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Wordsmith
Tarri
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

Stay safe
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Shandi-Mitchell
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?


Sunltcloud wrote:

Dear sm,

 

I do hope I haven't offended you by speculating about your characters. I've had several discussions with each one of them, usually while walking in the morning, but last night was an impromptu update by one of the more unreliable characters, Anna's ghost. And you know how it is with ghosts, they come and go; sometimes they interfere where they shouldn't; often they make up things or comment on events that are best left alone.

 

I am usually walking around with my own characters speaking to me. One of them is a rapper, an old German professor who brings the poetry of Hoelderlin back into the classroom. Another one is a young South African man with dual personality; he is a game software developer by day and a carver of masks at night. A heavily burdened young man. There are of course women too, who speak to me. Kate, who lives on an island with a group of homeless children, Laura, participant in a photo workshop for seniors. And there are many more. 

 

My favorite character to talk to , and one who appears in many of my memoir class pieces (I belong to a group of memoir writers in an Adult Ed class) is Dr.Karl Steinfeld, my imaginary shrink who retired to Switzerland. As a matter of fact, he is the one who pointed out this morning (he is well informed about all my shortcomings) that I should leave your characters alone.

The most fun I have is with a character that took on the shape of a teddy bear. I named her Tyana J LittleString, and she is my travel companion. She poses for me wherever I go. In the last picture, taken by our Victorian server (he was quite old)  we are having high tea at the Empress Hotel in Victoria.

 

So, you see, sometimes my imagination runs away with me and mingles other people's characters with the ones that play in my own head. I hope you can forgive me.

 

Sincerely 

gf

 

Message Edited by Shandi-Mitchell on 08-20-2009 01:33 PM

Dear sunltcloud,

 

In my travels, I have heard of the eminent Dr.Karl Steinfeld. I hear he is a very wise man and his advice should never be taken lightly.
Perhaps as a gesture of goodwill and to smooth any ruffled feathers , you should invite me on your next excursion with Tyana J LittleString. Her, I think, I would like.  
sm  (tee-hee)
 

 

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KathyS
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

My fingers, toes, and eyes are crossed, Mrs. Bunyan!  Batten down the hatches, and stay safe!

 

K.

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


Shandi-Mitchell wrote:

Sunltcloud wrote:

Dear sm,

 

I do hope I haven't offended you by speculating about your characters. I've had several discussions with each one of them, usually while walking in the morning, but last night was an impromptu update by one of the more unreliable characters, Anna's ghost. And you know how it is with ghosts, they come and go; sometimes they interfere where they shouldn't; often they make up things or comment on events that are best left alone.

 

I am usually walking around with my own characters speaking to me. One of them is a rapper, an old German professor who brings the poetry of Hoelderlin back into the classroom. Another one is a young South African man with dual personality; he is a game software developer by day and a carver of masks at night. A heavily burdened young man. There are of course women too, who speak to me. Kate, who lives on an island with a group of homeless children, Laura, participant in a photo workshop for seniors. And there are many more. 

 

My favorite character to talk to , and one who appears in many of my memoir class pieces (I belong to a group of memoir writers in an Adult Ed class) is Dr.Karl Steinfeld, my imaginary shrink who retired to Switzerland. As a matter of fact, he is the one who pointed out this morning (he is well informed about all my shortcomings) that I should leave your characters alone.

The most fun I have is with a character that took on the shape of a teddy bear. I named her Tyana J LittleString, and she is my travel companion. She poses for me wherever I go. In the last picture, taken by our Victorian server (he was quite old)  we are having high tea at the Empress Hotel in Victoria.

 

So, you see, sometimes my imagination runs away with me and mingles other people's characters with the ones that play in my own head. I hope you can forgive me.

