Winter Sunday Stats #10: Things Are Looking Up.

As I often do, I’m starting this Sunday Stats post on Sunday morning, and I’ll fill it in during the day as I get things done (or not done).  What’s unusual is that I’m starting this in bed at 7am, because I woke up at 6:30, still full from the night before.

Attentive readers may remember from post #200 a month ago that the Green-Eyed Siren and I have not been out to dinner, just the two of us, in a long time.  Thanks in no small part to your many suggestions in the comments, we went out last night and had a terrific time.  We found a French restaurant we’d never been to in a neighborhood where we used to hang out (back in the last millennium).  There was a wait for a table, but they took my cell number and we walked over to a nearby bookstore/wine bar and spent a happy hour talking, drinking, and picking out books.  Funny but true: without knowing it until we got there, we walked into the store intending to look for the same book, Jasper Fforde’s The Eyre Affair.  The Siren had seen an extended review of it on Necromancy Never Pays, and I had heard about it during the last meeting of the novelists’ support discussion group.  By itself the hour at the bookstore would have been the best night out we’d had in a while, but we were very glad to go to dinner.  The food was great, the company and conversation was better.  And it was nice to see that all of the restaurants in the area were crowded — maybe the economy isn’t in total collapse yet.

We figured out that the last time we could remember going out to dinner alone was the night before Mother’s Day, 2006.  It’s possible that there was one time after that, but we couldn’t place it.  Certainly not in 2008 (let alone 2009).

So we’ve promised each to do it again much sooner, but the deal is that first we have to read the books we bought last night.  I suspect we’ll be doing a lot of fast reading in the next couple of weeks.

Thanks again to those of you who suggested “research” for the dinner date scene in Meet the Larssons.  I still think having the date canceled was the right thing for the story, but at least I could write it now if I needed to.  It would be better, however, to have more data.  One night out is a pretty small sample…

On Writing:  Putting aside mouthing off to the Siren about Project Hometown last night at dinner to keep her laughing (although I didn’t think the mugging scene was that funny, may need to rethink it), I didn’t get much done this week.  It may have been a short week, but it was a busy one at The Firm.  I finished a chapter in the manuscript slog through Meet the Larssons, and I’ve outlined the first six scenes of Project Hometown.  As Randy Ingermanson describes it in Step 8 of the Snowflake Method, the scene by scene outline is best done in a spreadsheet, which is how I’m doing it.  Randy recommends just two columns:  one to identify the point-of-view character, and one to describe the action.  I have columns for POV character, the characters involved in the scene, the location, the time, a description of the action, and finally, any interesting character development or reveals.  Of the six scenes I’ve outlined so far, two are not described at all in the five page outline I drafted at the beginning of January.  That will happen more as I get deeper into the outline, but it was a fun surprise to see things I hadn’t thought about before come out so early on.  I haven’t gotten any work on either novel done today (just this nearly 1200 word blog post, which should probably tell me something), but I may be able to work on one or the other this evening, if I can stay awake.

On Running:  A not-very-long long run today, just a little over five miles in 42 minutes (8:18m/m pace) on the treadmill at home, due to a late start.  In 5 weeks, I need to knock nearly 7 minutes off that distance for the Shamrock Shuffle (time last year around 35:50).  I think I can do that, but I’ll have to start speed work this week.  I haven’t been able to get to the gym at all — I really need to get a little weightlifting in every week if I’m going to keep my weight down — but I managed a couple of good weekday runs despite not nearly enough sleep, both on the treadmill.  We did make it to Taekwondo yesterday, and Unfocused Girl broke a board with an elbow strike on her first try.  Junior wasn’t able to break his, but he’s still little and hasn’t been practicing that long.  He’s motivated now, though.

On the iPod:  For the treadmill runs, I’ve been watching Battlestar Galactica (Season 2 – I’m way behind, so please don’t post any spoilers!) on my laptop.  The Siren bought something called a SurfShelf, which fits over the treadmill control panel and lets you secure your laptop with a good view of the screen and easy access to the keyboard.  Obviously I’m not going to type while I run, but it’s great for watching videos (and occasionally reading blog comments) as the miles go by.

