Thursday, April 24, 2014

One-week Blogcation

I'm taking a break this week only, for family visiting. See you all on May 1!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

It's Thursday!

...and for the first time in a long time I didn't have a post ready to go up bright and early. My bad. Except, of course, it's not "bad."

I've been very busy writing, and just finished a big revision. Not big as in sweeping changes throughout the manuscript, but big in significance. So I am in that glow of "having written," which is one of the special moments we get as writers. And it feels especially good to be clearing my plate, as it were, for Easter weekend, setting daily life aside to focus on what, on Who, is most important to me.

Happy Passover/Easter, everyone.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

What the Moon Said, by Gayle Rosengren

Set during the Great Depression -- an era we are often told is overdone in historical fiction -- this wonderful MG novel follows ten-year-old Esther from Chicago to a Wisconsin farm after her father loses his job in the city. From the beginning, it's filled with specific details that surround Esther and her sister as they make their way to a movie theater for a Rin Tin Tin matinee -- streetcars, a bread line, childhood games of the 1930s. But no details are as vivid to Esther as the signs her mother notices: a ring around the moon, dropping a spoon at supper, seeing a spider before breakfast, putting shoes on a table. All of these, and many more, foretell the good or bad luck that will befall their family, and Esther is proud that her mother learned so many important things back in Russia. Now, if only her mother would hug and kiss her. But Ma is a serious, even stern woman, and seems even more so toward Esther than her siblings. Wondering why she isn't loved as much as the others, Esther makes it her objective to please her mother so much that she'll win the affection she longs for.

It's this affecting goal that forms the through line of the story that follows Esther's adjustment from city to farm life. There are ups and downs, hard work and fun, until the day Ma "reads" a sign that Esther knows must be wrong. If she defies Ma she'll never gain her love, but can she be cruel to a new friend on Ma's say-so?

I loved the mother/daughter aspect of this story, the love of the family members that shows through despite the lesser physical affection true to the era, and the fact that Ma, as well as Esther, has to learn the hard way that not everything she thinks she knows is accurate. Heartwarming and beautifully written. Highly recommended.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Random Thoughts on Revision

  • I love to revise.
  • Since revision often means writing new scenes, maybe a little more love will bleed over into drafting, too. You'd think, right?
  • When two books mash up against each other, I find that in the revision stage it's not terribly hard to switch from one to the other. I'm trying to think if I ever drafted two books at the same time while writing series on deadline. I don't think so. When it became clear that the order of two books was going to change, I set the one aside to write the other first. Either that or I have willfully blanked out the experience. 
  • Extended time in the revision cave has either turned me into more of a night owl or reawakened the night owlish-ness of my youth. My college roommate, a true morning person, got up at 6:45am seven days a week and was in bed every night before 10:30 with almost no ceremony. By which I mean she pretty much announced "I'm getting ready for bed" and immediately dove under her covers straight from her desk chair. I, on the other hand, often got up on weekends just in time to make it to lunch. This changed when I had kids (a shock, I know) -- but I was happily a morning person for a long time afterwards. And I've never been the die-hard night owl my two older children are. Guess I'm a hybrid. Anyway, I find the switch interesting, and I'm enjoying the quiet of late night to write. And for whatever reason, the temptation to waste time online is less then. 
So what do you think -- drafting or revising? One book at a time, or two at once? Have you noticed any changes in your writing life, maybe after having done things a certain way for a long time?