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THE HOUNDS OF SPRING a novel by Lucy Andrews Cummin

UPCOMING READINGS:
SEPTEMBER 29 at 11 a.m. Reading and vernissage: paintings by Carolyn Meckloski (featured artist on the book cover) at Bridgeside Books, Waterbury VT 
OCTOBER 16 at 7:00 p.m. Reading with David Huddle at the Charlotte Public Library, Charlotte VT


DONATIONS So far I have donated $60.00 to the Humane Society of Chittenden County.  I had hoped for a bit more enthusiasm from the organization, but received the form letter thank you.  Oh well, the good deed is done.  I may give to a different local organization for my next donation. 
The Hounds of Spring is available!   Published by Leapfolio,a joint venture partner of Tupelo Press, North Adams, Massachusetts.  E-edition pending.
Purchasing my book from Tupelo Press (TupeloPress.org) will directly  benefit both the author and the press, so please consider taking this route!  Visit Tupelo/Leapfolio and see what else is on offer!    It is available on Amazon and should soon be available for bookstores to purchase to sell on the m…

Am I Having Fun Yet?

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A friend remarked that this part, the writing of new material, must be the most fun.

My polite response was "Hmm, maybe," because my inward one was, "Are you fucking kidding me?" For me writing new material is like--no, I'll leave that to your imagination--let's just say, not comfortable.  The problem is that in the beginning I know I'm just making stuff up.  During this first period, where I am shuffling ideas around, adding and subtracting characters, moving them from here to there, changing names, changing their occupations, height, hair color and other characteristics, believing in what I am doing and believing in the story is a struggle.  If, after a time, the story doesn't take on a life of its own, I know it won't float and put it aside.   While the problem of awareness of "making stuff up" never fully goes away, in a successful story there is a gradual reversal until the balance shifts from me to the story itself.  When it fe…

A Step into the Unknown

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As the finished manuscript of The Hounds of Spring went off to the printer, I was quite sure I was done forever with Poppy Starkweather,  but so many readers have fervently urged me to continue I am exploring the idea.  The question is, is there sufficient mystery here?  Is there more we need to know about Poppy?  When  I wrote the first draft of The Hounds of Spring almost a decade ago I not only had specific goals (one was to set myself a doable task thus the 24 hour time frame), but I had a  "what if" question, closely related to my life, that I was eager to explore.  Without a doubt some of the intensity of The Hounds of Spring is a result of that quest. The above image captures some of what I have been feeling as I plunge back into Poppy's life.   Albeit in a different way, this is just as big a leap into the unknown; a fragile bridge over an abyss has to be crossed.  As with me, Poppy has moved on; her life is changing.  The biggest difference is that this time arou…

Three Cheers for Good Old Storytelling

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When something big happens in my life I find I can’t talk about it until I have cobbled together a new narrative about what happened and have made a start at fitting the new experience into my greater life story.

Humans seem to be compelled in this way.  We don’t let our experiences wash over us and disappear, instead we mull, we question, we try to learn so we can do better 'next time.'  Most importantly, we offer the story of our hard-won wisdom to others. One reason that I think so many people yearn to write fiction is that we are all of us already storytellers.  Social interaction between human beings largely consists of telling our stories to each other, from ones as trivial as the trip to the vet to those as profound and painful as caring for an ailing parent. There are happy stories I love telling, and others I don't love telling, but I will share when I think the listener will be responsive.  Telling my own stories is energizing and illuminating especially when go…

Scaffolding 3 - Streamlining

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In my last entry when I wrote “streamlining emotionally” as part of the process of writing the novel, I did not mean limiting any emotional content within the story.  No, I was thinking about my choice to write the novel originally in the first person.  
Calling this decision a choice (or even a decision) is disingenuous in that, I never considered any other option when I began writing.  Or, if I did, the choice was lightning quick, feeling as opposed to thinking.  In retrospect I knew (or hoped I knew) that the intensity of the first person would bring an energy and momentum to the story.  And it did work: using the first person helped me get the story onto the page.  
As it turned out, the first person narration was scaffolding.  When I began revising, I could feel that there was something scattered and diffused about the text that was preventing me from pulling the pieces of the story together.  The focus shifted all the time in a way that didn’t feel right.  Early readers saw and po…

Scaffolding 2 Tick Tock

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Someone asked why I chose to set this story in a single day and I had to admit I could not remember exactly, so rather than guess, I went to do research on myself!
There was nothing in my journals about the matter. In the computer files for the first draft, however, I found an incomplete chronology, written on January 10 of 2010, five days after starting the blog in which I wrote the novel, and was reminded that originally the story started the night before when Poppy, brushing her teeth, has the idea that the following day she will, like Boswell, write down every single thing that happens.   
A clue.
As I poked around my files, I found another clue.  In a forward to the first draft that I sent around a couple of years later, I wrote that I had hoped the pressure of writing the novel on a blog would help me to “write a novel in serial form without stopping and going back to ‘fix’.”  Even if I had only one reader I felt that would help me keep going.  Yes!
You could say that I consciously …

Scaffolding 1 - Thank you, Jane

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A question I’m frequently asked is, “Did you plan ahead?” 
The answer is mostly no, but there are some yeses. 
Around when the idea of writing this novel in the particular way I wrote it came to mind, I was immersed for the third or fourth time in E.M. Forster’s book Aspects of the Novel.  In it Forster outlines seven aspects he considers important in a successful novel: story, characters, plot, fantasy, prophecy, pattern, and rhythm.  He didn’t think a writer had to nail every one of these, but for a good novel, two or three should be done at least competently and if, of those three,  even one is done really well or in an original way that can be enough for a novel to rise above the rest.   
With that in mind, and knowing my own preferences and limitations, I decided the wisest course would be to choose a plot that I was confident I would both enjoy pursuing and feel comfortable with: the “Jane Austen” plot, as I thought of it.  In this case, the couple is already established, and the q…

A Sea of Make Believe

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Recently I read before an audience a passage from The Hounds of Spring in which Poppy and her brother are discussing his upcoming talk with their mother about his being gay. As I read I could feel wheels turning in the heads of some of the listeners—most of whom knew me and my brother well enough to wonder: Is this really fiction? I don’t blame them one bit, I do the same thing.  We can’t seem to help wanting to know what is “real” and what is “made up.” And it isn’t only the people who know you either, an entire sub-group of biographers busily ferret out every little morsel of writer’s lives in the futile quest to draw the line between fact and fiction.  
After the reading my nephew wasn’t buying it when I said the discussion between Poppy and Price wasn’t autobiographical.  As I looked into his skeptical eyes I forbore to remind him that had my real life brother come out at the time that this brother does in the early ’80’s, he would never have been born!     
Aspiring writers are tol…