Archive for September, 2004

9/29/04: Hacking away, again

Word count: 99822 | Since last entry: 974 | This month: 8772 Wrote another full scene, in which Jason continues hacking on the FFL’s mail server to try to find out who it was who set him up by providing the biocomputer documentation. A couple of big revelations coming soon. (They’d better be soon, I have to finish this chapter by Saturday!) I sometimes wonder if these hacking scenes are interesting. Some readers really like them, and I know that this is an area that I can write as few other writers can (well, except for those who have been technical writers, and there are quite a few of those). I’ll leave them in for now, and if feedback indicates they are boring I can trim them back. I see that I will probably pass 100,000 words tomorrow. That’s quite a milestone. There’s probably 500-1500 words left in the current chapter, with 3 chapters and an epilogue after that, so we’re still looking at about 115k-125k words for the completed first draft. That’s within reason, though I’ll have to focus on trimming down rather than adding as I revise. Onward!

9/27/04: Hammering pieces into the puzzle

Word count: 98848 | Since last entry: 467 | This month: 7798 Spent much of the evening adding a new shelf to the CD bookcase — a project we’ve meant to do for, oh, about twelve years, but Kate finally got around to buying all the pieces today and all I had to do was haul out the hammer and screwdrivers and Power Tools and install it. Grunt. That and getting dinner just about killed the evening; going out to eat every night is really time-consuming. I’ll be glad when the kitchen is done. Only about 300 words of actual new prose tonight; the rest is notes on the difficult question of “how the hell does Jason figure out what is really happening, given that everyone involved is hiding their part of the facts from everyone else?” In this chapter Jason has to find answers to two key questions, one of which has been driving him for basically the whole novel and the other has turned his life upside down in the last couple of chapters. (Of course, those answers only make things harder.) I’ve figured out a way for him to find the answer to question 2: it involves him being the only person in the world who is in a position to see all the pieces at once, or having any reason to look. Finding the answer to question 1 is harder, but I had an important realization: if it’s Sienna who holds the final link in the chain of evidence that leads to the answer, I can have her reveal it at the very end of this chapter, which gives that scene some needed oomph and also motivates a decision of hers that is otherwise rather inexplicable. So all I need is to figure out what that link is, and the other links will fall into place. I think I’ll have to futz with the calendar a little, since this chapter is outlined as taking place over three days and I’ll need at least four for all the above to happen plausibly. Further calendar rejiggering will be required due to the fact that all of this is happening on Thanksgiving weekend, which just can’t work (most businesses would be closed on Thanksgiving). Or should I have Sienna’s key revelation happen at Jason and Sienna’s squalid little impoverished two-person Thanksgiving dinner? Naah, too Hallmark, and besides I think it’s better if it coincides with the rebellion that started on December 8 in the last Clarity chapter. That’ll really bolt the two plot threads together. Man, it’s like juggling jigsaw puzzles in here. There’s pieces all over the place. Good thing I still have that hammer…

9/26/04: Hacking away

Word count: 98381 | Since last entry: 1682 | This month: 7331 A productive day’s writing, while Kate went to the Flock and Fiber show (“have fun with the sheep,” I said). Wrote a whole scene in which Jason hacks into the FFL’s mail server to find out what the organization has been keeping from him. I hate fiction in which magic “Computer Hackers” can take control of anything in no time, with no research and no preparation. In this case I set up the hack chapters and chapters ago, with Jason having plenty of inside information (plus, of course, his exceptional skills, which are implausible, but he is the main character after all). I hope the readers will find it plausible and be entertained. In other news, I feel less sick. Still not 100% healthy, but better. I’ll be glad when this is over, though. Thanks to all those who have sent good wishes.

