Range Remake Done!

When I promised we could get a proper range hood for our kitchen, I did not imagine that the project would take more than three months, and a gazillion hours of my time. As soon as we decided to move the stove five inches to the left (it was placed awkwardly because of where the gas line was), everything snowballed. We needed a cleverly designed shelf unit on the right, and a smaller cabinet on the left. And here it is!

Except for the base cabinet, this was all made from wood I found in the basement and garage. Mahogany pieces salvaged years ago by Allysen’s dad turned into the shelf unit, with the help of some butcherblock leftover pieces for the top. And there was just enough butcherblock left to glue together to make the countertop on the left. We are very happy.

 

One Book or Two—That Is the Question

picture by geralt, via pixabay
Now that I have The Reefs of Time revised to the point that I can send it to my publisher, the time has come to face the question of whether I have written one book or two. At 268,000 words, it is the length of two substantial novels. Before I get into the marketing and art questions, I’d like to ask you readers: Which would you rather see? One big, honking book at a higher price (and probably with small print in the paper version), or two reasonably priced and sized volumes with a cliffhanger and probably a year’s wait between the two?

Do you have a preference? Sound off in comments. The question is open to the floor!

For comparison, the standard length of an SF novel used to be, oh, 60-90,000 words. But it’s grown over the years. Here are rough word counts of some of my other novels:

Neptune Crossing – 104,000
Sunborn – 144,000
Eternity’s End – 214,000

On the other hand, GRRM’s A Game of Thrones is 284-298,000 words, depending on whom you quote.

The Chaos Chronicles was originally supposed to be a long story arc told over a series of short-to-medium novels, each of them pretty self-contained and written quickly (hrrm). By the time I wrote Sunborn, that plan was reeling toward the open window. With Reefs, well…

From a publishing perspective, there are many good reasons to split the book, and, hell, maybe earn some money on the project. From a storytelling perspective, it would be a sea change for the series—a single story, broken in two. Not unlike many TV programs nowadays. Or, um, the Avengers movies. In books, think Connie Willis’s Blackout and All Clear.

As readers, what do you think?

Jack Among the Rogues

Captain Jack has finished up his rehab from the TPLO surgery for his torn ACL. He’s recovered with flying colors, and is cleared to begin transitioning to normal doggy fun activities. The doc even said he could return to bike rides, as long as we’re careful, because the straight-ahead running will be good exercise, and less risky to his other ACL than the typical bounding, turning, reversing border-collie herding that he loves so much.

Jack loved going to PT, and generally went beyond excited to hyper while he was there. The therapist took a picture of him for the rogues gallery of patients. That’s him in the upper left corner.

End Times Are Here!

Drum roll, please! The End Times have arrived! The End Times! The End of waiting for me to finish The Reefs of Time.

Yes, I have reached the end! The Reefs of Time is substantially DONE. That’s right—I’ve finished the major rewrite of the 268,000 word manuscript! Most of those words, I now believe, are the right words, and in the right order. That works out to about 1327 manuscript pages in Courier New, with two spaces after many periods, and one space after others, because habits die hard.

Ten years in the works, this novel has been through the fermenter, the extractor, the refractors, the distillers, the boilers, the oven, and aged in camphor-wood in the cellar. Here’s what the manuscript looks like, with its tired but happy progenitor.

Drum roll, please! The End Times have arrived! The End Times! The End of waiting for me to finish The Reefs of Time. Yes, I have reached the end! The Reefs of Time is substantially DONE. That’s right—I’ve finished the major rewrite of the 268,000 word manuscript! Most of those words, I now believe, are the right words, and in the right order. That works out to about 1326 manuscript pages in Courier New, with two spaces after many periods, and one space after others, because habits die hard. Ten years in the works, this novel has been through the fermenter, the extractor, the refractors, the distillers, the boilers, the oven, and aged in camphor-wood in the cellar. Here’s what the manuscript looks like, with its tired but happy progenitor. [CUE “cheers” and more “cheers,” and maybe a few “huzzahs”!] “But wait!” you say. “Is that some kind of weasel wording, ‘substantially done’? What are you trying to pull here?” Trust me, I’m not trying to pull anything. Over the next week or so, I’ll be cleaning up some edits I’ve made notes to myself about, and responding to final suggestions from my stalwart (if annoyingly discerning) writing group. And then off it goes to the editor. The editor will edit, and I’ll do a polish pass over the whole thing as I respond to his editorial suggestions. And after that? Why, you get to read it! At last, at long last!

