Website Design Competition

If you're an aspiring website designer, you're not going to want to miss out on this new web design competition: Iron WebMaster!

The Iron WebMaster competition is a website design contest modeled after the hit TV show "Iron Chef." Like the TV show, contestants are given a theme that they must incorporate into their design. The competition consists of 5 rounds of increasing complexity. Prizes will be awarded throughout the competition at the end of each round, and a grand prize winner, the Iron WebMaster, crowned at the conclusion of all rounds. Winners will be chosen by a combination of popular votes received from site visitors and a select panel of judges.

Round 1
begins Tuesday, 15 January 2008. If you want in on this exciting new web design competition, Sign Up today!

Don't let missing a round stop you from signing up. You can still take the title of Iron WebMaster.


Paper Trails

Google yourself. What do you find? Does your name rise to the top? Sure, if you’re name is Yeardley Smith or Jon Bon Jovi, you rank at least second place. But if you’re name is as common as Tom Smith and John Walker, you have some serious work ahead. Increasingly, employers look to Google for your online paper trail, whether it be a criminal record or some validation of your claim to fame.

Start with a blog. Write down your opinions on issues, offer advice on love, post your poetry and photos. Once you put it on the Web, you’ve published. Although the media differs, the success of an electronic publication depends on the same principles as paper publications—people must read or refer to you. Hits to your site, and especially links on other sites to yours increase your ranking.

If you want to create an online paper trail, make online friends. They can live in town or in Timbuktu. Visit their site; introduce yourself through their guestbook, comments, or email them about reciprocal links on their site if possible. Most times, you will create a network of online associates with whom you can partner, or just call “friend.”

Links aside, Web-published material establishes you as an authority on a subject, be that anime or afghans. The longer your online paper trail (the more sites that refer to yours), the stronger your authority. But beware, just like so many government office nominees before, paper trails can also destroy your authority. Always remember to believe in your message deeply before you post it.

Once established on the Web as the foremost expert of railroad ties cut from the northern firs of trees from the Umpqua National Forest (ca. 1909)*, you will notice a difference in your Google results. You’ll rank at least second.

*Completely random information that is not meant to resemble any particular individual.


Want This Blog?

Well, folks, seems as though this collaborative blog is a big fat flop, mostly due to lack of promotion. I will continue to post random schlock on here in order to keep it breathing, but if you want this blog, write me at kyle (at) roguewriting (dot) com and it's all yours.

—Kyle Stich


Need Your Work Reviewed?

Writers Digest recently reported on a fairly new site, YouWriteOn.com, that connects writers with other writers for the purpose of reviewing each other's work. How does it work?

Sign up for free, and once registered, you will start to receive emails containing up to 10,000 words or the first chapter of someone's book. Once you read the received work and send it back, your chapter will be sent out to someone else. The more reviews you provide of other's work, the more your work will be sent out to others for review. It's that easy.

The best part? The most-often, highest-rated chapters are made available to a board of industry professionals and, supposedly, they contact those authors whose work they find most promising.


Jessica Made Me Do It

Jessica Rowan, of a.lobster fame, has asked for more activity within our writing community. She has noted that RV Writers is thus far a poorly formed idea. I take partial blame for this lack of activity, but her most recent post echoes my own question: "where were you?"

Without participation, this blog won't work. Let's keep our eye out for fellow writers. Let's scream our url to the entire valley. Let's get talking.

You'll note that I've revamped the links to reflect Jessica's suggestions. The first new link is "Challenges." Currently, I've listed one challenge courtesy of Writer's Digest, but welcome additional challenges whether they derive from a literary magazine like The Sun or Speak Easy, or whether you create something on your own.

The "Critique Me!" link offers works submitted by writers right here in the valley. Their names are removed so as to make the critiquing process easier, for when we know the writer, we usually hold back from honest criticism. We will note if the author wishes for a lighter touch or for us to focus on particular parts of the work. Submitted works can be from any genre—fiction, poetry, essay, etc. Write to rvwriters@roguewriting.com to submit a piece. We already have the first piece posted, "Lady Sings the Blues," and the author has requested a heavy hand. When critiquing a piece remember, there's a difference between contstructive criticism and antagonistic criticism.

Of course, I've added a link to "Upcoming Events." Check these events out and help keep our real time culture of writing alive in the Rogue Valley. We most prominently seem to post events in Ashland, but realize such events occur all over this place. Let us know if you know of any happenings in places like Medford, Central Point, Talent, Phoenix, Jacksonville, White City, Shady Cove, Eagle Point, Gold Hill, etc. Then, show up. Community depends on participation.

