Novel Revision, Step Seven: Think Again

Maybe after finishing your second draft, you feel it absolutely complete. You've done everything you can do; now you need to have someone read it and give you feedback. Great. Go for it.

I had to step back and take one more look. It's worth doing that, I think, unless you're really sure you've got it as good as you can make it or that you've stared at it too long to know what might be wrong. After rewriting start to finish, if nothing else it is good to go back to the beginning of the story and make sure it matches the end.

There wasn't a lot of method in this step: I didn't do a full re-read, just went through the first few chapters and then skipped around, tightened up wording in a few places, and thought. Something niggled at me (two things, actually, but one of them never made sense until someone else pointed out the problem to me.)

It took me several days of thinking it over to come up with the answer to my problem; once I did, I had it fixed in less time than it took me to think it over.

The point of looking back was mostly to check out the big details, giving the story a final once-over to try and notice any serious mistakes. A lot of mistakes, even big ones, can be fixed with surprising ease if the story itself is strong. I did also look for voice issues, though--I wanted that reasonably polished before letting anyone read the tale.

That wrapped up my basic revision process. The manuscript hasn't reached pristine perfection, but why try to worry about every last sentence when no one has read it yet? A lot may yet change. My beta readers have the book now (tip: give it to one person with good strong opinions and have them read it through before printing manuscripts for your whole critique group. You might waste less paper re-printing half the book that way.) When I have the readers' thoughts, I'll take those into consideration and put the final polish on before seeking publication.

If you're revising: best wishes to you! Do let me know how the process goes for you, especially if you tried out anything that I've suggested. Every author works differently, of course; none of this is law. I learned a lot from a few who shared their expertise, and only hope this will help someone else. Happy rewriting!


Novel Revision, Step Six: Retell the Story

If you wrote carefully the first time through, watching your prose and managing your suspense, and you came out with about the right word count: great. You may be able to get away with just editing scenes.

If, however, you wrote with NaNoWriMo--telling your story at top speed with gleeful disregard for things like grammar and adverb control and preservation of mystery--don't even try revision. If you're happy with your prose after that, you're either a savant or missing something. Your book needs rewriting. Mine certainly did.

The story, like the word flow, had great flaws. In all honesty, I'd probably rewrite any book of mine start to finish; I'm not the world's strongest plotter, and even with a decent outline it sometimes takes me halfway through the story to really figure out what's going on. With the probability of every page changing, revision feels more organic and complete if I send the whole tale back through my mind and fingers.

Here are the steps by which I rewrote my novel:
  • open a new document
  • look at the first scene on the scene summary, and any relevant notes
  • set the first few pages of the original manuscript within reach, and
  • start typing, this time with care toward the finished product.
Sometimes I followed the manuscript, when I knew an original scene was nearly what I wanted it to be; other times I relied almost entirely on the scene summary. For a solid third of the book, I hardly looked at the original manuscript at all.

If an idea for a new scene came to me, and it appeared to work with the overall plot and add something of value, I wrote it in. If I really struggled with the writing in a spot, I made myself a note to return to it and moved on. If I wrote a scene and didn't like it, I cut-and-pasted it into a document called "Deleted scenes" and tried again.

Storytelling became fun for me in the rewrite. Knowing the tale's direction at almost every turn set me free to pay attention to my favorite parts of writing: shaping scene and character and voice, polishing every phrase until the words ran smooth and clear.

As I rewrote, the story took form, the characters rising to life and breath. One boy who did everything "awkwardly" in my first draft transformed into a rough-and-tumble young man wrestling with his own rage. A villain, without whom part of the story had made little sense, came into being and frightened the heck out of my gentle heroine. My favorite character, for whom I originally feared the criticism of "too perfect," did something desperate and terrible and suffered for it. Those are not small changes.

The rewritten manuscript contained a much better story, both on macro and micro levels: better structure, more consistent voice, more interesting characters and events. I thought it nearly ready for beta readers, but felt I needed to hang onto it for one more step. We'll talk about that tomorrow.


Tasty Tuesday: Baked Brie

Tasty TuesdayThe girls of my Catholic book club made quite a fuss over this last week. It also just might be the easiest appetizer ever.

