Thursday, April 24, 2008

Spring Is Here!

Spring has sprung here in Massachusetts! And most welcome it is! I don't know why, but this last winter felt like the longest I've ever known. I've been counting the interesting species of wildlife I've been seeing right around our house here in the Boston 'burbs: cardinals, bluejays, black-capped chickadee (I think), mockingbirds, crows (making a comeback after nearly being decimated by the Nile virus), a cute little rabbit, a toad, and—just a few days ago—a wild turkey. (It practically cut me off as I was coming up on my moped; it was flying up the street at an altitude of about six feet, then landed in a neighbor's driveway.) Oh and, yeah—termites.

Blasted termites ate a piece of wood paneling in our downstairs rental apartment. So now I've got to hire a Terminator. Jeez, that's an expensive proposition! And it's not just a matter of getting estimates and picking a terminator; I have to decide which approach I want to take—pesticide injection into the ground (the tried and true method), or bait trapping (much less pesticide, but newer, less tested, and more expensive).

Which reminds me that my wife and I have become big fans of the new show, Sarah Connor Chronicles. I just read that it's been renewed for next season. Yesss! And BSG has started up again. We've only watched one episode so far, but clearly they're going to be messing with our minds for the rest of the series. And I mean that in a good way, of course.

I haven't had as much time to pursue my Roomba hobby as I'd hoped, but I did bring an ailing Scooba back to life! Turned out have some defective soldering inside. I never would have found it if someone on hadn't suggested that I solder a couple of leads for a voltmeter in there, so that I could see what was happening. Lo and behold, the act of doing that solved the problem. And I just got a very nice note from someone in Italy, telling me that my method worked for him, too! (No, he didn't put leads in, but he did remelt the solder on the crucial connection—and that fixed his Scooba, too.)

In keeping with the theme of BSG and Roombas, I present here a couple of funny videos I stumbled across on youtube. The links will open new windows in your browser.

And I, Roomba, a Roomba love story, of sorts (a little long, but cute):

(I tried embedding the videos, but they played erratically for some reason.)

"Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book." —Cicero

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Sunborn Copyedit Finished

For the last seven or eight days, I have been up to my ears in Sunborn again. The copyedited manuscript arrived for my review, and as usual, they wanted it done yesterday. In case you're not familiar with the process, when a book manuscript goes into production, after it's left the editor's hands, it goes to a copy editor. This person does all the fine marking up for typesetting, plus proofing of all the fiddly little details, querying the author if something seems wrong or unclear, and checking spelling, hyphenations, commas, all the little stuff that can drive you crazy—and make the book look unprofessional if it's missed or done wrong. Copy editors are absolutely essential to the bookmaking process, and a good copy editor is priceless to an author.

The problem is that the author then has to go over everything, approving or not approving of changes, and reconsidering every little comma and word choice, pulling his or her hair out over things that he thought (ha ha) had already been settled. It's also a chance to make last-minute revisions if a passage doesn't seem right. It's my least favorite stage of writing a book, it's excruciating, and it's necessary to do it with great care. Usually by the time you get to this point, you're sick to death of the book and the last thing you want to do is read it one more time. But you do. For one thing, even the best copy editor will make some changes you don't like, and this is where you catch them and fix them.

Anyway, I did all that, and have just shipped it off to my editor. Now it goes back to the production department and off to typesetting. I'll have to do it all one more time—when the page proofs come for checking. But for now, I can rest. Sleeeeeeep!

"You don't know what it is to stay a whole day with your head in your hands trying to squeeze your unfortunate brain so as to find a word." —Gustave Flaubert

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