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I'm writing a detective story set halfway between San Francisco and the internet. And the more people who reserve a copy, the better each one will be!
570 backers pledged $13,942 to help bring this project to life.

The $10,000 short-story throw-down in the sky

Posted by Robin Sloan (Creator)

So, I'm going to start with some meat-and-potatoes updates—but then there's a special pitch at the end.
I'm at 25,000 words, which means I'm right on schedule. (Whew.) There's only one section that is entirely undrafted—the very end. The rest has had the benefit of several coats of paint. The urgent and exciting next step is to share this rough draft with some first readers, which I'm doing this week.
Also this week: New York! I'm going to speak at a conference about the Google Books settlement. Why was I invited, you ask? On the basis of my legal scholarship? Er, no. Rather, on the basis of a familiar short story. (This might have had something to do with it, too.) How cool is that?

But the writing won't stop, can't stop, not with 26 days left, so look for a dispatch from a New York City coffee shop. (And let me know if you have any suggestions for good writing spots.)
Now, a nerd note.
At around the 8,000 word mark, I switched from Google Docs to a Mac app called Scrivener. I've historically been skeptical of these special-purpose book-writing apps; turns out that was just because I've historically not been writing a book. Scrivener is fantastic.

Here's how the story looks in Scrivener right now—a sneak peek at its structure, with just a few redactions:

(Now, that's just a working structure, not the final table of contents. Even so, there are clues to be gleaned by diligent digital/occult investigators...)

For the writers out there: This is, I'm convinced, the dream setup. Write in Scrivener with a doc saved to a Dropbox folder mirrored in a bunch of different places (including, of course, Dropbox's own servers). No stress.
Finally, the fun part.
As I'm writing this, I'm at $9,853—just a handful of backers away from $10,000.

So here's the pitch: If we get to $10K before midnight PST on Tuesday, I'll do the world's first digital/occult (super) short-story throw-down in the sky. Five hours, 2,500 miles—so let's make it 2,500 words. I'll write and edit the story entirely on the plane and post it as soon as I land.

So, if you are interested in a special in-flight snack to stave off hunger while we all wait for October 31 to arrive: tell a friend (or pitch in, if you're just discovering this project) and give me something to do up there.

It's gonna be me and the Lost Symbol on Kindle otherwise...
Update: It's on!


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    1. Ray Aguilera on

      Apparently, some folks have had problems with lost data, due to the way that Dropbox updates files & doesn't necessarily play well with OSX package files. Just a heads-up.…

    2. Robin Sloan Creator on

      Okay, it's on! Can't wait. This is going to be fun.

      @Basti: Completely awesome. I love a super-curated delicious tag.

    3. Basti Hirsch ッ on

      Have a good flight Robin! btw, you might get a kick out of

    4. Tim Maly on

      I use Scrivener to manage blog postings, I love it for that and I don't think I even use most of the features. Which doesn't answer the Dissertation question directly but maybe gives you another data point.

    5. Bethany Keeley-Jonker on

      Scrivener looks like it might be a useful app for managing my impending dissertation project. Do others who use it think it might work for that?

    6. Gavin Craig on

      Man, you need to start dragging me to these conferences on the Google Books settlement. . .

    7. Robin Sloan Creator on

      @Peter: Like a quantum computer, I exist in a superposition of states. Brooklyn yes. Manhattan yes.

      @Micah: Whoah -- you have discovered/mastered features that I haven't even tried yet. (Now switching apps to Scrivener to investigate internal linking...)

    8. 4o66 on ... read the page source code...

    9. Saheli on

      I thought you *slept* on planes? ;-)
      Is it too late to advocate for shout-out to the dead email department?
      I wonder if if the book inspired your recent investigations into numismatics.
      I'll see whom I can recruit for this throw down.

    10. Missing avatar

      Peter on

      Where are you staying in NYC???

      (The correct answer is "Brooklyn".)

    11. Micah Saul on

      I also just started using Scrivener for some longer form stuff I'm working on. The draft vs. research distinction is fantastic, as is the internal linking and media playback. It's made this new project a hell of a lot easier.

    12. Missing avatar

      Rachel Leow on

      scrivener is the shiz! just so you know, I'm at present writing my PhD with it. also I am so intrigued by chapter called 'the impossible playlist'! maybe it will be a playlist in which the songs segue into one another seamlessly, and no matter how hard you strain and concentrate, you can never find the shadowline where one song changes into another - and yet, each time you listen, it's a recognizably different song - perhaps even always one you yourself recognize... but I'm running away with myself

    13. Dylan Beadle on

      Haha - "Ritual not found",

      Really enjoying the glimpse behind the curtain of the writing process.

    14. Wonderbox Publishing on

      I've been using Scrivener for a while for longer projects (novels, my PhD thesis...). It is full of win. BTW, shared your project with an e-publishing class today. Generated some great discussion. Keep it up!

    15. Missing avatar

      Sarah Laskow on

      Ninth St. Espresso in the East Village has good coffee and is quiet. A friend also recommended the Gramercy Public Library to me.