February 21, 2010 Progress Notes:

"When Your Number Isn't Up"

Words today: 250 tonight, and 250 the other night.
Words total: 5800.
Reason for stopping: It's late.

Darling du Jour: His leg splayed and twisted loose as he limped to the window; the mop sloshed across the floorboards in his hand.

Mean Things: People knowing you have a drug problem.
Research Roundup: The history of codeine as a controlled substance; 1940s detective slang.

Books in progress: Juliet Nicolson, The Great Silence: 1918-1920 Living in the Shadow of the Great War.
The glamour: Today? Low. I did not have a good day, or a good weekend.


I don't know if I'm going to keep doing these. I get the feeling a lot of people have stopped. But at least for tonight, here are some words slapped down on the table. They are very drafty, but they taste like gin and smoke, and in a couple drafts they will be good too.
April 27, 2010 Progress Notes:

"When Your Number Isn't Up"

Words today: 500.
Words total: 5300.
Reason for stopping: Reasonably round number, and I have an early shift at work tomorrow, so I don't want to get too far into it.

Darling du Jour: One shot, two shot, he thought, and closed his eyes. You could maybe stumble it. Maybe jangle the rope before tottering a few steps further, sliding to those white and slender knees—

Mean Things: I finally found out what Jake's problem is. I...well. I'm a bad person and will be promptly going to hell.
Research Roundup: When showers got popular, versus baths.

Books in progress: David Mitchell, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet.
The glamour: Dayjob, mild errandry of the usual sort.


I have not been blogging a lot. This seems to be symptomatic of spending enough time doing things that by the time I get home, I'm not so inclined to write up what I've been doing. But in case you were wondering, this weekend I went to Scalzi's reading/signing at the Merrill Collection on Friday (and for drinks and snacks afterwards); did a scavenger hunt with [livejournal.com profile] wistling, [livejournal.com profile] ksumnersmith, [livejournal.com profile] dolphin__girl, [livejournal.com profile] thesandtiger, and Stephen Kotowych on Saturday, followed by sushi for dinner and pie and tea late into the night; spent Sunday grossly oversleeping, reading, clearing [livejournal.com profile] ideomancer work and finishing said pie; went out for drinks with a friend I haven't seen in a space of years last night; ran errands tonight. Tomorrow is the Coach House Press launch party, and the day after a panel discussion on paranormal fantasy and vampires again at the Merrill, after which I think there will be coffee with a division of The People. And then Jane's Walk and a possible brunch date this weekend, and then we're back into it for the new workweek. I won't even list the things I skipped or didn't make it to.

This is kind of the reason I haven't been blogging a lot. I, ah, appear to have got busy.

The whole social life thing? Decidedly not bad! I enjoy it! But the work/life balance around the Casa, while historically unhealthily into the work side of things, is recalibrating some this month. This is taking a little adjustment.

I will try to be better about the blogging thing. Promise.


Laptop Debt Kill:


14850 / 17000 words. 87% done!
March 31, 2010 Progress Notes:

"When Your Number Isn't Up"

Words today: 100.
Words total: 4800.
Reason for stopping: I was going to try for 200 just to get back on the horse, but I got stuck on a plotting complication, it's 1:00 in the morning, and I do have to be conscious at work tomorrow.

Darling du Jour: "Nothing I couldn’t handle," he said. It was about as casual as a pipe bomb.

Mean Things: Lies, lies, damned lies. And I realized something quite ugly, but it's for later.
Research Roundup: N/A.

Books in progress: Keri Hulme, The Bone People.
The glamour: Dayjob, the usual mucking out of the inbox, writing some blog posts for the blogging gig. I was supposed to go to a launch party tonight, but I've been feeling kind of messed up all day and staying home was the better part of valour. I did have wild boar and walnut sausages and currant spice couscous for dinner. That's glamourous.


