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


Wisteria-L wrote:

Shandi....

 

1)Would you give us some input about our title?  I have my own opinion and there may be many different ways of looking at this,but I'm sure you had something in mind. I know there was a passage in the book refering to it.  Would you offer your thoughts please?

 

Thanks, Wisteria:smileyhappy:

 

 

Lookingat the posts in the thread Unbroken Sky, I don’t think I need to say anything.You are all finding your answer.

sm 

:smileyhappy:

 

 

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Shandi-Mitchell
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?


eadieburke wrote:

Shandi wrote:

Do any of you have such token representations of your ancestors' lives?  No context. No story. Just an item? Do you ever conjure a story around that item?


 

My dad showed us a picture of his mom and dad who came from Croatia. His dad, Samuel, left Croatia due to The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria on June 28, 1914 which led to the outbreak of World War I.

 

He was in the Austrian navy and would have be drafted again. He left Croatia on a Merchant Marine ship and walked off the ship upon it's arrival in Philadelphia and then sent for my grandmom, Mary, who came thru Ellis Island in 1920, six years later.

 

They were married when Samuel left but he contacted a Croatian family who was already in Philadelphia and they took him in until he could get a job. He got a job as a painter and helped to paint the newly built Benjamin Franklin Bridge.

 

They later bought one of the oldest homes in center city Philadelphia where a group of carpenters, who built Carpenters Hall, had added different aspects to the home. My parents lived there with my grandmother when my 2 brothers and 1 sister and me were born in the 40's. I never met Samuel - he died before I was born.

 

My daughter, who was doing an immigration project, wrote a made-up story about how Mary felt leaving Croatia in 1920 to meet up with her husband who left in 1914. While reading her story, you could actually feel what Mary when thru on her arrival at Ellis Island.

 

On another note, my grandmother, Mary, went to early grade school in Croatia with a very famous dictator, Josip Broz, who became Marshal Tito.

 

I wish I could write as well as Shandi - seems like we all could have a family story to tell!

 


Message Edited by eadieburke on 08-11-2009 02:33 PM

Thank you for sharing your family's story. I think everyone's life has a story.
sm 

 

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

Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?


HeatherF wrote:

I was wondering what it was like for you to go from film to novel? I understand that you also wrote screen plays but I am assuming that is very different as well. I felt that it read very visually. Not just the attention to detail about the scene or what was happening but that it had a flow to it, like a sweeping look about what was happening that a film would also give without words. Not being a writer or a film maker myself I was curious if it was as natural as it seem to us reading to go from film to novel or did you struggle?

 

Thank you for sharing yourself and your work with us. You are very brave to put yourself out there openly for discussion.

 

Heather


Every one has such great questions! Going from film to a novel is liking working in two different mediums for me. Maybe like painting vs sculpture.

 

In film,I can establish the setting like this:

 

EXTERIOR. PRAIRIES. MORNING.

 

Rain falls.

 

When I started to write the novel, I discovered I had to create that setting. I had to determine the quality of light, describe the prairies, the time of morning, the type of rain…it took a lot more words! 

 

I also discovered in the novel that I could be inside the characters. I could hear their thoughts. That is more difficult to do in film, unless you use voiceover. Or you use other visual language to reveal a state of mind: color,the shot, sound, editing, light, dark… But in general, film is more about watching the actions of a character to reveal the story.

 

I found the novel could hold a larger story, more characters, and more complex themes. In the novel, there were no budget constraints! No producers or funders. A screenplay is the blueprint, the heart of the film, but it is a starting point.  It takes the collaboration of many other artists, actors, and technicians to create the vision. In the book, the canvas was mine.

 

In film, time is the framework you work within. You only have 90-120 pages. Structures can be very rigid. Act 1, Act 2, Act 3 turning points are often written to an exact page number or minute. A novel’s structure can be much freer.

 

Research! In the film world, as a director, I merely add the words 1938 to the script and then I have hundreds of people in specialized departments researching all the details and bringing me all the correct objects, wardrobe, foods, and I just have to choose which ones I like best. With the novel, I had to do all the research. That was shocking.

 

I love both mediums. Their process is different. They share characters, dialogue, story, plot, theme…they are both hard work. I am grateful that I have the chance to play in both worlds.