Baked Brie

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed until foldable
1 8-oz round of brie cheese, rind and all
Jam or preserves (I used raspberry preserves)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spread a sheet of tin foil on a cookie sheet. Lay the puff pastry upon the tin foil, set the brie in the center of the pastry, and spoon enough jam over the brie to give the top a thick covering.

Fold the puff pastry around the brie and pinch it shut at the top. Curl up the edges of the tin foil so juices don't run free into your pan and bake themselves into little black strips of sandpaper.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until pastry is golden brown. Serve with crackers--I like a light wheat cracker, although when no one is looking I've sometimes eaten it straight. This recipe also has infinite variations; I'm tempted to try adding slivered almonds, and the savory version with mushrooms instead of jam sounds good too.


Novel Revision, Step Five: Add, Subtract, Unify and Decide

Yes, I know that is a particularly silly bit of wordplay.

At this point in my revision process, I sat down with scene summary, the notebook from step three, and a pen, with the manuscript on the floor beside me. If you'll notice, that meant I had two highly complementary things at my disposal:
  • an overview of the story arc, and 
  • a list of things wrong with the story.
The scene summary proved the perfect place for unifying the story structure. By adding scenes, scratching them, or modifying scene notes, I could accomplish the following:
  • Remove or change any scenes that added nothing to plot or character
  • Carry or remove plot threads that got dropped part way through the book
  • Foreshadow or remove plot threads that appeared mysteriously rather late in the book
  • Balance out suspense
After planning a couple of new scenes to strengthen the end of my book--which got shorted in the original draft due to my desire to finish in November--I brought out the notebook and started going through my list of plot problems, one at a time, making a decision on each item. Fixes for big plot level problems got worked out on the scene summary; corrections for small one-occurrence issues just got noted in the margins of the manuscript, wherever they happened.

One caveat to the process: Inconsistencies in sensory detail need their own documents. Compass directions trouble me enough in real life, so I drew some (incredibly sloppy) maps to keep my characters moving and turning in an orderly way. Likewise, time became very challenging for me because different worlds tracked it differently, so I made up a timeline. Other authors have trouble keeping track of any given character's name, hair color, arm length, hat size, etc; this may necessitate a sketch or dossier.

By the end of this step, I had a marked-up manuscript, a revised scene summary, a timeline and several maps, and an updated list of character names (pretty much everyone in my book had had some form of their personal address changed.) Everything waited in readiness for my favorite part of the process, which we'll talk about Wednesday.


Excellent Writing Tips

Bonus post!

Mr. Pond just linked this in the comments on Novel Revision, Step Three, and I liked it so much I wanted to put it up where readers will see it even if they don't hop into the comments on a post from yesterday. Thanks, Mr. Pond, for the link to Sid Fleischman's writing tips! They're great.

Novel Revision, Step Four: Summarize

It took me several days of floundering to figure out what to do with the marked-up manuscript left after completing Step Three. Today's step, the making of a scene summary, gave order and direction back to my revision process.

Scene summaries don't take a lot of work if you've already marked the start and end of every scene in your manuscript. I opened up a new document, formatted it like so:

Part I
Chapter 1
  • Scene 1:
Chapter 2
  • Scene 1:
Chapter 3
  • Scene 1:
Part II
Chapter 1
... etc.

Then I filled in the details, one scene per bullet point. Everything important that happened in each scene got listed. It would be a little spoilerific for me to use my own book here, so I'll borrow one of Miss Austen's to set the example:

Volume I
Chapter 1
  • Hartfield, inside, evening: Back information on Emma, Miss Taylor, Hartfield, etc. Miss Taylor just married and gone; sorrowful prospect. Intro Emma and Mr. W; character building; intro Mr. Knightley, change of mood; display of relationship between the three characters; notice of Emma's matchmaking propensities.
[Of course, in Jane Austen's time an author could get away with telling-not-showing of things like back information. But there is still a scene there.]

We'll talk about what to do with the scene summary, as well as that notebook full of plot holes, on Monday. Have a good weekend, everybody.


Novel Revision, Step Three: Read It with a Black Pen

This might have been the hardest part of the process for me, as it told me just how much I had to fix. It gave me what I needed to know for the actual revision, though, and I can't take credit for originality: this is my combined and cut-down version of a step described in Holly Lisle's One-Pass Revision and How to Revise a Novel.

The black pen can be blue or green or purple, but not red: we're not making note of typos. (Of course, you can use a red pen if you want--but if you can't stop yourself marking typos, don't say I didn't warn you.) This step also requires a print-out of the manuscript and some sort of notebook.

