Friday, November 13, 2009

What Have I Done?

I must be insane. I just submitted a picture book to an ageny that represents children's book authors. I am certain they will reject it, but I hit the send button anyway.

It should go without saying that the story doesn't have a transgender theme, but I'll say it just to be clear. IT DOESN'T HAVE A TRANSGENDER THEME.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Am I Getting Fired?

This blog is the closest thing I have to a secret diary. In that spirit, I need to confess that I am scared shitless that I will be fired from my job.

Recently, I got a voicemail from my sister asking me to contact a creditor of mine who has been harrasing her. She told them how to contact me, but they refused, insisting that harrasing her has been the only way they have been able to get me to contact them. I called them immediately from the break room at work. I was loud. I was angry. I swore. I even threatened bodily harm when the supervisor I spoke with got me upset. Getting nowhere with him, I hung up and finished my shift.

Later that night, I went home, called them back and managed to straighten things out with a manager that was both kind and very helpful. She made sure that I would be the only person contacted about my debt.

I thought that was the end of it. Instead, apparently there is a rumor at work about my being hard pressed for money. I have creditors hounding me for payment. I'm on the brink of financial ruin. All untrue, but that's the rumor. This rumor went from coworker to coworker's family to my father, then back to me. I had to do a lot of sharing to do to smooth things over with my parents.

Now I'm gripped by the fear that someone complained to Human Resources about my wrath and swearing, which will lead to my getting fired. Why? Because apparently, employees should never, ever, ever have to tolerate a "hostile" work environment. You simply can't show real, human emotion while at work without getting in trouble. If you let the facade crack, and someone complains, your job is at risk.

Irrational fear? Time will tell.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

That Crazy Space

The whole self-publishing of ABS through Lulu is going smashingly ... as in I want to smash my computer to bits! (Extra points if you get the geek pun in that statement.)

Here's the glitch. Lulu is converting my Word documents as part of the publication process, so that part is fine. The problem is that the source document added a space at the top of each page at the beginning of the first line. This happened when I added page numbers, and can be easily fixed by removing the page numbers. Now, I am using an older version of Word (97, to be exact), but this is a real pain. Page numbers are kind of important.

So at some point this week, I will be downloading OpenOffice. Let's hope that lets me fix these annoying formatting issues so that I can focus on doing a final round of editing and purchase a proof copy!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Midnight Oil

Not last night but the night before, Tommyknockers, Tommyknockers .... ha ha. No. What I was really going to say was that I got home from Oswego Harborfest at one in the morning and ended up writing until 4:30AM. I was very, very tired after that.

On an upside, ABS - the acronym I'm using in place of my current project's title - is done. More precisely, the added chapter / section I wanted to write to flesh it out is done. I think the new section makes the ending seem less abrupt.

Now to decide what to do with it. Reluctant Press? TG Comics? Self-publish? I can't decide.

As much as I would like to support RP, they seem to be doing well without my help. Femur has big plans for TG Comics and I would like to support that. On the other hand, a straight story doesn't really fit in at TG Comics. As for self-publishing, I worry that I won't do well at all. I suppose the only way to find out for sure will be to try.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Dumb Move

Little background history on me: I was once fired from an IBM for "downloading pornography." What I was actually doing was using the internet to find images for people's wallpaper on their computer desktop. Apparently cute pictures of kittens, celebrities of both sexes and yes, a few women in bikinis (**gasp**) count as pornography at IBM.

Of course, the guy that actually did download pornography wasn't me. The same manager that fired me had previously asked me to discretely delete all the porn from the other guy's computer after he quit. Yes, he quit, and that wasn't his spin. They knew he downloaded porn, but didn't fire him for it. He quit to move to a better job.

So what have I been doing at my new job lately? I can't tell you, because I don't want there to be a public record of it, but let's just say that Google documents are far too easy to access from anywhere to not use.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Cruel, Cruel Irony

I was just doing a Google search to try and find an illustrator that would work with a TG theme. As a number of artists at TG Comics work on commission, the search I used was "TG comics illustrator hire."

The only relevant result was this blog!

I have, by the way, found someone that will work with me. His name is Ethan Young. At some point when my financial situation isn't quite so dire, I would like to work with him. Until then, the search goes on for an affordable illustration alternative.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

No One Loves Me


Not even a single comment here after putting up the morphs. Ah, well. I'm not in it for the glory, that's for sure.

I've got to go work on final revisions for A.B.S., or whatever title I end up going with. I promised Femur that it would be ready by 6/1/09. After that, it will be out of my hands. I havn't seen anything from CBlack yet, so I'm not sure if that leg of the tripod is ready to go. Judging by the "Road Trip" comic that just got put up, I'm guessing that my project is not at the top of his list.

