Tag Archives: novels

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.

Revising Meet the Larssons, Day # Who-Gives-a-Rat’s-Tokhes.

So last night I put a bullet in Chapter 13.  There will still be a chapter number 13, of course; something has to come after 12, and before 14, but it won’t be this one.  I think that of the 15 pages in the original chapter, I’ll keep maybe 5, heavily edited.

There are three points in the book that require a complete rewrite because of the changes to the story arc that I have mapped out; this chapter is the first of these points.  Once I finish the rewrite of this chapter, I’ll move more quickly for a while.  I hope.  I’m up to page 142 as of last night, and only that far because I gave up and brought pages on the train with me.

Here’s what the manuscript looks like these days:

Meet the Larssons manuscript, Jan. 15, 2009

Meet the Larssons manuscript, Jan. 15, 2009

The problem with doing so much rewriting is that I’m not sure it’s any better than what I wrote originally.

I went to a support discussion group for novelists on Monday night, which was very interesting.  It’s the fourth meeting of the group, so I was sort of coming in the middle.  I had the feeling everyone else had been an English major, which I emphatically was not, so I hadn’t read most of the books that came up in discussion.  It didn’t matter, though, and I mouthed off as blithely as I did when I hadn’t done the reading for classes in college.  It was fun to talk about writing with other writers live, face-to-face.  Not that there’s anything wrong with you people out here on the intertubes, it’s just that most of you are figments of my imagination.  The group meets once a month, and I’m already looking forward to the next meeting.

That’s it for today.  I just wanted to document that I continue to plug away.  I endure, which is more than anyone will be able to say about this ^(*&^*# novel.

Winter Sunday Stats #4: Running Out of Excuses.

It may have been a quiet week in Lake Woebegon, but there’s been nothing but utter chaos here at Stately Unfocused Manor, to mix my pop culture references.  School started!  Work kicked back into gear!  Snow!  Sleep deprivation!  People pissing me off!

And yet, I managed to make a little progress on the things that keep me sane.  It’s time to stop kvetching every week about how busy I am, how I need to do paying work, spend time with the children, and make occasional eye contact with the Green Eyed Siren (f/k/a Mrs. Unfocused) so she doesn’t mistakenly call the morgue to have me carted away, and get back to regular writing and running again; otherwise, I may as well plant my ass on the sofa, open up the chips and start watching television again.  Anything good on?  Are reality shows still big?

On Writing: I bled all over revised another 15 pages of Meet the Larssons (through page 125/500), and hand wrote another seven pages to be inserted.  All that, and I’m still working on what used to be Chapter 11, because apparently it was way to damn long.  I’m still using Holly Lisle’s One-Step Revision Process, and it is going much more slowly than I would have liked.  I suspect that I should have tried to restructure the novel first, then started the rewrite.  I’m not that fond of writing by hand, either.  On the other hand, as painful as it is, the process seems to be working, albeit much more slowly than I expected.

I also wrote another 1,166 words (for a total word count of 6,094) in “Jamie’s Story,” which has gotten away from me a little bit.  I’m determined to keep it under 7,000 words — the story only needs that long to be told — but I’m certain to run over before I get the draft done.  It will need a fair amount of editing — the narrative voice is inconsistent, for one thing — so there should be an opportunity to do some cutting.

I haven’t done anything further in Project Hometown, because the spreadsheet of all the scenes needed to tell the story, which is going to require a little more thought than I’ve been able to put into it.  I plan to pick it back up when I’m done with the draft of “Jamie’s Story.”

Anyway, I’m done with the excuses.  MTL needs to get finished.  My January 31 target is out the window, so now I’m just going to gut it out as best I can.  If I need another made up deadline I’ll deal with that later.  But I need to finish the manuscript slog so I can get to the typing in (essentially the second pass of the one-pass method), and finish it.

