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Author
Shandi-Mitchell
Posts: 83
Registered: ‎07-08-2009

Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?


Sheltiemama wrote:

 

 

I also want to know where she came up with the coyote motif. The more I read, the more effective it is.

 

 


Hi Sheltiemama,

Growing up on the prairies, I was always attracted to the cry of the coyotes. My cousins and I would take the pick up truck and drive out to the furthest corner of the fields to camp out. We’d light a fire, bake a tin of beans, and lay out our sleeping bags. One night the coyotes came close, circling in around the woods that flanked the field we were in. The sound was haunting and terrifying. But it was beautiful too. Being 10 year old kids, the oldest maybe fourteen- our imaginations ran wild and we imagined being attacked. We scared ourselves senseless and jumped in the truckand booted it home, abandoning all our supplies. My uncle had to drive back to put out the campfire. I've never forgotten the coyotes.

 

One of the posts commented that coyotes are a “beautiful and misunderstood animal” and I would agree. They are hated by farmers and ranchers because they kill livestock.  People fear them. Bounties are put on them. They represent a collision of the wild and the tamed. They are the unknown. But human progress has encroached on what was once their land. We’ve put up boundaries that don’t apply to the wild. This collision of species has happened and is happening all over the world. It seemed natural for the coyotes and my characters to meet.

 

Also, while I was writing this story, I had a beautiful German Shephard-Husky. She had been a rescued pup. No human contact, no socialization, terrified of people. She had so much fear and because of her husky breed she was close to being genetically wild.  She was a big, strong, and potentially dangerous dog.  We worked so hard to earn her trust. Eventually we did and we discovered an extraordinary heart and playfulness. I modeled a great deal of the coyotes on her. It was her paw I held when I wrote about the coyote’s paw. She was asleep at my feet throughout the writing of the novel. Sadly, we lost her to lymphoma when she was five. But we were lucky to have had her in our lives.

 

Other ideas I was exploring with the coyotes were: predator and prey; the natural cycles of living and dying; the idea of wild vs. tame. And of course, in the very first section that I wrote about Anna, she was listening to the coyotes.  So I had to listen, too.

 

So where does the coyote motif come from? I’m not entirely sure. I take all of these disparate elements, mash them into something else and pull them through the story. I don’t know how to describe the process. I don’t do it consciously. I just try to incorporate imagery that follows the heartbeat of the story.

 

 

 

 

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Wisteria-L
Posts: 45
Registered: ‎07-06-2009
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

Hi Shandi...

 

How did the naming of your characters come to you?

 

Anna and Maria come across to me as very biblical.   Whereas, Stefan, Teodor, Ivan, Myron, Lesya, Sophia, Dania, Petro, and Katya all have very Ukrainian sounding names.

 

What if any was your thinking? Was there a biblical element? 

 

I think of Maria as Mary (mother of Jesus) the quintessential MOM so to speak. We know from the Bible that Saint Anna was the profetess who pronounced the baby- Messiah.  

 

 

Wisteria,

"Few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds a way into his heart."

The Shadow of the Wind,
by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Distinguished Bibliophile
KathyS
Posts: 6,893
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

[ Edited ]

Shandi-Mitchell wrote:

Sheltiemama wrote:

 

 

I also want to know where she came up with the coyote motif. The more I read, the more effective it is.

 

 


Hi Sheltiemama,

Growing up on the prairies, I was always attracted to the cry of the coyotes. My cousins and I would take the pick up truck and drive out to the furthest corner of the fields to camp out. We’d light a fire, bake a tin of beans, and lay out our sleeping bags. One night the coyotes came close, circling in around the woods that flanked the field we were in. The sound was haunting and terrifying. But it was beautiful too. Being 10 year old kids, the oldest maybe fourteen- our imaginations ran wild and we imagined being attacked. We scared ourselves senseless and jumped in the truckand booted it home, abandoning all our supplies. My uncle had to drive back to put out the campfire. I've never forgotten the coyotes.

