Over the weekend I read Brother Astronomer, which was a lot of fun and gave me some good insights into the thought processes of a person of both science and faith. I really wish I'd read it with highlighter in hand, though, because I may not be able to find the best passages again.
At the coffee shop yesterday I had a lot of trouble getting started on incorporating what I'd learned from my reading into the book. I finally decided to write a stand-alone scene, about 500 words in a separate file, introducing Rachel and the Anvilites by showing her interacting with a non-Anvilite while loading the ship. The exercise helped me clarify my thoughts (much of this information is already in the book, though it's scattered), but the scene was boring, static... it would be a much weaker opening than the one I have. That's okay, I wrote it as an exercise anyway. (I know a lot of writers do this sort of thing all the time, but I generally don't write text I intend to discard.)
Tonight I was able to take about half those words and integrate them into the existing opening. The overall word count only went up by 20 because I added the new material as a replacement for existing text, and also cut back the opening to speed it up, reduce false tension, and eliminate unnecessary detail. It's funny how a scene I went through and cut just the other week can give up another couple hundred words of cuts on a second look.
I hope that this addition will address the comments I had about wanting to know Rachel's backstory and the Anvilites' beliefs in the opening chapters, though I know it won't address the issue that the Anvilites' theology isn't well enough worked out or expressed. That will take more work, touching many chapters.
Bathroom is coming along well. You know how the first 90% of the job takes 90% of the time, and the last 10% of the job also takes 90% of the time? We're into that last 90%. Lots of fiddly little details, like installing the light fixtures and towel racks, and painting the trim. The new toilet is in, along with the sink and tub fixtures, though I'm holding off on showering in the new bathroom until the tile is sealed (next Monday). The tub got badly stained during its months in the back yard (the crap that got dumped in it by various workmen after it was installed can't have helped), but an entire can of Zud and a whole lot of elbow grease have helped enormously. More scrubbing tomorrow.