This is a token effort to get back on the horse after all the computer drama. Consider it a symbolic remount in advance of the four-day weekend. Which, I might add, starts tomorrow night.

Laptop Debt Kill:


10600 / 17000 words. 62% done!
March 15, 2010 Progress Notes:

"When Your Number Isn't Up"

Words today: 500.
Words total: 4700.
Reason for stopping: Getting late here.

Darling du Jour: The drapes had come loose on their curtain rod again; they gaped at the middle, pouring sickly evening light over Jake's legs and onto the floor. His feet sweated like ants under a magnifying glass. He jerked them up, left quicker than right, and kicked the blankets away.

Mean Things: Inadvertent actions that are going to look really, really guilty later. Sass.
Research Roundup: Cost of breakfast in 1949. When they invented blister packs, which, it turns out, was too late for this story.

Books in progress: Janni Lee Simner, Bones of Faerie.
The glamour: A bunch today, actually: dayjobbery, slush, catching up on Ideo tasks that accumulated while I was away, answering support mail, getting groceries for this empty fridge, and making some bread, since I was out of bread. Pretty much all catching up on stuff that sat while I was away and/or getting back into the swing of things.


Visiting with the novella tonight almost by accident; I was fussing around in my music folder and hit one of the soundtrack songs, and well, there you go. This is most decidedly not (Not!) what I am supposed to be writing, though, and I will have to be better behaved tomorrow. I have two stories to finish for May 1st here.

Laptop Debt Kill, which I forgot to do for a while:



6350 / 17000 words. 37% done!

All right. Bedtime for monkeys.
March 6, 2010 Progress Notes:

"When Your Number Isn't Up"

Words today: 500.
Words total: 4200.
Reason for stopping: It's a good stopping point, and I am really too distracted by moving my music to the laptop to keep on.

Darling du Jour: Breath burst out his mouth like a blown lightbulb and his heart ratcheted faster, faster still, worked against his chest like a beating. Her fingertips were like poppies against her chest, speckled bright under the punishing light. There were hands on her chest, her wrist; hands on his chest and wrists. He couldn't breathe.

Mean Things: Inopportune panic attacks at crime scenes.
Research Roundup: When they got marmalade in the US.

Books in progress: Lois McMaster Bujold, The Sharing Knife: Horizon.
The glamour: Chewing the to do list down to a stump. So, dishwashing, laundry, a quick hop out for travel-sized shampoo and a cute Goth top, Ideo slushing, and the making of a very nice potato and bean and sprout and mandarin orange salad. And moving files onto the laptop.


I didn't actually mean to write tonight, but hey, there was a race on in the chatroom, and it got hard to resist.

Finally finished the first and second scene of this tonight (there are words scattered through about seven scenes and five sections in this file), about four months after first laying down verbiage on it. Yes, erosion is a slow, steady process, and so am I. But it gets there, eventually.

Back to cleaning and packing and arrrrgh--

Bleeeeeh.

Feb. 22nd, 2010 10:02 pm
February 22, 2010 Progress Notes:

"When Your Number Isn't Up"

Words today: 100.
Words total: 3700.
Reason for stopping: I am really too messed up on Benadryl right now to be writing fiction. And that became apparent very quickly.

Darling du Jour: Not tonight, Virginia.

Mean Things: I am really too messed up on Benadryl right now to be writing fiction.
Research Roundup: N/A.

Books in progress: Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl; Kurt Vonnegut, Galapagos.
The glamour: Pajamas, TV, a bit of washing dishes and Ideo e-mail. And Chinese takeout, since I am feeling even more sorry for myself than I was last night and required soothing wonton soup.


I knew I should have never admitted to being sick. Because now I'm sick: coughing up gunk and achy and dizzy and brainmussed and hoarse. This never happened before I gave it tacit permission to exist.

Well, at least I already had a doctor's appointment lined up for Thursday?

