Thursday, September 27, 2007

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Jokes! And a contest!

One of the recent posts on Smart Bitches Trashy Books had me snorting liquid out my nose, or would have if I'd been drinking anything at the time.  Check it out:
I had to add my two cents in the comments, to the effect of a list of how physicists "do it":
Physicists do it a quantum at a time.
Physicists do it at the speed of light.
Cosmologists do it in the first three minutes.
Mathematical physicists understand the theory of how to do it, but have difficulty obtaining practical results.
Quantum physicists can either know how fast they do it, or where they do it, but not both.
Particle physicists do it energetically.
Particle physicists to it with charm.
Aerodynamicists do it in drag.
Astrophysicists do it with a Big Bang.
Astronomers do it all night.
Astronomers do it in clusters.
Astronomers do it on mountain tops.
Astronomers do it with white dwarfs and red giants.
(My favorites are the mathematical and quantum physics ones.) 

I added my own:
Medical physicists do it in fractions.
Medical physicists do it on the table.
Medical physicists do it with doctors, nurses, therapists, dosimetrists…

Ooh, more:

Medical physicists do it with Quality Assurance. 
Medical physicists do it with modulated intensity. 
Medical physicists do it theraputically.

Okay, enough.  Sorry.  Can you tell I'm working late and procrastinating?  *w*

So, the contest part!
Elspeth has a tattoo.  I haven't decided what it is yet - that's where the contest comes in.  She's a physicist, like me, so I was looking for some geektastically awesome science/physics-related tattoo.  Nothing too huge or elaborate.
Post or e-mail your ideas or pictures to me, and the winner gets their design featured in the book, a nod in my acknowledgements page, and a walk-on role for themselves.  Or...something like that.  *g*

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Writer MIA...again

My internet presence will continue to be spotty over the next few weeks/months.  A lot will depend on how much I get done (book-wise and IRL) and how quickly I do so.  I also really need to restrict my internet time, since blog-hopping and board-surfing consume a lot of what could be writing time. 
Of course, I'll continue to be reachable via e-mail and I'll surface for the October X over on Compuserve at the very least.  But I'm going to try to focus on being more efficient/productive at work and at home and on the book.  Hunkering down in my cave, if you will.  I'd like to be done by the end of October (since it's now looking like September was a complete wash) but it's hard to say.  If I really do have 40K more to write, that could take much longer.  By the end of the year at the very latest.  So much for the Golden Heart, but there's always next year.  *g*
TV night last night was fun.  Heroes was good (though I admit my penchant for spoilers cut down on some of the suspense for me) and we just almost watched the Journeyman pilot again (saw it twice OnDemand already).  Also caught the premier of "Chuck" which is a fun, nerdy kind of spy-comedy-adventure.  They had me on the reference to Zork.  *g*  It didn't make the DVR list, but if we're home in time we'll definitely have it on while we're waiting for Heroes.
Hi-ho, hi-ho, it's back to work I go...

Friday, September 21, 2007

Dream a little dream...or two

Since this week at work is kicking my @$$ (did I mention the other physicist has been gone all week so I'm pulling double-duty, and then everything kind of hit the fan?) I haven't made much progress writing, though I have been researching like crazy and slowly bringing a few scenes to boil in the back of my mind.
Maybe as a testament to my exhaustion, for the past two nights I've had weird dreams.  And they both relate back to the book in some way.
Wednesday night I dreamt that I (and DH, too, at some point) was traveling through time.  More like in Journeyman than my book, because it was spontaneous and I went back and forth several times.  It was about 100-150 years or so into the past, and somewhere here in the States, some big city near hills or mountains.  I distinctly remember having my digital camera with me on the last trip, and I was glad because I wanted to take pics to prove everything.  Only the battery was dying, and I only got a couple shots.  Does that mean anything?
(For the record, Elspeth's camera and cell phone are zapped by an EMP-type effect while traveling through hyperspace.  So they're nonfunctional when she arrives in 1691.)
Last night's was a bit more exciting because it involved my book being published and selling (relatively) well.  It was either e-pubbed with print option or self-published, but it was doing well enough to get picked up by a big house.
Oh, I remember now, I had self-published because I said to DH (in the dream) how the first print run of something like 1600 copies had sold out (don't know how there were "print runs" on a POD book, but hey - it was a dream) and I'd since sold another 1600 copies or so, for a total of more than 3200 copies sold on a self-published book which is a pretty big deal.  I had hired someone to design the cover for me so it looked nice, and then I guess it got good word-of-mouth.
And then a big publisher picked it up and it earned out its advance and went into a second print run with them, too.
And then my blasted alarm clock went off.  *sigh*
Just thought I'd get that down.  I felt the need to post something, and I had about 5 glasses of caffienated soda with my sushi at lunch (mmmm...) so I am temporarily energized to type and *gasp!* I don't have anything to do at the mom-
Oh, blast.  Here when I thought I was caught up with work for the week, another load just got dumped.  I'll be so glad when he gets back next week.  Hi ho, hi ho...