The read-through involves two things: first, marking the beginning and end of every scene. A scene, as described by Ms. Lisle:
is a cohesive block without which the novel will not stand, encompassing everything that a novel has to have, but in miniature. A scene has a start and a finish, characters and dialogue, engages at least one and sometimes all five senses, and offers conflict and change. It takes place in one time and in one place. If the time or the place changes, you’re in a new scene. A scene is usually written from only one point of view. (One-Pass Revision)
Second, making a note of every problem and inconsistency--whether plot- or character- or writing-related--in the notebook, e.g.:
  • The day in Pt I Chp 2 seems awfully short and nobody eats. Insert time interlude.
  • A.L.'s fears that peace is impossible are never referred to again. Is this a problem?
  • A couple of times I tell instead of showing on pg 119.
I had sixty of those by the end, in what was then a 150-page double-spaced manuscript. Of course, if I just came across a bad sentence, of which there were many, I didn't fret with it unless I had a particularly insistent thought for revising it--in which case, I just wrote that on the manuscript. Thinking about sentence structure comes later, and I highly recommend leaving it for then.

As for what I did with my marked-off manuscript and my notebook full of plot holes: I plan to talk about that Friday and Monday.


Query Letter Links

Wednesdays and blog series do not mix.

If you're revising a novel, however, you're probably also thinking about writing query letters to agents. Agentquery.com might seem like the ideal place to find out how to write a query letter, but I didn't discover the site until recently and didn't discover their how-to article until just a couple of days ago. For those who may, like me, have overlooked the obvious, here's the link. I found it very helpful.

Right, and it's also an excellent site for looking up which agents to query ...

Also in the querying world: if you haven't checked out The Query Shark, she's well worth the read.
Barring disaster, I'll return to the novel revision series tomorrow.


Tasty Tuesday: Penne L'Arrabiatta

Tasty Tuesday
I'm taking a break from the series on novel revision to participate in Tasty Tuesday! My best friend, Briana, gave me this recipe for "angry pasta" last week and I had to give it a try. It turned out fantastic, despite my forgetting the basil, and was very easy.

I will be making this again, basil and all, oh yes.

Penne L'Arrabiatta

6 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
16 oz. penne pasta
10 oz. diced roma tomatoes
2 oz. finely cut basil
4-6 dried chile peppers
8-10 oz. italian sausage

1. Bring 1.5 gallons of salted water to a boil; add pasta, cook until al dente (do not rinse!).
2. In a medium saucepan, saute the minced garlic in olive oil until golden.
3. Add diced tomatoes, crushed red peppers, and crumbled sausage and saute for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Add the finely shredded basil and serve on top of the penne pasta.
5. Top with grated parmigiana reggiano (optional)


Novel Revision, Step Two: Write the Back Cover

I prefer to have a teaser paragraph written by the time the first draft is well begun, so this book already had one when revision time came. So much had been added to the plot by then that the blurb needed redoing, though, and actually it still needs work as some version of it will get used in my query letter and I want it perfect. Grr. It's harder than it looks.

Anyway, there are several benefits to having your ideal back cover written before revising your novel. It will force you to know your hook* and the most interesting and relevant plot points, as well as firming up your concept of just what kind of book you wrote. [That last point is more important than it might look: the reason I had to re-revise half my story is that the first and last halves didn't match. They read like different genres of fiction. Ah, learning experiences.]

Best way to write a back cover blurb, as far as I can figure: Write down your basic hook* and list the key occurrences in your story. Referencing those, compose a paragraph or two that captures the basic appeal of the story without destroying the suspense.

* The word "hook" is used in different ways in the writing and publishing community, but I'm using it in the sense of eye-catching premise. For instance, the hook for Lord of the Rings might be something like "Peaceable little fellow inherits a magic ring that turns out to be the source of power for an evil ruler, and must dispose of it right under the Dark Lord's nose ... er, eye."


Novel Revision, Step One: Interview the Author

When you write a novel in thirty days from a very basic outline, you might expect to get something like I did: a wildly uneven text, a few characters whom I loved deeply, a jagged but partially usable storyline and one shining moment in which the entire tale had shifted from my original vision to something far more glorious.