 

Sincerely 

gf

 

Message Edited by Shandi-Mitchell on 08-20-2009 01:33 PM

Dear sunltcloud,

 

In my travels, I have heard of the eminent Dr.Karl Steinfeld. I hear he is a very wise man and his advice should never be taken lightly.
Perhaps as a gesture of goodwill and to smooth any ruffled feathers , you should invite me on your next excursion with Tyana J LittleString. Her, I think, I would like.  
sm  (tee-hee)

Shandi, if you think Mr. Toad will take you on a wild ride,  hold on to your hat, because you've never been on one until you've entered the worlds of Ms. G.F.  I've had to wear a seat belt and a helmet!  Ahhh, but so much fun!

 

K.

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Read-n-Rider
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?


Shandi-Mitchell wrote:

Dear First Look Club,

 

But we are prepared. We even bought a chainsaw yesterday. We have many trees on our property that are seventy to a hundred feet tall. Can you imagine me using a chainsaw? Writer/lumberjack,

shandi 

 


Hi, Shandi--Seriously, please treat that chainsaw with a lot of respect; they are SOOOO dangerous.  My husband is a retired sawmill owner and we have dealt with a lot of real-life lumberjacks--and heard of some terrible chainsaw accidents.  My husband uses one to cut firewood trees in our woods, but I don't handle it at all--and he won't let me!

 

Stay safe, lady--we want you to write more books!

 

Joan

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Sunltcloud
Posts: 933
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

I just signed up with "Author Tracker" on your Harper Collins website so Tyana J LittleString and I can check in with you if you come anywhere near San Francsico on your book tour. In the meantime, T is available for inspection at

http://purplespidertracks.blogspot.com/

 

On a more serious note, I hope you are spared the hurricane experience. Stay safe.


Shandi-Mitchell wrote:

Dear sunltcloud,

 

In my travels, I have heard of the eminent Dr.Karl Steinfeld. I hear he is a very wise man and his advice should never be taken lightly.
Perhaps as a gesture of goodwill and to smooth any ruffled feathers , you should invite me on your next excursion with Tyana J LittleString. Her, I think, I would like.  
sm  (tee-hee)

 


 

Wordsmith
literature
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

Hi Shandi,

 

In retrospect, and if given the opportunity, would you change anything about any of the characters or circumstances in the book?

 

If so,would it be because you had second thoughts or would it be because of our feedback?

 

Just curious.  Not suggesting it at all.

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ReadingPatti
Posts: 2,523
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

Shandi, I agree with Debbie, I never knew how cruel people could be to each other. All these people were doing was trying to create a life for themselves. To survive.

 

I can see why people can to the States and Canada. They thought that they could have a better life in a different country. I love your characters. At first I didn't notice the first person but it works very well.  I do wish like Debbie said that we would learn just how hard it was for people when they were force to leave everything behind to start over. They would not afraid of hard work. All they wanted was a chance to have a better life for themselves and children.

 

I think that we today can take some lessons from them. That we should do all we can to work do stive for a better life for ourselves and our children. We also should value what we do have and appreciate our families and friends. I believe that God will lead us to what he wants for us and will help us through those tough times.

 

Thank you for such a wonderful book. It opens your eyes to how hard is was back then for families to just survive.

 

I would like to know what happens to these characters. I hope that you will write another books about them. I can only hope that they will all get a better life in the future and that they will stay together.

 

 

ReadingPatti

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EbonyAngel
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

Dear Shandi I enjoyed your book and will most likely read it again.  Yes, I am a re-reader.  I find that each time I read a book, I get something new and different from it.

Anyway, my comment/question has to do with Lesya and Petro.  Since this is your own family story, I wonder what happened to them.  Working on my own family genealogy for some 10 yrs. or more I tend to wonder about the lives of those outside my own line of direct  ancestors.

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KathyS
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?


EbonyAngel wrote:

Dear Shandi I enjoyed your book and will most likely read it again.  Yes, I am a re-reader.  I find that each time I read a book, I get something new and different from it.

Anyway, my comment/question has to do with Lesya and Petro.  Since this is your own family story, I wonder what happened to them.  Working on my own family genealogy for some 10 yrs. or more I tend to wonder about the lives of those outside my own line of direct  ancestors.