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

That way lies madness

I cannot believe it is almost 5 am and I have been up all night working and reworking my query. It started off as just wanting to have a good blurb for the sidebar, and then I was in the groove, but the thing just kept getting longer instead of more concise, and was 5 in the morning and I'm facing work on only 3 hours sleep (if I'm lucky) after two back-to-back 12 hour days and 3 more left in the week.

All for a book I may have 40K left to write on, and which I certainly won't be querying until next year in any case.

*sigh* Why do I do this to myself?

I love it when a plan comes together...

Based on my (very rudimentary) early research into surrounding clans, I had written in Alec's intended betrothed (no, that's not a redundancy) as one Janet Cameron, youngest daughter of Sir Ewan Cameron of Lochiel, and in her mid-late teens at the time of my story. Most of this I pulled out of thin air - there was a later, famous Janet "Jenny" Cameron who (reportedly) led a branch of the Camerons in the '45 and so the name stuck with me. (Diana mentions her in Dragonfly, pg. 633 of the paperback.) The age was for convenience; younger than Elspeth, basically, and illustrating how early women were betrothed back then.

Tonight, being too restless to actually write, I thought I would look up Sir Ewan Cameron's children to see if I could swing that.

Check this out.

Ahaha! No birth year given, but if you click the link for her father Sir Ewan's listing you'll see she was the youngest of his daughters (by his first wife, at least). Her younger brother, the later Lochiel himself, is listed in one of my sources (Prebble's Glencoe: Story of the Massacre, I think) as being in his teens at the time. So that would make her probably not much older.

And I love how it says the contract for her marriage was signed in March 1696, etc. So maybe, if she were supposed to marry someone else in 1692 but they got themselves outlawed/condemned before the contract was formalized, and so that was dissolved and it took a little bit to arrange another marriage for her to Grant of Glenmoriston...

Sometimes stuff falls into place so neatly it kind of weirds me out. *g*


While reviewing my swelling spreadsheet in order to organize my most recent fragments into some kind of chronology, I was struck by the number of significant bits I have yet to even think about/visualize, much less write.

I'm nowhere near done. *headdesk*

I think this thing is going to top 120-125K before all is said and done on the SFD. It will eventually get pared down to a nice, tight, less-than-100K MS but until then it means I'm not "almost" done or 4/5ths done, it's more like back to 2/3rds done and where I was two months ago.

So much for September. October? Eh, a girl can dream.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Don't Kill the Dog

Wow, I'm making up for my days off by giving you enough posts for all of them.
Anyway, Diana Peterfreund had a very interesting blog post today:  Don't Kill the Dog
The comment string is where it gets most interesting.  Seems most people genuinely don't like the death of animals in books, and several mentioned the death of a child as even worse.
The two comments I left are telling.  'Cause, well, there's a dead dog and a dead mother and child in my book.
From One Highland Night (c) 2007
The keening wail of a child brought his head back around, and his eyes found young Geordie huddled on the ground next to the body of a dog, its black and white fur stained red with blood.

"Oh, no…" Her voice was quiet behind him, full of sympathy.

"Geordie, lad," he said. "What has happened here?"

"They…they shot him!" Geordie wailed between sobs. "They shot Aodhair!"



He swore violently. The lad continued to greet, and he gripped his shoulders. "Are they still here, in the glen? Are they in the village? Tell me, lad, and quickly!" His voice was harsher than he meant, but he had to know. A hiss of indrawn breath behind him indicated the lass's disapproval.