 

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nlsamson
Posts: 104
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

Shandi:

 

As of right now, I really have no questions, I have just been reading the other questions /comments and your responses.  I  really want to tell you that I am thoroughly enjoying not only this book, but your responses.  I like the way you think, the way you write.  I am totally amazed!  I also want to thank you for sharing your "baby" for lack of a better word.  I think I have enjoyed this first look the most, and I doubt I am alone in that thought!

 

 

"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away" - unknown
Author
Shandi-Mitchell
Posts: 83
Registered: ‎07-08-2009

Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?


nlsamson wrote:

Shandi:

 

As of right now, I really have no questions, I have just been reading the other questions /comments and your responses.  I  really want to tell you that I am thoroughly enjoying not only this book, but your responses.  I like the way you think, the way you write.  I am totally amazed!  I also want to thank you for sharing your "baby" for lack of a better word.  I think I have enjoyed this first look the most, and I doubt I am alone in that thought!

 

 


Thank you so much nlsamson
I'm relieved that my answer/ responses are of interest. I wondered if I was rambling too much.  It is odd sending your words off into the ether. I know you are reading by the counter, but I don't how the computer counts us. (?) And what is a laurel?  Because you all deserve the accolade.
sm 

 

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deannafrances
Posts: 77
Registered: ‎07-19-2008
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

Shandi, I have three  questions for you.

First, are you Catholic? I ask this in light of the controversry about the Host and Communion.

I personally think that children often fill in the blanks with thier own information about things they do not completely understand.  For years we would go to Novena and I would hear them sing in Latin and I thought the priest was saying  Jenny tore it, Jenny tore it and aksed my mother afterwards--I don't get it --what did she tear..  I don't know how to spell the Latin for the chant that the priest said but that is what it sounded like to me.

 

Second, I have difficulty with your tense and writing in the present tense and sort of shifting back and forth--since the story happened in the past--why not stay in the past? 

 

 Third, did you cry for the characters while writing the story--some of the images are so sad.  I felt especially drawn to Lesya and my heart broke while she helped deliver the baby.

 

thank you for taking the time to answer

and also for writing this book-- 

 

 

Wordsmith
literature
Posts: 499
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

Shandi wrote:

 

I'm relieved that my answer/ responses are of interest. I wondered if I was rambling too much.  It is odd sending your words off into the ether. I know you are reading by the counter, but I don't how the computer counts us. (?) And what is a laurel?  Because you all deserve the accolade.

 

________________________________________________________________________________

 

Shandi,

 

You are definitely not rambling.  I find your answers/responses/comments so interesting.  It is not often we can pick the brain of an author and have the author respond in such detail plus with such honesty and openess.  If you haven't realized it yet, we (the group) have a very high regard for you and will listen to anything and everything you choose to share with us so keep rambling.  The more posts I read and the more I reread some of the passages, the more I see.  How did I miss them in the frist reading?

 

 

 

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BooksRPam
Posts: 39
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

Shandi:

 

Thanks for being here and being so open to all of these questions.  I finished your book late last night, though I know that I can't discuss Winter and the outcome until next week.  I just want to say your characters moved me, and I am awed by such talent in a first novel.  Frankly, your novel reminded me of EAST OF EDEN because of the detail and my attachment to the family and its dependence upon one another.  Again, thanks for such a wonderful story.

 

My question:  What authors or literary works, if any, have influenced you as a writer?

Pam
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retromom
Posts: 113
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

Shandi,

 

I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your book. It was tough to put down. These families pulled me into their lives and I had to know what was going to happen to them. Your words truly paint a picture with their descriptions. I could picture the people and the settings down to the littlest detail. I'm wondering if we may hear about any of these family members in future books? I'm curious to find out where Maria goes. How does she survive? What becomes of all the children as they become adults? I'm even curious about Stefan and kind of hoping he got what he deserved.

 

Again, thank you for sharing your baby with us. It was by far my favorite First Look read.

 

Beth

Beth

http://bookaholicmom.blogspot.com/
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Wisteria-L
Posts: 45
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?


Shandi-Mitchell wrote:

Wisteria-L wrote:

Shandi....

 

1)Would you give us some input about our title?  I have my own opinion and there may be many different ways of looking at this,but I'm sure you had something in mind. I know there was a passage in the book refering to it.  Would you offer your thoughts please?

