What’s Up Wednesday (Victory edition)


What’s Up Wednesday is a weekly hop/meme with four simple headings. Anyone can write a post and add the link to Jaime’s blog or Erin’s blog.

What I’m Writing


With gratitude to Hashem (and copious amounts of Duran Duran), I finally finished Journey Through a Dark Forest on 13 March, at 891,000 words. The final push was the hardest, both because I was kind of getting sick of these storylines and getting all emotional at finally being so close to the end. Now begins that strange feeling of not knowing what to do with myself, writing-wise, anymore, and coming down off this huge high. Two years, four months, one week, one day, 120 chapters plus the Epilogue, conceived of and originally planned and plotted in 2001. Now it’s finally over.

Throughout the last few chapters, I planted seeds for the future fourth book, like the expectation that Violetta will meet Igor and Ilya at NYU, and the questions of how Lyuba and Ivan will fare as middle-aged university students, if Darya and Andrey will ever have a child, and if Katrin might get in trouble for her radical newspaper op-eds under the shifting political climate. Giving all my characters happy endings made me happy, all these loose ends tied up before the Epilogue’s wedding renewals for Alina and Amiran in Isfahan and Lyuba and Ivan in Minnesota.

What Works for Me

As I’ve learnt the hard way, more than once, you never want to dive right into a sequel or the next book in a saga on the immediate heels of finishing the first or most recent one. The temptation is so strong, but it’s more than likely to result in fairly quick burnout. I experienced this with the short-lived, discontinued original first draft of The Twelfth Time in 2001, and again with Green Sunrise (still on hiatus) in 2011. As much as you might immediately miss these characters and want to continue telling their stories, you also need a break from their world. That time away builds inspiration, motivation, and even fresh ideas.

I do tend to go very quickly from one book to the next in my various Atlantic City series, but those books are a completely different breed because they’re so short and largely interlocking. Each book leads right into the next, so it’s not like I’m coming down from the huge high of completing a massive saga and emotional journey, only to immediately dive in all over again.

What I’m Reading

One of my library books is the now-outdated James Blair Lovell’s Anastasia: The Lost Princess. I’d been hoping to reread Peter Kurth’s The Riddle of Anna Anderson 19 years later and see if I came away with a completely different conclusion, but I didn’t find it among the stacks that day.

At age sixteen, one of the two research papers I wrote in my paper-writing class put forward the belief that Anna Anderson was indeed Grand Duchess Anastasiya. Keep in mind, this was the fall of ’96, before the final two bodies were found and identified. I truly believed, based on the evidence I’d found from numerous sources, that Anastasiya had survived and there was no way she could be some Polish factory-worker. But honestly, given some of the wild, historically-implausible stories in this book, and evidence I’ve found from other sources, I’m willing to finally give up this conspiracy theory I staunchly believed in and defended since age fifteen. As an adult, I know more about vetting my sources and not gullibly accepting any old story without checking for corroborating evidence.

It’s hard to admit you’ve been wrong, particularly when you’ve believed something for years, but when new, better evidence comes along, you have to admit you’ve been wrong and come to terms with the new information. I’d be no better than an anti-vaxxer if I kept clinging to a debunked conspiracy theory. (And btw, if you do want to read a bio of Anna Anderson, go with Peter Kurth’s book. It’s at least well-written, based on solid sources, and not riddled with wild stories he later admitted to making up.)

What Else I’ve Been Up To

On Monday, I got a very nice visitor raising money for Redemption Christian Academy, which services underprivileged youth who desperately need an education so they can break the cycle of generational poverty and all which comes with it. It’s related to Redemption Church. I normally don’t give to solicitors, but since this is a legit thing and a really good cause, I bought one of her packages of baked goods. We had a very nice, long conversation. My parents taught me to never give money to everyone who asks, particularly unsolicited, but you should have a few special groups or causes you give to a few times a year. I don’t care what religion you are, so long as you’re a good person. I will never be one of those people who uses insulting euphemisms for other religions, holidays, and holy figures.


15 thoughts on “What’s Up Wednesday (Victory edition)

  1. Congratulations on finishing your WIP! That’s a lot of time and a lot of words, it must be such a strange feeling to finish it – I’m not surprised you don’t know what to do with yourself!

    It can be really hard to admit you’re wrong about something you believed in, but I think your attitude’s great. 🙂

    Have a lovely week!


    • Thanks! I have similar feelings after finishing reading a book or watching a epic film. Jumping too fast into anything else is just a set-up for disaster, in my own personal experience.


  2. You are one busy person and I think that’s a good thing. Congratulations on finishing that epic tome and staying busy as you ready for the next writing adventure.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    A Faraway View


  3. CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!!!! I can’t believe you got the idea for this epic book in 2001. You’ve been working on it for essentially 14 years! That’s awesome!…Well, then again, I’ve been doing the same thing but it doesn’t feel that long. lol


    • Thanks! It’s going to be a bit odd to go into the fourth book later this year, since while I’ve had plans for a fourth book for a long time, I didn’t have any real storylines or structure in mind for it till relatively recently.


    • I’ll definitely be back to them later this year, for the fourth book! I’m looking forward to giving storylines to some characters who haven’t done much in their own right so far.


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