"N-nae…I dinna think so." The boy looked down, stroking the top of the still head between the ears. "He was a good dog, was Aodhair. Why did they have to shoot him?"

He gentled his voice, despite the tension thrumming in his veins. "Because they are Campbells, and bastards as ye said, aye? I ken it doesna make it easier to bear, but ye must listen—listen to me now, lad. It isna safe here. There are Campbells to manage, and we need all the men we have back in Glenstrae to protect it, should they come again."


Frantically, she put her ear to the boy's chest, listened for a heartbeat, a gasp of breath. There was none.

"Oh no, no…"

A sound from the bed, a rustle as the woman turned to look at her. Bloodshot eyes found her own and bored into her with feverish intensity. She couldn't hide the truth from her face; her own shock was too new and too raw.

The woman turned her head away. She might have been crying, save Elspeth knew she was too dehydrated for tears. Still, the frail body shook quietly for a few moments, clutching the even smaller body of her son.

God, what do you say to someone who's just lost a child?

All she could think to do was place a comforting hand on the woman's and bow her head, let her have her grief. At length the bony shoulders stilled. Elspeth looked to the woman's face and was startled to see a wild, distant look in her eyes.

"Do you…do you want some water?" she asked, with some alarm.

Eyes now closed, the woman's head shook from side to side.

"We'll take you with us…back to Glenstrae. You can recover there."

The head shook more violently. The low, ragged voice, forced through a throat parched and raw, issued once more from cracked lips.

"[There is naught more for me here, naught for me to live for, now.]"

The woman spoke to her, directly, and this time she managed to make out some of it. A phrase, an explanation—nothing to live for.

No husband, no son. Had she loved her husband? Had the son been the only thing that bound her to this life, made her keep living after he was gone? Dying of a broken heart had always seemed so tragically romantic but now, as she faced the reality of it, she realized it was merely tragic. I in for it now?  Tragic, historic, worldbuilding detail or senseless deaths that will get me flamed by readers?


This is the new fall show I've been most excited about, and blogged about once before.  Lucky us, DH and I got to initiate our "Monday TV Night" a week early last night and watch the pilot ahead of time.
Our verdict: KEEPER!  We've already set up the "series record" on our DVR.
Kevin McKidd - previously seen as Lucius Vorenus on HBO's Rome, which DH and I loved - plays Dan Vasser, a San Fransisco reporter who suddenly begins travelling through time.  (And does an admirable job hiding his very Scottish natural accent while doing so, hehe.)
[Some spoilers ahead.] 
Dan's married, though the relationship is revealed to have had some rough patches, and they have a young son.  Over the course of the episode we learn that his present wife Katie was once the girlfriend of Dan's older brother Jack, and Dan himself was engaged to a lawyer named Livia.  But Livia died in a mysterious plane crash 9(?) years ago.
The time travelling is spontaneous, and at first Dan doesn't know what's going on.  It messes with both his home life and his job.  After his first few disappearances, some for as long as a couple days, Dan arrives home to find Katie has staged an "intervention" with his friends and coworkers.
When Dan travels, he keeps running into the same man - Neil Gaines - at different points, at first saving him from committing suicide.  As Dan continues to track Neil and alter further events in his life, he also runs into Livia, his former True Love.  There's a great twist involving her that has me screaming for more episodes.  And the way Dan finally convinces Katie that he's really time travelling and not crazy or on drugs was inspired.  Classic.
Seems I was on my mark with my initial reaction to the premise.  This was very Quantum Leap as far as the "higher force" directing him places to change lives/history, but without the overly cheesy "future" set up and the time machine.  It seems this show is set firmly in the present, picking up in late 2007 (I assume, since Dan has an iPhone - I have to say, the juxtaposition in 1987 of him wearing his Bluetooth headset and they guy with the MASSIVE cell phone was hilarious).  The elements of TTW are there with the sudden disappearances and how they affect his present-day.
After just the pilot, this has already moved up into my list of favorite shows, right behind Heroes.  How convenient (and brilliant) to slot it immediately after on the TV schedule.  Whether or not it targets the entire percieved "demo" of Heroes, you have to know how many Star Trek/Quantum Leap/etc. ('cause that's a big crossover) fans make up a large part of that market and will be drawn to this show.
US readers with digital cable should be able to find the pilot On Demand in the "Free Spot" under "NBC Fall Preview" through Sunday, September 23.  (It airs next Monday, the 24th.)  Thanks to Brooke for that tip-off.  Those with PCs or TiVo can download it via Amazon's Unbox through the same time window  HERE.
And this is, of course, tangentially related to my writing, since time-travel is involved.  Heehee.

