Friday, December 29, 2006

Alpha: check

I'm listening to the printer spewing out paper in the background as I'm writing this. It has been two years since I last heard that noise.
The hardcopy is for a first test reading by my wife. She's been part of developing aspects of the story from a very early time.

Now, readings as early as this can only be part of development, and I personally believe that copies at this stage of the process should only go out to those who are already too involved in the story to function as neutral readers.

When I finally come as far as to having a beta version it'll be time to find readers who are not tainted with previous knowledge of the story.
Provided I get published and it becomes a series I'll need to reconsider. Most of a buying readership will most probably be familiar with parts of the story as they're likely to have read part n-1 before reading part n in any ongoing story.

Friday, December 22, 2006

On hooks and form

If I veer away from a proper form I'd better do it better than horrible. This is better than horrible. I don't say it's good, but it's better than the mess I sent to the crapometer.

Arthur Wallman has a problem. He needs to get the hell out of Verd, capital of Keen, before his old Bloodhounds news team catches up with him.
Major Heinrich Goldberger has a problem. He needs to get Arthur Wallman out of an Otherworld population center named Verd before someone murders him.
Harbend de Garak has a problem. He needs to get out of the magic city of Verd to find those who murdered his fiance.
Imperial Colonel Trindai de Laiden has a problem. He only wants to get back home to Verd with his men alive, but someone thinks that's too much to ask for.
Count Successor Karia Graig also has a problem. Just expelled from the place he calls home his future lies with Verd, where the Inquisition kills any mages before the trial.

Verd has problems of her own. With a newborn god whipping her population into a religious frenzy, outworlder sky kingdoms landing an endless stream of tourists and a renegade brigadier launching an all out attack against her walls things are getting a little heated. What better time for the papacy to the south to arrive on a holy crusade?
As the city scrambles her defenses two worlds are just about to learn what happens when Federation technology is pitched against hardened battlemages.
Our friends?
Caught in the middle.

Pre-alpha: check

Yep. Done. On schedule.

I've written those two words I've longed for. The End. Taste that.

Now I'm entitled to celebrate for, for, for several hours at least.

Ten days before I should have my alpha finished.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Words and less words

Yesterday had me finish at 2.2k words, which made me feel happy and satisfied.
By now I can see those last twelve to fifteen manuscript pages ahead of me.

Getting away to do the Christmas shopping will put a dent in my writing for today, but Friday should still see me writing 'The End'.

I'm looking forward to that. Not without a bit of sadness, but still.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Some people never learn

And our hero reviewer is at it again.

This time he offends his readers.

Actually it's the readership of Helsingborgs Dagblad he offends. The error was never his own. It's the readers who are too stupid for him to wish to have as readers.

He places his hopes with the readers of Expressen who hopefully are intelligent enough to be worthy of his words.

What can we say?

Roadmap, or plan for the book

Asked if I have a coherent plan I was happy to be able to answer in the positive.

As may be apparent I have a past in IT.

Finish pre-alpha this year
Finish alpha this year
Manuscript in drawer
Outline, minor world building and fleshing out a few new characters for next book
Start editing and rewriting this book in February 2007
Finish beta late Mars
Send to beta readers and of course return that favor
Work on query letter while the beta is being processed
Finish RC1 during May
Start pitching to agents during May
Start first draft of next book during May

So, this may need some translation into standard English.
I did all kinds of mistakes when I wrote Taleweaver, my previous and only finished novel. It turned out a mess, but one has to start somewhere. Of the mistakes I think editing on the fly was one of the worst.
Now, all authors aren't wired the same way, so whenever I make a blatant statement like "mistake" or "good" it should be applied to me only.
Editing on the fly meant I started obsessing over what I had already written rather than finishing the story.
In the end I had a beginning I had revised four or five times while the later parts of the book was very much if a first draft state.
I also drowned in minor details and forgot to check if I had written the right story to begin with. As it turned out I hadn't, but that's another story.

This time I more or less refuse to do any edits at all until I have finished my first draft. Ok, I happen to see the wrong word used while doing a search to check continuity then I fix it. That takes a few seconds.
I did run into a run of scenes that disabled continuity and as I use a very terse outline I had to rewrite those or risk creating invisible continuity errors all the way through the manuscript. That did cost me two full days work.
Apart from that? Nothing. I still have scenes I know will have to go, but they stay until I finish.

That kind of first draft I label pre-alpha. I set out to have that one finished before year's end when I started on this project.

Now I happen to be slightly ahead of schedule, and that takes us to the alpha.
A few scenes will have to go. They don't belong to this story and need replacing in order to create a coherent story. There are other scenes that are currently either wrong, as in factually wrong, or simply unreadable. I'll sanitize those.
When a man who starts traveling on horseback no longer arrives in a car where none are to be found along the road I have my alpha version. It will still look very much like a first draft.

