Site Information


The layout was designed on a computer running SuSE Linux 10.0 at a resolution of 1024x768. As of this posting, I have not had access to a computer running at a higher resolution, so I haven't been able to check that it displays properly and problems likely remain. I hope to address these as soon as possible, and would appreciate any feedback on strange-looking pages, especially from high-res users.

It has been tested in Mozilla Firefox 2, Konqueror, and SeaMonkey web browsers for Linux, as well as Firefox and Safari for Macintosh, and everything checks out. It has also been tested in Opera 9.2 for Linux, and mostly looks fantastic, though the Japan page has a giant right margin for some reason that I can't figure out for the life of me, so if any Opera users have any idea how to fix that, please let me know. I want to make it look good for your browser too. (I quite like Opera myself!)

I have also tested it with Internet Explorer 7 on Windows XP. That, that didn't work so well. Okay, let's face it, it looks horrible. I thought that as the Internet's most common browser, it would be standards-compliant, but apparently it's not. I have installed a JavaScript fix on the site to attempt to trick IE into complying with the standards, but as I can not run IE on my home computer, I can't check it and haven't had a chance to do so elsewhere yet. I'll try my best to fix this later; I do strive to make my web site look good for all users regardless of what browser they use, but I'm afraid that in this case, the maker of this browser is striving to make this as difficult as possible. It is for this reason that I strongly urge all of you using Internet Explorer to try switching to a standards-compliant browser, such as Firefox, Opera, Chrome, or Safari. These are all fantastic programs and will provide a much sleeker web-surfing experience than Microsoft Internet Explorer, which I'm guessing you're using because it came with your computer and you didn't realize there were better options out there.

In addition to failing to comply with standards, you can read about another reason not to use Internet Explorer in this editorial.

Whether your resolution/OS/browser has been tested or not, please let me know if you have any technical problems with the site. I would appreciate your help with making it accessible to all users! uses Unicode encoding (UTF-8) on certain pages that contain Asian text or other symbols. If you don't see a star centered beneath this paragraph, try switching your encoding to Unicode. (In Firefox, see View: Character Encoding: Unicode (UTF-8). It should be in the list somewhere.)

This should be a star. is hosted by DreamHost, which I recommend. If you'd like to hear more about what I think of Dreamhost, feel free to contact me. If you do sign up with them and don't already have a referrer, it would be really sporting of you to put jessie19 as your referrer when you sign up—that'd get me reward points!

  History and Background was registered the domain on June 9, 2000. My personal website has been on-line since July 11, 1996.

The name "Skygawker" came from a flight back from Japan in 1999, when I spent almost all thirteen hours of the trip staring out of the window. (The stars over the Pacific Ocean are amazing! And it's so cool to see the tops of clouds from an airplane!) It came from a play on the name from Star Wars, of course, though I'm so used to it now that I hardly think of the connection (though I'm a big fan of the epic hero's journey). I decided to use the name for my domain because it represents me pretty well: I'm the sort of person who has walked into people/trees/parked cars because I was too busy staring up at the clouds or stars. It also lends itself to some great layouts. Here's what has looked like in the past:
Layout Comments
2000-01 I was proud to have figured out how to do that semi-transparent table without ever having seen it done before, and without asking anyone how to do it.
2001-02 I was excited to have figured out how to make the words "sparkle" with Javascript. The Japanese says sora ni mite, hoshi ga kagayaiteru yo. ("Look at the sky; the stars are sparkling.")
2002-03 I found a picture of Sonic and Tails doing some skygawking, and it inspired this layout. I liked how the Netscape "Toy Factory" theme (pictured here) complimented it so well. Now I wouldn't do something like this because it gives the impression that it's a Sonic the Hedgehog related site, and I'm sure this caused some people confusion. At the time, though, my visitors were generally other aspiring writers who could recognize a kid writer domain like this pretty easily.

Summer 2002

One cool thing about this layout, though, was that I could easily change it to make a special celebration layout in honor of the Detroit Red Wings capturing their 10th Stanley Cup, and third in six years.
2003-04 This layout features orographic stratiform clouds over Antarctica that I scanned off a greeting card. Links filled the fixed sky background with text, scrolling up from behind the mountains. I was really pleased with this layout, even though dumb ol' IE put a pointless ugly bar between the mountain and the sky. I kept the date in the screencap 'cause it's my birthday. :)
2004-05 This layout featured a slide of my dad's, whose photographs of fireworks have won awards. The Japanese says hanabi matsuri ("firework festival").
2005-09 I used this layout the longest both because I liked it so much and because I was fairly busy during this time. The layout featured one of the coolest pictures I have of myself, which I'm still using on the Travel Page. It's me climbing up Mt. Fuji during 2005.