Laptop Debt Kill:


2100 / 17000 words. 12% done!
February 21, 2010 Progress Notes:

"When Your Number Isn't Up"

Words today: 750.
Words total: 3600.
Reason for stopping: I'm going to go have some soup and cough medicine and go to bed.

Darling du Jour: Something went out of her eyes. Not that flickering, quivering movement that most people confused with light or life or spark unless they'd seen a double handful of men die. It was the pain.

Mean Things: Trauma reactions, what's either a slight bout of alcoholism or some compensatory binge-drinking, your dealer getting mad at you because you got him out of bed at six in the morning.
Research Roundup: Formal name for stir sticks; whether tea lights were in common circulation in the late 1940s; reference photos for 1920s bar tables; common names for black men in the 1910s or thereabouts, which I didn't get very far with.

Books in progress: Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl; Kurt Vonnegut, Galapagos.
The glamour: Decidedly unglamorous. I have admitted to myself that I am Sick (TM), and spent today watching Castle and coughing, in my pajamas. There was also sushi, because I was feeling sorry for myself.


Haven't touched this since New Year's Day. Cardinal rule of writing: If you're really itching for wordcount, go drop a booty call to the project you need or want finished the least. That'd be this novella. Hello, novella. I was just missin' you tonight, baby.

Second cardinal rule of writing: If you really can't figure out how to get around a corner on a scene, just ignore it for six or seven weeks. It'll magically have solved itself when you come back.

Yes, this is how I end up working four projects at once, pulling down steady wordcounts on a day-to-day basis, and still not actually finishing anything for months at a time. Do not try this at home. :p

Okay. Soup. Tea. Bed.

Laptop Debt Kill:


2000 / 17000 words. 12% done!
January 1, 2010 Progress Notes:

"When Your Number Isn't Up"

Words today: 250.
Words total: 2850.
Reason for stopping: It was a fully athletic crawl to the finish line.

Darling du Jour: He saw afterimages: a faded blue silk dress, rucked up at the knees; the ambulance men's boots on the streaked wood floor; an ankle, thin and white.

Mean Things: Nothing we hadn't already done.
Research Roundup: Cost for a pay phone call in 1949; paramedic uniforms.

Books in progress: Dashiell Hammett, The Thin Man.
The glamour: Slept late, as is the custom of this household on New Year's Day, and spent most of it futzing around, cooking a bit, and doing OWW stuff. There is beautiful, beautiful snow on the ground.


I finally cracked open the bread machine I bought in *cough* this evening. And oh my lord, I am so glad I did:



My first loaf of Robot Bread is apple blossom honey and wheat, and I have already had two fat slices of it. It is breathtakingly freaking delicious, and even rising, it smelled so good I was almost driven mad. My whole apartment smells lingeringly like honey right now.

The way I know my life is awesome is that tomorrow morning, I will get to wake up and make French toast out of it. With butter and maple syrup. Mwah hah hah hah hah.

Goodnight, internet.
December 27, 2009 Progress Notes:

"When Your Number Isn't Up"

Words today: 300.
Words total: 2600.
Reason for stopping: Uncooperative protagonist is uncooperative.

Darling du Jour: N/A.

Mean Things: Not the greatest moment for one's stash to roll all over the crime scene floor. No wonder he's not cooperating.
Research Roundup: The date for the invention of sugar packets (too late, alas); hotel registers.

Books in progress: Dashiell Hammett, The Thin Man.
The glamour: Out for a brief shopping trip this afternoon, which involved schmancy Aveda shampoo, more books, and a few gifty things. It demonstrated the thing where I need to be out of the house a little more often than I have been this week. Luckily, there is drinks tomorrow to accomplish that for me.


I feel like every week and a half or so I get a thought on this and circle back to dump a few words on it, which is an exceeding coy way to do business. This time it was a way to demonstrate one of the three or four lines of conflict, and what was missing: motive. I thank Dashiell Hammett for figuring that one out for me. Those two thinks should take me solidly into at least the third section of five, if I can just cough up the words to take us there. Right now I'm struggling to fill out the first scene.