I found revision much more enjoyable than the original writing; not the usual way of things, I'm told. And after a revision and a half (the half due to the mistakes of inexperience, I hope), the result--while definitely imperfect and still in the beta-reading stage--is at least something that four of the five people who have admitted to finishing it told me they just couldn't put down.

This series of posts is designed to share what I learned about how to revise a novel. If you're in that process yourself, best wishes, and may you find this helpful and encouraging.

* * *

Before printing the manuscript, before even thinking about what had to change, I asked myself some questions (thanks for the idea, Holly Lisle!) Why me? Why this book? What made it important? I had to get to the heart of the book--the living, breathing part that made it something more than a bunch of possibly interesting people wandering around doing possibly interesting stuff.

Concrete definition for "the heart of a book" proved elusive, and if you have ideas I'd love to hear them! To start, though, here's what I came up with:

--the hook, or central unique idea, plus
--the major themes, plus
--the author's worldview/perspective on life

This is what the book is about, more so even than the characters and the storyline; this is what you must not lose in revision.

Knowing that helped me distinguish between what mattered and what didn't. I wrote out or modified some of my favorite moments, changed most of the characters' names, scrapped and reimagined at least a third of the original storyline--but the book I'd wanted to write, the book I loved, survived.

Why did you write the book? What one thing makes it different from every other? What are the primary themes? Why is the book important to you? It is important to ask, and to answer.


Helpful Link for Writers

I tried very hard to get a post about novel revision up tonight, and couldn't do it. It's in the works.

For today: Writers, if you haven't seen the Emotional Thesaurus, check it out! It's very useful when all of your characters start using the same exact mannerisms every time they get frightened or angry or excited.


Twitter Gets Another Try

If I hadn't forgotten, my first tweet in two years probably would have been "Tweet ... tweet ... ON TOP OF SPAAGHEEEEEETTTIIII ... #CalvinandHobbes" But I forgot. Oh well.

Setting up my profile for Google Buzz actually sent me back to Twitter. That, and an article by Michael Hyatt that I read months ago. I started doing some research, and found that Twitter is more than a place where you can read the whole world's Facebook status updates. Conversation happens.

Or, you could just say I'm an internet junkie.

As an introvert, I find large amounts of conversation overwhelming, but we'll see how I do with the birds. It'll take me some time to figure out how to navigate in that world, but Michael Hyatt says to try thirty days. Here goes.

Do you tweet? You can find me at @jennasthilaire. I won't promise to follow every single person who comes and follows me, but I will if I recognize you from life or the combox. :)


Tasty Tuesday: Simple Chicken Enchiladas

Tasty TuesdayChicken enchiladas are easy to make. This recipe is, at least, and I like easy cooking; anyone as prone as I am to forgetting the real world for the sake of written ones will need a lot of recipes that can be made without much time and trouble.

The accompanying guacamole: not so easy. I might work on that recipe before I post it.

Chicken Enchiladas

1 8-pack flour tortillas
2 chicken breasts
2 cans mushroom soup
1/4-1/2 cup minced onion
About 3 cups grated cheese (I use a mix of jack and cheddar)

Boil the chicken breasts for half an hour in salted water. Remove the meat to cool and mix about three cups of the stock into the mushroom soup. Add the minced onion to the mushroom soup mixture.

Set the oven to 350 degrees, shred the chicken and get out your large iron skillet or 9x13 pan.

Pour enough of the mushroom soup mixture to coat the bottom of the pan. Then, instead of rolling the enchiladas, I layer: three tortillas, about a third of the chicken, a cup of cheese, about a third of the remaining sauce. Repeat until all the ingredients are used. Some people like to finish it with canned chopped chile peppers, but to me that's mixing great cheesy goodness with the strange and nasty.

Bake for about half an hour or until tortillas are tender when pierced with a knife.

Excellent with guacamole, sour cream, chips and salsa, and a good Spanish beer.



A lot of people lost their sponsored children in the earthquake that happened in Haiti back in January. I got a letter from mine today: her school collapsed, but she is all right and everyone in her village apparently survived uninjured. Thanks be to God. On my to-do list this week: Write that sweet girl and let her know how glad we are that she's okay.

