April 2nd, 2008

A Pocket Full of Murder

Overheard at the dinner table

We usually end our family meals with a short Bible reading, after which my husband asks our two older sons, aged 7 and 5, a few simple questions about what they heard. We don't expect much from the 2-year-old except to sit in his chair and be quiet -- which is easier said than done, at this stage.

My Husband: "The LORD said to Moses: 'If anyone sins and is unfaithful to the LORD by deceiving his neighbor about something entrusted to him or left in his care or stolen, or if he cheats him, or if he finds lost property and lies about it, or if he swears falsely, or if he commits any such sin that people may do--'"

My Two-Year-Old: [sotto voce] "I like to move it, move it / I like to move it, move it..."

To his credit, my husband managed to keep a straight face while asking the toddler to be quiet -- which the boy did, in his own way, by whispering the words instead of singing them. We finished the reading, and then my husband began to explain to the older kids the Mosaic Law's concept of restitution.

Husband: What this passage is saying is, if one of the Israelites stole from another person, they had to make up for what they took, plus one fifth of the value.

Me: So say you stole ten dollars from someone, you'd have to pay them twelve dollars in return.

My Seven-Year-Old: [brightly] Tax and tip!

Never a dull moment with this lot.
Books - Writing

Revisions Update, and the Long-Promised Review

I received my second round of revisions on Knife today, with a few more suggestions for clarifying and streamlining the plot, plus line-by-line edits. The letter was six pages long, and the manuscript was marked up on nearly every page. Eep!

No, really, it's all good -- that is, I can see how all the suggestions my editor has made will play into making the book clearer and more readable, without sacrificing the elements of the book that are truly essential and/or dearest to my heart. But it's going to be a lot of work. And I only have until May 1st to get it all done -- so forgive me, dear friends, if you don't see as much of me for the next three or four weeks!

Before I go, though, I must let my yea be yea (as the apostle James would say), and give you at least a brief review of elizabethcbunce's lyrically written yet very real-feeling novel A Curse Dark as Gold.

Superficially this book is a retelling of the Rumplestiltskin legend, but in execution it's far more than that -- it's a novel of character and of family, it has the feeling of a historical novel with its seamlessly interwoven (ha) research into the craft of milling cloth, there is a strong mystery element, a well-drawn romance, and it's also a ghost story. Lots of different threads there! And yet the author weaves them all together beautifully.

The behavior of Bunce's characters is not always easy to watch -- Charlotte undergoes severe testing and struggles both externally and internally, and there were times when I wanted to grab her by both shoulders and shake her for her stubbornness -- but they are believable and consistent, and the resolution of the various character arcs feels earned rather than contrived. There's plenty of tension and action to keep the reader engaged, and the style is lovely and evocative without losing readability in the process.

And even though the major elements of the Rumplestiltskin legend remain intact, the author layers them with a story all her own and puts a fresh twist and perspective on the old fairy tale that keeps the reader in just the right amount of suspense. Well done, elizabethcbunce -- and her fabulous editor cherylklein!