 

EbonyAngel, this is a novel, a work of fiction.
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Shandi-Mitchell
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?


literature wrote:

Hi Shandi,

 

In retrospect, and if given the opportunity, would you change anything about any of the characters or circumstances in the book?

 

If so,would it be because you had second thoughts or would it be because of our feedback?

 

Just curious.  Not suggesting it at all.


Hi literature,
Interesting question. Hmmm...Perhaps, I would adjust one line: when Ivan witnesses the deal between Anna and Teodor. From "Because you gave her money..." to "Because you have the money..."  Just to minimize or avoid any possible confusion. But then again, Ivan's  interpretation of the event is what will colour his memory of it in the future. And therefore, it is essential that it remains. I suppose I could add a scene of Teodor paying at the land office...? To guide the reader a bit more. But I trust that the reader can find all the answers in what is already written. 
So no, there is nothing that I would change. This work is finished. I think any writer/or artist could keep adding to and revisiting their art, but there is a time for it to be done. You have to trust your work. Otherwise, you could never move on to the next piece and discover what new ideas are waiting for you there.  
sm 

 

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KathyS
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?


Shandi-Mitchell wrote:

literature wrote:

Hi Shandi,

 

In retrospect, and if given the opportunity, would you change anything about any of the characters or circumstances in the book?

 

If so,would it be because you had second thoughts or would it be because of our feedback?

 

Just curious.  Not suggesting it at all.


Hi literature,
Interesting question. Hmmm...Perhaps, I would adjust one line: when Ivan witnesses the deal between Anna and Teodor. From "Because you gave her money..." to "Because you have the money..."  Just to minimize or avoid any possible confusion. But then again, Ivan's  interpretation of the event is what will colour his memory of it in the future. And therefore, it is essential that it remains. I suppose I could add a scene of Teodor paying at the land office...? To guide the reader a bit more. But I trust that the reader can find all the answers in what is already written. 
So no, there is nothing that I would change. This work is finished. I think any writer/or artist could keep adding to and revisiting their art, but there is a time for it to be done. You have to trust your work. Otherwise, you could never move on to the next piece and discover what new ideas are waiting for you there.  
sm 

I think this is an incredibly interesting subject...when is a work of art, finished?..., besides the question, What is art?.....I can't tell you how many times I've heard these questions asked in art classes.  Although, I've never heard anyone ask a writer this question, or at least heard an honest answer from a writer.  But, you've answered it.... as you say, it's trusting yourself to know.  It's a mix of knowing your abilities, and knowing your interior senses enough to answer this question without voicing it.  It's simply done when it feels right.  Only you know.

 

My first art class taught me to never 'overwork' a painting.  You place the stroke down, as your words are formed, and you may change them, but the key is to not muddy them in the process of alteration.

 

I was wondering, when you go back to edit, and you know you're in a voice for that particular scene, what happens when that voice is gone for the moment, and it doesn't seem right to edit at that time?  Do you continue anyway, or do you wait until you hear that same voice, again.  I hope this makes sense.  You've written some very deep emotions into your story.  Can you pick them back up, or hold onto them long enough to make the changes?  Or do you just stand back and listen to your editors, concerning these changes?

 

Thanks,

K.

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Shandi-Mitchell
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?


EbonyAngel wrote:

Dear Shandi I enjoyed your book and will most likely read it again.  Yes, I am a re-reader.  I find that each time I read a book, I get something new and different from it.

Anyway, my comment/question has to do with Lesya and Petro.  Since this is your own family story, I wonder what happened to them.  Working on my own family genealogy for some 10 yrs. or more I tend to wonder about the lives of those outside my own line of direct  ancestors.