Sleep. Well, not literally, but the manuscript needs to go into a virtual drawer to mature for a while. I have to get that distance to what I've written before I can dig into it and do a more thorough rewrite.
That, however, is no excuse to stay away from writing. Thus the outlining of the next book. It'll be terse. Kind of a point by point synopsis with key characters, locations and events. It will also sketch a brief disposition of the story.
An outline isn't a holy book for me. I'll probably end up deviating from it in the end, but I want to know when, where and why I deviated.

Given a months time in the drawer the manuscript should be ready for a read with new eyes. Then comes the ripping to shreds part. With some luck the approximately 100k words long alpha will become a 120k words long beta. That should require a minimum of 40k words written. If I'm lucky I'll only need to rip out a full 20% of what I've written this far.
That beta should be a story I wrongly consider ready for publishing.
Enter beta readers. They should find the mistakes that I haven't. This is also by far the scariest part of the process. Have I made an ass of myself? The entire book could be tripe.

Provided the input I receive is in general positive with comments on a number of glaring flaws included I'll set out to fix those and finish the book.
That is the RC1, or Release Candidate 1. It's the version I'll start pitching to agents.

The beta reader process will take some time though, and considering that you'll get a few seconds of attention for each query letter I'd better try to make mine good.
In a book you get second chances. I don't care if people say otherwise. A reader who has already settled down to read will allow for a few downers. Not many maybe, but it's not a matter of each page being perfect or the book heads for the trash bin.
In a query letter you don't get a second chance. I don't believe in agents picking up one again because it might be better the second time it's read.
So, working on a query letter.

The moment I start sending those out it's also time to start writing the next book. With the goal to have a pre-alpha finished before year's end.

Does is sound like a never ending story?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

More writing

Spread over the hours today I managed to squeeze out another 2k words.

Last chapter.
I didn't know it would be this difficult, and I have finished one book earlier. That it doesn't meet publication demands is a different thing. I finished it, but I can't remember the last chapter to be as difficult as this one.

Then it was a matter of struggling through a quagmire from about a quarter into the story to a few chapters from the end.
I have since had the opportunity to read about the so called dreaded middle. Writing that first book I would have benefited greatly from knowing about it. Especially as it was all true.

This time, though, most of my writing my way through the middle of the book hasn't been that bad. Sure, there were places where I got thoroughly stuck for a while, but on average it was pleasant writing it.
Starting this book was pure hell, but I've come to the understanding that the second one is the worst. You have to give up on the first, tell yourself to get over it and start all over again.

Anyway, a week's writing and I should see those magic words: The End.
After that -- editing.

Critting but not in HD

The cryptic title refers to the latest in the reviewer story.
According to this article the reviewer is no longer welcome to evaluate the work of others in Helsingborgs Dagblad, the newspaper where the offending review was published.

A bit down in that article we learn that he has written reviews for two other newspapers as well. One of them, Expressen, will allow him to continue in this function there as they have no reason to question his reliability and truthfulness.

Sorry, but if you're not from Sweden you're not laughing hysterically by now.
Expressen has a rather special reputation as newspapers go. There are persistent rumors that an article has been printed in that newspaper that contained the truth, but this far no substantial evidence has been found.

I can only assume you have similar newspapers wherever you come from.

Crapometer entry parsed

And axed.

Among other advice when sending queries to agents and editors there's one saying that we should avoid sending our query in, for example, a metal box playing a cute tune.
That is, keep it plain, professional and stick to having your words being the only thing that stand out.

I failed, and badly so considering that we only send words.

There are moments when we should try to be smart, and there are those when we're so smart we fool ourselves.

Rather than sending in a straight hook following the standard format, in as much as there is a single standard format, I tried to make my 'hook' look like a newsflash by a fictive reporter. Didn't work. Didn't work because it was the verbal version of that metal box, and now I know not to do it again.
Good lesson to learn from.

This is a good example why these kind of exercises are good for us. We get to make those mistakes before we actually submit our work to a paying market. And we get to learn from our mistakes before they get costly.

For those interested in seeing how a hook should not be written here it is as a warning example.

Monday, December 18, 2006

A few moments on the balcony

I spent those sniffing a crispness I haven't felt earlier this winter.

Temperature has finally dropped to something akin to winter, and so has the wind. There's a stillness outdoors. Something clinging to the streets together with the icy fog blanketing the city.
This day seems subdued in a different way that the endless rainy ones following each other like beads on a string.

It struck me, during those moment on the balcony, that I have missed winter. That I'm no greater fan of freezing doesn't really matter. There really has to be a proper winter to make one believe in spring -- and longer days.

One o'clock in the afternoon. Three hours till darkness. One week until the year stirs in its sleep, turns and allows daylight to stride forth and claim more of each day.

