I’ve finished a first pass through the second draft of Bunnies Made of Cheese: The Book, doing revisions on all of the chapters to make it a little more comprehensible. I’m still waiting for beta-reader comments on the re-written Chapter 8 (hint, hint), but other than that, I’m going through doing consistency checks (“Didn’t I say the same exact thing in Chapter 3?”), tightening up occasional sentences (I have a tendency to overuse phrases like “because of the fact that,” which is four words too long), and identifying a few issues with figures.

The clunky splint on my left hand makes this oh, so much more fun than it might otherwise be. Actually, it would probably suck regardless– I keep finding that I’ve just skimmed over three pages without marking anything, because I can remember what I wanted it to say, and stop reading what’s actually on the page. Good copy editors aren’t paid nearly enough.

My deadline is next Friday, so I should have time to fix all the little mistakes, even with the splint slowing my typing, and maybe even do another pass to fix the errors introduced in the editing process (if FutureBaby holds on that long). If I get done in time, I can go for the ultimate in cat-vacuuming, and insert cute dog pictures for each chapter, though that sort of thing is undoubtedly best left to professional production people.

Page count on the current draft (which I had printed at Staples so I can mark it up on paper) is 262 (one of those is the table of contents). Current word count is 67,987– for those playing at home, the contract calls for 40,000 words so that’s, um, a bit over. I’m not sure what’s going to happen with that.

The current table of contents (now with cute chapter titles!) is below the fold.

  • Introduction

    Why Talk to Your Dog About Physics?: Introduction to Quantum Physics 1
  • Chapter 1:

    Which Way? Both Ways: Particle-Wave Duality 10
  • Chapter 2:

    Where’s My Bone?: The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle 37
  • Chapter 3:

    Schrödinger’s Dog: The Copenhagen Interpretation 61
  • Chapter 4:

    Many Worlds, Many Treats: The Many-Worlds Interpretation 84
  • Chapter 5:

    Are We There Yet?: The Quantum Zeno Effect 109
  • Chapter 6:

    No Digging Required: Quantum Tunneling 124
  • Chapter 7:

    Spooky Barking at a Distance: Quantum Entanglement 146
  • Chapter 8:

    Beam Me a Bunny: Quantum Teleportation 174
  • Chapter 9:

    Bunnies Made of Cheese: Virtual Particles and Quantum Electro-Dynamics 198
  • Chapter 10:

    Evil Squirrels with Goatees: The Physics of Extra Dimensions 223
  • Chapter 11:

    Beware of Evil Squirrels: The Mis-use of Quantum Physics 244

These are single-column space-and-a-half pages in Word, with figures and tables, so don’t go freaking out over the idea of 31 pages on entanglement– the text density is not all that high. I don’t feel like going through to do individual chapter wordcounts at this point, but they’re all very roughly the same length.

If you’ve been following along for a while now, you may notice that Chapters 9 and 10 flipped order– I decided that they made more sense this way. Actually, there’s a non-trivial chance that Chapter 10 will drop out of the book entirely– it’s not a great fit with the rest of the material, and as previously noted, the current draft is way too long. It’d be a shame to lose it– I’m inordinately fond of the opening dialogue– but it may end up as a website extra or some such.

Speaking of which, Kate and I now own the domain names “chadorzel.com” and “bunniesmadeofcheese.com.” They currently redirect to this blog, but at some point, I’ll play around with setting up real promotional pages. That seems like ideal between-diaper-changes material to me…

And now I really need to get moving.

Comments

  1. #1 Ahcuah
    July 21, 2008

    Chad wrote:

    I keep finding that I’ve just skimmed over three pages without marking anything, because I can remember what I wanted it to say, and stop reading what’s actually on the page.

    It seems the only remedy for this is to read it out loud.

  2. #2 cisko
    July 21, 2008

    Good to hear that it’s getting close… I’m sure you will be glad to have as much of this done as possible before FutureBaby makes an entrance.

    If Chapter 10 drops out, maybe you could offer it on bunniesmadeofcheese.com as an online bonus? I’m sure there’s some kind of useful cross promotion opportunity there.

    Any plans for a booksigning tour? With NearFutureBaby I would assume not, but one can dream…

  3. #3 Thony C.
    July 21, 2008

    It seems the only remedy for this is to read it out loud.

    As somebody who proof reads professionally I’ll second that. Even better read it to the dog!

  4. #4 Eric Lund
    July 21, 2008

    I keep finding that I’ve just skimmed over three pages without marking anything, because I can remember what I wanted it to say, and stop reading what’s actually on the page. Good copy editors aren’t paid nearly enough.

    Fully agreed, and that’s why, whenever possible, you should always get a second reader to look over what you have written. I’ve lost count of the number of times a collaborator (or a referee!) has pointed out some relatively trivial error in my manuscript. Particularly when it comes to misspelled words, I find that if I don’t catch it in real time (as I’m typing) it’s hard for me to spot it later, precisely because I know what the word should be.

    As for underpaying good copy editors: Remember your post earlier this month about comparing academia and the entertainment industry? Copy editors are a bit like the grad students/postdocs of the publishing world: they are underpaid in large part because there are far more wannabes than there are well-paid positions in the field, and what they do is one of the routes to one of those better paid positions.

  5. #5 Uncle Al
    July 21, 2008

    Identify weasel phrases, qualifiers, colloquialisms, conversational transitions… text search and remove them. It’s a hard science textbook not a chat. Page acreage is expensive. Be cuddly within the second accompanying volume, Cheese Bunnies – the Apologia. A solid 20% of conversation has no information content at all.

    Definiteley read it out loud.

    Look for the little embarassments. Fewer (countable) vs. less (measurable), that (particular) vs. which (general). Cull extraneous “the” and “a”.

  6. #6 blinker
    July 21, 2008

    Glad to see things are moving right along. Can’t wait to pre-order on Amazon. Any prospect that I can make a birthday present out of “Bunnies” by December? I have a dog-loving friend who had an interest in understanding something about quantum physics sparked by the “Down the Rabbit Hole” movie. Your book would serve to clear the fog generated by that movie.

  7. #7 Ahcuah
    July 21, 2008

    Thony C. wrote:

    As somebody who proof reads professionally I’ll second that. Even better read it to the dog!

    The trouble with reading it to dogs is that they keep cocking their heads and giving you that quizzical looks that says, “you’re kidding, right?” (All dog owners know exactly what I am talking about.)

  8. #8 CCPhysicist
    July 30, 2008

    A late observation:

    The odds that you might end up on The Colbert Report promoting your book are not zero. Last night’s show (Tuesday, 7/29) featured Eric Roston promoting his book on Carbon and global warming. I immediately thought of you and your book, and that fact that you are in convenient travel distance to that show. You should watch that video, and similar ones, to brush up on your “which field did that question come out of dissertation defense skills” when it comes to whether bears made of cheese might show up instead of bunnies.

    Forewarned is forearmed.

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