 

2)I noticed from the very beginning that you broke down time, distance and space into segments that were very specific. 

 

 

Why are you so precise in your descriptions with quantities of items and measurement in steps, number of days, distance to and from. Everything is described with the such precision and order. Would you talk about this?

 

 

Thanks, Wisteria:smileyhappy:


Hi Wisteria, you with the many questions that require me to think. :smileyhappy:

I like the idea of precision and order in a world that is so imprecise, unpredictable and at times chaotic.

 

I like the idea that on ground that is millions/billions of years old, we stake out claims and put up fences and carve out our ownership for our short lifespans. We draw lines on a map and change the world. Yet, there also seems to be a need to count the steps, the days, the progress, to work toward something that is ours...for our own mortality or immortality? We need something tangible to hold onto and anchor us in the immensity of time. Humans do not seem to exist in the present, unlike, say animals. What do you think? 

 

And in this story, I think it is essential to count what you have in order to survive.  

 
 

 


Shandi....Thank you for your thoughtful responses.  I can see how this is written into the story and so true about the world we live in today. When we began to carve out our spot, our place our piece of the earth that we called ours by deed, title or some kind of monetary transference we began the process of walls and closing out human contact, closeness, friendship, trust. We carve out a niche, like Teodor's niche and protect it from others. We protect our little corner of "the unbroken sky."

 

Thanks for answering me and making me reflect deeper.  :smileyhappy:

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
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?


Shandi-Mitchell wrote:

nlsamson wrote:

Shandi:

 

As of right now, I really have no questions, I have just been reading the other questions /comments and your responses.  I  really want to tell you that I am thoroughly enjoying not only this book, but your responses.  I like the way you think, the way you write.  I am totally amazed!  I also want to thank you for sharing your "baby" for lack of a better word.  I think I have enjoyed this first look the most, and I doubt I am alone in that thought!

 

 


Thank you so much nlsamson
I'm relieved that my answer/ responses are of interest. I wondered if I was rambling too much.  It is odd sending your words off into the ether. I know you are reading by the counter, but I don't how the computer counts us. (?) And what is a laurel?  Because you all deserve the accolade.
sm 

 


 

Shandi, you far from ramble!  It's a joy to read your responses.  Very few authors [that I've seen] can give this much interesting detail about their  work, writing, and the background of their story.  I do read all of your comments, and I thank you for them.

 

Yes, the program counts, every time the post is viewed.  It's a mystery to me, too!  Laurels can be given by anyone who participates.  Sometimes participants would rather give a laurel of approval of a posted comment, then respond to the comment, itself.  It just says, I like, or agree, with what you've said.  If you're interested, you can click on your laurel count (number), and it will tell you who gave you the laurels.

 

Thanks, again, for your great participation!

Kathy S.

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LISA-BRYAN
Posts: 88
Registered: ‎12-16-2008
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

Shandi Mitchell-

I do not have any questions right now. 

Thank you for sharing your book with the First Look Book Club.  I have not finished your book yet but I can say it is one of the best books I have read (and I read a lot!)  Your writing is so descriptive without being in your face... it flows very nicely.  I liked your use of colors and numbers and images from nature. 

I wanted to jump into the book and help the family fight the fire ... I could feel the heat on my face and I was admittedly sweating.  I feel I know the characters very well and have strong feelings across the board for them... Stefan I would like to ... (well I can't say those things to a lady) while others like Maria and her family I just want to gather up those extra things I have laying around and take them right over to help them out.  The story really makes one appreciate what we have.... most people today could not have gone through the struggles these families went through and make it.  Your story grabbed me from the first few pages and I find it difficult to put it down and get the mundane chores, etc I have to get done. 

Thank you very much for your wonderful book!


rkubie wrote:

Hi all,

 

Please use this thread to post questions for Shandi! She will officially join the conversation next week, on August 9th.


 

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Shandi-Mitchell
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?


BooksRPam wrote:

Shandi:

 

My question:  What authors or literary works, if any, have influenced you as a writer?