By 2008, I figured I was overdue for a new layout, and I finally had a bit of time to work on it. I finished it in early 2009. This time, in addition to simply making new graphics and layouts, I also wanted to make the site more self-explanatory from the first page. I have changed a lot of the content due to the evolution of my visitor base and purpose.

I put a lot of thought into what kind of layout I wanted, so I'll share a little of that. I like colorful, cheerful designs and cartoonish doodles, so this seems like an appropriate design to me. Moreover, the central feature of this site is my writing, and most of my writing (and all that is available thus far) is for children and young adults.

That being said, I hope no one will assume that a person who likes fun fonts and cheery layouts is automatically of a some sort of lower calibre than someone with, say, a sleek white-on-black "professional-looking" portfolio. With some friends of mine having switched to such designs in an attempt to shape their on-line image in a certain way, and also given that my opinion essays (which are not aimed at children) are a big part of the site now, I considered doing something similar. I decided, however, that while off-line I know I've got to wear a suit sometimes if I want to play a certain role, on the Internet I'm going to let my words speak for themselves. If the design isn't your cup of tea, I trust that you'll judge the content on its own merits. My site may be full of bright colors, but I'm also a fan of shades of grey.

Creative Project Policies

"Why don't you have your writing on-line anymore?"

My current writing projects are novels that I hope to have professionally published one day. For that reason, I can't share them publicly on-line. This would void what is known as first publication rights, which are what most publishers want when they decide to publish a manuscript. I regret that this makes my Stories Page, which is supposed to be the highlight of my site, a little leaner that I'd like. I hope that if you like what you see there, you'll contact me so I can share my stories with you, or joining the mailing list if you'd like to hear when I start or complete writing projects.

Some of my older stories—mainly the Carlson Septuplets and Akai Kuroi—are still available on-line. These are far from my current writing standards, but I know people out there are still enjoying them, so I'm happy to leave them up there. I hope to make novels out of these stories someday too; if I do, I'll be sure to let mailing list subscribers know.

"Will you read my story and give me comments?"

I love reading other people's original stories. That being said, it does take a lot of my time to do so. If I don't know you, I ask you to read some of my stories and give me your feedback first. I will be more than happy to return the favor after that. I love getting to know other writers like that! I can try to write critiques that are as strict or as light as you like, if you specify what you want.

A couple other notes, though: first, if you are only reading my story in order to get me to read yours, you might want to make sure it's a genre I seem like I'd like. I enjoy reading almost anything, but romance that isn't supplemented by an interesting subplot tends not to be my thing, and I really don't like graphic violence or gratuitous sex or anything with excessive, extreme profanity. (I doubt anyone reading this will want to send me such stories, but it's better safe than sorry.) Oh, and I don't keep strict tabs on how much I've read for someone compared to how much she's read for me, but I'm not going to read a two hundred page manuscript when someone's only read thirty pages of mine. I've had my generosity abused before, hence this unfortunate note. I've put a lot of effort into reading stories and trying to write helpful comments before only to have the authors fail even to thank me for reading their work, which pretty much ensures I'll never read anything by them again.

Also, I don't read fanfiction, but considering fanfic authors have plenty of willing readers out there on the Internet, I doubt any of you will face any hardship because of that. Fanfic writers, I enthusiastically encourage you to try writing original fiction!


Nearly everything on is my original work and owned by me. Here are the exceptions:
  • The CBS Radio clip linked on my main page, which talks about me but is from SoundBytes Radio and owned by CBS.
  • Peter Paul and Mary's "If I Had a Hammer", embedded on the Politics Page, thanks to a free audio sharing site
  • , and Yoshiki's "I'll Be Your Love," embedded on the Expo Page.
  • A recording of Robert Kennedy, courtesy of the JFK Library archives, also on the Politics Page
  • Flags from a free clip-art site, used and credited on my Travel Page
  • A travel map applet included on the Travel Page
  • The video on my Expo Page, which was created by a friend of mine and hosted on YouTube
  • Logos on the Expo page are owned by their respective groups; I am affiliated with the United States Pavilion but do not own the graphic
  • A Discovery Channel commercial used on my Self-Intro Page, hosted on YouTube
  • Fanlisting graphics used in my Interest Quilt, whose creators intended them for this purpose
  • Lots of gift artwork, whose wonderful creators are all credited next to the links
  • A few photographs which were taken by friends or other people whose permission I have asked; these are also noted on their respective pages
  • Possibly something else which I have forgotten but should be credited where it's used

If you'd like to use graphics, photographs, essays, stories, or anything else from this domain, please ask first. The odds are good that I'll be flattered and give you permission, though I will likely ask for a link back to If I find my material being reproduced elsewhere without my permission, however, I will cause whatever grief I can for the thieves and distributors. (A friend of mine once found one of her essays on a site selling plagiarized book reports. She dealt with the matter and I will follow her example.) and all text and images contained here and not specified above are © 1996-2011 JLM. All rights reserved. Top