Category Archives: Meet the Larssons

Fall Sunday Stats #10/Revising Meet the Larssons Days 7 and 8: Sipping a Latte, Listening to the Cinnamon Bear.

I’m typing this out a bit at a time while we’re decorating the new, artificial Christmas tree.  I’ve got a pumpkin spice soy latte from the Starbucks around the corner, and we’re listening to The Cinnamon Bear, a children’s Christmas serial from the days of old time radio.  We listen to The Cinnamon Bear every year, usually one episode a day, but this year we kept forgetting to hunt down the CDs so now we’re catching up on two weeks of episodes all at once, thrilling to the adventures of Judy and Jimmy as they search through Maybeland with Paddy O’Cinnamon, the Crazy-Quilt Dragon and their friends as they try to recover the silver star for the top of their Christmas tree.  “Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without the silver star,” as Judy always says. (One caveat:  I linked to a set of the CDs on Amazon, but it isn’t the same set we have, which isn’t available anymore, so I can’t vouch for the sound quality.)

Junior pointed out that in real life, it really is Christmas, because we have our silver star for the top of our tree.  What do you put on the top of yours, if you have one?

How many miles did you — oh, never mind: Yeah, I skipped the run altogether today.  Junior is sick (still?  again?  who knows?), and was a lot needier than last Sunday morning.  Also, we went to two holiday parties last night, which were great fun and left me a wee bit tuckered out.  I did get a couple of 4+ mile runs in during the week and Unfocused Girl and I went to taekwondo yesterday for the first time in three weeks, so I haven’t been a complete lump.

What’s been playing on the iPod? Among my regular podcast subscriptions, J.C. Hutchins has a cool series of video podcasts about a mysterious silver case and a sinister videogame release; Mur Lafferty released episode #106 of I Should Be Writing (“Don’t Panic!”); and Escape Pod has pushed out several episodes of flash fiction from its Flash Fiction Contest (the winner:  “Mission to Dover,” by Gideon Fostick).   Each of these podcasts is available through the link to the podcaster’s site and through iTunes.  Last week I posted about Writing Excuses, which I found from the recommendation of another blogger (unfortunately, I’ve forgotten who — it was a blog I came across during some semi-random surfing).  That same blogger also pointed me to The Kissy Bits, a podcast from 2005-2006 about writing romance.  The host, Kiki, is an aspiring chick-lit author.  I don’t know who her intended audience is for the podcast, but in the episodes I’ve listened to (#8 through the final episode, #17, which are all available on iTunes; all episodes, including #1-#7, appear to be available on her blog), she has done a nice job explaining to those of us who don’t read romance novels the different character archetypes, plot skeletons, and given solid advice on writing the “kissy bits.”  I plan to listen to the first seven episodes this week.  In one of the blog comments, Kiki says she may come back with more episodes in 2009 — I hope she does.  As always, I appreciate any recommendations (and if you make a recommendation in the comments, I won’t lose it).

How’s the writing going? Not badly at all.  The One-Pass Revision of Meet the Larssons is going slowly but well.  I’m through page 105, and I just finished what used to be Chapter 10 and is now Chapter 3.  I’m still doing at least as much rewriting as editing, but I now have several pages in my “done” pile that have just a few minor edits instead of looking like I broke open a fountain pen on top of them.

Actually, just two, but still.  Here they are:

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The outlining for Project Hometown is going well, too — up to 6,125 words as of Friday evening.  I hope to finish all of the minor character synopses this week, and then move on to the expanded plot synopsis.

As I mentioned before, the Mrs. and I went to two parties last night:  one given by neighbors, the other given by friends we know through my office.  At the party given by our neighbors, my wife ran into Mary Osborne, a woman she had met at this neighbor’s house a few months ago; they got to talking, and the Mrs. found out that Mary is also an unpublished novelist, so the Mrs. introduced us — we were on our way out, so we only had a minute to chat, but it was an interesting experience, because since I’ve started writing I haven’t met any other unpublished writers, except for the members of the one crit group meeting I attended.  Mary’s got two books finished and her website — which has the first chapter of each available for download — just went live.

What was interesting about the whole experience is that if I had been left to my own devices, there would have been no chance at all that I would have learned that Mary was a novelist.  Because I’m not very good at conversations that go past “what do you do?”  If you’ve got a day job and write fiction at night, or early in the morning, or whatever, you’ve got to be really confident in your writing (or really disenchanted with your day job) to say “I write novels” or “I write science fiction” or “I write chick-lit” in response to that question.  Maybe Mary does.  I don’t.  Someday I will, but not yet.