That struggling makes me wonder if my brain is determinedly trying to learn something about sentence-level prose, and if that's why I hate mine so badly at the moment. It would make a lot of sense in terms of how these things have gone before. If so, this is on a long-term level all to the good, because I will emerge from this plateau cranky and disheveled and a better writer. Right now I'm just cranky and disheveled, sadly, so we wait for that shining day to come.

And now it is past midnight, so I am going to retire to bed with The Thin Man and fill my brain back up with words for tomorrow's dumping.
December 16, 2009 Progress Notes:

"When Your Number Isn't Up"

Words today: 300.
Words total: 2300.
Reason for stopping: I'm not squeezing much more out of this tonight.

Darling du Jour: N/A.

Mean Things: Some times are good times to make a joke. Some are not.
Research Roundup: Types of fish in the Chicago River; options for carpet cleaning in 1949; the history of VA hospitals; names of WWII generals; Chicago VA hospitals circa 1949, polio rehabilitation.

Books in progress: Patricia McKillip, Harpist in the Wind.
The glamour: I am to be reminded to eat food regularly and to take my vitamins if I don't want to be emotionally fragile. This is a thing you'd think I'd have learned. You would sadly be wrong. Luckily, a half-carton of milk contains enough vitamin D to interrupt this cycle and buy me working time.


This thing continues to be viscerally difficult.

I did find the final (I think?) chapterlet title, which gives me a better sense of the narrative structure and what's supposed to be doing in those scenes, and that'll be a help. I wonder if that's why people name chapters, for the guideposts; to hold up the arc when you don't have a story to rest it on yet. I can see the thing arching like a roof frame now, all naked against the sky. The shape and pace reminds me a lot of Sugar, which means that 1) this'll potentially be a slog and 2) it'll also potentially work.

Out after work tomorrow -- I actually kind of have a shockingly awesome social calendar going this week and next -- so more dispatches from the front Friday night.
December 7, 2009 Progress Notes:

"When Your Number Isn't Up"

Words today: 400.
Words total: 2000.
Reason for stopping: Teapot empty, head empty, past midnight on a work night.

Darling du Jour: Jake had forgotten about blood. It had a way of drying thick and clinging, the smell meaty enough to bring spit to your mouth and then make you ashamed of that before it even settled.

Mean Things: Some awkward casual Red Scare, a big mess, the weight of human indifference.
Research Roundup: Side effects of codeine; pain medication and trauma; 1930s perfumes, and then Guerlain Vol de Nuit scent notes; history of the Ukraine in WWII; the founding date of the Chicago Cubs.

Books in progress: Piers Anthony, Being a Green Mother.
The glamour: Dayjob, with somewhat less of the brutality that was expected of it today (so, medium brutal). A spot of OWW work, and a spot of Ideo work.


Buckets and scads of research tonight; at some points, half an hour of research for three sentences. Yes, this is excessive. Yes, I need to stop writing period pieces if I'm going to be anal about my setting details. Yes, I do this to myself.

Thing is -- and I didn't realize I did this until explaining it to [livejournal.com profile] katallen tonight -- I really can't let it slide or handwave things very well. And it's because, over time, I've noticed that my best plot stuff tends to come from the unintended consequences of decisions made for total other reasons. All those side effects just accumulate, and suddenly the small implications of one decision made for character or just even as a stylistic flourish will bounce off something else and, well...create the plot. By accident.

Which is why I asked you guys about codeine and scalp wounds, just now. I smell the blood of an Englishman inciting narrative incident.

Now all I have to do is stay on the horse consistently here. So I can stop devoting all my writing energy to getting back on the horse.
So if I were to have one character on the floor, in shock, with a nasty, bleedy, but ultimately not life-threatening gunshot graze on the head, and another who's pondering feeding her a codeine pill for the pain, would this be a good idea or a bad idea on his part? As in, is this destined to cause terrible complications and/or endanger her life further?