Finally, we have links to our friendly neighborhood bloggers, to helpful writing resources, and to local 'zines. We hope to develop these links to ungodly proportions; help us do so by sending us the web addresses. Also, let us know if you'd like to join our team of moderators. I need help spreading the word and keeping links updated. Does anyone wish to create a flyer we can post around the valley to let others know about us?

I would like to make one final note: Jessica has asked some very pertinent questions regarding writing. Read her post titled, "Ok, I might have lied..." and tell her what you think. Until next time, I bid you all adieu.

WD's Assignment #194

Each month, Writer's Digest presents its readers with an "assignment." I usually check these out and tell myself it seems easy enough, that I'll bust something out and send it in. I have yet to write word one. So as a way of present our community with the Jessica Rowan-suggested challenge, I shall offer each month's assignment as my challenge.

Your Assignment #194—Write Sale:

You're in your home office when you hear the doorbell ring. You answer the door to find a salesman touting the latest high-tech writing gadget, which he promises will change your life. He's so convincing that you give in, not even batting an eyelash at the steep price. Write the salesman's presentation that resulted in the sale. There are other houses he'll need to visit, so keep your entry to 75 words or fewer.

Entries can be included in the body of an email (no attachments) to wd-assignment@fwpubs, or mailed as a postcard to the following address:
Your Assignment #194
4700 E. Galbraith Road
Cincinnati, OH 45236

Deadline is March 10, 2006 for publication in July's issue.

Other magazines like Speak Easy and The Sun offer themed writings as well, and although I'd like to say I'll research these, I ask for your help in presenting these challenges. Self-created challenges are equally welcome.

Lady Sings the Blues

Billie Holiday ruined my marriage. I had no idea she slammed heroine, or that her love was a venereal disease. I just fell in love with her through her songs.

“Listen to her range, Alan.” My wife loved to flex her psychiatric muscles first thing in the morning. “Why do you think she can bring you up and down, make you go from angry to happy to horny to so sad you want to kill yourself?”

Once again, a perfect version of “All or Nothing at All” destroyed by my ranting wife.

“She was the equivalent of a modern-day crack whore.”

That woman of mine ripped the nearest poster of Billie from the wall and shook it at me like trash the dog spilled.

"This scrawny ass and skeletal face of hers ain’t natural, sweetheart.”

Strung out, loose slut, tramping to success. Phrases my woman usually uses to describe the love of my life. Skank, druggy, and home wrecker are a few others.

I often received emails from that wife of mine, with anti-Billie links pasted into them. After a rash of these harassing, paparazzi, bullshit letters, I tagged her as a spammer.

“I lost all my addresses because of you, damn it.”

“Perhaps, you should have considered that before you sent all that junk.”

She liked to accuse me of not wanting her anymore – not Billie, my wife. She accused me of imagining her as “that wretched woman” when “in coitus.”

“Never forget, dear wife, Billie brought us together. Never forget that night on the pier outside of Romano’s. The night we stared at each other, listening to the salty waves lick the pylons below us. Do you remember how we could taste the salt on our lips? Or, how our souls seemed to bore into one another, but we could do little more than open our mouths as if to speak? Then a man smoking a Swisher-Sweet held open the door of the little Italian joint and let Billie croon out our song, the song that solved it all, ‘Don’t Explain.’”

“Don’t remind me.”

Then we’d roll in opposite directions so I could dream of Billie. She sang her blues as we shared a pigfoot and a bottle of beer. She’d sing “Them There Eyes” to me in a crowded club and end the song by dragging me backstage to make her “really sing.” And I’d maul her only to wake to my squirming wife pinching my ribs to make me go back to my side of the bed. I rushed back to sleep to spend the rest of the night searching my dreams for my diva.


“What the hell were you thinking last night?”

“It’s just one of those things.”

“Again with her?” My wife tossed her chair on its back and kicked it across the tile floor. “I can’t take this much longer.”

I thumbed the Billie Holiday action figure tucked away in my terry cloth robe.

“Where do you live, Alan, ’cause it sure isn’t with me.”

My forefinger slid up along the doll’s thigh, past the slit where the legs met, down the other thigh, then back again, wearing a groove in my flesh. All the while, “I wished on the Moon” ate at my brain.

