What challenges did you face while writing Thank You for All Things?
I was writing in non-linear time, telling two stories concurrently, and writing in alternative voices. I was barely two paragraphs into Tess's first journal entry before realizing I had a problem: she sounded like Lucy as an adult, yet I had no idea what her life's story was.
How did you tackle this problem, and how do you solve other blocks you come across?
From experience, I knew that I had two choices. I could do what I'd done in the past, rack my brain to isolate the root of the writing problem and find a solution (and fail at both), or I could wander off to do other things -- watch movies, hang out with friends, take a walk along the beach, seek out some live music -- while my subconscious deftly solved the problem. I've learned that the latter is far more effective -- and far less frustrating.
So what was the solution to this specific challenge?
I realized that I needed to freeze Lucy and the present story-thread for a day or two, step back into the past and let Tess write all her journal entries, then shuffle them into the story when I got back to Lucy and the present.
Can readers see traces of you in your stories?
Yes -- every child in my stories is a facet of who I was as a child and who I still essentially am today. I am Earwig, who grew up believing he was "dumb," and who still struggles to make sense of a world that is often harsher than it is kind. I am Button, who once chewed the side of her cheek for fear of making a mistake and upsetting her mother, who often still worries about doing things wrong. I am Winnalee, playful and energetic, who always has, and always will, live in a magical world where anything is possible. I am Lucy, who set out to uncover the secrets buried in her family, and who loves learning anything new that might help to understand the workings of the human heard and mind. And I am Teaspoon, the narrator of my work in progress, who finds comfort and joy in music, who sings life out loud and often says what others think but won't say. Someone whose mind wanders like a puppy without a leash, and who still fears abandonment. How I weave these parts of me into fiction, however, will probably always remain a mystery.
Get in the writing groove!
To help align herself with the characters" emotions and attitudes, Sandra always listens to music during writing sessions. Here are the songs/albums she played to set the tone while writing Thank You for All Things.
1. "Carry You Home" - James Blunt
2. Continuum - John Mayer (especially the track, "The Heart of Life")
3. "Infinite Eyes" - Keb' Mo'
4. "That"s the Deal" - Kathy Mattea
5. Amarantine - Enya
6. "Going Home" - Mark Knopfler
7. Various songs by Eva Cassidy
8. Various songs by Edwin McCain
9. Various songs by independent artists such as Lee Mitchell, Shane Alexander, and Peter Mulvey
10. Various songs by Sugar Blue ("To energize me, inspire me, and get me physically moving in between writing jags," says Sandra.)