In other news, I twisted my own arm hard enough that I finally cracked and bought an iPhone.  Yes, I love it.  I will probably by a Shuffle for running, but the phone has allowed me to start listening to podcasts again while I walk to and from the train, or while I’m driving.  This week, I started to catch up, and listened to:  I Should Be Writing, Special Episode #42 (James Patrick Kelly interviews Kim Stanley Robinson) — I didn’t finish this episode, because I was listening in the car and the sound quality wasn’t quite strong enough to overcome the engine noise (Kelly’s questions were fine, but I kept missing Robinson’s answers) so I’ll have to finish it today; Grammar Girl #156 (What Is the Plural of Scissors?) and #157 (When to Use a Comma with “Too”); Writing Excuses, Season 2, Episode 18 (World Building Governments) and Episode 19 (Do Creative Writing Classes Help?); and various episodes of NPR’s Planet Money.  Auria Cortes from the blog Murder She Wrote recommended the Writers on Writing podcast.  Intending to give it a try, I looked on iTunes, found a podcast called “Writers on Writing,” and downloaded a couple of episodes (interviews of Amy Tan and William Gibson).  I’ll let you know how I like them, but the iTunes feed for this XM Radio-produced podcast only goes up to Oct. 30, 2008.  AC’s recommendation didn’t sound like she was talking about a discontinued podcast, so I checked the interwebs and found another podcast called “Writers on Writing,” which looks like it comes out three times a week and has for a while.  On iTunes, though, it’s called “Pen on Fire,” probably because of the other podcast.  So there you have it, two writerific podcasts for the price of one.  I’ll listen to them both and let you know what I think.


10 responses to “Winter Sunday Stats #10: Things Are Looking Up.

  1. Enjoy BSG. I was introduced to it two weeks ago and got so hooked I am now completely current with the show, and mourning the fact that again, I have fallen in love with something utterly bril in its final season. This happened with BtVS too.


    • Two weeks ago? I’m impressed. That’s a lot of BSG. I never got into Buffy, it hit at the wrong time in my life — I was working all the time and didn’t have Tivo yet. Once I get caught up on Battlestar, I will probably check out Firefly, which I’ve never seen but heard a lot of good things about.

  2. I hope you enjoy The Eyre Affair!
    BTW, I’m a big fan of Firefly.

  3. Ack! Here, we are still waiting for the third season of BSG to come out on DVD. Unfortunately, I’ve already been spoiled on that whole season. Trying not to be on the rest of it.

    Oh, and glad you had such a nice dinner out with the “Green eyed Siren”. Very important to have those times together. :)

  4. Damn, that whole bookstore-dinner evening sounds nice. Reading about it made me feel all wistful about the old, lost days of books and wine. Thanks for letting me live vicariously there for a while.

  5. Happy to see that you are using a SurfShelf to watch one of my favorite shows of all time! That’s so cool.

    Hey if anyone else is interested in buying a SurfShelf to watch shows on your laptop while you exercise, here is a 10% discount code for Unfocused Life readers: “surfshelf-unfocused”. Just put it in the “blog code” field in the shopping cart at

    Thanks again for the SurfShelf shout out!

    Have fun,
    Randy (founder of SurfShelf)

  6. Glad you guys got out to eat. It’s nice to be able to eat, talk, and not have to take turns taking kids to the bathroom.

    You got the iPhone? I’ve been thinking about it for a while now. My phone is dying and needs to be replaced soon.

    • Jeanne – See, I knew all the cool kids were into Firefly. Unfortunately, The Eyre Affair has exposed one of the big gaps in my reading: I’ve never read Jane Eyre. So the Siren gets first shot at Fforde, and I have pulled her copy of the original off the shelf and will try and get through it by the time she’s done.

      Gypsy – By refusing to talk to people and not looking at the internet at all, I have managed to avoid all spoilers.

      Andrew – Sometimes I forget why we made such a big stink about not moving to the suburbs, and then we have a night like that.

      Ralph – Good man.

      Randy – Thanks for stopping by! I don’t think I’ve ever had a discount code named after the blog before, thanks.

      Mike – iPhone good, unless you’re trying to cut back on Twitter or FB. Then it’s very, very bad.

  7. Hey, glad you two made it for a night out! Sounds like you had a great time. :)

  8. Pingback: The Siren Goes on a Date. « The Siren, Syncopated

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