On Running: For a number of reasons, mostly related to my inability to go to sleep at a reasonable hour (and one 7am conference call), I didn’t manage to crawl out of bed early enough to get a run in until Friday, and even then I only managed a little over 20 minutes before I had to get off the treadmill, get dressed, and shovel snow.  So yes, my excuses are (1) iggle wazums me was tired, and (2) it snowed in Chicago in January. I did run for an hour this morning on the treadmill, 7.21 miles (an average 8:19 pace, which isn’t bad considering the lack of training).

In other exercise-related news (which is what you get when I don’t have enough to say about running) Family Taekwondo started back up on Saturday, and Unfocused Girl and I (with much trepedation) took Junior along.  Over the last year, we have tried getting Junior interested in TKD half a dozen times, and each time, he would just sit on the side and mope until class was over, or actively interfere with the Green Eyed Siren’s attempts to join the class.  Finally, we just decided to give up until he turned five.  Now he’s five, and on Saturday he did a great job.  He was tired by the end, but he worked hard, paid attention, and behaved well.  We were all very proud of him.  I hope his new attitude lasts; he could use the lessons in discipline, coordination, and becoming a badass.

On the iPod: I got back to some of the usual podcasts on my ancient iPod Mini: recent episodes of Planet Money; I Should Be Writing #107 (“Goals”); Adventures in Science Fiction Publishing #71 (Bear McCreary);   Escape Pod #184 (“As Dry Leaves That Before the Wild Hurricane Fly,” a fantastic steampunk Santa story by Mur Lafferty); Escape Pod #185 (“Union Dues — All About the Sponsors,” another solid entry in the Union Dues superhero series — like all of them, it’s very dark); and Escape Pod Flash (“Standards”).

Then I stopped listening to anything else, because I finally downloaded Scott Sigler‘s first podcast novel, Earthcore, and fired it up on the Mini.  I’m not sure why I never listened to any of Scott’s novels before.  The first time I heard any of Sigler’s fiction was the piece he did for J.C. Hutchins’s Seventh Son:  Obsidian series, “Eusocial Networking,” which was gripping, scary, and left just enough to the imagination.  So far (I’m on Chapter 17) Earthcore is engrossing, and I haven’t been able to listen to anything else.  If it were a book, I would have finished it already.

That’s it for this week’s update.  Time to quit whining, drop the excuses, and get my sorry keister back to work.

Writery Stuff That Isn’t Actual Writing.

I did a little work on “Jamie’s Story” on the train today, but after spending a good couple of hours on Meet the Larssons yesterday, I didn’t do anything on it this evening.

Instead, I registered for a writers’ conference, my first.  It will be here in Chicago next month, so I get near-instant gratification and I don’t have to travel — two big plusses.  I’ve been on the fence about this conference for a while, thinking it looked interesting but maybe I should wait until I finish the rewrite of MTL, or get a short story published somewhere someone might recognize.

Over the holidays, I signed up for a moderated discussion group for novelists at a local creative writing center.  It isn’t a critique group, but rather an opportunity to have a conversation with a bunch of other writers once a month about writing.  Because the only communications I have with other writers now is commenting on other people’s blogs.  My first meeting will be next Monday.  I’ll tell them you said “Hi.”

This evening, the moderator of the group emailed us about signing up for the conference, suggesting that since it’s local, it would be fun if a bunch of us went.  That was enough to push me off the fence, and I registered.

It doesn’t seem to be the kind of conference where you get to pitch your novel to agents, but there’s no way I’d be ready for that anyway.  Some of it seems very academic, but there are definitely some panels that look interesting.  I’ll report back on the convention in mid-February, but in the meantime I can say that screwing around on the convention website and then checking out the associated Facebook group allowed me to goof off all evening while still feeling like I was doing writing-related “work.”

Winter Sunday Stats #3: Back to Work Blahs.

One of my New Year’s goals is to be more consistent with the Sunday Stats posts, so I’m getting this up even though I’ve posted already today and it’s late.  I’m going to keep it short, considering that school and a normal work schedule start tomorrow, and I think it’s going to be a busy January.