Dear Ebony Angel,
It must be so difficult and rewarding to track your family genealogy. I don't know my family's history. My family history seems to begin with the marriage of my mother and father. I don't remember being told stories about my grandparents' lives in the old country or the new. No memories of early homesteads. The past was left behind. 
So, interestingly, this is not my family story. I uncovered a few facts: my grandfather didn't die of the flu; he spent time in prison for stealing a wagonload of grain from his own property; and there was a land dispute but no one remembered why. These facts became pieces of the larger themes I wanted to explore in the story. The characters are completely works of fiction. Especially, Anna, Stefan, Lesya, Petro and the newborn baby.
So what happened to the real Lesya and Petro?
Well there was no "real" Lesya and Petro. There were two families. Sixty years later, some of the children of these two families found each other again. Some were able to set aside the guilt and pain of a crime and tragedy that was not their burden to carry.  I hear some could not. I am the next generation. I have never met the survivors. I am the granddaughter and therefore am part of my grandfather. I am constantly aware of the darkness and light that I carry inside me.
 
 

 

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Sheltiemama
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

I'm a journalist, and I'm an awe of how carefully you constructed this novel.

 


Shandi-Mitchell wrote:

literature wrote:

 

 

 

Because I hung on every word you wrote, a noticed a repetition of words, phrases and/or expressions that you used that would set the stage for something later on.  You mentioned "in the crook of the two twisted trees" a number of times and I was sorry that I hadn't noted under which circumstances you used them each time.  Then, at the end, it becomes an important place for Teodor. I wonder if you put clues there each time for us leading up to Teodor's final act.

 

 

Message Edited by rkubie on 08-05-2009 02:10 PM


Dear Literature,
Thank you Literature. Wonderful questions! I will answer one now and return to the others later. 

My screenwriting background influences my prose writing. In film, you have so little time to tell the story (90-120 minutes) that whatever you include you want it to inform and/or advance the story either through plot, emotion, theme, or character. I think I bring this style to fiction writing. The two trees do appear several times and/or are referenced by various characters: Anna, Katya, Myron, Teodor, even the coyotes. I am intrigued by the lives that played out around these trees.

 

I remember once listening to someone argue that only contemporary society romanticizes nature and the woods. They argued that in the past, the woods were feared. Settlers didn’t wander off into the woods for calming, meditative walks. The woods represented the wild. The unknown. Interesting idea. 

 

 


 

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Shandi-Mitchell
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?


Kathy wrote:

 

I was wondering, when you go back to edit, and you know you're in a voice for that particular scene, what happens when that voice is gone for the moment, and it doesn't seem right to edit at that time? Do you continue anyway, or do you wait until you hear that same voice, again.  I hope this makes sense. 

 

You've written some very deep emotions into your story.  Can you pick them back up, or hold onto them long enough to make the changes?  Or do you just stand back and listen to your editors, concerning these changes?

.


You guys are making my brain hurt. Are there no easy questions?
Hmm... I usually wait a couple months between writing and editing. They are quite different jobs.  When writing, I am inside the voice. When editing, I am looking at it from the outside with a critical eye. When I have to add or expand a section, I find I can usually slip back into the voice pretty quickly. 
 Or do you just stand back and listen to your editors, concerning these changes?
Never. But, I listen very carefully to my editors, if they think there is something missing, a beat, or a clarification that is needed...I step back and consider what it is that they are feeling or not feeling. But the decision to edit is mine. Fortunately I have brilliant editors and they are as deeply inside the story as I am. They don't offer solutions, they ask a question and leave me to ponder.  And then I go off and decide if I agree that more or less is needed. I never make an edit unless I am certain that it is true to the story.
I think those edit decisions are easier when the writer truly knows their story. I often see, inexperienced writers moving onto edit before they have truly discovered their story. They are still searching for the big themes and the characters' hearts or even their individual writing voice and this is when I think a writer can get lost. They have no gauge to monitor what is true or false to their story, because they don't know what their story is yet. 
 Does that make any sense? I can't tell any more. Goodnight all. 
I'm signing off until Monday. Storm day tomorrow.  
 

 

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KathyS
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?


Shandi-Mitchell wrote:

Kathy wrote:

 

I was wondering, when you go back to edit, and you know you're in a voice for that particular scene, what happens when that voice is gone for the moment, and it doesn't seem right to edit at that time? Do you continue anyway, or do you wait until you hear that same voice, again.  I hope this makes sense. 