 

One of the posts commented that coyotes are a “beautiful and misunderstood animal” and I would agree. They are hated by farmers and ranchers because they kill livestock.  People fear them. Bounties are put on them. They represent a collision of the wild and the tamed. They are the unknown. But human progress has encroached on what was once their land. We’ve put up boundaries that don’t apply to the wild. This collision of species has happened and is happening all over the world. It seemed natural for the coyotes and my characters to meet.

 

Also, while I was writing this story, I had a beautiful German Shephard-Husky. She had been a rescued pup. No human contact, no socialization, terrified of people. She had so much fear and because of her husky breed she was close to being genetically wild.  She was a big, strong, and potentially dangerous dog.  We worked so hard to earn her trust. Eventually we did and we discovered an extraordinary heart and playfulness. I modeled a great deal of the coyotes on her. It was her paw I held when I wrote about the coyote’s paw. She was asleep at my feet throughout the writing of the novel. Sadly, we lost her to lymphoma when she was five. But we were lucky to have had her in our lives.

 

Other ideas I was exploring with the coyotes were: predator and prey; the natural cycles of living and dying; the idea of wild vs. tame. And of course, in the very first section that I wrote about Anna, she was listening to the coyotes.  So I had to listen, too.

 

So where does the coyote motif come from? I’m not entirely sure. I take all of these disparate elements, mash them into something else and pull them through the story. I don’t know how to describe the process. I don’t do it consciously. I just try to incorporate imagery that follows the heartbeat of the story.

 

 


Shandi, that's a touching story about your dog.  What a beautiful inspiration.  Was her name Kino? I just saw this name in your acknowledgments.  I think, if she were my dog, I would write what you've just said, and dedicate this book to her.

Message Edited by KathyS on 08-14-2009 06:14 PM
Wordsmith
Tarri
Posts: 457
Registered: ‎02-26-2007

Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?


Shandi-Mitchell wrote:

Sheltiemama wrote:

 

 

I also want to know where she came up with the coyote motif. The more I read, the more effective it is.

 

 


Hi Sheltiemama,

Growing up on the prairies, I was always attracted to the cry of the coyotes. My cousins and I would take the pick up truck and drive out to the furthest corner of the fields to camp out. We’d light a fire, bake a tin of beans, and lay out our sleeping bags. One night the coyotes came close, circling in around the woods that flanked the field we were in. The sound was haunting and terrifying. But it was beautiful too. Being 10 year old kids, the oldest maybe fourteen- our imaginations ran wild and we imagined being attacked. We scared ourselves senseless and jumped in the truckand booted it home, abandoning all our supplies. My uncle had to drive back to put out the campfire. I've never forgotten the coyotes.

 

One of the posts commented that coyotes are a “beautiful and misunderstood animal” and I would agree. They are hated by farmers and ranchers because they kill livestock.  People fear them. Bounties are put on them. They represent a collision of the wild and the tamed. They are the unknown. But human progress has encroached on what was once their land. We’ve put up boundaries that don’t apply to the wild. This collision of species has happened and is happening all over the world. It seemed natural for the coyotes and my characters to meet.

 

[snip]

 

Other ideas I was exploring with the coyotes were: predator and prey; the natural cycles of living and dying; the idea of wild vs. tame. And of course, in the very first section that I wrote about Anna, she was listening to the coyotes.  So I had to listen, too. [snip]

 

 


 

I want to make several points, so this will appear to be a rambling post, but hopefully you will follow my fragmented thoughts.

 

First I want to say that I am so very sorry on the loss of your beautiful dog. 

 

Next I would like to tell you that your story touched my heart and it is one of the best books I have read.  I cannot wait to recommend it to all my reading friends; both real and cyber.  In fact, I already have.  I usually read along with the schedule so that I don't have to worry about spoilers, but I sat down to read Fall and didn't stop reading until 1:30 a.m. when I finished the book.  

 

As I read into the nights, the coyotes (I live in the middle of nowhere) were barking and howling at the fence around the back of my house, trying to entice my two big dogs out into the yard.  Of course, even if they did go out in the yard, the coyotes could not reach them, but I don't take chances.  It added a lot to the tension I was feeling.