Your writer thanks you.
November 24, 2009 Progress Notes:

"When Your Number Isn't Up"

Words today: 300.
Words total: 1600.
Reason for stopping: It sweated me tonight. And the teapot's empty.

Darling du Jour: O'Shaughnessy Drug opened early on weekdays for the red-eye crowd: gamblers and confidence men and tired cleaning women in faded blue dresses, slurping coffee before the trip uptown.

Mean Things: Botched suicides and bad, sad, tired neighbourhoods.
Research Roundup: What magnesium smells like, 1940s chewing tobacco brands, 1949 crime stats, 1940s cleaning woman uniforms, Rita Hayworth (photo reference).

Books in progress: A.M. Dellamonica, Indigo Springs.
The glamour: Dayjob in extremis. And then some pasketti. And sending a story acceptance for Ideo, which is always fun.


Okay, I don't know how long this'll actually turn out to be? But I think it gets its own tag and icon now. Backtagging/iconing will commence shortly, and let's all be thankful for the miracle of the Internet, which lets me find good 1940s photos for my icons. I still need to dredge up another one or two good melancholy, Tom Waits-esque rain-at-midnight fedora-pulled-down noir songs for the soundtrack, but it'll probably keep for another night.

All other news is scattered and quotidian: I have a pomegranate, and it's misty enough out that I can't see past a block out the window, and I'm inexplicably homesick for decades I never lived in. My kingdom for a brownstone apartment above College Street in 1947 or so, with hand-painted store signs and double-ended streetcars and good hats back in fashion.

The homesickness might be the fault of the pomegranate. They're good for things you can't have, or aren't even sure why you want, or which live in black and white.

Heh. I am become maudlin. Guess that's a sign to call it a night.
November 22, 2009 Progress Notes:

"When Your Number Isn't Up"

Words today: 550.
Words total: 1300.
Reason for stopping: It's a good round number, and no reason to push it. Also, my teapot's empty. I don't have to work anymore when my teapot's empty.

Darling du Jour: There was blood in her hair, like light. It caught the light and spilled it, thick and sticky, through sleek black curls like spilled rye. Her face was red, and the patched cream rug was red, and her fingernails were red on the hand that held the stubby pistol. The window was shut, and the bathroom door.

Mean Things: Trauma, bodies, a very quiet haunting.
Research Roundup: Invention of the record player/phonograph, Brit as a male name, where telephone technology was at in 1949.

Books in progress: Emma Bull, Territory.
The glamour: I did, in fact, cook. Hooray for me!


Went back to work tonight partly because [livejournal.com profile] stillsostrange was available for a race, and partly because it's just tickling in my head tonight and I wasn't really going to be content with watching more TV. It got a little recalcitrant at the end, but it wasn't a bad decision to make.

The mini-chapter breaks developed names today; notably, names that are all in lowercase and bits of phrases and very [livejournal.com profile] mekkavandexter. I will note that I just work here. Regardless, they seem to fit very nicely. I still have no idea what I'm on about with this thing, but the first chapterlette is mostly continuous narrative and not jumbled pieces anymore.

I feel like a Real Writer (tm) today for the first time in a good while.

It feels good. Clean and sharp and steady. Now, if only I can keep that up during the actual workweek...
November 17, 2009 Progress Notes:

"When Your Number Isn't Up"

Words today: 350.
Words total: 750.
Reason for stopping: Trying to achieve bed a little earlier tonight. Today was sort of long, and I could use it.

Darling du Jour: It was thirty years past grand, and its business was forgetting. It had winked once at poker parties and homebrew and too-large grins; it still brushed off the slide of thin syringes and the sound of wedding rings slipped into scuffed coat pockets. Its wood had lost its polish and the stately red velvet of its chairs was slowly balding, but the St. James remembered gunshots, and its vaulted Georgian ceilings whispered them through the three a.m. quiet 'til it landed loud as a bomb.

