What’s Up Wednesday

AlienStars

It’s been awhile since I did a WUW post, since I was busy with the April A to Z Challenge.

What I’m Reading

After watching the most chilling scenes from War and Remembrance on YouTube, I was inspired to go back to Herman Wouk’s The Winds of War, the book which precedes War and Remembrance. Luckily, I found both of them in one of my unpacked book crates still waiting for another bookshelf. I got The Winds of War for only a buck at Mystery Train Records in Amherst, but didn’t get that far into it when I’d started reading it before. I’m pretty sure I began it around the time of my accident, and so had more important priorities afterwards, besides not even being able to go upstairs for a few months.

This is the kind of historical I’m used to reading, the kind which inspired my own writing. For me, a real historical spans many years, has an ensemble cast, has a wide, sweeping arc and trajectory, and is nice and meaty. I can only imagine the horrified remarks Mr. Wouk (may he live and be well) would get were he starting to write today. “I cringed at your word count!” “Watch that word count!” “There’s no one main character!” “Too much telling!” “Too much backstory in the opening chapters!”

What I’m Writing

I finally bit the bullet and rewrote the opening pages of Little Ragdoll, along with changing the chapter title. It reads so much better now, without all that explanatory backstory clogging up and slowing down the story. I also rewrote or reworked a number of other pieces of the chapter, and now the dialogue sounds so much more natural and realistic. I also moved something that had been dialogue from Chapter 5 into a narrative passage in Chapter 1.

I had enough of going through Little Ragdoll, since barely anything was left to edit or change, so I went back to my WIP for a little while. Now up to somewhat over 603,000 words, and Chapter 78. I changed the name from “Journey to England” to “The Strangling Angel and the White Plague.” It’s shaped up to be more about Darya, Oliivia, and their new friends Halina and Maja than my soldiers going to England in preparation for D-Day next year.

I was nice to the girls and took them out of Oswiecim to a Polish farm taken over by the SS but still managed by a Polish family. Maja, sick with diphtheria (which ran rampant in 1943 Europe), and Darya, sick with TB, are taken to safety inside, and Oliivia and Halina will be chosen as indoor servants. Darya’s going to realise she’s not conceiving after her marriage in Part IV, due to something that happened in the camps, and I finally hit upon TB spreading to the pelvic organs and leaving scar tissue. It’s a big cause of female infertility in the developing world.

Then I went back to a final polishing of Jakob’s story, which is set to release Friday. The majority of my edits were in reflecting the fact that Dutch women are historically Lucy Stoners (i.e., retain their birth surnames after marriage). No more references to a couple as “the Names,” or referring to Luisa and Gusta with their husbands’ names. A woman changing her surname upon marriage is largely a convention of the English-speaking world, and fairly recent at that.

What Inspires Me

In April, I was extremely proud to help with getting Chili’s to drop its planned fundraiser with the vaccine-denialist, pro-Andrew Wakefield group National Autism Association. The pro-science crowd really rallied together and sent a loud and clear, well-argued position. I also recently took part in a Twitter chat with the hashtag #CDCvax, and was again very pleased and proud to see so many pro-science voices and great rebuttals of all the vaccine-denialist, autism-hating nonsense. The sun is hopefully setting on the vaccine-denialist, autism-hating cult.

These people have brought back measles, mumps, whooping cough, and now even diphtheria, aka The Strangling Angel. They bully and name-call, and make themselves look completely out of touch with reality. They ask the same stock questions over and over, ignoring the answers because they contradict their POV. They use such hateful language to talk about their own children. They invalidate the existence, experience, and feelings of adults with ASDs. They think deadly diseases are no big deal. They have zero understanding of basic science and history.

And for the record, I view Asperger’s as a beautiful gift and blessing from God. I really believe I have that to thank for my writing talent from such a young age, my prolific memory, my incredible intelligence, and my interest in things like silent film, classic rock and pop, world languages and religions, all things Russian, and history. My brain was wired this way before birth, and it’s not damage, a defect, or a curse.

What Else I’ve Been Up To

My paternal grandma passed away on 24 April, at age 86. Now I only have one set of grandparents left. It’s kind of hard to get used to the fact that you’re running out of grandparents, and that someone you were always close to isn’t in the material world anymore. I wish she could’ve lived to see me finally become a published writer. As time goes on, I have to seriously consider the fact that any children I might manage to have could have no living great-grandparents. I was lucky enough to share my lifetime with five, though I only really have memories of two, my mother’s father’s parents.

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7 comments on “What’s Up Wednesday

  1. katyupperman says:

    So sorry to hear about your grandmother, Carrie-Anne. And thanks for sharing your thoughts on Asperger’s. “My brain was wired this way before birth, and it’s not damage, a defect, or a curse.” That’s such a wonderful, positive way to look at Asperger’s, and hopefully your way of thinking will spread. Best of luck with your writing goals for the coming week!

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  2. Jess Gofton says:

    I love historical fiction, but I have to admit I’m not sure I’ve read any yet involving a long period of time and a whole ensemble cast of characters. That’s something I’ll have to change in future! Right now I have Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth and Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell waiting to be read on my shelves, and I think they’re the biggest historical fiction books I own.

    Your WIP sounds really interesting – perhaps one day I’ll be able to write as much as you can!

    I’m very sorry to hear about your grandma, and I hope you have a lovely week.

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  3. fida says:

    I love historical fiction, so I’m glad to find a new author to check out. Your book sounds good!

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  4. I’m very sorry about your grandmother, Carrie-Anne. Prayers for your family.

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  5. Erin Funk says:

    Sorry about your grandmother’s passing, Carrie-Anne. That’s a difficult thing to go through and I hope your family is finding some comfort while coping with this.

    Your comments about historical fiction made me laugh, because they were so true. I really don’t understand the need to have such strict parameters around books from any genre, to be honest. Isn’t writing supposed to be creative? So why all the rules then? Ah well. It’s great that you’ve stuck to your guns and wrote the stories you wanted to write.

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  6. I’m so sorry for your loss, Carrie-Anne. I lost my grandmother this year, too, and no matter how prepared you think you are, you just aren’t ready when the time comes. I’ll be praying for your family.

    I’m so amazed at the power of social media. I have several writing friends who were involved in getting Chili’s to drop its ties with NAA, and I couldn’t believe how quickly things moved.

    And congratulations on your writing progress this week!

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