January 27th, 2012

a-links

[links] Link salad staggers toward the weekend

A reader reacts to Green

Protocols and The Spectacle of Reading Fantastika

These 24 Books Have Actually Been Published

Academic Competitions - State of Jefferson Academic Scavenger Hunt 2012 - Middle School — Holy Pete, these are tough questions. (Via [info]tillyjane, a/k/a my mom.)

Embracing the Mothers of InventionFinancing the stuff of dreams through Kickstarter. (Thanks to Dad.)

Current social networks may have been present in the earliest modern humans

Global warming felt in gardens — Who are you going to believe? Rush Limbaugh or that lying data?

The Obama MemosThe making of a post-post-partisan Presidency.

Obama: Republicans will struggle to defend record — Or at least they would be if anyone in America was capable of remembering the Bush administration.

Space experts ground Gingrich moon plan — Sigh. I wish we had a visionary who wasn't also a venal lunatic.

How Newt Gingrich pulled this one offSomehow—miraculously—the philandering former congressman is at the front of the Republican pack

The three big lies of Newton Leroy Gingrich — (Via David Goldman.)

Gingrich’s Constant Contempt Is His Fatal Political Flaw — It's also his strength. The politics of resentment have peculiar fascination for conservative voters, and Gingrich plays them as well as Palin or Nixon.

Romney Failed to Disclose Swiss Bank Account Income — I honestly don't think Romney's wealth should be an election issue, any more than his religion should, but in in a time when concern about income inequity and Wall Street excesses has become a major sociopolitical flashpoint, how could it not?

?otd: Friday again?




1/27/2012
Writing time yesterday: 1.75 hour (Sunspin revisions)
Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride
Hours slept: 6.75 (solid)
Weight: 228.4
Currently reading: Scourge of the Betrayer by Jeff Salyards
writing-sunspin

[writing] Sunspin progris riport

Yesterday I finished the first revision pass on Sunspin, specifically Calamity of So Long a Life, the first of the three four volumes that make up the arc. This pass consisted of embedding all my various first reader comments, doing a close line read for typos and textual infelicities, and processing those comments that don't require Deep Thought to address. I wound up deleting about a dozen scenes, and making notes for a number of additional significant revisions.

In today's work session, I'll make a new version of the file and accept all my changes. (I work in Microsoft Word with the 'track changes' feature turned on, specifically so I can backtrack as needed.) I'll also combine the two separate .docx files that are part I and part II of the book into a single .docx, this to facilitate search-and-replace operations as well as moving back and forth around the body of the book. These are purely technical issues that I need to address before getting serious about the second revision pass.

One of the purposes of that close line read is to load the book back into my head. This way, when I have a note on page 532 that says something like, "Did Mist know this earlier?", I have a pretty good notion of where the earlier scenes are that Mist might (or might not) have been in on that particular revelation. This sense of having the shape and details of the book in my head, within my span of control, is critical to the second and later passes. (For more on "span of control", see here and here.)

The second revision pass will be to address scene level and structural issues, which is what the majority of the embedded comments are concerned with. My agent made a suggestion that will greatly improve the dramatic tension of the book, but requires serious adjustment to a major plot thread and a fair number of minor clean-ups elsewhere. This will probably not take me too many elapsed work days, as in revisions I am a very conservative tweaker rather than a tear-down-and-rebuild kind of writer. I trust Fred, my writing mind, and I strive not to damage or blunt the voice that is always strongest in my first drafts and only ever minimized by too much revision or polishing.

After that, I'll go back through again, most likely focusing on character issues in the third revision pass. I'll also somewhere in here decide if a fourth revision pass is necessary or not.

Note that none of these revision passes are surgically clean. Even though the second pass is about scene and structure, I'll be noodling character issues while I'm in there. And vice-versa for the third pass. The process is rather more organic than I'm making it sound here. But in a high level sense, this description is accurate.

I am also pleased to report that I seem to be somewhat ahead of my own production schedule. This monster, which will ring in at about 135,000 to 140,000 words for Calamity of So Long a Life, may be in to my agent a week or two early. I'll spend March working on short fiction and letting my brain settle, then in April it's on to volume two, Their Currents Turn Awry, of which the first 70,000 words already exist in draft.

I love this stuff.

writing-bookmobile

[books] Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed

A couple of days ago, I finished reading Saladin Ahmed's debut novel, Throne of the Crescent MoonPowells | BN ]. This is Arabian-inspired fantasy, a subgenre that Saladin appears to share almost exclusively with Howard Andrew Jones, and it's a lot of fun.

The book's been getting considerable critical buzz, and justly so. What I particularly love about Throne of the Crescent Moon is the degree to which the individual characters are beset by their own flaws and insecurities. Ahmed has not given us Heinleinian Competent Heroes; rather he has given us people who feel very familiar, perhaps even ordinary, even in the midst of having extraordinary skills and powers. Another striking thing about the book is that, rooted in a non-European tradition, both the fantastic tropes and the everyday life portrayed within the narrative have a fresh, lateral feel.

Ahmed's writing is deft and graceful, and his characters move through a world of real stakes and significant consequences, much to their cost. Combine this with glorious setting and his careful mastery of craft, and you have a lovely fantasy read on your hands.