I haven't posted much about the writing lately because it's been difficult and slow. It took me what seems like forever to finish the latest chapter, which I did only by virtue of staying up too late on the last day, writing over 2000 words in an evening, and emailed out to the crit group at 2:00 (when the meeting started at 2:00, 15 minutes' drive away). I don't want to cut it that close again.
The book has been difficult and fractious because I am passing over what I think of as the "knee" of the novel. This is the point where the initial plot -- the thing that drove the characters into the book -- has essentially played itself out, and the "real" plot -- the thing that I hope the readers will take away as "what the book was about" -- is just getting started. This has turned out to mean a series of 2-4 chapters during which the plot slows down for a major turn, and I've been trying to let the characters use the time to do some reflection, introspection, and other character-building stuff. I'm not sure how well it's working. I suspect that in revision I will have to do the thing I think of as taking a rolling pin to the book, to mash the various disparate bits down and smush them around more evenly.
My crit group is generally enthusiastic about the way things are going. They made some useful suggestions, such as: although Keelie really ought to be 14 years old, readers and editors will be more likely to accept her and the things she does if she's 16, and that it might not be believable that Rachel is the sole medical officer for a space ship with a crew of 60 when she's not a fully-qualified doctor. Both of these, and several other such problems noted, are actually very easily soluble. It's not like the way it was with novel #1, where everyone hated Jason no matter what I did with him.
The new barbecue has been working out great. In the last 3 days
we've had fresh-caught salmon (with a great spice rub from Alton
Jones Brown) with grilled fresh-picked corn on the cob; flank steak
marinated in coffee and peppercorns with grill-roasted potatoes;
and fresh garlic sausage with more corn on the cob. It's a hit.