The Bronze Horseman

by Paullina Simons
Rhonddalyn has been going on about this book on the Forum since at least March, and I finally got around to checking it out and reading it.  Now I see what the fuss was about.
My review:
TBH is set in WWII Russia, mainly Leningrad.  On the day Germany invades Russia, we meet Tatiana, who then meets Alexander, an officer in the Red Army.  The book is their love story, and how their relationship develops through the horrors of war (especially the blockade of Leningrad, and the starvation and deaths that followed) and despite Tatiana's family and Alexander's pretense of a relationship with her older sister Dasha.  Things are further complicated by Alexander's past and the selfish, treacherous Dmitri, who is out to use his leverage on Alexander to get whatever he wants - at first Tatiana, later...well, that's a bit of a spoiler.
Basically, it's all about war and how it affects love and family.  Lots of tangled threads.  Claire, you really ought to read it.  *w*
I won't elaborate on the plot points at length.  This is a Big Book, not by any means "light reading."  Suffice it to say that theirs is one of those great epic, tragic loves.  As you move towards the book's inevitable conclusion, the depth of their love is almost overwhelming.  I got misty-eyed a few times, and then sat in my office at work and had a good cry when I finished it.  It was like The Time-Traveller's Wife in that respect for me.
So, definitely recommended.
And that's why I got a bit of scene all-unplanned yesterday.  As I said in my last post, I don't often method write but this book and (SPOILER) Alexander and Tatiana's separation(s) hit close enough to the emotions I want people to feel when Alec and Elspeth face separation that I let it spill over.  This is the kind of bar I've set myself as far as emotional impact.  Can I clear it?  Sometimes I wonder.  It remains to be seen.
I was still reeling from the end of the book (SPOILER for all that Alexander's fate was somewhat open-ended, Tatiana at least thinks him dead) when I happily discovered via the discussion on Compuserve that there are TWO more sequels.  Tatiana & Alexander and The Summer Garden .  Epic love, indeed.  The third book seems to be hard to find, but I was very pleased to find all three available in hardback through (a great program, regardless) for only $9.95.  Bonus.

...and we're back!

I had a very relaxing weekend.  Caught up on sleep, spent time with family and friends, and did some stuff around the house.  Oh, and read (more on that later).
Friday night during bunco, the ladies at my table started asking me about the book.  Much hilarity ensued when I let slip that one of my scenes is currently titled "blue balls".  Ahaha.  These are mostly woman from my Sunday school class, mind.  But I did get a few of them to admit they read romance, and the way a few others were asking, I think they do (or want to) but aren't ready to admit it in public yet.  Heh.
Saturday I finally got the landscaping around my water garden under control, did my fall transplanting, and took down, fixed, and rebuilt the waterfall that flows into the pond.  Then we went out for a picnic with our Sunday school class (saw a lot of them this weekend!), and afterwards to our friends' house to watch the game.  Which really meant the women sat in the kitchen or playroom and chatted while the guys watched.  Fine with me; I'm not that into football.  But Kentucky won!  Who would've thought?
Sunday was church, and then DH's dad came up to spend the afternoon.  We've really got to be careful what we say around grandparents now.  Little Boy (he's not a baby anymore *sniff*) really enjoyed the MagnaDoodle at our friends' the previous day.  DH mentioned to me in the presence of his dad that we ought to think about getting LB one sometime soon, so he can practice writing with no mess.  Guess what FIL insisted on buying while we were out?  Yup.
Yesterday was *insanely* busy at work.  Oh, and I was finishing up The Bronze Horseman (look for a post on that shortly).  Even so, I managed to get about 800 words down in between things.  I was so emotionally caught up in TBH that I rode that wave of emotion into thinking how Elspeth would feel when she returns, something I hadn't let myself work on yet.  It's about as close to "method writing" as I get - sometimes strong emotions elicited in me from a book or movie or situation spill over into corresponding areas of my book.
This is a snip from just the bare bones of a scene, but it helped for me to get it down:

History books called to her, tormented her. They could ease her burden somewhat, tell her she had done the right thing, that he had lived a full and happy life...or they could tell her the opposite. Knowing would make it final. But not knowing was driving her insane.