It's good to be alive, and feel a few moments on the balcony.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Want to get published?

Have a look a these statistics from one US agent.

A few entries I found with other agents indicate that the number of queries received is in the high end, but merely in the high end.

Crapometer in full run

One can't help but feel sorry for Miss Snark. Sure, it's fair enough to say she did it to herself, but the sheer amount of submissions is still staggering. 700. Taste that number.
Imagine you had to write your signature 700 times. Tedious project.
Now, let's say you have to read half a page's worth of text before each signature. By now it gets appalling, and yet you aren't required to turn your brains on.
Let's say you had to read those 700 half pages and come up with a few random sentences to associate with each one. By now we've reached the point where most sane people renegade on a promise.
She has to apply professional judgment to each of those 700 submissions and give voice to it. That's bordering on insanity in my book. Check your calendar. Someone has her Christmas booked.

Now she's stated that she gains as well, but really. It's still a lot of work for whatever examples she gets to use.

Please note the difference a professional makes between constructive scalding and pure venting. A double edged sword that one. Some people take the word criticism as an excuse to pour out nastiness just for the fun of it -- some people take those people as an excuse for advocating a "see no evil, hear no evil and say no evil" attitude.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The heat is on

It seems the creator of fictive book reviews has himself been reviewed by a less than understanding public.

Emails in the hundreds expressing disdain, to use a mild expression, have arrived. Somewhere along the road it slowly dawned upon the reviewer that his course of action might not have been the pinnacle of career choices.

Friday, December 15, 2006

From bad to worse

And so it turns out our hero reviewer has another job.

Kulturrådet has a hand in what author receives subsidiaries paid with our taxes. Great, just great, or maybe not.

And company...

Göteborgs Posten
Svenska Dagbladet

Unsurprisingly other large newspapers have picked up the trail.

The most stunning part of the sad idiocy is that the moron writing a scalding review of something he's never read defended his action because he disliked the author on general principle.
We can only sincerely hope he's removed from the opportunity to repeat himself in the future. My confidence in one branch associated with the publishing industry definitely took a dive.

Best of today

I think this safely proves that authors shouldn't take harsh criticism too hard.
Anyway, when reviewing a book, please read it before axing it.

The link is to a Swedish newspaper.

Idiocy taken to a new level. It's one thing when we suspect the reviewer didn't read what they vomited verbally on, but at least I thought they made certain the book was written first.

I'm still cackling with glee.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Why English?

I've had a number of persons ask me why I chose to write in English.

The first answer that came to mind was that the only decent market for fantasy is the US and UK. I have, however, come to the conclusion it is not entirely correct. Not as in there being any other equal market for my preferred genre. It's the part of the answer being the first and foremost that is a lie.
I guess that answer was an excuse, or internal bribe if you prefer, to get me past a rather difficult barrier. There's writing, and there's writing in a non-native language. I needed a reason to dare the second. As excuses go, "there's in no measurable market for fantasy written in Swedish" is a rather good one.

Still, what is the primary reason for me to write in English? It's not that I'm likely to make a fortune no matter what language I prefer to write in, and if I only wanted to get published and read then I could as well have stuck to the language I'm raised with.

The answer, I guess, is much, much simpler. English is in fact my preferred language. Again given that we're referring to fantasy. I don't like fantasy written in Swedish set in an environment Swedish history doesn't mirror.

This is a nation of a vast wilderness, at least by European standards. We have forests you could hide an army in. We have an endless coastline. We have, all in all, the perfect setting for a story where nature and nature's mysteries take a main role. What we don't have is a setting suited for densely populated civilizations, and as far as I am concerned it shows in our language.

We don't have a history of living packed together. We do indeed have a history of invading places where cities and villages lie only a day's walking apart. I guess that would work wonders if I wanted to write about barbarian hordes laying waste to a decadent civilization -- written from the barbarian side. Wonderful story, a bucketful of ideas. Someone should write it, and that someone is not me.

Breaks at lull or action

There are different opinions concerning where you break for the day. Some prefer to come to a natural break and others, me included, try to break in the middle of a scene.
There are benefits to both approaches, I guess. No one method is the best for all writers. My reason for breaking in the thick of combat, so to say, is that there is little to no startup when I return to my writing the next time. There is already a short time direction to the story.

Now, what about a longer break?
Due to my daughter catching a cold, ear problems and another sickness the last three weeks I read November the last time I wrote, and I left it literally in the middle of a battle. It took a lot of rereading to catch up.
It seems when the story picks up a frantic pace the number of unanswered questions, at least in the short time perspective, multiply. Leaving the story in such a state for weeks adds more of a problem than benefits -- at least for this writer.
A lesson learned. Don't be forced to a prolonged break if you chose to leave your story when bullets are flying.

