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I have been neglecting my blog again, and I must apologize. My excuse is valid, however.
I have been writing 'real' stuff.
Not that I'm not interested in sharing with all of you. But...after receiving a (spot-on) critique and great advice at the SCBWI Mid-Atlantic Conference, I sent myself headfirst into revisions. My 3-hour layover in North Carolina was spent hunched over a notebook sketching out how I was going to fix the flash-backs and (mini) info-dumps that distracted from the beginning of my story. Also the wonderful Cynthia Cotten advised me to get my story out of the European Union and fix a location for my 'YA Castle Fantasy'.
So I knew 'where' in Europe this was all taking place, (Northern Italy, Eastern France) but my names reflected a more Swiss mix of French and German ....with additional slang from old England and one of the characters Spanish heritage coming on too strongly.
I hadn't even noticed this.
So, I stared at German-sounding names in that airport and desperately coveted an Italian baby-name book. First thing, the next morning, I was on the computer trying to figure out a new name for half of my characters. Most importantly, my hero. For so long, I had been calling him Cornelius. It was so hard to let him go as Cornelius. Or as Neil, his name when he is in disguise as a commoner.
Now he is Lesandro.
Mmmm, I like that name. I still kept typing C.o.r.n.e.l... as I wrote the revisions before I caught myself.
Finally, Lesandro is beginning to feel natural.
Once my pages filled with Lesandro and Chenzo and Hugo and Rosalba and Taddeo, I could almost taste the garlic and oil and wanted to go dance with these characters during their chestnut festival.
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I have no idea why I couldn't see the disconnect between the names and place before. Well, yes, I can. These names were picked three years ago when the European setting was much more nebulous and my writing was only fit for spiral bound notebooks shoved under my bed.
Sometimes my writing is still only fit for shoving under my bed.
But it's improving and I am so grateful for those who have gone before and shared their hard-won knowledge with me.
Thank you Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators!
(More tomorrow on my new writing project for National Novel Writing Month.)