23 November 2009

Revision, Thanksgiving, and Memories

Happy Thanksgiving Week, Everyone!

I have happy news on my revision efforts--this round is complete! Wooohhoo!! I'm excited because this round involved a lot of rewriting. In a way I feel like I have a whole new story! Actually, most of the elements are the same. What's changed is how those elements are depicted. There's more conflict, backstory is woven throughout the novel instead of dumped at the beginning, there's more dialogue, and less telling. I'm pretty excited! I also just finished re-reading and doing heavy line edits, lamenting over all my beautiful adverbs, (trying to) correct my little comma problem, and looking to see if everything works. I think the story is a lot stronger than it was, which makes me REALLY excited! Now I just need to type all the edits in.

It's kind of appropriate that I'm doing all of that right now, because my novel is set in the months of November and December. Thanksgiving and Christmas are pretty major events in the story, and not because they are holidays. They just aren't a part of the setting as far as "time", they are catalysts for major plot points.

So many things go into holidays, ya know? There are traditions, familial cultural habits, our national habits, and then the individual events in our lives. For our characters, it gives us a lot of room to play. There's more than just a gathering and a meal going on; relationships can grow, change, and fracture, characters can develop, and plots can take off. They can be scenes of warmth, conflict, celebration, grief--or some combination thereof. Holidays are so rich for stories simply because their options are unlimited. One side comment, one slip on a wet floor, one missed place setting and Armageddon can erupt.

I love chaos--just not in my real life. It's fun to write though! ::laughs maniacally:: Ha!

Have you ever written a holiday in your story? Did you play with it? What was your favorite Thanksgiving? I'd love to hear your stories!

My favorite Thanksgiving was in 2007. I was in Swaziland, Africa and dreading the day because I knew I'd miss my family and America a lot. Before that, I'd only been overseas on July 4th, so it was my first major holiday away. But we had a huge surprise planned for our team. It's a long story, but we ended up spending the weekend in South Africa. A generous--and wealthy--family of one of my students flew in and threw a feast for my team--and sixty other people!! Most were Americans, but there were South Africans and Swazis in attendance as well. This, of course, was their first Thanksgiving, since it's not an African holiday. I was clean, actually straightened my hair and wore makeup for the first time in months (I don't wear it normally, so it felt really weird wearing it on the field!), wearing a brand new dress purchased just for the occasion.

No one on my team knew until we pulled up at the restaurant. The daughter got the surprise of her life when her father walked out! I remember sitting at the table with my rock star team, eating traditional Thanksgiving food African style, catching the eyes of my best friends across the tent, and signing, "I love you". That night we even went to a mall for a few hours, so the experience was complete!

Below are some pictures of that event!

This is the best picture I have of our feast. I was too busy eating to want to take pictures. :0) We're trying to figure out how to carve the turkey at the moment. These turkeys actually had to be flown in and the restaurant staff had to learn how to make them because this isn't a typical meal there.

We were just happy to have meat--especially the guys!

Here I am with two friends. I think I was most excited about the mashed potatoes. I LOVE potatoes!

My Swazi brother, Musa, in traditional Swazi dress. It was a huge honor for him to wear that--this is not what Swazis wear in everyday life. They dress just like us normally.

See y'all Wednesday!


  1. Good for you! Revising takes more time and skill than getting that original draft. Wishing you a great Thanksgiving!

  2. Looks like a great feast of thanks giving :) I love the excitement in your words today... and happy to hear of your accomplishment! Have a beautiful day my friend :)

  3. Great pictures! And congrats on the revising...that's tough work to slog through.

    You're so right--holidays *are* great in stories...for a variety of reasons! Good source of internal/external conflict, many times. But also for humor and character development.

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  4. I don't know how to feel about revisions. Sometimes they go smoothly and I enjoy them; other times, they are a pain. It may have something to do with my POV choice. First-person is easier than third-person to pick through. Jury is still out.

    I love mash potatoes too. No doubt about that.

  5. Great pictures and wonderful memories to treasure! Hope this year is blessed for you also. :O)

  6. I just finished my latest round of edits as well, it's a great feeling.

  7. i had to think about the holiday question....have i ever written one in...and i think no. i purposefully skipped over it in my last book b/c i needed to suck away time. but i'll consider it for my current WIP. :)

    Win a copy of Erica Vetsch's debut novel, The Bartered Bride at Where Romance Meets Therapy

  8. What an amazing Thanksgiving, one you are not likely to forget.

    The Holidays do breed another atmosphere. You are likely to learn alot about the people we claim to know. It should be very interesting!

