, but apparently five is the limit (grr).
I witnessed a few fishermen catch a few pompano, but again far too few for my tastes. I saw the remains of a brown pelican in between where the two shots I have posted are, so it looks like he did eat it. I'm also in the middle of a scathing set of e-mails that I've unleashed on the unsuspecting contest people; I'm currently waiting for the final response which will tell the tale.
Otherwise it's Easter Sunday and I decided to skip today at the beach; I simply felt I needed the rest more than the exercise. There's a nice breeze right now in my apartment but I'll be closing up the windows and turning on the air soon; most if not all of my neighbors don't share my tastes in music, movies or television, so I try to spare them as much as possible.
I was approached twice on my walk Saturday. The first time, it was the same bald guy in the morning who keeps trying to convert me to his religion. I blew him off, but he doesn't seem to take go to hell for an answer. In the afternoon, on my way back to my car, some fool advised me he had a quick question and then asked me how he could get baby blue OP shorts such as what I was wearing. When I began explaining that as far I knew, they didn't exist in the known universe, he interrupted me to specify that he wanted my particular pair. When I duly informed him that they were highly coveted, he backed off. Whether he was in fact a homosexual or straight trying to ascertain if I was or he simply didn't know what the word 'coveted' meant, I'm not sure because my gaydar didn't go off (for those interested in what gaydar could be, what it might entail and how it may be used, I suggest you visit the website of the true originator of the term: and tell her I sent you. She is seriously a scream, so I also recommend you peruse the entirety of her site. She is very talented and frequently funny with a point to make; the only reason she's not more widely distributed is because of prejudice--plain and simple. At the book fair in Miami in November, she had two strips of hers up in a comix exhibit that, fond fool that I am, I failed to take pictures of, because my camera does have a 'Documents' mode, but oh well. Reading her 'bitter girl' strip [which is not bitter at all, by the way] helped me understand the difference between actual lesbians and Carolyn and Brandy, who are simply two really attractive straight women without boyfriends [at least, initially] who just happen to have the hots for each other. But it's not only sex; they do have a relationship and they do care about each other). I might be expanding this post later, but currently Parmesan steak fries are calling my name from the kitchen, and as I've previously stipulated, their siren song is indeed music to my ears.