Like I said before, time to go write now.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Morph: Package Loss

... and here's the morph. Please forgive the weak quality of the morph. It was my first morph project.

Transformation Video

After posting my fan morph of Siproites sequence and putting a link in the TG Comics forum, I immediately got several wows and a request for more. Since I have a couple pieces gathering dust on my hard drive, I decided to upload them here. The first is a transformation video I did in DAZ Studio a while ago. The other is the first morph project I did.

First up, the transformation video:

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Max Forward Broke My Heart

Well, crap.

I've been toying with the idea of self-publishing thru As part of those plans, I've wanted to hire a professional illustrator. I was searching and found someone that seemed ideal: Max Forward. His work is reasonably priced. He draws well, and the women he creates are very sexy. He even does some nudity. He works in an electronic format which makes working over the internet ideal. Even his name breathed cool. I mean, really, Max Forward is just about the awesomest name ever. With high hopes, I contacted him with the basics of my project and asked for a quote.

I was shocked and more than a little disappointed when he expressed discomfort with the subject matter and declined to provide a quote.

In the larger scheme of things, I suppose I'm not surprised. I commonly swim with ideas that makes the public at large squirm, or at least giggle in discomfort. In my own family, my sister kept me away from her children for years and implied to our siblings that their own children weren't safe around me based on nothing more than crude prejudice. I've even had problems at more than one job based solely on small minded people not being able to wrap their head around my personal life.

I'll find another illustrator that *will* work with me. But still, I'm mourning for the lost fusion of Max Forward's art and my writing. I feel a hole in me where the synergy we could have created was supposed to go. I think he would have been proud of the resut if we had worked together. Luckily for me, I'll find someone else that will fill that hole.

Too bad for Max. He is the real loser here.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Siproites Morph

After seeing some of the great transformation sequences done at TG Comics, I wanted to turn one by Siproites into morph. I've been sitting on the result since the beginning of February. Here it is!

(I know, I know ... the resolution isn't that great. I'm still looking for a way to get this online that doesn't involve YouTube.)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Morph It!

I forgot to post before now about a breakthrough of sorts that occurred last week. I was fooling around with Morpheus - the software I use to make morphs - and discovered by accident that I could load a recently edited / cropped video file made with Virtual Dub. With that discovery, I now have the power to make the files I need to do video morphing!

As if that wasn't exciting enough, the next day, I found software (RAD Video Tools) that lets me convert .MOV files to .AVI files. This means I can shoot short video clips on my cell phone, move them to my computer using a micro SD card, convert them from Quicktime to WMV (Windows Media Video, for those not in the know) and then do a video morph using footage I've made myself.

As a test, I found some footage online that I'm going to work on over the next few days / weeks / months. The source video is an audition tape for runway models. It has many different models, both male and female, doing the same walk against a neutral, white background. I chose a male and a female model that were dressed somewhat similarly and made two shorter videos using Virtual Dub, one for each model. I loaded them into Morpheus and now have a nice crossfade with no morphing of the man into the woman. I expect a nice result once I've had a chance to begin the real work of getting the morph set up.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


I had more luck contacting Reluctant Press this time around. Ms. Chrissie wrote back with some needed info and I'll be sending in submissions in the near future.

My proofreader is off work again today. Grrr! I want my manuscript back so I can use my notes to make some changes before I submit it. Judging by past experience, not much changes during the editing process at RP, so what I submit is pretty much locked in stone once I send it in.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Back in Business

My proofreeder is back from her vacation in Atlantic City. She didn't take the manuscript with her, but she has read some and liked what she's read so far.


My big concern with this story was right at the front end. My original thought was to add in this really outrageous situation to try and sell my Deus Ex Machina. I liked it when I wrote the story, and I liked it all the time it was marinating in my drawer. It was only when I got it out and read it again with fresh eyes that it seemed a little over the top. The fact that she likes it enough to not be put off by the oddity of it soothes my fragile nerves.

On a more frustrating note, Reluctant Press didn't reply to the automated form I sent requesting a contact. I'm going to have to E-mail them directly and hope for a response.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Random Daily Thought

Dreaming is a lonely business.

Friday, April 3, 2009

I Hate Vacation, But At Least I'm Not Shot

GAHHH! My proofreader left for vacation and took my manuscript with her! While I'm not concerned about the manuscript itself, this means that it will be days and days before I get the feedback that I need and crave!

Oh, well. At least no one I know was involved in today's shooting.

