Saturday, December 8, 2007

Changing already and The Golden Compass

I knew the title of the next book: Overthrowing Heaven. I knew the opening scene: no, I won't tell you, and you know I don't do that. I knew the type of story it was: again, I'm not telling.

And then on the first day of work on it, at the end of my writing session, it changed on me.

I haven't experienced this before. I was making notes, pondering a problem, and suddenly my gut told me that I had to change some key notions about the book.

So, I am. I think the novel is going to be even better than before, but now in many ways it's back to the drawing board for me.

On a completely unrelated front, tonight we went to see The Golden Compass. Though frequently pretty, it was even more frequently disjointed. Though sometimes moving, it was never as moving as I wanted.

I don't regret seeing it, but I wanted better, much better, from it.

My hope is that somewhere a three-hour director's cut is waiting to redeem it on DVD.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

The mornings after

I've learned through experience that finishing a book is a weird thing. That was true with One Jump Ahead, and it's definitely the case with Slanted Jack.

On the one hand, I'm really glad Slanted Jack is done. I've lived the story for so long that I want others to get to read it, too. I want to talk to them about my favorite characters and scenes, see if people liked what I liked and caught my hints and so on.

On the other hand, what if they don't like it? What if even the publisher doesn't like it and no one wants to publish it and on and on?

Isn't it amazing how quickly insecurity can follow on the footsteps of happiness? In my case, I've found that the latter can be so close to the former as to walk all over it.

I'm also exhausted, though for no good reason; yesterday was no harder or longer a work day than the one before. Something about finishing a book leaves me incredibly tired.

I also have to confront a new fear and a new excitement: the next novel, in my case, Overthrowing Heaven. I'm scared, because I don't know how this book will work out. I haven't plotted it, don't know all the characters well, and so on. Anything could go wrong. I'm also excited, because I get the joy of creating and discovering--the two are tightly entertwined--a new tale.

A weird time, but one that I will not let slow me down.

Slanted Jack is done

I finished it a few minutes ago, made multiple backups, and sent it to Toni. At about 119K words, it's a fair amount longer than One Jump Ahead. I hope folks like it.

I'm going to take my late-night break, eat some fruit, and watch the final episode of this season's The Ultimate Fighter.

Tomorrow, I'll begin noodling at the edges of a plot for Overthrowing Heaven.

I am spent.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Gina's rules for life (today's installment)

Gina was saying that if she had a blog, she'd use it to lay down some rules for life. I, of course, immediately offered to help by letting her relay those instructions through my blog. So, here are the first two of her rules for life.

1) If you're on a two-lane road, drive no slower than the speed limit.

Don't make Gina yell at you.

She added that if you're on a four-lane road, you can go slower than the speed limit as long as you're in the right lane. I'm not sure I agree--I believe you should never drive slower than the limit unless you're carrying an odd and large load--but these are her rules.

2) If you're female and you're going into the Dead Sea, coat your sensitive parts with petroleum jelly first.

Really; this is her rule, based on experience. I'm not making this up.

I wonder what men should do?

Tomorrow, we return to our regularly scheduled blog.

An odd redo

Sunday night, I edited two more chapters of Slanted Jack. No news there. I didn't sleep well, however, and I awoke Monday morning with the conviction that I had not done something right during the editing. We're talking about the fifth pass over the complete ms., so at this stage I'm fine-tuning and messing up in a big way is extremely unlikely.

The feeling, however, wouldn't go away.

Finally, late last night, well after I wrote my blog entry, I stopped fighting my subconscious and redid the previous day's work--and a little more for good measure.

My subconscious was right. I hadn't done anything seriously wrong, but I had failed to get certain very subtle bits of language pacing the way I wanted them. I'm not sure anyone else would even notice, but I know the book is now better for this extra effort, and that's enough.

Note to self: Trust your subconscious in such matters.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

In search of to-do list software

First, the bad news: I don't have any pictures of the roller derby game to show you. I will, because Gina gave me a CD full of shots she took, but I haven't had time today to look through them. Sorry about that. Perhaps later this week.

Now, to my current problem: I can't find to-list software that does what I want. Specifically, I want to arrange a group of categories of tasks on a display so that the categories appear in rows. Each category's entry would be a box that would scroll if the category had more tasks than would fit. The whole window would scroll if I had more categories than available display real estate. This is the sort of work "dashboard" that I do on paper to organize myself, but I want to do it on a PC (or Mac) so I'll have the data electronically.

I've tried Outlook, of course, but it can't do the job. Its only organization of categories is a vertical stack.

I've Googled a bit and followed many links, but so far I've not encountered any program that can do the job.

Does anyone know of software that might fill this bill? If so, please drop me a line via the Web site or post candidates as comments here.


Sunday, December 2, 2007

Denise Lightning saved the day

Snot Rocket was unstoppable for much of the game, but when the match was on the line, Denise Lightning stepped up to the challenge of shutting down the nation's number one jammer.

Oh, yeah: the topic is roller derby.

Specifically, for her birthday party tonight Anna Bess held the single most interesting (at least to me) event of any of our parties in ages: after a very early dinner at Baja Burrito, a favorite place of hers, we went to Dorton Arena to see the game between the #4 Carolina Rollergirls and the #1 Kansas City Roller Warriors.

A jammer, by the way, is the one player on each team who can score. The names I gave are the ones the women use, and they alone were enough to win my heart. How can you not want to cheer for a thin but tough as nails blonde named Snot Rocket who again and again found openings where none appeared to exist and then jetted ahead of the pack? Too bad she was on the opposing team.

The flat-track skating was fun, fast, and physical. Most of our group sat in the stands, but a few of us, myself included, sat in "the pit," the concrete floor area just outside the skating track.

One color commentator's name was Corn Dog.

The crowd was larger than I had expected, ranged all over the place in age and other demographics, and had a sizable contingent of young, heavily inked people of both genders.

After taking an early lead, Carolina's defense gave up points again and again, until it was a one-point game--and then Denise Lightning saved the day.

I had a blast, recommend it highly, and hope to go again.

Beowulf and an RPS update

Tonight we ate dinner at Wasabi, a place with good sushi, good Thai food, and service that ranges from mediocre to bad. The meal was tasty, and after it we passed some time in a Barnes & Noble before going to see Beowulf.

My reactions to the film are decidedly mixed. The story modifications didn't trouble me terribly, though from time to time they did intrude. The animation, however, bothered me frequently. At the end of the movie, I found myself wishing for either pure animation or live action with CGI as necessary for monsters and such. On balance, I'm glad I saw this one, but it left me hungry for a really good movie. (I have high hopes for The Golden Compass next week.)
On the RPS front, Sarah, despite having lost tonight and last night, decided it was time to celebrate her RPS skills (and to send Kyle a message); check out her artwork here.


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