Tag Archives: fall

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:


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:


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

Bork bork bork!


Fall Sunday Stats #8: Long Weekend.

Miles run driven: 1610, round trip.  After a great Thanksgiving dinner with old friends, we spent most of Thanksgiving weekend in Brooklyn, in my old neighborhood.  Park Slope was on a gentrifying, yuppifying trend when I left in 1987, and it has continued on the same path since, which means it has MUCH better restaurants than when I left.

I am proud to say that even though the yuppie sports bar (which my little group of juvenile delinquents always called “The Fern Bar” in a tone that was positively dripping with disdain) is still open and was only a block from the apartment we rented, we didn’t eat there.  I remember swearing an oath in blood with several of my friends that we would never give The Fern Bar our custom, once we were 21 and old enough to get in.  I kept my part of the bargain.

Instead, I showed the kids the house I grew up in (from the outside), the pizza place I used to go to, and various places I used to hang out.  The kids put up with my blathering on about my childhood with good grace; they were just happy to see their grandpa and try a few new things.

Much to my daughter’s chagrin, she and Junior liked New York pizza a lot — perhaps even better than Chicago pizza, which caused me to laugh maniacally in the middle of the Smiling Pizzeria.  They liked the park and the little local bookstore with the feline-in-residence.  And the place that sold Smurfs back in the day now has entire walls covered with Thomas the Tank Engine products (I did find one Smurf on a shelf of unboxed figurines for sale; I think it was Sultry Smurf, but I’m not sure.  Mainly, they liked the big park.

On the last day before we left, we went into Manhattan to meet my mother; before we went uptown to the Museum of Natural History, the Mrs. suggested we take the kids to Forbidden Planet, the science fiction/comic book store where I used to blow all my free cash.  I didn’t argue, and Junior and I had a great time; Unfocused Girl was less impressed, although she ended up with some good stuff, including a Thor graphic novel (and since Junior can’t read, all the comics that he asks for end up inuring to her benefit, too).

I think they liked seeing where I grew up, even though they didn’t like the crowds and I rambled on a bit long a few times.  Probably the thing I said that caused the most consternation was my description of stickball, which we used to play in the street, since they know that if I caught them playing anything in the street, they would be in serious trouble.

How about the writing? I have finished my edits of “Jimmies,” and expect to submit it this week.  I plan to start revisions of Meet the Larssons, but I have (surprise) to go out of town for work for several days this week and may not get much done until the weekend.  Blah.

Fall Sunday Stats #6: Enough About the Election. Let’s Talk About Me.

I’ve been jammed at work the last couple of weeks, and haven’t had the time or inclination to post.  Finally, Mrs. Unfocused suggested that maybe I wouldn’t be so darn grouchy if I got back to writing.  A few days ago I started working again on the short story I began in late October and my mood improved, so last night she told me it was time to post on the blog.

Yes, dear.  Nothing like being insufferable to motivate your loved ones to remind you about your hobbies.

Thank God, the election is over.  The right guy won — hell, we all won, didn’t we? — and now I can stop biting my nails and thinking about big issues and go back to being completely self-involved.  With that in mind, let’s get to the stats.  I’ll try to cover the last two weeks, since I know you’re curious.

How’s the running going? Not badly.  Today was a little slow:  10.19 miles in 1:31:55, a 9:01 pace, although that includes 2-3 minutes spent for a bathroom break at a Starbucks along the way (yeah, I know, TMI; the runners understand).  Last Sunday was better:  10.07 miles in 1:24:22, an 8:22 pace.  Both days were cold — it had just climbed above freezing when I started my run this morning, and it wasn’t much warmer last week — and I’ve been running into a headwind during the second half of these runs, which isn’t any fun.  I have good winter gear, but there are going to be plenty of days from now until spring when it’s going to be too cold or snowy or icy to run outside, which is why I’m so glad that we finally bought ourselves a treadmill.  We moved into this house six years ago, and I finally wore Mrs. Unfocused down to the point that she thinks it was her idea, so she did the work of finding a used NordicTrack Apex 8000 on Craigslist last Sunday.  I checked it out on Monday, bought it and got it moved that night (before she could change her mind), and used it for the first time on Tuesday morning.  It’s not super-fancy, but it has all the basics and a few frills, and most importantly, a 3.0 continuous horsepower motor, which keeps it moving smoothly.  So far, it’s been great.