Mean Things: A bad fall; a whispering, faded haunting.
Research Roundup: Art deco interior architecture; leaded glass windows; the Stanley Hotel, for photo references.

Books in progress: Nicole Kornher-Stace, Desideria.
The glamour: Unexpectedly busy day for me at the Dayjob. Nothing that couldn't be (and wasn't) handled to satisfaction, but it meant not even putting away the laundry happened tonight. Eh. Words are probably better in the long run, and they are good words. This is the right beginning to the story, differentiated from all the wrong ones by how it just slaps you upside the head with the immediate knowledge of its utter rightness.

This is my good little victory for today.

Goodnight, folks.
November 16, 2009 Progress Notes:

"When Your Number Isn't Up"

Words today: 250.
Words total: 450.
Reason for stopping: I have to get to bed. Dayjobbery demands it. I'm already up too late.

Darling du Jour: Niklas Shevchenko had been a dockman before the St. James lost its night porter. He still moved like one, wide and swinging, black shoes blurred against the patched burgundy of the hall carpet. Jake Beaton had been a junior welterweight, and he wasn't even that anymore. The bad leg dragged behind him like a body out of the river.

Mean Things: Physical exertion; bloody hands; terrible, terrible beauty.
Research Roundup: Slavic surnames, boxing weight classes, first use of forensic fingerprinting, dried blood. By the way, don't image-google that last one. Hello, war atrocity photos.

Books in progress: Nicole Kornher-Stace, Desideria.
The glamour: Today was the dreaded 11:00-7:00 shift, which meant I came home, ran some laundry, had a frozen pizza for dinner, and then the day was already pretty much over. This is not, shall we say, my favourite shift in the world.


The second I put mini chapter breaks in this, it proceeded to maybe not put out like a charm, but at least cooperate grudgingly. I'll consider the implications of that tomorrow, I think.

I will also stop worrying about whether I'm cannibalizing other projects, picking the wrong voice, being historically inaccurate, not having enough to say, pushing it, not pushing it enough, avoiding what I'm supposed to be working on, or producing crap, and just love the fucking bomb already.

After I go to bed.
November 12, 2009 Progress Notes:

"When Your Number Isn't Up"

Words today: 200.
Words total: 200.
Reason for stopping: This is slippery. I've been beating my head on it for two days now, and that's notable progress. And I have to go to bed.

Darling du Jour: The thick tendon that held Niklas's jaw to his broad, flat Slavic face twitched like a Mexican jumping bean. "Jake," he said, scuffed red cap in one hand. "You better come."

Mean Things: Anxiety triggers, attempted suicide, love at first sight.
Research Roundup: Nerve pills/patent medicines/anxiety medications, pillboxes, 1940s porter uniforms, former habitats of the American chestnut, 1940s ambulances and whether they had sirens, St. James son of Alphaeus, Slavic male photo references, The Maltese Falcon, film noir, hardboiled prose samples. I have no idea why I keep doing this to myself with the period pieces.

Books in progress: Nicole Kornher-Stace, Desideria.
The glamour: Not much tonight aside from putting my head between the vise blocks and squeezing. For some reason I fell into Wikipedia and read all about female serial killers too. Not sure what that was about.


It's probably premature to take this as any indication that my head has words in it again. I'm actually pretty sure it doesn't, and the responsible thing to do would be to stop this right now and read ten more books at least.

Thing is, I just got bored of not writing.

(Yes, folks, there is only so much Ghost Hunters a girl can legitimately watch, and only so much slacking a girl can do before the urge to chew one's own skin off just for something to do gets to be more than background noise.)

So while this is being kind of terrifically slow and awful and plot construction is proving laborious and I'm pretty much of the opinion that every other sentence I've got was hit in the face with an ugly stick every Sunday while growing up? At this point, I'll pretty much go until I stop.

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