9/23/04: Back out into the cold

Word count: 96699 | Since last entry: 631 | This month: 5649 Sent Jason out into the cold of a Trenton, New Jersey night, but it’s a good thing in this case. I think that everything I’ve written so far in this chapter is fundamentally necessary but too long — over 3000 words so far and I’m only 1/3 through my outline for the chapter. I just don’t think what I’ve written so far is worth that many words. With any luck I’ll get a chance to trim it back before I send the chapter to critique. I’m also feeling a little achy and a little scratchy in the throat. Man, I hope I’m not getting sick again. I was only mildly ill after the Worldcon, but that was too much and it was only a couple weeks ago. Taking my vitamins and going to bed now.

9/19/04: Onward

Word count: 96068 | Since last entry: 1315 | This month: 5018 Huh. I didn’t think I’d written that many words today. Largely what I did is go back and interleave some action (not very active action, to be sure, but not just thinking) with the stuff I wrote the other day, changing the beginning of the chapter from pure exposition into Jason’s thoughts as he trudges through a snowstorm to the bus station. (Yoo rah.) But it is action — yes, my protagonist is taking action! — and it leads him into a potentially deadly confrontation. I left him, unarmed, facing an armed alien security officer and with no concrete idea of how to get him out of it. But over dinner I thought of a way out that I think is pretty nifty. I’ll write it later. In other news, I have retired the old journal on my home page. The new URL is (note the S in .shtml) and the new URL for the RSS feed is Please change your bookmarks. And let me know if you have any problems.

9/16/04: Some progress

Word count: 94753 | Since last entry: 708 | This month: 3703 Yesterday we went to see local author Marc Acito, whom I met at a party last year, as he kicks off his book tour for his first novel, How I Paid for College. For which he got a six-figure advance, and another six-figure advance for the UK rights, and yet more money for the film rights. I told Kate “if I melt down into a small green puddle of jealousy in the middle of the reading, poke me.” But it was very entertaining, and I learned a few things about how to do a good reading. But tonight, despite looming feelings of “who am I kidding, nobody’s going to want to read this, I should just go out in the back yard and eat worms” I sat down and began composing actual prose in Chapter H. Go me. So far it’s pretty heavily laden with exposition, and exposition about sitting and thinking at that, and sitting and thinking about computer security at that. But it’s 708 new words, by gum, and I can trim it back later. At times like this I try to remind myself that I did win Writers of the Future and the James White Award, not to mention the Hugo and Campbell nominations as well as the Nebula near-miss. And agent Linn Prentis said nice things about the chapters and outline of this very novel, which she certainly didn’t have to. (Did I mention in my Worldcon report that when I ran into her in the Green Room she seemed much more enthusiastic about it than her email had led me to believe she was? I wanted to try to get to the bottom of the discrepancy at the time, but I was late for a panel and I didn’t see her again.) Anyway. I know I can write, I know this is a good novel, I just have to grit my teeth and keep writing until I believe it or finish the damn thing, whichever comes first. Yargh. In other news… we picked up the new car today. A silver 2005 Corolla with 47 miles on the odometer, remote keyless entry, CD changer, antilock brakes, and an instruction book full of novel ways to die. (Now with side-curtain airbags: four new explosive devices for your protection!) And that new-car smell. Mmm.

9/14/04: Blue funk

Word count: 94045 | Since last entry: 367 | This month: 2995 No prose written in the last few days, but I did write 367 words of detailed outline in Chapter H tonight. Over the weekend I did many productive things, including buying a new watch (temporary replacement for the one whose strap broke, with new strap on order), a new Swiss Army knife (replacement for the one I lost at Security on the way to the Worldcon, grr), and light fixtures and cabinet knobs for the new kitchen (though we need to take one of the light fixtures back and get a different one), and test-drove a new car. We’ll be taking delivery of that on Thursday (I love working with an auto broker). Getting all that done was satisfying, but also in the last couple of days I received two rejections — 202 days from Ideomancer and 186 days from Brutarian — and saw portents and signs that a Blue-Form-of-Death is on its way from Realms of Fantasy after 224 days. For some reason, perhaps because they took so long and then arrived so close on the heels of my Hugo and Campbell losses, these rejections hit me really hard and I spent the entirety of Monday afternoon and evening in a blue funk. Definitely not in a writing frame of mind. So I cheered myself up by setting up a LiveJournal for the lovely and charming kateyule. She’s going to be blogging about the kitchen remodel. Have you ever stayed at one of those “suites” hotels where you have two rooms and your own little fridge and microwave? It’s nice to be able to have breakfast and lunch in the room, but it’s kind of crowded, and it’s awkward to do any real cooking without proper utensils and stuff, so you eat most of your dinners out. Having your kitchen done feels a lot like that. It’s like we’re on vacation — or maybe traveling on business is more like it — right here in our own home town.