 

You asked if we had mementos from past generations, and I have several that have been passed down through the years.  I also live in a house that was built by my step-grandpa's family in the 1890s.  My grandma's (dad's mother) family lived on one side of the road and his family lived on the other.  Both were farm families with lots of children and we no longer own much of the land.  Still it is fun to know that my family has lived in the same spot for over 100 years.    

 

Another memento I have from the past is a picture, taken in 1909, in Colorado (we are in Washington).  The woman in this picture looks just like me; however, we have no idea who she is and there is no one left who can identify her.  She is on my mom's side of the family.  

 

 

Author
Shandi-Mitchell
Posts: 83
Registered: ‎07-08-2009
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?


KathyS wrote:


Shandi, that's a touching story about your dog.  What a beautiful inspiration.  Was her name Kino? 

Message Edited by KathyS on 08-14-2009 06:14 PM

Hi Kathy,
Yes, she was Kino. It took us another three years to bring another dog into our home. Now we have Annie Waggletaggle. Another rescue, a border collie lab mix. Very sweet. She is a year and five months old and likes to learn, so she is going to her first agility class next week. We expect to do very poorly, but we'll have fun. 
sm
 

 

Author
Shandi-Mitchell
Posts: 83
Registered: ‎07-08-2009
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?


Tarri wrote:

 As I read into the nights, the coyotes (I live in the middle of nowhere) were barking and howling at the fence around the back of my house, trying to entice my two big dogs out into the yard.  Of course, even if they did go out in the yard, the coyotes could not reach them, but I don't take chances.  It added a lot to the tension I was feeling.

 

You asked if we had mementos from past generations, and I have several that have been passed down through the years.  I also live in a house that was built by my step-grandpa's family in the 1890s.  My grandma's (dad's mother) family lived on one side of the road and his family lived on the other.  Both were farm families with lots of children and we no longer own much of the land.  Still it is fun to know that my family has lived in the same spot for over 100 years.    

 

Another memento I have from the past is a picture, taken in 1909, in Colorado (we are in Washington).  The woman in this picture looks just like me; however, we have no idea who she is and there is no one left who can identify her.  She is on my mom's side of the family.  

 

 


You weren't rambling Tarri. Thank you for sharing such wonderful stories. I wish everyone could hear the coyotes at their fence while they read the end of the story.
sm :smileyhappy:

 

Author
Shandi-Mitchell
Posts: 83
Registered: ‎07-08-2009

Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

I received my hardcover copy of Under This Unbroken Sky from Claire. The book is now finished. This will be its form and it is beautiful. What is it that makes a hardcover book feel like a work of art?

 

Opening the front pages, it is marked first edition. After all the years of buying books, I finally own a first edition! Who knew, all I had to do was write it. 

 

sm 

 

 

Author
Shandi-Mitchell
Posts: 83
Registered: ‎07-08-2009

Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?


blkeyesuzi wrote:

Shandi,

 

Did the story start out to be a novel or did you think it would be a screenplay at any time?


Many, many years ago, I drafted the story as a film script. I’m sure it wasn’t very good, I hadn’t developed the characters deeply and I was young. I didn’t have enough life experience to write about their lives. And funders wanted me to change the story. Film can be restrictive in the type of stories that can be produced. Often they want comedies, happy endings, action and horror genre films--films that have an easily recognizable market. It is a struggle to make independent, character driven work. Understandably, it is an expensive medium. And the risk is high.

 

This story did not fit and I refused to make the changes, so I put it away. I learned years ago, not to produce something for the sake of producing it. If it's not my voice, then it's not my art.

 

When I began the manuscript, I didn’t look at the script. I just started again. This was the medium where it came alive. 

 

 

 

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KathyS
Posts: 6,893
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?


Shandi-Mitchell wrote:

KathyS wrote:
Shandi, that's a touching story about your dog.  What a beautiful inspiration.  Was her name Kino? 