What’s been playing on the iPod? During today’s run, I listened to:  Phedippidations #161 (Gifts for the Holiday Runner, hint hint honey); Accident Hash #278 (Blame Chance); Escapepod #183 (Beans and Marbles).  I didn’t finish the Escapepod episode — the cold weather kills the battery on my iPod even when I wear it under my jacket, and it died about 10 minutes before I finished my run.  Since my last post, I’ve also listened to:  Adventures in SciFi Publishing #66 (Elizabeth Bear and Tobias Buckell) and #67 (Tobias Buckell — I’m going to have to read something by Tobias Buckell soon, it seems like the guy is everywhere); Metatropolis (edited by John Scalzi, with stories by Scalzi, Jay Lake, Elizabeth Bear, Karl Schroeder, and — believe it or not — Tobias Buckell; I’ve only heard the Jay Lake story, which is pretty damn good, so I’m looking forward to the rest of it); I Should Be Writing #104 (Interview with Benjamin Rosenbaum); and The Takeover #7 (The Office Romance, Part 2).

I have two favors to ask in connection with the iPod; please leave any suggestions in the comments.  First, let me know what you use to listen to your iPod when you’re running or exercising — the standard issue earbuds, or something else?  I have a pair of nice noise-cancelling headphones I use for airplanes, but for running this year I’ve been using Sony MDR-A35 phones, which insert into the ear like earbuds but go over the head like headphones. They’ve been fine but they’re unusable during a Chicago winter — if I put them over my hat, I have to leave my ears exposed to the cold in order to hear anything, but if I put them under my hat, the hat pushes them into my ears hard enough to hurt.  The last two weeks I’ve been wearing the earbuds that come with the iPod, and they just don’t fit; I had to take off my gloves half a dozen times during my run this morning just to put the left piece back into my ear (the right one didn’t fall out at all).  If you wear an iPod while you run or exercise and you have a solution for this, PLEASE let me know.  Don’t force me to run with nothing but the voices in my head to keep me company.

And speaking of company, if you listen to any interesting podcasts that you want to recommend, please feel free.  I’m particularly interested in podcasts about running, writing, indie music that doesn’t sound like bad imitations of the heavy metal bands I listened to in 1985, and podcast fiction.  I don’t have vast amounts of time to listen to podcasts, but I’d like a little more variety.  If you’ve got a suggestion, please let me know.

What about the writing? Of course, the writing.  Since Fall Sunday Stats #5 two weeks ago, I put another 2,500 words into the short story I was working on (almost all of it in the last four days) and finished the first draft.  The Mrs. liked it, which soothes my ego and means it gets an immediate first pass edit.  I want it in shape to send out by the end of the month.  One of the short stories I sent out came back with a form rejection on October 30, and I’m going to send it out to another market sometime this week; I have only one story out on submission until I do, which strikes me as inadequate.  I have another short story sketched out, and I’d like to get a draft of that done by the end of the month; if it isn’t done by November 30, it will have to get back-burnered, because I’m going to start the revision of Meet the Larssons by December 1 (if not over the Thanksgiving weekend).  I’ve left MTL alone long enough; I’ve got some distance, and it’s time to get back to work on the novel.

I’ll try to be a little more regular about posting, especially since my one year anniversary is coming up on December 17.  In future posts, I’ll share my suggestion for the Obamas’ puppy, host (maybe) a contest, and (of course) kvetch about not getting enough writing or running done.