One more thing: Saint Lucia Day was great.  The cinnamon rolls were very tasty (and we had to change our sheets because of all the crumbs), the coffee was delicious, and Unfocused Girl was very cute in her Lucia gown and battery-powered candle-bedecked crown.  Here’s a picture to prove it:

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Then we sat around watching the Swedish chef on Youtube.  Here’s a sample:

Bork bork bork!

21K! Everyday, everyday, everyday I write the book.

I wrote 2300 words today to get 21,000 words into Meet the Larssons.  Scrivener tells me that’s 94 printed pages (only 57 pages if it were set like a mass market paperback, but still), which makes it almost 20 pages of fiction more than I have ever written before on one project.

I can feel myself getting impatient with the project, though.  I’m not even close to done, I’m really still at the beginning of the story, which is frustrating.  Not the beginning, I guess, but I’m definitely still in the set up.  The problem is I can see where the story is going, it’s just a question of having another (approximately) 200-250 hours to go before the first draft is finished, when I can only devote 1-2 hours at a time, maybe 3 on a relatively uncommitted weekend day or holiday.  At best, I’m going to have the first draft finished by summer, and that’s only if I can maintain this pace without significant interruption by work (HA!) or personal obligations.

I’m hoping that my impatience doesn’t get in the way of the writing.  The first time I sit down and can’t hammer out 750-900 words an hour on this novel is going to be a real test for me, and a sure sign that the honeymoon is over.  So far, I can’t complain that the words aren’t coming, only that I can’t type them any faster.

Also, I’d like the novel not to suck.

And, while I’m at it, a pony.

10K & TKD

All in all, a pretty good weekend. Mrs. Unfocused, the Princess, and I had our first Family Tae Kwon Do class at the YMCA. Junior was signed up for it but got nervous and freaked out; he watched for a while, then the Mrs. took him to the child care center. He says that next week he won’t be shy about it, and did shake the instructor’s hand very nicely when we ran into him later on. Because TKD is 9:15-10:15, and the Princess has a swimming class at 11:30, we will be spending every Saturday morning at the Y; the Mrs. and I can each grab a workout while the kids are in childcare after TKD, and I can take Junior to Starbucks while the Mrs. takes Princess to swim class.

If a plan ends with me getting coffee, I’m all for it.

On top of that, I got a 10-mile run in this morning. I ordered some new cold weather running gear a few weeks ago, and tried some of it out today, and it all met expectations. I’m still slow, but at least I’m not a corpsicle.

I have to come up with a new nickname for the Princess on this blog, because if there’s one word that does not describe my daughter, it’s Princess. I used it in my first post for lack of the imagination to think of anything better, but she does not now, nor has she ever, given a good goddamn about princesses, or Barbie, anything similar. She is a nice, bright kid who’s interested in science, ancient Egypt, and animals. And Harry Potter. And Batman (although not as much as Junior). And Star Wars. And various other things.

Right. Unfocused Girl it is. That was easy.

To top it all off, I finished my 5,000 words for the week in the novel. That means I’ve got 10,000 words written (10,024, to be exact), which is the same length as my senior thesis in college. The Mrs. picked out a new laptop for me to work on at home (the old Pismo was on life support, unfortunately), and it came this week: a new MacBook running Leopard. I spent another forty bucks to buy Scrivener, a nice app for writers that provides a real assist in organization.

Yes, I know. I get five thousand words into a novel that, in all likelihood, no one will ever read, and all of the sudden I need a new computer and special software, when writing the first 5,000 words in OpenOffice (free) on my old work laptop ($1 when they switched me to a new one) worked perfectly well. If you’re thinking that’s a little ridiculous, you’re right. But I needed the new laptop anyway — they can make me use a Windows machine at the office, but I’ll be damned if I’ll use one for personal work at home (literally damned, because that’s my definition of hell).

As for Scrivener, hey, it was $40 — not exactly a fortune. It is very useful, too, including half a dozen easy to use features that I will probably actually remember to use. I note that productivity maven Merlin Mann uses Scrivener. He’s very productive, you know, so the software has to be useful.

So now I’m blogging away on my new MacBook, and it has been a pretty good weekend. The only problem is that it is now 12:43am on Monday morning, and I’m still messing around on the computer when I should really go to bed. That’s the problem with new toys.