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This morning at 10 am, Jennie Shortridge wrote the first chapter of The Novel:Live! in the cabaret of the Hugo House. Here's the first bit:

Halfway up the basement steps of the Hotel Angeline, laden with a heavy armload of industrial sheets and towels, bleach smell burning her nostrils, Alexis Austin was beginning to think that perhaps she'd taken on too heavy a load.

If I just keep moving, she thought. I only have three more steps—

The screech of a crow made her jump, drop towels, drop sheets, even though she was getting used to Habib's racket coming from LJ's room.

You can read the first two chapters (by Shortridge and Teri Hein) here. You can actually watch William Dietrich type out his chapter, keystroke for keystroke, over here right now. Other writers, including Stacey Levine, will be taking Dietrich's place over the course of the day. There's also a live message board where you can suggest ideas to the author and criticize the novel-in-progress on the same page. And Hugo House is hosting a happy hour tonight (and every night through Thursday) with drink specials and free food from 5 to 7pm.

It's incredibly hypnotic watching the words slide across the screen in the live webcast. You wonder why the author stopped for forty-five seconds, mid-sentence, or how far ahead they're working in their minds. This site is proving to be a real internet timesuck for me.