Monday, September 22, 2008

Goodbye Puppy

A bit of bad news to report. Nikolai, our beagle, died tonight. He's been having some serious pain in his back left leg for several weeks now. We've been increasing the dosage of pain meds over the past week or two, but it just hasn't had any effect. It turns out he had bone cancer, which according to the doctor is one of the excruciatingly painful forms of cancer for dogs. Tonight he couldn't stand up, couldn't lay down, couldn't poop -- he was just in agony. We took him to a veterinary emergency room about 11:30 tonight and the doctors said there just wasn't anything more they could do for him -- he was already on the maximum dose and it wasn't having any effect at all. They brought him back to me, and he didn't even wag his tail or lift his head up to see me because he was hurting so bad, so I knew it was time. He died at 12:45 AM. I held him and told him everyone loved him right up until the end.

He was 14, so he had a good long run with us. He's been with us a long time, a lot longer than anyone thought he would (especially since he was a purebred, which don't live as long -- he was also the runt of the litter). He was a very good boy, the world's smartest beagle. We're going to tell the girls in the morning and will call my son tomorrow afternoon.


Monday, September 01, 2008

The End (again)

Yesterday I finished the second draft of my novel -- much rejoicing! This is the first version to be a functionally complete story, the first that can actually be read. It has the new 1945 storyline intertwined with the main storyline, with both arcs reaching climax at the same point. I was able to draw parallels throughout the book between the two arcs, and as a result, I think the book is much deeper and richer than it would be otherwise.

What I don't know at this point is whether the writing is any good!

Now, normally, I know when I've been writing well. I can re-read a turn of phrase and say to myself, "Damn, that's pretty good!" But with this latest revision, I'm way too close to it to even know. I was focused on getting the plot written and the characters illustrated through the text. As a result, while the book is probably okay, it's almost certainly not at the "breakout level" of fiction that it must be before it can go out. Sending out a publishable, but not breakout book can kill your career. If you don't get the sell-through on this first book, you probably will not sell a second one. "Good enough" is actually worse than not publishing at all!

So, even if the book reads fairly well now (and I have no idea if it does), it's nowhere near done. On the plus side, I now have a complete manuscript that I can start applying Maass' Breakout Novel Workbook exercises to -- which long-time readers of this blog may recall is what convinced me to start writing a novel in the first place! At any rate, I loaded the draft onto my wife's Sony Reader so that she can be the first reader. I also printed out a paperback-sized version and used the "perfect binding" techniques I saw on the web to make a print version of the book. It's pretty neat to see it actually looking like a novel! I gave this to a very good friend of ours, though I'm not sure this particular genre will be her cup of tea. I'll be very curious to see what they think.

So now I'm going to have to get some distance from the book so I can see where I need to go from here. I'm going to start brainstorming the plot for the next one, then in a month or two I'll come back to the current story. I may play around with some of Don Maass' exercises as well -- that should help both this book and the next one.

Good progress!