What about today then? 2.2k, which is just a little bit more than I have set up as a goal for one day. By now i can see the end of the novel. A week's worth of writing I think.
The end, well. The end of a first draft at least. After that I have the task of rewriting it into a readable state ahead of me.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


It's time again. Two more days.
I personally think it's a fantastic exercise that anyone aiming to sell fiction to the English speaking market should do.
Now go home and do your homework. These are the instructions.

Rich authors

Not likely.
Ripped right out of The Publishers Lunch mailing list I subscribe to. This is from their weekly lunch, latest issue.

The Key
As usual, the handy key to our Lunch deal categories. While all reports are always welcome, those that include a category will generally receive a higher listing when it comes time to put them all together.
"nice deal" $1 - $49,000
"very nice deal" $50,000 - $99,000
"good deal" $100,000 - $250,000
"significant deal" $251,000 - $499,000
"major deal" $500,000 and up

And that's the gross pay. Even in an American market taxes have to be deducted. As that market also differs from the Swedish one you'll most probably be represented by an agent who wants their 15% share of the amounts above.
In reality a debut in the genre I'm interested in pays about $5000 in advance, and considering that 99% never get as far as a debut and you're not especially welcome with more than one book a year we're in reality talking a month's pay for a year's work.
They say writing is a work of love. It had better be a lot of love. Still want to walk that path?

Lucia part II

And then there's the formal way of celebrating Lucia.
As you can see we start the training for Lucia parades at a tender age.


Gothenburg lights up in the darkness.
As has become tradition lamps, lamps and everywhere lamps adds light to a gloomy December.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Scotsman and VTES, or rather the why not

The games this Monday were close to get canceled.
Gothenburg has had its fair share of rain the last weeks, more than its fair share to be true.
With major roads flooded and trains prevented from running mass transport in Gothenburg collapsed regionally.
Calling a taxi was impossible. In some cases it turned out impossible to reach the switchboard at all.
The largest local newspaper didn't have a functioning website any longer and all the time rain poured down.
Taking a bus from the place we visited to Scotsman should be doable in thirty minutes. Walking the distance takes an hour and a half. We spent over two hours failing to get onto buses that didn't arrive.

When I finally made it down into the pub enough time had passed that the pop-quiz they run Mondays was just about to start. We spent the time quizzing and gaming at the same time. Needless to say neither went very well. Lack of concentration was a main reason for horrid tactical decisions.
For me, well, it's time I ripped my old decks apart and tried my hands at something new, but it seems I'll have to wait until after Christmas when Santa arrives with another box with cards.


A local holiday. Thirteenth of December. It's been used as a rather poor excuse to run a beauty contest for as long as I can recall. I believe that part of the tradition is older than I am by a wide margin.
There's an associated tradition as well. The twelfth of December teenagers all over Sweden compete in who can drink the most alcohol. The result is rather pitiful. Another four hours from now children as young as thirteen will crawl around along the streets puking their guts out. A disgrace to put it mildly.
Tomorrow school classes, hospitals and offices will see lines of young girls and men clad in white, some red and brown, but mostly in white. The lead girl will wear a crown of candles, even though today those candles are more often than not electric. She's the Lucia. And everyone will pretend the excessive drinking never took play only a night earlier.

Poetry on demand

Sometimes one wishes mouth and mind were both wired differently.
In a weak moment I agreed to a request to fix up several poems translated from one language to another. Arrogant, maybe, but I imagined that it should be doable and that I could return the cleaned up poems sometime during the coming spring.
Together with the email containing the horribly translated poems came a deadline. Tuesday. That is today.
I'm doing an exercise in futility. You simply don't produce enjoyable poetry by the dozens in two days. There's a lesson to be learned here I guess.

Be proud, be very proud

I usually feel confident and cosy about being from Sweden, but I seldom feel like I need to cry out my pride of being from here.
Today I am. I've just read some of the most disgusting piece of religious intolerance I hoped never to read.
The awful shite comes from a US publisher living in a commercial reality where "nigger", "jew" and "fag" are just nice labels with which you are allowed to brand your business partners. In this case it happens to be "Christian". Be his kind of Christian or be banned from his business.
I am proud to be Swedish where these kinds of disgusting fanatical statements are prohibited by law no matter what kind of clothes you put them in.
Read and weep.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Sobol Awards

Is apparently a contest the blogging publishing world is going up in flames about. I'm not entirely clear about it, but it seems to be a pay to enter competition, which in other fields than publishing doesn't seem so strange.
Limiting the winner to join a specific agency with a soiled reputation seems to be the thing that most people get upset about. I really can't say I have much of an opinion about it -- after all I'm not inside the industry, merely an aspiring writer. Seen from a purely economic view, at least in the short term the competition should give entering authors a better chance at a shot at the money, but the vehemence the competition is met by bodes ill in the long term. $100 000 is a lot of money, but it's still a far cry from a lifetime's income.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Strange days

Grey skies and temperatures belonging in September rather than December. Anyone dreaming of a white Christmas should either stop dreaming or move from Gothenburg to wherever the snow is likely to fall.