Fall Sunday Stats #5: Ronald Reagan, Commie Scum; John McCain, Terrorist Fundraiser.

The Republicans have pushed me over the edge with their latest lunatic ranting.  The most impressive thing about McCain’s — very funny — appearance on Saturday Night Live last night is that he managed it without visibly looking under the Weekend Update desk for commies hiding under it.

I’m not going to link to all of the videos of Republican candidates and talking-point spewing mouth breathers slandering Obama by calling him a socialist, Marxist, or communist; they’re available on in the ‘tubes.  Google “Obama socialist” and you’ll find plenty.  Let me get through the stats for the week and I’ll give you my rebuttal.

Miles run today:  None.  The Mrs. is singing excerpts from the Faure Requiem at church this morning, and I don’t miss her performances except for emergencies.  She’s got a wonderful voice.

Words written:  590 words of the short story I’m working on.  Between a tough week at work and election coverage at night, I haven’t been getting much writing done.  Back on track after Tuesday!

And now, my Keith Olbermann-style special comment:


Okay, Republican neo-McCarthyites, what in your mind makes Obama a socialist? Is it his support for the progressive income tax structure (increasing marginal rates as income goes up)? McCain/Palin support the same structure, they just differ over the rates. Let’s assume that you don’t believe we’re living in a socialist state today.  The top marginal income tax rate is currently 35%.  Obama has proposed raising the top rate to 39.6%, which is where it was during the boom years of the 1990s. Are you saying that the line between a capitalist society and a socialist society is crossed somewhere between 35% and 39.6%? Where is that line, exactly? Is it 36%? 37? 38.2%?  Were we socialists during the tech boom?

I also think that it’s unfortunate that you’re defaming Ronald Reagan by calling him a socialist. If Obama’s a socialist for proposing a 39.6% top marginal rate, Reagan must have been positively Stalinesque in his support for the communist system, because under his self-proclaimed “tax reform” the top marginal rate from 1982 through 1986 was 50%. What a pinko! Now, to give credit where credit is due, maybe the Gipper saw the light, because in 1986 he signed another tax bill that lowered the top marginal rate to 38.5%. Perhaps that’s the line we should never cross – 38.5%=capitalist market economy, freedom, and the shining city on the hill, while 38.51% = socialism, tyranny, oppressed masses, and another Evil Empire.  Who knew the red revolution would be so subtle, and yet so well defined?

All tax systems are redistributionist, even a flat tax.  Back in 2000, McCain called the Bush tax cuts “irresponsible.”  So is going back to the pre-2001 top rate “socialistic” or simple fiscal responsibility?


As for Khalidi, while McCain served on the board of the International Republican Institute, that organization gave Khalidi several hundred thousand dollars in grants in the 1990s. Obama spoke at a dinner where the guy was in attendance, and says that in a couple of conversations Khalidi challenged some of Obama’s biases. Assuming Khalidi is some kind of radical terrorist (a charge for which there doesn’t appear to be any evidence), which association is more offensive?

Let’s get this straight:  Obama, not a socialist, not someone who pals around with terrorists.  He’s just the guy who’s kicking Republican ass.

Fall Sunday Stats (on Monday!) #4: John McCain, You’re No TR

Before I get into the usual Sunday Stats, I’d like to say, Happy 150th Birthday, Theodore Roosevelt! I’ve been a fan of TR’s for years, and I’d like to say to John McCain that I’ve read a lot about Theodore Roosevelt,

and I feel qualified to say, Senator McCain, you’re no Theodore Roosevelt.  And if you don’t believe me, ask him yourself.

