Oh Chapter 11, I love chapter 11. From the opening song on. It's a long one. Let me see what little nuggets I can find to share with you.
The empty barrel dance: Kind of sad and brave that their largest celebration, spring holiday, celebrates not harvest or times of feast but the end of supplies, the empty barrels. They survived the winter, and that's cause enough to celebrate.
"tattered red strips of cloth": We live in such abundance. I was often reminded, while writing this book, how precious something like a red ribbon would be in a place like Mount Eskel.
"the girl with no hair": The story shouts came out of my own memories of camping with my family. There were songs like "No you can't get to heaven" where each verse was different and you could make up your own rhyming verses on the fly. I remember being quite young and making up a verse that made others laugh, and how good that made me feel.
Miri & Peder's conversation: When I first published this book, someone asked me what my favorite part was, and I remember saying the action in chapters 20-23. But when I listened to this book on audio, this conversation between Miri & Peder became my favorite.
"A smile tugged at one corner of her mouth like a brook trout on a fishing line." and "Jans trailed Britta around like a thistleweed stuck to her bootlace." and "Being near him made her insides feel like twisted vines, choking and blooming at the same time": I love similies. I always overwrite and then delete the extras, keeping the best. If you don't like similies, you may not like my books. I tend to celebrate them.
Tiffany L asks, "Without the help of an editor or agent, how do you know when a book is DONE, and ready to send off." I think it's really hard to know, and impossible for me to tell someone else because every writer's process is different. I will say that every agent or editor I've talked to says 90% of the manuscripts they receive aren't done yet, were sent off too hastily, were a first or too early of a draft. I personally suffer from chronic Fourth Draftitis. The first draft is okay, the second I realize how much work needs to happen. The third I try to fix it. THe fourth I "polish" the third draft. And then I have this rush of completion, this amazing high, and I immediately want to share it! See! Look! Admire what I've made! And I rush off to show it to someone--often another writer friend or a reader who I think will have some good feedback. Every time, when I'm back into rewriting, I realize how crappy that 4th draft really was and am so ashamed I showed it to anyone. You'd think after 12 books I'd learn, but I did it YET AGAIN early this spring with my current book's 4th draft. Everyone's different, but I'd suggest rewriting a book a few times, let it sit for a month or two, go back again, get some feedback, rewrite again, more feedback, rewrite...about twenty times. And then let it sit again, read it again and see what you think. One of the most valuable skills a writer owns is understanding his/her own process, and that just comes through experience.
I'll get to the other questions tomorrow, and feel free to ask more!