* * *

A long list of reasons prevents me from talking much about current events and politics on this blog, not the least of which is that the mainstream media can irritate me a little beyond rationality. Just because I've yet to see an AP story hold up under a fact-check when it contains an attention-grabbing headline with the words "Vatican" or "Pope" in it, doesn't mean that such things don't exist or that all media personnel are of Rita Skeeter's ilk. I don't read them all, or even all that many. But I do get frustrated by the frequent reliance upon misunderstandings, assumptions, narrow perspective, the use of high-profile words and names to sell a story and the occasional outright lie.

As for the current hoopla, Timothy Radcliffe did a decent job of explaining my feelings, with a little more charity than I might have been tempted to use toward the press. Thank you, sir.


Creator and Created

Twenty minutes is almost always far more video than I'm willing to watch on YouTube. Once that clock starts ticking past the 4:00 point, I get restless, and whatever else that says about me, in my head it usually means "I have some writing to do. I don't have time for television."

But I watched this one, recommended on Stuff Christians Like, start to finish.

After investing over four solid months of my life, day and night, in writing a novel--and a young adult fantasy, of all things, which everyone wants to write since the advent of Harry Potter--I take issue with my own creativity. The question of whether I am crazy for devoting so much energy and emotion to such possible insignificance pesters me, repeats itself, a maddening little loop in my mind. Crazy? I went crazy once....

In another area of life, I am haunted by my own inability to create. Catholic thought holds the painfully beautiful idea that in bringing children into the world, parents participate in God's work of creation. Everything I do feels automatically less worthwhile than that one thing over which I have no real control.

Elizabeth Gilbert, in the video linked above, never quite makes it to the Christian concept of a creator God whose imprint is upon his creatures. But then, the granting of success to human effort feels much more like the magic of a fairy or genie or muse than the blessing of a loving creator: capricious, unmoved by laws of justice, and sometimes even misleading. I believe in the Christian idea, but I cannot say with any certainty where God's direct influence leaves off and where the forces of the world, such as they are, begin. Maybe we aren't meant to know.

Ms. Gilbert has the right idea, though, for the life of the creating human. We must give what we have, showing up for our part of the work in good faith. The addition of the divine grace is beyond us. It is neither our own brilliance when it happens, nor our own failure when it does not.

As she points out, that truth can free a creative person from the need to despair. Giving up the divine responsibility doesn't remove things like disappointment and grief, but it puts them on a human level.

My job is not to write the next Harry Potter or Twilight. It is not to convince my body to carry a child. It is not to have everything I do touched by the magic of success. My job is to work--as the handmaid of the Lord, and may it be done to me according to His word.


Victimae Paschali Laudes

I was singing the Easter sequence tonight, and while I don't have a recording of that, here's a recording of other people singing it. This piece is so beautiful to me.

English translation:

To the Paschal Victim, Christians, offer a sacrifice of praise.

The Lamb has ransomed his sheep; the innocent Christ has reconciled sinners with the Father.

Death and life confronted each other in a prodigious battle; the Prince of life who died, now lives and reigns.

"Tell us, Mary, what did you see upon the way?"

"I saw the sepulchre of the living Christ; I saw the glory of the Risen One. I saw the angels, his witnesses, the shroud and the garments. Christ, my Hope, is risen; he will go before his own into Galilee."

We know that Christ is truly risen from the dead; O Victorious King, have mercy on us.

[Translation copied from the Gregorian Missal, Solesmes, 1990: The English translation of the prayers, the eucharistic prayers, prefaces, and other texts from the Order of Mass from The Roman Missal copyright 1973, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved.]


Rest in Peace, Michael Spencer

It is hard to find appropriate words to say about the death of someone you don't really know, especially when you're two days late with the news. But Michael Spencer, the Baptist pastor known as The Internet Monk, encouraged my faith over and over through his writings. He wrote very honest and loving thoughts about Christ and the gospel; he wrote some of the fairest-minded things about Catholicism that I've heard from a Protestant writer. He is also the pastor whose article on the subject encouraged me to give Harry Potter a try, and since I consider that set of books as one of the reasons I'm still a Christian, even that is hardly a small impact. I will really miss reading his thoughts.