In other news, Mrs. Unfocused has made an herculean effort and gotten all of the kids’ baby and toddler clothes out of the study (and out of the house), and rearranged the furniture remaining so that the study is a place I can work at home, and write, without piles of stuff teetering over my head.  That would have been enough for me to feel like it’s Christmas in October, but on top of all that, she found me the perfect desk chair on Craigslist at a ridiculously cheap price:

Sure, it’s used and a little scratched, but some failed start-up’s loss is my tuchus’s gain, which is about the only good thing anyone can say about the economy these days.  I’m still listening to Planet Money every day; I keep waiting for Adam Davidson or Laura Conoway to annouce the very special “Everything’s Okay!” episode, but instead, we have today’s topic, on how things are even worse in poorer countries.  This does not help my mental state.

Miles run today: 10.16 miles in 1:21:54, an average pace of 8:04 minutes/mile, which is great.  It was a beautiful fall day, and my various joints, tendons, ligaments, and muscles, which have been very aware of the implacable approach of my fortieth birthday, were relatively uncomplaining.  I beat the Mrs. and kids home, which is always a bonus because I don’t have to feel guilty about holding up the day while I stretch.  And I need a lot more stretching than I used to have to do.

What was I listening to on my iPod during my run: Pheddipidations # 158 (“Running the Bay State Marathon”) and Escapepod # 178 (“Unlikely”).  Escapepod, if you’re unfamiliar with it, is a free science fiction podcast, which audio-publishes new and previously published short stories.  In episode 178, the host, Steve Eley, introduced me to the music of Jonathan Coulton.  After listening to a few songs on Coulton’s website, I bought one of his albums (Where Tradition Meets Tomorrow), which I would classify as geek rock (Cory Doctorow used a line from one of the songs as the title of a recent short story, and if that isn’t geek cred, I don’t know what is).  Coulton’s a heck of a songwriter, and he makes plenty of his music available for free on his website so you know what you’re buying.

Words written last week: 2,493 words of a new short story.  I’m maybe 2/3 done with the first draft, and when that one’s done, I’ve got one more teed up in the Idea folder before I go back to Meet the Larssons, refreshed and ready to rewrite.

In another news, TTB was rejected for the fifth time this week.  The rejection was short but personal and somewhat encouraging, which was a nice change, but still a rejection.  At this point, I think I’m going to leave it alone for a few months, then take another look at it with an eye to revise it to make it, y’know, better; if I could cut it down to under ten thousand words, that would open up additional markets as well.  In any event, I’m going to let it age for a while, and hope that it’s more like wine than an overripe cheese.

Final political note: I took Unfocused Girl and Junior out for a walk the other night to look at the Halloween decorations on the next block.  As we got to the corner of our block, Junior looked at the house there and asked his older sister, “Is that where John McCain lives?”

Because, you see, I had told him that John McCain reminded me of the cranky old man who lived on the corner of my block when I was a boy.  Last week, Junior had gotten confused and thought that McCain himself had lived on my block.  Now he’s taken that one step further, and decided McCain lives on the corner of his block.

There goes the neighborhood.

Fall Sunday Stats #3: Going Through Withdrawal.

It’s a beautiful fall day in Chicago.  The kids are playing with their friend from up the street, and the Mrs. and I are about to put up some Halloween decorations.

Overheard from the kids:

Junior:  “This is Mommy’s Rubik’s cube.”

Boy from up the street:  “What do you do with a Rubik’s cube?”

Junior:  “You try to get it right.”

Boy from up the street:  “How do you get it right?”

Junior:  “…”

Miles run today: 8.58 miles, in 1:17:10.  That’s a 9:00 minute/mile pace; the first half was at 9:21 and the second half was at 8:39.  Not as slow as my creepy crawly half marathon last weekend, but not fast.  I didn’t run at all during the week, again, in significant part because it took me so long to recover from last Sunday’s half marathon.  I learned my lesson, though, and kept today’s run relatively short, so that I won’t be in so much pain in the next few days.  My running has really gone to shit in the last few weeks, and I’d like to pick it back up before the weather really turns.  There’s maybe another month of crisp fall days, which are perfect for running; then I have to break out the serious winter running gear.  Today was ideal — around 50-55 degrees, sunny, and not too much wind.  I couldn’t ask for any better weather.  In any case, I’m done racing for the year now; I don’t have anything on the calendar until the Shamrock Shuffle next March.