Ultimately she looked, but she kept herself from looking too closely, still afraid of what she would see. She skimmed pages, letting names jump out at her, only half-reading the sections that followed. [...]

A few heart-stopping times, her eyes found the name Alasdair MacGregor--alternately Alistair or Alexander and McGregor, McGrigor, or MacGriogar--and she forced herself to read on. But it was always the story of his [great]grandfather, his namesake, and the betrayal by the Colquhouns and Campbells after the Battle of Glen Fruin. So she took a breath and kept reading.

Beyond that, little to nothing of the Glenstrae branch, save that chiefship of Clan Gregor had shifted to Glengyle in the early eighteenth century. After Andrew, perhaps? She hoped; despite not knowing him well, she genuinely liked Alec's brother. But what of the second son? History, it seemed, did not remember Alasdair Colin MacGregor of Glenstrae.

But she did.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The mysterious case of the missing writer

I probably won't have much of an online presence (here or at Compuserve) for the rest of the week.  I've got stuff going on at work and at home that's taking most of my attention.  Also, the big push through August and the first of this month got me a little closer to the edge of burnout.  So I'm taking it easy. 
As I said in my previous post, I'm still working and I feel generally good about the book.  But the pressure's off for the rest of this week, and I'm getting caught up on some stuff, hosting a bunco party tomorrow night (which requires massive amounts of housework tonight, hehe) and working outside this weekend now that the weather's pretty.
Sven will be disappointed in me, but I don't see myself finishing 20K in 7 days, nor do I want to try.  I haven't given up on the end of the month, though.  Ideally after this weekend I'll be refreshed and the momentum will pick up.
Do e-mail me if something fun or interesting comes up, though!  (I may reduce my internet time, but I never stop checking e-mail.  That's asking too much.  *g*)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


A funny thing happened to me on the way to the September marathon.
At some point in the past week, I've stopped caring so much about wordcounts (daily or otherwise), targets, and deadlines.  I've been hacking with abandon, cutting huge chunks of scenes, rewriting extant bits before my "scheduled" rewrites timeframe, perfectly content with hours of work and only 300-500 words to show for it, and blissfully blowing off every goal I've set for myself.
Which is not to say I've given up or don't care about the book or my goals, no no.  And it's not to say I'm not making progress; I am! 
I just feel...transcendent, almost.  At peace.  Like I'm floating along.  The book has taken over.  I don't have to flog myself with deadlines to make sure I keep moving forward on it.  It's moving under its own power now, slowly but surely, and I know that if I just go along for the ride I'll get to the end.  And it won't take killing myself to do so.
I have this mental image of a roller coaster.  Up till now, I've had to do everything for myself: I made myself get up and leave for the amusement park, I bought my ticket, I walked to the ride, I waited in line, slowly moving forward - but under my own power.  Now I'm seated and strapped in, and the thing is moving, taking me with it.  Clickety-clack, slowly forward and up, inch by inch along the track toward the top of the ride.  The pace is slower than I might like, right now.  But some part of me knows that eventually, inexorably, I will reach the top of that hill and gravity will take over and suddenly I'll be flying down the other side.
Which is probably terribly cheesy, and I know I'm rambling now.  Don't mind me.  *g*
I haven't been blogging as much, or checking in at the forum, but I'm still here.  I'm writing every day - a lot or a little, determined by the story.  I'm making progress.  And somehow, I'm managing to get more sleep and actually accomplish some housework in the deal.
This is going to be an interesting ride.

September Marathon, Day 5

I stayed up a bit later than I meant to last night.  Saw myself getting close to that magic 80K mark (yet again) and tried to push through and hit it.  Along about 2 am I decided that wasn't happening and went to bed.
Still managed about 900 words, though.  And chapter 8 is done for now, in SFD format.
Marathon Goal(s) Met?  Heck no.  Obviously nowhere near 90K - though I'd be around 85K if I hadn't cut all that stuff last week.  I'm not even quite done with Act I yet, though I have made significant progress.
But I'm strangely okay with it all.