“I’m inclined to think you a grave robber. I could deal with a cradle robber easier; at least little girls are alive.”

The old necrophilia argument. My wife had an argument for every day of the week. She used to think I was fine and mellow. Now, she liked to speak low of me to those arrogant and wealthy rapists, I mean, therapists who asked at the fancy cocktail parties. She liked to say, “God bless the child who’s got his own,” and those who knew Billie’s songs roared with laughter, and those who didn’t still chuckled from the condescending tone. Most my wife’s friends call me “strange fruit,” another joke at my expense I’m not sure how to take.

“I have a new 45 needing a listen, you know.”

“When was the last time you went with me?”

“You know I’m not into your crowd, Sarah. They’re too damned uptight.”

“They’re not uptight. They’re well educated, an example you should emulate.”

I dug deeper into my lounger and grabbed for the cellophane-wrapped album on the side table. “I prefer easy living, that’s all.”

My wife smacked the LP out of my hand so hard it zipped across the room to snuff the candles burning below the autographed photo of my beloved Billie. Burnt wick and cooling wax scorned my nostrils.

“You want some Billie, Alan? I got one for you.”

She thrust out one of her hips and lay her hand upon the shelf the pose formed. The other hand crooked toward me as she began to sing:

Love me or leave me
Or let me be lonely…

I want your love
But I don’t want to borrow
To have it today to give it back tomorrow

Just like my old lady to pick out the parts that serve her best. Guess that’s why I didn’t care when she grabbed her scarf and muffler and threatened to never return if I didn’t say those three words.

“I am sorry?”

The door slammed. A pane of red glass popped out and shattered on the threshold behind her.


That woman of mine is so prone to tantrums. I just hoped she wouldn’t come back ready to harp me to death. Billie kept me company, soothing me past midnight. We went to bed together and woke together at 5:30 in the morning. She dimmed out of sight from the light-blue filtering in from the sun rising through the curtains. Two pillows lay indented from my knees and I could smell Sarah, Aussie Brand hair spray and chalky foundation. But, she wasn’t there.

I felt the emptiness before I saw it, the feeling that space has expanded around me, offering my body the odd sensation of ultimate relaxation and breaking tension, sprawled yet stretched.

Most of Sarah’s things vanished with her assumed return in the night. I slept through it all, dreaming of Billie. She even left a yellow post-it note:

Press Pause, Sarah

Then I wondered if I knew my wife at all. Was she capable of vindication? Had she set some booby trap as payback for my “neglect”? No, not my wife. I pushed the button and heard Billie:

Good Morning Heartache
You old gloomy sight
Good Morning Heartache
Thought we said good-bye last night

The song played on to speak of returning and staying together, giving it a go one more time, but that wife of mine was nowhere around – just Billie singing “Monday blues straight through Sunday blues.”


Congrats and Events

First off, I'd like to congratulate Jessica Rowan on her recent hire at Caveat Press, Inc. And thanks to her, we have some events to post:

  • Open Mic at Siskiyou Brew Pub, Ashland
    Every Wednesday from 7:00-9:00 pm (sign up starts at 6:30)
    Sponsored by SPEWS and West Wind Review
    Bring your poetry, short fiction, nonfiction, rants, music, and such. Five minute time limit strictly enforced.
    Free entertainment but drinks aren't.

  • Emergent Forms: Colloquium with David Larsen & Stephanie Young
    Monday, February 6 at 2:00 pm
    Decker Writing Studio, Central Hall, SOU campus

  • Emergent Forms Reading Series with David Larsen & Stephanie Young
    Monday, February 6 at 7:00 pm
    Meese Meeting Room, Hannon Library, SOU campus
    Free to students/ $5-10 sliding scale fee for general public

  • Emergent Forms: Colloquium with Anne Boyer of Odalisqued
    Monday, March 6 at 2:00 pm
    Decker Writing Studio, Central Hall, SOU Campus

  • Emergent Forms Reading Series with Anne Boyer of Odalisqued
    Monday, March 6 at 7:00 pm
    Meese Meeting Room, Hannon Library, SOU campus
    Free to students/ $5-10 sliding scale fee for general public

  • 1.07.2006

    What have you heard?

    The building of this writing community needs some help. Send in any writing-related events you find and I'll post them. This is an "in-the-meantime" approach to keeping this blog active. I'll have more pertinent posts coming soon.