Going out on the streets before darkness falls is depressing to say the least. A steady drizzle has blanketed the city for a few weeks straight now and it feels like the walls are wet through and a chill that has nothing to do with temperature creeps inside the body. Bah, stay in.

Plot is king

Let's repeat: Plot is king.

Even Miss Snark acknowledges this.

Did I forget to state that plot is king?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Incoming crits

I'm slowly getting the input I've asked for. Even though only a short part of the novel went out for verbal axing I got the responses I had guessed, which is just fine.

Lackluster world descriptions, usable characters and enough direction to have the reader continue. For a first draft it is more than I had hoped for.
This is also a major improvement compared to the first novel.

Now I have to fix those last seven thousand words and enter edit mode. A second or third draft should see the WIP reach beta stage -- fun thing that writers use pretty much the same terms as computer people.
That is something I should be able to have done by late February or Mars.

Fantastic statistic

Not only in fantasy land are people imbued with great magic. The ability of extrasensory feats runs rampant among readers of blogs as well.

Setting up the counter I saw how an amazing 50 or so people had rated this very blog in all of an hour. How this corresponded with the grand total of eight pageviews, of which I was responsible for seven, I didn't understand first. At least not until I realized it had to be the magic ability to read the web without resorting to as mundane a tool as a web browser.
Because we wouldn't want to assume anyone guilty of rating anything unseen, would we :D

Day's best laugh for me this far.

Tired daughter

Another week and another infection.

No writing in other words.
Got to feel sorry for the little one though. No friends, just the flat and grey skies to watch through the windows -- when she doesn't sleep of course. A lot of sleeping for a kid with too high a temperature.

More playing along with blog

Added external RSS feed. I'm not clear if the beta version generates a feed automatically, but at least one indexer couldn't find it. Went for Feedburner as per suggestions here. We'll see how it turns out.
Good thing is that the beta, in difference from what is said on documentation about Blogger, supports code that stays on the page.

Some editing here. Seems an explicit pointer to the Atom-feed here works as well. Taking that route instead. The fewer servers involved the happier I am.

Even managed to get a "your blog sucks" -entry during the time it took me to get the indexer to accept it. Oh well -- that's life I guess.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Great games

Playing VTES again. Been a while and I had lots of fun. That doesn't mean I excelled in any way. I just had fun trying out the decks I've built once again.
Tomorrow I plan to continue on the book again. After all I'm not that far away from finishing the first draft, and the tentative response I've had this far encourage me to get the story to an end.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Long week

Kid came down with a cold and so did I. Nothing written for an entire week. Don't really think this qualifies as writing -- more of a reminder that the blog's still up and alive.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Quota holding up

2.2k today. I manage to keep my word count, which is good considering I only get just over two hours' worth of writing from my laptop.
I searched the entire coffee shop for a place to plug my computer in, but to no avail. New batteries are a must apparently.
As for the writing itself. Final battle ahead. I can smell the end of the book now, which by no means is he same as the end of my writing the book. A first draft is just that. Let's say another week writing, then one week cleaning up the worst mistakes and I should have a working first draft.
I haven't decided if I should put it away then and start working on a new book or if I should start editing and rewriting to get a second draft. There are advantages to both approaches.
Well, I'll take it when I'm there I guess. No reason to decide now.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Back to the keyboard again

Same hangout, different laptop. 2.4k words, which is ok. Two hours battery time -- on two fully loaded batteries. That's abysmal. Pretty new computer. Promised me three hours worth per battery. Talk about getting ripped off.

Scotsman ten years

And as if the celebration week for our local hangout wasn't enough the city's been invaded by Iron Maiden fans. Let's put it this way -- the first three hours no guessing was needed concerning the origins of what came out of the loudspeakers.
We still managed to get a couple of games out of the evening. Abysmal performance by me, but hey, old decks that needs trimming. Was fun to play again.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

And about writing

Without a keyboard, or rather a functioning computer, writing becomes difficult. The absence of blog entries was also joined by a lack of writing for very much the same reason. One week away from the MS did reveal something though. Normally I'll silently write on in my head when I'm away from a medium suited to get words down permanently. The last week I didn't. Sure, I was sick, which might have had something to do with my lack of enthusiasm, but something?
The mad rush of late might have pushed me a bit further in the story than I was really prepared to handle, and well, then there isn't much more to do than get the story down on disk. It's not like there are any real surprises left. At least not for the writer.
The BANG is signaled, and after that there's only mopping up left. That leaves little for the imagination, at least as far as creating story goes. For me only the implementation is left.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

No blogging

No entries the last week. I know, the excuse that your dog ate the homework is a poor one, but there are occasions when it comes rather closer to the truth.
My daughter, monstrous darling that she is, took her bottle with nutriment-solution and quite deliberately infused my laptop with water, honey and herbal tea. That she had such a strange mix in her bottle we have a contagious stomach disease to thank for, but anyway. The gooey laptop firmly refused to do anything much any longer. Thankfully my previous line of profession made me somewhat strict when it comes to backups, so I haven't lost anything more than a few bookmarks.