I live in the Binghamton area. I was just a few blocks from the location of the civic center shooting that's on the news while running errands this morning. A friend of mine is taking some classes at Ridley Lowell across the street, and lives just two blocks away. I drove by there on my way to an anniversary breakfast for work last Thursday, March 26th. I ate eggs perhaps a hundred yards from where those poor people were shot.

Life is just flat out weird, sometimes. For me, even though I live so close to this tragedy, it just seems like another shooting on the news. It's hard be be emotional about something that hasn't really effected me. I'm more worried about my AWOL proofreader than the outcome of what's going on in downtown.

Such thoughts leave me worried about the health of my soul.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Test Subject

I printed off the previously mentioned sci-fi romp for the purposes of proofreading. Once I marked it up with all the fixes and changes I could find, I turned it over to a friend to read.

She has it now.

With luck, she will read it, like it, and give it back in short order. After I get it back, I'll make all the fixes I can think of before submitting it to Reluctant Press. I hope to have it in print by the end of summer.

Speaking of RP, I think that permanent links to stories there are going away. New stories are added to the main page, and the older stories get pushed over time to numbered pages that go in acending sequence by age. The older the story, the higher the page number. Their new web design may be pretty to look at, but it's going to make it a real pain to link to stories without frequent updates, methinks. Although, I do have to admit that I like the tabbed grouping of stories by classification.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Mum's the Word

I decided to pull this comment out of my most recent post and add it here separately:

"As of this moment, I'm creating a policy of not divulging title or plot in advance on anything I'm working on, or have completed but not published. I count putting a story on a site like FictionMania as publishing, as it is out there to be read by the general public. It's been said that ideas are a dime a dozen and that there is nothing new under the sun, but I've noticed that "good" ideas (use your own definition of "good") are done in clumps. My suspicion is that people with good ideas need to zip their lip to avoid having other people take their ideas."

I would also like to add a supporting anecdote. Without making any accusations of ill intent, I had a "copy" of a story idea I used get posted at FictionMania not long after a story of mine went up there.

It was after yet another sappy genie in a bottle story had gone up at FictionMania. I read it and liked it, but was frustrated that genie stories have devolved to the formula of person finds bottle, person makes wish, wish is corrupted or misunderstood resulting in the character being transformed into a woman. There are many variations on this basic premise, but all of them describe the genie as well meaning, helpful and friendly. At their worst, the genie might be a prankster.

My idea was to make the genie mean. Evil, even. I wrote a story that focused on that as a writing exercise and posted it to FictionMania.

I suspect that what happened is that my story inspired the other author to play with the idea of a malevolent genie. Within a few days, their own story was posted, riffing on a similar theme, though of course the story was completely different. It was very well recieved, with a lot of praise for the originality of their take on the genie. While I think it's fair to say that my story was nowhere near as good as the other author's story, I am pretty confident that my story acted as a catalyst.

Now imagine the above scenario with my story being published second. I think it's safe to say some people would look at the situation and call me a copycat, to put it nicely.

I worry that if I disclose story ideas here that others then use, it would be a Bad Thing. Because I write at such a glacial pace, others might beat me to the punch with my story names or worse: with stories that use my plot ideas as a starting off point. Mimicry might be a form of flattery, but I really don't ever want to end up in a discussion of whose story came first.

Friday, March 13, 2009

What am I up to?

Glad you asked! After being sidetracked earlier in the year by the possibility of having the tools to do video morphing, I've managed to set that aside and get back to writing.

I have two completed stories at this time that are unpublished. The original plan was to submit them to Reluctant Press, but I'm not convinced that they are as good as I originally thought.

One has a wickedly confusing plot with a lot of body swapping. The shifts in perspective, combined with who is in what body and why is that important makes for a real mess. I think that in the end that it's a good read, but I think it needs to be cleaned up before I'll be satisfied with it. I also would like to get away from magic as a plot device.

The other story is a sci-fi M2F romp. It has a few details that I would like to excise as they seem a little self-indulgent, but is otherwise ready to go. With luck and a little work, it should be submitted to RP in the very near future.

I'm also working on a new story, which also has a sci-fi M2F transition. Like so much of what I write, it may end up a half finished idea. I hope not. I have an outline, and that's always a good sign that the story has a better than average chance of being finished. Right now, I'm trying to make the all important post transition push. Keeping momentum after the change is always my biggest challenge.

Time to stop blogging and do some real writing. Wish me luck!

Ode to FictionMania

FictionMania is down. It has been down for months.

I trust that it will return at some point in the near future. Hopefully within the next five seconds or so. You see, until it was gone, I did not realize how important this icon of TG fiction was. Don't get me wrong, I knew it was huge. It was - and is, even in its absence - the 800 pound gorilla of TG fiction. Be sure to imagine the gorilla in a dress, of course.