Monday, September 10, 2007

September Marathon, Day 4

I had made grand writing plans for today: be a heathen and skip church to do some extra work (just this week - it's the marathon after all).  But apparently God had other ideas, because I had forgotten it was both a) our turn to bring breakfast for Sunday school, and 2) our week to volunteer in the nursery.

And then we had a playgroup event this afternoon with our son.  Much fun and massive quantities of fried chicken and other picnic foods were had by all.  But no writing.

So I didn't get anything more than my usual writing time.  And in all that I only got about 500 words.  BUT I made progress.  I've been combining and rearranging chunks and I now have the overall general shape and flow of Act I, and everything has been placed into a chapter.  There will be 11 total.  Chapter 7 is done (if I haven't mentioned that yet) and 8 and 9 are largely in place, just need some filling and smoothing.  I know what goes in 10 and 11, and need only to write a few scenes for them.

So my (revised) marathon goal - to get Act I whipped into shape - is partially achieved.  We'll see what I can do at work tomorrow and then tomorrow night.  I'm going in to work late on Tuesday (have to stay late, too, but them's the breaks) so I can stay up tomorrow night and work later than usual, since I'll have the chance to sleep in a bit on Tuesday.  We'll see how far I get, but though I am definitely keeping pressure on myself to keep moving forward, I'm relaxing a little bit with my draconian word count expectations, etc.

Oh!  And I got all my laundry done!  (I've been putting it off for about two weeks, so that's big.  Heehee.)

In her talk yesterday, J.R. Ward said something that made me feel better.  Two things, actually.  The first was that the hardest time she ever had writing was when she was working; holding a full-time job left her hardly any time to write, and she doesn't have kids.  She only managed about 2 hours a day.  So with my 50-55 hours a week and 18-month-old, the fact that I usually manage about 3-4 hours makes me feel pretty darn good.  (Even if I sometimes expect too much of myself - see above.  And even though I don't do anything around the house any more.  And even though I'm likely to c-r-a-s-h next month, or whenever I get this darn draft done and give myself a break.)

She also said she didn't write at all in law school, because the workload was just too high.  So props to you, Jen.  *w*

The second thing she said was in drafting, the important thing was to get the bones of the story down and worry about the details like sensory descriptions and exact clothing and all that stuff later.  Which is kind of what I've been doing lately, and my plan for rewrites was in fact to go through each scene and add that stuff intentionally.  So I feel a little justified. I mean, I totally respect and look up to those people (and I know more than a few) who can work that all in on a first pass - kudos!  But I don't feel like such a hack for not having it in all my scenes yet.  *g*

September Marathon, Day 3

Don't check your calendars, I know it's Sunday.  But I wasn't on the computer yesterday to make a post.

Yup, you heard right.

I didn't write at all yesterday.  And it felt good.  I was exhausted from staying up so late Friday night, and I know both the quantity and quality of my writing suffer when I'm exhausted.  So I took the night off and caught up on a few more of the September X's (I'll get through them, slowly but surely - the mention of sex has brought everyone out of the woodwork, it seems).  Got to bed relatively early.  Meant to get up and write but decided I deserved a lie-in.  Got a full 8 hours of sleep last night.  *gasp!*

I decided that, even though it's a marathon, it's not like I haven't been pushing myself lately anyway.  August about killed me, and September won't be a walk in the park.  I've been averaging nearly 1000 words a day.  The end - finshing the rough draft - will justify it, but I do want to remain functional when all is said and done.  To quote the Kit Kat commercials: I deserved a break today.

Which is not to say I didn't to anything writing related; I attended my first meeting of the Kentucky Romance Writers .  It was very informational and I'm glad I went.  It's nice that they meet at a local (for me) library - many drive up from various parts of the state.  Now I just need to join RWA national and then I can become an official chapter member too.  The guest speaker was NY Times Bestseller J.R. Ward and she talked about her path to success and answered a lot of questions, ranging from the use of a pen name (my question) and psycho stalkers to her writing schedule, chunk vs. outline, etc.