Hi BooksRPam,
Thank you for your warm embrace.
B & N had me fill out an extensive questionnaire and they have posted it on their site. If you go to my book and scroll down there is a More About the Author link. There I continue to ramble about books and films that have influenced me. 
This link may get you there.
http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/results.asp?WRD=unbroken+this+unbroken+sky&bnit=H&bnrefe...
 

 

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

Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?


DSaff wrote:

 What inspires you? 

 


Hi DStaff,
You are the first to ask.
 People, life, injustice, small acts of compassion, small acts of heroism, flawed people who overcome, everyday people and the stories they carry, and people who surprise me with their artist heart. For example: a young landscaper who wears a faded Dukes of Hazards t-shirt and is a philosopher and collector of first edition books;  a convenience store owner from Lebanon who cries when he listens to opera and fills notebooks with poetry; a cab driver who was a cardiac surgeon in his homeland; a fifty year old woman who was institutionalized as a child (when that was considered the best treatment for children with disabilities), who is now learning to read and write and believes that the written word is more powerful than the spoken, because “the written word comes from the chest”. These are some of the things that inspire me.

 

Author
Shandi-Mitchell
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?


Read-n-Rider wrote:

Shandi, we often hear about how hard it is for authors--particularly first-time authors--to get published, and how they receive many rejection slips before the magical acceptance letter arrives.  So, I am wondering if anyone turned down Under This Unbroken Sky before Claire read and loved it; I can't imagine anyone's rejecting this wonderful novel!

 

Joan


My journey to publication has been quite unusual. I sent the manuscript to two agents and one said yes. The manuscript was put up for auction in Canada and Penguin bought it.  The manuscript then went to a book fair in London and Weidenfeld & Nicolson bought it for UK, Australia, New Zealand, and India. And then it was brought to New York City and the incomparable Claire Wachtel found it. A true fairy tale. I was and am a filmmaker and didn’t aspire to write a novel. Yet before finding film, I thought I was going to be a writer. I went to university to write and discovered I had inadvertently enrolled in academic study. At the time, there were no creative writing programs. My creative outlet became theatre and then film, but I continued to dabble with poems and short stories. I continued to read great works.

 

Part of the reason I started to write this story was to have another medium to work in apart from film. Some place I could play and no one could say ‘no’. I find writing in two mediums pushes me further in both and each inspires the other.  The other reason I began to write this story was that for a couple of years I was quite ill. The story had been calling me for some time, but I kept ignoring it. I started writing during the illness-partly to distract myself and partly because I wanted to finish things left undone.

 

In some ways, I guess I had made my own bucket list:  write the novel, make my feature film, go dirt biking again, fly over the Rockies in a helicopter, go to New York City…

 

All is well now. I still have to make the film (hopefully next summer) and write another novel or a few, but I think it’s also time to add some more adventures. Hmmm…I haven’t been to Ukraine or Italy or Space. I haven’t eaten ice cream for an entire day. I haven’t gone on a road trip where I only take left hand turns (like in the film Elizabethtown). I haven’t followed in the footsteps of Van Gogh…. Sunltcloud’s posts have inspired me.

 

So to answer your question (finally), one agent turned down the manuscript. He/she read the first 10 pages and said the UK and US would never buy it. 

 

 

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Christie62
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎07-10-2009
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

"Going from film to a novel is liking working in two different mediums for me. Maybe like painting vs sculpture.

 

In film,I can establish the setting like this:

 

EXTERIOR. PRAIRIES. MORNING.

 

Rain falls.

 

When I started to write the novel, I discovered I had to create that setting. I had to determine the quality of light, describe the prairies, the time of morning, the type of rain…it took a lot more words!"

 

 

 

 

I found this to be so interesting, Shandi. Your descriptions and ability to set the scene so clearly have really drawn me in to the story. I confess that I have put books aside if the author goes on and on with pages of descriptive text. It just does not usually hold my interest, but you have done a remarkable job of setting the scene through the eyes of the characters. I feel that I can picture the story in my mind.  I had assumed that this gift of yours was related to your background in film, but this post proves me wrong!!  Now I am interested to investigate what films you have been involved with!!!  Thank you so much for all of your gracious responses to the questions. I am enjoying the book very much, and the discussion here enhances it even more. 

(and on a side note, I saw in another posting that you began this novel when you were ill -- I would like to extend my warmest wishes for good health for you !)

