What I’m Writing
Up to Chapter 100 and past 751,000 words in my WIP. I decided to wrap up Chapter 99 while it was still at a short (for me) length, and use the rest of the planned material in the next chapter. That means my table of contents was revised again, and now has 113 chapters. I’m remaining confident I won’t go past 800K for this book.
Chapter 100 includes a scene in Anastasiya’s salon, Voroshilova’s Weddingland Creations. Every time Anastasiya appears, the scene practically writes itself. She’s so fun to write, even though she’s somewhat of an antagonist. Also fun to write is her second in command and alternate designer Dagnija, who immigrated from Saulkrasti, Latvia in 1920, at the age of sixteen. Dagnija totally has her number, and has had Anastasiya quivering before her ever since she discovered the secret of Anastasiya’s bastard son Dmitriy. Dmitriy’s existence is a widely-known secret by this point, but Anastasiya is still terrified word will leak to the wrong people.
There are several college and university graduations in this chapter, and I had a devil of a time finding the date of Hunter’s 1946 commencement, and their 1947 commencement, for a future chapter. Barnard and the University of Minnesota have wonderful, free online archives of their student newspapers, but Hunter doesn’t. I finally found the information through the New York Times archives.
My writing goal for this week is to be up to Chapter 101, “Yuriy’s Homecoming.” Canadian Army medic Yuriy finally gets enough points to come home in July 1946, and goes right to see his penpal/friend/secret crush Inga in Manhattan, where his grandmother, older aunts, and three cousins live. Yuriy’s still a year away from finally telling Inga he’s in love with her.
What Works for Me
Since I write with large ensemble casts, I always make a Cast of Characters file. In Little Ragdoll, I grouped them by category—the Troys, the Troys’ friends, enemies/antagonists, and the second generation and assorted others. For my Russian historicals, I put them in order of appearance, and bold the names of main and important secondary characters. I also include birthdates or birth years and a short description of who they are. I put the name the character goes by in parenthesis after the full name, if s/he goes by a nickname or title. Just about all my characters go by nicknames, but not all of them are called by those nicknames in the narrative. For example, Lyuba and Ivan’s firstborn son Fyodor is always called Fedya and their second blood daughter together, Yekaterina, is always called Katya, but their first blood daughter together is called by her full name, Darya, instead of her nickname, Dasha.
What Else I’ve Been Up To
The chanukiyah in the forefront, with the blue and red candles, is mine. Some people bring their own to light. I’ve had it since December 1998, the first year I celebrated Chanukah. At one point I was cleaning the melted wax off, but I eventually decided to leave it as a beautiful, ever-evolving work of modern, abstract art.
A local news crew came by surprise around 6:30, shortly after I arrived at the party, and interviewed my rabbi for the 11:00 news. That was pretty awesome.
My Hebrew birthday is the fifth night of Chanukah, and my English birthday is Thursday. I feel sick thinking about how I’ll be halfway to seventy. It’s also sobering to think of how, by this point in my life, I’ve outlived Rudolph Valentino, Keith Moon, everyone in the 27 Club, and so many others. Getting older sure beats the alternative.