The coolest thing?  All attendees scored signed ARCs of her latest book, Lover Unbound, coming out next month.  Bonus.

Also, they are holding a book signing next month in a part of my old stomping grounds.  Many authors, J.R. Ward included, will be at The Bookstore in Radcliffe on October 13th.  So if you're local and interested, stop by.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

September Marathon, Day 2

After much toil (and caffeine), I've got about 2K written - my daily target.

Only problem is, this is all rewrites for an existing scene (my September X). It had to be done, but was meant for later. It gets me no closer to either of my goals for the marathon or the month.

Ah, well. Now I am exhausted, and going to bed. I'll deal with commenting on the 10-12 new X's I haven't gotten to yet later.

Tomorrow it's back to chapter 8, or whatever pops up, and hopefully some new wordage.

Friday, September 07, 2007

September Marathon, Day 1

Today was the first day of the Compuserve marathon.  I (rather foolishly) set myself a goal to be at 90K by the end on Monday.  Ha.

Tonight I got about 1200 words - 1193, to be exact - and I'm okay with that.  I could push myself for the rest of the 700-some-odd I need to make the elusive 80K, but it's midnight and I want to be able to function tomorrow.

Besides, I realized I'm about to cut almost as many words as I just wrote, so I'll be right back here tomorrow.  Ergo, I'm still not updating my wordcount meter.  Progress is not measured in words alone.

To that end, my new goal for the marathon is to be "done" with Act I.  Meaning, have everything contiguous and divided into chapters from the beginning to the trip to Glasgow.  That will be well over 36K - probably closer to 40K - of the MS in first draft.  No more chunks.  If I can get beyond that into Act II with the kidnapping and rescue, so much the better.  But it won't involve just writing - there will be cutting.  So even if I do manage 10K new words, the overall wordcount may not show it.

Thursday, September 06, 2007


So last night I posted about cutting chunks of MS and how I thought it needed to be done, for all that it hurt.  This morning I hit my Google homepage and checked my Reader to find this on the 70 Days of Sweat Blog (they post inspirational quotes to keep us motivated):
"Crossing out is an art that is, perhaps, even more difficult than writing. It requires the sharpest eye to decide what is superfluous and must be removed. And it requires ruthlessness toward yourself — the greatest ruthlessness and self-sacrifice. You must know how to sacrifice parts in the name of the whole."
~Yevgeny Zamyatin
Timely advice, indeed.

Hacky, Slashy, Poky-Poky

I've done it again.

In my headlong rush for wordcount, I've managed to set myself back by cutting large chunks of existing MS.  But all for good cause.

At the end of Chapter 7 (that bane of my existence) and beginning of Chapter 8, there was a sequence that I had bits and pieces of, but every time I tried to work on it I got bogged down.  It seemed too convoluted.  Over the past few days it's started to feel like a ball and chain.  Last time I felt like this about a plot point, it was Elspeth's wheel and kiln and I knew I needed to cut it.  So I did.

I spent tonight revising what I had of 7 to remove the element (not too much work, actually) and sliced-n-diced the extant bits from 8.  We now transition (relatively) smoothly from A&E returning to Glenstrae to find the village has been attacked by Campbells looking for her, to him hieing off to rendezvous with his father and brother at Achallader and leaving her to face the clan alone. 

All told, I cut about 1800 words.  No more Campbells returning, no English lieutenant (so much for most of the work during my all-nighter Friday), no search for the "missing prisoner" and Elspeth being put on the spot.  But the pace feels right.  And I already have more momentum.  So I'm okay with it all.

New words for the day...probably at least 1500.  But since some are replacing another extant scene and the remainder were for the new chapter 8 (I'm on chapter 7v4 and 8v3 at this point...*sigh*) my wordcount is actually now slightly lower than the meter shows.  But I should catch back up tomorrow and then I'll update it.

Writing marathon starts on the forum tomorrow.  I was crazy and said I wanted 90K by the end of it, but that was before cutting all this wordage.  We'll see where I end up.  Onward and upward.

(Postscript: the post title was taken from Hugh Robertson's demonstration at Fergus, in which he referred to the broadsword blade as the "hacky, slashy, poky-poky" part.  I enjoyed that description enough to appropriate it, and it was more fun to say than simply "slash and burn.")

