WeWriWa—Much different from an ordinary bomb

Happy International Left-Handed Awareness Day!


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Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. This week’s snippet comes right after last week’s, when 20-year-old Darya Koneva’s trip to an ice-cream parlor with her best friend’s younger sisters and godbrother became anything but routine. The other patrons told them Hiroshima was just bombed.

“This might mean the war will finally end,” a girl nursing a banana split says. “Your leave might be permanent, and you won’t have to go back into combat.”

Dmitriy gives a faint smile and nods, preferring to let her think he’s been in combat and isn’t just in the Navy College Training Program.

“I wish I could’ve dropped the bomb myself,” a boy in a corner booth says. “Serves them right for Pearl Harbor.”

“What’s an atomic bomb?” Darya asks. “Is it much different from an ordinary bomb?”

“You’d better believe it is,” the soda jerk says. “President Truman said it was more powerful than twenty thousand tons of TNT, and more than two thousand times powerful than the biggest bomb ever.”

“So that means it must’ve killed lots of civilians.”

**********************************

Darya and her friends’ concerns for the civilian victims don’t exactly go over well with the other people inside the ice-cream parlor. Darya herself survived a bombing raid in Germany towards the end of the war, when she and her friends were being evacuated from a rocket-making factory to which the front had become too close.

WeWriWa—The most powerful bomb ever

In memory of the estimated 135,000 people who lost their lives in Hiroshima 72 years ago

Warning: Contains racially-offensive but historically-accurate sentiments and language. Part of being a historical writer is depicting another time and place accurately, no matter how much I might disagree with certain aspects.


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Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. This week I’m switching to my third Russian historical, Journey Through a Dark Forest, in honor of the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. This scene comes from Part IV, “The Good It Is Their Hap to Find,” Chapter 88, “A Happy Ending…or Not?”

Twenty-year-old Darya Koneva returned to America in June 1945, with her best friend Oliivia and some new friends who are related to a family Darya’s youngest stepaunts are friends with. Darya and Oliivia were exchange students in Paris, but they were trapped by the Nazi occupation towards the end of their year abroad.

Darya doesn’t feel ready to face her parents and tell them what really happened to her after she and Oliivia were arrested for participating in an anti-Nazi demonstration in 1942, so she’s staying with Oliivia’s parents in New York. She’s now out with Oliivia’s younger sisters and their godbrother Dmitriy, who’s in a Naval training program. Oliivia is busy with her new beau, Darya’s young uncle Osyenka.

The clocks are striking eleven as they walk through the streets of the Upper West Side, and a number of people are clustered in groups and pairs, either talking quietly or loudly chattering a mile a minute.  At first Darya wonders if this means the war is over, though she’d expect people would be screaming it from the rooftops if that had happened.  She hopes it doesn’t mean President Truman has died, or that the Allies’ fortune has suddenly reversed.

“Did something important happen?” Dmitriy asks as they enter his favorite ice-cream parlor.

“I should say so,” one of the soda jerks says. “President Truman was just on the radio announcing we dropped an atomic bomb on some Jap city called Hiroshima.  It’s the most powerful bomb ever.  I hope we drop bombs all over their monstrous country and kill them all.  This should’ve happened a lot sooner.”

IWSG—Hopeful for improved wordcounts

In memory of my old friend Fiona, who would’ve turned 37 today. In her memory, I gave the name Fiona to my character Baby Ryan when she and her siblings take legal names, and also used her surname for another family in my contemporary historical family saga about the Troys and Ryans.

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The Insecure Writer’s Support Group convenes the first Wednesday of every month, and lets participants share their worries, insecurities, triumphs, hopes, and fears. This month, I finally remembered to include the monthly question!

What are your pet peeves when reading/writing/editing?

I’ve been annoyed by so many things while revisiting books I loved when I was younger! I know standards were different in the past, and that I’m not the best one to talk given my rather old-fashioned style, but even I cringe at things like:

A lack of contractions
Infodumpy, “As you know, Bob” dialogue, esp. when it’s used to convey important backstory and/or historical details
Purple prose
Way too many adverbs (like, 5-10 per page), esp. when paired with non-standard speaking verbs (screamed explosively, snapped quizzically, nodded methodically, whispered knowingly)
Lack of front or back matter with stuff like a family tree, list of characters, pronunciation guide (for foreign names and words), and glossary
Overuse of “that”
Introducing way too many characters way too quickly, esp. if they’re not important
First-person where third-person would’ve made the story much stronger

My July wordcount was embarrassingly low by my standards yet again. Due to all the extenuating circumstances I’ve discussed, I had to set my July Camp NaNo goal at only 10K. It took almost the entire month to finally break even. I’m not proud of how low my final total was, but I did have a very strong finish.