 Christie

--

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


Shandi-Mitchell wrote:

Read-n-Rider wrote:

Shandi, we often hear about how hard it is for authors--particularly first-time authors--to get published, and how they receive many rejection slips before the magical acceptance letter arrives.  So, I am wondering if anyone turned down Under This Unbroken Sky before Claire read and loved it; I can't imagine anyone's rejecting this wonderful novel!

 

Joan


My journey to publication has been quite unusual. I sent the manuscript to two agents and one said yes. The manuscript was put up for auction in Canada and Penguin bought it.  The manuscript then went to a book fair in London and Weidenfeld & Nicolson bought it for UK, Australia, New Zealand, and India. And then it was brought to New York City and the incomparable Claire Wachtel found it. A true fairy tale. I was and am a filmmaker and didn’t aspire to write a novel. Yet before finding film, I thought I was going to be a writer. I went to university to write and discovered I had inadvertently enrolled in academic study. At the time, there were no creative writing programs. My creative outlet became theatre and then film, but I continued to dabble with poems and short stories. I continued to read great works.

 

Part of the reason I started to write this story was to have another medium to work in apart from film. Some place I could play and no one could say ‘no’. I find writing in two mediums pushes me further in both and each inspires the other.  The other reason I began to write this story was that for a couple of years I was quite ill. The story had been calling me for some time, but I kept ignoring it. I started writing during the illness-partly to distract myself and partly because I wanted to finish things left undone.

 

In some ways, I guess I had made my own bucket list:  write the novel, make my feature film, go dirt biking again, fly over the Rockies in a helicopter, go to New York City…

 

All is well now. I still have to make the film (hopefully next summer) and write another novel or a few, but I think it’s also time to add some more adventures. Hmmm…I haven’t been to Ukraine or Italy or Space. I haven’t eaten ice cream for an entire day. I haven’t gone on a road trip where I only take left hand turns (like in the film Elizabethtown). I haven’t followed in the footsteps of Van Gogh…. Sunltcloud’s posts have inspired me.

 

So to answer your question (finally), one agent turned down the manuscript. He/she read the first 10 pages and said the UK and US would never buy it. 

 


 

Thanks very much, Shandi, for your great response.  I hope that your health is fine now and that you get to do all those things you mentioned; selfishly, I especially hope you write at least "a few" more books!

 

Joan

Correspondent
ssizemore
Posts: 70
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

The use of color is so interesting.  I hope to have my book club read your book and will be sure to read very carefully to find all of the references,  This book is destined to be a bestseller!  Thanks for sharing your writing process--Sandy
Inspired Correspondent
mv5ocean
Posts: 114
Registered: ‎12-03-2008
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?


Shandi-Mitchell wrote:

DSaff wrote:

 What inspires you? 

 


Hi DStaff,
You are the first to ask.
 People, life, injustice, small acts of compassion, small acts of heroism, flawed people who overcome, everyday people and the stories they carry, and people who surprise me with their artist heart. For example: a young landscaper who wears a faded Dukes of Hazards t-shirt and is a philosopher and collector of first edition books;  a convenience store owner from Lebanon who cries when he listens to opera and fills notebooks with poetry; a cab driver who was a cardiac surgeon in his homeland; a fifty year old woman who was institutionalized as a child (when that was considered the best treatment for children with disabilities), who is now learning to read and write and believes that the written word is more powerful than the spoken, because “the written word comes from the chest”. These are some of the things that inspire me.

 


What an amazing answer!!!

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


jbnie wrote:

 What inspired you to break the book into seasons rather than chapters ? I love that you for it , I just wondered why. 

 

 

Jane :smileyhappy:


Hi Jane,

 

I knew that the novel was divided into seasons right from the beginning. Because ofthe cycle of nature, the land and farming it seemed to fit the arc of the story emotionally, physically and spiritually. The seasons also hold their own symbolism of birth, death, and renewal. I was also attracted to the power of the seasons. And beyond the pages of the story, the seasons continue.

 

Living in Canada, the seasons are so pronounced it seems they are inextricably part of my own life story. I live outside of the city, near water and many trees. When I was traveling through Mexico, basking in the heat and constant sun, I commented on the amazing climate to a local woman. She responded "It's so boring." I was quite surprised, I who hunger for the sun.