On Writing: From now on, the writing section will come first.  I’ve been working on a new short story this week (“Jamie’s Story,” until I come up with a better title), from an idea I jotted down on the long drive home from NYC over Thanksgiving weekend.  So far, the story is at 4,928 words (all new this week except the first 400).  I hope to finish it by the end of the week, and keep it to 7,000 words or less.  I haven’t done any work on Meet the Larssons or Project Hometown this week.  This week I’ll get back to MTL for sure; continuing the Project Hometown snowflake outline may wait until I’m done with “Jamie’s Story.”

On Running: Nothing much this week.  We spent a couple of days at a nearby hotel with a lovely pool where they show movies for kids on Friday and Saturday nights, so I didn’t run at all this weekend.  I had a couple of decent treadmill runs during the week, for a total of 7.21 miles.  Not good, but at least I moved a little. Back to a routine this week, too.  At least I registered for the Shamrock Shuffle.

On the iPod: More of Metatropolis, but no podcasts this week.  I’ve got a few new episodes of various podcasts on the iPod that I’m looking forward to catching up on this week, though.

That’s it for the stats.  Not a bad week, on the metrics — 4,500 words of fiction and two runs — but there’s certainly room for improvement.

Faster Than a Really, Really Slow Bullet.

My “pages revised” counter for Meet the Larssons has moved a whopping two pages (that’s 0.4%, for those of you playing along at home) today, from 105 to 107 pages revised out of the 500-page printed manuscript.  Revising those two pages took me over 90 minutes, because I also rewrote a page I rewrote yesterday, and wrote an additional page or so of material. It feels like I’m writing the whole book all over again.

On the new shiny object front, I made some headway on the minor character synopses and started putting together the expanded plot synopsis for Project Hometown.  The word meter looks like I added 2350 words (up to 8476) but a lot of that was cutting and pasting from earlier steps in the Snowflake Method.

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:

photo-23

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:

dscn10611

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

Bork bork bork!

A Rejection. A Submission. More Outlining. No Editing. TGIF!

Just a quick update tonight.  Another rejection slip in today’s mail:  “Jimmies” was rejected by one of the big three pro magazines, the only one of the three that I thought would want it.  I spent a while this evening combing through my bookmarks of submission guidelines and finally made up my mind to send it to a semi-pro journal that I like; the editor rejected TTB a couple of months ago, but that hardly makes him unique.

I’ve just about finished writing the synopses of the story for Project Hometown from the viewpoints of each of the major characters.  According to the Snowflake Method (link on the sidebar under “On Writing”), the synposes are supposed to be one page for each of the major characters, and half a page for the minor characters.  That didn’t work for me; of the four major characters, the synopses are approximately 1200, 350, 750, and 900 words.  I’ll have to try harder for the minor characters to keep to a limit, or I’ll be dealing with them through the end of the year.  After I finish the character synposes, the next step is to go back and expand the overall plot synopsis.

No revisions this evening due to exhaustion, researching where to submit “Jimmies,” and (most important) much needed & wanted catching up with Mrs. Unfocused — it’s the first night since Sunday we’ve both been home all evening.  This evening she noticed I got a haircut.  I got it on Wednesday.

Tomorrow’s Saint Lucia Day, which means Unfocused Girl and Mrs. Unfocused bring up coffee and cinnamon rolls for us all to have in bed.  I love Swedish holidays!  Happy Saint Lucia day!

Saltwatch 2008-09:  Days after Dec. 1 without seeing a City of Chicago salt truck:  12.  The good folks at Chicagoist have been on this story for a while (here’s a link to a recent post about my Alderman ripping Mayor Daley a new one, which I’m glad to see, even though I disagree with his proposal to raid the Midway privatization funds to fund snow removal).  As a commenter said earlier this week, apparently Daley’s snow removal plan is to wait until Sunday, when it’s supposed to go up to the high forties, so the snow will simply melt.  Long-term, we can all just wait until June before leaving our houses.

Revising Meet the Larssons, Day 6: The Value of Crit Groups.

I got back to MTL tonight, but I’m so tired from going out last night and getting home late that I was only able to slog through eleven pages (87 down, 413 to go).  Of the eleven (not quite half of old chapter 10/new chapter 3), I cut four pages entirely without adding replacement text.  I’m worried that after all this cutting, I might have a very tight, well-written short story instead of a novel, but I know I have at least as much to add in the middle and end.

