Monday, July 13, 1998

The start of another work week. I’m in a position now that authors don’t like to be in. My current projects – the DigitalThink web-based MCSE training courses and the Windows NT TCP/IP Network Administration book for O’Reilly – are drawing rapidly to a close and I don’t have anything else to work on at the moment.

Oh, I have two MT5 books under contract with O’Reilly, and I could work on those, but there’s not really a lot of point to doing so. The latest MT5 beta release still has major pieces missing and writing on the basis of it would require a significant re-write later. The official MT5 Beta 2 release, which was to have shipped by June 30th, has now been delayed by a couple of months, and even it won’t be feature complete. Even worse, they’re now saying that there will be an MT5 Beta 3 release, which there wasn’t originally supposed to be. It’s beginning to look like MT5 won’t ship until mid-1999, if then.

I may have to talk to my editor about doing another book to fill the time while I wait for MT5 to become available in feature-complete form. I hate writing books based on early releases that have major pieces missing.


Spent half an hour on the phone this morning with my agent, David Rogelberg from StudioB, trying to figure out how to stay busy productively until MT5 is ready for prime time. As usual, David came up with a great idea, so I'm hacking away on a proposal for it right now. While we were on the phone, FedEx showed up with the stuff from Insight. I now have most of the components for the new box sitting on the living room floor, awaiting arrival of the PC Power & Cooling case and power supply.

The only thing I unboxed was the Labtec 1030 speakers. I hooked them up to my CD player and have Trevor Pinnock's Johann Sebastian Bach: Chromatic Fantasia & Fugue for harpsichord playing now. I laughed at the inclusion of "Studio Reference" in the name of these speakers, but they sound better than any $40 set of speakers has a right to.

Tuesday, July 14, 1998

Hard at work on a proposal, table of contents, and outline for the new book. My agent, Dave Rogelberg, mailed the publisher and editor with the idea, and the publisher reacted favorably. He wants to see a proposal ASAP. This is definitely an "A-List" title - meaning one that has the potential to sell a huge number of copies.

My first book for O'Reilly, Windows NT Server 4.0 for NetWare Administrators, is a B-List title - one that focuses on a niche market, and is therefore likely to enjoy respectable if not spectacular sales numbers. The book I just finished for O'Reilly, Windows NT TCP/IP Network Administration, is a likely A-List title. I currently have two MT5 books under contract with O'Reilly, one of which is certainly A-List and one likely B-List. The delay in MT5 means that I have time to do another book while awaiting its release. Signing another A-List title would be a wonderful thing, so I'd better get back to work on the proposal and outline.

Wednesday, July 15, 1998

Took a sick day today. It's almost impossible to write usable stuff when you're not feeling well, at least for me. Spent the day lying around drinking chicken noodle soup and reading half a dozen P. C. Doherty medieval mysteries and the latest Tess Gerritsen medical thriller. If you enjoy medieval mysteries like Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfael series, you should also like the P. C. Doherty mysteries. He writes several series, but my favorite is the Hugh Corbett one. As far as Tess Gerritsen, if you like good Robin Cook, you'll love her stuff. She's an MD and a relatively new author. Her first one was very good overall, and great for a first novel. She keeps getting better. Her latest, Bloodstream, is the best yet. It's as good as good Robin Cook, and better than most of his recent stuff.

Thursday, July 16, 1998

Back to the grind today, working on the new book proposal. My agent suggested that I write a couple of sample pages to reassure the publisher that I can write to the required series style. As usual, once I got started writing, it was hard to stop. I ended up doing almost 3,000 words - about a quarter to a third of a chapter.

Friday, July 17, 1998

Things are moving right along. I'm back to doing a detailed outline of the book, and it's starting to fill out, perhaps too much so. One of the questions people ask me most is how I can come up with enough to fill all those pages. That's not the problem, at least not for me. Like many authors, I "write long." The problem isn't filling a specified number of pages. The problem is keeping the page count down.

FedEx arrived this morning with the Digital Audio Tape deck that DigitalThink uses to record audio clips for the courses. Ordinarily, I power down all my computers, turn off the air conditioning, and shut myself in the closet to record the clips, because that DAT deck picks up the slightest extraneous sound. No hope of recording the clips today, however. There's just too much going on around here - garbage pickup, recycling pickup, two neighbors cutting their grass and a commercial lawn service just showed up next door. The guy behind us is hammering on his deck. Thunderstorms are forecast for this afternoon and evening. This is not a good day for peace and quiet. I have a pretty full weekend booked, so it looks like the audio clips won't get recorded until Monday.

No sign of the PC Power and Cooling case, not that I was really expecting it until today or early next week. They shipped it UPS ground. UPS doesn't arrive here until late afternoon, so it may yet show up today. Once it does, I'll head for CSO to buy the PII processors, memory, video card, CD-ROM drive, and so forth.

Time to get the regular full weekly network backup started.

Saturday, July 18, 1998

My wife went to Raleigh for the day to watch our friends' 6-year-old son compete in a Tai Kwon Do tournament, so I expected to have the day to myself and to spend it building my new computer. The case and power supply from PC Power and Cooling hasn't shown up yet, so doing that's out. Instead, I've spent the morning working on the TOC/outline/sample pages for the book I'm proposing to O'Reilly. That, and doing laundry.

Afternoon: I didn't feel much like writing, and ended up exchanging mail messages with Jerry Pournelle for most of the afternoon, trying to help him solve his problems with Outlook 98 mail and Windows NT Server 4.0 support (or the lack thereof) for CD-R and CD-RW drives. I don't know that I was really much help or that we accomplished much, but Dr. Pournelle says he's instituting the "Hero of Chaos Manor" awards, and asked if I'd accept. I told him I'd be honored.

Sunday, July 19, 1998

Barbara usually spends Sunday mornings playing golf with her dad, but he's playing in a tournament today, so we're just having a lazy Sunday. It's so hot outside that even the dogs won't stay out long, so I'm lying around reading while Barbara watches the final round of the British Open and bakes chocolate chip cookies. Tomorrow's soon enough to get back to work.

Updated: 31 May 2002 14:22

Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 by Robert Bruce Thompson. All Rights Reserved.