 

You've written some very deep emotions into your story.  Can you pick them back up, or hold onto them long enough to make the changes?  Or do you just stand back and listen to your editors, concerning these changes?

 


You guys are making my brain hurt. Are there no easy questions?

Hmm... I usually wait a couple months between writing and editing. They are quite different jobs.  When writing, I am inside the voice. When editing, I am looking at it from the outside with a critical eye. When I have to add or expand a section, I find I can usually slip back into the voice pretty quickly. 
Or do you just stand back and listen to your editors, concerning these changes?
Never. But, I listen very carefully to my editors, if they think there is something missing, a beat, or a clarification that is needed...I step back and consider what it is that they are feeling or not feeling. But the decision to edit is mine. Fortunately I have brilliant editors and they are as deeply inside the story as I am. They don't offer solutions, they ask a question and leave me to ponder.  And then I go off and decide if I agree that more or less is needed. I never make an edit unless I am certain that it is true to the story.
I think those edit decisions are easier when the writer truly knows their story. I often see, inexperienced writers moving onto edit before they have truly discovered their story. They are still searching for the big themes and the characters' hearts or even their individual writing voice and this is when I think a writer can get lost. They have no gauge to monitor what is true or false to their story, because they don't know what their story is yet. 
 Does that make any sense? I can't tell any more. Goodnight all. 
I'm signing off until Monday. Storm day tomorrow.  

Shandi, you made perfect sense.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart!  I'm sorry I contributed to your 'brain hurting'.  I know what brain hurt is, it's being on discussions like these, with authors who put you through mental and physical brain-strain-pain, as we tear their story down, filleting their characters to the bone! Now we're even!!  :smileyvery-happy:

 

I hope you've rested, and the storm has passed by the time you read this.  I promise, I have no more questions for you... You done good! :smileyhappy:

 

K.S.

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Sheltiemama
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

Oh, I love knowing that about Leysa's original name! I loved that little girl.

 


Shandi-Mitchell wrote:

The very last copy edit pass on my manuscript was by a Ukrainian expert. I have no knowledge of the language and as it turns out there was debate even among the experts. Ukraine was a conquered country throughout history. The joke is that some families lived in the same house for a hundred years, but the birth certificates for individual family members could be Polish or Ukrainian or Russian or German and on and on depending on the year.  So language and customs fused.  There are Russian spellings and Ukrainian spellings and there is now great national pride that the true Ukrainian spelling be used, which was the case for Piotr (Russian) when it needed to be Petro (Ukrainian). Xanka changed to Dania to make it easier to pronounce for an English reader. The name change from Mysha to Lesya was a struggle. The character had always been Mysha to me (‘little mouse’ is the translation), but when Ukrainian readers read that name they were mortified. It was seen as derogatory rather than as a nickname.  I had to find another name that felt small and soft, and so she became Lesya. It was a long search. I had picked the name, but was still trying it on, when I learned about an infant girl who didn’t survive in Ukraine. Her name was Lesya. I knew then for certain, that her name would be preserved in this story. 

 

As to which character is my favorite:

 

Oh I have no favorites. I love them all. Even in their failings.  There are characters whose choices pain me the greatest, but they are all part of me.

 

 

 

 


 

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KathyS
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

Oops, I lied. 

I have one more teeny-weeny question, which is pretty easy to answer, I think....and pretty standard.  Do you, or did you, listen to music while writing any part of this story?

 

That's it, I promise....until I think of another question.... :smileyhappy:

 

K.

 

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Sheltiemama
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

The part about you holding your dog's paw brought tears to my eyes. I've lost two Shelties to cancer, too. What a wonderful memory for you to have of her.

 


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.

 

 

 


 

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Sheltiemama
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

First, I knew you were going to make that chicken break my heart.

 

Second, I could hear the gun fire at the word "snow."

 


Shandi-Mitchell wrote: 

As to your third question. Yes. Oh yes.  Lesya's and Happiness' final moments were a particularly difficult experience. As was the word   snow