I've gotten a couple emails recently checking to make sure I'm still alive. The answer is: yes.
My progress has been sporadic, ranging from a production high of seven pages in one day down to a couple pages a week. Chapter five is up to almost forty pages. Chapter six is currently at 21 pages and seven at 41, plus a miscellaneous file that has accumulated four or five pages of various scenes that need to happen sometime soon but haven't yet been placed in any specific chapter.
I've also run up against the problem where my own estimates have been proven wrong. For example, I guessed that a character introduction scene in chapter five was going to last 2-3 pages, but it ended up taking 11. Hopefully it will produce better reading for the end result, but not good for getting it finished more quickly.
In general, I have chapter five mentally divided into an introduction, three sections (one of which should be much shorter than the other two) and a closing section, plus two or three side-scenes. At the moment, the intro, the short section and the close are complete. The other two main sections are partially complete and the side scenes only planned, with nothing written. Overall, I consider it to be more than halfway done.
Now, if I haven't completely bored you with vague discussions of chapter lengths and breakdowns, here's a small preview of one scene from chapter five. (This is from the example I gave of a scene that ballooned from the intended 2-3 pages up to 11 pages.)
- - - - -
Kneeling in the middle of my suite's living room was a young Japanese girl, dressed in a traditional schoolgirl uniform, a so-called 'sailor suit', with a white top, red tie and short dark blue skirt. She was facing the door with her head bowed, though she looked up just long enough to see who I was.
She bowed down until her forehead touched the floor, then sat upright again, her eyes still lowered.
"Master Frank, I am Yasu. I am to be your guide and assistant for your time in Kyoto. I will assist you however you wish me to do so."
Her hair was black. I mean, completely and utterly black. While Japanese women generally have pretty dark hair, Yasu really looked as though she had dyed hers. It was long enough to reach halfway down her back, and she had small ribbons along each side of her head, pulling some of the hair up in an odd, curving, decorative style, kind of like a couple miniature pigtails that angled back away from her face. She also had a noticeable amount of makeup on -- which is saying something since I am horrible at detecting it -- with heavy eyeliner and dark red lipstick. Even so, she looked very young.
"Yasu?" I said questioningly. "Hold on just a minute."
Silently, I asked, "So, Peace, Alpha... what do you know about the girl sitting on the floor of my room?"
Peace answered first, as she had obviously been anticipating the question. "She's clean. No weapons, I checked."
"Thank you, but not what I meant."
"She's your present from Mr. Matsudoki."