[CUE “cheers” and more “cheers,” and maybe a few “huzzahs”!]

“But wait!” you say. “Is that some kind of weasel wording, ‘substantially done’? What are you trying to pull here?”

Really, I’m not trying to pull anything. Over the next week or so, I’ll be cleaning up some edits I’ve made notes to myself about, and responding to final suggestions from my stalwart (if annoyingly discerning) writing group. And then off it goes to the editor.

The editor will edit, and I’ll do a polish pass over the whole thing as I respond to his editorial suggestions. And after that? Why, you get to read it! At last, at long last!

(Photo by Allysen Carver)

Eternally Grateful


Seems fitting, with all that’s been going on lately. My novel, Eternity’s End, is off and running with a Bookbub sale, $.99 for the next few days only! This tale of the search for the lost starship Impris, complete with cool aliens, interstellar pirates, and cyber romance, was a finalist for the Nebula (the closest I’ve ever come to seizing that prestigious award). Get one while the pixels are hot! In all the top English-language ebook stores!

Coincidentally, a brand-new German translation of this very book has just come out from Apex Verlag, with this very cool new cover:

If you read German, check it out and let me know how you like it!

Major Award!

Charles S. Carver

My bro has done it again. Charles S. Carver by name, and professor/research psychologist by trade, he’s earned another major award in his field—the American Psychological Association’s “Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award.” This award honors psychologists who have made prominent theoretical or empirical contributions to basic research in psychology. It’s regarded as one of the highest awards in the science of psychology.

That’s my brother Chuck they’re talking about. The guy who once ran around the Brown University football field in a mascot bear suit. (I subbed for him once, and got my head stolen for my troubles.) The guy who made it to the Ohio state finals in high school wrestling. The guy who’s been waging war against cancer for a year and a half, and holding his own.

The award also honors his colleague Michael Scheier at Carnegie Mellon University, who has worked with Chuck for over 45 years in the areas of personality, social, health, and motivational psychology. You can read more about it here.

They’ll be recognized at the APA convention this coming August.

Countdown!


The countdown seems to be speeding up as we race toward the day when our daughter Lexi ties the knot with a very fine gentleman named Connor. (Did I mention that our daughter is getting married? She is!) The date is June 23, and it’s coming fast. Lexi and Connor seem to have matters well under control (unlike her parents, who basically were setting their hair on fire before their own wedding, centuries ago), but I’m not sure the same can be said of the father of the bride. I still have to buy a new suit (What? I have to wear a suit?), and I have to learn enough dance steps to carry off my role at the reception. There are probably other things, too, but that’s enough right there to give me brain freeze.

All that said, we couldn’t be happier for her, and for Connor. Woo-hoo!

 

Captain Jack Starts Physical Therapy

“Has no one else noticed that the water is rising in here?”

Captain Jack is coming right along in his recovery from ACL surgery. He’s already had two sessions with doggie PT, including time in the hydro tank—an underwater treadmill. He was a little wigged out at first, but he caught on after a while. How do you get a dog to walk straight and steady on a watery treadmill? Peanut butter!

Chaos at the Star Rigger Ranch, Pt. 2

Range Hood Update!

So, they didn’t bore the hole in the wall for the range hood for another week, which was ample time for me to cut open the inside wall and discover that a stud lay squarely in the path of my projected hole! Gah. After regrouping and consulting, I changed the plan and took down the slim-profile rectangular duct that I’d worked so hard on, and switched to round duct all the way—just enough difference to slide past the stud. It worked! But it left me with an ugly rectangular hole to close up. Oh well, we eat problems for breakfast here at the ranch. I applied myself to the problem, and the ugly hole is gone! And the range hood is operational!

A lot of finish work remains. For example, I had to cut a hole in the side of the gleaming stainless steel chimney (that’s what they call the decorative shroud around the actual exhaust duct). Me and my Dremel (and several expendable cutting wheels), we did it. Did good, too. Except one thing: the chimney is too short! It doesn’t reach the ceiling! How did I not see that before?

The manufacturer offers a chimney extension piece—for $165! That’s almost the cost of the whole unit. I am now hoping to find a local sheet metal worker who can fabricate a piece for me for less.

Sitting tight on that for now. We love having a real exhaust vent for our smoky cooking! Plus, I put up the re-cut pegboard, and Allysen now has a new hobby of figuring out what to hang on it and how.

Oh, and we now have a working porch lift in front of the house. Did I mention?

(Also, I’ve had enough home construction to last me the year.)

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