Unlike JuNoWriMo, this only counted words from my WIP, not together with blog posts. I also included words from my glossary (mostly various types of foreign cuisine), table of contents, and cast of characters.

That, my final wordcount for the last day, is what I’m typically capable of. I normally write several thousand words a day, sometimes 5,000 or more. While I respect that some writers have a slower pace, or might only want to work on a paragraph a day, that’s not my style at all. I naturally write very prolifically, and when my wordcounts are only a few hundred words a day (if that), it’s a sign something’s very, very wrong.

I came up with some great ideas for more subplots, chapter sections, and secondary characters for this book. These subplots include Sonyechka’s experience in fifth grade, and Tamara’s in second, based on my own. I’m planning a future blog post on how closely you should base characters and storylines on real life.

I’m really excited about the final quarter (or so) of Part I. Since I write so long, I like to let things build for a really long time before things start coming to a dramatic head. I’m also really pleased with all the unplanned secondary characters and subplots I came up with, though I’m still dissatisfied with how I’ve been executing one of those subplots.

Have you ever worked on a book where you weren’t consistently strong with motivation, creativity, and/or wordcount? Does it sometimes take until a certain amount of time into a period of working on a book (if you’re doing it in separated stages) for the writing to take off?

P.S.: To mark next week’s special holiday, I’ll be fêting Rio on its 35th anniversary. I’ve really been looking forward to writing those posts, and hope my readers enjoy them just as much!

WeWriWa—Father and child reunion

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Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. This week’s snippet comes a bit after last week’s, when infant nurse Svetlana and her tiny patient’s father began realizing she might be one and the same as the missing sixth-born daughter of the widower who lives across the hall.

Mr. Lebedev has come home with his five accounted-for daughters and is rather displeased to discover his door was left open and never closed by any of his friends on their top floor of the tenement. Ivan promises it won’t happen again.

Source; painted by Jim Daly

“Say, do you mind stepping inside for a moment?  You haven’t met Fedya’s wonderfully talented nurse yet.  It turns out you have the same surname, and her dog had the same name as yours.”

“What?”

Svetlana turns around and gasps at the sight of the older man with one blue eye, one brown eye, and brown hair with copper highlights. “Papa?”

“Sveta?”

Svetlana leaps into her father’s arms, while her sisters cross themselves. “Thank God you’re alive.  Nadya told me you six had gone to America, and I couldn’t rest easily until I found you.”

******************************

Svetlana was seventeen when she was taken away with three of her other sisters, and she’s now twenty-two. Though her cousin Nadezhda was able to tell her the happy news about her father and five of her sisters surviving the Red Terror, Nadezhda also had to deliver the sad news about her mother being murdered.

Next week, I’d like to switch to a piece from my third Russian historical, Journey Through a Dark Forest, in honor of the 72nd anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima.

WeWriWa—Svetlana and Kroshka

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Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. This week’s snippet comes right after last week’s, when visiting infant nurse Svetlana asked Ivan if she could feed Pomeranian Kroshka some meat. The Konevs live across the hall from Mr. Lebedev and his daughters.

Svetlana has been coming over to take care of Fedya, Lyuba and Ivan’s first blood child together. Due to a damaged cervix and some other medical issues, Lyuba gave birth about a month early and fell into a feverish coma. The radical Dr. Scholl, one of my favorite secondary characters in my Russian historicals, recommended keeping her at home, with constant monitoring, unless her condition worsens.

“Of course, go ahead.” Ivan sets Fedya on a pillow and changes Lyuba’s cold compress. “I don’t think Mr. Lebedev or his daughters will mind if you quickly go into their apartment to get Kroshka’s brush and dishes.  She prefers to eat from her dishes instead of being fed by hand, and she loves being brushed.”

“Your neighbor’s name is Lebedev?  I’m a Lebedeva!”

“Come to think of it, one of his missing daughters is also a Svetlana.  He had ten daughters, but only five are safe in America, the oldest and the four youngest.  God knows what happened to the others.”

Kroshka’s dishes, toys, and brushes, and everything else in Mr. Lebedev’s old house, were saved by the ingenuity of his niece Nadezhda. After Mr. Lebedev was taken away by the Cheka, Nadezhda put a phony smallpox quarantine sign on the door. Shortly afterwards, Nadezhda left to find work (ending up as the head prostitute at a brothel), and Kroshka was left alone.

Even I never figured out how she survived on her own before Mr. Lebedev escaped from prison and made his way back to his old house. Kind neighbors may have taken care of her, or she may have joined a gang of feral dogs.