What I had on my iPod during the run: Phedippidations # 157 (“The Third Annual World Wide Festival of Races”), and Seventh Son OBSIDIAN #32 (Final Episode, including “Eusocial Networking,” a short story by Scott Sigler, the founding father of podcast fiction).

Writing update: I’ve managed to keep my hands off of Meet the Larssons for another week.  I wrote a 599-word flash story and submitted it to an online fiction site (guess what their word count limit is).  I put together a three-page summary of one idea for my next novel (and damn, that feels weird to type:  “my next novel”); call that one “Project Downhill.”  Today, I started a summary of another idea for a completely different novel, a comic urban fantasy; call that one … I can’t think of a cool code name for it right now.  Just call it “Project L,” until I think of something cooler.  There’s one more idea I may try to hash out before I make up my mind, but I think I’m likely to pick one of these two.  Once I make up my mind, I’m going to try the Snowflake Method of outlining the novel; I wrote Meet the Larssons by the seat of my pants, and it needs major restructuring.  As unnatural as it feels to think about preparing increasingly detailed outlines before doing the “real” writing, I would really like to avoid having to do this kind of major work on the second draft next time; I hope to limit the revisions to touching up the paint and banging in a couple of loose nails, instead of building an entire addition and moving a number of load-bearing walls.

I’m starting to see other people blogging about doing NaNoWriMo, which starts in a couple of weeks.  If you’re doing NaNo, then best of luck to you, and have fun.  I know I made the right decision not to do it this year; I want to get back to MTL before December, and I want to have an idea of what the next novel will be as well.  I’d also like to finish one or two more short stories by the end of the year.  All of that means that NaNo would be a bad idea, and an unnecessary one; I don’t need the kick in the pants to write, I just need to keep doing it.  Still, though, it looks like fun, and I like the community (and competitive) spirit that imbues the venture.  It does feel weird not to be in the middle of a major writing project. I know I’m going back to MTL soon, but until I do I feel a little at loose ends.  I’ve been reading on the train instead of writing, and it just feels wrong, like I’m slacking.

I’m enjoying telling callers and doorbell ringers that I’ve already voted — there’s nothing more I can do for them.  I encourage you to vote early if that’s an option for you; here in Chicago, at least, the lines are much shorter than they are on election day, and it means you don’t have to worry about something unexpected preventing you from voting on November 4.

Fall (?) Sunday Stats #2: Training Matters, and Did I Mention I Finished the First Draft of My Novel?

It’s 80 degrees at 4pm.  How is it fall?  In a few minutes, I’m going to go out and mow our front lawn, which is still green and growing in October for the first time in the six years we’ve lived in this house.  Thank the rain we had in August and September, I guess, because it sure wasn’t anything I did to keep the grass growing.

The lawn appears to be the only damn thing that is growing, of course.  I managed to stay fairly calm about the economy until Monday, when the excrement really started to hit the artificial wind machine, and when I listened to This American Life’s Another Frightening Show About the Economy.  This podcast provides a really good explanation of credit default swaps and the freezing of the debt markets.  The explanation is a little too clear, if you ask me; it left me in a state of near-paralytic dread.  I’ve managed to remain rational, at least so far.  I haven’t been able to convince myself to rebalance our retirement accounts to buy into the declining markets, however, even though I think that’s what we ought to be doing.

Miles run today:  13.1, for the third annual World Wide Half Marathon, part of the World Wide Festival of Races.  It was a beautiful day, sunny but too hot for a long run (and if I thought it was bad, pity the poor folks running the Chicago Marathon).  Still, I’m not going to complain about the weather on what could be the last really nice weekend until spring.