Hi Kathy,
Yes, she was Kino. It took us another three years to bring another dog into our home. Now we have Annie Waggletaggle. Another rescue, a border collie lab mix. Very sweet. She is a year and five months old and likes to learn, so she is going to her first agility class next week. We expect to do very poorly, but we'll have fun. 
sm

Shandie,

 

I think Annie Waggletaggle is a great name....for a children's book!   The Adventures of Annie Waggletaggle...I love it!  :smileyhappy: 

 

I'm glad you found another dog. I know it's hard, my daughter went through it when her dog passed away.  We found a beautiful rescue dog.  It's hard to think about 'replacing' a lost friend. 

 

You have two smart and fun-loving breeds, and she should do very well in her classes.  Good luck to all of you!

 

K.S.

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KathyS
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?


Shandi-Mitchell wrote:

blkeyesuzi wrote:

Shandi,

 

Did the story start out to be a novel or did you think it would be a screenplay at any time?


Many, many years ago, I drafted the story as a film script. I’m sure it wasn’t very good, I hadn’t developed the characters deeply and I was young. I didn’t have enough life experience to write about their lives. And funders wanted me to change the story. Film can be restrictive in the type of stories that can be produced. Often they want comedies, happy endings, action and horror genre films--films that have an easily recognizable market. It is a struggle to make independent, character driven work. Understandably, it is an expensive medium. And the risk is high.

 

This story did not fit and I refused to make the changes, so I put it away. I learned years ago, not to produce something for the sake of producing it. If it's not my voice, then it's not my art.

 

When I began the manuscript, I didn’t look at the script. I just started again. This was the medium where it came alive. 

 


I think we're all glad you waited for your voice, and your art to develop!  I've seen too many artists/writers give 'away' their voice, allowing someone else to destroy it.  It would be like me giving a painting, or a piece of my sculpture away, and allowing it to be vandalized!  Touch my work, and you won't see the light of day! :smileyhappy:

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KathyS
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?


Shandi-Mitchell wrote:

I received my hardcover copy of Under This Unbroken Sky from Claire. The book is now finished. This will be its form and it is beautiful. What is it that makes a hardcover book feel like a work of art?

 

Opening the front pages, it is marked first edition. After all the years of buying books, I finally own a first edition! Who knew, all I had to do was write it. 

 

sm 

 

 


CONGRATULATIONS!

Inspired Correspondent
Read-n-Rider
Posts: 157
Registered: ‎01-29-2007
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?


Shandi-Mitchell wrote:

I received my hardcover copy of Under This Unbroken Sky from Claire. The book is now finished. This will be its form and it is beautiful. What is it that makes a hardcover book feel like a work of art?

 

Opening the front pages, it is marked first edition. After all the years of buying books, I finally own a first edition! Who knew, all I had to do was write it. 

 

sm 

 

 


Shandi, I love how you put those last two sentences--LOL!  And your book is truly a work of art.

 

Joan

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kittykat59
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Registered: ‎12-08-2008
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

Shandi,

 

No questions just a few statements. You have written a great novel for many to enjoy. I want to thank you for sharing with us your thoughts. Once again thank you!!

 

liz

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Ronrose
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Registered: ‎03-24-2009
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Re: One Question

Thank you for a very interesting novel. The story, as I have read so far, has drawn me into the world of the Canadian Plains of the 1930's. Does your style of writing reflect the techniques used in your television career or have you developed it for this novel?
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Wisteria-L
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Registered: ‎07-06-2009
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?


 
Hi Shandi, You must be on cloud nine. What a thrill. I am so happy for you. I can't wait to see your book flying off the shelves. :smileyhappy:
Congratulations !!!
 
 
Shandi-Mitchell wrote:

I received my hardcover copy of Under This Unbroken Sky from Claire. The book is now finished. This will be its form and it is beautiful. What is it that makes a hardcover book feel like a work of art?

 

Opening the front pages, it is marked first edition. After all the years of buying books, I finally own a first edition! Who knew, all I had to do was write it. 

 

sm 

 

 


 

Wisteria,

"Few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds a way into his heart."

The Shadow of the Wind,
by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Inspired Wordsmith
Sunltcloud
Posts: 933
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

Congratulations!

 

See......this is how you acquire first editions. Passion, dedication, hard work, an editor with a sense of adventure and an eye for the beauty and power of your printed words.