Monday, November 13, 2006

No Scotsman

Not my week for VTES now. Yesterday I missed out of our tournament, and now I'm getting cancellations for our weekly pub game. Seems no one's coming, so I think I'll have to abstain as well.
Talk about packing them on a stack.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Sifting through more photos

A little over a year ago we went to Heidelberg. Wife had a sprint to join, sprint meaning a method for rapid software development, and I was luggage or babysitter, pick any one.
It's a cosy town in a river valley and utterly invaded by tourists. It was the first time I learned to expect signs in Japanese in Europe.
The first shot is from the main square, the second from a small town upriver and the last one across the river one day when the town was baking in the late summer's heat.
The weather changed rapidly between days. When we took the bus to scout out the immediate surroundings rain poured down. I got the shot of the tree during a temporary lull in the raining. Pity, as it was my wife's day off.
Two days later the entire town sweated in a thirty degree heatwave.


Was supposed to take part of a VTES tournament, and to have a full day with my wife without my daughter to boot. So, I know you're not supposed to say that loud, but I'm pretty sure parents have these feelings from time to time. Anyway, that didn't happen. Kid's sick and babysitter to be is as well. As my wife has the keys to the place where we run the tournaments she had to go and I'm home with a sleeping daughter.
I dislike missing out on the game, but when I don't see much of my wife for a month due to her workload I do get sulky. Even whining a bit.
So, sulk, there it is.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Freezing and looking through photos

Just feeling a bit cold when browsing through some pictures. Japan spring this year. Actually it wasn't all that warm, but somehow it feels warmer when you look at the pictures. Probably something with the colors.
What I recall it was just warm enough to shed windstoppers but not warm enough to discard sweaters. Still, the colors. I was told beforehand you have to see it to believe it, and, well, it was true.
The day was spent in Nara, and for those who have visited the city you will recall that apart from the beautiful temple park and shrines it really is just as horrendously ugly as most small Japanese cities are. But who wants to remember that when the visuals from the parks linger in your memory?

Trouble blogging

Either my comp's acting up on me or something's happened to Blogger beta. Updates refused, and I'm not even sure this post will get through.
So, it's a beta, but if the new sign-in message of the day is anything to go by then all new blogs are going to end up in the beta. In my book that makes it a beta no longer.
Getting error messages, have to reload and then find out that the failure notification was invalid. Blaeh!


Is a feature that doesn't work with the Blogger Beta. Really, write out that stuff won't work. Uploading pictures manually would have been a lot faster than struggling with a defunct system.

Friday, November 10, 2006

My office

I do belong to the clichéd group writing in a coffee house. The occasional pub works just as well, but home leaves me no peace. Anyway, three shots from the "office" I've frequented most the last two months.

Gothenburg makes full use of trams. Shot through window behind me.

And a last shot into the cafe.

Best of all -- high speed Internet on wireless included in the coffee and sandwiches I have while writing.

Bad computer

Not too happy with the company selling us the laptops we have. One rather expensive one with an abysmal battery time of less than one hour. The one I'm using now has a functional battery, but since they "repaired"the keyboard several keys have become insensitive. At the moment it's the space key, which creates some consternation over here.

Another good day

Ended at 3k. Sets me up for making 90 next week, which, mildly put wasn't anything I'd expected. Well, guess I should just accept my fortune with as much good grace as I can muster.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


No, I didn't receive any. Just wanted to visualize it. You do know we all look like this to the agents, don't you?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


8.1k words total today. New personal record. I've been writing in a trance today and it still remains to see how much of it is of any acceptable quality. I don't know. I don't even know fully what I've written. There's just this feeling that the story has progressed in the direction it had to take, but the how and why remains a mystery to me.
I wonder how usual this is for a writer. I mean, some days I have to apply severe violence to both mind and computer to cram out less than a thousand. A day like this -- I didn't write the story. It hijacked me and used my fingers. There's no other explanation, and all rationality be damned.