The World Wide Festival of Races is a virtual race series — the third running of the World Wide Half Marathon, the second running of the Kick the Couch 5K, and the first Zen Run 10K.  It’s led by Steve Runner of the Phedippidations podcast, and his co-race directors (whose names are impossible to find on the website).  It’s the easiest race you’ll ever run, logistically.  You sign up in advance.  You commit to run one of the distances on or about the assigned weekend.  Maybe you join a virtual race team.  You decide on your own route — maybe as part of an organized race, maybe not — and then you run it, and upload your results.

My race route itself was nothing special — my ordinary out-and-back to the lake front path, plus a couple of miles on the path itself.  There was a little extra poignancy to the run because yesterday was the 10th anniversary of my first marathon, and the marathon itself was in progress just a few blocks south of my own route.

As a race, my World Wide Half was, to put it mildly, a disaster.  I haven’t been for a run since my close encounter with a car wheel more than two weeks ago, and I’ve been even more sedentary than that would ordinarily mean because of the 1630-mile road trip to the Catskills we took last weekend to go to a wedding, and the push to finish Meet the Larssons.

Oh, by the way, in case you missed it, I finished the first draft of MTL.  More on that in a bit.

Back to the race.  Two weeks off, eating more junk than usual, sitting on my tucus for hours on end, left my legs and back muscles flabby and my tendons and ligaments tight.  I ached all the way through the run, and developed a massive blister on my right foot.  My finishing time was 2:09:48, which is 24 minutes slower than my time for the tempest-tossed Chicago Half Marathon.  I still hurt, six hours (and two Aleve) after I finished.  By comparison, I was well-trained for the Chicago Half and in pretty good shape, so the downpour barely affected my time.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m glad I didn’t skip the race today.  I run alone all year, and one of the things I like best about the World Wide Festival of Races is knowing that there are hundreds of other people running alone, and we’re all running together.

What I listened to during the run:  Phedippidations #156 (“Cheers from a Little Blue Bubble,” the annual episode of cheers and shouts of encouragement to World Wide Half participants); I Should Be Writing #102, and Adventures in SciFi Publishing #53.

Writing this week since my last Sunday Stats:  6,531 words (net) of Meet the Larssons, including “THE END” on Wednesday night.  I actually wrote 8,737 words, but I cut a 2,206 word scene as I went.   To finish the draft, I did my usual writing on the train to and from work, plus several binges at home and even in the car on the drive back from the wedding.  Despite my intent to leave the draft alone for at least a month, I’ve been reading Hooked, by Les Edgerton, which has given me a good idea for a new opening scene for the second draft, and a couple of other ideas as well.  I have made notes, but so far have refrained from going back to it.  A commenter here recommended this book to me several months ago; I’m too lazy to search out that post so I can give you proper credit, but thanks.

I took Unfocused Girl to a birthday party out in the ‘burbs yesterday afternoon, and spent the time up the street at Starbucks working on “Secretary-General,” the short story I started a little over a month ago then put aside to finish MTL.  I cut 500 words out of it as I re-read what I’d done, then wrote around 350 words.  I want to finish this story, polish it up, and submit it before I get back to MTL.

I’d also like to hash out one or two-page treatments of three different ideas I have for my next novel.  They’re very different, and I’m not sure what I want to work on next.  I figure that writing them out in a more extended form than the one-sentence summaries I have now will help me decide.

Right before we left for the wedding, TTB was rejected by the most recent outlet I’d submitted it to.  The night I finished MTL, I submitted TTB to another e-zine, one I had only recently come across and which seems to be looking for this kind of fiction.  We’ll see.

In other writing news, Unfocused Girl would like to announce that she has also just finished her book, The Adventure Friends and the Sword of Destiny.  It’s contemporary urban fantasy about four friends who go on a quest, find a magical object, meet a guiding spirit, discover special powers within themselves, rescue a friend, and fight their evil nemesis, all with the goal of bringing peace to their elementary school.  Yay, Unfocused us!

Fall Sunday Stats #1: How To Get Run Over By a Car and Walk Away.

