This post features sneak peaks at bloggers behind-the-scenes book projects starting with Luanne at Writersite.org then Renee (me) at unpackedwriter.com and ends tagging other writer-bloggers: Long-Distance Dad, Ned Hickson and Annelisplace.
How’d this happen? Luanne at Writersite.org tagged me to post a bit about my book project. But first let’s take a look at Luanne’s lovely book.
Luanne’s Book Synopsis:
Secrets create a painful wound at the heart of a family. Dangerous emotions, such as anger, fear, guilt, shame and curiosity, grow from this wound.
Memory must be excavated scrap by scrap, salvaged, and pieced together to create a new story of origins and identity. With the building of the story, the wound begins to heal, and the resulting emotions dissipate.
Thus it is with my family. My book is the story of an old family secret that infects the present and creates a dysfunctional father-daughter relationship–and the quest for answers that allows the father and daughter to learn and forgive.
Her prose is layered, evocative and literary throughout her drafts. I love that I got to be there when she landed on the themes of excavating identity and healing!
Renee’s Book Synopsis:
Possessed by an incomprehensible call to adventure and achievement, Renee’s father, since her childhood instills in her a penchant for extremes.
At barely twenty-two Renee finds herself a teacher in a far-flung Eskimo village, where the Bering Sea meets land and grit meets imagination—Alaska.
When depression changes her father into someone she no longer recognizes, Renee plunges deeper into frontier teaching and adventures shared with dog mushers, gold miners and millionaires until one night her dance partner is murdered and she finds herself running from the wild.
In the end, Renee’s odyssey nearly gets her assaulted by a would-be murderer, nearly gets her drowned under broken ice, finds her tackling cultural blunders, sloshing honey buckets, and facing down grizzly bears and grizzly men.
Frontier teaching gives Renee hundreds of adventures—until forced to leave—living in her cold truck around a campfire of other homeless searchers—she begins to understand what drives her and her father toward the untamed.
Renee’s Current Book Status:
I’m sitting on a finished book (83,000 words/ 350 pages) of a Creative Nonfiction memoir story collection about my first year in Alaska. Stories from this collection have won a number of national and international awards.
As for the collection, I am hoping to revise it with Stuart Horwitz and/or his Blueprint Your Bestseller Book Architecture series—to include an additional couple years of my time in Alaska. Like many other professor-writers, I’ve been waiting for a block of time to tackle this monstrous rewrite.
The Twin Otter air taxi lurched to the left. I braced myself between the window and the seat in front of me. A slick fog hugged the window like a pixilated snowstorm on a broken TV. The lack of perspective hurt my eyes.
Somewhere between 30 and 3,000 feet below lay the sinuous coils of the Yukon-Kuskokwim River Delta. The pilot pushed the throttle in and the engine ramped up, its roar reverberating through the grimy, dented interior of the plane.
Were we landing or going around?
An amorphous form passed below us. A dark twist of river? An off-course plane? A misplaced mountain?
As a girl from the Lower 48, I had a need to know. I just wanted to land. Safely.
For the last forty-five, fog-enveloped minutes I’d wondered if my ten-year dream of teaching in Alaska might end in a Y-K fog snatch at twenty-two without teaching a single day.
* * *
That night, abdicating my bunk bed to my father, I lay on my backpacking mattress in the living room. My head swelling with memoires, monsters and maps, I fell asleep swimming in stories that brought us here.
January 1978. I was still eleven.
The map lay slung across the kitchen table, so large the edges fell off into the after dinner darkness at the ends of the table. Meandering red and blue lines veined the creased paper east to west. My father’s slanting finger traced the way from our Great Lakes corner of New York, across Canada, landing with a thud on Beaver Creek.
“Alaska,” he said.
Alaska. It even sounds wild.
“Ten days. Maybe two weeks. That’s what it should take. One way.”
Oh, god. Not in the back of a pickup with my sister?
* * *
Around the village, I saw a lot of trashed out stuff. The cracked screen of a large TV mocked me from where it sat on a milk crate in the tall grass behind a house. Like a large eye, the crack distorted what came through from inside and also what was seen from the outside. Was I no different? My internal vision and what I projected changed by the cracks in my being?
* * *
My romantic notion of the steam bath as spiritual quest was duly answered: where the plains Indians pierce their bodies and dance through the rising and setting of suns in quest of inducing visions, I chopped half a day’s worth of scavenged river drift to almost lose a hand. I got my tender pink skin boiled and scrubbed for the vision of someone’s behind in inferno temperatures, all to understand—as far as I could tell—that steaming was as much about bonding as it was bathing.
Boy, I had a lot to learn.