About six months ago, I attended my first ever writers’ critique group meeting.  I found a relatively new group through Meetup.com, signed up, and posted the chapter I slogged through on Sunday and Monday for comment at the meeting.  I had no idea what to expect, but I went into it with a fairly open mind.  I was a little concerned by the one guy who posted a forty-page memoir excerpt (we had a ten-page limit) that was all one paragraph, but based on the other samples posted his was an anomoly.

Putting aside the run-on memoir guy (who didn’t bother to read anyone else’s work in advance of the meeting), most of the other writing was pretty good, and certainly the general level of quality was about where I was or better.  The people in the group seemed perfectly nice, and respectful of each other’s feelings.  Still, I haven’t been back, and I haven’t really been able to put my finger on why.

As I’ve said before, I’m looking for new-to-me podcasts about writing and other subjects to expand my listening.  I recently saw a mention on someone else’s blog to two podcasts for writers that I hadn’t heard of before (I’m really sorry if it’s your blog — I lost track of the post and can’t find it through google — please claim credit in the comments and link to your original post).  One hasn’t put out a new episode in a couple of years; I’m listening to the back episodes now and will post about it when I’m done.

The other is Writing Excuses, in which hosts Brandon Sanderson, Howard Taylor, Dan Wells, and other semi-regulars talk to each other and other writers about different topics of interests to writers.  Each episode is only about 15 minutes long (“Because you’re in a hurry, and we’re not that smart!”), and they aren’t limited to science fiction or fantasy topics.  Writing Excuses is in its second season, all of which is available on iTunes or on the blog at the link above (CDs of the first season are available for sale).  Occasional problems with sound quality aside, Writing Excuses is an interesting, informative, and often funny podcast.  The hosts are younger writers (well, younger than me, anyway) at different stages of their careers (some are just beginning to earn a living by their writing, while Sanderson is very well known and just took over the Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series).

In episode 5 of season 2, the Writing Excuses team discussed critique groups.  Several of the hosts talked about how important their writing groups had been to their development as authors, but one mentioned that one thing that can drive him crazy is a writing group where the participants don’t just tell you what did or didn’t work for them, but offer you suggestions on how to fix your story.

Bam!  That was exactly what was wrong with the group I tried last spring.  The leader of the group and a couple of the other attendees didn’t just want to tell me what they thought was weak, but they also had very firm ideas about how I could make it better.  And I hated their ideas.

One member of the group gave me a couple of useful notes during the meeting, then handed me a markup of my chapter at the end.  I took it home, but I was so discouraged from the meeting that I never looked at it.  The only reason I didn’t throw it away was that Mrs. Unfocused did read his comments, and said that they made sense to her.

This evening, before I got started hacking away at old chapter 10/new chapter 3, I went back and reviewed his comments on old chapter 9/new chapter 2 and compared it to my own edits from earlier this week.  As it turns out, I had come up with about half of the same edits on my own.  But the guy also noted that one two page, explanatory section read like an office memo and bored the crap out of him (he said it more nicely than that), and I had left it in the revised version of the chapter almost completely untouched.  I reread it, then reread what Holly says about this point in the One-Pass Revision Process (link is in the sidebar, under “On Writing”):  “If the scene just tells the reader about your world or its history, or lacks characters, conflict, and change, put a note in your spiral-bound notebook telling yourself which important points of worldbuilding you’re cutting, and draw a big X through the entire scene.”  So I cut it.  By itself, that one suggestion was worth the hour-plus I spent at that group meeting.  I don’t know that I’d go back — I really don’t want suggestions on how to “fix” it, but I very much appreciated the comments on what the readers did or didn’t like.

Forgive the typos — need sleep.  Just one more thing:

Saltwatch 2008-09:  Days after Dec. 1 without seeing a City of Chicago salt truck:  11.  Have you seen a salt truck?  Should we put pictures of the salt trucks on the sides of milk cartons?