Ready. Set. Write! Week Ten


Alison MillerKaty UppermanJaime Morrow, and Erin Funk are once again hosting the summerlong Ready. Set. Write! initiative. Each week there will be a few headings, with short responses to allow for more writing time.

  • How I did on last week’s goal(s)

I finished Chapter 87, whose title was changed again, to “An Unexpected Courtship.” The romance between widower Matviyko Zyuganov and spinster Svetlana Lebedeva (one of Lyuba’s stepsisters) is hinted at, but doesn’t begin yet, so the second working title, “Two Healing Courtships,” was out. I wanted the main focus to stay on Oliivia and Osyenka’s love connection, and how it makes Darya feel neglected by her best friend after they’ve survived so much together.

I finished Chapter 88, “A Happy Ending…or Not?” It ends with a 7-page op-ed by Katrin, denouncing the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and discussing related topics such as anti-Japanese racism, the history of xenophobia in America, and how civilians don’t commit war crimes they need punished for. I think this is the fifth time I’ve written an op-ed in Katrin’s voice, over all three of my Russian historicals.

  • My goal(s) for this week

Finish Chapter 89, “An American Family.” I’d initially started it as Chapter 88, then quickly realised it starts on 11 August 1945 and that I’d thus omitted the kind of really important historical events of a few days earlier. This is going to be one of the shorter chapters. It was intended as the moving to Queens chapter, but it seemed more to the point and less unwieldy to just keep the focus on Inessa’s family becoming citizens, and the immediately subsequent adoption for Inessa and Vitya’s respective stepchildren.

I’d also like to move onto Chapter 90, “Queens Village.” Queens Village is such a beautiful, peaceful, spacious suburb, with many beautiful large Tudor houses and lots of wide open spaces. The families of my two former Marines are really going to love their new home.

  • A favorite line from my story OR a word or phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised

This is from Chapter 87, as former Marine Patya is giving Darya and three of the Kalvik sisters a ride to Rockaway Beach since they’re both going to Queens. Patya has asked why Darya isn’t traveling with Oliivia, and Darya has started to explain that her best friend and her (same-aged) uncle are dating.

“Unfortunately.  They like each other too much.  And of course, he’s wearing his uniform.  I hope he sweats like hell.  You’re not wearing your uniform all the time just to get special treatment, and you have enough sense to wear normal clothes when it’s so blazing hot.”

“I love my beautiful dress blues, but this stump is enough to tell people I served.  A guy his age might be accused of being 4-F if he walks about without a uniform, particularly in an unfamiliar area.  Anyway, you shouldn’t be jealous or upset about your best friend’s happiness.  You know your uncle’s not some cad, and you can’t say he’s only interested in her for one thing.  He wants Liivi just as she is, and knowing what she’s been through, the same way my Vládka still wants me after I lost my arm.”

  • The biggest challenge I faced this week

Even though I routinely write about and research really dark subjects and periods in history, it’s been really, really depressing to research the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki for Chapter 88, from both written and visual sources. It’s even more depressing to see people in 2014 still obediently parroting 1945 propaganda about how we “had to” drop those bombs. I’ve been completely against it since I was about fourteen, and became even more passionately against ending the war in that way after my awesome Japanese History class my senior year of university. Seriously, just research a wide variety of sources, not just what the 1945 majority said. Even General Eisenhower opposed it.

  • Something I love about my WIP

I’ve been able to travel to so many places in the world vicariously, due to the huge canvas I’m painting with. Besides the U.S. and Russia, I’ve also been to Canada, China, Sweden, Finland, France, Germany, Poland, Austria, Iran, Armenia, Georgia, Belarus, Ukraine, Tarawa, Saipan, Tinian, Belgium, The Netherlands, England, Turkey, and the Colony of Aden (i.e., Yemen).

9 thoughts on “Ready. Set. Write! Week Ten

  1. I have a character named Katrin in my WIP too! Isn’t it a pretty name? I like that version a lot more than Katherine. Hope working on chapter 89 goes well this week!


  2. Research isn’t so fun for me. That’s why I set my books in the modern day. Someone once said research is harder for contemporary novels than historicals–I think she was an idiot! Historicals are WAY harder. Our research for contemporary fiction is all around us. With historical, you have to get to know every detail of a time you never even lived in!


  3. Chapter 90? How many chapters do you have planned for your book? The fact that the number is so high is amazing!

    I think it’s great that you got to travel so much for your story. I wish I could do the same. 🙂


    • I had 100 planned, but after I realized I’d left out some important events in the timeline from my table of contents, I added some more chapters in. Now I’m hoping to cap it in around 120 chapters. It helps that they vary in length, with really short chapters (2,000/3,000-word range) all the way up to long chapters over 10,000 words. Each chapter is usually broken up into sections.


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