Archive for December, 2007


Avast, ye scurfy dog?

December 31, 2007

My wife and I love to play TextTwist when we have a few minutes to unwind.  The basic idea is that they give you 6 scrambled letters, and you have to make as many 3-, 4-, 5-, and 6-letter words with those letters as you can in two minutes.  They show you how many of each length there are to find so you know what you’re up against.

In one of the rounds last night we were given the following:  f r u f s c

So we came up with words like cuff, cuffs, surf, scruff, and so on.  There was one 5-letter word that kept eluding us, though.  The two minutes ran out, and they showed us the word we were missing.


Are you kidding me?  Scurf?  What the heck does THAT mean?  Someone at Yahoo! games was obviously playing a joke on all of us TextTwisters.  Well, according to Merriam-Webster, it is a real word, and (among other things) means “thin dry scales detached from the epidermis especially in an abnormal skin condition”.  In other words, dandruff.

We had a good laugh, and kept working it into the conversations for the rest of the evening.  None of them were correct uses of the word, mind you, but rather things like “you scurfy looking nerfherder”.  This is one of those words that you could totally scam people with in Balderdash.


And then there were six

December 29, 2007

A while back my family and I took a road trip to visit my parents on the other side of the state.  During that trip, I read what started out as Chapter 3 to my wife, and after getting through it all we decided that it needed to be split into at least three different chapters.

Well, when I started working on splitting it, and filling in the holes that we found during the read-through, we were at page 51.  Chapter 3 ended up becoming four chapters (3, 4, 5, and 6), and we ended up adding about 20 pages, so we just cleared page 70.  I finished the chapters just in time – we’re going on another road trip tomorrow (same road, same parents).

The scary thing about all of this is that we’re probably only a sixth of the way through the story points that we want to cover in this book.  And here I was worried about breaking 200 pages.  Silly me.

My wife also finished the revisions for Chapter 1, which incidentally became the Prologue, and the real Chapter 1.

I don’t have any expectations for how fast we’re making progress, so as long as the page count keeps going up, and the story keeps moving ahead, I’m happy.

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Battleship Grammer

December 24, 2007

My 5-year old daughter got “Battleship” for a Christmas present yesterday, and we were playing it this morning (a day early, I know).  One of our games was moving along nicely.  I had managed to sink 2 of her boats, she had just found one of mine.  We were both having fun, and smiles were a dime a dozen.

And then it happened.

I fired a shot.

It seemed an innocent-enough shot.  It was one of my random pokes in the dark, looking for boat number three.


My daughter’s smile faded a bit, and she crawled around to see my board.  “Really, daddy?  You won?”

Maniacal laughter ensued.  It took me a good 30 seconds to recover, and get out a decent explanation of what I had meant originally.

The lesson here?  Watch out for those homophones.  Their there they’re hilarious at times, but they may end up sinking you.

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The Ideal Schedule

December 18, 2007

One of the blogs that I follow is written by Tobias Buckell.  He made a post late last week titled Work Ethic, where he laid out what his work schedule looks like on a typical day (he also refers to another author, Jeff VanderMeer, who had written about the same topic in his post called Surfacing…and work ethic).

I thought this was a cool topic to blog on, so here is my version.  Since I am not a full-time writer yet, my weekday schedule ends up being something like this:

5:30am – Wake, shower, eat, skim RSS feeds or listen to audio-casts
7:00am – Head into my day job
5:00pm – Come home, dinner, spend some time with my family, evening chores
8:00pm – Put the daughter down for bed
8:03pm – Get the daughter a drink of water, or field some random last-minute question for her
8:04pm – Tuck the daughter into bed
8:05pm – Start conversation with my wife about something grown-up, like the bills
8:06pm – Daughter again
8:07pm – Finish conversation with my wife about something grown-up, like the bills
9:00pm – Write
10:30/11:00pm – Head to bed

Somewhere in there I find time to read at least a couple of books a month, as well as several magazines (usually in several 5-10 minute blocks throughout the day).  My weekends end up being a little less filled with my day job, and a little more filled with other chores, so the available time to write ends up being a wash there.

I really don’t mind the schedule too much, although I’d much prefer more time to write, work some exercise in there, and work in time for a nap in the early afternoon (typically the lowest energy point of my day).  Were I writing full time, I think my ideal schedule would go something like this:

5:30am – Wake, exercise, shower, eat, skim RSS feeds or listen to audio-casts
7:30am – Daily chores, see wife and daughter off to school/work
8:30am – Serious reading into blogs, books, magazines (anything that I can cull for ideas), or getting started on the writing early
10:30am – Write
12:30pm – Lunch and nap
3:30pm – Write
5:00pm – From here on the schedule would probably be the same.

So far I’ve found that I can get a respectable amount written done in 2 hours, provided I’m alert and not stuck in a rut.  With the above “ideal schedule”, I’d be writing 4-5 hours a day at least, and doing research for another two.  Plus I’d get a nap, and some exercise.


Oh well.  Something to strive for.

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Witty, yet demure

December 6, 2007

I started a new day job last week, so the writing took a hit – ok, the writing just stopped last week.  This week, though, I’ve been able to make time for the last three nights straight, getting a little more than a page each time.  It’s not much, but it is progress.

One thing that I noticed is that I think I’m to the point where I don’t feel that the day is done until I’ve written something.  THAT is definitely a good sign.  One of my ongoing fears with this experiment  is that I would let the project slide into obscurity.  But, since I’ve been seriously thinking about TheNovel or writing it for over five months now, I’m getting more and more confident that I will be able to finish it.

Of course, “finish it” may end up being a multi-year process, but we’ll see.

I still don’t have an official name for TheNovel.  I want something that conveys the central point of the story, but doesn’t actually give anything away.  Kind of how “The Fellowship of the Ring” works, but “The Return of the King” doesn’t (the latter because you know just from the cover that Aragorn will be king again, and therefore lives).

I always thought that Laurell K. Hamilton had an interesting naming scheme for her “Anita Blake – Vampire Hunter” series.  Many of the books in the series are named after night clubs that are featured in the story.  For example “Guilty Pleasures”, “The Laughing Corpse”, and my personal favorite “Lunatic Cafe”.  I remember browsing with my wife in a bookstore one day, and the title just jumped out at me.  It was quirky and fun, and therefore was enough to get my attention.  The blurb on the back of the book was enough to make me laugh out loud in the store, which was enough to get me to buy it.  I only found out later that it was the fourth in the series, which of course meant I had to go back and buy the first three.  Both my wife and I have been hooked ever since.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any vampires, werewolves, or any other preternatural bartenders in my story, so I’ll just have to be more creative on the witty-yet-demure title.

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