And even more words

A stiff 3k on disk. Almost at weeks quota which feels good. Joining the FM NaNo chat certainly helps keeping the words flowing. We've somehow institutionalized a new way of doing word wars. Just announce every one hundred words. One hundred words are so few it might feel laughable to measure them, but they add up in the end, and it's a lot, lot easier to aim a hundred ahead than setting the cross hair at two thousand.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

And another good day's writing

Got 2.6k down on disk today. Gives me a little leeway, which could come in handy. It's a good feeling when the story flows down your hands more or less by itself. Still, there's a price to pay later. Self editing will be a horror when that day comes.

Scotsman VTES

Had a really wonderful evening of VTES yesterday. Got thoroughly routed twice and made a small comeback in the third game.
The new expansion really is a good one. Kudos to the creators.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Two more uploads

Chap twelve and thirteen with associated Intermezzos copied to private Wiki. A good way to measure progress for me.
Just received first input. Pointed out flaws I knew and some I had totally overlooked. All in all a positive crit. Now I just have to make good on those words and create a second draft so much better than the first one that Frays evolves into a truly readable story.
That is still not reason to deviate from my primary goal. Finish this first draft. Get those two words written: The End.

Mad furniture rush

Two days to IKEA. We had to move out a lot of shelves and that of course created a need for replacements. Went and bought furniture yesterday only to find out we needed more, so another run today.
Now it's all assembled and placed where it should stand, which means hugging the walls. So for the first time I can remember we're not short of shelf space. We'll see how many visits to our favorite book store it takes to make a lie of this statement.
Other than that I'm getting prepared for next weeks writing spree. Another 6k is the goal, ad it doesn't seem impossible at all. Let's hope it stays that way.

Friday, November 03, 2006

And at a slower rate

Unsurprisingly Thursday turned out slower than the day before. A stiff 1k is just about half of what I try to get down during a day, but I'm happy anyway. This week has yielded just about 7k which is one more than planned.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Good writing day

Daughter caught a cold and I had to void most of Tuesday's writing. Yesterday I set out to at least compensate for some of that lost time. Over 5k words, so I made good. Another 400 words will see me at my weekly goal of 6k, which considering it's 10 am here shouldn't be much of a hassle.
Got to love it when words flow freely.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Winter assault

Yep, definitely winter assault. Yesterday ten degrees celsius and a steady drizzle. Today minus three and walking the streets is just that much like skating without skates. Great, or something.
I recall loving winters. The earlier the better. I don't mean I disliked summers, but late autumns were kind of a period I preferred to be over and done with. Now, I'm not as certain any longer. Guess it's one of those age things I never believed in earlier.
Now, for you all inland sissies, minus three doesn't sound that cold, but if you live in a port city with the wind perpetually wading in from the sea during winter those moderately cold temperatures are a horror. Not only do you have to compensate for the wind whenever you check the thermometer, but that wind is as humid as is possible. I've walked around, shortly mind you, in my shirt sleeves in minus twenty. Brisk night, zero wind and all that. It's all right, but add wind and humidity and merely getting close to a window makes your brain freeze.
Well, in any way, autumn is temporarily over and done with. For a few days. We'll be back to the ordinary windy drizzle soon enough, and darkness.

Writing day off

Kid's sick with a cold, so no dedicated time for writing today. I did manage to cram together less than a full hundred, but that's such a pitiful word count it hardly counts at all. That leaves me in a situation, but I'll try to make good on those 70k at weeks end. One way or another.
My usual hangout is eerily silent. You can almost hear the fuse slowly burning. As most of the inhabitants are US subjects most of that powder keg will go boom in another two hours, a little less. They're all waiting for the madness called NaNoWriMo.
I wish them all fun, but I'm not taking any part of it. I have my own piece of writing. Staying on schedule I should finish November at pretty much exactly half the NaNo speed.

Rape and paste...

... is what you do when the server is behind a firewall shutting out almost every normally used port.
Thank all higher powers it was only text that I needed moved. Ancient editor up in an equally ancient command prompt window. Mark the wanted text, more to second window and paste it into Wordpad. Save and name the file. Rince and repeat fifty times...

Fun? No.

Well, close to twenty five years worth of saved poems safely downloaded. Reading them through I wonder if my 90% into the trashbin filter was even close to sufficient. There's a lot of rather awful penmanship in those surviving 10% I copied.
They say you should put your writing away for some time, but almost ten years? And it left me with some ten poems I'm still proud of. Now that's a huge 2%. A sign as good as any other that I should steer clear of poetry I guess.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Seen elsewhere

For those in countries will peculiar inheritance laws:

For the rest of us living in nations where the legal systems isn't tweaked for the maximum feeding of lawyers it still contains some good guidelines. After all, you may want to explicitly give away your intellectual property to someone, at least as much of it as the law permits.


And what a disaster it turned out to be.

One lousy game. People not showing up and the most important of all not even returning calls. Crap! Rant! Whine!