  9. That is an amazing Thanksgiving story and experience...wow. We are hosting this year and I am super excited. I love a good party :D

  10. Congrats on getting the revisions done. My favorite Thanksgiving memory is one from the first year my husband and I were dating. We were staying at college, and it was going to be my first time without family for the holiday. One of the professors at the school (he was my soon-to-be brother-in-law's father-in-law--how's that for relation) and his wife invited us over to their house for the day. We had so much fun, not to mention the wonderful cooking, and we got to take part in their holiday traditions. It was very fun and a lovely memory.

  11. That's a great memory, Tara! I love those random ones... The first one away from family is a big one. I'm glad it was so great.

    I hope it's so much fun, Tess! Sounds like you give a great party!

    I agree, Tamika! I'm going to keep my eyes peeled on Thursday! :0)

    I don't think I'll always use holidays, either, Jeannie. This last story called for it, though. If nothing else, they are huge "time markers". But if nothing really happens or if they have no point, they'll end up being deleted!

    Congrats, Patti! It is a great feeling!

    Thanks, Elizabeth Spann Craig, Diane, Elizabeth Mahlou, and Roxy!

    I agree, Rebecca--first person is a lot easier. I'm lucky this time around--this novel was first person.

  12. Yay! Your revising sounds awesome! I'm excited for you! Happy Thanksgiving!

  13. You know, I can't pick out a favorite Thanksgiving. One of my most memorable is when The Husband and I found ourselves on a rooftop over the Zocolo in Mexico City on Thanksgiving with a pack of snooty Brits, watching a revolution of sorts down in the square below. Thousands of people gathered for a political rally, we called the kids and had them listen to the mayhem for a moment or two. A huge storm rolled in and it began to rain so hard the hordes of people all packed up and left in the tour buses that had delivered them. It was a surreal moment.

    Glad the rewrites are going well. Happy Thanksgiving.

  14. I loved sharing that Thanksgiving with you. the things we do to celebrate Thanksgiving all over the world!
    I just bought two small turkeys here in Paraguay that had been imported from Peru. I will load them into two coolers for a two day car trip to Uruguay, via Argentina, to celebrate with American friends we knew in Venezuela who are now living in Uruguay.

  15. I tend to set my books in whatever season I'm writing them, with the exception of series, which I keep generic so I'm not stuck with an ongoing timeline over the course of multiple books. My favorite time of year is fall and I think I set more books there than any other time of year.

  16. Thanks, Jill!

    Wow, Elizabeth, that's a great memory! I could see myself there--thank you so much for sharing it!

    Oh, yes, Jungle Mom... talk about international turkeys! Wish I was there!

    Mine too, Stephanie! I think I've feature Fall more too. There's just so much to say about it!

  17. Yay for you! What an excellent feeling and an excellent accomplishment!

    Yes, I've written holidays into my stories. In fact, every one of my novels has some sort of holiday celebration in there. Christmas is a big event in the first novel. Same with the second. And Memorial Day takes center stage in my third. That's sort of a random one.

    Happy Thanksgiving, Kristen!

  18. Congrats on the revision progress:) Thanks for sharing your Thanksgiving story, too. Happy Thanksgiving!

  19. That is random, Katie! I like it!

    Thanks, Karen!

    Happy Thanksgiving to y'all too!

  20. I can feel your excitement fly off the post...the pics are great, the story is inspiring. I felt so fired up from your last post that I started writing again...not just writing, writing that flowed. To write is to breathe. Thanks Krisen. You're the best. Sarah

  21. Sarah, that's the best thing anyone could ever say to me. You're welcome--and thank you! Happy writing and have a great Thanksgiving!

  22. Congrats Kristen on these edits. Sounds like you did awesome work.

    I've written one with Thanksgiving in it and right now I'm working on with Christmas in the theme, and yes, it's in the plot too. High energy times sure are good fodder for conflict.

  23. Wonderful African Thanksgiving memories. Funny how people are always sad to think of spending the holidays away. I have always wanted to spend them away, seeing a new place during Christmas, through the eyes of the locals there would be a life long dream come true. Especially if there was snow. Oh how I love snow!

    I have yet to put a holiday into effect in my stories. But I am toying with the idea of a Christmas story. A Southern Christmas story. That should tell you how chaotic and ridiculous this story will be. I'm too swamped with my current project to even thing about this one. Perhaps when I'm finally finished carving out mythologies, Christmas in Dixie will be a nice respite :)


  24. Christmas in Dixie is great--there just isn't any snow! I really don't like spending holidays away... that's the one time I like to be "home", although that term gets more and more relative as the years pass.

    Thanks, Eileen! It means a lot that you chose my blog to come by with your limited list this week! Have a great Thanksgiving!

  25. Congratss on the revisions!! Sounds like you are loving your story and that's what counts. I also enjoyed seeing your pictures. We take so much for granted, don't we?