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Professional accomplishment

This doesn't have a lot to do with writing, but I am pretty pleased.  When I went to my professional conference in Minneapolis back in July, one of the things that caught my attention was the use of MRI for prostate patients.
See, usually we do all our radiation treatment planning on CT scans.  But on a CT scan, the prostate, bladder, seminal vesicles, etc. are all just one big gray blob.  If we want to do a highly specialized treatment called IMRT it is important to be able to distinguish the prostate from everything else.
So when I got back, I talked to our head physicist about it.  He was ambivalent, as they had tried MRI once before with lackluster results.  But technology is always improving, and our clinic has a new MR scanner.  I also talked to our oncologist, and she was very interested since not being able to see well on the CT is frustrating for her, and we want to do the best for our patients.  I talked to the head physicist again, about the doctor's interest, and after a few snags we finally had our first prostate patient get an MRI this afternoon.
It worked beautifully.  We can see everything we need to see, and when the doc looked at it she just kept exclaiming how excited she was to be able to finally know what she was contouring.  By this point everyone has forgotten it was my idea to look into it again, and I was the one to find the journal article with the technique, etc.  I don't mind.  I'm just glad it's going to work out, 'cause this is a big improvement.  I figured you guys wouldn't mind me bragging a little, though.  *g*
In writing news, I've probably managed about 800 new words so far today, and I'll write more tonight.  Thing is, it's all going to replace an existing scene, so it doesn't help my wordcount.  Ah, well.  It's revisions I would have to make at some point anyway.  (And my counter isn't updated - so I'm actually a little farther along than that.)

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


I'm pretty annoyed at myself.
I decided to take Labor Day weekend off, and I'm glad of it.  But now the slow progression of September reminds me I should be at 84K to be on target, and I still haven't broken 80K yet.
And then today at work seemed wide open, all the time I spent here yesterday (yes, yesterday, for those American readers) to get caught up would have paid off with a wide open schedule and plenty of time to make headway on my wordcount.
Except I couldn't focus.  Kept popping over to Compuserve to check on the September X's, and checking my e-mail, and such.  And then, whenever I did try to settle down and write, invariably something work-related would come up and I'd have to take care of that first.  After which it would be hard to focus once more.
The end result of which is, it's 6:30 and I'm just now getting ready to leave, only having gotten 750 words and just the immediately due (read: tomorrow morning) stuff done for work.  I'll get home at 7 pm on a day I'd hoped to get home fairly early and done with my wordcount, to boot.
I want to be annoyed at the randomness of my work duties today; I like to have a block of time devoted to getting a certain thing done, and this scattershot arrival of plans mucks that all up.
But when it comes right down to it, I wasted a good part of the day, and the blame is all mine.  Which is even more frustrating.

Saturday, September 01, 2007


Not quite.  Work was very busy today - of course it was, I had a deadline to meet - and I stayed up much later than I meant to last night.  In consequence, I still had 2500 words to get this evening and I was tired and slow going into the deal.  Managed 1200 total for the day, a little under half what I needed.

I gave it my all (you will note the timestamp of this post; I have not been to bed) but ultimately didn't quite reach my goal.  I got darned close, though.  1600 isn't such a huge deficit to make up, and over 18K in a month is nothing to sneeze at.  I had hopes this past hour of at least reaching 79K, but now my brain is shutting down and I'm calling "uncle."

The good news is, I finished chapter 7 (finally!) and moved into chapter 8, after getting a decent preliminary feel for my English lieutenant.  This was a tipping point, and I'll be working linearly again for a bit unless/until something else pops up.

So now I'm going to doze for an hour or so before getting up to head out to Indianapolis.  DH's aunt and uncle are having a Labor Day cookout up there, and the whole family is going.

Monday I'm sleeping in.  Then I have to go into my office to finish a few things for Tuesday (even though I didn't leave work until 7:30 pm tonight *sigh*) and while I'm there I'm going to spend several uninterrupted hours writing.

I remain firm in my commitment to finish the first draft by the end of September.  Ideally by the 20th, for Sven's sake, but if I go over, I go over.  I have a feeling I may go beyond 100,000 words on the first round.  In which case, that's more than 20K in 20 days (or a month).  We'll see if I can pull it off.