12/1/03: NoReNaNoWriMo, final report

Word count: 45058 | Since last entry: 1064 | This month: 12940 The weekend started off well, with 700+ words written while Kate took a spell at the wheel, and I managed another couple hundred words on Friday. But I haven’t written a thing since then. Despite that, I’m happy with my Not Really National Novel Writing Month. The nearly 13,000 words I wrote in November is significantly better than the 10,500 I wrote for the Pseudo-NaNoWriMo back in March, and I’m nearly to the midpoint of the novel. The Jupiter story stands at 3800 words, with the final complication in place and only the setup for the climax and the climax itself to go. It will probably be about 4500 words when I finish the first draft, but I have some ideas of things I can cut. (It’s important that it be short because I’m trying to squeeze into an anthology that is probably already full.) I also want to rewrite part of a scene I finished earlier, to better establish the main character’s priorities and make the climax more plausible. Still hope to finish the story this week.

10/19/03: Colonyhouse

Word count: 32765 Just back from a writing weekend at the coast, at the delightful Oregon Writers Colony house with a bunch of other Oregon and Washington writers (Jerry, Kathy, Paulette, Amy, Susan, Jim, and Brenda). Only (?) wrote about 2800 new words, but that includes a half-day re-outlining the current chapter and was about the same word count as everyone else did. The new outline wound up almost exactly like the old one, but where the old one was vague (“things get worse”) the new one is a list of specific incidents (“Clarity’s best childhood friend comes down with the plague”). This is part of that staring-out-windows thing that is so important to fiction writing and I don’t regret it. Apart from the writing, spent a great weekend with a bunch of keen folks. I cooked spaghetti sauce (half buffalo, half hot Italian sausage, all delicious) for Saturday dinner, Amy made a killer chocolate mousse, and each person brought enough food for everyone (we had a total of three pounds of bacon and three and a half dozen eggs for eight people for a weekend — definite overkill in the food department, but better too much than too little). The weather was nice, warm on Saturday and a little drizzly on Sunday, but as is my Colonyhouse habit I didn’t leave the house at all. When I go to the coast to write, I write — or at least hang out with writers. Much writerly gossip was gossiped, and the problems of the world were solved. Fun, relaxing, productive. I want to do this again in a few months. Oh, I ought to note this major milestone: I just passed 30,000 words, which was my goal for the first month’s writing when I did the Pseudo-NaNoWriMo back in March. Okay, it took longer than I had thought. But it’s still significant; I’m about 1/3 done with the first draft. When I got home I found a nice rejection from Ellen Datlow at “It’s very nicely written but there just isn’t enough to it for my taste. Sorry. I do like your work and trust that one of these days we’ll connect so keep on sending stories to me.” Better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, as my dad always says.

9/16/03: Slow and unsteady

Word count: 26872 A couple hundred words here, a couple hundred words there. Progress, but not enough. It’s a slog. I’ve introduced Flea and shown Jason making some progress on cracking the alien computer. It feels slow. I hope to have this chapter ready to send to my crit group this weekend. In other news, I just got a keen new “phone”. I put “phone” in quotes because being a phone seems to be the least of its powers. It’s a wireless web browser, email client, calendar, to-do list, calculator, currency converter, GameBoy, and MP3 player too. Maybe more. The manufacturer is pushing it as “the Music Phone” but I bought it for the keyboard, which is terribly cute but reasonably functional. Now I can Google from anywhere, mwa hah hah! Well, almost anywhere — alas, it has almost no signal in my office.