 

Gisela 


Shandi-Mitchell wrote:

I received my hardcover copy of Under This Unbroken Sky from Claire. The book is now finished. This will be its form and it is beautiful. What is it that makes a hardcover book feel like a work of art?

 

Opening the front pages, it is marked first edition. After all the years of buying books, I finally own a first edition! Who knew, all I had to do was write it. 

 

sm 

 

 


 

MYK
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MYK
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Registered: ‎03-24-2009
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

Hi Shandi,I enjoyed reading your book.It read very much like a movie. When I watch a movie, I do, in hindsight,  review the storyline,and how powerful it was by the emotions each character has provoked.  I say that because by now I am crying. And I have to think about the whole thing I just watch, and put it all together.  Whether  a movie a good or sad ending, I judge it on the reality of the situation and the emotion it has provoked. Your book bought me to tears. Yet, I know that so much of this happens even in our lives today. It's history repeating itself. There is so many words written between the lines. It's amazing. I want to say in my opinion you strike raw emotion.Make me think well after the book is done. I metphor the things you wrote into my very life today. It is easy to read and fell your book. Whereas, certain books take alot of thought to place yourself in. I don't know if I am getting my point across, but I want you to know that I  did enjoy your book. Even though it hurt.Left me hopeless.

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Shandi-Mitchell
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?


literature wrote:

 

**************SPOILER ALERT ********************************* 

 

 Unless I missed something in the reading, when the letters are being written back and forth to the Land Office and Teodor is trying to prove that the land is his, why wasn't the note brought forward that Anna signed when Teodore paid up his $10 to her?  I don't remember anything being mentioned up to that point that the signed note was nowhere to be found.  If the note was mentioned during the correspondence to and from the Land Office, then the story would have had to have taken a different turn. Did you purposely not mentioned the signed note or, as I said, maybe I just missed it.


Hi literature and Joyz,
I believe you both had similar questions. I've held off answering to keep with the schedule, but it appears that many have now reached this point in their reading.  
 In my mind, Teodor goes to Anna to show her that he has the $10 and that he is going to town to pay for the land.  He is keeping his promise from p.51 that he would pay the full amount on the first harvest. He doesn’t leave the money with Anna, because he knows Stefan will get it. But at the land office, when he pays for the land, it remains in his sister’s name because she registered the entry. He’s just making the payment.

 

Katya burns the note in Fall p.226 before the letter writing begins. The letters start in Winter. In the first letter on p251, Teodor writes, “There was a paper signed and my son can say what it said.” He no longer has the paper. I doubt anyone would listen to a child witness. We learn of Teodor’s reaction to this loss later.

 

I see the signed note as more of an agreement between sister and brother; to formalize their contract. I don’t think Teodor fully understood the laws and legal procedures of Canada. I think in Ukraine, perhaps disputes were settled more individually. You went to the person in power and they gave a ruling. They were the law.  The letters from both Teodor and Anna seem to expect someone in the land office to have the power to make such a ruling.

 

Regardless,even if Teodor had the note it would not have helped him.  Teodor could not legally own land. He was a convicted criminal. He could never win the legal battle. I don't think Teodor saw himself, though, as a convicted criminal. For him, this agreement was between family and that should have been more binding than any law.

 

At least that’s what the characters told me.  :smileyhappy:

 

 


 

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pen21
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

I have just finished your book.

First I would like to say I really enjoyed the book. I would like to ask about the pacing of the book. The middle section Fall did not leave me ready to race ahead. Where the Spring/Summer section had a very steady pace, with a lot of getting me involved in the characters. The last section really captured me and kept me reading to the end. Now this is just a personal point of view. Not that I would have picked different points to divide the book for us to read. 

 

How did you intend to pace the book?

pen21

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bud12
Posts: 52
Registered: ‎01-26-2009

Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

My grandmother migrated to the U.S. from Russia in the early 1900's. She was eager to learn and assimilate. I have handwriiten pages from her when she was practicing her penmanship and learning English. Her handwriting was beautiful and those pages are family treasures. 
Jo