He spoke the truth over his then-approaching passing back in February:
"The ultimate apologetic is to a dying man.... There are a lot of different kinds of Good News, but there is little good news in “My argument scored more points than your argument.” But the news that “Christ is risen!” really is Good News for one kind of person: The person who is dying."
Honestly, of all the times of year ... We humans don't typically get to choose when we die, but the octave of Easter would be an almost ideal moment. Right when we're all thinking about resurrection.
"Indeed, the cure for death does exist. Christ is the tree of life, once more within our reach. If we remain close to him, then we have life. Hence, during this night of resurrection, with all our hearts we shall sing the alleluia, the song of joy that has no need of words. Hence, Paul can say to the Philippians: “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, rejoice!” (Phil 4:4). Joy cannot be commanded. It can only be given. The risen Lord gives us joy: true life. We are already held for ever in the love of the One to whom all power in heaven and on earth has been given (cf. Mt 28:18). In this way, confident of being heard, we make our own the Church’s Prayer over the Gifts from the liturgy of this night: Accept the prayers and offerings of your people. With your help may this Easter mystery of our redemption bring to perfection the saving work you have begun in us. Amen."

--Benedict XVI, Easter Vigil homily
Denise Spencer and family, you have my prayers.


Tasty Tuesday: Chicken and Ham Pie

UPDATE: Right, so this is what I get for typing the recipe from memory. I forgot the ham in the first draft. Oops. It should be correct now!

* * *

Tasty TuesdayLent is over, and the season of feasting has begun! I made this for Palm Sunday, but it would have made a lovely Easter dinner too.

This is an English recipe, and people say English food is bland and boring. Maybe there are a lot of ways to kill roast beef and potatoes, but there's nothing bland or boring about this meal. It's also relatively easy, if you don't make your own puff pastry (which I hear is a royal pain to make. I'll have to try it sometime.)

For my fellow nerds, this dish gets a mention in Harry Potter. Mrs. Weasley serves it at the Burrow in Goblet of Fire (page 61 in the Scholastic paperback edition), right after Bill and Charlie have a battle with picnic tables in the air. Harry helps himself to it, enjoying himself thoroughly after a summer of half-starving at the Dursleys'. Hey, if Harry Potter likes it, it has to be good, right?

Chicken and Ham Pie

2 chicken breasts
6-8 oz cooked ham, chopped
8 oz frozen peas or mixed vegetables
1 sheet frozen puff pastry
1 stick butter
1/2 cup flour
A little milk
Garlic powder and parsley

Thaw the puff pastry at room temperature according to directions. [If you forget and have to microwave it, it really does become a royal pain to work with.]

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Boil the chicken breasts in just enough water to cover. When the chicken is done, remove it from the stock and shred it, reserving the stock.

Make a roux with the butter and flour, adding a little milk for creaminess, and then thinning gradually with chicken stock. Don't over-thin it; it should be about the consistency of pancake batter.

Add frozen peas, chopped ham and shredded chicken to the roux and season with garlic and parsley. Pour into a pie plate or 9x13 pan (I tend to use the latter because then the puff pastry doesn't need trimming.) Roll out the puff pastry and place on top. Bake for about a half hour and serve.

I adapted this from another recipe that no longer exists online, so this is probably not the world's most perfectly authentic dish, but I figure it shoots close enough. It is certainly one of our favorites. Enjoy!



Happy Easter!

I did actually think about taking Holy Week off of blogging, but not without putting together posts ahead of time or at least announcing it first. Sorry about that.

Revising the last 100+ pages of my novel proved all-absorbing. It kept me up late some nights and woke me up early in the mornings, made recreational reading absolutely impossible, took my focus level so deep that driving and conversing were both affected, and was accomplished at last on the morning of Holy Saturday. In time, thankfully, to celebrate the resurrection of Christ with a reasonably free mind. I love Easter.

I'm also really happy with my revised work. There are places that need a little polish, especially in wording, but at last the latter half of the book feels like it answers the promises made in the opening pages.

This week I'm going to try not to push myself much in the writing department, but I will try to blog. And I cannot go completely on holiday. Besides printing out the revised section for my readers, I have a stack of memoirs to read and judge for a contest, a stack of editing work in my inbox, a lot of research to do for my other project, and I want to sketch outlines for the possibility of making this novel the first in a trilogy. That ought to keep me busy, even if I keep the pace light.

For tonight, I'm sleepy, and I should probably either work on re-reading Crime and Punishment for book club #1, meeting tomorrow, or finish reading Father Elijah for book club #2, meeting Wednesday. I don't want to. Down with depressing books! Maybe I'll go throw food on Facebook and then do some daydreaming.