I was already a big reader and a wannabe writer before I found the site back in the late 1990's. I turned to it for inspiration. I would read each story with an eye for its strengths and weaknesses, which helped me grow as a writer. Some stories infuriated me by mingling an intriguing concept with poor form. Some were exceptionally well writen, yet managed to bore me to tears. Other stories made me scratch my head, wondering why I liked them so much when they were so badly written. In each story, I found something that I could learn from, even if it was an example of what clearly didn't work. When I was especially lucky, an author would "wow" me with both concept and execution. Morpheus, for one, seems to have endless depths of creativity and talent on which to draw.

Yes, it will return. Sure, there are other sites with stories to view in the meantime. I know I should be writing my own fiction rather than weeping in my blog, but somehow, this glaring absence has left a hole in my sense of community.

Come back soon, dear friend.

Why is there a "New" in the title?

I doubt anyone ever read it, but this is actually my third blog.

The first, seldom updated website was a whole website devoted to discussing my transition before it imploded. For those that don't know precisely what that means, let's just say ... I was going through some changes in my life, and it was a place for me to discuss that. The name of that website was "Sara's Narcissistic Venture."

The second blog was a one page affair strictly devised as a news page to promote my writing. That blog was named "Sara's Narcissistic Weblog."

This site is kind of a combination of the two. It's about my writing, but it's more of a journal about my writing and writing in general. I'm sure I'll do some self-promotion here, as well as some whining about my personal life.

As if anyone needed to know all this. Sheesh! Do you get where the name comes from now?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

"He" vs. "She"

I was over at Metamorphose reading the message board and came across a post on the use of personal pronouns. The author of the post made a pretty valid observation; use of the personal pronoun is split pretty evenly between the masculine and the feminine after a male-to-female (M2F, for the uninitiated) transformation. As someone who has written a story or two that involved a M2F transformation, I thought I would share my thoughts.

Pronoun choice doesn't usually require much thought. Masculine, feminine and neutral pronoun use is drummed into us from the time we first use language. This is true of any language, not just English. We all have an innate sense of what the right pronoun is. The problem with a sex change - be it surgical, magical, or some other other device - is that the pronoun itself must be transformed. When is the right time to make the switch? What is the convention?

The problem is that there are no set rules. I'm tempted to say that usage is a matter of taste, but it's a little more complicated than that. The choices made can greatly effect both the tone and readability of a piece of fiction.

A strict, literal approach is to use the pronoun that matches the subject's gender. "Bob waved his magic wand and was transformed into a girl. She looked down at her new body and was amazed." Simple, right?

Well, no. Some of the most unreadable, amateur, self-indulgent crap I've read follows this formula. While it seems like a good decision on the surface, it is clumsy in practice. Most writing is done in the third person. In that point of view, the reader is exposed to the main character's internal mental state. The mental switch from male to female doesn't typically happen with the physical switch, which is the source of most of the dramatic tension in a transformation story. The discontinuity between the mental state of the main character and the pronouns used results in a confusing, contradictory mess.

The other common approach is to change the pronoun usage when the character reaches a milestone on their inner journey. This is my preferred method. It provides a clear boundary to mark the change in the character's self-perception.

It seems a little cliche to me, but that change is most often during a sexual encounter. I do have an unpublished story that changes pronouns at the moment of climax, but as a general rule I try to avoid that particular choice. It's overused. On top of that, the implication that a female orgasam is so powerful that it washes away any sense of male self-identity just seems silly to me.
Other bad choice I've seen include the Clear Mental Choice. This is usually accompanied by an internal dialoge where the character decides to think of themselves using female pronouns. Eg: "Bob looked down at his new body and sighed. No, damnit! HER new body. She was a woman now, and thinking of herself as a man was just going to hold her back." Ugh. Please, reader, don't do this unless you've explored other more viable options.

More attentive authors do their best to keep the change in pronoun use transparent. It can even be used to help a story along. Imagine for a moment a story where the use of the feminine pronoun begins when the character is hypnotized. This would preceed the physical transformation. Then, after the physical transformation is complete, the hypnotic state is lifted and the use of the male pronoun is restored. This would be an effective way to reenforce the story.

Fascinating stuff. How geeky am I that thinking about pronoun use gets me excited?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

First Post

I just found out that AOL Journals is no longer a going concern. "Blarg!" as my stepson would say. I didn't have many posts there, but some of them were fairly important. Well, maybe important is stretching the truth a little, but they might be important if you care at all about my writing.

I like the layout here so far. Let me poke around some and I'll try to get some real information up soon.