Ok, done.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Playing VTES

Tonight is Scotsman night. Our weekly VTES get together which promises a few really good beers, and that's an 's' there.
With a few rebuilt decks all that remains is to cram one together from scratch.

Tomorrow I'll have time dedicated for writing again. Already looking forward to it.

Sunday, October 29, 2006


Time to write a proposal for the EC. Budget, staffing and an attempt to fix the event chronologically as well as geographically. The former is of course more important than the latter -- Gothenburg isn't that large a city.
There's an opening for running it in tandem with the early August Gothenburg party. We'll have to see if that is a realistic option. Hotels may be a problem for arriving guests. If possible it would be fantastic. The city's lively as it is during summer, but it surely comes into full bloom during the main events, and the party is one of them.

IKEA hellrace

Sour thumb, almost sturdy wardrobe in place. Apartment liberally littered with small plastic bags, almost readable instructions for how to set the thing up and more paper that I want to admit, but it's in place.
The piece isn't too ugly, which, considering the price tag it had is a good thing. And it's almost complete. Doorknobs would have been a good idea. Doorknobs will be a good idea, and as we're headed out into assemble yourself furniture paradise in a week, well.
So, a week from now I'll have a sour thumb again, and a few bookshelves and a cupboard in place, and I'll rant, and I'll think that it was at least cheap. And the apartment will once again look like a battlefield. Go figure.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

VTES, no writing

Meeting today about the EC 2007. That would read European Championships 2007 in V:TES, a fun strategic card game I'm playing with some regularity.
August or September next year we'll run the tournament here in Gothenburg. Looking forward to it already.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Taking shape

Eleven chapters, thirteen shorter independent parts and 64 thousand words. This is where the story must have achieved a shape of its own.

I'm not talking interesting or catching. That comes a lot earlier, but when you stand there in the bookshop, paperback between your fingers and stare at the title of your newest acquisition there are a few things you take for granted.

The flipping it over and flipping it open parts are already over and done with. The blurb on the back of the cover was the second thing you checked. The front cover always comes first, but if you've read a fair share of books that isn't enough. A book's not just supposed to look pretty. So you read the blurb and you've read half the first page and you opened your wallet and bought it.

Now what? You've already made that entire chain of writer-agent-publisher a little happier, because there's one copy less to be sent back. At least that's what we're told, we as in writers.

Well, this is where I started, or almost.
Somewhere late in the start, where the distance between thumb and forefinger tells you that the story should have gained a direction, it had better, or you're going to put the book away, and you're going to tell your friends it was boring.

The part I've reached is the middle. The dead on middle of the middle -- in the middle of middledom. Where the story is balancing on the edge of first half or second half. I have come to where the story needs to be about what the story is about.

Did that sound strange? No worries. It doesn't have to sound right, because you'll instinctively know when you encounter it. If you don't here's another point when you put the book away. This time your friends are going to be told it was bad. Odd, isn't it? You read a quarter and the book is boring, but if it's good enough to keep you halfway it becomes bad.

Anyway, this is the part we don't read so much about. Especially those of us who are unpublished yet. Get that first book inside the loop no matter what! Bad idea. You see, the putting books away department of readers is something possibly even worse than never getting published. This is where a book starts tanking. Tanking happens after the writer has lost his or her publishing virginity. After the word debut can be used as an excusing factor.

In the genre I'm primarily interested in, tanking walks around like a juggernaut somewhere around book number two in a series. That is bad news for the publisher and even worse for the writer. It could even herald the end of a writing career, and so I'll spend some time on the what makes a reader put away the book, thank you very much.

For my part, I have to decide if my book has taken shape or not, and that means reading a first draft still under production, and that, quite frankly, is painful. There are continuity problems unresolved from the earlier parts, chapters that need splitting up, scenes that must move far away from where they are now, and we're talking pages here, not landscape, and scenes that simply has to go. It is, in other words, not anything a reader with his mind intact, would want to read. It is also what I need to read, because I have only written the story this far and that is by no means the same as reading it.

Ugh, yuck and blaeh.
What we do for our words.

In your face

Just reminding myself why I do what I do. What a reminder...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The ins and outs...

... of using the service aren't always as obvious as they may seem.

Oh well, now what I wanted published is published rather than what was accidentally published.

Don't worry, I'll find another error to commit later instead.

And writing done

A full 2.1k done today. That fills my quota for the day with a small bonus tagged on top. 64k total now. Definitely in the realm of book length manuscript.
Story flows on as well. Of course, this is a first draft and I'm staring a major rework in the face later, but I had counted on that from the start.

Writing some more

Almost at weeks goal now, and a full three hours of writing ahead of me. Yum!

And yes, this place is a lot faster than the previous.

First post here.

Just switching site. Load times were simply too long elsewhere.