Yes, I was run over by a car this week, but it was the good kind of getting run over by a car.  Yes, I walked away.  I still don’t recommend it.

It’s autumn in Chicago, and we’re going apple-picking today if the weather holds.  We usually go in October, but as we looked at the calendar we realized that our weekends are pretty well booked until November; we’ll probably end up with a different variety of apples, which will be a nice change.  We’ll try to keep the haul down to about 50 pounds of apples this year.

Miles run today:  None.  Because, you know, I got run over by a car.  Here’s the story:  on Thursday, I was in California for a hearing, and the Senior Partner, our clients, the husband of one client, and I went out to lunch before the afternoon court appearance.  After lunch, the client’s husband (a very nice guy) pulled their car around to drive most of us to court (a couple of members of the group got into another client’s car).  The curb was too high to allow the passenger-side doors to open, so the client’s husband was asked to pull up a little, to where the curb was lower.  Unfortunately, at just that moment, I was on the driver’s side, with the back door open; my right foot was in the car and my left foot was on the street.  As he pulled up, the tire started riding up my heel and the back of my leg.  I let out a yell, he stopped the car, and after a moment’s confusion, backed it up and I hopped onto the sidewalk.

If he had gone another couple of inches, my achilles tendon probably would have snapped.  As it is, my ankle and heel hurt a LOT, but after a few minutes of icing the foot and a handful of Advil, I was queasy and shaken, but decided I would live and off we went to court.  When the hearing started, I was nauseated and light-headed, and I think I was in a little bit of shock, but by the end of it (three hours later), I was mostly back to normal, except that my foot hurt.  A lot.  The poor guy who had been driving the car felt so bad about it that he was in worse shape than I was.

Back in Chicago on Friday, I did see a doctor.  I don’t have the results of the x-rays yet, but based on how I’m feeling, I think it’s just bruised.  So no run today, but maybe as soon as Wednesday.

So, to sum up how to get run over and walk away:  as the car starts to roll over you, scream like Agnes Moorehead.  The person driving will probably stop.  Hope that helps.

Weather:  cool and overcast.  It’s supposed to be a sunny day, but it doesn’t look good.  We’ll have to give it a little more time before we decide whether to go to the orchard.

Words of Meet the Larssons written this week:  1,633, to a total of 97,727.  A definite decline in productivity, generally because of the travel.  I was gone from Tuesday to late Thursday night, the only time I wasn’t actively working was the flight home, and my foot hurt enough that I didn’t really feel as though I could concentrate.  No travel this week and no overwhelming deadlines, so I hope to get more done.  Instead, on the plane back to Chicago I read Tim Ferriss’s The Four-Hour Work Week, which has gotten a lot of press, good and bad.  Much of it is completely useless to me (as long as I’m working as a lawyer, I essentially get paid by the hour; a four-hour work week doesn’t really cut it), but I thought he had an interesting perspective.  The book made me think about some of the ways in which I do spend my time that is neither productive nor interesting, and reminded me that one of the benefits of my job is that the office schedule is somewhat flexible; I should take more advantage of that.  I blew off the chapters on internet-based reselling as creating an effortless income stream; what I did read of that section had the faint odor of the “easy money from real estate” books that were so popular not very long ago.  Maybe that works for some people, and don’t let me discourage you from giving it a try if you’re so inclined — the up front investment is certainly less than for buying homes out of foreclosure and rehabbing them; it’s just not for me.

Speaking of unproductive uses of my time, and of feeling queasy and light-headed, I made the mistake of checking the balance of my retirement account yesterday.  Good God.  It looks like Congress is going to work out the bailout, which I suppose is necessary.  Peter Bernstein has a good piece in today’s Times about the moral hazard inherent in any broad bailout scheme; rescuing an entire industry from its bad decisions about risk doesn’t exactly discourage people from taking similar risks in the future.  I’m afraid It’s going to take more than a little Advil and ice to recover from the truck that’s hit us this past year.